§ 3.54 p.m.
Lord TREVELYAN rose to move, That this House takes note of the Reports of the European Communities Committee on Enlargement (Seventeenth Report (HL 102)) and on the Greek application for membership (Twenty-seventh Report, Session 1975–76 (HL 152)). The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the
Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. The subject is the Report of the Select Committee of your Lordships' House on enlargement of the European Community; that is, on the attitude which should be adopted by the Community and, in particular, by Her Majesty's Government towards the applications for membership which have been received from Greece, Spain and Portugal under Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome. This is a matter of the greatest importance, since the decisions to be taken will change the map of Europe. The Foreign Secretary, in evidence to the Committee, has said that enlargement is,
the greatest issue that the Community faces and is one to which we cannot devote too much attention".
§ The production of this report has been a complicated task, since many separate issues are involved. I should first like to thank all those who have participated in its preparation, or have given to the Committee the carefully thought-out evidence which is contained in the appendices to the Report; in particular, the President, members and senior members of the Commission, who gave time for discussions with us; the Foreign Secretary and the officials of various Departments of State who have provided so much of the basic information on which to base our judgment; the chairman of the Select Committee and the chairmen of the Sub-Committees who have dealt with various subjects, such as finance, trade and industry, agriculture and fisheries, social and legal affairs. Some of them will be contributing to this debate, and I shall therefore speak only briefly on some of the other political issues involved.
§ The British Government are on record as being firmly committed to admit the three applicant countries, and other Member Governments have made it clear on repeated occasions that they welcome the applications. As the writer of a leading article in The Times has observed, Member Governments are now generally agreed that the political case for enlargement is overwhelming. The basic interest of the Community must be to support and develop democracy. It could not honourably refuse applications from democratic States in Europe. The Commission's "Fresco" Report puts it in this way, that the three countries have entrusted the Community with a political 1173 responsibility which it cannot refuse, except at the price of denying the principles on which it is itself grounded.
§ There can be no doubt that membership of the Community will help the applicants to strengthen their new democratic régimes, and that to refuse them entry would be a sure recipe for their falling back into totalitarianism of one kind or another. To allow this to happen would be an appalling set-back to the prospects of the kind of Europe to which we look forward in the future. Failure in these negotiations we should come bitterly to regret.
§ The Committee have decided that it is not necessary to use this occasion to sponsor a declaration of a belief in democracy by existing and prospective members. The whole tenor of the Community's philosophy implies adherence to democratic practice. The free movement of persons, services and capital, which the Rome Treaty contemplates, suggests this, and the Community's competition policy presupposes a mixed economy. The provision for elections to the European Parliament to be by direct universal suffrage is even clearer. Recently the European Council, meeting in Copenhagen, have issued a declaration asserting that respect for, and maintenance of, representative democracy and human rights in each Member State are an essential element in membership of the European Communities.
§ The Committee have also considered whether adherence to the European Convention for the protection of human rights should be made an express condition of membership. This, also, we think to be unnecessary. Greece is already a member, and it is expected that Portugal and Spain will be members before long. In 1977 the three Community institutions made a declaration stressing the prime importance which they attach to the protection of fundamental rights, and now we have the new declaration by the European Council which I have mentioned. There can be no doubt about the political conditions attached to membership. Nor would there be any profit in speculating in advance what would happen if any member of the Community should depart from those conditions.
§ It cannot, of course, be denied that there are many difficulties to be overcome 1174 in the negotiations with the applicant States, largely caused by the striking regional disparities, and we have not hesitated to state this clearly in the report. Your Lordships will hear further about them during this debate. I should like to state my own belief that the difficulties can be overcome, and that the cost will not be an intolerable burden for the existing nine members. What is important is that the negotiations should be, as we say, "pressed forward with speed and determination". A failure of will or nerve now will only create fresh difficulties in the way of the whole enterprise, with the possibility of disastrous consequences which I leave to your Lordships' imagination. Transitional periods, not necessarily of the same duration for all the applicants will be required, but only after membership.
§ The Commission's fresco contemplates transitional periods in two stages. I am not sure whether these will be negotiable though it certainly has certain practical advantages. Pre-accession transitional periods, which I think were suggested by the Commission in the time of the noble Lord, Lord Soames, have been found to be politically unacceptable, but that is not to say that valuable preparatory work cannot be done during the negotiations in order to ease the way of the prospective Members towards their undertaking the obligations of membership.
§ The problems of each of the three States are to some extent different from each other and it is therefore unlikely that negotiations can be conducted with more than one State at a time. There may be some issues which can be handled in common—for instance, the working out of a new policy for industry to apply generally to all Members after enlargement. The Foreign Secretary is, of course, quite right in his view that we must do all we can to avoid the negotiations dragging on for a long time in succession. It would be a great advantage if Spain and Portugal could enter the Community together even though different periods of transition will probably be required.
§ Enlargement is bound to cause some further strain on the Community's institutions, but it may provide an opportunity for some improvement in the Community's decision-making process. The Commission in their fresco report 1175 argue that more frequent use of majority voting is desirable and proposes that unanimity should be replaced by qualified majority voting in a few Treaty articles where the present insistence on unanimity does not seem to be objectively justified and has led to delays in the decision-making procedure.
§ On this matter, I would draw your Lordships' attention to the views expressed to us by the Foreign Secretary. He points out that in the Council majority voting in practice takes place in every meeting. The matter, he said, should be treated on a case-by-case basis. He considers that the Luxembourg compromise works pretty well provided it is not abused, and that if the level of decision-making is got right we shall get round this problem. Goodwill and good spirits, he emphasises, are more important than making rules and regulations.
§ There is a case for more delegation which will not derogate from the authority of the Council or the authority of the Member States and Members of Parliament. Perhaps in this context more use should be made of Coreper. These views are surely sound. Everyone seems to be agreed on the need for more flexibility and that after enlargement the Commission should have only one Member from each State.
§ Languages will present increasing problems. If economy and efficiency were the only criteria the use of different languages would have to be cut down drastically, but there are obvious difficulties in tampering with present practice. Language is a matter of national prestige and identity. Legislative acts of the institutions must be adopted in all Community languages since they may take direct effect within the legal systems of Member States. Membership of the European Parliament, of the Economic and Social Committee or of the Council of Ministers cannot be restricted to those who are fluent in another language. It will be wise not to press too hard for reform in the use of languages but to rely on the practical necessities of day-to-day work to have their effect, at least on the use of working languages.
§ The negotiators will have to bear in mind throughout their work the impact of enlargement on the external relations 1176 of the Community. For instance, we have recommended that active attention should be given to future relations with Turkey. It is inevitable that Greek entry into the Community will have both economic and political implications for future relations with Turkey. There is no sign at present that the Turkish Government contemplates entry in the foreseeable future, but the association agreement, with which Turkey is by no means satisfied, needs attention. No one wants to entangle the Cyprus dispute with Greek negotiations for entry, but the recent generous agreement between the Community and Cyprus on agricultural exports is on the right lines and may help. Perhaps the Foreign Ministers could on occasion co-opt Turkey as a member of their political group, as suggested to us, at least by implication, by the Foreign Secretary.
§ Nor is it desirable to entangle the question of Gibraltar with the negotiations for Spain's entry, though the Government have made it clear that they cannot contemplate the continuation of the present restrictions when Spain is a Member. Greek membership of the Community will make relations with Yugoslavia of new importance. I commend the Committee's suggestion that the Council of Europe should be strengthened as a framework for consultations and co-operation between the Community, the EFTA non-candidate States and other European countries.
§ The most worrying question as regards the Community's external relations is likely to be the effect of enlargement on the Mediterranean States outside the Community which have agreements with it. This is a matter of trade and outside the scope of my remarks this afternoon. The questions of agriculture and fisheries were in the hands, during the compilation of this report, of the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, and I had not intended to say anything about them but as he is unable to be here today I think I must add some remarks on this subject although it keeps me on my feet longer than I had intended.
§ It has rightly been said in the report that this enlargement presents a major challenge to the Community's agricultural policy, which has hitherto been centred on northern farming. This is perhaps the most difficult issue which has to be 1177 faced. As the report says, there will be a greatly increased strain on the common agricultural policy as a policy which attempts both to organise the marketing of agricultural products and to assist in farm income support and structural change in rural areas. Moreover, there is natural concern in France and Italy about the effect of enlargement upon their own Mediterranean regions which grow produce of the same type as the applicant countries, and produce it in surplus. Both the French and Italian Governments have therefore asked for revision of the CAP, as it applies to southern agriculture, before enlargement takes place.
§ Member States need to ensure that decisions taken now do not lead to intolerable problems at a later date. The accession of three countries should promise cheaper and more reliable Community supplies of Mediterranean products, but unless carefully planned, guarantees will too easily have the effect of increasing costs and surpluses and cause difficulties for existing suppliers of these products from outside the Community. Increased protection will be vigorously opposed by the Community's trading partners. Enlargement will give the Community and the CAP an increased responsibility for the products and structure of Mediterranean agriculture, including the attempt to ensure a fair standard of living for a greatly increased number of relatively poor farmers who will be only too easily stimulated by increased prices to produce more than can be consumed. This must be pursued through structural guidance which will encourage an increase in farm sizes, the retirement of elderly farmers, the improvement of methods of farming and marketing and the reduction of the number of people employed on the land who would otherwise have to be supported by CAP guarantees. It is a social problem which will be with the Community for many years to come.
§ Thus, in brief, it must be the aim of the Community to devise measures which will control the output of Mediterranean products without which the common agricultural policy will be destroyed in the effort to support surpluses. It may be that enlargement will provide the opportunity for a major reform in the CAP which is surely necessary. It must be our aim to lower the price and improve the availability of agricultural products within the 1178 enlarged Community. We must avoid measures which by pre-empting an increased share of the Community Budget would prevent the development of constructive long-term social and regional policies, and we must preserve relationships with third countries on which the Community is dependent for export markets and the supply of raw materials It must be recognised that the structure of Mediterranean agriculture poses social problems which are too great to be the responsibility of the common agricultural policy alone and which will require special measures taken over a long period.
§ There is little that can be said at this stage about fisheries, except that the accession of Portugal and Spain will add to the Community's difficulties over the restructuring of the fishing industry and over the application of catch quotas and measures of fish conservation. The current negotiations to arrive at a common fisheries policy cannot be delayed, but must pay regard to the effect of enlargement upon this already difficult problem.
§ We must now put our doubts behind us, and, as I have said, seek to conclude these negotiations as speedily as possible. It is wrong to consider this enlargement as merely an arithmetical change in the picture. The Community of Twelve will be very different from the Community of Nine, and the inclusion of three southern States will provide its own impetus to change. I think that that will be for the good. It will help to prevent the Community from becoming a static, ossified organisation, and will present us in Britain and our fellow Members with a new opportunity to steer the Community on the way it should go. Let us never forget that the Community is not something belonging to "them" on the other side of the Channel. It is our Community, and issues such as this which will change the face of our Europe should be discussed publicly inside and outside Parliament.
§ I believe that this report will provide useful material for such discussion and that the outcome of it will be to reinforce the conviction that the balance of advantage to our country and to the Community as a whole lies clearly in enlargement. The negotiations, with all the best will in the world, will take some years to complete, and I think it will be useful 1179 if we bring this report up to date from time to time.
§ I am looking forward to this debate, and in particular to the maiden speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Soames, and the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby. The noble Lord, Lord Soames, has, of course, the advantage over all of us of his great experience as a Commissioner of the Community, in which position he lived with the earlier stages of the enlargement question. I am delighted that he has chosen to make his maiden speech on this subject. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House takes note of the Reports of the European Communities Committee on Enlargement (Seventeenth Report (HL 102)) and on the Greek application for membership (Twenty-seventh Report, Session 1975–1976) (HL 152)).—(Lord Trevelyan.)
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Lord SOAMES
My Lords, according to what I understand to be the custom of this House, I should crave your Lordships' indulgence for a maiden speech, though I must say that I feel more like a long-toothed old doghound that has been drafted in from another pack than a young entry coming in for the first time. I shall do my best to respect the custom of being non-controversial in what I have to say, but anything to do with the Community, seems, alas! to be considered controversial—though not, I am glad to say, as my experience has taught me, so much in your Lordships' House. It is nice to be behind a Dispatch Box again, albeit on what I have always been brought up to think of as the wrong side of the House. But the Germans have a saying that the trees do not grow up to the sky.
It gives me great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, whom I have had the pleasure to know for quite a long period of time—first as one of the most notable and successful, in his time, of Her Majesty's Ambassadors, and more lately as a Member who has brought great knowledge to bear upon your Lordships' Select Committee on European Communities.
This is a debate on what I think is a most excellent report of that Select Committee. In a realistic and positive 1180 fashion it faces up to every aspect of what is a most complicated affair—and one, let us face it, of the highest importance. What I think is so good about the report is that I do not think that there is an issue which is ducked, though some are wisely approached with a commendable lightness of touch.
The report bears, I would suggest, careful study by all participants to the enlargement negotiations: by Her Majesty's Government and by the Governments of other Member countries and the applicant countries, and not least by my erstwhile colleagues in the Commission. The reason I say this is that though on certain specific issues the report speaks clearly and properly of "the British interest", the constant theme running through the whole of the report is an effort to seek the truth as to where lies the Community interest. This comes out loud and clear from the report.
I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, will agree that this is as it should be. I must say that I find it to be somewhat refreshing. The reason why I harp on this point is that my instinct tells me that if more documents and opinions of an official Governmental character were in this vein, then we should be hearkened to in Community circles with more attention and respect than is always the case.
I should like to offer some comments on a few of the varied issues that are raised in the report. My remarks will inevitably, therefore, be somewhat disiointed.
To deal first with trade and agriculture, I believe that two common themes run through both of these subjects. The first is: how best can we succeed in blending the national interests of applicant countries into the broader Community interest? That applies both to trade and to agriculture. The second is that we must so arrange our affairs that enlargement does not lead to the exacerbation within the Community of surplus production, either of an industrial character or of an agricultural character.
So far as industry is concerned, where there is already considerable difficulty over the surplus production of, for example, textiles within the Community, I believe that those who are negotiating with the 1181 applicant countries should talk very straight to them and say that, frankly, there is not room for what they might have been planning had they not been joining the Community—namely, to give a lot of subsidies to nascent industries, such as textiles, footware and the like—because there just is not room for it in the Community and that the rules of competition should be looked at most closely.
I believe that all existing Members and all new Members should be made very much aware of the fact that those rules of competition will be looked at very severely. I hope that those who are responsible for this in the Commission will so do. In the context of the negotiations, I think it is important that this should be made abundantly clear to the applicant countries.
So far as agriculture and the common agricultural policy is concerned, every nation State has the agricultural policy which suits it best as a whole. There is a balance between the interests of the agricultural producers on the one hand and the consumers on the other. When it came to creating the common agricultural policy we, alas! were not there. There was a certain balance of interest on the part of the Six Member States as between the producer interest and the consumer interest. That balance inevitably changed after the first enlargement, yet there has been no fundamental "re-look" at the common agricultural policy.
Of course we had to accept the common agricultural policy when we joined, because we were joining them; they were not joining us. But because we had to accept the common agricultural policy at the time, that is not to say that, in just the same way as we used to play around with and adapt our own agricultural policies before we joined the Community and learned our lessons as time went on, so the Community in its turn should not be ready to look at the common agricultural policy and say, "The policy is there to serve not one nation, not one part of the Community, not one section of the Community, but the Community as a whole" . If it be true that the Common Agricultural Policy as devised, very properly, by the Six for the Six, leave some things to be desired for an enlarged Community of Nine, how much more true will this be of an enlarged Community of Twelve.
1182 As the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, said in his speech, there have already been calls from those near the Mediterranean seaboard for a review of the Common Agricultural Policy. I welcome that, but I think it should be reviewed across the board. We must ensure that we have a Common Agricultural Policy which suits not just Britain—we could not ask for that—but which suits a Community of Twelve, and it is not the same as the one which suited a Community of Six. I hope that the British voice will be strong in this rethinking.
Where surpluses are concerned I think that here again a warning note would be wise. We really do not wish to add to the surpluses which the Common Agricultural Policy has already called forth in certain commodities. We do not want to add a lot more extra commodities which are in danger of coming into surplus and which are subject to the Common Agricultural Policy. Noble Lords will remember that, under our national agricultural policy, there were only certain items of production which came within the guarantee. So I think there should be only certain items of production that come within the Common Agricultural Policy. For instance, important though tomato growing is in this country, because there is not a town which has not got horticultural interests just outside its periphery, it was not thought wise to include it in the guarantee because, for argument's sake, tomatoes go rotten very quickly and what can you do with them anyway? One cannot have tomato paste flowing all over the place. So we should take advantage of this period to press very hard for a considerable rethink of the agricultural policy in general.
I now turn to the question of Turkey. I noticed in the report—and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, referred to this—that the Foreign Secretary had suggested that Turkey might be invited to join in what are commonly known as discussions on political co-operation. I do not think that view is correct. Though it is not the Council of Ministers and though it is not written into the Treaty of Rome. Nevertheless, political cooperation is for—and only for—countries that are Members of the Community. But I do think we should make more of the EEC association with Turkey. She has asked for a revision and we should 1183 enter into that. We know that the Community has held a balance in its relationship with both Greece and Turkey and that balance will be put out of kilter to some extent by virtue of Greek membership while the Turks are out. We should be prepared to talk to the Turks after the formal EEC Turkey association meetings. Then I think the Member Governments should be prepared to move into political co-operation discussions with Turkey in the context, not of political co-operation within the Community but political co-operation as an extension of the discussions on the association agreement. Here, again, we should say to the Greeks absolutely clearly that this is what we intend to do, that we attach great importance to our relationships with Turkey; and, having talked to the Greek Government about this in the past, I have no doubt that we could get their agreement to something of this character.
The next point I come to is that it is extremely important that we do not, through our enlargement, weaken the arrangements that have already been made with developing countries. This refers particularly to the countries of North Africa—Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia—the countries of the Maghreb and also countries of the Mashraq, which traditionally have looked either to countries of the Community or to the Community as a whole for a market for their goods. Here again I think we should say quite clearly that even when we had an association agreement with Greece and Turkey we made this arrangement with these other countries and this arrangement must stay. We must leave room on our markets for those products. We must not say, "All right, we can produce everything that the Community needs" and then have everything that comes from there coming in as surplus, because if that happens then before we know where we are we shall find ourselves reneging on this issue, as we reneged on beef before and placed a ban on all imports of beef into the Community for far too long. We must make that clear. We must talk very straight to the applicant countries on these matters and must allow no equivocation.
With regard to the decision-making process within the institutions of the 1184 Community, I absolutely understand the Commission pressing for a greater degree of majority voting. I certainly do not agree with anyone who says, "All is well at the moment. We have nothing to worry about. Nearly everything is agreed by a consensus." That does not happen. Let me give two examples. What happens in fact is that either there is serious procrastination and nothing is resolved at all, ever—that is a strong word—and the example I will take on that is energy. We are no nearer an energy policy today than we were five years ago. Or, we get a sort of lowest common denominator of agreement; and the best example of that is the agricultural negotiations, in which somebody wants a higher price for milk, somebody else wants a higher price for wheat, both are given in to and this does not serve the Community interest.
So if we are not going to resort more to a majority vote— and my instinct is that we have not yet gone far enough down the European road for the majority vote as seen by the founding fathers to be politically realistic—I think we must accept a certain degree of national discipline in the way in which we fulfil our duties and functions in the Council of Ministers. It is for the large Powers to give a lead. We do not have difficulties from the Benelux countries; it is from the large countries that we get the difficulties and if we are not prepared to take on, as it were, something from outside which imposes a discipline upon us then we must have a self-imposed discipline, and all the Members of the Community must face up to that.
We now come to the question of whether anything should be put down on paper about a Member State having to be a democratic country. Certainly we have proved that no country can apply for membership with any chance of success unless it is democratic. I would dearly like to see a juridical form of words (if it is possible to find it) which would ensure that if any country, after becoming a Member, reverted to type, or if a country which had never known a totalitarian régime were to take one on, it should then cease to be a Member of the Community. I doubt that it is possible to find a juridical form of words to bring this about, but I think we all know in our hearts what it is we are after.
1185 Even though the phraseology of the Treaty of Rome is far less strict on this account than was the phraseology in the NATO Treaties, I think we have got to make it quite clear that whereas, for defence reasons, it might be necessary for NATO to, as it were, temporarily waive those words and those aspirations, that can never be so where the Community is concerned. I am sure this is very important not only for Britain, not only for the Community, but also for the reputation of the Community in the outside world. I have found when visiting the United States in recent years that this was the one question that they were fascinated by: what about if a certain country were to go Communist; what effect is that going to have on the whole of the Community. The answer, of course, is that no country can cease to be a pluralist democracy in the sense that we know it and in fact sustain its place within the Community, whatever the words of the Treaty might say.
My Lords, I know that there are a number of people who say—I have read it from time to time; indeed, in the other place I noticed, reading the debate, that one or two said this—"This is marvellous; let us enlarge the Community, it is going to weaken it. Let us be right for the wrong reasons". This is a matter of great political importance. It is politically necessary and incumbent upon us. There can be no question what the answer has to be; the answer has to be a welcome. But we really must approach it knowing well what the problems are—there are many more than I have touched upon, and I have been talking too long. There are many problems and they must be resolved. By all means do it fast, but let us have a good combination of speed on the one hand and thoroughness on the other, and let us so arrange our affairs that, far from rueing the day when the Community was enlarged, we will bless it.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, it is indeed a great pleasure, and a delight, for me to be able to follow the noble Lord, Lord Soames, more particularly as I was one of his predecessors in Paris, and therefore to be the first to congratulate him on his very impressive maiden speech. Not that the noble Lord can be exactly described as a maiden, as I think he has 1186 himself already suggested. He is not that type anyway. Many was the splendid speech that I heard him deliver in the various capitals of the Common Market, and indeed I have heard him make similar speeches here as well. I, and I think all of us, have often been captivated by a combination of eloquence and charm. I might perhaps say that more than any other statesman, in my considered view, he was capable, by the sheer force of his delivery, of holding the rapt attention of the European Parliament, which I can assure you, my Lords, from personal experience, and I dare say the experience of other noble Lords here, is a very difficult thing to do! The noble Lord will, of course, and I am sure your Lordships will agree, add enormous weight and prestige to our debates in this place, where, after all, they will not be, as it were, emasculated by simultaneous translation, and where, with some luck, they may perhaps be audible and he himself may be visible to an infinitely larger audience.
My Lords, the report of the Select Committee is a very impressive document; of course, we can all agree on that. And, given the political premise on which it is based, I think it is a convincing statement of the expected advantages and disadvantages of increasing the Community, together with very sensible conclusions. But it must, now, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Soames, mentioned, be considered in conjunction with the immense report of the Commission which has just come out and is known for some reason as the Fresco. This brings out, I think even more vividly, and certainly at far greater length, the prospective disadvantages of enlargement unless—and I repeat unless—a really tremendous effort is now made to overcome the very real difficulties standing in the way, and above all unless some means are found for improving the present working of the Community.
At the risk, however, of introducing a discordant note, I must say that I believe the major premise underlying the report of the Select Committee to be questionable. I only say questionable. What is this premise? It is, simply stated, that the political advantage of enlarging the Community override any economic or indeed any constitutional or structural disadvantages in so doing. That is the 1187 premise. More particularly, it is thought —and here the Committee, subject to correction by Lord Trevelyan, agree with the ministerial decision taken some two years ago—that the possible or implied danger to the happily restored democracy in Greece of any suggestion that full membership on the part of that country might be delayed is in itself a good and sufficient reason for achieving the full membership of Greece at least by January 1981, if not indeed by January 1980, whatever the disadvantages may be discovered to be in the course of negotiations.
There is a further point while I am on this general subject. If full admission to the Community is, as it were, guaranteed to Greece by any given date in the fairly near future, which is the impression that I get, surely the likelihood of the admission soon after of the other two candidates is strengthened, even to the point of inevitability. There is not any doubt that in such circumstances Spain and Portugal would say, rightly or wrongly, "Well, seeing that you have gone out of your way to admit Greece in spite of the very real sacrifices and dangers to the Community which such admission would imply, why not similarly put such considerations on one side in our case, which is just as strong politically as that of Greece, and possibly, at least in the case of Spain, even stronger? And how would we then reply? After all, if you give your bargaining powers away in advance you hardly strengthen your negotiating position.
Having said that, may I make it clear at once, and I do not want to be misunderstood, that in advancing what I feel are incontrovertible truths, if unpalatable ones, I am not suggesting that it would be right to exclude the present candidates, at all events on economic grounds. On the contrary, I believe that as democracies they should indeed join the Nine, and that, not to put too fine a point on it, we, the Nine, should be prepared to make great financial and industrial sacrifices in order to enable them to do so without real distress. It will be a great day for Europe when they do join the Community. But we cannot ignore, surely, the difficulties and even the dangers in the way of enlargement to which the Committee, 1188 and even more so the Commission, have very properly drawn our attention.
I shall not dwell on the serious economic and financial difficulties, because those can all be overcome in negotiation, more especially, of course, if the Commission can offer real concessions to the applicants, involving on our part real sacrifices which may not be very pleasant, and, on the other hand, if the applicants, recognise the need for safeguarding, at least for a time, certain interests of present Members of the Community and the necessity, of course, for a five- to 10-year transitional period.
I shall not dwell on the economic disadvantages, if only because time is limited. For it seems to me that the real difficulty, or danger, is political. First, there is the evident need, which is discussed in Part II of the report, for the existing Community to strengthen itself if, in the words of Mr. Roy Jenkins, which the report quotes, it is "to support enlargement", or in the words of Mr. Simonet, to "make progress towards a political embryo."
These remarks are now strongly re-emphasised in the Commission's new paper, which says flatly, among other impressive things, in paragraph 41:The institutions and organs of the present Community cannot ensure that the process of integration will continue in an enlarged Community: on the contrary, there is reason to fear that the Community decision-making procedures will deteriorate.If this happened, it would be difficult or even impossible to create a Community based on the rule of law as a foundation of the Community and the sole means of recognising in law the principle that to equal rights correspond equal obligations. The institutions and organs of the enlarged Community must accordingly be decisively strengthened.".It goes on to suggest various means whereby the present procedures and powers of decision-making, might be made less cumbersome, including the greater use of majority voting, the Commission's powers themselves, and more judicious use of the legal instruments.
I think that the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, and the noble Lord, Lord Soames, rather cast doubt upon whether these could be followed up, but here I rather part company. Listen to the 1189 conclusion of the report—it is worthwhile quoting:It must be stressed again that it is vital to give a positive reply to countries inspired by the desire both to consolidate democracy and become part not of a static Europe but of a forward-moving Europe, all the more so since the alternative to reinforcement would not be stagnation but decline and dilution in which the applicants, just as much as the present members, would have everything to lose and nothing whatever to gain.".The Select Committee's approach, is rather less constructive. It very rightly examines the possibility of making such progress or of strengthening the Community in some way before enlargement. But it comes to the conclusion that neither Treaty amendment nor any formal revision of the existing decision-making procedure of the Council would, in practice, he acceptable. Nor could use, in all probability, be made of Article 155. Even the necessary renegotiation of Article 148 concerning the voting formula would, it thinks, present formidable difficulties. How right it is.
More generally, there is the depressing suggestion in paragraph 30 of the report, that in spite of the often paralysing effect of the veto no formal majority voting is likely, in the Committee's opinion—I think this is shared by the noble Lord, Lord Soames—to be accepted by the Ministers. Despite this, however, the conclusion is that:Since the Council is the decision-making body, if effective measures are not taken, the efficiency of the whole Community will be adversely affected".So beyond apparently devolving a little more work on the Commission, it does not look at the moment as if any effective means could he, or would be, taken.
This is hardly an encouraging assessment of the results of enlargement. More especially since the report itself observes, I think in paragraph 34, that:It is in the interests of the efficient working of the Community and in the British interests to ensure that as many questions as possible are settled at the level of the Council".We can only assume, therefore, that in the considered view of the Committee, enlargement can, in itself, only have a highly unfavourable effect on the whole working of the Community. I am sorry, but that is the conclusion to which we must all inevitably come if the Committee's views are accepted.
1190 All this is bad enough. But there is also, of course, the effect of the possible introduction into the Community of three additional languages, making nine in all. Paragraph 25 of the report says:It is to be feared that the progress of the Council through its work, already slow, will be still further retarded when it has 12 members and uses three additional languages".The only hope here, it seems, is for the enlargement of the Community to coincide with the reduction of the number of working languages. But apparently Her Majesty's Government, according to the report, would be precluded from pressing for this themselves because of their evident interest in so doing.
What about the Commission? Would its enlargement from 13 to 16 really make any sense? No, of course not. Surely the suggestion that there should be only one Commissioner for each of the 12 Members is the only one that does make sense if the Commission is not to be bogged down and the quality of its work suffer even more than it would inevitably suffer by the allocation of new jobs to new and untried officials. But the Committee does not seem to suggest that this reduction in the number on the Commission should be made a conditio sine qua non in the negotiation. The same considerations apply, to the effect on the Court of the additional languages.
§ Lord TREVELYAN
My Lords, I think that the Committee pointed out in its report that there was general agreement that there should be a reduction in the numbers of the Commission, so that every one of the 12 Member States should have one member.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, I am sorry if I misinterpreted what the Committee meant or said. I was saying that it did not say that it should be a conditio sine qua non in the negotiations: that we should not make this an actual condition of entry for the three members into the Commission. It may be that that is what the noble Lord intended.
Finally, there is political co-operation. Here, the admitted danger is that this political co-operation may be vitiated by the importation into the Council of Ministers of any unresolved dispute 1191 between Greece and Turkey. I know it is suggested that great efforts must be made—I am sure that they will be made—to put an end to that quarrel before Greece joins the Community. If these do not succeed, Greece must at any rate, in advance, give an assurance that it will not try to profit by membership of the Community in its quarrel with Turkey. That must be insisted on, too.
Why do I dwell on all these political difficulties and dangers? It is not a very pleasant thing to do. Not, I repeat, because I am opposed to enlargement as such, but because unless it is preceded by far-reaching reforms of its decision-making processes it may result—I think it will result—in a virtual collapse of the Community. The noble Lord, Lord Soames, touched on this. I think that he admitted that this is what the enemies of the Community are now actually saying. If the report of the latest debate in the other place is read with attention, it will indeed be seen that that is what they are saying. We know why enemies of the Community are keen on enlargement. They make no secret of the fact that they expect it to result in the Community's disappearance as such and its replacement by something like the Council of Europe—or even by the Council of Europe itself.
I do not deny that such a transformation might even be welcomed by the unthinking majority of people here who have been so long regaled on horror stories of bureaucracy in Brussels and the desire of our foreign friends to steal our oil and our fish, and generally to transform this country into a mere State in a Federation dominated by Germany and France. What would happen if the Community did in fact—I shall not say disappear—fade or become much more weak? Would not the tendencies towards industrial protection—this is the real danger—already stimulated by the slump, become almost irresistible and probably prevent the Community even from carrying on, as suggested by some, as a simple free trade area? Should we not all, in practice, more or less become what are called directed, or, if you like, controlled economies; that is to say, States directed by some group—it does not matter whether it is the Left or the Right —in which, by the force of things, many of our 1192 cherished liberties would be undermined or even disappear along with what is generally conceived of a Parliamentary democracy?
That, as I see it, is the real danger. It is possible that, in our laudable efforts to preserve democracy in a few Mediterranean Stales we may in the long run, almost by mistake, destroy it in its traditional heart-lands. If Greece, Spain and Portugal thought for a moment that this might be the result if they joined a Community incapable of acting as a democratic entity, inspired only by nationalist gains, and paralysed by vetoes, would they still wish to join ? I must say that if I were a leader of one of those young democracies I should insist, before entering the club, that its rules should be so revised as to rectify these fatal weaknesses.
Finally, let us consider Germany, by which I mean the Federal Republic. If enlargement, in the absence of any structural reforms of the present system, should result in a sort of "gumming-up" of the whole machine—as it very well might—would not the effect on the Germans be quite deplorable ? Although they are the richest, the most numerous and the most formidable of all the Nine, I can assure the noble Lords that the last thing they want—I know some of them very well—is to dominate. Their hope always has been, and still is, that they may somehow be absorbed in a greater democratic whole. If that hope fades they will no longer be content with just being the paymaster of an unworkable Community—a pretty doubtful advantage anyhow: they will, I fear, think more and more about how best to join up with their blood-brothers beyond the Elbe, even if that could only be done under the general aegis of the Soviet Union.
Therefore, to what conclusion do I come? Unless the present members of the Community, together with the applicants, and no doubt assisted—this may be the hope—by a directly elected Parliament, can agree on major structural changes designed to make the Community really function as a democratic entity, its enlargement will not be the end of the beginning; it may well be the beginning of the end. The Government and the nation should not, therefore, be frightened of being labelled "federalist". It is not as 1193 though the political entity which we must form if we are not all to perish separately, will be any kind of federation in the old-fashioned sense. Of course it will not be. It will simply be a means—the only means—of working together and thus preserving our liberties and our free institutions.
The Government and the Tory Opposition too, should realise what is at stake and combine to explain the real issues to the nation. Pedalling along pragmatically in our small back yard is not the best way to ensure our salvation. In the other place Mr. Douglas Hurd has already suggested certain ways of, as it were, mitigating the effect of the veto. I am sure that in principle the noble Lord, Lord Soames, would agree. If the present Government cannot even contemplate that, then I trust that as the negotiations proceed the Conservative Party as a whole will increasingly understand and support the need for a radical reform of the existing Community. The noble Lord, Lord Soames, is, I feel, in this respect on the side of the angels. Now he is so happily back in Westminster, I only hope that he will be able to persuade a majority of his colleagues to get behind the angels too!
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ The PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Greenwood of Rossendale)
My Lords, my own intervention today will be very brief because this is a fairly simple issue. The issue is simple, but there is, of course, a great deal of scope for disagreement and argument about the solutions which are to be found to some of the problems which enlargement involves.
I should like to begin by saying what a privilege it is to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Soames, upon his maiden speech. Throughout the years that I have known him he has been a great Parliamentarian. Those of us who have had the pleasure of serving with him in the House of Commons will, I think, feel that he has come back to us. Today he resumes his political career—or perhaps his Parliamentary career would be the best way of putting it—by making a most noteworthy speech which, in my view, has transformed a mere debate into a great occasion which all of us will remember.
§ Lord GREENWOOD of ROSSENDALE
My Lords, I should also like to extend good wishes to the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, who is to make a maiden speech in a few minutes. My other duty is to thank those Members of your Lordships' House who contributed to the preparation of this report. I suppose that not all the 90 Peers who are associated with the work of the European Communities Committee actually took part, but certainly a very large majority of them did so.
We had the great advantage of having the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, as our chairman and he proved, I think, probably the most effective chairman I have ever known since the death of the late Lord Attlee. Not a moment was wasted, not a point was missed and Heavens how hard he worked during the time that the subcommittees were meeting together. I know that he is appreciative of the help that the noble Lord, Lord Brimelow, gave to us all in the form of the advice and information that he made available. Lest it should seem that this was a purely Cross-Bench and Labour operation I think that I should say that that suspicion must be countered by the fact that we had as most assiduous members two of the Opposition Front bench, the noble Lords, Lord Campbell of Croy and Lord O'Hagan.
I thought that the enthusiasm of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn today was, shall I say, qualified. I had the opportunity of having a long discussion with him a couple of days ago. I find it now a little ironical that it should be he who is the warning voice and I the enthusiast, because some of your Lordships may recall that during those long debates on the Bill I, with a number of other noble Lords, argued against entry and expressed the view that it was perhaps, better to go for a less cumbersome superstructure than the European Communities had provided. In a way we were perhaps at that time anticipating the view which the noble Lord expressed this afternoon when he really said that we should not get too far ahead of public opinion, that changes were necessary, but that it was very important to establish how practicable they were before one became too firmly committed to them. 1195 That is the view which I take, as I think he does, on the question of the voting procedures. It never seemed to me to be either sensible or proper, once the Bill had become an Act, that any of us should withhold any help which we might possibly give. I am sure that all of us who took that line were right to do so at the time.
In spite of a number of foolishnesses (including, for example, the over-harmonisation that Mr. Rippon and I have been writing to The Times about in the last few days) many of my early fears have proved to have no foundation. That is particularly true in respect of the developing countries which have, I believe, benefited substantially from our accession to the Community. And perhaps I may say, without wishing to seem in any way patronising, that I have found in Brussels and Strasbourg a dynamism which is most impressive and most stimulating. However, none of us in public life can have everything all our own way all the time, and I hope that the very proper doubts which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, expressed will not be allowed to get out of proportion.
I commend the report which we are discussing today as both wise and constructive. It is better, more clear sighted and more far sighted than the fresco document itself. That is the point at which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn and I part company. I turn to the differences. I think that the Commission's view about the degree of urgency in accession is a good deal more relaxed than ours. I am sure that we are right to stress the importance of that and I think that the Commission is, perhaps, being a little too moderate in its approach. I think too that we are less radical in our approach to voting procedures—which is the point I made a few minutes ago—but I believe that the report as a whole is not only more informative than the report of the Commission, but it is politically far more realistic. There is, of course, no basic conflict between the two documents.
On the main issue our Committee was unanimous, and I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Soames, say that speed and determination were needed. Speed and determination are absolutely right—I think that my noble friend Lord 1196 Trevelyan used that expression—and we must avoid either prevarication or procrastination. Finally, I have always seen the Community as an institution which, under wise leadership and despite its complexity, should seek to draw together as many of the European countries as possible. Therefore I believe very strongly indeed in the desirability of its enlargement—and not to weaken it, which it has been suggested is the motive of some politicians; rather, we should seek to strengthen it, by increasing its influence and by binding Member countries closely together.
I suppose that the Spanish Civil War was probably the most traumatic event of the years between the wars. It was something which left an absolutely irremovable impact upon my generation. I now find it most moving that the people of Spain, emerging from the dark pall of Fascism, should join with the Greeks and the Portuguese in coming towards us with their arms stretched out in friendship, and asking to be partners with us in this great adventure. I think that it is a most moving experience; and it is a most promising experience. I am quite certain that it is our duty to do everything we can to ease their way into the comity of democratic nations. If we worry too much about the finances and too much about the nuts and bolts, we shall lose a great political opportunity. We shall be unworthy of ourselves and undeserving of our friends.
§ 5.2 p.m.
My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships for more than a very few minutes. I should like most heartily to congratulate noble Lords who have spoken most excellently upon this subject. I fear that I shall have little new light to shed on this debate. However, I look forward to the accession of Greece, Portugal and Spain to the European Economic Community. These are tender fledglings of democracy and need to be sheltered against the harsh winds of economic disarray.
As noble Lords are well aware, there will be difficulties. Greece has an agricultural population of 37 per cent. compared to our own of 3 per cent. We must take steps to guard against a Mediterranean surplus, and I hope mount a better 1197 guard than we have in the past against our Northern surpluses. There is also the difficulty of low-cost products, particularly in shipbuilding, steel and, above all, textiles. This will require very careful examination. Above all, we must continue to strive for the best possible relations with Turkey. Turkey's poverty is far worse than that of Greece. We must do everything in our power to sustain this Eastern bastion of our defence, and not drive Turkey into the hands of Russia.
Once Spain has entered the Community, I hope that the vexed question of Gibraltar will be settled once and for all. Self-determination is axiomatic; 99 per cent. of the people of Gibraltar wish to remain British. I hope that very soon her frontiers will be reopened. I am glad that the power of veto remains; I hope that it will be seldom or never used. However, it remains a useful and handy life-jacket. Finally, I would urge all haste. We wish to welcome these new democracies into our Community, to maintain their strength in every way. Poverty is a muddied pool in which extremists of the Right or Left love to dabble their dirty fingers.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Lord COBBOLD
My Lords, we have the pleasure and the duty to express our gratitude to the two maiden speakers today. It would be an impertinence to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Soames, on his magnificent exposition, but as a humble Member of the Committee I feel that it is rather gratifying that the noble Lord, who knows so much more than anyone else in the House on this subject, should give good marks to our Committee's report. We are also grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, who obviously takes a great interest in these matters and who knows a good deal about the applicant countries. I am sure that the House will look forward to hearing from him again.
Both the noble Lords, Lord Trevelyan and Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, have dealt with the major conclusions of the report and more particularly with the political and institutional aspects. It may be convenient for the House—and the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, suggested that this was the intention—to hear briefly from Members of the Committee who, in conjunction with the relative Sub- 1198 Committees, have been especially concerned with other aspects.
Various sections of the report, many of which have been or will be covered by other speakers, deal in detail with such areas as agriculture, trade and industry, energy and fisheries and with the particular problems of Mediterranean products. My purpose is to draw your Lordships' attention to paragraphs Nos. 127 to 136 of the report, which deal with general budgetary, economic and regional matters. In doing so I should like, first, to stress that in highlighting some of the financial problems involved, which Parliament and public should take fully into account, there is no intention of qualifying the Committee's general support for enlargement.
The paragraphs to which I particularly draw the attention of the House are Nos. 127 and 128, in which two main points are stressed. First, although it is impossible at this stage to make accurate estimates, there can be no reasonable doubt that, in the case of each applicant country, enlargement will involve a considerable extra charge on the Community Budget and, therefore, on the United Kingdom's share of that Budget. These additional charges are likely to arise mainly from the Common Agricultural Policy, the Regional Fund—and here I refer particularly to paragraph 133—and the Social Fund, on which we can look forward to hearing from the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. Enlargement will also involve a considerable extra demand on investment funds which are, or may be, at the disposal of the Community.
These demands will arise mainly from the need to bring the agricultural and industrial economies of the applicant countries more nearly into line with the average level in the present Member States; in some cases there may also be a need to assist in meeting balance of payments deficits. Such estimates as the Treasury and other witnesses—whose help the Committee gratefully acknowledge—have been able to put together are set out in paragraphs 129 to 131. But these figures are admittedly little more than guesswork. They are inevitably based on present situations and present policies, both of which will change during the period of negotiations and also during any transitional periods after accession. Nor 1199 is it possible at this stage to forecast with any certainty the extent to which the general economic effects of enlargement may offset or override extra financial demands. Nevertheless—and this is the second point which your Committee emphasise—it is essential that estimates and forecasts should be kept up to date as negotiations proceed and as policies change, so that Parliament and public can be made aware of the likely consequences, particularly to United Kingdom interests.
I would also draw the House's attention to paragraph 136. Much has been said lately about the Community's aims toward economic and monetary union, a subject which is kept continually under review by your Committee, but on which they feel it too early to make any report to the House. I have heard it argued that accession of the three new Members with somewhat less developed economies will make moves in the direction of economic and monetary union more desirable. But, in your Committee's view, it will undoubtedly make them more complicated and more difficult. I conclude, my Lords, by agreeing with the view that the political arguments in favour of this enlargement of the Community are overriding. Despite near certainty of considerable financial cost and despite uncertainty of general economic effects, it could surely not be in the wider interests of this country, or of the Community as a whole, to withdraw from or unduly to delay negotiations with the three applicant countries.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Baroness SEEAR
My Lords, I should like to join with those who have already paid tribute to the maiden speeches today, and to say what a tremendous pleasure it was to hear so eminent and eloquent a "European" speaking in this debate this afternoon. Those of us who have heard the noble Lord, Lord Soames, particularly during the referendum campaign, realise how much "Europeans" owe to his advocacy then and since. I should also like to pay tribute to the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby. It cannot be easy to make a maiden speech on the same afternoon as the noble Lord, Lord Soames. I congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, for his relevance, 1200 brevity, and also his courage in coming in after the noble Lord, Lord Soames. May I apologise to your Lordships' House, and particularly to the noble Minister who is to reply, because owing to a speaking date elsewhere this evening I am afraid I shall not be able to be here at the winding-up. I much regret this.
Sub-Committee C, the Committee which takes evidence and examines documents on social policy coming from the EEC, heard a considerable amount of evidence in relation to the enlargement of the Community. We had evidence from a number of important groups in this country, and not least from the senior members of the trade union movement. There are, of course, anxieties in the minds of many of the people who came to give evidence to us. However, it is encouraging that, despite those anxieties, there was a strong recognition of the need to go ahead with enlargement, and the political desirability—though I fully recognise the problems, and the reality of the problems, which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has discussed this afternoon—to proceed with enlargement in the interests of strengthening a democratic Europe. That was widely recognised by the witnesses who came to us, even while they were also discussing the difficulties, which were very real to them.
I want this afternoon to refer solely to three issues which arose in looking at the difficulties from the point of view of social policy. First, and, as it turned out, of least significance, was the question of whether enlargement would mean that there would be a great increase of migrant labour in view of the policy of the free movement of labour. This was not regarded by witnesses, and by the Committee who examined what they had to say, as being a serious issue. It has not been so up until now, and common sense, if nothing else, suggests that few people in their senses coming from the Mediterranean countries are really going to make a beeline for Birmingham. But, apart from that, it was not thought that this would be an issue of much importance.
There is, of course, one industry at present heavily dependent on migrant labour in which there might be an increase in the use of people coming from the three countries to be included if enlargement 1201 takes place. That is the hotel industry. The one point I should like to make in connection with that is that it would be extremely undesirable if the opportunity to obtain increasing numbers of people from Greece, Portugal and Spain to work in the hotel industry, held back the improvement of working standards inside that industry, which leaders in it are trying to bring about. It is well known that there are sections of the industry which rely on migrant labour, and are therefore to that extent not under the same compulsion to improve working standards that other people in that industry, and people outside that industry, would wish to see take place.
The second issue is the issue of the Social Fund. It was quite bluntly put to us that with the admission of Greece, Spain, and Portugal, with standards of living considerably lower than the standards of living in the northern democracies, the demands on the Social Fund from these countries would greatly increase and the amount of money available for those of us who already feel that we should like to draw even more heavily on the Fund may be diminished by the fact that there would be other applicants with strong claims.
There can be only one answer to this. It is of course part and parcel of the idea of the European Community that we should struggle to improve the economic condition of the countries which are included in the Community. Therefore, it is right and proper that such countries should be able to make adequate demands on the Social Fund. This can only mean that the EEC as a whole must look again at the resources that it allocates to the Social and Regional Fund, and the extent to which it is possible to make larger contributions to that Fund so that the demands from the countries coming in will not mean that calls made from this country are going to be met with a rebuff.
The third point—and this was one on which a good deal was said—is the very understandable fear that, with three countries coming into the Community with lower labour costs than exist in this country, the result might be a threat to jobs in this country, a threat which at the present time is viewed with great concern. With the present levels of unemployment in this country, any idea—whether this idea is well founded or not, and it is open 1202 to question whether it is well founded—of the admission into the Community of countries in a position to undercut the costs of this country is viewed with alarm by important sections in our society. This presents us with a difficult problem, because pressure will undoubtedly be there to give extended protection to the industries which might appear to be affected by the admission of the three countries into the Community. There will be a desire to safeguard jobs from imports from countries which are now going to be Members of the Community. But it is the very essence of the nature of the Community that there should not be protection against the goods of those countries.
It is of course much to be hoped that by the time that these countries have been admitted to the EEC the employment position in this country will be better, because if not the hostility which exists towards the EEC will undoubtedly increase in many quarters if it is seen that the threat to employment becomes greater because of the access of these three countries to the Community. But surely in the longer run the answer to this problem—and this ties up again with the reference I made a few moments ago to the use of the Social Fund—is that we in this country should face the inevitable fact that some of our industries are not going to be competitive; that some people in jobs which they have been able to retain up to the present may not be able to go on in those occupations because of competition which will come from other Members of the EEC.
Therefore we have the need to develop new opportunities and new training possibilities and to strengthen industries which can hold their own, against those which cannot compete, against the competition of the lower-cost countries. We must do this in the time that is available, before the competition from those becomes too strong. This is of vital importance if we are not to create towards the newcomers, which would be extremely damaging to the whole idea of a genuine Community.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Lord RHODES
My Lords, at the outset I wish to voice my appreciation of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Soames. He spoke with a characteristic robustness born of knowing his subject, 1203 and I agreed with every word he said. It is only my ego that prevents me from sitting down right now and calling it a day. I shall therefore inflict a few remarks on your Lordships. I have been a Member of this Select Committee for some years, indeed since its inception, and I have tried to understand from the ordinary man's point of view what it is all about. I have come to the conclusion that there are two sets of people; that is, those who agree with the Common Market and those who do not. That may sound a platitude and obvious to all, but it is not because those who are really keen on the Common Market never criticise it in the hope that their silence will strengthen its institutions. I say that it will not. I say that in any democratic institution there must be controversy so that public opinion can be forged, and it seems to me as though we have been hanging back in our criticism lest those who oppose the Common Market pick up something they can use as weapons against us.
I have no intention of going into the labyrinthian argument as to whether bribery or the ability to give a better standard of living to a group of people in other countries will help them to remain democratic; that is beyond my comprehension and possibly beyond that of everybody here. Nevertheless, I want to say a few things about whether the Common Market as it is constituted can sustain the new entrants we have invited and who have applied to join.
When the Common Market really had enthusiasm in its institutions, tariff walls protected the national markets of the six; progress was made towards a Common Agricultural Policy and harmonisation measures covering cheese, bicycles, carpet-slippers and all manner of things were discussed with great enthusiasm. But what has happend to monetary policy, political union, European common industrial policy and even fishing? Much of this has been attributed to General de Gaulle, who walked out and walked back again only on consideration that the veto was given to individual countries who dissented from the proposals put up by the Commission.
Then we had the accession of Britain, Ireland and Denmark to the EEC, with all the range and necessity of adaptation, with 1204 the upset that went on and still remains to this day; that was the difficulty of integrating the three countries which we led in in 1973. It was an immense problem and it was most unfortunate—I think that historically this will be proved—that the accession of this country to the Common Market took place at the time when the OPEC countries were applying the oil embargo. That of itself was a very serious situation which made it more difficult for our integration.
What has been achieved? The list of discarded proposals is long, and, in saying that, I am not knocking; I am all for the Common Market, but we should bring these things into the open and discuss them and then some strength can be given to the institutions by our adopting a positive attitude towards them. Notable among those discarded proposals was the Werner Report on monetary union in 1970. What happened to that? It was sunk without trace. Then we had the Thomson Report on regional policy in 1973; the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, was in the Chamber a short time ago and I was hoping he would be here to listen to this. It was too expensive, we all said, and we agreed to put it into limbo, which is where it is now. What about the Tindeman Report in 1975? That was damned with faint praise by most countries and promptly pigeon-holed. Then we had the Spinelli Report on aerospace in 1975. That went the way of the others, contemptuously buried by out own Minister of State in the House of Commons in January of this year when he referred to it as a "circus act". That is the kind of Community we are inviting these three countries, which have made application, to join. In my humble opinion, unless the institutions of the Common Market can have a new strength, initiative and enthusiasm infused into them, the Common Market will be too weak to sustain any more watering down.
We have too negative an approach to the Common Market. Indeed, it would be easy for us to refuse to consider anything they ever do. In 1976, 36 harmonisation proposals were abandoned by the Commission after failing to get support from the Members. In 1977 that was repeated and another batch of proposals was withdrawn; I daresay many people will say, "And a good thing, too". 1205 Then we had the humiliating experience of Brussels' bureaucracy in dealing with the whisky fiasco of six months ago. My feeling is that we must cast a very critical eye on these institutions—here I agreed with everything the noble Lord Lord Soames, said—not only textiles but the Common Agricultural Policy.
I have a feeling that we are overstepping the mark and that the accession of these countries should be dependent on the reform of Common Market policies. I have in mind the Common Agricultural Policy, but before dealing with that I wish to deal with something which has been more of a specialist subject with me and which was adequately covered by the noble Lord, Lord Soames, in his splendid speech. I refer to what I have been associated with all my life—the textile industry. Perhaps people have become a little worried and a little bored by the reiteration of arguments about taking more care of some of our more sensitive industries. One can hardly name an industry in this country about which we will not be bored in the future in terms of sensitivity. I say this because in my opinion the world recession will continue for many years to come. We must be very alive to what is going on.
When our Committee was taking evidence, we were told repeatedly that massive investment would be needed in Portugal and Greece to raise the standard of living.We know that. Greece and Portugal are low-wage countries. They will be regarded as attractive places for investment in order to gain entrance to the Common Market. We must make it quite clear—and this is repeating practically word for word what the noble Lord said—that further investment in more textile and clothing capacity is not on. This goes particularly for the man-made fibre industry, where there is surplus capacity on a very large scale in the EEC.
Good work is going on in Brussels now to bring some sense to bear on this situation. It is encouraging to know that the fibre producers themselves have, with self-discipline, got together to work out a scheme to save their industry from annihilation. It is important, therefore, that the applicant countries should realise this position, and not embark on any grandiose plans for expansion of fibre production. If they do, there will be nothing in it for anybody.
1206 I want to say a few words which I hope will infiltrate into the countries who are making application. Perhaps I may venture to give them a little advice herewith. In my view the applicant countries cannot do better at the moment than be seen to be acting fairly and reasonably as they approach accession. Let me give your Lordships an example. Greece has agreed to textile import limits proposed by the EEC. This will require supervisory action by the Greek Government, to ensure that the undertakings given to the EEC by the Greek textile industry are to be honoured. But they are slipping up on this. They made an agreement for this 12 months, and already they are exceeding the limit by 40 per cent. This is the kind of thing of which they really must take some cognisance, and act in accordance with what they have agreed, so that our people in this country can have confidence in what the Government are trying to do to bring them into a proper club.
I gave notice a few days ago to the office of the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, in the hope that it would he possible to get the gist of a letter sent by the British Textile Confederation to the office of Mr. Eric Varley, the Minister for Industry. The letter says that the Commission has made a provisional agreement with Portugal which, if Member States ratify it, would change many of the figures previously proposed by the EEC as the indicated limit for 1978. The significance is that if the cotton yarn and synthetic cloth increases are accepted, a breach will be made in the global ceilings agreed for the sensitive items negotiated last year. I hope that the Minister will have a reply for me on that when he winds up.
Time is getting on, and I have only one more point to make. Every day that this House assembles we say our prayers. For anyone who has had a hard bringing up, or has been in a big family, and who has known what it has been like to have difficulty in making ends meet, there is special significance in one particular phrase in the Lord's Prayer:Give us this day our daily bread".Years ago we used to hear the Welsh poignantly singing "Bread of Heaven" because some of them cynically thought that that was the only source from which they would get any bread.
1207 I remember coming out of the line—before I went to the Royal Flying Corps—after a month on the Somme. As we marched past Avelay village we saw the Australians, who were chucking bread about. That was the only time that I experienced very strong telepathy, because when we got to the village we all drew our bayonets and we cut that bread. There are many people in the world wanting bread, but in the Common Market food has been wasted on a scale which has never been equalled in the history of the world. It is tragic that at a time when we are trying to get back thrift among people in this country—and without it we shall fail; there is no question about that—we are making no impact on the people of this country in explaining why we have mountains of butter and lakes of wine. In my opinion, this matter has been handled in a slipshod way over the years, and it is about time that we faced up to the problem, the size of which has not been mentioned in this House this afternoon.
In our country 2 per cent. of the working population is employed on the land, whereas in the nine countries of the Common Market 8 per cent. are so employed, while the percentage average of the three countries who are making application to join (and whom we are encouraging to join) is 30 per cent. Anyone with any idea of what has gone on in the past can only look forward to a colossal addition to the intervention bill.
I agree in large measure with the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, when he said we should not pay too much attention to the cost. Yet there is no doubt that "waste not, want not" is as powerful an adage now as it ever was in my young days, or in any days gone by. Evidence was presented to us in the Committee (evidence which I suggest should be read by everybody in this House) from those involved with fruit and vegetables—the canners, the bottlers, or whoever they are. When they gave evidence to the Committee I asked them why had they not established canning factories right at the place where the food was to be thrown down a tip. They said, "We have canning factories there. But can we buy the food from the intervention at a price which makes it at all reasonable to do the job?—No". I 1208 believe that the whole system should be reformed. I am sorry to have spoken for so long, but I consider that if today's debate has done nothing else, it has, at any rate, given some of us an opportunity to get off our chests one or two things in which we sincerely believe.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Lord DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I should first of all like to say what a privilege it is to take part in this debate; and, indeed, what a privilege it was to take part in the deliberations of the Committee which produced this report. Secondly, this debate has given me the opportunity to listen to my noble friend Lord Soames again, and I should like to welcome him here very much indeed. His forceful and down-to-earth speech has certainly influenced this debate very much indeed, and set the standard for it—a standard which it will be very difficult to uphold. I should also like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Tenby on his maiden speech, which was incisive, clear and brief. It is always splendid to hear a maiden speech which is all those three things together, and I hope we shall hear him more often in the future. Perhaps he has been saving up for the next few weeks, and will give us the pleasure of hearing him many times.
It is always a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes. He is so full of common sense—very robust common sense, at that—and I think he has done a service in drawing attention to what these three applicant countries are being asked to join. I am sure he is right in saying that the Common Market—the Commission in particular—has occupied itself more with detail than we would have wished; and this, in turn, has given it a very bad image among the ordinary people of this country. They think in terms of people who are trying to stop the milkman delivering milk to their door and delivering it in pints, and all that sort of thing.
Perhaps we can say that the opportunity has now been presented, after the first enlargement and before the second enlargement, for a review of the whole way of working of the Commission. Surely the fault lies with ourselves, with the Governments. In many cases we have 1209 prevented the Commission from dealing with the large and important issues. We have stopped them from doing it. In the case of many of the 37 or 38 papers which have come along to be looked at by the Scrutiny Committee, whether they were Directives or regulations, we have advised that they should not be accepted.
I want to start by saying that, while it is obvious that the Common Market consists of nations—and democratic nations, at that—whose Governments depend on the support of their people, the fact remains that the whole of the structure will be productive only if there is mutual confidence between the Members who belong to it; and this is what membership of the Common Market ought to start from and ought to mean. It is gratifying, of course, that we have these three new applications. They may be wrong, but at least they have some confidence in the EEC, or they would not be applying at all. This is very important. But, of course, before they accede, some hurdles have to be got over, and after those hurdles each country, including the applicant countries, has to decide whether the terms that have been negotiated are acceptable. So we have some way to go before we can in fact welcome them into the EEC. Nor can we assume that at the end of the negotiations all three will wish to maintain their application. Noble Lords do not need to he told that there were four applicant countries five years' ago; and the citizens of one of those eventually banged the open door in their own faces, if one likes to put it in that way.
The outcome, therefore, is very uncertain, and it will he influenced largely by the impact that the citizens of the countries themselves think membership will have on their own material interests, on their distinctive way of life and also on their security. In the same way, the Member countries have to examine applications and satisfy themselves that the interests of each applicant are compatible with those, not only of the Community, but of each Member of it, for one Member's vote is enough to reject the application. I think we ought to ask ourselves, and ought possibly to consider, whether in the future, after these three countries join, or in the course of any review of the Treaty, one Member's vote should be sufficient to reject an application. It could be very important in the future.
1210 The Commission has first to submit to the Council an opinion on the application, and that opinion represents the collective view of the Community as a whole. If the Council accept the opinion, the negotiations then start; and, of course, negotiations have already started with Greece, which applied nearly three years ago. The negotiations opened 32 weeks, I think it was, after their application. It seems hardly worth while discussing whether or not Greece's application to be admitted should go forward. One is too late and too early for that, as I have indicated. It is going forward. It is time enough, it might be thought, for Parliament to discuss whether or not to approve when the negotiations are completed.
But there are the two other applicants, Portugal and Spain, and it would be in every way much more convenient if all three applications could be considered at once, not least when one comes to think of the representation of these countries on the Commission itself. Gradual infiltrations into the Commission can be very disruptive. But we can hardly expect Greece to relish waiting for up to three years—five years, perhaps—especially as any economic adjustments she may have to make before accession are relatively modest. Unfortunately, more adjustments may have to be made by the other two countries to comply with the Treaty of Rome: Portugal because of her low level of economic development—her per capita GDP is only two-fifths of our own—and also because of her current economic problems; Spain because of her heavy dependence on tariff and non-tariff protection. However, it is to be hoped that special efforts will be made to see that there is no avoidable delay in negotiations.
The task of the Trade and Industry Sub-Committee, in whose deliberations I participated, was to study how the accession of each of the three would affect British material interests from the point of view of traders, industrialists and their employees. It would not be sensible to go into any detail: suffice it to say that almost all the organisations from whom we received evidence gave what many of them called a "cautious approval" to all three applications, though it is fair to add that approval was influenced by a sense of political inevitability. The CBI succinctly summarised the issues involved 1211 for industry. They said:The issues are whether the membership of the three applicants will substantially alter the overall balance of trade and other benefits and costs accruing to the United Kingdom, bearing in mind the applicants' already close relation with the EEC; and, secondly, whether further enlargement will greatly change the future development of the EEC.If I may summarise their conclusions, they were that it was unlikely that the overall balance of trade would be substantially altered, but that there was a risk that the future development of the Community might be retarded. Your Lordships will be aware that some 3 per cent. of United Kingdom exports go to Spain, Portugal and Greece; that we have a relatively substantial balance of trade with Greece in our favour and that the balance is about even with Spain and Portugal. The CBI emphasised the need for tariff and non-tariff barriers to he progressively removed in stages during the transition period after the accession, particularly the non-tariff barriers, and for Britain to be able to protect the sensitive sectors during that period and to dispense with such measures only to the extent of, and in line with, the measures which the applicant countries took, particularly the removal of Spain's barriers to trade.
Of course, all tariff and non-tariff barriers will have to be removed by the end of the transition period. This will cause little difficulty for Greece or Portugal, apart from any special arrangements which may be required for Portugal if her balance of payments remains weak, but it may cause considerable difficulties for Spain which, as I have said, protects herself by both tariff and non-tariff barriers. In the broad, there are bound to be both gains and losses in different sectors so far as British industry is concerned. Some may be predictable, but the predictions may turn out to be false. Some witnesses feared that the applicant countries might gain an advantage, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said, because their rates of pay were lower than those here; but it is reasonable to hope that the disparities will be reduced over the years and even before accession takes place.
As barriers to trade are removed and as the effects of the wider Common Market are felt, there will be opportunities for United Kingdom exports not only in 1212 consumer goods and consumer durables but also in machinery and electrical goods as the applicants equip themselves for expansion. The United Kingdom industries which felt most threatened by the enlargement were iron and steel, textiles and footwear—and the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, has referred to this. Spain has been developing her steel industry very fast and her shipbuilding industry has also grown considerably in recent years. Several of our witnesses felt strongly that while the applicant countries would need to catch up with the industrial activity of the Members of the Community, they should be encouraged to start concerting their plans for industrial development with the Commission as soon as possible and, in particular, to avoid or, at least, to discourage, investment in those sectors of industry where there is already surplus capacity in the Community.
None the less, the report stresses the need to assist the applicant countries to develop a sound industrial base. That, of course, will be a financial burden on the Nine. There will certainly be additional costs involved for the existing Members of the Community through the accession of the three applicants. These cannot be calculated exactly, as the noble Lord, Lord Cobbold, made clear, but it is estimated that they will involve, in all, some £700 million a year for the Nine of which something around £100 million would fall on us. If we accept that the accession of three more democracies, already young, will strengthen the Community—and I believe the more Members there are of this democratic club, the stronger will be the inclination to retain democracy—this annual transfer of resources would not be unbearable; but it can hardly be expected that the rate of progress of the Community will not be retarded at all.
Some may feel that there has not been much progress to retard in the Community —and that despite the use of regional funds and social funds in recent years. My own view is that the morale of the Community and its will to make progress have not yet recovered from the consequences of the savage and unnatural increase in oil prices to which the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, referred, but that the time is now ripe for the progress to be resumed. It will be nearly two years at least before the first of the applicants joins the Community and it may be four or five years before they all join.
1213 It is essential that we make the most of this intervening period. If the Community can regain momentum from now on; if it can help the applicant countries to maintain and even to increase their rate of growth in the meantime; and if the Community co-operates in a revitalisation of world trade, there need be no question of the Community failing to make progress; all will go forward together. But if there is no such revival, if the Community stagnates, then the stagnation (as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has said), could be turned into decline by the retarding effects of the accession of these three countries. In brief, the CBI verdict was cautious but favourable, and the Sub-Committee agreed with it. I need not mention the employee side as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has already dealt with this. But if the Community is to progress it cannot afford to he inward-looking. The accession of the three countries is bound to give them advantages over third countries, and indeed that is one of the main objects of the applications.
Part 4 of the report (and I think this is one of the most valuable parts) deals with the impact of enlargement on other countries and the need not only to take that into account but to take action to reduce so far as possible any adverse effects for them. This is important. In practice, the effects may be more psychological than material. The Trade and Industry Sub-Committee dealt more with the effects of enlargement on British trade and industry; but I may be allowed to express a personal opinion about the interests of Turkey. The most delicate problem of all is that of Turkey. The admission of Greece must not be taken in any way to indicate that Turkey is being left out in the cold and that her interests are regarded as anything less important to us and to the Community than those of other countries. Turkey is not a candidate for membership of the Community at the moment, but she was the first country after Greece to have an association agreement with the Six. Moreover, she is a valued member of NATO and feels strongly that she has derived much less benefit from the association so far than she had been led to expect. Her problems are immense because so much of the country is underdeveloped and her industrial development is markedly inade- 1214 quate for her needs. It is very important for us, apart from anything else, to make certain that Turkey is in good shape as an ally. It is very much in the interests of the enlarged Community to pay particular attention to Turkey's need for investment and for markets, and not to forget the other trading countries with which we are associated, and, I should like to conclude by saying, above all, the Commonwealth.
§ 6 p.m.
§ Lord DIPLOCK
My Lords, I am glad that my participation in this debate has given me the opportunity of hearing the eloquent and magisterial maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soames, and of communicating, even if only through the columns of Hansard, my congratulations to him. I should also like to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, on his maiden speech, inaugurating the following of a great family tradition in this House. Also, because I have ceased now for more than six months to be a Member of this Select Committee, I think I can quite properly express my admiration of this report, which appears to me to be a model of what a scrutiny committee ought to be doing—combining realism with a confident, or perhaps, in deference to the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, I should say semi-confident, faith in the future.
In the negotiations it will be necessary to amend the provisions of the Treaty which deal with the European Court of Justice and the Statute of that Court of Justice itself. The financial, the political and the economic consequences of enlargement are of such vast importance that I hope that in the course of the negotiations it will not be overlooked that it is important to maintain the standard of efficiency of the Court of Justice and the esteem in which it is held in the Member States.
The Court of Justice is in effect a constituent part of the judicial system of the United Kingdom. It has the ultimate power to determine what is the meaning and the effect of a growing portion of the law that operates in this country—the Regulations and Directives which are directly applicable or which are drafted in such detail as to be in effect directly applicable and also, and perhaps most important, to decide what provisions of the Treaty are directly applicable in this 1215 country, too. Those provisions of the Treaty are so widely drafted that the power to interpret what they mean is in effect a power of legislation for an activist court. The European Court of Justice has been an activist court: that has been necessary in the early stages of the growth of the Common Market. It will no doubt continue to be necessary—and how important it is then that its collective judgment in exercising these functions should continue to be wide.
I would urge the Government in those negotiations not to treat it as essential that there should be 13 judges, one from each country. There is no juristic necessity for it when already six of those countries, and the three new countries, share a common Romano-Germanic system of law and when, for juristic purposes of the competence of the court as a legal instrument, it is quite unnecessary for each one of them to be represented by a different judge.
The system and the procedure of the European Court relies in part on oral argument, and its opinion is delivered in a single judgment. Under such a system of procedure, nine judges is already beyond the optimum. The Supreme Court of the United States, it is true, has nine, but its procedure, for practical purposes, is written, without the reliance on the oral argument which takes place in the European Court of Justice.
In my own experience, a panel of three or five is probably the optimum, let alone the seven which we have occasionally tried in the House of Lords when we were studying whether we ought to overrule some previous decision of the House of Lords. But when you get to 13 it ceases to be a court and becomes a committee, and the danger is either that the judgment will represent a woolly compromise or that it will in fact be the decision of two alone: the Juge Rapporteur and the Avocat-General, who has given his advice to the court. That is why, in Annex B to the report, we have recommended that the Court should sit normally in panels of five for the more important cases and in three, as they do now, for those cases where it is a question of terms of service of functionaries, or where there is a well-settled decision of jurisprudence by the Court. Sitting in panels, of course, 1216 entails some danger of divergent trends between the two panels; but that is a matter to which the appellate courts are accustomed and to which solutions can be devised.
The Court itself is, I know, well aware of the problems—I had the opportunity of discussing some of these with them when I was there, I think, a fortnight ago. They are themselves likely to know best what are the solutions to the problems arising from the enlargement of their numbers, if that has to be for political reasons. All I would urge upon the Government is that in the negotiations for enlargement they should make sure that political considerations do not result in the lowering of the deservedly high reputation which the Court has heretofore earned.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Lord HALE
My Lords, I did not anticipate that I should be listed to follow the very gifted noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, under whom I have the pleasure of sitting as a learner member of a small committee and I am afraid that on this issue I am almost functus officio. But I cannot fail to pay tribute not only to the brilliance and ability of the mind, which he has displayed for so long and to so great effect, but to the respect that he has earned on the Continent, and to the fact that he has made it clear that this House is not being obstructive in saying, almost as General de Gaulle said, though perhaps not for the same reasons, that the difference between English law and Continental law is very substantial indeed. The noble and learned Lord's place has now been taken temporarily, on his taking up other duties, by an equally eminent and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Tullybelton. So I think that I ought to wear a learner's badge when I go along to that committee, to which I listen with interest.
I came here to support the speech of my noble friend Lord Rhodes—a very old and valued friend—but he did not make it. I now find myself almost compelled to mention one or two points with which I disagree, rather than do that. The fact is, of course, that I felt exactly the same emotions as he did in listening to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soames. The noble Lord, Lord Soames, 1217 brought to the textile industry, and to the boot and shoe industry, a light amid the assembling gloom. For many years I had the privilege of being solicitor to the boot and shoe industry throughout the country and was the Member for what was once the greatest cotton town in the world and is still a great town, despite all its difficulties. I was very touched by what the noble Lord said, but he seemed to operate on my noble friend Lord Rhodes, who is not normally impressionable, rather like Dr. Billy Sunday; and the tribute that was paid by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, to the eloquence of the noble Lord, Lord Soames, reminded us that he gave us hope, but not on detailed issues.
I speak as one who was at the Council of Europe, and who was also on the organising committee of the first great Conference at the Hague, when the late father-in-law of the noble Lord, Lord Soames, was the outstanding name in rescued Europe, when they spoke with reverence of the late Sir Winston and when there was a good attitude, too, towards the BBC. A party of 30 or 35 of us went there as Labour rebels. We drew rather more, and we went around trying to persuade the Socialists of Europe to come. We were talking in terms of a planned economy. Such things are easy to describe. We were planning to grow seed potatoes in Scotland, and how much that might have altered the present political embroglio North of the Tweed!
I believed in a federal Europe. I believed that it was practicable. We entertained a few surviving members of the old Weimar Republic legislative assembly, and there was then a feeling of hope and expectancy that was carried on in the Council of Europe, of which I was a Member for two years. So that no one could see with more joy the proposal for an extension of the Nine. I am bound to say that I look at this matter rather differently. If one goes through this very able, honest and sincere report, which naturally, and very properly, draws the attention of the reader to the problems, one finds that there is hardly a single proposal connected with it about which some hesitation and doubt is not expressed.
The noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, today opened the debate with what one has come to regard as a typically brilliant speech, clarifying the issues and presenting the 1218 proposals in a brighter and more attractive light. That was good. But then I heard the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, talking about Portugal. The poverty of Portugal and its colonies was imposed by Dr. Salazar under a dictatorship. But the Government and people have emerged from what has perhaps been an even darker period than Spain had. I particularly want to welcome them. If it is said that Portugal presents problems, because her production per capita ranks at about two-fifths of ours, I would point out that our production is one of the lowest in Europe.
My noble friend asked what happened to the money policy. It went to the pound. I so rarely disagree with him, and I listen to him with respect, but he talked of mountains of butter and lakes, and destruction of food such as the world has never seen. I would remind him of what happened in America in the years before the war, when subsidies were paid for burning. I am quite sure that if he will look again at the figures, regrettable as they are, he will find that the problem of maintaining a margin of production is complicated and substantial. However, I think that surpluses could be better dealt with.
But what I want to say about the Commission, who have treated us with all possible consideration and who have been courteous and helpful, is that there are some outstanding problems which, essentially, stand to be dealt with and which are mentioned in this report. The report states that the position is a little hopeful so far as fisheries are concerned. But the first problem is conservation, and here little has been done. What are the Commission doing about conservation? We get temporary allocations of territory, but we still get arguments about limits. We are talking of admitting into the Community Spain, with a very large modern fishing fleet, which does a substantial portion of its fishing in the North Atlantic and near Scottish waters. Surely an agreement on conservation is essential.
I really rose to say one word about textiles in particular. Without question, textiles are always vulnerable. It is so easy now to set up a textile factory. The cotton textile industry has suffered continuous decline. There were always more Members in the House of Commons 1219 willing to support Hong Kong than there were to support Oldham. We thank the noble Lord, Lord Soames, for the hope he gave. I feel the deep responsibility of one who advocated joining the Market and who told the cotton textile industry that, in my view, they would have better consideration of their grievances at Brussels than they had in Westminster. On that I want to support the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, and to agree with all he said too about the CAP and its problems. The report itself discloses several degrees of motivation. My friends certainly combine in the maintenance of the CAP. The report talks of special adaptations for the Mediterranean countries, but there can be no question on the simple figures that, unless steps are taken to bring this more into line with modern needs, we shall bear an enormous burden of subsidies for over-production of food.
I venture to thank the noble Lord, Lord Soames, who has just returned. I would not have the discourtesy to presume to congratulate him on a maiden speech, but I do want to congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, on a speech which would have gladdened his father's heart had he not passed from us. I said that the noble Lord, Lord Soames, had almost electrified my noble friend Lord Rhodes, and that he had greatly impressed and pleased me. The textile industry is a problem so near my heart that it weakens a little all the other aspirations which I have held since I went to The Hague so long ago.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Lord SANDFORD
My Lords, I should like to start by adding my appreciation of the speeches of two maiden speakers. I have known the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, since he has been a Member of the House, and the noble Lord, Lord Soames, since we were at school together, though our paths have not crossed much since then. Like other noble Lords I look forward very much to hearing both of them again before long.
We are faced with a pressing political imperative to enlarge the Community and formidable problems in doing so. Therefore, it seems to me that we must pursue the twin aims of not putting any unnecessary delays before the applicants 1220 but at the same time avoiding any humbug which might create delusions about the real difficulties that lie in the way. In my view, this report serves that twin purpose quite admirably. We have to remind ourselves at the outset as to what are the benefits expected of democracy. People who have experienced depression and tyranny are intially very glad to be free, to welcome the freedom and the say in their affairs that goes with the democratic vote. But I think they also then go on to expect democracy to deliver the goods in other terms. Therefore, we have a duty to see to it that the democracy which they have now embraced and the freedom and the say in their own affairs which go with it, and which are the fruits of democracy, are found in practice and felt in practice to lead on to a real rise to a higher standard of living expressed in material things and, still more important, to a higher quality of life expressed in less tangible things which are nevertheless cherished just as much.
It is for this reason that I welcome especially the report of the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, and what he and the noble Lord, Lord Soames, said at the beginning of their speeches about this second enlargement providing the opportunity and the spur, as it does, to do the very large number of things which are needed to improve the performance of the institutions of Europe. For instance it provides the opportunity to see to the specific transitions tailor-made for each of the applicants. There is the requirement to undertake a number of overall adjustments to accommodate 12 nations instead of nine, and there are the general improvements which urgently need to be undertaken in the light of our past and current experience. For instance, the size of the new Parliament has to be thought of in terms of a 600-seater to replace a 200-seater, not a 400-seater. There are the major institutional changes needed in the Common Agricultural Policy and the fisheries policy, both in respect of its present defects and in order to accommodate the agricultural and fishery needs of the latest three to join.
The accession of the latest three must also be an occasion for de facto adjustments in the use of languages in the Parliament. It may be impossible to obtain de jure adjustments, but some practical adjustments must certainly be made.
1221 We have to renegotiate the Lomé agreement in the light of the needs of a Community of 12 and not nine Members. We also need to take the opportunity to make improvements in the Social Fund and in the Regional Fund to handle problems which are too great for the Common Agricultural Policy to handle on its own. These are all actions which we would anyway have to begin soon to overcome the disillusionment with which the Market has come to be regarded by far too many people, not only among the last Members to join but among the original Members; not only by people in various walks of life who are directly and, as they feel, adversely affected by the Community—particularly the textile industry and the fishing industry—but also by the Members of the Community at large. But in facing these changes it seems that we have to recognise very clearly the difference in the climate between the first enlargement and the second enlargement that now faces us.
Most of the existing members are rich by world standards, mature in their experience of democracy, and in the case of the British phlegmatic—one might say to a fault. In contrast to that, however, the three new applicants are the poorest in the Community, and even poor by world standards. Those three new applicants are only just emerging from totalitarian regimes and, so far from being phlegmatic, all of them are passionate about many things, not the least about politics. This makes the whole problem even more difficult to handle.
One can delve down into any of the chapters contained in this admirable report and discern the imperative need not just for a warm welcome to the applicant countries but for clear thinking, plain speaking and bold planning as the Europe of the Nine begins to enlarge into the Europe of the Twelve. To illustrate what I want to say, one chapter alone will suffice. I choose agriculture in Part V, regretting the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, but using his absence as perhaps an excuse for stressing this particular subject. The noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan—also noting the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Raglan—mentioned some of the conclusions of his report in this field, which I need to paraphrase only very briefly.
1222 They make the point that the output of Mediterranean firms must be controlled, because without control, the Common Agricultural Policy will crack under the strain of supporting yet more surpluses. They also make the point that some of the consumers must get some benefit from certain of the lower costs of production which prevail in the applicant countries. That will certainly be expected. The third point they make is that the Common Agricultural Policy must now be precluded from sucking in still more of the resources that ought to be used for longer-term regional, social and structural policies. The fourth and very important point they make is that the interests of the Lome countries must be watched and properly safeguarded. Those are the principles, and I agree with them all. It is very valuable to have them stated so emphatically. These are the facts which are also to be found in the report but which need to be stressed.
In the case of all of the applicant countries, the largest employment sector is agriculture. The applicant countries have three to four times as many people working in agriculture as the existing Members. The Common Agricultural Policy has already had the effect among the present Members of the Community that their far fewer farmworkers produce very large surpluses, notably of butter and of wine. We also have to face the fact that the tools for handling the agricultural problems of the present Nine members are already so imperfect that the present Nine have been deadlocked now for five months in arriving at the current farm price review. So we really must not delude ourselves, or the voters, or the farmers either in the Nine or in the Twelve that democracy can easily and quickly be bought without any sacrifice. Certainly we cannot just rely upon the bureaucrats of Brussels to work out a new formula which will do it all painlessly for us.
It seems to me that the great significance of farming in the applicant countries, and the political importance of this enlargement for both the present Nine and the new Three, pose problems far beyond the capacity of even a reformed Common Agricultural Policy to solve on its own, and the report does well to state that clearly and categorically. But we must also be prepared to go on to ask how, by what 1223 means and in what manner these problems of rapid rural change in the three applicant countries can be handled. The whole process of rural change began many decades ago in the United Kingdom. I suppose that one could go back to the Enclosure Acts, if not before. It is perhaps because they began so long ago, because they have gone so far towards increasing farm productivity and because we can look back on so many successes amid so many mistakes that we are now ready with some constructive approaches to the changes that are in store in the countryside all over the Community, and particularly in the applicant countries.
As many noble Lords who farm will know better than I, the main EEC Directive in this field of rural change is implemented in the United Kingdom by the Farm, Horticultural and Development Scheme. There is another scheme for farm amalgamation, and another for the less favoured areas: the areas covered previously by our hill farming grants. Another scheme is concerned with the training of advisers in agricultural development. All of this fresh legislation, emanating in response to Directives from Brussels, has prompted at least four initiatives in this country among those who recognise that the future of the countryside, while it remains primarily in the hands and stewardship of the farmer, needs to be seen and to be settled in a wider context than the mere production of food, important though that is.
The United Kingdom initiatives to which I refer are the publication Caring for the Countryside, issued jointly by the National Farmers' Union and the Country Landowners' Association, a document that I warmly commend in the context of this enlargement; the upland management experiment, started and now established in Cumbria and being extended elsewhere in the hills, and particularly in our national parks in England and Wales; the Countryside Review, mounted two or three years ago by the Department of the Environment with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and many other Departments, with four valuable and I think highly relevant reports in this field to their credit already. And beside those is the long-established and continuing work of the Development Commission under the 1224 chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Northfield.
In the last of those four reports by the Department of the Environment is the specific and firm recommendation that the rúle of our Agricultural Development Advisory Service should be extended so as to enable its officers to introduce farmers to advice beyond the realm of food production—to the range of other rural activities, of which tourism is one and crafts another, so as to sustain life in the rural areas.
It seems to me to be certain that the next enlargement of the Community will involve painful if not sacrificial change in the countryside of many of its members, of all three applicant countries—the Mediterranean countries, certainly—and of other countries besides. Many measures beyond the Common Agricultural Policy will need to be employed to handle and to control these changes. With our long experience of rural change, I believe that we in Britain have useful experience to bring to bear, embodied in the studies, experiments and institutions which I have mentioned. May I single out among them all the training of agricultural advisers for the wider rúles envisaged for them in the latest instalment of the Countryside Review as being probably the best single "buy" from EEC funds.
To conclude, I welcome, with all other speakers, the enlargement of the Community. But surely we want more than that. We want not just enlargement but the strengthening of democratic Europe. We want the enthusiastic and the confident dedication of its citizens to the support of democratic Europe. To be frank, we have not yet got this, and we are a long way from it. It seems to me that this report does its most signal service in showing the scale and the nature of the challenge which is now facing us if we are to inspire that support. If we, as politicians in this Parliament, cannot do that, it seems to me that we scarcely deserve the title of democrats.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Lord KILMARNOCK
My Lords, it may seem presumptuous and superfluous of me to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Soames, on his maiden speech, but I should still like to do so. I should also like to congratulate the noble 'Viscount, Lord Tenby, although he is not in his 1225 seat, on the record brevity and enjoyable pungency of his maiden speech.
I had intended to put a little flesh and blood on the phrase "overriding political imperative" that we hear so much about in relation to enlargement, but the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, has already tellingly and movingly covered this in relation to Spain, to which country I wish to address my few remarks. I was then going to talk about the timetable, but I think that has been adequately and expertly covered already by the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan. I will simply reiterate that the transitional period about which we are speaking is a post-accession transitional period; a pre-accession transitional period was thought desirable by some trade associations, but the Committee accepts in paragraph 152(a) that it would be impossible to implement. Yet the CBI's view, cited in paragraph 101, that a great many things need to be done before the transition period actually starts, is incontestable, particularly if we are envisaging a running-up period of a minimum of three years, and perhaps four or five, between now and formal accession in the case of Spain.
I am sure that the Spaniards equally recognise the need for voluntary measures, and it is in this area that I differ slightly in emphasis from the report. In paragraph 17 it is stated that the domestic debate (that is, inside Spain) on Community entry has yet to get under way. I am not quite sure that this is fair to the general interest in the issue. In the small town that I know well I canvassed the regional Party secretaries and many other people, including the mayor. They all had strong opinions, mainly favourable. The President of the Spanish Cortes, Senor Hernandez Gil, on a visit to the European Assembly in its Luxembourg Session in April, underlined that all Spanish Parties with Parliamentary representation were in favour, and that a mixed Parliamentary Commission of 18 Members on each side would be formed.
Doubts have been expressed in your Lordships' House about the powers and even about the point of the European Assembly, but I have no doubt that it can play an important role in the orientation and induction of new Member States. Senor Hernandez Gil also envisaged that between the fresco stage (i.e. now) and the Commission's opinion 1226 on Spain's application, which I believe is expected early next year, Spanish and Community Parliamentarians would hold regular conversations in order to prepare the ground and ensure that all the problems are not left for direct negotiation. Then there is, of course, Spain's membership since last year of the Council of Europe.
These are mainly contacts at political level, but there is no reason why they should not be used to stimulate and encourage the type of voluntary adaptation process envisaged by the CBI. Paragraph 102 of our report suggests administrative areas in which a start should be made, including VAT, health, welfare, safety standards, equal pay, et cetera. Also, the Commission plans to liaise with applicant countries and to organise consultation on any important measures that either side might be planning to introduce. Furthermore, the Commission proposes in paragraph 6 of the fresco that applicant countries would have to consult the Commission in advance on any national measure, legislative or otherwise, which might affect the functioning of the Community after enlargement. I take it that this refers to the expansion of capacity in industries which already have surplus capacity, and in paragraph 103 of our report the man-made fibre industry is specifically cited. That is an area on which the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, and the noble Lord, Lord Hale, expressed concern.
This may already sound like a formidable course of hurdles. All the more reason why the Spanish negotiating team under the able leadership of Senor Calvo Sotelo should be allowed to "get cracking" as soon as possible. Obviously from what I have said, I wish them well, but there is one small caveat I should like to enter here which I hope will be taken up during negotiations, if not previously regularised. In paragraph 152 of the report, dealing with qualification for membership, Section (k) states that it is implicit in the Community treaties that all Member States should be democratic, and that it is therefore not necessary explicitly to amend the treaties to introduce a requirement that Member States observe democratic standards. That point was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Soames.
Originally I was against this view. I now accept it, perhaps largely as a result 1227 of its espousal by the Foreign Secretary in his evidence before your Lordships' Committee. But this seems to me to give additional importance to paragraph 152, Section (1) of our report, which begins:all Member States are parties to the European Convention on Human Rights, and all applicants will…before long have acceded to the Convention".Now Madrid has signed, but to the best of my knowledge not ratified the Convention.
There is the further point that Clause 25, which has been described by one authority as the kernel of the system, requires a specific declaration of acceptance before it becomes incumbent on any State to abide by it. This is the clause which gives the right to:any person, non-governmental organisation or group of individuals claiming to be victims of a violation by any of the High Contracting Parties of the rights set forth in this Convention",to apply via the Commission for consideration of their case by the European Court of Human Rights. This seems to me to be a most important safeguard against, for example, improper trial of civilians by military courts and should, in my submission, be subscribed to by all applicant States and any existing Member State which has not yet subscribed to it. I should therefore like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, when he winds up the debate (and I am sorry I have not given him advance notice of this question) whether, in the view of the Government, there is any good reason why Clause 25 should not become the subject of a general affirmation or reaffirmation of this next stage of enlargement of the Community.
I should like to turn briefly to agriculture. In paragraph 81 of the report we say:Inducing people whose families have lived on the land for generations to leave it, is a task more easily suggested than done, and it can only be done humanely by creating jobs for them to go to—something which sheer expenditure will not achieve. It is likely that the costs of solving this problem…will be a responsibility of the Community at large for a number of decades".This is clearly true. It is something that we and our partners will have to accept and digest as a corollary of the political imperative. Spain has already reduced its workforce in agriculture from some 40 per cent. or upwards of 40 per cent. in the 'fifties to some 20 or just over 20 per 1228 cent. today; and there seems little prospect that she can reduce it very much further without massive unemployment leading to the undesirable and social and political consequences which we precisely want girl to avoid.
At the same time I hope the negotiators on both sides will seriously consider more intelligent ways of dealing with the famous "mountains" and "lakes", referred to by my noble friend Lord Rhodes. Take olives, for example. I hate to see trees, in some cases hundreds of years old, being grubbed up. One can imagine how the whole physiognomy of these countries will be affected if this policy is pursued. Trees do not grow again quickly like vines. Not only are olives labour-intensive, which helps the producing countries, but they provide the healthiest cooking oil in the world. English housewives would certainly help to buy up a relatively small world surplus if the product could reach the supermarkets at anything like a reasonable price.
Unfortunately, owing to a printing dispute, it has been impossible yet to publish any of the detailed evidence and statistics from the Departments, the CBI, the Foreign Secretary or the Trade Associations, although I understand that the Departments, in particular, worked very hard to furnish the final figures in good time for this debate and that the proofs were ready on the 24th March. But my study of these figures in proof leads me to believe that olive oil could be marketed and sold at something like 20 per cent. under the current price throughout the Community, if improved promotion and marketing took place and if it were transported in bulk and bottled or canned in the consuming countries. I intend to pursue this, and I am sure that there are many similar areas which deserve or demand close scrutiny during the negotiations. Then in the opposite direction, butter is expensive and bad in Spanish shops. Spanish city dwellers are becoming increasingly addicted to it. So why should they not get Normandy, Irish or British butter at a reasonable price? Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to devise solutions in these fields.
In industry and trade there are obviously greater possibilities for United Kingdom expansion in Spain than in either Greece or Portugal. The automobile and pharmaceutical fields are perhaps the most 1229 promising here. And I do not think one should leave out of account entirely the packaged and canned foodstuffs which could have considerable impact in a country whose eating habits are becoming more and more aligned to the wares of the big supermarkets and stores. The trade associations, in their evidence, expressed concern about the speed and zeal with which Spain's traditionally high tariff barriers, and non-tariff barriers, would be dismantled. Well, this is the stuff of negotiation for which Sr. Calvo Sotelo and his opposite numbers are no doubt limbering up. If Spain wants guarantees for agriculture there will have to be some assurances here.
I said earlier, my Lords, or if I did not, I meant to, that the implications for the United Kingdom economy seem to me to be fairly and objectively set out in this report. I believe that is its great virtue. It poses the problems that a well-disposed Member State, our own, will have to face on admitting the new applicants. It was, therefore, my hope from early on that it would be read not only by Community institutions and agencies, and perhaps by other Member States, but also by the applicant countries themselves.
This is another point which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Soames. So I am glad to he able to quote from a letter I have received from the Spanish Agricultural Attaché, in which he says:I have found it so very interesting that I would like my Minister in Madrid to have another copy for him to study. Consequently, I should be very grateful if you could please let me have a second copy when you can spare the time".I was, of course, just able to spare time to send Sr. Navarro another copy. I think we can take it that the report of your Lordships' Committee will be studied by the Spanish Minister of Agriculture in Madrid. Incidentally, I have heard also from the Spanish Labour Attaché on very much the same lines.
My Lords, in conclusion may I draw your attention to paragraph 151 of our report. It says:The worst outcome, now the applications have been accepted and negotiations are in train, would be for the Community to prevaricate. If negotiations are to drag on…the result would be to risk not only internal and external political discontent among the applicants but also paralysis within the Community itself".1230 Strong stuff? Not too strong, I think. I am convinced personally that the famous phrase, the "overriding political imperative", is not merely a catch-phrase invented by a leading pro-Marketeer to confound anti-Marketeers; it has its foundations in reality. I believe, incidentally, that it was first used by Mr. Jenkins in his first policy speech to the European Parliament.
I think the Community does need new blood if it is to survive. In today's fast moving world it cannot simply sit back as a rich man's club and watch the world go by. May I add, finally, that there are some very positive factors, historical and psychological, behind the Spanish application. It is, quite obviously, more than a mere book-keeping assessment of advantage and disadvantage. We in the United Kingdom have suffered, and are still suffering, a crisis of identity over our relations with Europe, our incorporation in Europe. The Spaniards, on the other hand, or certainly all the liberal and outward looking elements in the country, have hankered for more than a century to draw nearer to Europe, deriving, as they have long done, political inspiration from France and intellectual stimulus from France and Germany. Despite the traditionalist and protectionist attitudes of the 'fifties, I think the Spaniards may surprise us by their commitment to the Community and prove themselves to be among the most ardent Europeans of us all.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Lord BANKS
My Lords, having served on Sub-Committee B throughout the preparation of the Select Committee's report, though somewhat spasmodic in attendance owing to other commitments, I should like to say how very much I have appreciated the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan. I think it is very much due to his dogged determination and wise guidance that we have this report before us this afternoon, and I should like to join in the thanks to him for opening the debate in the clear and comprehensive way in which he did. I am sure he will agree that the debate has been very worth while. We have all particularly appreciated the maiden speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Soames, with his great experience in these matters, 1231 and of the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, who covered a wide field in a very short time.
I should like to say at the outset that I accept that the political argument is the dominant argument, although I agree with my noble friend Lord Gladwyn that acceptance of that argument imposes certain conditions on the way in which we run the Community. The noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, seemed to find it difficult to understand how being Members of the Community could help to build democracy in the new Member States, but if we think of it negatively and imagine them kept out, imagine them refused admission, we can think then of many things which might happen which would threaten democracy in those countries. I think the fact that there is such widespread agreement about the importance of the political argument underlines the fact that the European Economic Community, despite its name, is primarily political in purpose. When economic problems are seen in that light they are seen differently. I think this applies as much to the Community of the Nine as it does to the projected Community of the Twelve.
Of course, the Community of the Nine is faced already with formidable economic problems, over 6 million unemployed, the effects of the world recession, balance of payments problems, currency problems and protectionist pressures. The additional economic problems which will be presented by enlargement will also be as we have heard this afternoon, very considerable indeed. I think the report is right to say that this ought to be made clear, along with the political reasons why it is thought right to face up to these new economic problems at a time when we already have a full slate of economic problems.
The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, drew attention to the problems that might be raised for the Community in the industrial field, with regard to such sensitive products as steel, textiles, shipbuilding and footwear. There is the problem of the application of the Common Agricultural Policy to Mediterranean produce. There is the problem of the application of that policy to countries where a much greater proportion of the population are engaged in agriculture. 1232 The noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, and the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, have given us some facts about that difference. Agriculture in these countries takes a greater share of gross domestic product, and I am quite certain that the noble Lord, Lord Soames, is right when he says that we need a rethink of the Common Agricultural Policy, not merely in relation to Mediterranean produce and these new Members but right across the board. The noble Lord, Lord Hale, drew attention to the lower economic development, the lower gross domestic product per head of the new applicant countries, and this leads to the necessity for a considerable transfer of resources, as the noble Lord, Lord Cobbold, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, emphasised.
In the face of these formidable economic problems, I am struck by four points which are made by the Commission in their fresco report, in their consultative document. They say it is absolutely essential for the Community, if it embarks on the enlargement, as I believe it should, to retain its cohesion, and it must concentrate on doing that. Secondly, they point out the need for the Community to continue to tackle its existing problems, not to feel that it can leave those or try to forget those because it has others coming up for consideration; and that both the existing problems and the new problems will need an increase in growth, and that it will be very difficult to carry the operation through unless there is that increase in economic growth.
Then again, the report of the Commission does have running through it a belief that economic and monetary union is not merely a long-term goal but is very relevant to a solution of these problems which we have been discussing this afternoon. There is in that report a hope, a confidence, that soon there will be some move in that direction. Finally, there is the need for institutional reform. I agree wholeheartedly with all those four points.
I should like for a minute, before I close, to say a word or two about the institutions. The report of the Select Committee says:It is to be feared that the progress of the Council through its work, already slow, will be I still further retarded when it has 12 members".1233 The Commission say:In a 12-member Community more frequent use of majority voting is desirable, particularly to avoid a worsening of hold-ups experienced in the Community".This is the point at which the British Government tend to shy away, rather like a frightened horse. Mr. Frank Judd, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, said in a debate in another place on 2nd May:… the British Government cannot agree with those who see the answer in rigid application of procedural devices such as the increased use of majority voting".—[Official Report, Commons, 2/5/78; col. 111.]Your Lordships will notice the use of the word "rigid" in that sentence. The application of majority voting does not have to be rigid. What about the flexible application of procedural devices such as the increased use of majority voting? Nothing was said about that.
The Commission made clear in its report that when it calls for more frequent use of majority voting it is not seeking to upset the Luxembourg agreement, under which it is understood that any country which feels that its essential interests are threatened by a particular proposal, may veto it. It makes clear that, whatever one may think of that, it is not its aim at this point in time to do away with that.
The Commission recalls the fact that at the European Summit in Paris, 1974, it was declared that it was necessary:to renounce the practice which consists of making agreement on all questions conditional on the unanimous consent of Member States, whatever their respective positions may be regarding the conclusions reached in Luxembourg on 28th May 1966".The unanimity concept at that time permeated everything down to the smallest details. The Commission point out that since then, and that Declaration in 1974, there has been a trend away from that situation. It says that majority voting in the Council has been extended pragmatically. It actually uses the sacred word "pragmatically", to which the Government are devoted with such dogmatic fervour.
The Commission say that a code of conduct has developed. It says:Majority voting in the Council has been extended pragmatically and a political code of conduct has gradually emerged which is now accepted by all Member States".1234 The Commission wants that code of conduct applied to other areas and for unanimity to be replaced by a qualified majority in a few Treaty articles where the present insistence on unanimity does not appear objectively justified, and has led in the past to considerable delays in the decision-making procedure. The Commission sets out these articles in detail, in an accompanyng document and says precisely what they mean. It is not thinking in terms of major issues. It proposes a very modest advance. It is not inflexible; it is not rigid. I do not think that the British Government need fear any federal plot behind the scenes in the production of this rather modest proposal. I should like to see the British Government endorse that point of view, or at least to approach it in a more open-minded way than they have so far seemed to do. It would at least be a step forward—not nearly as far as we on these Benches would like to see things go, but at any rate a beginning, a commencement and a help to this process of enlargement.
In conclusion, I should like to say that we on these Benches feel in full agreement with the Commission when it says that, faced with enlargement, faced with the political imperative, faced with difficult economic problems, the Economic Community must rapidly strengthen its cohesion and its structures, and progress towards union.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Baroness ELLES
My Lords, first, on behalf of my noble friends, I should very much like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Trevelyan, for the 17th Report of the Select Committee on the European Committees and, through him, to convey our thanks to all those who have contributed to produce what is obviously a quite excellent report. I am sure that he must feel considerable satisfaction from the way that the debate has gone today; that it has been guided by the excellent recommendations and conclusions contained in this report as well as the summaries of evidence and the analysis of the various problems concerned with enlargement.
Also from this Dispatch Box I should like to convey our congratulations to my noble friend Lord Tenby, for having made his maiden speech. Not only was it a very valuable contribution, despite, or 1235 because of, its brevity, but we shall certainly look forward, now that he has taken courage in his hands to address your Lordships, to his taking part in the debates which will be coming quite shortly on the Wales Bill, in which I am sure that he will have a personal interest.
I should also like to congratulate most warmly my noble friend Lord Soames. From the day that we joined the European Parliament in 1973, when he of course dominated the scene, we were proud to have as our first Commissioner from this country, together with Mr. George Thomson, somebody who was so obviously concerned with the interests and development of Europe. It was through his concern for Europe that the United Kindgom gained the respect and admiraation of the other Members of the Community. Today, in your Lordships' House, as we know, we very often hear the experts, we very often hear the politician who has come from another place, and we often hear the orator. But I think all your Lordships will agree that it is very seldom that we manage to hear from one person who combines all three of those attributes. We have had that pleasure today.
To turn to the debate and the subject matter before your Lordships, of course it is a subject which will not affect the lives of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom so very closely, although indeed it is of great importance to the inhabitants of those countries which are applying for accession to the Communities—Greece, Spain and Portugal. Obviously, for these three countries these applications represent a major political decision which will have an important bearing on their economic and social development and on the maintenance of their new and rather delicate democratic institutions. For that reason alone, I personally welcome the opportunity that we have had in your Lordships' House to discuss the possibilities that face these three countries and to feel that they will know that from your Lordships House will go the message that, anyway in this House, we warmly welcome their applications.
Of course there are difficulties. There are those who are against enlargement because they favour consolidation in the Community before extension. There 1236 are others, on the contrary, who have legitimate fears. I am sure noble Lords will share with me the great respect that I feel for Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, who explained the fears he had had in 1972 and yet has now admitted that they turned out to be baseless. He has accepted the new position and, indeed, has shown even more enthusiasm, if I may say so, than some of those who have for a long time been known as pro the European Community. It is a great tribute to the intellectual integrity of the noble Lord that he should have said so today on this occasion.
We also have many fears about the difficulties that will face entrance but, as a very famous French writer, Drovon, said: Most men are given only the gift of memory to recall the pleasant things of an earlier life rather than the gift of seeing the rather horrible things that are going to happen in the future. That is rather the situation with which we are faced today.
We should get out of the habit of perhaps accepting rather too readily the package words that get handed down from paper to paper and repeated over and over again in the Press and in the written word in general. I am referring at present to the talk that these three countries are the poorest members of Western Europe, that they compare unfavourably economically with the Nine Member States of the Community. However, if we look at the figures which are published in a very useful memorandum for the House of Commons Select Committee on European Legislation, and for which I personally am extremely grateful to the Minister of State who had this document produced, it is clear that the GDP per capita of Spain is higher than that of Ireland. The difference between the GDP per capita of three applicant countries and that of the United Kingdom, at any rate for 1976, is very much less than the difference between that of the United Kingdom and Denmark. Therefore, if we talk about relative poverty, I think that perhaps we should not be discussing that subject in this country.
As regards Portugal it has had considerable difficulties over the past four years, coming out of one system, to which the noble Lord, Lord Hale, referred and embarking on a new democracy, losing at the same time the basis upon which its 1237 wealth had been built in Africa for over five centuries and suddenly having about 600,000 refugees to absorb in that country, the large majority of whom had no connection at all with that country. All I can say is that, regardless of the political colouring of the Government, I think that Portugal has achieved a magnificent success in trying to absorb those people and finding jobs for them in what must have been extremely difficult circumstances.
As regards the fear of cheaper products from new member countries, is that not something that we have always wanted? Is it not an opportunity to save our own resources and use our own valuable manpower for new and developing industries? Is it not rather a criticism of our own country that, instead of seeing this as an opporunity for creating new wealth and looking for new ways of using our highly-skilled manpower, we should already be starting to fear cheaper shoes, cheaper textiles and so on? Of course, it is a real fear, but surely we should turn that fear into something which we can use positively and stimulate our own skilled and highly-trained technical personnel in this country to use their skills in other directions.
Mention has been made of movement of labour. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, mentioned this matter in her most interesting speech on the economic and social development of the applicant countries. However, if we refer to the same document that I have already mentioned—the memorandum for the House of Commons Select Committee—the figures are absolutely laughable. About 100 Greeks are in this country and about 500 Spaniards. I do not think that they will be any threat to the employment figures in this country.
Something also should be said about the fears of agricultural surpluses. It is surely a paradox, particularly of Western European politics today, and to me patently absurd, that on the one hand we are told that two-thirds of the world is living at starvation level and, on the other hand, one of the most disturbing elements in relation to the enlargement of the Communities is the unwanted creation of food surpluses and their cost to the existing Member States. If we cannot solve that problem within the Nine, I can only say that I hope very much that 1238 we shall find somebody in one of the three applicant countries who will help us to solve it. After all, certainly the Greek community has 30 centuries of culture and tradition behind it. It may be able to find somebody clever enough to deal with the problem which 250 million Western Europeans have so far not managed to solve. I would view this application for entry with joy rather than fear. That is the attitude that we must develop. We must try to have a more positive view on the many complex difficulties that we have so far failed to solve.
I should like to say a few words about the external trade of the Community because I think that the entry of the applicant countries will bring a new vision to our external relations. Already we have had since 1973 an amazing development in our external affairs, very largely if I may say so—and I know that he will not mind if I say so—thanks to the initiative and energy of my noble friend Lord Soames. When we entered in 1973 nobody imagined that in five years' time we would have had anything like the Lomé Convention linking us with 52 countries, that there would have been an agreement with China on major commercial and industrial matters and that we would have had about 75 agreements with about 100 countries. That is surely an amazing achievement in the five years during which we have been a Member. Yet nobody in 1973 could have envisaged that kind of development. I believe that the applicant countries will make their own contribution in the development of the economies and societies of other countries in other parts of the world, especially on the southern side of the Mediterranean with which they will be intimately linked and which must be considered very especially in relation to their agricultural produce.
I should like to refer briefly to languages. For my own part I believe that it is time that the language nonsense was stopped and that we should have only three languages as in the Council of Europe: English, French and possibly German or Italian in certain circumstances. After all, if we can have five languages for 149 or 150 countries in the United Nations, I can see no reason why all the documents and all the meetings should be held in nine languages. To me that is quite 1239 unnecessary. It is clear that the Portuguese farmer or the fishermen from Piraeus must be able to come into the European Parliament and feel that he will be understood and that he can communicate. However, I do not think that for that reason alone it is necessary to have every single document and every single meeting in nine languages. In fact, I think that the way that the judges of the European Court hold their private meetings, where the conversations are either in English or French would be the type of system that could be used to solve the problems of, at any rate, many of the meetings which are held at an informal level.
I was rather surprised, if I understood him correctly, at the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, who referred to Annex B and the composition of the European Court of Justice. If I understood him correctly he did not consider it necessary that there should be three more judges to join the European Court of Justice. Although, as I understood him, he said that if they did join and there were then 13 judges they should limit the quorum as, I think, is proposed in paragraph 5.
To my mind, and in accordance anyway with the document from the Commission—(78) 190 final—in paragraph 20 on page 9 reference is made to the rule which was defined when the institutions merged in 1967 and confirmed at the time of the 1973 enlargement that all the Member States must be represented in every Community institution and body. I should have thought that that rule should be recognised and respected. I cannot believe —particularly when it comes to legislation affecting the individual in every Community country—that there should be three countries which should not have a judge represented on the Court who could take decisions which would affect their daily lives, their rights and their responsibilities to the Community. My belief is that it would be a great mistake if these applicant countries should in any way be considered ineligible to nominate a candidate and to have a representative on the European Court of Justice.
In conclusion, throughout the debate today— and I shall not say at this stage that everything has been debated and that 1240 I, therefore, regretfully, shall not repeat it; I am sure that it will be to the great benefit and joy of your Lordships that I shall not—we have been able to appreciate many of the difficulties which will face the Community; indeed, we should also recognise many of the difficulties that will face the applicant countries. There will be competition in Mediterranean-type agriculture; possibly there will be demands on Regional and Social Funds, and so on. I But please do not let us be bogged down with apprehension at the threats to our well being; rather let us show some enthusiasm for what I regard as a major historical event, which we could look forward to as enhancing the strength and influence of the European Community.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of STATE, FOREIGN and COMMONWEALTH OFFICE (Lord Goronwy-Roberts)
My Lords, the House will be grateful to my noble friend Lord Trevelyan for the admirable speech with which he opened this important debate. As my noble friend Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, said—and his speech was a model of its kind—the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Soames, made the debate into a Parliamentary occasion. Your Lordships' House is indeed fortunate in the accession to its membership of one who, as Minister, diplomat and commissioner has reaped unrivalled experience and knowledge of the new Europe that is emerging and who reinforces that knowledge with judgment and eloquence.
I should also like to congratulate my compatriot; I pass on from the word "eloquence" naturally to a reference to the noble Viscount, Lord Tenby, who comes from a proud political lineage and who shares with me, and all of us who spring from the Welsh race, a certain tendency to brevity of speech. Indeed, his most welcome maiden speech was both brief and impactive—two very good reasons why he should speak very soon and very frequently in our debates.
It now falls to me to state the Government's view on enlargement. Before doing so, however, I should like to express my own admiration for the work of the Select Committee in producing this cogent, thorough and very lucid report. It reads extremely well, does it not? 1241 The report is, indeed, a valuable contribution to the public debate on this subject, which should continue and which the Government are very anxious to encourage.
We applaud the Select Committee's decision to take as its starting point the "dominant" political case for enlargement—I borrow the Liberal term for the moment. It is dominant; some may disagree that it is overriding, but it is the chief—the principal—case for enlargment. To be true to itself, and to the aspirations of its founders, the Community must open its doors to the three new democracies of Southern Europe. Indeed, even if it is not already part of the provisions of the Treaty of Rome, there can be no question—can there?—of the need to bring the applicant countries into the mainstream of Western democratic development: as my noble friend Lord Greenwood said, in one case to renew the democracy of an ancient, cultured and honourable country, Spain; to bring perhaps a new, democracy to Portugal, and certainly to help with one more renaissance of democracy in Greece.
We are convinced that for these reasons and for these countries, Community membership would be an important factor in stabilising and protecting their democracies. By encouraging their European vocation, as it has been called, we would be stimulating the growth or the rebirth of their democracies. At the very least we would be denying the weapon of having been rejected to those who might want to exploit it. What is more, political and economic factors cannot be separated. The relation between the commitment to democracy and a sound economic base is very close indeed. In helping the applicant countries to enjoy a share of the economic benefits of membership the Community will be helping stability, which, in turn, is essential to the health and survival of democracy itself. This becomes particularly clear when you consider the alternative. A rebuff to the new or renewed democracies, besides being a denial of the principles on which the Community was founded, would cause incalculable harm—not only domestically and for bilateral relations, but to Western interests generally. It would be an encouragement to totalitarianism everywhere and a discouragement to democracy everywhere.
1242 Linked with this view of the political "imperative", as it is called, is the Government's attitude towards the handling of the negotiations. I note the Select Committee's welcome for the Government's insistence that the successful conclusion of one negotiation must carry with it a commitment to the entry of all three candidates. It is a cardinal point of the Government's thinking that enlargement must be to Twelve and not to Ten or Eleven. It would, indeed, be disastrous for the applicants and for the Community were any of the negotiations to be delayed or stopped because the Community had begun to have doubts about enlargement as the wider implications became apparent. It is for that reason that the Government consider that there must be a clear understanding in the Community that we are all aiming for a Community of Twelve.
Thus, while the Government are glad that the Greek negotiations now seem to be proceeding apace, with the prospect of the back of the negotiations being broken by the end of this year, we are anxious for the Community to move as speedily as possible, not only on the Greek negotiations but also towards the opening and conclusion of negotiations with Portugal and Spain. A predecessor of the present Foreign Secretary referred to enlargement as:an investment in the democratic future of Europe of which the benefits would in the long run far outweigh the cost".Nevertheless, we must face the fact that there will be costs and problems, and the Government wholeheartedly agree with the Select Committee's view that there needs to be more widespread understanding of the difficulties which enlargement will create in terms of money, in institutional strains and in the effects on the existing external and internal policies of the Community. It will be better for all concerned if we do our best to forestall the problems before they appear more daunting with the passage of time. The Government are grateful to the Select Committee for spelling out these difficulties so clearly and throughly in their report, which complements the Government's own memorandum on enlargement which was laid before Parliament in March, and the Commission's fresco, as it is called, on the consequences of enlargement which was put forward two weeks ago.
1243 One of the hardest consequences of enlargement to predict, but one which is very important, is the budgetary cost. This has been very much present in the Government's mind. Britain is already a net contributor to the Community Budget, to the tune of £377 million; that was the figure for last year. So we obviously have to look extremely carefully at expenditure which will increase the United Kingdom's net contribution. In so far as we have been able to estimate budgetary costs to the United Kingdom, it would seem that the total increase arising from the accession of all three countries would be somewhere between £90 million and £115 million a year on the basis of present policies. This is certainly not a small amount, but it has to be weighed in the political balance. I must stress that the estimate is extremely tentative, and that in any case, as the Select Committee's report points out, present policies are bound to change under the impact of enlargement.
It is also almost impossible to estimate to what extent the Community may feel the need to give special financial aid. The Government note that the Commission seems to envisage significant assistance to Portugal, alone of the three, in the form of funds channelled through existing institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the EIB. The Government's view is that this is a more realistic approach than the mounting of some gigantic European Marshall Plan costing billions of pounds, which has been proposed in some quarters. The financial climate obviously makes the more ambitous approach somewhat problematical. In any case, the applicant countries have not asked for massive handouts from the Community, though Portugal, with its particularly acute economic problems, is currently seeking assistance through the IMF. Your Lordships' House may be glad to know that agreement has now been reached. The other place was speculating on the possibilities when they discussed this particular aspect of the matter.
In coming to a decision in regard to the enhanced budgetary needs that will flow from enlargement, and in coming to our decision on how we co-operate in tackling this, the Government will obviously have 1244 to bear in mind the obligation we would feel in any case to help the democratic Government of Portugal, whether or not that country was a candidate for membership of the Community. The Community has already since 1974 decided to extend EIB loans to Portugal worth about £275 million. Indeed, this country, in the wake of the democratic revolution, extended a very substantial helping hand to the new democracy. We would do it anyway. It will be much better to do it within the context of their common membership with us of the Community.
As to the implications for industry, we have to face up to the fact that the applicants are low-cost producers in areas of industry which are currently acutely sensitive within the Community, and examples have been given; textiles, steel (as the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, reminded us), and shipbuilding. Negotiations will be very difficult in these areas, and special arrangements will need to be made for the transitional periods, which may well be prolonged. The Government have noted with interest the suggestion in the fresco that common disciplines in these sensitive areas of industry should be concerted with the applicants. We see advantage in concerted action, but we shall obviously want to look very carefully at any suggestions for establishing new Community-wide policies for industry to take account of enlargement.
Perhaps I might address myself to the point which my noble friend Lord Rhodes raised in regard to the possibility of textile agreement with Portugal. As the noble Lord will know, no agreement has been reached with Portugal on levels of voluntary restraint for textile exports during 1978. The Commission has had discussions with the Portuguese and details of the arrangements now proposed are being studied by the Departments concerned. It would be premature for me to make any comment on the proposed arrangements before these studies are complete, but I can assure the noble Lord that the views of the industry are being taken fully into account. Indeed, the letter to which he referred, which was addressed by the Director of the British Textile Confederation to my own Department and other Departments concerned with this important matter, has been closely examined, and is continuing to be 1245 the subject of careful study. The Government most certainly will take it fully into account in coming to a decision.
At the same time, we must not forget that the United Kingdom industry generally stands to benefit from reduced barriers to trade with the three applicants. One is tempted to look at possibilities for the textile industry, for instance, in Spain. I would not attempt to balance the possibilities offhand, but this is really the second answer to protectionism. The one that the noble Baroness advanced is of course absolutely true. Protectionism always stimulates a readiness to put up with lowered efficiency on the understanding that somehow one is protected from the consequences of one's own inefficiency. That is one very powerful reason against protectionism. The other is that you cannot shut off a market to suit yourself without finding that the next day a very good market is shut off against you.
Protectionism, indeed like free trade, is not all one way, and it is just as well to remember that when we consider somewhat simplistic and immediately appealing solutions for what may well be temporary difficulties and ones which we ourselves can put right. I agree with the Select Committee's statement that enlargement presents a major challenge to the Community's agricultural policy. The accession of three countries in whose economies agriculture is pivotal makes it all the more important to get the Community's agricultural policies right. Already in the current discussions on Mediterranean agriculture within the existing Community the Government are determined to do all they can to see that the disturbing mistakes made over Northern products are not repeated.
In this speech the noble Lord, Lord Soames, made an important reference to the possible effect of enlargement on other Mediterranean countries. I fully agree that we must do all we can to see that the Community's partners in the overall Mediterranean approach do not suffer from enlargement. Of course, we cannot run away from unpalatable facts. It is difficult to see how the Community can find room in its markets for Mediterranean products from both its own Mediterranean producers and producers in the Maghreb, Mashraq, and so on. This is not an 1246 easy matter; but it is one that will have to be faced absolutely squarely, and I agree with the noble Lord that the best way to face up to problems of this sort is to talk freely, frankly and factually to our friends.
The chief need of course is for the Community to set its agricultural house in order so that it becomes fit to cope with enlargement. Agriculture is already mopping up three-quarters of the budget, and the three new countries must not simply be added on to the present system, making that proportion even higher. I would absolutely agree, therefore, that measures should be avoided which, by pre-empting for agriculture an increased share of the budget, would prevent the development of constructive, long-term social and regional policies, because these are essential not only to bring about restructuring of the economies of the three applicants, but also to ease restructuring strains among the present Member States.
Similarly with regard to fisheries policy; the accession of Portugal and Spain will obviously add to the difficulties over restructuring the fishing industry. But the Community can make things easier for itself by agreeing soon on a reformed common fisheries policy. This would then be a feature of the Community which the applicants would be joining.
§ Lord SOAMES
My Lords, on this question of fisheries, I beg the noble Lord to be rather careful. We have not yet forgiven, and with some justification, the Six who fixed a fisheries policy within days of the opening of negotiations with us for the first enlargement. I do not think it would be right for us now to be saying that what we have to do is to fix a fisheries policy for the Nine, when fisheries is an important matter for the three applicant countries, and get it all decided before they come in and say, "Either take it or leave it". I think it must be done with a bit more gentleness and care.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
With all due gentleness and care, my Lords, and with consideration, among others, of United Kingdom interests from time to time. It may well be that the argument is that we should do now what the Six should have done then; and that they did not do it in the right way then is no 1247 reason why we should imitate them in the mistake which they perpetrated then, much to our disadvantage. I would hope of course, that in reforming the common fisheries policy we would have due regard for the interests of the people of Spain and Portugal. It is essential that we should do so, and perhaps the rest of the Community would help all the fisheries Members of the Community to share in a better régime than has been the case so far.
Enlargement will inevitably add to the existing problem of increasing economic divergence within the Community. We believe that we must face up to this problem by recognising that more must be done on regional and social policy, a point which many noble Lords have made in this debate. We agree with the Select Committee's assessment that a lengthy period may be needed before the Community opens its doors fully to migrant labour from the new entrants. As the Select Committee says, this question is likely to affect the labour market of France and Germany more than that of Britain, and I agree that we should not take an alarmist view on this.
It cannot be denied that some of the consequences of enlargement for the Community's external relations may be difficult. We should be able to revise Turkey's association arrangements, as the noble Lord suggested—I very much welcomed what he said about this—and in that way find some means of associating Turkey with some of the Nine's political deliberations. I think that is the way to approach the very worthy objective which my noble friend Lord Trevelyan had in mind, and I was glad to hear it put in the way he put it. But it will be far from easy. Similarly, the Community's partners in the overall Mediterranean approach will almost certainly feel a draft from enlargement. We must work hard with our partners to find solutions to all these problems, certainly bearing in mind that there are other interests as well as our own to be served, but not necessarily forgetting that we too, an equal partner in this revolutionary advance in international organisation, also have interests that we must preserve.
Trade relations with the ACP countries are not likely to be greatly affected, but we cannot rule out the possibility of aid being 1248 reduced. So far as the United Kingdom is concerned, enlargement should make little difference because aid funds are allocated quite separately from EEC funds. Other countries, however, who do not make this distinction may find that there is a smaller share of funds left to EEC aid after the new commitments arising from enlargement have been made. We must all recognise that in rejecting the allegation that the Community is simply "a rich man's club", the Community must face a conflict between the calls for internal and external expenditure.
The Committee has drawn attention to the possible role of the Council of Europe in the context of enlargement, and what they have to say on this is most welcome. Enlargement will clearly add to the Community's political strength, but the tightening of co-operation between the Twelve must not be at the expense of co-operation with our other friends in and beyond Western Europe. The Government see the possibility of an enhanced role for the Council of Europe as a forum for bringing the whole of democratic Western Europe together and strengthening the co-operation of democratic Europe with friends outside Europe.
The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, raised a number of institutional points. I do not have time to reply to them orally but I will look at all of them and perhaps communicate with him. On the question of a possible referendum, the White Paper on the referendum on United Kingdom membership of the Community made clear that it was held "because of the unique nature of the issue"; and it went on to describe the peculiarly unprecedented and important constitutional situations involved. In the Government's view, comparable constitutional problems and issues do not arise over the next phase of enlargement. As I said, I will address myself to some of the other institutional points the noble Lord made.
I take note of what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, said about the Court; it was very much to the point and I do not think there is any point of clarification I can make to him, except to say that it would seem to me that what he said was very much in accord with the Government's general approach on this matter. Of course the question of manning the Court and of achieving 1249 an uneven number so that there is a decisionary situation, is a small numerical problem which becomes a very large difficulty once one tries to solve it, because countries are involved. But we and others are looking at that and other points which he raised.
We agree with the Committee in its conclusions as to transition periods and progress towards membership. It is impossible to name dates with regard to accession, transition, or periods thereafter. It would be tempting fate, and perhaps creating difficulties ahead of time, to speculate too closely about dates. I think that the extent to which the Committee has examined the possible dates relevant to each one of the three is as far as anybody could reasonably go. Your Lordships will have noted what are the committee's reasonable calculations about dates.
Before closing, I should like to say a few words about the accusation that the Government are supporting enlargement out of a wish to weaken the Community, and that we see a widening of membership as a way of avoiding closer union. We totally reject that allegation. But plainly it will be impossible for the Community to pursue closer union across the whole range of its activity. The Community will have to be prepared to be more selective about the areas in which it seeks harmonisation. The Community already embarked on this course when it recognised the limitations of the Six and decided to accept the applications for entry of Britain, Ireland and Denmark.
At that stage the Community, in a sense put off indefinitely the prospect of any particular form of union, including a federal union, and other forms of closer constitutional association. We cannot hurry the future. We can use the present with vigour to examine and solve the problems that lie before us; and if organically, through the economic and social, and, I would say, political and defensive and "détente-ive" activity of like-minded countries, there emerges, as the obvious constitutional form for this, a union which is beyond what it is immediately possible to envisage, then so be it. Seen in this perspective, I think that enlargement seems less a threat to the future of the Community than a challenge to the Community to live up to its original aims—
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, I should like to raise a point on that question as the noble Lord appears to be leaving it now. Are we on these Benches to assume that the Government effectively agree with the thinking that, in practice, it will be impossible to improve the decision-making machinery, or the general procedure of the Community, before the entry of the three present applicants?
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
If the noble Lord wishes me to detain the House somewhat further, my Lords, I could go into the question of the improvement of the decision-making machinery. We have made our contribution to this in the last year or so—and signally so. There is, for instance, the way in which the Corriper has taken on a good deal of the work from the Council of Ministers, so that the Council of Ministers is more free to deal with the more important work.
This would take one to what has been mentioned tonight in regard to the question of a majority decision system. There is the question of how this is working our realistically—here I hesitate to use the word "pragmatically", because it has been denounced at least twice during the debate—so that a great many decisions are being taken through a majority process, while others which are felt to be very important (that is a term of art) to the Member State are subject to veto. These matters are evolving. The machinery itself must evolve, and be more and more flexible. We could have an entire debate on machinery. I have given some indication of how we approach it. We have made our contribution. We shall continue to make suggestions as to improving the machinery. We may have an opportunity of looking at that aspect of the matter in more detail; and I should welcome that opportunity.
I turn now to the original aims of the Community, as stated in the Treaty of Rome. I looked up the Treaty once more, and I found some eminently quotable and acceptable phrases in the English version. Before I quote them, I should like to issue my own warning. The Opposition Front Bench has warned me about fish; let me warn them about language. It would be very dangerous to say to any Member State, "Your language is not really quite up to this, it is not really necessary". I should not 1251 like to say that to the Greeks, to whose language our own language owes so much. I believe that we must bear this and make a virtue of necessity, and invest a little skill and money in the translation process, because that is what Europe is. Indeed, that is the base of the common treasury of European culture, and deeply do these countries feel it.
Using the English version of the Treaty, I would say that these aims are strong and inspiring objectives:to lay the foundations of an even closer union among the peoples of Europe".Then,to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe"; "to reduce the backwardness of the less favoured regions".And, finally:to preserve and strenthen peace and liberty … calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts".I was very glad that my noble friend Lord Greenwood of Rossendale and the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, and others, mentioned the Declaration on Democracy. It is an important political commitment for present Member States, and we think it important that it should in the same way become a commitment for any new Members as they join. One way to achieve this might be to have a reference to the Declaration in the Preamble of the Treaties of Accession.
This is part of the continuing public debate on these important matters. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has mentioned one extremely important aspect of all this which needs special and separate attention. I hope we shall continue, with another place and with other organisations in the country, to reassess the position as we go along. We are facing a new phase in the development of Europe—Europe which a few years ago was Six, which has become Nine, and which in the next few years will become Twelve. Who knows?—on the 1252 basis of its success as an enlarged Community, it may look for further applications for membership after that.
§ 8 p.m.
§ Lord TREVELYAN
My Lords, I understand that, although my name does not appear at the foot of the list of speakers, I am permitted, and perhaps required, to add a very brief coda to the debate. In adding my respectful commendations on the maiden speeches, may I be permitted to recall that my unbound admiration for the noble Lord, Lord Soames, dates from the time when he nearly persuaded me that it was a sensible policy to say to the Russians, "Send us lots of food grains but, please, not too cheap". That admiration has by no means been diminished in the course of this afternoon.
I take only two points from the noble Lord's speech. One is that I am afraid that I find it difficult to take a justiciable document as declaring a belief in democracy, but that is a matter of taste. The other point is that I think it is an admirable idea that Turkish political co-operation should be based on the association agreement. I think that is a new idea, and I would very strongly support it.
This report has obviously been widely and very favourably welcomed, and already the facts are much better known, I think. I believe, therefore, that the work of the Select Committee was very well worth while. We have also covered the ground very fully in this debate, and we have had a great deal of useful information on Government policy. I hope that this very important question will increasingly become the subject of debate and discussion in the country. The negotiations will take some years, and it will therefore be appropriate that the Select Committee should report again at some time in the light of the progress of those negotiations.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.