§ 3.56 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ Baroness ELLES
My Lords, the noble Lord the Leader of the House and my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie have between them covered a vast area of policy-making and decisions on policy both in retrospect and for the future of our country. I think we must be particularly grateful to my noble friend not only for her remarkable and profound analysis of the development of the institutions, as she sees them, for the Community relative to the Tindemans Report, but I know that my noble friends would also like to join me in warmly thanking her and the members of her sub-committees—ever extending and ever growing in number—for the vast amount of work they do. Not only do they do a great deal of work, but they do it extremely well; and those of us who have to read such a great deal of material, particularly European material, are deeply thankful for their brevity as well as their precision and clarity.
But, really, how is it possible, from all the subjects before us this afternoon, to select those few which are more important than the others and, at the same time, try to remain within what might be called the tolerance limits—ever tolerant, nevertheless—of your Lordships' House? First, while appreciating that in this House we do succeed slightly better than is done in another place in the allocation of time given to European affairs, I would ask the noble Lord the Leader of the House whether he could request the Select Committee on Procedure to study the question of how best to allow proper time which is both adequate and relative to the situation concerning European affairs.
It is clearly inappropriate to debate the White Paper from the point of view of the quantity of matters contained in it, whether they go from direct elections to mutton and lamb or from potatoes to the European Investment Bank, when each item affects domestic matters. Surely it becomes more and more clear that European affairs are no longer part of our foreign affairs but part of our internal 536 domestic interests. Therefore, in so far as it is possible, the European aspects should be considered when discussing matters which are relevant both to the Community and to our own national interests.
We already have the opportunity in this House, thanks to the excellent report of my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir and her Committee members, to be able to debate draft proposals from the Commission; but it is matters of policy that your Lordships are generally not able to debate until after decisions have been taken by the Government. We appreciate that room for negotiation has to he allowed, but I wonder whether there could not be some arrangement whereby the monthly Statement on the future business of the European Council could not be more fully debated. For instance, it may be practicable to publish a Statement in the Official Report instead of one being read out and having what must obviously he formal replies, and then having some time allotted on the following day for a debate on items of importance or those which may be considered of importance by your Lordships' House. This may be possible already, but perhaps we could have some guidance on that issue. It is a matter which I think could rightly be considered by the Select Committee on Procedure.
Turning to the substance of the White Paper, the noble Lord the Leader of the House will understand if I do not follow him on every point or if I cover one or two aspects he has not dealt with. Section III on External Relations—Trade and Aid contains an impressive list of initiatives taken by the Community over the last six months, despite the fact that some people seem to think it has been a rather dreary and dark period in our Community relationship. Nevertheless, I consider that the formidable list of achievements in those six months are an indication of the growing importance of the Community, not only as the world's largest trading bloc but as a coherent political and commercial force with which it is in the interests of other countries to have links and agreements. I am thinking particularly of the agreement with Canada, which is of political as well as commercial significance, bringing once more a close relationship between Commonwealth countries and the EEC. This was one of the aspects with which we were all 537 very concerned before we came into the Communities, and I think this is a prime example of how much Canada can do for Europe and how much we in the United Kingdom can do for both our Commonwealth friends and for the European Community.
The ratification of the Lomé Convention which took place in April is another very significant movement: and I should also like to mention the approach by COME-CON for a trading agreement. We would hope, however, that the Community will ensure that the West derives positive and compensatory benefits from any such agreement which is reached and that we are not engaging in another assistance programme for what we might call a stagnant economy in order that the Soviet Union may eventually defeat our whole Western way of life.
The application of Greece to join the Community is welcomed by this side of the House. It has frequently been said that Europe without the founding country of Western democracy would be unthinkable. We agree with this sentiment. Admittedly, some concern has been voiced—and I know that some of my noble friends have also voiced this concern—about relations between Greece and Turkey, particularly on the question of Cyprus. It is a matter for EEC initiative to help Cyprus find its own solution, and this should not become a matter for discussion in any negotiations on the entry of Greece. Of course, the association agreement with Turkey was not on the same terms as the agreement concluded with Greece, which envisages total removal of the Customs barrier by 1984.
It is said that the Greek economy would not withstand successfully the initial impact of the effect of joining the Community, but perhaps we should recall that the per capita income is just about the same as that of Ireland, a country which has received enormous economic benefit from its recent membership. But it is not the economic so much as the political aspect which is of overriding importance. Perhaps it does no harm to reflect from time to time on comparatively recent events—especially those of us who were involved in events at that time—and recall that at one period in our history Greece was our only ally. Al 538 though we may consider that our role has changed, many of our friends still look to Britain for a lead and for support, and I think that that should not be forgotten. To deny entry to a country which has made such a successful recovery from dictatorship would, I think, be absurd.
There are two other matters raised in the Report on which I wish to comment The first is the matter of direct elections, and I join the congratulations which my noble friend has extended to the Government. We think that this agreement has shown a will to reach a settlement and, despite all the many proposals by many governments and individuals, I believe we are all fully satisfied with the successful result achieved last week. The decision of the European Council, that elections should take place in 1978 with a membership of 410, allows us 81 seats, as my noble friend reminded us. But I must say, here and now, that I am not quite so happy about her proposal for Scotland. In view of the heated debates over the ratio of population to seats, she might remember the problems arising over Luxembourg, and the fact that already the Scottish Members of Parliament in another place are far in excess of their true proportion of the population in relation to the United Kingdom. I understand that the division of the 81 is entirely a decision for the United Kingdom Government, and that no outside pressures can be brought to bear as to how it is to be made among the peoples of the United Kingdom.
§ Lord BOOTHBY
My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness one question? Does she not realise that the Scots are worth twice the English?
§ Baroness ELLES
No, my Lords, I did not realise that. But I am grateful to the noble Lord for having drawn my attention to the point. The procedures necessary in order to have elections in the United Kingdom by the agreed date require the active co-operation of the Boundaries Commission. Is it possible to step up the procedure, so that their task may be completed in good time? Also, has any initiative yet been taken? I should be grateful if the Minister could reply at the end of the debate. We might also remember that Portugal, after 45 years of dictatorship, was able to hold two 539 elections, draft and adopt a Constitution and install a President all within the space of 26 months.
Although I have already stated our great pleasure and our warm welcome for the decisions at the European Council, we feel that we must always he asking the Government why we must be made to appear incompetent, inept and unwilling to co-operate in something new, which is of interest and even excitement for the young of our country. If the eight other Member States can manage to arrange their affairs so that they hold their elections by 1978, why cannot we? If our procedures are so cumbersome, can we not have a look at them and see whether they can be modified or, dare one suggest it, even improved?
I speak on this point as an individual and not on behalf of my Party, because I represent only about half of my Party in this matter, though my view is, of course, shared by the most important member of it, but I should like to make a plea to all political Parties to see what they can do to get as many women candidates as possible for the direct elections. Women, as well as men, can make a positive contribution to the growth and development of the Community. In this regard, I would ask the Government what they are doing about coming to a decision on a fixed site for the European Parliament. It is hard enough to have to travel 100 days in a year, especially if one is married with family commitments, to three places within Western Europe. Undoubtedly, a fixed site would make an enormous difference to the possibilities of both men and women being able to undertake this new and very exciting commitment for our country. So we would ask the Government what line they intend to take on this matter, and whether they hope to be able to come to some decision with the other Member States at an early date.
Before turning to Tindemans, I should like to say that not only arc very major and important matters decided in the Community, such as the decisions taken within the six months covered by the White Paper, and to mention a small initiative to show what can be done in the Community by individuals. When I was a member of the European Parliament, I was 540 asked to initiate a proposal to form a European Community youth orchestra. I left the European Parliament before that was possible but, thanks to the very valuable and helpful co-operation of the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal, who then joined the European Parliament and became a rapporteur on the matter, the Commission have adopted the proposal and a new European Community youth orchestra will be playing in 1977, with most senior and important European conductors of world fame.
I say that only to show what can be done through the European institutions to help the youth of Europe understand better the meaning of European cooperation, and to use a media such as music, which requires no interpretation and has universal understanding. These young people will be playing throughout the nine capitals of the Community, starting next year. I hope your Lordships will forgive me for raising something which is not in the White Paper, but which shows the human side of the Community and the willingness of the Commission to co-operate on matters which are not of earth-shattering significance, but which are of significance to youth and to individuals within the Community.
Turning now to the Tindemans Report and the Scrutiny Committee's comments on it, although Tindemans is not a formal Community document it provides a blueprint for the future development of European policy and decision making processes. Some of the proposals in the Report have been overtaken by events, which seems to be the motto for this afternoon's debate. The co-operation of the European Community's Member States at the United Nations Seventh Special Assembly, and the eventual agreement in UNCTAD IV, show that it is possible to agree to speak with one voice on major international matters. Of course, it does not always happen—for example, there has been the question of Angola—but it happens from time to time, and I sometimes think it would be more beneficial for us to turn to those times when things work, than always to be carping when they do not.
Our relations with the lesser developed countries must surely be one of our priorities, both for our own and for their economic and social progress. There is 541 no area of policy-making which shows more clearly the economic and political interdependence in the world of today. The approach is pragmatic in Tindemans, but we must slowly shift from co-ordination of external policies to a co-ordinated common external policy. That, I think, is the distinction which Tindemans makes between the position in the past and the position, as he sees it, for the future; not to co-ordinate individually on a whole lot of matters, but to create together one common policy as a guide and a direction in which the nine Member States must go. There is urgent need to look at our joint economic, industrial and social policies on a common basis. Unemployment is affected by all three of these areas of policy, and finance from Community funds should be applied in accordance with interdependent and interconnected policies. For instance, do the Government agree that a mixed economy is the best way for Europe to progress in order to improve the standard of living of its peoples? These are the kind of questions we shall want to have answered by the Government. We want to know the direction in which they envisage Europe should go. It is these practical issues which will decide whether we come to a satisfactory solution to the many problems that are facing the Community today.
On youth unemployment, what is the policy, in European terms, of the Government? We hear about job creation schemes in isolated parts of the country, but has any thought been given to an overall five-year plan for industry and investment in the context of Europe, to the kind of jobs which will be created, the kind of training which will be needed and the kind of education which children should be getting to fit them for the demands of a modern European society, with developments in science and technology rapidly overtaking current industrial programmes?
It is true that the Tindemans Report is based on the terms of the Treaty of Rome, but in dealing with the employment problem and economic convergence there is no mention that the Treaty provides for the mobility of labour to solve unemployment and regional imbalance. There has been very little mobility as between EEC nationals. The emphasis has been on third country migrants. What is the Government's view on this? 542 Are they intending to go back to the terms of the Treaty and encourage mobility of labour under Article 48, or do they see a new vision of Europe, built upon the basis of industrial contributions from third countries?
The report touches on aspects of policy which are not within the legal powers of the Commission and which come within the competence of the Ministers as Foreign Ministers of national Governments. Articles 100 and 235 of the Treaty have been used very considerably in social and employment policies. Again, we should be glad of the view of the Government as to how they view this aspect of the development of the Community. The use of these particular Articles has assisted in what might be termed blurring the edges between the function of a Foreign Minister of a national Government and his function as a member of the Council of Ministers.
One has to think only of the problem of the rights of aliens—whether "migrant workers" means migrant workers who are nationals of the EEC or whether this term also includes third country migrants. This has a very important and deep significance for the economic and social policies of the Community budget. Surely this should be a matter for our national Parliaments to discuss if it is outside the power provided for by the Treaties, because it will also have very serious effects on our Constitution: whether migrant workers should be given the right to vote in local elections, whether they should be given the right to vote in General Elections, whether EEC national residents abroad should have the right to vote in direct elections.
There are whole areas of policy upon which we need guidance and some evidence of the thinking of the Government. Unless we are fully aware of what is happening there is danger of power being in the hands of our Foreign Ministers, uncontrolled either by the European Parliament or by our national Parliament, because they fall between two stools and can make decisions without being controlled by either. Then, indeed, the sovereignty which we sought to defend, and which so many of us talked about before joining the Community, will be eroded—not by the European institutions but by members of our own Government. This may be exaggerating the issue, but 543 attention should be drawn to this difficulty when we are considering the development of the institutions.
I must distinguish clearly between matters which affect the citizens of Europe and our relations with countries outside. It becomes clearer every day that there is an urgent necessity to co-ordinate and formulate a joint foreign policy in order to speak with one voice on matters of European concern. This is beginning to happen and we welcome the evident co-operation—for instance, in the United Nations Security Council last week.
Mr. Tindemans has made a valuable contribution to the advancement of international co-operation at the European level. We have been gradually losing our political and effective sovereignty as individual nations in the context of world affairs, but we support the pragmatic and cautious approach of Mr. Tindemans in the development of the role of the European Council, the insistence upon the co-ordination of policies affecting external relations and the increasing opportunities for the citizens of Europe to take part, through the development of its institutions, in the decision-making processes. Just as was 1st January 1973, 1st January 1977 will be an auspicious day for Britain. On that date we shall have a great opportunity to play an effective and positive role in this development, with both a British President of the Commission—and I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Jenkins on his appointment and to wish him well in his new task—and also a British President of the Council. We should like to hear some of the New Year resolutions of the Government concerning their plans and policies and, above all, to see a sign of their determination, together with that of all your Lordships, that now that we are truly a part of the European Communities we shall all cooperate with our eight Member States in continuing the task of constructing a free and democratic Europe.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, if I may say so without causing any offence, the White Paper now under discussion is one of the blandest documents I have ever read. You might think that in the EEC all is proceeding according to plan. True, 544 there is an expression of mild disappointment in paragraph 24 concerning aid to non-associates and an acknowledgement of disagreement—though only, it seems, a temporary disagreement—on nuclear research and on energy. But on everything else, including political co-operation, and even agriculture, the impression is created that there are few real difficulties and that a far-sighted Council of Ministers, wisely guided by its civil servants, is proceeding imperturbably on its predicted path.
I know that, as stated, the paper is merely designed to describe major decisions and to refer to major work in progress. But, even so, many people feel, as has been stated this afternoon, that the Community has been stagnating rather than progressing during the period under review, and the least one can say is that any anxiety on this score is hardly reflected in the White Paper—nor is it, apparently, very present in the mind of the Government. Still, as I think the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, said, the White Paper is useful—and I would even say very useful—in drawing our attention to the enormous field of activity now covered by the Community.
To imagine that we could somehow withdraw from this great entanglement —although the idea still appeals to a number of our citizens and, indeed, to a number of the members of the two great Parties in this country—is becoming increasingly unrealistic. But if, on the other hand, this activity is to continue fruitfully and not to end up in shrill recriminations and in a reversion to economic nationalism, there must surely be some generally agreed concept of how it should best be organised. Each Government concerned, including our own, should have its own ideas on this rather essential point. So it is here that we come to the second and obviously the more important document under examination this afternoon; namely, the Select Committee's Report on Tindemans.
As was only to be expected, given its membership and its chairman, this report constitutes an admirable, as I think, and certainly a legally impeccable approach to the admittedly difficult problem of European Union. As I think the late General de Gaulle said—and he had a habit of making these rather sardonic remarks—"You cannot get European 545 union by simply shouting 'Long Live Europe' and jumping up and down"; nor, indeed, as I myself think, though not everybody here today, including the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, may agree, by devising some ideal federal constitution which, apart from everything else, would not stand the slightest chance, as things are, of being approved by any of the nine national Parliaments which would he required, of course, to ratify it. Apart from anything else, our ancient nation States are not to be equivalent to the thirteen British colonies in North America in 1776, and if European Union is to come, then surely it must be something different from such historical precedents, and there are many of them. I may be wrong, but I have always held that it can only come about by a gradual reinforcement and development of the existing Community institutions which have, after all, been agreed by all the countries concerned.
In holding this view, however, I do not regard myself as a pragmatist if, by this term, is meant someone who wants to go ahead with increasing co-operation in all fields, without apparently having the faintest idea of what sort of European union will eventually emerge, if indeed it ever does emerge. Judging by what they have said, Mr. Hattersley and the Prime Minister come into this last category, and I think they are misguided for if they persist they are likely to be pushed by events rather than pushing them—the role incidentally, assumed by our beloved country ever since the Suez disaster.
Perhaps I may explain, therefore, what kind of union might, with luck, emerge, if we do try to construct it on the basis of existing institutions. Here, I think that Tindemans is right. The effective "Government" of the Community for the foreseeable future can only be the Council of Ministers—or the European Council acting in its stead—and it is impossible to imagine that such a Government can ever function effectively unless it has increasing recourse to the practice laid down in the Treaty which we have signed, of taking decisions if and where necessary—and I repeat "if and where necessary"—by a qualified majority vote. I remember that before the referendum, in an effort to explain to audiences 546 how the Community could or should work, I defined this system—and here I quote myself—asone in which major decisions will be taken by what might be called a process of assisted consensus rather than by the imposition of the will of one, while minor decisions can be arrived at by qualified majority vote, minorities being confident that even if they lose on a short-term swing, they will certainly gain on a long-term roundabout".I see the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, is nodding his head; I am glad that I have convinced him on this point at any rate.
It should be pointed out in the first place that under the existing practice—the existing rule—it would be most unlikely that this country would ever be virtually isolated on any important issue: in other words, that it would not have the support of at any rate one large Power or two or three smaller ones. In the second place, even if this country were so isolated, it would clearly pay to yield to the majority on all save the most vital issue, in the knowledge that by so doing she would be likely to get a majority decision on some other issue in which our interests—perhaps our vital interests—were concerned. Even on the highest or most contentious issue it would seem advisable, as I think, for the Government, in the very unlikely event of their being virtually isolated, to say that they agreed to the proposal ad referendum to the West-minister Parliament, and then to explain to that Parliament the likely consequences of standing out before, if necessary, deciding definitely to apply its veto. If the Government could find it possible to say that this was, very broadly speaking, the way in which they proposed to apply the decision-making procedure in the Council in the future, I have no doubt that their example would be likely to be followed by their colleagues and that a great step forward towards a new kind of union would have been made.
Naturally, as the Select Committee very properly points out, such a procedure could be applied only in spheres coming outside the Treaty—as I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, will agree—if it were authorised by legislation approved by all nine national Parliaments. But if the procedure is applied in the sphere of the Treaty and is seen, over the years, to be successful, as I think it would 547 be, is there any reason to suppose that it would not be possible for such approval to be given? I do not think so.
Take, for instance, monetary union—or, shall we say, to begin with, a common monetary policy. This cannot, as I believe the Committee truly observes, be forced on us for such time as we are in a weak economic position and the Germans hold all the cards. Of course not. But as we get stronger, as oil contributes to our balance of payments, so some advance in the direction of monetary union may well seem to be both desirable and necessary. And if the decisions are then taken by the means suggested, what is to prevent the system from being recognised as being applicable even as regards the difficult matter of defence? Here, may I say how glad I was to read in paragraph 9 that:Much could be done to obtain a greater degree of unanimity in the field of defence supplyand research, thus apparently subscribing to Mr. Tindemans' recommendations on the subject, which, as noble Lords will probably recall, was effectively the same proposal made in the Resolution which I drafted and got through the European Parliament by a majority last December.
These prospects in any case should not alarm us. The Committee seems to fear that they may. It says that the Tindemans Report is,ahead of public opinion in the United Kingdomand that the whole question of qualified majority voting is,a sensitive field which can only he approached with caution".I suggest, with respect, that they are too apprehensive. My own feeling is that a definite lead by the Government in the broad direction that I have indicated would be welcomed by the same sort of majority as approved our entry into the Community, more especially—and perhaps only—if it could be assured that there could be no question of our losing our national identity, still less of becoming a mere province of some great federation centred in Brussels, but simply of our agreeing to take part in a new international European system designed to reach common decisions for the benefit of all concerned. It all depends on how the question is put.
548 If we can gradually build up the European "Government" in this way, what about the European Parliament and the Commission? I think we all recognise that the recent decision to go ahead with direct elections was of paramount importance, if only for the implicit recognition by the Ministers that there are decisions on matters coming within the Treaties, and notably the Community budget, which are almost exclusively within the purview of the Ministers and cannot, therefore, be changed by any action on the part of any national Parliament. If the Community is to be a democratic institution, there must consequently be a directly elected body which will give some popular sanction to the actions of Ministers, at least in this sphere. And once it is directly elected, it will naturally claim to accept or to reject not only a small proportion of the Community budget but the whole of it. It will also press for powers of what is called "co-decision" in other spheres; in other words, the right by a given majority to approve or disapprove of all major political decisions of the Council of Ministers. That will come. Certainly the new Parliament will not be able to exercise such powers unless there is agreement by all nine national Parliaments that it should possess them; but I shall be much surprised if by the end of the first directly elected European Parliament in, say, 1983, some such system is not in force.
This does not mean that we shall be progressing towards a Federation in the conventional sense. The European Parliament, even in possession of wide powers of "co-decision", will not be the equivalent of a national Parliament. I do not know whether noble Lords will agree, but as I conceive it, it will rather be a sort of combination of long stop and safety valve—if your Lordships can imagine such a thing. I agree with the Select Committee, for instance, that it is very doubtful whether it should have powers of initiative except of course indirectly, as I think the Committee suggests, through the Commission with which it should obviously, as now, work in the closest harmony. But it will not be a kind of constituent assembly—or rather, if it tries to be anything of the kind it will, like its predecessor, the Frankfurt Paulskirche Parliament of 1848, be in some danger of collapse.
What will happen eventually no one can say, but the old idea that the Parliament, 549 directly elected, should concentrate on a scheme for a federal union, involving a Senate, or Chamber of States, a House of Representatives on which the Executive will directly depend, or from which it may even be drawn, together, no doubt, with a directly elected President of the entire "shooting match", seems to me to be now inconceivable in practice, and not even very desirable in theory. I believe indeed that a Chamber of States which was apparently recommended by the President of the Bundestag the other day, is, if realisable, very undesirable. If it were set up in the near future, it would simply be a rival to the Council of Ministers, and a dangerous institution indeed. I hope that that idea will be firmly suppressed.
My Lords, there remains the Commission. I believe the danger is that the Ministers, even if they tend more and more to act like a Government, as I hope they will, may come to regard the Commission as a mere collection of high-powered civil servants, useful for carrying out collective decisions, but not to be taken very seriously from the political point of view. This would be a great mistake. The Commission is a unique institution. It not only administers the Community, it also represents it, and as collective decisions are increasingly taken, it will tend to represent it more and more. Tindemans has quite rightly pointed to the necessity of putting an end to the inherently absurd distinction between treaty and non-treaty activity. I know the Committee sees some legal difficulties in this, but I have no doubt that they will be overcome eventually, and I think quite soon.
The so-called Davignon apparatus must clearly at some stage be merged with the Commission whose major function it will still be, in conjunction with the COREPER, to submit all kinds of plans and proposals in all spheres to the Minister for approval. But if it is to perform this role effectively during the next few years, it will have to function much more as a really collegiate body under strong and independent leadership. Here I agree very much with what the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, said. Mr. Roy Jenkins—we can all congratulate him on his appointment—has a great opportunity. We can only hope that not only will he rise to the occasion, but that the Ministers will give him his head.
550 My Lords, provided the basic Convention is approved, as I have no doubt it will be, in this Parliament of Westminster, we shall from October or November onwards be concentrating chiefly on the ways and means of directly electing the 81 British Members of the European Parliament. I assume that in any case, by the spring of the year after next we shall have reached agreement on how to do this, if only for the fact that the nomination of no less than 81 Members of this and the other House would be as silly as it would be impracticable. It may be said that there are legislative difficulties in the way, but presumably a Government who are prepared to push legislation through by a ruthless use of the guillotine would be prepared, if necessary, to use the same methods in respect of direct elections to the European Parliament. Where there is a will there is a way; the only doubt is whether there will be sufficient will, not only on the part of the Govermment, but also on the part of a considerable section of their supporters, to say nothing of the Tory Opposition.
As for the electoral procedure, I can only repeat what the Liberal Party has been saying since the issue first arose. It is not the alleged precedent for adopting proportional representation in this country which should tell against the adoption of some variant of that system in respect of the European elections. The two major Parties can always stick out for the "winner takes all" system in the United Kingdom if they so desire, monstrous though we Liberals think it would be. It is rather the inherent absurdity, indeed the self-defeating imbecility, of applying our British system to the totally different sphere of European elections that should influence anyone who considers the question with any impartiality at all. No one in their senses, indeed, can logically dispute the conclusions arrived at in the section devoted to European elections in the recent splendid report on electoral reform by the noble Lord, Lord Blake, who, to the best of my knowledge and belief, is a Conservative. Unless our Party politicians can rise above mistaken considerations of purely Party interest, I am afraid that the directly elected European Parliament, on which so many hopes are placed, will not get off to a very good start; and that is the least one can say.
551 My Lords, as your Lordships are no doubt aware, I am making way in October for my colleague Russell Johnston who, now relieved of his previous responsibilities in respect of devolution is, I am happy to say in a position to resume his seat. Nearly four years in the European Parliament, even as at present constituted, has convinced me of the constructive part which it is now likely to play in the creation of that European entity in which so many of us fervently believe. Of course, it will have to shift eventually to Brussels, and from being in the nature of things a friendly collection of well disposed and perhaps not very important politicians, nearly all agreed on European issues, it will have to become a serious battleground for conflicting political groups and notable political figures. Above all, it will have, for many years at any rate, to maintain the closest links with the national Parliaments, a liaison which, as I see it, can only be effected by the various political groups and parties themselves, and not by trying to set up some cumbersome liaison machinery, or so-called Conferences of Presidents. It may, indeed, be something new and strange; no one can say exactly how it will work out. What is certain is that unless it does work in the sense of providing the incentive, the essential popular spark for European unity, that unity will not come about, and that would be a real tragedy. In spite of the understandable caution of the Committee, I hope therefore that, as a nation, we shall greet Tindemans with a cheer.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ Lord KENNET
My Lords, may I start by apologising to the House for the fact that I shall have to make off in a cloud of dust, almost before I have finished speaking, because I have to go elsewhere and say the same things that I am saying now, but at much greater length. I apologise with particular grief because this is the first time I have ever had to use that particular discourtesy to the House.
My Lords, the Tindemans Report, let us not forget, was called for for two reasons. The first was to enable and encourage the British people to forget all about union, whether political, monetary or economic, during the referendum. In this aim, it was entirely successful, for 552 the word was hardly breathed at all during our referendum debates. The second reason the Tindemans Report was called for was because many of the members of the Council of Ministers at that time, and especially our present Prime Minister, I think, maintained that they had not a clue what was meant by European union and it would be intrinsically desirable for someone to try to define it. Much constructive work is often done under the carpet when something has been swept there.
In achieving this second purpose, we must give the report a little less than full marks—not much less, but a little less. I was struck by the comment made by Mr. Hattersley in giving evidence to the Committee of the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, that it was the first time the Community had been able to look into its own future with any logicality beyond the end of this decade. That is true. It was a better and more logical look at institutions than we had ever had before. It was a great advance on the earlier series of magnificent and idealistic documents which punctuate the history of the Community—I will not enumerate them—which were all drawings, photographs if you like, of a desired state of affairs, saying "Here is where we ought to be," with no arguments about how we get there, and no comparison of the position which is recommended with alternative positions.
I think Mr. Tindemans did as well as he possibly could without the services of what the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, has called a think-tank; in other words, some body of people who are capable of setting out alternative aims which might rationally be adopted by the body concerned, namely, the European Community; alternative routes to each of those aims, and the costs and benefits, first, of each of those aims, and, secondly, of each of the alternative routes to each aim.
This all sounds very grand, but it is simply called long-term planning or long-term forecasting, and there is nobody in the world who does not do it except the European Community. It is done by every Member State of the Community, and in the more developed Member States, like our own and France, it is done by every single Ministry for its 553 own purposes. It is done by every developed State outside the Community, it is done in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union; it is done in the United States—in a completely different way, but it is done—it is done by Mexico; it is done by Iran and by Egypt. It is, of course, done by every major company in the world. No company above a certain size would dream of trying to invent its own future without some cost/benefit analysis, without some cross impact matrix studies and all the rest of the jargon, which is really a very simple way of thinking about the future set out in figures.
Only the Community does not do it, and this, to my mind, is one of the reasons why the European Community, on the world scene, has shown some of the characteristics of a car on a dark night on a busy road without headlights. When a politician sees a political and economic entity bumping other political and economic entities in the dark, and hitting the very street furniture itself in a series of, so far thank God! minor collisions and falling to pieces at the seams, his instinct is to say: "Here, let me take the wheel; I can steer a better course".
Early in 1974 the Council of the day had a better idea. They said, "Let us try headlights. These have been found useful elsewhere". So, as Lady Tweedsmuir mentioned—I was not going to mention it otherwise, because I have an interest, but she has done so, so I will follow her—the Council set up the study called "Europe plus Thirty". They were so excited about it, and thought it so urgent to get this long-term forecasting and planning capacity, that they voted no less than 500,000 units of account, which in present money values is nearly £500,000. They said "Report within a year, and here is the money to enable you to report within a year." We did. I am glad to say we underspent; we spent only 360,000 units. We got the report in.
The question we were asked was: "Should the European Communities" —because, as we know, the three of them are still legally separate—"endow themselves with a capacity for long-term forecasting in respect of all matters likely to affect the future of Europe?" So it is not limited to economics; it includes social factors, political factors, the state of 554 education, agriculture, even the climate—we could not leave that out. "If so, what should this capacity look like?" In the Report we turned in we answered that question: "Yes, indeed, it should, and here is a 400 page description of what it should look like."
That Report is now in the public domain. That is to say, if you can afford the fare to Brussels, if you can find the right room in the basement and blow the dust off the report and persuade the official to give it to you, he cannot prevent you taking a copy away. But it will be published in the ordinary sense of the word this autumn. After that, I hope there may be some discussion in the national Parliaments and in the European Parliament about whether what we say should be done.
What we recommend is this. We avoid the word "institutions", because the Community already has three great institutions with a big "I", and we did not want it to be supposed that we were recommending the addition of a fourth institution. We recommend the addition of a small new instrument, consisting of about 30 or 50 people, which would be equally at the service of the Commission and of the European Parliament, and should work half its time for each of those, and perhaps in some spare time for the Member States and Member Parliaments, if they wanted it. I think Lady Tweedsmuir is perfectly right in saying that there is a possible collision or overlap here with the proposal made by the present President of the European Parliament at the meeting she attended a week or two ago in Bonn.
It seems to me still that the main reason why the Community needs such a capacity—besides the intrinsic one that any large body of people trying to do the same thing must try to plan a little—is that everybody else is doing it. The Community is at the mercy of its Member-States because it knows less, it has fewer statistics, it does less projecting of statistics. It indulges less in the application of political judgment to trend projection, which is the essence of forecasting—indeed, it hardly indulges in it at all. It knows less than the great multi-national corporations, both those which are based on its own territory and operate outside, and those which are 555 based outside, typically in America and Japan, and operate into the Community.
Above all, it knows less than the OECD. At first sight one might not think this is a very terrible thing. Why should not it know less than the OECD? The OECD has been in existence longer. The general level of its staff is, I think by common consent, higher; it has abler people in its secretariat. It has got richer countries in it, and therefore there is more money to spend to carry out the studies. The OECD is now starting up a fairly major long-term forecasting operation, concentrating specifically on relations between the developed world and the developing world. It is possible to view this with alloyed delight. Most of what comes out of the OECD work will, of course, be of the highest interest and utility to all the Members of the Community and to the Community itself. But only most of it. It is not always automatically so that West European interests, particularly vis-à-vis the Third World, should coincide with American and Japanese interests. It is for that reason that some of us believe that it is important for the European Community to look at its own future through its own spectacles, and not rely on spectacles with American and Japanese tints.
May I conclude by saying what everybody else has said, and that is how much I rejoice in the appointment of Mr. Jenkins to the chairmanship of the Commission and how much I wish him well. It is perhaps a little more of an Augean stable than is commonly spoken of in respectable quarters. He will have a great task in reforming it, and the task will be, as I think Lord Gladwyn was saying—I am not sure I followed him, because he was going so fast at that moment—very largely to reintroduce the collegiate principle among the Commissioners, to prevent them being a body of national politicians, gathered together for four years, sitting back to back and facing their own national capitals at home, hoping to be judged good boys, all of which tends to make each sector of Community policy a fief of a given Member of the Community and tends to cause that sector to be run in the interests of that Member, which is a disastrous arrangement.
The degree of internal lack of communication within the Commission is some 556 thing very hard for an outsider to understand. If you imagine the most entrenched positions of the most backward-looking of our Whitehall Ministries at the worst moments of their histories, you still have a long way to go before you can find anything like the way the Directors-General do not talk to each other inside the Commission building. Communication is vertical. The Director-General will talk to his Commissioner and tell him what he thinks ought to be done; he will get the orders he wants, go back to his office and deliver those orders down the line, and that will be done. Very often a crisis will then result in the social and economic fabric of the 250 million people for whom all this is supposed to exist. The crisis will then hit the Ministers in their national Parliaments, who will then go to Brussels or Luxembourg and have a meeting, and call upon the Commission to make a proposal; because, of course, they are not allowed to act by themselves, only on a proposal by the Commission.
To break the vicious circle it is obvious that a reform of the Commission, though not sufficient, is necessary. It is my own hope that something like the long-term forecasting and long-term planning instrument that I have been outlining may be a help in shining a uniform light all over the recesses of the Commission and connecting up the different vertical circuits which, at the moment, are so very much out of phase.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ Lord DIPLOCK
My Lords, there are occasionally parts of a report of the Select Committee for which, as chairman of the Law Sub-Committee, I bear a certain responsibility. I am conscious that they always appear to be critical in that they are designed to point out legal difficulties which particular proposals may involve. But that is the function of the Scrutiny Committee. It is the function of the Law Sub-Committee to look at the possible legal snags and to suggest solutions; not to act as a brake upon the progress, the development, of the Communities. Our task is to find the best way to make the legal system and the institutional machinery work to make the Communities a success.
Mr. Tindemans, by European union, wants two things: he wants, first, an 557 expansion of the field within the competence of the Community institutions beyond that field which is already covered by the Treaty of Rome—in particular foreign affairs beyond the merely commercial type of convention, and security. The second thing he wants is to accelerate the progress towards economic and monetary union, which is a field well within the Treaty as it stands. As the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, pointed out, an amendment of the Treaty requires an elaborate procedure, and ratification by all the nine countries. Such an amendment requires, before it is made, unanimous agreement as to the limitations upon the further national sovereignty transferred to the Communities, and unanimous agreement upon the division of power between the institutions; the Council, the Commission, and the European Parliament. It is a natural temptation to a politician, particularly a pragmatic British politician, to say, "If we can find a field in which the heads of Government can agree upon a common policy, let us proceed as if the Treaty were amended to cover it, leaving the formal amendment until experience has taught us what its advantages are and what its limitations should be".
The distinction between what is within and what is outside the Community field under the Treaty cannot safely be blurred. There is a basic difference between the Community structure and the Treaty and any other commitment entered into by the United Kingdom Government with other States. The Treaty of Rome and the European Communities Act together constitute a unique constitutional document for this country; the Treaty is a unique constitutional document for all the Member States. Together for us they have created a new legal order: a direct source of legal rights and legal obligations to individuals; a transfer of legislative, executive, and judicial powers within the United Kingdom to Community institutions, and any further transfer requires the legal basis of legislation by Parliament.
A commitment entered into by Heads of Government, whether by treaty or whether by resolution of the European Council, can have no direct effect, can confer no legal rights, impose no legal obligations, upon the citizens of this country, whatever it may be able to do in other countries—and I think Belgium is one of them where 558 it can. If the agreement, commitment, of Heads of Government related to a field outside the Treaty, to give it the form of legislation by regulation or Directive would give it no legal authority in this country. The United Kingdom courts would have to treat it as a nullity, and it would not fall within the interpretive jurisdiction of the European courts. The courts in this country would have no jurisdiction to refer it to the European Court.
May I make one final comment. A commitment to majority decision outside the field covered by the Treaty—may I say I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, that within the field covered by the Treaty (I speak as a lawyer) the sooner we get back to majority decision the better—is quite impractical and contrary to all constitutional theory in this country. A Government of today cannot commit a Government of tomorrow to a policy with which they do not and will not agree. If I have spoken perhaps bluntly on this issue it is because I believe that we should do a real disservice to the European Community if we were to attempt, for reasons of expediency, to blur a distinction which it is vital to retain.
I mentioned that monetary and economic union fall within the field of the Treaty, and within that field Mr. Tindemans desires to improve the machinery for reaching decisions more speedily and more effectively than we do today. That is wholly unobjectionable from the legal point of view, provided that so far as possible one retains consistency with the constitutional structure of the Community laid down in the Treaty.
There are only two comments which I desire to make on the Tindemans proposals in this regard. First, he recommends more delegation by the Council of decision-power to COREPER and to the Commission. To COREPER, I can see no constitutional objection to delegation. To the Commission, one must bear in mind that the Commission represent, as the Council do not and as the Assembly does not, the bureaucracy, the oligarchy. That they would do their job admirably in many respects I do not doubt, but there is no constitutional check under the Treaty on the exercise of that delegated power; no duty to report to Parliament and no duty to consult the Council. If it is proposed that there should be a wider delegation to 559 the Council—and let us not forget that the European Court would give a much wider interpretation than the English courts to a delegated power—I would suggest for serious consideration that there should be an obligation, which could be done by agreement and as a term of the delegation, that the Council's proposals, their legislation, should be submitted to the Assembly for consideration before coming into force.
§ Lord NORTHFIELD
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord referred to delegation to the Council. Did he mean to the Commission?
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Lord to explain how the Commission are not accountable to the European Assembly or the Parliament, in his line of argument, when the Parliament can dismiss the Commission by majority vote? May I also ask him to explain how in his view—I may have followed him imperfectly—the Commission could not carry out certain delegated functions when they already have certain functions in the field of competition policy which could be taken as an example, at least, of functioning in a way which could act as a precedent for the things he is criticising?
§ Lord DIPLOCK
My Lords, theoretically of course the Commission is accountable to the Parliament or to the Assembly because they have a power to dismiss it, though no power to prevent its being reappointed again. By lack of responsibility I meant lack of responsibility for the particular terms of the legislation concerned; not generally a power to turn them out but a power to look at what they are proposing for legislation, to comment on it, to criticise it and perhaps have the opportunity of getting it checked.
The one other matter on which I wish to comment is the proposal in the Tindemans Report that the Assembly should be able to discuss all matters and send resolutions for the consideration of the Council. Of course that is appropriate, but if the resolutions which it sends are 560 proposals for legislation, then it would be more consistent with the constitutional structure that those should go to the Commission first before they go to the Council because if they go to the Council first then, under the Treaty, the Council must send them back to the Commission. I suggest that a much more profitable development would be to continue and extend that co-operation between the Assembly and the Commission by which the Assembly makes suggestions to the Commission for matters on which they might propose legislation from the Council.
May I make a final observation, for I have taken up too much of your Lordships' time. A new supranational political entity—that is what the Community is—is not, I think, necessarily stagnating because it is not continuing to expand its activities into new fields and is not producing a continually increasing volume of legislation. The time may come to consolidate, to digest, what has already happened and to correct errors and make improvements; I have in mind particularly the Common Agricultural Policy. It is to be expected in an institution of this kind that the speed of legislative activity should change. In the early years it had the comparatively easy and well-worn task of removing internal barriers to trade. Freedom of establishment followed and that threw up rather more intractable problems; monetary and economic union at present, at this stage of recession, present even more. But the progress of the Community is not to be measured by the quantity but by the quality of its legislation and the administrative work of the institutions. It takes time to get legislation right, particularly when there are nine nations, not only one, to be considered, and it is in that respect that the Select Committee is endeavouring to play its part in helping to make the machinery work better.
This morning I looked at the row of Statutes in my library and I found that 80 years ago it took about 10 years to produce the 2,500 pages of legislation which this House passed last year. I asked myself: is this country 10 times greater, 10 times happier and 10 times better governed than it was in the 1880s and 1890s? Lest I should be suspected of expressing a political opinion, wild horses will not drag from me the answer I gave myself.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Lord CASTLE
My Lords, the nobls Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie when introducing her admirable report made a passing reference to the "deluge of paper"—reports, recommendations legislation and so on—which descends on that Committee. I assure her on behalf of my colleagues, momentary refugees from Europe, that this House is like arriving on Ararat after the Deluge to which we are subjected day by day, week by week. Very sincerely, my colleagues and I congratulate the noble Baroness and the chairmen of her Sub-Committees on the extraordinary amount of time, and the thoroughness, with which they examine the proposals and legislation that come from Brussels. We are deeply grateful to them. In the nature of things, this debate is of a diffuse nature, but perhaps none the less valuable in that we are giving rein to our personal prejudices in what we choose to talk about.
I must tell the House that my own impression of the Tindemans Report may possibly coincide with no one else's. I remember that the report arrived almost as a New Year gift to those of us who had been in Parliament only five months and who were doing our conscientious best to become good Europeans and to fulfil the hopes of the British people when they decided for Europe. We looked for a Sign: this, the Tindemans Report, was to be it. My noble friend the Leader of the House has called the report a major event and a reference point. Perhaps it is.
Mr. Tindemans had been going round Europe talking to the Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of the Nine and we understood that his report was the distillation of their ideas as to how the Community should develop. And develop it must, because we were told that the Community and its institutions had "to develop or die". Ever since we Labour Members had joined the Parliament—and not because we had joined—we had heard and read how the European set-up was in decline. Mr. Gaston Thorn, President of the Council of Ministers, had said that, "the only achievement of the Community in 1975 was that it did not fall apart"—a rather more gloomy picture than some which have been painted this afternoon. Everybody knew that something had to be done.
562 So, when we got our privileged preview typescript of the Tindemans Report before it had been seen even by the printers, we read it eagerly—and long. Most of us—I am speaking not only for my colleagues in the Labour delegation but for most of us in the Political Committee of the Parliament—read it with growing disappointment. So, I must say, did the world outside. Mr. Tindemans had fulfilled his brief. For a day or two, the report merited mention and discussion in the serious newspapers. But there was hardly a line in the popular Press and barely a mention on the television or the radio. Though it has been with us for seven months, not one person in a hundred in this country outside this building would be able to say what the Tindemans Report was about. I tried that out this weekend on a company of young people. One thought—and I assure your Lordships that I am not fibbing—that it was the only "U" film on show in the West End of London; another thought it was a report on corruption in the Girl Guides; and another thought that it was a guide to the pools.
This is much as I should have expected, but though the ignorance is not tragic, it is revealing. Worthy as were the intentions which led to the conception of the report, the truth is that it was not what a jaded and dejected Europe needed. Though it was good of its kind, its delivery for public debate was badly timed. Europe was not its old, buoyant self. Far from it. The realities of its day-to-day life were that 5 million of its people were unemployed and that inflation was biting hard. The confidence that Europe had developed during the 1960s was undermined. The Tindemans Report appeared not to heed those facts. The Common Market had had its moments, but this was certainly not one of them. The Treaty of Rome, the Big Idea, the Grand Design were, so far as the people outside, and indeed, many inside, the legislative bodies of the Community were concerned, being translated into a mere profit and loss account—mostly loss. We had heard recently about wine growers rioting against dumping of cheap wine by their brother Europeans; we had heard of subsidies for silk worms; we had heard of butter and dried milk mountains. The vision which good, practical politicians had seen had seemed 563 to fade into a humdrum, bureaucratic harmonisation of this, that and the chicken on the table.
In such a situation—or so it seemed to me and some of my colleagues—in such a political climate, the Tindemans Report had no immediate importance. I retain that original point of view. Let us by all means continue the discussion among outselves here and in other assemblies like this about whether Summit meetings shall be called Summit meetings or Meetings of the Council, whether majority votes—which have been referred to so often today—shall be the rule or the exception, whether or not the Commission should have a voice in the Council and how and whether the Treaty of Rome shall be amended. I shall look forward, as I am sure will your Lordships, to detailed discussion on every one of those points. However, at this moment so little regard has been paid to this report that, so far as I know, not a single Assembly has committed itself to a full, deep discussion nor made a decision. Let us be realistic and face the fact that, with the limited amount of time that all of us can give to the discussion and debate of European matters, this is not a priority for the next two years.
The debate will radiate not from Tindemans but largely and quite rightly from the preparations for the decisions on a directly-elected Parliament or Assembly of Europe. This, not Tindemans, is the historic challenge. A mass of urgent work has now to be done in that field, for it is there that the changes in the power and function of the European institutions will be decided. Four hundred directly elected MPs, properly conscious of the legitimacy of the power which they will exercise, will not be fobbed off with spending 150 days a year beating a drum which neither Council nor Commission listens to. Mr. Tindemans knows that and he has made some tentative suggestions.
I believe that the new vitality which the Community needs, will, as in all democracies, spring from those elected Members of Parliament. They will be the vehicles of change in the institutions. They, and no 1975 constitutional planner, no matter how well-equipped, or how full of good will, will decide their powers. It will be 564 they who, by vigorous assertion and imagination, can be expected to shape the new Europe; and that knowledge makes me hopeful, provided that we begin preparations for that great event forthwith. The kind of candidates we select to change Europe is of the utmost importance. This should be the concern of us all. It should be the over-riding duty of every European from today onwards through the next two years. I wish that a new subject—Europe—could be included in the curriculum of every secondary school and of every "further educational establishment"—which is what I believe night-schools are now called. I wish that the media would follow this up with European news and current affairs programmes, so that a properly informed electorate goes to the polls in 1978—or later, if that is what is desired.
§ Lord BOOTHBY
My Lords, I should like to interrupt the noble Lord in his very interesting speech to ask him just one question. What type of relationship does he envisage there to be between a directly-elected European Parliament and the national Parliaments of the countries concerned?
§ Lord CASTLE
My Lords, the noble Lord has started what I am sure will be a most fascinating debate as the days go on. Many of us have put forward ideas. Many of us would like to see the Members of the European Parliament ipso facto Members of this House pro tem, occupying a similar position—though not in the sight of God—to the Bishops. If I may continue this point about the necessity for propagating the idea of Europe, I should put somebody like Angela Rippon on to read the news and opinions on Europe every night, and her auditory addicts—count me among them—could be cured of insularity for ever.
Tindemans will not have reported in vain, even if he has only set the agenda for long-term discussion. Whatever happens to this report, our present priority is to start looking forward and finding men and women of high public standing and potential as candidates for Parliament. Through their quality, integrity, wisdom and devotion our British Members of Parliament in Europe can take a lead—perhaps a decisive one—in seeing the kind of Europe which 565 emerges. We shall hear many sniggers, they will hear many sniggers from erstwhile friends, about opting out from the real political struggle—
§ Lord GEORGE-BROWN
I am sorry, my Lords, that I came in late, and if the noble Lord wishes to say to me that I should not ask him a question, then that would be reasonable. But the question I want to ask is this. Is he in favour of those of us who are not nominated by his Government being able to stand for election at the first elections in 1978? The noble Lord may have answered this point before I came in, in which case I apologise deeply, but I should like to know what is his view about this.
§ Lord CASTLE
My Lords, I do not think that I am under any real obligation to answer that point, but I should have no objection to seeing the noble Lord stand for the European elections and I should have great joy in seeing him defeated.
§ Lord CASTLE
But of course the noble Lord knows, as well as I do, that our opinions differ on many social and industrial matters, and I should wish that my Party wins those elections with the kind of candidates which I—
§ Lord GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting again, I must say that the remark he made at the end was silly since we have been friends for so long. I was actually asking whether he was arguing that I could stand as a candidate in 1978 for a selected part of the country. I was not discussing whether I would ask him to come and speak for me—or whether I would ask his noble friend, the noble Lord, Lord Ardwick. I was merely asking him whether he would be in favour of my being allowed to stand.
§ Lord CASTLE
My Lords, I would be in favour of any Peer being allowed to stand if he could find sufficient sponsors to get him to the poll. If that is the noble Lord's intention, it will be a very interesting development to watch.
In conclusion, speaking as a Socialist I should like to borrow a phrase which 566 belongs to another Party and say that just now I think that what matters is men, not measures, so far as Europe goes. That is why I was so heartened to find that a man of the eminence of Mr. Roy Jenkins had been appointed to the most powerful position in Europe, and I was delighted, too, that that pleasure was reflected on all sides of the House this afternoon. I have no doubt whatever in my mind that with his experience, his stature as a statesman, his understanding and his charm, Mr. Roy Jenkins will make bigger changes in Europe than the Tindemans Report.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, I shall try to follow the noble Lord, Lord Castle, in one respect only, which is the change of mood between the first part of his speech, when he was rather gloomy about the future—or at least the immediate past—and the second half of his speech, when he was much more cheerful about what lies ahead. Recently—for the first time, I am ashamed to say—I read a line in a poem by Wilfred Owen which goes:Happy are those who lose imagination";and for any enthusiast for the European Community it was possible to be happy about the way things were developing only if one had lost all imagination about what could and should be happening; and the comment of President Thorn, which the noble Lord, Lord Castle, quoted was, I am afraid, all too true.
Several things have happened that make the outlook more cheerful. The choice of Mr. Jenkins to go to the Commission as its new chief is one of these, and another is the decision by the Council of Ministers to press ahead with direct elections. But another reason for hope, as I think, is that Her Majesty's Government—without Mr. Jenkins, but with a determination to benefit from the massive commendation of the people in the referendum for our continued membership of the Community—have the chance, at the beginning of next year, to use all the disappointment that has been built up in the past, so as to make the future something quite different. There will be a new Government in Germany; there will be some more stable Government is Italy, we hope; and all the omens look good.
567 My Lords, I should like to follow what my noble friend Lady Elles said in her comments about the role of the British Parliament, and your Lordships' House in particular, in the discussion of Community matters. Of course, the White Paper that we are talking about today is a valuable retrospective account of what has happened, but it is virtually useless as the basis for a serious debate about what should be going on in the Community. We should talk about what is going to happen, not about what is already in the history books; and I should like to endorse my noble friend's suggestion that the Select Committee on Procedure look at the possibility of using the monthly statement of what is coming up in the Council of Ministers as the basis for a debate in this House on what the Community will be doing in the future—and it may be that some of the reports of the Scrutiny Committee could be used as the bases for some of these debates. The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, looks as if he is going to sleep. I am sorry, but I think it is very important that this House uses its collective wisdom to look ahead, and not to dance a ritual dance about what is already dead inside the EEC.
We have also to look at the way the Community is going. There is some hope that the Commission will be reformed. If I may add a slightly less enthusiastic note, I hope that Mr. Jenkins will be able to be ruthless as well as elegant within the Commission. I hope that he will carry out his mandate to eliminate certain areas which need a lot of attention, and to introduce people who can perhaps apply a slightly less European and idealistic turn of mind but a greater expertise, particularly in the scientific and environmental fields, to the preparation of Directives.
If we are looking ahead to the beginning of next year and to the role which Her Majesty's Government can play in the re-invigoration of the European Community, there are certain obvious items which need attention and which we should be starting to think about now. One of them is agriculture. I would hope that Her Majesty's Government will issue their ideas in the form of Green Papers, so that they can be discussed by your Lordships' House and another place as well as in the European institutions. I would ask the Government: How many subjects have been sent to the Central Policy Review 568 Staff in preparation for our chairmanship of the Counicl of Ministers at the beginning of next year? Who is doing the long-term thinking for our presidency? Will it be done primarily in the Cabinet Office or in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and will the results of some of these thoughts be published, so that we can all discuss them and add our comments to them before decisions are taken in the Council of Ministers?
It would be possible for Her Majesty's Government to issue, and it might even help them, if they were seeking to make some major reforms in the agricultural field, if they were to issue, a Green Paper of the sort I have been mentioning which listed some of the alternative methods for dealing with the fundamental structural problems of the Community. We cannot trust the Commission to do so yet, not until Mr. Jenkins has had a go. If anybody seriously contemplated making a fatuous suggestion about reforming the CAP, Monty Python could not do better than the proposal to tax margarine to make it as expensive as butter. It really does fall into the category of the line of poetry that I was quoting from Wilfred Owen:Happy are these who lose imagination".If you make that sort of proposal, your faculty of imagination must wholly have left you.
Before the new, reformed Commission is able to grapple with these fundamental structural problems to get away from the price mechanism as the sole way to deal with structural surpluses and to start thinking about paying people not to produce, bribing people out of production, having variable levies, in all of which we in this country are very experienced indeed, would it not be a good idea for Her Majesty's Government to show their European spirit and to make a contribution to the solving of these problems (which the Germans, I am sure, would be very keen to have solved as well, so that they may stop paying for the consequences) by issuing a Green Paper? This would demonstrate, as I have said, our European spirit, as well as the sort of thing that we would be prepared to push through when we are President of the Council.
§ Lord GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, is the noble Lord willing to give way? 569 His argument in favour of the margarine manufacturers is in fact an argument in favour of great monopolists. I ask the question: Does he quite understand that he is arguing for Unilevers and various other multi-national monopolists against the farmers who actually produce butter?
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, I will say two things. I am arguing in favour of a serious reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to make sure that farmers get a fair return at the same time as making sure that consumers get a fair deal. The only other comment I will make is that if the noble Lord will come and speak for me when I stand for election to the European Parliament I will seriously consider coming and speaking for him.
§ Lord O'HAGAN
Then I am sorry. My Lords, I will not take up the time of the House by illustrating other areas in which Her Majesty's Government could involve the public and Parliament in the way in which they are preparing for their presidency, but I hope they will do better than has been done in the past. For example, in his opening comments today the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal referred to the Tripartite Conference, which is a body whose name is so deafeningly boring that no newspaper ever comments on what it does. But, my Lords, it provides a forum for management, the trade unions, the Finance Ministers and the Governments of the Member States to come together and look at the social implications of the economic situation of the Community. This is the sort of thing to which public attention could be drawn, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will seek to do it, not by issuing propaganda but by outlining some of the proposals which they have and which they hope to implement from the beginning of next year.
My Lords, it is always easy for a European enthusiast, in talking about the future of the Community, to sound like Jimmy Carter on an off day, because there is a certain religious undertone which comes into one's voice which makes one sound rather intolerant and extremely difficult to listen to. I am therefore not 570 going to do that; but it is heartening for those of us who feel like that to know that it may be possible to communicate our enthusiasm to others through the mechanism of the preparations for direct elections. We have seen that, contrary to all the pundits, a large number of British people voted—and voted "for"—during the Referendum. I think that the same could easily happen again, in spite of what the pundits say, in the direct elections campaign.
I should like to add my voice to those of other noble Lords who ask the Government not to be deterred by the endless ruminations of the Boundaries Commission. I am not suggesting that the Boundaries Commission should be bypassed; all I am suggesting is that their deliberations should be hastened as much as possible so that there is plenty of time for constituencies who have a real regional or local feeling about them to be well before the public mind before the people in those areas are called upon to vote for members of the new directly-elected Parliament. I should therefore back up the other Members of your Lordships' House who spoke hoping that we can get on with this so far as possible and as fast as possible.
We are not talking of the future of the universe or of the future of the world: but we are talking about—or I hope we are—the future of our Continent, which has an enormous impact on the future of the world. One has only to think about the ramifications of Lome and many other external activities of the Community to realise that it would not be too much to say that what the Community already does has world-wide implications. The importance of the Community has not yet entered into the daily processes of mind of everybody in the United Kingdom: but I hope that the prospect and actual arrival of direct elections will do so; and, as a candidate, I will do my best to make sure that it does.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Lord ARDWICK
My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Baroness on the Report of her Sub-Committee. I am sorry that her name does not appear on it. I should also have liked to see the names of all those wise and moderate people who apparently accepted this 571 Report. I take it that is not the custom and that this is the only reason why the names are not there.
One of its useful purposes is that it focuses attention on Mr. Tindemans's very well calculated vaguenesses. At the very beginning of the European affair we used to divide ourselves into federalists—to which category Mr. Tindemans belongs—and functionalists, the category to which I belong and to which I believe the majority of British people belong, no matter what their politics. Now we are all in Europe together; and Mr. Tindemans has had to produce a Report which would not bring the federalists into despair and yet would not make the functionalists fighting mad. That is why he uses the splendidly ambiguous word "union", which means all things to all men. It can mean simply getting closer together, without any formal bond, or it can mean, ultimately, the closest federal union. Yet we all ought to be able to agree now on moves towards union, at least in the weaker sense of the word. We should be able to believe that—if we have the faintest belief in Europe at all. We ought always to be looking for ways of doing things together; when doing things together will bring general benefit.
There is another useful word employed by Mr. Tindemans which has also a strong meaning and a weak meaning. He believes, as the Committee believe, and as I believe, in the need to co-ordinate external policies. The word "co-ordinate" can mean simply bringing things into a more logical relationship; or it can mean to take part in common action. Mr. Tindemans believes, as I believe, that there should be a gradual movement towards common policies. He has had a rather grim task to encourage the Community to think of ways of moving forward while it was still actually moving backward—like somebody trying to plan D-day while the troops were still coming back from Dunkerque.
I do not think that those of us who were latecomers to the Community can appreciate the shock that the veterans of Europe had when, four years ago, the Community stopped going forward and seemed to go backwards a little way, from union towards disunion. Just before this all seemed to be well. The years of frustration occasioned 572 by de Gaulle were over and the Common Market seemed to have found the elixir of economic life: perpetual growth, increasing welfare and full employment, from which in time even Italy would benefit. Then came the recession, the oil crisis, the inability to find a common energy policy and the drift towards national solutions. One of the great virtues of the Community is that we have not drifted further back in this recession as we might have done; we have not tried the harsh national solutions that we might have tried, if the Community had not existed.
My Lords, in the 12 months that I have been a Member of the European Parliament, I have felt sometimes as if I were between a set of Jeremiahs, people always sceptical about the Community, and Job's comforters, ardent Europeans filled with woe. I would describe myself as neither an ardent European nor a sceptic. I am an earnest European and, because I am a newcomer to the European Parliamentary scene—although a veteran of the European movement—I am still full of hope. What fills me with hope is the richness of the current European dialogue. Perhaps it takes somebody from outer space, an innocent and insular eye to perceive what I might call the European process as it looks today.
First, there is Parliament itself. Some people, by the way, are so in love with the principle of direct elections that they tend to write off the present Parliament as ineffectual and illegitimate: that is, to the Continental mind, it does not possess the somewhat mysterious quality known to historians as legitimacy. All I can say is that it contains many able and distinguished politicians, assiduous in their duties, with a deep knowledge of the labyrinths of the Community and a strong feeling for Europe. I believe in direct elections; but I hope that the first elected Parliament will contain enough men and women of this calibre and with an equal appetite for work.
Most of the real work of the Parliament is hidden from the public gaze. It takes place in committees where the Commission's proposals are not only discussed but discussed in the presence of the responsible Commissioners or their officials, subjected to rigorous inquiry and often to challenge. When the committees have done their work there is 573 further debate in the political groups both in the hard, immediate subjects which are coming up in Parliament and on long-term policies. In the Parliament itself the debates are conducted in the presence of the Commissioners and Members of the Council, too.
But this is not all. The dialogue does not end there. On the aircraft to Brussels, in the hotels and restaurants one is continually coming across Ministers, Junior Ministers, officials, trade union leaders and industrialists—all taking part in some form of committee meeting about the complex affairs of the Community. Added to these are the representatives of the special interests groups. The farming unions of Europe are there today; and there is even talk of their leader, Sir Henry Plumb, becoming a Commissioner. And when we come home we find a Select Committee of your Lordships' House is engaging in the dialogue. We put our heads round the door and they are up to their necks in the European affairs that we have just left behind.
So, my Lords, do not let us despair. To use Churchill's homely phrase, we are becoming more mixed up together. The mix will inevitably lead to union and, perhaps long after our time, to some form of federal or confederal system. At the moment there is new hope in Europe. First, the economic upturn seems real—it is better than people dared to hope—and the economic convergence, on which hopes of increased unity of eventual union must be based, seems to be developing. Alas! there is still an inflationary problem. It looks as though we shall see a new economic phenomenon—that is conspicuous growth without conspicuous decrease of unemployment.
The second cause for hope is the decision to go ahead with direct elections. I agree in principle, but some people, even including my noble friend Lord Castle, have rather exaggerated hopes of what a directly elected Parliament can be. I do not think it will have behind it any popular pressure in favour of the nations of Europe giving up some national sovereignty in the interests of European union. Those who think otherwise are mistaking the opinion of pro-European pressure groups for public opinion, or are basing themselves on public opinion polls which get positive answers to propositions 574 whose implications the public have not yet grasped. I cannot think, for example, if there were elected Members of the European Parliament at this moment when there is a dispute about fisheries that the elected British members would be pursuing a strongly European policy in favour of the Commission's proposals, and that they would not be putting the British national interest first. I think people are human; and particularly when they have to face the electors it would be very difficult for them to take a consistent pro-European supranational line and not take a national line. Nevertheless, the decisions to hold direct elections have caused some buoyancy.
The next cause for cheerfulness is that the President-elect is Mr. Jenkins. Some of us see his impending appointment with mixed feelings. We have gained a European President and we have lost a most distinguished national leader. It is however important that Europe is going to be led virtually for the first time—since Mr. Mansholt's reign was so brief—by a Social Democrat. The voice of European progress will be an English voice of great persuasive power. I think it will have a special effect in Britain and I hope in Denmark and Scandinavia generally, too. It is very important that the voice of Europe is now going to be the voice of a politician and the voice of a Social Democrat. I am sure people who belong to other Parties will see the importance of this in the general European interest at this moment. Above all, the Commission will be in the hands of a man who has proved his efficiency in two great Departments in Britain. It will be in his hands at a time when there is urgent need for administrative reform, political vision and a more effective relationship between the Commission and the Council. For most of the things, it is of course the Commission which proposes and the Council which still disposes.
But which Council? That is always a problem. There is always a problem of names when we discuss this matter. I have raised this question of nomenclature in the European Parliament, so far without effect. I hope I can get through to my noble friend on the Front Bench or even to the new President-designate of the Commission. The names of the European institutions are in a confusing mess. They are confusing even to Parliament 575 arians. They are a nightmare to people running information services, particularly newspaper clippings libraries. They are incomprehensible to the public, yet it is the public who are going to be asked to vote for a European Parliament.
To come back to my question, "Which Council?", there is a Council of Ministers; there is the European Council—the confusing name given only recently to the Heads of Government or State who used to be known as the Summit. Then apart from this there is the Council of Europe which has nothing to do with the Community. The Economic Community's Parliament is, strictly speaking, the European Assembly. That is its official name in the Treaty. The Council of Europe has an Assembly, too. To make the confusion worse confounded, the two assemblies use exactly the same building in Strasbourg. A further confusion is that one of the Community institutions is the Economic and Social Committee and this has nothing at all to do with the Economic Committee or the Social Committee of the Parliament. The mix up is so great that I have had at least one dinner at an embassy which thought that because I was on the Economic Committee of the Parliament I was a member of the Economic Community's other Institution. So I plead with my noble friend or Mr. Jenkins to look at this problem. Surely it is a fundamental of democracy that different institutions should have different names which give some indication to citizens of their basic purpose.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Baroness SEEAR
My Lords, I should first like to apologise to your Lordships and particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, because, unfortunately, I shall not be able to be here for the winding up of this debate. I have to chair a committee which was fixed long before I knew the date of this debate. I am speaking primarily as a Member of the Social and Economic Sub-Committee of the Select Committee. As noble Lords will be aware, the noble Lord, Lord Fulton, is chairman of that Sub-Committee. He had greatly hoped to be able to speak today and I know he gave a great deal of care to the preparation of what he planned to say, which is based on a section of the Select Committee's report to which 576 he contributed greatly. Unfortunately, for urgent domestic reasons he is not able to be here. His wife is sick, not I believe and hope seriously sick, but sick enough to detain him in Yorkshire. It is with very great regret on his part that he is unable to be here today. I do not claim—I would not dare—that I am in any sense speaking for him, but we have discussed from the point of view of membership of the Social and Economic Sub-Committee the kind of points we should like to present to your Lordships, and although the noble Lord, Lord Fulton, takes no responsibility whatsoever for what I am saying, I hope in some limited degree I am reflecting the points he would have liked to make.
The Tindemans Report strikes a note of muted optimism. The speeches today have also struck a note of muted optimism. But Tindemans is a politician and the Members of your Lordships' House are politicians speaking to politicians. It would be unwise in the extreme if we were to fail to look at the less agreeable facts starkly in the face. Until recently there has been in many minds a real fear that the Community, for which some of us have worked and fought for nearly 20 years, might be moving into a state of disarray leading even to total disorganisation. The position is that if we are to avoid becoming merely a customs union and then from being merely a customs union to face the inevitable consequence of breaking up once again into national entities each out for their own end, we have to go forward. We cannot stay where we are. We have to take a leap into the future however much we may guard the path as we go so that we do not run into unnecessary difficulties. It is clear—this has come out in the speeches today—that we cannot stay in the position we are in.
As my noble friend Lord Gladwyn said, we do not know the precise structure of the political organisation which will ultimately emerge. It is almost certainly like no other political entity that we have had in human history. We have spoken of federalism, and many of us still talk of federalism, as being the nearest known institutional political form to the kind of organisation to which we wish to move. But, for my part, I think it is perhaps misleading to talk too much of the term "federalism" because that conjures up in the minds of so many people pictures of the American situation. 577 They have been misled by believing that what we hope to achieve is the mirror image of the United States. That, I believe to be far from the truth. It is part of the excitement to those of us who were interested in political ideas and it is part of the excitement of the development of Europe that we are forging a new type of political organisation for which the name is as yet unknown.
So ahead we must go. But how are we to take these moves forward unless there is behind the Governments a real groundswell of popular support and indeed of popular enthusiasm, if we can get it, for the way ahead? If we can all too easily agree at the level of Ministers, and if we can all too easily agree inside both Houses of Parliament the steps that are needed, we can also find that the leaders have moved on but that those they represent are not coming along behind them and there is no solid popular support for the direction in which we are going and for the changes that have to be made. Therefore, the question is: How are we to get that popular support which we are going to have to have if the essential moves ahead are to be real and enduring?
This can happen only if ordinary people everywhere—and let us confine ourselves to this country, because this is our first responsibility—see that in Europe, and preferably in Europe alone, and I believe "in Europe alone" to be true, there are answers to the problems which are the real and urgent problems for them. People of our generation were seized by the European idea, because the problem that fired us was the problem of seeing that there would be no future military conflicts in Europe. It is perhaps a measure of the success of Europe that that is not an objective which fires the young of today because they take it for granted, despite the history of a thousand years, that France and Germany will not fight each other again. The military security, the prospect of peace in Europe which was the inspiration of the early Europeans, simply is not, in my view, the inspiration of the younger voters, the younger men and women of this country, whose support we must have if we are to go forward with the European idea.
What, then, are the issues which will rally them? First, as other speakers have said, they want the security of a reasonably 578 safe economic future and they want reasonable economic prospects for themselves. That might sound very materialistic but, to my mind, it is entirely right and reasonable. If they can be led to believe that there is a safer and sounder economic prospect for young Europeans in the new and better co-ordinated Europe that some of us would wish to see, then they will begin to rally again, as people of our generation rallied in the years after 1945.
Again, because they care not only for themselves, there is the great problem of poverty—poverty in sections of their own countries—and perhaps, above all else in the eyes of the young, the problem of the distribution of wealth between rich countries (which are mainly European countries) and those of the developing world. Can they be made to see that it is only through European co-operation that we can hope effectively to do what must be done, and what they urgently feel on ethical grounds needs to be done, in the relationship between the developed and the developing countries? In areas of this kind and in the work that has to be done in the future, I believe there is an opportunity for rallying the support of the generations which need to become enthused about the European idea and which, quite frankly, are not enthused about it at the present itme but whose support is absolutely essential if that muted optimism of Tindemans and of your Lordships' House today is not to be a false optimism.
When we on the Social and Economic Committee look at the kind of issues coming before us, they are very much what the noble Lord, Lord Fulton, has referred to on several occasions as "second order issues". Certainly they are important matters concerning training, the professions and conditions of work and matters dealing with secondary concerns of health and social security; but there is very little coming from Europe that can fire the imagination of people who are not close to the workings of Europe and to demonstrate to them that here is the instrument through which, and only through which, they can find an answer to the questions they are asking, or indeed to the questions which all too many of them are becoming too afraid even to ask.
579 Can we not do something here to show far more plainly to men and women up and down the country what Europe really can mean in terms of the problems which are problems to them? I believe we can do this only if we can get to grips on a European level, as, if you like, a demonstration exercise, with tackling some of the really tough problems. If we find one or two issues to which people in this country will respond as the real issues of our time, and if we struggle with them—and one great example here would surely be unemployment—and show that a European initiative may be the best, and indeed the only, way of dealing with the question of unemployment which hangs like a pall over the young generation—if we could show that Europe could do this, then I believe we should begin to get the battalions of ordinary people coming behind us in support for Europe in a way that we most emphatically have not got them coming behind us at the present time.
The noble Lord, Lord Fulton, pointed out to me, as he was preparing to talk to your Lordships' House today, that he had been looking at the experience of the bitter way in which America had worked through to unity. As I said earlier, I am not suggesting that the pattern of unity America found is the pattern of unity that Europe will find. But to refer to the work of the historian, Morison, who wrote of the results of the American Civil War, he said this:Others learned their lesson from the powerlessness of the Confederation even to protect its own property, much less to help a state in distress. Out of all this came an emotional surge—without which nothing great can ever be accomplished in America—towards a new federal constitution ".In this country today there has been no emotional surge towards Europe, except in a very few and very rarefied areas. The support in the Referendum was genuine support but in many ways, if the truth be told, although I was myself active and enthusiastic in that campaign, it was in a sense a negative rejection of "going it alone", rather than a positive enthusiasm for the European idea. We need that emotional surge, but it will come only following the experience of a real tackling of real problems which appeal to the imagination of ordinary men and women.
There is one thing more I should like to say, and I know that the noble Lord, 580 Lord Fulton, would have said it far better had he been here today. If we are to move to a new Europe we have to prepare now in educational terms to be ready, and we have to prepare the younger generation in educational terms to be ready to be Europeans. We in this House are Europeans by conversion. Most of us are very poor Europeans in many of the most important ways. I can speak only for myself but I have halting French and a menu German, and that is no basis on which to be an effective European. The knowledge that any of us had of the roots of European civilisation and of the ideas that move and sway other sections of Europe is very slight and inadequate. Can we not begin now to find ways, on a far larger and more effective scale than anything that has yet been done, to bring together in our educational system opportunities for a much greater movement of the young between the schools and universities of the countries that make up Europe, so that they are growing together in thought and activity at that stage of life when mixing together is all important?
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Baroness WHITE
My Lords, I should like to add my congratulations to those already expressed to Roy Jenkins. I am sure your Lordships will understand if I do so with the peculiar partiality of a compatriot. I trust also that it will not have escaped the notice of your Lordships that in this annus mirabilis not only did we beat everybody at Rugby football—that we take in our stride—but we have attained a triple Parliamentary crown. We have the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Prime Minister all hailing from the Principality, to which we are now to add the chief designate of the Commission in Brussels.
I feel that it is a most important conjunction that Roy Jenkins should be going to Brussels at a time when, from the beginning of next year, we shall be in a position of peculiar influence in the Council of Ministers. It therefore behoves us in this House and in the other place very much to concentrate our minds in the next few months on how best to take advantage of this opportunity which, in the natural course of events, will not present itself very frequently. I hope that we shall be able so to influence the 581 processes of the Community that it may emerge from the period of disappointment and recession to which many speakers in this debate have already referred.
Of course, I entirely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, that we do not have in this country at the moment the kind of emotional concern for the affairs of Europe which would certainly he a prerequisite of any kind of political union on a federalist or any other pattern. It seems to me that that can be focused only when we have already created the political institution namely, the directly elected Parliament. I do not think we can expect it to happen earlier. I myself have serious apprehensions as to how this new political experiment will work, partly for a reason which I have already mentioned in your Lordships' House. To expect those of us who come from Wales—possibly for those who come from Scotland it may prove easier—to digest virtually simultaneously two major political changes in the Parliamentary sphere is asking a very great deal. We are in an uncomfortable state following our local government reorganisation, which has not brought satisfaction. Many of us feel that that, in itself, was so ill-advised that even after such a short period it should be changed once again—
§ Baroness ELLES
My Lords, will the noble Baroness allow me to intervene? Is she proposing that devolution should be postponed in that case?
§ Baroness WHITE
My Lords, the noble Baroness cannot possibly put that construction on what I am saying. I am simply suggesting that it is a peculiarly difficult situation for the ordinary man and woman, who, after all, are expected to provide the electoral basis for all these institutions, where one has very recently changed local government, and is then proceeding—and I am of the opinion that we shall proceed—to a form of devolution for Scotland and Wales, which will be a very great change in both countries, while at the same time being expected to take in the European dimension. It would be difficult enough on the English scene, and I am just suggesting that there is additional difficulty in Wales and Scotland, both on the mundane plane of political organisation, which is not entirely to be disregarded, and even more in the reaction of the people concerned.
582 It will be difficult for those who will present themselves as European candidates—I do not know where the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, proposes to present himself; he has Welsh connections and might do quite well in the Principality—to make intelligible the kind of issues to which the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, referred. It will be still more difficult to make intelligible the matters of second order business with which our Select Committee occupies itself, and sometimes third, fourth and fifth order business. It is difficult enough for most of us to follow the intricacies of the documentation which emerges from Brussels. I make those few remarks in no unhelpful sense, but simply to indicate that it will need a great effort of imagination and will, as well as hard work on the details of programmes and so on, from everyone who hopes that Europe will proceed to a state of political development which we can accept with any satisfaction
I doubt whether the Tindemans Report is helpful in this situation. I must confess that I am not a federalist; I am a functionalist by nature and upbringing. I am not excited at all by the notion of federation. I think it would be a state of affairs which we should not find very comfortable. Much of what Mr. Tindemans said I found not particularly convincing and, in some respects, even rather boring. That, no doubt, was due to some deficiency of my own. But I was interested that those who have been much more closely concerned, as members of the European Parliament, also did not seem to be quite so enthusiastic for Mr. Tindemans' point of view as we might have expected. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Castle, and others that far more important is the issue of direct elections and what may emerge from them. That is in no way derogating from the task which Mr. Tindemans has most faithfully carried out; it is just a political truth.
On the other hand, we in the Select Committee of which I have the honour to be a member, under the admirable guidance of our chairman the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, have been concerned with the more particular interests touched upon in the Tindemans Report, and at that level I think he said a number of things which are distinctly helpful. If I may refer—I hope very briefly—to the 583 briefest section of the Select Committee's Report, Part 6, on the environment on page 10, we there drew attention to the two matters upon which Tindemans touched. One was the matter of organisation in the Commission which we do not find very satisfactory. Again I hope I say this in no carping spirit because those who are concerned with these environmental matters are I am sure doing their utmost. At present they do not have adequate resources to do the kind of job which I am sure they wish to do as much as we would have them do it.
The other matter is a much more important philosophical and constitutional matter. Mr. Tindemans pointed out quite rightly that when the Treaty of Rome was promulgated it was almost entirely based—although it had many political overtones—on economic terms and functions. The dominant Article 2 is couched accordingly in terms of economic harmonisation and economic growth.
Mr. Tindemans very properly pointed out that in the years which have passed since the Treaty was drafted and adopted public opinion in Europe and in other parts of the world—most notably, possibly, in the United States but really it is a world wide phenomenon—has become, suddenly and sharply, most acutely aware of the fact that we live in a physical environment which is of the greatest importance for the future of the human race. It is an environment that we share not only with Europeans but with all other human and living creatures in one common biosphere. It is only very recently that we have woken up to the fact that by misuse, or profligate use, of the resources of our environment we may be betraying not only ourselves but future generations. Therefore, the notion that we can happily go on expanding and expanding our economic growth is not tenable. One must look far more critically than we have ever done before at the effect which our activities have on our environment and at what policies we should adopt with such considerations in mind.
It was only in 1973 that the Community gave public recognition to this principle in its declaration on the environment. It has still not been incorporated in the Treaty. Some of us have suggested that 584 Article 2 should be amended, but having listened to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, I am daunted by what would be required to be done to alter the Treaty of Rome. Therefore it is at least comforting that whatever other weaknesses or deficiencies there may be in Brussels, they seem to be prepared to proceed with a very substantial environment programme, which I commend to the study of your Lordships, whether or not any mention of the environment is made in the Treaty. That I regard as a very substantial bonus mark for an institution of which I am otherwise rather critical.
So we are grateful indeed that Mr. Tindemans himself should so clearly have drawn attention to this development. In our very brief comment on his report we quote him as saying:Our peoples are concerned with new problems and values scarcely mentioned in the Treaties. They are calling for a new type of economic growth displaying more respect for the quality of life and for the physical and human environment.This is one of the causes which appeal most strongly to the young generation in all countries of the world. It is one which, if the European institutions can be successful, may provide one of the emotional urges for which the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, was calling.
Finally, may I refer to the efforts which the non-Governmental organisations in Europe who are concerned with environmental affairs are themselves making? They have established in Europe the European Environmental Bureau, and I have here their comments on the Tindemans Report. If I may just underline one particular request they make, it is that those in the Commission who are charged with responsibility for environmental affairs should not be so restricted and inward looking as they are in the Brussels context—as was so vividly described by the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, and other noble Lords who have spoken—where each directorate regards itself as completely self-contained and is hardly able to speak to those who work for other interests. But the voluntary organisations are anxious that concern for the effect of policies upon our physical inheritance—they may be land use policies, or industrial policies, or energy policies—should permeate all sections of the Community organisation and not be confined simply to the one which has the direct official responsibility.
585 In its commentary on Tindemans the European Environmental Bureau say in terms:Meanwhile, the Environment and Consumer Protection Service of the Commission should see its task not merely as pursuing a programme of its own independently of other directorates of the Commission but as promoters of the idea of environmental quality within the other directorates".Those of us who had occasion recently to meet some of our own officials who represent us at official gatherings in Brussels were much disappointed to find that this idea does not seem to have permeated some, at least, of our official representatives. We hope very much that they will raise their eyes from the details of these innumerable Directives which are issued from Brussels and recognise that here one has a most challenging situation. One should be able to relate these environmental issues to matters of much wider policy than the relatively narrow Directives, important as they are, dealing with pollution of water, with problems of noise, and so on and so forth. I hope very much that whatever happens in the political developments of the next two years or so, some of these ideas will permeate both the institutions in Brussels and also ultimately our own European electorate in this country.
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, she has commented on the attitudes of some of the officials who represent us at meetings in the Community and complained that they do not take an over-view. Would not the noble Baroness agree that it is impossible for the officials to look beyond the brief setting out what they are meant to do and that the only way for them to take a wider view of all the environmental considerations would be for their political masters to ask them to put forward a Green Paper on the environmental issues in preparation for our Presidency next year?
§ Baroness WHITE
My Lords, I appreciate what the noble Lord has said but I have always believed that it is the officials who are really the masters. They advise the Ministers.
§ 6.28 p.m.
My Lords, I have listened with great admiration and no small 586 amount of awe to the erudition of the contributions made to the debate so far by both noble Lords and noble Baronesses. It leads me to the conclusion that I must be the most objective and unbiased speaker in the debate this afternoon, because I am completely free from and untainted with any knowledge of the EEC situation—so much so, indeed, that as I was coming over this morning in the aeroplane I was practising my pronounciation of "Monsieur Tindemans", slightly to the disquiet of the air hostesses and my fellow passengers. But having heard what I have heard this afternoon about "Mr. Tindemans", I will not venture on to such dangerous ground again and, indeed, will make no further reference to the gentleman, thus shortening considerably my speech. I hope, however, that your Lordships will forgive my rather simplistic approach to the debate, and may I say with respect that I shall welcome very favourably any interventions which your Lordships may make if I should happen to stray into error.
I have read the documents associated with this debate with great interest and I welcome the seemingly solid progress that is being made in the development of the European Parliament, and certainly the progress that is envisaged for the near future. The Party which I represent, which is the Alliance Party of—dreaded words !—Northern Ireland, and I welcome greatly the fact that the proposal is to have direct elections and direct representation because we feel this means that there will be a very much better chance of any available funds being deployed to the best advantage in disadvantaged areas, such as Northern Ireland, where, as your Lordships know, unemployment is at the highest rate in the United Kingdom and the economic outlook is far from happy at the moment. We feel that direct representation in areas such as that will help in ensuring that any available funds are deployed to the best advantage. We also feel that it will be very helpful if it is not only the case, but is seen to be the case, that assistance from the Community is not substitutional for but additional to any that comes from the United Kingdom Government funds.
This means that there will be a heavy responsibility on the Members of Parliament elected to the European Parliament and therefore a heavy responsibility on the 587 electors throughout the United Kingdom, and perhaps even more, a heavy responsibility on the Party selectors who choose the candidates for that Parliament. For instance, your good, old fashioned "no Pope here" candidate will not cut much ice in the European Parliament, particularly in view of the fact that the Treaty of Rome has so frequently been misrepresented as the Treaty with Rome. We must have people who will genuinely represent all parts of the United Kingdom in the European Community and who will know what they are talking about.
My belief is that proportional representation would be the best method of election to the European Parliament. I think my Party is in agreement with the Liberal Party that this is the best form of election, and referring also to elections to the House of Commons at Westminster. I can only say that surprisingly enough it has worked well since 1973 in Northern Ireland. It has meant that the automatic vote has gradually decreased and that the voter tends to make more of a conscious decision before casting his vote. Multi-Member constituencies mean a certain amount of duplication of effort, but at the same time they keep the elected representatives more on their toes, as I know from my own experience, and also enable a fairer pattern of representation to be achieved.
I do not imagine that the time is yet ripe to have proportional representation for the House of Commons at West-minister. I wish it were. If it is not—and I hope I am wrong—the argument may be adduced that to have direct elections to the House of Commons but proportional representation elections to the European Parliament would cause confusion. I submit that that would not be so very serious a snag. There are a lot of sick jokes in currency at the moment about the stupid Irish. We have not had all that much confusion between proportional representation for the Northern Ireland Assembly or Convention and direct elections for Westminster, so surely the superior intellects of the voters on this side of the water would not experience difficulty! In passing, while speaking about Westminster, I would say that I agree with those who suggest that in the absence of devolved Parliament in Northern Ireland a higher number of 588 MPs would be justifiable for Northern Ireland, but that is not the subject of this debate.
Turning to the problems of small regions and looking at the proposed allocation of seats in the European Parliament, on the face of it, it would seem that the smaller countries are being treated over-generously, with places like Luxembourg and the Republic of Ireland getting a disproprotionate number of seats compared with their population. But when one thinks about it, this is reasonably fair. The point I want to make is this: if small countries are given over-generous treatment because their problems are not necessarily fewer in number or lesser in magnitude than those of countries with a larger population, should this criterion not be applied to smaller regions?
To the best of my knowledge the proposals are that of the 81 seats allocated to the United Kingdom, apart from the bulk of them, which quite rightly will go to England, there will be 10 allocated to Scotland, five to Wales and three to Northern Ireland. is it really consistent that Northern Ireland with a population of 1½ million should have three seats when the Republic of Ireland, with a population of 3½ million—just over double; not three times—should have 15 seats? All right, it could be said that the three members from Northern Ireland have the backing of all the other members from the rest of Great Britain. But I would submit to your Lordships that perhaps there is a case for considering that small regions with peculiar problems—and particularly in the case of Northern Ireland with the remoteness problem, the unemployment problem, the economic difficulties—should have larger representation, possibly to the tune of four or five.
So far as the direct elections are concerned, I feel that Northern Ireland should be treated as one constituency, and I would hope that four or five members could be elected from Northern Ireland as a whole. I put it to your Lordships that, if the number were increased from three to four or five, this would make more likely the chance of a reasonably good spread across the sectarian and community divide, which is what my Party is all about. But, above all, I think what is essential—and I have been 589 delighted to hear so many speakers refer to it this afternoon—is to cultivate in the next 22 months public awareness of the European Parliament.
I was involved in a canvass at the time of the Referendum last year. In trying to advocate to people that they should vote in favour of Britain staying within the EEC, I found that, first, they were not interested, and secondly, they knew nothing about it. I think it is the view of so many people that it is rather like the solar system: if you take an unfavourable view of sunspots, there is nothing much you can do about it, so therefore, you do not acquaint yourself with it, you take no steps about it, and you do not make any effort over it.
In the next 22 months we must get over to people that there is something they can do about the European Parliament and the Community as a whole, that they have to think carefully about the policies involved, and that they have to think carefully before selecting or electing members; otherwise, as other noble Lords and Ladies have said, the public is not going to be behind the European Parliament and it is not going to achieve what I think nearly all of us here are hoping for.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Baroness ELLIOT of HARWOOD
My Lords, I should like to follow the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, in the last words of his speech. I think it is of vital importance that we should get the British public to understand what the European Parliament is all about, and what the question of direct elections will mean. This is extremely important, and what the noble Lord has just said is also very important indeed. I could not agree more with the noble Baroness, Lady White, on the problems of small countries deeply involved in local government reorganisation, which is not as successful as we would have hoped; devolution, not knowing what we are going to do or what is the right thing to do, and about which there has been a good deal of controversy; and then being offered, and accepting I am sure, the responsibility of elections to the European Parliament. These are very difficult things to deal with, and to try to get the British public interested will take a lot of hard work, care, help from the media, and so on. But I certainly agree that the British public should, and must, be 590 interested because we are all committed to the European idea, and so far as I am concerned, committed with great enthusiasm. I have always been a supporter of it.
We cannot exaggerate or underestimate the amount of good that has been done by the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, in organising these committees. It seems that everybody present in the House at the moment is a member of one committee or another. I must say that I have learnt more in the two years that I have been on Committee D, the Committee which considers agriculture, than I could possibly have learnt in any other way. These committees are functional and highly successful. I have been listening to everybody talking about the particular committee upon which they sit, and in this way a great contribution is made to the wav in which all of us can play a part in understanding and the spreading of propaganda, if you like, or however we may like to put it, to the British public on the importance of understanding and being an enthusiastic supporter of the EEC.
In reading the papers, particularly those on the Tindemans Report, it is a little disappointing—and I am speaking now as a very enthusiastic member of Committee D dealing with agriculture—that there is only a very short reference to agriculture. When I was reading these, the other Command Paper, and also the Tindemans Report, I wondered why it was that such small reference was made to this subject in the report by Mr. Tindemans because this subject has so absorbed the Six ever since the Treaty of Rome was signed—and now it is the Nine. I have come to the conclusion that it is because this is such an exceedingly difficult subject.
Agriculture is so varied and so difficult to organise on the basis of unity that I am not at all sure that it really is a possibility in the sense in which one can organise things like the environment, or energy, or what-have-you. It is a very difficult thing to do. It is dependent on forces over which we have no control, such as the weather, climate, type of soil, and so on. We cannot grow in this country what is grown in Italy; we cannot grow in this country what is grown in other parts of the EEC, and vice versa. So it is not an easy matter 591 at all to work out an agricultural policy which will suit everyone. Furthermore, much of the EEC agriculture is part-time. The farm units are so small they are not farms in our sense of the word at all. In Scotland, we would call them crofts. It is the crofting idea that a lot of the small farmers in the EEC are really engaged in, and even then they are not engaged full-time; they are doing something else, and going to work on their small patch of land during the course of the day, the evening, or however it is organised.
It is not easy to relate that to our type of agriculture which is about the most efficient, certainly in Europe, and I would be prepared to say in the world today. On the whole, the units are a great deal larger than in Europe. The efficiency which we have achieved, the desire for low cost for high quality, and for sales promotion are some of our principles—principles which we discussed last year when discussing agriculture with Mr. Lardinois, when I thought that in many ways the ideas they had were not the same as our own.
The idea that agriculture is a subsistence industry and that sales organisations are not really developed in Europe is quite different from the situation here. We base our whole agricultural policy on being as efficient as we possibly can be, and by having as good a sales organisation as we possibly can. I have no doubt that these problems have weighed very heavily with M. Lardinois, which may well be the reason why he feels he cannot go on at present. But I think a good deal of the policy has been very successful. I think the grant aid allocated for disadvantaged areas has been very helpful and successful. Many of the economic policies are beginning to be successful, and are beginning to co-ordinate agricultural interests. But, of course, it is a slow progress. The differences in conditions are very great indeed.
I am just wondering whether it is possible to have the same rules for food production in all countries when all the conditions are so very different. Section IV of Cmnd. Paper 6497, which we are also discussing today, refers to agriculture and fisheries in more detail than does the Tindemans Report. This 592 section shows there has been considerable progress among the Nine. But it still seems to me necessary to think about sales of produce as well as of production. There is little about sales in any of this. Therefore, one comes across the huge surpluses, whether they be of milk or any other product, which in my opinion might well be avoided to some extent if there was a real sales drive. Taking milk alone, the amount of milk consumed in France, Holland or Belgium is far, far less than that consumed in this country per head of the population, because we have a splendid organisation in the Milk Marketing Board. I am glad the Common Agricultural Policy has agreed to let our Milk Marketing Board continue because it has done highly successful work, and has the backing of the whole of cur dairy industry.
I only wish we could persuade the agricultural interests in Europe to consider doing something on the same lines as with some of their other products. I think the idea of selling food should not be separated from the production of food, otherwise the balance gets completely wrong and you have what I think someone referred to as these meat mountains, milk mountains and so on and so forth.
Paragraph 39 of the Cmnd. 6497 refers to preliminary discussion on the agricultural structure. I would like to suggest that whoever takes over from M. Lardinois should work very seriously on this problem. We have learned with great pleasure of the appointment of Mr. Roy Jenkins to the Commission of the EEC, and no one could have had a more enthusiastic reception from all sides of this House and the other place. I am extremely delighted that he is going to be our leader there. I agreed with Lord Castle when he said very distinctly that what was wanted in Europe and the European Parliament were men and women of stature; it is vitally important that when our representatives are elected to the Parliament they should be people of great stature.
I was delighted to see recently in an agricultural paper, and I think it was also in the newspapers, that there was a possibility that the Agricultural Commissioner might be chosen from the 593 United Kingdom, and the name of Sir Henry Plumb was mentioned. I hope that this may be a happy prognostication which might be fulfilled, as I believe that, if we had a really outstanding agriculturist like Sir Henry Plumb, it would be a great help to the agricultural policy.
If noble Lords would turn to the Tindemans Report, it lists a number of people interviewed by M. Tindemans on the different subjects he covers in the report. I was a little startled to see under "Agricultural Organisations" a list of trade unionists—Len Murray, David Basnett, Norman Willis, A. Hargreaves and Jack Jones—admirable gentlemen, but none, I think, could be called agriculturists. Then I see above, at number V, a list of Trade Unions, and these are R. Butler, President of the National Farmer's Union, George Cattell, Director General-of the National Farmer's Union, Asher Winegarten, Deputy Director-General, National Farmer's Union. This has either been an error of printing, in which case I hope somebody will correct it, or something very odd has happened, because nobody could say that to discuss the important subject of agriculture you would go to the agricultural interests described as Trade Unions here and the trade unions described as agricultural organisations here. Perhaps that may be mentioned and put right.
I have spoken about agriculture in the EEC because I am an active member of the sub-committee, but I would support those who have spoken about direct elections. I feel encouraged that some of those who have spoken as members of the European Parliament at the moment feel that things have started to go better and that people are more interested. Lord Ardwick has encouraged me with his account of work being done by the appointed members of the European Parliament and the amount of cooperation which exists today. I am heartened by this. I hope it will continue. I hope that in about a year's time, when we are discussing these matters again, we will be able to point to a very successful reorganisation of the European Parliament, and that we can send to Europe first-class people from this country, who I think would have a tremendous influence in Europe today.
§ 6.54 p.m.
Lord BRUCE of DONINGTON
My Lords, I should like to join with my colleagues in the European Parliament in expressing my own congratulations to the Committee headed by the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, and indeed to her personally, for the clarity of the reports that are produced by her Committee. Many of us by this time have become used to placing rather more reliance on the observations made by the noble Baroness's Committee than we do on some of the allegedly more authoritative comments contained in the papers themselves. We are, indeed, grateful to her.
I am a little worried by the course that this debate has taken. It seems to me that in so many of the contributions that have been made, admirable and well-documented as these may undoubtedly have been, we have to some extent confused hope with reality. If one went through the White Paper we are considering today, one would not gather the impression that there was anything seriously wrong with Europe today, but, of course, the reality is that things are not going at all well in Europe today. Until we recognise this, there will be but little chance of affairs in Europe improving. There are at the moment 5 million people out of work in Europe, and there is inflation, however improving. But there is no sign from any of the Member States, including my own, that they have arrived at any European solution for this problem. Of course, that may not be—and I am not suggesting it is—the fault of the European Community institutions themselves. Neither am I blaming it on the Treaty of Rome. But what I am saying is that from the observations of the nine Ministers they are no nearer a solution to the problems of Europe than is implicit in their insistence on the old solution of cutting public expenditure as a means of curing unemployment, a doctrine which I thought was as dead as the dodo following 1931. There is no evidence at all that the Council of Ministers have made any serious and structural analysis of the European economy itself.
§ Baroness ELLES
My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to intervene? Would he not agree that by not cutting public expenditure we still have enormous unemployment in this country, and it is increasing?
Lord BRUCE of DONINGTON
I was not saying that at all, my Lords. What I was saying was that there was no evidence that the nine Ministers have made any structural examination of the real nature of the European economy as a whole, or if they have, they have kept it very secret from us. About a year ago, the Commission itself published a document, a very important document called The Problems of Inflation. It in fact went to some length to discuss the role played by private corporate power in Europe, the whole problem of the impact of the conduct of the very large multinational companies—which I am not seeking to decry in any way—not only on price levels themselves, on the problems of inflation, but also by transfer pricing and also by the movement of vast sums of money across the exchanges permissible under the Treaty of Rome. This was causing imbalance between the various balance of payments situations in several countries of the Nine. There is no evidence that such an examination has been carried out or, if it has, that any attention has been paid to it.
The first report of the Regional Fund just produced by Commissioner Thomson draws attention to the fact that far from during the last five years the regional imbalances having improved, in fact the situation is getting worse year by year. I am not going to speculate as to what extent this has been caused by, or follows from, the freedom to move both capital and labour all over Europe, I merely record the fact that according to Mr. Thomson's first report, if one took the the position of Paris and Hamburg as against Southern Italy and Western Ireland in 1972 the difference was four and five times as much GNP per head in Paris and Hamburg, and the position is now five and six times rather than four and five. There is no evidence at all that the Member States or, for that matter, the Commission are making any endeavour at all to correct this imbalance.
One would have thought on reading the Treaty of Rome that the Member States could have invoked Article 92 of the Treaty in order to have made special arrangements in order to increase the amounts available to the Social Fund. There is no point in making extra arrangements for the Regional Fund because the Regional Fund is geared to the contributions of the 596 Member States. Only 20 per cent. or 30 per cent. according to the nature of the project is supplied by the Community, the remainder has to come from the resources of the Member States, and so there is this imbalance.
It is one thing to trace the causes of the imbalance backwards, but it is another thing to take steps to remedy it. There is no point in going back into history to reveal, something which is undoubtedly true so far as this country is concerned, that we had a favourable balance of payments with the Community prior to 1970, and it is today running at over £2,000 million. It is one thing to say, as is undoubtedly so, that when the first assessment was made of the Common Agricultural Policy on this country, way back at the time of the White Papers of 1970 and 1971, an additional burden on the balance of payments of the order of £50 million by the end of the transitional period was contemplated, as against the approximately £800 million additional burden on the balance of payments last year owing to the operation of the Common Agricultural Policy.
There is no point in going back to the recrimination about that. What is important is to ascertain what steps are being taken to remedy it, because this country cannot play its full part in the Community, and cannot do its duty by its citizens, unless it makes quite clear to the world and to the Community what it proposes to do about it. One thing that it can do is to contribute to changing quite radically, as the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, indicated, the whole agricultural policy. I beg my noble friend not to regard the Common Agricultural Policy as being the tablets of wisdom handed down from Mount Sinai. I really hope that he will not, because I can assure him, if he may feel disposed to defend the operation of the existing Common Agricultural Policy, that he will find that he will be out of step with other European countries, and I suspect too with the Opposition in this House and in another place.
If there is one thing that is universally agreed throughout the Community by all the Member States, it is that the Common Agricultural Policy should be changed. What there is not agreement about is how it should be changed. It is my sincere hope that my own Government, 597 the British Government, will be able to bring their mind to bear on this subject and make their own original contribution. The existing system of price intervention, at a price higher than prevailing in the world market, has not only cost our country this extra burden running into hundreds of millions of pounds on our balance of payments, it has also entered into the price structure of the prices that people pay in the shops, and acts, to the extent that it is excessive above world prices, as a poll tax on the entire population and has a profound bearing on the attitude that they take towards the whole concept of the European Community and its impact on them.
Unless the demands that are now being made, and the pressures that are mounting in the Community, for the rapid phasing out of the monetary compensation amounts, for the rapid adjustment of the Green Pound to the exchange value of the pound, are resisted and a new policy is put forward—I hope at the instance of the British Government—there will be a rise in food prices in January 1978 that will blow the bottom out of any social contract policy and any incomes policy. Let there be no illusion about that.
§ Baroness ELLES
My Lords, I am sorry to intervene again, but would the noble Lord therefore admit that the support from the Community to British food prices has been enormous, thanks to the MCAs?
Lord BRUCE of DONINGTON
My Lords, undoubtedly it has been, but unfortunately it has not been as much as the extra burden on our balance of payments, because it is cumulative. If the balance of payments deteriorates by some £800 million due to this particular cause, this itself has a depressing effect on the rate of exchange which then causes the payment of more monetary compensation amounts, and so on, and it becomes self-propellent. I therefore hope that we are going to have a more constructive attempt to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. At the moment the position is that 68 per cent. of the Community's budget is in fact being spent on 10 per cent. of its working population. If you take that in conjunction with the figures that I have put forward, which are authenticated, in relation to the Regional Fund, 598 this is something that will strike at the very roots of the whole of the Community institutions unless Governments correct this.
I have been critical concerning the working of certain parts of the Community's policy. This does not mean that I think that the institutions, even operating within the Treaty, cannot be made to work. What it does mean is that we have to make an effort to make them work, and that we have to stop kidding ourselves that it is going to work all right if only we leave it alone. One result of my being able to participate, as representing this House, in the Community is that I have been able to learn a little better how the other countries think. I hope that by now they have begun to know a little better the motives which animate us. Whatever the shortcomings of Britain may be—and we are sometimes accused of dragging our feet—it is undeniable that in the European Parliament the attendance record of the British delegation, from whichever Party, outstrips that of any other nationality. There we have not dragged our feet.
For ten years of my youth I lived in apprehension of the war that as a young man I knew was coming. When it came it wasted six years of my life, as it did for many others who were engaged in war efforts of various kinds. One of the greatest advantages—one which perhaps we do not yet realise, but one which we may sometimes think about—is that because of the existence of the Community, that is now impossible. We in Europe do not have to live in fear of war among the Member States. That is worth fighting to preserve and I hope that we will fight to preserve that feeling of security in the European sense. We will fight for it not by pretending that problems do not exist, not by pretending that things are better than they really are but by getting down to the nitty gritty work of making it work in conformity with our own beliefs.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Lord RHODES
My Lords, it is always refreshing to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington. He spoke of the few years which he lost out of his life because of the war. The war took 13½ years out of my life. I do not 599 intend to speak for long but I must first ask Lord Bruce, in view of his remarks about public expenditure, whether he is satisfied that it is being expended efficiently. In my view there has never been a time when public money has been handed out more profligately, but the question whether there is any virtue in not cutting public expenditure now, in the face of the inefficiency which goes with it, is a subject for argument on another occasion.
I came to this subject on the side, as it were; I evinced an interest in the Committee which was set up under the guidance and chairmanship of the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, which has been very successful, and I think that I was one of the first to point out the difficulties facing everybody when it came to understanding some of the problems which came to us from Europe via Brussels. Indeed, the first document in this connection that was handed to me was about the shipping industry. It recommended the rationalisation of the industry and one recommendation was that the industry in Jarrow, which at that time was quite busy, should be closed down. I recognised at once that here was a case of somebody writing papers for a Commissioner who knew nothing about the political implications for this country of such a step. I thought it was political dynamite, and I said so. Eventually it was withdrawn and ther began an investigation into some of the sources of the proposals coming from Brussels, something about which I shall have more to say later.
In the last few years democracy has had many trials and tribulations. Democratic institutions throughout the world have come out of those trials and difficulties pretty well and one which has stood up, maybe on rickety legs, is the EEC. I agree with much that was said by Lord Bruce and others about the need to have fire in the belly to grapple with the tremendous problems in the EEC. One of these, mentioned by Lord Bruce, is unemployment. The only countries in the world which do not have unemployment are the Communist ones and that is because they have a tight grip on labour. An example of this is in the East. There is no unemployment there. The authorities dish out little baskets to the workers on a building site 600 and send them off running from one place to another carrying small quantities of earth, and at the end of the day they are given a bowl of rice for their labour. Perhaps they have the ultimate answer; they regulate how much technology can be admitted in relation to unemployment.
At the other side of the world we have the Russian example, with a tight control over labour. There the workers cannot strike and the amount of money they earn is dictated by the Establishment. At present unemployment is being mopped up by the manufacture of armaments and anybody who has travelled throughout the world as I have recently will have seen what is going on and cannot fail but to have been impressed by the fact that Russian hardware is mounting everywhere. Soon there will be hardware in every ocean of the world. With them, military geophysics has given place to geopolitics, which can mean confrontation all over the world. That is why Tindeman is right: the EEC must speak with one voice.
I do not believe that we in this country can solve our unemployment problems working on our own. We must be in an organisation like the EEC with its 250 million people, but, as Lord Bruce said, we will have to approach the matter in a different manner and the priorities in the EEC will have to be right before we can do it.
Mention has been made of direct elections. These could be the saving grace for the EEC. If you have direct elections, you must go to the country with a programme and, if you go to the country with a programme, you must say what will be the period of that programme. Up till now, there has been no mention in any shape or form in any document that I have seen about a programme of work. It has been ad hoc. Quite haphazard. The ideas coming out of the Commisson have been agreed about, I presume, in all the EEC countries. Whether all the countries have taken the work as seriously as we in our Committee have, I doubt very much.
If we can have direct elections we must make it quite clear to the country what is involved, and they will respond. A programme will have to have something on the lines of a Queen's Speech. I thought that the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, 601 hit the nail on the head when she said that there was no control of who decides priorities. How can an organisation function without such direction? But the initiative that has been taken by the Heads of State during the past few weeks, and has given me great hope that at long last this lack has been realised and that shortly we shall be working to a programme in the EEC.
I should like briefly to follow up the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Castle. He was talking about schools, and information and making the EEC common knowledge. He felt that it was necessary for us to be in it and part of it. We should be explaining to the people of this country some of the elementary problems that confront the EEC. For instance, who can tell what a mountain of skimmed milk is? What on earth are we talking about when we speak of mountains of skimmed milk, mountains of wine, mountains of butter? Why is it that out wives have to accept high prices so that something in the EEC can be adjusted? Will somebody explain, please, why cannot the media—the BBC and ITV—showing pictures of great lorries tipping up apples that ought to be available on the market stalls of towns and villages in our countryside, explain why it comes about.
For goodness sake! let us stop this pedantic-talk about the EEC and get down to some of the simple basic facts of the kind that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, was talking about. If we could simplify and give everybody a feeling that by being members of an organisation such as the EEC we were improving the possibilities of solving some of the problems of the day, there is no question we could restore some of the lost enthusiasm.
§ 7.24 p.m.
The Earl of BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am very glad that we are having another Grand Tour of Europe this afternoon, though we had a mini-tour which was given us by the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, the other evening. Usually, grand tours take a few weeks rather than hours and I must admit that telescoping all the work of the Community covering virtually every department of government is quite a task, and I do not wonder that we are running a little late. However, I also look forward to the next debate on the Budget.
602 At the outset, I should like to thank two noble Baronesses of this side of the House. Noble Baronesses have made a tremendous contribution to this debate. Firstly, I need hardly say that I wish to thank my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir for her Committee's extremely useful report, for, as the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, has said we often find these reports produced by our Select Committees easier to cope with than the reports which we receive in Brussels. I congratulate her and I also congratulate my noble friend Lady Elles on her contribution
I should like to deal first with the question of strengthening the institutions. This relates to Chapter V of Tindemans, to get back to Tindemans. I refer especially to the institution which must be uppermost in our minds at present—that is, the European Parliament and its composition after direct elections. I believe that we should be very glad that the Council of Ministers was able last Monday night to reach agreement about this. I feel that the Heads of Government, including our own Head of Government, should be congratulated on having achieved the numerical compromise, even if the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, is not quite happy about Northern Ireland. We have not had much to crow about in the Community and this decision of 12th July was certainly historic. Indeed, it is the view of most of us in the European Parliament that it was the most exciting decision since the Treaty was signed 18 years ago. We shall, in 1978, have a truly political human core to the Community. I feel that this is an amplification of the thoughts of the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes.
I agree, too, with my noble friend Lady Elliot, who also made a very interesting contribution, that political leaders in this country should now come forward and declare their willingness to stand for election to the Parliament. Certainly, if the new and enlarged European Conservative Constituency Associations were already in being, I should offer myself as a candidate and I hope that other noble Lords—including, of course, noble Baronesses and, certainly, those younger than myself (and, in this connection I am very glad to hear that the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, is determined to present himself) but even some who may be older on all sides of the House—will 603 likewise declare in principle their willingness to stand. As far as we are concerned, this will, to my mind, make us politically legitimate even if, hereditarily, we may already be so.
It is easier for us in this House to state our intention in this matter than for members of another place; rightly, they have their future in their present national constituencies to consider. Clearly, it is more difficult for them to commit themselves or even to state their intentions. No doubt, in their case the dual mandate will continue at the outset and, certainly, I can see no reason why, in your Lordships' House, we should not continue to exercise a double duty. "Mandate" is not quite the right word for your Lordships since we have no popular electoral right to sit in this Chamber, even if we certainly have a duty to do so by the writs which we have received.
I have quite a long list of noble Lords of all three Parties and on the Cross-Benches—though I shall not read it to your Lordships—who, since it appears virtually certain that we shall be eligible to stand, would, I believe, make very appropriate members. I am certain also that they will be appropriately rewarded for their work, which they can hardly be considered to be so far. In other States, the most distinguished political leaders of varying ages and political hues have either been, are now or have stated their wish to be members of the European Parliament after direct elections. To mention a few, in France, I think of M. Alain Poher, the President of the Senate who was interim President of the Republic in the interval between M. Pompidou and M. Giscard d'Estaing. I think of M. Mitterand, the leader of the French Socialists. He has come forward.
In Germany Herr Willy Brandt and Herr Apel, the present Minister of Finance, have let their names go forward. In Italy Signor Andreotti, who is at present forming a Government there, has been for many years, and indeed still is, a member of the present European Parliament, and Signor Agnielli, the most distinguished of all Italian industrialists, has also volunteered. In Belgium, Mr. Tindemans himself—the author of this report—has stated that he, too, will stand for election. This means that they really do believe in 604 European union. Of course there are the names of two or three commissioners as well who are either standing or are proposing to stand. My Lords, who has come forward in this country? I believe that some, like the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, have indicated their intentions, but I know of no well known or truly famous names.
When we come to Mr. Tindemans' first proposals concerning Parliament, I must confess they are rather disappointing. He proposes that the Council:should immediately allow the Parliament to take initiatives by undertaking to consider the resolutions which Parliament addresses to it.He goes on to propose that during the development of European union:this practice should be given legal value through a Treaty amendment …Finally, concerning Parliament's powers Mr. Tindemans proposes that Parliament:should be able from now on, to consider all questions within the competence of the Union, whether or not they are covered by the Treaties.Here, to be frank, I do not think that Mr. Tindemans has carried out quite as much research as he has in other sectors in what is undoubtedly a most interesting and valuable report. In practice, Parliament can already "take initiatives" by addressing resolutions to the Council, and the Council never refuses to consider them, whether they take the form of an opinion on a Commission proposal, or the form of an initiative report and resolution. There is no need therefore for this practice to be given any legal status by a Treaty amendment, as Mr. Tindemans proposes.
So far as the third suggestion is concerned—that Parliament should be able to consider any question whether or not this is covered by the Treaties—Parliament, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, knows, already reports on and debates resolutions on important questions of interest to it which lie outside the Treaties, and this on its own initiative, so long as the plenary session or the Bureau of Parliament authorises the interested committee or committees to draft the report and resolution. On the initiative of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, Parliament has debated and adopted resolutions on defence co-operation and the Conference, on Security and Co-operation in Europe, on the initiative of a Belgian Member, 605 M. Radoux, who is now preparing a report on the intensely military subject of the mutual balanced force reductions negotiations in Vienna.
Traditionally, and to the extent that Parliament needs a specific justification for these reports, Parliament has claimed that a paragraph in the Bonn Declaration of July 1961 is sufficient. But despite the rather disappointing nature of Mr. Tindemans' proposals, he does use and repeat this word "initiative". The European Parliament's Political Committee, of which my honourable friend Sir Peter Kirk is rapporteur, is indeed preparing proposals concerning the extension of Parliament's powers. This could involve a greater right of initiative by Parliament in the legislative process. It would, I think, go some way to meeting, from Parliament's side, the statement made by the Heads of Government in 1974 that:The competence of the European Assembly will be extended, in particular by granting it certain powers in the Communities' legislative process".I do not want to anticipate what Sir Peter Kirk may himself propose within the coming weeks. But one thing is clear to me—and with this I agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Castle—and that is that once they elect their own Members of the European Parliament, these Members will not wish to be denied a degree of legislative initiative and control comparable, I would say, within those areas covered by the Treaties, to those enjoyed by national Parliaments. Indeed, the logic of direct elections is that directly elected Members cannot be political eunuchs, even if at the outset there may not be immediately any increase in those powers.
In the section of the Report on the role and strengthening of the Commission certain proposals are made by Mr. Tindemans concerning the appointment of the President and Members of the Commission. As we all know, Mr. Tindemans' first proposal that the President of the Commission should be appointed by the European Council, has already come into operation, and I am sure that all of us in this House have indeed wished Mr. Jenkins well in fulfilling the major task that lies ahead of him. We have great hopes.
606 Mr. Tindemans suggests that the newly appointed President should appear before Parliament to make a statement and to have his appointment confirmed by vote, and that he would then appoint his fellow commissioners in consultation with the Council. Again, speaking personally, I cannot but regret that Mr. Tindemans and the Governments wish to retain the tradition that the appointment of the President of the Commission, a body whose political responsibility is to Parliament—and it is important to remember this—rather than to Member States, should be nominated solely by agreement between those Member States.
In view of direct elections, and in view of the need, recognised by Heads of Government themselves, to increase Parliament's role in the coming years, it would seem more logical, and I think institutionally sounder, that the nomination of the new President should be by agreement, or as has been mentioned earlier this evening, by co-decision between Governments and the Parliament. While it is only normal that the President of the Commission should consult Governments concerning the appointment of these colleagues, the European Parliament should in my view also have a decisive voice in their appointment. We cannot, as Mr. Tindemans has said, develop a meaningful European union unless the Nine speak and act as a single entity in dealing with the outside world.
To achieve a genuine European foreign policy, Mr. Tindemans argues that it is necessary to go beyond the present system of political co-operation and to achieve a real European foreign policy. In order to develop such a policy, Mr. Tindemans holds that the pre-condition is that there must be an obligation to reach a common point of view and that the European Council should be obliged to arrive at common decisions on specific issues of foreign policy. I very much hope that the Government will take up this extremely important suggestion and that the Foreign Office will make constructive proposals, within the Davignon Committee, concerning foreign policy areas which could be most realistically chosen. As Mr. Tindemans says, come what may we should present a united front at multilateral negotiations relating to a new world economic order. This means that 607 we should in every case place the primary interest of joint action above our divergent opinions and interests.
I much admire the way in which Mr. Tindemans has the courage to stick his neck out on the issue of European defence. I fully realise that it is probably premature for the Community to relaunch the idea of a European defence community, but security is an essential element of foreign policy and cannot be divorced from it. There is, of course, a question mark concerning Ireland's role, as a neutral, but it should not be too difficult to find procedural devices to cover this point. The vital issue would be that France must agree to take part in these discussions, but since she does participate in the work of the recently-created European Programme Group it is to be hoped that there would be no objection on her side to this. Finally, I consider that Mr. Tindemans' proposals regarding co-operation in the manufacture of armaments are well worthy of consideration by the Government. The time is too short for me to go ino this now, but I hope that the Government are considering this particular suggestion by Mr. Tindemans.
There are many other points in the report on which I would have touched if time had permitted, but I have tried to concentrate on those issues of Europe's role in the world, and the strengthening of the role of Parliament in the light of direct elections, which are to me of the greatest significance. I thought that the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, made one of the bull points in our debate when she said that an emotional surge was needed. I would say that there must be an emotional challenge, and I fear, my Lords, that that challenge may have to come from outside the Community.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Lord NORTHFIELD
My Lords, I was glad that the noble Earl came back from his blatant advance electioneering to the Tindemans Report. I wish him and his noble friend good fortune in getting ten constituencies, as we now know them, to agree to have them as candidates at the forthcoming elections.
§ Lord NORTHFIELD
My Lords, it will be a very amusing time. If elections involving the eminent people who he says are lining up for the purpose really take place, it will be a most intriguing election when the time comes, and I wish him all good fortune in it.
My Lords, I am a strong critic of the Tindemans Report, and I want very briefly to say why that is so. I regard it as mainly all tactics and no strategy; and I want to say what I think is wrong with having a report of that kind at this stage in Europe's history. After all, the exercise on which Mr. Tindemans embarked started in 1972 when, at the Summit Meeting then, the Heads of Government set 1980 as the target date for European union. They reasserted this in 1974, and asked Mr. Tindemans to draw up the agenda for European union. So this is a sort of once-a-decade exercise and it has got to be good, I am sure, to be approved and applauded. I regard it as a tragically missed opportunity in European history; one of those chances to make a landmark in the development of Europe which were not taken.
However, before I come to my criticisms, may I make two points? Of course, I approach this not as a federalist at all. I am not complaining that Mr. Tindemans is not a federalist. He is, of course, although his report is not all that noticeably so. I am not a naive federalist who wants instant Europe tomorrow or the next day; I see it as something evolving past the end of this century. So I am not, so to speak, criticising his report because it is not going fast enough for me. I do not go quite as far as the present Prime Minister, who said in February 1975 to the House of Commons that he did not believe—and I quote:we are in sight of moving to a Federal Europe by 1980, or indeed by any later date".I would not go quite as far as that, but I see the point that he is making; it is a long process.
Secondly, I am not critical of the details where Tindemans is positive. I thought his Chapter 2 on Foreign policy and his Chapter 4 on a Citizens' Europe, and Passports, and all those things, were all very helpful—patching up the Europe we have got. It is not European union. This was a sort of mini report on a few odd 609 ideas, and I do not mean to be disrespectful to him, for, so to speak, giving Europe a slight push forward. This exercise is however a once-a-decade sort of thing and and I suggest it should have been used for something bigger—to analyse what is going on in Europe and how we are evolving, and what the next two decades are all about—as well as giving the minutiae that he descends to as part of the work in the report.
Let me come then to precise criticisms and I will try to be more explicit. First of all, there is no doubt about the ringing tones of the instructions given to Mr. Tindemans. He was not asked to chart a couple of years ahead. He was asked by the Summit Conference of 1974, and they say,In this connection we consider that the time has come for the Nine to agree as soon as possible on an overall concept of European union"."An overall concept of European union"—and this is all elaborated in a long paragraph about consulting everybody, European Parliament, opinion in the countries and so on. This was to be a grand exercise and a fundamental analysis—at least so many of us thought.
Indeed, this is what is needed. After all, the Community started in 1958. We have had it now for nearly 20 years and nobody has done any stocktaking of any note. Nobody has said: "How much has this Community evolved compared with what was in the Treaty? What have we added, what have we subtracted, what have we changed? How have the institutions begun to work out? How do they look, how are they shaping up for the next couple of decades?" None of that is in Mr. Tindemans Report.
To recall what really happened in 1958 we have to take our minds back to the historical situation at that time. The idea of a political Community had foundered in 1954 at the time of the demise of the European Defence Community. This idea of the Treaty of Rome was put up to fill the gap at the time, and it built on the experience primarily of the Coal and Steel Community. The thinking was that you could have a High Authority like the Coal and Steel Community has. In this case it was the Commission, which would run more and more of Europe as we surrendered more and more to the centre. The idea in the Treaty of Rome— 610 there is no doubt about it: these are historical facts—was that the Commission was regarded as an embryonic Government, a Government "in waiting" as more and more supranational decisions were taken in areas like energy policy or the Common Agricultural policy. They would be added to the duties of the Commission, the Commission already having by the Treaty certain duties over Customs duties and rules of competition. Thus more and more as the years were going by it was envisaged that the High Authority, the Commission, would gradually take over more and more. This was the hope—that gradually Europe would federate because, as they said at the time, there would be a spillover into political affairs from the growing economic union. As the economic union developed it would spill over and inevitably involve political union, and all on the High Authority blueprint.
Of course, my Lords, nothing of this has really happened and what Tindemans should have done after 20 years is to analyse what really has been happening in Europe and say therefore: where do we go next as a result of that? What has actually happened is that the Commission, far from having this role as an embryonic Government, has gradually been downgraded. What has happened in addition is that its place has been taken by the Council of Ministers. Let us look at this.
First, we know that the historical context has changed. We no longer think of High Authorities and slick solutions of this kind. The tide of federal union has disappeared. There are not the historical imperatives. We are not afraid of Germany or of rearmed Russia; we have détente. We have a real growth of national bureaucracies, and the nation-State, since 1958, has been rehabilitated—to the sorrow, perhaps, of many Europeans; but this is a fact. The European tide in that simple sense has begun to retreat.
Secondly, in the inter-governmental and supranational parts of the Treaty there has not been the progress that the maximalists expected. There is not for example a real energy policy. There is not, in large parts of the Treaty, that agreement between Governments to make a policy and to give it to the Commission to execute it and to be the masters of on 611 the High Authority blueprint. A great deal of Europe has got stuck hard into an inter-governmental situation instead of becoming para-federal. There is no spill-over from the economic affairs to the political union because economic and monetary union—which Tindemans hardly begins to analyse—has become impossible for the time being. This is because of the divergence of our economies. You cannot federate or have economic and monetary union with the economies diverging in the desperate way they are doing at the moment. This he does not analyse. His chapter on economic union is pathetic. It does not face the facts of the difficulties.
More, importantly, look at what has happened to the Commission. All sorts of non-Treaty matters have been brought into the Community system. Foreign policy is now right in the European system. It is not mentioned in the Treaty; but it is now part of the work of the Council of Ministers.
Parliament is now allowed to ask questions on it. We have broadened the activity of the Community beyond the Treaty into all sorts of inter-governmental areas of which foreign policy is the most notable, while environment is another. This is useful, but it is vastly different from what the Treaty originally envisaged. There is even talk of going into defence. Nobody expects that if we bring defence into the Community, we can give it to a high authority to run in the next few years or decades. The Treaty is outmoded in this sense.
Lastly, instead of the Commission-Parliament dialogue being important, that is no longer important. What is important in Europe now was not even mentioned in the Treaty of Rome; that is, the dialogue between the Council and Parliament. It was not even mentioned in the Treaty that there should be relations between them. They have built them up from the point of answering questions to colloquies, to having major debates; and there is an emerging sense of a Government facing Parliament—contrary to what the Treaty of Rome envisaged. Indeed, we can say that it has gone so far (in a way that the Treaty did not foresee) that there is now actually formal conciliation between the Parliament and the Council over the Budget. The Commission is only, 612 as it were, sitting in the middle as an arbitrator. This is not the emergence of another Community on the style of the Coal and Steel Community with a High Authority, this is the emergence of something that we understand better in politics, a real Government of real politicians facing a Parliament.
In those circumstances and with all that evolving in this way, there will be an elected Parliament in 1978, who are going to say, "We must face the people with real power and make them behave in a collegiate manner, answerable to us as a governing Council of Ministers." What the Tindemans Report should have been doing is to examine that Europe which has now come about despite what was in the Treaty.
In that circumstance, the really important body is the Council of Ministers. They suffer from the simple defect that they are fragmented. They have no integrated approach. My noble friend Lord Rhodes and others talked about the work programme of Europe being "haphazard"—that was his word. The noble Baroness who introduced the debate made similar remarks about the need to bring order into the work of the Community. This does not happen because the Council is not a conscious collegial body, but a body of Ministers who have meetings, or of Foreign Ministers who dash backwards and forwards on aeroplanes and have no secretariat with the job of providing an integrated view of the development of Europe. Yet these are the people now who are the emerging Government of Europe: and nothing is happening to put order of a critical kind into their work. The Council of Ministers, I suggest, is the body which needs to be fashioned into a conscious instrument of European progress, giving Europe momentum—in addition to the extra momentum that the Commission, with its attenuated power, can give by working hand in hand.
These changes that I have been setting out were not analysed by Tindemans. He gives the game away in a specific paragraph where, when he is talking about the freedom of action of the Commission, he says:That freedom of action was best expressed by the powers conferred on the High Authority of the Coal and Steel Community. We must follow this example.613 We know what is wrong with Tindemans. He is an old fashioned federalist who still believes that; he could not bring his mind to grasp that what is needed in Europe is an analysis of what has really happened compared with the outdated hopes of 1958.
What ought he to have recommended? He should have recommended, say, something that the Wyndham Place Trust has recommended or the ideas that a number of us have put up for the refashioning of the Council. If this is to be the political head of Europe, it must become a responsible collegial Executive. The Wyndham Place Trust suggested in their report that one way of doing it would be to appoint the President of the Council of Ministers for one year. Tindemans also says that. They go further to make a crucial distinction: that he should be a Minister of a national Government who is sent to Brussels for a year to do nothing else other than to run the Community, to push the Council of Ministers together, to give it dynamic leadership and to get the bandwagon rolling in an orderly way that has not happened so far.
My own proposals go further. I have suggested that we ought to be sending resident Ministers to Brussels who could gradually form a collegial Executive. They would have the advice and, indeed, the presence of colleagues from their own Governments from time to time as needed when specialist matters were under discussion.
In some way, my Lords, we must begin to face up to the fact that it is the Council of Ministers that has now evolved as the supreme body and not the Commission. We must begin to think consciously how to adapt its role and push us forward into the future. He might have gone so far, in fact, as to spell out the progress of Europe up to now and then to indicate how we use the Council of Ministers in this new form, accepting the lessons of history, and to draw together the threads of the new kind of Community and possibly move towards a new Treaty of Union. This, in his Institutional chapter, would have made sense. As it is, I am afraid that his Institutional chapter is lame and unconvincing and only largely harks back to the past.
614 Finally, I see that Mr. Tindemans has been elected to head the new European Party, the European Peoples' Party (EPP). I see in The Times on 9th July that he spoke in Luxembourg. Mr. Tindemans attacked the growing tendency among members to transform the Community into a mere free trade area. How right he is! He said:If these currents of opinion develop, we shall soon find ourselves in a Community we never wanted.If we find ourselves in that sort of intergovernmental community Mr. Tindemans would be one of the people to blame. He has wasted 10 years in effect. He has failed to grasp the need to analyse the Europe that we have rather than the Europe we set out with. He has failed to draw together the lessons about how constitutionally we now begin to advance towards the end of the century. I did not want to ask any more of him than that. do not want the blueprint. I do not believe that Europe can emerge tomorrow or the day after; but I expect from leaders of great nations surrounded by great advisers, that they would analyse what we have been doing for 20 years in a realistic way and then set us on the road to something more worthwhile at the turn of the century. I remain gravely disappointed that he muffed that chance and lost his opportunity.
§ Lord ARDWICK
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down and concludes his extremely interesting speech, could he tell me what he visualises regarding the future of the Commission? We have the Commission which is a collegial body; he is now making the Council into a collegial body. Is the Commission to fade away and to transfer its expert staff to the Council?
§ Lord NORTHFIELD
My Lords, this is a point which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, I and others, have discussed on many occasions. The answer is simple. As I indicated, for the time being the Commission has its duties under the Treaty. It will run in harness with the developing Council for the time being, adding its momentum, its initiatives to the development of Europe. But ultimately, as the Council gets more powerful, there is no doubt that the Council at that time, if it 615 has become really collegial and is beginning to be divorced from Member Governments—as will occur in 20, 30 or 40 years time—the Commission will begin to fade away and become largely a bureaucracy entrusted with various jobs by the Council of Ministers. All this has been argued about and is known to many of us who spend our time in Europe on these matters. I am not trying to belittle the question; I am simply saying that there is not any real magic or even mystery about all these things. If we would all sit down and say what is happening as opposed to harking back to original blueprints, we would all get on much faster.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Lord BANKS
My Lords, of the two documents with which we are directly concerned in this debate, the White Paper on Developments in the European Communities and the Select Committee's appraisal of the Tindemans Report, like other noble Lords I found the second of these much the more valuable. The six-monthly reports on developments in the Community are little more than in each case a catalogue of events and activity about which we have already read in the Press or elsewhere and no opinions are expressed. We are told, for example, that Mr. Tindemans presented his report on European union, but nothing of the reaction of our Government or any other Government. As my noble friend Lord Gladwyn said earlier, we get from that record an indication of the immense breadth of the activity going on under the auspices of the Community, and from that point of view it has value.
The Select Committee, on the other hand, makes a number of judgments on different aspects of the Tindemans Report. For example, we read:The Committee consider it desirable that the Community should ultimately be able to speak with one voice in its external affairs.The noble Baroness, Lady Elles, said earlier that when we are thinking about the need to speak with one voice we should not continually pick on the failures—and there are plenty of these—but should highlight the successes. I agree with her on that. The success of the joint decision at the Helsinki conference immediately comes to mind. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the occasions 616 when it seems to us that the Governments are running absolutely contrary to that principle of having a united front so far as the rest of the world is concerned, as for example in the case of the Puerto Rico conference. That seems to be completely contrary to the whole concept of the Tindemans Report of having one delegation, one person, a country, to speak for the community, and one is bound to criticise when that happens.
We read that the Select Committee endorsed the generally accepted view that monetary union should remain the ultimate objective of the Community, but recognised the many obstacles to its attainment. At the opening of this debate the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, spoke of the need for the convergence—it is not happening at the moment—of the economies of the nine countries. I am not sure whether the Government still regard economic and monetary union as the ultimate objective. There are these enormous obstacles, to which the Committee refer. I still believe that we should have that as the ultimate objective and I should like reassurance that that remains the view of the Government.
While the Select Committee accept those two propositions, they are more critical of other proposals such as that for majority voting in the Council of Ministers, about which my noble friend Lord Gladwyn spoke very persuasively earlier today. I should like to speak about that in a moment. The Select Committee made clear that they have not sought to reach conclusions on the merits of European union as an ideal. It is clear from a perusal of the evidence given to the Select Committee by the right honourable gentleman the Minister of State, Mr. Roy Hattersley, that the Government are in the same position. This is a tenable position for a Select Committee which represents all the different points of view within a legislative chamber. I do not think it really is a tenable position for a government to hold. Mr. Hattersley says that he cannot support the ideal of "political union" until he knows what it is. But when people start to sketch out all that the political union might involve some overall picture of future development—he deplores their abandonment of what he calls the "traditional techniques of English empiricism".
617 Over the week-end I heard those techniques described by a student of British foreign policy as, "Waiting for something to hit you before you got out of the way". Those techniques leave us without a sense of direction and unable, as a consequence, to give a lead. All Mr. Hattersley is prepared to commit himself to is the inevitability of closer political co-operation, which is a very vague phrase among the Nine. But to me the vital question is whether the Community is to develop as an alliance of virtually independent nations on the famous Gaullist principles, or whether it is to develop, however slowly, on a supranational basis. I am not talking about anything so bold or frightening as a federal constitution.
It is clear that the founding fathers intended the Community to develop on a supranational basis, since they provided for a directly elected European Parliament. They provided for an executive arm in the shape of a collegiate body—the Commission—whose members were pledged to think and act in the interests of the Community as a whole and not of any individual country, and since they provided, except on certain specified issues, for majority voting in the Council of Ministers, the Community's legislative body. The Member nations have delayed our direct elections; they have reduced the significance of the Commission, as the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, was saying, and they have abandoned majority voting on almost all issues. They have, however, allowed the Parliament to acquire some new powers in respect of the budget.
Faced with that situation, Mr. Tindemans has called for direct elections as soon as possible and an increase in the powers of Parliament. The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, has cast some doubt on the precise proposals that Mr. Tindemans puts forward, his right to initiative, but he is urging an increase in the powers and the enhanced role for the Commission through greater use of Article 155. He is arguing, too, for an increase in the authority of the Commission through the confirmation of the appointment of the President of the Commission by the Parliament. He argues for majority voting in the Council and says this should become normal practice. We are hoping—and this hope has been expressed many times this 618 afternoon—for direct elections to the European Parliament by 1978.
May I underline the point which was made by my noble friend Lord Gladwyn, that we on these Benches hope most sincerely that these elections will enable political Parties in this country to be represented in porportion to their strength. The noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, was talking about Northern Ireland and the possibility of having more than three seats. If there are three seats it would be possible to represent the minority, but only if it is done on a proportional basis; otherwise the majority will collect them all. That is a point that needs thinking about very carefully.
We are hoping for direct elections by 1978 and I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, that there would seem to be no reason why we should not achieve that. But what about the powers for the Parliament? Do the Government feel that increased powers for the Parliament is one of the objectives for which they will strive in the Council of Ministers? What about the role of the Commission? Is the review of structure of the Commission which I understand has the full support of and may even have been proposed by the British Government, being undertaken because the Government would like to see an enhanced role for the Commission?
I should like to say how very much I support what the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, was saying about the need ultimately to come to the position where we have a resident Minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, or resident Ministers comprising that Council. I cannot think that we shall ever run Europe satisfactorily so long as it is being run by leading statesmen of Europe, but in their spare time. Therefore, underlying all the questions I am asking is this one: Do the Government want to build on the supranational principle or do they wish to restrict or modify it?
In a previous debate the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said that there were eight other Governments in the Community and that we should not always be picking on the British Government and blaming them when things do not go right. Of course, I would completely agree with that; and in the course of what I have been saying this evening there has been some implied criticism of the 619 Governments of the Community as a whole. But of course it is only through the British Government that in this House we can get at the government of the Community. If I were convinced that the British Government were pressing on reluctant colleagues in the Council of Ministers the reforms to which I have been referring, then certainly I would be silent so far as any criticism on the British Government is concerned.
The noble Lord has tended to say—and one can well understand it, "We are going as fast as we can. Don't press us". But it is not only a question of pace: it is also a question of the direction in which we are going. For example, the Dutch Foreign Minister was reported in The Times on 8th July as saying that the Community structure had reached an advanced stage of erosion and we might well wonder how long it would be before the European teachings and everything achieved on the basis of them would simply be a valuable historical curiosity. He also went on to express his conviction that the work of the Council of Ministers could not proceed efficiently and fruitfully if they continued with the requirement that all decisions of the Council should be taken unanimously. The next day in the Guardian Mr. Tindemans was reported as detecting a growing tendency to transform the Community into a mere free trade area. There was no longer, he said, any real European democratic legitimacy for decisions taken at Community level. No doubt there is some exaggeration in those statements which was born out of frustration which they may have been suffering; but what the Foreign Minister of Holland and the Prime Minister of Belgium are saying is that the supranational principle has been and is being eroded. The Tindemans Report contains limited but definite proposals to reverse that trend, and the question to which I seek an answer is simply this: Do the British Government wish to reverse that trend or do they, perhaps, welcome it?
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, as was to be expected, this has been a wide-ranging debate, and an equally wide-ranging debate presses upon us as the next business on the Order Paper. 620 Out of fellow feeling for my fellow Minister I will endeavour to be as brief as possible, but in a debate like this, with 18 speeches each containing a separate clutch of 18 questions, the inherent difficulty will be appreciated, I hope, on both sides of the House.
I will attempt to answer some of the questions raised by your Lordships at the very beginning, before moving on to outline the Government's view at this moment of the Tindemans Report, upon which the Scrutiny Committee has offered us a thoughtful and professional report, under the admirable leadership, once more, of the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, and for which the House, and certainly I and the Government are deeply grateful.
The main points which occurred to me as I listened to the debate fall under a number of rough headings. There was a group of constitutional points which, quite naturally, the noble Baroness herself put forward. For instance, she proffered a suggestion which was echoed by at least one other speaker in the debate; that is, that the President of the Commission should himself appoint the European Commissioners. Her Majesty's Government are not in a position to accept this suggestion, but the Tindemans Report proposed an interim measure. The new President of the Commission has just been appointed. He is the present Home Secretary of this country, and I should like to join in the general congratulations extended to him and also in the general expectation that Mr. Jenkins will indeed render to Europe, and thereby to the cause of democracy throughout the world, outstanding services as President of the European Commission.
Mr. Tindemans suggested that the President of the Commission should help Member Governments to prepare for the meeting which would appoint the other Commissioners. That seems to me perfectly acceptable, and it should be given a try. I am more doubtful about the proposal that in later years appointments should rest entirely with the President and with the Assembly. The Government feel that the initiative will almost certainly have to rest with Governments.
I should like to continue for a moment with this group of constitutional or procudural points, if your Lordships will bear with me. The noble Baroness, Lady Elles, 621 asked whether the work of the Boundaries Commission in drawing up particular constituency boundaries could be speeded up. I think she said that no other Member State has found any difficulty about doing that. Certainly Denmark, to name but one, has come out clearly and publicly with the expression of its own reservations. No doubt there are other reservations which have not been as publicly announced as those announced by this country and by Denmark.
The answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, is this. There are no powers in the present legislation to enable instructions to be given to the Commissioners on the drawing up of European Assembly constituencies. This is a matter for national decision, and the Government will wish to consider the views of the Select Committee on Direct Elections which is now examining it. It will be for Parliament to decide in the legislation what role the Boundaries Commission should play, in view of timing and other considerations.
In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and others, I repeat what my right honourable friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have said more than once. We genuinely aim to be in a position to hold direct elections in the United Kingdom in 1978. We have consistently said, also, that if there are real difficulties we shall explain them and we shall expect our partners to understand them. We have made no secret of the fact that there are serious difficulties which must be overcome, and we are hopeful of overcoming them. This point could not have been put better than it was put this evening by my noble friend Lady White, who indicated to the House, before going on to very substantial matters relating to the environment, the real difficulties in putting together a procedure for direct elections by that due date, the efforts we are making and the fact that only real difficulties will prevent us from achieving that goal.
In the same group, there was the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, about majority voting. It will continue to be our policy that the Council should seek to achieve a consensus. The norm will be agreement by consensus. But we do not wish to be dogmatic and will not exclude a vote when no important national interest is at stake. It may well 622 be that from that practical, sensible basis there will be a development towards majority voting at a faster pace than I can anticipate at this moment. The fact is that we are taking into account not only our own beliefs and feelings about how fast one can inject majority voting into matters which are of important national purport, but the known views and feelings of our partners. We are not the only member of the Nine who takes a very anxious view of this revolutionary transfer of authority from a nation to an international body.
I have said more than once from this Box that we have been engaged in Europe, and are now engaged in Europe, in a massive operation, something which we cannot expect to promote at a faster pace than the facts and feelings of Europe will warrant. This is really the answer to the noble Lord, Lord Banks. It is so easy to ask: What do the Government think about the supranational principle? It takes many debates, many books, a great many speeches and hard thinking to evolve an answer to that question. It is not enough to say, "We are for it". There are plenty in Europe who will say that without meaning it, and without expecting it to come about. We are not going to say anything of the kind. By dint of careful scrutiny—and how well we are served, especially in this House—by hard thinking, by producing the kind of publication which my noble friend Lord Northfield has produced, and realising that we are engaged in a major historical enterprise, we shall try to answer that question, not in a single debate or at a single point in time, but over a fairly long period.
The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, also used a phrase which I greatly welcomed. He spoke of a gradual development of existing institutions. This seems to me to link with the argument which my noble friend Lord Northfield was deploying. I wish he had spoken for a longer time on the theme that he chose for himself. It seems to me that we are coming very close to the point in that phrase, and in a number of other things said in this debate about the need to look at the position as it is, as it has emerged, and not to be too tied to blueprints, statements and even agreements; although, of course, agreements must be honoured until they are replaced by the proper 623 procedure. But I took my noble friend's point to be that we should take from the situation as it has evolved the main facts of our thinking today, and try to build upon it.
Hopefully, we may emerge more quickly than most people anticipate along the road to a proper internationalism. It is certain that we are not today in Europe, or indeed in the world, facing the challenges of 1958 as much as the challenges of 1938. I entirely agree about that. The main fact of today is the recrudescence of nationalism. We have seen it coming. In 1958, nationalism was on the retreat before federalism. Today, it has come back fighting in this country, in Europe and, indeed, in every part of the world, and it is against that fact that we have to approach the massive task of creating, first in Europe, an international system and hopefully, on that basis, a much wider international organisation.
I pass quickly to the points made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, who expressed doubts about delegation to the Commission as recommended by M. Tindemans. I think the noble and learned Lord's speech will greatly repay study when it emerges in cold print tomorrow. I found it a fascinating as well as an authoritative analysis of the position, with which I was in considerable agreement. There are points of disagreement which are, perhaps, a little recondite, and I shall wait until I have the benefit of the presence of the noble and learned Lord before I go into those.
Related to the group of constitutional points were procedural points raised by, among others, the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, who, as an example of what he had in mind, referred to the Common Agricultural Policy. That is an issue worth debating on its own, as well as an example of what he sought very effectively to argue on the question of procedure. I was greatly taken by the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot, who referred with familial expertise to agricultural policy, and by the speech delivered by my noble friend Lord Bruce who, among other things, adjured me not to regard the CAP as the Sinai tablets of wisdom. May I assure my noble friend that in no way do I regard the Common Agricultural Policy as being enshrined in the Sinai 624 tablets of wisdom. I hope that that is a sufficient assurance to my noble friend whose speech was, of course, based upon great knowledge and considerable service so far in the European Parliament.
Much of what my noble friend said I think that this House and, indeed, Europe should take to heart. It links with what other Members of this noble House had to say about the way in which, for instance, the Common Agricultural Policy (although I am not picking on that in particular) has evolved into a kind of Heath Robinson contraption which it is fatally possible to criticise and, in so doing, to denigrate the very idea of a united Europe. This is the danger: of being so admirably enthusiastic about the conception of a united Europe as to close one's eyes to the glaring deficiencies of many of the things that are happening under the aegis of the Treaty of Rome. The true friends of Europe must be prepared to grasp these nettles and to do what I took the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, and others, including my noble friend, to be doing; namely, to see whether we can make more possible the great objective of political unity by solving more quickly the great impediment of economic deficiency.
This takes me from agriculture, not without a certain sense of relief, to another group of suggestions with which I entirely agree—they were made by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, my noble friend Lord Rhodes and others—in support of the idea that we must carry the people with us, in particular young people. We may draw up, as yet Tindemans and the rest of us may draw up, all kinds of blueprints and reports, but if there is not an answering spark—or, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, called it, "an emotional surge"—we shall not get very far. Coming down to brass tacks, the noble Baroness and others said that it is necessary to show that Europe, working together, united in practical work, means something in terms of the real problems that confront people, in particular young people. This is pragmatism, even if it is not empiricism—a word which has been denigrated this evening in a very graceful way. Let us call it "this pragmatic idealism".
Unemployment and inflation, the two related evils, were quoted in very powerful speeches and the Government entirely agree. We believe that the co-ordination of policies between Member States has an 625 extremely important part to play in mastering inflation and reducing unemployment, particularly among the young. It is the helplessness created by unemployment that lies at the heart of the appeal of certain philosophies, if that is what we can call them. Those of us who grew up in the 1930s remember that Fascism and Nazism fed on the unemployment of youth, the hopelessness of youth. It is a vital political as well as economic purpose of Europe and, indeed, of the whole world to master these twin evils.
The tripartite conference, to which I was delighted that the noble Lord referred, between Governments of Member States, the Commission and the social partners—that is, representatives of employers and trade unions—has already proved to be a major democratic instrument not only of thought but, it seems, of action. The conference on 24th June focused on the theme of the restoration of full employment and stability in the Community. I shall not delay the House by referring to the declaration that followed which instanced concrete measures which would ensue. The Government welcome this. We shall be pressing for action and taking part in the Community action that we hope will follow.
The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, referred also to direct elections and to the powers of the Assembly. On the question of powers, as I have said, it is the Government's intention that the first direct elections shall take place in 1978 but on the basis of the Assembly's existing powers. We have said this for some considerable time.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
Yes, my Lords, to begin with. I freely grant that hopeful subordinate clause "to begin with". It will be for decision by this Parliament and the eight other Parliaments, acting unanimously. I do not think that they will adopt a majority vote, whatever we say, on whether in due course to pass over further powers to the European Assembly. We ought to get rid of the idea that we are afraid of the transfer of power. I certainly am not and join my noble friend Lady White. It is not a question of opposition 626 to the transfer of power. It is the need for two things—for periods of digestion between constitutional innovations which are, of themselves, somewhat revolutionary and for coherence.
My noble friend Lord Ardwick made an extremely important point when he called our attention to what we have all realised without putting it, as he did, with such great clarity: the way in which the various European international bodies use practically the same names—the Council of Europe, the European Council, the Council of Ministers, and so on. It is by no means simplistic to suggest that we might usefully get down to the question of nomenclature and clarify our minds by using the right labels. But that would not be the end of it, any more than my noble friend suggested that it would. There is a need for hard and clear thinking to achieve a coherence of relationship.
This evening we have had some extremely useful suggestions. I shall not be tempted to discuss even those which have particularly appealed to me, but central to them all is the search for a pattern, a kind of hierarchy of decision. Within our own country—and once again I refer to a speech we have heard—we are used over a long period to a kind of graduation of power from the parish to the nation, indeed to the united nations, of the United Kingdom. We are looking at devolution in the same way, to fit into this clarity of power. Now Europe has not developed in this way. I make no complaint: it is a massive achievement that it should have got so far.
As my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington reminded us, those who grew up in the 'thirties and then went through the six years, as he and many others did, suffered from the fact that this process of power stopped at the nation-State. The conception of Europe in 1946–47 and thereafter was to try to carry on from the nation-State, knowing that the nation-State and nationalism had in fact nearly wrecked the world—and may yet do so. If revived nationalism in every part of the world, including Europe, is not caged and tamed by an international organisation, we are all prepared to start in Europe with it, with a view to Europe saving itself by its own vision and possibly the world by its example—if I may vary a famous phrase.
627 I pass quickly, with apologies for having taken some time over these specific points, to the Tindemans' Report. I have a statement here—what I would call a necessarily interim statement—of the Government's attitude. I will try to compress it without referring to this excellent note, but if anybody wants to borrow these notes, he may do so.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, they are not in a fit state for publication at the moment because like all my notes they are subject to constitutional amendments from time to time, and certainly to semantic interference. May I sum it up in this way: we regard Mr. Tindemans Report as a very useful, comprehensive report which avoids dogma. He himself, as we all know, is a Federalist; a literal Federalist. But he has deliberately eschewed even his own dogma in this report. It provides a basis—the best basis so far—for a discussion of the way in which Europe can move in the next few years towards a more meaningful union. He makes four or five major points; for instance, on political cooperation, or putting it more simply, a joint foreign policy. I would say that I am a European for that. I want to see the other come, but my motivation always has been political rather than economic. I still have my reservations; who has not? As my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington said, there are reservations up and down the Community about the economics of it, but surely there can be no reservations about political co-operation.
This again will not come overnight. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Banks, that the United Kingdom is very much in the van in pressing for a consensus approach in international organisations, and indeed in other directions, on foreign policy. He will have noted with satisfaction the way in which Europe almost got into a common position in regard to the vast problems of Southern Africa, and it was not the fault of the United Kingdom. She was not the one out of the Nine which made that in fact less effective than it might have been. We 628 are constantly pressing—and indeed frequently succeeding—in getting joint approaches in capitals—in New York and in other locales: and it is growing.
On that first point, Mr. Tindemans makes some sensible proposals and to a very large extent we agree with him, and indeed we have shown that especially in the last six to 12 months we have agreed in practice. I wish I had time to look at the question of economic, monetary and social matters, which is the second point he raised. I must say this much: we share many of the doubts expressed by the Scrutiny Committee on what Mr. Tindemans has to say on this matter and we shall have to go into that in more detail later. We agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, in presenting the report, and with the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, among others, that the emphasis placed by Mr. Tindemans on the need for transfers of resources from the more prosperous to the less prosperous regions of the Community is essential for the survival of the Community. It is not a Community if it is two-tiered or many-regioned in economic progress. It is a Community if it is clear that its essential purpose is to develop all parts, all countries, all regions, all peoples of the Community.
The point was also made about a citizens' Europe and indeed suggestions were made about getting popular support and popular participation. A good deal is going on now. We must constantly look at practical ways of bringing together individuals—especially young people—across Europe. Finally, there was the point about institutions, but I think the debate answers itself on institutions. I hope that this kind of debate, which after all is printed verbatim, will serve as a quarry for future thinking. What has been said has not always formed a consensus: every man or woman is his or her own constitutionalist, especially on Europe. Nevertheless, it has been a useful and valuable debate, although not a conclusive one. We are on the way. My noble friend Lord George-Brown is not here, otherwise I would have added "brother". We are on the way, and I give way to my noble friend Lord Jacques who has to tackle even more erudite subjects in a moment or two. This is a massive operation. Enterprise or enthusiasm and idealism must not lead 629 us to a position that we get into panic or pique if it does not develop as quickly or in the directions we want. After all, it got going a bare 20 years ago. The marvel is not that it has done so little but that it has got so far, always remembering the difficulty of reconciling clamant competitive nationalisms in a world which so far from getting rid of them seems increasingly to have to fight them.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.