HL Deb 05 December 1972 vol 337 cc139-41

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government by what method Peers will be selected to represent the United Kingdom in the proposed European Assembly.


My Lords, as your Lordships will know, the procedure for selecting delegates was one of the matters which the Government suggested that the proposed Ad Hoc Select Committee should consider. The reply to this proposal may, I understand, be given next week. In the circumstances, your Lordships might feel that it would be premature for me to make any further comment at this stage.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for that Answer, and in the circumstances I am quite ready to defer my supplementary question or supplementary questions. I only want to ask the noble Earl one question which I think is relevant to the subject. When the selection is made of Members of your Lordships' House to go to the European Assembly or the European Parliament, whatever it is called, will the names of those nominated or selected come before your Lordships' House for approval?


My Lords, my ears almost deceived me to begin with, because I thought that the noble Lord was not going to ask a supplementary question; but in fact his supplementary is designed to draw me on to just the ground on which I think it would be inadvisable for me to be drawn at this moment.


My Lords, without wishing to draw my noble friend the Leader of the House on to ground which he would prefer to avoid, may I ask him whether he would consider this question for answer now or at an appropriate time; namely, whether representatives sent from this House will be considered as representing people, Parliament or Government?


My Lords, I should like to give mature thought to my noble friend's suggestion. Meanwhile, I can assure him that this is ground on which I will happily tread, but it just seems to me a little premature to do so at the moment, because it is still my hope that we shall do the sensible thing for Parliament as a whole, and that is to agree between the Parties on the right way of doing this.


My Lords, whenever it is accepted—and I hope it is not—that we should send Lords to the European Parliament, will it be done through the usual channels, so that the "blue-eyed boys" on both sides who are Common Marketeers will be sent?


Again, my Lords, having decided to impose this self-denying ordinance on myself, I am afraid I cannot lift the veil. But I hope that, whatever procedure is adopted, the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, will be found to be playing a prominent part in Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg.


My Lords, can the noble Earl the Leader of the House say whether the nominations or appointments will be from the three respective Parties?


My Lords, I am afraid, again, that the noble Lord, whose curiosity I should like to satisfy, must contain it, perhaps just for Christmas or even into the New Year. But I repeat that I very much hope that this is a matter on which we shall be receiving the considered views of the Opposition and on which it will be possible to reach agreement, whatever views we take about the merits of the European Assembly or, for that matter, the European Economic Community.


My Lords, is not the noble Earl the Leader of the House going a little too far, in view of his reply to my original Question, when he asked for consideration for a week, on the assumption that he would make a Statement to your Lordships' House? Now he is talking about some arrangement with the Opposition. Is that what he is after?


My Lords, if I may recall it to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, the second sentence of my reply to his original Question was: The reply to this proposal may, I understand, be given next week. I do not think I have gone beyond that.


My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Earl quite a simple question. Can he assure me that the merits of certain Cross-Bench Peers will not be overlooked?


My Lords, the merits of the Cross-Benchers are never overlooked.

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