HL Deb 21 April 1975 vol 359 cc600-756

2.53 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Elwyn-Jones) rose to move, That this House approves the recommendation of Her Majesty's Government to continue Britain's membership of the Community as set out in the White Paper on the Membership of the European Community (Cmnd. 5999). The noble and learned Lord said: We have now reached the Parliamentary stage when it falls to this House to give its verdict on and to make its own distinctive contribution to the national issue of membership, which is of such vital importance to the future of our country. I do not claim that it is a simple issue. Indeed, it transcends Party loyalties, it divides major Parties, it divides families and it divides friends. The fears and doubt to which it has given rise are real. I have little doubt that in this House the issue will be examined responsibly in a spirit of moderation and tolerance.

This Government came to power committed to renegotiate the terms of British membership of the European Communities and to put the results to the British people for a final decision on whether we should stay in or come out. The first part of this process is now complete. After the best part of a year of negotiation, new terms have been negotiated which have been set out in detail in the White Paper on Membership of the European Community which no doubt noble Lords will have read. The Prime Minister announced in Parliament on 18th March that the Government had decided to recommend the British people to vote in favour of staying in the European Community. There are many people, and no doubt some of them in this House, who are totally committed to the principle of British membership at all costs. There are others who are equally firmly opposed. But the attitude of this Goveminent has been, and still is, that membership on the right terms is good for Britain and good for the Community. The Labour Party did not think that the terms which the previous Government negotiated for our entry into the Community were good enough.

In our Manifesto for the February Election we set out how we considered the terms should be improved. As I see it, three main questions now arise: first, how far have these objectives been achieved? Secondly, how far have developments in the Community itself and our experience in the Community required us to reappraise our approach to the Community? Thirdly, have developments in the world outside the Community materially altered the picture?

I shall first deal briefly with the new terms. There is, of course, room for interpretation as to what has been achieved and argument as to how far it does indeed fulfil the aims which the Government set themselves. In the debate in another place, the Prime Minister gave his assessment that we had sub-stantially achieved the objectives. The Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary gave himself a score of five successes out of seven, adding that if he were not a modest man he might have claimed more. I would agree. On the Common Agricultural Policy, it is true that we have not changed the fundamental characteristic of the Community's existing system, but as a result of a German initiative which we strongly supported, a thorough stocktaking of the CAP is now taking place. There have already been a number of important changes in its practical operation. Greater flexibility to meet special circumstances and an improved marketing system for beef have been secured; there has been a more realistic approach to pricing policy which will help to avoid the build-up of surpluses; and there have been important developments regarding access from Commonwealth and developing countries. These are substantial changes.

On the budget, we have, without again overturning the Community's existing financial system, achieved a fundamental breakthrough of principle. It is now recognised that no Member State should be called on for contributions to the Community budget which go significantly beyond what is fair in relation to its share of Community GNP. When Heads of Government met in Dublin last month they reached agreement on the circumstances in which a Member State might qualify for a refund and how that refund should be calculated. This important agreement hides under the discouraging name of the budget correcting mechanism and I should note in passing that we have before the House today a valuable Report on the proposals on which the mechanism is based, prepared by our Scrutiny Committee. If we are paying more than our fair share, as we expect to, the budget correcting mechanism will bring us refunds worth up to £125 million a year, and possibly more, by 1980.

On the third issue, economic and monetary union, it is not so much as a result of renegotiation that things have changed. Faced with the international monetary upheavals of the last couple of years, the Community has itself abandoned its earlier ideas about economic and monetary union. It is certainly still the Community's longterm objective, but economic and monetary union cannot happen until and unless the economies and wealth of the peoples of the member countries do approximately coincide. The idea that we might be obliged, by fixing exchange rates, to accept unemployment in the name of this dream is dead and gone. On another objective, too, namely regional policy, we again have a report from our Scrutiny Committee. I know that my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts, if he reaches us from North Wales, where I understand he is facing the problems of Noah because of the floods that have taken place, will be dealing with this subject and with industrial policy in more detail tomorrow. I believe that we have secured arrangements that will enable us to go on operating the regional policies which seem to us to be right.

We have not found the Treaties a barrier to implementing appropriate industrial policies. If we take nationalisation as an example, some politicians would like more nationalisation—though I appreciate that that is not the universal view of the House—and some less. The point I want to make is that the Treaty of Rome does not preclude measures of nationalisation. Where we have to play by the rules as members of the Community—and it is something we accept—is that our industrial and regional policies should not harm the legitimate interests of other Member States. We do not want to do so. But whether in or out of the Community the United Kingdom would be in a similar position. Were we to leave the Community there is little doubt that we should have to accept similar requirements as a condition of any trade agreement with the Community. Such rules are a feature of EFTA. They are a feature of the agreements which our former EFTA partners have with the EEC.

I should briefly mention capital movements. Here, too, we have established that the safeguards provided in the Community Treaties provide us with the protection that we need. Other Member States have found the same thing too. I believe that we can take the action necessary to safeguard our balance of payments. As to the trade balance, there is no clear evidence to link our trade deficit with the Community with the fact of membership. We have been members for only just over two years and the tariffs are coming down gradually. There are no grounds for supposing that if we left the Community and were able to negotiate a free trade area arrangement in its place, our trade balance would be either better or worse than it is now. Let me say, in parenthesis, that there is no certainty that we would be able to negotiate a free trade area agreement. If we could not, many of our exports would suffer seriously. We are importing a great deal from the Community including a great deal of food, because British importers find it cheaper or more convenient to buy from there than from other sources. It would hardly make sense to go and pay more for our imports from somewhere else.

Finally, I should mention the Common-wealth and developing countries, whose economic interests we set ourselves to see better safeguarded. Here the changes have been really substantial. The changes are set out in paragraph 77 of the White Paper and I believe them to be major improvements in the Community's approach to its relations with the outside world. As members of the Community, we will do our best to ensure that as Community policies develop the momentum of change is maintained.

That is a necessarily brief, and I hope not unfair, assessment of what we have achieved in renegotiation. How far, then, have developments in the Community and our experience of it affected the balance of advantage for this country? The two years since Britain joined have been years of immense change in the international community as a whole. The European Community itself has changed, partly as a response to this worldwide upheaval and partly as a reflection of the more pragmatic approach of a new generation of leaders. This leads me on to another change that the experience of the last two or three years has shown. There has been a definite shift in the balance of power in the Community in favour of Member States. It has of course always been true that all new major policy decisions are taken by the Council, which is a body composed of representatives of democratically elected Governments, each responsible to its own Parliament. The Community is a community of like-minded and democratic States and Governments. Indeed, democracy is one of its corner stones; no country lacking in democratic institutions would be acceptable for membership. It has in fact been made quite clear over the years, both before we joined and since, that no European State whose Government was non-democratic would be regarded as eligible for membership. Each member of the Council is a Minister in a democratically elected Government, each responsible to his own Parliament under the constitutional system of the country concerned. In this context, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have confirmed the total readiness of the Commission to take account of political realities as expressed in the Council of Ministers and Heads of Government Conference.

It is, as I say, with the Member States that the power lies. The Community can of course only survive by taking into account the interests of its members. As renegotiation itself has shown, if a Member State attaches a deep importance to any question it will not be overridden. An accommodation will be found. The decision that from now on Heads of Government should meet three times a year has reinforced the ability of Member States to guide the direction of the Community's policies and development.

The Government have of course given anxious consideration to the implications which continued membership would have for our sovereignty. As the 1967 White Paper Legal and Constitutional Implications recognised, the existence of the system of directly applicable Community law was a distinctive and fundamental feature of the Community. It meant that we should have to accept, in advance as part of the law of the United Kingdom … provisions to be made in the future by instruments issued by the Community institutions".

This was a situation for which there was no precedent in this country's history. It also meant that, within the fields occupied by the Community law, Parliament would have to refrain from passing fresh legislation inconsistent with the law.

To this extent, as Parliament recognised in 1972 when it passed the European Communities Act, there has been a delegation of powers. In the fields covered by the Treaties, membership of the Community means that certain decisions will be taken by Community institutions which would otherwise have been taken on the national level. Parliament has, in effect, remitted to the Government responsibility for conducting the discussions in the Council of Ministers which result in the adoption of new Community law. But if the effective operation of the Community calls for some transfer of sovereignty from national to Community institutions—and the question whether this change is acceptable has to be considered in the total context of the advantages and disadvantages of Community membership— the Government have been concerned to ensure that this transfer should be within acceptable and known limits. The Community only has powers in the clearly defined fields that have been delegated to it by the Member States.

Within these fields, it is for the Government to make sure that new decisions are in this country's interests. As in any walk of life this will often be a question of compromise and assessing the overall balance of advantage. The present situation is that no decision can be taken against the will of any Member State if that Member State regards the matter to be one of vital importance. None of the Member States seeks to challenge this. Nobody denies the right of each Member State to say what it does consider as important. The way in which the Council takes decisions therefore ensures that the Government are in a position to safeguard British interests in the Council. Parallel with our negotiations in Brussels, the Government have sought to ensure that adequate arrangements exist to allow Parliament to participate in the Community's legislative process by exercising its traditional function of controlling and restraining the Executive. My noble friend the Leader of the House may well wish to deal with this later in the debate.

Another factor relevant to our continued membership is the Community's attitude to wider world problems. The British negotiators can, I think, claim to have played our part in bringing this change about. The unnecessarily combative attitude toward the United States is a thing of the past. The politicial consultation procedures have helped the Community to develop a co-ordinated approach to such problems as Cyprus and the Middle East, and also towards the European Security Conference, where our aim is to achieve safer and more civilised relations among all the States of Europe, both East and West. The last year has seen spectacular achievements in the Community's relations with the developing world.

There is the Lomé Agreement setting a new basis for relations with 46 Commonwealth and other countries in Africa and the Caribbean. There is the agreement in principle that Community aid should no longer be restricted to what used to be known as associated countries. There is a new trade agreement with India; one will soon be signed with Sri Lanka, and trade agreements are being negotiated with Pakistan and Bangladesh. There have been major improvements in the Community's Scheme of Generalised Preferences and a detailed and generous mandate has been agreed by the EEC for the multilateral trade negotiations which are just beginning. In the monetary field, too, the Community is now approaching problems in the world context which we believe to be right. The Community now has trading agreements with some 80 countries, and should we withdraw we would need to negotiate other arrangements with each of these.

My Lords, I now turn to the final question I posed at the beginning of my speech: have developments in the world outside the Community materially altered our approach to membership? I think they have. We cannot put back the clock. The issue now is not whether we should have joined the EEC in 1973, but whether we should leave it in 1975. Our views have changed; so have those of other countries. I should mention, in particular, the Commonwealth countries. In the 1960s, and, indeed, at the time of the entry negotiations, many Commonwealth countries were gravely disturbed at the prospect of Britain joining the Community. Indeed, I know of no single Commonwealth country that is in favour of British withdrawal. My recent personal experience of the Commonwealth Law Ministers Conference in Lagos and my discussions this month with Ministers and others in New Zealand and Australia have confirmed this attitude.

There are some who speak of the prospect of cheap food for Britain out-side the EEC. Here, again, a fundamental change has taken place. The fact is that cheap food is no longer available on any reliably consistent basis and is unlikely ever to be so again. Indeed, it is questionable whether a Labour Government or, indeed, any British Government, should wish for it to be so again. Our cheap food was so often someone else's impoverished income. In a world where food is in short supply the rich (which in this context includes the United Kingdom) can have more only at the expense of those in greater need. As Mr. Callaghan has said, cheap food was a slogan for nineteenth century capitalist Britain.

In one other fundamental way the world has changed since the question was whether Britain should join the Community. Our problems, in common with those of others, have been vastly aggravated by the oil crisis. We need all our resources of national effort and determination to deal with the problems that face us. It is not a time for gambles. In a world of economic interdependence, it is an illusion to believe that we could go it alone. On the contrary, by joining together with like-minded countries facing similar problems we have the best chance of finding a common solution. Not that membership of the Community can be a panacea for all our ills—of course not! In or out, our future depends primarily on the will and efforts of the British people.

The people will shortly be going to the polls to decide whether they consider that membership of the Community on the terms we have negotiated is in this country's interest. It is indeed a momentous decision. The Government have given a clear recommendation that, on balance, they see this country's advantage and our people's interests being served by remaining in the Community. My Lords, I now invite this House to give that recommendation its support. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House approves the recommendation of Her Majesty's Government to continue Britain's membership of the Community as set out in the White Paper on the Membership of the European Community.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, sometimes when speaking half-way through a debate, or when winding up a debate, I feel that I share the feeling of many others of your Lordships, in that one feels that everything which can be said has already been said. I am bound to say that on this occasion, when opening the debate for my noble friends on these Benches, I feel that almost everything that can be said about the Common Market has already been said. Over the years there have been innumerable Press articles and many White Papers; there have been innumerable reports from Ministers coming back from Brussels to report the outcome of their negotiations, and there has been a whole series of extremely prolonged debates in both Houses of Parliament on this issue.

But although the arguments may be the same, the question before the House and before the country is entirely different. It is no longer a question as to whether we should join the Community. Today the question is whether we should remain as partners, or should get out, and if we do get out what should we do? That is why I feel that the wording of the Motion before the House is entirely correct when it speaks of the Government's recommendation "to continue Britain's Membership of the Community …" That is why the words of the referendum—which have been argued about—seem to me to be entirely right when they ask the voter whether he wishes to stay in the Community.

The other difference from 1971, when this matter was so fully debated, is that the burden of proof must rest with those who want to take us out, who want to take a new direction and find a new trading arrangement. Just as in 1971 we who believe that the advantages of entry out-weigh the disadvantages had to argue the point and prove it to the satisfaction of Parliament, so now those who want to change direction, who want to take us out, have to show the House positively that advantages flow to this country from such a course.

They must surely show that it is advantageous for us to leave our home market of 250 million people. They must show that jobs will be safer, that investment will be higher, that the standard of life m Britain will be better if we put our-selves outside the tariff barriers of the Community and revert to our home market of 50 million people. It seems to me that they must demonstrate that there really are feasible, realistic alternative trading arrangements available to us. They must demonstrate that despite—as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor says—all the countries of the Commonwealth wishing us to stay in the Community, it is still possible to reestablish preferential trading arrangements with the Commonwealth; or, alternatively, they must be able to show that despite all the countries of EFTA either having joined the Community or having made their own treaty arrangements with the Community, it will be possible either to reestablish a free trade area with EFTA or to negotiate free trade arrangements with the Community. Also, during the course of the debate they will want to explain how the voice and the influence of Britain in the cause of peace will be increased if we leave the Community; or, alternatively, how a divided Europe has a greater defensive resilience than a united Europe.

My Lords, I do not want to make speeches for the anti-Marketeers, but I am bound to say that arguments along lines of that kind will have to be advanced if their arguments are to carry any credibility at all. What the country has now to decide is not the difference between the terms negotiated by Mr. Heath and the terms negotiated by the present Prime Minister; what it has to decide is a broad assessment as to whether it is in the national interest to stay in or whether we should break the Treaty and go our own way. The decision will be irrevocable. The time is with us now. Our country simply cannot afford any more equivocation. We cannot afford any more shifts like renegotiation or any more so-called unique devices like the referendum. These things and that kind of uncertainty has bedevilled our country for too long.

The renegotiations have certainly secured some improvements in our terms of membership. I congratulate the Government. But the price paid, of threatening withdrawal and predicting to the rest of Europe that we as a country are to be poorer in 1980 than we are today, the price paid in good will and in respect for this country, I consider has been a very high price indeed. Predicting that by 1980, Britain will have only 14 per cent. of the gross product of the Community, we have certainly obtained a change in our budget contribution. Arrangements to do that were already there. It is, however, very debatable, if faced with the facts in a few years' time instead of advancing a hypothetical case today, whether one could not have obtained better terms in the future.

The sums in any case really are relatively very small. Our net contribution to the budget is 0.37 per cent. of our total public expenditure. It amounted in the first two years of membership of the Community to £67 million. It compares with an extra £4,000 million increased public expenditure which has been introduced by the present Government in their first year of Office. Again, I entirely concede that good arrangements have been made for New Zealand for access of their dairy products for three years after 1977, but they, also, were due in any case to be renegotiated in 1977. Again, Community subsidies are to be used to help distribute agricultural surpluses. There is to be a general stock-taking of the Community agricultural policy. The biggest change—and it was not really part of the renegotiation because it had been begun by the previous Government before the present Government came into Office—are the arrangements for the underdeveloped countries. It seems to me that, with the exception of the arrangements for the underdeveloped countries—which are very valuable—the changes are worthy changes but will hardly weigh a featherweight in the public judgment when they decide on June 5th.

What I think the renegotiations have done is to demonstrate beyond peradventure that the Community is a flexible organisation. It is a dynamic, living entity which can be moulded to meet the wishes of the constituent members of the Community. It is not inflexible or selfish or inward-looking as it has been so often painted by the enemies of the Community. In that sense, I think that the renegotiations have been valuable in persuading people of the merits of the organisation.

Although the renegotiations may certainly have helped some people to make up their minds, the arguments for remaining in the Community are much more basic and much more substantial. The first is the trading argument; because the Community does more trade and certainly gives more aid than any other group in the world. It does not hand out this trade on a plate. It certainly does not solve our problems for us. We shall sell in the Community or elsewhere in the world only if the quality of our goods is better or the cost is cheaper or the delivery dates shorter than anything which our competitors can manage. But it has torn down the tariff barriers which crisscrossed the frontiers of central Europe. It has created for us a home market comparable in size with the home market of the United States or that of the Soviet Union. It is ours. We are in it. It offers the best prospects for long-term economic growth that this country has.

There are great advantages in having a large market and it seems remarkably reckless to throw them away when there is absolutely no evidence at all that we could re-establish a free trade area or free trade with the Community itself. Our negotiating position would be very weak indeed. Having broken the Treaty of Accession, I do not think that our partners would be endeared to us. We should have to negotiate with them. Equally significant are the mathematics of our position. They sell to us only 8 per cent. of their total exports; we sell to the Community 35 per cent. of our exports. We should be in a very weak negotiating position. When I look at our country apparently staggering along the road to national bankruptcy, I must say that I agree with Sir Christopher Soames when he said: This is no time to think of leaving a Christmas club, let alone the Common Market. We should be outside the Community. We should be outside the Soviet trading bloc and outside the American market when there is a danger that they will become increasingly isolationist. There is no chance of recreating for this country the preferential market arrangements of the Commonwealth. It is highly doubtful whether we could negotiate a free trade arrangement with the Community. That would not be splendid isolation. It would be our country swinging in the wind.

My Lords, I should like to turn now to the second theme—which was advanced by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor in his speech—the supply of food. The Common agricultural policy certainly has its defects. There is really absolutely nobody to blame for this except ourselves. We could have joined the Community when they drew up the scheme. We were not members, so when drawing it up they tailored it to meet their needs and not ours. The only way we can change it, is to change it from inside. This is exactly what the present Government and the previous Government have been doing for the past two and a half years. The subject matter is immensely technical. But we all have felt that there are excessive stockpiles. We have all felt that there was not a proper balance between production and consumption. But these things are being changed. The variable beef premiums, for instance, now being paid are very similar to the deficiency payments to which we have been accustomed for so long. The Minister of Agriculture was saying the other day that these premiums, and not support buying, are now the main method of support for beef.

But, basically, the position is that we as a country have to import about half our food; whereas the Community is roughly self-sufficient in their food supplies. Their objective and our objective is, I think, identical. It is to ensure a steady supply of food at reasonable prices for the consumer which gives a fair return to the farmer. Those are exactly the objectives of the famous Agriculture Act of 1947. But the best way that we can ensure a steady supply of food to this country at reasonable prices is to belong to a group which is self-sufficient in food. Sometimes the food prices outside the Community are higher than those inside; sometimes the food prices inside the Community are higher than they are out-side. At the moment they are about the same. For instance, the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection, Mrs. Shirley Williams, said on March 17th that the overall level of food prices in the United Kingdom is not at present significantly affected one way or the other by our membership of the European Community.

It is anybody's guess which way prices will go in the future; you make your fortune on the market by successful guessing. Grain prices in the past two years have quadrupled. Sugar prices have risen tenfold in the past year alone; beef prices dropped in 1973 and are probably fairly stable at the moment. When one looks at the outside world and sees the rising growth in the population; when one sees a rising standard of life in the underdeveloped countries, particularly those areas of massive population, like China or parts of the Soviet Union, or Africa, and when one sees the very low stockpiles of food which now exist in the United States of America, I agree with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that it is extremely difficult to forecast cheap food again. The probability is we shall see sharp fluctuations both in supplies and prices. But, in any case, we cannot just move in and out of a community according to whether grain prices go up or down. We cannot, if beef prices slide downwards, change our whole political arrangements. What we can do is establish ourselves in a grouping which is self-sufficient in food and use our influence there to sustain a price which is right for the consumer and gives a reasonable return for the farmer.

Far from damaging the interests of our former suppliers of food in the Commonwealth, they all want us to stay in; and most of them want us to stay in because it is very much in their interests that we should be there. For instance, the Lomé Convention has opened up the Community for many of the underdeveloped countries of the Carribean, of Africa and of the Pacific. The 46 developing countries in all 22 of which are countries of the Commonwealth, will have guaranteed free entry into the large Community market for all their industrial goods. They will also have virtually guaranteed free entry into the Community market for all their agricultural products. This could not conceivably have been obtained for the Commonwealth countries if Britain had not been a member of the Community. In passing, may I say that to me this is a step forward in the kind of relationship which ought to exist between the developed countries and the under-developed countries. It is a move on from the rather paternalistic arrangements which have existed between the French, Belgian and British Colonies and the mother countries of their Commonwealths. This is a move forward. So the old argument that there is cheaper food out-side the Community no longer stands up. So the old argument that the Common-wealth does not want us in the Community no longer stands up.

There are of course many other economic arguments which will no doubt be advanced during the course of the debate, but I should like finally to turn to the political aspects and the issue of sovereignty. There is something laughable in debating the quality of Parliamentary sovereignty with anti-Marketeers who have forced the introduction of a referendum, mandatory on the Government. This is the most flagrant affront to our concept of Parliamentary sovereignty that I can remember. But sovereignty is not just a question of Parliamentary procedures. It is not just a part of history dating back to the Tudors and the Stuarts. It is not something which has to be kept absolutely pure, absolutely inviolate and absolutely useless. Sovereignty is there to be used. Sovereignty means our ability to decide our own future through using our strength, be it economic or political strength or military strength. Sovereignty should be used to ensure that we and our children will continue to live in peace, and that we and our children, and the world in general, will have a higher standard of life than at the moment.

In some ways, the Community has already achieved this for itself, without us. It is now almost impossible to think of the major countries of Central Western Europe at war. Yet these were the countries which twice in this century have almost extinguished civilisation as we know it. I think most of our children would find such a war not only utterly obscene—as I am certain the generation of 1914 or 1939 found it—but also utterly inconceivable. The very first purpose of the Community was to achieve a rapprochement between France and Germany, and then gradually build up an internal peace by creating a sense of cohesion, creating an identity of purpose and finding ways within Europe of resolving common problems by common action. In doing this, not only has the Community created an internal peace and a stability, but it has strengthened Europe's ability to resist external attack.

But Europe's influence outside has not kept pace with the growing strength and wellbeing of central Europe. It has hardly yet been exerted on the world scene. At the United Nations one hears the voice of the Soviet Union or America, or the voice of the Afro-Asian Group, but one never really hears the voice of Europe. Our joining the Community two and a half years ago could have given a new impetus. Sadly, these years, to a large extent, have been wasted in renegotiation. But surely we should look forward to the voice of Europe being heard much more loud and clear in foreign policy. Surely unity will strengthen our defensive position at a time when all around us we see the inexorable growth of Soviet arms. Surely, also, unity in Europe will also help our negotiating position in such profoundly important conferences like the European Security Conference, or when we are making new trading arrangements with Eastern Europe. But if we take another course, if we break the Treaty solemnly entered into two and a half years ago, and if Europe begins to fragment, if its cohesion begins to break up, surely what we are going to see are those great, separate Powers of central Europe, France and Germany, and perhaps ourselves and other countries, begin to negotiate by themselves with America or the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe. We will begin to see them playing off one country against another. We will see reappear all the hallmarks of the 1930s which the creation of the Community has so skilfully avoided in the 1960s and 1970s.

My Lords, in recording our vote tomorrow we are fortunate in this issue that both honour and wisdom point in the same direction—


My Lords, I did not want to interrupt—

Several Noble Lords: Order, Order!


The noble Lord is speaking from the Bishops' Bench.


I beg your Lordships' pardon. I cannot let pass the continuous reiteration of the phrase "Going into Europe". We are just going into the Common Market. It is not Europe, it is nine nations out of thirty. So why do we say that the voice of Europe is not heard? The noble Lord means the voice of the Common Market, and that is all.


My Lords, I certainly take the noble Lord's point; I am sorry if I used the wrong phrase. But at the beginning of my speech I said that the issue before us was not going into the European Community, but that we were in and would we get out. That was the issue.

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, the Government have decided, in their wisdom, to consult the "sovereign people" and the campaign on the question of our continuing membership of the European Economic Community is now in full swing. The Commons, for their part, have already voted two to one in favour of accepting the "renegotiated" terms. So our own arguments in this House, both pro and con, will be unlikely to achieve much publicity, if only because of the reason which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Balniel—and I must say that I found his speech wholly admirable in every way—that the arguments will be largely repetitive of what has already been said many times before. We cannot help that: it is a fact. But, surely, we must do our best tomorrow to register a vote in favour of our remaining in the Community which is proportionately even higher than our vote in favour of entering it three and a half years ago. After all, if it was right to join in 1971, it is surely even more right to remain in in 1975; for nothing—I repeat "nothing"—has happened in the interval which discredits the general idea of slowly building up, with our participation, some kind of democratic entity in Western Europe that will strengthen the position and ensure the future of all the ancient nation States involved.

On the contrary, events since 1971 have greatly reinforced the arguments in favour of staying in. The will of America to protect other members of the so-called Free World, as a result of the tragic happenings in South-East Asia, is clearly less unquestionable, to put it mildly, than it was. The dire economic predictions of the anti-Marketeers about the consequences of membership of the Community have been totally invalidated. The world economic, and indeed the political, situation is now so dangerous and unstable that one would have thought the instinct of self-preservation would have convinced even doubters of the necessity of staying with our European neighbours in as close an association as it is possible to construct. The excitable Mr. Shore—unless I have misunderstood this morning's papers—says that we are "bleeding to death" through our membership of the Community. The fact is, my Lords, that the loss of blood comes from self-inflicted wounds and has nothing to do with the Community. Yes, our wounds are self-inflicted and are kept open largely by the Tribune Group and other friends of Mr. Shore.

Perhaps I might at this point add a word about Mr. Benn's "Independence Day", about which we have also recently read in the papers. This is now set, as we understand it, for 1st January next year. He ought to call it "Disaster Day", because even in the deplorable event of the people and the House of Commons deciding to withdraw from the Community, the necessary legislation for our withdrawal could not possibly be put through by that date, so that we should be left with no agreed tariffs, no United Kingdom agricultural policy, existing therefore in a sort of limbo which would presumably put paid to any faint chance we might otherwise have of repairing the damage caused by the unilateral repudiation of our solemn engagements. Could anything more silly ever have been proposed? It can only mean that the anti-Marketeers, realising now that the vote is likely to go against them, are becoming slightly hysterical.

Anyway, who now believes—and I think this has already been said—that the Commonwealth, in so far as it continues to exist, has been in any way weakened by our entry or that it would welcome our departure; or that our food has become more expensive when, in spite of the assertions of experts who cannot bear to be proved wrong, it is on the whole cheaper—at any rate, according to Mrs. Shirley Williams; or that we are being in some way ruled by faceless bureaucrats in Brussels, when the friendly faces of Christopher Soames and George Thomson confront us on television, and the Commission machine—smaller, as we know, than the Scottish Office—is about the most unsecretive body in the world, quite unlike the largely impenetrable bureaucracy in Whitehall; or that the European Parliament, which already has some, and is about to get, considerable powers, does not provide the basis for a wider democracy involving some healthy encouragement of regional activity? For all these things are undeniable and, indeed, so evident that it is difficult to account, intellectually speaking, for the still violent opposition to our membership of the Community. Presumably—this is the only conclusion we can draw-it is either the result of simple and unreasoning, if deep-seated, nationalist prejudice, or of some rather sinister and not always publicly avowed political purpose.

But those who favour continued membership need not always have exactly the same conception of the form which a united Western Europe will eventually take. This is an exercise which, as your Lordships are aware, is now being undertaken and studied by the Commission, the Parliament and the Council itself, which has asked M. Tindemans, the Belgian Prime Minister, to prepare a synthetic report by the end of the year. It is, in any case, ridiculous to accuse all those who wish to remain in the EEC of being "Eurofanatics"—whatever that is supposed to mean—which the "antis" always call us. If it means those who think we shall shortly become less British by joining, or the French less French— in other words, that our nation will effectively be suppressed and we shall all become what Churchill once termed "a sludgy amalgam"—then it applies to singularly few, at any rate in this country.

It is, however, perfectly possible to imagine—and I beg the anti-Marketeers to consider this—a decision-making centre emerging from the existing European Council, taking its decisions increasingly by a form of qualified majority vote and, on major issues, by what might be called a sort of assisted consensus. Just look, my Lords, at the way the Council succeeded in ending the so-called "wine war" only the other day. It would in no way detract from the inherent power of our own Parliament over our internal affairs if such decisions of the Ministers had to be ratified, as it were, by a directly elected European Parliament, more especially if the national delegations to that Parliament were, by one means or another—and I would hope this could be arranged—also deemed to be Members of their own Parliament in addition. Indeed, by such means our own Parliament would have considerably more power than it would have if we were to become a nominally independent offshore island, in practice if not in name, dependent on decisions taken by powerful forces elsewhere in the world.

I do not consider myself to be particularly idealistic, still less "Eurofanatical", if I hold such views as these. And it was for practical, rather than idealistic, reasons that some 20 years ago I began agitating for us to join the Six who, after the collapse of the EDC in 1954, were even then thinking seriously of setting up some form of economic community. After the Suez disaster had inclined France towards Germany rather than towards us—because that was the effect of the Suez disaster—it became evident that this effort to set up an economic community was going to succeed and that our own preference for a free trade area was doomed. So, though one is not always right, on this occasion one was right; and on the correct assumption that we could not beat them I urged that we should join them, pointing out that we should probably be forced to do so in the long run and that the longer we waited, the stiffer the terms were likely to be—that is now on record, I believe, with the publication of some documents. And it was the apparent reason for my subsequent denunciation by the anti-Marketeers and British Nationalise as a "Eurofanatic". I should have thought that a "Europragmatist'' was nearer the mark.

It is quite true that, assuming that we should one day join the Community, I subsequently thought a great deal about the kind of body which would then emerge. I arrived, as I think a great many other people who have pondered over this question have also arrived, at certain very broad conclusions. In the first place, the Community, if indeed it is to be a community and not a collection of totally independent nation States forming the equivalent of an old-fashioned alliance, will obviously have to be supranational. In other words, it will have to contain a decision-making centre, in which decisions will be taken by some agreed procedure other than absolute and invariable unanimity. This seems to me obvious. Secondly, such a decision-making centre will not be a body which will in any way dictate to us or to any other member; it will rather be a body in which we shall dictate just as much to our colleagues as they will dictate to us. Hence, sovereignty will not be lost, as has been said many times; it will merely be extended. Third, the Community must possess some institution in which the decisions collectively arrived at are collectively and democratically approved or ratified. For they must, if possible, be seen to be acceptable to European public opinion as a whole. There must consequently be a European Parliament directly elected as soon as possible in which not only all the Government Parties but all the Oppositions in the various Member States will be represented and thus able to influence events.

If a Community comes into existence which is based on these broad principles —and they have not of course been applied as yet—then I believe that it will endure; and if we can overcome our present economic difficulties it will, I am confident, soon become established in the political consciousness of all the Member States and all the peoples of Member States, and be seen to be of great and direct benefit and importance to all concerned. In a few years' time people are likely to wonder what all the fuss now has been about. At this moment we are nearing the point when all this may begin to take shape. If, as now seems probable, the so-called renegotiated terms for continued membership of the Community are approved in the coming referendum all the Governments, including our own, will have to speed up the process already under way of agreeing on the first steps to put the Community on a firm institutional basis. If the vote should be negative on a "lowish" poll, frankly the situation would be absurd. All the work of the last few years simply could not be thrown into the dustbin at the behest of the Tribune Group and the National Front. So even though the result was nominally binding on the Government, or presumably on some members of it as I suppose, it would probably, therefore, not be accepted by the House of Commons which has the final word. After all, everybody, including I rather think on one occasion even Mr. Wilson, admits that the final decision rests, not with the people but with Parliament. That is admitted.

The plain fact is—this is really what I want to say—that, although we are theoretically free to do so, we cannot, without disaster, now leave the Community. In other words, it would not be the enlarged Community that would be destroyed by a "No" vote; it would be the Labour Party. And it is conceivable that that great Party may be destroyed by a "Yes" vote, too. Such are the straits to which the Party has been reduced by transforming the European issue into a political football.

My Lords, I should like to end my brief remarks by voicing one possibly legitimate hope. It is that the Government, by which I mean of course the majority of the Cabinet, will not sound an uncertain trumpet; not just say that, bad though the outlook is, it is on the whole better to be inside the Community on the basis of the renegotiated terms than outside, but that naturally, if the sovereign people should decide otherwise, that would be quite all right by them since in that event they will after all still remain in Office; not just emphasise that they have—and this was the final clarion call of the Foreign Secretary in the recent debate in another place—at least merited five out of a possible seven marks in respect of their efforts to give effect to the largely unnecessary, and in some ways deplorable, Labour Manifesto.

This is surely a feeble approach, hardly calculated to rally the waverers and produce a large majority in favour of the course which the Government, we must suppose, quite sincerely recommend. After all, the Government have now, whether they like it or not, burnt their boats and one would have thought that it would pay them, to put it at no higher level, to go all out in their advocacy of a policy the abandonment of which they must know in their hearts could result only in the ruin of the nation. I have said before, and I repeat now, that in all probability there will next September be a keen and active British Socialist delegation in Strasbourg prepared to do their utmost to build up the Community on the firm democratic basis that that Parliament provides. But why keep the enthusiasm in cold storage for five or six weeks, my Lords? Why not start it off now? As the Scottish poet William Dunbar said many centuries ago: the truth shall you deliver, it is no dread".

3.56 p.m.

Lord HOME of the HIRSEL

My Lords, I must at once acknowledge your Lordships' consideration and sense of delicacy in putting an "M" after my name on today's list of speakers, but even as a courtesy maiden it would really stretch your Lordships' credulity and indulgence too far if I were to claim even a shred of political innocence. My noble friends' invitation to me to speak from this Dispatch Box is conclusive evidence of that. Perhaps I may be allowed one confession, made with a maidenly blush. I have never been entirely sure that I ought to have left this House, and it is nice to be back.

My Lords, it is now more than a dozen years ago since I first expressed from the Benches opposite the need for this country to become a partner in the European Community. I had come to that conclusion then for a number of reasons, the first, curiously enough, derived from my experience of five years as Commonwealth Secretary, before of course the Commonwealth Office was amalgamated with the Foreign Office. It was during that time that the economic preferences that we enjoyed in the Commonwealth markets began to be eroded by the Commonwealth countries themselves. It was a natural development and certainly we could not complain. We had launched the Commonwealth countries as countries independent in their own right, and if they wished to bolster their economies by manufacturing for themselves and spread the range of their customers beyond the United Kingdom certainly we were the last who could complain. I concluded then that the trend towards a smaller share of Commonwealth trade for Britain was bound to accelerate. But, although we could not complain, we were also entitled, indeed bound in self-interest—because that is what foreign policy is about—to seek other outlets, and compensating outlets, for our goods.

I did not then, and I do not now, contemplate with any pleasure or find any inviting prospect for Britain in the trading position where we are outside the external tariff of Europe, outside the external tariff of the United States, and outside the State trading system of the Soviet Union. Therefore, in Western Europe, and in the company of the Nine, there is a great attraction for Britain's being a member of a Community in which all trade barriers are removed within a defined time. Certainly the Commonwealth-the point has been made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor-now accepts the development as realistic and right for this reason, if I am not wrong: that the Commonwealth has no interest at all in a weak Britain which is going into a kind of genteel decline into mediocrity. They want to see a Commonwealth in which Britain is a strong partner and a reliable ally. That is a point which I have made in different words from those of my noble friend Lord Balniel who has just made. I say without any hesitation, one of the most distinguished speeches I have ever heard in Parliament.

There was a second reason at that time which made me decide that we ought to become partners in the Community. I think that the reasons are even more valid today. Then, the military alliance in NATO had been a success. It is still a success. In fact, we have not lost a man or a yard of territory to the Communist side, and it has been a protection against and a deterrent to any military adventure by the Soviet Union. However, it has been clear during all these years that Russia's intention has been to build up her military forces everywhere to a point where she puts the maximum economic strain on democracies, and through that economic strain she weakens the political will of the democracies to defend themselves. With your Lordships' leave, I will return to part of this theme next week, for there cannot be a massive take-over in any geographical area of the world without repercussions on the global balance of power.

The lesson seems to me to be clear. NATO must be underpinned by the maximum financial subvention, and that is best raised by the countries who are partners in the Economic Community. And not only that; in Europe we must have the will to defend our own way of life which we have chosen for ourselves which is only born out of and nourished in political unity. Therefore, I myself look upon the political side of the European Community as perhaps the most important of all.

I would note as the single greatest event in post-war Europe the rapprochement of France and Germany which was brought about by two most imaginative statesmen, Chancellor Adenauer and General de Gaulle, almost over the heads of their peoples. There is a model, if we have the imagination, for Europe to end its political divisions and replace those divisions by a partnership. There is the chance, too, if we have the imagination to see it, to resurrect the vitality of European civilisation and give to our new generation of Europeans the inspiration to set against the alien but undeniably dynamic, almost religious, creed of Communism. At this point in time when we are seeking reconciliation and yet are faced with increasing evidence of militancy everywhere, I look to an active European Community as a necessary complement to the NATO Alliance.

I am bound to say that one verdict on Britain has haunted me now for a number of years. It was that of a friend, of Dean Acheson, when he said that Britain had lost an empire and failed to find a role. For at least the younger generation of the British people in Europe, here, I believe, is a theme—a part in the voice of Europe in shaping what must be a new world.

With the Foreign Ministers of the Nine countries sitting round a common table on average twice a month, with the Heads of Government doing the same thing at least three times a year and reviewing every problem which besets us, not from the angle of each of their individual countries but from the point of view of Europe as a whole, and planning together the future of peace and development, it is inconceivable that Western Europe could start another war. I need not remind your Lordships that never before in our lifetime have we been able to use that kind of language about ourselves. I put the political gains from Community membership first. I trust, therefore, that during the referendum discussions up and down the country we shall not lose the great issues in a bog of cold, economic statistics.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor naturally called in aid the advantages which he thought had come from renegotiation. I, too, would not grudge credit to the Government for that for one moment. But having made his point about the virtues of renegotiation, I hope that the Prime Minister and the Government will turn the country's attention to what I call the great strategic issues. They can be simply stated. Can Britain afford to go out? Does Britain dare to absent herself from the discussion of the great economic and political issues which inevitably will affect our own destiny, remembering that, if we go, Ireland will remain. What is sovereignty if Britain is isolated and stripped of economic power and influence? We had full sovereignty in 1918. We had full sovereignty in 1939. It did not prevent the ultimate disaster of war. Finally, would not the breach of the Treaty by Britain virtually mark the end of international law? Always in our past we have kept the treaties that we have signed. It is my belief that these strategic arguments are the arguments that will win the day with the British people.

I will say as uncontroversially as I possibly can that this referendum ought never to have been held. It is being staged for the wrong reasons. The stake is much too high. We shall pay dearly for it later in terms of politics in our own country, for, as noble Lords know very well, precedent is the politician's strongest card. As legislators, we ought not to have been put in the dilemma of outraging our constitutional processes on the one hand and destroying the credibility of Britain overseas on the other. We might recover from the first, although there is a horrible risk that we could not recover from the last. I cannot conceive of any argument that would induce me to vote for the referendum Bill except the reputation of Britain and that I believe we dare not, in these circumstances, risk.

I hope that nobody will be complacent, and I trust that the opinion polls will not mislead the public and lull them into a sense of complacency. I suspect that there are even more Members of Parliament in another place who would probably have voted against Britain remaining in the Community and I suspect that there are a great many Socialists in the country who are against it. We are told that the trade unions are going to try to organise a block vote.

There are still too many people who believe that the coincidence of rising food prices with entry into Europe was induced by the fact of our joining the partnership. There are far too many people—and I have met them up and down the country—who say, "We do not really know the rights and wrongs of this: why should we vote at all?". I trust that the British electors may save us from the horrible constitutional situation that would arise if Parliament had to decide against the vote of the British people. I have seen enough of the consequences in Norway to dread the consequences here. The voters of this country are largely moved, happily, by instinct, and I believe their senses will tell them that the main issues are these: the influence and authority of Britain; the accumulation of the wealth of Europe and the way it should be used for the public good; the preservation of a life which is free and, above all, of finding the way to live rather than the way to die. If these are the themes, then I believe that the British people will say, "Stay in the Community".

My Lords, I do not wish to say any more. If the result of the referendum goes the way I hope, I shall claim the Prime Minister as the greatest architect of European unity that this country has seen. I hope it goes that way and I believe that the instinct of the British people will probably lead us to the answer, "Stay in".

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, I never expected in my wildest dreams that it would fall to me to pay the first tribute to a speech which is technically listed as a maiden speech from the noble Lord who has just sat down. I thought to myself that "M" must stand for something else; possibly "Mature", "Masterly", "Majestic", or "Magisterial". But it cannot be allowed to pass without at least one of us saying how greatly we welcome the return of the noble Lord to this House. Unlike those countrymen who are eulogised in Gray's Elegy, his it is Th' applause of listening senates to command ", and he has shown that today. I remember that many years ago when I made my maiden speech he passed by this Bench and spoke a kindly word in my ear as he left the Chamber, and I am very touched and thrilled that I may return the compliment; although I might go so far as to say that I feel sure the noble Lord will understand if now that I have said that the remaining 30 speakers do not have to think of another way of saying it.

I rise to give my wholehearted support to the Motion so lucidly and, I thought, convincingly moved by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. As so many speeches are being complimented, I hope he may be allowed a word of gratitude, too, because I thought he set the issues before us in an extremely clear and terse way. I also want to express, as I think I may to a large extent, the views of the Christian Churches of Great Britain. I am not suggesting that every member or official leader of the Churches sees eye to eye with me on this matter; I believe the noble Lord, Lord Soper, might himself take a different line. But I do know that the vast majority of official statements by Christian Churches in this country are strongly in favour of our continuing as members of the European Community.

I feel I should slightly unravel some different strands in my support of the Motion that has been put before us. I cannot honestly pretend that even had the negotiations not been as successful as they have been I should have wished for our country to withdraw from the European Community. I think the issues are too great and solemn for that thought to be entertained. But I welcome the renegotiation. I welcome it first because it will make it possible for a large number of supporters of Her Majesty's Government now in power to vote in favour of our staying in, whereas previously they might have felt it their duty to vote for coming out; and although I regret the referendum as much as anybody I do not despair of its bearing some unexpectedly good fruit. One possibility that I entertain is that there may be a large and almost overwhelming vote in support of our staying in, and this vote, if it occurs, will in fact be made up from members of all Parties in our country and may be a means of showing to the world that there is a kind of underlying unity in our country. It may be a very much more beneficial thing for the body politic, than for the vote to be split straight down the middle as it has been in so many of our recent elections.

I welcome the fact that the renegotiation has been possible within the terms of the treaties, and many of the changes are particularly welcome to the Churches as they look on the wide moral issues involved in this matter. We particularly welcome the changes in the terms for the import of sugar; we welcome the new Lomé Convention; we welcome the extension of preferences and privileges to Asian countries as well as those in Africa. These and many other points in the renegotiation are such that we can warmly welcome them. I found myself asking as I read the White Paper whether the great stress on United Kingdom interests was entirely desirable. I can see that any Government must first consider the interests of the people who have elected them. I think this is a legitimate concern of every Government and it may be to the benefit of the Community that the real needs of different nations should be properly respected. But I should be sorry if the Community itself began to develop in such a way that it lost the sense of common concern and common interest, and if each nation felt itself primarily concerned at every point to press its own concerns and its own interests.

The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, used some words in 1967 which I expect by now he has quite forgotten. A conference was being held at Coventry Cathedral, entitled "Vision of Europe". The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, said: The vision of Europe embraces not only political and economic activities, but all fields of endeavour ". He went on to say that in those wider fields the influence of the Churches, with their message of reconciliation, peace and hope, had a vital part to play. So I think it is worth taking a few moments of your Lordships' time to mention a few of the statements made by the the Churches in connection with the matter now before us.

My Lords, in 1973 the General Synod of the Church of England considered a Report entitled Britain in Europe, and at the end of a long and well-informed debate passed a resolution warmly supporting our entry into this Community based, as it were, on the reconciliation of enmities, the responsible stewardship of European resources and the enrichment of Europe's contribution to the welfare of mankind. A resolution in almost similar terms was passed by the British Council of Churches. I believe that tomorrow or the day after the British Council of Churches will consider the endorsement of that decision in the light of the new, renegotiated terms which we have before us.

On Wednesday of this week there will be launched a movement entitled Christians in Europe. In that movement the Church of England, the Roman Catholics and the Free Churches will be uniting to put before the Christians of this country the spiritual and religious considerations which, to our mind, point in favour of our continuing as members of the Communitl. I have just returned from a visit to the Churches in Germany. From Hanover to Stuttgart I met the leaders of the Churches. Although we had many theological matters to discuss, the one question that always came up was, "Is Britain going to stay in the European Community?" I had to chance my arm and say, "Well, I think she is going to stay in", and I hope I have not pledged my credit in vain. I am also continually made aware of these matters when I go to Brussels, as I do twice a year, for the so-called Commission of the Churches which meets in the main building of the EEC, where we are received with very great courtesy and given every possible co-operation by the Community as we try to enunciate and articulate the spiritual issues which seem to us important for the Community to consider.

If your Lordships will bear with me for a few moments longer, I should like to give you a moment or two of Church history, because it has a relevance to the matter under discussion. As your Lord-ships will know, it so happened that at the Reformation the Churches of Europe split, broadly speaking, into two streams —the Catholic and the Protestant. The Church of England followed what it felt to be a via media. One result has been that there is no Christian body on the Continent of Europe, at least in the Community countries, which exactly corresponds to the Church of England in its ecclesiastical and theological outlook. We cannot remove from ourselves the charge that during the centuries the Church of England has been insular and imperialistic—insular as regards the Continent, and imperialistic in so far as many of its missionary enterprises have followed the flag or, in some cases, even preceded it. But we do not forget that we were once part of a united Christendom. Christendom as it was once known has gone, but there is a very great difference between post-Christian and pre-Christian countries.

For instance, when we look at the great cathedrals of Europe and at the cathedrals of our own country, we realise that we have a common spiritual and cultural heritage. Many of us greatly welcome the opportunities, coming to us through these new relationships, to strengthen and refurbish our links with Western Christendom, so that together we may make sure that into this new expression of multinational life and fellowship, there should be introduced a strong Christian witness and message. I hope very much indeed that our country will rise to this vision.

My Lords, I do not underrate the importance of our vote. It grieves me personally that it is absolutely impossible for me to be here tomorrow night, but I contribute these few words to the debate. There will be a further contribution from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark tomorrow, and I hope that between us we shall be able to outweigh even the eloquent blandishments of my noble friend Lord Soper.

4.28 p.m.


My Lords, I crave your Lordships' indulgence in having selected this subject on which to make my first speech in your Lordships' House. This is a subject in which I am very interested. I must apologise at the outset for the fact that there may be repetitive statements; but, obviously, in this subject, it is very difficult for anyone to speak without repeating the same remarks. Having brought my harp to the party, obviously I have now got to play it!

My Lords, as I see it, the position is that Britain, with limited resources, and an agricultural industry capable of feeding only half the population, is compelled to be a large importer of food and raw materials. Our ability to continue to import these items, in order to maintain a reasonable standard of living for our people, must therefore depend on our success as exporters. An examination of our trade figures over the last 50 years reveals that in three years only was there a favourable balance of trade. Fortunately, our invisible exports were often able to make our balance of payments more presentable. It is obvious that exports are our life's blood. To maintain and develop our export business we must have friendly importers and, to this end, we must cultivate these relationships.

This naturally leads me to consider our various export markets and the trends over the past few years. Fifty years ago the Commonwealth took 40 per cent. of our exports. In 1961 the figure had fallen to 33 per cent., in 1969 to 22 per cent. and last year the figure had dwindled to just over 16 per cent. Our imports from the Commonwealth countries represented 32 per cent. of the total figure 50 years ago, 31 per cent. in 1961, 32 per cent. in 1969, and is now 14 per cent. To suggest that our future salvation lies in resuscitating our trade with the Commonwealth is just not realistic, and the Commonwealth countries accept this.

In my position as chief executive officer of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, I have visited Australia and New Zealand on a number of occasions. In New Zealand, for instance, we, the CWS, as exporters of frozen meat, have for some years been penalised if we did not achieve a specific proportion of exports to countries other than Britain. Costly freight rates, too, could prove to be a serious handicap to the massive development of trade with the Antipodes. Immediately after the last war there was a possibility that we might have developed much closer ties with the USA, but now I do not think this is any longer possible. During the past 10 years they have taken between 11 and 12½ per cent. of our exports, whereas our proportion of imports from the USA has dropped from 11–13 per cent. to under 5 per cent. In the light of these figures, our future certainly does not lie with the USA. We were members of the European Free Trade association. Our proportion of exports to these countries increased over the last 10 years from 11½ to 14 per cent., and our imports from 10½ to 15 per cent. The prospective market with these countries alone is insufficient to hold out any real hope that our future prosperity lies primarily with them.

Turning now to the EEC countries, the proportion of our exports to them has, during the past 10 years, increased from 26 per cent. to 32 per cent. and our imports from 24 per cent. to 33 per cent. and this upward trend was obvious prior to our joining the Community. Thus it is clear that we have a much greater dependence on the Common Market countries for our trade than anywhere else. Indeed 50 per cent. of our trade is with the Western European countries. I ask you, my Lords, can we afford to ignore these facts? Whether or not we like it, we are dependent on other countries and are not complete masters of our own destiny. What happens in other parts of the world influences our lives. We just cannot live in isolation. Even today countries outside the Community find they are being compelled to accept EEC standards and regulations without having any influence in drafting them.

Despite this, one of the strongest arguments against continued membership of the Community is the contention that we have forfeited sovereignty. When I look back over my lifetime I wonder what has been the advantage of this sovereignty. I have seen devastation, waste of life and misery engendered by unbridled national sovereignty. National sovereignty in my time brought two World Wars, civil wars, economic instability, political instability, unemployment and poverty, breeding in many cases only totalitarianism. Our concepts of national sovereignty must be revised if the world is to avoid a repetition of the economic and political collapse of the interwar years and its awful consequences.

The message of the past was plain for all to see, whether in relation to international security or the economic recovery of Europe, and Britain was, in my view rightly, in the vanguard of the postwar moves towards European integration. The idea of union germinated with Winston Churchill's concept of a united Europe in his famous Strasbourg speech. In the Cold War period after 1945 Britain made the pace by insisting that Europeans pooled defence efforts to secure liberty. In the Brussels Treaty, which created the Western European Union, and later in the Paris Agreement, Britain made clear and specific its commitment to the joint defence of Western Europe. It promised to keep troops deployed on the Continent, and made clear that, so far as it was concerned, the security of Western Europe was indivisible.

There have, of course, been special reasons why we were slow to apply the same logic to the political and economic affairs of Europe. We had not been invaded and were not prey to the intense fears that animated the other European countries. A more important and fully justified restraint was that we retained worldwide responsibilities. But today these inhibitions no longer exist. Not one single Commonwealth voice has been raised against our membership of the Community. Nearly all Commonwealth countries want us in, because that way we can help them most. Concern has recently been expressed in your Lordships' House regarding multinational organisations. Surely, within the Community we should be able to exercise more control over these organisations than we could hope to do operating in isolation.

I believe it is our business to encourage and cement the new and peaceful union with our presence and our collaboration. I would remind those who try to frighten us with the prospect of German economic domination of our Community that it was from a poor and shattered Germany that Naziism grew. It was this poor and shattered Germany which finally attacked us with bombs and guns and submarines, whereas the Germany of which these fears are now voiced attacks us merely with motor cars and domestic articles.

We are in the Community. Why should we want to put the clock back, especially in the name of national sovereignty, which for those of my generation has been synonymous with economic catastrophe? Why face all the uncertainties again, uncertainties about our trading relations with the rest of the world, uncertainties about investment, uncertainties about our exposure to economic nationalism in other parts of the world? Why become a Britain watching what for centuries our ancestors strove to prevent, the emergence in Western Europe of a European great Power from which we are excluded, closely affected by all its policies, political, economic, financial, but having no part in forming them, interested but passive spectators of its commercial negotiations, watching our standard of living falling further behind the leaders, seeing more countries overtake us, watching our political and economic influence slowly ebb all over the world.

We must prevent the reappearance of the economic conditions of my early life. If, in order to do this, it is necessary to forgo some part of our national sovereignty, I would readily do so. If, in the world today, a medium-ranking Power like Britain has to pool sovereignty as a prerequisite of influence and therefore of national freedom then I, for one, am willing to do so. It would be interesting to know how France, for instance, has suffered by its loss of sovereignty through membership of the Community. While some may consider sovereignty more important than national prosperity and an improved standard of living for our children. I have no doubt in my mind that my responsibility is to endeavour to ensure that this country in particular, and the world in general, is a better place to live in than it has been during my time.

For these reasons, I believe that it would be unwise to take the risks involved in leaving the Community, and that we should concentrate our efforts within the Community to make it outward-looking and a major force in the world for maintaining peace and improving living standards. Thank you, my Lords, for your tolerance in listening so patiently to my first effort in your Lordships' House.

4.42 p.m.

The PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie)

My Lords, I should like first to add my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel on what is, in fact, his fourth maiden speech in Parliament. I think I am right in saying that there is only one noble Lord who can equal this record, and that is my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. It was wonderful to hear my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel bring us back to the great issues of this debate. I also feel especially fortunate in being the first speaker after the maiden speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Radcliffe. If I may say so, it is always impressive to hear from personal experience. I felt so glad that the noble Lord is on the side of those who wish Britain to stay in the Community. I feel that he will be a most valuable ally, and I hope that he will be able to persuade many of his friends to vote for our staying in.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who opened this debate, gave us a valuable account of the advantages of Britain's membership. Before I venture to add some thoughts to this theme. I should like to draw attention to the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper, and I do so on behalf of the Select Committee on the European Communities. Noble Lords will observe that the House is asked to take note of the Thirteenth and Sixteenth Reports. These cover four of the seven subjects for renegotiation: the corrective mechanism of the budget, the Lomé Convention, regional aids, and the Common Agricultural Policy. The three subjects not reported upon are economic and monetary union, VAT and capital movements. This is because they were not the subject of specific documents from the Commission, and in any case, as the White Paper points out on these three subjects, there are at present neither problems nor proposals. I shall not formally move the Motion, but the Select Committee felt that it might be useful for the House to have factual accounts of the draft documents laid before us, and I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for referring to two of these Reports.

As your Lordships will realise, the work represented by these Reports is undertaken by the Sub-Committees. As I visit them in turn, I never cease to be impressed by the wide specialist knowledge of a very high order that is placed at the service of this House by the members of these Sub-Committees. Indeed as chairman, as I go around these Sub-Committees, I sometimes wonder whether I shall ever be able to absorb the fascinating but widely miscellaneous information that is poured upon by head. We have made no report on the White Paper as a whole, because the primary duty laid on us by the House is to examine specific Community proposals, although of course we are entitled by our terms of reference to consider other questions to which the Committee feel that the special attention of the House should be drawn, including statements by Ministers, as recommended by the Maybray-King Report.

The White Paper's chapter on the role of Parliament contains four paragraphs on the work of the Select Committees. The Committee of your Lordships' House is enjoined by the Procedure Committee to produce a report within a year of our existence to suggest methods whereby we can improve our work, and this we intend to do before the end of May. Therefore, the only comment on our rob that I should like to make now is this. The British Parliament can now comment on draft legislation, which is really comparable to commenting on a Bill when it is being prepared by a Government Department. As the noble Lord, Lord Walston, who is chairman of the Agricultural Sub-Committee, said—and I regret that he already has commitments in the Council of Europe—in the EEC Farm Price Review both Houses of Parliament have ample opportunities to consider, to hear evidence from Government and outside bodies, to prepare a report and to debate it before the Price Review is agreed in Brussels. He comments that this is in very marked contrast to United Kingdom practice, whereby Parliament is faced with a fait accompli.

The White Paper sets the specific subjects for negotiation in the wider context in which the Community operates, and it makes clear that the Community of 1975 is both flexible and constructive, and I would therefore submit that all this strengthens the case for continued membership. As my noble friend Lord Balniel said in what was, if I may say so, a most distinguished speech, the Community is being moulded by vast economic and political change. For example, who could have foreseen the surge in world food prices, or their present unequal fall. When prices are so wildly volatile, this food importing nation desperately needs the greater security of supply and more predictable prices that the CAP can provide. I suggest to noble Lords that the stocktaking of the CAP that is being undertaken can be of real value to this country.

The most traumatic single political event since we joined the Community was, of course, the Middle East war in October 1973. I suggest that it dispelled a widespread feeling that detente between East and West was an irreversible, even if a gradual, process. Although on this occasion a serious crisis did not develop between the Soviet Union and the United States, it was clear that this was only narrowly avoided, and that on any future occasion a very dangerous situation could arise. There is no doubt that the threat of renewed war in the Middle East has caused a continued atmosphere of instability in international relations. As the OPEC countries now realise the enormous power given them by the oil weapon, this has also produced a new potential source of conflict between the oil-dependent advanced Western countries and certain developing countries.

I submit that in this new atmosphere of political and economic insecurity, the protection provided by the combined strength of the Community is vital, both to guarantee our energy supplies and to defend British and European interests. The Community has held together despite gross inflation, unemployment and weak currencies, and maybe all this has hit us most as a vulnerable trading nation; and while the solution of many of our problems lies in our own hands, it is when events are rough that one needs one's friends. That is why one greatly welcomes the Government's pledge, "To play a full part in the Community's construction and development."

As the White Paper says, a cohesive Europe is an essential pillar of the Atlantic partnership. But events in the Far East have placed upon our major ally, the United States, deep psychological strains which move Congress to withdraw America into herself; and, however much we welcome the President's pledge that the United States will stand by her friends, it surely behoves those friends to settle their internal differences and so become reliable allies. Events mould the Community and perhaps one of its greatest achievements is the Lomé Convention. The fact that together 55 nations in this great experiment—because that is what it is—are seeking to spread trading links wider still proves beyond doubt that the Community is intent to live in the world.

That is why I should have thought that my own country, Scotland, would welcome the wider horizons offered by the European Community. Scotland has been a nation of Continental Europe in a way that, until recently, England has never been. In the Continental Renaissance, Scotland's fighting men were famous in the armies of Sweden, France and Holland. Her merchants started their calling in cities as varied as Moscow and Danzig, and, of course, her students studied with the great masters on the Continent.

In my own home city of Aberdeen, the Stone Crown above King's College is not the Crown of the United Kingdom or of Scotland, but of the Holy Roman Empire, and it was set there when Lorenzo the Magnificent reigned in Florence. It was in Scotland's second Renaissance in the 18th century that her revenue rose 51 times. We Scots are a practical race, and maybe it is not realised that Scotland today, with 9 per cent. of the United Kingdom's population, receives a larger share than England and Wales of Community funds. I give four examples—the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, 15.4 per cent; the European Social Fund, 20 per cent; the European Coal and Steel Community, 20 per cent. and the European Investment Bank, 23 per cent.

When I was fortunate enough to visit the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg last week, I found that the Minister of State for Wales had called in person to seek support for Welsh projects. But where was the Minister of State for Scotland? I suggest there is business to be done in Luxembourg.

It is said that Scotland must rule herself rather than be ruled from Brussels. But one can have devolution of decision in Scottish hands within a partnership which is large enough to be effective. I would suggest to fellow Scots that maybe we might have the chance to enter another European Renaissance.

While in Luxembourg last week in the company of my noble and learned friend Lord Diplock, and the Chairman of the Select Committee in another place, we had a most interesting session at the International Court of Justice. My first and lasting impression was exactly the same as I had when I first saw the Council of Ministers. It was the mere fact that they were there, that nine countries had decided to put their lot together. The White Paper declares, No country nowadays has unqualified freedom of action. Through membership of the Community, we are better able to advance and protect our national interest. This is the essence of sovereignty". The last chapter of the White Paper warns us of the very serious consequence of a withdrawal from a Treaty entered into by the Crown and ratified by Parliament with a large majority—a majority that only recently in another place was almost doubled. But I would not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, that probably the vote will automatically go in favour of continued membership. I agree with my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel that it is very important that we do not just go by the opinion polls. People may vote for all sorts of reasons, which are not relevant. They may vote against the rising cost of living. There are some who are in favour of our staying in Europe who will not vote because they are against a referendum. But I hope that everyone will do what he can to persuade the country in what is an historic but most dangerous choice. The world is still torn by suspicion, fear and subversion, and we are not so superior a race that we can stand exposed to these chill facts. But with our friends we can, I believe, rebuild our confidence, and then give to our friends in return our skills and political experience that have until now kept us both strong and free.

4.56 p.m.


My Lords, on the occasion of maiden speeches it is customary in your Lordships' House to offer felicitations to those noble Lords who have graced the assembly with their presence and speeches. I naturally conform as a matter of courtesy. Who am I to discard conformity, the rule of law and what passes for non-controversy in this assembly? For, let it be noted, maiden speeches are expected to be non-controversial. I am bound to say, hard as I tried, I failed to detect anything but (I must be careful about my language!) bias, bigoted, perverse controversy in the speeches to which I was compelled to listen. To have walked out would have been an act of discourtesy, which is quite inconsistent with my character. Nevertheless, what I can and must say is that I am delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, back at this assembly which, in bygone days, he graced with his presence, his high intelligence and his transparent honesty.

I have taken the opportunity outside this assembly on more than one occasion to speak in sincere terms of the intelligence and understanding of foreign affairs by the noble Lord. I hope I have not embarrassed him, but when I have spoken in that vein it was the truth. In our political life it is possible to respect opponents. We may disagree about this or that, but we admire those who raise the level of debate when addressing this assembly or any other according to their sentiments—and that the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, has always done. I think it is a pity that he is divorced from the higher echelons of public life. One might describe him as a Back-Bencher, although no doubt from time to time he will add to the debating ability of the Opposition Front Bench. So far as I am concerned, I hope that that will continue (I say that with the utmost respect) for a long time to come.

As for my noble friend Lord Wilson of Radcliffe, I had better make no comment. Let us keep the party clean. I had long experience of the Co-operative Movement, long before he was born. I used to write for the Scottish Co-operator and even for the Co-operative News. I worked for the Co-operative Movement and I always thought when I was working for it that it was an antidote to the principles of co-operation; it was anything but satisfactory. I was exploited just as much in the Co-operative Movement as I was elsewhere. However, let us not intrude with observations which seem to have nothing to do with the subject under debate. We look forward to hearing my noble friend again, but perhaps in future he will give me advance warning of what he is going to say so that I can make my exit in time.

I listened to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor's interesting pro-Common Market propaganda essay. As he spoke I reflected that more than half of the Members of the Labour Party in another place would have rejected every world he uttered. He was not speaking for more than half the Labour Members in another place, although he might speak for most of them in this place, but that is by the way.

As for the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, he began by informing your Lordships that everything had been said already, and then spent 20 minutes repeating everything that had already been said. We have heard it all. We are familiar with every cliché, the shibboleths, the slogans and the assumptions, associated with the pro-Common Market campaign. Now let us hear the other side of the story, without indulging in economics or falsifying arithmetic. Let us deal with the principles that are involved, and first of all I ask a question: was this debate necessary? And was a similar debate in another place necessary? Let us retrace our steps. It was decided by the Government to have a referendum, by which I understood it was intended to refer the matter to the British people and let them decide. But no! That was not enough for the Government. They had to make a recommendation—they got in on the ground floor—and so they had a debate in another place and got a majority. But how did they get that majority? They did not get it from the Labour Party but from their opponents.

Several Noble Lords: Hear, hear!


Let us have some applause about that. Noble Lords are now getting the facts. Let us consider this issue realistically. The Government decided to have a debate in your Lord-ships' House. But why, when the result was a foregone conclusion? I am the eighth speaker in this debate and the only one so far to venture to contest some of the arguments adduced. We know that tomorrow they will come from the Highlands of Scotland, even from the Islands; from the North, East, South and West—at the behest of the Whips on the other side and with the support of the Whips on our side and they will come and vote, and the result is a foregone conclusion; we are defeated before we start.

Accustomed as I am over a long period of years to dealing with hostile audiences —in market places, on street corners and at park gates—trying to stir up people against social injustice like slums, unemployment, impoverishment and the rest, noble Lords may note what has been achieved. We have had a vast material improvement and also several Labour Governments; and some of those Governments have included Members of your Lordships' House, including myself. What an achievement! All the hostility which I encountered, as have some of my friends —we called them comrades in those days but now we call them gentlemen— vanished like the snowflakes in the river. Of course, we are now the Government, though I will not use the language of Lord Shawoross and say, "We are the masters now". I never use such language. Nevertheless, we are the Government, such as it is. I will not, therefore, waste the time of your Lordships by indulging in old, faded arguments of pseudo-economics and the rest, because I want to get down to brass tacks.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor made the admission towards the end of his speech that it was perhaps a bit of a gamble. Indeed, I think he used those very words. I want to quote what the Prime Minister said about it. Speaking in a similar debate to this in another place, he referred to the problems confronting our country and its people-inflation, the scarcity of investment, the provision of new equipment, difficulty about the Social Contract and all the other problems with which your Lordships are familiar—and then, after dealing with all the problems, he said: To be in the Market does not of itself solve any of these problems. I hope that that remark will be noted. He went on to admit, and I admit. Nor would a policy of withdrawing from the Market. Indeed, in my view, some would be harder to solve outside. Then he added: Basically, the fault—and therefore the solution"— and mark his words— lies not in or outside Europe; what we face is a challenge to Britain, to the British people. Anyone who, in the excitement of the debate here in Parliament or outside, seeks to persuade our fellow countrymen that there is inside or outside the Community, any other way, apart from our own efforts and restraint, is debasing the argument and misleading those whose elected representatives and servants we are".—[Official Report, Commons, 7/4/75; col. 837.] I agree with every word of that. I have said it for a long time and will go on repeating it. Our problems will not be solved inside Europe but in this country, or we shall not solve them at all.

I now want to refer to something that was said by Mr. Heath. I do not impugn Mr. Heath's motives. He has been honest all the way through and there is no doubt about his purpose. He wanted to have us in and he said he wanted the full consent of the people, and interpreted that as being the consent of the Members of the House of Commons. I do not intend to argue about that. It has been argued about over and over again, but he decided that we should go in. The other day when he was speaking he made the point that by remaining in the Common Market now that we had signed the Treaty of Accession we could promote peace in Europe. Indeed, that was one of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Home.

My noble friend Lord Wilson of Radcliffe also referred to past wars and hoped that such events could be avoided by our association with other countries in Europe. What are the facts? France has contracted out of NATO and makes its own arrangements with other countries, even the Soviet Union. I recognise that Germany is playing ball. We are grateful for that. Italy is of no consequence. The economic situation there is a shambles and the political situation is even worse. To rely on Italy for support in the event of aggression would be a fatal blunder. The fact of the matter can be stated in a few words: we in Europe rely for our security not on Europe itself, for it is far too weak, but on the nuclear deterrent available to the United States of America which may be placed at cur disposal in the event of aggression by the Soviet Union. That is the situation. That cannot be challenged.

My Lords, I know there is controversy just now about the possible withdrawal from Europe of American forces but, in America's own interests, she must remain in Europe. Consider the situation in the sphere of defence. Russian vessels are exercising throughout the globe some game or other, we are unable to say what. The forces of NATO are likely to dwindle because of a decision that we have made—which may be followed by other European countries—to reduce defence expenditure. I shall not argue whether that decision was right or wrong, but face the facts. I repeat that we are dependent—and I dislike it—in the event of aggression by the Soviet Union on the nuclear strength of the United States of America. That is the situation. What is the use of talking about promoting peace throughout Europe when we have to depend on a country outside Europe? I am not suggesting that we should discard the possibility of assistance from Europe in the defence sphere. Of course we want all we can get. That is my reply to Mr. Heath. He took us into Europe because he thought it was the only possibility of avoiding defeat in this country. Indeed, it is the defeatist attitude in your Lord-ships' House which suggests that this country is finished which I deplore. I cannot understand it. I do not pretend to be a super patriot, but I still believe in our country. We have the will, the courage, the talent, the quality and the character to succeed if we have the right leadership.

On that point, I should like to mention something that happened when Mr. Heath assumed office in 1970. Speaking in your Lordships' House from the other side of the House, since we were in Opposition then, I suggested that Mr. Heath should approach Mr. Wilson, the Leader of the Opposition, and Mr. Thorpe, the Leader of the Liberal Party, the TUC and the CBI and selected prominent representatives from industry, not for the purposes of a coalition—I rejected that concept— but in an attempt to diagnose the complaint with the utmost clarity and after thorough investigation. Having done so, I proposed that they should seek a possible approach to a solution. My suggestion was rejected, though had it been accepted at the time it might have saved us a great deal of trouble. When Mr. Wilson assumed office, I ventured, not in your Lordships' House but on the public platform and in broadcasting, to make the same proposition to him, that he should consult Mr. Heath and the members of the Conservative and Liberal Parties and the CBI and TUC with the same object in view. That suggestion was also rejected.

It is the absence of unity in our own country which is at the root of our troubles. I am not speaking of the possibility of political coalition. I discard that for the moment, though it may become necessary some day. I am speaking of people getting together in a spirit of unity, with the simple objective of finding a possible solution for our problems and acting in unison. The absence of effective leadership—and that is how I define effective leadership—is the cause of many of our problems. Those problems are likely to remain for a long time to come in the absence of effective leadership.

My Lords, I should like now to say a word or two on the subject of sovereignty. I have listened to philosophical dissertations about sovereignty, what it means, how to define it, how we interpret it and so on. What I mean by sovereignty is having the right to decide what is best for ourselves. Just that, no more. It has sometimes been argued that by associating ourselves with the United Nations we abandoned some of our sovereignty. But we can withdraw from the United Nations. Indeed, who wants to remain in the United Nations? It is a ramshackle organisation which is not even capable of offering a partial solution to the problem of Vietnam, where a catastrophe has occurred because of the absence of unity in the United Nations.

It has been argued that by associating ourselves with NATO we have abandoned some of our sovereignty. But we can withdraw from NATO, as France has done. I hope that we shall not, but there would be no difficulty about that. What I mean by independence and by sovereignty is the right to determine what we regard as best for ourselves without awaiting a decision from Brussels. By all means let us have co-operation with Brussels, with France, with the Germans, the Italians or what have you. That I will accept. I advocate co-operation and understanding with every country in the world without exception, but to tie ourselves hand and foot, hook, line and sinker, to the Brussels organisation—and what a bureaucratic organisation it is, despite the existence of the Council of Ministers who are subordinate to the bureaucratic and non-democratic Commission—is asking too much.

The question is, what is to be done about it? In this debate your Lordships are indulging in a piece of propaganda. Tomorrow there will be a Division. The result is a foregone conclusion, as I have said, and on Wednesday morning in The Times newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, the Express and the other newspapers, popular and otherwise, there will be a headline, "Government supported by the House of Lords—the anti-Common Marketeers defeated by enormous majority". There are people in your Lordships' House who assume that that will do the trick. It may have the very opposite effect. Members of your Lord-ships' House must not assume that we are popular with the electors. It is very doubtful whether they will follow our lead. It is quite on the cards that they may say. "If that is what the House of Lords wants, that is the last thing we are going to do."

Now that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has returned, I want to repeat something I said earlier, because I would rather say it to his face than behind his back. He indulged in pro-Market propaganda here this afternoon, with that mellifluous voice of his and amazing charm which subordinates us from time to time. When he was doing that I was reflecting upon the inescapable and unchallengeable fact—of which he no doubt will take notice—that more than half the members of the Labour Party in another place would have rejected every word he said; and that he was not speaking for the Labour Party, but was speaking on behalf of our opponents, the Conservatives.

I come now to my final comments, because I do not want to indulge in all the shibboleths, all the slogans, the rubbish, the balderdash, the hyperbole with which the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, ended his speech. It is said of Napoleon that after he had defeated the Spaniards, the Italians and the rest of them he tried to vanquish the Russians, but the weather was bad and he had to return. It is said that he had one great, last ambition, and that was to make of England an offshore island of France. But he failed. It has been left to Mr. Heath and Mr. Wilson to achieve that task, to make of our country an offshore island of France, because if that comes about you will have to accept their eggs and their wine and all the rest of it, whether you like it or not!

Therefore I am, perhaps, the sole remaining patriot—none of the fanatical anti-Common Market here, to use the elegant language of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn—not even an ancient Briton, but one who believes in our country. Some other persons in our country have to work hard in order that we should achieve the object which we have in view, which is not to be isolated—the term "isolated" is quite irrelevant—but to associate ourselves with every country in the world. Let it not be forgotten, when we talk about this vast market in Europe, that one of the greatest markets in the world, which the Europeans wanted, is the nearly 60 million consumers in our country. We must not forget that.

So we leave it to the electors, and I repeat what I said while the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor was absent. This debate was quite unnecessary. The Labour Party, of which my noble friend is a distinguished member, decided to have a referendum. It was either right or wrong, but why this debate? Why a recommendation from the Government? Why not leave it to the electorate to decide? They will decide, and if they decide that we should remain in what shall we do? I shall tell Members of your Lordships' House. As a democrat the decision of the electors must prevail. We must accept and make the best of it. On the other hand, if we are out we have a bard struggle facing us—of course we have. But we can escape from all the trouble if only, as I say, we have the will and that effective leadership which is lacking at the moment, but which could be revived and which may well be revived if we decide to vote against remaining in the Common Market.

5.24 p.m.

Baroness ELLES

My Lords, as a patriot of this country I should greatly like to follow in the footsteps of the noble Lord who has just spoken. But I, as a patriot, would unfortunately be marching in the opposite direction to that of the noble Lord. I may not have the years and wisdom of the noble Lord, but I have had two years' experience as a member of the European Parliament, working with the Commission and with the other institutions of the Community, and this experience has stood me in good stead. I wish to say to the noble Lord, who has fought so valiantly and nobly all his life against poverty—a feeling and a fight which I share with him from my years in social work—that if he came to Brussels he would see the immense work being done in the Communities to help those who are poorer. It is with some shame that I always have to admit that there are far more poor in this country than in any of the eight other Member States. If we look at the wages people are now getting in this country and compare them with the social benefits, we find that no other country has such a great difference as we have in this respect. It is one of the social disgraces of this country which I hope will be rectified when we can once more enjoy the full economic benefits of being members.

I should like to have said a word to my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel— not to have the impertinence to congratulate him on his speech, but to say that I for one was thankful that he left this House for a period and served with such integrity and wisdom as the Foreign Secretary of our country. It is, indeed, with a certain amount of nostalgia that I look back to the time when he was our Foreign Secretary, guiding our country's destiny, which earned us the respect of all the world, but which, unfortunately, can no longer be said to be the case today.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor spoke of divided Parties. Perhaps it should be put on the Record that the Conservative Party has never been divided. Indeed, it was the policy of the Conservative Party to lead this country into Europe, and it is still Conservative policy to remain in Europe. There may be a few chips, as they say, off the old block, but they are merely chips. The main policy of the Conservative Party is, as it always has been, to remain in Europe. Perhaps we should be reminded of the Labour Party policy of 1967, which was, like ours, to go into Europe. Unfortunately, I shall not be able to follow the practice of the European Parliament—which I know would be appreciated by all Members wanting their tea—that those who are not leaders of political Parties speak for only five minutes. But I shall try to be as brief as I can, and not repeat the many arguments which have already been deployed before your Lordships.

I warmly welcome the conclusion in the document we are discussing—the recommendation of Her Majesty's Government to the British people to vote for staying in the Community. Indeed, we must congratulate the Prime Minister on a successful Round One of this extra-ordinary indulgence and display of brinkmanship. We could all have told him what he and the Foreign Secretary discover on the last page of the document —apparently with some surprise—that the Market is much more flexible than he thinks either of them had expected. If he had taken the trouble to send representatives to the European Parliament, as he was obliged to do under Article 138 of the Treaty, he would have found this out much earlier. Nevertheless, we are glad that he has come to that conclusion in the end.

My Lords, the document contains a number of interesting considerations of importance—whether they be economic, political or legal—on which the recommendation is made, in relation to the successful outcome of the renegotiations. But they bear very little relation to either economic or political realities. One cannot but be reminded of Alice through the Looking Glass, when the Red Queen said: Faster, faster ", and Alice and the Queen ran and ran, and suddenly stopped. Alice said: But we are in exactly the same place as we were before. The Queen said: Of course, my dear. Isn't that what you wanted? ". This seems to be exactly the position today. Let us look at objective No. 1 —the Common Agricultural Policy— about which much has already been said. From the time we were first members of the European Parliament we asked for a revision of the policy, to have a new look, to reconsider it in the light of present day situations. This was accepted by the Commission, and by November 1973 it had produced a new plan which would have saved £400 million a year of FEOGA, but that was not to be implemented for reasons of which we know. Even these mountains, about which people speak so glibly, represent only two to seven days' stockpiling for feeding the whole of the Community. If you are responsible for feeding 250 million people, of course the figure will look enormous; but, if it were to be used up, there would be nothing at the end of the week.

Perhaps I should say in this House that, as members of the European Parliament, it was our political group which suggested that the surplus that was available should be used for the benefit of old age pensioners and the poor in the Community countries and not be sold outside. As a result of our proposal, the Commissioner looked at this aspect and the old age pensioners now get some relief on the cost of beef weekly. It is a small point but, nevertheless, a valid one. If we look at the cost of food— and I think this must be considered—the basic ingredient is very low in proportion to the heavy rise in costs of wages, transport, distribution, rates, National Insurance for employees, repair of shops, packaging of goods, or whatever. The fact is that even if the food costs were to go up, the price that persons are paying in the shops covers a far greater proportion of incidental expenses than the food item itself. What is more important is that the stability of food supplies should be ensured.

The document criticises the policy of the Conservative Government over the access of sugar to the Community countries; but I think the Government were relieved when the Community came to its aid to buy sugar on the world market and to provide the sugar that we could not afford. Those Commonwealth countries who were to send 14 million tons to the Community decided—and quite rightly in their own interests—to sell at a better price outside. This criticism was certainly not justified. Surely we are also delighted at the improved access of food-stuffs by the Lomé Convention. It is surprising to read in the newspapers today —confirmed by the Minister responsible for the negotiation on our behalf for the Lomé Convention—that that Convention has not been ratified by Her Majesty's Government. Perhaps the Minister will be kind enough to confirm that this Convention will be ratified by Her Majesty's Government and that we are not to await the outcome of the referendum to show our approval and support for 22 ex-Colonial countries. I can say only that this is what was in the document and I regret that I have not had time to check this with the relevant Department.

The negotiation of the contribution to the Community budget is, again, totally irrelevant. We have heard the figure involved in the annual payment from this country. What about this country's £79 million a year subsidy on bread and £69 million on butter? That does not compare with the benefits of belonging to the Community. What was more disheartening was to have to put on paper and display to the world the gloomy forecasts of our future economic situation, the basis on which the argument was made. There was already provision in the Treaty of Accession, in any case, for taking into account any special situation which would be contrary to the interests of any individual Member State.

So with all the objectives, all of which could be reached within the terms of the Treaty with no dislocation of the smooth running of the European Communities, we are again faced with having to go over all the old arguments. There are three main points which are of concern and to which I should like a reply. First, is the recommendation on page 3 of this document that of Her Majesty's Government; or is it of the Cabinet, as on page 10? If so, why do five Cabinet Ministers denounce the recommendation?

Secondly, if it is a Cabinet recommendation, will the Government repudiate the statement published in today's papers and particularly on the following points? With regard to EFTA, there seems to be some disagreement because the statement in this morning's paper by five Cabinet Ministers and one other Minister says that they will be starting renegotiations with the EFTA countries. It is clearly stated in page 7 of this document that we should have just as stringent injunctions on us as members of EFTA and non-Market EFTA countries which have agreements with the EEC, as we would by remaining members of the EEC. Indeed, the information that we have from EFTA countries is that they arc most unwilling to accept even the possibility of our being members of EFTA again, because it will disrupt their own arrangements with the EEC. In particular, we should have to contend with the fishing policies of Norway and Iceland and the steel agreement between Sweden and the Community. This utter disregard of our Treaty obligations, governed by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which was ratified by a Labour Government shows again an appalling disregard for the honour of this country.

There seem to be only two exceptions whereby a Treaty can be denounced or from which a State can withdraw. I should like to know whether those Cabinet Ministers who are against the Market receive the same legal advice on international law as is available to other members of the Cabinet; because in their recommendations this morning they give a dateline and a timetable; whereas in the Vienna Convention, as I understand it, they have to give at least one year's notice before withdrawing from a Treaty and only within exceptional circumstances. Neither of these circumstances exist today and they did not exist in 1972 when the Treaty was signed and ratified. On what legal basis do they make these statements? If they are Ministers of the Crown, the least one can expect of them is to honour the international obligations of this country.

Fears were expressed in 1971 before membership about foreign nationals coming over and taking our husband's jobs, that prices would rise and that there would be a loss of national identity. These fears have been disproved. Indeed, it is with some amazement that one hears again the same old arguments from the anti-Marketeers who, like Rip Van Winkle, wake up after five years and use the same arguments, quite unaware that the world has changed, the facts have changed, the situation has changed. What has not been said in this paper is how the people are to judge the benefits of being members. On what case are they being asked to vote? In this document, it refers to renegotiations; but surely not on these terms, which are totally irrelevant to the arguments. I have hardly heard one speaker even bother to go into the arguments. My noble friend Lord Balniel, speaking from the Front Benches, went into some of them. Everybody has agreed that what matters are the big arguments, the ideological arguments. This was agreed on all sides.

On what basis do we expect the people to judge the benefits of being in the Community otherwise? What else? Certainly not on the dynamic effects of entry on our economy, reduced to near-bankruptcy, not by being Members, but by existing domestic policies, on the one hand, and by the questionmark put over the future of the United Kingdom since February 1974, on the other. No greater disincentive to investment in this country has ever existed—investment needed to stimulate employment and even admitted by Mr. Benn—than the uncertain present and even more uncertain future of our country created by that doubt.

What is not said in this document with reference to the Commonwealth is that all its members have repeated publicly the earnest wish that we should remain members and get on with it. What is not said is the real concern the European Community has for the maintenance and stimulus of employment and the concrete examples of the European Social Fund: the £34 million used to train and retrain over 153,000 unemployed in this country; £5½ million for the disabled and £2½ million for migrant workers. None of that is in this document; yet it is apparently on this matter that the case is to be debated by the people and on this they are being asked to vote.

Above all, nothing has been said of the benefit we have had in this country for the last 30 years of a period of peace practically unrivalled in the history of Western Europe; thanks to the vision of the statesmen who took a firm decision to banish national antagonisms and co-operate in the economic field to achieve the essential objective of the Treaty, which is to improve the working and living standards of all its people. I can say only that although I welcome the conclusions and recommendations in this document, to me it is a worthless piece of paper and does not reflect what are the real reasons for our being in the Community. I earnestly request everybody in this House and anybody who is in favour of staying in Europe, that we should repeat these arguments throughout the country and not be bound merely by this piece of paper.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, met me before this debate and he said, "Reggie, there is an 'M' against your name. I do not believe it. You are incapable of being a maiden!" The noble Lord may be quite right. At any rate, I ask for no indulgence for what are going to be unpopular opinions. The effect of the Market on trade is marginal; trade takes place because there is a reciprocal requirement for goods. We traded with Europe before the Market, we shall trade with Europe after the Market. At present, that trade shows a margin of some £2,000 million in favour of Europe. The idea that countries of the Market would kill a trade so advantageous to them is a tale to scare the children. If we come out of the Market we shall continue to trade on those terms or, it may be, on better terms, for a very simple reason; it is over-whelmingly to the advantage of the other countries that we should do so. But the trading effects are marginal and may be reversed. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, that what matters are the political and defence aspects. By contrast, the effects on our foreign and defence ability are fundamental and will be permanent.

We can no longer deal on terms of equality with other countries because we are no longer sovereign. That is a fact that we have to face. Whether it be trade, defence or environment, the things we can agree with the United States, with Japan, with Australia and with India are limited by prior and perpetual commitments into which we entered together. To that extent our hands are tied and we are no longer sovereign. In a changing world, we can no longer change our partners. Our international personality is diminished, but we are told that this diminution, this loss of power, to choose and decide is compensated by joining and sharing in the power of a Europe which may well have a greater population and wealth than either of the two super Powers. Europe will be the compensation for the Empire which we have lost. This is a delusion. The Empire was a power unit, because it spoke with one voice, our voice. When we went to war, the Empire went to war: India by command, the old Dominions and Rhodesia by loyalty. When we spoke, our voice was strong because we spoke for a quarter of the inhabitants of the earth. But can we speak for Europe? Can anybody speak for Europe? Can Europe even speak for OPEC? We saw what happened when it tried to do so.

My complaint is not of the power of Brussels, but of its importance. The Market is an international tribe that has not reached the point at which it has a government. There is endless opportunity to talk, "African democracy" if you like to call it that, but no power to decide, no power to legislate, impotent conservatism entrenched behind nine vetoes. Brussels is not an authority, it is not a power instrument, it is a committee of the elders. Its function is not to decide, it is to avoid decision. Power depends on there being someone who can decide, who can bargain, who can sign and speak with one voice for all. There is nothing like that in Europe.

The Market is designed for impotence. There is no treaty-making power, there is no power to make peace or war. It is an association of the old and rich who fear change. The Market is not a federation; it is not a confederation— I do not fear that aspect of it—but it is an alliance. There is the rub; it is an alliance to which we shall be irrevocably and exclusively committed. NATO is different; we can leave NATO. France has left, Portugal looks on the way out, America may be leaving also. When NATO was formed we were advised there would be 50 divisions with equivalent air power, and a mass of manoeuvres behind the Rhine. We never produced half of this. NATO forces became a trip wire for the American deterrent. Now, as a result of the SALT agreements, the deterrent has gone. Russia need not fear nuclear retribution, unless America herself is attacked. Our lush pastures are defended by an electric wire from which the batteries have been removed.

Every day the United States becomes more obviously isolationist; but what-ever she does, we remain bound to this alliance. We are precluded from making any alternative arrangements for our security. On another occasion. I hope I shall have the opportunity to discuss the alternatives that I believe are available if we free ourselves. If not, we are bound to all eternity—and to what allies? Alliance to France means that the ally has the honour of serving France. Reciprocity has never entered into a French alliance. Remember Czechoslovakia in 1938, my Lords; remember Britain in 1940; remember Israel in 1964; look, my Lords, at NATO itself. I have searched my memory to find a war in which Italy started and ended on the same side.

In West Germany we designed a Constitution to end militarism. We have been wonderfully successful. The military have been so successfully subordinated to the civil rights of the individual that they could not even remove the petrol from filling stations on the anticipated axis of an enemy advance, or do anything to block or defend private airfields without due process of law. They could do nothing against a fifth column until long after it had fulfilled its function. If Russia were to move at last light, she could be on the Rhine by first light. It would not be a six day war; it would be a three day war. Europe is not defended by NATO divisions, tethered like goats upon Germany's South-Eastern frontier, nor is she any longer defended by nuclear threat. We are defended by a gerontocracy of the Kremlin, old men hoping that the status quo will outlast their time and that they will be spared the headache of managing even more Germans. That is our protection. But we should consider what might happen if the Communists won power in the Kremlin, people who really believed in world revolution. The Communist Parties who control the working-class movements in France and Italy, and who are mostly underground in West Germany, are quiet because Moscow says so. It is only in Britain that Moscow has no substantial fifth column. If Russia took the tabs off and flexed her massive muscle on the frontier there would be a rush to make terms with the future. We should find our industrial Common Market friends falling over each other to finance the Communist Party as they financed the Nazis and Fascists. There would be no need to have even a three day war; the fruit would fall from the tree without the need of plucking. Our allies have only one strategic doctrine and I have expressed this before in a Chinese proverb: If rape be inevitable, lie back and enjoy it; it may be your charms will civilise your violator. We do not wish to be of this company, for these are the allies for whom we must surrender almost every one of our foreign affairs and defence options, and for whom we must deny ourselves all power of civil and military manoeuvre. If we do, we shall die like Venice, without a whimper.

Thirty years ago the noble Lord, Lord Hale, and I organised a Labour deputation to the original Common Market conference at The Hague, from which all this started. I was summoned before that by Ernie Bevin, who was then Foreign Secretary, and I remember him saying to me, "Reggie, you are wrong. This sort of thing will never fit the English people. The English people only stand up when they axe alone." Twenty-five years of creeping decadence have convinced me that that great and very sensitive English-man was right.

5.51 p.m.


My Lords, it is a great honour to be the first to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Paget of North- ampton, on his maiden speech in this House. Many of us feel that we are a little boring these days, what might be called "penny plain", though of course I do not include the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. Therefore we like to welcome to this House the more colourful characters on the political scene and, although I have not had the honour of knowing the noble Lord before, I have learned from a distance that he is one such character. I hope that your Lordships will hear him more often than you hear me. I can certainly promise that I shall always listen to him, but I cannot promise that I shall always agree with him.

After a series of brilliant and, in many ways, inspiring speeches in support of the Motion, which I shall not try to emulate, I shall make my small contribution to this debate by concentrating on one aspect: that is, how recent developments on the international scene should affect our consideration of the question. I should say at once that I consider that they confirm the correctness of the decision to enter the Community and strengthen the view that we must now stay in it. In the intervening period since we last debated this question, the international situation and the Community itself have both markedly changed, as your Lordships have heard this afternoon. The interconnected crises in the international energy and agricultural markets and in the international monetary system have had a profound effect on national governments and international relations. The supplies of cheap energy have become insecure and expensive. No longer is there a plentiful supply of cheap food to be obtained from an international market, and international exchange rates have failed to maintain the basis of stability agreed in Washington in December 1971.

The Community has also changed, both in its institutional structure and in the tenor of many of its policies. Its members have developed a satisfactory forum for political consultations. The commitment to build a supranational Europe in the near future has progressively weakened. The goal of economic and monetary union by 1980 has been abandoned. The future of the Common Agricultural Policy is open to discussion. A Community social policy has been developed. There has been a significant development in the relations between the Community and the Third World. Community priorities have been changed by the influence of Germany and Britain, and the international shocks have produced a different balance of members' interests. Our participation in the Community has shown that we can influence it towards our conception of the common interests and problems.

The new international situation has reinforced the trend towards more international consultation and co-operation, towards a greater awareness that the problems which beset us all require a collaborative response. It is true that no one group of countries can now hope to solve its problems in isolation from the rest of the world; but collaboration will be easier to achieve on a regional basis between groupings of like-minded States. There is a clear trend towards a more regionally-organised world, and the Community has inevitably become more outward-looking.

In these circumstances, our choice is not between sovereignty and integration. The sovereignty argument is, I suggest, becoming more and more unreal in the light of the way the world is developing. Our choice now is between one form of interdependence and another. What we have to consider are the advantages and disadvantages of the Community as a framework for international co-operation, as against the equally constricting obligations arising from our entering the international lists alone. I have no doubt where the advantage lies, and that membership of the Community provides possibilities for the positive exertion of British influence on the development of international policy, which no longer exists for Britain independently.

In the new climate of interdependence, it seems clear to me that the other members of the Community are the only compatible international set of partners available. America's economic and political interests are now more often divergent from those of Britain than are the interests of the Community; and now that our economic and political weight is declining we can no longer exert a real influence on American policy. I certainly do not advocate that we should copy General de Gaulle in emphasising our independence of the United States. We are indeed dependent for our existence on the continued American belief that the integrity of Western Europe is a function of American security. But the Americans themselves are showing a tendency to want to negotiate with identifiable blocs of States, and the most effective way of confirming and continuing our close relations with the United States will be in the development of their relations with the Community as a whole. We are no longer an interlocuteur valable by ourselves.

Other partners may surely quickly be dismissed as not providing an international framework which would serve our interests. The Scandinavians exist in the shadow of the European Community and will not be interested in a new alternative grouping. The ties within the Commonwealth—though I do not deny their general advantages—are even less valid for such a purpose than they were, now that its members have, in the natural course of things, become more closely aligned with their neighbours, or with the blocs which have common interest with them. I believe we should attach great weight to their expressed desire that we remain in the Community.

I shall not attempt to discuss in detail the effect of membership upon our particular interests. The Community offers us security of food supply at a price in the determination of which the British Government can play its part, and there is a good case for holding that this will be more to our benefit than our dependence on an increasingly erratic international market. The new difficulties in obtaining agreement on energy prices and supplies, in the face of the grand design of OPEC to widen the scope of the discussions by the inclusion of other raw materials, emphasises the advantages of seeking a more limited understanding between the Community and the oil-producing countries within the main international framework of discussion between OPEC and the oil consumers.

The Western European bloc has emerged as one of the most effective negotiating groups in the international discussions on the management of the global economy. The enlarged Community has adopted, as we have heard this afternoon, a much more positive style in its relations with the developing world, in a convention revolutionary in some of its aspects and considered by both sides as a model for future relations between developed and developing countries. The contacts between the Community and Comecon offer the prospect of more ordered economic relations between the two halves of Europe, which will have their effect also in the political field. The rapid development of political procedures in the Community provides a pattern of intergovernmental consultations and collaboration in which Community institutions play a substantial part, and, will make it possible for Britain, even in these days, to retain some influence on the politics of the Mediterranean world.

This great decision must be based on our perception of the British role in the world now that our options have narrowed, as our economic strength and standing with the United States and the Commonwealth declines. Where do our interests lie? In what way should we involve ourselves in international negotiations to protect those interests? There are distressing signs that certain elements in this country would like to turn their backs on the world in the pursuit of narrow sectional interests. That has never been and never will be the right attitude for Britain. I have no doubt at all that our future lies within the Community, and that to break away i from it now would be to condemn this country to a squalid, unprofitable and unworthy future.

6.1 p.m.


My Lords, may I add my congratulations to those who have delivered their maiden speeches this afternoon—two being maiden and the other, obviously, quasimaiden. If I do not find myself in agreement with what they said, yet I would respectfully commend them for the clarity of the position they took. They stood up and spoke up and can be clearly counted. I take it that that is a task which I also should seek to fulfil, first as a churchman. I am well aware that in the Churches today there is a perpetual condition of laryngitis where many of the great issues are involved, and no clear voice has been heard. It would be improper to translate official documents and statements as a true reference to the condition of church people generally in this country. This is almost an argument for a referendum. What is clear to me, and I believe to many other people, is that if the arguments for or against continued support of the Common Market are put into the kind of economic framework in which hitherto they have been largely stated, a large area of confusion is to be expected in the minds of people who, as they listen to the economic arguments on both sides, find those arguments both coercive and conflicting.

It reminds me of the great James Ward, the nineteenth century philosopher, who said that on questions of determinism and free will he was so completely convinced by the arguments on both sides that he felt the only option he had was to act on a moral proposition rather than an intellectual one. It is not in taking this argument out of the economic sphere, but in trying to set it within a larger sphere, that I hope I can make some small contribution to the debate with the probably wild and impudent hope, not shared by my noble friend Lord Shinwell, that I may be able to impress some argument upon this House which will have a measurable influence in the voting strength tomorrow.

I do not believe that the question is cut and dried. I believe that there are great issues which hitherto have not been properly discussed, and that only when they are brought within the general framework of consideration of the Common Market can a reasonable and proper result follow. I confess to a certain initial unease. I have no liking for renaying on undertakings honourably accepted by Governments. It is only because I feel that in this case the moral issue is supreme that I presume to think it would be right to alter, change, to go back on what has already been decided. I am no friend of the referendum; I think it is a profound mistake. But we are stuck with it and I suppose we must try to make the best of it.

I am committed as a Socialist to the belief that whatever international or supranational arrangements are made, in a country in which I have a vote and seek to influence affairs, they should be generally consonant with the principles of that Socialism which I accept. Your Lordships will perhaps forgive me if I advert to a contemporary lack of understanding as to what the word "Socialist" seems to mean. When, for instance, the Leader of the Opposition in another place refers to Mr. Healey's Budget as a "Socialist Budget" I think that is a semantic monstrosity. Of course it is not a Socialist Budget; it is a courageous attempt within a mixed economy, as I think, to provide measures for a particular emergency and to see how far some of them can be interpreted as moving towards some other form of society than the one in which we contemporaneously suffer.

On a recent evening, I was listening to a Labour Member of Parliament speaking on the air. He was asked, "What is the definition of 'Socialism'?" He said that it was a redistribution of wealth. That, in culinary terms, I suppose means that if you have the mixer you do not need the cookery book. I find this totally unsatisfactory and would presume to say what I mean by "Socialism". It relates to whether something will serve the interest of what I, a Member of your Lordships' House, believe the country ought to do in relationship to proposals which either confirm or abrogate the general principles of the Socialist creed that I hold. That is a fair statement. I do not pretend that I shall necessarily sway many people into a total and immediate belief in the Socialist propositions, but that is where I begin, and where I begin the argument.

I find that there is precious little prospect of Socialism within the projected or the existing Common Market, and I should have thought that the general evidence is that it is moving away from rather than towards a Socialist concept. If there are trade unionists who are privy to this kind of argument, I would venture to remind them that the European Trades Union Confederation, which comprises 17 countries in its membership, is a far better protection against multinational organisations in the commercial world which are themselves subvented and protected by measures of adherence to trade union movements within the European Economic Community. I do not want to take part in any assembly which will magnify the problems which confront a Socialist and, as I see it, will do practically nothing to advance the cause.

I believe also that, in simple terms, our permanent membership of the Common Market is adhesion to a super-State in a world where I believe that the nation State has been an incorrigible nuisance and a grave menace. I do not see in the enlarged Community any move towards the abrogation of the power politics which is expressed inherently in the nation State. When I find that the argument in your Lordships' House this afternoon specifically regards Communism as the enemy and Russia as the fugitive or potential foe, I find this a most disagreeable assumption of a situation which I do not believe is inevitable and which I believe can be corrected by a repudiation of the general political structure of the super-State—which this particular coagulation of States would represent in a world where we have far too many of them already, and they are a thundering nuisance anyhow to the well-being of ordinary people every-where. I do not want to join a larger State in a world where I am convinced that distribution of power has to find another avenue than that which has habitually and traditionally been followed within national sovereignty.

That brings me to the question of sovereignty. There appears to me to have been a superficial approach to this very difficult question of what constitutes sovereignty. May I commend to your Lordships' attention a wise and informed article in The Times, I think last Saturday, in which it was pointed out that, when sovereignty is correlated with power, one is forgetting that there is a subtle and profound difference between the power and juridical competence of a sovereign State. If I may draw evidence from another sphere with which I am better acquainted, I would point out that there is no reason why, because we theologians have made such a mess of this question of sovereignty, politicians should follow in our unworthy steps.

The idea of the Deity being sovereign has been mixed up with two words, both long and rather difficult but both precise. One is the "omnipotence" of God and the other is the "omnicompetence" of God. There are measurable and, I think, precise differences between those two words. Inasmuch as you and I have the opportunity of making mistakes, to that extent the omnipotence of God is reduced. But within the framework of the theology of the Deity there is utter and complete confidence, in which all the things that are possible are themselves within the framework of divinity itself.

I believe that we have to think about national sovereignty today in terms of the omnicompetence of particular communities to do what they wish to do within a framework of what is possible in the general idea of power which stretches over many fields and is contained in many areas, some of them outside the framework of the particular nation State. When once we have appreciated this distinction, surely it is true that national sovereignty has already been eroded, and that the kind of omnicompetence that once was vested in the unitary nation State is not likely to continue very much longer, if one thinks of the community allegiances of the Scottish Nationalists, the Welsh Nationalists, and now, I believe, the Cornish Nationalists and many others. As I see it, it is imperative for the peace of the world that national sovereignty should be relegated to its proper place as a preparation for the sharing of authority with an appropriate power which is greater and more beneficent than the nation State.

I object to the sharing of this power with the wrong people. It is because of that that I deplore the fact that there has been only one comment made this afternoon about the United Nations, and that was in derision. I would further invite your Lordships to consider that during the time when the propaganda for our continuance or our departure from the EEC has been canvassed, not a word has, been said about a prior obligation, which I believe we ought to honour, to the one alternative and substitute for the nation State which can offer any true hope for the future. We threw away the opportunity to turn the "talking shop" of the League of Nations into an instrument for public and world government, or at least world guidance. If we throw away the opportunity of this muchderided United Nations for the same narrow and national reasons, we shall not live to regret it; it is highly likely that our children will regret it much more grievously than we do.

Therefore, I would make the plea that we should reject our continuation in an enlarged, non-Socialist power bloc, in order that we may give our undivided, our earnest and our enthusiastic attention to what, after all, seems to me to be the one hope of a world which is in desperate need of a peaceful, co-operative and collaborative solution to the problems which vex it now. This could be the beginning of World Government. The day of the nation State and of the enlarged nation State is passing. The infinite perils of the nation State are still as terrible as ever they were, and, with the emergence and continuation of competitive armaments, are likely to break into some kind of cataclysm before long. This is not something which I dredge out of a prophetic professionalism, which is always a danger for a parson. It is some-thing which has been underlined in almost every speech which has been made this afternoon.

It is for that reason that, whatever the cost and whatever the immediate disadvantages of pulling out of the EEC may be, judged by these ultimate considerations I believe it would be the right thing and that it might well persuade many of those who are now quiescent partners, or more or less quiescent partners, in the EEC to turn their attention once again to the one perceptible hope of peace on earth and good will among men, which is the beginning of World Government, of which I believe that the EEC is a false dawn and not a new day. Therefore, I respectfully commend to your Lordships that even at this late hour we should transfer our allegiance to the profitable area of World Government and leave alone the extension of power politics from which we have suffered for so long.

6.15 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, on his very provocative and doomladen maiden speech. It reminded me very much of the cinema of my youth, when one found the heroine strapped to the railway line, the express train puffing round the corner, and the sheriff hardly yet alerted—to be continued in the next instalment! I am longing to hear what the second instalment, which the noble Lord has promised us, is to be.

I am afraid that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and I differ deeply on the political philosophy which he has been enunciating. I prefer the philosophy enunciated by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester. If I and the 21 subsequent speakers in this debate choose to deploy our arguments in detail, the debate will be of monumental length and of intolerable boredom. Therefore, I do not intend to deploy my arguments in detail. I stand by the speeches of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and my noble friend Lord Balniel for the main content of my arguments and will add only a few extra comments. I should like to reemphasise that the repudiation of the Treaty in the way which it is proposed could happen is a most disastrous precedent. British industry has been investing very heavily in Europe in the expectation that we shall stay in Europe. My modest connections in business certainly have been in that direction.

Turning to food, if Europe, including Britain, can be made more or less self-sufficient in food, there will be much more food for a poorer and hungry world outside. Also, we want to take up the exports from the poorer and hungrier world, but we simply cannot do it in sufficient volume without the complete ruin of our own industries. If, by being in the Community, we are able to gain an entry for the exports of these Asiatic and African countries into Europe, we can spread the burden, and it is possible that between us we shall be able to give them the support they require without disastrous consequences to the individual industries of ourselves or of European countries. I should have thought this was obvious, and it is a very strange thing to me that the Minister of Overseas Development is apparently against our membership of the Community.

For those very reasons, I should have thought she would have been an enthusiastic supporter, and I cannot help thinking that her Socialist heart has been ruling her Ministerial head in this matter. Finally, the Socialists of Russia are against Britain being in the Community. The Left Wing of the British Socialists are also against it. I should have thought those two reasons were very good reasons for supporting our membership of the EEC.

6.19 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, first of all, may I be permitted to add my congratulations and express my appreciation of the maiden speeches we have heard from the three noble Lords this afternoon. I hope we shall hear more from them in the future. We look forward to their future contributions. Soon after I joined your Lordships' House a few months ago, I accepted an invitation from the noble Earl, Lord Dudley, to join Sub-Committee A of the Select Committee on The European Communities which was scrutinising Directives, Statements, et cetera, from Brussels on European budgetary policy and the Regional Development Fund. When I put down my name to speak in your Lordships' House today, I had intended to concentrate on some of the aspects of the Regional Development Fund and the advantages accruing from renegotiation. I notice from the Order Paper that the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, is later to move the Sixteenth Report of the Scrutiny Committee, and I am sure she will be dealing with this in much more detail. Therefore it is not fair for me to go over the ground in anticipation of what she will say.

All I wish to say at this time is that we should welcome the proposals for regional policy which fully acknowledge the central role of national Governments in assessing the needs of their own countries. The new principles as proposed require no changes in our present aid policies and we might even claim to have influenced the proposals which follow so closely the criteria that we have used in the United Kingdom Local Employment Act to determine the changes in the boundaries of our assisted areas. The Commission have not only acknowledged that national Governments are the best judges of what is required in their own countries, but they further acknowledge that regional problems may call from time to time for urgent action by Governments, and the Treaty procedures will not hold that up.

A month ago, with other members of Sub-Committee A, I visited Brussels, and during the course of our visit we had discussions with our Commissioner, the right honourable George Thomson. He advised us that application forms for aid would be issued to member Governments by the end of April, and that applications for aid could then be entertained up to the full amount of the commitment appropriation to the end of the first year. We expressed some doubt as to how far the Commission would commit fund aid up to the full amount for projects needing to be spread over three years. But the Commissioner agreed that the commitment, in practice, would have to be made. He further assured us that all the Commission wanted to do was to lay down guidelines within which national aid policies should operate, and what were the acceptable forms of aid. For the time being they continue to embrace all forms of aid granted within the United Kingdom, including our regional employment premiums, and I am perfectly prepared and happy to accept the Commissioner's assurances. The Regional Fund is due to provide about £35 million in grants for Britain in 1975 and a further £60 million in each of the next two years 1976 and 1977. Also, due to start this year is the Community's new hill farming aid scheme which brings another substantial contribution to Britain.

In my opinion, the argument about sovereignty is just a Victorian illusion and we cannot think of trying to renegotiate the joining of a free trade area. Such negotiations, after we had abrogated our responsibilities in Europe, could only be conducted in an atmosphere of bitterness and ill-will and with none of the good will and co-operation that would be needed to carry out such discussions and negotiations. Britain is a part of Europe. Europe used to be the richest and most powerful part of the world, and Britain used to be one of the richest and most powerful nations in Europe. Ever since the days of Elizabeth I, we have sent out our merchant venturers across the seven seas, claiming new lands, new riches, and founding the great Commonwealth of nations. The Third World —the underdeveloped countries—are beginning to realise the potential resources that they have to offer. Their standard of living is improving and their demand for the products of other countries is increasing. Our great Commonwealth of nations no longer depends so heavily upon us to buy their products and, what is more, the Commonwealth want us to stay in Europe. Britain has had a great past, but I believe that Britain can have a great future—in Europe. But we have no future if we stand on our own.

Food prices have risen—every house-wife will tell you that—but this is not only in Britain or in Europe. World prices have risen and, dearly as we are paying in Britain, we are still paying slightly less than we would have done had we not been part of the European Community. Our right honourable friends in another place—Shirley Williams, James Callaghan, Fred Peart and Edward Heath —have all told us time and time again that the days of cheap food are over; that those days have gone for ever. There is not enough food in the world for all the peoples in the world. But the European Community is lucky. It can grow enough to feed all the peoples in the Community and have just a little to spare. But out of Europe—in Britain on her own—we cannot even feed ourselves.

I come from the thriving new town of Greater Peterborough. The industry of my city is basically engineering in diverse forms, and our local firms have made a tremendous contribution to our export drive. The European market is a very big market for our exports, but what is going to be our position if we come out of Europe? Many of the large industries of my proud city, faced with trade barriers and a high tariff wall would, of necessity, have to look carefully and might be tempted to move into Europe to safeguard their industrial investments. And if that happened throughout industrial Britain, the inevitable result would be severe damage to our economy, a run on the pound, an even higher rate of inflation, falling living standards and massive unemployment. My city is fortunate in that even in the 'thirties it did not experience the scourge of high unemployment, and its citizens would not applaud a Government who took it out of Europe and faced it with the consquences of high unemployment. I hope that without being too selfish in my attitude I may be forgiven for checking on how the Community funds have already been used to Britain's advantage in the two short years of our membership.

My county of Cambridgeshire is a mainly rural fen area with the thriving cities of Cambridge and Peterborough within its area. In the past two years £195,383 has come into my county in grants from the European Social Fund. The European Community is committed to improving the production and marketing of farm produce, and grants which have come into my county to this end have been: over £18,000 to reorganise the drainage of Upwell Fen; £22,500 to construct a new pumping station on Ten Mile River; £63,500 to construct a central grain drying, cleaning and storage centre at Wimblington; £68,500 to reorganise the drainage system at Fenton Lode and £22,500 to construct a bridge and farm roads in the Ramsey area. All these projects make a tremendous contribution to the Fen area, and perhaps it was; knowledge of this kind that was one of the factors that helped to influence all Members of Parliament in the county of Cambridge, across all three major parties, to vote in another place in favour of the renegotiations.

But it is not only in Cambridgeshire: £34 million has gone into the training and retraining of unemployed persons in our assisted areas, to training women over 35 and men over 50; £10,500 million has gone into retraining miners from various regions, and 6,000 British miners' homes are being modernised in Yorkshire, Kent. Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Scotland, Wales and the West Country, as a result of a loan of £1⅔ million at orly 1 per cent. interest. Would as many houses have been modernised if the money had come at our present high interest rate?

There has been a grant of £3 million towards the development of oiltions and techniques and almost £25 million in loans to various oil and gas projects. The National Coal Board has had a loan of nearly £23 million to modernise collieries in Staffordshire, Durham, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and in Wales. Some £32,000 has been given in grants to victims of disasters in industry in this country. That is hard cash that we have been given, or have been able to borrow, because we are members of the European Community.

But what can we give to Europe? On our own we can no longer influence world events. On our own, we cannot defend ourselves. On our own we cannot safeguard our standard of living. We depend on others for our international credit, for a lot of our investment, for our common defence, for a market for our goods, and for our food supplies. The European Community is the largest trading bloc in the world, and within the Community our influence would be felt: outside the Community, our influence would be as nothing. Only by staying in Europe can we safeguard our freedom and our national identity. Only inside Europe can we influence and work for peace, for prosperity and for social justice, not just for ourselves but for the rest of the world.

My Lords, just after the end of the Second World War that great statesman, Winston Churchill, in one of his very eloquent speeches, said that if Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance, there would be no limit to the happiness, prosperity and the glory which its 300 million or 400 million people would enjoy. That vision can become a reality. We should be part of it. We should accept wholeheartedly the renegotiated terms. We share a com mon heritage with Europe; we have an affinity with the peoples of Europe. We have a lot to offer to Europe. Let us please not pull out now.

6.32 p.m.


My Lords, it is not easy to follow such a constructive, thoughtful and well-documented speech as that to which we have just listened, but I must try to do so. May I begin by congratulating the three noble Lords who have made maiden speeches in your Lordships' House today. I suppose it would be wrong to categorise the speech of the noble Lord. Lord Home of the Hirsel, as a maiden speech. Certainly its distinction belied the description. I hope we shall hear many more speeches from the three noble Lords who have spoken today for the first time. I can scarcely describe the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, as non-controversial. Perhaps in that context I may be allowed in a moment to advert to some of the remarks he made, although I fear he is not for the moment in his place.

My Lords, strictly speaking the Motion we are debating today has nothing to do with the referendum to be held on 5th June. It is a simple Motion, That this House approves the recommendation of Her Majesty's Government to continue British membership of the European Economic Community…. and according to the decision of the Government, whether we like it or not, the electorate has to decide by referendum later. In my brief contribution to this debate, I want to concentrate on the substantive point; namely, the recommendation of the Government and the verdict of this House upon it. But before I do so, I believe it important to refer to one aspect of the referendum which has recently received considerable attention, to which reference has been made today in your Lordships' House, and which cannot, I think, be separated entirely from the question of whether or not we eventually remain members of the EEC.

My Lords, there is the very real danger that a certain result of this referendum might lead to a serious constitutional crisis. This proposition has been dismissed in a rather cavalier fashion in certain quarters by certain leaders of the anti-Market forces. But it remains a fact, and it will not go away simply because some people choose to ignore it. What-ever might be said about the binding nature of this referendum so far as the Government are concerned, and whatever epithets anyone might use to describe those Members of another place who may choose to follow their consciences rather than the results of a popular referendum, the fact is (and it is a simple one) that the referendum is not, and cannot be, binding upon the sovereign Parliament of this country. Of course, if the referendum in the event shows that a majority of the people of this country wish to remain in the Common Market, then this will reflect the views already expressed by the majority of the Members of the other place. On the other hand, if there were an overwhelming majority in favour of withdrawal from the Common Market, then I think it possible that a great number of those Members of the other place might change their minds under the weight of massive public opinion.

However, there is one other possible outcome to the referendum not by any means to be dismissed. It is that there will be a comparatively small turn-out at the polls—and for myself, expressing a personal opinion, I would regard anything under 60 per cent. as a very small turnout at the polls for a question of this kind—and that there might be a narrow majority of that 60 per cent. in favour of withdrawal from the Common Market. I cannot speak for the other place, of course, but simply, I hope, as a reasonably objective observer of the political scene I cannot imagine that an indecisive verdict of that kind would be readily accepted by Parliament. I need hardly remind your Lordships that after the debate in the other place on 9th April, 398 Members voted for continued membership, while 172 Members voted against. If there were a narrow majority of a very small poll against continued membership, I find it very difficult to believe that many of those 398 Members would find themselves able to turn full circle when faced with the need to pass legislation designed to repudiate the Treaty of Accession to the Common Market, and to enable this country to withdraw from the European Communities. Furthermore, of course, any such legislation in due course would have to come before your Lordships' House.

If at the end of the present debate there should be a Division, I think it extremely likely that there will be, as there has been before, a massive vote in favour of the recommendation of the Government that we should remain in the Common Market. In the circumstances I have outlined, of a narrow majority in a small poll, I do not see much chance of that vote being reversed. As I have said, I speak for no one else, either in this House or outside; I speak only for myself. But speaking for myself, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that if there is a Division in this House at the end of this debate, I shall vote in favour of approving the recommendation of the Government that we should remain in the EEC. And if on 5th June, when the referendum is over and the votes are counted, there should be an indecisive result, subsequently I shall vote in exactly the same sense whenever the occasion demands. I believe this is an occasion, as the noble Lord, Lord Soper, put it, when everyone should stand up and be counted. I have no hesitation in saying that whoever else may consider himself to be bound by the result of this Government referendum, as a Member of your Lordships' House I certainly do not regard myself as being bound by it in any way.

Having said that, I should now like to address myself for a very few minutes to the more substantive aspect of the Motion before your Lordships' House. For obvious reasons, I do not propose to argue at length the economic case for remaining in the European Communities. I believe this to be an overwhelming case, but there are many other Members of this House and the other place who at great length have deployed, and will deploy, the arguments on both sides. Nor do I wish to discuss the merits of the renegotiation, as to whether it has in fact achieved anything that could not have been achieved without the threat of withdrawal. I should like instead to concentrate on the political effects on this country of any decision now to withdraw from the European Communities. One of the main political effects of such withdrawal, of course, would be to throw into question once again the whole effect of the unification of Europe that has taken place since the formation of the Common Market; to throw into doubt once again the crucial rapprochement between France and Germany; to throw into doubt the guarantee that our united Western Europe provides against a recurrence of the kinds of civil war that have happened twice already in Europe in this century.

Here perhaps I might briefly mention the references of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, to the defence aspect of this problem. I am sorry the noble Lord is not able to be in his place. I should have liked to deal with some of his arguments at very great length. But perhaps I might say—if it is still permissible to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, without being accused of blasphemy—that some of his remarks about the defence arrangements of Western Europe betray a really notable mental confusion. He spoke about France contracting out of NATO, without, of course, making clear to your Lordships' House that France has not contracted out of the Western Alliance but only out of the integrated structure of NATO. He spoke of Germany "playing ball", as though Germany were playing some kind of game in the defence of Europe. He spoke in diminishing insulting terms about our Italian ally. He is quite entitled to hold his views.

He went on, however, to say that as a result of all this we rely for our security not upon our European allies but upon the nuclear deterrent of the United States of America. He then went on, I thought somewhat paradoxically, to suggest that the credibility of that deterrent was diminishing. I began to wonder, there- fore, upon whom we do rely for our defence. Perhaps it is upon ourselves. However, I would suggest that the reason why we have become increasingly dependent upon the United States of America for our defence is simply because Europe itself has been for many years so weak and so divided. I should like to suggest that if we really wish to provide an alternative to the American nuclear umbrella for our defence in Europe we can only do it as Europeans, and we can only do it, if as Europeans we are not divided and weak in our councils and argue against each other, by having our own procurement policies, our own strategic doctrine. We can only do it if we are prepared to unify and to present to any potential adversary a European defence which is strong and adequate, without, if necessary, the ultimate sanction of the American nuclear umbrella.

But I think really the argument begs the main question. The argument for the political unification of Europe in defence terms is not, even in the last analysis, the ability to present a united front against a potential enemy; it is the ability to ensure that we shall not have to face again in this century what we have already endured twice, civil wars in which the members of the Western European Community have bled each other white and killed millions of each other's young people. That is, I believe, what we must all be dedicated to guaranteeing ourselves against in the future, and that, I believe, is one of the main political reasons for wishing to be inside a European Community and wishing to make it politically strong and unified.

I believe that it would have been a profoundly unwise decision, for this reason alone, not to have entered the Common Market, as we did at the beginning of 1973. To come out now, less than two years after signing the Treaty of Accession, would seem to me not simply unwise but to be a catastrophe of a really major kind. In the first place, as has already been said in the debate today, it would deal a savage blow at the reputation of this country in the world community. It is not as though we were under great pressure from anywhere else in the world to repudiate this Treaty and withdraw from the Common Market. No single Commonwealth country wishes us to leave the Community; most of them in fact actively want us to stay. The United States, at Government level and almost every other level, has expressed its wish that we should remain inside the Community. The other eight members of the EEC, I need hardly say, all want us to stay. And, perhaps what is more important, it is my experience that a great number —indeed I would guess, very subjectively, the great majority—of the young people of this country want us to stay in the Common Market. Wherever I go about the country talking at schools, at universities, listening to the views of the people to whom I talk, I get the feeling that there is still in the minds of young people in this country a great sense of adventure about the possibility of European unity, and certainly no desire that we should leave.

The only people who would be happy to see us leave are, it seems, the Government of the Soviet Union, its satellites in Eastern Europe, and a dedicated section of political opinion in this country. Perhaps in this context I might express, again regrettably in his absence, my surprise at the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Paget, in his maiden speech, that the Soviet Union has no fifth column in this country. I point these things out. I emphasise that we are under no pressure from anywhere in the international community to repudiate an international agreement which we solemnly entered into less than two years ago; and I believe that if we do so, for whatever reason, our reputation and credibility in the world will be irreparably damaged at a time when we can least afford it.

Apart from the narrow implications of such irresponsible international behaviour, there is the more important matter of the wider influence of this country in world affairs. In the last quarter of this century and the beginning of the next decisions of profound importance will need to be taken if our civilisation is to survive: decisions about population growth, decisions about distribution of resources, so that two-thirds of the population of the world no longer starve to death while the rest get richer every day; decisions about control of weapons of mass destruction, about the relationship between the Communist and the non-Communist parts of the world; deci- sions about the preservation of our environment against the creeping erosion of technological advance. All these decisions will be arrived at only by international action on a huge and visionary scale. I want this country to have a voice in some of these decisions, and we shall not have that voice if we allow ourselves to be obsessed with narrow and legalistic definitions of sovereignty.

Real sovereignty, as the noble Lord. Lord Home of the Hirsel, said, is the ability to take decisions that matter. It is no good taking decisions, either at national or international level, if you are too poor, too weak or too discredited to carry them out. For too long those of us who have observed the international political scene have seen the major decisions that affect our lives being taken in Washington and Moscow, and beginning to be taken as well in Peking. I want some of these decisions to be taken here in Western Europe. I have no apology for using the expression "Western Europe". I want Western Europe to exert its influence on the problems of the Third World, the conquest of starvation and disease. I want Western Europe to make some of the great decisions about war and peace.

Incidentally, perhaps in this context I could echo a remark by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, when he expressed surprise that there are certain people on the side of the anti-Market forces who insist that there are still supplies of cheap food to be had in the world. I find it astonishing to hear some of the people who embrace the anti-Market cause advancing that argument. There is only one way of ever getting cheap food again, and that is how we got it before—by getting it at the expense of the people who produce it. I want this kind of decision to be taken partly in this country—and make no mistake, my Lords, we shall not be listened to simply as a single, mediumsized nation beset with economic problems and beginning to lack credibility in the eyes of the world.

Before I sit down, I should like to refer briefly to the suggestion recently made by certain members of the present Government, that if the referendum should go against continued membership of the Community we shall complete our withdrawal in six months, so that we can celebrate some kind of independence day on 1st January 1976. I find this kind of talk almost frighteningly irresponsible. If I may take a few minutes of your time, I should like to ask your Lordships to consider these facts. If we should be so desperately foolish as to decide to withdraw from the Community, we shall presumably have to negotiate with them the same type of free trade agreements as our former partners in the European Free Trade Area have negotiated. To achieve even the same kind of agreement as the Swedes have with the Common Market would require all the remaining EEC partners to accept unanimously the terms and negotiations of such an agreement.

Can anybody really believe that, at a moment when we have just repudiated a solemn agreement signed with those partners less than two years ago, they would be falling over themselves to negotiate terms suitable to us? Does anyone in your Lordships' House believe that, for example, the French would adopt an amenable and conciliatory and accommodating posture in any such negotiations? It seems to me that anyone who believes that we can withdraw from the Common Market in six months must have some very curious sets of assumptions. We could of course withdraw in six days or six weeks simply by repudiating the Treaty and then attempting to pursue our new economic and political strategy, whatever it may be, from outside. I imagine, however, that no one really believes—not even the most rabid anti-Marketeer—that we can do that. Presumably, we shall have to negotiate our new terms from inside the Community, and I should not like anyone in your Lordships' House to believe that if our partners in the Community wished to force the issue they could not make things extremely difficult for us; even perhaps to the lengths of beginning one of the most celebrated international law cases of all time.

As I have said, the picture which emerges, if the decision of this miserable referendum goes against continued membership of the Common Market, is a sombre one. It raises the possibility of an acute and unprecedented constitutional crisis in this country. It poses a great danger of irreversible damage to the credibility and reputation of this country in the world. It opens up the real possibility that Britain might stand in the dock accused in international law as well as reviled by international opinion. It presents a future for Britain outside any of the main power groupings in the world, lacking in credibility, and without the means to influence any of the great political decisions with which the world is now confronted.

In a recent debate which I initiated in your Lordships' House I asked noble Lords to consider some facts about the political life of this country. Once again, I ask you to look at some of the facts objectively and unemotionally, and especially I ask you to look at the political division in this country between those who are for and those who are against the Common Market. There are, of course, men and women of all political persuasions who are against our continued membership; there are Scottish Nationalists, Welsh Nationalists, Conservatives, an occasional Liberal, and a few ruggedly independent members of the Labour Party, some of them in this House, such as the noble Lords, Lord Wigg, Lord Shinwell, Lord Blyton and Lord Paget of Northampton, but these are tiny in number compared with the main forces on either side of the argument.

I would ask your Lordships to look very closely at those who are opposing our membership of the Communities, and when they say that that membership of the Communities inhibits our ability to make decisions about our own political and economic future we should ask ourselves very seriously exactly what economic and political future these people have in mind for us. It may be that what they want is what the majority of people in this country want. I doubt it. All I can say is that I certainly do not want it. I care deeply about the freedom of our political institutions, as I care about the reputation of this country and its influence in the world. But I care most about the world that we shall be leaving behind for our children and their children, and I believe that a vote against the present recommendation of Her Majesty's Government would deal a savage and irreversible blow to all of those ideals.

6.57 p.m.


My Lords, I am glad that I can agree with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, very much more than with the last speech that I heard him make in this place, with which I greatly disagreed. I agree with him that of course Parliament cannot be bound by the result of a referendum. The only way to get out of the Community would be to pass an Act, or repeal an Act, and only Parliament can do that. I was not sure, but I thought he suggested the possibility of a clash between the two Houses. I hope I am wrong on that.


My Lords, may I make the point clear, because I should not like to be misunderstood? I was suggesting a clash between the popular result and Parliament as a whole, not between the two Houses.


My Lords, I understood the noble Lord to say that maybe this House would vote against, and go on voting against, even if the Commons voted for. I am very glad that that is cleared up, because a misunderstanding could be dangerous. I agree also that no democratic nation in the world wants us out of the Community —not even China; China wants us to stay in. It is only the Russians and their dependents who wish us to come out, and that might in fact to some extent colour some of the opinion in this country in favour of our coming out.

It seems to me that there is a good deal of evidence now that public opinion is steadily swinging in favour of our staying in the Common Market. I agree with noble Lords who say that we must not be at all complacent about that. I am not, but it is much better to have the public opinion polls swinging in your favour than against you. One main reason why this has happened is that there is an increasing public realisation that to come out of the Community would be indeed a very messy and hazardous operation. The strength of this feeling was shown by the determined efforts made by four of my right honourable friends who issued a statement yesterday to try to dispel this view. They concentrated their whole strength on this. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that the picture that was painted by my right honourable friends of how easy it would be to get out of the Common Market was a fantasy of wishful thinking.

Much more would be involved than the simple repeal of the European Com- munity Act. The Government would have to untangle many tangible links which have grown up between us and the Community, and it would be a much longer and more difficult task than my right honourable friends seemed to think to negotiate our way into EFTA, or to establish special relationships with the Community. I say more difficult and longer; it might be—as many noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, have suggested—impossible. It seems to me extremely arrogant for anyone in this country to assume that if we came out of the Community, both EFTA and the Community would be longing to embrace us back again into some kind of special relationship.

However that may be, it seems to me very odd that those who deplore our alleged loss of sovereignty in the Community would advocate joining EFTA and establishing a special relationship with the Community. That would actually diminish our sovereignty compared with what it would be if we stayed in the Community, as Sweden, who followed that course, has found. Like Sweden, if we came out and entered EFTA and made a special relationship with the Community, we should have still to observe the strict rules in EFTA in order to maintain free competition. Over and above that, we should be subject to many present and future Community rules without having any say in formulating, amending or altering them. Nor could we, as my right honourable friends in their statement maintained, play our full part in the multi-lateral negotiations on the reduction of tariffs, which is an important meeting for us. The United Kingdom, outside the Community, would find its interests in this kind of conference increasingly ignored by the big blocs of the United States, the Soviet Union and the Common Market itself. On the other hand, in such negotiations, which are now going on and which will go on from time to time, inside the Community we could exercise considerable influence, protect our interests much more effectively as part of a Community which was negotiating as a whole from strength.

We should be much more influential in our own interests in these great multilateral tariffs talks and negotiations than if we were standing alone. Indeed, in the last Kennedy Round we were standing alone and we suffered relatively to the Community very much. The Community, in its negotiations as a whole, did very well for itself, and it was extremely difficult for us to hold our end up. If we remain in the Community, I am sure we will find and fulfil the natural and proper role of Britain in the world. When we abandoned our position East of Suez (and this was something which finally convinced me that we should support entry to the Community) we became no longer a world Power but a European Power. I think it is important for us to recognise and accept that. It is no good blowing oneself off as a bullfrog; one has to accept one's actual strength and power.

We should recognise and accept that Britain's destiny is now as a European Power. But we should welcome that, because only as an integral part of the Community can we continue now and in the future to play a part in world affairs which is commensurate with our actual strength and is a part worthy of our history and our traditions.

7.2 p.m.


My Lords, we have had speakers discussing the question of the Common Market for and against every angle. Some of the speakers are experts in their own spheres, but I do not think that the opinion of many of us here will be altered by what we have heard. Most of us have come here with our minds already made up. I am against this Government Motion, because I am an ardent Socialist—what the noble Lord. Lord Chalfont. would call "subversive" as a result of being an ardent Socialist. I grasp with full support the basic aim of the Labour Party's Election Manifesto, which referred to, A fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of wealth and power in favour of working people and their families". I am against anything which hinders this objective. I believe that the Treaty of Rome will be able to do so.

This country is in a very deep crisis, a crisis which is enveloping the whole capitalist world, a crisis which is not engulfing the Socialist countries, most of which, incidentally, are also in Europe, whose economies continue at a high level of expansion, and where there are not vast numbers of unemployed. From this I believe that if we committed ourselves to a British road to Socialism, based on Brtish traditions and democracy and coming about through a British Parliament, we would climb out of this era of continual crisis. Sir Christopher Soames, one of our two British members of the EEC Commission, has told us that going into the EEC is the safest way of ensuring that we do not take a Socialist road, when he said, according to The Times on 25th January, I believe that going into Europe is based essentially on the capitalist system and will always be so, and this gives us the best chance to promote conditions which will show people the wisdom of having in power a Government which believes in free enterprise and the capitalist system. That is from a person right inside the inner workings of the EEC. After that, it is natural and logical for me, and for any other real Socialist, to be against this Government Motion.

Much has been said about sovereignty, and surely at least some of us in this Chamber must feel some apprehension as to what restrictions will be placed on us. But on this issue of sovereignty, taking into account Sir Christopher Soames' gloating remarks, I am chiefly concerned about how the British people will be deprived of their crucial elements of national sovereignty, and about the need to make such fundamental and economic social changes as will shift the balance of wealth and power in favour of the working people. I realise that in the EEC we can nationalise industries, but we can be restricted on how we use those industries when nationalised. I think such a restriction raised its head in the case of a steel firm, Johnson and Firth Brown.

I read an article in The Times of 3rd January this year, pinpointing some disquieting features of possible restrictions. It is incompatible for any Government, wishing to extend public ownership in order to advance towards Socialist economic planning, to leave its foreign trade to be determined by Market forces and the EEC authorities. Free from the Rome Treaty and its competitive policy, we should be able to extend public ownership and advance towards Socialism at a pace determined solely by the British people and their Parliamentary democracy. A Government with such aims must be freely able to enter trade agreements with others wherever it wishes all over the world; and, of course, with Socialist countries, too.

I agree that membership of the EEC makes sense to those who see and accept the world to be permanently divided into rival regional blocs in their economic, political and military power, which are against one another in developing and oil producing countries. I do not accept this theory. I believe that mankind is groping towards detente, peace and a sharing of the world's wealth. Here the EEC will be a small, Western bloc retarding this process. I am not a Little Englander; far from it. I am for a far bigger coming together than a Western group directed by the interests of a group of multilateral giants.

7.10 p.m.

The Earl of PERTH

My Lords, we have had the good fortune today to hear three maiden speeches, all of them splendidly controversial, and that is an unusual occurrence in this House. I intend to be very brief because other noble Lords, notably the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, have or will put the case in favour of staying in the Common Market far better than I can. I do not propose to follow the line adopted by the noble Lord, Lord Milford, on why we should come out. I understand his argument, but I do not agree with it, and when he talks about a small Western bloc, it should be remembered that he is talking of the Western bloc of the European Community, which, although it may be small, is larger than Russia and America, although it is certainly smaller than China. But it surely is a very important one.

I have two points to make. First, when we have finished making the 35 speeches which will be made in this debate today —and perhaps another dozen tomorrow —and when we have voted, I hope, over-whelmingly in favour of not getting out, that should not be the end of our role. Those who believe in staying in must speak outside this House, throughout the country. They must canvass, knock on their neighbours' doors and try to show them why we must stay in. It is sometimes said that people love a Lord. I do not know whether that still holds true but, if it does, we should take every advantage of it, go out and try to persuade them on that basis.

My second point is addressed to the Scottish Nationalists, whose one representative in this House is not in his place tonight, but perhaps he or others may read my remarks. I have much sympathy, as they know, with much that they have achieved, particularly the promise of a Scottish Assembly. However, I am against them in their seeking independence and against them, if I understand their policy aright, in wanting to campaign against our staying in the Community. I do not know why they are taking this line. It may be that they believe that, if they stay in, they will in some way prejudice achieving their aim of independence. I do not believe this because traditionally and historically Scotland has always had close ties with Europe, and I believe that European countries might well be more sympathetic to their cause if we remain in than if we go out. The noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, instanced in her splendid speech many examples of our historic ties with Europe; how our scholars and students went to the universities of Europe rather than of England and how our soldiers and military leaders played a great role in Europe. Our legal system is surely closer to that of Europe than of England and, of course, we all know about our ties with France, the old alliance.

I hope that the Scottish Nationalists will think again and will consider again whether, in the light of what I and many others have said on this question, they are wise to campaign for our coming out. And if they are in any doubt, I very much hope that they will leave it to their people, their members, to vote as their consciences dictate and not because there is some strong Party pressure for them to do what is not really in their own interests. Why should Scotland seek to leave Europe now when we can use our influence, our special ties—I nearly said our special relationship with Europe—to help build the kind of Europe we all wish to see?

7.16 p.m.


My Lords, the speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor was so comprehensive and lucid that I have a complaint to make; he has left us with very little to say. That is especially the case when one takes into account the other contributions which have been made up to the 19th speech in this debate. I have reduced, indeed multilated, my notes for the speech that I had intended to make to spare the House too much repetition, so, perhaps, I shall be allowed to be a little fulsome in my praise of the three maiden speeches we have had today, a rather unique experience, all outstanding and each individual. I should also like to pay a personal note of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, for it was when he was Prime Minister that he appointed me to the House of Lords, on the recommendation of Mr. Harold Wilson, who was then the Leader of the Opposition. I therefore owe a deep debt of gratitude to the noble Lord.

There is no doubt that British withdrawal from the European Community would be interpreted by many people in this country and the world outside as an act of defeatism. When I voted for Mr. Heath's Bill it was after careful deliberation, but during the last few years I have become strongly pro-European. This has not been due to a visionary conversion on my part—that is not my style—but from learning more about the Community itself, and by trying to assess Britain's place in the rapidly changing world of today. I regret the slight to Parliament by the referendum and I wonder how many Parliamentary reforms would be delayed or defeated, if we made a habit of often holding referenda.

I still remain alienated by the entrenched political claustrophobia of the extreme Anti-Marketeers and the contradictory statistics which fall thick and fast and confuse the man in the street, some telling him that the Common Agricultural Policy will ruin him, not adding that we have received back 50 per cent. of our contribution towards it. House-wives are even more bamboozled and nothing will convince them that food prices from the European Community are now somewhat lower than world prices. I agree with noble Lords who have pointed out that it is somehow morally questionable, in a world in which thousands are hungry or starving, that there should be this plea for cheap food. It is unfair to our own farmers and to the producers in the developing countries, where food for export is often one of their primary products.

In the world today there is a giant wave of demand from the developing countries for a fairer distribution of food and raw materials between the "haves" and "have nots", and the rich countries will ignore this at their peril. The recent shock treatment applied by the OPEC countries by quadrupling the price of oil is only the beginning. The case for a great surge towards more international, as well as national, equality is unanswerable.

That leads me to the question of the renegotiations. These may not have been spectacular but they dealt with the right priorities. They have taken good account of the needs of the developing countries. The Lomé Convention has been mentioned several times today. Under it, 46 African countries will obtain almost free entry for their agricultural and industrial products. It is a success story for British efforts and a feather in Mrs. Judith Hart's Anti-Common Market cap. Fears that many of us had in the past, that the European Community would be inward looking and that the French and Belgians would concentrate on their own excolonies and favour them, have now been dispelled. I was very pleased to hear that the Community is now to help India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, for those countries have lagged behind the African countries in aid.

My Lords, I came to realise what a tragedy it would be for us not to continue our membership of the Community after my experience during the three months which I spent at the end of 1974 in the Third Committee—that is, the Human Rights Committee—of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I had not been back to the United Nations for six years and the change that has taken place there is a revelation, particularly when I think of that change in relation to the noises made by Anti-Marketeers about our sovereignty. The possibility that they envisage—a great welcome for and rush to buy our products if we come out of Europe—is, I believe, quite chimerical and misplaced. If these other countries trade with us, it will be entirely for their own benefit. Sovereignty we might have in the United Nations and in the Human Rights Committee by speaking our mind plainly but, as for influence in the voting, this is nonexistent. Our new Commonwealth countries automatically and with clockwork regularity voted with the Soviet Union, with the Latin Americans and sometimes with the Chinese during the time when I was present. The democratic freedoms which we stood for were brushed aside, so that the idea of picking up trade with those countries if we abandoned the Community is, I believe, a slight fantasy. On the other hand, we were supported by the delegates from the Community countries. Here, I should like to tell the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, that we did have a voice—the Nine often voted together. Why did we vote together? Because we share their values —freedom of information, freedom of religion, and all the other freedoms which we have in common.

Of course, if we have no friends, we have some customers among the countries of the United Nations. We sell them our arms and they buy them, but that is as far as it goes. And it is quite outside voting with us. The polarisation of developed and developing countries in the United Nations makes it all the more necessary to co-operate with our friends in Europe. The Community has demonstrated that it is flexible and that it is not the monolithic bureaucracy it is made out to be. I look forward to the time when we shall have an elected European Parliament where we can take our place and use our influence with our friends, and play a full part in the proceedings. We have a vast experience of Parliamentary democracy. I cannot believe that this will evaporate in a European Parliament. I hope that we shall eventually have a dynamic influence in the proceedings of the European Community, and that, in co-operation with the other European countries, we shall have a dynamic influence on the world at large.

7.27 p.m.


My Lords, I should first like to add my tribute upon the maiden speeches we have heard this afternoon. I also apologise to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for the fact that, due to a business engagement not unconnected with the present debate, I was unable to be in my place when he opened the proceedings.

We have for two and a half decades now been debating the issue of the European Economic Community, and I should like at the outset to pay tribute to all those from all sides of the House who have taken part in the many deliberations which have now taken us almost to the brink of a major decision. I do not think that this is the time to refer at any length to the referendum, but one can only hope that, if only for the sake of the hard work which has gone into this very important series of debates and discussions, the referendum—and I personally regret that it has to be held— will be answered in the affirmative.

I was in Luxembourg the week before last as one of several Members of both Houses of Parliament who make up the Parliamentary Scientific Committee. I had an opportunity, albeit briefly, of seeing the European Parliament at work. I think that the European Parliament as a whole is doing a very fine job. It was suggested to me, however, that the other major political Party of this country should be represented as soon as possible. Certainly, though I know that this has been said time and time again, there are some excellent candidates who could be recruited from your Lordship's House to contribute in a very useful manner to this vital body.

My Lords, the role of the Common-wealth here is of major importance and I, having strong family connections with New Zealand until four years ago blew hot and cold over the issue of the Common Market. Then I went to New Zealand, not as many of your Lordships will know, at the behest of the New Zealand Government, but for the centenary celebrations of the city which bears my name. Inevitably I was quizzed by the Press and by others on my views, and the views of this country, about Britain's entry into Europe. At that time, the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Rippon, had just returned to this country from his own negotiations in New Zealand and so, for obvious reasons, I did not commit myself too hardly to giving views on this topic. But I was present recently at a luncheon given for the New Zealand Prime Minister, the right honourable Mr. Rowling, when he was in this country. The position, which he made quite clear, was that from New Zealand's point of view Britain should enter into the European Economic Community, and the terms for New Zealand—for her butter and her agricultural products—have. I think, been very favourably negotiated. The position is similar for Australia, where recently Mr. Whitlam quite convincingly made his views known.

We must think of the future and of the role of the EFTA countries—Iceland, Sweden, Finland, and the other countries in the group. It may be that Norway will have another referendum. Norwegian friends, to whom I have spoken, regret that their country did not vote to go into the European partnership. Whether in a future referendum they will change their minds is a matter for prognostication. But these are the kind of matters which we must think about in terms of the future. Certainly, Finland, a country which I have visited, is following these negotiations with enormous interest, particularly as our trade with Finland is fairly considerable.

The question which we must all ask ourselves is one which I put towards the end of a Press conference which I gave in New Zealand four years ago, when I was asked a number of questions. I asked the newspaper reporters present what was the position of New Zealand —not tomorrow, not in a year's time, but in 10, 15 or 20 years—if Britain were to stay out of the European Economic Community. I asked: "Will you get favourable terms for your agricultural products then?" They admitted that they had not thought of that point, and I said that it may be a matter worth thinking over.

My Lords, the real question is whether we can afford to stay out of this European economic bloc. I think particularly of the small businesses in this country. I am concerned with an insurance company, while Lloyd's of London conduct something like 12 per cent. of their business within the European Economic Community. This percentage may be increased in the future. The position of the small businesses has been debated previously and will, no doubt, be debated further in the future. From the point of view of these businesses entry into the European Community is essential, and the renegotiations have supple- mented a good many of the answers to those questions which previously perhaps were not entirely answered.

There are many speakers in this debate and there is little more for me to say. This is not a new topic for discussion, but bearing in mind the problems which would face us if we stayed out of the Community, I would join those who support the Motion that we should stay in.

7.35 p.m.


My Lords, despite the fact that over several years nearly all the arguments in this matter have been used, this is and will continue to be a very notable debate. It is made all the more notable by the number of maiden speakers to whom we have listened. It was a great privilege for me to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, because for a few weeks in 1960 I happened to be serving for him in the Foreign Office just at the time when British politico-economic opinion was at last beginning to shift towards the inevitability of trying in some way to involve ourselves in the effort of the people who were then called the Six. May I also greatly commend as a pleasure to listen to the relaxed yet convinced views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Radcliffe.

My Lords, it is perhaps advisable now for us not to look behind too much at the criticisms of the referendum—we all know them. The important thing is unquestionably to line up behind the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and to see that this referendum gives a resounding "Yes"; that we should stay in. It is not a question—as sometimes people seem to think—of deciding whether to go in or come out; it is a question of whether, being there, we should pull out. One must go on and on emphasising this basic and fundamental point. While I am still referring to speeches, I must say that I felt for once that the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, delivered rather an odd speech. No doubt the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor can look after himself. But it is rather odd to suggest that if a member of the Government speaks both for the Government and himself, that is propaganda, and I suppose what other people say to the contrary view is not propaganda. I do not think that I quite follow this.

The other point is a very simple one. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, always speaks with great patriotism and with great confidence in this country, which warms all our hearts. But it is no good refusing to recognise the position of one's country when it does not have sufficient resources to do what it is trying to do. It is no good thinking that we won the war without Lend-Lease; and, equally, it is no good thinking that we can live a satisfactory life in heroic defiance of both political and economic reality.

The noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, gave a brilliantly brief summary of the political advantages of retaining membership of the Community, and therefore I will not go over that ground again. But I should like to make some critical remarks, supplementing those by other noble Lords—notably the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont—on some of the attitudes of those who are against our remaining in the Market. The most overpowering thing for anybody who has worked in the wide world is—as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, underlined—the loss of credibility to this country for all time, if, after having renegotiated a solemn commitment (and the Community has, by and large, been good to us on this point) we then renege on it altogether. Why should anybody then believe what we say again, if we do that? It is not as though any-body was trying to persuade us to do it. Here, again—expanding upon remarks made by other noble Lords—the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand, during the past winter, came over specially to tell us that they wished us to stay in Europe as we were, explaining that they themselves were altering the emphasis of their policies towards South-East Asia and the Pacific rather than towards Europe.

My Lords, there is also the question of another imagined alternative which has also been dealt with in part. Again, one can take the argument a little further. The first point is not only that we will not be able to get an industrial free trade area with the enlarged Community; it also has to be remembered that we never had one. The effort to create an industrial free trade area in the '50s ended at a disastrous meeting in Paris in 1958, at the end of which our relations with the Six were even worse than before. The Community are not going to attempt this again. I must add that I am not in any way criticising EFTA, which was a brilliant success. But it was accepted by all members that a number of members of EFTA would regard that organisation as a helpful step towards wider associations with the rest of Western Europe. Also, I think it is sometimes forgotten by those who argue the free trade area principle that this is going to do nothing to improve our balance of payments. It does not attempt to be a sure. This is just a false economic argument.

Even more important politically than some of these economic arguments are those which can be summarised in the question: Who are your friends? Perhaps I may start with two stories. I have been on holiday, and on the day I went out of my house and drove down the first street I saw a poster saying, "Quit Market—Morning Star". Then on my holiday, in accord with custom, I twiddled a good deal on the short wave and found myself tuned in to a programme in careful English in which the following three items occurred in this order. First, what were the British military doing persecuting the Irish in Ulster and how reprehensible was the behaviour of the Northern Irishmen; secondly, a series of quotations from British political life entirely devoted to remarks by people bitterly opposed to membership of the Common Market; thirdly, a strong word of encouragement to the IRA in their campaign of assasination; and then this careful English voice said: "This is Moscow Radio." That story covered not only the friends of the anti-Marketeers but their friends' friends. I am not suggesting, I do not wish to be unfair, that every convinced anti-Marketeer shares the sentiments I have just quoted. None the less one cannot escape identification with one's friends. The people who advocate policies against the Market must realise what one member of another place said. He said, "Yes, your allies seem to be Communists, Trotskyists and everyone else including the National Front."

There are a number of more minor objections to these attacks on staying where we are in the Common Market. I think the noble Lord, Lord Soper, used one of them, that we ought really to concentrate on the United Nations. He put this on a Christian basis. I cannot claim in any way to be as expert a Christian as Lord Soper, whose views I greatly respect. But I mention one of them in the proportions of the world in which we live to suggest that it is perhaps covered by a quotation from the greatest Christian of all: "Suffer it to be so now." We cannot base our policies on the universal organisation of an ideal in a politically divided world. We must do what we can with what we have. So I find myself in no way diminished in the convictions I have arrived at over these years, and they were years of considerable agony of thought. They are also the direction of thinking by serious analysts of British foreign policy. I have read two books for the purposes of review. They are by two people who started in 1945 with no predilection for a European policy, and by sheer serious scholarship they have arrived at the conclusion that because of our history, notably because of our lack of resources, this is really the only way in which we are to go if we are finally to oblige the late Dean Acheson by having a "role in the world".

There is one last point I would add, and it is picking up a point made by the noble Earl, Lord Perth. I strongly agree with him that those who have this conviction must get it across to individual people. I sometimes have the feeling, when listening to broadcasts by people advocating our staying in Europe, that because of the complexity of the subject the argument only too easily gets too highbrow. Therefore, I hope that all those Who have public duties in this campaign will always have it in mind that one is dealing with people of whom it is no derogatory remark to say they are simple people, and they want simple arguments such as, "Why are we going on doing this and why are we not doing something else?" I hope that that will be borne in mind. Perhaps the style—and I do not want to be invidious in this matter—of Mr. George Thomson is something near the ideal to reach people's hearts, minds and pockets all at once.

As I have advocated opposition to the anti-Marketeers in rather strong terms, and have also advocated what I hope the pro-Marketeers will do, may I end on an anticlimactic personal note? I feel that this occasion in our history is so important that I have taken the following decision. I had planned for the end of May to begin a generally very considerable tour which would have been partly business and partly indirect pleasures which might follow. I know very well that the referendum will not be won or lost by one vote. None the less, I have thrown away two-thirds of the programme, because I wished to exercise on that occasion the privilege which we have been given for that occasion; namely, to vote.

7.47 p.m.


My Lords, from all that has been said in the Press and elsewhere about the Government recommendation, it is clearly difficult to say anything new about the Common Market, particularly in view of the number of your Lordships taking part in the debate. For most of us on both sides of the House, this debate is a reaffirmation of a deeplyheld conviction. My reasons for this reaffirmation of my convictions relate to the ideals of the Common Market. Behind them lie my conclusions about the economic advantages which I believe the EEC has brought, and continues to bring to this country. Within the lifetime of most Members of this House we have seen two world wars which have torn Europe apart and subjected former allies to the cruelties of totalitarianism. It is a testimony to the "healing" capacity of the Community that the Western European nations have joined together in a effort to serve their common interests.

Membership of the Community is no more an automatic solution to our problems than it is a cause of them. Britain and other members face basically similar crises of jobs, prices and inflation. The greater bargaining power which the Community undoubtedly has can clearly benefit this country when we have to deal with oil producers, multinational corporations, and in aiding the developing countries, as illustrated by the Lomé Convention.

The Community is a democratic institution. The Council of Ministers, each member responsible to his national Parliament, is the focus of power and any Government can veto proposals which it considers harmful to its national interests. The much vaunted "bureaucracy" of the Commission, of which we have already heard and will no doubt hear more of in this debate, is mere myth; the "faceless Eurocrats" are, in fact, only 7,000 strong —or rather smaller than the Scottish Office, and, indeed, less than one-tenth of the 74,000 employees of the Department of the Environment. The benefits of membership are long term: the impact of withdrawal will, in my view, be immediate and disastrous. After our vacillating attitude over recent years there could be little chance of a new trade agreement with the Community. There are no prospects of reestablishing our previous links. It is impossible to turn the clock back and return to the old Commonwealth preference system. The Commonwealth primary producing countries are no longer prepared to sell their food products cheaply and many of them have made their own arrangements with the EEC.

The concrete costs of coming out would in my opinion include increased unemployment and the further serious deterioration of our balance of payments —foreign firms have clearly stated that they will in fact invest in Britain only if we stay in the EEC; and British firms' plans for future expansion also depend on our continued membership. Equally seriously, the loss of confidence in sterling and the massive withdrawal of funds from the United Kingdom would leave this country relying on the charity of other nations. The almost inevitable consequence—seeing our Budget virtually written by the IMF—would mean a far graver loss of sovereignty than that cited by the opponents of our membership. In short, I have long believed that the European Community offers the best framework for dealing with the short and long term political and economic difficulties facing Britain. Our years of membership have not changed that view: the likely consequences of withdrawal reinforce it.

I should like to concentrate on one particular aspect of the Community; namely, the question of food supplies. In an article in The Times recently, Mr. Peter Jay argued that the rise of "producer power" in commodity exports means that stabilisation of supply and price must become our major priority. It is in giving weight to this country's requirements, in guaranteeing essential supplies, that our membership is of greatest value. It is absurd that within a comparatively short period the price of a commodity like sugar should fluctuate violently from £40 a ton to £650 a ton for two weeks before falling to £240. It is doubly absurd that within that period sugar was more often than not available in the shops when it was "rationed" by shopkeepers. Today, the fact that adequate supplies are assured is entirely due to the Commission.

It is important to realise how food supply patterns have changed during the past decade. Today, only a quarter of our food imports come from the Commonwealth, while the Community supplies 43 per cent. of our needs. In 1970 the Market provided us with 19 per cent. of our total cereal imports: by 1974 this had risen to 63 per cent. In dairy products the Community share has risen from 40 per cent. to over 80 per cent. Again, last year the Community supplied over 60 per cent. of our meat and meat products. Perhaps the most valuable advantage of membership of the Community is the continuing security of supply that our basic foodstuffs now enjoy. Leaving the Community would mean forgoing that advantage and jeopardising those supplies.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation has estimated that within the next 25 years or so food production throughout the world must be doubled if we are to cope with increased demand. With this added demand, with the risks of continuing inflation and poor harvests, now, more than ever, the consumers of this country must have security of supply. The Common Market provides that security.

My Lords, with my own 50 years' experience in the food industry, I do not believe that anyone can predict with any degree of accuracy future food prices. And the seductively dogmatic claims of the National Referendum Campaign regarding food and the EEC are, in my view, completely misjudged. I believe that the White Paper is much fairer when it argues: We can no longer rely on cheap overseas supplies. … The future relationship between world prices and community prices is uncertain but they are likely to be much closer than in the past, and there are likely to be sharp fluctuations in both price and availability of supplies on the world market". My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protec- tion has said that in her view the overall level of food prices … is not at present significantly affected one way or the other … by Britain's membership. I agree with her opinion.

Sir Henry Plumb, the President of the National Fanners' Union, believes that membership has paid off "hands down" for the housewife in this country. The Communities' beef and butter subsidies and payments made for the imports of sugar have saved the British housewife £110 million. No one can doubt that wheat, butter, cheese, beef and sugar have been cheaper than they would have been had we not been members. But cheaper food is not the most important issue. I believe profoundly that the White Paper is right when it says: The Community as a major food producer offers greater stability of price levels and also greater security of supply in times of shortage. To conclude, I believe that membership has worked, and will work, to the positive advantage of the housewives, the workers and employers of this country. The alternative is isolation and decline. The peace and security of our country and the wellbeing of its inhabitants lie in the Common Market. To come out would be an unpardonable gamble with the future of our country and our children.

8.1 p.m.


My Lords, like the majority of the speakers who have preceded me, I, too, welcome the Government's recommendation that the United Kingdom should remain in the European Economic Community. I am convinced that is the best way to help ourselves, the Community and indeed the rest of the world, particularly the developing world. I think the Government are right to say, as they do in the White Paper, that the consequences of withdrawal would be adverse and damaging. It would clearly cause great disruption in trade between the EEC, EFTA and ourselves. Severe problems, for example, would arise about the country of origin in EEC and EFTA trade on goods with United Kingdom components. There is also the difficulty—we have heard so much about this this afternoon—of renegotiating a free trade agreement with the European Economic Community, if that were, indeed, possible.

I notice that the rebel Ministers, in their plan for withdrawal which they published today, say it is most unlikely that countries in such an over-favourable position would wish to deny themselves continued access to our markets, on which they rely so heavily. It is a fact that 35 per cent. of our exports go to the Eight, but only 8 per cent. of their exports come to us. It does not seem to me they are relying on us quite so heavily as the rebel Ministers suggest. In any event, as has been pointed out this afternoon, if we were successful in securing a free trade agreement with the Community after withdrawal, we should be binding ourselves to comply with many restrictions, in the arrangement of which we should have no say whatsoever.

As to the renegotiated terms themselves, the Liberal Party Conference in 1971 expressed the view that any defects in the terms could best be remedied from within the enlarged Community. We have never said that the terms were perfect but have argued that their defects should be remedied from within the Community. That has remained our view; a view which received the support of the right honourable Harold Lever, now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who said, during an interview in Europe Left in January 1974: A partnership inevitably requires continuous adaptation. He went on to say: Personally, I do not like the word 'renegotiation'. I would prefer to talk about new accommodations with our partners in changing circumstances. Certainly I would agree with that, and I regret the use of the word "renegotiation" together with the use of the threat of withdrawal. Looking at the terms as set out in the White Paper, I am convinced the Government could have got the modifications they required without using that threat. Of seven negotiating aims which are listed, it seems to me that three required no negotiation whatever. On VAT and capital movements, the Government merely discovered that the position was not as they feared. On the question of economic and monetary union, it was clear from the very outset that the British Government had a veto on any steps taken in that direction. Therefore, there was no need for them to fear that they might be compelled to comply with some form of economic and monetary union at too early a date, which they did not like.

I would not decry for a moment what has been achieved under the other four heads: the budgetary contribution, regional aids, the Common Agricultural Policy and trade in aid. I applaud the attitude taken by the Government and the part they have played regarding the last item. We have heard references on many occasions to the Lomé Convention. It is worth remembering that this is not merely a question of access to the EEC markets for these 46 countries. It is a question, too, of a fund of £1,600 million to assist them and of provision for stabilising the commodity market.

I could not help wondering this morning—reading the statement made by rebel Ministers—whether the eight EEC countries really would like to see Britain with-draw and attempt to run in parallel (which was suggested) some assistance of a similar kind, whether they would not rather Britain's contribution were made to the Community as a whole and whether they would not feel it is by such means that real help and assistance will come. So I would argue that all the modifications which have been made, some of which we welcome most warmly, are part of a continuous process of application— a process which will continue after, as I hope, we have decided to remain in the Community, and a process which will be carried on successfully without any further talk of renegotiation or withdrawal.

One issue which was dealt with in the White Paper and mentioned inevitably a great deal today, is the issue of sovereignty. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, referred to an article in The Times on Saturday, which distinguished between the two different concepts of sovereignty. The first concept was how to influence events and the second concept was a juridical one; namely, the idea that no State is sovereign unless it is the fount of all law and public authority in its territory. Some, of course, argue that the United Kingdom remains sovereign in both cases within the Community. For me, the sharing of sovereignty is the most exciting part of the Community. I have no doubt that it means more power and influence for the Member States, and I do not mind if the Member States are no longer fully sovereign in the strict juridical sense.

This afternoon the noble Lord, Lord Soper, rejected the concept of the European Economic Community and talked in terms of World Government. He said the only comment which had been made about the United Nations had been one of derision—and that was made by some-body who was arguing on the same side as he was, but that is by the way. If the United Nations were to develop some day into a great act of the pooling of sovereignty and a system of World Government, this might very well be a tremendous achievement for the world; but I cannot see why, because we might wish that to happen, we have to draw back from this experiment in the pooling of sovereignty, which is taking place on our doorstep and is one in which we are already engaged with our partners.

I should like to see a slow movement over the years towards a political union of a broadly federal character, and I regret that there is hostility in the White Paper towards that concept. I should like to see, in the course of time, the transfer of executive power from the Council of Ministers to the Commission and, also, the transfer of legislative power from the Council of Ministers to the European Parliament. And, very much earlier than that, I want to see direct elections to the European Parliament. I also hope that eventually the European Parliament will come to control all that goes on at Community level.

I think, too, that just as some power must go up to the Community level, so some power must go down from the large nation States of the Community to the regions within them, and in our own country to Scotland and Wales and the regions of England, as a counter-balance within the system. I should like to see clearly defined powers at Community, nation State and regional level. Of course, much that I have been saying is for the long-term future and progress along the path may well be slow. But to make sure of travelling along the path purposefully and with determination I believe that it is necessary to have a clear picture of the goal. Hard-headed and practical we must be, but idealism is not to be despised. It is the essential ingredient in any great enterprise: and the creation of a democratic political community in Western Europe is a very great enterprise indeed.

8.11 p.m.


My Lords, in this debate I want to raise only one specific question which relates to an answer to a question I put to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, some time ago. I have recently received a letter from him. May I, first of all, read this letter: You asked me at Question Time in the House on 20th March for more information about projects in the United Kingdom which received financial support in the form of loans or grants from the European Community. I attach a copy of a reply by the Minister of Agriculture of 28th March giving information on grants from the Guidance Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund. Also attached is information of loans and grants from the European Coal and Steel Community, the European Investment Bank and the Social Fund agreed during the first two years of membership. In some cases monies committed to the United Kingdom in this period have not yet been received. The information attached therefore gives, where possible, figures for total receipts up to 31st December 1974, I am grateful to the noble Lord for having sent me a vast amount of useful information, but I should like to know whether all this information, which will be of great value to people in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, can be printed in Hansard. I may have to put down a Question for Written Answer on the matter.

I have listened to the fascinating debate today and to all the very helpful speeches that have been made. I am certainly a committed European, and I wonder whether it is fully recognised that the kind of detail in the evidence which has been sent to me could and would have a great effect on people in the industrial communities who at the moment do not know whether they should vote for us to stay in the Community or abstain from voting, or vote against. I hope that no one will imagine that I am a member of "Women's Lib." because I am not, but I noticed in particular that the only references which were made to this very important issue came from the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, and the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman. While listening to all the great speeches that have been made today sometimes I have thought that women especially realise the importance of detail to individuals.

I want to point out just one or two of the matters which I am certain people generally do not know about. For instance, the nuclear power station at Hartlepool has received an enormous sum of money from the European Investment Bank. Modernisation of Tees-side Steel Works has attracted an enormous sum of money from that Bank. The Dartford Tunnel has received a lot of money from the Bank. In fact, the amount already received from the European Investment Bank amounts to about £112 million. The European Social Fund has given an immense amount of effort and support to the training and retraining of unemployed persons in assisted areas; to the retraining of workers in Northern Ireland, which I am sure is very necessary for them; for the retraining of textile workers in Northern Ireland; for the retraining of wool textile workers in England; for training unemployed men to drive heavy goods vehicles.

Then I am interested to see the grants that have been made from the European Coal and Steel Community to mining areas. When the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, was speaking in his usual interesting way, I wondered whether he had any idea that grants have been coming here to help in our mining industries. I am sure that that will be of the greatest benefit and interest to people who want certain things done in some of the mining districts which, because they have been in operation for so long, really need help. Many pages of such information have been sent to me. I pulled the noble Baroness's leg when she was talking about Scotland. Grants have been given even for the building of fishing vessels in the North—quite rightly. A grant has been given in my former constituency. We are embarking on a tremendous scheme for providing water, the Keelder Dam scheme, which starts just over the Border in Scotland and covers an area down to North Yorkshire. With costs escalating, we are expecting to receive a grant from one of the funds in Europe to help with providing water. We are fortunately going to have a big new steel complex attached to Redcar which we should never have got had we not been able to provide the necessary water. This aspect of being in the European Economic Community is of the greatest benefit to vast numbers of people who have never been told the facts.

Today marvellous speeches have been made in support of staying in Europe, but it is necessary for the details to be given to the many people who have little idea about the subject and who could be so easily persuaded by the anti-Marketeers to withhold their votes or to vote against remaining in the Community. It would be of the greatest benefit if they knew all these facts. I rose today only to thank the Government for having supplied me with all this information and I should like to know that it is going to be made generally available before this tiresome referendum is held.

I hope, therefore, that this information will be put in Hansard, so that everybody will be able to make use of it in trying to persuade people to vote for staying in the Community. If not, ought I to put down a Question for Written Answer? Then we should have pages of Hansard, which may not please Hansard—or it may not please your Lordships! In this way we shall be taking the opportunity of explaining to people who do not understand the debates very easily how the details of the European Community can help. If, therefore, somebody will be kind enough to tell me whether all this can now go into Hansard or whether I must put down a Question for Written Answer, I should be very grateful. I am very glad to have had the information. I think it will be of enormous benefit in obtaining a very effective "Yes" vote when the referendum takes place.

8.21 p.m.


My Lords, it is always pleasant to listen to the noble Baroness, Lady Ward of North Tyneside. I listened to her for years in the other place and today she has made an excellent point. However, will the noble Baroness tell me the sum total of those figures?


My Lords, I am afraid that some people have supplied the information without adding it up and that some of the organisations have supplied only pieces of information. I could not possibly do that for the noble Lord; I shall have to leave that task to my betters. I am not a good mathematician, but I should be delighted if they could be added up. Before the referendum takes place, I hope that all of these bodies which are giving help to us will let us know how much they have given. I received the information only today and I myself could not start 'phoning people and obtaining the answers. However, I am sure the answers will be very acceptable to the noble Lord and I hope that eventually I shall have all the information.


My Lords, I did not expect the noble Baroness to have that information because, as usual, the facts given by the EEC are disparate. The facts are that the cost to us of compensating the French farmers for selling cheap beef to Russia was £50 million. Three-quarters of the Community's budget of £2,400 million for the Agricultural Fund is financed by the cost of Britain's contributions, which I shall mention in a moment because a mistake has been made by the Government about that. Our VAT contribution by 1980 will not be 1 per cent. but 12 per cent. Britain's contribution to the Budget is to rise from 8.64 per cent. in 1973 to 19 per cent. in 1977. We charge pay over revenue from customs duties, import levies and the produce of VAT. We cannot expect to get back as much as France and other Members, because our farming community is much smaller than theirs. That is fair enough, but let us get our facts straight. In the first two years of our membership, our contribution to the Common Market has not been a severe burden. In one way or another, we got back £229 million and all those items are in that figure. This comes out of a Budget contribution of £361 million. I want it to be on the Record that the money which the noble Baroness has spoken about has not come like pennies from Heaven; it has come from the British taxpayer. We paid £361 million to the Common Market and they paid out to us £229 million. That is why the Prime Minister went to Dublin the week before last.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to intervene—


My Lords, certainly I will allow the noble Baroness to do so.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. That is a very interesting figure to quote, but the point is that the money that is paid to us may be providing work and technological expansion for very many years to come. Will the noble Lord therefore accept that one cannot balance the figures in the way he has balanced them?


My Lords, while the noble Baroness is satisfied with an organisation which takes out of her pocket £361 million, for which she receives back £229 million, I would say that we could have done better without the organisation. That is the answer to her question.


No, my Lords, it is not really an answer!


My Lords, because of this the Labour Government demanded renegotiation, and the Dublin Summit of March 1975 agreed on a "corrective mechanism". That is the phrase they have used in the communiqué. We hope that by 1979 this corrective mechanism will reduce our contribution by £100 million. Therefore I am conceding the point that our contribution may be reduced. By 1980, however, 12 per cent. of our value added tax collections will have to be paid to the Common Market; so there is no gift being made to the Common Market.

Today everybody has been speaking as though we are getting something for nothing. We are giving the biggest consumer market in the world to the Common Market and we shall have no control over it. What does the law say about all this? On 1st January 1973 Lord Justice Scarman said that Parliament is the supreme law-making body of this country and that the courts are subordinate to it, because any decision made by a court could always be over-ruled by an Act of Parlament. That is no longer the case. Our courts now have to enforce and interpret Community law, and no decision made about it in a British court can be challenged by Parliament. There can only be appeal to the European Court of Justice which is the supreme court for the Common Market. I am not going to keep saying "Europe". We are not in Europe. Why is there this canard? Are there nine nations in Europe? There are 30 nations in Europe. There can only be appeal to the European Court of Justice which is the supreme court for the Common Market. Shortly before the decision to join the EEC was taken by the House of Commons Lord Justice Scarman wrote: We may, without realising it, be on the brink of the most radical constitutional change since Parliament asserted its sovereignty in the 17th century. We have done it. I have sat in this House, and, although your Lordships may scoff, at times have been almost in tears about our constitution. We were unable to alter even the grammar. One piece of grammar was questioned. We heard about scholarship. Scholasticism, not scholarship, is what we are really talking about.

That Bill rolled through this House and became an Act of Parliament. There has not been proper discussion of it by the public. Had we had a General Election with the Common Market as the issue, we should have had to accept the result, and there would not have been any question of referenda or a referendum. I will accept the referendum, but I warn this House about uttering such arrogant, dictatorial speeches as the one made by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and other noble Lords about what we shall do if the referendum says "Nay". Who do we in this House represent? If we want to destroy democracy in Britain, the way to do it is to say that if the British public say nay to the Common Market, we will force it through Parliament and we will endorse going into the Common Market. If I may use a colloquial, vulgar term, it is time that somebody "belted up" about not agreeing to the referendum decision, because if noble Lords waddle through the corridors of power uttering that kind of phraseology they will end their existence.

Let us take somebody else. The fact that Common Law is now subservient to the Common Market: Lord Denning, the Master of the Rolls, said: We have to learn a new system when we come to matters with a European element. The Treaty of Rome is like an oncoming tide: it flows into the estuaries and up the rivers. It cannot be held back. There are limits to this new system of law. For example, it does not affect the ordinary criminal law or family law but it already affects the kind of taxes we pay and will soon affect the size of lorries on our roads. What is the estimate of the Department of the Environment of the cost of the juggernauts to the British taxpayer? There are 40 ton lorries with very little respect for the law. Never mind the notional costs, there are hidden costs here, and the estimate of the Department is that it will cost the British local authorities £200 million to make country bridges, roads and other means for these huge lorries to travel safely through the villages and towns of England.

I will guarantee that noble Lords in this House may either themselves have a house or have relatives or friends who live in an old house that may have been unique, a thing of glory, an artifact that was a credit to man but which is being ruined by the rumble of traffic a few feet away through these country districts. The cost to local authorities of broken pipes for water supplies, gas and other main services has not been estimated and is not included in the £200 million. It is no good brushing that aside. I do not want coloured sneers from people, who have listened on their radio to Moscow advising people to vote against the Common Market, implying that some of us who are against the Common Market —and that started here today; we have had two speeches which suggested this— have strange bedfellows. I hope some of your Lordships heard the eight o'clock and nine o'clock news bulletins this morning because a section of the Communist Party in England want to go into the Common Market. So let a few noble Lords whose scholarship and crackpot realism has landed this country where it is at the moment keep quiet about that.

The Earl of LONGFORD

My Lords, may I ask to whom the noble Lord is referring when he speaks of "crackpot realists"?


My Lords, I do not like to attack people personally.

The Earl of LONGFORD

Oh no, my Lords!


My Lords, if the cap fits let the noble Earl wear it, because I have heard some of this crackpot realism. I have suffered it for 25 or 30 years over South-East Asia. I spoke about the South-East Asian Treaty Organisation, which I considered was an error; I considered that CENTO was an error; I considered the EDC was an error and I stood bare-headed in Korea the other day over the graves of men, Americans and others, who had given their lives thinking that they were going to stem Communism. You do not stem Communism with gunpowder and hate. You have to find a substitute for gun-powder and hate if you want to prevent the spread of Communism throughout the world.

What worries me about the Common Market is that it has now been agreed that we are thinking of building it up as a military bloc and giving it a nuclear capacity. God help us! This is crackpot realism. Once we use the nuclear weapon, civilisation as one understands it is finished. I have mentioned before in this House that while we are talking here the Japanese and others are dipping into the seas in the Pacific, examining the consequences of radioactivity on the fish and the food they eat. Civilisation itself can be destroyed.

All I want to point out is that to sneer, and to use phraseology to the effect that those of us who sincerely believe that going into the Common Market is wrong are being pushed by somebody, is very unfair. If this country is in a mess, what is part of the reason? Mr. Heath did a first-class job when he encouraged British business and made it easy for British business to invest. But where did they invest? They invested £8,070 million overseas, and the majority of investments in Brussels and in the Common Market are from British entrepreneurs and multinational firms. If a quarter of that money had been put into new tools, new machinery and new artifacts for the production of goods and machinery in Britain we should have been in a better competitive position today. I do not want to cite the firms, although I could. Consequently, when people are knocking Britain and saying, "Ichabod, ichabod, the glory is departed", ask yourselves, where did the £8,070 million that British firms and multinationals from Britain invested overseas come from and what would it have done to Britain had it been invested over here?

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt him?


Certainly, my Lords.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, is it possible that British industry overseas is profitable whereas British industry operating at home is not?


My Lords, in many cases that is quite correct. I am not taking a blind line, but as Mr. Keswick said, It may not be patriotic but it is good for business". Do not ask the man in the street to be patriotic if the entrepreneur is not willing to risk some of his capital in England. That is the answer to that question. Of course it is profitable; that is why it has gone there. The result is that our social furniture in England is deteriorating while the social furniture abroad is subsidised by British investment.

I have spoken long enough and I shall finish shortly. But this I can never defend: there are men, including noble Lords in this Chamber, who are in my age-group and who knew the hungry 'thirties. I came from farmers and colliers, so we were lucky; we got food and we got heat. It was strong and good and rough and we struggled to give each other a good education. We had good Welsh universities and we had good Welsh grammar schools, and now we have some good Welsh comprehensive schools; but I never want to see again boys and young men who went into the fifth and sixth forms with me and left school with some of the highest IQs in the country finishing up as the floatsam and jetsam of a depressed system of society.

While that was going on, food was being destroyed. Your Lordships will remember the stories of Brazil burning coffee, but now the Common Market is doing exactly the same. Millions of gallons of wine are being destroyed. They are denaturing wheat and our farmers are crying out because they cannot get on the land. There is the problem with regard to fodder. Then there is the question of selling butter to the Communists. They are getting fat on our butter and we sell the butter to the Communists cheaper than we sell it to our poor and unemployed. If this is the Common Market, it is the economics of bedlam. There is nobody in this House who can defend that behaviour with God's food and God's production —and if you think that is sentimental I do not care a damn! It is the truth.

One may smile a sinister smile, but that is the cancerous truth; that the Common Market by its intervention system is forcing up prices at the cost of destroying food that two-thirds of the world could very well do with. Then there was the marvellous conference at Lomé. Forty-six nations—what did the economists say about it? I wish people would go a little more deeply into these things. They did not go into the Lomé Conference thinking they were getting something for nothing. The big firms said, "This is access to raw materials"—and the raw materials are what? Uranium and oil—particularly uranium; the two words are sinister. A drop of oil is worth a drop of blood, and uranium is worth a nuclear bomb. These are the two great raw materials in the modern world.

This is not the way to build up the Christian fellowship; this is not the way to build a world of understanding. Consequently, I sincerely hope that, when the referendum is held, it will say that Britain at this juncture should not go in. I had a long letter the other day from Lancashire. There are 60,000 on short time there, and the Common Market have insisted that we should increase our imports of yarn by 25 per cent.—and this House and the other one can do nothing about it. We have thrown the control of our economic destiny to a group of people who believe in buying cheap and selling dear.

8.41 p.m.


My Lords, I recognise the passion of my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek in this matter, but if he can be persuaded to stay for my speech—


Of course I will stay.


—or read it later, he may gain a different impression of the value of the Common Market policy. I very much regret that I cannot stay for tomorrow's vote. I very much dislike not being able to stay to the end of debates in which I have spoken. I can only say in mitigation that it rarely happens. I would not be speaking if my noble friend Lord Walston had not been inevitably absent in Strasbourg.

My Lords, I speak as a member of the European Scrutiny Committee to whose Sixteenth Report (and in particular, the Report on Renegotiation and the CAP) the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir has already directed your Lordships' attention. I have little to say either to support or to rebut the arguments which have focused on the alleged loss of hypothetical sovereignty; but I should like to add a word or two on how your Lordships' House, in a wholly unspectacular manner, has sought to deal with the practical problems of effective sovereignty since Britain joined the EEC.

My Lords, the distinctive way in which your Lordships set about the task of scrutiny was to inaugurate a series of specialist Sub-Committees working under the umbrella of the Select Committee on the European Communities. I was a member, first, of the Sub-Committee which looked at the EEC legislation on agriculture, transport and energy and, since the beginning of this Parliament I have served on Sub-Committee D, whose remit has been to examine proposals regarding agriculture and consumer affairs. Our examination has moved from fraud in the oil seed sector to the Commission's stocktaking of the whole of the CAP, from marine mammal fats to the Farm Prices Review for 1975—a document, I must emphasise again, whose United Kingdom equivalent Parliament gets no such chance to look at. I must say some of the draft regulations have looked strange to our eyes, and we have returned them with our comments.

However, Sub-Committee D and its fellows can claim to have performed a role not performed by the legislative assembly of any other Member State in the Community. In the course of 12 meetings, averaging 2½ hours each, our Sub-Committee has examined 47 proposals. On each of these, the Ministry of Agriculture has provided a memorandum, and often an excellent supplementary note as well; and the Sub-Committee have sat down to consider whether in their opinion this draft legislation raised "important matters of policy or principle," to which the attention of your Lordships' House should be drawn. Not the least valuable feature of these meetings has been the opportunity which they afforded to take into account, and often to hear in person, representatives from various organisations, or interested bodies concerned. The Sub-Committee, since it set off in October, has heard from 80 or 90 different bodies—large and powerful organisations like the NFU and the Consumer Association, and smaller particular interests such as the Fish Merchants' Federation or the Poultry Inspectors' Association.

My Lords, it was said of the Scrutiny Committees in the Sunday Times just over a week ago, that their influence so far has been, "fitful, feeble and largely-nominal". I take exception to all three of these adjectives, because they simply are not true. If they must be applied at all, they should be applied to the decreasing influence of Parliament on domestic legislation, which successive Governments have steam-rollered through this House and another place. On EEC legislation, by contrast, we have been able to consider proposals at a much earlier stage in the policy-making process, and of the forty-seven documents I mentioned, thirteen have been reported to your Lordships' House, some for debate, others for information. There have been reports on the evisceration of poultry, on the supply of beef and veal as food aids, on the marketing of milk, the use of egg products, the sale of pesticides and their level in our diet. Since Christmas, your Lordships have debated EEC proposals on forestry, on less favoured areas and on the Farm Prices Review. Your Lordships have the Sixteenth Report in front of you this afternoon on renegotiation and the CAP.

My Lords, agricultural policies develop over time according to both differing economic circumstances and differences of approach. Perhaps never can the farm policies of neighbouring countries have differed so markedly as those of Britain and the Common Market only five years ago. But then the world supply and demand situation for grains began to change, following a cut in the American maize crops. Since then the world agricultural scene has been turned on its head. Many changes would have been introduced in Britain's farm policy, regardless of whether or not we were in the Common Market. Nevertheless, fundamental differences of approach are still evident in the enlarged Community, differences which give rise, perhaps, to more bafflement and confusion to the man in the street—even perhaps to the Peer in the Clapham omnibus—than any other single sector of EEC policies. In fact, it has baffled the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, who thought that CAP and the 1947 Act said the same thing. They do not, which is why there has been a difficulty of reconciliation. I think I must try to explain these differences.

My Lords, as your Lordships know, in Britain the population involved in farming was of little consequence to Government through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the middle of the nineteenth century came the repeal of the Corn Laws, opening up the British market for cheap imported grain. Throughout this period, agriculture in Britain was declining. Britain's priority was to obtain foodstuffs as cheaply as possible from world markets. Cheap food helped to make British industry more competitive; it drew manpower from the land into the factories, and it helped to provide profitable outlets in the food exporting countries—among them Canada, Australia and New Zealand—for British manufactured goods. And this pattern was continued well into the 1930s.

So for a long time, British agriculture was at the mercy of the rest of the economy, whereas the European peasantry, occupying smallholdings because of their methods of inheritance, was too potent a political force to be ignored in the same way. It is still true that on the Continent, especially in France and Italy, people on the land are regarded as one of the main stabilising factors in society. The feeling still runs deep that it is the job of the Government to see that they can make a living because of their intrinsic virtue and not just for what they can produce. The theory inherent in the CAP was that the consumer could legitimately be asked to pay for his food the price which is necessary to keep the peasant farmer in business.

The British approach, although it covered similar ground, had quite a different emphasis, and had two distinguishing features. First, it sought to use to the best advantage the abundance of foodstuffs on world markets, and, secondly, the 1947 Agriculture Act introduced a further refinement: that the burden for supporting our farming industry in Britain should fall to the taxpayer rather than the consumer. Because direct taxation was in general higher than else-where in Europe, this provided an important mechanism for redistributing income. Everyone had the benefit of cheap food; and such extra cash as was necessary to maintain a reasonable level of domestic production came from the taxpayer's pocket. Thus, the less well-off, obliged, as always, to spend a bigger than average proportion of their income on food, were assisted by the better-off.

With the possible exception of the Dutch, the Continental plan was quite different. In the first place, Continental consumers did not benefit from the availability of cheap world supplies. The farmers' return was provided entirely by the market price. No tradition of cheap food existed. The French housewife might be spending as much as a third of her income on buying food; yet her response if the price of food went up higher was usually to cut expenditure on another part of her budget. Secondly, the redistributive element in the British system was also unfamiliar. Through the 1950s and 1960s emphasis in the Six was on increasing social benefits, such as old age pensions, rather than subsidising food and housing, for instance. The third major difference was evident in the impact on international trade of the two different policies, the British and the Common Market. Britain's eagerness for cheap food supplies allowed the import of cheap grains into Britain, as happened at the end of the 'sixties, when the International Wheat Agreement broke down and the Americans and the Common Market and Australia all undercut each other. To take another example, in order to ensure the United Kingdom of ample supplies of low cost cane sugar, and to provide stability to the economies of various Commonwealth countries, especially in the Caribbean, the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement was concluded, and it was an Agreement which caused a strict limitation on British domestic production.

The CAP, by contrast, developed until 1970 almost without regard to its impact on world trade, and the system of levies on imports and subsidies for exports was highly effective in isolating the Community market. In other words, it would be hard to imagine two more different agricultural systems than those of Britain and the EEC at that time, in 1970. But even then I believe that we were nearer than was generally imagined to the Continental methods for agricultural support. Both types of support cost money. For the United Kingdom a low world price increased Exchequer liability, since it widened the gap between the market price and the guaranteed price. But at times the balance between the taxpayer and the consumer fell rather too heavily on the taxpayer, in the view of Government, and various refinements were introduced to reduce public expenditure in Britain on agricultural support. Quota arrangements were introduced on imported milk products and bacon, minimum import prices were brought in for grains, and in the summer of 1970 the Conservative Government introduced a levy system on beef imports which had been gestating within the Ministry of Agriculture under the previous Labour Administration. Eggs were already being removed from the guarantee system. So a gradual shift of emphasis from taxpayer to consumer was taking place in the United Kingdom.

Across the Channel low world prices also meant hefty expenditure within the EEC. With a world surplus of certain products like soft wheat, sugar and butter, export refunds and support buying placed a considerable burden on the Community budget. And since FEOGA was funded partly by the levies on imported food, it was the EEC consumer rather than the taxpayer who bore the full burden of agricultural support. The main advantage to the consumer in the Common Market was, of course, stability of price. The effectiveness of the CAP in isolating the market proved a considerable asset in 1971, when the world milk shortage developed, and again later, when the world grain and sugar stocks were exhausted.

My Lords, in all agricultural policies there are many balances to be struck: between the interests of consumers and taxpayers; between the welfare of farmers and the efficiency of other sectors of the economy; between one country or group of countries and the world at large. I have tried to show, by a look at the CAP and at the British farm policy in 1970, just how different priorities can be. And I have chosen 1970 because I believe that was the year in which what one may call the "green clock" stopped for anti-Marketeers, for 1970 was also the year which marked the end of a decade of falling commodity prices. Up to that point the British system had been ideally suited to make the most of these cheap supplies; but it was done—one must say this—at the expense of balance of payments problems and a failure to achieve any significant expansion in home agriculture for future security.

The Six, on the other hand, found it extremely difficult to cope with this cheap food situation. The CAP had to gear its prices to the average EEC farmer, who required a substantially higher price than his competitors elsewhere in the world. It was frequently said in fact that the EEC should adopt the British system, because it had worked so well in Britain. But this would be no complete solution because deficiency payments are liable to be un-acceptably expensive in a self-sufficiency situation. They require a sophisticated administrative machinery and a farming population which is flexible and well informed; and, to be frank, virtually none of these qualities was to be found within the large Member States of the Six.

But the Community of Nine is clearly not the same organisation as the Community of Six. Since 1970 intense world demand for basic foodstuffs has strengthened the value of stability and security of supply in European agriculture. Its priorities have already shown signs of developing differently. It is more responsive to consumer needs. It pays greater heed to the international consequences of domestic policy. All in all, I believe that it is most reasonable to say that the policy of renegotiation during 1974 and 1975 represents a successful attempt to reconcile some of the outstanding differences between the two conceptions of agricultural policy.

I would ask the critics of the CAP above all else to view its problems in perspective. Of course people will continue to be preoccupied with differences in the costs of production, here or there. Of course we shall still be worried, and rightly so, about the disparities of monetary compensatory amounts or the difficulties in managing the market in one commodity or another. Of course there will always be those within the Community who are obsessed with the fear of surplus. But the margin between surplus and deficit is not at all easily definable. However clever we think we are, this margin, as I know to my own cost, is as unpredictable as a wet March and snow in April. Even after stock-taking reforms have gone through, there will still be lakes of one commodity or mountains of another. I myself believe that such surpluses are a very small premium to pay for security in food supplies. Whatever the merits of the surplus, Britain will always be on the healthy side of the argument. To reflect on the CAP is, first and foremost, to consider the role of Europe in the need to feed 100 million or more people each year, in a world half of whose population is already chronically or permanently underfed.

My Lords, I am sorry I have been so long, but I thought it important for the Record that there should be some attempt at clarification of the issues involved. Whatever its faults, it is my belief that the Common Agricultural Policy remains the most valuable element in the European construction, the best insurance we can have to continue to have enough to eat at reasonable prices; and from sheer self-interest, and an enlightened self-interest at that, it is most probably the most important reason for staying in the EEC.

9.0 p.m.

The Earl of LYTTON

My Lords, as one convalescing from 'flu, I have been treating myself rather tenderly today. I was absent at the beginning, I will be absent at the end and I have been absent at several parts of the middle. I do apologise because I have missed two of the maiden speeches, and I usually like to make some reference to all. However, during the course of my enforced sedentary life of the last two days I read the speeches in the other place. There were 64 of them. They uttered 2 million words, they took 21 hours, and they averaged 20 minutes each. I was intensely interested by them. I imagined that after all that I would be bored, as when an examiner is bored marking students' papers. I picked out one for the prize, an unexpected one, but I was deeply interested in them all, as I have been in those speeches I have heard here today.

The first interested me most. I came in at the middle of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, and listened to the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. I noticed that he has not lost his magic touch by one iota. I also noticed a whimsical reference to his doubt as to whether he should ever have left this House. With equal whimsicality and, I hope, without giving offence, there are some people— I think not confined to the Cross-Benches —who wonder whether he should have ever left No. 10. I think that perhaps he is the first Prime Minister who has left before he ought to have done. His speech replaces a large part of my own. He reminds me of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, "Man does not live by bread alone". In other words, the EEC is not purely a quartermaster's business but has some higher objectives, which the noble Lord explained with tremendous conviction.

I do not know that I myself feel a special excitement about being in the Common Market or part of Europe, although I like the idea. But I feel with a tremendous force of, perhaps, instinct that it is timely, and that we have reached a time when unities of a larger character are absolutely necessary for survival in the present age. Europe is at the stage of the beginning of the heptarchy. The heptarchy in this country is some 15 centuries behind, but it is only on the threshold of Europe and that is before us, and it seems indicated. It seems to me that we are faced with two sorts of unity: one, the sharing of power voluntarily; the other, power imposed upon us without any sharing. These are the two systems which face each other today, and it must be the hope and prayer of every one of us that they never come into conflict, whether by so-called conventional forces or by nuclear destruction. But if the system of power voluntarily shared is to survive, it must show itself better and more agreeable to the average man than the other which I regard as— and I always use the name for it used for the last 40 centuries—Egyptian bondage. That is what it is. It is called Marxism today, if you like, but that is what it is; a small group under Pharaoh exercising total authority over everybody. That is so uncongenial to the spirit of man that the spirit of man always revolts against it.

But if we are to prevail with our system, we must be larger in those respects where largeness is indispensable, and I hold also that we should preserve the small. We have done great harm in our society by totally destroying the small in many respects, and leaving it totally impersonal, and the ordinary common man with neither power over his destiny nor enjoyment in his work. That is what is wrong. I hope that the new and larger unity is going to provide those opportunities for change which cannot be taken unless they cover a sufficiently large area.

The noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, made the second part of my speech for me, when he said that although man does not live by bread alone, bread alone is a sufficient reason for going in with nothing else at all, because we are in great peril and the world has changed. Without doing any more than underlining what he said, I should like to add something with regard to the production of food in a large market. If you are going to be sure that everybody has enough in that market every year, you are bound to have surpluses in some years, because that is exactly what the climate imposes upon you. You must have it, and you must not sneer at them and say that they are absurd.

What I should like to say, particularly with regard to surpluses of milk and beef, is that I have served and administered in countries where people have nothing but milk the whole of their lives, occasionally mixed with blood. That is all they ever have, and from time to time they do not even have that and they lay down uncomplaining and die, and they have been doing it by the hundred thousand. Cannot these surpluses be diverted to the starving? The crumbs from the rich man's table could go out to Lazarus from Bangladesh, to Addis Ababa, in the form of Oxo cubes or Cow and Gate powdered milk, or whatever can be moved. I do not think that these surpluses should be regarded as absurd. They, surely, are the crumbs to be distributed. The first thing that man needs is something to eat: without that social justice means nothing; no other justice means anything, because he just lays down and dies.

I noticed the prize-winning speech of the other place. It was by somebody I had never heard of before—I think Mr. Walden. It was a splendid speech deserving of the prize. I imagine that no Member of the other place could have listened to all the speeches, and going through them it really was an outstanding one. He drew attention to two things. First, he said that when you talk about sovereignty that House—and he was talking about the other place—had lost its sovereignty; that that disaster was greater than anything that you may surrender in the Common Market, and that until you recover it you are in trouble. His second warning was this. Whether we are in or not, nothing will stop us sinking unless we take control over our economic mismanagement. If we do not we sink in any case, whether we are in or out. My final contribution from these Benches is to assert that I am in favour of staying in. I think we should acknowledge that the referendum is with us. We should stop treating it as though it has to be sprinkled with disinfectant before it is touched, and go for it and make it a splendid success.

I wonder whether it will be possible to change some of the language that divides us? I noticed denunciations of capitalism from one side and denunciations of Socialism from the other. To the best of my belief—I have friends in both camps and I have studied the problem of how not to offend people—for many people on these Benches Socialism is a mixed economy. It is scarcely different from the view of those on the other Benches. Why use the word "Socialism" at all? It is true that, if you are dealing with Russians, Socialism and Marxism are identical. Socialism, Bolshevism, democracy are words that are on the lips of the Russians the entire time. That is all the Russian I know, which is why I pick out these words when they crop up.

Would it not be possible to recognise that what we are dealing with are two forms of capitalism? The capitalism which most of us in this House dislike is total State capitalism. There is no such thing as complete private capitalism anywhere. In any society above the level of nomadic savages there is a form of capitalism. Some people like to call the mixture Socialism; some do not. Can we not stop insulting each other with such words, as we try to convince our fellow countrymen to vote in the referendum to stay in the Market? I think many people are offended. On the Socialist side, I have friends to whom "Socialism" is a word like "Hallelujah" is to other people. You do not use it in a smearing sense if you can possibly help it; you use some other word. Attached to it is the Sermon on the Mount, the Magnificat and all sorts of other precious documents. Therefore, I never denounce people for Socialism; Egyptian bondage, if you like, or Marxism or State capitalism. I wonder whether it would help in the task before us if we refrained from using those misleading words which, in Party politics, tend to get under the skin and make people annoyed.

9.11 p.m.


My Lords, the 28th speaker in this debate must be short and I propose so to be. I get up to speak only because it has been said by many people that we should all stand up and be counted on whatever side we are, and I am on the side of the Market, the side of staying in. I hope and pray that the words of those people who have spoken so eloquently about staying in the Market will reverberate through the whole country, so that when the moment comes on 5th June we shall have a resounding "Yes" from the British public.

Ever since it was first mooted that we should join in the Common Market, I have always been in favour. Like the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, I think that what influenced me most in the beginning was the fact that our generation, my generation and the generation of many of your Lordships, has lived through two great terrible European wars. If there is one thing that one should try to do it is to see that such wars can never happen again. I believe that the interests and the working together of the Nine nations means that, anyway in our generation, and I hope in all generations, there will never be another European war.

The point I wish to stress is that we are in Europe. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, seemed to think that we were not. But we have always been in Europe—historically, politically, intellectually, educationally, religiously. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester pointed out, we are all part of Europe. When the noble Lord said something about courts, I do not know whether he remembered that we are also part of the International Court of Justice, which is also in Europe and which is still, I believe, at the Hague. There is nothing very revolutionary about our staying in Europe. Others have pointed out that our importance in the Commonwealth is great. But the point which many people have made, and which I believe is absolutely unchallengeable, is that at the moment the Commonwealth most strongly favours our remaining in the Community. From all these points of view, the answer is, "Yes, we should stay in the Community".

As your Lordships know, my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie and I come from North of the Border. I was delighted to read in the Farmers' Weekly that the annual general meeting of the Scottish NFU had voted over-whelmingly to remain in the Community. Agriculture is the most discussed of the Community activities and the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, gave a fine tour d'horizon of agriculture both before and after we joined the Community. I, too, am a member of Committee D, which is dealing with all these interesting subjects affecting agriculture. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that it has been a great experience and that we are consulted on all matters. We can obtain from the agricultural interests—the Ministry of Agriculture or Departments dealing with fishing, sugar and any aspect of farming —comments on all the papers that come to us from Brussels. This is extremely important and interesting. I am sure that we can have far more influence on the CAP from inside than we could ever achieve from outside, or by simply criticising it or complaining, which I am afraid many of us farmers do. We are in the Community. We are working with the people who are operating and forming it, and we are being consulted. I do not think we can ask for more.

We in Scotland have had a considerable amount of help under the Community's agricultural policy, including financial assistance for being what is politely called one of the less favoured areas, which Scotland is, like Wales. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, will be aware of this, as he will know of the considerable help that has been given, and that is much appreciated. The renegotiation that has been going on has reached the point of agreement on beef, milk, and many other commodities and in all this we have had an active part to play. Agreement on a method of support prices was rather doubted at first but now it has been achieved, and I pay tribute to the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Peart, for bringing these discussions to a satisfactory conclusion.

The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, asked for figures showing the amount of help that has been given. My noble friend Lady Ward of North Tyneside gave some figures and I have more, but I will not delay your Lordships at this late hour by quoting them. However, an interesting figure was given to me last Thursday when I attended the opening of the Conservative Campaign for Europe by Mrs. Thatcher. After only two years working with the Community, we have received a total of £290 million in help. This is a large sum and the noble Lord will be interested to know that most of it has been spent on investment in order to improve the machinery about which he spoke. I therefore believe that we have done quite well, and certainly I am satisfied with the help that we have been given. In the document in which this figure is quoted there are admirable proposals covering consumers, costs, distribution of foodstuffs and many other items, all of which will be extremely valuable for us in this country. The question of sugar was extremely controversial only a short time ago, but it now appears to have been settled amicably, and it seems that we will not face the problems that we had previously; £40 million has been provided under the sugar policy.

I hope that as the campaign progresses these facts will be made known to the public, because people are often heard to ask, "What are we getting out of it? All we seem to do is pay out." It is important that people should be informed on these issues and made aware that we are getting a lot back. This is only the beginning of what we know will be a very valuable and useful policy for this country. I have spoken at some length about agriculture, as it is the industry about which I know most. However, there are a great many other subjects which are benefiting from the Common Market and I would say without any hesitation at all that we signed the Treaty and we are part of the Common Market. Do not let us break our word. Let us honour our signature and do all we can to obtain the approval of the nation on June 5th.

9.22 p.m.

The Earl of LONGFORD

My Lords, I should like to begin by congratulating the three maiden speakers. The noble Lord, Lord Paget, made the most controversial maiden speech that I have heard since that of the late Lord Norwich 20 years ago. On that occasion, I thought that Lord Norwich was going to break a blood vessel when he was denouncing German nationalism, but the noble Lord, Lord Paget, seemed happy throughout and he made us very happy too. How excellent were the other speakers too; and speaking as one of the small but select body of ex-Leaders of this House—a body which will no doubt be joined in due course by my noble friend Lord Shepherd —what a particular pleasure it is to join in the welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Home! There are five of us in that small bracket. Lord Carrington, Lord Shackleton and myself have all remained here, though my own allegiance must be thought to have wavered at one point. The noble Lords, Lord Hailsham and Lord Home, went after strange gods and we are delighted to see them back here, particularly after today's speech by the noble Lord, Lord Home.

In the time available, I must confine myself to one aspect of this farreaching question. I have deliberately selected one which had not been unduly stressed by other speakers. It might seem almost as if my speech had been drafted in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Soper, but I did not know that he was to speak and I do not know whether he is likely to be here before I finish. At any rate, my thoughts are my own. In a sense, however, they are a reply to his point of view. I am well aware that the interests of our own country and our obligations to other countries are not completely separable, but it is with that aspect of our duties— our obligations to the world outside our shores, particularly the Third World— that I shall be concerned.

Many of us who joined the Labour Party in the 1930s were inspired by two conceptions—social justice, certainly, but also an ideal of international brotherhood. I am glad that my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek is with me so far, and I hope not to part company with him too drastically or too soon. That was the ideal for which the noble Lord and I struggled away in the field of adult education in the 1930s. I am not suggesting that we in the Labour Party had or have a monopoly of interest in international brotherhood, but noble Lords will understand that our Party is more divided than any other on this issue. So in that sense the main argument takes place in our Party ranks. That is simply a matter of fact, whether one wishes it to be so or not.

In another place the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs said that he was addressing himself to some of his own Party, and a Conservative Privy Counsellor asked ironically, "May we stay?"— meaning that it was such a family affair that they should perhaps withdraw to the bar or somewhere similar. However, Mr. Callaghan replied magisterially, "You may stay." It is not for me, in my humbler situation, to say whether noble Lords should stay or not, but I hope that they will and that they will understand why I am dealing with an argument which has most relevance in our own Party discussion.

We believed—as of course did many others outside our Party, particularly if they had read a book, as I happened to do when I was moving towards that point of view, like Mr. Lowell Dickinson's International Anarchy—that unless one could arrive at a situation in which national sovereignty was abolished, world wars were inevitable. In those days national sovereignty was a dirty phrase. It now seems to have acquired a sort of belated respectability in some circles on the Left of my own Party. But in those days, and in my own view, there has always been the handicap attached to it that if you insist on national sovereignty you will eventually have world war. At any rate, that has caused a lot of people to join the Labour Party and has kept them in it, along with the domestic question.

Those of us who attended and spoke in the debates in this House in 1962 —some of us have also spoken today— may remember that Lord Attlee was very worried about our entry into the Common Market. The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and other noble Lords will remember this. Lord Attlee confessed that he was very much in the dark—and in 1962 that was legitimate. But it is impossible to claim that today one is completely in the dark in that sense about the Common Market.

But all those years ago Lord Attlee was saying the same kind of thing as the noble Lord, Lord Soper, said this afternoon. What he was really interested in was World Government. He was arguing that the Common Market was a step away from World Government rather than a step towards it. He was in those last years devoted—and, indeed, it became at that time the official policy of the Labour Party—to the idea of World Government. If I am speaking for the noble Lord, Lord Soper, who is not with us at the moment, and for anybody who shares his views—and I think there are quite a number in my Party who do—I supported Lord Attlee then, and I always would support anyone who stood for World Government as an ideal. But let us see what has happened to that in the meantime.

Not through any fault of ours—or any fault of any Government, or any Party in this country—no progress has been made with the conception that seemed to be most relevant in those days in this connection. I mean the idea of establishing an international police force, which was the particular interest of Lord Attlee. I repeat that it is not the fault of our Government, or of any Party here, that progress has not been possible towards that, and I do not think anybody thinks that we are going to move very far or very fast towards an international police force in the immediate future. The question then arises: what progress can be made towards World Government in the next few years? Have people who believe in that despaired? I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick—who has probably done more for it than anyone sitting in the House at the moment —has not despaired. But the question is: what can be done to achieve that ideal, which has been the basic ideal in whatever language you put it, which has inspired international thinking of the Labour Party for so many years?

I feel that if we are looking for a more hopeful line of approach than that towards an international police force we need not be too pessimistic. Some of us took part in the debate in this House last Wednesday on the world food shortage, and it was not by any means the first debate we had in this House on that subject. It is in that area of great distress where, at last, the consciences of the richer countries seem to have been aroused in regard to their obligations towards the poor countries—in some cases, starving countries—that we can begin to talk of international brotherhood being made a reality. If we are serious in that talk, if we mean it when we talk of international brotherhood, and if we are not merely blathering and using verbiage, we must ask ourselves what are the most practical steps to help the impoverished countries? I do not think that anybody looking at that quite calmly—inso-far as we can be calm about an issue which arouses such strong emotions—can doubt that our recent inclusion within the Community has already begun to render a service to the Third World. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, was a little scornful about the Lomé Convention—


My Lords, "scornful" is the wrong word. It should be "critical".

The Earl of LONGFORD

My Lords, a little critical! That makes it easier to dispose of the noble Lord's point of view. I would say to the noble Lord that in the eyes of many of us the Lomé Convention was a tremendous advance. It proves that the Community is beginning to do much more for the Third World than in the past. That has occurred since we were included in the Community. And what single Minister has been most enthusiastic, not about the Community as a whole, but about Lomé? Who did most to make it a reality? It was that excellent lady, Mrs. Judith Hart. She has praised it as highly as anybody. She is an opponent of the Common Market so I am not quoting biased witnesses if I bring forward her testimony in favour of the Lomé Convention. This is only the beginning. India and Bangladesh are still outside.

Mr. Callaghan has made it plain that we must try to achieve more on their behalf. None of us has to submit to the authority of anybody, whether he is a Minister or not; but a good deal of weight must be given to the opinion of Mr. Callaghan. A year ago he was, admittedly, somewhat opposed to our going into the Common Market. His experience has taught him that this is the way in which Britain can be most assisted and, in this connection, the way in which we can render, and Europe can render, most help to the under-developed world.

If we are being serious about helping the Third World and really establishing an international brotherhood, let us ask ourselves whether it is not perfectly obvious that we can do more to help them inside the Community than outside. I will add on that point that the developing countries can be supposed to know their own interests best. I do not think one can expect the developing countries as a whole to give explicit testimony about this; but there are a large number of Commonwealth countries among the developing countries that have made it plain that they hope we will stay in the Common Market, if only because we can help them best in that way. I feel that my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek may, on reflection, feel that the best service we can render, and the best advance we can make towards international brotherhood, is by staying in the Common Market.

I will conclude. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, has informed us in the past that a lawyer is paid for his opinions and not his doubts. In these latter days no one pays me for my opinion about the Common Market or about any other political matter, but I have no doubt whatever—while we must make allowance, as Rudyard Kipling would say, for the sheer doubtings of others—that it is of benefit to this country and to the world that we should stay inside. I agree with those who say that no one can foresee the economic future with any precision. Anyone who makes dogmatic economic pronouncements about the future should be medically examined, and examined fast, before he does much harm to himself and to others. I am broadly convinced, as are many in this House, that on balance the advantage from our own national point of view lies with continued membership. But I am far more certain that our duty points in the same direction, and far more certain that in the years ahead this is the most obvious way—one might say the only way—in which we can render full service to those countries so much poorer than ourselves and who so greatly need our help. I ask them to follow the banner that floats in the Common Market as indeed the path of the highest and truest idealism. I ask them to follow the banner that floats nearest the sky.

9.35 p.m.


My Lords, I can follow the noble Earl who has just spoken in nearly all the aspects of his speech. He is right— if we want to advance the brotherhood of man we must have power, and we shall get more influence in the councils of the world by being in the Common Market. The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, felt there was nothing more to say because, having heard the speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, every aspect of the subject had been covered. Unfortunately, I was not so fortunate to hear the speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I do not wish to alarm your Lordships; I shall not speak for a long time. I mention this only in order to apologise to the noble and learned Lord, because I did not hear his speech. Owing to unforeseen circumstances, over which I had no control, I did not arrive at your Lordships' House in time. I was very fortunate to hear the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Balniel and Lord Home of the Hirsel— both admirable speeches. Surely the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, can claim a record—I am sure he can claim many records—in having made more maiden speeches than any other Parliamentarian, because, to my reckoning, he must nave made four maiden speeches; two in this House and two in another place. I hope that I am right in that assumption.

I shall speak on only one aspect of this matter, and that is sovereignty. I have always been very pro-Common Market ever since the matter was broached years ago, and present circumstances have not made me any less pro-Common Market; in fact, I am even more pro-Common Market. In the campaign that has already started in the country, I shall try and convert those members of the Conservative Party in any audience that I address who, through a misguided sense of patriotism —and there is no finer sentiment than patriotism—may perhaps vote "No", and be counted in the ranks of the Anti-Marketeers.

Many of these people will be of my generation and older who were brought up in the days of Empire. They understandably have a nostalgia for that, but one must be practical; and to be practical is the only way to help the United Kingdom. Therefore, I hope to convince some of these people to make their "No" votes into "Yes" votes. Something which has been mentioned three or four times in this debate, and particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, is that there are still people who think that they are being asked to vote in the referendum as to whether this country should join the Common Market. It is incredible that there are such people, but they exist. It must be drummed home that they are not being asked whether we should join the Common Market, but whether we should get out of the EEC, which, of course, is a very different kettle of fish. It must be explained to them that what they are being asked to do is to renounce a solemn treaty. It has never been the custom of Great Britain to renounce her treaties. If this country were to renounce the treaty by which we entered the Common Market, it would do our prestige enormous harm and largely destroy our credibility. Can we afford that in our present rather parlous state? I would say, No, my Lords. Like other noble Lords, I deplore the holding of this referendum. I have been asked several times by people: "How should we vote?" I am quite convinced that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people who will vote in this referendum will not really know what they are voting about.

It is certainly true that the Common Market is a very complex subject and there are many people who may not have had the time, the inclination or—dare I say it?—the comprehension to understand it. I am quite convinced that the reason why the Anti-Market campaigners have concentrated on the sovereignty aspect, in particular, is that they know this a question on which people's emotions can be easily aroused.

Obviously I shall not attempt to speak to any members of the Left, because anything I might say would be like a red rag to a bull and no doubt they would do the opposite to what I might suggest; but I would ask the Members of my own Party who are thinking of voting against the Market to consider some of their bed-fellows. If they stopped to think, they might ask themselves why members of the extreme Left in this country are so very antiCommon Market and fly this flag of sovereignty. I have always thought—and indeed the noble Earl, Lord Longford mentioned this—that Socialism is international. Extreme Socialism has always scoffed at sovereignty; so it makes one wonder as the noble Earl said, how this sudden conversion has come about, together with this love of the Left for Parliamentary sovereignty. The reasons may not be too far to seek. I believe that they hope, but harping on the issue of sovereignty, to have an emotional effect on people—I shall not say that they are simpleminded—who have not, perhaps, studied the question of the EEC in all its complexity.

I was rather amazed the other evening to see Mr. Len Murray on television, and one of his remarks was that he objected to our joining the EEC, because this would restrict freedom of movement and enterprise in the industrial world. I hope I have quoted him correctly, but I believe that was his meaning. That was an extraordinary statement for Mr. Murray to make. Surely, what he meant was that the unions in the United Kingdom would have to cut their cloth to the conventions of the EEC; they would have to bear in mind the European conventions, and would have to respect the rights of man to a greater degree than they are sometimes accustomed to in this country. They will not have perhaps quite such a free hand to blackmail the consumer public as they are inclined to at the moment.

When we come to Parliamentary sovereignty, there again I cannot understand how the Left of the Labour Party can claim to be the champions of Parliamentary sovereignty. We have had various cases recently such as the Clay Cross councillors, the building-site pickets now in goal and various other instances. It appears that, whenever it suits the Left, they are quite prepared to defy the will of Parliament and to show contempt for Parliamentary sovereignly. As we have heard this evening several times, the holding of the referendum itself is a blow against Parliamentary sovereignty. I saw the right honourable lady Mrs. Castle on television last night—I am glad to see that the noble Lord, Lord Castle, is not here because I do not want him to challenge me to a duel—and she said that the result of the referendum would be the will of the people and was true democracy and should overrule Parliament. That is another instance where the Left cannot claim to uphold the sovereignty of Parliament. It might as well be said: "If you are going to have a referendum on coming out of the Market, why not have a referendum on capital punishment?" I am quite sure that, if there was a referendum on capital punishment and the vote was pro for capital punishment, the right honourable lady would then say that Parliament must be sovereign and should not adhere to the vote.

My Lords, I think it is time I sat down. The real danger to our national and our Parliamentary sovereignty comes from within; it does not come from the Common Market or Brussels. It comes from those people who would like us eventually to join the Soviet bloc and explore the delights of cabbage soup and overcrowded housing. I would say to any members of my Party who are thinking of registering a "No" vote: Do please be practical. Germany and France have lost no sovereignty. There is no logical argument to show that in practice this country will lose sovereignty. It will certainly gain a greater sovereignty through the great influence it will have as a member of the Market. Therefore, I shall end by saying to those who are now rather doubtful as to how they will vote—I address this particularly to members of my Party because I have met quite a few who are wavering—that, if they want the influence of Britain to count for anything in the councils of the world, for the sake of their children, also probably for the sake of their grand-children and ultimately for the sake of world peace, they must register a "Yes" vote.

9.50 p.m.


My Lords, I think I should follow the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, at least to the extent that I express a feeling of relief that at this late stage in the debate the moment has actually arrived for me to start. As the second of 35 speakers about seven hours ago, in a debate which was described by the Prime Minister in another place as one of the most important Parliamentary occasions in our history and which the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, described as an unnecessary debate, the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, delivered a speech which was described by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, as one of the most distinguished speeches he had listened to in his Parliamentary experience but which the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, described as full of clichés, rubbish, balderdash and something else which I have forgotten.

The noble Lord, Lord Balniel, told the House that, even as second speaker, so much had already been said about this subject, both inside and outside Parliament, before he came to speak at the beginning of the debate that he would not have anything particularly new to present in the way of arguments. I would only say to that comment of the noble Lord that there are some things which are true, which are important, whose truth and importance can be enhanced to the general benefit only by being said not once but again, and perhaps again, with the skill, sincerity and eloquence of the noble Lord, Lord Balniel. However, whether one agrees with the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, or the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, on this point, I think we all have to agree that it requires the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, or the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, to give distinction to a speech numbered 31 in this debate. I cannot claim the oratory of any of these three noble Lords, and I am not going to speak about the relativities of sovereignty about which we have heard quite a lot during the debate. I am simply going to say how I felt about Britain in the European Community when we joined four years ago; how, on at least two counts, I feel about it now and, quite briefly, why.

I was a very reluctant European in 1971. It seemed to me that the Europe we were joining at that time was a largely inward-looking, French-dominated group of States, a grouping whose members retained a rather narrow interest in using the economic power of the Community to help themselves and reaching out a strictly discriminating hand to a few countries in the developing world, mainly to suit the policies of the French. Naturally, I accepted the proposition that the competitive forces of the Market could stimulate our industry, that the resources of the Market would ensure our food supplies and that, on one count or another, our economy would be strengthened by joining the Community. However, I had an uncomfortable feeling that in seeking those ends we were not sufficiently safeguarding some of our partners in the Commonwealth, that we had weakened EFTA, and that we were entering the protective walls of a would-be self-preserving, somewhat blinkered Western European club. I could not help feeling a lack of confidence that once inside that club, we might well become conformists, not merely in regard to the rules and procedures, but also in our attitudes. I fear that by acquiring a European perspective we might lose our world-wide outlooks and the friendships in the world outside. Indeed, my doubt was whether we might not be obtaining a short-term benefit conveniently close at hand, and perhaps befitting a somewhat middle-aged concern for immediate security, only to pass on to the younger generation a longer-term liability in terms of global problems and the expanding opportunities of the future. I doubted whether it was a club which took sufficient account of the wider aspirations among many young people.

My views on both scores have changed somewhat in the last twelve months. I think the new leadership in France has had quite a lot to do with this. The attitude and influence of Gaullism has been toned down, and in fact I would say has given way to the wider views and more accommodating approach of M. Giscard d'Estaing. But I also think that the Government's determination to get an unequivocal public endorsement of this single issue, whatever the motives for doing so may have been, has proved to be very much more than the charade which it has (I think most unfairly) been dubbed. I believe the renegotiations will be seen in perspective to have set the European Community on the road of more farreaching change than could have been achieved without calling into question our continued membership. That is, of course, a pragmatic and subjective judgment. I shall not pontificate on the morals of abiding by treaties solemnly entered into, beyond respectfully agreeing the view expressed by Mr. Harold Macmillan and by the noble Lord, Lord Home, himself in this debate.

I do not like this referendum, but I believe, looking back, that on such a fundamental constitutional issue as this there was a good case—in fact a need —for consulting the British people specifically on this issue after the 1971 negotiations and before we signed the Treaty. It was not enough to include this proposal to join the EEC as one item in the Conservative Party's policy package for the 1970 election. That having been said, we have the referendum, and unlike what appears to be the case with a number of your Lordships as you have expressed your views tonight, I have great faith in the good sense and the sound judgment of the British people when it comes to the vote.

Among the objectives which have been pursued by the Government and in which considerable progress appears to have been made—I will not harp on it because so much has been said on it during this debate—in the renegotiations, there is one in which real progress has been made and which particularly appeals to me. It is their objective number six, which was, … the adoption by an enlarged Community of trade and aid policies designed to benefit … developing countries throughout the world. I will simply add that as between the several major sources of tension which spell danger for the future—whether they are political, social or economic or a mixture of all three—I believe the issues between the industrially developed nations and the still underdeveloped countries, whether they are rapidly developing or whether they are desperately poor, to be of crucial importance. This point was made, among others, by the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, tonight. I also believe in the greater effectiveness of the unified policy of aid to the poorest countries and the efficacy of joint emergency action to deal with the natural catastrophes which occur around the world. Both of these are clear objectives of the Commission.

My Lords, my second and last point is about youth, which has not been mentioned this evening—at any rate very specifically. On this account, I should be particularly interested in knowing, if possible, how our 18- to 25-year olds will decide to vote on the 5th June. The recent and belated attention being paid by the Commission to the importance and interests of young people is to me an encouraging sign. The Committee for Youth Questions, the European Youth Forum, and the revival of plans which had previously foundered for stepping up the exchange of youth workers, make me more hopeful that the European Community is shedding its impression of middle-aged attitudes and influence. If anything is likely to change that image, it is the prospect of the young people of Europe getting together, free of the pre-conceptions of the past, intent in shaping the policies of Europe according to their ideas and the wider world.

My Lords, I see Western Europe as a stage, a stepping stone towards, not away from Attlee's view—as my noble friend Lord Longford described—an eventual World Government in which we Europeans can use our influence from a position of strength. On these grounds, I am now a willing and no longer a reluctant European.

10.2 p.m.


My Lords, contrary to the noble Lord who has just spoken, I have been on this line for a good many years. I was attracted by the fact that over the weekend the right honourable gentleman Mr. Heath reminded us that he made his maiden speech on this issue —I think it was on the Schumann Plan. I heard his speech at the time. I cannot claim that I was with him in the Lobby then, although I was in 1971, to my cost; my local Party at one stage had five votes of no confidence. At least I can claim I have borne some of the heat and burden of the day.

My Lords, I can only declare straight away that my conviction for going into Europe has grown steadily over the years, and was never stronger than now. The issue now is not whether we ought to go in, but whether we ought to come out. I think it worth while tracing some of the history of the last 25 years. Incidentally, the right honourable gentleman Mr. Heath rather thought that the fact that it had taken 25 years for this to be brooded over on the political scene was an indication of the weakness of our institutions, and a lack of will. There is something to be said on that. When I consider the abandonment of the Third London Airport or the Channel Tunnel, I wonder whether we still have the will to do big things. I hope we will not fail on this occasion, and I am sure we will not.

I can remember another emotional occasion, in 1962 at the Labour Party Conference, when Hugh Gaitskell made a classic speech against going into Europe. I went up to him afterwards, and as a very old and close friend said to him, "Listen, Hugh, all the wrong people are cheering." The wrong people were cheering then, and they are cheering now. I reminded Hugh Gaitskell that if that was his line, I would be in a different Lobby from him at the end of the day. He thought this was a rather wounding thing at the time. But the real cause of his objection at that time was his intense feeling for the Commonwealth. I remember that Walter Nash had seen him. He was very moved by this sort of thing. He had been brought up in Burma. The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, is not here at the moment, so perhaps I can say that I think his old Burmese nanny was always whispering in his ear about the Commonwealth.

My Lords, between 1964 and 1966, the right honourable gentleman the present Prime Minister decided to go in. In fact, by the time 1970 came negotiations had already been laid on for 30th June of that year, in Mr. Wilson's expectancy that he would win the Election. He was to take up those negotiations on 30th June, the same negotiations that Mr. Barber, now Lord Barber, and Mr. Geoffrey Rippon first took up. In order to do that, it had better be underlined, for some of my friends who deny it now, that in 1970 Harold Wilson had already accepted the Treaty of Rome, the Common Agricultural Policy, VAT and all that went with it, the harmonisation of currency and social security benefits, and the idea, though not the figures, of the long-term financing of the Market. And if people deny that, they will understand that he could not have gone into those negotiations unless he had done so; he had to do that to be in a position to negotiate further.

Had he won the 1970 Election, he would have been at the negotiation table. He might have gone in on marginally better terms than Mr. Rippon obtained; even the terms that he now recommends he might have achieved. Then, as Prime Minister, he would have ridden out the Labour Party Conference and rallied his Government and the payroll vote behind him. He lost the Election, and there was a need then to reunite his Party. I never blamed him for that. It was a gut issue in the Party in 1970; the Party would not have accepted Europe on any terms at all. The block votes, whatever may be said about the merits of them, would have been cast against it, for quite honest reasons, because I was with one of those trade union delegations. He had to raise the Market issue to reunite his Party.

So we have had two General Elections since then, in which the present Prime Minister has had to bring us round again to the stage when we can make a decision. The vote last week in the House of Commons indicated the difficulties within the Labour Party itself, and I am not blaming anybody for the deeplyheld conscientious convictions; all I am saying is that I do not share them. But I want to say this—and here I agree with Mr. Heath in his speech of last week: that the renegotiations must have used up a great deal of good will from our European partners. I shall not even claim that those terms could not have been obtained had we not gone in in 1970 in any case. But the issue is now to be decided by referendum by the people. I regret it. I believe in Parliamentary sovereignty. The noble Earl, Lord Lytton, quoted from Brian Walden's outstanding speech in the Commons, but Brian Walden also said this: When we speak of Parliamentary sovereignty we should not discuss it here; we should discuss it at Blackpool in October. I do not very much mind whether it is a majority of one Party or a majority of all Parties that takes us into Europe. I do not think that this idea of putting it to the people is a good idea. When I consider the amount of work and study, and conferences I have been to, over 20 years, I do not really like submitting my qualitative judgment to a mass quantitative judgment in the country. That is, after all, what we are sent to Parliament for. Any amount of people have said to my wife, and said to me, "Why should we decide? What do we send you there for? "I wish the vote in the other place the other night and our vote tomorrow settled the issue, as they should. But at least it can be said that this will decide the issue once and for all and there will be no going back.

But have the opponents of the Market considered their problems? I doubt it. Have they worked out the policy if we come out? Where are we going to get all this cheap food if we come out of the European Community? Where are we going to get all the investment if we come out of the Community? It is just not going to be there at all. What is going to be the feeling of those Europeans, the Socialist Europeans, if we appear to renege on the Treaty? Do we think for a moment that people like Willy Brandt and Schmidt have not had their battles in those places? They have all been through this sort of business. I joined the Labour Party as part of an international movement and, as I said on a previous occasion, I am an international Socialist, an Englishman, and a member of the Labour Party in that order. From whom are we going to get not just the investment, but the investment which lags so much behind in this country?

The Commonwealth is no longer an issue; I doubt whether it ever was. I went on a Party delegation with the noble Baroness, Lady Pike, to New Zealand immediately following the 1971 vote, and only the other day I received newspapers from New Zealand and Australia indicating how completely they are satisfied, and how they consider that Britain should stay in. There was an outstanding speech by the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Gough Whitlam, in Europe about this matter recently. The Commonwealth countries have all made their own arrangements, but yet we hear that sovereignty is the gut issue. Well, we yielded up a certain amount of sovereignty to NATO, of which I was one of the founding Parliamentarians, and to the United Nations. I remember when we got in in 1964 that I, as Minister of Works, was asked to provide all the material for a building programme for 400,000 houses in 1965. That was possible, it was probable, but it was stopped by the Government's July measures. The present Foreign Secretary was then Chancellor. Why? Simply because, it is claimed by the Left of the Labour Party, the foreign bankers would not give us the credit in the pipeline. How much sovereignty was there when you could not build 400,000 houses to fill a most elementary need? The Left may remember that they complained about the foreign policy of that time; but the Labour Government's foreign policy was dominated for six years by lack of sovereignty. It was over-shadowed by Vietnam in order to propitiate Lyndon Johnson. This is not to deprecate anything the Prime Minister did—he had his troubles enough at the time, but there was no sovereignty mixed up in it at all.

I remember Mr. Roy Jenkins, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking about how he went to a European Conference and had to wait in an anteroom for about six hours while other Powers made up their minds what they would do. Sovereignty went years and years ago. There is no real sovereignty unless it is allied to power. What are we talking about but power? What are we in politics for? To feed and cloth 50 million people; to give them the good life; to speak to the world on their behalf. But we had no sovereignty at all in those years; what we had is really one of the greatest fallacies of all time. But the crowning nonsense of the lot would be to give out our sovereignty, throw it back to the people, because we do not feel we are powerful and responsible enough to act on their behalf.

I know the sort of thing which has attracted me into Europe. My reading of history shows that on an average once in every 20 years since the days of Charlemagne the Rhine has been crossed and recrossed. But of course the rapprochement between France and Germany has put an end to the possibility of war. I speak as one who was too young for the First World War, too old for the Second, but who can remember the great carnage in both wars. At least I remember that in the Second World War I was in charge of all civil distress following an enemy attack on a town in which every house had been bombed five times. Is that what we want to return to? Anything is better than that. In 1971 the country decided to go in. Do we now decide to come out? Far more serious is that this matter involves our good faith in what is a time of crisis. Dare we say "No"? Imperial power has gone. I do not look upon sovereignty as merely the strutting and stamping up and down in front of Royal residences by the Grenadier Guards. It is something more than that, although I have a great respect for our institutions.

May I again refer to those who spoke for the Left more than anything else. I remember Aneurin Bevan once being questioned in the Commons about the yielding up of some imperial power in an African State. He said they must grow up and that we must learn to be great in other ways. I believe that so great is the genius of the British people that they can merge their identity and all their proud history with other nations and still play their part and earn their respect.

There is no question that Europe needs us at present. So this is the unending quest. Progress was once defined as leaving behind the fading dusk to proceed to an even more doubtful dawn. It may be doubtful, but it will be a call for a struggle, for all the genius of the British people, and if they say "Yes", as I believe they will, they will not fail the world.

10.17 p.m.


My Lords, it is not easy to follow 32 speakers in this debate, particularly when the last, the noble Lord, Lord Pannell, happens to be one with whose words I agree. But the lateness of the hour and the subject of this debate is one on which I still feel compelled to state my position because the economic future and lifeblood of Britain, and its standing in Europe and the world, are at stake. I would not be on these Benches if that meant blanket acceptance of every individual policy issue, however remote it seems from commonsense practical affairs, compared with purely theoretical attitudes or over-done idealistic or nationalistic viewpoints.

The decision to hold a referendum on EEC membership was initially reached by the governing authority of the British Labour movement, the annual conference. It was a decision taken by due democratic process, but that does not mean I should or must agree with the holding of a referendum. In my opinion it was an example of a very unwise decision reached through ordinary democratic procedure. It has imported into Parliamentary government a thoroughly dangerous and unnecessary precedent. That is my view. I feel obliged in conscience to state it.

There is something else which ought to be stated. During four decades, I have moved among European and international trade unionists, and Socialists. In the last decade, through talking with well-known Continental union and Labour leaders, I was well able to note their genuine hopes for Britain's entry into the EEC. They supported us as much as possible in trying to achieve that gaol. They were gratified when they saw that the British Labour Government of the day were actively negotiating entry, and were deeply disappointed when the negotiations failed because others still vetoed our application.

Trade union movements often talk of international brotherhood among workers. "Workers of the world unite" is a well-known motto in British and international trade union circles. Trade unionists and Labour leaders on the European Continent want us at their side in the Common Market, to join with them in the great tasks ahead; and some of them with responsible positions in their countries have been striving hard to help all along the tortuous route of renegotiation. All of them, I know, will be more than regretful if the referendum leads to British withdrawal. They will feel greatly let down and most of us on these Benches should know that. Around me on these Benches at more sensible times of the day sit several noble Lords who once headed great trade unions, and they were noted for their courage, foresight and forcefulness. In their more active union careers they were closely involved in European and international trade unionism, and I believe I know their real views on this subject—or I did. At least they must recognise that I am right about the opinions of their Continental counterparts. Some, with perhaps more intimate knowledge than mine, may yet express their thoughts in this debate. I hope that they will all join me in supporting the Motion of my noble friend the Leader of the House, so ably and fully moved by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor.

I think it was the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes who expressed the opinion that at making many books there is no end, and that much study is a weariness of the flesh. After reading the arguments for and against British membership of the European Community in innumerable journals and books over the last decade, and after listening to endless discussion both in this country and on the European Continent, I must admit to weariness over the subject. Yet in my opinion the issue is a momentous one, and we must do all we can to prevent incomprehension and boredom from setting in, not only before the referendum but after it as well.

will not attempt to catalogue the various economic or political arguments for and against membership of the Community. That is being done by other noble Lords in this debate. Rather, I want to concentrate my remarks on what I consider to be the fundamental issue-Britain's role in the world in the last quarter of the 20th century.

Last week in your Lordships' House, during the debate on multinational corporations, I drew attention to a tendency in some influential quarters to advocate a highly nationalistic approach to British foreign policy. I argued that this tends to happen when our economic fortunes are at a low ebb and our economic well-being, particularly employment, is being threatened. I warned against accepting a "Britain for the British" philosophy as a way of coping with our problems because we live in an interdependent world. Isolationism brings lower standards and leads to economic and political impotence. If the opponents of British membership of the European Community really want this for Britain, then they are condemning us and our children to a future which will be both unprosperous and purposeless. I say "purposeless" in the sense that we have always had a sense of helping others. We have not always done this very effectively, but it has meant that our focus has been away from our-selves. We must not be deceived by arguments which promise, as an alternative to full membership, free trade arrangements with the Community and other nations. First, as noble Lords have already said in the debate, we have no hint—let alone a guarantee—that a free trade agreement would be offered, and even if it were, certain Members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade would not be over-enthusiastic. Secondly, we would have no say in the forming of economic and industrial policy in our largest market, especially in the role of the high technology where we have a competitive advantage, and in Community public sector procurement policies where economies of scale are important. Whether we like it or not, these sources of demand will continue to constitute a vital market for our industrial output.

My Lords, from a position of economic isolation Britain can no longer play an influential role in world affairs, in which she still has so much to offer. We cannot turn the clock back. The world in which we live now, and in which our children will grow up, is one where groups of nations with very different outlooks and objectives will bargain together to try to achieve a balance of interests. We must have a say in these discussions, and this can be achieved only if we are part of a group which has similar ultimate objectives. In that regard we, as members of the Community, have been very influential in achieving international co-operation to prevent a major economic and monetary breakdown, following the action of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries—OPEC—in October 1973, when it raised oil prices fivefold. I greatly doubt whether Britain could have played the role she did from a position of isolation. Our depth of experience in relations with the countries of the developing world and with the United States, and their trust in our integrity of purpose, is an asset we must use. In my opinion it would be an abrogation of our responsibility to the World community if we were to try to exercise it from a position of economic and political isolation. We should simply fail.

We have listened in the House to many prophecies of how the world will develop up to the year 2000. Some of these have been very pessimistic, and I do not wish to join this band of gloomy soothsayers. What I do know is that the world economy now looks far different from that of 1971, when the last and most important of the great debates on Common Market membership was held. Then, the arguments were about economic growth, trade expansion, capital flows and food costs. Furthermore, as we have heard, the Community was very much an inward-looking body, and was taking any opportunity to flex its muscles, especially when its policies were being questioned. Since then it has changed under the pressure of world economic events. Exchange rates are floating, albeit within limits, controls of one sort or another are tolerated; and farm policy is under-going a basic change. Furthermore, regional and industrial policies have not been forced on the Member States, and the prospect for economic and monetary union is now very distant. This change of emphasis within the Community has been due partly to Britain's influence, and it is to be very much welcomed. It is especially true as one contemplates the future. I can see a number of major international problems in the economic and monetary sphere that will need solving if chaos is not to ensue. Britain, as a member of the Community with a positive outlook, can make an outstanding contribution to resolving the issues.

Let me cite three examples of what I mean. In the economic sphere barriers to trade, whether in the form of tariffs and quotas or non-tariff barriers, such as export incentive schemes, will have to be tackled. Already the next round of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade discussions is under way in Geneva and, if the preliminary talks are anything to judge by, a fairly rough ride can be expected. A real act of political will is required if the tendency by some towards economic restrictionism is to be diverted. Britain in the Community can strengthen the political will of one powerful group of nations not to give in to the waves of economic nationalism. In my judgment, Britain by herself would be incapable of persuading anyone to stand firm. What is more, Britain as a member of the free world's second largest trading entity will be more able to resist the clamour from within for damaging economic restrictions on her trade. In the monetary sphere, since the breakdown of the Bretton Woods Agreement, there has been virtually no world monetary system, as was so succinctly pointed out by Professor Harry Johnson in the April issue of Euromoney. With it has gone the era of relatively stable prices, because disciplines which forced countries to make adjustments—which were often painful— when they failed to balance their trade accounts are no longer operative.

Furthermore, the emergence of new economic power groups, like the oil rich countries of OPEC, means that international monetary stability will be very precarious, especially for individual countries. This is because by 1980 the accumulated surplus of what are known as Petrodollars is estimated by the World Bank to become as high as 248 billion dollars at constant 1974 prices. This sum of money is large enough to be a possible threat to stability, especially if it is moved around or across the exchanges.

Some agreed resolution of these problems will be needed sooner or later. Britain as part of an effective economic entity can offer all her experience in international finance in drawing up new effective rules for world monetary order. As a rather economically unimpressive nation State, she would be far less influential.

Thirdly, in the sphere of relations between the developed and the developing world, the rumblings which emanated from the last UNCTAD Conference, the United Nations Sixth Special Session last year, the United Nations World Food Conference in Rome and, more recently, the preliminary Conference of the oil consuming and oil producing nations in Paris last week cannot be ignored much longer. New arrangements with the developing world will have to be made. Perhaps the recently concluded Lomé Convention is a foretaste of what might be done. Britain, as a member of the Community, helped to shape it, thus ensuring that her Commonwealth countries gained access to the European market with some guarantee of price and earnings stabilisation as well. Whether any new arrangement is modelled on the Lomé Convention remains to be seen. With the OPEC countries' example behind them, developing countries will be demanding a larger slice of the cake.

Anthony Harris pointed out in the Financial Times of 17th April that, An entire Community can afford to be more generous and long sighted in its dealings with developing countries than can a single nation fearful of giving away competitive advantage. Two things follow: Britain in the Community would be in an ideal position to act as mediator in what I predict will be fairly acrimonious discussions between developed and developing countries. Outside it, her influence would be severely diminished. The point is that Britain, along with nearly all other developed countries, will have to adjust her economy as more real wealth is transferred to developing countries. Certainly, she cannot escape this adjustment by remaining outside the Community. History shows that adjustments of this sort are much easier to make in an economic growth situation. It is apparent to me that our chances of achieving real growth are much higher as a member of the Community than as an outsider.

I have tried to show in this contribution to the debate that there is an overriding political and economic argument for Britain to remain a member of the Community. We cannot allow our-selves to adopt an isolationist position, however superficially attractive it appears to be at this juncture in history. We must give the young people of this country a purpose for living. If this is confined to one of "Keep Britain for the British" and "We must be master of our own destiny", then we can expect selfishness to characterise not only our international relations but also, increasingly, aspects of our national and social life. When this happens culture and civilisation diminish. A lump of coal soon loses its glow and warmth when it falls from the fire. This is the fate which awaits Britain if the present generation of British people rejects the Government's recommendation that we remain a member of the European Economic Community.

My Lords, it is expected in our debates that we must declare an interest, and that is usually done at the beginning. But this is a unique occasion when I shall declare my interest at the end. My interest is for Britain's future, for Europe and for mankind. So I strongly support the Motion before the House.

10.37 p.m.


My Lords, my contribution to this debate will be very brief in that I wish to limit my remarks to my experience and the attitudes I have heard outside this country and the EEC. I must first apologise for not having been here for the whole of this first day of the two-day debate, but I listened with interest to the opening speeches. I have been in the fortunate position during the past 18 months of having travelled to many parts of the world, to both Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries. I must say that having up to now taken a neutral attitude towards membership of the EEC. I can now confirm that our friends abroad have a quite definite attitude towards our future. I noted the remarks of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor about sounding out opinion in the Commonwealth. He most probably talked to very senior and distinguished members of those countries. But I can only echo what the noble and learned Lord said.

To give a few examples, I talked to such diverse representatives of their countries as a High Court Judge in Trinidad, a trades union official in Australia and a property developer in Fiji. In addition, I have also talked at length on this subject to an airline cargo official in Bangkok who does a substantial amount of trade with his country, businessmen in California and, recently, politicians and Government officials in West Africa and the Ivory Coast where I recently went on a British trade delegation. Without exception, they all stated their desire for our remaining in the EEC, because in their belief our political stability and future influence would be to their own benefit. This surely would soon disappear if we had second thoughts on our membership. To all this I would add the recently signed Lomé Agreement, to which several noble Lords have referred, especially my noble friend Lord Balniel in his excellent speech earlier this afternoon.

Finally, I would refer to inflation and the extraordinary attitudes I have heard from people in this country who should know better. To give examples: "It is all the fault of going decimal", or "It is all the fault of going metric", and, most worrying of all, "If we had not joined the EEC, inflation would not have been as bad as it is now". All I can say to this insular attitude is that they had better try eating out or purchasing some of the basic commodities in some of the countries I have mentioned; maybe they would realise how subsidised and lucky they have been up to now. With that, I would ask your Lordships to support the Motion.

10.41 p.m.


My Lords, I am at the end of the queue for the day. It has been a long day and a very interesting debate. But I must not impose on the time of your Lordships for longer than a few minutes. It has been a onesided debate, more onesided than the balance we shall find in another place and probably in the country itself. I hope that when the referendum day comes the volume of support for entry into the European Community will be as overwhelming as it has been in this House today.

In two of the maiden speeches to which we have listened we have had opposing views. We had three maiden speeches, one by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, who can scarcely claim to be a new boy either in this House or in another place. In fact the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, said he had made four maiden speeches altogether, and she asked whether that was a record. The noble Lord is in a class by himself, and to those of us who knew him in another place, as well as in this House, it was a great delight to hear his speech today with its thorough grasp reflecting his great experience and profound wisdom on these affairs. My noble friend Lord Wilson of Radcliffe, was rational, clear and convincing. I was with him all the way, and I am sure we enjoyed listening to him.

My noble friend Lord Paget of Northampton is a different case. He presents unpalatable truths accompanied by original ideas, frequently startling, which should be heeded but usually are not, simply because they do not take us any-where. He is a charmer, a political will-o'-the-wisp, who beckons us onto the marshes and deep and sticky waters. The world he described this afternoon in such stringent terms is surely a world almost without hope. We had false friends, unreliable allies, the dormant Frankenstein of the Kremlin! It was really awful! But we must have faith in ourselves, we must have faith in the future; we must have faith in somebody to see the world go on. I do not believe the European Economic Community is exactly a suicide club, and I am sure noble Lords will be able to rise about what I thought was the philosophy of despair of my noble friend.

The noble Lord, Lord Balniel, said that of course it had all been said before, but in what he said he was so persuasive and elegant that I could scarcely believe I have heard any of it before. This was an admirable and outstanding speech, and those of us who remember the noble Lord in another place were delighted that he so well distinguished himself today.

I am not going over the familiar ground of the debate. After saying a word or two about the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, I shall go on to deal with a theme of my own which has not been covered in any speech so far today. My noble friend Lord Shinwell referred to the fact that the present Prime Minister had to rely on Opposition votes in another place in order to get the Government Motion through. His predecessor had to do exactly the same in October 1971; so we are all square. It shows how deeply divided Members of another place have been, and as perhaps the country is as well. But my noble friends Lord Pannell and Lord Gordon-Walker and I all went into the Lobby in October 1971 in support of the Government Motion to accept entry into the EEC on the terms negotiated. It was not easy for us to do that, and perhaps it was rather more difficult for me because at that time I was Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party. We were accused of going into the Lobby to sustain a Tory Government in Office. I am glad that the present Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Thatcher, has scotched the idea that those who now vote "Yes" to the EEC are voting to sustain a Labour Government in Office. That, I think, is the most mischievous approach to a great national issue of this kind. Nevertheless, we three suffered from that in 1971 and I myself was challenged in the subsequent election for chairmanship of the Parliamentary Labour Party, scraping home by only 9 votes. So at least some of us have been consistent. We have no difficulty in going into the Lobby tomorrow in support of the Motion. There will be no disciplinary price to pay this time for the courage of our convictions.

Now I come to my own theme about our association with the EEC. It relates to industrial relations, which will be my main point during the next few minutes. It may seem a narrow issue, but I believe it is crucial to British wellbeing, inside or outside the Common Market, because I am convinced that in our industrial relations lies one of our greatest weaknesses. I believe that the EEC structure, institutions and mood of industrial relations are likely to influence the British trade union movement for the better. Having spent a little time in EEC countries studying the working of their industrial relations institutions, I feel certain that there is a remarkably close correlation between industrial relations and economic success. This is so not only in EEC countries but in several countries outside, such as Norway and Sweden. If we remain in the EEC, our industrial movement and industrial management will come under the direct influence of the more orderly, stable and fruitful relationships to be found in Europe. I do not believe that influence can be brought to bear upon our trade union movement in any other way.

By contrast with the EEC, our industrial relations are dismally poor; they are tainted with anarchy and they are institutionally weak at the centre on both sides of industry. Some members of trade unions in this country want to come out of the Community for the very reason that I want them to stay in. They do not welcome the example and influence, and success, of the Social Democratic trade unions in Europe; and I do. I would hope for great benefits to flow from the unions of the Community and of this country modelling themselves on the best of all, including Britain. We have just about the worst industrial relations in Europe and just about the least successful economy. Italy, perhaps, is the only exception. British trade unions are being left behind by their European friends. In my opinion, they are no longer with the times. I do not think that the Confederation of British Industry is any better. I referred to the weakness at the centre of both sides of industry.

Underlying British industrial relations is the tradition of conflict. While conflict is a necessary part of the vitality of society, it can be destructive and harmful if it is not balanced up by a larger measure of co-operation. There is too much conflict in industry in Britain over minor causes. In Europe they have a better balance. It is provided by their institutions and by the mood and spirit which the unions put into them. In Europe they do not carry the ideological struggle to the shop floor. In Britain we sometimes do. In Europe unions accept in specific terms an obligation to strive for peaceful solutions. The area of negotiation in which strikes are not permitted, by agreement in some countries and by law in others, is clearly defined. In this area, which is called the area of co-determination, management for their part accept complete restraint upon unilateral decisions and actions. They also are obliged to strive for peaceful solutions. They cannot act alone.

The industrial structure of European trade unionism reduces demarcation disputes and union rivalries. The British reorganised the German trade unions and the Germans have only 16 unions altogether as against little short of 200 affiliated to the British Trades Union Congress. We put other people right but do not put ourselves right. In Europe the big issues of pay are lifted out of shop floor and company negotiations and are frequently dealt with on a regional or a national level. Another factor: the part which the EEC unions are now playing in the training of their own members for positions of responsibility on works councils and on supervisory boards should be the envy of the British trade union movement. The contrast between orderly and disorderly industrial relations is unmistakable, and the correlation between orderly conditions and economic success is equally unmistakable. Some unions in Britain appear not to favour being part of this kind of partnership, but I believe it would be good for our working people and good for the country if they were. And that, my Lords, for me is another and perhaps unusual reason for being in support of remaining in the European Community.


My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned until tomorrow.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned until tomorrow.—(Lord Goronwy-Roberts.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until tomorrow.