§ 4.0 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
I beg to move,That this House approves Her Majesty's Government's decision of principle to join the European Communities on the basis of the arrangements which have been negotiated.This debate has been heralded for so long as "the great debate" that all of us are conscious of the danger of anticlimax. That which has been rehearsed so often in anticipation may seem stale. The issue is just as momentous, but the dictionary does not expand. In passing, I confess to the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) that I have spoken on the subject already many times.
Since July, in the constituencies, right hon. and hon. Members have discussed with members of the public the principle of entry and the detail of the terms of entry into the European Community, as well as the implications for the future. In this House and out of it, there is widespread recognition that we have reached the time of decision, and that the proper place for that decision to be taken is Parliament.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will make his point if he is one of the 200 or more later to be called.
I wish to remind the House, in the context of the European Community, of other recent parliamentary occasions which, in the immediate flurry of argument today, are often overlooked. Twice, once in 1961 and again in 1967, this House, after sober, calculated debate, instructed, first, a Conservative Government and, second, a Socialist Government to negotiate terms of entry into the Community.
Unless—it is an unworthy thought which I reject—hon. Members are relying on time to provide them with an alibi, the assumption must he that the votes then given were recorded with the conviction that, in principle, Britain should enter the European partnership [HON MEMBERS: "No."] I see no other interpretation which can be put on the 913 majority view on those solemn parliamentary occasions and manifestations.
Again, at the General Election in 1970 no elector could possibly have been in any doubt that, had the Socialist Party been elected, it would have resumed the negotiations with the European Community where it had left off.
The Conservative manifesto was explicit. It said:If we can negotiate the right terms, we believe that it would be in the long-term interest of the British people for Britain to join the European Economic Community …".
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I did not wish to take too long, but I shall read on—…for Britain to join the European Economic Community, and that it would make a major contribution to both the prosperity and the security of our country".
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
As the whole House will wish this debate to proceed with maximum freedom from disturbance, which is in all our interests, will not the right hon. Gentleman realise that if he had read on he would have saved a lot of time? The phrase was:Our sole commitment is to negotiate; no more, no less.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Of course. That is true.Our sole commitment is to negotiate; no more, no less. As the negotiations proceed we will report regularly through Parliament to the country.Nobody could have been in any reasonable doubt that if we were successful in negotiating the proper terms we should recommend to Parliament that Britain should join the European Economic Community.
§ Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham) rose—
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I feel that it is better that one should leave as much time as possible for back benchers to speak during the debate, and I shall be grateful if I can get on. I shall be ready to give way from time to time.
Added to the fact that, obviously, a Socialist Government would have renewed negotiation, and added to the fact that it was widely understood that a 914 Conservative Government, if they secured the right terms, would recommend entry, we have now, after a year of negotiations, actually got the terms which we think we can recommend to the House What is more, according to those Ministers in the Socialist Government who were closest to the negotiation, these terms bear a marked resemblance to what the Socialist Government would have accepted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ask and find out."] It is no use my asking the right on. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, because I shall also have to ask someone behind him whether that is true.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman has gratuitously referred to me. In the last debate I quoted, in accordance with the right one has in this matter, exactly what was put to the Cabinet by my noble Friend, Lord George-Brown, and myself on the terms which we would require as a Cabinet to satisfy the Cabinet. Also, I quoted word for word what was said to the Six. The right hon. Gentleman knows that it is on record in HANSARD. Does he say that he got those terms, or not?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman need get so heated. All I said was that others behind him disputed what he had said. As he himself has referred to Lord George-Brown, I, too, shall do so. Lord George-Brown does not agree with the right hon. Gentleman; nor do some others who will not be on the Front Bench for this debate. The right hon. Gentleman is quite right in that he put his version of the case on the record, but others have disputed it.
After all these deliberate parliamentary processes, if we were now to reject the opportunity and the invitation to join the European Economic Community we must pause and ask ourselves in this House how our reputation as a nation for reliable dealing would be looked upon, either in Europe or in the world. With what authority thereafter would British Ministers of any Government negotiate overseas?
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone) rose—915
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
If the hon. Gentleman wants to raise a serious point I will give way to him once.
§ Mr. Mendelson
On the point about whether we would earn respect, there was a round-up on a B.B.C. programme at 10 o'clock last night—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Order, order. On that round-up it was reported from all the capitals of the Six—Brussels, Paris, Rome and so on—that all the people there greatly respect the desire of the British people to have a General Election and go through the full democratic process before deciding on the issue. We would gain respect, compared with what the right hon. Gentleman has just said.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I will just recapitulate what I said, because I cannot look upon that as a serious intervention. I said that on a number of parliamentary occasions there have been deliberate and sober debates upon entry into the Common Market, and twice the Governments of the day, of different parties, have been instructed to negotiate.
Nor do I find valid the claim that while our respective Governments were negotiating we did not know what agreement would involve, such as accepting the agricultural policies of the Community and the rules which the Community had already adopted. Time after our entry might bring change, but for the purposes of entry there were conditions which were broadly understood as inescapable. I could give many quotations from my right hon. Friends, but the most forthright declaration made in that context came from the then Prime Minister, now Leader of the Oppositon. On 8th May, 1967, he said: 916…we must be realistic in recognising that C.A.P. is an integral part of the Community. This recognition must form part of our position…It is useless to think that we can wish it away, and I should be totally misleading the House if I suggested that this policy is negotiable. We have to come to terms with it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1066.]That has all along been known to be true; the right hon. Gentleman was right.
Therefore, it is not possible to say that the House, when it took the decision to negotiate in principle, did not know what it was doing and did not know the consequences implicit in negotiating for entry. If there are subsequent doubts among right hon. and hon. Members who were then prepared, and up to the General Election were prepared, to see their Government negotiate, it seems to me that they must centre upon the terms achieved by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. That, I understand, is the position taken by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who is to follow me. It must be so, for I recall how deeply I and other Members were impressed by an article which he wrote in the Daily Mirror as lately as May stressing the advantages to Britain of membership, and particularly recommending entry to the trade union movement. The House will be unusually intrigued, therefore, to hear from him how the terms negotiated by my right hon. and learned Friend differ in essentials from those which a Socialist Government would have accepted. I have no doubt that he will take his chance, but we shall forgive him on this occasion if, to carry conviction, he has to turn his back on us and face the other side. I think that he will have to do so.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I will not rehearse the terms of the July White Paper, because everyone is very familiar with them.
The right hon. Gentleman and many in the House and outside have had many legitimate apprehensions in the past. I confess that some years ago I feared that the Community would be protectionist and exclusive.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will listen for a moment. As a Community, the nations concerned negotiated the Kennedy Round of tariff reductions. The external tariff of the Community is on average lower than our own. The Community has sought and is seeking trade arrangements with a large number of countries, including those of Eastern Europe, and it is already the world's largest importer.
In the context of trade, many hon. Members have had anxieties for the wellbeing of the Commonwealth. But what is the situation now? With the exception of Gibraltar and Hong Kong, all our dependent territories—some 30 of them—are to enjoy associate status with the Community. For Gibraltar, arrangements have been made under Article 227 of the Treaty of Rome, and Hong Kong has been included in the Community's generalised preference scheme. Most of the independent developing countries are to have the option of three types of association: a Yaoundé-type agreement, some looser form of association, or individually-negotiated trade agreements.
For New Zealand's milk products, continuing arrangements have been made on the basis of which the New Zealand Dairy Board has expressed complete confidence in the future of the industry, and the Government have expressed satisfaction. So, too, for the sugar producers of the developing Commonwealth, whose Governments have unanimously accepted the arrangements that have been negotiated.
Naturally, many contacts with Commonwealth leaders have been made. I have had many contacts with them during recent years, and I believe that they have come through a period of anxiety to the belief that it is right, in their own interests, for Britain to enter the Community. Many want it to be soon so that they can get down to business with the enlarged Community and its associate States.
As Secretary of State for the Commonwealth in the 1950s, I, along with other Ministers, negotiated a number of trade and commodity agreements with Commonwealth countries. It was in 1958 that it became really clear to me how quickly and certainly the strong trend to industrialisation and manufacture in 918 practically all the Commonwealth countries would erode the preference system established by the Ottawa Conference and reduce Britain's share of Commonwealth trade.
I recall speaking about this at that time in another place. It has happened. The fall has been dramatic. In the years from 1961 to 1969 our proportion of the Commonwealth countries' imports of manufactured goods fell from 29 per cent. to 15 per cent. while their contribution fell from 35 per cent. to 23 per cent. of our total imports.
This trend has become stronger and stronger and is continuing. With the continuing industrialisation and with the interest of Commonwealth countries which since then has grown in regional trading, it is clear that the declining trend will continue. It is no one's fault. It is a fact of life.
There is little doubt that we and they will gain far more if Britain becomes part of a home market of over 250 million consumers than we would under a continuance of the present arrangements if those trends continue, as they almost certainly will.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
Is it not fair to the record to add that. although the percentage has fallen, the volume of trade with the Commonwealth has risen?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
That has certainly happened, but it is a significant fact that the percentage has fallen so steeply. I do not think that we can ignore it. If the expectation of increased earning power for Britain in the Market is fulfilled, we can invest in the Commonwealth's future in a way which we could not otherwise do.
I have been associated with the Commonwealth for a very long time in one way and another. I have no doubt that the balance of advantage to the Commonwealth falls decisively on the side of Britain's entry into Europe.
I turn to the question of the economic base from which any influence and authority which we have overseas must spring. We know that the cost of entry into the Community has been pretty accurately calculated over the transitional period. The argument is used that we cannot risk even paying that subscription 919 because the profit to be earned cannot be foreseen.
What business executive when he embarks upon an exercise can quantify with absolute certainty the profit from year to year? Success can be achieved only by exploiting an opportunity with all the skill available. A market of this size with no tariff restrictions and, which I think is even more important, with the prospect of steadily reducing non-tariff restrictions, because they can be even more dangerous than tariffs, must be an opportunity which British industry can seize and of which it can take advantage.
There is certainly an element of risk. Lord Thorneycroft, speaking in another place in support of entry, put the matter very well by describing forecasting as more a matter of faith than of figures. That is undoubtedly true, but it is noticeable that those who do the country's business are happy to accept this challenge. The Confederation of British Industry certainly looks upon it as a challenge which should be accepted. Only this week Scottish Members will have heard from the Scottish Chamber of Commerce that it fully supports entry, not only for the prizes that the Chamber thinks can be won in general, but with an eye on regional policy.
I should have thought that recent trends in employment had firmly underlined the need for Britain to gain free and permanent access to its largest and most promising export market. The implications of this in terms of jobs and job security in Britain are surely apparent. We must ask ourselves in our present circumstances, when nobody can say that relative to the rest of the world we are doing well in trade: where do we find the jobs for our people unless we take advantage of an opportunity like this?
Some are afraid of increased competition. In the House of Commons we simply cannot admit that. If we are unable to compete in a free market of 10, what chance have we in the rest of the world with barriers mounted against us? Before the war there was practically no branch of industry and technology in which Britain was not in the lead. That is now no longer so. We have only to see modern Japan to realise the kind of competition to which we have been, and will be exposed.
920 Whether or not the world becomes more protectionist—there are ugly signs that it may do so—a home market of this dimension must be invaluable to us. I cannot see how we can afford to be without it.
Another feature of the Common Market which could redound greatly to our advantage is regional policy. My right hon. Friends will speak of this in more detail later. If we go into the Community now we shall be in it before regional policies are far advanced and will have a hand in shaping them. That could be of great importance to Scotland and other areas of Britain where unemployment so stubbornly persists at a high level.
I turn now to the political evolution of a Europe with Britain as a partner. This is another field of activity where, if we enter now, we shall be in at the start and able to influence political development. It is in this constitutional area that fears have been most acute, and for some they still linger.
We have never had, as has been pointed out by a number of people, a written constitution ourselves and we are by nature and experience shy of them, because by and large experience shows that in practice human unpredictability confounds the prophet who lays down a changeless law. But we have never been averse to seeking the maximum consensus as a basis for evolutionary change and adaptation. This is the essence of change by consent, and we ourselves have been very good at it. Therefore, we ought to pull our weight in a partnership of equals.
Some of the advocates of European unity have supported a federal system for Europe. This has caused a good deal of anxiety, not least to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). Some may still like and pursue the idea.
What has happened within the partnership of the Six? Political change, it is agreed, has to be unanimous. On all important matters they have found that they must proceed by consensus. That is the experience after ten years of practice in the Community.
The reason is clear. Great countries with the history of the European nations cannot be dragooned or coerced into a pattern of political association which one 921 or the other of them does not like. The attempt would be folly. It would break up the Community. Even to try to do such a thing is totally against the spirit of the association.
I remind hon. Members of the wording of the Preamble to the Treaty of Rome, which is so often ignored:…to ensure by common action the economic and social progress of their countries by eliminating the barriers which divide Europe,…to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less favourite regions,…to strengthen the cause of peace and liberty by thus pooling their resources".These are the articles not of penalty but of partnership for the common good.
Decisions on the political evolution of the Community are not for now, even for tomorrow, but for the future. Any decision made on political advance must have the unanimous support of all the members of the partnership. But even if on occasion the Commission or some members of the Community tried to introduce something of a lesser nature which was unacceptable to one member or another, why should it be so readily assumed that we should be outsmarted or overruled? I think it is true that in in the six years, or perhaps longer, before 1970 we as a nation began to show what the psychologists would call "withdrawal symptoms". It is time that we regained some of our confidence and entered into partnership knowing that we are going to pull our full weight.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's argument that we shall have a veto on political developments. The implication of that is that we do not want political development. Many people think that possible political developments are the most important thing about the Community. Are the Government saying that they would resist and oppose political developments in Europe?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Not at all. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can possibly have interpreted that from anything that I have said. I said that the political processes in Europe would evolve, and that they would evolve by consent, because if one tried to go too fast and impose too much the Com- 922 munity could break up. The change will occur by evolution and by consent.
Finally, there is security, with all the problems which that poses for Western Europe, whether in the context of defence or détente. All the way through our history events in the centre and west of Europe have conditioned our foreign policy. The balance of power is achieved through a European contribution, and the omens that the Western Europeans will have to carry a greater share of the responsibility for Western defence and the defence of their continent are very strong, stronger than they have been since the war.
I am not one of those who believe that the United States will ever desert Europe. I have no doubt that they will retain a military contribution by land, sea and air, and the nuclear deterrent, but, nevertheless, the chances are that they will reduce their deployment of conventional forces, and that the future will have to be organised with a more distinctively European contribution, embracing within it the strength of France.
It will take time, and it will take great patience, to work out the design, but when Germany, France, Italy and the rest sit down to talk about their problems of security, and their attitude to world problems, I use the word in the most accurate sense when I say that it is vital that we should be in their councils. During the last year I have twice been in the councils of the Ten, because they have anticipated the larger Community. Matters are talked about there which concern the defence of Europe and the defence of Britain. Matters are talked about—for example, the Middle East—which have the greatest implications for our country. It is essential that we should be in the councils when these questions are discussed, and that a decision should not be taken without us.
§ Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)
Would my right hon. Friend try to resolve a grave doubt in my mind? How is it possible to have a joint and unanimous agreed West European defence policy while we, with the nuclear deterrent, are bound by the conditions of the American McMahon Act?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
That is a matter which has to be discussed with the 923 United States. My hon. Friend has put his finger on a very important point. That is exactly the kind of thing that must be discussed in Europe and between Europe and the United States. That is the best example that one could have. But I repeat what I have said before, that when such important questions are decided Britain must be there.
§ Mr. Reg Prentice (East Ham, North)
Arising out of the reply that he has just given to his hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), may I ask the right hon. Gentleman specifically to dissociate the Government from the suggestion yesterday by a senior official of the Commission that there would need to be a sharing of nuclear secrets between Britain and France?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
M. Deniau was speaking in his personal capacity, and I cannot comment on his point of view. All I can say is that, as my right hon. Friend and M. Pompidou said earlier, these matters of the development of defence in the future are some way ahead. They must be a matter for discussion with the United States and discussion in N.A.T.O. and in Europe. Those are the forums in which they would have to be taken.
§ Mr. English rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. If the right hon. Gentleman who has the Floor does not give way, the hon. Member must resume his seat.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
On all the grounds on which I have spoken, my own conclusion—and each of us can speak only for himself in this debate—is quite clear. It is that such a chance of economic extension, such a base for increased authority, such an opportunity to build security for the future, will not recur for many a day, if it ever comes again. The European Economic Community will be a magnet for E.F.T.A. and other countries. It will go on and become more prosperous, and neither 924 Europe nor the world will wait for us any longer.
I trust that when the last speech in this great debate is over the House will give the clearest signal that we should embark on this new adventure in the long story of our nation. I believe that to take advantage of it will give us by far the greatest opportunity that we can have of serving our people and future generations.
§ 4.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
This is the end of the beginning of an argument that has lasted for more than 15 years. A large number of right hon. and hon. Members now occupy entrenched positions on opposite sides which they hold with emotional passion as articles of faith, and some of the noise during the opening speech testified to the strength of that passion. I find it a little like the situation in Northern Ireland, in that anyone who tries to approach the issue coolly, and with moderation and reason, is likely to be unpopular on both sides.
I think nevertheless that there is some common ground in the House. It is that whatever may happen in the future, at present what is called the European Economic Community is not Europe. Even the Economist agrees that the Common Market is not much more than a particular commercial set-up covering six out of 24 European countries, and even if all the applicants join there will still be 14 European countries outside it. The Common Market is not Europe, and to oppose entry to the Common Market on the terms which the Government have negotiated is not to be anti-European.
I am very surprised that this afternoon the Foreign Secretary said nothing, or almost nothing, about the argument on which he based his case at his party's conference only a week ago, namely, that it is vital for Britain to join a regional group or bloc so that it can compete on equal terms with the super-Powers. But that argument is not relevant today and, as the Foreign Secretary indicated this afternoon, it cannot be relevant unless all the countries in the Community agree to a surrender of sovereignty far beyond what anyone in the United Kingdom today would tolerate.
Even in principle, one must have grave doubts about the value, in the current 925 state of the world, of regional blocs. All our biggest problems as a country and as a member of the world community need more than regional solutions. In defence, we need an alliance with Canada and the United States. As we have learned all too dramatically in recent months, in trade and currency matters, we need a worldwide agreement with all the developed countries, including Japan.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The right hon. Gentleman wrote in his article, of which I did not quote much:Britain could be hammered into the ground if she was outside all the main trading blocs.That was in May.
§ Mr. Healey
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I am coming to that point in one moment. On the defence side—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"] I am coming to that in a moment, but I propose to make my speech in my own way and in my own time. On the defence problem, which the Foreign Secretary skated over today, he said that he was rightly worried about a possible reduction in the American commitment to Europe. He said again, as he said in Brighton last week,Were we to decline entry into the European Community now, we would be outside the counsels of the Six when they debated these serious matters and the Continental nations, on issue after issue, would take their own road.Where on earth has the right hon. Gentleman been the last three years? The fact is that European members of N.A.T.O. have been deeply concerned about this matter since 1968, but they have never discussed it inside the Community, because France refuses any discussion of defence problems in a N.A.T.O. context. Britain, on the other hand, has been discussing this problem continuously with the five other members of the Community and with the other European members of N.A.T.O. in the Eurogroup which I helped to set up in 1968. But France has been outside. This argument of the Foreign Secretary is based on an assumption which is the direct contrary of the facts as he ought to know them.
The only new fact since the present Government took over is that the present Government, despite pressure from the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence, refused to contribute 926 to the European Defence Improvements Programme proposed by the Eurogroup in N.A.T.O. unless Germany refunds the money afterwards—which I would not have thought was a very good precedent for the type of defence co-operation that the Foreign Secretary says he favours.
There are some serious dangers even in the concept of a regional group which requires its members to agree with one another on important issues of international negotiations before they enter such negotiation. As we see in the current talks about the world currency problem, we now risk drifting into an unnecessary trade war because the German and French Governments cannot agree inside the Common Market on how to handle it, and therefore the Common Market is not ready to negotiate at all.
But even if they did agree, if the basis of their agreement was hostile to American interests, then in negotiating on trade and currency with the United States they might pose grave risks to America's role in the defence of Europe. Secretary Connally has already made this clear.
But of course this is not the situation today. The Common Market is not a political bloc or a regional grouping in this sense. The Foreign Secretary talked about foreign policy. There is no prospect of a Common Market foreign policy so long as the French Government disagree with all the other members of the Community on policy towards the United States, towards the Soviet Union, towards European security and on the Middle East.
But by far the best way to deal with the threat of American reductions is to negotiate to get Soviet reductions in Europe too, through mutual and balanced force reductions. But here, Her Majesty's Government, as has been reported in all the diplomatic Press, have been acting as the brake on movement and not as the engine. They have been trying, by all means at their disposal, to slow down the movement towards negotiation between East and West on balanced force reductions, and in doing so have been pushing the United States into bilateral negotiations with the Soviet Union.
President Nixon's decision to fly to Moscow next spring is a direct consequence of American impatience at the 927 failure of the European members of N.A.T.O., led by the United Kingdom Government, to allow adequate progress by multilateral negotiations, in mutual force reductions—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Certainly it is.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)
I was under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman still thought that the Common Market was a very good thing but was opposed to the terms. Is this so or not?
§ Mr. Healey
If the hon. Member will wait, all will be made plain.
But there is one proposal in defence which is highly dangerous, and I was deeply disturbed that the Foreign Secretary did not take the opportunity which he had today, when he was questioned about it, to give us a hint of the view of the Government on it. That is the proposal, which was once a hobby horse of the Prime Minister, to share nuclear weapons with France in order to create a European deterrent.
All of us, I think, were highly disturbed, at any rate on this side of the House, to hear that a Commissioner on a Common Market Commission, M. Jean-Francois Deniau, should have written an article for Le Monde yesterday in which he not only made this proposal but said that it would be impossible for the Common Market to negotiate even on trade and payments with the United States unless it first got American agreement for steps towards setting up a European deterrent.
Let me make a few simple points on this matter which have been considered and discussed for many years inside the Alliance and indeed in the public Press. First, there is no prospect whatever that an Anglo-French nuclear force could replace the rôle played by American nuclear forces in the defence of Europe—no prospect whatever.
Second, any attempt to set up such a force would split Europe from America and Canada. No attempt could be made, indeed, unless Britain left N.A.T.O., because the French Defence Minister has written in detail as recently as April this year that France is not prepared to discuss the matter so long as it is posed in a N.A.T.O. framework.
928 More dangerous still, any attempt to set up an Anglo-French deterrent which did not include Germany would split Britain and France from Germany and the rest of Europe; and, if it did include Germany, it would rule out any hope of improving relations between East and West and would indeed pose a grave increase in the risk of war.
I find it extraordinary that the Foreign Secretary, asked to comment on this matter today, should have said nothing whatever and should have evaded the question. I hope that, later in this debate, perhaps the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will say what the Government want on this matter—not what other people are proposing or not proposing, but what the British Government are actually aiming at. There is no doubt that, if the Common Market were to aim, as the Foreign Secretary suggested in Brighton last week, at becoming a regional bloc like the United States or the Soviet Union, it would increase and not reduce all our difficulties.
But the case for entry, as I think the right hon. Gentleman admitted today, must depend overwhelmingly on economic considerations. It is, after all, an economic community at present and nothing more. If it brought greater growth—if it led Britain to have a growth rate equal to that of every other European country, inside or outside the Common Market, remembering that growth in the other E.F.T.A. countries has been as rapid as that inside the Community—then it would be well worth while.
But whether it leads to that sort of growth depends on the price that we must pay for joining, on the state of our economy when we join and on the policies we pursue in the economic and social fields when we are members.
On ice-cold shower of competition might be a bracing tonic for a healthy man, but it can Rive a sick man a heart attack. [Interruption.] I was asked to quote from my article in the Daily Mirror. I do so willingly. I wrote:If our economy is strong when we go in we should reap a splendid harvest. If it is weak, the shock could be fatal. … Two areas are critically important. First, we must not be saddled with costs or commitments—particularly in the monetary field—which condemn us to put on the brakes just when we should be gathering speed to take advantage of the larger market".929 This has been my view, which I have stated in speeches inside and outside the House, and in articles I have written on the subject since the last General Election, and it is on this basis that I wish to examine the situation in which the Government invite us to approve the terms they have negotiated.
I have, like every other hon. Member, a difficulty here. The Foreign Secretary said that the Government had made detailed estimates of the costs. I believe that that is true but, unfortunately, they have not given those estimates to the House. They have given them to the Brussels Commission but not to the British people. The result is that, like all other hon. Members, I must make my own estimates and seek to reach a conclusion on the basis of them. If there is any estimate I give with which hon. Gentlemen opposite disagree, I ask them to give their own estimates.
The estimates I shall use are not those compiled by opponents of our entry into the Common Market. I shall draw exclusively on estimates made by economists who have been quoted with approval by newspapers and journals which approve of our entry—the only exception, which is not in favour of entry on the present terms, being Her Majesty's Treasury—[Interruption.]
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government had prepared figures and implied that they had been given confidentially to the Commission in Brussels. What evidence does he have for making that statement?
§ Mr. Healey
I was about to come to that very point when the hon. and gallant Gentleman intervened. [Interruption.] I come to it immediately to meet the impatience of hon Gentlemen opposite.
The estimates made by the British Govment were given to the Brussels Commission last July. They were confirmed on 16th December in a note accompanying the British proposals for the budgetary contribution on that date. They were published in the news agency reports of the Brussels Commission itself, and they are available in the Library of the House—[Interruption.]—but they have never been given to the House or to the British people by Her Majesty's Government. 930 In other words, we must go round and about in this circular way to get hold of facts which the Government have already given to foreign Governments.
Using the estimates available from Government sources, let us first admit that the United Kingdom must pay certain penalties by joining which none of the original members of the Community had to face. We must give up our Commonwealth and share our E.F.T.A. preferences. The Chancellor of the Duchy told the House that the cost of these tariff changes—he said this on 16th December last year, and it was repeated in a briefing to pressmen on 24th June, according to the Economist—would he between £200 million and £300 million.
No estimate was given in the White Paper, but when, in a television debate, I challenged the Home Secretary to deny that the estimates had been put into the draft of the White Paper and cut out on the instructions of the Cabinet at a later date, he was unable to deny my statement. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman gave this estimate to the House on 16th December last, when he said that the cost would be of that order in foreign exchange due to the changes of tariff on industrial goods.
If, next, we accept the common agricultural policy, not only do we give the Six access to the largest food market in the world, but we must pay high prices for our food instead of the low prices we pay now for Commonwealth food—[Interruption.]—whereas the Six did not face this penalty when they set up the C.A.P. they have always paid high prices.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me to talk about the terms. If the Common Market were a real community aiming to share benefits and costs alike, I should have thought that the Six would have taken account of the special handicaps we carry by joining when they were considering cur contribution to the budget. They should have been prepared to reduce our subscription accordingly, though in fact the exact opposite has happened.
In the statement presented to the Common Market countries on 16th December last, which was published in Brussels but never in Britain, the Chancellor of the Duchy pointed out that if we made a contribution above 6 per cent. of the total contribution of the Common 931 Market budget, everything above 6 per cent. would be a net gain for the rest of the Community.
He based his argument on a paper presented by his delegation to the Community in July, in which the Treasury had given detailed estimates of what, accepting the financial regulations which the Community had agreed, would be involved for Britain.
It pointed out that if we accepted the rules which had been fixed by the Six in our absence, at the end of the day we would be paying 31 per cent. of the budget and getting only 6 per cent. back; that we would be paying net four times as much as Germany, although Germany's gross national product today is 50 per cent. higher than Britain's; and that we would be paying 25 per cent. net of the total, when our G.N.P. is only 17 per cent. of that of the Community as a whole. That 25 per cent. we would be paying would be going to France, Holland and Luxembourg, who would be paying nothing net to the Community budget themselves.
All of them—France, Holland and Luxembourg—have higher living standards than we have and pay nothing whatever to the budget. In import levies alone, according to the Treasury paper, we would be paying more than France. Germany, Italy and Holland put together.
The right hon. Gentleman made a half-hearted attempt in December to bring this scandalously unfair contribution down, but he knuckled under completely in May, after the meeting between the Prime Minister and President Pompidou. He accepted the whole of the proposal in its original form, arguing only about the transitional stages.
The result of that, according to the Government's own estimates which I have been using, is that we would have to carry a foreign exchange burden of £100 million in 1973, £500 million in 1977—and it would go through the roof between 1977 and 1980.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me why my hon. Friends and I say that we would be outsmarted and overruled if we joined the Common Market. On the evidence of what happened during the negotiations, what other conceivable conclusion can we reach? Some may say, 932 "Yes, but after all, the money we are paying to these three countries is in a noble cause. It will help the lame ducks on the soil of their farms." It is very odd that a Government who are so hostile to helping lame ducks in Britain should be so ready to help them on the Continent.
But the fact is that the overwhelmingly largest proportion of this money will not go to lame ducks. It will go to very wealthy farmers in France, Holland and Luxembourg. Some say, "Ah, but the number of farmers on the Continent is going down." That is true. But the cost of the common agricultural policy is rising all the time. As the number of farmers goes down, the amount paid to the common agricultural policy in subsidies and other forms of support has risen from £100 million to £1,100 million in eight years. The tragedy is that Her Majesty's Government should have agreed to give this monstrously unfair subsidy to the common agricultural policy just at the moment when every Government on the Continent, except the French Government, was coming to feel that it would have to be abandoned.
The cost to Britain in foreign exchange hurts us at the most sensitive part of our economy. The additional foreign exchange cost of £100 million in 1973 is equivalent to the whole of the foreign exchange saving through taking our troops out of east of Suez. The £500 million cost in 1977 is twice the current total of our overseas aid to those who are really in need in other parts of the world. The £700 million or more in 1980 is the size of the deficit inherited in 1964 by the Labour Government, the deficit which crippled so many of our hopes.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Bradford, West)
Would the right hon. Gentleman acknowledge that he is monstrously misleading the House on the hypothetical figure of the cost from 1977 onwards? If one takes the effect of V.A.T. and of rebate on exports through V.A.T., and if one takes into account the effect of the extra home production of which British agriculture is capable, the figure he is putting before the House is a fiction.
§ Mr. Healey
I am sure that the hon. Member will attempt to make this paint if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, later in the debate. [HON. 933 MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am answering. The estimate that the cost of our budgetary contribution will rise after 1977 is agreed by all the pro-Market economists whose opinions I have been able to read in the last few weeks. I refer the hon. Member to the business columns of the Financial Times, the Sunday Times, the Observe, and The Guardian over the past three or four months. These very important little details rarely appear in the leader columns.
The resource cost of finding this money, the impact on the welfare of the British people of the terms of entry which the Government have negotiated, is very much higher. Mr. Miller, of the London School of Economics, in a pro-Market symposium distributed free to a large number of delegates at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, reckoned that the resource cost would be 1⅓ per cent. of our gross national product by 1977. I have seen much higher figures.
What effect will this have on employment and living standards in the United Kingdom? Some say that we could afford to pay this—as the Foreign Secretary was suggesting in his speech earlier today—if we have a booming economy and if we grow even faster as a result of entry.
Yesterday the Financial Times leader, in an excess of euphoria, said that by joining the Common Market we would get higher growth, longer holidays, a shorter working week and bigger social services—everything except free beer and champagne. But the leader writer in the Financial Times did not bother to read what other correspondents were saying on the City and economic pages. What are the facts? First, there is no evidence whatever that the member countries of the Six grew faster by joining the Common Market; in fact, their overall growth fell.
§ Mr. Healey
The hon. Member is getting agitated and excited but if he contains himself he may have the chance of arguing the point later in the debate.
There is no evidence that these Six countries grew faster than all the E.F.T.A. countries except Britain. The Investors Chronicle, which is not totally without experience and understanding in these 934 matters, said that the argument that the Common Market woud lead to an increase in growth was a triumph of hope over experience.
The second point is the effect of removing the Common Market tariffs. The tariffs between the Six countries in 1958 were very substantial. It could be argued that that really meant new opportunities for all concerned. The effect of removing the current external tariff would be very small. The increase in our export prices in the last 12 months has raised the cost of our goods higher than the average external tariff of the Economic Community at present. But in any case, the most optimistic guess at the growth increase which might follow entry to the Common Market is ⅓ per cent. a year, and on this basis we would break even, costs against benefits, only in 1977. But all this depends on the strength of our economy and on our own economic policies in this country.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) said:The economic object 01 this exercise is additional growth. It will he nullified unless they…"—the Government—…pursue policies totally different from those which we have seen in the past year." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd July, 1971; Vol. 821, c. 1698.]My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever) went a good deal further. He said:It is not enough in the White Paper or in the House to say that ½ per cent. more growth over five years will cover twice the cost to the balance of payments. This is economic balderdash on the basis of the strategy we have so far pursued. …If the argument is that ½ per cent. extra growth will pay for it, if we do not ensure that we get it and, in fact, we do not get it, I say here and now who will pay for it—the people of this country through their standard of living." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1971: Vol. 821, c. 1570.]This requires me to look at the economic policies we are following to see whether we have in fact achieved this total change in our economic policy and the total change in the economic climate. Are we now moving towards the condition which my right hon. Friend said in the last debate was critical to making the enterprise worth while, a 935 situation of steady and sustained growth? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor, just after the last debate, gave us his third budget in a year. He told us that it would change the whole of our economic climate in two or three months. Those two or three months are now up and what do we find? Unemployment is still rising. There are 24,000 more men and women wholly unemployed today than there were a month ago. These are the figures we received this afternoon. Prices are still rising. O.E.C.D. and other experts expect prices to rise between 6 per cent. and 8 per cent. over the next 12 months. But worst of all, and most critical to growth, there is no sign of investment rising. Investment is down. There is no sign of improvement. I am glad to see that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is present. In a survey published by his Department a few weeks ago, it was said that companies expect a fall of between 6 and 8 per cent. in manufacturing investment this year and little change next year. But the C.B.I., taking an even gloomier view in its estimate, published a week earlier, said that it expected a bigger decline in 1972 in manufacturing investment than we have seen in 1971.
Where is this surge of investment created by confidence at the thought of entry, which 82 per cent. of our people, whether they welcome it or not, do expect to take place? There is no sign of it at all. We look like going into the Common Market in 1973, if the Government have their way, in a state of economic stagnation, with unemployment at a higher level than anybody on either side is prepared to tolerate from either a moral or an economic point of view, and with prices still rising. There is also mounting evidence that those who do plan to increase their investment plan to do it not in this country but on the Continent, closer to the heart of this great new market and where return on investment in profit terms is higher.
Against this background of rising costs, rising unemployment and industrial stagnation, how are we going to meet these foreign exchange burdens which the Government have dumped on us as a result of the Brussels negotiations? There are only two ways. One is deflation, a 936 prolonged period of "stop". The other is devaluation. The Treasury at the moment is trying to get devaluation by stealth and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is trying to avoid it by stealth now for fear of breaking ranks with the Six in the coming trade negotiations.
I personally agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Cheetham that, faced with such a situation, a change in the exchange rate is preferable to deflation. Let no one in this House imagine that devaluation is a soft option—not after the experience we went through in 1968 to 1970. Devaluation means cuts in welfare, cuts in living standards, and soaring prices—prices which will soar even higher than otherwise because of the common agricultural policy. Then, why are the Government so keen on entry? It is because they know these facts as well as I do—and I have drawn largely on Government statistics for my argument.
The reason is partly, I think, because, as with the last Conservative Government which applied for entry, in 1962, this is the despairing gambler's last throw. The Government have no other answer to our problems. But there is another reason on this occasion which did not apply to Mr. Macmillan's Administration. It is because the present Prime Minister sees the Common Market as a competitive jungle in which "Selsdon man" can roam at will, in which all lame ducks go to the wall, in which the trade unions are forced to face the facts of life, and in which a few years of misery will produce a Conservative heaven.
Anyone who has talked to business men will know that this is the expectation with which they face entry—that it will teach the unions a lesson, that it will send the weak to the wall. But, of course, it will not happen like that because the British people will not let it. It has not worked like that in the last 12 months inside Britain, where the British Government have adopted the same approach to the solution of our own economic problems. They have tried hard enough and they could not get away with it. Look at what they are doing with U.C.S. and Rolls-Royce at present. If they cannot get away with it in Britain, they cannot get away with it in Europe.
What we need, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Stechford said in July, 937 is a total change of policy. But it must be not only in economic policy; it must be a total change in social policy as well because no economic policy can work without the consent of those who produce the nation's wealth, and we shall never get this by crippling free trade unionism, by cutting school milk and by doubling council house rents. No Government can succeed in any enterprise against the will of the British people, and that is why the Government should be taking seriously their failure to get public support for entry on these terms after the most expensive propaganda campaign in our history, a campaign which was supported by all but two of the nation's newspapers. They have failed to change the people's minds.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)
Which two newspapers?
§ Mr. Healey
The Morning Star and the Daily Express. Unfortunately, the leader writers in the other newspapers failed to read what their own City and economic correspondents were writing in the same newspapers.
I recall the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry saying in his maiden speech of 6th July, 1970, that he had no sense of mandate for the Common Market and that he found it difficult to believe that the country had given a mandate. He said that he was worried about how we could have a further consultation with the electorate. I am going to give him some advice on that in a moment.
The Prime Minister said in Paris that no Government could take Britain into the Common Market without the full-hearted consent of Parliament and people. Yet he denies the people a free vote and attempts to say that he has absolved himself of this commitment by offering a free vote to the Conservative Members of Parliament instead. We all know why he has offered that free vote. He did so because he knew that he could not carry his policy because his own party would not give him a majority for it. This was the only reason why he changed his mind.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
The right hon. Gentleman has just said, "Because he knew that his own party would not give him a majority for it." That is surely wrong. 938 The Prime Minister's own party would give him a majority for it but not a sufficient majority to carry it through this House or to convince the general public. That is the point.
§ Mr. Healey
That is exactly what was saying—that the Prime Minister would not get a majority in this House from members of his own party. They would not give him a House of Commons majority for it.
Let us look at the free vote which the Prime Minister has offered. First, we are told that the 100 members of the Government, with the Parliamentary Private Secretaries—probably 150 in all—will not be free to vote against the Government, whatever their views. So the Secretary of State for the Environment, who toured Australia in 1962 doing propaganda against the Common Market, which he described as a "South Sea bubble," will be speaking in favour of it on Wednesday and voting in favour of it on Thursday. So will the other members of the payroll vote in the Conservative Party in a week's time. Secondly, as the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) said in a letter to The Times yesterday, which I hope the House has read, there has now been three months of solid arm-twisting by constituency associations and very few Conservative Members of Parliament have not already succumbed to this torture.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
The right hon. Gentleman is not quoting my letter to The Times. He may be saying what his view of events is, but my letter did not contain any of these emotive and pejorative expressions. It contained a proposition which Mr. Ronald Butt in The Times today was good enough to say was impeccable logic, but it did not say what the right hon. Gentleman has just said.
§ Mr. Healey
I apologise to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for heightening his language somewhat, but he will agree with me that the sense of what I have said was the sense of his letter. If he wishes me to do so, I will read out the relevant passages of his letter. I noted that he proposed that the Government should offer free votes on the succeeding legislation. I shall come to that point in a moment.
939 According to the Financial Times of yesterday, the Whips will continue to use every sort of persuasion to bring as many backbenchers into the Lobby, too. Finally, the Government are asking all members of their own party for their support. That is a phrase used in the Conservative dictionary to denote a Whip. When last week the Prime Minister was asked by Mr. Robin Day on "Panorama":Why don't you have a free vote on 28th October to make people feel their Parliament has genuinely voiced their views?The Prime Minister replied:It's always seemed to me slightly contradictory to say that if something doesn't matter very much, if it's just a small Bill, then the Government can ask for support, but if it's a big one it mustn't. We're absolutely entitled to ask for support".To make sure that I had understood the Prime Minister's words, I read what the Conservative Research Department wrote on 1st September, only a few weeks ago. It was:The normal practice in this country is for the Government of the day to ask its supporters through the Whips to support it on the major policies which it has recommended to Parliament. …A free vote is normally reserved for matters which do not form an integral part of the Government's central strategy so that the policy of the Government as a whole is not greatly affected. This is obviously not the case on this issue.The Government are taking precisely the same steps on this vote as they take on a whipped vote, and I have quoted the relevant passages from the Prime Minister and the Conservative Central Office to show that that is so.
What on earth is this free vote? Does it mean that the Government—and perhaps the Chief Whip, the Patronage Secretary, will answer this question—no longer regard entry to the Common Market as an integral part of their strategy? Does it mean that they no longer consider it a major element in their policy? Does it mean that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Leader of the House were speaking out of turn last week when they told the country on the radio that the Government would resign if they were defeated on this issue? The House and the country and, indeed, the Government's colleagues in the Common Market have the right to know whether the Government have changed their position 940 on the importance of the Common Market.
The plain fact is that this so-called free vote is a disreputable piece of humbug into which the Government have been forced against their will by the knowledge that they cannot get a majority in the House from the votes of their own supporters. There is only one way in which we can get the British people's views, in which we can meet the requirements stated so succinctly by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in his maiden speech last year, get another consultation with the people and ensure their consent—we must submit to their judgment in a General Election.
Of course the Common Market would not be the only issue, but a General Election would also give the unemployed, the housewives, the working men and women of the country the chance to break out of the circle of despair into which they have been thrown by the Government. A General Election alone would give Britain a chance to secure those fundamental changes in its economic and social policies which are vital to its survival in or out of the Common Market.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Sir Robin Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
Some parts of the speech of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) reminded me of the occasion which the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) talked about when I moved an Amendment to the Labour Government's Motion on negotiations and pointed out that in my view membership of the Community would be injurious to Britain and that to accept the Treaty of Rome and the agricultural policy and merely to ask for transitional arrangements would not be to lessen the injury. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman voted with the Government and against our Amendment.
Opposing the Treaty of Rome as I do, I should like to be fair to my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and to say that he has won transitional concessions which would not have been obtained under the leadership of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson). But the stark fact remains that membership of the Community is not in Britain's interest economically or politically.
941 I will say only very little about the economic side, for there are many right hon. and hon. Members who want to speak. It was summed up in the winding-up speech of the Home Secretary in the July debate when he said:I have never accepted for a moment that it is disaster to stay outside of the Community and automatic prosperity to be inside." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th July, 1971; Vol. 822, c. 160.]That is the economic position. Some will gain; some will lose. Those who would gain would be those who would benefit from the high price of land or corn, the bankers, the Stock Exchange; those who would lose would be the housewives, those living on small fixed incomes, those with interests in shipping or shipbuilding, or in Commonwealth trade.
That sums up the economic side. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) said earlier that forecasts were more a matter of faith than of figures. That seems to be one description of the Government's White Paper on the economic side. I would call it guess and gloss—a good deal of starry-eyed speculative optimism transparently glossing over the difficulties of the situation.
I should like to give one illustration about the economic side which comes from paragraph 57 of the White Paper. Talking about how we shall manage to bear the burden of the agricultural contribution, it comes out with this statement:For example, if a rate of growth of national income of ½ per cent. higher were to be achieved as a result of membership, by the end of a period of five years our national income would be some £1,100 million higher in the fifth year".That is rather discounted by the statement in the National Institute Economic Review, a Government-sponsored publication, which in its August issue said:So far as concerns the effect on real income, there is broad agreement on a loss amounting to around 1 to 1½ per cent. of G.D.P.Some will gain, but many will lose.
I turn now to what to me is the most important side, which is the political side. The proposition is that we should go into a union with a number of Western European countries. This would 942 mean that an increasing number of matters would be moved from the British Parliament to the Commission at Brussels, and so on those matters Parliament would become a rubber stamp of Brussels. Yet paragraph 29 of the White Paper says:There is no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty…".I hope that in the course of this six-day debate some Government speaker will tell the House how many Acts of Parliament and how many Statutory Instruments will have to be amended or repealed to enable us to conform to the decisions and regulations of the European Commission.
This surely is the essential information Parliament requires. I very much regret that in his opening speech my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs did not deal with this point. Under Article 189 of the Treaty all regulations, directives and decisions already made or to be made will be binding on this House.
The Common Market system is very different from our own. There, only the Commission initiate policy. Here, Ministers give instructions to civil servants and Ministers are responsible to Parliament for their mistakes. There, the Commission makes proposals to the Council of Ministers and, under Article 149, they can amend proposals of the Commission only by unanimous vote. It is true that they could veto, but then there is a complete frustration, as the Commission is finding in Brussels today with the French veto.
Mistakes of the Commission could not be raised in this Parliament. It is relevant to quote the words of one of the members of the European Commission, Herr Dahrendorf, who in August said:The Europe which these people have created has become an illiberal and bureaucratic leviathan obsessed with harmonising things for the sake of harmonisation.It is to this that Parliament will be subject if we join. Is it any wonder that far from having received the full-hearted support of the people, 51 per cent. of the nation, in the latest Gallup Poll, is opposed to entry?
To me, the issue is very plainly explained in the broadcast which President Pompidou made on 24th June. I have here a copy given me by the French 943 Embassy. The President began by explaining that when he arrived in office Europe was in a deadlock. The chance of obtaining the renewal and definite establishment of the agricultural Common Market was negligible. At The Hague he obtained the bargain that the agricultural Common Market should become permanent in exchange for the opening of negotiations with Great Britain. That bargain surely disposes of the argument I have heard put forward by those in favour of entry that after entry we should be able to change the common agricultural policy to our own advantage—
§ Sir Robin Turton
I would have thought it was plain to everybody. My hon. Friend has not got clarity of vision this evening. If there is bargain made we cannot, after succeeding in gaining entry, break the bargain.
§ Sir Robin Turton
I do not know whether my hon. Friend is saying that what I say is not true, or what President Pompidou is saying is not true. I hope that he will make his contribution later.
The President went on to stress that because he did not believe in basing foreign policy on lies and hyprocrisy he had recently put four questions to the British Prime Minister.
Let me quote two of those questions which in my view go to the heart of the matter. I hope that when the Prime Minister comes to speak in this debate he will confirm whether those two questions are an accurate record of what passed between them. The first question was:Do you accept the thing which lies at the very root of the Common Market, namely, Community preference whereby members can obtain their supplies in the first place from within the Community?Clearly what this means is that before we can import any food or goods from the Commonwealth and traditional partners, we have to be satisfied that there is none on offer in the Community. This means not only that the whole of the Commonwealth preference system is dismantled, but that we have to switch from our Commonwealth and traditional markets—which at present take 60 per cent. of our exports—to the European Economic 944 Community which at present takes 21 per cent. of our exports. No one, either in the last Government or in this one, has made an accurate estimate of the full consequences of this diversion of trade, and not only diversion of trade but also of policy.
President Pompidou then said:Fourth question, which was probably the most important of all:I asked the British Prime Minister what he thought of Europe. In other words, whether Britain was really determined to become European, whether Britain, which is an island, was determined to tie herself to the Continent and whether she was prepared to loosen her ties with the open sea towards which she has always looked.What did loosening of ties mean? Is it any wonder when, last week, 120,000 returned soldiers from New Zealand sent a telegram expressing their concern on the loosening of the ties between Britain and New Zealand, that that telegram was suppressed? Is it any wonder that in the four continents our partners are saying, "We are breaking our links with them"?
Sir Winston Churchill once said:Each time we must choose between Europe and the open seas, we shall always choose the open seas".I believe that Sir Winston Churchill was right; that our role in the world is something much wider than an inward-looking Community and that our future depends on our ties with the open seas. For these reasons I shall be forced to vote against this Motion.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. William Rodgers (Stockton-on-Tees)
This is the eleventh hour of our debate on Britain's European future and most of the arguments have been heard before. I doubt whether there are many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen left in this Chamber to convince. In that sense many of us may be making personal statements; we shall be explaining how we have arrived and how we have travelled here.
I do not doubt for a moment the sincerity and depth of feeling of those who have reached a different conclusion either on the issue or on the vote on 28th October. I have no complaint or argument against those who believe as passionately as the right hon. Member for 945 Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) does, saying that Britain should not enter the Community. I also believe that many have changed their minds for good and sufficient reasons. The fact that any one of us may take a strong view does not mean that we are blind to other arguments. There is a respectable, powerful case against entry, but that does not mean that we need be convinced by it. I do not take the view that entry will be the saving of Britain or that staying out will be a disaster. Whichever course we follow we shall have to maximise our own resources and talents. It is no soft option. I say that only because some accusers are arguing that entry is a panacea. It is not. The problems will still be present to be overcome.
Nor would I deny that the price to be paid for entry is higher than it would have been in the past. I do not like the agricultural policy, and I do not like the value-added tax. Like many of my hon. Friends, I am unhappy about the institutions of the Community. I would prefer the Community to be outward-looking, especially towards the developing countries. These are facts which we might hope to be different. But the terms which have been negotiated are probably the best which could have been negotiated in 1971. Certainly—and this is the important point—we cannot expect better terms to be negotiated at some future date. They are not ideal, but they are terms on which we can enter. There will be no better terms, even if the opportunity is presented to us again.
I say that to emphasise that, however strong our view, we should see the debit side of the balance sheet. I hope that those who are against entry will be as ready to admit that there are strong and powerful arguments on our side, too. I believe that the advantage still lies heavily with going in, particularly if one believes in the fundamental strength of the British people. I have great confidence in this country. I love it deeply. It is capable of a massive response to a great challenge. If I did not believe in Britain, I could not believe in Britain's future in Europe.
I did not see it in that way in the 1940s and 1950s. I was not an early convert, as some were, to the movement for greater European unity. I did not regard the Treaty of Rome as historic. 946 I shared the general complacency of that time. But the change in our world rôle, inevitable and necessary, and the persistent economic problem inhibiting in the widest sense all the changes which I wanted to see made in this country, had created a new situation by the 1960s.
We all know that the prospect opened by the present terms is not new. I have fought five parliamentary elections, and in four of them—the four which I have won—the Common Market has been an issue. It has not been a central question, but it has not been hidden. My view throughout has been consistent and I have gone out of my way to make my position plain.
I became a Member of the House just over nine years ago. I made my maiden speech on 2nd June, 1962, in a two-day debate on the European Economic Community which was opened and closed by the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath). I said then that I hoped that the current negotiations would he successful and that we would enter the Common Market. My remarks were not very popular with the then Leader of the Opposition, Hugh Gaitskell. I was sorry then, and I am sorry now, to be out of step. But I cannot see how any Member who has had a consistent and clear view either way and who believes that this is a decision of the greatest consequence for Britain can be expected to go meekly into the Division Lobby with his tail between his legs.
I would go further. Our parliamentary system depends on an effective party system. But it also depends upon public respect for its representatives. I do not believe that ordinary men and women think that we should be dragooned against our better judgment. I have wanted to compel no one on this issue, and I hope that no one would wish to compel me. I make this point because it is important to distinguish between public views on the issue—and I do not doubt that at the moment the great majority of people in this country would prefer this country not to go into the Common Market—and what the public expects of its representatives. The overwhelming evidence is that they have more tolerance for where we stand than sometimes we find in our own ranks. I would defend to the last the right of my neighbour on Teesside, 947 the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe), to vote in the way he chooses, which is against entry. This is an occasion on which we must stand up and be counted.
We all have our constituency responsibilities, even when we see our duty differently, and I hope that I shall be allowed to say a word or two about mine. Stockton is part of Teesside, and Teesside is part of the Northern Region, which is a development area. Stockton has known unemployment for very many years. In the early 1930s, over 40 per cent. of the insured population of Stockton was without jobs. The factories were closing and the shops were putting up the shutters. Despite recent improvements, there are far too few jobs and far too many unemployed, as we know from today's figures.
For the first two years of the Labour Government I was a Minister in the Department of Economic Affairs working with someone we must now call Lord George-Brown. I was particularly concerned with regional policies. I was involved in setting up the regional economic planning councils. The Labour Government did a great deal for the regions, and we have nothing to be ashamed of. But we did not cure the fundamental industrial imbalance. I believe that, broadly, our policies were right, but it is not possible to have growth in the regions without growth in the country as a whole. Despite our efforts, we had far too little growth. Entry to the Common Market will not ensure growth—I am not arguing that, and I do not think that any of my colleagues have argued it —but it will provide an opportunity which was missing during the years of Labour Government.
Take two great employers on Teesside —I.C.I. and the British Steel Corporation. Each provides over 25,000 jobs, and there are at least as many in engineering and construction dependent on chemicals and steel. I.C.I. and the B.S.C. —one a great private company and the other a nationalised industry—believe that entry to Europe will offer them a better prospect. They may be wrong, but who is a wiser judge of the prospect? Prosperity for chemicals and steel means more jobs than there would otherwise be for my constituents and others. This is the view of 948 I.C.I. and of the British Steel Corporation, and it is mine. How can I willingly turn down the chance of prosperity after half a century of unemployment if I believe that this chance exists?
Of course there should be concern about regional policies whether we go in or stay out. We have been trying to solve this problem since the middle of the 1930s through the Barlow Report and through the efforts of successive Governments, particularly of the last Government. It has been a very long haul. But it is nonsense to say that entry would deny an economic miracle in the regions. There has been no miracle and I see no prospect of one. We have as much to learn as we have to defend.
I see nothing in the Treaty of Rome or in the record of the Six since 1957 that is discouraging. On the contrary, there is a good deal more energy and imagination in regional policies in the Six today than there is in Britain. I was struck by some rembarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) in a speech which he made in our debate in July. He compared E.F.T.A. with the E.E.C. and drew attention to the fact that the Community is activist and interventionist compared with E.F.T.A. and with the policies of the present Government. It is not laissez faire. In fact, it makes E.F.T.A. look like the sort of non-interventionist dream world for which the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has sometimes longed. Regional policy in the Six is evolving, but the direction is hopeful and I do not see why we cannot play our part.
The hesitations and doubts about entry are on two quite different levels: one natural, wholly understandable and I believe short-term—the one which mainly affects the state of public opinion at the moment—and the other deeper and a cause of greater long-term anxiety.
We all must understand the real anxieties of ordinary people about the adjustments to their own lives that entry may involve. At the best of times all of us have a need for security. This is more so for the older, or for those who have commitments, or for those who feel less able to cope with everyday problems, and it is also generally more the case with women than with men. Many people who are convinced in their hearts that 949 entry is in the long-term interest of Britain are worried nevertheless about how their lives will be affected by the immediate impact.
This natural anxiety is aggravated by the harsh fact of a million unemployed, and a year of unprecedented price rises. At a time when a Tory Government have chosen to divide the nation, people are acutely apprehensive about the future and are aware of the human cost of change. There never has been a time less propitious in terms of personal fears for a great development of this kind. We must share this worry and understand its origin. There is a great obligation on the Government of the day to show a humanity and a care which have been noticeably lacking in the last eighteen months. I wish a Tory Government were not presiding over this great change. I am satisfied that, whatever happens, they will not be doing so for long.
At another level, opposition to entry—and I do not mean now the arguments so much as the instincts—is much more disturbing. It is often based on pessimism and frustration masquerading as smugness and independence. Those who talk about sovereignty and national destiny do so to conceal, as has been said before, a loss of national self-confidence. This in turn can lead to a retreat into a narrow provincialism where attitudes to social and political questions—I emphasise this to my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side; attitudes to social and political questions—are likely to become cautious and conservative. The fear of the unknown, in this case the fear of life in a wider international community, could turn to resentment, in this case of the foreigner himself. Isolation could induce a fortress mentality defensive towards the world and intolerant towards dissent within. This is the danger which should cause us all to pause, including in particular my hon. and right hon. Friends.
Our debate in this House has been and will continue to be serious and informed. There have been times when the debate outside has sometimes seemed to release ugly forces. If we fail to enter, out of our fear of the changes which entry will involve, we may come to see a positive virtue in inertia in our national life. There are, perhaps, some in this House who would accept with relief a contract- 950 ing out of this kind and the spiritual and moral dowdiness which would follow, but it bears no resemblance to the Britain which I care about.
I said that we must all make our personal statements. I was born in Liverpool in the 'twenties and grew up there. As a child, the poverty and ugliness and squalor made a very deep impression on me. I knew it mainly in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw). Like many others, I became a Socialist through an awareness of injustice and human suffering, but my own vision then, 30 years ago, was more than fine new flats and health centres and schools and jobs for all and fewer accidents in the Liverpool docks. Physical changes, satisfying material needs, a new environment—these were only steps towards a greater liberation.
I do not say for a moment that these objectives are not shared by many of those who take a different view on this issue. My point is simply that if we stand back from Europe, saying that the risk is too great, the consequences for our national life will be much wider. When opportunities are refused and vision withers, bitterness and cynicism take their place. That is not my sort of Britain. I did not come into politics to help create it. And it is not what I want for my children.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Green (Preston, South)
I have listened with genuine interest—more than interest—to the speech of the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers). He will not expect me to take up every sentence he uttered and give it my personal approval, but I am glad to tell him and the House that because he has made the speech which he has made I can now be very much briefer even than I had intended to be, because I agree so completely with the fundamental message which he had to give us this afternoon.
It would be stupid of me—certainly of me—to rehearse in detail all the arguments which we have all had to rehearse so often already, and it is, therefore, much more in the sense of a personal statement that I, too, want to speak this afternoon.
951 I said publicly that the terms mattered—indeed, they did matter so far as I was concerned—but that what really mattered to me about the terms we got was not each separate item, however important each separate item was, such as the terms for New Zealand butter or for the one-crop islands, or for fisheries, or for the Community's budget contribution, or even for duty-free imports of such an extremely important a thing to our Asian friends as tea. It was none of those separate items which mattered to me. What mattered to me was that we could negotiate certain changes. And we did—and in that sense the single most important thing to me was what remains the single most important thing to me, although it has nothing whatever to do with the immediate welfare of my constituents.
The Common Market countries have agreed, as a result of these negotiations, that their previous policies are not irrevocable or irreversible, a most significant example of that being the fisheries policy. They have said in public that this was all right for the Six but it simply would not do—they said so themselves—for an enlarged Community. That was what was concerning me about the terms; not a ½ per cent. here or two-thirds of 1 per cent. None of that.
Coming to this debate I must say that those who still say, "Yes, but only if the terms are better," are people who—I do not blame them—have not faced up to the choice itself. They are simply deferring it in the vague hope that some better circumstances will come along. To put it mildly, they are in the position of being resolute non-consummaters of a deliberate marriage. I am sorry that they have got themselves into this position and I hope that when this debate is over and the decision is taken no more will be heard about the terms and that the whole House and the whole nation will put their minds to making this business work.
I am not one of those who from the word "go" has been a fervent "pro" or a fervent "anti". It has taken me a long time to make up my mind and to decide for myself that question. The choice is ours, for the second time in my lifetime. The first time we refused even to discuss it. The next time the choice was not ours; we were rejected from 952 within the Community. This time, for the second time, we have a choice to say that we will join. If we refuse a second time we shall not get that chance again, anyway in my lifetime.
I beg those who are still apparently in the position of just quibbling about the terms—although I do not believe they really are—to make up their minds. The negotiation itself has shown that the terms can be changed. I beg them to make up their minds and, if they are going to say "never", let them be honest and come out with it. It would be infinitely better for the British people if they would do so. I respect very much those who have said that, although I would still seek in subsequent argument to convince them that they are wrong. What is genuinely damaging is to have a substantial number of hon. Members saying, "Yes, we would go in if it could be made a little easier".
I finally became convinced because I saw that we could negotiate and did negotiate. If as a candidate for membership we could get a positive and proper negotiation, how much more could we do in the general interest if we were inside?
If we do not join we can survive. We survived alone for a year against Hitler, but we did not conquer Hitler on our own. I have no doubt that if, because of a vote in this House, we do not join the Common Market, we shall survive, but we shall not make a contribution to conquering all the problems that beset others as well as ourselves if we do not make this communal effort with our biggest and nearest neighbours.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)
What I have to say follows on from what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) and the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Green). In this argument many of us have strange bedfellows. I want to make it clear at the outset, as someone who opposes entry into the E.E.C., that I dissociate myself from those on my side of the camp whose reasons for not wishing to go into Europe are based largely on the argument that they find a white foreigner just as distasteful as a black foreigner. That is 953 not my reason for not wishing to enter Europe.
My reason is that I am an internationalist and I can see the sort of international policies that joining the E.E.C. is likely to force us into. We must be careful in selecting the organisation we join. We should not join an organisation just because it is a group of nations. We must consider what that group of nations is trying to do and, more important, what it is likely to prevent us from doing.
Much of what I have to say. is directed to my hon. Friends, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees, who has stated his case in an excellent manner. They are Socialists and are arguing their case, as I am, on the basis of developing Socialism. With respect to what was said by the right hon. Member for Thirk and Malton (Sir R. Turton), with which I agree, I believe that the arguments from the two sides of the House for going in or staying out should be somewhat different. Some hon. Members on the Government side who will be voting to go into Europe have told us from time to time about how wages will rise, how there will be more consumer goods and how we shall all be better off. During the passage of the Industrial Relations Bill, however, this sort of appeal was not made. It was said then that people should not be thinking so much about high wages and material gain.
The hon. Gentlemen who were then saying that people were greedy and should work to earn the better things of life are now telling us that if and when we go into Europe we shall have higher wages and more consumer goods—television sets, motor cars and so on. The carrot which they were decrying a little time ago they are now holding before us. There are better values than having more television sets. In the context of the Industrial Relations Bill this carrot was wrong, they said, but in the context of Europe it is right.
I am concerned with what sort of internationalism we are talking about and what sort of international policies are likely to emerge in the future. My right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), who unfortunately is not here, has made some of the finest speeches ever heard in this House condemning the sale of arms to South Africa, 954 yet he is in favour of our going into Europe, with France, which is rapidly becoming one of the mainstays of South Africa in the arms race. In relation to Africa, South Africa and Asia what happens in the E.E.C. will be vital. The political significance of British entry into Europe will have far-reaching effects upon the third world, the developing world.
Because of the protectionist policies of E.E.C. we shall not close the narrow channels between the rich and poor nations but rather widen them. Much has been said about the ability of E.E.C. to increase assistance to the developing world and to guarantee that the Community will continue to be outward looking in the future.
I cannot understand—and nobody has explained this to me from either side of the House—how an organisation like E.E.C., which everybody agrees is based on a protective tariff wall to which this country must agree as part of the price of entry and which will mean erecting a fresh tariff barrier against helping other parts of the world, can be said to be outward-looking. I do not believe the interests of the E.E.C. are identical with the interests of the smaller, developing and weak nations of the world.
We are told that the E.E.C. will not mean for us a panacea for all our problems, but an opportunity. There are people who believe this argument, and I will not attempt to deal with it because I do not have the time. However, even if that were true, which I doubt, one cannot have it both ways and say that, by erecting tariff walls against the developing world, one is at the same time being outward-looking and assisting those countries in their trade and development. It is only now that people are saying, perhaps rather late in the day—and I believe the Labour Party should have had much more regard to this matter in its document dealing with the terms of entry—that we must do more in terms of aid. However, we are not here talking about aid, but about the interests of Europe as defined in the White Paper on the E.E.C. What we shall be asked to vote on next week must be opposed because of the use of protective policies which are to be pursued in the interests of the developed world. I will go on to show the House why I believe this to be the case.
955 In the past a great deal of lip-service has been paid to the idea that an enlarged community, like the E.E.C., will give major economic help to countries like Africa and Asia. This has been part of the case for going in. The argument is that we shall become richer and thereby, because we shall have a booming economy, be able to give more to the developing world. But the question which must be asked—and I believe it is has not yet been asked in this debate—is whether the kind of aid given by Europe as it is now and by Britain in loans for development is most calculated to assist or is necessarily in the long-term interests of the developing countries What the developing countries need are guaranteed long-term markets and quotas for their products. If they have these things—and they will be denied them if we go into Europe—they can plan their development and expansion and have lifted from them the crippling repayment of debts from which at present they suffer.
We are told that the scheme of general preferences for manufactured products from poor countries which was agreed in 1968 is one way of helping the developing world. I doubt whether this is the case since the manufactured products of most interest to the poor countries at the moment are textiles and processed foodstuffs, which are excluded from that scheme. Yet those are the countries which most need to trade. Anybody who has gone into these matters must be aware of the disruption clauses which are already part of the negotiation on the Treaty of Rome, and on which France has been most insistent, which permit the E.E.C. to erect barriers if an export from a poor country proves very successful and therefore competitive with the E.E.C. This also supports the case against going in since again it affects the developing world.
People rightly will say, as they have every right to do, "If we go into Europe, then unemployment will fall and the standard of living in this country will go up." Of course, it is important that both these things should happen and that the gap between rich and poor in the United Kingdom should be narrowed. It is a vitally important matter. But the argument surely is between merely saying, "We 956 do not go in", and constructing an alternative to going in, which will give us both things at the same time. The alternative should allow us to trade with the developing world in those goods which are cheapest for them to produce and which will allow us to produce for those countries goods which our higher technology enables us to produce. This is where the division comes between the Socialist argument against going into Europe and what has been called the Socialist argument for going into Europe.
The main objective of the E.E.C., as I see it—and I believe this is shared by some of my hon. Friends—is to protect and defend the rich European nations against the rest of the world. That is clear for everybody to see. It is concerned with improving itself. I accept that one of its by-products is that we can give more to the developing world. But if Europe is to be seen in this context—and this is how I see it as an internationalist—the major competitive interests centred in Europe ultimately will seek to strengthen their own power. This is the history of any organisations which band together for the purpose of improving their lot, and this will be in the nature of the E.E.C. But this power which will be used to strengthen the E.E.C. will not include the developing world.
At the moment firms are investing in Africa and Asia in order to gain cheap raw materials and labour to maximise their production. If hon. Members do not accept that argument, we need only to look at the history of French investment in the Ivory Coast to see that this has not benefited one iota any of the indigenous population. But it has benefited those who have invested in that country and who can withdraw their investment if they wish.
The true interest of the British and European peoples is to associate with the developing peoples in Africa, Asia, India and Latin America, to sell them the goods which we can produce by advanced technology and to buy from those countries the goods which are more easily produced in the developing world.
The supporters of E.E.C. claim that, by reason of increased growth in Europe, we shall be able to give more in aid. At the same time those supporters court public support in this country by 957 promises of more washing machines, colour television sets and the rest. The man in the developing world wants the chance to live beyond the age of 40. He wants the chance to see his children survive beyond infancy; the chance to have a doctor, let alone a health service. He will not get these things hidden behind the cloak of European or British aid because that is not the objective of such aid. The investor in Europe is interested in a return on his investment in the developing world. He is not interested in the conditions of life of the people who live in the countries in which he makes his profit. Those in the developing countries at this stage do not need aid so much as trade and guaranteed markets. It is on that positive matter that we are turning our backs when we go into Europe.
Britain's days of imperialistic power and colonialism are over, and many people who want to go into Europe believe that this will make Britain great again and that we shall be playing a wider role and wielding power. This depends on what one means by "great". I believe that Britain's role in the past as a great empire and imperialist Power, indeed as a colonial Power, has gone for ever. I would not wish to go back to that situation, but I believe that fundamentally Britain can be great again by playing a pioneer role in furthering trade with the developing world. We can do this by answering the knock at the door by the developing world when they seek assistance from the industrialised nations, and by opening that door wider to the mutual benefit of the industrialised nations and those nations which are still developing.
To my mind, that is the case against Britain joining the E.E.C. The Socialist case is for Britain to join the developing world, where her interests lie, because they are in common with the interests of half of mankind.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Airey Neave (Abingdon)
The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) developed some very interesting arguments with which I do not agree. However, she mentioned advanced technology, and it is the opportunities for the advanced technologies of Britain that I wish to discuss since they represent 958 one of the main reasons why I favour joining the E.E.C.
I thought that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was extremely convincing when he referred to the opportunities. It is the opportunities for economic expansion with which I am concerned especially in this regard. I wish the whole venture well, but I do not think that it will succeed unless there is successful exploitation of British scientific and technological effort in conjunction with the Common Market. That will be the theme of my few remarks, and it is the reason why I shall support the Government next week.
I have to declare an interest in the nuclear power industry, to which I shall refer, and if I mention computers I shall attempt not to anticipate the Report of the Select Committee of which I am Chairman which will be published in two or three weeks. Clearly, opportunities exist in the Common Market for making better use of our scientific skills, and I find it difficult to believe the argument that they do not exist.
Science is, and was long before the Common Market was dreamed of, essentially international. There is nothing to be afraid of for our scientific effort in the Common Market provided that we go in with our eyes open. The same applies to everything else that we do. Naturally enough, national interests will prevail in many areas, and there will be plenty of pressure to support national programmes. It exists at present, but that does not mean that a psychological and financial structure will not exist to the benefit of our scientists and their skills and opportunities.
Science has always had an international quality. One of the best speeches on the subject has not yet been mentioned in this debate. It was made outside this House by Sir Brian Flowers, the Chairman of the Science Research Council. He gave a striking address to the British Association on 6th September. He pointed out that the funding of science is becoming international, that it is the scale of the projects which really matters and on which science has to be practised. I refer especially to nuclear physics, space research and computers, and the growing interest in this country in molecular biology.
959 We have had unhappy experiences in scientific organisations in the E.E.C. like E.L.D.O. On the other hand, there have been considerable successes. The European Organisation for Nuclear Research is a very successful scientific venture and one in which I hope Britain will join more fully.
It is the psychological structure which will be provided by joining the E.E.C. that will improve our chances of the best exploitation for the common good. In providing any framework for future collaboration between scientists, the Common Market means that we can as a community then employ scientists of the best quality. Surely that is what we should aim to do in the future in the big projects. We should be able to influence future scientific organisation.
Anyone discussing this subject finds a great many pitfalls. It is perhaps a special one, but it is extremely important. One difficulty is that the universities of Europe will have to be readily accessible. They will have to open their faculties to people of different nationalities. Another problem is that research institutes, which are publicly-funded in most nations of the E.E.C., will have to be accessible to the best scientists of this country and the other nations which apply to join. But if we were to achieve a scientific organisation of European projects in competition with the super-Powers, the potential would be tremendous. I find it difficult to deny this. The opportunity is there.
It is obvious, nonetheless, that national rivalries will continue. In that connection. I wish to know what planning is being done by the Government, with special reference to the branches of science that I am discussing. This needs study if we are to go into the E.E.C. How long will it be before an international pattern of scientific organisation emerges? The country wants advantages from its scientific investment. It wants better communications and better transport, and it will want to know how these are to be achieved. The Government's thinking on this subject is very important.
If we are going in, the Government will have to look at two advanced technologies very seriously in terms of reinforcement. I refer to nuclear reactors and computers. I have already declared 960 an interest in the former, and the Select Committee will be reporting very soon on the latter. The development of commercial nuclear power is vital for the long-term future of Europe, and it will be very important for its success.
Between 1966 and 1970 the countries of the Six spent £880 million on reactor development. That is a very big figure, but it has to be balanced against the United States effort, where it is expected to spend £800 million in the next five years. The key to the problem is the development of the fast reactor. In this country we have a programme of about £10 or £12 million per annum, with the United States expecting to spend £70 million per annum, and £50 million this year. France and Germany are also putting very large sums into the development of the fast reactor. Germany will spend about £100 million this year and perhaps £150 million in 1971–72. Much of that will be contracted out to industry.
The German approach to the nuclear power system is different from that of France and Britain. Much of the knowledge of the fast breeder reactor is in Britain and France. We have a great deal to offer, and Her Majesty's Government will have to decide their policy in the relatively near future with regard to joint schemes, possibly through joint companies in Europe, for funding development, France, Britain and Germany will have to follow a policy of partnership, perhaps by forming two or three large European companies. This has not received enough attention from the Government or in this House.
If Britain remains outside the Common Market it is difficult to see how she can participate in this connection, let alone compete. If one assumes that by 1985 most of our new electrical capacity will be nuclear, due to rising oil prices, we shall not be able to afford to market new systems of our own at that time.
Very big sums are being put into the computer industry by Europeans. However, we have one exceptional feature in this country in that we are one of the few countries, and certainly the only European country, where I.B.M. does not dominate. We have an enormous potential in our computer industry, and we have a great deal of our own computer 961 experience. Bearing in mind the financing being done in Europe, the problem of scale with the new technologies which will be with us anyway call for a readjustment of Government policy in these technologies if we are going into the E.E.C.
I wish the whole venture well. I hope that Britain's entry brings her very great prosperity.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. David Stoddart (Swindon)
I have been a consistent opponent of Britain's application to join the E.E.C. since 1962. Now that I am a Member of this House I believe that I owe it to my constituents to place on record, particularly as I have not had the opportunity of speaking in a debate on the Common Market before, the reasons for my opposition to British entry.
All the indications from my constituents point to the fact that they are very much opposed to entry. The House should know that in a very large postbag—although I have given every encouragement—I have not yet had one letter in favour of Britain's entry into the E.E.C. Indeed, this follows the pattern throughout the country; despite £1 million spent on advertising the pro-European case, the British people are still heavily against going in. Whenever their view can be put to the test they come down heavily against going in by about 2½ to 1. Indeed, in my trade union, the electrical trade union, a democratic ballot was taken of the members and more voted on this issue than for the election of the general secretary—25 per cent. of the membership, 100,000 people, voted. Bearing in mind that public opinion polls take into account only about 1,000 people, 100,000 being given the opportunity to vote on the subject and voting is not so bad. These people, when given the opportunity to declare their view, came down 3 to 1 against British entry. Therefore, it is obvious that the British people are against the attempt to get into Europe.
I believe that the Prime Minister's fanatical obsession with this subject is doing the country and, indeed, the Conservative Party a great deal of harm.
Although I respect the attitude of proEuropeans—they are entitled to their view as I am to mine—some of them are so arrogant as to be almost unbelievable. Indeed, the Under-Secretary of State for 962 Education and Science—I had better not mention his name—has been guilty of quite amazing and unparliamentary practice in his constituency. He has not only been twisting the arms of his fellow Members in this House, but he has indeed been brow-beating private firms in his constituency because they will not go along the line he wants them to follow. Frankly, such arrogance is unforgiveable.
I said that I wanted to give some of the reasons for my opposing entry into the Community. One of the main reasons must be that the Community does not suit Britain's history. There will be a lot of disagreement about that. But surely Hugh Gaitskell was right in 1962 when he said that we cannot overcome 1,000 years of history in five minutes. I believe that to be true. I hope that no one will accuse me of being a little Englander for saying it. We have to face the facts, and those are the facts.
I turn now to the common agricultural policy. I do not want to go into it in detail; it has been discussed ad nauseam. It seems absolutely crazy to substitute for a cheap food policy a dear food policy merely to subsidise the development of a foreign agricultural industry which will then compete on perhaps not equal terms with our own. Furthermore, since the Agriculture Act, 1947, British taxpayers have, quite rightly, been giving a great deal of assistance to the development of a strong agricultural industry. Indeed, the 1947 Act succeeded to a large degree. Having built a strong industry, we now find that the British housewife, not the British taxpayer, is expected, under the Mansholt Plan, to subsidise the development of continental agriculture.
It seems that the British people are indeed being taken for suckers. I hope that the vote on 28th October will show that Parliament will not be taken for a sucker after all.
We then come to the so-called dynamic effects. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), opening the Opposition case, made it quite clear that the so-called dynamic effects of entry into the Community are by no means provable. There is little doubt in most people's minds that the growth in the Six countries has nothing to do with the forming of the Community itself and that the level of growth would have been 963 the same had they not formed the Community. Therefore the argument about dynamism does not hold water.
I believe that in an interruption one hon. Member mentioned Japan. What about Japan?
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the countries of the Six believe that by their membership they have gained greatly in growth and that they have a right to be heard?
§ Mr. Stoddart
It would be a great admission of defeat if they did not believe that and if, indeed, they did not say it. There is no firm evidence on which they can base their belief. Hon. Members on both sides know that to be a fact. Therefore, the so-called dynamic effects really are not provable.
In any event, as was shown by my right hon. Friend, when talking about growth and dynamism one does not need to look to the E.E.C. Surely we should be looking to Sweden, to Austria and to Japan, all of which are on their own or in a community of far fewer than 250 million people. If we go on to say that this market of 250 million people causes dynamism, I suggest that we should look at the United States with a similar population and a growth rate similar to our own, not similar to that of Sweden or, indeed, of the Common Market. The dynamism argument simply does not hold water.
The reasons for lack of growth in this country are nothing to do with a small or an enlarged market. Our failure to grow has been the failure of successive Governments to deal with the real problems in our economy: spending too much on defence, for example; not spending sufficient of our gross national product on reinvestment; and spending too much on short-term consumption. Those are the real reasons why we have not had a growth rate comparable with the E.E.C. countries and many other countries.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that our growth rate for the second half of 1971 and the first half of 1972 is calculated by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the 964 Exchequer to be between 4 and 4½ per cent. and that the E.E.C.'s growth rate is also calculated to be up to 4½ per cent.? So we have caught them up. Therefore, on the argument about growth there is no reason at all to go in.
§ Mr. Stoddart
I thank the hon. Gentleman for confirming my thesis. I am certain that the House will take notice of that.
Many people, including some of my hon. Friends, have been criticised for changing their minds. I take the view that they are entitled to change their minds after hearing the terms of entry. Many people have said that the situation is the same now as it was before 1970, before we started negotiations. Surely hon. Members know that had we gone into Europe before 1970 the opportunity would have been available for us to change the common agricultural policy by means of a majority vote, whereas it is not now possible to do so because the French have got their own way and can impose a veto. Whatever happens, we are stuck with the C.A.P. and there is no possibility of this or any other country, without the consent of the French, who do best out of it, altering that policy.
§ Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)
Does not the hon. Gentleman understand that the criticism made of many of his hon. Friends is not that they have changed their minds but that they have changed their tactics?
§ Mr. Stoddart
That is a matter of opinion. I believe that those who have changed their minds have done so in an honest and reasonable way. They are entitled to change their minds after considering all the facts.
There is only one person in this House who has been completely consistent in his attitude, and that is my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may find that amusing, but if they look at the record they will see that, at any rate during the time that I have been in the House, the only person who has been consistent in his attitude is my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson), who all the way along said that he would await the terms before making 965 up his mind. His attitude was in complete contrast to that of the Prime Minister, who had made up his mind to go in on any terms irrespective of the damage that was done to this country and to its economy. Let us get that fact right, and let us look at the record, because that is what the record shows.
I believe that our entry into the E.E.C. will do irreparable damage to our economy. Because of the free movement of capital into Europe, our industries, particularly those in the regions, will be damaged irreparably. I believe that this country will become an offshore island of Europe, with perhaps the North-East, Wales and Scotland becoming a playground for the new Europeans.
Perhaps the pro-Europeans do not believe that this country still has a great role to play as an independent institution. In spite of some bad parts in our history, I believe that an independent Britain has been a good force in the world. I do not want to see that force submerged in a sea of Europeanism. I believe in Britain. I believe in the capacity of the British people to sustain themselves and to assist the rest of the world, and that is why I shall vote against entry.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Hornby (Tonbridge)
I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. David Stoddart), but I could not see how it led to the conclusions that he reached. It is right that hon. Members, whether they are in favour of or against joining the Common Market, should want Britain's voice to have influence, and certainly they should want it to be a distinctive British voice, but I cannot share the hon. Gentleman's view that that would cease to be so if that voice became submerged in the European debate. In fact, I believe, very much the contrary.
If someone wants to speak, he hopes for an audience. During the debate at the Conservative Party Conference my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) said that "Britain's voice, weak or strong, is Britain's, heard or unheard, to which I reply that if one cannot be heard, what in heaven's name is the point of speaking? That is what a great deal of this debate is about.
966 The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) put as clearly and as well as it could be put the attitude of mind which lies behind the view of so many people who favour entry into Europe. Basically, the hon. Gentleman seemed to be saying that the perspective was this: do not let us imagine that joining Europe can solve all our problems because it certainly cannot—be they political, social or economic. Second, do not let us imagine that because some people want to join the E.E.C. it is therefore necessarily perfect in its present form. It certainly is not. Nor should we imagine that its present policies for dealing with the rest of the world are necessarily in every respect the same as ours, or the right ones.
What we feel, however, is that the European Economic Community stage represents the right one for the aspirations of the British people at this point of our history. We believe that we can help ourselves and others best by taking our place on that stage rather than by looking for another one elsewhere—another one which we have not found, of equal strength, or equal influence.
It is 15 years bar one month since I made my maiden speech in the House on this subject, and one cannot help feeling and reflecting during today's debate that this subject has been around for a long time. Looking at the speech that I made in November, 1956, I notice that the same hopes, the same aspirations and the same fears were around then as are around now. They were around on the Continent of Europe, which was about to step into the Community, no less than they were around here.
Looking back over the last 15 years, the things that strike me most are these. First, how true to their aims the Six have turned out to be; how true in their genuine determination to seek both political and economic co-operation without dangerously over-riding their own national interests. Second, how pragmatic they have been in their approach to the problem of economic and political co-operation, not an easy thing with deep-rooted national prides, deep-rooted prides which had brought war and the need for collaboration; but they had done it. They have prospered, and I believe that we can genuinely say that in seeking association with the E.E.C. 967 we are seeking an association with no fickle partner. It is a steadfast partner, as the experience of its members has proved, and it is an understanding one, too, as the relationships between the countries have shown.
The other thing that strikes me is that in spite of all the setbacks the arguments in support of British entry have been persistent. Time and again we have had our setbacks. We have had our doubts, wrongly on occasions in my opinion. Time and again we have heard the voices of British industry urging entry. We have heard the voices of three successive Governments, coming from different viewpoints, urging entry. We have heard the voices of our partners in E.F.T.A. Despite what we have done together outside the E.E.C., we still think that we look like doing better if we can once again try to join the Community.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
I think the hon. Gentleman would agree that it would be wrong to call the Six "Europe". The hon. Gentleman might take the view that the countries of the Six have made good progress during the last 15 years, but surely he will agree that there are still only six members of the Community, and that during that time they have tempted no one else to join them. They are now trying to tempt us.
§ Mr. Hornby
If I get the hon. Member's point correctly, I would only reply that I will not go into the arguments of what precisely in French policy prevented us from joining on two previous occasions when we would have been well advised to do so. In the context of this debate we have had a warm and unanimous welcome from all six countries of the Community. I am arguing that we would be well advised not to reject that invitation.
I should like to deal with one or two points which have been raised by those who are doubtful about the wisdom of entry. The first is the standard of living. My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir R. Turton) believed that, while the prospects of improved standards of living were likely to be good for the affluent, they were likely to be much less good for those on small incomes, the housewife and others. One 968 is looking at standards of living in each nation: it is within the domestic responsibility of every country, inside or outside the Six, to see how it copes with poverty and the distribution of incomes and so on. That is a national responsibility whether one is inside or outside the Six, and it would remain the responsibility of this House.
The second point concerns jobs. This has been raised in many meetings and depends on a feeling that employment prospects will be more difficult if we go in. That is not the impression which I have from comparing Continental employment figures with our own. However, we should recognise that the problems of reviving economic growth will be a great deal easier in this country than the problems of getting employment down to acceptable figures. In this machine age, many employers, under the stress of international competition, have come to live with smaller work forces, and have learned ways, and are continuing to learn ways, of producing with smaller work forces. This fact will affect the Continent of Europe, the Six, no less than ourselves.
If we have problems in the employment of labour and some of the social problems connected with that, I would far sooner be examining ways and means of mitigating these problems in collaboration with our competitors than in isolation from them. We would be well advised to consider this in a common spirit, rather than fearing a policy of "beggar-my-neighbour" by our competitors.
The next point is overseas trade and aid. Something which cannot be stated too often is that the fact that the Six have formed their own free trade association does not mean that their trade with the rest of the world has declined: quite the reverse. That is why there is a "no road" sign up for our own prospects if we stay out. The prospects are simply not better outside in competition with them. They are outselling us at this minute.
As for aid, the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) said that she was critical of the E.E.C. because she regarded herself as an internationalist and feared that the Six were protecting the interests of the wealthy nations of Europe. First, it is always an object of 969 one's foreign policy to protect one's own national interest as best one can. I would defend that policy. However, second, I would argue that many of us see great dangers if the rich world pushes its own interests too hard and deprives the rest too much. Again, there are better prospects of getting these aid and development programmes right if we tackle them in conjunction with others and not in isolation.
On the question of regional policies, again one needs to recognise the nature of the Community which we are joining. It is not a static Community but a changing one. Initially, regional policies tended to be taboo within the Six because they wanted to keep fair and free competition between all. Having established that principle, they then came to see that problems of jobs and employment were very different as between one place and another; regional policies came back into their own and are, I believe, there to stay. There will be the utmost sympathy for our own regional policies there.
As for the fears of the North-East that it will be removed from the commercial centre of this new Community, I would argue that it will be just as removed from that European commercial centre if we stay out as if we go in—[An HON. MEMBER: "More so."]—I agree: more so.
Finally, there are the fears about sovereignty and excessive bureaucracy. I recognise the anxieties that too many decisions may be taken at Brussels, but there are other enemies of bureaucracy in the liberal traditions of Europe as well as in this House. There are other critics of too much power being centralised in Brussels, and the Council of Ministers has remained paramount in Europe. We can play our part in seeing where decisions are taken.
My summary of my feelings as this issue nears the crucial vote is that the fears of those who have been critical are based on a misunderstanding of the way in which the Six have developed and worked, and their hopes of other trading opportunities elsewhere are based on a total misunderstanding of the changing patterns of our overseas trade. So now, after all the consultations, the polls, the arguments about referenda and all the 970 rest, I take the view that we come to a matter of personal judgment. My own is that we have delayed on this great issue for too long, that we should get in and get on.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
Since I found nothing in the speech of the hon. Member for Ton-bridge (Mr. Hornby) with which I disagreed, I hope he will forgive me if I do not follow his arguments.
Perhaps he would agree with me that some of the speeches which we have heard against the Common Market seem to divide into two distinct categories—rather like people who go into a garage and consider whether they wish to buy a second-hand car. Some may say, "I do not like the design of this model, and in any case the works or the steering are defective and the engine is the wrong size." On that basis, they would not wish to buy it. But there are others who will look at it and say, "I like the car but the trouble is, first it is too expensive, and, second, I do not like the look of the salesman because he is wearing a blue rosette." That is a much less effective argument.
What strikes me about hon. Members like the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) is that they try to combine both arguments. They say, first, "We do not want to buy the thing", and then spend a good deal of time explaining how it is too expensive and why they do not like the people who are selling it. One does not go on to the second argument at all if one accepts the basic proposition that one does not want what is being sold. Those who accept that argument I have always respected, although I disagree with that view.
Like all other hon. Members, I have received a large amount of mail on the Common Market—not necessarily from constituents but from people who feel strongly on it. One letter went roughly as follows: "Both Mr. Heath and Mr. Wilson have tried to sell the country down the river at different times. You Liberals are different: you have been consistently honest. You have tried to sell the country down all the river all the time." [Laughter.] I admire that backhanded compliment.
971 Of course it is quite true that the Liberal party at least has had a consistent record on this subject. This is not just a matter of recent politics but stems from a basic philosophical view of the kind of society which we want to create, a view that internationalism begins on one's own doorstep and that if one is an internationalist, one must be prepared to join and co-operate and pool sovereignty with one's nearest neighbours.
If hon. Members want to go right back beyond the 1950s and the discussion over the formation of the E.E.C., I have even managed to pick up a quotation from Mr. Gladstone in 1887, when he was arguing:We are part of the community of Europe and we must do our duty as such.That remains basically the view of my party at the moment.
It is highly significant, whatever view the Conservative Party or Labour Party may have taken since the E.E.C. was formed, that both parties in the last ten years, when they have had to take up the reins of office and preside over the Treasury and the Departments concerned with foreign and economic affairs, have, whatever they have said when out of office, come inescapably to the conclusion that Britain's interests lie inside the E.E.C.
If I have one criticism of the way in which this debate has been presented and the way in which the Government have argued their case, it is that the political importance of what we are doing has been under-valued, under-estimated and under-stressed all along.
Fundamentally, when one argues about this whole subject with people outside the House, and particularly with ones' constituents, one sees that the great divide boils down to the difference between those who accept some pooling of national sovereignty for the greater good and those who do not. That seemed to lie at the bottom of the arguments adduced by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). That is the fundamental difference of opinion.
I respect those, particularly in the Labour Party who want to remain, as they believe, in total control of our economy; those who want to create a 972 sort of fortress Britain. They want to control the outflow of capital, build up our own economy on a Socialist basis and feel free to divert and distribute wealth in such a way that a great deal is done to alleviate the problems of the poorer sections of the community.
I understand this argument, but I disagree with it, particularly when I consider the position of some of the poorer parts of this country. I remind hon. Members that we are now talking about poor parts and not poor people because there are poor parts of Britain nowadays.
This point is brought home if one looks at the results of a study submitted to the Scottish Office a few weeks ago by the Centre for Urban Studies in Birmingham. It covered the whole of the Clyde-side area, including Glasgow. It revealed the disgraceful statistic that 40 per cent of the heads of households in that area have a take-home pay of less than £10 a week. What a disgraceful state of affairs in 1971.
My resolution is not the Socialist one of, "Let us do something by redistributing wealth". The only way to tackle this problem is to create greater prosperity in the country as a whole and remedy the state of affairs that we have had for the last 10 years. Only then shall we be able to redistribute the greater cake that has been created.
If, on the other hand, we do not create a larger cake in the first place, we shall not have the basic prosperity with which to build the schools, houses and so on that are necessary to improve the lot of those who live in the poorer parts of Britain and we shall not have the money with which to pay the welfare and other benefits. If those people had had a share in the increase of average wages which their counterparts have had in the E.E.C. since 1956, they would be in a happier position today.
Although, therefore, I appreciate the argument of those who take this different view, I do not accept it, and the only thing of which I disapprove in the present argument of the left of the Labour Party—which, in view of the bench I occupy, I am used to hearing—is the application by the Tribune Group for a three-line Whip to be placed on Labour hon. Members on this issue. That is an extraordinary feature of our current politics.
973 I come to the legitimate and understandable fears that I have found among the people with whom I have discussed this issue, particularly in Scotland, where, it must be conceded, public opinion is more anti-Common Market than it is in Britain as a whole. This is understandable because their basic argument is that they have suffered over the years from their remoteness from the centre of power and Government. They are concerned lest a change of emphasis to Brussels will mean this remoteness being accentuated.
This argument ignores the very substantial impact of the regional policies which the E.E.C. has been following. The countries of the Community have had to tackle problems far worse in many respects than those we face in Scotland. Think, for example, of Southern Italy. Through the Development Fund and individual national policies—these policies were outlined in this House in the July debate— they have done a great deal, by concentrating on regional policies, to overcome this problem of remoteness.
I have found, in my limited experience in the Council of Europe, a great deal of economic thinking among Ministers in Europe about the need to pull what are called the peripheral areas of Europe into the prosperity of Europe as a whole by, for example, the development of improved transport links.
Provided we have a Government at home who are prepared to invest in such things as adequate transport links, I do not fear the physical remoteness of any part of this country from the centre of Europe. Indeed, those areas of Britain. like Scotland, which are today suffering from high unemployment levels, are the very areas which are the most attractive for investment, for they have spare labour. The prosperous parts of the E.E.C. are having to import labour. Some parts of those prosperous areas are suffering from a considerable labour shortage. Alas, we in Scotland have no labour shortage.
I find that there are now industries waiting, in this period of uncertainty, to see whether we intend to go into the E.E.C. before coming to investment decisions. Once we decide to join, there will go ahead with their investment programmes. [Interruption.] Can any hon. Member tell me of an industry which is waiting for us to decide to stay out of 974 the Community before launching an investment programme?
To those in Scotland who are concerned about the effects of our joining the E.E.C., this larger grouping, I say that there is no genuine analogy between what is happening now and what happened at the time of, and as a result of, the Act of Union in 1707. That was an historic mistake which I believe could be put right even now. That is history, though it is worth bearing in mind that when the Act of Union was passed, the Scottish Parliament was abolished. Instead of leaving it, so that it might be a focus of political opinion, we abolished it, and now we in Westminster push legislation through for Scotland. We administer the Scottish Office, but we have no Executive.
That is not happening on this occasion. We are not abolishing Parliament at Westminster and transferring its power to Brussels. I hope that we shall develop our internal policies and parliamentary procedures so as to make more effective the representation of the needs of Scotland. None of that would be nullified by our decision to join the E.E.C.
Too much of the discussion in this great debate, as it has been called, has centred, understandably, on the present terms, and little has been said about what will be the political future of Europe. What is the view of this country about the role that we shall have to play and the kind of policies that we want to see Europe pursue? In asking these questions, one is questioning what Europe will be like in 10 or 20 years' time. That is the way in which my party and colleagues consider the matter.
I feel that it is inevitable—I hope that this will happen—that the European Community will take on board decision-making and defence policies, and I disagree with some of the theorising that has been indulged in about defence. [Interruption.] Let me make it clear that I disagree with those who argue that we want to see the development of an independent European nuclear power as the future defence rôle of Britain. I see developing in the next 10 or 20 years precisely the same argument, but in a European context, as we had 10 years ago, in a British context, about whether there should be a separate nuclear capability.
I hope that the E.E.C. will move in the direction of using its unity as a force 975 for the encouragement of detente in Europe, particularly in terms of nuclear disengagement. I hope, too, that in thinking of the future, we in this country and Europe as a whole—I know that several Governments in Europe are committed to this view—will develop the democratic institutions of the E.E.C.
The Foreign Secretary tried to ride off the question of the national veto when he was asked about this by my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I do not hold the veto up as a great virtue to the British people. It is not wise to stress that at the end of the day we can use our veto. That is not my party's attitude to the kind of Europe we want to see.
We must develop voting procedures, make the Council of Ministers more authoritative over the Commission and move towards a directly elected parliament, and I hope that developments of this kind will come in for a great deal of discussion in the coming years.
Looking to the future, and bearing in mind the remarks of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor), I very much hope that it will be a Europe committed to a cohesive rôle in ending the disparity of wealth between the richer and poorer parts of the world. One must consider the record of the E.E.C. in this connection. Only this summer it was commended by U Thant for its decision to admit, duty-free, certain manufactured goods from the under-developed world. The E.E.C. has already attracted ex-members of our colonial empire, such as the East Africa States, to associateship. It is a mistake to caricature the E.E.C. as just a rich man's club not interested in the problems of the third world. Neither we nor the E.E.C. members have done enough, and I hope that inside Europe we shall do very much more.
In all the opinion polls on the subject of the Common Market I have noticed one very significant feature and it is that there are more in the age group under 35, unlike the rest of the country, wanting to go in than wanting to stay out—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If it is not true of all polls, it is certainly true of all those I have seen. If the word "all" is an exaggeration, I will withdraw it.
I find that opinion is different, and significantly different, in the younger age 976 groups. I believe that to be a hopeful sign; that it is rightly different because those of the younger generation are thereby saying that if we are serious about some of our wider intentions, such as building up the authority of the U.N., uniting east and west Europe, developing the Ostpolitik and recognising the fact of two Germanys, bringing China in from the cold, and solving potential race conflicts in the world, we must make a start by saying that we are willing to combine sovereignty with our neighbours who are nearest to us geographically, historically, culturally and politically.
I and my party regard this as a political argument first and an economic argument second. If we cannot bring ourselves to advance democratic institutions in the E.E.C., the prospects of the international civilised development of mankind are indeed bleak, and believe that the younger generation would be right to despair, to protest or just to drop out.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)
I rise to oppose the Motion, and in doing so I recall vividly sitting on the bench a few feet away from the present Prime Minister, on 26 June 1950, when this debate in this House really originated. It was an important Motion dealing with the Schuman Plan which was, of course, the progenitor of the Common Market. At that moment, listening to all the speeches, I decided that there was a great divide between the present Prime Minister and myself. He is a dedicated European: I am a dedicated British nationalist. There is a great divide between us today, though I hope that we shall remain friends, and members of the same party. That is why, when the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) referred to the debate going on for 15 years, I took my mind back even further.
The significant point about the admirable speech delivered by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) was his reference to the fact that this is a political decision, first, and an economic decision, second. I could swallow quite easily all the economic, the industrial, the commercial, the trading, and the financial propositions. Some of them I might cavil at slightly. I think that, on the one hand, the economic advantages have been grossly exaggerated and that, on the other 977 hand, many of the disadvantages have been grossly exaggerated. But I could swallow all the non-political considerations and reconcile my conscience with them. What I cannot and what I will not reconcile my conscience to, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) said in the peroration of his speech at Brighton, are the considerations dealing with what is loosely called "sovereignty". Sovereignty means to me national independence for the determination of a nation's destiny.
The best explanation of the constitutional implications of signing the Treaty of Rome—and I have read almost every explanation made by my Ministerial colleagues and the leaders of my party over the last 20 years—has not been quoted in this debate nor, so far as I am aware, has it been quoted in any earlier debate in this House. Nevertheless, I consider it to be the best constitutional assessment. It was delivered on 2nd August, 1962, by the then Lord Chancellor, who sat in this House earlier as the right hon. and learned Member for Northants, South.
On that occasion, the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Dilhorne, said:The Rome Treaty, while leaving intact the separate existence of the member States and their constitutional organs…creates a Community, a new international person, with its own organs of Assembly, Council, Commission and Court of Justice. These organs on which, as a member, we should have United Kingdom representation, have in the spheres in which they operate, and in those spheres only, certain supra-national powers which override those of the national constitutional bodies, and which also are incapable of challenge in the national courts of the member States. The Commission and the Council are given powers under various articles of the Treaty to make regulations, to issue directives and to make decisions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 2nd August, 1962; Vol. 243, c. 418.]It may be argued by opponents of my view that those supranational powers may be exerted only in certain definitive spheres. I recognise that. But the spheres in which they may be exercised, let me remind every hon. Member—and this is incontrovertible—are the whole broad spectrum of the economic and social life of the nation.
That is the point with which I am concerned. I genuinely believe that Brussels will override this House. I genuinely believe that on the commanding heights of the economy—a piece of rhetoric used by the late Aneurin Bevan 978 which I have always admired enormously; both the man and the quotation—the power will be transplanted from the House of Commons to Brussels—[Interruption.] Those of my hon. Friends who are opponents of mine on this issue may grin derisively at me, but mine is a view that is held by the great majority of the nation today. Yet those who are in the minority in this context arrogantly say, "Oh, yes, but the majority are voting against entering Europe because they do not understand the matter"
I understand it. I may arrive at a different conclusion from that of the majority of my hon. Friends, but I understand the implications and I nut my own interpretation on them. My personal judgment in this regard is that I do not wish the House of Commons to be subjugated in the economic and social spheres to a superior court and legislative assembly sitting in Brussels. That is my fundamental and basic objection.
The White Paper, about which millions of words have already been spoken, addresses itself only very slightly—and tenuously at that—to the issue of national sovereignty. So much so that the well-known Conservative—I spoke at his eve of the polls meeting at Golcar in the Colne Valley by-election on 20th March, 1963—and I am glad to see the present Member for Colne Valley (Mr. David Clark) indicates recalling the event—Mr. Andrew Alexander, a senior feature writer on the Daily Telegraph took my point—[Interruption.] I have no doubt that the Daily Telegraph will print my words tomorrow, but that is no part of my purpose in quoting this rather dramatic phrase—because I could not use the opprobrious phrase, originating from myself in this House. Mr. Andrew Alexander, referring to the White Paper's denial of loss of sovereignty, called it:A plain lie. There is no other word for it.That was on 24th July, 1971. I would not impute mendacity to any of my right hon. Friends, least of all my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hex-ham (Mr. Rippon). He is both honourable and truthful, diligent and industrious in all his works. I dispute none of those things—I am not seeking to be his Parliamentary Private Secretary. But, by a sin of omission, the sovereignty issue was scantily dealt with in the White Paper.
979 I pass from that to a secondary objection, the gross exaggeration on both sides in the matter of advantages of an enlarged home market. We have a home market today of approximately 105 million, plus Commonwealth preferences over a much wider area. We seek to attach to our home market of 105 million approximately 185 million in the European Economic Community countries, making a total which one may approximately call nearly 300 million people. But this is the point which all Government spokesmen fail to emphasise in their speeches: whereas we have a margin of advantage in breaking down European tariffs against our goods, and the offset against that is the demolition of our tariffs against European goods—and I am entirely in favour of this process—while we do all this, we erect what is called shortly the C.E.T., the common external tariff of the E.E.C. and we create new tariff and artificial, man-made barriers against the rest of the world outside the E.E.C., including our Commonwealth countries.
Let me put it in plain perspective. I ask my hon. Friends who are so strongly pro-Common Market to consider these figures. As near as may be assessed today, the population of the world is about 3,500 million. The markets in the E.E.C. plus the present free trade area, E.F.T.A., and with Great Britain attached to it, are of the order of 300 million. We are, therefore, militating slightly against a world market which is at least ten times greater than the tariff-free market we are securing by the demolition of tariffs between Britain and Europe. I will not over-stress this tariff issue. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) does not agree with me, but these are population figures which are exactly comparable for the purposes I have stated.
The tariff argument has been greatly exaggerated in every quarter. After the Kennedy Round has been completed, within 12 months from now, the average tariffs between Britain and Western Europe will be approximately 7½ per cent. Anyone who has manufactured goods for as long as I have in this country, and in Europe, knows that a manufacturer can climb over a tariff wall of 7½ per cent., especially if his market is divided as to 50 per cent. to the home 980 market and 50 per cent. to the foreign market. Seven and a half per cent. is nugatory in any event. Not only is it nugatory but it is negotiable, and with another Kennedy Round in the next two or three years those tariffs could disappear anyway.
To my hon. Friends who are such passionate pro-Marketeers and who argue their case only on industrial, financial and commercial grounds, as many do here in the House and elsewhere, I say that the tariff argument is unconvincing to me, because I want multilateral free trade. I want fusion between our present tariff-free home market of 105 million and the European Economic Community's market of 185 million but without a common external tariff. That is progress towards multilateral free trade. I remind the House that Britain has always prospered and grown in terms of its economy and financial arrangements in the kind of conditions which I describe.
I devote the remainder of this short speech to my third objection. It is a very powerful one. No one has yet talked about it in these debates. We have to accept the common agricultural policy. It is dubious whether it is negotiable when we get into the Common Market, but whatever the correct answer is to that, of one thing I am perfectly certain: the most gross distortion in the whole of the White Paper was the proposition that food prices would rise in the United Kingdom only by 2½ per cent. per annum for each of six consecutive years were we to enter. How on earth does my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham work out that figure, especially having regard to the fact that food prices have risen in the last 15 months by 11.6 per cent., which is nearly five times as much as the annual rate of rise projected in the White Paper? I see all signs that food prices will rise by much more in the next six years than in the last 15 months, because of import levies, the value-added tax, and other inflationary tendencies.
I hope that there will not be any hanky-panky from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as there was yesterday when I confronted him with a simple proposition. I said, "Yes, it is true that we say we are not going to apply value-added tax 981 to food, but the value-added tax inevitably is applied to all the distributive processes of food imported and home produced and therefore takes the place of S.E.T." My right hon. Friend turned that supplementary aside neatly by saying that his hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South must question the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not need to question him, I know the answer. I almost evolved the original sales tax.
§ The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. James Prior)
Why did you ask me?
§ Sir G. Nabarro
My right hon. Friend has scored a cheap laugh. I will reply to him at once. One should never ask a Parliamentary Question unless one knows the answer. That is always the foundation for good Parliamentary Questions. But I will go further with my right hon. Friend. At the end of September he made a speech trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the electorate—by saying that over the next six years the price of food for a family of four will rise from £8 a week, or £2 per head, to £9.20 per week. He was converting to sterling, to currency, the 2½ per cent. per annum for six years, related speciously in the White Paper.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister wraps it up in a different way. Addressing the faithful of the Conservative Party on 14th July in the Central Hall, Westminster, he said:Joining the European Community will have only a marginal effect on prices. In the first six years of our membership, while we change over to the new system of food prices, the increase in the cost of living as a result of entry will be half a new penny in the £, each year. On the other hand, prices of other goods in the shops should benefit from the tariff reductions.My reply to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is one word of six letters. It is not an unparliamentary word because it is not of four letters but of six. My reply is "drivel". It is said that half a new penny in the £ per annum for six years will be the increase in the cost of living if we go into Europe. It will be vastly greater than that, and I hope that I shall be here to see exactly what it is if we go in.
I commit myself unequivocally. I tell my right hon. Friend what I believe will happen to food prices. I believe that the 982 price of basic foodstuffs will double in the six years as a result of all the processes that I have described, should we enter Europe.
The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. David Stoddart) has referred to those living on small fixed incomes, including retirement pensioners. I should like to relate that inflation of prices to the present retirement pension. The hon. Member referred to persons living on small fixed incomes. If the price of basic foodstuffs doubled in six years, as I believe it will, it would be necessary, if old-age pensioners were to maintain the same standard of living as at present, to cause the single old-age pension to rise to £9 per week and the double old-age pension to rise to £16 per week. Increases on that scale in six years to match food prices are manifestly beyond the capacity of our purse.
For all these reasons, but most largely the reason of sovereignty, I oppose the Government in this matter. Believing that I should oppose them next Thursday, I make it clear that if I oppose the principle I oppose the consequential legislative measures proposed as well. For the reasons I have described, I intend to vote accordingly.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh D. Brown (Glasgow, Provan)
I have found this one of the most difficult decisions I have ever been privileged to make in my life. It is made even more difficult by the horrible thought that ultimately I might find myself in the same division Lobby as the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro). This highlights the dilemma many of us have had to face in looking at this issue. It is impossible—certainly for me—to overcome the party differences or, indeed, the philosophy of a lifetime and attempt to see this problem purely in terms of the unity of argument.
Some people may say that this is a matter of prejudice, but I do not think so. I think that it is inevitable that, if there is an argument in this House, somewhere there will emerge differences which force us into opposite parties in our political life. Of course, there are many personal likes and dislikes in this. I must confess—and this is the only nasty observation, if one can call it that, that I want to make—that in the great debate 983 on the B.B.C. the Minister of Posts and Telecomunications almost convinced me that I should be anti-Market instead of pro-Market. Many of us, I must admit, have had these subjective reactions on all sorts of issues. This is one of the things which have made it extremely difficult to have a rational argument about the issue.
I take these things quite seriously. During September I held a series of nearly 30 meetings in my constituency. For the benefit of those who do not know it, I will explain that it is a working class constituency in the east end of Glasgow. I would say that it is perhaps in the area where, according to all the opinion polls, one would expect to have found the greatest opposition. I do not know what other hon. Members did. I would not claim to be the only one who held as many meetings but certainly not all hon. Members held as many. I do not know on what basis some hon. Members have been consulting their constituents—and I say that to some of my Labour colleagues, incidentally.
I held these meetings for the purpose of consulting my constituents. It was done not for them to hear my views but for me to hear their views. I conducted the meetings on the basis of genuinely purpose of arguing the case in which I seeking their views, and not for the happen to believe.
The total attendance of my constituents was about 1,200. That is not many in a seat with 60,000 constituents, but I am certain that it is probably 1,000 more than many other hon. Members had the opportunity to consult during the recess. I tried to get them all to take a vote. I must admit that, to my surprise, out of 762 constituents who voted, 365 voted for entry and 269 voted against. At these meetings I was not trying to exercise the influence I would like to think that all hon. Members have in terms of respect and ability to provide some leadership and guidance, especially in a subject which is so difficult and complicated for many of us to understand, let alone—and I am not being patronising—ordinary people.
I was surprised by the uproar from some of my hon. Friends when the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) made his com- 984 ments about young people. I addressed the senior pupils in four secondary schools, again on the basis of trying to get them to tell me what they thought. By a seven-to-three majority, they were in favour of entry. In other words—and this is understandable—they do not share the prejudices which even exist in the Labour movement. I have had people in my own party saying openly that they are anti-Market because the Germans have been our enemies in two world wars, one cannot trust the French and the Italians cannot fight. I do not share that view. I have enough class-consciousness in my make-up to appreciate more of the working-class struggles in those countries, I merely indicate that none of us is free of the prejudices of the past when thinking in terms of Europe and looking at this great problem.
The young people—and this is why I agree with the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles—may be said by some people to take this view because they have not had the experiences of two world wars. Some people might say that when they are older and have had some of these experiences they will be as embittered and as prejudiced as some of the older generation. I hope not. It is nevertheless true that, rightly or wrongly, the majority of the young people I consulted in my constituency were in favour of entry.
My own local party is in favour of entry. I do not think that hon. Members should make too much of that. We are not worth much if we cannot exercise a certain amount not of pressure but influence, because we are supposed to be leaders on issues like this. I do not think that the opinions of constituency parties are gospel, although I happen to be comforted by the fact that my constituency party is behind me in being pro-entry.
I do not want to start a row on this side, but I strongly resent the action of some of my Scottish Labour colleagues who, I understand, have written or are about to write to all constituency parties in Scotland reminding them of what the conference decisions are. I do not need any of my colleagues to tell me what my duty is in relation to my constituency party. At all these meetings in my constituency I made it clear that I would take the views expressed into account as 985 well as the views of my annual conference, which was still to come—although I knew what the decision would be, unfortunately—of the Parliamentary Labour Party; and of my local party and the rest. I also paid a fact-finding and interesting visit to Brussels, which was not a selling job by the Commission as far as I could see, before I made up my mind.
But I recognise that those right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House who believe that there is something to be said for joining the Common Market have lost the argument—meantime. Why have we lost it? Mainly because of the failure of the Government to make any impact whatever on the people. I think that perhaps we contributed to this. The economic case is not our case. I agree for once with the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South. It really is a political decision. We in this movement are not going to get a response from our supporters if we merely argue the case on the ground that we want to sell more B.L.M.C. cars as against Volkswagens coming into the country. That will not promote any idealistic aspirations in the working class movement. So we ourselves to some extent have contributed to losing the argument because we have fallen for trying to justify, albeit unconsciously, the Government's case, which for obvious reasons has had to be on economic grounds.
I do not want to give any ammunition to Tory Members, but I see a few prominent members of the last Labour Government on the Opposition Front Bench, and I can do no better than quote the Leader of the Opposition, as he now is, who made a speech to the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting on Thursday, 27th April, 1967. It was a good speech. He said:First I want to deal with the criticism that the debate has taken place on the basis of inadequate information, especially statistical estimates and forecasts.I accept that criticism—and it is one the Government has had to face and is facing in our own very deep discussions. But most of the issues—issues which dominate the discussion of the cost to Britain of this or that aspect of entry—are not quantifiable. Equally it is not possible to quantify the cost to Britain of not going in.At the end of the day, the decision for every one of us—and it is not a decision which we can burke, or evade by pulling the blankets 986 over our heads—that decision will be made on largely subjective value judgments, not capable of quantification".Now we have talked ourselves into the position of arguing about terms. I should not like to have a General Election to argue about the terms, never mind explaining the difference between the Government's terms and those which we might accept. There is, therefore, a lack of reality in some of the arguments which have been put forward in the over-concentration on the economic case.
This is a capitalist club. That might not be the language that is used, but the European Economic Community was not set up to abolish capitalism. But it was presumably set up as an organisation—and I think that people have to recognise this, even though there might have been some benefits for the capitalists of Europe—with some idealism—at least, I hope that there was—some recognition, whatever the reasons, and I am not going into that now, of the need to bring together six countries of Europe at least two of which had actively been involved in causing two world wars—and I am not going into the historical reasons for that.
Therefore, in some way or another we in the Labour Party missed the opportunity when we could have won the argument. What are the checks in a democratic society? How do we check the excesses in this capitalist society? We do it through the trade unions; we do it through Parliament; we do it through the various democratic institutions of which we are members. These will not be taken from us if we join the European Community. At the least we should have a better opportunity to exercise some of our undoubted talents in this respect.
Some of my Left-wing colleagues—perhaps I should not say that, for they may not regard me as a Left-wing colleague now—will recognise that there is constant change in society. What are the changes? One is certainly the development of the multi-national or trans-national company. How does the trade union movement get the institutions and co-operation required to match the economic developments in society? At least one hesitant step might be made available to us if we join the European Community. We need to think more in terms of solidarity. How can we 987 sing "Workers of the world unite—excluding the Germans, the French and the Italians"? It just does not make sense.
That is why I feel that we have lost the argument. I can understand why the upholders of the capitalist society on the Government benches want to go into the Community, even without Labour Party support. They think that to do so will strengthen the powers of the private enterprise system. I understand their case. Nobody will convince me that the Foreign Secretary genuinely wants any rapprochement with the Communist countries. He never has. [HON. MEMBERS: "Tut, tut"] Hon. Members may "tut, tut" as much as they like, but I would put my money on it.
But it is fair to observe that the E.E.C. has successfully concluded agreements with Yugoslavia with the possibility of getting what I like to think of as a genuine kind of movement towards some Communist countries outwith the E.E.C. No one putting the case from my point of view would suggest that we shall stick at 10 nations in Europe. I know that there are 14 countries in Western Europe as well as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) does. and I do not need him to tell me the arithmetic.
But when I think of Europe I think of the whole of Europe, and there are movements even within the E.E.C. where the trade unions are powerful enough to say that they do not want Spain or Portugal in the Community until they have changed their Governments. There are all sorts of possibilities in a changing situation for those of us who have enough confidence in our own movement. That is why I find it so depressing that we should have lost this argument in terms of the support in the country which could have been obtained if we as a party had set out on the right lines.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles and I are the only two hon. Members from Scotland who have spoken. We were bound in Scotland to be on a losing wicket because of remoteness. People are worried about that. Even with the proposals for the reform of local government in this country, people are worried about the remoteness of authority. The Government made no attempt to face this argument.
988 If we had 36 Members in the European Parliament, would Scotland have four? Would there be a "Mr. Europe" from Glasgow? I am not trying to suggest that I might be that man.
§ Mr. Brown
It is my natural modesty which prevents me, and I must admit that Glasgow could do worse.
The Government made a complete miscalculation in judging how the public would think. That is not surprising, because they do not know what people want in economic or any other policy. They do not know how ordinary people respond, or what they think about. How am I to convince people on this academic argument about the loss of sovereignty when they say that there may be only four Members from Scotland in this European Parliament, one of whom would cover the whole of Glasgow? People say, "My goodness! He will be very busy. He will spend 100 days in Europe and have all the responsibility for examing the Commission's instruments." We allowed 2.000 Statutory Instruments to go through the House last year without very much examination.
These are the practical considerations which the Government have completely failed to take into account and which needed to be considered if they wanted to get the people behind them. I do not have time to discuss the failures of the economic policies on the Upper Clyde or to worry about jobs and the cost of living. The Government have made it very difficult for some of us who are in favour of entry and who have found it almost impossible to win the support among our own followers that we might have confidently expected to be forthcoming.
I regret the jingoistic, chauvinistic, nationalistic flag-waving in which the Prime Minister addressed what the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South called "the Conservative faithful". But it appals me to think that some of my colleagues, not all, are making virtually the same kind of emotional appeal. That is why in the long-term interests of the Labour movement I hope that it is still not impossible for some of my colleagues who feel like me in their approach to Europe to find it possible to vote against this Government. This will not mean a 989 General Election but it will add to the confusion, to the lack of credibility, that exists about the Government, and the sooner we can get rid of them the better. [Interruption.] It is not so unrealistic as hon. Members think. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition once said "A week is a long time in politics." I have revised that and would say that 24 hours is a long time in politics these days.
I cannot speak for anyone else, but I hope that the active pro-Europeans in my party will find it possible to realise that if, next year at the annual conference or some other time in the future we want to start up a European argument with some hope of success we do not have to start by justifying why we supported the Tories in the Lobby on the 28th. I will certainly not be in that Lobby.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
This debate is inevitably a mixture of retrospection and prospects for the future. It is also inevitably a mixture of emotion and, I hope, some intellectuality. For me it is a case of going back to my earliest recollections. The House may find it difficult to believe this, but when I was nine months old, in February, 1915, I remember my mother's brother coming to see us before he went off to France. That was the last time we saw him. He died of wounds in May, 1915. I do not remember my father because he was killed in the first battle of Ypres when I was six months old. His name is on the Menin Gate today.
I cannot help asking myself whether, had there been a Common Market in 1913, World War I would ever have taken place. If we jump to the 1930s, I cannot help wondering whether all the friends I lost in World War 2 would be dead today had there been a Common Market in 1939. I hope that this is not too emotional. Anyone who contemplates the future of Europe without recollecting what has happened in the past 50 or 60 years may be missing a very important factor in the argument. That is the only reason why I mention it at the outset.
I am the father of three children. One of my sons has two children of his own. I am pleased to hear in the speeches that have preceded my own so much emphasis 990 being placed on what the young are thinking. I have no hesitation in saying that their thinking is very different to that of those who remember the Kaiser and Hitler. It has distressed me, in some of the letters I have received, to read not only how people cannot forget but also how they cannot forgive. We must try to wipe the slate as clean as we can and look forward to what we think Europe ought to be.
Disraeli said in 1848, in this House I think, that England would have to make up her mind one of these days how she wished Europe to be governed; she might find after due reflection that Europe could be governed only through the senate or the camp. Those who in the ardours of renovation imagine there is a third model based on the transatlantic model might find when they had destroyed the traditional influences they would be left with a state of affairs that could only be called disruption. Thus, after a series of paroxysms the state forsakes the senate and takes refuge in the camp. We have had Europe taking refuge in the camp—Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany and some would say Franco in Spain. We must recognise today that there will always be a risk that if Europe is prevented from coagulating when ready to coagulate we shall inevitably increase the risk of Fascism rising again, of the emergence of more military dictatorships and all the things we have fought twice to defeat and have twice conquered.
First of all, we ought to get rid of one stupid phrase that is used, and that is "anti-Common Market." I have yet to meet one person who resents the creation of the Common Market. What is in question is whether Britain should join it. Never have I seen, since the terms were made known, a more dramatic exercise in that saying "Lies, damned lies and statistics."
If we are to bog ourselves down in the statistics of this matter, many of which are based on forecasts which cannot be proved, we shall miss some very important facts. The first thing to decide is whether or not, the Common Market having been created, it will be better for Britain to be a part of it. Here we come up against the politics of it. I have never been a federalist, and when the Treaty of Rome was first published I felt there to be inherent in almost every 991 Article of that Treaty the eventual federation of Europe. Indeed, I go back to the debate in 1951, like my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), when he and my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden), John Mellor, Lord Harvey of Newton, formerly the hon. Member for Macclesfield, all abstained on a three-line whip put down by the late Sir Winston Churchill against the Government of Mr. Attlee because he would not participate in the discussion on the European Coal and Steel Community, because the prerequisite of being allowed to participate was acceptance of the idea of supra-nationality in Europe. I thought it was premature to accept that and I abstained. I do not regret having done so, looking back on it. It would have been much too soon for Britain to have embarked on that exercise at that time unless it had been made clear that we would not automatically commit ourselves to supra-national government in Europe.
But what has happened since the Treaty of Rome was signed? The traditions of Europe are so different, and the European countries in the Common Market are so different one from another, that we are further away from political federation of Europe than we were in 1957 when the Treaty was signed. One cannot have political federation likely to last unless it has a common currency. Surely we are not yet near to a common currency in Europe. Professor Triffin of Columbia University has been working on this ever since the Treaty was signed. I do not think that he has got very far. However far he has got, it has not been accepted by the countries in the Common Market.
Therefore, the things about which I had the greatest anxiety in 1957 and 1951 have largely diminished rather than intensified. The understanding at Luxembourg in 1966 that if only one member State thought far-reaching proposals made by the Council of Ministers or by the Commission were likely to do real damage to its country the Government of that State could insist on unanimity shows the way in which things are moving in Europe. We are moving towards what 992 President de Gaulle described as the Europe patrie. That has far fewer objections to it than a close-knit federation.
There are those who say that, whether we like it or not, the destiny of joining the Common Market is inevitably and eventually political federation in Europe. I do not believe it. If I did believe it, I could not support the Government on Thursday next. The more one studies the way in which Europe is working out, the less likely it is that there will be a close-knit federation. I think that there will be a developing agreement between the member States to co-operate on matters on which people are agreed they should co-operate and to reserve unto themselves the maximum amount of matters which are of primary concern to the Governments of the member States internally.
I do not suggest that the final stage is even capable of definition tonight. I do not believe it is. The way in which Europe is working out shows that the old traditional differences between the nations of Europe are still present and that they will not change simply because the President of France happens to be the former managing director of Rothschild or for any other reason. These traditions are, I believe, enduring and perhaps, to some people, endearing. They cannot be changed rapidly.
The characteristic of France is never to allow any other nation in Europe to dominate the scene unless it be herself. One sees this if one looks at the history of Europe. Go back to the Congress of Vienna. Napoleon escaped in the middle, and the rest had to stop the process as quickly as possible. Congresses such as those at Aix-la-Chappelle and Verona in the nineteenth century were designed to bring Europe together. Each time they had to turn themselves into exercises of stopping France being the dominant factor in Europe.
I used to attend the Koenigswinter conferences and I greatly enjoyed them. One in particular which I remember took place after Adenauer and de Gaulle had signed the pact of eternal friendship. The group with which I was working was chaired by a man I admired enormously, Helmut Schmidt, now Minister of Defence in the West German Government. I 993 asked him what he thought about this great pact of eternal friendship, and I always remember what he said: "You can take it from me that it is a mental aberration of two old men no longer with it in Europe. It will be as dead as the dodo the day the ink is dry." I do not think that he would say that today. There is a practical rapprochement between France and Germany in a way that we have not seen before.
Some of the nations in the Common Market want us in far more than others. Those which want us in most are Belgium, Holland and Italy. I believe that they want Britain in the Common Market because they believe that by our joining there is less chance of France or Germany or Germany and France together dominating the scene at the expense of the other members. Should we stand aside? If Europe does not work together, we shall very quickly suffer.
I therefore come to the conclusion that the political objections which I had at first have greatly diminished. The advantages of Britain going in for political reasons have greatly increased. That is not to say that I am entirely happy about all aspects of the problem. Who is? Who fully understands the problem? I am sure that not every hon. and right hon. member or every member of the electorate understands it.
Let me consider another aspect. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture is to intervene later tonight. I hope that he will pay particular attention to the matter that I now wish to raise. As I see Europe working out in the Common Market, the one front on which the member States are less happy than any other is the common agricultural policy. It is limping very badly and is causing the member countries immense financial problems. That faces us with this question: would we sooner that they tried to sort out their muddles alone, or would we sooner be in on the discussions? I am sure that on their own they could do a lot which would be very damaging to British farming and farm workers. I have come to the conclusion that the sooner we get into the discussions on agriculture with the Common Market countries as an equal member the less likely are the Common Market countries to make stupid 994 decisions and the more benefit we are likely to derive from the exercise.
One of the great problems is horticulture. There are hundreds of fruit growers in my constituency, particularly growers of apples, both dessert and cooking. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will get his Department to stop feeding him with information which suggests that a Bramley apple tree is no good after 25 years. Two weeks ago I was taken round an orchard which had been planted in 1911. It is only now just past its prime because it has been properly looked after and husbanded. If efficient growers are encouraged, they will survive.
The major concern in agriculture centres around the fruit growers. They are worried, and they have good grounds for worry. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to assure them that if we enter the Common Market we shall try to rationalise European production in such a way that surpluses, particularly of Golden Delicious, are not dumped in this country. This is a genuine and justifiable fear among growers. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) seems to be slightly amused. I am talking about the livelihood of a lot of very able and painstaking people, and I should not like to see their livelihoods ruined unnecessarily.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
the hon. Gentleman has known me too long to make comments of that sort. I was simply saying to myself, and perhaps smiling somewhat ironically, that the only reason why the French want us in the Common Market is that they wish to send their apples over here. Are not we asking the Minister of Agriculture to do an impossible job? The hon. Gentleman says that we must discuss the question of agriculture on equal terms as members of the Community. Why do not we discuss it with them now? We have just as much equality with them, except that we should not have to accept the common agricultural policy as it stands.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
That is a twofold question. If we become members of a club we are more likely to be able to influence the committee of the club than by staying outside, especially if we are dealing in the same commodity.
995 Britain has a contribution to make to the agricultural thinking in Europe from which the common agricultural policy can benefit considerably. As a result, British agriculture would be less damaged than might otherwise be the case.
Another thing that I say to my right hon. Friend is that it is no good talking to Fen farmers about expansion other than possibly in beef production. They are growing everything they can on every acre they have, and their yields per acre are probably the world's best. The thing which matters to them is price and the return that they get from their efforts. As far as I can see, agriculture stands to gain on those grounds.
I would say this. Looking today at what was great in the past and then trying to assess what our position will be in the future and what is likely to happen in the future, it would seem to me that the arguments against going in are based on an assumption which is totally false; namely, that the Commonwealth and Empire are what they used to be. They are not.
To support that argument I wish to quote from Lord Butler of Saffron Walden giving the Swinton Lecture, reported in the Swinton Journal for this autumn. This is what he says:Perhaps one of the greatest changes made by the Conservative party is to move from the concept of an organised imperial system to that of membership of a United Europe. For many years and particularly at the Ottawa Conference in the 20s the Party had espoused Imperial Preference and our economic system was based on a very large proportion of our trade being conducted with the Empire, particularly with Australia and New Zealand, and to some considerable extent with South Africa before she left the Commonwealth. Latterly Australia has altered her trade pattern in favour of Japan while Canada is perpetually creating new ties with her immediate southern neighbour, the U.S.A. Thus the structure of the imperial connection has been altering. Nevertheless it has meant a great effort of the heart as well as of the mind to face up to the big change of joining the European Economic Community. Mr. Macmillan deserves every credit for facing the Commonwealth Conference of 1961 with the new conception and for standing up to the sincere opposition of Sir Robert Menzies and other imperial statesmen. Some say that is was chiefly after 1961 that Australia altered her trade pattern. I believe that Australia received a great shock after 1961 and made some adjustments, but in any case I think Japan would have become her major trading partner owing to the great value of the ore 996 and mineral products which go to that country and also owing to the dispersal of the sale of the woolclip.Everybody has got to bring his thinking up to date, not least those who are most attached to the old concept of Commonwealth and Empire, and everything that that stood for in the past—and I am second to none in my feelings on that. However, we must be realistic about this. It has changed, It is changing. The markets have changed, and we can see that other markets are likely to be more profitable for all those countries.
There is another factor which we tend to overlook far too often. The population of the world may be 3,000 million today, but it will be 6,000 million by the year 2000. In this country the increase in the population in the next 30 years will be comparable with the increase in the last 70 years. In other words, there will be many more mouths to feed in the world. If anybody supposes that the markets as they exist will then be sufficient, or stay as they are he needs his head seeing to. The market structure of the world is changing. If one group of nations has a favourable balance of payments there is another group of nations which has an unfavourable balance of payments. What we have to aim at is getting world trade in equipoise, because as things are if one group of nations has a favourable balance of trade another group suffers, and this is the sort of thing which leads to war.
Whatever may be the calculations about prices of this or that commodity, and so on, I believe that Britain has no other choice now but to join Europe, and I shall support the Government next Thursday.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Guy Barnett (Greenwich)
It is a great pleasure to follow the speech of the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke). It was a thoughtful speech, and I know that he speaks with much greater experience and knowledge than I can hope to show. I was interested in so many of the things which he said, particularly his remarks about the Commonwealth and Empire, and I shall refer to that later.
I have consulted a number of colleagues about whether a Member who, after a period of absence, returns to this place to represent another constituency 997 makes a maiden speech when he speaks for the first time on his return. The consensus of opinion seems to be against. Certainly I do not want to claim any privilege which I know is afforded to a maiden speaker coming first to this House, but I do ask the indulgence of the House to say a few words about the constituency which I now represent, and its former Members.
In some circles it may be fashionable to disparage south London as being, perhaps, a rather dull part of the world and lacking in character. Certainly, being myself a south Londoner by birth, I would hotly dispute that point of view. I suppose one of the best examples I could cite is the constituency I have the honour to represent, because it seems to me to combine within its boundaries an immense amount of character, a tremendous heritage of history, and one of the most famous examples of architecture in the whole country. In addition to that it has, perhaps, the special distinction of being the timekeeper of the world, and I think some people down there like to think of themselves as pace setters to the world as well. I think of several examples of ways in which we in Greenwich have been that—first, perhaps, in the foundation of Kidbrooke School, which was one of the pioneers of the comprehensive school movement, and secondly, in drama at the Greenwich Theatre. The proposal now being discussed about the possibility of running a hydrofoil on the River Thames from Greenwich is another example of the way in which the constituency is perhaps a leader in certain respects.
I have recently returned here after a by-election, which was a unique opportunity to consult the electorate about the Common Market, perhaps a better opportunity than many hon. Members have had to consult the electorate in their own constituencies. I come to this place with the very firm impression that the majority of opinion in this country is against Britain's entering the Common Market, and it is definitely so in my constituency, but I recognise that there is certainly, as my postbag makes clear to me, as the postbags of many hon. Members must make clear to them, a thoughtful body of opinion which is in favour of entry. At the same time I am in little doubt that the majority of people are 998 against, and I think that that in itself has implications for us in this important debate.
I said earlier that I wanted to refer to others who have previously represented my constituency. I realise that I am particularly privileged in finding myself following Richard Marsh, who represented the constituency with distinction for over 11 years, and also Joe Reeves, who represented the constituency before him, and who is still remembered in Greenwich with the very greatest affection, as, I know, he is remembered in this House as well, for the services which he gave to his constituency and this place. I know I shall be doing extremely well to emulate the services of those two former Members both to this place and to the constituency which I represent.
As I implied earlier, I want to refer particularly to the remarks made by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely when he referred to the Empire and Commonwealth. Though I went some way with him when he said that things changed out of recognition over 25 or 30 years, and though I accepted a lot of what was said in the quotation which he gave from the lecture by Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, and though I agreed, obviously, that there has been a vast change, I think it would be very wrong to regard the disappearance of the Empire as necessarily meaning that the next step for Britain, and the obvious step for Britain, is association with a United States of Europe.
The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely said that it was unlikely in his view that Europe would move quickly towards a United States of Europe for reasons that he argued carefully. As someone who is in general opposed to Britain's entry, I find even that disturbing. If we were to go into Europe I should want to see a movement towards a federal structure to ensure that the citizen of Britain, France, Italy or wherever was able through his representative to exert some influence over whatever federal government was in existence. The objection which many have to Britain's entry is that they do not see how the average elector will be able to protect his own interests where decisions are taken in Brussels against them, and the Government have given no indication on this.
999 As I said, I want to refer more directly to the Commonwealth, because too readily the interests of the Commonwealth are forgotten. I was particularly interested to hear the speech made from these benches earlier in the debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor). I should have liked to say many of the things which she said. It is obvious from what the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said, and from statements of the C.B.I. and individual industrialists, that British industry sees entry into Europe as an opportunity of extending and increasing its business with Europe.
I cannot help feeling that this will be at the expense of trade with Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries in the world. It will mean the end of Commonweath preference and, since a great deal of trade is on a bilateral basis—if we buy goods from a country, that country will buy goods from us—an external tariff barrier will be erected between us and countries outside Europe, and increasingly our export trade will be with Europe and not with countries outside. We shall be importing fewer raw materials and less food from world markets, and inevitably there will be a diminution in our trade with the world and with the Commonwealth. When we recall that about two-thirds of our trade at present is with countries outside Europe, we must see this in a serious light.
Many people who believe in the Commonwealth and think it has an important and useful part to play in world affairs regard this as of minimal importance, because they see the Commonwealth differently from the way in which it was regarded 20 or 30 years ago. It is seen as an institution which facilitates a cultural exchange and professional links between people in different countries and an association through which useful consultation, from the Conference of Heads of Government downwards, can take place.
The reason why individual members of this association, which numbers about 31, still continue to regard the institution as important, and the reason why there was such an extraordinarily high attendance 1000 at the Singapore Conference at the beginning of this year is that traditionally the Commonwealth is a trading association. The history of the British Empire shows that trade preceded the flag. It is a maritime association based on the mutual need for trade, and this will continue to be a factor for many years to come.
An essential part of the Commonwealth association is the trade links between Commonwealth countries. I can see no other consequence coming from entry into Europe than a diminution of trade with what is sometimes called the old White Dominions, or with some of the newer Commonwealth countries. This was made clear by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough.
Had I been a Member of the House at the time I do not think that I should have supported the Immigration Bill. I understand that one of the purposes of that Bill was to try to put immigrants on an equal basis from wherever they came. One of the odd consequences of Britain's entry would be to differentiate again between immigrants from Europe and immigrants from countries outside Europe. I am principally concerned with immigrants from Commonwealth countries. In a sense we shall reintroduce a two-tier system, the very situation which it was the intention of the Government to get rid of by the Immigration Bill.
I believe I am right in saying—and I hope the Government will confirm or deny this—that negotiations are now in progress to provide for free entry for immigrants into Europe from two associated countries, Turkey and Greece. We shall have the almost absurd situation that it will be possible for Turks and Greeks to come into this country to work but that it will not be possible for Turks or Greeks who are Cypriots and, therefore, members of the Commonwealth, to do so. The late Lord Constantine drew the attention of the other place to a similar anomaly in the position of the inhabitants of the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. This again is a matter I should like to see sorted out.
Only recently I visited the island of Barbados. It is very English and pro-British. I believe that the contrast between the way in which the people of Guadeloupe and Martinique will be treated compared with the people of 1001 Barbados is something which needs to be looked into.
At the outset of my speech I referred to the attitude of people in my constituency, and I regard this as a vitally important matter which we must carefully consider in this debate. If the possibility of entry into Europe is a political decision, as I believe it must be, an issue of real magnitude, then one of the worst things we could do would be to go into Europe with British public opinion acquiescing reluctantly in the decision we are taking. I am convinced that the majority of people in the country are against entry, and all the polls have confirmed this view.
I have tried to give some of the reasons why many people are opposed to Britain's entry. There is an instinctive feeling that Britain's canvas is worldwide rather than European, and this may well be a factor in many people's opposition to entry or at least their indifference to the possibility of it. Except among a minority, one does not get the impression that there is a strong belief in Europe. If the majority of people really believed in entry into Europe, they would be ready to make the necessary sacrifices, to pay the high prices for food, to have decisions taken on their behalf in Brussels, to accept taxes which are not imposed upon them by the House of Commons, and to accept limitations on their own freedom. But I believe that this is simply not the case. I think it would be a great tragedy if we went into Europe with what appears to be the majority of public opinion opposed to or indifferent to this possibility.
It seems to me that one of the motive. for going into Europe—this has been obvious from speeches by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary—is that somehow Britain's role in the world should continue to be a large rôle. It has been extremely difficult for Britain to adjust herself to being a second-class Power. I believe that there is a vital role for Britain as a second-class Power, associating freely and trading freely with countries throughout the world and playing a major part through trade and other contacts and through our association with the Commonwealth. It is a remarkable achievement for any country to maintain the friendship of countries which she has ruled. I believe that in these ways we shall be able to retain some measure of 1002 international contact and to work for international peace.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes)
I wish to welcome the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Guy Barnett) back to the House. I know that the House benefited greatly from his speeches when he was in the House previously, and I am sure we shall do so again. The hon. Member knows a good deal about opposition to the Common Market. If my memory serves me rightly, I believe that when he first arrived in the House it was to a considerable extent because of a split in the Conservative Party in his previous constituency on this issue. Therefore, he has come in, as it were, at the point from which he started.
My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) said he hoped he would not be thought to be too emotional on this subject. I do not believe he was emotional at all. As a younger member of the House, I should say that my family were extremely lucky and did not suffer in the way in which the hon. Member's family suffered. This was not the case, however, in my wife's family. Her father was killed in 1944; her grandfather in 1917. But it was not the fault of the German sniper in 1944 or the German gunner in 1917 that these deaths occurred. It was the fault of the politicians of Europe who were unable to work out some means by which the countries of Europe could live together in greater peace and harmony. I believe this is the starting point for this whole argument and discussion on the Common Market. This is why the issue of the Common Market is such a highly charged political question.
Several hon. Members have already referred to the fact that many of their consituents are uncertain and worried about this major question. This is not in the least surprising. Any casual observer could be forgiven for becoming bemused at the course of the great debate in the last few weeks, let alone in the last few months or years.
In recent weeks alone, anyone could have learned, apparently, that the Common Market is good for private enterprise or, equally, that it is bad for it, that it is good for British exports and bad for them, that it is good or bad for the 1003 Comomnwealth, that it is good or bad for Socialism, that it is a capitalist plot, and even, in one person's view, pure Communism. Every member of the public has been subjected to a continuing stream of contradictory statements about the Common Market, and so amidst the contradictions, many of them spoken by people who are disagreeing flatly with views that they expressed only a few months earlier, it is not surprising that very many people are at best uncertain and at worst in active opposition.
To illustrate the confusion that continues to exist, perhaps I might tell the House that the most animated and violent argument that I had during the course of meetings that I held in my constituency was with one man who was convinced that the Daily Express was in favour of British entry.
One phenomenon arising from the discussion is that when people have had to consider the Common Market as members of a group, on the whole—with notable exceptions, and perhaps most notably the T.U.C.—they have tended to conclude that the United Kingdom is better in than out or, at worst, they have taken a neutral view. They have reached that conclusion because they believe that the interests of those whom they represent will be better served by British membership. It is true, for example, of the N.F.U., of the Scottish Chamber of Commerce. of the C.B.I., and of most sectors of industry. It was true, when they were responsible, of the last Labour Government.
On the other hand, when people have considered E.E.C. membership as individuals, when they have been free of the necessity or compulsion of rational discussion, emotion has tended to hold sway. The superficial attractions of splendid isolation or the memory of past glory coupled with the forgetfulness of the passage of time and of worldwide change produce a reaction sometimes amounting to a dislike of any relationship, and certainly a closer relationship, with the countries of Europe.
If people could convince themselves that membership of the E.E.C. would make no more difference to the British than Britain has made to the Welsh or the Scots, much of the emotion and opposi- 1004 tion would disappear. But that is likely to happen only after experiencing membership of the Common Market for some period of time. However, there is this double approach to the question which gives a very confused picture to anyone trying to sum up peoples' views.
Rather like the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), I cannot see that it will be easier to solve any of our fundamental problems outside Europe than inside it. If it were easier, many of those problems would not exist now, unless those responsible for governing the country in the recent past were to admit that their judgment had been constantly poor and that they had made a fearful mess. I doubt whether many would admit that.
The Government and the people have been working in the wrong context. Even at their hardworking best, their joint efforts will not produce the results that they deserve. I believe that Europe can help. Above all, our rate of investment is far too low. Without high investment, unemployment levels are bound to remain relatively high and output and productivity relatively low. But without the incentive of a vastly increased home market, what incentive is there to sustain high rates of investment? Every exporter to whom I have spoken, with the notable exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), has emphasised to me that his ability to compete successfully abroad depends on a strong and improving home market. Europe can certainly provide that.
I believe that the terms are satisfactory. I appreciate that it would be easy to pick holes in any individual term, but, taken as a whole, they are satisfactory. It is reassuring in this respect to have the support of those right hon. Gentlemen opposite who were most closely concerned with the earlier part of the negotiations. The terms cannot be fully comprehensive. Consequently, there is, and will continue to be, uncertainty, which I trust the Government will spare no effort to remove whenever they can.
Although the debate is to be summed up by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, agriculture has been mentioned only once. I hope that the House will forgive me 1005 if I make a few points in that respect before bringing my remarks to a close.
My right hon. Friend will realise that farmers are still concerned to a greater or less extent about numerous matters. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely remarked that there is probably more concern and worry in the E.E.C. about the common agricultural policy than about any other subject. As a result, it seems that there is a greater likelihood of this country being able to influence the development of the C.A.P. in a sensible way. But farmers are anxious about the form that the Price Review will take. They want farmers, probably via C.O.P.A. in the E.E.C., to have as much say during the Commission Review as the N.F.U. has at the home Price Review.
Farmers are concerned that production and capital grants should continue. Both are necessary if the required increase in production is to come about.
Farmers are concerned still about the marketing boards. I hope that my right hon. Friend will assist the establishment of new marketing boards where and when producers wish them to be established. My right hon. Friend has given a great deal of reassurance already about the powers that the Milk Marketing Board will have, but this uncertainty still remains among many farmers. They fear that the Board will not in future be able to carry on as it does now or carry out the excellent job which it has done over the years.
Of particular concern to one section of farmers is the production of eggs and poultry meat. Poultry farmers believe that special safeguards will be essential in this sector, bearing in mind the E.E.C. regulations for eggs and poultry meat would apply to the United Kingdom immediately upon entry and not gradually during a five-year transitional period as would be the case with other commodities.
My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely expressed concern about the position of some horticulturists. The main concern of horticulturists stems from uncertainty about the future. Although there will have to be changes in the pattern of production within the horticulture industry, I believe that new opportunities will occur and that horticulturists will take advantage of them.
1006 Some horticulturists in the far south-west should benefit, particularly from the common external tariff which would help them, for example, in the sale of their new potatoes and other vegetables which are produced earlier in the year in that part of England. Because they are early crops they will be able to compete very favourably with any similar production throughout the E.E.C. Bulb production in the far south-west has increased enormously in recent years, and again, climatically, the bulb producers of Cornwall and the Scilly Isles will be at a considerable advantage over most producers in Europe.
What is happening in the south-west is only an example of the type of development that can occur in other parts of the country. I believe that our climate is much better suited to the production of a number of vegetables than is the climate throughout a good part of the Common Market, and I am sure that our producers can take advantage of that. On the other hand, it is no use glossing over the fact that some producers, notably tomato growers, may find difficulty in competing in future, although, again, there is still bound to be a good market for high quality produce.
Another matter that is giving great concern to farmers is that of animal health and the regulations which affect it. Farmers now accept that the Government and my right hon. Friend will do their utmost to protect their interests, but they are still a little worried that my right hon. Friend will be unable to do so. Clearly it would be a major disaster for British agriculture if, for example, the regulations on foot-and-mouth disease were loosened in any way so that in this country the disease ran rife again. I am sure that my right hon. Friend can cope adequately with the situation, but I should like him to take note of the position once more.
Some farmers are concerned about dumping. Some farmers are concerned about the effect of entry on the production of grass seed. Some farmers are concerned about the effect on agricultural co-operation and marketing, and a number of hill farmers are still concerned that they will not be adequately catered for.
I think that there is great scope for increasing production on hill farms of 1007 what I might call the raw material of beef, and perhaps I should here declare my interest as a beef producer. I have enough confidence in beef production from hill farms to have increased my herd, just as my right hon. Friend has done, although I understand that he has been a little unlucky, with his herd having suffered from brucellosis.
All these farming matters are of great importance, and they are matters to which I hope my right hon. Friend will give continuing attention. More than that, I hope that he will spare no effort to keep farmers informed of any developments and changes which occur in the situation. Providing that the farming community are kept fully in the picture, I believe that he will continue to have, as he certainly has now, their full support.
This debate is not just a six-day debate but a peroration to a debate which has lasted 20 years. We now have a chance to grasp an opportunity which has been denied us in the past either through our own decision or through the decision of others. The time for courting Europe has ended and the time for becoming fully engaged has arrived. If we grasp this opportunity, I am convinced that Britain once more will have a better chance of improving her standard of living and of filling a new role in the world.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh), Leith)
I associate myself with the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison) in welcoming back to this House my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Guy Barnett).
In this Motion the Government invite us to vote for British entry on the terms negotiated but they have given very little detail of those terms. They have been less than candid, for example, about the implications for the sovereignty of this House. For aught yet seen, this free Parliament of this free people is being led blindfold into servitude.
The Government have not even attempted to discharge the burden of proving the case for entry on the terms which have been disclosed. Instead, they have painted the prospects in bold, bright, colours and asked rhetorically: "What 1008 is the alternative?". This is a wholly false dilemma. In their mutual interests, Britain and the Six are bound to trade with each other. This trade could be improved and intensified in a dozen different ways, of which full membership of the Community is just one. An obvious alternative would be a bilateral association agreement in terms of Article 238 of the Treaty of Rome.
Of course we could go it alone. Britain was only 22 miles from Europe when the American colonies were founded and the East India Company traded in Asia. It remains 22 miles from Europe while the world has shrunk with modern means of transport and communication.
Then there is the "old enemies' reunion" argument, which was put with great depth of feeling by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke). I respect his feeling, but his judgment is mistaken. The argument runs that France and Germany were the cause between them of three wars in less than a century. United in the Six, so it is said, Europe ceases to be a cockpit of world war.
This argument is surely hopelessly naïve. The explosive tension today is between the Soviet bloc and the West, not between France and Germany. Berlin is just as much a hostage to the fortunes of war today as the Polish Corridor was in 1939. There are two Germanys, not one, and only one is married to France. We are being asked to underwrite this marriage and to build a wall against the wider European integration which may one day bridge the gap between East and West and the whole of Europe.
The Government have chosen not to disclose the detailed terms which have been agreed, although we shall have to ratify these later if we pass this Motion in principle. But we do know some of the things which have been agreed and we can read the Treaty of Rome for ourselves.
Conspicuous by its absence is any limitation upon this country's net contribution to the Community's budget after 1980. The Government, in reply to criticisms about this, such as that eloquently put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), say that such an estimate is too speculative. That is nonsense. An estimate has been made 1009 and officially leaked. It is a figure at least as great as £500 million a year.
This is not a speculative figure. On the contrary, that figure is bound to apply unless there is a change in trading patterns or in the budgetary arrangements of the Community. Unless and until the budgetary system is changed, that huge net drain will continue. We shall continue indefinitely to contribute 25 per cent. of the Community's income and receive only 6 per cent. of its expenditure—that is, until we convince all nine members of the enlarged Community that this unfair burden should be lightened. One veto will stop us.
It is no answer to say that the stimulus of entry will boost growth by several times that net drain. No prudent British Government could possibly indefinitely ignore a continuing drain of that magnitude, even if we could afford it. In any event, we should have a fall-back strategy in case the stimulus of entry is more marginal and evanescent than we hope.
What we are being offered are certain debts of unlimited size and amount for the indefinite future—an unlimited liability in return for speculative and uncertain growth. It is lucky for the Government that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has not been in charge of the negotiations. He would have appointed an official receiver long ago and brought this venture to an end.
All that the Government are offering by way of safeguards is contained at the end of paragraph 96 of the White Paper, which says that if unacceptable budgetary situations arisethe very survival of the Community would demand … equitable solutions ".These words sound a harsh note in what is supposed to be a contract of marriage. "Don't worry about the money. You will get it", says the prospective bridegroom to his fiancée. "If it is not enough, you can always divorce me". To regard this as any sort of reassurance is juvenile. Indeed, the words of paragraph 96 of the White Paper are as much a threat of permanence as a promise of change. The sanction of withdrawal from the Community—incidentally, a breach of the Treaty—is much too ponderous a threat to guarantee budgetary agreement in the future.
1010 The fact is that the Government have failed to get any sort of reasonable reassurance on budgetary arrangements after 1980—for example, that there should be a review in the mid-'eighties. This would have been a reasonable request, but I understand that the Government did not even ask for such an undertaking. They might have got it had they asked for it. I cannot vote for terms like that.
Equally conspicuous by its absence from the arrangements negotiated is any firm undertaking on regional economic policy, a matter which is very dear to my heart. It is a matter of life and death for Scotland, the North, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the White Paper dismisses this vital subject in three cursory paragraphs.
Nobody doubts that entry into the E.E.C. will accelerate the gravitational pull of industry towards the South-East of Britain, which is nearest to the Continental "golden triangle". This economic pull away from the periphery is already bad enough, yet instead of strengthening the counter-forces, the Government have dismantled the powerful armoury of regional incentives developed by the Labour Government. They have substituted tax incentives—about whose legality there is doubt in the Community—and a legal question mark hangs over the future of such bodies as the Highlands and Islands Development Board. Without strong additional policies for regional development, beyond anything the Government now contemplate, entry into the Community on the present terms could spell disaster for Scotland, the North, Wales and Northern Ireland, and yet it might still marginally benefit Britain as a whole.
If, for ideological reasons, the Government could not stomach a return to strong regional aids—grants and so on—they should at least have got a definite undertaking from the Six about regional policy, particularly in the light of the flimsy legal basis for regional aid which Article 92(3) provides—and there is nothing better than that in the Treaty. They have already failed entirely to do this.
Again, I understand that they did not even try to get such an undertaking, yet Italy got a special protocol for her special regional policy for the deep South and it has been reported that the Republic of Ireland is to get a special protocol in 1011 order to deal with her problems in this respect. Why are we offered no special protocol for British regional policy? I believe that the obstacle is not the Six. I think that we could even now still get a special protocol for our regional policies, but the Government have not even tried. It seems that they have written off the regions.
Transport of goods it at the heart of regional economic development. The one thing that could alleviate the disadvantage of distance from the main economic heart of Europe would be a fiat rate for freight, but it seems plain from Articles 74–84 of the Treaty that this most obvious subsidisation of transport costs would be illegal under Community legislation as matters stand. The Treaty's conception of competition is just too small; it cannot contain the problems we face in Scotland and in the peripheral regions of Great Britain.
How can these regions ever start being competitive, with distance their main enemy, unless transport may be subsidised? With subsidised sea links to the Continent direct from the east coast ports of Scotland such as Leith, with a subsidised direct air link from the centre of Scotland to Europe, we might have prospects of making a go of it, but how can we, without that subsidisation, seize the opportunities that may be available?
I end with one sombre and unpalatable fact. Entry on the present terms is a threat to the unity of the country. If the forces of centralism inside the Community denude and impoverish our regions, the fires of Scottish and Welsh nationalism will be stoked. The supporters of nationalism will strike out for total separation and not just for home rule, because they will see having a voice of their own in the Community as the prize of independence. I should like to affirm my faith in the ideal of a wider European integration, but I could not live with my conscience if I voted for British entry on these terms.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Stepney)
If I may use the words of, I think, the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison), I sense that neither here nor in the country are we at the end of this great debate but rather at the beginning. In this the first of our six-day debate a 1012 number of very excellent speeches have been made. They have been characterised by a certain amount of humour but a great deal more by seriousness and sincerity. I have no doubt that during the next five days we shall hear very much more.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) has just touched on one of the many aspects of the effects of joining the Common Market which have so far escaped comment. He talked about the effects on the unity and community of the United Kingdom if we were to join something which also purported to be a Community. The plain truth is—and I shall return to this theme later—that when we enter into major new commitments, major changes in our relationships with one group of nations, profound changes will take place as a consequence in our external relationships with other countries and groups in the rest of the world, and profound changes will take place affecting the very historical composition of the United Kingdom itself. Certainly I do not exclude them.
I begin by commenting on the very great changes that have taken place in our debate since we last discussed the subject in July—only three months ago. I suppose that the changes that have taken place are these. First, there has been a considerable crystallisation of opinion in both political parties. I do not say that in any cynical or critical way. In the Conservative Party, it is true that opinion in the country and in the House has come broadly to a conclusion. From the point of view of the Government and the Party managers, the important thing is that in the Conservative Party there does not appear to be a majority for entry sufficient for them to carry the country into Europe. I make no more comment about that but simply register the fact. It is a very important fact.
The second important fact is that the Labour Party has come to its conclusions. It has been a long debate. There have been several conferences and there has been much discussion. We have come to a conclusion and we are now, as Her Majesty's Opposition, formally opposing and rejecting the terms of entry to which the Government have committed themselves in the White Paper and in the 1013 terms of the Motion before us. This has very considerable implications for the future of this debate and, indeed, for the future of the whole enterprise of getting Britain to join the Common Market.
Lastly, the most important change that has taken place since we debated this matter is that opinion in the country, after a wobble, after some sign of moving, as the Government undoubtedly hoped that it would, in favour of the enterprise of joining, has once again swung back along its old and stubborn course, in which the majority of the people of Britain, not now in any sense strangers to the argument or strangers to the idea of going into Europe, are reaffirming their view that this is not for us. I do not see that that state of opinion will be easily changed.
Heaven knows the Government have made an effort to persuade people, and they have had very considerable support. Virtually all the elites in British society have joined hands in urging this course upon the British people. After so much effort, the Government have to ask themselves, and we all have to ask, why, in spite of this and in spite of a very expensive and, some of us think, almost improper Government advertising campaign, the people of this country are still unconvinced. Let there be no mistake about this. The fact that they remain unconvinced goes to the very heart of the matter.
It is not merely the Prime Minister's pledge, his own words, that entry would not be right without the full-hearted consent of the British Parliament and people. He cannot escape that. The fact is that in Britain if one cannot convince the people, in the end it is the people who will convince the Government. That will always be true as long as we remain what we are, a self-governing democracy. All we are talking about in the end is not whether the British people will vote and decide this matter, but only when. The timescale between the Government's plans for entry, at their best, and the exhaustion of their mandate is not all that great. That is a subject to which I will return.
The people of this country—this covers a great deal of the argument we have heard today—are against membership for three broad reasons. Here I differ from 1014 those who, as it were, dismiss the terms or the economic argument as though they were of no consequence. That does not do justice to these concerns. The British people are convinced that the economic terms are severely and, indeed, demonstrably disadvantageous to this country.
Secondly, I think that they are convinced that there are far-reaching and again adverse implications for our own democracy, for our own independence, if we sign the Treaty of Rome. I think further that they are quite unconvinced that their future should lie, as membership of the Treaty of Rome would undoubtedly mean, so closely and tightly within the Western half of the Continent of Europe rather than to be more loosely associated, as we have been for so long, with many other continents and countries.
These are the three very large reasons why people, without being over-precise, without being able to quantify all the arguments, without being able perhaps to answer all the questions involved, have not yet been, and I think will not be, convinced that the Government are right in the course they are pursuing.
On the central economic issue, I shall not add a great deal to what my right hon. Friend said. I partly agree with the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), whose speech we all enjoyed, that the economic arguments, in so far as they relate to trade, have been grossly exaggerated. I do not think, as we approach the end of the Kennedy Round, that the effect on trade of Britain going into the Common Market, of getting rid of our own tariffs and of the Six in return getting rid of theirs, would be very great. The only adverse effect, I would judge from the trade argument. is the simple fact that we, unlike the Six, are already members of two preferential trading systems and that we would have to share the benefits we now enjoy in one—E.F.T.A.—with the other members of the Six if we went in, while the benefits we enjoy under the Commonwealth Preference System would go altogether. This would be a loss to us. I do not make too much of this, but it clearly must be registered as a minus effect.
On the trade side, the whole idea that a 7½ per cent. on-average tariff facing us at the beginning of 1972 is really crucial—more than anything else—to the success 1015 of Britain's industry and investment, is laughable. Indeed, I would say that we have gained far more in the last two or three months from the upward float of the Yen and the Mark than we would hope to gain from getting rid of the tariffs that surround the Common Market. Let us get that into proper perspective so that we can now face clearly the real problem of membership—what I have sometimes called the "ball and chain" we put around our ankle when we attempt to start swimming the Channel. This ball and chain—and I am looking, properly, at the Minister of Agriculture—is very much in the area for which he is responsible, the common agricultural policy, in the first place, and secondly, and even more important, the method chosen to finance it, which will impose upon us such a particular and such a heavy burden.
As has been argued by my right hon. Friend, it is a uniquely heavy burden for us. Why? The reasons are clear. They are because, for over 125 years, we have pursued as a national policy a system of open food markets to the new farms of North America, Australasia and elsewhere. As a result of that, as is well known, in spite of the Minister's efforts in the last year, we still have the cheapest food of any industrial country. It is that, of course, which will now be taken away. Already damaged by the system of levies which is being introduced by the right hon. Gentleman, it will be obliterated by the requirement that we impose variable levies as part of the conditions of entry. The result will be that prices will rise and will continue to rise. Whether the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South is right in saying that they will double, I do not know, but on the other hand I am certain that he is right in describing as drivel the claim that they will rise bY only 2½per cent. per annum.
§ Sir G. Nabarro
The right hon. Gentleman will see in HANSARD tomorrow that I said that basic foodstuffs would, by my estimate, double in six years in price.
§ Mr. Shore
Certainly I accept the correction. I was of course referring to basic foodstuffs or commodities covered by the C.A.P.
I add to that only one comment: that the adverse effects as they are felt will 1016 be most grievously felt by people on low incomes. One has only to look at the pattern of expenditure of people at different levels of income to realise that it is the lower paid and the pensioners and others who would be most badly affected.
But the most important part of the C.A.P. is undoubtedly the system of financing it, the system that the Six first agreed among themselves in the beginning of 1970. The figures are still unchallenged and they were calculated as costing this nation about £400 million to £700 million a year. This is a very heavy price indeed.
§ Rippon indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Rippon
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why he has described the White Paper that was issued in February, 1970, when he was a member of the Labour Cabinet, as drivel? The increases in the cost of food which we have calculated are based on essentially the same figures as were the Labour Government's.
§ Mr. Shore
That was a silly and irrelevant interjection. I was quoting the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to comment on the effects on rising prices of joining the Common Market, let him do so. I am dealing with a much more important point. It is the actual cost to Britain of the contribution which we should have to make as a result of the negotiations which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has undertaken.
He and the rest of the Government have told the House only what their calculations are for the period 1973 to 1978. All we know for certain is that as a nation we shall have to contribute some £750 million over those five years.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. We must not have two right hon. Gentleman on their feet at the same time.
§ Mr. Shore
It is £750 million over the first five years with no calculation at all about what the cost will be, after the end of the five-year transitional period. The paper that the Government submitted in July and re-endorsed in December, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) reminded the House, showed a net contribution at the end of the transitional period of about £500 million a year. I now willingly give way to the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Mr. Rippon
Does the right hon. Gentleman understand that what we are now saying is that the figures which the Labour Cabinet thought acceptable are in fact exaggerated?
§ Mr. Shore
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is again being frivolous. He is failing to take on board the point that is being made—how much the nation will have to pay as part of a permanent continuing contribution across the balance of payments. As we have seen, about £300 million a year will be paid by this nation to France in perpetuity and about £100 million a year to Holland. Those were the figures which came out of the figures which the right hon. and learned Gentleman's own officials submitted.
As we have said again and again, we should be very grateful to be corrected. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman wants to scoff at us and the figures that we have put forward, it is up to him to say where we are wrong. We asked for a Select Committee months ago. Let him be man enough to say. It would be a very good thing if the right hon. and learned Gentleman, not merely in this, but in all matters covered by the Treaty, were franker with the House. He would find that in the end it paid better.
The effects of this are very serious indeed for this country. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) made an excellent speech. I liked it very much although I disagreed with it. When he voices legitimate concern about regional policy the point he has to ask himself is as put by my hon and learned Friend the Member for Leith—namely, whether he can expect the regions of this country, the weaker parts, to thrive and prosper when the whole of the prosperity of the kingdom is weakened or imperilled by this 1018 enormous addition to the costs we have to pay on a continuing basis across the balance of payments?
I turn to the theme now that has been followed in many speeches that we have had—the effects of joining the E.E.C. on our own democracy and Parliament. It is true that today Parliament is sovereign in the sense that Ministers are responsible individually and collectively for the policies which they put forward in this House. We acknowledge no higher authority than Parliament, other than the British people themselves and the votes they cast in a General Election. We must ask: What will be the situation if we join the E.E.C.? The Foreign Secretary has made a great deal of the point that there is, or could be, in certain matters yet to be defined a veto in the Council of Ministers—the doctrine asserted by President de Gaulle in 1965, the doctrine of the veto on matters of national importance—and that would apply to us and be a very valuable defence. But first, this doctrine of veto will not, and cannot, apply to all those matters which we are now agreeing as part of the terms of entry, and these are very important matters indeed.
We are having to agree, as we already know, to very important policies that affect our agriculture, food, transport, fuel industry and other important parts of the economy. We must also accept—and I assume there is no veto here—that our external trading relations will be conducted for us by the Commission, and not, in future, by whatever is left of the Board of Trade. This is substantially true. If I am wrong on that I would like to know.
We have also to accept that we must incorporate into our law regulations and directives affecting the free movement of capital, labour and people. Most important of all, we must accept that new taxes must be imposed on the British people. I refer particularly to value-added tax and the food levies. The revenue from those taxes will be alienated, will not go to the British Treasury but to the Commission, to be distributed as is thought right by the Commission and the Council of Ministers. I am surprised that this very important point has not been made more of in the speeches from the Government Bench. Here we are accepting the principle not only that British people can be 1019 taxed by a body which is not the Parliament of this country but that the revenue yielded by this taxation should go outside this country and be disposed of by others and not by ourselves. These are very important principles to which there is no possibility of the veto applying.
But now we must confront a mass of potential Community law in the making which, according to my reading of our commitments, we are being asked to agree in so many words almost in advance of entry. I quote from the formal speech made by M. Harmel on behalf of the Six on 30th June. Perhaps the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will explain whether my reading is correct. He referred to the various developments in the Community pipeline, including proposals for economic and monetary union, and at the end he said:As for the decisions in question, the applicant States will be asked to accept them on the same basis as the other decisions which have been taken since the Treaties came into force".It looks to me as though we have been asked to make a prior commitment to accept, not merely the Treaty and the regulations made under it, but all the emerging policies under the heading of economic and monetary union, such as tax harmonisation.
§ Mr. Rippon
There are no commitments of that kind. On monetary and economic integration, I have never gone as far as the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan).
§ Mr. Shore
I am glad to have the right hon. and learned Gentleman's assurance on the matter of tax harmonisation. We shall have plenty of opportunities to test it in detail when the legislation is brought before the House.
When I look at the range of economic matters covered by the Treaty of Rome, I am driven to the conclusion reached earlier by an hon. Member that we are not dealing with small or light matters. We are dealing with economic and social policies which affect the people of this country, their prosperity, employment, the distribution of incomes and the things which matter most to them. I cannot accept that what is involved is, in the terms of the White Paper, a minor cession 1020 of sovereignty. On the contrary, major transfers are at stake.
The last matter with which I wish to deal—and again it is a very important matter—is whether this country has a relationship with the Six which is of such an intimate and special kind as to make it right for us to undertake the far-reaching commitments which the Treaty of Rome demands of its members.
The situation of Britain is very different from that of the existing member countries, and that difference was brought very sharply before us when President Pompidou pushed before the Prime Minister his own notion of a European Europe—that is, a continental Europe, a Europe prepared to give preferences and advantages to itself, a Europe which is part of the mainland. It is obvious why this is particularly difficult for us. Of all the European Powers we are the one with the strongest connections outside the Continent of Europe. We are genuinely cross-pressured in a way that other members of the Six are not. Part of us undoubtedly belongs, in sentiment and connection, with the English-speaking world. Part of our connections and investments and, above all, our people is associated with the Commonwealth.
It is extraordinary how so many Members have managed to disengage from the Commonwealth relationship in the last few years. I do not understand it. It is a very strange thing, because when people talk about the free movement of labour and of capital and so on, and then see where the resources of our people have in fact gone and continue to go from this country, as they have in the post-war period, they see an almost unabated flow to Australasia, to New Zealand and Australia, to Canada, and to other English-speaking lands.
This is very important to us. I raise this not because I think any of us on our side of the House have any feeling of enmity towards the Six. I do not feel this. Not at all. I welcome the fact that the Six have come together. I take the question by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely. It is not whether we think that the Six coming together is on the whole a good or a bad thing historically. I say definitely that it is a good thing historically. I am sure it is. The question is whether it is right for this 1021 country to join. That is the question we have to answer.
When the Foreign Secretary says, as I think he did at his party conference only last week, that to join the Six is to go on to a wider stage, I find that almost incomprehensible, because it is precisely half of the Continent of Europe, and that is a narrower stage than the stage on which he and previous British Foreign Secretaries have always operated. If he tells me that he wishes to have a voice in the affairs of Europe, then of course I understand it, and so does everybody in this House. If he tells us that as a member of N.A.T.O., and of W.E.U. and of those other organisations to which Western Europe and North America are joined, he has no voice, I am very surprised.
§ Mr. Shore
The question indeed to ask is, why today in particular. Why against this background of heavy economic cost, in the teeth of public sentiment, should we still press on with this application?
It seems to me that there are two rather important things which help to explain it. One is a fear we see, the fear of being excluded. The Foreign Secretary referred in the last speech he made in the House to the necessity—indeed, he said on one occasion it was almost essential—of Britain's joining. I found it very difficult to follow his reasoning.
If there is a reason it is to be found much more in the political, perhaps in the security, sphere than it is in the economic sphere. He had his opportunity to tell us this afternoon, but I am afraid he did not take it. But the other thing is the fear of exclusion.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
The right hon. Gentleman realises, of course, that the alternative is that we should be outside the tariff areas of the United States of Europe? Of course, the system of trading, and the State trading of Russia, puts a very strict limitation on what we can do. The alternative is to be outside all those large trading groups.
§ Mr. Shore
I am glad that the Foreign Secretary has put this, because he has now spoken of his fear. It is a fear of being isolated from large blocs, isolated 1022 from the markets of the world. I am sure this is wrong. I am sure it is wrong partly because, in spite of occasional reversals of the trend, the trend of the whole post-war period, has been to remove trade barriers, to expand international trade.
There will be no prosperity for this country, there will be no on-going expansion of world trade and prosperity generally unless the world trading system continues to expand. It is no good for us to imagine that by going inside a market in Western Europe without an expansion in world trade we should benefit; we should not. The amount of protection we should have covers far too small a part of our trade, and we should be affected by this just as much as large market countries like the United States were affected in the inter-war years when world trade failed sufficiently to expand.
I do not think the case has even begun to be made for entry into the Common Market. The changes which I mentioned at the beginning of my speech make it extremely difficult for the Government to proceed as they hope to proceed in this matter. It is a far-reaching Treaty that we shall be asked to sign. We are being asked to sign it when the alternative Government, the Opposition, are opposed to it. There are few precedents for the situation envisaged here and, if the Government do not find this anything to be concerned about, I am certain that those across the Channel who are involved in this negotiation must be concerned that the Government have not got with them the assent, let alone the support, of Her Majesty's Opposition. They cannot be indifferent to this. Nor do the Government have the support of the British people.
The Government must know that the whole enterprise is in peril. It will be fought very hard indeed in the House. I do not know whether the Government imagine that they will at the end of the day be able to push this through, but they will be in for some unpleasant shocks. Whatever happens here, the Government must know that neither the people of this country nor the alternative Government can be committed by what they propose.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. James Prior)
I start by 1023 congratulating the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Guy Barnett) on his speech. It was not a maiden speech, as he was quick to point out, but we have not seen him in the House for some years and are glad to welcome him back. He is a worthy successor to Dick Marsh, whom we wish well in his new job.
The right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) took a line which I felt was unworthy of an Opposition Front Bench speaker. There are many hon. Members on both sides of the House who for a number of years in this Chamber have taken a consistent view on the Common Market. Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends have been opposed to it ever since the start, including the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir R. Turton) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). I can see on the Opposition benches hon. Members who have consistently opposed Britain's entry into the Common Market. What I find hard to stomach is the latter-day conversion of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
The House of Commons has never been slow to recognise an honest opinion when it is put forward. Equally, it has never been slow to recognise the phoney when it has seen it. Some of the views we have heard tonight from the right hon. Member for Stepney make it impossible to believe that he could or should have remained a member of a Government and a Cabinet which introduced both the 1967 and 1970 White Papers and that the right hon. Gentleman, along with other right hon. Gentlemen who are now sitting on the Opposition Front Bench, went into the Division Lobby and voted in favour of them.
One cannot understand how the right hon. Gentleman should accuse this side of the House of not being frank. If the right hon. Gentleman believes that he carries any conviction in the country, then that is quite contrary to all the views I have heard myself.
§ Mr. Prior
The same thing applies to the speech this afternoon by the right 1024 hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), and his conversion to the anti-Common Market cause has been even quicker than the right hon. Gentleman's. Only a little while ago the right hon. Member for Leeds, East was expressing the absolute need for this country on defence and economic grounds to join the Community. This afternoon he said exactly the reverse.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North) rose—
§ Mr. Prior
I will not give way just yet. I am only just getting started.
This afternoon my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs quoted from a speech by the right hon. Gentleman about the common agricultural policy. After my right hon. Friend had been quoting for a few seconds, he was stopped by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who said, "Read on", as he always does in the hope that something better will come. If my right hon. Friend had read on, he would have read this:It is useless to think we can wish it away"—that is the common agricultural policy—and I should be totally misleading the House if I suggested this policy is negotiable. We have to come to terms with it. But we can play our part in affecting its future development if, but only if, we are members of the Community."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1066.]It is inconceivable that we heard the right hon. Member for Stepney and the right hon. Member for Cardiff. South-East (Mr. Callaghan) say that at no time did the Labour Party ever accept that the C.A.P. would have to be accepted if we joined the Community.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman has proved he can read, but I hope he will not disagree that what he read about our ability to affect the ultimate working out of the agricultural policy has been affected by the fact that it was completed in the three years since the speech he read. No one in 1967 thought that it would be three years before the negotiations would begin. The right hon. Gentleman must know that the changes made in those three years were fundamental. [Interruption.] I do not think any hon. Gentleman in his soberer moments would deny that.
1025 [Interruption.] I realise that hon. Members opposite do not want to hear what I have to say. The right hon. Gentleman will now, I hope, quote from column 1070 in the speech from which he has read. He will read in that column of the same speech what I said about the common agricultural policy, which was a quotation from the White Paper itself, which was column 312 on 2nd May. Will the right hon. Gentleman—[Interruption.] If the right hon. Gentleman wants to make quotations from my speeches, let him read that one. Will the right hon. Gentleman now read it to hon. Members?
§ Mr. Prior
When the right hon. Gentleman says that there have been changes in the common agricultural policy over the last three years, he knows that he is talking utter nonsense. There has been no basic change in the common agricultural policy during the last three years. If anything, the common agricultural policy is under better control from the money point of view than it was three years ago. As a result, it can be taken for a certainty that what the right hon. Gentleman said three years ago must be his opinion now. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman trying to wriggle, as he always does, by mentioning other columns in HANSARD. This is a full paragraph dealing with the common agricultural policy, and there is no doubt, except perhaps in the right hon. Gentleman's mind, that what he said there showed clearly that he knew that the only way in which we could influence the common agricultural policy was from within the Community—
§ Mr. Prior
I have read out what the right hon. Gentleman said. I have no intention of reading any more.
One of the most encouraging features of the public debate this summer has been 1026 the overwhelming support of the agricultural community for entry on the terms negotiated. The National Farmers Unions in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as the Country Landowners' Association—[Laughter.] I am delighted that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite find that so funny. These bodies have come out firmly in favour, following countrywide debates, on the terms of entry. The National Farmers Union has said that the terms of entry should provide producers over the years ahead with opportunities to increase their productions and incomes. The Union in Scotland has said that the industry is prepared to face up to the challenge of joining Europe. The Farmers Union of Wales has fully endorsed the terms.
I think that in no small measure this is due to the close consultations which have been maintained throughout the negotiations. It is also an indication of the way in which the industry has approached the question—
§ Mr. Prior
The truth is that the farming community knows and appreciates that inside the Community its prices will be higher and its prosperity will be greater, whereas outside the Community it faces an extremely difficult time. What is good for the agricultural industry will be good for the workers in that industry, too. One thing which has held back progress in agriculture over the last few years has been the lack of expansion in the industry. Nothing has been more damaging to the interests of the agricultural workers than the failure of the industry to expand in the last few years. So it is quite clear that agricultural workers and the whole industry have a considerable amount to gain from British entry. [Interruption.] I am asked why the National Union of Agricultural Workers rejected membership. I should have hoped that it would have given rather more careful consideration to the benefits to the industry than it has.
There are four main themes with which right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House would like me to deal tonight in answer to some of the points raised today which are still causing considerable concern and worry.
1027 I should like to start by taking again the subject of food prices. In particular, I draw attention to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro). As one would expect, the effect of entry on food prices has been widely discussed. [Interruption.] When we are talking about an annual increase in living costs of 2½ to 3½ per cent. spread over a period, we should all recognise that it has not been unknown under both Labour and Conservative Governments for internal prices to rise more in one year than the whole of the increase spread over a period of years which acceptance of the common agricultural policy will mean for the cost of living of the average British family. I do not think that that is an unfair statement to make. It is the right hon. Gentleman's statement, not mine, but it is a fair statement.
We have never tried to conceal the fact that some items will go up in price by more than the average, but many will show little change, and on some we may even save money. Opponents of entry have looked at the larger increases, such as those for beef and dairy products, and have sought to argue that we shall be forced to change our eating habits drastically. This is ridiculous.
Look, for instance, at the position in France. Prices there are not only higher than we pay at present, but higher than we could expect to pay after entry. Yet the French eat more beef, more butter, more cheese, and, incidentally, less margarine per head than we do in this country. Naturally, we would expect our housewives to take advantage of the fact that some prices would change less than others. We might, for instance, find ourselves buying more milk, poultry meat, and fresh fruit and vegetables, since these are items where prices would be little affected. But this need not cause us any alarm; rather, the reverse is true.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
The right hon. Gentleman said that prices of dairy produce and milk would be little affected. Did he read what came from the Milk Marketing Board this morning, which shows the complete opposite of what he is now saying about milk?
§ Mr. Prior
The right hon. Gentleman does not even know the difference be- 1028 tween milk and dairy produce. This really is the most extraordinarily ignorant remark to make. If I meant "butter and cheese" I should have said "butter and cheese". I said "milk", and there is absolutely no reason why the price of milk should be more than very little affected by our joining the Community. Generally, therefore, there is no reason at all to believe the alarmist prediction of drastic changes in our patterns of consumption. Our standard of eating continues to rise, and I have no reason to believe that the trend will not continue following entry to the E.E.C.
My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South made the claim in the debate today that our estimates were entirely wrong. I should point out that there have been those who said we were too pessimistic, as well as those who thought we were too optimistic, but they have failed to appreciate important points. A prominent member of the bakery trade has said that our figure for bread is too low, but to reach that conclusion he had to add to the real cost of entry all kinds of factors not in the least connected with accession. Others have said that our figures were too high, but to support that conclusion they had to assume a consideable narrowing of the gap between E.E.C. and world prices over the years.
My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South said that he thought that prices would double. What I am saying—
§ Sir G. Nabarro
Do not exaggerate. I want my right hon. Friend to concede, as he was sitting at my elbow when I said it, that I said clearly, on two occasions, that the estimate in the White Paper of a 2½ per cent. per annum increase in food prices was, in my estimation, drivel. I said, advised appropriately, that I estimated that the increase in price of basic foodstuffs over six years would be over 100 per cent., that it would double the cost of basic foodstuffs, and if my right hon. Friend wants an explanation of basic foodstuffs, it is review commodities.
§ Mr. Prior
If my hon. Friend has worked out so exactly what will happen to basic foodstuffs over the next six years if we go into the Community, I presume that he will also be able to say what will 1029 happen to the same foodstuffs if we stay out of the Community, because all the Government's estimates are based purely on the extra cost of joining the Community, and taking the supposition that the gap between world prices and Community prices will stay at the same level as it is now. That is exactly the same basis as was taken in both the 1967 and 1970 White Papers, for which right hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible.
Our estimate is considerably lower than that made for us by our predecessors, for two reasons. First, because prices on world markets have gone up more rapidly than those in the Community over the last two or three years. Second, because we have attempted to assess as accurately as possible the way in which the prices which people actually pay, that is retail prices, will reflect the higher wholesale prices. Our food manufacturing and distributing industries are highly efficient and intensely competitive and, apart from minor additions to cover their actual additional cash outlay, there is no reason to expect that anything more than the wholesale increase will be passed on to the consumer. I am confident that our food prices will continue to be among the lowest in Europe.
My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) spoke about horticulture, and I want to deal with the problems which this industry will face on entry. I do not pretend that the prospects for horticulture on our entry into the Community are as favourable as for farmers generally, but let me set out the facts. We went for a longer transitional period than was oherwise necessary with the need very much in mind for growers to have an opportunity of adapting to the new conditions, and within the transition we have secured special treatment for horticulture. There is no movement at all in horticultural tariffs during the first year, and thereafter there is a separate programme of gradual tariff adjustments, with five equal annual stages, the last being at the end of the transitional period. Should this programme of tariff reduction cause difficulty, we have agreed that the middle stages may be varied by 10 per cent. as necessary. Briefly, there is the assurance which we have that the Community will be ready to deal promptly with any 1030 problems which may arise from the transitional arrangements. I know that there are those who urged us to hold on to the quotas—
§ It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
That, at this day's Sitting, the Motion relating to the European Communities may be proceeded with, though opposed, until Twelve o'clock.—[Mr. Whitelaw.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ Mr. Prior
I know that there are those who urged us to hold on to the quotas which limit imports of apples and pears and who decry the compensatory levies which will replace the quotas as ineffective.
My hon. Friend is also very worried about over-production on the Continent. On that point, it cannot be in the interests of the Continent to go on over-producing apples in the way that it has in the last few years, and there are already considerable signs of a large grubbing-up programme getting under way. We shall certainly want to give that all the encouragement we can.
But we could never have expected to join the Community without adopting its method of market organisation. There is no place within that form of organisation for physical limitations on trade and our quotas will have to go. But we shall have in their place a system of levies on imports of apples and pears during the transition, and the Government are determined to see that these are introduced at a level of protection sufficient to ensure that prices are brought into line in a gradual and orderly way.
Nor should we under-rate the advantages of Community arrangements for horticulture. Its system is in broad essentials a free market like ours, but it has—in addition to transitional measures—features which can be of permanent benefit. The Community's external tariff is generally at a higher level than ours, and this is reinforced by further safeguards on imports. The Treaty of Rome provided for action against dumping by other member States during the Community's transitional period, and such a provision will be available during our own transitional period.
1031 The Community's rules of competition also provide safeguards against unfair competition. The E.E.C. regulations for fruit and vegetables provide for additional duties to be imposed if import prices fall below specified levels. These arrangements apply to apples, pears, plums, cherries and tomatoes of the crops we grow in this country. The regulations further provide for imports from third countries to be suspended if those imports are causing disturbance to markets. Clearly, there are advantages to be gained from these provisions; and we intend as members of the Community to secure those advantages. Let me repeat, that for growers who have difficult problems of adjustment—
§ Mr. Prior
It is extraordinary that the right hon. Gentleman should take that view when there are many people in horticulture who are in need of these reassurances—even if the right hon. Gentleman does not think that they are worth hearing.
Let me say again that for growers who have difficult problems of adjustment in changing or giving up lines of production the Government will be prepared to give special help where it can be justified. My officials have held exploratory talks with the National Farmers Unions about this. There will have to be further discussions, and it is still too early to elaborate on the form which this help might take. But the promise of assistance is there.
There is also a problem on animal health. We have a different system for foot-and-mouth disease control from that of the Community, and we have different systems for other disease control. Here we are engaged with the Community in trying to find out, through exploratory work, what is the right way of tackling this problem.
One need only consider the blow which was inflicted by the 1967–68 foot and mouth epidemic to realise the considerable problem this is to us. Over the years we have put a great deal of money and effort into achieving our present standards and, of course, we have been able to take advantage of our geographical position.
1032 We must do everything possible to preserve our standards. We are not alone in this. The other candidate countries, in particular the Irish Republic, have achieved very high standards and have fully supported our representations in Brussels.
We should recognise that one of the basic objectives of the Community is to liberalise trade, and inevitably animal health safeguards can have the effect of impeding trade. We have an interest, as have other members of the Community, in avoiding unnecessary distortion of trade within the Community. But it must also be recognised that there are circumstances in which animal health considerations must be regarded as overriding.
The discussions on this subject are still continuing. We shall pursue our objectives vigorously throughout the negotiations and I shall be keeping the House fully informed as to their progress. I assure the House that we shall not accept any solution which, in the opinion of my veterinary advisers, would entail the taking of unnecessary risks.
I come to a subject which has caused more concern than any other of the minor issues—and that is fishing. It is, perhaps, a minor one in terms of the whole negotiations, but a very major issue for a number of constituencies and hon. Members. One of the major issues on which we still have to complete negotiations with the Community is fisheries. This is a matter of great importance and considerable complexity on which we must be sure to achieve a satisfactory result. A good deal of useful progress has already been made and I believe matters are now moving in the right direction. But we must be prepared to give the time necessary to reach a satisfactory settlement of this tricky question.
I will state how matters now stand and set out the Government's basic approach. From the very beginning of the negotiations we have made it quite clear to the Six that the fisheries policy which they concluded in 1970 was quite unsuitable for a Community of Ten which would include countries like ourselves and Norway, whose fishing industries were considerably more important than those of most of the existing members.
1033 In particular, we have stressed the difficulties which would flow from the extreme nature of the access provisions of the common fisheries policy and the need to modify them to take account of the circumstances of the enlarged Community.
Although it has not so far been possible to reach any specific agreement, the intensive discussions that have taken place and are continuing are, I believe, leading to a growing understanding within the Community of the difficulty and complexity of the problem and of the need to find a balanced and equitable solution.
The Community has put formally on the record its recognition that the access provisions of the common fisheries policy would need reconsideration in the changed circumstances of the enlarged Community: and more recently it has acknowledged that a new policy must establish a satisfactory overall balance of advantage that takes account of the legitimate interests of all member countries, new and old.
I believe that, on this basis, we can, after further discussion and negotiation, achieve a satisfactory settlement. But it will take time and it was with this in mind that we have suggested that if, in the event, it did not prove possible to reach a mutually satisfactory substantive solution in time to embody it in the Treaty of Accession, we should all agree to maintain the juridical status quo—and for us that would mean our existing fishing limits—while a detailed and definitive agreement on the modifications needed which was acceptable to all concerned was worked out after enlargement.
Such an agreement would, of course, fully protect the interests of all concerned and put nobody at a disadvantage in the discussion of substantive arrangements; but it would be necessary only if we could not reach agreement on a substantive solution in time to include it in the Treaty of Accession and I am hopeful that this may, in fact, prove to be possible.
However, whatever the basis of agreement finally reached, it must for us have certain essential features. As I said in the House on Tuesday, a solution must not infringe further on our fishery limits than the proposal put forward in May, which was based on a six-mile limit, but 1034 with an extension of historic rights to all countries of the Community between six miles and twelve. We stated at that time, and our position remains the same today, that such a solution would have to apply to all countries of the enlarged Community, including those nations seeking along with us to join.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson) has suggested that the Norwegians will accept nothing less than a 12-mile limit and asked what should our attitude be it that were the case. My answer is quite clear. We can certainly not agree to any terms for ourselves without knowing the terms which will be offered or granted to the other applicants, and we should certainly expect to obtain for our inshore fishermen a solution which was fair to them and to the rest of the enlarged Community. I would expect that to mean that we would continue to have comparable treatment on fishing limits with the other applicants. We must remember that certain European countries already enjoy historic rights in our waters.
The common fisheries policy contains not only the access provisions to which I have just referred but also important provisions on the structure of the industry and its markets. The objectives of those parts of the policy are fully acceptable, indeed desirable, from our point of view. We are, however, still discussing with the Six whether in the circumstances of the enlarged Community the intervention system in particular would in practice achieve the better and more stable market that all members want to see. We expect that some changes in this respect will be made in the course of establishing the satisfactory new overall balance of advantage which I have mentioned, and I shall continue to keep in close contact with all sectors of our industry as to what those changes should be.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)
The Minister said a little earlier that we will maintain the judicial status quo if we cannot have agreement before accession. What will happen after accession if we have gone in? Will that be an issue on which the national veto will apply? Will there be a status quo in perpetuity? Will there be the status quo for bargaining to and fro at the expense of the fishing industry?
§ Mr. Prior
I have made plain what is acceptable to us, and what is acceptable to us is the same whether it is agreed before accession or after. I think that the best thing is to see how negotiations go bearing in mind the limits which I have laid down in this statement. I think that it would be much better to leave it at that at this stage rather than carry it any further.
§ Mr. David James (Dorset, North)
Am I right in thinking that, whatever else may be argued, no conservation issue whatever is involved here? That is to say, am I right in thinking that in any conceivable arrangements that might be reached under the terms of the Treaty of Rome we would retain total jurisdiction over, for example, sizes of nets, days of the week for fishing, and so on—and even the prohibition of fishing altogether, provided it was non-discriminatory?
§ Mr. Prior
That is absolutely true. Within the 12-mile limit we shall retain complete control over all conservation.
I should now like to refer briefly to our domestic arrangements for support of the fishing industry. The method of paying the operating subsidy to the fishing industry is in any case due to be reviewed before the end of the five-year term envisaged by the previous Government. In considering what should be done in the following period, we shall take into account not only the need to promote continued stability and prosperity in the industry but also the developing structural and marketing provisions of Community policy, including the possibilities they offer of obtaining funds from Community sources.
1036 The hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. David Stoddart) said that the Prime Minister had, as he called it, a fanatical obsession with getting into Europe. That is the hon. Gentleman's view. Other people may more reasonably say that my right hon. Friend has pursued a consistent course, never wavering, supporting the Government of the day in 1967, leading his party into the Division Lobby in that support, in support of a Government which had only recently been converted to the European cause—not a universally popular decision with his party at that time.
It was a decision which required leadership and integrity, two qualities which, above all, are prized by the Community and which it believes that the British have in full measure. They are qualities which the Community has seen in our Prime Minister and which have helped to bring about the success of the negotiations. This, together with our political strength, is why it seeks our membership, why it desires our political participation and respects our political stability. What good is political leadership and stability unless one can exercise it? As my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) said today, it is no good talking if no one will listen to what one has to say.
To lessen the tensions, to remove the barriers which have divided Europe over the centuries and to bring peace in place of war is not an ignoble aim. It is an aim which I fully support, and one which will be greatly advanced by Britain joining the Community.
§ 10.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)
I have a definite prejudice and bias when I am about to have the privilege of speaking during this debate. I am an opponent of Britain's entry to the Community. I have not been a recent convert to opposition to entry. In 1967 my right hon. Friend the then Prime Minister saw fit to remove me as a Parliamentary Private Secretary because I refused to support the then Government over entry into the Common Market. I have campaigned actively against British entry since 1967.
The House has discussed the question of consultation with the electorate. In 1970 I made it clear to the electorate of Midlothian that I was opposed to British entry. During many meetings and debates and in discussions with hon. Members I have tried to reflect to some extent the opinion of some of my constituents.
It is a very insular approach for people who are in favour of entry into the Common Market to try to tell us that it is more than about the price of food. The price of food is a very important item in the lives of those whom I represent. As a Scottish Member of Parliament, the point that I have tried to put time and again is that the people of Scotland, and of the whole country, are paying the price of entry now. To this extent I indict the Government, because they have been running a balance of payments surplus since being elected in June 1970, and they have hoarded and hugged that surplus. The price that the people of Britain are paying is nearly a million unemployed at present. The Scottish unemployment figures are positively obscene at 136,500. Teenagers are being maimed for life because of the price they are paying in unemployment for the Government's hell-bent determination to enter Europe at any price. That is the answer to those who ask what price we are to pay, and the price is far too high for the people of our country.
An attempt has been made to frighten our people into going into the Common Market on the basis that the cure for unemployment is membership. Yet, in a remark significant for its candour, the Minister of State, Scottish Office—a member of another place—had the audacity to tell people in Scotland that part of the problem of unemployment was lack of 1038 investment because industry was waiting to enter Europe or wondering what Parliament would decide. I say to the pro-Europeans that lack of jobs and investment is part of the price we have had to pay for these 10 years of indecision.
The people must resent the way in which this issue has been presented to them. Hundreds of thousands of £s have been spent on trying to sell entry as though it were a soap detergent. Some hon. Members have continually changed their arguments. For example, we are now told that the C.B.I. is in favour of entry; but we can demolish that argument by pointing out that the C.B.I. does not consist of expert economists because it has hailed every Budget since June, 1970, as solving our economic ills. Yet, within two or three months, sometimes within two or three weeks, men were starting to squeal that it was not enough.
We have been given another argument today in favour of entry. We have been told that young people are in favour. How poverty-stricken can the pro-Marketeers be? There is not one shred of evidence to show that our young people are in favour of entry. No opinion poll has demonstrated that. The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) has made the assertion, but it is not a fact. In my constituency of 80,000 electors—far more than he has—I have more young people, and I have as much right to reflect their opinion as he has the right to reflect opinions.
Another argument concerns regional policies. Of course it is necessary to have regional policies, and I have never disputed that the Six have regional policies. But those regional policies are not indigenous to the member countries. The price we would have to pay in this aspect would be far too high. It is said that this country would be able to pursue its own regional policies, but it is a question of the allocation of resources, and if we were not allocated the necessary resources because we were tied to the staggering price we are expected to pay, then our regional policies would not be adequate to deal with the problems of Wales, of Scotland, of the North-East of England and other areas of this country. The price to be paid is an important part of the argument about whether to enter.
1039 Some of my hon. Friends have mentioned the coal industry. It is said that for some mysterious reason there would be substantial advantages for the coal industry if we entered the Community. I was a miner for 30 years and I know something of the industry. No new sinkings are proposed by the National Coal Board to produce that extra coal to be exported. I asked my union, a very authoritative source, about this matter, and the union asked me where the extra 25 million tons would come from. But if we produced those 25 million tons extra, those additional exports would be at the expense of a mining area within the Six, at the expense of miners some-where in the Six, and for us that is not on.
The bureaucracy of the Six is also a significant feature in the argument. Last year the countries of the E.E.C. held a coal mining conference in, of all places, Spain. It was discovered that Belgium and Holland had planned practically to wipe out their coal mining industries by 1963. When it was pointed out that world demand for energy was such that indigenous Dutch resources could not meet Dutch demands so that it was folly to run down the industry at such a catastrophic rate, the reply from Belgium and Holland was that it was too late to turn back. Is this the kind of organisation of which we are to become a member, so bureaucratic and hidebound that once plans are found to be wrong there is no turning back?
Much is said about peace and internationalism. I yield to no one in my demand for internationalism. The slogan in the mining industry has always been, "Injure one, injure all". In the industry's struggles and trials all over the world we have always extended the hand of friendship. But it is nonsense to suggest that six countries becoming ten is any semblance of internationalism. It is nonsence, with 130 countries, to say that six becoming ten is internationalism, or that if we become members of another bloc, that will mean peace and stability. The other blocs already have problems about keeping peace and the formation of large blocs has not meant peace and stability. America has its Vietnam and Russia its Czechoslovakia. Entry would be folly for the Scottish people, folly for the British people.
1040 The regions will not be able to gain benefit. We have criticised the "golden triangle" before, but I do not know how we shall get on if we enter the Common Market. I wonder whether the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles is aware that Italy is so prosperous that Italian coal miners have to go to work in Western Germany! Some people may say that it will be a great day when British coalminers have to work in the pits in Western Germany or elsewhere, but in Scotland we do not want to become industrial Arabs. We want to work in the areas where we live. We do not think that labour should have to go where capital demands, where investment demands. Such a policy would be wrong for the people of this country.
I echo the feelings of my constituents when I say that when the vote is taken on 28th October I shall be in the Lobby in opposition to entry.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)
I am grateful for the opportunity of taking part in this debate, the more so because the late arrival this afternoon of the plane bringing me and some of my colleagues from both sides of the House from the Conference of Human Rights at Vienna was so late that I missed the initial speeches. I mention that by way of apology and by way of example of what I am about to say. The Conference on Human Rights was yet one more manifestation of the movement towards unity in Europe which has been the by-product and ideal which has emerged from the carnage of two world wars.
In a debate of this kind, at this stage, when the arguments have been canvassed for ten years or more, what more can one do than make an affirmation of principle? I am one of those who believe that, great though the economic arguments are for adhesion to the European Economic Community, the political arguments are overwhelmingly more important and compelling.
If we look first at this in a negative light, the negative aspect of our policy, it can be seen that for centuries we have striven to prevent the unification of Western Europe under military tyrants, united against us. We have been successful. But the product of two world wars and the movement towards unity 1041 in western Europe has been such that we are now seeing a peaceful and consensual unification of those countries nearest to us geographically and in their civilisations. It would be impossible for us to stand aside from that and live in isolation alongside Europe for the very reason that for centuries when unity has been sought to be imposed by tyrants we have thought it right to oppose it.
It was astonishing to me to hear the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) conceding that the unification of the Six was a good thing, but that we should abstain from any part of it—he who was one of those who led his own party in 1967 into the Lobby in support of this.
That is examining the matter from the negative aspect. There is the positive aspect, and here I join issue with the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie), although I recognise the sincerity of everything he said. I join issue with him because it seems that we are going into a society which has emerged from the carnage of war, not only to the advantage of ourselves and Europe economically but to our manifest advantage in the pooling of ideas and in the pooling, in due course, of our arrangements, as must inevitably happen, for defence and mutual advantage and interest. It is a positive advantage to which I give my support.
There have been many who have spoken in these debates—and we have had three this year hut this is the most vital and most important—who have ventured to give some personal background to the approach which they make to this issue, not least my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke. If it is not intruding too personally I will give my own. My father was killed in action at Ypres a month before I was born. He had two brothers one of whom was killed in action and the other who died on active service. My own generation grew up in turn and fought in the last war. But the peoples of Europe suffered far more than we did. The movement towards European unity which came out of the war was designed not only to ensure the well-being and peace of Europe and its advantage economically, as is set out in Article 2 of the Treaty, but for the advance of peace 1042 and of peaceful relationships in this country and in Europe and for all mankind.
§ Mr. Grieve
Not for the moment. I will give way to the hon. Gentleman later.
For the reason I have just given, I support the great move forward in our nation's history.
I understand the obstacles which people envisage. The change will be enormous. It represents the fact that we are no longer the centre of a great empire. We are a great country but no longer a great power. People find it difficult to accept the fact of this change, but it is a fact they must accept. If we are to use the great qualities in this nation for the advantage of mankind, we shall best do so united in the European Community with those countries nearest to us in civilisation, history and aspirations.
I said that the arguments have been rehearsed again and again. I do not propose to deal with the many economic and political arguments which have been adduced in many debates. There is, however, one matter about which I wish to speak, and that is the question of sovereignty. Of all the issues which have been raised, this is the one which most affects many people, about which many people are most sensitive; and it is the one which has been most exaggerated, is the most fallacious and, in the context of the modern world, is the most unreal.
The Austinian idea of sovereignty—that the nation State standing alone can determine its own policies without regard to anyone else—it completely finished. The world could not exist if nations aspired to that kind of sovereignty. The reverse is the case. It is as necessary for sovereign States as it is for individuals to make contracts and treaties for their mutual advantage and for the advantage of their fellows. The individual is no less free when he makes a contract which ties him. He does it for his advantage. The sovereign State is no less free and sovereign when it enters into a treaty for its own advantage and for the mutual advantage of those with whom it enters 1043 into the treaty. It is a function of sovereignty to make treaties and thereby, in a sense. I concede, to limit sovereignty.
People say, "But this is a treaty in which there is no clause by which an end can be put to it." But it is not the only such treaty into which we have entered. The United Nations Treaty is another. Nobody supposes that if it turned out not to be to the mutual advantage of the States concerned it could not be ended. But we do not think of ending it, and no sensible person would.
§ Mr. Elystan Morgan (Cardigan)
I accept what the hon. and learned Gentleman says about the perhaps superficial Austinian view of sovereignty, but would not he concede, bearing in mind particularly Articles 85 to 94 of the Treaty of Rome, that there has been a transfer of sovereignty in the sense that the sovereignty of democratic institutions has been surrendered to bureaucrats—the nine members of the European Commission—and that that is the type of sovereignty which is in jeopardy?
§ Mr. Grieve
That was the next point with which I was about to deal. This is the other aspect of the problem. But there is no such surrender. There is a surrender on paper. There is a Commission in Brussels whose function is to make proposals for the common good. We shall be represented on that Commission. We shall have on that Commission as strong a voice as all the other major States which are parties to the Treaty. The Commission makes the proposals, but they are disposed of by the Council of Ministers. On the Council of Ministers we shall have representation equal to that of the largest States which will be our fellows in the Community, and the Ministers on the Council of Ministers will answer to this sovereign Parliament. That is the answer to those who fear the bureaucracy in Brussels.
I was astonished to hear the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray), who spoke in perhaps not very measured terms about this matter, say that this great sovereign Parliament was being dragged into servitude. Nothing could be further from the truth. Arguments of that kind do no service, it seems to me, to the real 1044 argument which, rightly, has gone on in this country and is now being conducted in Parliament itself.
It saddens me that those right lion. Members who were in government in 1967, who initiated the latest series of negotiations, now, many of them, lead the opposition to our joining. This was put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stepney this afternoon as a reason why this country should not go forward with this great step.
It seems to me that the very reverse is true. What is a nation, what is the world, to think of Ministers, who from 1967 to 1970 were, in speech after speech and debate after debate, putting before this country and the world the advantages of our becoming members of the Community, and who now, in Opposition, are making an issue of it in Parliament and opposing this great step?
La Rochefoucauld said. "La parole a été donnée à l'homme pour déguiser sa pensée." It will be an interesting subject for debate among historians of the future whether that maxim is best illustrated by the speeches made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition between 1967 and 1970 or by the speeches which he has made since, but the matter will, no doubt, be academic, because, I believe and hope that by a decision made in this sovereign Parliament for the good of this country, of Europe and mankind we shall have become a part of the European Economic Community.
§ 10.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Hardy (Rother Valley)
I will not follow the hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) to any great length. I am bound to accept that he is extremely sincere, but he has illustrated one thing which has begun to emerge already in the debate, that in the Conservative Party, on the back benches, there are clearly two schools of thought among those who support the Common Market. The hon. and learned Gentleman has made it clear that he is in favour of political unity, while other hon. Members of the Conservative Party have expressed—
§ Mr. Hardy
I will give way in a moment. The hon. and learned Gentleman did not give way on several occasions when asked to during his speech, and I am certainly going to complete the point I have already started to make before I give way.
It seems to me that we have Members of the Conservative Party expressing support for entry into the Common Market but saying that they will have no truck with political unity or political federation and that entry does not mean that, and that we have other Members of the Conservative Party who also express support for entry but take the entirely opposite view about the political future in Western Europe. They seem to me to be entirely inconsistent, and I think we are entitled to expect a certain degree of unity in the Conservative Party's view of the political future of the Common Market.
Now, if he wishes to intervene, briefly, I shall be delighted to give way to the hon. and learned Member.
§ Mr. Grieve
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. Nothing I said indicated, or was intended to indicate, that I thought or expected to see political unity. What we are seeing is a union, not a federation or a confederation.
§ Mr. Hardy
The hon. and learned Gentleman has spoken feelingly and sincerely about the need for peace. If he thinks that in the long term he can create a peaceful situation in Europe without political unity or federation I suggest that he reads a little more French history and philosophy. However, I do not want to go at great length into that because I want to make my own speech, and to make one or two points on other speeches which we have heard during the hours that this debate has already taken today.
We have had some astonishing speeches, the two most astonishing being from the Government Front Bench. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said that there were ugly signs that the world was moving towards protectionism. He does not seem to realise that Britain's application to join the Common Market is the greatest 1046 evidence of protectionism that the world can see.
The second surprising episode came in the speech of the Minister of Agriculture, who claimed with some vigour and apparent pride that the agricultural industry in this country enthusiastically supports entry into the Common Market. Whatever organisation he quoted—I did not hear him because of the noise; I was not sure whether it was the Distressed Gentlefolks' Aid Association or the Country Landowners' Association—he could not claim that the National Union of Agricultural Workers was in favour, and my impression of the position of the National Farmers' Union is that it would like the Government to believe it was in favour but does not want its members to appreciate that point.
My constituency is not fishing constituency; it is not one of the constituencies which the Minister regarded as of minor importance. My constituency is concerned with coal and steel. When I had my 15 meetings during the recess to ascertain the views of my constituents, I was surprised at the hostility that was shown. Of all the people attending my surgeries, attending my meetings or writing letters to me, only 18 individuals were in favour of entry. The vast proportion of my constituents appeared to be strongly opposed to entry.
This may be surprising, because the dominant industries in the area are coal coal and steel. One would have thought that the official view of the National Coal Board and the British Steel Corporation favouring entry would have received more support among the thousands of people engaged in those industries. Many people working in the steel industry believe that the British Steel Corporation is in favour of entry ino Europe as a means of escape from the vicious policies and attitudes shown by the Department of Trade and Industry.
Many people are worried about the consequences. It may be that an industry which is already doing well in Europe can expect to do better if we go in, but the position of the British Steel Corporation is not quite so good as that. In 1970 we exported from Britain £285 million worth of iron and steel goods. Only £34 million worth went to Europe, and Europe exported £55 million worth to us.
1047 No matter what the economic criteria may be, the outlook for our steel trade in the first few years following entry appears likely to be adverse. The great anxiety is that if we suffer these adverse patterns of trade there will be further discouragement for the British Steel Corporation's expansion programme. If the Government are able to get a majority on 28th October and afterwards, they should be prepared to give an absolute guarantee both to the British Steel Corporation and to the steel industry areas that the expansion programme is guaranteed, so that we can expect a surviving British steel industry towards the end of this century. If we do not get this expansion, Britain as well as the steel areas will be very adversely affected.
My hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) referred to the coal industry. There are ten collieries in my constituency, and many thousands of my constituents work in the pits. The National Coal Board is in favour of entry; the miners are not, and they are not for a very good reason which I will present as briefly as I can.
We are told that if we go in there will be 40,000 jobs for miners. That claim by the pro-Marketeers is absolute nonsense which has been repudiated by the National Coal Board. We are told that there will be a market of 25 million tons of coal; but in order to supply that either the levels of industrial activity in this country will be much reduced or the Western European countries will have to contract their own coal industries to a far greater extent.
Between 1960 and 1967, certainly in the first half of the 1960s, the Common Market coal industry shrank considerably. But in the latter part of the sixties—only last year—the rate of reduction was slowing down. Indeed, in 1970 the West German coal industry produced only half a million tons less than it was producing in the mid-sixties. It is not contracting now as much as it was.
It has, in fact, although it is not producing it, a capability which a Community report records as 185 million tons a year. It is not producing it because it can get it from outside sources—particularly and increasingly from Eastern Europe—at prices much cheaper than it would cost it or us, because the Eastern 1048 coalfields are subsidised by the State. We would not be allowed to do this: it would be against the Common Market regulations. So if we were to try to produce 25 million tons of coal a year for Common Market countries, we should have to do it at cut prices which would depress the rewards and wages of those whom I represent.
We should probably also have to increase our capital investment, incurring vast long-term debt. The effect would be that as energy patterns continue to change in Europe as the demand for coal shrinks, so the National Coal Board would be saddled with long-term capital investment to serve a short-term—perhaps very short-term—market. This would mean further severe and massive future burdens for the people in the coalfields of Britain. So those people are predominantly and strongly opposed to going in. They have said to me—it is a comment which could be made in many other areas—that at the last General Election they were not given a choice.
I made my position clear. My position on the Common Market in June 1970 was what it is today. Unfortunately, the Conservative election address in my constituency made no reference to the Common Market. That may have been understandable, given the political nature of my constituency. But when one learns that 60 per cent. of hon. Members opposite never referred to it in their election addresses, and that half the present Cabinet ignored the subject, one is tempted to take up the point of the hon. and learned Member for Solihull about tyrants. A tyrant is one who governs without the consent of the people he rules. We now have a Government which ducked the issue in June 1970 and which are now, I presume, telling people in Western Europe that it does not matter that the great majority of people in this country are opposed to entry.
We have heard tributes paid to the Prime Minister, that he has been consistent about Europe throughout recent years. But I can remember a newspaper headline during the last election: "Heath Blows Cold on the Market". The British people were carefully conned into believing that the Conservative Party was no longer keen on the Common Market. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense!"] If it is nonsense, why did 60 per cent. of 1049 Conservative candidates not refer to the issue in their election addresses?
The Prime Minister and all speakers from the Conservative Party who favour entry have talked about the importance of the Matter. Several have referred to the strength and wisdom of the British people. If they really believe this, let them give the people an opportunity to show their strength and wisdom, and have a General Election so that this issue can be decided in accord with the democratic principles of this country. Then if they go in, the British people are entitled to support them with every effort and endeavour.
I make this final comment. If the Government take us into the Common Market without having a democratic decision to support entry, then we shall have had a greater contribution to that cynicism and apathy which I regard as very grave social weaknesses and almost diseases today, a contribution to social harm and perhaps future social upheaval which the body politic in this country will long regret.
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
Towards the end of his speech the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Hardy) weighed in against the Government about their refusal to acknowledge democratic principles and the inherited wisdom of the British people. Why do not the Opposition allow a free vote on 28th October? If there were to be any acknowledgement of inherited wisdom and democratic principles, surely this is an occasion on which it should be shown. It must be unprecedented that when there is a free vote on the Government and on the Liberal side the Opposition should have a rigid three-line whip to try to discipline the troops.
§ Mr. Hardy
Is the hon. Gentleman telling me that as a result of the free vote we shall see anything other than the whole of the Government Front Bench and all the Parliamentary Private Secretaries voting the same way? Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that there is the ability within the Conservative Government and Party to show any difference of view?
§ Mr. Page
They wished, in honour, to leave a Government which they did not fully support.
I now turn to my own position, because the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) said that debates on this issue are very much a collection of personal statements. The removal of the Whip on this side of the House has given me greater confidence that as a waiverer on this issue for ten years I am right in supporting the entry of this country to the E.E.C. than when there was a Whip on, because one did not know how much party allegiance might be weighting one's view in taking the final decision.
The hon. Member for Rother Valley may cynically smile. He might at least try, as some of his hon. Friends have in their speeches, to recognise when other hon. Members, with whom he may not agree, are trying to give their sincere views.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. William Whitelaw)
It was made clear from the start that, the Government being committed, all Members of the Government would vote for the Motion. That does not apply, and never has applied, to Parliamentary Private Secretaries. I hope that the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Hardy) will understand that.
§ Mr. Page
After a lot of careful thought, I have come down in favour of supporting entry to the E.E.C. I have done so for reasons which have been rehearsed in other speeches today. I think that as soon as India was allowed to remain inside the Commonwealth as a Republic the whole of the Commonwealth changed, and from that moment the Commonwealth rôle, with this country leading as the first among equals, disappeared and, as Dean Acheson said, we have needed a new rôle.
Second, I believe that joining will give a great new impetus to our industrialists, 1051 and I have seen this happening already. I think that the fact of joining the E.E.C. has produced a far more dynamic interest by managements in exporting and in the competitive position of their companies than joining E.F.T.A. ever did.
Third, as my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) said, there is a great new opportunity for us in the technological field, which we must have.
Fourth, many of my constituents in Harrow, West work in the City of London in commercial houses, in businesses, in banks and in insurance companies, and I believe that in those spheres immense opportunities will be open to our business men. Those businesses earn vast amounts of foreign exchange, and I believe that they will able to increase their earnings if we go into the E.E.C.
Those are some of the reasons in favour. I should now like to consider some of the reasons against going in.
I shall use two headings: first, the fear of the rise in the cost of living; second, the loss of parliamentary sovereignty. I am glad of the Government's assurance that for retirement and other State pensions rises in the cost of living due to entry into the E.E.C. will be taken into consideration, but I ask the Government—and I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Anthony Grant) is on the Front Bench—to find ways of helping retired elderly people who have small fixed investment incomes after 1973, because I believe that after that date the age exemption and age relief for such incomes will disappear. Perhaps the Government will say what action they propose to take to help those people.
My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) discussed the question of parliamentary sovereignty in some detail. I was delighted with the Foreign Secretary's speech this afternon, and also his recent speech at Brighton, because he emphasised the importance which the Government attach to the Luxembourg Agreement and the fact that in the Council of Ministers a unanimous vote will be necessary to decide vital issues.
1052 Many members of the public do not realise that, apart from the Luxembourg Agreement, there are 21 matters in the Treaty of Rome on which there must be a unanimous decision before action can be taken. It is often said that the decision about allowing a new member to enter the Community must be unanimous, but it is not often realised that there are 21 matters, covering a vast range of important issues, which require a unanimous decision. That being so, Parliament here retains its independence of action, because the member of the Government attending the Council of Ministers, supported by a majority in this House, will be able to veto or approve any proposals which are put forward by the Commission. This seems completely to give sufficient sovereignty.
§ Mr. Elystan Morgan
Without going into the point in any detail, will the hon. Gentleman concede that there are situations, in terms of regional development especially, where certain proposals can emanate only from the Commission itself? The Council of Ministers has no power. The European Parliament has none. If the nine members of the Commission do not initiate such changes, they do not occur. That is what I meant by "a surrender of sovereignty".
§ Mr. Page
The hon. Gentleman has cited a specific point. When I was in Brussels recently talking to the Commission about regional development, it seemed to me that in practice each individual country was carrying out its own regional plans. That is what is happening now. It seems to me that the regional development which has happened in the different countries of the Six is more or less on all fours with the regional development which we are carrying out here.
§ Sir R. Turton
Is not it true that the Commission has not allowed the regional plans of the Italian and Belgian Governments? It has turned them down.
§ Mr. Page
Again, this was discussed. The Commission asked for the modification of some of the plans, but not all the plans were turned down. I ask my right hon. Friend to remember the advantages which can be given from the Development Fund. I do not see this as a major difficulty. Even if my right hon. Friend were right, I believe that the 1053 growth of prosperity as a whole is the best way of helping the regions, rather than giving special help to the regions themselves.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
Is my hon. Friend aware that 40 per cent. new investment in Italy has to be in the development areas?
§ Mr. Page
I confess that regional development did not feature in the speech which I prepared. I was satisfied on my visit that there was nothing to worry about on that score.
My right hon. Friend for Thirsk and Malton went on to discuss the existing regulations which will have to be accepted. Parliament has not been helped as much as it might have been to discover what these regulations are. But I have succeeded in getting from the Department of Trade and Industry a list of the regulations which are outstanding, except for the agricultural regulations, and, like a previous hon. Member for Harrow, A. P. Herbert, I know nothing about agriculture and do not pretend to. But, apart from the regulations concerning agriculture, I have yet to find any organisation which is worried about the regulations which will have to be accepted. Apparently, there is something which slightly worries the maltsters, and there is something else about the size of packaging of butter and margarine. But it does not appear that the existing regulations present any major stumbling block. My right hon. Friend, whose personality and whose speeches I admire very much, did not give any dramatic examples of regulations which we shall have to swallow in the next 12 months and which might stick tight in his gullet.
A word of warning. When new standards are applied, I would like it made absolutely clear that if they are given in metric symbols their imperial equivalents will be quoted as well. If that is not done, I may find it difficult to support the Minister when totally unnecessarily metric regulations are before us.
I resist the idea of direct election to the European Parliament. I believe that, as has happened among the Six, British Members can do the job at the European Parliament and at Westminster as well. I cannot discover any reason why the European Parliament should meet at Strasbourg, which, I understand, has a 1054 particularly rotten airport which is difficult to get to.
As each of the Six has within its borders agencies for the Common Market, I suggest that we might offer to have the European Parliament stationed in Britain—[Interruption.]—or in England. I said "Britain" because that seems to be the fashionable expression these days. I would like to see it at Windsor—I am sure that we could ask Her Majesty to provide space there—remembering that it is only 10 minutes from an international airport. As soon as we accede to the Treaty we should suggest that the first meeting of the European Parliament after that date should be held in this country so that our people may see and appreciate the work that goes on there.
§ 11.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Willesden, West)
I have listened to many speeches made by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page). His naivety never ceases to astound me. I am never quite certain whether—as when I listened to Mr. John Smith, who used to represent the Cities of London and Westminster—I am having my leg pulled.
Knowing the hon. Gentleman's experience in this House, I cannot understand how, with his knowledge of the way in which the parties deliver their votes—including, among other things, the three-line Whip—he could open his remarks in the way he did, when we all know that on this issue about which there are so many cross-currents of opinion, the vote on 28th October must be regarded as the most tricky this century. There has been move and counter-move, thought and counter-thought. It has been like a grand game of chess, but apparently the hon. Member for Harrow, West takes it all on its face value.
I have been in my place since 4 p.m. One of the troubles with waiting for a long time to speak is that one tends to keep adding to the number of points one would like to make. I had in mind four speeches to comment upon, but I would have cut out that of the Foreign Secretary had he not been here, for I would not wish to be discourteous to him. There is no more courteous a person in the House than the right hon. Gentleman—and now that he is in his place I must comment on his speech. I promise to be brief.
1055 My first observations are about the two opening speeches from the back benches. They were made by the Father of the House, the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers). I was in agreement with the right hon. Member and in disagreement with my hon. Friend. The House should be grateful for the quality of those two speeches, putting very different points of view and setting a high standard of debate for what will be a gruelling six days with many repetitions for you, Mr. Speaker.
The Foreign Secretary made it clear that he was very concerned about what other people think about us and about what the capitals of Europe would say as a result of our performance here. This is not the first time that we have heard that philosophical approach from him. I recall a famous speech by him in which he was very anxious that Britain should be at the top table. My concern is more with the kitchen table. Most of my constituents eat from it. Therefore, I am not so much concerned with what kind of judgment will be passed by the peers or foreign Secretaries throughout the capitals of Europe as with what my constituents, and the housewives in particular, will think about the decision that we take on 28th October and how it will affect the weekly shopping.
I now come to the Minister of Agriculture's winding up speech. In football, especially if the game is not too good, it is understood that if one cannot get to the ball one has a go at the players. The right hon. Gentleman started his speech very much in that vein, being not so much concerned with the argument as to have a go at the men, which he did effectively with a number of very selective quotations. I urge all hon. Members to read the right hon. Gentleman's speech in HANSARD. He leaned so heavily on his brief that it would qualify as a prosthetic device under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, 1970. On a series of important questions on food prices and so on, we heard of all the "earnest intentions" and the "avenues being explored"—the phrases that we all use as politicians. The amount of meat was very small; the rations were pitifully short.
1056 We are emotional and logical, rational and irrational, on the subject. That is humanity itself. I remember very well that when, as a young man, I used to march to Trafalgar Square—as I shall next Sunday—my friends and I sang:There'll be pie in the sky when you die.That has changed. Today it seems to me that there will be French tarts for all, but not until about 10 years' time. I yield to no hon. Member in my appreciation of French patisserie; it is gorgeously light, airy and frothy. It is even worth a wait of 10 years to get my teeth into it. But it is a very insubstantial diet. In today's debate we have had a negligible amount of facts, but the hopes and aspirations—the froth—have been there in plenty.
The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton talked about voting against a three-line Whip. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie). I did not vote against the only nine-line Whip this century, on 10th May, 1967. I abstained. I can tell the House what happens to P.P.S.s who do that. I got the sack on 12th May, and so did six others. My right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) could confirm that there is no difference of mutual regard between him and me. It was right that I should go, and we are still extremely good friends. Obviously, if one is within the ambit of the Government one must support them or take the consequences. Therefore, I make no complaint about being one of the seven sacked. But anyone who thinks that the 40 or 50 Conservative P.P.S.s are free to vote without jeopardising their future is hopelessly wrong.
At the time when I was sacked there had been many changes in the general situation. One view advanced from both sides, with which I do not agree, is that because we took a certain attitude in 1957, in 1962 or in 1967 there is some virtue in consistency. The fact is that every factor in the argument has been changing constantly. We are in a changing situation, not a static one. The arguments in favour of or against going in are constantly changing, and it would be ridiculous to take up a position which did not take account of changing circumstances.
1057 In all three broad aspects of the argument—political, economic and constitutional—there have been changes. Who can say that the fact that Willy Brandt became Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany did not alter the political situation? It did, of course. Who can say that the fact that in February, 1970, a large number of those parts of the Treaty of Rome which were capable of being made permanent after the transitional period were made permanent did not alter the whole situation? It did. I believe that those February, 1970 changes make it virtually impossible to negotiate the kind of changes that I should like to see. That is a further reason why, next week, I shall vote against entry.
Economically, the price is too high. It is unfair to Britain. It is a burden on the housewife and on the elderly. It favours the cartel against the small enterprise. It enshrines the profit motive and worships competition. It destroys our agricultural policy, successful since Attlee and established by the then Minister, Tom Williams, whereby support for agriculture comes from the community as a whole in the form of taxation. Instead, we shall have this added to prices under the new system. This was another gap in the speech of the Minister of Agriculture.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke a lot about the way in which he would protect the horticulturist and the farmer, but he said little about how he intended to protect the consumer, which is a key point for most of us. We will exchange what has been perhaps the finest cheap food policy in the world for a dear food policy. It inhibits the G.A.T.T., the Kennedy Round and U.N.C.T.A.D.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) said, we have been trying to narrow the gap between the developed, industrialised rich nations and the developing nations, but within the E.E.C. the tendency will be to widen that gap.
Politically, I believe that we address ourselves to the wrong question when we look back to what happened in 1914 and 1939. As the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) pointed out, there are already many ways in which we co-operate with Europe; in technological advance, in the W.E.U. and the Council of Europe, in participation in 1058 the specialised agencies such as U.N.E.S.C.O., the F.A.O. and the I.L.O., and in C.E.R.N., in Geneva. We are already in Europe in a number of ways, and in a much wider way than just this group of the Six.
The two great political issues are not for me—I was one of the 1930 group—but for my children and my grandchildren. The first is: how do we get a détente between East and West, between capitalism and Communism, and how do we prevent the "big boys" from blowing us all to Kingdom come? The second great political point is even more important: how do we get the people of the poor nations, struggling for two bowls of rice a day, into some kind of equity with those of other nations struggling for two cars per family?
A valid point made by those in favour of entry is that the Community has a good record for giving even more than that laid down by the Lester Pearson proposals of 0.7 per cent. of the gross national product to prime the pump, but it is essential to remember that it is only priming the pump. We must have the parity and organisation which will enable us to avoid the mistake, on a world-wide scale, that we made here when, by the Industrial Revolution, we divided town and country, with the agricultural workers still at the end of the queue while the urban areas and the conurbations grew richer.
By technological developments in the Six and elsewhere we are ensuring that the developing countries are permanently those that provide the raw materials and the food from the plantations in a cheap way with cheap labour, whilst we process the materials in our part of the world. Therefore, what is required is not a continuation of this difference between the two but a completely new approach. For this purpose I served for three years on the Select Committee on Overseas Aid and contributed to its report.
Monsieur Couve de Murville makes it obvious when he says that we have to choose between the Commonwealth and the Common Market. He is right. I choose the Commonwealth. I accept that there have been changes, and that the links have been loosened, but why have we not fought more to hold them? In my constituency the Associated Electrical 1059 Industries have closed a factory employing 2.000 men, who are now redundant. The factory built the electrical gear for the Kariba Dam in Africa. In the development of engineering all kinds of things are needed by the 600 million people of India, the 100 million of Pakistan and the 100 million of Nigeria, and these things can be produced by Britain. But what has happened. We have closed down an electrical transmission plant in order to rationalise A.E.I., G.E.C. and English Electric in order to compete with Siemens of Germany and Philips of Holland on computers and automation in Western Europe.
On the political issue the balance still goes against entry. There has been argument in the House and in The Guardian, today, about the possibility of a further sharing of nuclear power, albeit within an eventual United States of Europe. This is against my idea of a nonproliferation treaty, and nullifies it. There are already two too many large Powers with nuclear force. I do not want to see another.
There has been argument on the question of the constitution. I am concerned that once we have entered there will be no secession. Power rests with the Commission. Important financial and tax matters affecting my constituents move from here to Brussels. No longer can my constituents send in a green card to the Central Lobby and say, "On this aspect of taxation, what can my Member do for me?" All that I shall be able to say is that the matter will be put to the Minister at the Council of Europe and that he may be able to do something about it, but it is so remote as to be unlikely. The Boston Tea Party was about "no taxation without representation." It seems that we are now about to repeat that policy, this time disenfranchising our own citizens.
I have examined the whole question of India with some care, but I now have little time to speak. At present 40 per cent. of India's exports come to Britain. Exchanging the present Commonwealth preferences for the Common Market General Scheme of Preference—the only thing that India is likely to get—will cut into and make a tremendous impact upon her present economic plan. It will be 1060 disastrous to India. By having G.S.P. instead of Commonwealth preferences, she will lose twice as much as she gains.
No hon. Member has yet dealt with the effect of the National Health Service. There has been much talk about the harmonisation of family benefits and social security. It has been said that they will be as good as or comparable with those that we have in Britain—[HON. MEMBERS: "Better."]. The National Health Service comes within the scope of social services. A case in point is the Joint Optical Committee. How will our entry affect those whom we are consulting, the whole optical profession? Four draft directives will be ratified before December this year and we shall have no opportunity of altering them. That is the view of the dispensing opticians, ophthalmic opticians and the General Optical Council. I quote their view about these directives:They would be totally unacceptable to ophthalmic and dispensing opticians in this country and to the General Optical Council. The profession believes that the draft directives pose a serious threat to the high professional standards of ophthalmic and dispensing opticians in the U.K. and an equally serious threat to the standards of eye care to which our general public have become accustomed over the past 40 years or so.Is blindness unimportant? Is the care of our eyes unimportant? Is this a sector in which no one is interested? Yet this will be affected vitally by accession.
If I had time, I could give chapter and verse of the six ways in which medical provision is given in each of the Six. I hope that at some future time we shall talk about this. I have made a close examination of all the means in which hospital and domiciliary services are provided, the way in which diagnostic aid is given and the way in which payment is made. The essential point is that we are the only country in which the taxpayer carries the burden of the health services. In the other countries there is a claw-back system, and in any such system the people who are in most need do not get adequate services.
Joining will affect doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and in my view, could so change our National Health Service as to be disastrous. The tragedy is neither "in" nor "out"; it is not in the case for or against. It is that what we have been doing for the last ten years 1061 is to behave as though this is our only course or opportunity, whereas all this time British initiative could have been taken in so many other ways in order to meet the situation economically, politically and constitutionally. There are alternatives and the sooner Britain devotes herself to pursuing them, turning from an arid and boring road which has become a large yawn of an argument, the better for the British people.
§ 11.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)
It seems possible that I find myself in the unlikely position of delivering the winding-up speech in today's debate. I do not know whether that entitles me to sit on the Front Bench, but that would enable me to end the debate on a note of unity, which would be welcome between the two Front Benches. I want to revert to the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) because I agree very much with what he said. He is much against metrication, as I am. He is much against a directly-elected European Parliament. He is & against any major loss of sovereignty. I cannot understand, therefore, his conclusion that he would vote in favour of entry.
I would like to think that that is an element of inconsistency more real and more important than many of the accusations of inconsistency which have been bandied about today. It is said that it is important to be consistent but it is better to be right. I think that the constant flow of accusations between the two Front Benches, in particular, about this are irrelevant to the real issues about which people are concerned.
Having said that, I immediately claim consistency. Eleven years ago I sat in the Strangers' Gallery listening to what I believe was the first debate on British entry. I was an opponent of entry then—I believed it wrong for Britain—and I am an opponent now. It is my intention to vote against entry and to do all I can to prevent this country's taking a step which I believe would be very damaging to Britain, the Commonwealth, our role in the world and the future prosperity of our people.
§ Mr. David Waddington (Nelson and Colne)
My hon. Friend referred to the accusations of inconsistency made by one 1062 Front Bench against the other. Is not this a rather important matter? We have heard various speakers urge upon the House that there should be a General Election, but if there were a General Election and the Labour Party won, many of us are confident in the belief that it would then take the country into Europe. As that is the case, it is important from the point of view of the country to point out the inconsistency.
§ Mr. Moate
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Waddington) can make his own assessment of the intentions of the Labour Party—whether they are genuine or are a tactical exercise to try to produce some semblance of unity in Labour's ranks on this occasion. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said the other day—and I agree with him—that it is now or never. I hope that is right. I hope that we will not join on this occasion. I believe that we will not, and if we do not it is possible that the chance to join the E.E.C. as it exists today will not recur. But I hope that some better opportunity Will arise and that the present Government, remaining in office, will be there to seize the initiative in order to obtain a better system for ourselves and Europe.
I was referring to inconsistency. In those first debates many hon. Members opposite who are opposed now were opposed then. I wonder whether people are accused equally of inconsistency when they swap sides in order to agree with hon. Members on the other side of the House. It seems that people are accused of inconsistency only when they have swung round to disagree with one's own views. I do not place any great importance on that. What is important is that the British people should see that the issues themselves are discussed. It is a question not of party tactics but of whether we make the right decision for the future of the country.
§ Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)
My hon. Friend mentioned some alternative plan which he hoped would be put forward. Has he any proposals? I should like to hear him develop them, if he has.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member gave way and another hon. Member sought to intervene. I hope that I shall be able 1063 to call another hon. Member before midnight.
§ Mr. Moate
I was hoping to touch on what I believe would be a far better way ahead for Britain, when we do not accede to this treaty.
The British people are concerned that we should come to the right decision, but this is not just a debate about the Common Market. It is also a debate about democracy, and whether the people should decide and be able to feel that they have some say in the ultimate destiny of the country.
Many hon. Members have mentioned public opinion but no Government speaker has properly dealt with that subject. The words of the Prime Minister during and before the last Election are very important. They have often been quoted, but it is right to quote them again, because they contain the essential truth. He used the words about full-hearted consent. Also on "Election Forum" on 27th May he said:No British Government could possibly take this country into the Common Market against the wishes of the people.That is true. It is all very well to say that there is a free vote, but that is a very half-hearted step on the road to allowing the British people to have some say in their destiny.
Most pro-Marketeers were saying constantly and confidently that as soon as the terms were known and their campaign was able to get under way there would be a massive swing of public opinion behind the Government. It has not happened. Some may argue that it does not matter, or that the answers may be interpreted in different ways, but the fact remains that the British people are overwhelmingly against entry. [HON. MEMBERS: "How do you judge?"] I am being asked on what I judge. The important thing is to establish the state of opinion, and the Prime Minister has quite properly said that public opinion is a vital part of this exercise. The Prime Minister having said that, the onus of proving whether the Government have the support of the people is on the Government.
I absolutely reject the argument that a General Election could resolve one issue like this. I know that many hon. Mem- 1064 bers fundamentally disagree with the idea of a referendum, but if it is said that the views of the people are vital it is the only way in which satisfactorily to ascertain whether the Government have their support.
This is without doubt the greatest constitutional issue of all time. In many other democratic nations such an issue could be decided only by a two-thirds or three-quarters majority in Parliament, or by a referendum throughout the country. It is clear that a simple majority in the House is not enough. It would be quite wrong for the Government to seek entry—in accordance with their own statements—with only the half-hearted support of the House, which is as much as they are likely to obtain and against the active opposition of the people.
I know that that opposition exists because nearly every opinion poll shows it to be so. One may have a cynical view of opinion polls, but it is noteworthy how many hon. Members in favour of entry selectively extract those bits of the opinion polls which favour their argument. We are cynical about opinion polls and know that they may be subject to great error, but when every national opinion poll comes up with the same answers and where there is such a discrepancy between those in favour and those against—35 per cent. in favour and over 50 per cent. against, that is well beyond any question of sampling error. It is beyond doubt that the British public are against this measure.
§ Mr. David James
I took votes at six open public meetings throughout my constituency under conditions as fair as possible. We had 69 per cent. in favour. Is my hon. Friend suggesting I had 12 per cent. against me?
§ Mr. Moate
I suggest that my hon. Friend is again selecting a particular vote. If he concedes that it is important that he had support at those meetings he is conceding that it is right that he should have public support before voting in favour of entry. If he concedes that, he should go out of his way to find out what all his constituents think and not just a few hundred who have been persuaded to attend a public meeting.
There is a more serious implication. The Government have a real, great and moral dilemma and it is their duty to 1065 answer the point and not engage in evasions, such as those which have been indulged in. The dilemma is this: if people are opposed to entry after all the splendid temptations dangled in front of them by the massive propaganda drive of the European movements, and others, how much more opposed they will be, how greater the disillusionment, when they start to bear the impact costs that are inevitable in the next few years. Food prices will rise annually. That is unarguable. There will be annual rises, deliberately and voluntarily incurred by the Government.
§ Mr. Moate
That is very arguable. Despite what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture was telling us yesterday, it is evident that certain world food prices are falling. I think that my right lion. Friend will concede that grain prices on the world market are coming down. So it is possible—probable—that world food prices will not continue to rise, but will fall instead. An extra annual cost will be inflicted upon the British people by a deliberate act of Government policy. It might be said that it is right or wrong, but it certainly will not be popular. Also deliberately and voluntarily incurred will be an annual burden on our balance of payments. This will continue to rise over the next few years. Even if there are still some who, despite all the evidence to the contrary, believe in this mystic, dynamic growth factor that will produce some long-term benefit, they must concede that this is something for the long-term, and that in the short-term the British people will suffer these costs. If the people opposed now they will certainly be ever more bitterly opposed over the next few years.
It has always been a maxim of the Conservative Party that if we are not a national party we are nothing. An hon. Member opposite expressed some sympathy for the damage that this Party is doing to itself. We must concern ourselves with the state of our party. When a party gets so far from public opinion, when we are not expressing a national point of view but the view of a dwindling minority, then that is a precarious position for any party.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
Would my hon. Friend not agree that the C.B.I., which is somewhat expert over earning income and manufacturing, takes a different view about the potential earning capacity of this country in a larger market? Is this a minority view?
§ Mr. Moate
There arc two points here. First, the Prime Minister made it clear that Britain could not enter against the wishes of the people. Many of my hon. Friends seemed to believe that that meant that we could not enter against the wishes of the Confederation of British Industry. That is not the case. My right hon. Friend earlier suggested that we could not enter against the wishes of the Country Landowners' Association. The Foreign Secretary produced an ingenious answer at the Party Conference—that we could interpret the Conservative Party Conference as representing public opinion! Nor, I suggest, can those words of the Prime Minister be considered as meaning the wishes of the people as expressed by Parliament. If we re-read that sentence in that way it would say that it would not be possible to have Britain enter the Common Market against the wishes of Parliament. That would be a statement so blindingly obvious that it would not have been made. Those words mean what they said. Those conditions do not exist today.
I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) to look at the investment survey which the C.B.I. produced a few weeks ago, which asked about the investment intentions for the next year, the export prospects for the next year and what factors were likely to influence companies in this country in making their plans. Despite all the optimism generated by Ministers about the amount of investment awaiting our decision on 28th October, the C.B.I. study did not once mention the Common Market as being a factor in investments plans and export prospects. Why should it? We know that the average tariff is 7½ per cent. Bearing in mind all the major economic factors to which it is subject, why should a company consider that a 7½ per cent. tariff, covering 20 per cent. of its market, to be phased out over a period of five years, represents a major investment factor? There are some industries with higher tariffs which 1067 might take a decision on that basis, but on average it is a very modest factor.
Despite all the optimism generated and the rosy prospects held out, the prospect for the next few years is not lower unemployment; if the investment flows it might not flow in Britain; there could be higher unemployment. It will not necessarily mean more stable prices; indeed, the contrary is almost certain to happen and we shall have higher prices. The great problems of our country—inflation and the balance of payments—will be intensified by British entry. Far from the rosy prospects being held out to the British people it will be a question of the people of this country tightening their belts for the next few years.
I appreciate that I have spoken at greater length than expected, but I have waited 11 years to make this speech and as a result of many interruptions I have not made all the essential points that I wanted to make. I will save them for another occasion, in the hope that I shall be called. However, I wish to make two points because they are crucial points of objection. The first concerns the loss of sovereignty. Earlier my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary put his point of view very sincerely.
I know that may right hon. Friend does not agree that there will be a major loss of sovereignty for this country. But I think his view overlooks the commitments into which the Government have entered and the plans and commitments of the Community for the years ahead. It also ignores the beliefs of many of his colleagues and many Conservative backbench Members who might some day be in positions of great influence and power, that we should proceed towards political integration at a much faster rate than he and many of his colleagues support.
We have committed ourselves to going the whole way on economic and monetary union. We have committed ourselves to supporting a directly-elected Parliament. Such a Parliament will demand and receive great powers. Within a few years of joining—not in some distant generation, but in the next decade, or within that sort of time scale—there will be a major transfer of power from this House to Brussels, which I do not believe many hon. Members support. Most do not realise how rapidly we shall move along 1068 that road. It will not be possible, every time, to exercise the veto. We have found ourselves decimalised against our will. We shall find ourselves metricated against our will. If the first step of joining the Common Market is made, that will be against the wishes of the majority of the people of this country. What hope, therefore, is there that the British people will be able to prevent unacceptable moves towards political integration in Europe?
I reject the whole concept of the block arguments put forward by the pro-Marketeers. The answer does not lie in regional blocks and groupings. It does not lie in the protectionism which such blocks convey. There are many signs in the world that we can and will move towards freer world trade.
§ Mr. Moate
My hon. Friend quotes America. I ask him to read the Williams Report, an important document presented to the American President, on which he has acted in part and which gives the ultimate objective as the total elimination of all tariffs within 25 years and a reduction in and the elimination of most tariffs within the next 10 years. I hope that the British Government will be in the forefront of negotiations in trying to ensure that we get a reduction in tariffs between all the industrialised nations of the world.
I think this will happen whether we go into the Common Market or not. Would it not be ironic if we were to enter the Community, having to pay a massive agricultural price and having committed ourselves to a political path which the British people do not want, only to find that the larger market and the reduction of tariffs has been achieved for all, with every nation a beneficiary but only Britain having paid the price?
For these and many other reasons I certainly shall vote against entry on 28th October. I hope very much that this House will recognise the demand that we do not go in unless our entry has the support of the British people. That support does not exist today.
§ 11.51 p.m.
§ Mr. David Clark (Colne Valley)
Very rarely can a Member on one side of the House rise and say that he agrees with 1069 an hon. Member on the opposite side, but I found that many of the reasons put forward by the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate) for Britain staying out are reasons which I entirely share.
The hon. Member was correct to make the point that this debate is about more than just the Common Market. Many of us do not realise how fragile is our democratic system of government. The hon. Gentleman was right when he said that this cannot be a great debate unless we have some way of consulting the people. He favours a referendum; I would favour a General Election. But if we go into the Common Market with the majority of the British people not wishing to do so, in a few years' time there will be tremendous repercussions in our democratic way of life.
I take it a stage further; I do not think that the Government have been as forthcoming as they should have been in providing information on this matter. I concede that there are arguments for going in, but I believe that the picture presented by the Government, telling us that everything will be rosy if we go into the Common Market, will lead to tremendous difficulties in time to come.
The Minister for Agriculture repeated the claim this evening. If I heard him correctly, he said that the National Farmers' Union was in favour of entering into the E.E.C. Only a day ago I received a letter from the National Farmers' Union saying quite definitely that it was not taking sides on the Common Market issue. Statements of the kind used by senior Ministers are likely to mislead the people.
§ Mr. Clark
We will see tomorrow, when we read HANSARD.
Time is not on my side tonight, but I would like to say a word or two in connection with an industry that has not been talked about much in this discussion—the woollen industry. It so happens that the leaders of the industry and its biggest trade union favour entry into the Common Market, but a sizeable minority feel that there are certain dangers about going in.
1070 In paragraph 37 of their White Paper the Government make the point that we should go in because our trade with Europe has been increasing greatly over the past few years, but in the woollen industry our trade with Common Market countries since 1957 has fallen by 50 per cent., while our trade with the E.F.T.A. countries has risen by 106 per cent.
We cannot have the argument both ways. Yet the woollen industry says that we should go in because we have lost so many markets which we can pick up again when we go in. I doubt the wisdom of that argument, especially when I examine the structure of the woollen industry on the Continent. We face competition from woollen industries on the Continent that have cheap labour and are highly automated. When speaking of cheap labour we automatically think of the Italian industry, the competition of which the Wool Textile Delegation admits has forced several of our firms in the heavy woollen industry to close down. We also face competition from the German and French industries, which have 58 per cent. and 54 per cent. automated looms, respectively, whereas we have 37 per cent. We have not faced this danger.
There are no British wool textile machine loom makers. We have to import all our looms, on which we have to pay a duty of about 10 per cent. I hope that the Government and the Department of Trade and Industry will listen to this argument. If we enter Europe, in order that the woollen industry should compete favourably we must have more automated looms. I hope that the duty will be removed.
We are often told that the economic conditions in the Six are good, yet when I read the international Press I find headlines likeBleak outlook for Italyand a reference to the Italian Minister of Finance saying that conditions will get worse and that there will be a recession. Italy is facing problems of inflation. In the E.E.C.'s own Bulletin No. 2 of 1971 there is a statement that:The growth of economic activity had lost momentum, and that the boom conditions which had prevailed in the Community had passed their peak.I hope that the Government will stop trying to sell the Common Market as if 1071 we were going into a booming Economic Community. We are not.
Many feel that by going into Europe we shall be entering not an international organisation but a sectional organisation. If we could have gone in in the early 1950s Europe might have been different. It would not have been the inward-looking body that Professor Dahrendorf affirms that Europe has become. We should now begin to think about the next step. We have missed out of Europe as a vehicle moving towards international co-operation. If we went in now we should be going backwards. I believe that we should say "No" to Europe, and try to develop our international contacts throughout the world.
As the Foreign Secretary hinted this afternoon when speaking on the wider issues, there are signs that a world trade war is coming. The great touchstone of this trade war is Britain's entry into the E.E.C. Unless we are careful the world will be divided into huge trading blocs—the Americas, Australasia and Europe. That would not be good for world trade and. more important, it would not be good for world peace. Therefore, I believe that by entering Europe we are worsening both the trading situation and the international situation.
§ It being Twelve o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed this day.