HL Deb 10 March 1971 vol 316 cc64-90

3.7 p.m.


rose to call attention to the interest of the peoples of the Commonwealth in the Brussels negotiations; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg leave to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. Whether one is for or against British entry into the European Economic Community, I think noble Lords will agree that it is essential to be adequately informed, and it is unfortunately almost impossible to follow the progress of the negotiations simply by studying the British Press. Therefore, I make no apology for calling attention to the three Commonwealth problems which Mr. Barber described on June 30 as being Commonwealth sugar exports, New Zealand's special problem, and certain other Commonwealth questions.

My object, my Lords, is to enable us to look at those problems in some detail and to remind our own people, the Governments of the Six, and the peoples of the Commonwealth that our concern goes beyond sugar and New Zealand butter, important as they both are. We must speak, and ask questions, while there is still time, on behalf of our Commonwealth friends, whose voices may otherwise not be heard. May I say how gratified I am that my noble friend Lord Constantine has chosen this occasion on which to make his maiden speech? My noble friend is a very old and dear friend. He has given boundless pleasure to hundreds of thousands of cricketing fans and will, I know, give your Lordships equal pleasure on the wicket on which he has chosen to bat to-day. It may be a maiden speech, my Lords, but with Lord Constantine batting it will certainly not be a maiden over.

First I should like to talk very briefly about sugar and then to leave the subject to my noble friend Lord Royle and other noble Lords. I confess that I was disappointed in what I thought was the problems of Mr. Rippon's statement after the Caribbean talks in February. He could only report that he had put proposals about sugar to the Six "but had not yet received the Community's reply". That is distressing because sugar is perhaps the gravest problem with which we have to deal, as my noble friend Lord Campbell of Eskan stressed in a remarkable speech in your Lordships' House in January. It is not surprising that anxiety was expressed last week by the chairman of Tate and Lyle and that The Times to-day reported: "UK sugar men look sour about the EEC."

So far as sugar is concerned, we should all of us be grateful if the noble Earl who is to speak from the Government Front Bench could report on the progress in general which has been made in the sphere of sugar, and if he could also tell us whether it is proposed that Australian sugar should be excluded from any special arrangements in an enlarged Community. I need not remind your Lordships that if this were the case there might be serious disruption of world sugar markets in general.

Apart from that specific point, I will content myself with emphasising the appalling social and political consequences which would stem from any failure on our part to protect the countries whose economy depends almost entirely on sugar. Transitional protection would not be enough. And I hope that we shall not hear to-day that tourism is an adequate substitute for sugar. The growth of Black Power, or political and industrial unrest occurring in any one country in the Caribbean, could have repercussions on tourism in all of them—as could a recession in the United States or Canada. Moreover, the time is bound to come when the affluence of the tourists is contrasted more and more with the relative poverty of those who are their hosts.

If I may appear to digress for a moment to what is really a closely related subject, I. would commend to your Lordships' attention a letter in The Times on Monday from Mr. John Silkin, who drew a comparison between the controls proposed for Commonwealth immigrants under the new Bill and the free, unfettered movement of workers between the Community's member States provided for in the Treaty of Rome. Many of your Lordships, while sharing my own admiration and affection for Italy and Belgium may well question the wisdom—or, indeed, the morality—of putting Italians ahead of Indians in the queue, and Belgians ahead of Barbadians. The fact that we here in Britain have to watch the interests of countries as remote as India and Barbados, far removed from the rich white enclave of Western Europe, illustrates the breadth of our own Commonwealth horizons and the strength of the links that have withstood so well the strains of the past few years—and indeed the past few weeks.

I think that all of us must have held our breath during the Singapore talks. Only this morning I received a letter, delayed in the post, written by a Commonwealth Prime Minister on his return to his own country. He ends by saying: … in the final analysis there is a lot we can all be thankful for; the Commonwealth is still intact, having withstood the strains and stresses of a meeting which could not be described as an easy one. The fact that the Commonwealth is still bound together, in spite of all the stresses and strains, means that it can speak with unique authority on most of the problems that the world has to face.

My Lords, it would be impossible within the compass of a speech like this to discuss all the commodities which are involved; but I commend to your Lordships the excellent publication, Britain and the E.E.C. put out by the Commonwealth Producers Organisation under the direction of Mr. Stanley-Smith, and under the presidency, at that time, of the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. To take one area alone, I thought that the Financial Times summed up the situation in the Caribbean very well in an article last Thursday. It began: The economic fate of the Commonwealth Caribbean, from the larger independent countries like Jamaica to the tiniest island colony like Montserrat, is to be settled, perhaps for decades to come, in the British negotiations with the Six in Brussels in the next few weeks. That is no exaggeration. Ninety per cent. of the income of Barbados comes from sugar, as does half that of British Honduras. Eighty per cent. of the income of St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Dominica and Grenada comes from bananas. Citrus is important to Dominica and British Honduras; coffee and cigars to Jamaica; rum to Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica and other countries, and spices to many countries. These are just a few examples. I would ask Her Majesty's Government to-day how they are proposing to sage-guard the legitimate interests of our Commonwealth producers. We know, more or less, in very vague and general terms, what the Government are trying to do about sugar; but we know very little about the timetable. We shall need to know much more before we can agree to sign; and it will be too late to try to alter things once we have put our signature to the Treaty.

I also want to ask Her Majesty's Government what they are doing to secure guaranteed access for our traditional suppliers of bananas, rum, citrus, honey, spices, dairy products, apples and pears, Cyprus and Australian wines, canned and dried fruits, and meat and fish. I hope that the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, in his speech later will tell us something about his talks with the banana producers in the Caribbean. Is there any reason why we should not get for our traditional suppliers the same terms as existing members of the Community obtained for their tradional suppliers? Would the noble Earl agree that most of the commodities I have mentioned are not capable of being dealt with by means of world commodity agreements? After all, New Zealand has been trying for years to obtain a world agreement about dairy products—without success. Indeed, coffee, sugar and tin are the only three commodities I can recall in whose case world agreements have worked reasonably well.

There I should like to ask the Lord Privy Seal about the progress, or otherwise, in obtaining associated status for all the less-developed countries in the Commonwealth. As I understand it, the Six have agreed to association under Part IV of the Treaty of Rome for all the depend-dent territories, even Hong Kong, but excepting Gibraltar; and Mr. Rippon's statement on February 26 suggested that he had secured an extension of this offer to our own Associated States in the East Carribean.

I wonder whether the Lord Privy Seal would be so kind as to tell us what benefits he expects will flow from that form of association with the Community. I understand that the 12 Commonwealth countries in Africa have now all been offered three choices: first a Yaoundétype association; secondly, a looser form of association, on the lines of the Arusha Agreement signed with the East African Territories last year; and thirdly, a simple trading agreement. So far as I can tell, a similar choice has not been offered to the independent territories in the Caribbean, or to Mauritius, Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa pending an agreement on sugar.

On January 19 the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in what I thought was a remarkable speech, told your Lordships that Her Majesty's Government had "made proposals" about India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Ceylon and Singapore; but we were not told by the noble Earl what these proposals were or how the countries had received them. Perhaps he would be so kind as to lighten our darkness to-day and tell us what was in those proposals and how they were received. Because, my Lords, as I am informed, the only firm offer to India is that Her Majesty's Government will discuss India's problems after we have joined the enlarged Community, and that Her Majesty's Government have not even been able to promise that in the meantime there will be a standstill agreement on trading preferences.

I know, because I have taken the trouble to find out, that there is anxiety in India and Ceylon, and that Nigeria is much less than eager to be associated with the Community on terms similar to those of the Yaoundé States which, of course, provide for the free transfer of capital and labour from one country to another. I hope that the noble Earl will tell us in some detail what stage the Government negotiations have reached, not only with members of the European Economic Community but also with our fellow members of the Commonwealth. We look to the noble Earl to tear aside the veil of obscurity, because, until he does so, we cannot judge how things are moving.

There is another aspect of the situation which I think is provocatively obscure. I am sure that Ministers will have noticed the report in the Guardian of January 7 and the story by Miss Hella Pick which appears to-day, also in the Guardian, linked with the visit to Washington of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who seems to have been at great pains to allay United States anxieties and apprehensions. Will the Lord Privy Seal tell us whether it is true that the United States have protested, both to the Six and also to ourselves, about what was described as: the likely proliferation of special trade pacts between Europe and the developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. If this is true, and if there were to be a wave of protectionism, Canada and the countries of the Caribbean would be in real difficulty. I have read, too, that the former French territories now associated with the Market have shown some lack of enthusiasm for sharing any benefits they receive with the Anglophone countries.

My Lords, my last point relates to the difficulties of Australia and New Zealand. If we were to enter the Economic Community on the wrong terms, Australia's major export industries would all be threatened. Many farms would be wiped out as viable units of production, and whole communities, geared to producing for the United Kingdom Market, would be in peril. New Zealand's case is even stronger, and I hope that careful study of the proposals announced in to-day's Press will allay New Zealand's fears and those of New Zealand's friends.

I will not go into statistical details, but will simply remind your Lordships that during the war the whole of New Zealand's output of meat and dairy produce came to feed a beleaguered Britain, which at that time had few helpers outside the Commonwealth. Moreover, New Zealand retained butter and meat rationing after the war in order to be able to send supplies to the people of this country. The earnings that New Zealand made went to buy goods and services from Great Britain. I hope that we shall not be told to-day that the pattern of trade between Britain and the Commonwealth has been changing. Of course it has. But the changes of the last decade derive in part from their prudent assessment of the effect on Commonwealth countries of Britain's entry; and in part they derive from the pressure that we have brought to bear.

Three years ago to-morrow, my Lords, I had the privilege of speaking at the State Banquet on the eve of independence for Mauritius. I hope that your Lordships will acquit me of immodesty if I quote one sentence of what I said on that occasion: To-morrow we shall go our separate ways but they will be separate ways leading to the same goal; separate ways trodden by people who have faced adversity together who have fought together against the forces of darkness, who are nurtured on the same love of freedom, the same respect for the individual, the same tolerance towards views that we do not share. My Lords, the peoples of the Commonwealth are our friends; and that friendship has developed over the centuries and has bound us together. They have been at our side in bad times as well as in good times. To believe that the Commonwealth still matters, and still has a contribution to make, is not to be backward-looking or inward-looking; it is to be forward-looking and outward-looking in a way that no other nation can be. I believe in the Commonwealth; I believe in the responsibilities that our membership of the Commonwealth lays on us, and I hope that today your Lordships will share the belief that I have expressed. I beg to move for Papers.

3.28 p.m.


My Lords, I do not feel that the Liberal Party can add very much in the present debate to what it has always declared to be its policy. So far as I am aware, no Liberal spokesman has ever contested the principle that if we are to join the European Economic Community it must be after having negotiated suitable terms—I repeat "suitable terms"—in respect of the long-term interests of countries with which we have ties, not only of a sentimental but also of a deeper economic and, indeed, an historical order. It is true that with the disappearance of the Commonwealth as a political and, I suggest, also largely as an economic entity such ties, in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, said in his peroration, are not what they were, for instance, only ten years ago when we first applied to join the Community. But, my Lords, they still exist, and it is obviously essential that we should not agree to anything which would result in great and immediate distress, more particularly in New Zealand, the Commonwealth Caribbean Islands, Mauritius and one or two other minor dependencies. But perhaps I might say here that I do not think that the difficulties which will confront Australia, Canada and also India and Pakistan, if we join the Community, will be of the same order as the difficulties in other countries to which I have just referred.

Anyhow, we must assume, and we do assume, that the Government are fully aware of all this and are doing what they can to reach a satisfactory agreement. But, after all, they are engaged in negotiations, which presumably means that they may not be able to achieve all the safeguards that they would like to obtain in respect of all the interests of all the countries mentioned. It would therefore be unreasonable for us to demand, as was perhaps implicit in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, that the Government should reveal to this House at this moment what the sticking points, or perhaps I might say what the breaking points, in the negotiations are likely to be: for if they did that, they would obviously be prejudicing in advance the successful outcome of the negotiations. So all we can do is to urge them to do their best, and when they have reached agreement, if they do, to put it before Parliament so that we may judge whether, in all the circumstances and given all the features of the proposed general settlement, the interests of some of the Commonwealth and ex-colonial countries concerned have been unduly prejudiced; and, if so, whether it warrants an abandonment—no doubt, my Lords, for ever, with all that that would imply—of the third attempt to create a valid democratic group of a new kind in Western Europe.

On the principle of the thing I would only say this. Always supposing that the Six, and notably the French Government, really want the present Community to be enlarged—which, in spite of protestations, is, I believe, open to a certain doubt—it should be accepted that no arrangement involving a long transitional period and thereafter diminishing quotas should be accepted in regard to the import of New Zealand dairy products which would demonstrably affect for the worse the present position or prospects of the European Economic Community farmers, and notably the French farmers. However, on the face of it, if New Zealand exports of butter and cheese to the United Kingdom are, even if only gradually, run down over a long period, this must be pro tanto in the interests of Norman farmers, whereas, if the market is enlarged, French farmers will, equally obviously, have no additional outlet. I should imagine that this simple consideration might be appreciated by the hard bargainers on the other side of the Channel.

As regards the producers of tropical agricultural goods, the whole problem, as we see it, should be viewed from the angle of the generally acknowledged need of assistance by the developed to the under-developed nations of the world. Besides, there is no logical reason why, if this were adopted as a guiding principle in the negotiations (and I hope that the Government will put this across), the result should in any way affect unfavourably the countries at present in the Six. For instance, as long as the amount of cane sugar and other tropical products entering the enlarged Community is not increased by more than the amount now entering the United Kingdom, I cannot see how any interests of the Six could be unfavourably affected. But even if they were, the residual advantage might be regarded, I suggest, as coming within the scope of the total aid budget of the enlarged Community. Why not? I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, will appreciate this argument.

Unfortunately, so far as I am aware, there has been no indication so far of any willingness on the part of the French Government to appreciate the very real difficulty which confronts Her Majesty's Government, and still less to make any proposals for solving it in the general interest. We can only hope that this attitude will be changed. But beyond expressing such a hope, I think that at the moment there is nothing that we can do about it. I repeat that if the French really are as keen on our coming into the European Economic Community as they make out, a reasonable formula can easily be found. Perhaps Mr. Rippon will shortly "have a word" with Mr. Schumann, as he said he would when the latter observed that our proposed contribution to the Central Agricultural Fund would not even cover its running costs. Let us hope that he will. After all, the French insisted, before they themselves entered the Community, on extremely tough terms whereby the Germans, in particular, agreed to contribute large sums in the way of what were really subsidies for the development of France's ex-colonial empire. We must therefore assume that France will acknowledge at least some obligation in respect of the countries which are in a similar position to those covered by the Convention of Yaoundé.

Though New Zealand is different, and probably a special case, it is obvious that a bargain must be struck between those who would like cheap imports into Europe of dairy products to be replaced altogether by expensive internal equivalents and those who would like cheap imports of such commodities in regard to New Zealand to be continued for ever. Few would dispute that New Zealand will in any circumstances have to diversify, to industrialise and to increase her agricultural exports to Japan and other countries over the years. She is now doing this to a small extent. But again, most unprejudiced persons would agree that unlimited dumping on the world market of heavily subsidised European agricultural products is a factor disruptive of international trade and likely in the long run to prejudice the relations of the enlarged Community and the world as a whole. So I suggest that it is clearly a question of striking a bargain in the interests of the enlarged Community as a whole, and we can only hope that Her Majesty's Government will be able to induce their prospective partners to see the force of this general argument. That is all I wish to say on this question at the moment.

3.38 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, for giving me the opportunity of again making it clear where Her Majesty's Government stand with regard to the Commonwealth countries in so far as the Brussels negotiations are concerned. However, I am afraid that I shall disappoint your Lordships this afternoon if you are expecting me to make any new or startling pronouncement on the subject. We discussed these matters only some weeks ago and, as your Lordships know, the speed limit of negotiations in Brussels is not always as rapid as we should wish. Moreover, since we are now entering into the more difficult area of the negotiations, I must perforce cloak my natural candour with the becoming fig leaf of reticence.

I should like to apologise to the noble Lord and to your Lordships for the fact that I shall not be able to be present at the close of this debate. I can only plead that my excuse is a not inappropriate one in the context of this particular discussion, in that I have been asked to help my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in entertaining the Belgian Foreign Minister who is on a visit to London at the present time. In compensation for that, I should like to say how much I and, I am sure, all your Lordships, are looking forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Constantine. Within all our recollections he has been a notable High Commissioner; he was a notable all-rounder in another field and a notable fast bowler. I am sure that he is going to take a great many wickets in your Lordships' House—I only hope that he does not bowl me out too often.

That said, I should like to restate, in staccato form, the basic stance of Her Majesty's Government in these negotiations. Provided, and provided only, that fair and equitable terms can be negotiated, I believe—and, much more important, Her Majesty's Government believe—that it is in the long-term economic interest of this country to be a member of the European Community. Equally, I believe it to be in our long-term political interest. There is also no doubt in my mind that the existing member States will benefit from an enlargement of the Community. They know this and we know it. It will represent a major step towards that reconciliation which we all desire in that larger Europe which has remained far too long divided between East and West. And outside Europe it will enable us all to bring more horse-power to bear in wider fields—in the Western Alliance and in the world as a whole.

On the question of the Western Alliance, in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, may I merely say that the United States, like some other countries, has misgivings—and these are perfectly understandable—about some aspects of the enlargement of the Community, and the changes in trading patterns which will inevitable follow from them. Given the great change in world trade which this would bring, and the vast interest of the United States in world trade, let alone the Community, it would be most abnormal if there were not anxiety here. But I should like to make it absolutely clear that the United States Administration, and the President himself, have continued to give their support—this has recently been reaffirmed—and their encouragement to the enlargement of the Community including the United Kingdom. As I understand the United States' position, it is this. They believe that the very considerable political advantages which, in their view, would flow from the enlargement of the Community outweigh what may be very real economic disadvantages to them in the shorter term. That is my understanding of the United States' position.

But it is the larger aspect of the implications of the present negotiations with which this particular debate is concerned. I should like to underline our belief that it is not only in Britain's political and economic interest that the Community should be enlarged. It is not only because we believe that it would make for greater prosperity of a larger Europe. We are also, my Lords, negotiating at Brussels in the sincere belief that a larger, stronger and more prosperous Europe will benefit the rest of the world, and not least, the countries of the Commonwealth. Entry does not mean that we shall be turning our backs on the Commonwealth. I remember very well the words which Mr. Arnold Smith, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, used about this curious "animal", the Commonwealth, this diverse, sometimes quarrelsome but immensely important association in a speech some ten months ago in London. He said that for him the Commonwealth was about learning to share a planet, using the similarities which Commonwealth members have inherited in a working language, its political and administrative methods, in legal and other professional practices, in educational traditions and building on the network of contacts and friendships among people throughout the assocition working in Government business and the professions, to make understanding and cooperation less difficult and more profitable. This is as good a definition of the Commonwealth as I know, and I see no reason at all why all this process, which on the whole is beneficial—although there are warts in the Commonwealth as we all recognise—should not go on after entry just as it has been going on before.

I would feel very differently about this if I felt that the pattern of Commonwealth trade was a static one; if there were not already close contacts between the Commonwealth and the Economic Community, and if that Community were the inward-looking and the illiberal association which some would have us believe. I believe that none of these propositions is really true—and I will now take head-on one challenge which the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, laid down for me. This is on the question of the development of trade. It is not possible, even if it were desirable, to freeze patterns of international trade in the Commonwealth, or elsewhere, and most Commonwealth countries have in the past decade strikingly diversified their international trade. Whereas, for example, Australia sent 27 per cent. of her exports to this country 10 years ago, now it is 13 per cent. The percentage figures for India are almost identical.

We must remember that whether we enter the Communities or not, the pattern of Commonwealth trade is a constantly changing one, not an immutable fact of life. I do not believe that those changes are necessarily due to the impact of the Common Market, or the prospect of the impact of the Common Market: they lie much deeper than that. Again, my Lords, it is worth remembering that already some eight independent Commonwealth countries have made, or are negotiating, arrangements with the Community. These arrangements are absolutely distinct from our own application for membership and indicate the importance which Commonwealth countries already attach to their trade links with the Six.

These facts alone should serve to dispel the belief, which I believe is very current in some quarters, that the Community sees itself as a hermetically sealed unit and that its members have a certain disinterest in the problems of the developing world, the problems which confront so many Commonwealth countries. I believe that very much the reverse is true. There is the fact that, quite apart from the trading links which the Community has forged with Commonwealth countries, it has a very close association with other developing countries—the 18 Yaoundé associates, and also the North African countries. Moreover, there was the solemn declaration in 1963 of the Community of its readiness to negotiate in a sympathetic spirit agreements with any countries who so wished, and whose economic structure was comparable to those of the associated States. The Community, too, have played a notable part (and I think we should note that) over the lengthy negotiations in UNCTAD with regard to generalised preferences for the developing countries, and they will shortly be putting their own scheme for generalised preferences into operation. Finally there is the Community's record in the aid field. Here again, it is a notable one which sometimes we in the United Kingdom do not pay close enough attention to—


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Earl—I was waiting for him to move on to another point—would he, and if not he at this moment his noble friend Lord Lothian, give some more information about the association agreements? The noble Earl mentioned eight countries—






My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord while he is interrupting me so that I am quite clear about what he is asking me? I am wondering whether he is asking about the Yaoundé-type agreements or the eight agreements which the Commonwealth countries have made with the Community.


My Lords, I am referring to the eight agreements with the Commonwealth countries, which I am assuming might be of Yaoundé type. I am not very well informed on this, and I doubt whether your Lordships are. If the noble Earl is not able to give much information, it may be that the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, can.


My Loris, it is a fair point. I will itemise the eight agreements. There are three, the Arusha agreements, with Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. There is the agreement with Nigeria which was negotiated before the civil war. There are agreements with India and Pakistan, covering textile products: then there are the agreements with Cyprus and Malta—one that is being negotiated now and one that has been negotiated. Those are the eight, but if further details are wanted my noble friend Lord Lothian will of course he glad to provide them.

All I was endeavouring to show was that in many fields of its developing policy the Community has not been that illiberal, inward-looking group which sometimes it is guyed as being. This is shown in aid policy—the very great multilateral aid which it is at present extending to the developing countries, and which, as I understand it, is going to be substantially increased in the next five years; and the fact that in bilateral aid over the last decade the ail effort of the five principal Community countries has increased far faster than that of any other single country in the world, let alone any other group of countries. These facts, I believe, are worth bearing in mind. That is the actual Community—the Community of fact, rather than of fiction, with which we are negotiating.

These negotiations (I recognise this straight away) do touch the vital interests of many Commonwealth countries. Many of these countries are developing countries. We recognise that there will be problems of adjustment, but in general it is our belief that if we can obtain a reasonable transitional period for adjustment this will prevent any and re disruption of the economy of third countries, including Commonwealth countries, in the new situation which will arise after entry. But we recognise that the interests of the developing countries generally must be safeguarded and that in any event it will be necessary for us to negotiate special terms in the two crucially important areas—those which the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, quite rightly dwelt on—for the sugar producers of the developing Commonwealth, and for New Zealand.

Before I turn to those two "crunch" issues, if I may so term them, may I briefly resume once again (I did this in our debate in January, but that was touching on the whole canvas, and this is just on the Commonwealth) the present state of play in the negotiations, as I understand them, in so far as they affect the Commonwealth countries.

First there is the group of old Commonwealth countries. Here I would only say that I believe that the position with respect to them is very different from what it was even a decade ago, when the prospect of British entry into the Common Market excited the most lively fear and the deepest disquiet in our Commonwealth partners such as Canada and Australia. It is certainly clear to-day, whatever feelings of disquiet there may be in certain quarters of those countries about certain aspects of the possibilities of entry, that there is a far greater awareness there of the advantages which will arise from the creation of a stronger and more united Western Europe; and none of these more economically advanced countries of the Commonwealth has even questioned our right to seek membership of the Communities if, after due consideration, we felt, as we do, that this was in our interest. We are thinking here of countries with dynamic and expanding economies—the very countries that should be in a good position to take advantage of the new and richer markets which will be the inevitable result, as I see it, of an enlarged Community.

Here again, of course, there will be problems of adjustment, but in general it is our belief that these problems can be taken care of by the application of a fair and adequate period of transition for our entry. But there are special problems, such as those affecting New Zealand, which will call for special treatment. And all along the negotiating road, which is likely to prove hard—it is already proving "hardish"—it is vitally important that we recognise that we should maintain the closest possible contact, not only with the developing countries but also with the developed countries of the Commonwealth; and it is our intention to do so.

Next, there is what I would call the Mediterranean Commonwealth. Here the position is generally satisfactory. Agreement has been reached, as I mentioned in our debate last January, over the position of Gibraltar; and I believe that the agreement is satisfactory both for us and for the Gibraltarians. An association between Malta and the E.E.C. was signed in December; and Cyprus is, as I have just mentioned, negotiating with the Community arrangements for certain commodities which are particularly important to her trading position. I believe that in both these cases—that is to say, Malta and Cyprus—the arrangements which have been worked out, or which are in prospect, should prove pretty satisfactory.

Looking to the South from the Mediterranean, your Lordships will remember that the European Community have agreed in the Brussels negotiations that the alternatives offered under the Community's 1963 Declaration of Intent should be open to all Commonwealth African countries. This means that they have three broad alternatives open to them. They can go for a Yaoundé-type association—the whole hog, with aid, institutions and the rest. They can opt for a halfway house, an Arusha-type association, as the three East African Commonwealth countries have done. Or they can go for something less—for a non-preferential trade agreement. The answer here is that the decision will lie with the Commonwealth countries of Africa themselves, and this is where I believe the decision should rest.

In any event, we are confident that the interests of these African Commonwealth countries will in fact be fully safeguarded after Britain's entry into the European Community. What is more, I can now confirm to your Lordships, which I was not able to do in January, that the Community have included for this purpose Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, although there remain certain problems arising from the Customs Union of these countries with South Africa. I do not think that the resolution of these problems should present any undue difficulty.

Association would not, of course, be the appropriate formula for the great free Asian countries of the Commonwealth—India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Malaysia and smaller but prosperous Singapore. Here again, there have been movement and progress since we last discussed these matters. As background it is worth remembering that a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since we were last negotiating entry into the E.E.C. a decade ago. Many of the changes that have taken place are of considerable importance to this group of countries. For example, some of the items which were of paramount interest to them at that time are not now. A case in point is tea, where the duty has been suspended for some years. Consequently our entry into the Community would pose no problem for the major tea exporters. Again—and this is perhaps much more important—the offers made by the Community under the UNCTAD generalised preference scheme are of great significance to many countries of the Asian Commonwealth, and they stand to benefit substantially from those offers by the Community.

In any event, we have now agreed with the European Community how, in general, the enlarged Community should approach the problems of these countries. The Community have formally expressed their wish to extend and reinforce their trading relationships with these countries. They have also given us a specific undertaking that, after enlargement, they will examine with us and with these countries the problems which might arise in the field of trade with a view to reaching such solutions as may seem appropriate. These undertakings, together with the very real advantages which will most certainly flow from the generalised preference scheme, represent, in the view of the Government, a substantial guarantee for the future trading position and prosperity of the Asian Commonwealth countries. I am glad that this is so, since our links with these countries have very deep roots in history, they are intimate, and they can indeed be further developed.

Moving further East in Asia, I should like to make it clear that the Government have been acting strenuously, both within and without the context of these negotiations, to prevent discrimination against Hong Kong. I am glad again to confirm that the Community are prepared to include Hong Kong in principle as a beneficiary of their generalised preference scheme. This offer carries real benefits for Hong Kong and has been accepted by Her Majesty's Government. I am also happy to be able to assure your Lordships that the Government will do everything they can to encourage other developed countries—and I have the United States of America and Japan in mind here because these are the ones which are really important for Hong Kong—to include the Colony in their generalised preference schemes.

I made it clear in our debate in January that the Community had agreed in principle to offer association under Part IV of the Treaty to all the dependent Commonwealth countries, with the exception of Gibraltar and indeed Hong Kong. This of course includes the six smaller associated States of the Caribbean. However—and I shall be frank in regard to this—we still await the formulation of the Community position so far as Mauritius, the independent Pacific countries of the Commonwealth—Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa—and the independent Commonwealth countries of the Caribbean are concerned. We have in fact invited the Community to make the three alternatives of their 1963 Declaration of Intent available to all these countries. We believe this to be justified, since economically the problems of all these countries are very close to those of the Commonwealth countries in Africa to whom a similar offer has already been extended. The Community have yet to reach a decision on this request. How-ever, as your Lordships know, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster recently made a tour of the Caribbean to learn at first hand about the problems facing these countries. What he saw and what he learnt there reinforced our view—and I should like to make this very clear—that an offer of association by the Community would do much to protect their very real economic interests, although association by itself would not provide adequate protection for those with sugar industries.

Sugar is indeed, as I believe and as I hope I emphasised appropriately in our debate last January, and as the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, have made very clear to-day, one of the "crunch" issues in these negotiations. Many developing countries, and not only those in the Caribbean, are critically dependent upon sugar for their foreign exchange earnings. The noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, mentioned the 90 per cent. figure: Mauritius, for example, is over 90 per cent. dependent on sugar for its foreign exchange earnings. But the importance of sugar is much more than just economic. It is a labour intensive industry and the employment which this industry provides is as vital socially as it is economically for the countries concerned. If we cannot secure satisfactory arrangements for these countries they could well face something approaching economic disaster. I do not use those words idly, my Lords. But the danger could be political as well. As Mr. Rippon has put it in a graphic phrase, we could be risking the creation of six or seven extras Cubas around the world.

The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement runs to 1974 and we shall of course fully honour our undertakings under it. What concerns us in Brussels is the arrangements thereafter. The year 1974 may seem a long way off as we discuss matters here quietly early in 1971, but sugar production is a long-term affair and the sugar producers need to know what the post-1974 position will be in order to plan and finance the rolling on of their production. As your Lordships will know, we have tabled proposals to the Community for a form of continuing arrangement for Commonwealth sugar after our entry, subject to review. We still await the Community's reaction to this important proposal. Since these negotiations are in progress at the present time, I would preserve the fig leaf, but I would only echo the hope which has been expressed by both the noble Lords who have spoken before me, that it will prove possible to work out a satisfactory arrangement with the Six. I very much trust that this will be the case, and I am confident that it will be, if only because of the supreme importance of this crop to a number of developing Commonwealth countries all around the globe, and because of the record of the Six towards the developing world.

That brings me to the other "crunch" issue in the Commonwealth context, namely, the future of New Zealand ex- ports of dairy products. As in the case of sugar, there are compelling economic, social and historical reasons for seeking a satisfactory solution to the problem of New Zealand. I must admit here to feeling these reasons strongly and personally. My earliest years were spent in New Zealand. I am aware, as I think any European must be aware, that the soil of Europe has been impregnated with the blood of New Zealanders in two world wars. Having served alongside the New Zealand Division in the war, I am perhaps the more acutely aware of that. Moreover, as an Englishman I cannot forget, any more than the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, was able to forget, that in order to help us after the war the New Zealanders themselves submitted voluntarily to rationing. I am also aware of the strenuous efforts which New Zealand has been making in the last decade or so to diversify its economy and its exports.

In any event, my Lords, we have put to the Community proposals which we consider would form a solution to the problem of New Zealand's exports of butter and cheese. We have asked here again for a form of continuing arrangement subject to review, so that we can assess the position—so that the enlarged Community can assess the position—as we go along. Here again, as in the case of the sugar-producing Commonwealth countries, we still await the Community's considered reaction. I should only like now to express the earnest hope that when we do receive the Community's reply it will reflect a generous approach to the very real problems of a small but stable democracy right across the other side of our world, and also an awareness on the part of the Community of the great importance attached by Her Majesty's Government to a satisfactory solution of the New Zealand problem.

My Lords, I have attempted to give as factual and objective an account as I could of the present state of play in the Brussels negotiations so far as they affect the Commonwealth. I fear that this account has been necessarily rather pedestrian and terre-à-terre, but I thought it right to let your Lordships have the facts with the minimum of subjective gloss. But what of the future? What if, as I sincerely hope, these negotiations are concluded, and concluded without undue delay? What then of the Commonwealth and of Britain's position in the nexus of Commonwealth relations?

It is clear that there are those who believe that, even though there may be no formal incompatibility between membership of the Commonwealth and membership of the Common Market, entry into the Community will mean a withering away of the Commonwealth links. Some believe that if we tread the European path we shall grow less and less interested in what goes on beyond the European shore and that our involvement in Europe will absorb all our interests and energies in the future. My Lords, I believe this could happen. One thing that rather worries me about Britain today is the growing tendency of the British people merely to contemplate the British navel. Personally, I believe that this parochial attitude will pass; that it is a temporary phase. In any event, it is certainly my belief that, far from absorbing all our energies, entry into the Common Market should enable us to make a bigger contribution than we have made in the recent past to breathing real life into that diverse association which is termed the Commonwealth.

In conclusion, I should just like to instance, very briefly, three ways in which this could come about. The developing countries of the Commonwealth look to us for technical and financial assistance. We give a lot. But we give less than we should like to give because our economy is growing more slowly and less surely than those of the countries in the Six. But it is not only the developing countries of the Commonwealth who look to us: there are also the economically developed countries, like Australia, who look to us for investment; and sometimes they have looked in vain in recent years because of the economic straitjacket in which we have found ourselves. If we join the Common Market it is a fair bet that London will become its financial centre. It is also a fair bet that if we join on the right terms our economy will expand far faster than if we do not join. All this, in turn, will give us the resources which we at present lack, not only to put much more weight behind aid and assistance to the developing countries, but also to enable us to invest on a scale greater than our resources have permitted in recent years in the economically more advanced countries of the Commonwealth.

But, of course, we need to think wider than this. I believe that it is within our power to make a major contribution to the relationship between Europe and the Third World. I would not wish to claim any gift of prophecy, but if we seek to look beyond the horizon of this century, I have very little doubt that the, area of greatest difficulty and of greatest challenge for Europe will lie in the relations between its rich, well-fed, industrialised and mainly white millions, and those billions in the Caribbean, in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, in the Indian subcontinent, who are mostly poor, mostly hungry, whose skins have a different pigmentation from ours and whose populations are exploding.

In this, as in other matters, I believe that our younger generation have the right instinct. It is certainly my understanding that they see this as perhaps the greatest challenge which will confront them, and this country and the countries of the West, as they grow older. Too often in the past we have exported our national rivalries to the lands which we Europeans have colonised. Too often, these days, we find, despite all the mechanisms which have been developed within the Community, the Commonwealth, and in O.E.C.D., a failure on the part of the richer nations properly to co-ordinate their policies of aid towards the poorer nations. It is my belief that the enlargement of the Community, and our entry into it, presents a marvellous opportunity, which we shall not get again, for us in Europe to work together in more properly discharging the responsibilities which are ours in this crucial area of world affairs. And I believe that very sincerely.

My Lords, these are some of he prizes that are within reach of the negotiators in Brussels. These negotiators we and they, have the responsibility to protect legitimate Commonwealth interests. The future of the negotiations is unknown, and there are major questions, which I have not hidden from your Lordships, still to be resolved. But I hope that it is at least clear from what I have said that there is no intention of Her Majesty's Government of selling any of these countries, or any of these problems, Sown the river. In a way, that is the negative side of the coin: because equally I believe that the negotiators in Brussels have an opportunity, as I have just suggested, of strengthening in a really fundamental way the relationship between an enlarged Community and the outside world, including not least the developing world, and not least the Commonwealth, in which there are a great many countries which are part of that developing world.

This is not the moment, my Lords, to prophesy about the course of the negotiations during these coming crucial weeks and months. All I will say is that I can see no problem which, with good will and with good sense, cannot successfully be resolved. And it happens to remain at least my profound conviction that it is in the interests of Britain, of Europe, of the Commonwealth and of the wider world, that these problems should be successfully resolved and successfully resolved without undue delay.

4.16 p.m.


My Lords, may I at this time say how grateful I am for the kind words of the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, about my presence in this honourable House? I appreciate it. I feel very humble, very privileged, and I am happy to be able to contribute in my small way to this debate.

My Lords, you have already heard that Britain's entry into the European Economic Community might seriously injure Commonwealth trade. I have listened carefully to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and he seems to have hit on the spot which affects us greatly, except that he has not mentioned citrus and bananas. It is widely known that Britain has given an undertaking to the Governments and peoples of the West Indies, and I can assure your Lordships that repeated assurances would be welcome. It is well known that the products of concern to the countries in question are labour intensive (I think Lord Jellicoe's very words): agricultural industries like sugar, banana and citrus. It is not just a question of revenue for the Governments; the importance of these industries lies in the fact that hundreds of families depend on them for their livelihood, and any destruction is bound to result in serious aggravation of the severe unemployment problems which the countries are now faced with, and the obvious threat of social, political and economic upheaval. I was pleased to hear Lord Jellicoe make that point, for it is the important point which I have come here to-day to stress.

For Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Britain constitutes the second largest export market after the United States. United Kingdom imports from Jamaica are equivalent to 80.4 per cent., and from Trinidad and Tobago 64.9 per cent. A great deal of the production of many Commonwealth countries has developed and expanded in response to a demand in the market of the United Kingdom. By preferences, trade agreements, maintenance of the sterling area and special arrangements, the United Kingdom has encouraged such production, and has, moreover, encouraged and influenced the orientation of its marketing towards Britain.

As a result of this historical process, the export afforded by Britain is the sheet anchor of the produce-marketing system of most Commonwealth countries. The great danger of Britain's entry into an enlarged European Community is the loss of this long-valued outlet without the prospect of any alternatives, unless the conditions on which Britain enters are such as to enable Commonwealth countries to continue to export to the enlarged Community.

The Agreement was signed on December 31, 1951. In the case of the developing Commonwealth Caribbean, the West Indies Sugar Association (Inc.) and the Belize Sugar Industries Limited are the parties responsible for looking after the sugar industries, and the sugar exports of Antigua, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and British Honduras. This Agreement has created preferential markets in the United Kingdom and Canada, to which an overall Agreement quota of 925,000 long tons of sugar was made available to the Commonwealth Caribbean on a preferential tariff basis. Of this amount 745,000 tons are sold at a negotiated price.

The parties in this document seek to go through the conditions and reasons for certain steps which are taken, but there is fear that Commonwealth Caribbean interests would be sacrificed in Britain's negotiations to join the Common Market. The position is considered so serious in the West Indies that I suggest that Britain makes acceptance of the Sugar Agreement a condition of her entry into the Common Market.

Whatever is decided, either with regard to given products or on a specific country or group of countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean, should not mitigate against the promotion of regional co-operation which the Government of the area, the British Government and other Commonwealth Governments, and indeed the countries of the E.E.C., have long supported. These negotiations provide Britain with an opportunity to demonstrate that her concern for the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean, with which she has been linked for so long, is no less than that which the Community demonstrated for countries which were similarly placed in relation to some of its member countries.

The uncertainty about the future places the estate owners in difficulties about bank credits, as was mentioned recently by the Jamaican Minister, Mr. Light-bourne. No bank wants to lend money in this precarious situation, with the result that cane production may be reduced and an allocation of sugar hampered. These are facts which are bound to be considered in relation to the present operation of the sugar industry in the West Indies, and I am hoping that Britain will see to it that this Sugar Agreement is accepted by the Six before Britain enters into the Common Market.

The noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, made the point in relation to the Commonwealth Immigrants Act about Belgium and Italy having a status superior or equal to Barbadians or West Indians in this country. At some time or other, but not to-day, I hope to make the case that the West Indian is different from any other colonial in the world. He is a different person. In essence he is a black Englishman, because when slavery took the African into the West Indies, the owners destroyed everything that was Africa. They have not got their original names. My grandfather was a Nigerian, and my grandmother was Nigerian, but I ant named Constantine. That name was collected in the West Indies. The original West Indians did not use the pots and pans that the Africans used; they were not allowed to. The curriculum we used at school was the same curriculum that you use in this country. The games you played in this country were the games we played in that country. You perhaps have not missed the point that of late we have beaten the teacher at his game; so that we are not different. I do not know any other language. I do not know any other custom. Therefore, it was easy for me to live in England.

The Commonwealth Immigrants Act, which has just been passed, has created a patchwork of difficulties for coloured people. I want to put forward one point which may have been missed, if Britain enters the Common Market While France has no Colonies, there is an attachment to metropolitan France in Guadaloupe and Martinique. The freedom of movement of the Frenchman or others in the Common Market is mutually accepted, so that a black Frenchman from Martinique or Guadaloupe will be able to come into London without reporting to the police or to the employment exchange. He will be coming in as a member of the Common Market country of France, while those of us who are British-born and bred have to report to the police or to the employment exchanges. This is something that you have to consider. Either you make the black Frenchman report or you are discriminating further.

I believe I have said enough. I have given your Lordships something to think about. I am quite sure that those of us who love England and our country will hope that in the negotiations with the Common Market Britain will protect the interests of the impoverished Commonwealth, the Caribbean Commonwealth, in bananas, citrus and sugar.