HL Deb 07 April 1982 vol 429 cc251-2

1.10 p.m.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I beg to move that the draft European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (International Railway Tariffs Agreements) Order 1982, which was laid before this House on the 4th February, be approved. I venture the hope that this matter will be found to be non-controversial. As your Lordships are aware, Greece became the tenth member of the European Communities on 1st January 1981. This draft order seeks to accomplish one of the many minor treaty formalities which that event has occasioned. Under the terms of its treaty of accession Greece automatically became party to many existing Community agreements, one of which was the 1955 European Coal and Steel Community Agreement. This concerns the so-called through international tariffs for the carriage of coal and steel by railway. The agreement lays down a system of carriage charges, comprising a terminal charge and a tapered distance charge. It is intended to reduce the overall international transport charges for coal and steel carried throughout the journey by rail.

The principles of the main European Coal and Steel Community Agreement were later extended to traffic between the Community and Switzerland and Austria by separate agreements made with those countries in 1956 and 1957 respectively. Under the terms of its treaty of accession Greece is required to accede to all such agreements that have been concluded with third countries by the existing member states acting jointly with one of the Communities. Fortunately, a precedent for acheving that end had previously been established, following the enlargement of the Community in 1973 when supplementary protocols to the agreements with Switzerland and Austria, providing for the accession of the three new members states, were adopted. Following that example, second supplementary protocols to the agreements with Switzerland and Austria, providing for the accession of Greece, were duly negotiated and signed on 2nd April 1981. It is the two second supplementary protocols that this draft order seeks to specify under Section 1(3) of the European Communities Act 1972, so that they may be regarded as Community treaties and thus given effect in United Kingdom law.

I hope that the order will commend itself to your Lordships. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 4th February be approved.—(The Earl of Avon.)

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, I wish to thank the noble Earl for explaining to your Lordships the purpose of the order. It has been considered by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, and in its Tenth Report it feels that there is no particular matter in the order which should be drawn to your Lordships' attention. Therefore I am pleased to support the introduction of the order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.