HL Deb 02 July 1985 vol 465 cc1041-2

2.43 p.m.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their attitude to the proposals put forward by Lord Cockfield for the establishment of an effective internal market within the European Community.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Lucas of Chilworth)

My Lords, the Government broadly welcome the main thrust of the proposals contained in the White Paper.

Lord Ezra

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that there have been certain, normally well-informed, press comments to the effect that the Government's response to these proposals was somewhat muted? If these comments are not correct, will the noble Lord say so? If, however, they are correct, will he indicate on which parts of the proposals the Government have reservations?

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

My Lords, I am not able to comment on newspaper reports. Perhaps I may remind the noble Lord that my noble friend the Leader of the House will be making a Statement later this afternoon with regard to the Council meeting in Milan over the weekend in which, I would suspect, the noble Lord's Question will probably be answered.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, will the noble Lord give some indication as to which of the articles of the 222 articles of faith of the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield, constitute the main thrust? Will he examine Article 99, which sets out the desirability, among other things, of ensuring that there is a possibility of establishing services in Europe; in particular, insurance other than life assurance services? Is he aware that the proposals have been on the Council table now for at least 10 years and that to my certain knowledge they were hampered in the European Parliament in the four years I was there and apparently at the present time have no possibility of being enacted? Will the noble Lord agree that it would be far better to see that the existing proposals, of which there are hundreds, are brought to fruition before considering any fresh ones?

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

My Lords, in particular, the Government are pleased to note the proposals with regard to a common market for services, including financial services and transport. As to the remainder of the noble Lord's many questions, again many of those may very well be answered when, as I suggested, my noble friend the Leader of the House repeats a Statement later this afternoon. The noble Lord would not expect me to pre-empt that Statement.

Lord Gladwyn

My Lords, does not the evidence suggest that the proposals of the noble Lord. Lord Cockfield, cannot be given effect to unless there is a substantial modification of the famous Luxembourg compromise?

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

My Lords, I think it would be better if that question were addressed to my noble friend later this afternoon.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that anyone who understands procedure would recognise that the proposals of my noble friend Lord Cockfield are, as stated, just proposals? Until they are examined by everybody likely to be affected by them, would not the Government be well advised to remain, as the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, said, muted on the topic?

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend, with whose comments I agree.