HL Deb 24 May 1971 vol 319 cc782-800

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, with the permission of your Lordships House, I should like to repeat a Statement now being made in another place by the Prime Minister on the visit he paid to Paris last week. This is the Statement:

"With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I should like to make a Statement about the visit which I made to Paris last week.

" I should like first to tell the House of the warmth of the welcome which I received from the President of the French Republic and from the Prime Minister and his colleagues. I was impressed by their unmistakable desire for a renewal of friendship and co-operation between Britain and France, as an essential element in the growing unity of Europe.

" My talks with President Pompidou extended altogether over a period of something like eleven hours. Except for a short time at the end of the talks when we were joined by the Prime Minister of France, we were accompanied during this time only by interpreters. This enabled us to deal with the wide range of subjects covered in the communiqué issued at the end of the talks, which I will with permission circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

" Our main area of discussion was the whole field of European policy. It was heartening to discover how close are the views of the French and British Governments on the development of Europe and its role in the world.

" Our talks showed that both Governments wish to bring about the development of a united Europe through an enlarged European Community. We do not intend this as a defensive alliance against external threat. We see it as certainly the best means, and probably the only means, in the world of to-day, of guaranteeing peace within Europe, providing prosperity for her peoples, and restoring to Europe that political, economic and cultural influence in the world that her traditions and her potential justify.

" We also found an identity of view on the role which a united Europe can play in relation to the problems which face us in other parts of the world, and particularly in relation to the developing countries, where there is so much that an enlarged Community which included Britain and France could contribute.

" We discussed the development of the European Community and the working of its institutions. We agreed in particular that the identity of national States should be maintained in the framework of the developing Community. This means of course that though the European Commission has made. and will continue to make, a valuable contribution, the Council of Ministers should continue to be the forum in which important decisions are taken, and that the processes of harmonisation should not override essential national interests. We were in agreement that the maintenance and strengthening of the fabric of cooperation in such a Community requiries that decisions should in practice be taken by unanimous agreement when vital national interests of any one or more members are at stake.

" This is indeed entirely in accordance with the views which I have long held. It provides a clear assurance, just as the history of the Community provides clear evidence, that joining the Community does not entail a loss of national identity or an erosion of essential national sovereignty.

" As to the means by which greater unity and co-operation could be achieved, our primary concern was with the development of common economic policies, in the context of the British application for entry into the European Communities. But we both saw this as the basis for closer political collaboration, if the negotiations for enlargement of the Communities could be brought to a successful conclusion. We had only a brief dis cussion of defence questions, recognising that these were matters for the future, after enlargement.

" We reviewed the progress made in the Community towards economic and monetary union, following the meeting of the six Heads of Government in The Hague in December, 1969. I told President Pompidou that Britain looked forward wholeheartedly to joining in the economic and monetary development of the Community, if negotiations for British accession could be satisfactorily concluded. We both arrived at a clearer understanding of each other's anxieties and objectives in this fields; and I was able to dispel any reservations which the French Government might have felt about the British Government's willingness, which my right honourable friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster have often expressed, to accept the consequences of this development for its own policies.

" We agreed upon the need to negotiate suitable arrangements for those members of EFTA who are not applying for membership of the enlarged Community, and thus to avoid the re-erection of trade barriers between them and the Community.

" We discussed the problems which would arise as a result of enlargement of the Communities, when the time came to renew the Yaounde Convention. The House will have noted that our agreement on the need to safeguard the existing rights of present associates under the Convention was matched by our agreement on the need to safeguard the interests of future associates under a new Convention and particularly of those who would depend largely on exports to the enlarged Community of sugar or other primary products.

" Finally, the President and I reviewed the progress of the enlargement negotiations. We did not attempt to reach definite conclusions on issues which fall to be considered within the negotiating conference in Brussels and Luxembourg. But the President emphasised the importance he attached to the system of Community preference and his welcome for Britain's acceptance of this principle upon entry into the Community at the last Brussels meeting. I went over the main issues involved in a settlement of Britain's contribution to the Community budget in the years leading up to the full implementation of the Community's system of financing its expediture. And I emphasised to President Pompidou the importance of reaching satisfactory arrangements for New Zealand. I also explained the difficulties presented for us by the existing fisheries regulation. On all these points, though we did not seek to arrive at final conclusions, President Pompidou's attitude was positive and constructive.

" The results of our exchanges on these matters are best demonstrated in our joint conclusion that it is desirable and possible to reach early agreement in the negotiations between Britain and the Community. The President and I both felt able to say after our talks that we were confident that the main issues could be settled before the end of June.

" There are still important questions to resolve, and there is still much hard work to be done before Her Majesty's Government will he in a position to come to Parliament with an account of the arrangements on which our entry into the European Communities can be negotiated. But this I can say today, as a result of my talks with the President of the French Republic. I am confident that the divisions and suspicions which have so hampered relations between Britain and France in recent years have now been removed. We have established that the views of the two Governments are very close over the whole range of European policies. The French President has shown his clear desire to proceed with the building of a united Europe on the basis of an enlarged Community, with Britain as a member. We can therefore approach both the final phase of our negotiations for entry into the Communities and, if they go well, the development of Europe thereafter. in a spirit of confidence and partnership. I believe that this opens the prospect of a degree of unity, and thus of peace and prosperity, in Western Europe which our Continent has never seen before, and which would be of pro- found significance for Britain, for Europe and for the whole wcrld."

My Lords, that concludes the Prime Minister's Statement.

Following is the text of the Communiqué referred to in the Statement:

" The President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom held discussions en tete a tete in Paris on 20 and 21 May, 1971. Mr. Heath also called upon Monsieur Chaban-Delmas on 20 May.

" On the role of Europe following the enlargement of the European Economic Community the President of the Republic and the British Prime Minister had a thorough exchange which showed that their views were very close. They expressed in particular their determination to contribute through the enlarged and deepened Community to increasing European co-operation and to the development of distinctively European policies, in the first instance principally in economic matters and progressively in other fields.

"The discussion led to a complete identity of view on the working and the development of the Community. The President of the Republic and the British Prime Minister considered the range of economic, financial and monetary problems which could arise as a result of enlargement. They also discussed the progress of the European Community towards economic and monetary union, and its implications for existing financial relationships. The Prime Minister reaffirmed the readiness of Britain to participate fully and in a European spirit in this development. These discussions produced a useful clarification of views which will provide a firm basis for the future.

"The President of the Republic and the British Prime Minister took note with satisfaction of the agreements recently reached at the Ministerial Meeting between the Community and the United Kingdom on 11 and 12 May on agricultural and industrial matters, and particularly on the application of Community preference in the agricultural field.

"The President of the Republic and the British Prime Minister considered that it was desirable and possible to reach early agreement on the main outstanding issues in the negotiations for British entry, particularly the problems relating to New Zealand and the British contribution to the Community budget.

"The President of the Republic and the British Prime Minister expressed their joint desire to resolve the problems which will arise from the renewal of the Yaounde Convention in a positive spirit and having regard to existing rights. It would equally be necessary to take account of the need to safeguard the interests of the countries who are, or will have the opportunity to become, signatories of that Convention and who are largely dependent upon the markets of the enlarged Community for their exports of sugar or other primary products."

3.48 p.m.


We are truly grateful to the noble Earl for reading this long Statement. There is one thing we can all say. We welcome anything which leads to an improvement in Anglo-French relations and I think there can be no disagreement amongst any of us of the desirability of this. I am not quite sure, but I do not think the noble Earl will attribute the improvement entirely to these particular talks. Noble Lords know my own position in regard to the desirability of our entry into the Common Market providing the terms are right, but it seems to me that we are not —and I do not mean this critically—very much further forward when it comes to a discussion of terms. The Statement makes clear that there are a number of matters still to be discussed and still to be settled, and although one welcomes the reference to the Yaounde Agreement as important, my noble friend Lord Campbell of Eskan made clear the other day our difficulties even where that is concerned.

I certainly welcome the fact, and I think most noble Lords do, that there has been no suggestion of a deal with regard to nuclear sharing. We would hope that at some stage France might consider returning into NATO as a first step, but I do not wish to make critical remarks at the moment. Although there were no witnesses other than the interpreters, I hope that the strength of feeling and the sense of honour that is involved with regard to New Zealand was firmly laid on the table. I conclude that this was done. I think that that is a matter to which we all attach the greatest importance. The terms that emerge may well be decisive in a matter of this kind.

There are aspects of the Statement which are a little difficult to follow and I think that some noble Lords may still wonder what one or two sentences mean. There is almost a decent obscurity about them. One important thing that does seem to emerge is the need for unanimous agreement. There are some who hope that Europe is now moving very much further towards integrated form. But this does not appear to be at all the issue at the moment, except in so far as we may find ourselves already committed to aspects of European policy which we do not like. No doubt these will come out when, finally, we see the terms.

May I conclude by asking what plans there are for the publication of a White Paper? There have been many reports in the Press, but one never knows how much is officially inspired or is speculation. I would urge on the Government on a matter of such profound importance —this apparently is what was discussed at dinner last night; and I was glad to see, according to the papers, that the noble Earl was at the dinner—the necessity that the public and Parliament have plenty of time to consider, so that we do not make up our minds too quickly in one direction or another.

Is it the noble Earl's intention that we should have a debate before we rise for the summer? I am not pressing him on this. I can see arguments for and against. But clearly, if these negotiations are to be concluded at the end of June, there will need to be some opportunity for discussion, even if we do not make a final decision until after a period of consideration in the country. I should be grateful if the noble Earl could say something on that point, and also if he would confirm my understanding that unanimous agreement is required. I am wondering how far this may lead to a postponement of the implementation of the Werner proposals.

3.52 p.m.


My Lords, I know that this is departing from convention, but may I deal comprehensively with the points put to me by the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition before we proceed? I should like to thank him very much for the general tenor of his reception of the Statement of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, which I have just repeated. I should like, above all, to dwell for a second on what the noble Lord has said about the improvement in Anglo-French relations. It is my belief, on the basis of what I have learned about the conversations—and it is certainly my right honourable friend's belief—that these talks do provide a new point of departure in the Anglo-French relationship. I believe that this is a matter of very profound significance for Europe, because I believe that a great deal of the progress which we could have made in Europe and the good influence which Europe in a more unified sense could have brought to bear on the world has been bedevilled by the malaise and misunderstanding which has existed for too long between our two countries. I do not wish to attribute this improvement to any specific factor, but here I should like to pay tribute to the officials concerned because the success is in part attributable to the very careful preparations of these important talks. They were a model of preparation.

The noble Lord suggested that on points of detail the Statement which I have made does not advance us all that far. I think in a way that that is quite true, because the Paris talks, significant though they undoubtedly are and as I am sure they will prove to be in the perspective of history, are no substitute for negotiations between the Six and the United Kingdom. But I believe that they advance us a great way forward in three vital particulars. In the first place, it is now clear beyond a doubt that all the Six wish us to join the Community. Secondly, there is an evident desire to see the main negotiations concluded, settled, by the end of June. Thirdly (and this brings me back to the point I was making) all this implies a positive French attitude towards the success of these negotiations. I believe that these are fundamentals which are far more important than any point of detail.

On matters of detail, the noble Lord rightly referred to the crucial importance of a fair deal for New Zealand. I have clearly in my recollection what I said on that question and I do not dissent for one moment. All I will say is that his views on that matter, which are widely shared in this country, were made crystal clear by my right honourable friend to the French President. I can also confirm what the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition said about the need for unanimous agreement on vital issues. This implies that we have accepted the position, which I think is usually referred to loosely as the Luxembourg formula.

Finally, so far as Parliamentary discussions on this matter are concerned, I agree entirely that it would be desirable that Her Majesty's Government should publish a White Paper so soon as the progress of the negotiations makes that possible. I should prefer not to be tied down on time on that, because it depends on the progress of the negotiations; but in principle I entirely agree and again, depending on the progress of the negotiations, given the vast importance of this matter and the differing, sincerely held views about it, my own personal belief is (but I do not wish this to be a governmental commitment, and clearly it can be discussed through the usual channels) that if and when progress makes a White Paper possible, it should not be too long thereafter when this matter is fully ventilated at least in this House of Parliament.

3.59 p.m.


My Lords, we on these Benches unhesitatingly welcome what we believe to be a real landmark in the construction of a new, democratic order in Western Europe. Clearly we cannot press the Government, nor should we wish to do so, for further details regarding the outstanding issues in the present negotiations; but, happily, it looks as if agreement on these will now be possible, indeed, likely. Far the most important aspect of the talks seems to be the meeting of minds as regards the sort of Europe which we are seeking to create when the negotiations are successful. For this agreement, this meeting of minds, has lifted a potential French veto on British entry on purely political grounds. A threat which was always latent in the background has, happily, now been removed and from this point onwards all is possible.

I join with others in congratulating the Prime Minister on his success in dispersing that " malaise " which for so many years has poisoned our relations with France. I would only add that, while most of us would agree with what the Prime Minister says about the reservation of the national identity of this country, it is clear that for the time being, if we join the Community, it will operate in the last resort on the basis of the unanimity rule in the Council of Ministers, with such assistance as can be afforded by the Brussels Commission. I myself believe, my Lords, that this system will become quite inapplicable after a rather short period. How can we advance, for instance, towards any kind of monetary union if it is maintained? But for the time being it is clear we shall have to put up with it, whether we think it is a good thing or not, just as for a considerable time we shall not be able to expect a directly elected Parliament, though all democrats must be of one mind in thinking that this must come as soon as possible.

I have only one definite question to ask the Government. It was a good thing, as I believe—and I share the view of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton on this—that nuclear matters were not discussed; but I am a little disappointed that apparently so little attention was given to the problems of defence. Would not the Government agree that it will be necessary in the very near future at least to think about the reform of Western European Union, for instance; and how to advance, if we can, on the present rather rudimentary machine for concerting foreign policy? Subject to these remarks I should like again to congratulate the Prime Minister, and wish him and Mr. Rippon all success in the remaining period of negotiations, which are certainly likely to be difficult if we are to reach terms on New Zealand and on Commonwealth sugar which are sure of approval in this Parliament.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a very short question?


My Lords, may I first answer the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn? Again I should like to thank him for his reception of the Statement which I have repeated. So far as the unanimity rule is concerned, I would point out that in fact this is in practice accepted by all of the Six at the present time. I would not rule out the possibility that over a period of time—and, clearly, this will be the case—that institutions will develop; and also I myself would hope (because I share to this extent the noble Lord's views) that we shall see over a period of time the strengthening of European Parliamentary institutions. But I believe that this is bound to take time, and therefore it is only sensible for us to proceed on the basis on which such firm agreement has now been reached between the French President and my right honourable friend.

My Lords, so far as W.E.U. is concerned, I should only like to say that I think it would be sensible to start from our present position. But here again modifications may be required. This is quite clearly a matter for discussion within the enlarged Community, and indeed within W.E.U. I am sure we shall be very willing to join in those and contribute positively to any such discussions that may take place.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl a short question? Would not the noble Earl the Leader of the House concede, that many people have reservations about the phrase in the Prime Minister's Statement, that the close views of Britain and France about the development of Europe were the only means of attaining peace and prosperity in Europe, and feel that it goes much too wide?


My Lords, I am not certain that I recollect any precise phraseology saying that it was our belief that this is the only means of advancing the cause of European unity or helping in other directions, but I think it can make a very important contribution to it indeed.


My Lords, as a champion of the cause of united Europe for a quarter of a century I should like to welcome the Prime Minister's Statement, repeated here by the Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House. There is only one little question that I imagine he expects me to ask, and it concerns the fisheries regulations. I was not quite clear from what he said whether he thought the present fishery regulations of the Common Market were to be the subject of further consideration at Luxembourg. I hope that that is the case, and if it is I shall be quite satisfied.


My Lords, may I say that there are very few Members of your Lordships' House, if any, who have made so great a contribution to the cause of European unity as the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, and he is entitled to ask his supplementary question on fisheries. The answer is that it will be the subject of further discussions. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is leaving for Norway this evening and will be discussing this matter with his Norwegian colleagues. I can however confirm, as was made clear in the Statement, that this matter was discussed in Paris. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made our position unmistakably clear to the French President and it was clearly understood that this will be a matter for negotiation between us and the Six.


My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that all of us welcome the understanding between the French and this country? Is he further aware that none of us would assume that it will mean just that, friendship and European peace? The problem of Europe is much greater than that. May I ask the noble Earl whether he is also aware that an eleventh-hour speech is not enough to change one thousand years of British history despite the fact that in this noble House we use the Norman French "La Reine le veult"? We are now being told that English is the language of America and not of Britain, and not an official language. Is he further aware that some of us think that the unity of Europe is a bigger thing than this, and that neither this noble House, nor the 630-odd Members of another place were elected at the Election on the issue of entry into Europe? Norway and some other countries are having a referendum, and some of us, despite the enthusiasm that some people display, would press for a referendum in this country before such a terrific decision is made. The reception of this Statement in this noble House to-day sounded more like a funeral oration than an oratorical arpeggio of entry into a great new venture in the history of the world.


My Lords, I am aware of some of the points which the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, has put to me and I am also aware that if we are successful in our negotiations—and I believe we shall be successful in our negotiations now to enter the Common Market—that this is not by any means the end of the matter in Europe. But I believe that the strengthening of European unity which that event will bring about will make a very material contribution to the world outside Western Europe itself. This I believe profoundly. It is implicit in the Statement I repeated that both my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and the French President believe in particular that thus Europe will be enabled to play a far more positive part in both trade and aid policies towards the developing world than they have been able to generate up until now, and I believe this to be a matter of very considerable importance.

My Lords, on the question of the English language, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek with touching solicitude was uneasy and so concerned about, all I can say is that the position is perfectly clear. The languages of all member countries of the Community are official languages of the Community. If we join the Community, English will be an official language of the Community. But I see no difficulty at all, as since 1961 British officials, with their usual adaptability, have shown that they have been able to hold their own in discussions with the Six, be they in French or in English, and I think that this happy situation will continue.

4.10 p.m.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend a question? First, speaking as one who has close business ties with France, I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister on clearing away so many misconceptions. If it be that this is the critical and psychological moment for concluding the negotiations, will he give the House an assurance now that Her Majesty's Government will use every possible endeavour to bring this matter to a successful issue, and thus allow us to reap some of the undoubted economic benefits?


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Watkinson for what he has said. I can give him, without equivocation and quite categorically, the assurance for which he has asked.


My Lords, can the noble Earl answer a specific question on unanimous voting? He quoted from the Prime Minister's Statement to the effect that unanimous voting in the larger Community, if we join, would continue on important issues. I wonder whether he can say who is to determine what is or what is not an important issue? This is most important to our future if we join the Common Market.


My Lords, I think that over a period of time the Six have had no difficulty whatever in identifying what are the vital national interests where the Luxembourg Agreement, so called, applied.


My Lords, can the noble Earl say whether President Pompidou has made an official report on the conversations, in the same way as we have heard this afternoon from the Prime Minister, and whether it is possible for this to be made available to us in this country?


My Lords, I do not think I can undertake to make French official reports available to your Lordships. Meetings of this kind, as my noble friend must be well aware, are necessarily confidential. What I can say is that there is no possibility, as I understand it, of any misunderstanding, of the sort that followed, for example, the Rambouillet meetings, arising in this regard. Each side made its own record of the conversations and of the agreements and understandings reached. We have made quite sure that there is no possibility of misunderstanding concerning that area arising between us and the French Government.


My Lords, the noble Earl seems to be satisfied that the negotiations will prove successful. Has he taken into consideration what may happen in the other place and what the majority opinion of people in the country may be? Back-Benchers, owing to Standing Orders of your Lordships' House, are at a disadvantage in that they cannot debate the matter, but can only ask questions. I should like to put two questions to the noble Earl. He has referred to the possibility, indeed the probability, in his mind, as in the mind also of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, of the strengthening of political ties in Europe. The noble Earl also referred to the possibility in the future of a strengthening of ties relating to defence. Are we to understand that there is a possibility, indeed a probability, of a federal structure being decided upon after we have entered the Common Market; and equally, that a defence organisation on a European basis may be implemented after we decide to enter the Common Market without the people of this country or even Parliament having a voice in the matter? Are these matters of vital importance to this country, and indeed to Europe and the world, to be determined after we enter the Common Market, without primary consideration?


My Lords, I think I can answer the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, very clearly indeed. I agree that both the possibilities on which he touched —and I made it crystal clear that defence and nuclear matters were barely discussed at all in these discussions—are matters of very great consequence indeed. I can only say that, if it was the belief of the British Prime Minister at the time that there were proposals within an enlarged Community in that sphere which were running counter to our vital national interests, this is clearly one of the matters on which we should be able to reserve our position absolutely. The Prime Minister of the day and the Government of the day are subject to Parliamentary control. Parliamentary control will therefore be exercised. That, in my view, is how it should be.


My Lords, further to that answer, can my noble friend explain a little more the defence aspect here? Can he say how it is possible to negotiate membership of a political association aiming at a monetary union with one country that is divided, and whose reunification is only possible with Russian consent, upon the demise both of NATO and of the E.E.C., and with another which has withdrawn from NATO altogether?


My Lords, I can only say that what we are here doing is negotiating entry into the European Economic Community. The points which my noble friend has put hardly arise in that particular connection. It was of course on the agenda for discussion between the French Head of State and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, but I made it absolutely clear in my reply that these matters of defence were barely touched upon in the discussions in Paris.


My Lords, would my noble friend not agree that to negotiate what is described as being intended to be a monetary union with, among other countries, one that is split, and indeed explosive, does not really make a great deal of sense? As it stands some of us are very puzzled by the whole proposal.


My Lords, my noble friend would take me very wide indeed if I were to attempt to answer these matters. They are just the sort of things that I believe we should explore more fully in debate. They are not susceptible to quick question and answer.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether he is aware that a number of us are deeply concerned about the effect of this proposal not only on sugar and New Zealand, but on the living standards of the people in the developing countries? Can he give us an assurance that this consortium of industrial Powers in Western Europe will not be used for the exploitation of countries producing the primary commodities and raw materials?


My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, underestimates the sense of responsibility of the Six towards the developing world. Their aid policies do not compare unfavourably—if anything the reverse—with those which we ourselves have been able to achieve in recent years. But I believe that there is an identity of interest here, and it is one that has been shown by the Paris discussions. It is my understanding that the French President made it absolutely clear that it was the policy of his Government that the existing associates of the Community, the Francophobe countries to a large extent, should not suffer when the Yaounde Convention falls to be reviewed. But, by the same token, my right honourable friend made it clear that we were equally concerned that the interests of the Commonwealth countries in question should be safeguarded, and not least the developing countries, when we are members of the enlarged Community. I believe—and I say this in all seriousness to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway—that there is a very real identity of interest between France and the United Kingdom on this particular matter.


My Lords, I should like to ask my noble friend one question about New Zealand, whence I recently returned. Is he aware that the farmers, of whom I met several, are par- ticularly worried about the transitional period of negotiations regarding dairy produce? Can he give an assurance that during these talks, and during future talks, particular attention will be given to a reasonable transition period?


My Lords, I think I have already made it clear that Her Majesty's Government are no less concerned than my noble friend in safeguarding the interests of a country which is very dear to all of us, and where I happen to have spent my early childhood. The protection of essential New Zealand interests, and its importance, was a matter that was made absolutely crystal clear by my right honourable friend in the course of the Paris discussions. The fact that both he and President Pompidou were able to say that they saw no reason why the negotiations should not be satisfactorily concluded, that we should be seeing our way to a full settlement by June, shows that there was a response from the French side on this particular matter.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl—I think he may not have understood the point my noble friend Lady Gaitskell made—whether he would consider that it is an accurate statement (he may not wish to answer) that we, the British, consider that the best and probably the only means of guaranteeing peace within Europe is by the policy now advocated? This is a very West European point of view. I think that was the point my noble friend was making; and perhaps it is unfortunately worded. Could he also again consider the point made by my noble friend Lord Brockway. Whereas it is true that Europe as a whole, and certainly France, have probably been contributing more, and do accept their duty to the underdeveloped countries, we in this country have tended to follow a less deliberate pursuit of British interests in the giving of aid; and there are some of us who are concerned that the giving of aid becomes a purely political weapon.


My Lords, of course I shall be glad to bear in mind both points which the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition, has put to me. I think the first one has a slightly semantic quality which we need not go into now, but I quite take the point he has made, and if I misinterpreted the noble Baroness's question I apologise.


My Lords, while welcoming the noble Earl's Statement, may I ask one question? Supposing our entry into the Common Market breaks down through economic difficulties, will it be possible for a political and defence union to be formed between Great Britain and the Six?


My Lords, I suppose it could, but I think that is a very hypothetical possibility. In view of the success of the Paris talks I very much doubt whether it is going to be an eventuality which we shall have to face.


My Lords, in the Statement the noble Earl made, he made reference to the Council of Ministers. Is he in a position to state whether there was conversation between the two leaders in regard to a European Parliament?


My Lords, I cannot go beyond the Statement repeating what my right honourable friend has said on that point, but I shall be glad to look into the matter for the noble Lord, Lord Slater. I believe that on a matter of this sort, where chance words should not be idly spoken, it would perhaps be best for us to move on to our other business, with which we are equally familiar by now, and we can come back to this subject, as we doubtless shall. This is, I believe, a matter of primordial importance to us, to Europe and to the world, and we shall have a great deal of opportunity in the coming months to discuss it at length in your Lordships' House.


My Lords, I fully accept what the noble Earl says. May I ask him whether he is in a position to say anything more about a debate? And would he bear in mind that we should be very upset if we thought there was no discussion about a European Parliament between the Prime Minister and the President? But I equally accept that he cannot add to what has been said to-day.


My Lords, I do not think I can add a great deal to what I said about a debate. I have said, quite clearly, this is a matter that we shall wish to discuss. The exact timing must depend on the rate of progress in the forthcoming meetings at Brussels and Luxembourg, which will be of great importance. Perhaps we can continue to discuss this matter through the usual channels, and if and when there is a desire and it seems the right moment we will not be at all resistant to the idea of a debate of this whole area.


My Lords, did I understand the noble Earl to say that there will be a White Paper and that it will be on the basis of that White Paper that we shall have a discussion?


My Lords, it seems to me sensible, as and when sufficient progress has been made, that that progress is brought together in a White Paper, but I think the timing of that must depend on the progress and the speed of negotiations in Brussels and Luxembourg. I say Luxembourg, because one of the meetings of the Seven will be in Luxembourg.