HL Deb 22 April 1975 vol 359 cc768-873

2.56 p.m.

Debate resumed on the Motion moved yesterday by the Lord Chancellor; namely, 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).


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Shepherd will reply on behalf of the Government at the end of this debate, but it may be useful if I intervene briefly at this stage to attempt to clarify a number of points raised yesterday. At the same time, as the 36th speaker in the debate I can only agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, said in a notable speech—there is very little new to be said; and if that were true yesterday, when the noble Lord said it, it is certainly true now, after 36 speeches. Nevertheless, the debate yesterday—which I thought was excellent in every respect—raised a number of extremely important issues, and I am very glad that this gives me the opportunity to speak briefly about some of them.

May I first join in the general tribute to the three maiden speakers who spoke yesterday. It was hardly a parade of intact maidenhood, as all three clearly had vast expert previous experience of public life and public speaking. On the fourth maiden speech by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, I was reminded somewhat of the legend of the goddess Diana who possessed a magic spring in which she bathed to renew her innocence. Whatever the virtues of the noble Lord's magic spring, it certainly produced what I think must be described as one of the most statesmanlike speeches ever heard in your Lordships' House in recent years. I was also impressed by the speech of my noble friend Lord Wilson of Radcliffe, who again showed that he is no stranger to public occasions and to public speaking. I am quite sure that the hope evinced by more than one speaker who followed him—that he would continue to contribute frequently, and soon, to our deliberations—was very sincerely meant. As to my noble friend Lord Paget of Northampton, he brings to this place a record of Parliamentary distinction worthily earned in another place. Although it is often very difficult indeed to agree with anything he says, he says it so well that one almost finds oneself seduced into agreement. While one personally rejoices, one is free politically to deplore.

My Lords, the debate yesterday concentrated quite rightly on the major issues of Britain's membership of the Community. But some issues of important detail were raised, and there are some points I should like specifically to make about renegotiation. May I express appreciation for what some speakers, such as the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, had to say about the undoubted achievements of Her Majesty's Government in renegotiation. These remarks ranged from the somewhat grudging to the graceful, but all contributions were thankfully received. It is important that what has been achieved should not be underestimated.

In denigrating the record of the past 12 months we might make it unwittingly difficult to repeat that record continuously in the negotiations of the future. Renegotiation has, above all, proved the flexibility of the Community and its resilience in resolving whatever problems may arise. Some may wish still to depict the Community as a rigid, bureaucratic body insensitive to the needs of its Member States. But I think it can fairly be said that renegotiation itself has proved that this is not so. I think one can equally say that there is nothing which is not negotiable in the Community if it is really vital to one of the Member States.

Renegotiation has also demonstrated how the Community is now in a process of continuing development. It is constantly facing up to the need for revision of its policies to meet the challenges of an everchanging world. It is in this spirit that people are looking again at the Community's long-avowed aims such as European Union and EMU on both of which many of my noble friends have deep reservations. On European Union, we have gone back to the drawing board with the invitation to Mr. Tindemans, Prime Minister of Belgium, to draw up a report by the end of this year which is to be based on consultations with a wide range of public opinion in the Community. On economic and monetary union, I would draw noble Lords' attention to reports this morning in The Times newspaper of a new study prepared for the Commission by a group of independent experts headed by Professor Marjolin. What these experts have to say confirms our view that the old approach to EMU based on fixed parities by a fixed date is dead. They make clear the need for careful consideration before any steps towards EMU are taken and they emphasise the basic point that no progress can be made unless the political will for it exists in Member States, who will of course consult their own economic and financial viability at the time.

To turn back to what has been achieved in renegotiation, let me say how useful it is for this House to have before it for this debate the two Reports by the Scrutiny Committee covering four of the main areas of renegotiation. I should like to say a few words about each, and in doing so, once more to commend the chairmanship of this important Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, and the admirable speech in which she referred to these Reports.

First, the Budget. I am glad to see that the Scrutiny Committee considered that the Commission's proposal (this was the document on which they were, in fact, reporting) reflected substantial progress in the development of Community budgetary arrangements. This is the view of the all-Party Committee, studying this report objectively. At the Heads of Government Meeting in Dublin in March, we went to renegotiate firm arrangements for a budget-correcting mechanism which will ensure that what Members of the Community pay into the Budget shall take into account their ability to pay.

Here I should like to refer to some points made yesterday by my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek. He appeared to me to be suggesting, though I found his figures a little difficult to follow, that though the mechanism will reduce our contribution, we would still be paying more than we get back. This of course may well be true year by year. We cannot expect simply to receive back every year money equal to our contribution. Some of our contribution, like that of every other Member, goes out of the Community in the form of aid—an expenditure which this Government has been anxious to see increased—and some goes on the running expenses of the Community. What we have is a firm arrangement which will guarantee to us a refund if, as we expect at least in the next few years, we find ourselves paying a contribution which goes beyond what is fair in relation to our share of Community wealth. That was not there before; it has now been renegotiated. My noble friend Lord Davies of Leek also referred to some figures of our likely VAT contribution. These may be based on a misunderstanding. He said, I think, that our VAT contribution by 1980 would not be 1 per cent., but 12 per cent. The fact is under the Communities' own resources system there is a ceiling on the possible VAT element in the Budget. It cannot be more than the proceeds of a 1 per cent. rate; it could well be much less.

I turn now to the second group of questions relating to a major issue in the debate, the Common Agricultural Policy. I would not wish to spend too long on CAP at this stage in the debate. It was admirably dealt with yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Raglan. He brought out most clearly how European agriculture has changed and is changing, and those who have spent and spend a good deal of time in agricultural areas will agree with him that, just as British agriculture has changed remarkably over the past quarter of a century, so in Europe farreaching changes in the rural scene have been proceeding. We assert that renegotiation added impetus to this change. The CAP of course is by no means perfect. What agricultural policy is or ever has been perfect?

My noble friend Lord Davies of Leek rightly mentioned the problem of surpluses. Everybody agrees with him that these excesses of policy and performance in regard to the disposal of surpluses need to be put right. Steps have been taken in regard to beef surpluses, for instance, to make more intelligent use of the surpluses. In renegotiation we have sought to bring about a new flexibility of the CAP so that it gives a square deal both to consumers and to producers. The consumers should expect to pay a fair price and the producers are entitled to a fair wage. We have achieved much, as, for example, in the new optional beef support régime, which my noble friend Lord Strabolgi explained to the House the other day. More remains to be done, and we shall be seeking further improvements in the stocktaking as it is called, which was proposed by the Federal Republic of Germany, and very strongly supported by us. The initiative for the stocktaking review of CAP has in fact come from another Member of the Community. The structure of agriculture in the EEC, as I said, is gradually changing, and changing for the better.

Next we come to the regional and industrial policy. That was a key element in our renegotiations. The Government sought freedom under Parliamentary supervision to run the regional and industrial policies that this country needs. We have achieved this. I hope that noble Lords noted with admiration, as I did, the remarks made yesterday by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, in her able and well-informed speech. We have this freedom. The Treaty of Rome recognises the need for aids to assist industry, whether for regional or other purposes. A balance has to be kept between such aids and the principle of free trade in the Community, as it would have to be in relation to any other so-called free trade area. The new regime for regional aids meets this need. It recognises all existing British aids, and makes provision for changes which recognise the need for speed and the fact that national Governments know best the needs of their own countries.

But the Government have never thought it right to export their problems to other areas of the Community which may have equal difficulties. Such action would be inconsistent with our international obligations and with the principles in international Socialism. I would refer noble Lords, who say that we would be more free to run regional and industrial policies outside the Community, to the provisions of the agreements negotiated by the EFTA countries with the EEC. These enshrine the principles of the Treaty of Rome in relation to industrial and regional aids, but they leave the EFTA countries no say in how they are applied.

My Lords, I turn now to the question of the Lomé Convention about which there was a certain exchange at Question Time today. Many noble Lords referred to the Community's policies towards the developing countries and specifically to the Lomé Convention. The Scrutiny Committee have also referred to the Convention in their Sixteenth Report. From the beginning of renegotiation the Government made it crystal clear that the Community needed to adopt a better balanced and more broadly based approach to its relations with the developing world. During renegotiation we pressed for this with considerable success. If, as I expect, we stay in the Community we shall continue to press for this. We played a major part in the negotiations leading up to the Lomé Convention. We took the lead in urging the end of reverse preference, and generally in trying to help make the Convention the liberal and progressive agreement that it undoubtedly is. We certainly could not have done this outside the Community; and renegotiation provides the impetus within the Community.

The noble Baroness, Lady Elles, asked, in effect, whether the Government are delaying ratification of the Lomé Convention, a point echoed by the noble Earl, Lord Cowley, at Question Time today. I can assure the noble Earl, the noble Baroness and the House that this is not so. The text of the agreement is long and no doubt there will be some complicated schedules, in which proper discrimination in favour of the very poorest of these 46 countries is provided for. This will take some time to prepare and to print; but as soon as it is available it will be laid before the House, as before the other place, in the normal fashion prior to ratification. The whole agreement cannot come into effect until all the Member States of the Community and two-thirds of the ACP countries have ratified. But the trade provisions of the agreement, those giving the ACPs free access for their industrial goods and for most of their agricultural products to the entire Community market of some 250 million people, will come into effect on 1st July this year. The Government welcome this approved access for the products of so many developing countries. The Lomé Convention will implement some of the most important recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. It represents a partnership between the Nine and the developing countries of the world which may well prove to be a working model for the United Nations as a whole.

This leads me to the thoughtful and thought-provoking speech made by my noble friend Lord Soper. He was worried, and properly so, that the EEC is in danger of becoming just another super-State pursuing its own selfish interests. Many noble Lords on both sides of the House have been concerned about this possibility. I do not think that this is true. I should like to refer my noble friend to what the Prime Minister said in another place on 18th March, which is quoted in Paragraph 142 of the Renegotiation White Paper. He said: We do not see European unity as some-thing narrow or inward-looking. Britain has her own vital links through the Common-wealth, and in other ways, with other continents. So have other European countries. He went on to say that a Europe that failed to put forward its own economic strength would never have the political influence which he believed it could and should exert within the United Nations, let alone with our Western allies, as a means for effecting a lasting detente between East and West; and, equally, contributing to the solution of the world's North-South problem, and to the needs of the developing world.

I suggest to my noble friend Lord Soper that it may well be that a new injection of British initiative and spirit into the Community by our remaining a Member of it and working within it, as we have proved during the past twelve months we can work, will be not only invaluable but a vital contribution to the kind of progress towards successful co-operation, and, it may be, world authority for which he and I and others in all parts of this House have worked for so long. This is the approach to which the Government are committed. There is close co-operation among the Nine over United Nations matters. It needs to be improved. Britain will be at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference at the end of this month, both in its capacity as a major importer of primary products and as a member of the world's largest consumer of primary products, the EEC.

My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, in what one can only call a model speech with which to introduce a debate of this nature, said yesterday that the Community's necessarily combative attitude towards the United States is now a thing of the past. I should like to say now in relation to the speech of my noble friend Lord Shinwell that I do not think the United States will welcome the idea of indefinitely sheltering under its nuclear umbrella a divided and quarrelling Europe. The United States have always made it clear that it prefers a united Europe with Britain part of it. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor referred, too, to the political consultation procedures in which the Community tries to develop a co-ordinated approach to world problems. There is no doubt that the Community has become, to use the well-worn but still descriptive phrase, more outward-looking, and has lifted its eyes from the necessary but perhaps self-preoccupied process of healing the divisions in Europe to wider world horizons.

A number of noble Lords spoke yesterday about the prospects for Britain should we decide to withdraw from the Community. I agree with much that has been said on this issue by such speakers as my noble friend Lord Gordon-Walker and the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth. I should like to make one or two points myself. First, as the Labour Party Manifesto of February 1974 recognised, we should have to negotiate our withdrawal. We should also have to negotiate alternative trading arrangements, if we could, unless we wished to be treated by the Community like any other third party. Both of these negotiations would be complicated and difficult, and, to say the least, their timing and their content would not be entirely in our own hands. At the moment I shall not go into the question of how strong, or how weak, our bargaining position might be.

Second, we should have to make up our minds about what alternative trading arrangements to seek—not to arrange, but to seek. Some of those who oppose British membership speak as though we would automatically have a free trade relationship with the Community and with EFTA countries after withdrawal. The same people often claim that membership of the Community and therefore, presumably, the degree of the lowering of tariffs so far achieved has been disastrous for our trade. I find it hard to see how they can have it both ways if the alternative is the successful negotiation of another, freer trade area. And if the premise is right about the impact of our present membership of the EEC on our balance of payments, then how much more serious would be the balance against us in an even freer trade area?

The points I should like to make today are that it cannot safely be assumed that the Community would want to negotiate a free trade arrangement with us, or even that we could rejoin EFTA. It is, however, certain that any trading arrangement which could be negotiated would be less favourable to a non-member than to a member of the Community and that, like Norway and Sweden, as part of the arrangement the United Kingdom would have to accept the Community's rules of competition without having any say in what they should be. It is certain that if we rejoined EFTA we should have no preference over the Community in EFTA markets, as we did before entry, because EFTA members are now moving towards free trade with the Community. It is certain that we do a far larger share of our trade with the Community than members of the Community do with us. In these negotiations, therefore, it would be the United Kingdom who was seeking something—and for the third time in five years.

Third, the House should not underestimate the extent of the other problems which leaving the Community would create for us. I am not talking here about the uncertainty and the confidence factor which are mentioned in the White Paper and about the risk of deterioration, for a time at least, both in the level of employment and in the rate of inflation. I am talking about the enormous amount of new legislation that would be required to replace Community legislation after the European Communities Act was repealed. For example, there would be the matter of deciding upon an appropriate agricultural policy for the United Kingdom in a world where food shortages and high prices are more likely than food surpluses and low prices. We could not put back the clock. In any case, our Commonwealth suppliers would not want us to do so. We should have to decide how best to support our own farmers and how best to assure ourselves of security of supply. I suggest that increasingly it is becoming obvious to all of us on both sides of the argument that in relation to food it is not so much the question of costs and prices as the question of availability that is beginning to occupy our minds.

To sum up, I hope that no one will believe that leaving the Community would be an easy option, or that leaving the Community would be a quick operation. I make no comment about certain time-tables which are being offered nowadays. Leaving the Community would involve an enormous amount of time and effort and, no doubt, controversy about the successor arrangement, both national and international. The statement in the White Paper that in the Government's view the consequences of Britain's withdrawal would be adverse is a classic case of moderation of language.

I hope that this discussion of withdrawal will be academic, because I expect and hope that after examining the arguments truly and objectively it will be the decision of our people, as it will be the decision of Parliament, that we should continue our constructive membership of the Community. I know very well that many of your Lordships do not like the idea of a referendum, but we can argue about that on a later occasion. Nevertheless, may I conclude by saying that I strongly endorse the words of the noble Earl, Lord Lytton. Whatever our views may be on the referendum, let us now go out to the country and make sure that it is a conclusive, democratic success.

3.27 p.m.

Lord WIGG rose to move, as an Amendment to the above Motion, to leave out ("approves" and insert ("takes note of"). The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper. Yesterday, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor invited your Lordships' attention to three objectives. The first was how far the renegotiations have succeeded; the second, how far developments in the Community have required reappraisal of the objects of the Community; the third, what developments have occurred in the world outside. As one would expect, his speech was cast in low profile. However, I noticed that he had not been speaking for very long before on the third issue—which, to my mind, is the most important one—


My Lords, if I may intervene, I understand that noble Lords opposite are having difficulty in hearing the noble Lord. I wonder, therefore, whether my noble friend could move back so that he is directly under a microphone.


My Lords, I apologise; I sat in the only place available. I shall start again. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper. I want to begin by referring to the speech of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor in which he set out three objectives. The first, he said, was to ask the question how far renegotiation has been achieved; secondly, how far developments in the Community have altered the situation; thirdly, how far developments in the world outside have materially altered the picture. On the third point—and this, so far as I am concerned, covered the main objection—the noble and learned Lord described the possibility of economic and monetary union as, and I use his words, a dream that is dead and gone. On the issue of renegotiation, which was his first objective, the results were so pitiful that they are virtually unnoticeable. I had the good fortune to broadcast on the day of the Dublin talks and, because my intelligence was fairly good, I managed to describe in advance what would happen: that the Foreign Office would not learn anything particularly new, but that always at the back of their mind would be the great tour de force when Disraeli ordered his train in Berlin. I forecast that before the afternoon was out Mr. Wilson would not be able to order a train but that he would be ordering a boat. This was quite phoney. The arrangements which were reached in Dublin had been agreed beforehand in talks between M. Giscard d'Estaing and Herr Schmidt, and what happened in Dublin was just a little movement of the pieces here and there. Economic and monetary union—a dream that is dead and gone. "Piffling" is the only word to describe the negotiations.

Thirdly, how far has the Community itself been altered? The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said there had been a great change; that we had departed from the centralism based on Brussels, and also that the power had moved from Brussels out to Member States. He assured the country that nothing could ever happen to which a Member State objected. He is a lawyer, I understand, but on the last point I cannot understand why he has not faced up, in his speech yesterday or on any other occasion, to the statements made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, and Lord Justice Scarman. They were repeated again last night by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek. Your Lordships will find them spelled out in Hansard.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. felt that in entering the Common Market we are involving ourselves in legal changes of such magnitude that we have not even begun to apprehend how far they will go. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, said it was like a tide coming up the estuary, and that eventually, almost without anybody noticing, it would find its way into every creek and cranny. So here was a revolution indeed, but the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor passed it by on one side. If he is right—and I am sure he thinks he is—in saying that economic and monetary union is a dream and we can all evaluate negotiation, and if power has passed to the Member States, what are we all arguing about? What is all the discussion about? Because this great revolution which was going to transform the political and economic opportunities of this country is—what? It is at best a glorified free trade area. Yet we have managed to elevate it almost to the level of a dispute about religion, the most divisive of all occupations.

In carrying through this process of confrontation Mr. Heath has personally paid the price. He found himself in a cul-de-sac. There is only one end for politicians who find themselves in cul-de-sacs—Barbados or the Back-Benches. Mr. Wilson should be warned, because he also is wandering into a cul-de-sac, for at the end of the day this matter is not going to be decided by your Lordships' House or by another place, in whatever circumstances may eventuate; it is not even going to be decided by the referendum. Here, again, I am sure this will be a disappointment to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor because he forecast that this would be the final decision.

But the final decision will be taken by the British people, not in the light of the distortions of the media—and there are plenty of them—or by the distortions of politicians (and, again, there are plenty; ask Mr. Heath, my Lords, about his broadcast last week!) but by the test of reality. How far does our entry into the Common Market deliver the goods? How far is there a price to be paid? How far are we prepared to go? In my judgment, the price paid is already considerable. It is a popular doctrine— and I am sure it will be popular among the newer Members of the Labour Party esconced on these Benches, and certainly on the other side of the House— that inflation is caused by excessive wage demands. Of course, they represent a factor in the situation; no one could deny that. But would any noble Lord on either side of the House deny that decimalisation has entered into inflation?

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to intervene, I would deny it. If one plots inflation for the last 100 years it is a smooth curve, and one could not detect from the shape of the curve where decimalisation took place.


All I would say to the noble Earl is this: presumably he is one of those fortunate persons who do not have to worry about the lowest coin in the currency. But the fact is that the lowest value of any coin has been lifted from 1d. to 2½d. The halfpenny is not really in practical use. It is not any use going back over the old ground of decimalisation, I quite agree; but I will be prepared to do so. If the noble Earl can find a platform on the issue of the Common Market I will share it with him and we shall hammer out not only the swindle of decimalisation but the impending swindle of metrication, too.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, if the noble Lord will give way—


One second: both factors enter into the calculations. Without any shadow of doubt, decimalisation is a swindle; but whether or not I speak the truth, if the noble Earl goes out into the highways and byways he will find a large number of our fellow countrymen and women who believe just that.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I do not need a platform. I have the Floor of your Lordships' House. I do not even need that: I would refer your Lordships to the debates in Hansard when this matter was flogged out years ago. The halfpenny was put into the currency originally to provide for the situation we have reached today, where it has lost its purchasing power and could be demonetised without any serious inconvenience to anybody.


My Lords, that is neither here nor there. The point is that when the shopkeeper wants to pass on an increase in price, the lowest increase he can pass on is not a penny or part of a penny, but 2½d. This has had a profound effect upon purchasing power and, indeed, in my judgment, is one of the major factors.

I do not want to speak overmuch on the economic question, though I should like to make this point. On the question of the price of food, we were told by many noble Lords yesterday—and indeed we are constantly being told by many people—that the era of cheap food has gone. I quite agree. Food will never be as cheap again as it has been. But that is not the issue. The issue is whether the food that you buy is being bought in the cheapest market that now exists. Again, on this issue I am quite willing to take on the noble Earl regarding decimalisation and metrication and make a similar offer on the question of cheap food. I read with great interest the pamphlet written by Sir John Winnifrith, who was the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. I think he makes out the case that so far as food is concerned our entry into the Common Market is a swindle.

I should like to draw attention to what happens to this pamphlet when it breaks the surface. Sir John Winnifrith is described not as the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture but as a former civil servant. What he said is not quoted, but a spokesman for the pro-Common Market faction is then quoted as denying something that he said, without saying what in fact he did say. Then Mrs. Thatcher is given the opportunity to explain how little she knows about the subject, and she is juxtaposed with Sir John Winnifrith. In other words, the whole of the media—television, radio and the Press—studiously ignore and fail to explain to the British people how entry into the Common Market can be expressed in terms of increased food prices, in just the same way, following in the path of decimalisation. My point in relation to the Common Market is one that I have had for many years. My attitude has always been to keep the options open-ended. I am in favour of collaboration with every country with whom one can collaborate, but on terms which give due regard to the interests of this country.

I do not believe the truth has been told about the real issue in relation to the Common Market. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. got very near it yesterday, and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, certainly did. The noble Lord, Lord Home, spoke about the services of General de Gaulle and Herr Adenauer in recognising that ancient enmities must die and these two countries must work together. But I would say this to the noble Lord, Lord Home. That is not all the story. If he would be good enough to go back and read Lord Moran's Diary for 1st October, 1954, he would see a highly interesting account of the discussions in Paris when Sir Anthony Eden (as he then was) committed this country to maintain four divisions on the European landmass; and Mr. Churchill recalls that he did not believe a word of it. It was all nonsense and it did not matter. But yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, a very distinguished defence correspondent, got very near the bone in all the things that were said. He really knows what it is about.

If noble Lords will turn to column 676 of yesterday's Official Report they will see he is talking there about the possibility of a nuclear deterrent. He says that if we go into the Common Market this will of course alter our own procurement policies, our own strategic doctrine ". Of course, that is what it has always been about. The arguments about so much on the price of food or the quite stupid non-sense of decimalisation—this is all airy fairy stuff; this is stuff for children. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, knows what it is about. So does the noble Lord, Lord Home. So does Mr. Heath.

I quote from Mr. Edward Heath's updated version of the Godkin Lecture. What is he saying? In my Godkin Lectures I was led by the train of thought to propose that the British and French nuclear forces should be pooled to form a joint deterrent which would be held in trust for Europe. That is what the argument is about. This is what the argument has aways been about. The Customs Union, the Free Trade Area—piffling nonsense! If that was the issue I would not walk down the road to cast my vote for this or for that. But Lord Chalfont knows just the price that has to be paid. Have noble Lords forgotten the Non-Proliferation Treaty which was concluded in 1968? It has never yet been ratified by the three Powers who were defeated in the last war. They have signed, but they have not ratified.

One of the reasons why I have pressed in your Lordships' House on two occasions and outside for the publication of the history of the negotiations concerning the Common Market written by Sir Con O'Neill is that I do not believe this country has ever been told the truth. I am not even sure that Mr. Heath's colleagues were told the truth. Did he or did he not enter into any undertaking in his talks with M. Pompidou that involved this country in the remote possibility, the wild fantastic possibility, of there being a nuclear deterrent here which would be available to counteract the nuclear capacity of the Soviet Union? I have made no progress in getting that account, paid for from public funds and in the files of the Foreign Office, on the table. But what we do know is that 30 years afterwards there was a great deal in the Foreign Office files which, had it been known in 1938 or 1939, would have radically altered the foreign and defence policy of this country. At the present moment, we also know, because M. Thieu has come out and told the story, that he was given secret undertakings by Mr. Nixon which he, poor man, believed. All I am asking for, all I have asked for, is that, if the people of this country are to decide in a few days whether they stay in or whether they come out of the Common Market, all the cards should be on the table, face up.

I believe that the whole tragic business has been a mistake. I think that Mr. Heath is by nature a confronter. He was when he was a Minister. When he was, I think, President of the Board of Trade or Minister for Trade he took his Party to the edge of defeat on retail price maintenance. He secured his own Party's defeat in the February 1974 Election by confronting the trade unions—of course actively advised by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, which in itself is a guarantee of failure. Mr. Heath has done it, and he has done it again over the Common Market. If the Common Market is to succeed, whether or not Mr. Heath likes it, whether or not your Lordships like it, you must get, by whatever method, the full-hearted consent of the British people.

What you have succeeded in doing, what successive Governments have succeeded in doing, is guaranteeing that the most precious asset this country has, a sense of national unity, has been wantonly thrown on one side. Whatever the result, yes, the Labour Party is split. That is no cause for tears on the other side of the House. But the country will be split, too. If noble Lords opposite think, "Ah well, this is a price worth paying. The Labour Party is in the doldrums", I would say that I am old enough to remember 1931 when only a handful of Labour Members could stand up to the same kind of raging campaign that is being waged at the present time. I can 'well imagine those hundreds of new Conservative Members rubbing their hands and saying, "That's dead. That is all finished. That's polished them off!" Yet within a decade they were on their hands and knees begging the Labour Party to come in and help to pull them out of the mess they had created.

Who can forget during those years the challenging words of the late Sir Samuel Hoare in speaking about India. He said proudly that the dogs bark but the caravan marches on. Where has it marched to? Into the bog of political oblivion. That is what is going to happen again. This is why I put down my Amendment, my Lords. I resigned from the "Get Britain Out Campaign" movement on the day that the relevant White Paper came out. I resigned not because I changed my views but because I am a member of the Labour Party and I was quite prepared until the Labour Party took up the cudgels to speak with anyone who would do so in order to try to educate public opinion in the realities of the situation. I do not assert that I was right. I do not assert that I am right now. The noble Earl interrupted me on decimalisation, with the approval of noble Lords opposite. Maybe I am wrong; but the public should decide. That is why I say to the noble Earl: "Let us find a suitable platform", and let him come and give me a good hiding. I shall not mind.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, we have a platform. It is here.


My Lords, I do not have a platform here at all. This is a fifth-form debating society without power.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he could, for the rest of his speech, try to forget that he is talking to "a load of rubbish"?


Well, my Lords, that is all right. If I am talking for a "load of rubbish" the obvious thing to do is to demonstrate that. You do not turn what I say into a load of rubbish merely by so describing it. Demonstrate where I am wrong. I have heard this before. I have heard this on many occasions and I have lived long enough to be proved right. I believe that I shall be proved right again. That is why I put down this Amendment in the way that I have, in the form that I have—because I believe that some effort should be made to try to solve the question of national unity. It seems to me that all Parties would be served if, instead of this House dividing on the issue that they approve, they would accept here that the House take note; because the debate will go from here out into the country. There it will take place and what the results will be we are forecasting.

May I turn to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for a moment again. There is one thing about his speech last night which has been repeated. I address him only because he happens to be here, but many speakers on the other side have said the same thing. They all say it is extraordinary that the overwhelming majority of those who are against the Common Market happen to be associated with the Left Wing. Does he not see that there is an easy retort? I could as easily say to him, does he not observe that those who support the Common Market are for the most part those who wanted appeasement before the war, including the noble Lord, Lord Home, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. I do not doubt for one moment that they have learned from the folly of their mistakes, but the kind of argument by association is not an honest argument at all. I would further remind them that when the chips were down during the war every resistance movement in Europe had its nucleus of Communists, and therefore if—


My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt him for one moment, he can hardly accuse me of having advocated appeasement before the war.


My Lords, I did not mention the noble Lord, Lord Boothby; I referred to the noble Lord, Lord Home, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, and most of those on the other side of the House. The number of exceptions in the Tory Party who opposed the Chamberlain policy was miniscule when the chips were down at the time of Munich. The records are there and it is beyond any possibility of doubt. What I am saying is that the argument by association does not get us anywhere nor, for example, does the assinine interruption that I got a few minutes ago. If I am talking rubbish, demonstrate it.

A Noble Lord

The noble Lord is demonstrating it himself.


My Lords, I am sorry that I have detained the House for so long, but I have been interrupted on a number of occasions and I have endeavoured to give way. All I shall say now is this: just for a moment let us all strip off our masks and get our minds clear and face the cold hard facts of life in Europe today, as it is and as it will remain for the rest of this century. Let us recognise that for the moment the guardianship of peace in Europe and the world as a whole rests with the Soviet Union and with the United States of America. Both countries recognise it and accept this responsibility. If we ignore that fact and we play the dangerous game which I believe is the undercover game that we are now entering into, the results may well be disastrous, because I believe that the present division of Europe has been imposed and is made plain by the might of the Soviet Union. Germany is not a threat and will not be a threat as long as it is divided, and the humbug of it all is that everybody in this House knows it to be true that a reunification of Germany has always meant the same thing—reunification under pressure followed once again by a European war. The safeguarding of ourselves and our children depends upon that division remaining. It is humbug to pretend anything else. To elevate this argument without bringing out into the open what the argument is about is pure humbug.

It is for that reason that, once again, I say to noble Lords on all sides of the House that what matters, the one thing that has always mattered and what has stood this country in good stead, has been its sense of national unity. That has been thrown away: at some time and in some place somebody will have to start to build it again and I believe that if my Amendment were accepted we should be starting now. I beg to move.

Moved, as an Amendment to the above Motion, to leave out ('" approves") and insert (" takes note of ").—(Lord Wigg.)

The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Elwyn-Jones)

My Lords, the original Motion was, 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, since when an Amendment has been moved to leave out ("approves") and insert ("takes note of").

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, I have listened with interest to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, which, if I may say so, was predictable and somewhat negative. I am confident, however, that your Lordships will wish to approve the White Paper and not merely take note of it. If I may be permitted one comment on the noble Lord's speech, I wonder whether he has forgotten that he was the coauthor of a Keep Left pamphlet in 1947 together, strangely enough, with Mr. Michael Foot and Mr. Mikardo, advocating federation in Europe. But that, my Lords, to be fair, was when he was anticipating that the whole of Europe would become socialist, and presumably would stay that way. But I would remind the noble Lord that federation is federation, and I myself do not happen to be a federalist. Perhaps when he exercises his right to reply he will explain why he has changed his views.

In such a wide-ranging debate, in which so much has been so well said from both points of view, I think perhaps it will be most helpful if I stick to two subjects that I know a little about, based on the 18 months when I was a joint deputy leader of the Conservative delegation in the European Parliament. Those two subjects are political co-operation and sovereignty, about which a certain amount has already been said. I will leave aside the overwhelming long-term advantages as I see them if we stay in, in terms of our standard of living and our ability to create new wealth, without which we shall not be able to afford to look after the sick and the needy.

My noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel stressed that the political aspects of the Community are in many ways the most important of all, and one really has only to read some of the speeches of the founding fathers of the Community to be quite certain that the tap root of the Community is political. I think it is really a misnomer to speak of a European Economic Community, and even more of a misnomer to speak of a Common Market. The European Parliament, on the advice of its Political Committee, has clearly stated its view that a foreign policy for the Community cannot be developed without taking into full account its defence implications. I agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Home, that there is a real need for the EEC to underpin NATO, and of course Western European Union as well.

There is however nothing, as we all know, in the Treaties about defence but there is a very significant passage in the Statement on the European identity which was agreed in Copenhagen in December 1973. This is just a very brief extract from it: The Nine, one of whose essential aims is to maintain peace, will never succeed in doing so if they neglect their own security. … in the light of the relative military vulnerability of Europe, the Europeans should, if they wish to preserve their independence, hold to their commitments and make constant efforts to ensure that they have adequate means of defence at their disposal. My Lords, that is the first time, so far as I know, that the word "defence" occurs in any Council of Ministers or Commission document, and it certainly does not appear in the Treaties. In fact I think there is more co-operation behind the scenes where defence is concerned— even with France—than is generally realised. We have been told in this debate that the Community is speaking through one spokesman in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, and incidentally at that conference they are discussing what I call "confidence building measures". They have worked closely together in the Mutual Force Reduction Conference in Vienna, and within the Eurogroup and outside it as well. I myself believe that there is a far better prospect of a satisfactory détente with the Soviet Union if the European democracies speak from strength and with one voice. Quite a lot is also going on behind the scenes in the way of discussions about closer collaboration in arms research, arms production and arms procurement—something which I think is long overdue and regarding which the Community countries could well co-operate much more closely.

My Lords, the more closely the Community countries work together in the field of foreign affairs and defence, the less likelihood there is of the United States withdrawing again into isolation, which is a definite possibility. If they were to do so it goes without saying that the reliance we could place on the nuclear deterrent would be very seriously eroded. I would go further by saying that there is a real need for political co-operation in the Community. This is underscored by the question mark over the ability and the will of the United States to carry the immense burdens that fell to them at the end of the war when Europe was entering a long period of convalescence and when our recovery began. Without Marshall Aid, the vital blood transfusion, we might still be on our sick beds. Since then, as the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, reminded us, successive American Administrations have urged the need for closer political unity in Europe and have always regarded Britain as an essential partner. What a tragedy it would be if the Community, already an economic giant doing 40 per cent. of world trade, failed to achieve its full political potential!

A Noble Lord

Would the noble Lord allow me—


With great respect, I would prefer not to give way because I do not want to speak for too long. I think myself that the prospect of a genuine Atlantic alliance in some form will be far greater if there is close political unity and co-operation between the European democracies. An Atlantic alliance, I think, is something which will follow that and cannot precede it. Already far more progress has been made towards this political unity than many will have noticed. I have already mentioned the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and also the Middle East where the Community had great difficulty in threshing out a common policy but eventually arrived at one, a policy intended to bring forward the day when there can be an honourable and guaranteed peace in the Middle East.

We all know about the Common Commercial Policy and the trade agreements signed with nearly 90 countries by the Community. We have all heard about the Lomé Convention which breaks entirely new ground in terms of trade and aid for developing countries. I was very interested to read in yesterday's newspaper that Mr. Arnold Smith, Commonwealth Secretary-General, said that the British Commonwealth lacked one thing, the back-up strength of a super Power, a role which he felt the European Community, with Britain as a member, could well fill. There is broad agreement between the Nine on the right approach to the forthcoming GATT renegotiations. All this I should think can be described as solid progress in the right direction. I would, however, make one criticism. I should very much like to see the Davignon procedure brought within the ambit of other Community institutions, and the need for a political secretariat accepted and acted upon so that they can do away with the present ad hoc arrangements.

My Lords, I believe that one of the most poignant lessons of history is that whenever Britain has turned her back on her Continental neighbours the mainland has been dominated by a hostile Power and we have found ourselves in dire trouble. In my view, therefore, the case for closer political co-operation is unanswerable, and Britain must surely have a leading role to play not only because of her Commonwealth connections, but because of her traditional good understanding with the United States. I am convinced, therefore, that we can co-operate more closely and more effectively if all Member Governments realise the importance of it. In other words, I would say that we have a great deal more sovereignty as members of the Community than if we turned our backs on Europe and tried to go it alone.

In the remaining minutes I want to say something about my other main subject, sovereignty at home. There have been many attempts to define what we mean by sovereignty. I do not suppose my definition is much better than anyone else's, but what I mean by it is the ability of the British Government to have real freedom of action at home in the best unselfish interests of the British people. The propaganda of the anti-Marketeers that Britain can somehow be dragged, kicking and screaming, into a European Federation really bears no relation to the truth. It completely ignores the Luxembourg compromise to which the noble and learned Lord on the Wool-sack drew attention when he opened the debate with such an excellent speech. This compromise, is binding on the three new members as much as on the original Six. I quote from the Luxembourg compromise these words: When the very important interests of one or more partners are at stake no decision can be reached unless there is unanimous agreement.

Only one modification has been made to the Luxembourg compromise. That was in Luxembourg last June, when all Nine countries agreed that they would use the abstension procedure as often as possible in order not to block decisions favoured by a clear majority. The anti-Marketeers' propaganda ignores, too, the pre-legislative, consultative function of the European Parliament and its Committees of which, as I have told your Lordships, I have some experience. The Parliament and its Committees have what I can best call a running dialogue with the Commission, and this is something which is greatly valued by both. Furthermore, it will not be long before the Parliament has real powers, for instance over the Community's own resources, the Community's Budget; nor long before there will be direct elections, a question to which most searching and detailed thought will soon have to be given.

We have, as we well know, a Scrutiny Committee of both Houses—I wish they could work together—and they have similar opportunities of seeing draft legislation. There are many other checks and controls which ensure that the Community never rides roughshod over the interests of any Member country in matters large or small. In short, I think we are inclined to exaggerate the practical influence and control that another place exercises over the Executive in this country, even though in theory it is absolute. In contrast, the powers of the European Parliament and all the other Community and national bodies concerned with EEC legislation, to influence and control the Council of Ministers, where the real power resides, or the Commission, to which clearly defined powers have been delegated, though in theory most unimpressive, are in practice pragmatic and highly effective. I agree with what my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir said about this.

Finally, my Lords, under this heading of sovereignty there is the much misunderstood and often misrepresented question of harmonisation. Let us be clear that the idea of harmonisation for its own sake has been dropped completely. I think that the British delegation—Conservatives, Liberals and Independent colleagues from your Lordships' House—had a part to play in that. As I understand it, the sole object of harmonisation of Community law and standards is to widen consumer choice by removing restrictions which prevent the free flow of trade. Knocking down the non-tariff barriers is just as important as getting rid of the tariffs themselves, as we will by the end of 1976 if we stay in the Community. There is not one whit of a threat here to British sovereignty, and the quicker we can harmonise the safety and the health standards and agree on the highest possible professional standards, the better.

Where domestic sovereignty is concerned, therefore, for all these reasons, I say with confidence that future British Governments, the British Parliament and thus the British people will enjoy more and not less real sovereignty at home if we stay in the Community instead of breaking our pledged word and pulling out—which is something, incidentally, which the anti-Marketeers in 1972 made a great point of saying would be absolutely impossible. In their view, if we joined we should be locked in for ever. They seem to have forgotten that.

My Lords, to sum up my two main points, I would say that in terms of our influence abroad, in terms of our freedom of action at home, everything, but everything, seems to me to point to the need for Britain to stay in the Community. Therefore, I conclude by simply saying that the grave responsibility which the referendum places on the British people is completely without precedent. Those with firm convictions either way are not afraid of voting, and know how to vote. But I believe the great majority of people in this country are hesitant. They find the spate of so-called facts and figures confusing and contradictory; indeed, I do myself. They have little confidence in their knowledge, and some of them will be voting entirely by intuition. It is to these people that we must explain that the very existence of the Community, and Britain's membership of it, rests on an act of faith. No one can say how it will develop, or even be sure it will survive. We know that the chance of its success in setting an example to the world as a voluntary political partnership between nations, with the bright prospect this offers to future generations, depends on the political will and purpose of all members of the Community, including Britain. If we can get this message across far and wide, in every corner of the country, I am confident there will be a full-hearted response from the British people and that the answer to the referendum will be a resounding "Yes".

4.12 p.m.


My Lords, I am delighted to follow the excellent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood. I am particularly delighted because he has not touched on any of the points that I am going to raise, which is most unusual in a debate of this sort. I have been a pro-European for a long time. I fought the Election of 1959 largely on it, when my Tory opponent was against it. I may add that I was thoroughly beaten for my pains. However, I think the case has been made. This debate has been very worth while. I do not think we can state too often what we feel to be a good thing. The case has been made over and over again by those who have said that if old Christendom cannot unite, then what hope is there for World Government of any sort? This is the basis of the case, and it is the basis of my support for the European movement.

However, I should like to talk only about what is my main interest. I am a farmer. I have a good farm, and can survive under any agriculture policy. This is fortunate, when one considers some of the agricultural policies we have had and their results. Agriculture and the provision of food for the people is the main purpose of Government. The only reason why this has not been the case during the past hundred years or so is that man has been very successful in raping the built-up fertility of the prairies. In an excellent speech yesterday, the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, analysed the peculiar circumstances of the last hundred years. Unfortunately, simply because the Vanderbilts built the railways and opened up the ports of the great West, an accumulated fertility of thousands of years of grazing was exported to this country. As a result, generations of people have come to think there is an inexhaustible supply of cheap food for the industrial population of this country from virgin lands across the seas, produced by rather miserable peasants. It is true that this was the case for about a hundred years, but it is no longer so.

My Lords, there are 100 million more people in the world every year. Every year since the end of the war, the world has been producing and consuming an extra 25 million tons of cereals. We are coming to a hiatus in the amount of extra food which can be produced by new techniques and by the application of fertilisers. There is now a world shortage of fertilisers. We must think again. We must push home the point made by the Government, that the previous period is no longer with us. We have seen the clever manoeuvre—and this was a great manoeuvre—of the Russians in buying up wheat under the noses of the American Government, but this was a symptom, not a cause, of the shortage.

There are a great many people who still think that throughout the world our importers can find food and bring it to this country, at a cheaper price than it can be produced at home. This attitude has done a great deal of harm. I should like to give your Lordships some figures from 1st March from a survey done over 35 grain-producing States in the United States. We see that the intention is that farmers will plant 75.3 million acres of maize; last year they planted 77.4 million acres. There is to be an intended increase of 3 per cent. for wheat. Spring wheat, which is not the major crop but is very important, is down by 9 per cent. It is intended that the planting of soya beans will be up by 6 per cent. These figures show there is no significant difference in the planting intentions of the farmers of the North American sub-continent. That sub-continent is, and has been, the granary of the West. They were the people who held enormous stores of wheat and coarse grains. For many years a surplus existed in these commodities, and by this means the grain price was kept down and kept level. But the surplus is not there any more. In the United States, the planting intentions this year can be totally frustrated by weather. This is one of the facts of farming.

As one goes about this country—and by "this country" I mean England and that land so far to the North, Scotland, although not so much there—one finds great areas of arable ground unsown, particularly as regards spring wheat. The same weather conditions pertain across North-Western Europe. If I am any judge, we shall have exactly the same result as we had in 1947 when planting was late; at the end of the growing season there was something like a 15 per cent. drop in the total crop. All this is very serious when one considers what should be Government policy.

That brings me back to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, yesterday; that is, that one must plan for a surplus. The noble Lord pointed out clearly how small these surpluses were. One hears talk of a beef mountain, but at best it was only five days' supply for the Continent of Europe. We cannot possibly denigrate the CAP because of these small surpluses, or because of ridiculous little regulations like having to skin the head of a sheep before you can can export it. These are all small things that can be got over. What I think we and the Government must realise is that the CAP, with all its faults, has been successful in the main objective.

If the Common Market had not kept up the high production of its peasant farmers, and its good ones, then how much dearer, how much scarcer, would food have been on the world market last year? The price might have gone up by another 50 per cent., because one of the facts of agricultural trading is that a 5 per cent. deficiency can mean a 50 to 60 per cent. rise in price. Therefore, I believe we must realise that, because of the position in this country where we import half our food, we must be in Europe. In Europe we can at least be part of a major unit, which can produce the whole of its food and can at least feed its people. The Government must also recognise that the principle of providing for surplus must be accepted.

They have to try to restore the confidence of the British farmer in their intentions. They have gone some way towards it, but confidence is not there yet and there are several reasons for it. One, of course, is that though the present price of beef is a great improvement, it is not yet profitable to take beef right through at the new prices in this country, with our rising costs. At the same time, the manoeuvre of the green pound—that is quite simply a device for saying that the pound is worth more than it is—is keeping farmers' prices down, and it shakes their confidence considerably.

I should here like to refer to the White Paper, in which the Prime Minister says: On the supply of food at fair prices, in the three CAP price settlements since the Government took office the Minister of Agriculture has succeeded in keeping price increases below cost increases, and thus in real terms reinforcing the downward trend in CAP prices. This would benefit consumers and taxpayers and also is designed to reduce the risk of surpluses. If he had said "to keep surpluses as low as are necessary", I think I would appreciate that the Government were trying. But I think there is still a residue of the old thinking that we can get food cheaply from the rest of the world. This is no longer true.

I should like to give one or two figures on the position of farming in this country. The forecast for 1974–75 of the farming net income in this country is £1,133 million. This is a drop of 12 per cent., and in real terms, taking account of inflation, it is 26 per cent. In my view, this is a serious situation in an industry which the Government are hoping, according to a later White Paper, will be able to save them £530 million worth of additional imports by 1980. Again, the Government have at least to be prepared to pay a small percentage only below the European prices, if they are to get the sort of production they need. Costs in farming over the past two years have risen phenomenally. The cost of feed has risen by 92 per cent., of fuel by 62 per cent. of fertiliser by 65 per cent. and of labour by 52 per cent., and farm workers are not yet rewarded according to the work they do compared to other people in the community.

I think the Government have to accept the CAP. I do not say that we do not have to watch surpluses, that we do not have to adjust prices and try to control them to a reasonable amount, but I believe the Government have to accept that the Common Agricultural Policy has succeeded, and that whatever adjustments we make we must follow this policy. We must get the maximum amount of production from Europe and from Britain. I think they must realise that to pennypinch and to pare at this time will not achieve their objective.

I understand that the Egyptians a long time ago had a Jewish financial and general adviser called Joseph—they might be better with one again today—and this chap said to Pharaoh that he had a great dream that there would be seven fat years and then seven lean years. Pharaoh was wise enough to store the corn in the seven fat years. He did not say to Joseph after two good years, "Look here, we will cut the peasants back a bit and do with this"; he accepted the surplus and stored it for the bad times. I feel that in staying in Europe the Government should accept that they must do the same.

4.26 p.m.


My Lords. I intervene in this debate to say a few words about the trans-Atlantic aspects of this matter, and in particular about its bearing on our relations with the United States. Perhaps I should declare an interest because I have spent most of my working life in one part or another of this field. We have heard a good deal in this debate about the openly declared attitude of the members of the Commonwealth, including, of course, Canada, in favour of our remaining in the EEC. But the American aspect of the theme has been rather muted, at least until the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, spoke just now. In his Statement in another place on 18th March the Prime Minister said that relations with the United States were closer and better than they had ever been at ay time, certainly in this generation. I am sure that all, except people— if indeed such there be—who do not value Anglo-American friendship, who heard that Statement were very glad to hear it. It is certainly not my wish or intention to question it, though I must say that as a veteran of Ministerial visits to Washington I have never known a Minister of any political persuasion who did not come away from his talks with the feeling that Anglo-American relations had never been better, either in general or in his particular field.

But I am sure that the Prime Minister was well aware that a principal reason for the good state of our relations with the United States Government is that we are members of the European Communities. The Prime Minister went on to say that nothing in his decision to recommend continued membership would in any way weaken the Anglo-American relationship. That was a mild negative statement. The stark positive truth is that the only foreseeable event which could weaken the relationship would be our withdrawal from the EEC.

There are two aspects of this question, the economic and the political. On the material side, the United Kingdom has profited greatly since the war from direct American investment in our industry. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, spoke very effectively about this in this House last week, especially in relation to Scotland. Much of this investment has taken place because the United Kingdom was a favourable base for trading with Europe. But withdrawal from the EEC will not only remove any further incentive to direct investment, but will constitute an incentive to disinvest and move production elsewhere.

On the trade side the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Radcliffe, in his notable maiden speech yesterday, pointed out how British trade with the United States has fallen in recent years and how difficult it would be to recover it. If we were now to withdraw, this trade would fall further without prospect of recovery, for we would be at a competitive disadvantage with the Common Market countries, and we should lose the power of the collective negotiating muscle which the Community possesses in its difficult commercial discussions with the United States.

But the major point is the political one. As noble Lords have observed this afternoon, the United States has encouraged the development of the European Communities and British membership of them for political and strategic reasons, and has accepted some economic disadvantage to itself in the interest of seeing a strong and united Europe. Meanwhile, within the Anglo-American relationship itself, our political influence has steadily and inevitably declined in phase with the decline of our military and economic power and our withdrawal from overseas commitments.

The noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, said yesterday that we could no longer exert a real influence on American policy. Whether or not that is wholly true at the moment, I am sure that in the future the only way we shall be able to influence it is as a member of the EEC and in concert with our European partners. I do not say that Anglo-American relations will become bad if we withdraw, only that reality will soon evaporate from them. At the popular level most Americans will continue to value our shared heritage of history and culture, and most will entertain friendly and sympathetic feelings towards this country. But if we wish the relationships between our two Governments to be—and I deliberately use an Americanism— "meaningful"; if we wish them to have substance and contact; if we wish to be consulted on major international political and strategic questions and play a prominent part in Western defence; if we look for continued American support for our policies, then these objectives will be secured only by remaining a member of the European Communities. Personally, I hope that I shall not see the day when Anglo-American relations are reduced and confined to the level of sentiment and nostalgia. It is for this special reason, among many other more general considerations, that I shall support this Motion.

4.34 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that I would carry the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, if nobody else, with me in saying that it was always a piece of conventional wisdom that Foreign Secretaries should not speak until they had heard the advice of the appropriate Ambassador. On the other hand, one always had to be quite clear that one should be sure that he had not "gone native" in the course of representing us over there. I listened with great interest to the noble Lord who has just sat down, although I shall have maybe a somewhat slightly different gloss to put on something that he said.

My claim, if anyone should have to have one in this House for imposing oneself on your Lordships, is of course the fact that I was the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary in 1967 who actually placed the application to join the European Economic Community on the table at the Hague by something of a bit of sleight of hand, because we actually got it there at WEU and not at the EEC. Because I did that, it seemed to me that there are some pieces of history which, especially for the benefit of my colleagues on this side of the House, might be recalled.

I should like to recall the degree of commitment which the Labour Government of that day, and the Labour Parliamentary Party of that day, made. I have been looking again at the actual statement I made, or was authorised to make, at the Hague in July 1967, every single word of which—I repeat, "every single word of which"—was approved by all my Cabinet colleagues in almost interminable meetings. We were all committed to every word in that statement, and that includes very many Members of the present Cabinet who seem to be having a little difficulty in being as "pro" now as they were in 1967.

I have also refreshed my memory of the speeches which the then Prime Minister and I, as Foreign Secretary, made. It is rather interesting to recall— and my colleagues who were then at the Foreign Office, and the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, in particular, will remember this—that there was an awful period when we ware frightfully afraid that if we were not careful, the then Prime Minister, who is of course the present Prime Minister, would have given the whole of our position away, and we were finding ourselves trying to restrain him from getting overly enthusiastic.

The tabling of the application followed a tour which the then, and the present, Prime Minister and I made to every single capital of the Six. We came to the view that there were certain things that needed to be settled before we entered. There were many other things that could be settled after we had entered. This is relevant history as it refers to the renegotiation, because in fact the renegotiation has been mainly, if not wholly, about the things that we then decided we were ready to leave for negotiation after we entered. I think it is fair that I should say—I have said it before and it will stand repeating—that the terms which Mr. Heath negotiated on the main issues which we then decided in 1967 should be settled before we entered, were within the negotiating brief which we gave to our people who were to negotiate. They were within our minimum and our maximum position, and anyone who pretends otherwise is in fact misrepresenting the situation, and too many of us know what it then was.

If the Government Ministers today find it easier to recommend so many years later what we were then prepared to recommend, but to do it on the basis of there having been a renegotiation, well, that is O.K. with me. But I cannot falsify the record and nor would I if I were still the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, as maybe I should have been had not my ungrateful constituents in Belper so summarily dismissed me. So we now have what one can only call a tepid majority of the Cabinet finding its way back to where we were very firmly and very strongly a number of years ago.

I understand from the newspapers, most of which I read—not all of which I believe unless what I read is agreeable, but which I read in such detail if it looks reasonably likely to be accurate— that the Leader of the other place said yesterday to the Parliamentary Labour Party that he was only marginally in favour of going in. The Prime Minister seems to be keeping a fairly low profile. I shall be very impressed when I see the Prime Minister in the Albert Hall or Trafalgar Square saying what he said in 1967 and later, when he and I together fought against those who disagreed in persuading the then Cabinet to make a firm recommendation to Parliament. When I see him doing this in the Albert Hall or Trafalgar Square, he may take it that I shall be somewhere near by. Not as somebody once said to Mr. Ernest Bevin, "I shall be behind you", to which he replied "Not too close, I hope". I promise to be either in front or alongside the Prime Minister.

But we have a tepid majority, and for that, praise be to God! All I can say about it is that it has been a terrible waste of time for this country, for Europe and also—for a reason which I shall discuss in a moment which will support what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said last night—some waste for the world. We have had to hold up many developments because other people did not know where we should finally be and therefore did nor know what our final contribution, and that of other people, would be.

I shall state my views about the referendum as my speech gathers momentum. I am totally and wholly opposed to the measure. If I could find enough Members of this House to join with me, I would, despite everything, try to stop the referendum. As the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, said yesterday when the argument about the EEC is long since forgotten, we shall live with the consequences of the introduction of this referendum into our Constitution. You cannot make a referendum and a Parliamentary democracy fit. You can make it fit with a number of other forms of Government, but not with a Parliamentary democracy. The Prime Minister's argument that this is a "very unique" occasion—I like the introduction of the word "very" before "unique": what can be less than "very unique"?—just will not hold.

A unique occasion was 3rd September 1939. If we had had a referendum on 2nd September 1939 we would not be sitting in this House today. We would not have our Parliamentary democracy. It is a very bad thing. A few of us know —and I mean know, not suspect—the manoeuvres that went on in order to solve a temporary political problem, know how wrong it is to inflict this referendum on a nation for all time, just because it was thought an easier way of accommodating a few people whom one could have met head-on and demolished without overly much trouble. We must face the position. If enough noble Lords will join with me next week, we can hold up the referendum. The nearer we push the issue to the point where the Government will have to hold a General Election, so much the better; not that I want the Government to be defeated. There is nobody in the entire country who would prefer what "they" could offer over there to whatever it is we are offering here. Someone said we were to descend into a period of mediocrity. Descend? We are there! As somebody just said, it is a responsibility that the Government will not accept, and will not allow Parliament to accept, and in the ancient language, "We the tailors of Tooley Street" must take over and do it for them.

Let me now briefly state the arguments. I agree again with the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, although I do not want everyone to believe that our policies were wholly the same—there were many differences—but I agreed with him when he said yesterday that political consideration is overwhelming. Anybody who cannot in all conscience accept that —and I can understand those who cannot—must be against. In the long term, or even in the medium term, we are not arguing about the price of butter or beef. We are really determining the kind of political role which we see for this nation and for the Continent, of which we are part. It is the political consideration, which includes foreign policy and defence, and which, if the Lord Chairman will let me say, could at the end of the road include some form of federalism or confederalism. It is that on which we embark when we involve ourselves in a larger estate.

But in dealing with some arguments outlined yesterday, first let me tackle the so-called economic arguments—food prices. Anybody can prove anything. One can, of course, show that food prices have increased since we joined the Common Market. One can also prove that most murderers are male and wear trousers. But it does not necessarily follow that food prices have gone up because we joined the Common Market, or that if we all wore skirts and made out we were females there would be no more murders. What I think one can easily show is that food prices would have increased any-way and that our presence in the Common Market has probably restrained the increase that would otherwise have occurred.

If anybody thinks that in 1985 my grandchildren will ask me, or be interested when I tell them, about the price of butter or beef in 1975, he must be daft. My father used to tell me what one could buy for tuppence ha'penny in 1912, but I was not the least bit interested in 1922. I sometimes tell my daughters what one could do in 1939, and they are not the least bit interested in 1975. What my grandchildren are going to ask me in 1985 or 1990 is, "What did you do, grandpa, to set us on the road to a safer and saner world? "So this argument about food prices, while important in itself because we have to pay the prices, is totally irrelevant to the question of whether we should or should not be a member of the EEC and be closely aligned with Europe.

Then there is the argument about which country has the larger number of unemployed. We have plenty and we look like having more. Our investment is rather low, and one reason for that is that our industrial companies do not know where to put their investment. They say that if they are going to be working here, outside the tariff barrier, there is a hell of a lot to be said for putting their investment over there, inside the tariff barrier and serving the 200 million people there without any barriers and then exporting outside to us. If, on the other hand, we are going to be inside the tariff barrier, there could be a strong case for putting the investment here, and this is an important reason why—and my industrial colleagues know this well—investment is being held up.

If we do not stay in, and if we do not make it clear that we are in to stay, there will be no end to this argument about where to invest, re-invest or develop and industrialists will tend to say "Let us go over there for safety." Thus, one point I can assert, as distinct from canvas, is that unemployment will increase. We will lose more jobs if the argument continues. There is no trade union on the mainland of our Continent, even the Leftwing ones, which would consider urging its Government to come out. It puzzles me, therefore, why the chaps in our trade unions do not seem to have got the message; except, of course, that if it were Comecon we were arguing about some of them would be wholly in agreement.

As to regional development, I hope that noble Lords heard—and that those who did not hear will read the speech in the Official Report—what was said yesterday by the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, and the figures she gave about what has happened in East Anglia, the area she knows well, in terms of money to help resettle, redevelop and retrain. The other night I heard the New Zealand Prime Minister, who is a Labour Prime Minister, make an important comment in front of a number of your Lordships and many Members of the other place, immediately before our Prime Minister who gave the reply. After referring to such things as our affection for each other, kinship and so on, the Prime Minister of that small country which has few people said, in effect, "I want you to understand that we are now a Pacific Power. We do not any longer depend on you." A little later he said, "The best thing you can do for us is make your-selves a European Power." That message of the New Zealand Prime Minister made it clear, in words as clear as those I have used, what we should do.

Our economic future does not lie that way any more. There is no economic grouping open to us and we have never gone it alone in our entire history. Sometimes, when I cannot irritate our Prime Minister in another way, I remind him that the only time we ever tried to do that the then Harold got an arrow in his eye —and being a Christian I have no reason to wish such a fate on him. As I say, we have never gone it alone. We have always been the central party in some other grouping. We need to be that still; that is, unless we are proposing to export 20 million or 30 million of our people from these islands.

I suggest, therefore, that we look at the real issue. Why do we need an integrated Europe—Western Europe until we can get a wider one, something which seems a very long way away? I listened yesterday to the noble Lord, Lord Soper—who, I gather, in our new ecumenical position, could quite easily, and sometimes does, sit on the Bishops' Bench—and as a lay Anglo-Catholic and as an exdignitary of the Socialists, may I with respect tell the noble Lord that I have never heard more theological or secular political nonsense in such a short time. We need an integrated Europe, partly for the very reason he gave and then ran away from. Of course, as he said, the nation State has been an incorrigible nuisance, but if one wants to move from the nation State one must move somewhere else.

I make no bones about it—I used to say it as a Minister and I say it now—at the end of the day I would like to see a world authority, and I would surrender national authority to it. But we are some way from that. I see an integrated Europe as a step on the way, and I imagine that here I go a little further than the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, would like to go. I want it because when you look at world events I think what stands out a mile is that the consequences of the polarisation between the super-Powers are destroying the world at this moment. At the moment, we think we have two, and very shortly we will have three—and God knows where we shall be then! You have only to look at what America has managed to do. Here I part company with our distinguished exambassador, and there would have been a nice little message in the margin of that despatch had he actually written it to me and I was still in Office this day.

I have just returned from nearly a fort-night in the Middle East. I have been looking at the broken china that my friend Dr. Kissinger managed to leave in Israel, Jordan, Syria and elsewhere. The situation is worse there because that super-Power thought that it could go it alone and we were all its satellites—yet it is our backyard. We were not consulted; we were not part of the exercise. Yet who had a greater interest? Who indeed, had a greater experience?

We look at Asia and see the present situation. One thinks of the nuclear Red Alert which they thought fit to mount. Had it gone wrong European cities would have been the first at risk. The fact of the matter is that while Europe consists of 13 or 14—or whatever number it is— small States providing no defence procurement or policy, without a common foreign view, the damage will go on being done. Together, if you count heads, an integrated Europe matches them in size, in energy, in resources, in ability, in heavy industrial resources, and in steel making. I remember the late Aneurin Bevan once giving us a great lecture on the things that really determine whether or not you are an influential Power.

So we need a Europe which becomes another Power. I do not want to disturb the North Atlantic Alliance. I realise where the real dangers are, but I know that an alliance which consists of one super-Power—and a pretty Johnny comelately one at that—plus 14 tiny Powers with nothing to contribute, is no alliance. That is domination. But one plus one—both, broadly speaking, equal —makes an alliance, and it creates for the Soviets a triangular situation to take into account, with a problem on their back door step at the same time.

Therefore, I have not the slightest doubt why we need an integrated Europe. I did not have the slightest doubt when I was Foreign Secretary, and I have never had the slightest doubt since 1950. I do not now have any doubt why, at the end of the day, for political reasons we need an integrated Europe which can play its role in these places before the danger goes too far. My noble friend Lord Shinwell —my old friend, and, on this subject certainly, my old adversary—said yesterday, if I recall it aright, that he thought of himself as the last remaining patriot. I think he should go and look up the Tablets, because somewhere it is written whose last refuge patriotism was. I do not actually think of him in those terms; but he chose the comparison—not I.

The real patriotism in this is not to wrap oneself up in the Union Jack. The reel patriotism is to see where one's country can play its role; where one's people can best be taken care of; but, above all, where we matter in the world in which we have to live. I repeat, we have always—but always—been in some larger grouping. There was the Empire, then the British Commonwealth, then the Commonwealth. They have all gone now, of their own volition. So to encourage and enable them has been our success. This European grouping is now the only one open to us, and you do not argue about whether you go out of Europe or go into Europe. We have been here for 2,000 years. There is no other place we can go. We are Europeans! The question is whether we play a full role in Europe.

My Lords, I have been speaking a little longer than I intended, but I hope that I have carried your Lordships with me. I think that this is a much bigger issue than some people are trying to reduce it to. It is economically important, but beyond and above that some of us who have served in that office, and who care deeply about the issues—above all the economic arguments—know that it may well decide whether we stop shilly-shallying, whether we start towards making a European policy, so that Europe then plays a real and effective role in the world.

5.8 p.m.


My Lords, it is one of the delights of coming to your Lordships' House to hear again the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, with his revealing reminiscences, whether one agrees or disagrees with his argument. In the other place he and I have disagreed on this matter for many years. I should like to deal shortly with the political objections of those who share my view. My noble friend Lord Chelwood earlier today—and a number of noble Lords yesterday—tried to explain why they thought our political objections were unsound. But they were attacking an argument that was not ours.

This Britain has been founded on an unwritten Constitution which is dependent on the right of Parliament to legislate and to tax, and the right of the British citizen to have his grievances redressed by the British Parliament. It is those rights that are being impaired, and over a great scope of the political and economic sphere surrendered by the Treaty of Accession and the European Communities Act. That is quite clear. I pay great tribute to the work of both Houses in the Scrutiny Committee. My noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie has done extremely able work in that. But all we are doing there is not effective.

The right of this Parliament, the legislative power arising from the draft regulations and from the draft proposals resides not in the British Parliament but in the Council of Ministers and the European Commission. It is quite true that, as my noble friend Lord Chelwood said, after 1978 there may be a directly-elected European Parliament. But I do not believe that that will be a practicable or a wise step. I do not believe that the people of England would engender any great enthusiasm for a remote Parliament in Brussels with immense constituencies. No Member could represent adequately his constituency in Brussels and his constituency at Westminster. Therefore, as the European Parliament grows in strength, this British Parliament weakens. That is the main political objection of those who like myself object to Britain being in the Community and would wish for the vote to go for Britain to leave.

Let me deal next with the economic side of it. Here, I would disagree very much with the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown. I believe that the question is whether economically we can afford to remain a Member of a Community. The whole of Britain's trade has been built up under the system whereby we satisfy our need for raw materials and food by obtaining them from the primary producing countries and exchanging with them our manufactured goods. The rise of producer cartels at the present time and the consequent shift of wealth away from the industrialised countries to the primary producing countries means that inevitably our markets in future will lie in those primary producing countries. Under the European Communities Act and the Treaty of Accession it is prohibited for us to make bilateral agreements. I was in Australia last year when the offer of sugar at £180 a ton for five years had to be refused because under the European Communities Act we were not allowed to have a five-year agreement with Australia. That system of getting our trade bilaterally with the primary producing countries we cannot continue under the present system.

Last year we had a visible trade deficit of £6,500 million. Quite clearly, something had gone very wrong. We concentrated our manufactured exports on the Common Market yet, not withstanding that concentration, we had a £2,200 million visible trade deficit with them. Of the £7,700 million worth of imports from the Common Market that came to Britain last year, £5,000 million were in the classification of manufactured goods. It was that, with the quadrupling of the price of oil, that was a major factor of our trading failure. This to me is the nub of the economic question.

My Lords, a number of noble Lords have said, "Ah! but if you leave, it would be an economic disaster." In fact, if you left you would be £2,200 million better off on the trade balance. And that is only part of the question. I should like to know how much is being invested in the Common Market by British companies who ought to have been setting up their manufacturing industries here. For the first year of membership, the figure has been given of £330 million. I should like the noble Lord who is to reply to this debate to tell us what was the figure for 1974 of the export of capital when we were direly in need of manufacturing investment here. I think that we should be told how much of that immense indebtedness overseas is represented by indebtedness to the Common Market countries. Can we have a figure for that before we conclude this debate tonight?

My Lords, the last time I spoke to the House I gave my views on the referendum. It is a feature of a common market that the power and wealth tend to go to the centre of the common market and not to the periphery. This is inescapable. If you read what happened in the history of the Common Market you will see that it is a golden triangle of Brussels; and around Brussels that has become the centralising power. I will admit that for large companies and finance houses there is every advantage in that centralisation; but the small businesses suffer. Therefore, as we approach the referendum you will have the uneven battle between those who are gaining financially and the media being for Britain to remain in; and the small people who are damaged by Common Market membership who would wish us to be out. I appreciate very much that it is late. I would far rather the referendum had come, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said yesterday, before we went in; when we clearly had not got the full-hearted consent of the British people—when the European Communities Bill went through with a majority of 8 on Second Reading and a majority of 17 on Third Reading. That was the moment when there should have been a referendum. But, late in the day, it is going to take place now. My only appeal to the Government is this. In this uneven battle—and how uneven it is when you have the leaders of the three political Parties urging the electorate to come in, together with the City of London with all its wealth and propaganda influence—I ask the Government to see that there are equal opportunities for each side to present their line of argument to the electorate.

5.19 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord. Lord Tranmire, for providing at least one anti-Marketeer on the Tory side of the House. May I also express my sympathy to him? There is no speaker more difficult to follow than my noble friend Lord George-Brown. Indeed, I think I must make it clear that I made a considerable sacrifice myself when, knowing that he was one of the great architects of European unity and was previously the Foreign Secretary, I thought it right that he should speak before me, and knowing, too, that after his clarion call of powerful persuasiveness, I should be a very faint voice indeed.

I also, although not for as long as my noble friend Lord George-Brown, have been a committed pro-Marketeer. He, like myself, was a great friend of Herbert Morrison. I remember—and I have said this once before—sitting in a café in Paris in 1950 with Guy Mollet and Herbert Morrison, and Guy Mollet saying something to the effect: "Cannot the British say something favourable about the European idea?" Of course we were still obsessed in those ways with our great ideas of the Empire and the Commonwealth, as my noble friend clearly explained. We had not recognised that that world had gone.

Because of the size of the list of speakers, regretfully I do not intend to try to answer the points of the noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, not that they do not require answering, for they do. I am willing to hear my noble friend Lord Shepherd give an answer to them. But this debate has gone so wide that we are now debating not the referendum, but whether we should substitute the words "takes note of" for the word "approves". But let me say something about the referendum. I spent all last week trying to find the most damning phrase that I could get into one sentence on the subject: "deplorable, highly dangerous", and so on. But this subject has been dealt with pretty effectively. I only wish that we could pass a law which was effective against having future referenda.

The fact is that the sovereignty of Parliament will remain, and, even when we go into Europe it will remain and we cannot, by any Constitutional means, dispose of this threat. I would say to your Lordships that, despite my noble friend Lord George-Brown's eloquence, I hope you will not follow him in a last ditch stand against the referendum. In this respect, I hope that you will follow the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, who was equally hostile, but he said, in effect, that we have to "lump" this one in the interests of honour and of our country, and that is the position.

We have had some very good speeches in this debate. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, made a model of a speech. It was free from any attempt to make Party points, and was one of the clearest expositions that I have heard. Yesterday we had a very large number of speeches, the last 18 of which, with the exception of that by my noble friend Lord Davies of Leek, were all pro-Market. What has rather saddened me is that practically none of the anti-Marketeers who are speaking today has bothered to listen to those. I am bound once again to comment on the decline in the standard of manners which your Lordships have requested. That is worth analysing—I was wondering whether my noble friend Lord Wigg was in his place.

I am afraid I shall have to deal with this ridiculous Amendment. I estimate that 53 speakers will have taken part in the debate. I can see all the signs of our going into Europe being blamed on a piece of hereditary nonsense by the House of Lords. I can see the House of Lords being once again marked out as a target as to why it is a bad thing to go into Europe. Yesterday 35 speakers took part; only five of whom were against. One was a Communist, and we now know that the Communist Party here is split on this subject, in common with a great many of the Communists in Europe. Eleven Labour speakers in all spoke in favour of remaining in Europe. Of those eleven, nine were Life Peers. They were not, as my noble friend Lord Shinwell implied, dragged from the backwoods of Scotland, typical hereditary Tory, hunting, shooting and fishing Peers; among them were my old friend Lord Pannell and others. This was the grass roots membership of the Labour Party speaking and the great point was the degree of unity. May I also congratulate the Conservative Party, which has not always been the most internationalist Party in the past, for they have come a long way and in certain respects show signs, regretfully, of passing some of my colleagues.

Listening to the maiden speeches, we admired my noble friend Lord Paget of Northampton—as generous and brave a man as ever there was. But, really, my Lords. There he was speaking, in effect, of either Armageddon or a retreat to the Cayman Islands. I see no hope if we believe that. The noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Radcliffe, made a model of a maiden speech and received a less than kind reply from my noble friend Lord Shinwell. Then of course there was the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. Let me make it clear that he is no longer the fourteenth Earl; he is the first Baron. He is part of this great refreshment to the English aristocracy that comes up from the working classes.

We have had some very notable speeches and I should like to say a brief word about the Amendment. It is the most extraordinary device that I have known. Some noble Lords will know that I am not uninterested in the procedure of your Lordships' House. An Amendment to take note certainly makes political Parliamentary history. Usually this is a device to avoid a vote. If it is a device to enable the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, to speak twice, I hope he will soon come back. Listening to a speech from him has always provided glimpses of an interesting truth, and I think there is logic in what he said. The noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, cannot possibly, however, take note of this, because he does not approve and it would be wrong for him to take up this neutral position. I hope my noble friend Lord Wigg—I am never sure, but I hope he is my noble friend—will have somebody else in the Lobby with him.

It is unfortunate, in a debate where we are seeing your Lordships take so much the same view, that we cannot make provision for an opening for a minority few to speak very late in the debate amid those who will wind up. I do not like this device. In the context of Parliamentary sovereignty, I do not think it is unreasonable, despite this dreadful referendum, that Parliament should give some guidance, some advice and even be allowed to express a view regarding our remaining within the European Community.

The arguments have been put forward very fully, but I very strongly share the view of the noble Lords, Lord George-Brown, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and many others, that it is the political argument which is the important one. I said before: who was I to distinguish between Nicky Kaldor and Alec Cairncross? They both speak in language beyond my capability. I am bound to say that in economic terms the arguments against going out of the Economic Community have seemed very much stronger than they were in regard to going in. No one has suggested in a convincing way what would be the consequences if we left. We know we shall be bound by the rules. I was in the Cabinet at the time we were considering the setting up of aluminium smelters in this country, and we were in great trouble over this because of our rules with EFTA. I do not believe there is some state of perfect freedom, other than a state of total retreat from this world.

It is the political argument which is important. I personally think that the argument about the preservation of so-called "British sovereignty" is a mirage, and I am bound again to express my complete distaste of the criticisms of the so-called "faceless bureaucrats" in Brussels. If ever a body, either of civil servants or of nations, has shown tolerance to a split-minded group of people, as the British have shown themselves to be, it is the Europeans; and the suggestion that somehow the Commission and the Council of Ministers are waiting to "pay us out"—because it has been suggested that once we have taken our decision we shall be made to pay for it— is a most contemptible suggestion, and a most unworthy one, if I may say so, to make about those many friends of ours in Europe. Many of them are Socialists. Six of the Governments of Europe have either a Socialist or a Social Democrat content.

In a world where co-operation and communication is essential, we have to make great communities work. I have never suggested that those colleagues of mine who are opposed to our remaining in Europe are not motivated by strong internationalist ideals, but I am bound to say that they are ignoring the teaching of history. Once again, the great tragedies of the past are the failures of people to unite—the story of ancient Greece and of so many other communities. It would be tragic to miss this opportunity both for our own sakes, and for reasons which are not selfish but which spring from the belief that it is right for the world. Even if there is disadvantage in economic terms in our going into Europe, if it is right for the world I believe we should be prepared to do it.

Some of the many excellent speeches made last night towards the end of yesterday's debate are not yet available to be read, but there were some very good ones from my noble friends Lord Hirsh-field, Lord Houghton and Lord Pannell. I would not pick my noble friend Lord Pannell, as an example—he will not mind my saying this, I am sure—of poetry; but I should like to repeat his peroration for the benefit of those who did not hear it last night. He said this at column 744 of Hansard: 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. Unfortunately, my noble friend told me he missed out a sentence from those splendid words, which I will now record for history. The sentence is: I would rather this country, as Milton saw it, rise like a strong man after sleep.

5.35 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of SOUTHWARK

My Lords, a few years ago, an investigation on the length of speeches showed that of all the Benches in this House the Episcopal Bench came out as the shortest. I hope I can live up to that reputation today. When I last spoke on this subject the Common Market was a matter of opinion: should we or should we not go in? It is no longer a matter of opinion but a matter of fact. We are in the Market and we are dealing with that fact. We are also dealing with another fact: that of the referendum. Whether we approve or disapprove of it—I do not, but I do not wish to become involved in that topic—the people are being asked to vote.

I have between 2½ million and 3 million people in my diocese of South London, including dockers from Bermondsey, people in Battersea, workers and trade unionists, people from the "gin and Jaguar" belt among the South Downs around Reigate and elsewhere. So I find myself asked to address many groups on what it means to belong to the European Community and I find there is great confusion over this. It is not merely Bermondsey, but also Reigate, which asks. "What facts must be taken into consideration when we vote, if we vote at all?" Many, I find, say: "We just do not know enough. We simply do not know which way we ought to vote." So I try my best to put the case for remaining in the Community and I would ask the Government, in their reply today, whether they would agree with my "ABC "—rather on the lines of something we had when I was at school called Latin without Tears, which was something to give us enough basic facts to get us through our exams. These are the kind of things I would say to two groups, so different in composition, whether on the riverside or in the Surrey hills, and I wonder whether they would agree that, broadly speaking, this is Government policy.

I put it in three ways: first, reasons for staying in; then, reasons for not going out; then, in a third section, trying to deal with what I regard as understandable difficulties. First, as regards reasons for staying in, the Community gives us peace, security and a free society. We are learning to do away with family grudges. That is something which most people can understand, because there are very few families—in South London or elsewhere—who have not lost those they have loved in the First or Second World Wars. Secondly, the Community gives us access to secure sources of food supplies, which is a very important factor for a nation which has to import half of what it needs. Thirdly, the Community does more trade and gives more aid than any other group. Fourthly, the Community gives us the opportunity to represent the Commonwealth. I find one always makes the point, when one puts this over to such groups, that most members of the Commonwealth want us to stay in—New Zealand, Australia, Canada, for instance, and not only the large countries but many others, too, such as Mauritius, Fiji, Barbados and Jamaica. Why?—because developing countries within the Commonwealth desire access to the Community for manufactured goods as well as primary products.

Then one goes on to say that, whatever one may think about the word "renegotiations"—and the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, prefers to say, "the negotiations which have continued" —our European partners have done what they can to make it possible for us to stay in, and they want us to say in. Then —and this is something which especially in Church quarters counts for a very great deal and I am glad it does—the Lomé Convention, with its opportunities for the developing world, has moved the Community a long way towards the goal we believe to be important. Again, I would say to the Minister who replies that those are reasons I give for staying in, and I should like to know whether that conforms with the view of Her Majesty's Government.

Then the reasons why we should not withdraw. First there are the economic reasons. We should lose the enlarged market that the Community gives us for our goods if we were to withdraw and this might well endanger the living standards of all people, not only the pyramids, but also the working classes. What about the practical benefits we have already received? We should lose practical benefits. The Social Fund has provided grants of nearly £50 million for retraining schemes for redundant workers, and that is something not to be sniffed at. Secondly, the European Investment Bank has provided loans of nearly £100 million for various projects to encourage employment opportunities. Thirdly, the Regional Development Fund will provide £150 million for the less developed parts of Great Britain over the next three years. Those are some of the economic reasons why I believe it would be foolish for us to withdraw. Again, I would ask the Minister who speaks on behalf of Her Majesty's Government whether or not I am right in making those remarks.

Then one passes to political influence, which I believe in many ways to be more important than the economic considerations. If we withdraw, our influence would be considerably reduced because we would be ignored by the large giants: the Eight, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Do we want to be to Europe what the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands are to Great Britain? Far be it for me to say anything detrimental to those places where I have spent many a happy holiday. But, although they may be havens of peace, and perhaps tax havens, too, they are outside the general run of this country and I can well see that England, if we were to withdraw, could then become another Manx. So there are the reasons for staying in and there are the reasons for not withdrawing.

What about the doubts and perplexities which come up in meeting after meeting? First of all, I do not believe we should be alarmed by them. As I always say on these ocacsions, do remember that there were just similar doubts in the Six countries before ratification of the Treaty of Rome. If there were no doubts, it would be very unusual. It would show a lack of thought, consideration and questioning on our part. Fair enough, but what are these doubts? The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has already put his finger on what I believe to be one of the main ones—bureaucracy. That is such an emotive word. What do we mean by a bureaucrat? How many are they? In comparison with the number we have in this country, especially as a result of reorganisation of local government, the number of bureaucrats in the Community is just chickenfeed. But what is a bureaucrat? I remember being told years ago when I was at Cambridge—and I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Home, who I am told has just come up from working-class origins, will agree with this—that an aristocrat is a democrat with his pocket full of sovereigns. Maybe a bureaucrat is a democrat with his pocket full of red tape in triplicate!

But it is so easy just to dismiss hard-working, devoted people in that way, putting a label on them: an aristocrat, a bureaucrat. In fact they are persons. It is perfectly true that some of them are insensitive, some of them are lacking in imagination; but certainly my experience of so-called bureaucrats, both in this country and those I have had the privilege of meeting in the European Community, is that they are people who are utterly devoted to their work. I readily admit that we have to be on our guard against bureaucracy which in people's minds is like an octopus. We need to enhance local grouping which, fulfilling the needs for large-scale operations, nevertheless represents sensitivity towards people in the smaller localities; and if we have worries and doubts about this, surely the way forward is to make the European Parliament as effective as we possibly can.

The next point is energy, and this is a point which Mr. Wedgwood Benn frequently raises. Surely a common energy policy has always been implicit in our concept of Europe as a unit or nation. Not only should Europe have co-operated in development of the North Sea—with less need for bringing American money into it—but it should also have had a common approach to the Arab producers to gain the best terms for European consumers. In addition, a Europe/Canadian partnership should have been set up to develop the Athabasca tar sands. Had this been settled years ago there need not have been any big oil crisis for Europe now, or at least the impact of the rise in prices could have been minimised.

Again, should there not be a common policy for the whole Continental Shelf of which the North Sea is only one section? Is it not a very short-sighted policy for Britain to insist on exclusive rights to the oil in the British sector of the North Sea?—though, of course, generally the Netherlands and Norway are just as exclusively national over their section of the North Sea; that I recognise. Because by the time North Sea oil is being run down, as it will do, other parts of the Continental Shelf may be coming up with oil areas and, failing the establishment of a common European policy, those nations may then apply Mr. Benn's policy against us— low oil prices for home industries and high export prices for Britain. Co-operation with other Europeans may turn out the most far-sighted policy in the long run.

The third doubt has been on food. That subject has already been touched on. All I would ask is whether the Government agree that we must, so far as possible, make Europe self-feeding in temperate zone foodstuffs. We must become as efficient in food production as is America. The most effective way of doing this is to give farmers confidence in the future through good food prices guaranteed over the long term, which will stimulate production.

Then, the Third World and the so-called Rich Man's Club. That is a subject which comes up time and time again. The Lomé Convention promises much. Even so, there is still a possible doubt. The doubt to my mind is this. Is it wise to include industrial goods while the industrial goods of tropical Africa cannot usually compete with those of Europe, either today or for some years to come? Nevertheless, in a dozen years or so there could be a rapid industrialisation of tropical Africa with some Western interests financing factories with the latest machines and using sweated labour to undercut European industry. I wonder therefore whether it would not be wise for us to insist, if we can, that tropical African countries should trade between themselves in manufactured goods and not with Europe. Instead, let them trade with Europe in foodstuffs, in minerals and in timber; in short, in the goods that Europe cannot produce herself. I believe there is an immense future—millions of square miles of rain forests with an enormous potential in timber. The bamboos alone, if properly farmed, could supply Europe's paper industry. Yes, the big Fleet Street problem of newsprint could be solved in tropical Africa. In exchange Europe could provide Africa with the scientific know-how, with the engineers, the specialists and the technology.

Finally, again I ask the Government whether they agree that I represent the view which they are seeking to put over. About 100 years ago a very remarkable man, F. T. Morris, said this to Charles Kingsley, that great pioneer and battler for the poorer people: Competition is put forth as the law of the universe, but that is a lie. The true law of the universe is that man is made to live in community. Men realise their true nature when they co-operate with one another. Men are so constituted that they must live in families, tribes, nations and at last in a universal brotherhood. They are not truly human if they do not live and work interdependently. As F. T. Morris concluded to Charles Kingsley: You are brothers whether you acknowledge the fact or not, even whether you behave as if you were not. Even so, you must become what you are".

5.51 p.m.


My Lords, I hope that leaving aside propaganda, this House will prefer to measure and assess the central issues which are connected with the subject before us, which the right honourable Harold Macmillan described some years ago as the great gamble of British membership of the European Economic Community. We have a new chance at this time to save ourselves from the inevitable, disastrous consequences of this gamble. I say this to noble Lords, in spite of the general pro-Market tendencies which have been exhibited here today. Also I am taking into consideration that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has said that it is not just because it is the House of Lords; it is just that there is not a captive audience for me on this occasion! I shall not, therefore, weary your Lordships with details of the deficiencies, the shortcomings and, in my view, the disadvantages to the British people of the Common Agricultural Policy of the Community. I shall not weary your Lordships with details of the price increases due to our entry into the EEC or do more than mention in passing the enormous trading deficit with the EEC. I am willing to accept what the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, and other noble Lords have said with regard to prices. However, the enormous trading deficit with the EEC countries and the balance of payments deficit of £1,167 million in 1973 and £2,240 million in 1974 have been weighty factors and represent the heaviest Government borrowing in our history at the highest rates of interest since the Second World War.

Since we are near the end of the debate, I do not propose to detain noble Lords for more than ten minutes. However, I think that in their heart of hearts the Prime Minister and Mr. Callaghan would claim to have done no more than their very best in the recent renegotiation of the terms of entry and to have regained some small pieces of ground which were given away by the original negotiators of the previous Administration. Any political sophisticate—and here I would certainly include the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown—must accept that the out-come of renegotiation is minimal.

I will not unduly press your Lordships to recall today that the electoral undertaking of the previous Administration— before entry into the EEC to obtain the full consent of the British people—was not carried out. Noble Lords on the other side of the House mentioned another aspect of this matter and presented it in a different way. However, what I have said is a fact. The present Prime Minister is a comparative paragon of virtue in this regard, and I say that with a straight face. Therefore, we are to have a referendum.

May I ask noble Lords to think and think again about the central issue of our time, which is national sovereignty. I accept that, compared with the central issue, the issues of food prices and other factors, the shopkeeping instances and declarations are small. Therefore, I wish to record my rejection of Mr. Heath's dictum on national sovereignty recently given in riposte to Mr. Powell in the other place. Mr. Heath is reported to have said that the sacrifice of sovereignty is fully justified. I say to noble Lords that both Mr. Heath and those in this House who accept this dictum will regret that statement in this rapidly changing world—and I repeat the words, "in this rapidly changing world". To take a quick view of the world situation and then make a declaration that our national sovereignty is easily to be given away seems to me to be so important a declaration that I want to be on record as rejecting that thinking. At Brussels they are not so much in business as they are in politics. While there are differences of view here between pro-Marketeers and anti-Marketeers, a central issue which has emerged in the debate so far seems to be that we accept—I accept, anyway—that the central issue is a political one.

Each member of the Community of Nine is in fierce competition for trade in the Near East and the Middle East. In spite of all the wishful thinking with regard to unity in Europe itself, our brother members of the Community are busily cutting the throat of the United Kingdom's trade through the process of hidden subsidies and State subsidies. A number of people here who are involved in various trade organisations and who are encouraging our exports abroad know that this is a fact. On 31st January 1973 Harold Wilson—so many people quote him and he refers back to it so many times in his own speeches that I guess I am in order when I say that he showed great perception on this occasion—said: In 93 legislative words, the safeguards gained after centuries of constitutional struggle and even bloody civil war were swept aside by a provision that said simply that hereafter anything enacted by the EEC automatically becomes British law, annulling any laws which were consistent without debate. It was a cynical and factional abuse of Lobby power". Of course, the central political and economic logic of entry into the EEC is consciously to provide for the surrender of sovereignty to a wider community. That is the essential and central logic and it cannot be contested. Since we are a mere 25 per cent. component of the EEC, we cannot expect to dominate it—on the contrary, I fear.

One of the important issues which has come out in the speeches of so many of those who have been putting forward the pro-Market case, including the very eloquent speech of the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, is that we have always been part of the Community. He traced the various details, but the noble Lord was referring to the time when we were a dominating feature and a dominating factor in a world that was as different as it can possibly be from these circumstances. Therefore, I say that we cannot expect to dominate by being a mere 25 per cent. component of the EEC.

It was said earlier that there has been considerable repetition. I would put it differently. Since 1945, the central question concerning Britain has been which path to take in the world before us. In my view, the dominant forces among our rulers have been in serious error—and that is putting it politely. On so many occasions they have acted contrary to the basic national interests of this country. They failed to pursue policies and to establish them in world councils, when their first responsibility was the national interest in the United Kingdom. That is not wrapping ourselves in the Union Jack; it is something that is very important to our people. They allowed other misconceptions to beguile them away from our national priorities.

We failed to invest massively in modernisation and rehabilitation in British industry. Now we are in favour of skipping over tariff walls. But this is where we ought to have invested, and it is still our problem. Rehabilitation, newly-based, could have given us social advance and lowered unit costs in industry by putting more power at the elbows of our workpeople. We should have remained fully competitive overseas. A few weeks ago most newspapers published an assessment that the German Federal Republic was the richest nation in Western Europe. This could have been our position, and it is no use weeping now that the Germans had Marshall Aid for their renewal and their rehabilitation. They had British aid as well. We ought not to get ourselves into the position of being—and I certainly do not want to be—anti-German Federal Republic on this matter. If I am being critical, my criticism is of ourselves for not having taken advantage of those circumstances at that time.

May I submit for your Lordships' consideration that it is not too late. In 1974 our gross domestic product was £44,000 million. Our energy resources —and we can agree, I am sure, among ourselves, whatever our views on the Common Market, that our energy resources are immense. We have the management and the workmen with great industrial experience and know-how. The inventive genius of our people is second to none. If we fight in unity other nations will defer to us. This is a different presentation from the analogy with the Isle of Man and the suggestion that we would become an offshore island; but what I am suggesting is that if we really stand up and be counted and present ourselves as strongly as we should do, then they will defer to us. That unity, I suggest, can only be based on the mass of our people.

We are at a turning point. May I suggest that there has never been an economic case for United Kingdom entry to the EEC. I will not waste time on this because I think it is an agreed area. Financially the political case for United Kingdom entry is fantastically high, and even if we agree here, as probably we do, that the central issue is a political one, then it has been fantastically high.

May I ask what has happened to the dynamic of entry to the EEC after two and a half years? Your Lordships will remember that this unfortunate and ill-informed propaganda ploy was presented to us by those favouring the original gamble; propaganda swallowed whole by a large number of industrialists in this country who ought to have known better. Now they come to me and to other trade union leaders and say, "It is not what we thought it was going to be". They ought to have known better before they took the dive and supported it.

When we can look at the United States of America, we may ask: what has happened to the shibboleth of the larger market theory. This has been argued already here, in competition with what I am going to say. But let us look at it again and think about it. This was the essence of the larger market theory of the Federal States, pictured to us in fact as the classic of the theory, with a current growth rate just slightly above ours and, if my information is correct, with 8 million unemployed. Take a glance at the proportionately higher unemployment than ours and the present growth rates within the EEC. I am suggesting that we have been warned: let us rid ourselves of national defeatism and take this opportunity of dissenting from the Motion before us. We think it is fairly obvious that we should dissent from the Motion.

I use the word "defeatism". What has been worrying me is that over the past 20 years, consciously or unconsciously, a malaise has been created as a result of our acceptance of national defeatism. There is a feeling that we can do better somewhere else; there is a feeling that we need to go into Europe or that we ought to do something else, when the problem of investment that we have to solve is right here inside this country. We have to tackle that unity based on the mass of our people. I believe that if we were to invest and find that unification our problem would be different. I accept that the issue is a political one and I have presented it as an important one in regard to Britain and her national sovereignty. I have made myself clear in this regard and I have also indicated quite clearly that I wish to dissent from the Motion.

6.6 p.m.

Lord O'NEILL of the MAINE

My Lords, as always when I have the honour to address your Lordships' House, I shall be extremely brief, but I felt that I had a duty to say a few words in view of my past attitude to Europe. Confession is good for the soul, but sometimes I fear it is very bad for the reputation. I know that today everybody will say that they have been in favour of Europe for the last 20 years. This is not true, and I should like to explain why. Before I do so may I say that my views have practically nothing to do with the fact that I happen to come from Northern Ireland.

In my previous job it was my good fortune to go to North America at least twice a year in search of new industry for Northern Ireland, and because of that good fortune I came to like the North Americans, both the Americans and the Canadians, and to feel perfectly at home in their countries. Consequently, at that time I was unhappy about our European commitment. Indeed, if I may make a forecast, I would stick my neck out and say that by the end of this century America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will come closer and closer together until they form an English-speaking union, and we who started it all will be outside the "club". That is why I felt a little sad. Anybody who imagines that Australia and New Zealand can defend themselves out in the Pacific without the assistance of "Big Brother" across the Pacific should certainly have his head examined.

Furthermore, in discussions with what I might describe as over-enthusiastic Europeans, I was always told that there would of course be a United States of Europe. Once again, those of us who have the good fortune to go often to North America will know the difficulties of the Founding Fathers when faced with the large-scale European immigration of Italians, Germans and so on, into that country. Two things were insisted upon, and the Founding Fathers were quite ruthless about them. The first was that everybody had to speak English, even though they might prefer to speak Italian or German; and. secondly, as your Lordships all know, the schoolchildren are lined up in front of the flag every morning to swear eternal loyalty to the flag. There is therefore the language and the loyalty, and those who say that we shall soon have a United States of Europe must realise that with all the different languages, all the different loyalties, all the different national anthems, and in some countries different Royal Families, we shall not get an early coming of a United States of Europe.

Having said all that, may I say that in my view we should be crazy to come out of Europe. We should become a European offshore island. We cannot recreate the Commonwealth which we remember as it existed 20 years ago. Others more competent than I have argued the impossibility of signing a new trade agreement when we have just broken a previous one. Perhaps for the first time we should have earned the European cry of Perfidious Albion.

I have just come back from a six weeks' visit to New Zealand and Australia and I was struck by one or two things. First, there is the great difficulty of finding out what is going on at home. There is very little about Britain in the Australian or New Zealand papers or on the radio. It is true that if you get up early the B.B.C. broadcasts from six to half past six to both countries, but apart from that it is rather difficult to find out what is going on. In talking to people in New Zealand and Australia, my impression was that the Royal Family still means a great deal to them, but I am afraid that Britain does not mean very much today.

I had the opportunity of talking with Mr. Anthony, Leader of the Country Party in Canberra. Some of your Lordships may remember that he came to Britain two or three years ago and pressed us not to go into Europe. I asked him what his views were today, and I found that they were the same as mine— we should be crazy to come out. So, my Lords, for all these reasons I am willing, as I have done, to confess that I have changed my mind. I was lukewarm; I did not vote against the matter when it came before your Lordships' House last time, but I did not vote for it. Tonight I will, and I urge all doubters to follow me into the Lobby. I believe we have no alternative; we must leave it to history to decide whether we have done the right thing. In my view there is absolutely no question of coming out now.

6.13 p.m.


My Lords, it is a most daunting task, for one who has been in your Lordships' House for less than three months, to rise to address your Lordships on a subject upon which the whole sense of the House has already been determined, and when the whole atmosphere of the Chamber at this time—in effect, by five to one in speakers and by five to one, also, in time—is already against the kind of view that I am going to venture to put before your Lordships. Before I start, however, I venture to think that my noble friend Lord Shackleton was slightly less generous to what he called the anti-Marketeers, in regard to their attendance at this debate, than I would have expected. I do not know whether my noble friend's eyesight is in any way defective, but I am certain that in the recollection of noble Lords opposite, if not in that of my noble friend whose eyes may not have been upon me, I have been present in this House at least five hours yesterday and all this afternoon during this debate.

First, if he will not think it presumptuous, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, on the speech he made yesterday. I thought it one of the most constructive, moderate and temperate statements in favour of Britain remaining in the Common Market that I have heard. I could not go all the way with him in his political opinion but as with the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Home, I found it very much in conformity with the general tone of moderation that had been enunciated from the outset by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. It is true that both the noble Lord, Lord Balniel, and his noble friend Lord Home made the ritual Party noises in connection with the sanctity of treaties and national honour. I feel that this is not the time to exhume old corpses, but many of us have recollections of occasions, particularly at the time of Suez, when remarks of that kind would not have been uttered very quickly afterwards.

My Lords, the fundamental problem of our country, which has been enunciated by noble Lords opposite as well as by noble Lords on this side of the House, is trade. For centuries we in this country have been a trading nation; for centuries we have been dependent for our food and raw materials—we supply only 50 per cent. of our food ourselves—on imports from abroad, and we live by our exports. With this fact I should have thought there would have been full agreement throughout the House. We literally depend on the nature and extent of our balance of trade with the world, and everybody's living standard suffers as a direct result of the depreciation of our currency which takes place if our balance of payments indefinitely remains chronically bad.

A year ago the French franc was standing at 11.75 to the pound; today it is 9.96. Therefore, everything that we buy from France is costing us more money and is adding to the inflationary pressures which we already have. Similar considerations apply to Germany and the other European countries. The question we have to ask ourselves is: who, in the final analysis, is directly responsible for the nation's balance of trade? Governments of the Right, the Left or the Centre may think they are, but they are not. The people who are ultimately responsible for the successful trading endeavour on which we depend, are those approximately 250,000 people in our population who constitute what is known as the British industrialist, the British entrepreneur, the British salesman, the British senior director or the British executive. In the final analysis, it is upon these people that the whole prosperity of our country, from the export standpoint, depends. They are the people who determine what is manufactured, who are responsible for its marketing; and, on the other side, they are the people who are responsible for the imports that come into this country.

Ever since the end of the war, our balance of payments has been a problem for every successive Government. It is a quarter of a century since I was last in public life in another place. Believe me, my Lords, the same essential problems which have been put forward in this debate were put forward then. Very little has changed in the event. Successive Governments have done their very best to encourage a favourable balance of trade. They have adopted fiscal measures, they have adopted grant aid methods. Successive Governments have done everything they can to aid the entrepreneurs, the independent firms which are responsible for the results achieved by our total trading endeavour—whichever Government is in power. Since the end of the war, right up to the time that we joined the Common Market, there has been this problem of a chronic adverse balance of trade, and with it an adverse balance of payments.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the minds of many on both sides of the House, whether they be Tory, Liberal or Labour, have turned towards the prospect of being able to offer the English entrepreneur, the English manufacturer, the English financier, the better opportunities which were apparent on the Continent. If I must beseech your Lordships to do anything, it is that you should remember that the people finally responsible for the fortunes of our country in terms of a favourable balance of trade are not Governments, but the ordinary private entrepreneurs or companies, or whatever they may be. It is not the responsibility of the vast general population. The working people of this country are not responsible if the results are bad. The onus clearly lies at the door of those responsible for the organisation of British industry, and of their financial advisers and investors, institutional or private, who make the fundamental investment decisions, the product decisions and the market decisions.

My Lords, by the time we considered the Common Market the problem was already chronic. It was hoped that entry into the Common Market would solve the problem. I am sorry to have to remind your Lordships of what was said at the time. I hope the House will bear with me, as one who does not address your Lordships at any length very frequently. I should first like to draw your Lordships' attention to the economic aspect as seen in February 1970 by the then Government, when they were considering the question of joining the Common Market. The then Government said: There are the dynamic effects resulting from membership of a much larger and faster growing market. This would open up to our industrial producers substantial opportunities for increasing export sales while at the same time exposing them more fully to the competition of European countries. No way has been found of quantifying these dynamic effects, but if British industry responded vigorously to these stimuli, they would be considerable and highly advantagous. They went on to say: The acceleration in the rate of growth of industrial exports could then outpace any increase in the rate of growth of imports, with corresponding benefits to the balance of payments. That was in 1970.

The Government of the right honourable gentleman Mr. Heath returned to the same problem, and gave their verdict upon the prospects for British industry in the Common Market, and its effect on the balance of payments. Said the Government: We do not believe that the overall response of British industry to membership can be quantified in terms of its effect upon the balance of trade. We are confident that this effect will be positive and substantial, as it has been for the Community. What has happened since? I suggest to your Lordships that before our minds are finally closed as to how we wish to vote, it would do no harm at all to review what the results have been. Noble Lords need not get nervous; I am not going to read out a lot of figures, but some are vital and have to be assimilated.

Home investment by industry in this country in 1970 reached £2,130 million. In each of the following four years, at constant prices, manufacturing investment in this country has been lower than 1970 levels, and compared with 1970 the total deficit is no less than £722 million. This covered a period when both Conservative and Labour Governments were in power. It cannot be complained that in 1971, 1972 or 1973 there were no incentives to industrialists. The CBI got virtually everything they asked for. There were massive investment grants. There was 100 per cent. depreciation relief for tax purposes having that option, which meant that capital expenditure could be written off against profits. There was every conceivable concession and, moreover, at rates of taxation, whatever noble Lords opposite may say, which were still less penal than those on the Continent. Noble Lords need not accept my word for it, but this is important.

We have only to consider the view of Sir Frederick Catherwood who, as your Lordships will know, is a Director of the British Institute of Management. I should like to quote his view, published as recently as 8th April last. Sir Frederick said: I would have thought that by now all responsible opinion in Britain had accepted that lack of adequate investment in manufacturing industry was one of the single major causes of our economic weakness. He also said: Our biggest single restrictive practice at present is our failure to put new risk money behind British industry. On any international comparison, British investment is behind those of its major international competitors. As our share of industrial capacity declines, so does our share of world trade. That is why we have a non-oil deficit of more than £1½ billion. If we wish to remain a trading nation, we have to make up that investment. He went on to say, and this is all I shall quote from Sir Frederick, To recover in time before our whole market is irretrievably lost to imports requires massive new investment up to the extra £3 billion suggested. I venture to deal with the capital investment position, which Governments of both Parties have tried to influence; they have done their best. I pay tribute to both Conservative and Labour Governments in this respect, and in his time Mr. Heath complained about this just as loudly as I am complaining about it today. Let us see what has happened to our own trading position with the EEC. I have observed from time to time some of my noble friends, who speak very amiably from the Front Bench, replying to Questions all of which seem to indicate with justifiable satisfaction and pride that our exports to Europe, to the Eight, are progressively increasing; they interpret this as very encouraging indeed.

What they do not emphasise so much, my Lords, is that at the same time as our exports to the Eight have been increasing, so have our imports from the Eight and, unfortunately, they have been increasing at a higher rate. As the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, will know, there are different ways of measuring the rate of deterioration. One of the methods I have selected is to add the total trade for any one year, imports and exports, and then take the deficit for that year as a percentage of it. In our total trade with Europe in 1972, our deficit amounted to 7.99 per cent. By 1973 it was up to 12.26 per cent., and by 1974 it was up to 15.98 per cent.


My Lords, may I intervene, since the noble Lord mentioned my name? I suggest to him that there is an easier explanation of the phenomenon that he is expatiating upon. The reason why our imports from all sorts of countries have increased alarmingly is that we have been in a state of high inflation. It seems to me that the noble Lord, in expatiating on the history of the balance of payments, did scant justice to the performance of his own Government, with Mr. Jenkins as Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, by refraining from inflation, turned out a surplus on the balance of payments of quite gratifying dimensions.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord. I was seeking, I hope with the agreement of the House, to approach this matter on entirely non-Party lines: indeed, I have administered praise and blame throughout my remarks so far quite dispassionately. But there is another reason, too. When we come to the analysis of our deficit with the Eight, we find that in respect of manufactures such as chemicals, iron and steel, non-electrical machinery, electrical machinery, and transport and equipment, our net intake in 1971 was only £56 million. Our net intake, excess of imports over exports, in 1974 was no less than £875 million. So it seems to me that whatever efforts are made by any Government, this problem, which is very largely in the hands of private enterprise, their advisers and their financiers, is still not solved with Britain in the Common Market, any more than it was before our country entered into it, and in fact the position has deteriorated and goes on deteriorating. The question for consideration is not whether we can afford to disentangle ourselves from these arrangements, but whether we can afford to keep them as they are. I think that the economic reasons for Britain leaving the Common Market are in themselves more compelling at the present time than those reasons which suggest that she should remain.

There are, of course, political considerations, and these can possibly be put more aptly in financial terms, because in addition to our adverse balance of trade we were due originally to pay to the Common Market £1,060 million over five years. What for? It is quite true that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, in their negotiations in Dublin and earlier, succeeded in obtaining what the Economist calls a "budget discount", which may be as much as £104 million or in some cases £125 million per annum. But that will still leave a net contribution of something like £560 million. I am well aware that the costs of the European Economic Commission, which I am given to understand run at £89 million per annum, have to be paid, but this is way above that figure; this is our net contribution. One explanation that occurs to me is that the payment is nothing more nor less, when the whole Common Agricultural Policy is worked out, than a direct subsidy to the French farmer, and the political advantages of that for the maintenance of Right of Centre Governments in France, whether of M. Pompidou or M. Giscard d'Estaing, cannot be overlooked.

But there are the political aspects to consider. My noble friends on this side of the House, whose views I respect profoundly and with whom I am happy to report I am on terms of political friendship, look at the Community as a larger community of interests. They look at it from the point of view of working hand in hand with our Socialist friends on the Continent; they have in the back of their minds that Socialism is essentially international, and I respect their view. But there is another point of view, too, which they ought to take into account, which was enunciated by Sir Christopher Soames himself, one of the Community Commissioners. His angle differs profoundly from that of my noble friends. He said: I believe going into Europe is based essentially on the capitalist system and will always be so, and this gives us the best chance to promote the conditions which will show the people the wisdom of having in power a Government that believes in free enterprise and the capitalist system. Those two views are not easily reconciled, yet in a way they are symptomatic of the state of our country at the present time, so far as domestic considerations are concerned. On the one hand, there is organised labour in Great Britain, conscious of its power and not going to be shoved around; and, on the other hand, there is capital, firmly entrenched and, according to Sir Frederick Catherwood, either going slow or going on strike. These are matters that are entirely outside the control of any Government; they are essentially symptomatic of the deep divisions within our society. Whether noble Lords continue in the Common Market or go out—

Several Noble Lords: Order, order!


My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to intervene for one moment? I have listened with great attention to the noble Lord's forceful utterances in which he has laid great stress on the failure of private enterprise in this country, and the fact that within the Common Market private enterprise has failed even more greatly. I have not been in private enterprise for the whole of my life, but I have observed it at close quarters, and have recently joined it for a year or two. I should like to put these two analogies. Before you accept this condemnation—

Several Noble Lords: Question!


If you are in a motorcar which is driven at violent speed—

Several Noble Lords: Order, order!


My Lords, if the noble Lord would permit me to intervene, may I say that it is a custom in your Lordships' House that when a noble Lord gives way for an intervention it is for the purpose of elucidating a point or seeking to put a question. It seemed to me that the noble Lord was moving into the field of making a statement, which I think is not right. I hope, therefore, that he will desist and allow my noble friend to continue, perhaps bearing in mind that the time is approaching when your Lordships' House will wish to come to a decision.


My Lords, may I apologise to the House if that is how your Lordships took my intervention. I felt it to be elucidation.


My Lords, I have taken the point made by the noble Lord, and have done my best to suggest that these defects apply under both Governments; nor am I willing to cast any blame on any firms or companies. Some of the great national companies, and some small ones, have a very fine reputation in all fields, but this is not universally applicable. Over three centuries ago—


My Lords, may I intervene and ask the Leader of the House if it is usual for Back-Benchers to talk for over 30 minutes at this stage of a two-day debate?

Several Noble Lords: Hear, hear!


My Lords, my noble friend puts a question to me to which I can only reply "too often".


My Lords, I am a little sorry at my noble friend's intervention. I quite understand that many noble Lords disagree profoundly with what I have said, but it is a tradition in this House that minorities shall have fair hearings, and I have sat through many speeches by noble Lords in this House, in some instances going well over the hour, and not possibly relevant.


My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to interrupt for a moment, and say that it is not what he has said that noble Lords disagree with; it is the time he has taken to say it.


My Lords, I accept the rebuke of the noble Lord, and will endeavour to bring my remarks to a conclusion as quickly as I can. I implore my noble friends on this side of the House to make quite sure that the political implications of what they are doing are fully understood by them. One of the basic principles of the Common Market is the freedom of movement of capital, and the freedom of movement of labour. So far as the freedom of movement of capital is concerned, there has already been considerably more outflow from this country than inflow; some £394 million out, and some £50 million in.

It is when we come to consider the mobility of labour that more important considerations arise. Sometimes, when people have been out of public life for some time, they tend to regard people as statistics, but if one accepts the provision of the mobility of labour what it means, so far as this country is concerned, is that labour may flow from one country to another in exactly the same way as it has done from Italy to Germany, with people being uprooted from their homes, and having less citizenship rights in the country to which they go. If that ever happened to this country, as it could within the rules, there will be a waste of the social furniture in the districts which they left, and uprooting of families all over the country. Moreover, if the mobility of labour achieves its purpose, it reduces the political pressure which unemployment is bound to engender within its own national boundaries, and removes that pressure to a place where it cannot be dealt with. For these reasons I hope that the views of noble Lords on this side of the House will come down heavily in favour of our retaining the political power in this country to deal with our own affairs in our own way.

6.48 p.m.


My Lords, I am only too conscious of the fact at this hour of the evening that there have been over 50 speakers before me, and that there can be very little left for anyone to say. All I can promise is that I shall not delay you overlong. I believe that my noble friend Lord Bruce referred to the standing of the pound vis-à-vis the French franc, and seemed to be somewhat worried as to its condition at this particular moment. I do not really know why he singled out the French franc. It is not exactly in our favour in any of the markets of the world at the moment, but I would say now that if we pull out of Europe at this stage, we shall see such a flood of capital out of this country that the condition of the pound today will be looked upon as being a highly satisfactory one compared to the state it will be in within a matter of a few months of our withdrawal.

My only reason for speaking tonight was to own up, if you like, that until 1972 I had grave reservations about our entering Europe. So much so that during that year, when I had the honour to be Lord Mayor of London, I referred to it in the Lord Mayor's Banquet speech, much to the consternation of my brother aldermen when they learned that I proposed to make any reference to that rather difficult problem at that time. The Prime Minister, of course, was the Prime Minister of the day and not the one we have now, and naturally you can imagine their concern at my rising not to express wholehearted agreement with our entry.

My only reasons against our entry were really reservations, principally because of the terms we appeared to have obtained at that time and because for many years I have had close connections with the Commonwealth countries, particularly Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I shared their concern as to how they would come out of any negotiations with Europe, and our possible joining of the Common Market. Since then it is perfectly obvious that the terms have been greatly improved. We are very welcome in Europe. Having had the opportunity of discussing the issue with the three Commonwealth countries to which I have referred, far from their now being concerned about our entry they would be far more concerned if we withdrew. They can see a future for themselves in Europe which they could not see possibly three or four years ago.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting Brussels and spending two days at the EEC headquarters. When I came away the first evening I could not quite define the feelings I had about the first day when touring that vast building. Then it occurred to me that the atmosphere there was very like that surrounding the Joint Planning Staffs which we had sometimes in the last war, composed of American, Commonwealth, Belgian, French and other troops, when we were planning an operation. Nationality did not come into it. We all had a plan, one aim and one object. That was the feeling I had during that first day and it was reinforced during the second day in our Brussels headquarters. One was not conscious at any time that one was in an organisation composed of many nationalities. One had the feeling that nationalities did not come into it; everyone talked the same language, everyone was willing to help and the efficiency and general standard of the officials was outstanding.

I am as proud as anybody of this country and of our past. I am one of those who wish we were still a World Power, a great influence in the world as we used to be. For contrary to what many people say we were a power for good. The good we did will live long after the Empire has been forgotten. The past is behind us and it is no good looking to the past. The future lies ahead. We can travel alone and a very unhappy and unpleasant experience that would be. Or we can travel in company with our good friends in Europe knowing that they need us, knowing that we are welcome. I also feel that we in this country can give Europe a lead. After all, there is no other country in the world with more experience than this country in getting on with and assisting other nations of every colour and creed. Our record is a good one and our vast experience in that direction is very much needed in Europe, and I am perfectly sure it will be greatly appreciated.

Our future lies in Europe. We have no alternative in my view. The only alternative is that we become an offshore group of islands, unable to feed ourselves, with insufficient raw materials to supply our industries, with possible trade barriers erected against us in many countries which would otherwise be free for us to operate in. That is the choice. The choice would be to continue as a trading nation as we always have, but we would be trading with the dice loaded against us. So as one who was not the most enthusiastic of Marketeers, I come down firmly on the side of our entry into Europe. I shall go through the Lobby this evening to vote for staying in Europe. I believe that we have no other future.

6.56 p.m.


My Lords, there is one aspect and one only of a federated Europe; that is to say, a closelyknit European union, that I considered to have any merit whatsoever. That was the possibility of realising Ernest Bevin's dream, that a man or a woman should be able to go to Victoria Station without a passport, with only British currency in his pocket and buy a ticket to the farthest corner of Europe and travel all round that Continent without worrying about passports, customs, exchange or immigration controls. But I do not think that this will now happen in my lifetime, and paradoxically I am glad, because this means that all the other far less attractive features of European union, the inevitable centripetal tendencies, the centralisation of power, the gradual erosion of national characteristics will not happen either.

The evidence for this is two-fold. The first is an interview given by M. Couve de Murville, the former French Foreign Minister, to a journalist the other day, in which he made it quite clear that he opposed totally the concept of majority rule within the Community. Unanimity must be the order of the day, with the clear implication that France will veto any Community legislation thought to be inimical to her interests. The significance is that although M. Couve de Murville is no longer a Minister, his Gaullist views are shared by a very wide spectrum of people in France, whether or not they happen to be nominal Gaullists. I suspect they form the majority and that in the long term their views will prevail. The other evidence can be inferred from the conduct and the results of the Dublin renegotiations and from the White Paper that followed.

It is clear that the present Government, in contrast to their predecessors, show that they intend to be tough and determined in defending British interests, or rather what they believe to be British interests, which of course may not be the same thing. European monetary union, scheduled for 1980, is now postponed. There will have to be no harmonisation of VAT rates and no free movement of capital. With two of the larger EEC countries of a like mind, it is obvious that federation is a nonstarter. What we are going to have, I suspect, is a Europe des Patriot despite the Prime Minister's denial of this on page 10 of the White Paper. Clearly this apparent relaxing of the overtight European bonds has satisfied a good many former anti-Marketeers as the voting figures in another place indicate. But many of us who are neither of the Left nor members of the Labour Party still oppose Britain's membership of the EEC even under the renegotiated terms.

By briefly examining, with much necessary over-simplification, eight of the main advantages of EEC membership claimed by pro-Marketeers, I hope I can persuade any of your Lordships who are still undecided to join us in opposition. First, the strongest card of the pro-Marketeers is the free trade aspect and the larger Market for our exports in the EEC. Had we started early enough we could have had a larger market without any of the disadvantages attaching to EEC membership, had we tried to negotiate terms for EFTA within the EEC, which might have happened had we started seven or eight years ago. I believe this was Mr. Reginald Maudling's favoured course at one time. Now it is evidently too late, and I have to concede to the Marketeers that if we come out of Europe now it will take a little time to rebuild our links. We are going to be in difficulties for a while, ment in some degree affect our indiviesting maiden speech, was rather more optimistic on this score, but I cannot agree with him.

Secondly, it is now claimed that the Common Agricultural Policy is of undoubted longterm permanent benefit to this country. I concede that in the circumstances that obtain today we are on balance probably net beneficiaries from the CAP, but without going so far as Sir John Winnifrith I do not think that this will be the case looking some years ahead. However, to give the pro-Marketeers the benefit of the doubt. I am prepared to admit that taking one year with another the net effect of CAP so far as Britain is concerned may be neutral.

The third advantage claimed is that Britain's membership of the EEC is absolutely essential to prevent conflict breaking out once again between France and Germany. I can well understand how those of a somewhat older generation to my own, who fought in the First World War or in the Second, and possibly in both, came to believe this. In the circumstances prevailing at the time of the genesis of the European idea, soon after the end of the war, it appeared, despite the destruction in Europe, that Western Europe was still the centre of the universe. The British, French, Portuguese and Dutch Empires were still in existence, just; and the Russians were still our allies, though beginning to be a little troublesome; and America, despite the generosity of Marshall Aid, did not appear to be willing to be a major Power in the world at that time. It looked then as if things would revert to the way they always had been. Now, of course, conditions have changed. Power has flowed away from Europe in every sense of the word—politically, economically and so on—and although there are all sorts of potential conditions where civil war or minority strife may take place, Cyprus, Ulster, the Basque country, between the Flemings and Walloons and so on, the pre-conditions for a major war between European Powers, now that the danger to Western Europe is entirely external, simply do not apply.

The fourth advantage claimed is also rather old hat. This is the supposed advantage of scale and this really dates from about 15 years ago when massive amalgamations, mergers, and take-overs of every sort were in vogue. It was thought that bigger was better, and more efficient. The concept of that time one well remembers: that the pattern for the future was for enormous factories with the most expensive modern equipment which had to be worked 24 hours a day, that workers would spend their entire working lives on production lines on the shift system, that consequently buses and undergrounds would run 24 hours a day, as would radio and television and the rest—all to produce an endless stream of semi-durable consumer goods. The words "ecology", "conservation", "devolution" and the phrase "small is beautiful" were totally unknown at that time. Now the pendulum has swung the other way and people realise the disadvantages of mammoth firms—that often the larger the firm the worse the labour relations—and this argument of scale no longer holds good.

The fifth question is that of defence. If there is ever a case for surrendering some sovereignty it is surely in the sphere of defence; if one cannot defend oneself then everything else one does is valueless; but I hardly need remind your Lordships that NATO is not synonymous with the EEC. Many, if not most NATO countries are not members, while on the other hand one of the most important EEC countries is not a member of NATO.

The sixth point is the much vaunted common foreign policy. This was not very much help to the Dutch at the time of the Arab oil embargo. Then, within the past week we have seen a small country, of which not more than 15 per cent. of the population support the Communists—I think this is conceded by even the most Left-Wing apologists—brutally invaded by people from the North, using 15 divisions and equipped with the most modern Russian weaponry, causing tremendous havoc, distress, misery and bloodshed. The certainty is that self-determination will be denied to the South Vietnamese people at the very least, and there is a strong possibility of massacre, perhaps on a large scale. Not one cheep of protest has come from any EEC country, either collectively or individually, and that includes signatories of the Paris Agreement. Personally, I believe that this is a matter for shame and I very much fear, in the event of Soviet tanks rolling into Finland, Austria or, perhaps more likely, into Yugoslavia after the death of Marshal Tito, the same craven response, or more accurately non-response, will be forthcoming, unless the foreign policy of the Community changes a great deal.

Then there is the argument that it would be immoral to withdraw, that it would cause bitterness and hostility in the rest of the Community. Mr. George Thomson, in a surprisingly ignored speech on 2nd November 1974, said, The British must get rid of any idea that the Community in any way rotates around the issue of whether they remain Members". If Mr. Thomson, the EEC Commissioner, is right—and there is no reason to suppose that anybody knows better than he does —then withdrawal could be accomplished with the minimum of ill-feeling and recrimination.

There are four aspects of the EEC about which even its apologists are not too happy. The first is the question of unnecessary harmonisation. It is true that proposals for standardising our bread, beer, dressed poultry and various other items have for the moment been put into cold storage—I think the metaphor is justified in view of the stockpiling proclivities of the CAP—but there is no guarantee that these will not be reactivated at some time. Second is the question of the 40-ton lorries to which the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, drew attention yesterday. He told us that we would probably have to spend up to £200 million in strengthening roads and bridges. My fear is that the large 40-ton Berliet juggernauts, excellent vehicles though they may be, will deliver the final death blow to certain historic towns and villages already punch-drunk from the batterings delivered by smaller, British made juggernauts.

Third is the question of VAT. This is perhaps one of the most unpopular taxes introduced into this country. It was originally devised for those countries where the payment of one's due taxes was the exception rather than the rule. It would surely never have been introduced into Britain if it were not for our incipient EEC membership. The great worry to me is the contribution that this tax is making towards the fast-growing elimination of the small man—the window cleaner, cobbler, upholsterer, small shopkeeper, small businessman of every type. Apart from the personal tragedies involved, there are great sociological and political dangers. If all the selfemployed were gradually eliminated from this country and we were left with wage and salary earners on one side and the directors of big business combines, civil servants and legislators on the other, the scene would be set for the corporate State; and whether the corporate State is of the Right or the Left does not matter, because it comes to the same thing in the end.

Then, fourthly, there is the inevitable pressure by virtue of our membership of the Community towards ever greater metrication and decimalisation. There is nothing more jarring to the ear than hearing an East Anglian tractor driver, a Northern small shopkeeper or a West Country timber merchant struggling in embarrassed fashion with the words "metre", "kilogram", "centilitre" and so on. It is just not British and it is not part of our heritage.

I believe that a great deal of the malaise and worry in this country is caused by people having their familiar props knocked out from under them and having their familiar landmarks swept away. I have in mind our currency which, after all, is far older than our national anthem and our flag, among other things. But this anxiety that our tradition should be maintained is in no way incompatible with maintaining and strengthening links with Europe in the fields of art, music, architecture, design and so forth. A claim made by some, though not all, pro-Marketeers is that the EEC is synonymous with Europe and European culture. It is not synonymous with Europe; it is not even synonymous with Western Europe. Gerona, Geneva, Graz and Gothenburg are every bit as European as Messina, Marseilles, Malines and Munich, even though the first four are outside the EEC, and the second four are within it.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said yesterday that the only conclusion we can draw is that the strong opposition to our membership of the Community is either the result of simple unreasoning and deep-seated nationalist prejudice, or some rather sinister and not always publically avowed political purpose. Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, almost all the Asian, African, South American and Caribbean countries, as well as Japan, Australia and New Zealand are all independent and self-governing without manifesting the characteristics referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn.

The same applies to Canada. Over the years, there has been a small amount of pressure in Canada to join with the United States. But the great majority of Canadians do not want to see their 12 territories and provinces become the 52nd to 63rd States of the United States respectively. No one in consequence calls them Little Canadians in the way that anti-Marketeers tend to be called Little Englanders. All the countries I have mentioned feel able to maintain their independence, their self-government, their prosperity and their self-respect, while remaining on the most amicable and co-operative terms with their neighbours and their friends throughout the world. I believe that we can and should do the same, and I therefore must vote against the Government this evening.

7.14 p.m.


My Lords, if I rise at a rather late hour I can say only that it is not my fault. With one or two notable exceptions, it has been the dullest debate I have ever had the misfortune to listen to. A great deal too much has been said about economics, and during the very brief period I intend to occupy your Lordships' time I shall try to bring the debate back to the reality, which is political. As the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, fully realises—as does the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell—this is a political issue. Do we stay in the Common Market or do we come out of Europe. The price of pigs and butter, and consideration of all the other countries, and of whether Munich is in and Malines is out, does not matter at all. It does not affect the issue. I have been in this business for 30 years, which is a long time—


My Lords, practically the whole of the debate today has been on the political issue. The noble Lord may not have heard it, but this point may help to shorten his speech.


My Lords, I heard a great deal too much of it. But the noble Lord was one of the notable exceptions to which I referred earlier, so he need not take offence. There has been much said about economics—the noble Lord must surely realise that. But we are discussing a political issue. I have been in this business for 30 years, ever since the San Francisco Conference which set up the United Nations, and at which I was a Press representative. I remember writing in 1945—exactly 30 years ago—that the policy of national self-determination was leading to secession and isolation, covered up with the smoke screen of a high-sounding but impotent international organisation, the United Nations. Meanwhile, the Russians were rapidly filling up the vacuum in central and Eastern Europe created at Teheran and Yalta. In the conclusion of another despatch—written the following week—I said: So far as Europe is concerned the Western democracies constitute for us an essential minimum; and our continuing failure to form a regional group is greatly to be deplored. It is my firm conviction that the foundations of a new world order can best be laid on regional groups of nations which have strategic, political, and economic interests in common. And, so far as Western Europe is concerned, the lead must be given by Britain. That was written in 1945, and quite a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, but we have not got very far. We started off not too badly. There was the Committee for a United Europe, of which I was a foundation member, formed by Churchill in 1947. Then in 1948 came the Hague Conference, in which the noble Lord, Lord Duncan-Sandys, played a great part. It led to the Zurich speech by Churchill when he referred to the necessity to create a kind of United States of Europe. Then the Council of Europe was set up at Strasbourg. I was an original delegate to the Council of Europe from another place, and I sat there in Strasbourg for seven solid years. I very well remember the journey we took to the first meetings of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, when everything seemed hopeful. I travelled there alone with Churchill, from Milan to Strasbourg. I pressed him to define exactly what he meant by a "kind of United States of Europe". He refused to be drawn into any detail, but he said he wanted a European political authority with real powers. Then he looked at me and said: We are not making a machine, you know; we are growing a living plant. Changing the metaphor, he said: We have lit a fire which may blaze or go out—or perhaps it will ebb for a time, and then begin to glow again. It is because I feel that the fire ebbed and that it is now beginning to glow again that I am optimistic tonight. We have had our set backs. There was Bevin's refusal to join the Coal and Steel Community—that was absolute madness. There was Eden's refusal to take part in the negotiations for a European Defence Community, although Churchill had demanded in the Council of Europe the creation of a European army in which we should all play a worthy and noble part. There was Spaak's resignation from the presidency of the Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg and his march off with M. Monet to create the Six.

Then, my Lords, there was our fatal refusal to send a delegate—we sent an observer, but he took no part in the proceedings and was politely shown the door—to the Messina Conference of the Six, which resulted in the Treaty of Rome, in which we played no part whatsoever. The Six weighed anchor without us. Finally, the Treasury pole-axed the Strasbourg economic plan of 1954—that was over 20 years ago. It was a plan for the co-ordination of monetary policies, something we have been trying in vain to achieve ever since. It involved an investment plan and schemes for stabilising the prices of basic products. It also involved a central European bank and, finally, automatic credits for countries in balance of payments difficulties. In short, it was a plan for comprehensive, economic and monetary union in Western Europe. Some of the finest economic minds in Europe gave their full attention to that plan, which was turned down by the Treasury.

The Treasury is grand at turning things down. There has never been a Department to touch it. It has turned down everything that I have heard of during my 50 years in public life, and it is still going on doing it. It his brought down Government after Government. It is a terrible Department. I sometimes wonder how this country survives the Treasury. But never mind that. The noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery, in the meantime was giving some good advice. He said: The strategic centre of the battle for world peace is Western Europe. We must be able to hold the position there. The task before the nations of the West is primarily political. Economic fusion and military strength [in Western Europe] will not be obtained until the political association between the group of nations concerned has first been defined. It has never been defined. It has not been defined today. That we must hope lies ahead.

The time to form a United States of Western Europe, some kind of United States of Western Europe under British leadership, under our guidance, was between the years 1949 and 1957. Then they were all clamouring for it; but we missed the tide. We turned down everything. There was despair at Strasbourg. I remember one Conservative delegation sending back to the Prime Minister a message signed by them all, begging him to do something to restore British prestige and to show that we meant business about the military defence and economic development of a united Europe. To this there was no reply.

In short, the responsibility during those critical years—and some of them were before De Gaulle returned to power and vetoed our entry into the Common Market—was ours more than theirs, and more than anyone else's. If we had done it then, it would have been running now for over 20 years. We might have gone a long way. We might have seen a very different Western Europe and Western world from the one we survey today. Our task is only beginning; it has not yet begun. We must get back to the spirit of Strasbourg, to the feeling of Strasbourg of the 1950s. New forms of political union which are not a surrender but a joint exercise by common consent of certain defined sovereign Powers are an essential basis of any constructive European unit. Before anything enconomic can be achieved, we must get that political basis established. It is not established. There must be a European Cabinet which should meet at regular intervals and be responsible to, and answerable to an elected European Parliament—not with mad gyrations between Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg, which goes on now at enormous expense, but with a proper central headquarters and a Parliament.

Now, my Lords, and in conclusion, I come to the vexed question of the sovereignty of Parliament. That has been troubling me a little, the sovereignty in this country. But there has never been a greater or more abject surrender of the sovereignty of Parliament than this ludicrous referendum which is about to take place and which I deplore. I hope it comes off all right; but we have surrendered a principle which I think we shall live to regret. This is not the only big issue that is going to come before the country. I do not want to see big issues made the subject of referenda. I want to see them referred to an elected Parliament and to an informed and intelligent Second Chamber. I believe that will happen and could happen; but the sovereign equality of small national States in the modern world of large groupings and super Powers is, to my mind, fantastic and highly dangerous nonsense. It is almost a mathematical formula for war. In May 1948, I said in another place: In my submission, war is inherent and endemic in a world of completely independent sovereign States. That is what we had between 1920 and 1939, when war broke out; all these little nations in Europe writhing in a straitjacket with a python in the middle—Germany—waiting to eat them, and finally attacking and once again attempting to impose on Europe integration by force, just as Napoleon and Bismarck had done before Hitler.

So, my Lords, what are the alternatives that confront us today? The alternatives are remaining in the Common Market and improving it along the lines that I have tried to suggest; or anarchy and isolation (which is a terrible thing in the modern world) and impotence. Burke said: When bad men combine the good must associate; otherwise they will perish one by one … an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. The fields of France, of Flanders, of Italy are drenched with British blood, all because Western Europe would not or could not unite. We cannot get away from that. This has gone on for centuries; and twice in this century. We do not want that to happen again; but whatever the danger of war may be—and I think the danger of war in Western Europe is at the moment remote, but it will be ever-present so long as we remain disunited—I believe a consequence of our getting out of the Common Market at this juncture would be what the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, in one of the most remarkable speeches in yesterday's debate said that it would be: that we should have a "squalid, unprofitable and unworthy future". Our future lies with Europe or we have no future at all.

7.28 p.m.


My Lords, the House will be relieved to know that I have no intention of treading for very long the well-worn path of a convinced pro-Marketeer. I do not suppose at this stage one would sway many votes by doing so. But I believe, as we enter the referendum campaign, that we should be clear as to what are and what are not valid arguments on both sides and where the burden of proof lies. I mention the burden of proof because, along with many other speakers, I want to stress the fact that we are in Europe; that we have been in the EEC for the past two and a quarter years and that it is not a question of going in; it is a question of staying in. Although we have been in since 1973, our membership and the more rapid development of the Community in the direction so many of us desire, as an outward-looking progressive entity giving leadership to the world, has unfortunately been bedevilled by uncertainty, uncertainty cast over this period by a number of different actions.

First, and I do not say this in any critical way, the uncertainty has been increased by the absence of Labour Party representation in the European Parliament. This is a matter of regret to many people, not only in this country but in other countries of the EEC. Secondly, the uncertainty was increased by the decision to renegotiate, not on a number of items that we wanted improved but by the insistence that the negotiation should be elevated to the status of renegotiating the terms of entry with the implied threat that if it did not work we should withdraw. In passing, I congratulate the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of Agriculture on what they have achieved. I would have preferred to see that achieved within a living Community rather than as renegotiation of the terms of entry. Thirdly, the uncertainty has been extended by the decision to hold a national referendum, and this must still be trying the patience of our partners. When one considers the uncertainties of 1974 and the appalling industrial unrest from which we in this country suffered in 1973, one can hardly claim that the past two years have been a representative test of Britain within the Community, or the Community working with Britain. That is why I feel that many arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, are irrelevant against the background of the past two years.

What we need now, I believe, is to establish a new confidence within the Community, a confidence engendered by Britain demonstrating a sincere desire to play her full part in the long-term development of a forward and outward-looking Community. In my view, the starting point on the road to new confidence—a new confidence in one another in the Community—can only be by a massive majority in favour of Britain staying in the EEC when the referendum votes are counted. That is what will give us the confidence we now need. I repeat, we are already in the EEC even if we have not, so far, been pulling our full weight. A great responsibility rests on those people urging us to leave the Community. There is always a great responsibility on the shoulders of those who urge one of the partners in a marriage to sue for a divorce. That is what the people who want us to leave the Community are seeking to do. It is on their shoulders that the responsibility must lie for the grave repercussions if the referendum goes against the considered advice of the Government.

The first repercussion is the appalling difficulty of disengaging from Brussels, and the continuing uncertainty there will be over the strength of sterling, unemployment, the balance of payments and our whole standard of living. To think that disengagement could be achieved in eight months shows the naivety of the people who put forward that proposal. I understand that Mr. Roy Jenkins has been reported this evening as saying that those who believe it can be done in that time are suffering under a dangerous illusion, and he is right. The second repercussion will be the lasting damage done to our future diplomatic power with any State by our unilateral abrogation of an international treaty solemnly entered into after a General Election in 1970, when all three Parties were in favour of joining the Community. Thirdly, it means in any future negotiations with the Community we will have dissipated whatever good will we might have had before we entered into discussions with them. We cannot afford to be without friends in the years to come.

Fourthly, by leaving the Community we put at risk our peace and security as well as our economic future. In my view, this is a high price to pay, and it is not a risk countries should be asked to take. The future is going to be bleak enough inside the Community until we recognise what a tremendous effort we have to make on our own behalf to return to stability, productivity and, hopefully, some prosperity. To isolate ourselves from our friends and to try to establish a new power base on our own is a recipe for national suicide. In or out of the Community, we have a very hard road ahead. I believe it must be harder outside than in, and I am very much reinforced in this belief by my recent talks in Brussels with many of the Commissioners. I endorse the tributes which have been paid to those who have worked in Brussels, not least Christopher Soames and George Thomson and their colleagues.

I remain unconvinced by the arguments of our opponents, and I am particularly disheartened at their growing insularity; their arguments seem to have become less valid with the years, and with all the experience we have had within the EEC. Their arguments have all been answered by the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, in an excellent speech by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, today, and by the White Paper. I am only sorry that the anti-Marketeers have not been convinced by their own side of the advantages of Britain remaining in the Community.

I do not know why the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, has put down his Amendment; I suppose it is to get the last word. But it is a sad day when we find the noble Lord reduced to proposing such a radical, challenging and full-blooded Amendment; namely, to omit "approves" and insert "takes note of". I am sure, having listened to his speech, he will be receiving in no time an invitation to join the Ramblers' Association— and I mean no disrespect to that fine organisation! I hope therefore we shall not be distracted from our main purpose tonight of registering a massive majority in favour of Britain remaining inside and working well together with our colleagues in the Community.

7.35 p.m.


My Lords, we are at the end of a very long two day debate, which I devoutly hope will be the last debate on this subject in your Lordships' House for ever. There could be very few of your Lordships who have spoken in the past two days who have not spoken on this subject before at one time or another. There are two noble Lords who have not done so, the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Radeliffe, and the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, and I should like to join in congratulating them on their excellent maiden speeches. In spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said, I have greatly enjoyed a number of other speeches, although I have not always agreed with them. I greatly enjoyed the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Shinwell, Lord Shackleton, Lord Gordon-Walker, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, Lord Chalfont and, of course, Lord George-Brown, and my noble friend Lord Chelwood; and also, if I do not embarrass him, my noble friend Lord Tranmire, who I thought made the only good speech for the anti-Marketeers that I have heard in this House.

There is another person who perhaps will not mind being mentioned, my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel. Lord Quickswood, on retiring as Provost of Eton, said: Most Provosts leave Eton for Heaven. I leave for Bournemouth. All your Lordships who leave this House leave it, and all earthly things—supposing there are any left—for good. We are indeed fortunate that in the shape of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, we have two noble Lords who have defied the natural laws and each, in his own reincarnation, is even wiser and more splendid than in his original form! My noble friend Lord Home gave ample evidence of that yesterday. As for my noble friend Lord Balniel, he has shortcircuited the normal procedures for hereditary Peers for joining this House and has anticipated his father's death by, I hope, a great number of years, and in doing so has done a great service to your Lordships' House.

Most of us in this House were, brought up when the map was predominantly coloured red, for a very different reason from that which it is coloured red today. In an era, if not of British domination, certainly with Britain as one of the few major Powers and, in addition, with a large Empire, it was a difficult adjustment for us to realise the necessity to collaborate economically and politically with our neighbours. The difference between Britain over these past 30 years in terms of industrial strength, in resources, in influence and in military power—although perhaps it has been comparatively gradual —has placed us in a situation where, like other middle-sized Powers, we need to collaborate for our security and for the best use and development of our resources.

We are, I think, as a race a little complacent and not a little xenophobic. Your Lordships will recall a memorable headline in The Times some years ago: "Briton killed in German thunderstorm". I suppose ' to be absolutely honest' I was brought up to share a good many of those views myself. It may be that, living out-side one's country—and one has to live outside rather than to visit—one gets a different perspective. It was during the time when I lived abroad that I began to realise, rather late in life, that Britain is not just geographically but culturally and economically a part of Europe.

I once ventured to say to your Lordships, on one of the many occasions when I have made speeches on this subject, that if one looked upon the history of the last 2,000 years or more, almost everything good in the civilised world had sprung from European origins—our political philosophy, our Arts, our culture, our literature. And, if we were equally honest, almost everything bad had originated from Europe as well—the nationalisms, the jealousies, the greed which in this century has been the cause of two wars involving the whole world.

It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that a Europe united in purpose, strong both politically and economically, would be a force for good, for stability and for constructive advance—not just for Europe's benefit alone, though of course that is very important, but as a contribution to a peaceful and developing world. I sometimes find it rather strange that those whom one would expect most particularly to welcome an international organisation devoted to that end are the most suspicious of it—and particularly some people who have devoted their lives to furthering the cause of international understanding.

I can understand that some people do not like some aspects of the present EEC, and indeed it would be foolish to assert that this, in its comparatively early stages, is something which everybody would agree has turned out as we hoped it would. But I am unable to understand why it is better to seek international collaboration outside such a potentially beneficial union than inside it. And, if I may be allowed to say so, I am sometimes rather puzzled that those people who in foreign affairs speak most internationally are, in the sphere of economic affairs, the most narrowly nationalistic and inward looking.

There has been a tendency on the part of a great many people in this country over a large number of years to look very inwardly at ourselves—understand? ably perhaps, because of our economic troubles. But from the point of view of the interests of this country and our present situation, from the point of view of our neighbours and friends, who have a right to expect a contribution from us. that is neither sensible nor, in the long run, likely to be to Britain's advantage.

If the referendum—and I am not going to discuss that hideous subject this evening—were to go against our continuing membership, at least one thing would not change: the EEC would continue. The other eight countries would continue their progress towards closer unity, both economic and political. I have never believed that it is possible for countries whose economies are so closely allied as they now are, and will increasingly be in the future, to behave as if foreign and defence policy were not of equally critical and crucial concern. For example, how can it not be a matter for concern if one or other of the countries of the Community embarks on a course of action which affects the security of the others? In the long term, therefore, I believe there will be an increasing movement towards a common foreign and defence policy acceptable to all of us. Whether or not we are inside or outside the Community, we are still part of Europe. We shall be still vitally concerned with what happens, dependent with' our friends in Europe for our security, and allied to them with ties that no referendum can break.

But I would not like to see the future of Europe—which is my future and the future of my children, my grandchildren and my country—decided in a forum in which I am not represented and from which I have deliberately cut myself off. Issues will be decided in these next few years which will shape and change the whole course of European history. Can it really be argued that we in Britain should vote to be excluded from these decisions on which the future of this country, as much as of the other eight, will depend?

In what one might call the penultimate round of these debates—the months before we finally joined the EEC—the opponents of our entry concentrated upon the consequences to the cost of living which our entry would bring, and particularly the consequences to the price of food. It is not necessary at this stage of the debate to show how wrong they have been proved. We have heard it during this debate and we all know it to be so, so we need waste no time on it. But this time the opponents of our remaining in the Common Market are concentrating upon the loss of sovereignty. I suppose it is true to say that membership of the EEC in fact means some loss of sovereignty, but not one which, in my submission, is of very great importance since the veto power in the Council of Ministers can protect the vital interests of this country.

But does not any treaty in some degree involve the loss of sovereignty? And what is true of international treaties is equally true in our own private lives. Do not the laws that are passed by Parliament in some degree affect our individual sovereignty, our independence and our rights, which we give up willingly— or perhaps, sometimes, not so willingly— in the interests of what we believe to be orderly government and the greatest good of the greatest number? If we belong to any association, whether it be local, national or international, we cannot expect to get our own way all the time; but we belong because of the benefits we derive and because we believe that association has a beneficial purpose.

If, in some small way, we lose a little bit of our sovereignty by being members of the EEC, it seems to me that we gain immeasurably more by our membership. To me, those who speak of sovereignty are trying to protect something which is only in itself worth while if it is used to advantage. I do not value sovereignty for the sake of sovereignty. I am more interested in what that sovereignty can be used for and how it can benefit the British people.

I cannot pretend that I am overly impressed either with the arguments or the statistics which have been produced by the anti-Marketeers to show that in economic terms our membership of the Community has been a disaster. For a country whose economic record since the war has been truly deplorable, access to a market of 250 million on the most favourable terms can hardly be said to put us at a disadvantage. I would say to those who point at the adverse trade balance with the other eight—though I do not accept the premise on which they argue—that the fact still remains that if we were outside the Market those figures would be the same or considerably worse, or else we should be living in a siege economy.

If I may give one example, we often talk about imported motor cars. Last quarter, I believe something like 32 per cent. of the new registrations were foreign. Why? I suppose there are three explanations: first, the foreign motor car might be better; secondly, the British motor car might not be available because of lack of productivity and what is now euphemistically called "industrial action"; thirdly, it might be because the foreign car is cheaper. I do not know which of these three explanations is the right one, but I do not understand why leaving the Common Market would make it any less true or alter the fact that 32 per cent. of those who buy motor cars nowadays wish to buy a foreign one.

The remedy, surely, is in our own hands. There seems to be too much lack of confidence in some quarters in Britain's capacity to produce in competition with its friends and neighbours. I do not share that view. But to leave the Common Market would only put us at a disadvantage as against our competitors, and would do nothing to cure the underlying cause of our difficulties. The economic difficulties of this country are not going to be cured by locking ourselves away in our island, fearful of competition, increasingly poor but happy with our sovereignty, safely locked up in a deed box in Barclays Bank.

What would happen if the referendum result was, "No"? To begin with, for the first time in this country's history, I think, the British people would be repudiating a Treaty honourably entered into with the overwhelming approval of Parliament. I confess I find that shocking, and I find it shocking that the British people should be asked whether or not they are prepared to do that. In different circumstances, how self-righteous and pained we should be! I do not think we should underestimate the damage already done in Europe by our attitudes. Certainly nobody who has been in Europe recently will have derived any satisfaction from the way Britain is regarded among the members of the Community. When we entered they and we had high hopes of Britain's playing a leading and constructive role. Today I fear we are regarded as the odd man out, carping, uncertain of what we want, and uncertain as a partner and an ally.

But supposing it were so. Supposing the British people decided they wished to break this Treaty. What then is the future? There are three choices: association with the Commonwealth, association with the United States, or going it alone. If anybody supposes that the Commonwealth as now constituted wishes to see an exclusive association of the kind envisaged as an alternative to the EEC, then he cannot have visited the Commonwealth for a very long time indeed. I do not know of any leader in the Commonwealth who has not either publicly said or implied that the continuation of British membership is to be encouraged. As for association with the United States, the relative industrial, economic and military strength of the two countries is so uneven that, even were the United States to accept such a close association, we should inevitably become the most junior of partners whose voice and influence would be a minor one; and it might not be long before the reality would become a fact and we should find ourselves another State of the Union. I cannot believe that the people of this country would think that a satisfactory alternative.

Lastly, we can go it alone and negotiate as best we can with those whom, having broken our solemn Treaty and obligations, we seem to have discarded. I am bound to say that I do not see much incentive for our friends in Europe to treat us with much generosity, or indeed much need for them to do so. Is it likely that we should get the same favourable terms from them that we have at the present time? Nor can I see negotiations in the world outside leading to a state of affairs which would make up for what we have lost. My Lords, no doubt we should not starve. No doubt we should muddle along somehow. But the British people would find that, relative to their neighbours, their standard of life, their hopes, their influence and their livelihoods would gradually diminish until I think it quite possible that we should be a relatively poor island off a prosperous, powerful and influential Europe.

There are those who feel that everything should turn upon economics, self-interest and advantage, and of course no country can afford not to lay the greatest possible stress on that aspect. I do not believe that judged in those terms there is anything but gain from our European association, but I also believe there is something a little more than that. I am not ashamed to proclaim my faith in a united Europe, in a vision of that Continent of which we are a part, united as a force capable of exerting influence and of constructive help to those countries less fortunate than ourselves; not as a power bloc in the sense of a rival to the two super-Powers, but as a vigorous and stable ally to those who believe in all those values which seem to be disappearing from so much of the world at the present time, foremost in cherishing and defending those basic freedoms which I believe are at risk.

Experience and good sense show that in a rapidly shrinking world we are increasingly dependent one on the other. Yet, paradoxically, there is a tendency for countries to break up into smaller units. Let us, my Lords, in this vital issue be sensible and at the same time perhaps a little less prosaic than usual. Let us dedicate ourselves, not to a narrow insularity and nationalism, but to the vision of a Europe prosperous, peaceful and showing what can be done by likeminded countries in good will—an example to others; an example in which Britain plays her proper and rightful part. The opportunity will not come our way again.

7.55 p.m.


My Lords, I shall seek to follow the example of some noble Lords and set an example to others by being brief. We have had a good debate. I would not have referred to it as the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, did. It certainly has lacked the torment and tension of the debates we had in 1971 and 1972, and it is right and good that that should be so.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment to say that all I meant was that it was a bit dull at moments today.


The noble Lord should have been here yesterday. My Lords, I would join with other noble Lords in extending congratulations to three notable maiden speakers who spoke yesterday. If I were to single out my noble friend Lord Wilson of Radcliffe I would do so because he was the only genuine maiden of the bunch. His speech was of great quality and based upon long experience in the commercial and trading world. The speech of my noble friend Lord Paget was, as we expected, pungent and controversial, but nobody minded that. To the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, may I say that we welcome him back. I have only one complaint. Four maiden speeches is one thing in which he shares with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. My difficulty is that when they come back they return in a different guise and have a different name. We should have made sure, in the light of people returning from another place, that they were allowed to take their former titles and avoid some of the many difficulties. But there is nothing we can do about it and therefore I would ask both noble Lords to rest content in your Lordships' House; at least to stay sufficiently long so that we may get used to their titles.

The position of the Government was made clear yesterday by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and today by my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts. There has been criticism because this Government set about renegotiating the terms of entry into the Community. We fought two Elections on that basis. We took the view—and it has been part of our resolutions both at conference and in another place—that Britain's proper place was within Europe, but that the terms were not good enough or not satisfactory enough for Britain in the long term. We set about those renegotiations and I believe they have been successful. They have not resulted in exactly what we had hoped for, but we believe that the gains made, particularly for the Commonwealth, are such that we as a Government can recommend them to Parliament and to the country.

I do not wish to be in too much disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, but my understanding of the attitude of our partners in the EEC is rather different from his. It is true that they were slightly put out because they had to start some tough renegotiation. But they are pragmatists; they are politicians; they knew the circumstances, and I think there was a recognition that, in certain respects, the terms were harsh. They have met us and we have obtained agreement. Therefore, the first question on which we must satisfy the British people is that the terms which have been renegotiated are those which give Britain a fair chance, in an economic sense, of developing as a genuine partner within the Community. I believe that we shall be able to persuade the British people to that effect.

However, I must make it quite clear that if I had any criticism of the previous Administration when they put forward their argument for entry into the Community it was that one was going to join a club of Good Samaritans; all that one had to do was to obtain entry and all the gains of the great big market would be there, from which we could immediately benefit. My view, which I believe my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington dealt with, was that in the early stages—certainly for a period of two or three years—even if everything was going well for us the terms of trade would be against this country, mainly because the European manufacturers would be operating from a much larger investment base than we would be able to operate from in this country. But now we are in the Community and the question is, can we come out?

I shall not underestimate the difficulties to which my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts has specifically referred: the question of negotiations and whether one could join EFTA. My understanding is that one country only in EFTA could preclude us from that Community. I foresee that, if we were to decide to come out, very grave difficulties would face us in finding a base for co-operation and for the exchange of merchandise and goods. But I think a more serious consequence would be that if we came out we would still be sucking in the goods as we have been doing over the last two years; at the same time we should be creating doubts in the minds of our own investors and our own manufacturing industries and traders and, also, in the minds of overseas buyers.

I believe that the deficit to which the noble Lord, Lord Tranmire, referred, as also did my noble friend, would be infinitely greater. It might be a complete disaster for this country in terms of foreign exchange. Those noble Lords who were in your Lordships' House during our debates in 1971 and 1972 will remember that I adopted a reluctant approach towards our entry into the Common Market. I did so for two reasons. One was the question of sovereignty, with which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has dealt. The other was the question of the Commonwealth. I have already referred to the Commonwealth. I believe we have already obtained a very satisfactory, long-term agreement for our Commonwealth and developing countries. As has been said on a number of occasions, none of the Commonwealth countries—certainly none of the developing Commonwealth countries that I know of—has asked for Britain to withdraw from the EEC. In fact, quite the reverse is the case.

In regard to sovereignty, I learned a great deal when I was serving under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King, and we looked into the question of the scrutiny of legislation. I should like to deal with the points which were made by the noble Baroness in a moment. If I had known what I learned during the course of that examination on behalf of your Lordships' House, that fear which I had in 1971–72 would largely have disappeared. The fact is that most of the people who are taking a view contrary to mine tonight feel that the Commission has such power that it can act contrary to the wishes of Member States. One of the facts that I learned was that Member States can exercise full control over the Commission. I think it is of great significance that, in future, there shall be three Heads of Government meetings which will exercise even greater control over the Commission than was, perhaps, in the past exercised by the Council of Ministers.

I have no doubt how your Lordships will vote tonight. My noble friend Lord Wigg has placed an Amendment on the Order Paper. I do not know whether, as has been suggested, it is a device in order to enable the noble Lord to wind up the debate. It may be so. I would have no objection to that procedure this evening, so long as it was not taken as a precedent, because I think it is right that the contrary view of the majority of your Lordships' House should have its proper position in our debate. However, I hope that the device which my noble friend has found will not be taken as a precedent.

I thought, too, that my noble friend was slightly off-beam when he blamed decimalisation upon the European Community. My understanding is that that is very far away from the truth. The noble Lord also dealt with the question which I think the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, is in a better position to reply to than I since it is a matter for the previous Administration, about whether there had been a nuclear deal between the British Prime Minister of the day and the French President. I can only say to my noble friend that we have no knowledge of such a deal. If there had been such a deal, I can only imagine that this Government would have become aware of it in one way or another.


My Lords, the matter can be settled quite simply by the Prime Minister approaching Mr. Heath or, if necessary, the present Leader of the Conservative Party, to gain their approval to the publication of the document which is in the Foreign Office files written by Sir Con O'Neill, paid for out of Government funds, which has set out the history of the negotiations of our entry into the Common Market. Publish it!


My Lords, that matter was dealt with the other day by my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts. I can only say to my noble friend that there is no point in persisting in that approach. My noble friend suggests that the Amendment which he has placed before the House is one that can add to Party unity and to national unity. I do not believe that this is so. I believe that it would not help because we must get the right answer in the referendum; that is, a vote for remaining in the European Community. I believe that it ought to be achieved by a sizeable vote. I believe, too, that the debates which we have had here and the expression of opinion which will be given in the Division Lobbies will be of interest to the electorate. I believe passionately that for too long this matter has been hanging around undecided, and I believe that whatever criticisms there may be of the referendum, this will provide an opportunity for putting beyond all peradventure any further discussion about where Britain's future lies. I believe that the future of Britain lies with the Community, for political reasons more than, perhaps, for economic reasons.

However, my Lords, in our present economic difficulties—largely of our own making over the very many years since the war—I believe that we shall be much weaker and less able to deal with our problems outside the Community. Therefore, my Lords, I hope that your Lordships' House will agree with the view that has been expressed by the Government, that we should accept the terms which have been renegotiated and that we should ask the British people to vote "Yes" at the referendum.

8.10 p.m.


My Lords, as I have been charged with putting down the Amendment in the form in which it appears on the Order Paper in order to speak last, I suppose I cannot be blamed for taking advantage of the crime with which I am charged, whether I am guilty or not. Anyway, I do not see it in terms of guilt. I am a Member of this House; therefore, as long as it suits me, I shall exercise the rights which I have not gained from your Lordships but which derive from my membership of this House.

The first point I want to make is to the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood. I am much obliged to him; he has researched into all that I have said, apparently, over the last 40 years, and the one thing which he has come up with and charged, me with is inconsistency, in that in 1947 I was a member of a discussion group which published a pamphlet containing a section written by the late Mr. R. W. G. McKay on the Federation of Europe, which was a topic at the time. I do not apologise for speaking on it, and I do not feel very guilty of the charge of being inconsistent. If, after all the 40 years I have been speaking on this subject, that is all he can find, I am really much better than I thought I was. Turning now to the Liberal Party, the noble Lord, Lord Byers, suggested that I should join the Ramblers' Association. I entirely agree, so long as there is a rule providing that there be no admission for humbugs, which would be one means of keeping him out.

I now want to turn to a statement made by the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, which interested me greatly. Obviously it commanded the attention of your Lordships' House, and he supplied all the evidence that I wanted. He said that in 1967—and I am in a position to know that he spoke the truth—all that has been obtained by renegotiation was then available to the then, and present. Prime Minister. So the situation is that in 1967 the French said "No"; but to Mr. Heath they said "Yes" for something less than we have now got. What was it that made M. Pompidou change his mind? We have the evidence from Mr. Heath himself; I have read the extract from his updated Godkin Lectures.

The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, I thought with great skill, yesterday brought out what it was all about. I always thought that this was what was in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel; what this debate is about, what the Common Market it about. It is about defence. The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, believes, and no doubt many others in this House believe, that by joining the Common Market we shall by some means or other regain our strength. I have always thought that one of the reasons why the nuclear deterrent so appealed to the Conservative Party was that it was almost a phallic symbol. It reminded them of their manhood which they had lost a long time ago. But the idea here was that we were once again going to become a nuclear Power, capable of meeting on equal terms the Americans and the Russians. I do not believe anything of the kind; I believe that the die is cast. We have spent £45,000 million in our straitened conditions—that is a nice sum to come off the tip of the tongue. The sum of £45,000 million has been spent on defence since the end of the war, and we are quite powerless even to hold our end up and to make an effective contribution in any field. To my mind the idea that we could ever again become a nuclear Power is absolute nonsense. One of the things that this debate has done today, at least, is to demonstrate, in the case of the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, and the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, that what we have really been talking about is defence.

Ever since I became a Member of the House of Commons I have said the same

thing, and I repeat it now. I believe these things ought to be elevated above Party. Let us be quite clear that this little escapade in which we are involved tonight is that the Party opposite—and I do not blame them—are squeezing the last drop of political advantage they can get out of the undoubted difficulties of the Labour Government. Those difficulties are very great, and in my judgment they are going to be very much greater. But while one may see the difficulties of the Labour Party, one should also be conscious of the difficulties created for the country as a whole, because they will be very great as well. One of the prices that will be paid for your Lordships' undoubted enthusiasm is tramping through the Lobby tonight in support of the Motion on the Order Paper tabled by the Government is going to be paid, not in this House but in the country, for whether it be the noble Lord the Leader of the House or the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, if they think this is the end, I want to assure them that this is only the beginning.


My Lords, the original Motion was, 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, since when an Amendment has been moved to leave out ("approves") and insert (" takes note of ").

8.16 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment, shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 21; Not-Contents, 263.

Beswick, L. Granville of Eye, L. Slater, L.
Blyton, L. [Teller.] Lee of Asheridge, B. Soper, L.
Briginshaw, L. Maelor, L. Sudeley, L.
Brockway, L. Milford, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Monson, L. Tranmire, L.
Castle, L. Paget of Northampton, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Shinwell, L. Wigg, L. [Teller].
Aberdare, L. Amherst, E. Ashbourne, L.
Abinger, L. Amherst of Hackney, L. Ashcombe, L.
Airedale, L. Amory, V. Ashdown, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Amulree, L. Atholl, D.
Allerton, L. Ardwick, L. Avebury, L.
Alport, L. Arran, E. Bacon, B.
Balerno, L. Geddes of Epsom, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Balniel, L. George-Brown, L. Maybray-King, L.
Banks, L. Gladwyn, L. Melchett, L.
Barber, L. Glendevon, L. Merrivale, L.
Barrington, V. Glenkinglas, L. Mersey, L.
Berkeley, B. Goodman, L. Meston, L.
Bessborough, E. Gordon-Walker, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Birdwood, L. Gore-Booth, L. Monck, V.
Birk, B. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Monk Bretton, L
Boothby, L. Goschen, V. Morris of Borth-y-Gest, L.
Bradford, E. Grantchester, L. Mottistone, L.
Brain, L. Greenway, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Grenfell, L. Moyola, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Gridley, L. Nathan, L.
Byers, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Netherthorpe, L.
Camoys, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Newall, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Northchurch, B.
Carrington, L. Hale, L. O'Brien of Lothbury, L.
Cathcart, E. Hall, V. Ogmore, L.
Chalfont, L. Halsbury, E. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Champion, L. Hampton, L. Pannell, L.
Chelwood, L. Hanworth, V. Pender, L.
Cobbold, L. Harcourt, V. Perth, E.
Collison, L. Harlech, L. Platt, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Harmsworth, L. Polwarth, L.
Cottesloe, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Popplewell, L.
Courtown, E. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Porritt, L.
Cowley, E. Hawke, L. Rankeillour, L.
Craigavon, V. Henderson, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Crathorne, L. Henley, L. Rea, L.
Crawshaw, L. Hirshfield, L. Redmavne, L.
Crook, L. Hives, L. Reigate, L.
de Clifford, L. Hughes, L. Rochester, L.
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Hunt, L. Rockley, L.
De La Warr, E. Hunt of Fawley, L. Rosslyn, E.
De L'Isle, V. Hylton, L. Rothermere, V.
Denbigh, E. Hylton-Foster, B. Rusholme, L.
Denham, L. Jacques, L. Russell of Liverpool, L.
Deramore, L. Kemsley, V. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.
Derwent, L. Kimberley, E. Sainsbury, L.
Devon, E. Kintore, E. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Devonshire, D. Kinnoull, E. St. Davids, V.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Kissin, L. St. Helens, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Lauderdale, E. St. Just, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Leatherland, L. Sandford, L.
Drogheda, E. Lee of Newton, L. Sandys, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Seear, B.
Dulverton, L. Listowel, E. Seebohm, L.
Dundonald, E. Lloyd, L. Segal, L.
Eccles, V. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Selkirk, E.
Effingham, E. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Sempill, Ly.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Long, V. Shackleton, L.
Elton, L. Long, V. Shannon, E.
Elwyn-Jones, L.(L. Chancellor.) Longford, E. Sharples, B.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Loudoun, C. Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal)
Errol of Hale, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Sherfield, L.
Erskine of Rerrick, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Silsoe, L.
Essex, E. Luke, L. Simon, V.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Lyell, L. Somers, L.
Falmouth. V. Lyons of Brighton, L. Southwark, L, Bp.
Ferrers, E. Lytton, E. Sramp, L.
Foot, L. McFadzean, L. Stedman, B.
Franks, L. Mackie of Benshie, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Furness, V. Mais, L. Strang, L.
Gage, V. Malmesbury, E. Strathcarron, L.
Gainford, L. Mancroft, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Gaitskell, B. Mansfield, E. Summerskill, B.
Gardiner, L. Margadale, L. Swaythling, L.
Garner, L. Masham of Ilton, B. Tanlaw, L.
Tenby, V. Vickers, B. White, B.
Thomas, L. Vivian, L. Wigoder, L.
Thurlow L. Wade, L. Windlesham, L.
Trefgarne, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L. Wolverton, L.
Trevelyan, L. Wallace of Coslany, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Tweedsmuir L. Ward of North Tyneside, B. Yarborough, E.
Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B. Ward of Witley, V. Young, B.
Vernon, L. Watkinson, V.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

8.33 p.m.

On Question, Whether the original Motion shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 261; Not-Contents, 20.

Aberdare, L. De La Warr, E. Harmsworth, L.
Abinger, L. De L'Isle, V. Harris of Greenwich, L.
Airedale, L. Denbigh, E. Harvey of Tasburgh, L.
Alexander of Tunis, L. Denham, L. Hawke, L.
Allerton, L. Deramore, L. Henderson, L.
Alport, L. Derwent, L. Henley, L.
Amherst, E. Devon, E. Hirshfield, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Devonshire, D. Hives, L
Amory, V. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Amulree, L. Douglas of Barloch, L. Hornsby-Smith, B.
Ardwick, L. Douglass of Cleveland, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Arran, E. Drogheda, E. Hoy, L.
Ashcombe, L. Drumalbyn, L. Hughes, L.
Ashdown, L. Dulverton, L. Hunt, L.
Atholl, D. Dundonald, E. Hunt of Fawley, L.
Avebury, L. Effingham, E. Hylton, L.
Bacon, B. Elliot of Harwood, B. Hylton-Foster, B.
Balerno, L. Elton, L. Jacques, L
Balniel, L. Emmet of Amberley, B. Kemsley, V.
Banks, L. Erroll of Hale, L. Kimberley, E.
Barber, L. Erskine of Rerrick, L. Kintore, E.
Barrington, V. Essex, E. Kinnoull, E.
Belstead, L. Falmouth, V. Kissin, L.
Berkeley, B. Ferrers, E. Lauderdale, E.
Bessborough, E. Feversham, L. Leatherland, L.
Birdwood, L. Foot, L. Lee of Newton, L.
Birk, B. Franks, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Boothby, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Listowel, E.
Bradford, E. Furness, V. Lloyd, L.
Brain, L. Gage, V. Lloyd of Hampstead L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Gainford, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Gaitskell, B. Long, V.
Byers, L. Gardiner, L. Longford, E.
Camoys, L. Garner, L. Lothian, M.
Campbell of Croy, L. Geddes of Epsom, L. Loudoun, C.
Carrington, L. George-Brown, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Cathcart, E. Gladwyn, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Chalfont, L. Glendevon, L. Luke, L.
Champion, L. Glenkinglas, L. Lyell, L.
Chelwood, L. Goodman, L. Lyons of Brighton, L.
Cobbold, L. Gordon-Walker, L. Lytton, E.
Coleraine, L. Gore-Booth, L. McFadzean, L.
Collison, L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Goschen, V. Macleod of Borve, B.
Cottesloe, L. Grantchester, L. Mais, L.
Courtown, E. Greenway, L. Malmesbury, E.
Cowley, E. Grenfell, L. Mancroft, L.
Craigavon, V. Gridley, L. Mansfield, E.
Crathorne, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Margadale, L.
Crawshaw, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone L. Masham of Ilton, B.
Crook, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Hale, L. Maybray-King, L.
Dacre, B. Halsbury, E. Melchett, L.
Daventry, V. Hampton, L. Merrivale, L.
Davidson, V. Hanworth, V. Mersey, V.
de Clifford, L. Harcourt, V. Milner of Leeds, L.
Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B. Harlech, L. Monck, V.
Monk Bretton, L. Rockley, L. Strang, L.
Morris of Borth-y-Gest, L. Rosslyn, E. Strathcarron, L.
Mottistone, L. Rothermere, V. Strathclyde, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Rusholme, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Moyola, L. Russell of Liverpool, L. Summerskill, B.
Nathan, L. Ruthven of Freeland, Ly. Swaythling, L.
Netherthorpe, L. Sainsbury, L. Tanlaw, L.
Newall, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.] Tenby, V.
Noel-Buxton, L. St. Helens, L. Thomas, L.
Northchurch, B. St. Just, L. Thurlow, L.
O'Brien of Lothbury, L. Sandford, L. Trefgarae, L.
Ogmore, L. Sandys, L. Trevelyan, L.
O'Neill of the Maine, L. Seear, B. Tweedsmuir, L.
Orr-Ewing, L. Seebohm, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B.
Pannell, L. Segal, L. Vernon, L.
Pender, L. Selkirk, E. Vickers, B.
Perth, E. Sempill, Ly. Vivian, L.
Platt, L. Shackleton, L. Wade, L.
Polwarth, L. Shannon, E. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Popplewell, L. Sharpies, B. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Porritt, L. Shepherd, L. (L. Privy Seal) Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Rankeillour, L. Sherfield, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Rathcreedan, L. Silsoe, L. Watkinson, V.
Redmayne, L. Simon, V. White, B.
Reigate, L. Somers, L. Wigoder, L.
Rhodes, L. Southwark, Bp. Windlesham, L.
Robbins, L. Stamp, L. Wolverton, L.
Robertson of Oakridge, L. Stedman, B. Wynne-Jones, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B. Yarborough, E.
Rochester, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.] Young, B.
Blyton, L. [Teller.] Lee of Asheridge, B. Soper, L.
Briginshaw, L. Maelor, L. Sudeley, L.
Brockway, L. Milford, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. [Teller.] Monson, L. Tranmire, L.
Castle, L. Paget of Northampton, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Shinwell, L. Wigg, L.
Energlyn, L. Slater, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.