Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [21st October]:
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.—[Sir Alec Douglas-Home.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), I should like to tell the House the position. In the last three days I have been able to call 69 right hon. and hon. Members. I know of 187 who still wish to speak, excluding the spokesmen from the Front Benches. Yesterday the Rule was suspended until 2 o'clock. In the three and a half hours after 10.30 p.m. I was able to call only 10 hon. Members, one of whom has not yet finished his speech. The reason there were so few was that five back benchers took, on average, half an hour per speech. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] I am not allowed to criticise. I am not venturing to criticise. I am just stating a fact and expressing hope that note will be taken of that.
The hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis) has possession of the House.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)
At two o'clock this morning, I was about to refer to a remark which had been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Westhoughton (Mr. J. T. Price) that hon. Members opposite were like a jury. They look to me a bit like a hung jury, because the free vote to which they now subscribe is totally bogus. If they are a jury they ought to ask themselves whether the proponents of the Market have, in fact, discharged that burden of proof which rests upon them. I submit that they have signally failed.
My constituency is a fairly typical working class constituency in East London. I have found that opinion is overwhelmingly against entry. It is overwhelmingly against it despite the fact that the Government have expended vast sums of money in a propaganda campaign supported by the European Movement, 1481 by big business and by the mass media. The people are against entry because they know that they will be called on to pay the very high price.
A very interesting situation arose for one of my constituents, who happens to be a councillor who at one time supported entry into the Market. My constituent subscribes to the New Statesman, and in it he saw an advertisement from the Labour Movement for Europe. It suggested that he, among others, should write to it for an explanation as to the Socialist case for entry into Europe. He did so and he received, by return of post almost, a very large number of documents. Among them were the works of those well-known Socialists the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. I am bound lo say that that gentleman has now changed his mind.
Working people in particular have not succumbed to the over-sell, because they realise that a good product does not require dubious salesmanship. They have seen the Government's case crumble statistically, and they have seen a consequential change in the tactics of the Government. This was reflected in speech after speech that we have heard in the debate. We are now told by supporters of the Market, "Do not confuse us with the statistics or the facts. Look at the grand design." Indeed, we have heard many aspirations and assertions expressed throughout the debate.
We have an assertion by the Prime Minister that the cost of living would rise by not more than ½p in the £. The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) described that as "drivel". I have spoken to a number of my constituents in East London about it, and they have used a rather less polite five-letter word to describe it.
The Marketeers have asserted that somehow, mysteriously, economic growth will follow entry, but they ignore the acute dangers, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) will doubtless refer, of our being left on the periphery of Europe.
Last night the Secretary of State for Employment, at his most unctuous and patronising—I thought at one time that he wanted to become the "Patronising Secretary"—said that he thought this was 1482 the cure for unemployment. That was a bit thick coming from that quarter, with unemployment rising to close on 1 million. It is no such cure.
It is asserted that exports to the E.E.C. will increase. We learned from The Guardian on 14th July thatour exports to the E.E.C. were only 2 per cent. up—a drop when you include price increases. We continue to perform least well in the market we intend to join and the laggard figure carries right through to June itself.At the same time the Government are totally unable, so we are told, amongst the statistics that they have presented, to calculate the loss that we shall suffer as a result of losing Commonwealth and E.F.T.A. preferences.
Then they assert that there is much wrong with the common agricultural policy and the value-added tax, but that these things, perhaps, with a bit of influence from us, can be changed when we go in and that our influence will be brought to bear on these matters.
That does not seem to be the situation. President Pompidou, speaking on French television on 24th June, said that at the conference at The Hague with the other Five, he hadput the bargain to them. And I obtained agreement, on the one hand, that the agricultural market should become permanent, in exchange, on the other, for the opening of negotiations with Great Britain.So it is to be permanent; it is to be immutable. All this talk about being able to change the rules once we get in is totally bogus.
Then there is that stream of argument which says, "We shall be able to lead when we get into Europe. We shall be able to change its whole character". On the other hand, we hear many other people—proponents of the Market—say that already it is a very efficient, compassionate and idealistic society. So why the need to change it?
The argument that they want to lead inside Europe is not only wrong and misconceived. It shows an extraordinary arrogance. It is a funny way to think of joining a club and, at a stroke, to say that one will change the rules of the club and become the president at once. That is hardly likely to be acceptable to the other partners.
We have also heard in this debate some hon. Members who yearn after a new 1483 Imperial grandeur within the Six and a pooling of nuclear weapons, particularly with France—a very dangerous attraction. Is this a quid pro quo for acceptance of the common agricultural policy?
Then there is the assertion that there is now no question of entering a federal Europe. Is there not? In 1959 the Home Secretary said:we must recognise that for us to sign the Treaty of Rome would be to accept as the ultimate goal, political federation in Europe including ourselves. That, as I have said, does not seem to me to be a proposition which at the moment commands majority support in the country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th February, 1959; Vol. 599, c. 1382.]Does it command support today? The opinion polls show overwhelmingly that it does not.
There has also been the strand of opinion which says that there is absolutely no future for us outside Europe.We have lived and thrived in the world among the storms for many centuries and we could do so with equal success in the future.Is that true? Those were the words of the present Prime Minister. I believe that the atmosphere of pessimism that seems to have affected so many of the supporters of entry into the Common Market is a real danger to the future of Britain.
In the White Paper the real facts have been studiously avoided. We know from the Sunday Times last Sunday that grain support prices are rising by about 6 per cent. and that they will substantially affect the price of Britain's entry. We have not been told that by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster or by anyone else on the Government Front Bench.
Our ability to plan our own economy will be seriously impaired by acceptance of Articles 86 to 92 of the Treaty. The freedom of movement of capital, the insistence on competition, even in respect of our basic industries, makes the movement towards a democratic Socialist society utterly impermissible; and I as a democratic Socialist am not prepared to accept that situation.
I believe that the Europe of the Six is politically unstable, and is not an organisation which we should join. We heard on the wireless today that a tremendous battle is going on between the 1484 judiciary and the legislature in Italy over a fundamental constitutional matter.
I have the greatest admiration for Willy Brandt of Germany, but he is there with a majority of three and with a very sinister Right-wing element waiting poised to take power if it can. It is those elements who have their friends on the benches opposite.
France has a political structure which is far removed from our own, and far less democratic.
Who can deny that the Europe of the Six is undemocratic and bureaucratic? Herr Dahrendorf, one of the Commissioners at Brussels, has said:The Europe which these people have created has become an illiberal and bureaucratic leviathan, obsessed with harmonising things for the sake of harmonisation.I believe that to be right. Is that a view which hon. Members opposite and those who support the Market share or dissent from?
Although I respect the views of my hon. Friends who want to go into the Market, I find it extremely difficult, in the light of all this, to understand how they can erect and sustain an edifice of idealism on such shifting sands. I cannot see the Market as a great internationalist dream. I cannot see it as a great outward-looking association, nor as a passport to permanent peace, because I believe that it will create an even greater and deeper division in Europe.
There are some who have said that they yearn for the time when the East will be able to subscribe to the Rome Treaty. It is not on. It is totally unacceptable, because the political and economic concepts that lie behind the Rome Treaty cannot be accepted by the countries of Eastern Europe.
I believe that Europe cannot represent a haven from the economic follies of this Government.
The British people have not been permitted to speak on this issue, but they know, and are saying, that this is a bad deal and they will have none of it. I believe that it is our duty to speak on behalf of the British people, and this will strengthen our resolve to fight and fight again, even if the Government get their majority on 28th October.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I, without particular reference to the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), ask you if it has been considered by whoever ought to consider it whether it is necessary to have 24 Front Bench speakers in one debate?
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
First, as a Scottish Member, and as one who has watched his progress towards renewed health, I wish to welcome—I am sure that the whole House joins me in so doing—the presence among us today of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith). [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] If courage is rewarded, then his health must improve.
I received a letter 10 years ago from the B.B.C. It started with the words "the Great Debate has now finished". This is probably typical of that, at times, rather pompous organisation; because it had concluded a certain programme, it assumed that the great debate was now finished. The figures you have just given, Mr. Speaker, are an indication that the great debate has just got started. I appreciate its importance and how far-reaching it will be not for this week, not for this month or for this year but probably for the rest of this century.
It has serious implications for the future of every man, woman and child in this country whose lives will be touched by the decision we take. The debate has serious implications also for the future of this House. We are being asked to agree to a proposal by the Prime Minister and the Government in respect not of the Common Market but of two Communities and two treaties. The first treaty is that of the E.C.S.C, which was signed in Paris as long ago as March, 1951, and has been going for 20 years. The second, establishing the E.E.C. was signed in Rome in April, 1957.
We are asked to join Communities which have been established for a long time. The first one was to last for 50 years, and it has been going for 20. I wish to correct something implied last night by the Secretary of State for Employment. We signed the agreement 1486 with the High Authority in 1955, I think, so we have relations there already.
Every article of the treaties establishing the Communities was related to the needs and problems of the signatories. It is no use arguing about whether we should or should not have been there. The treaties were related to special needs, political needs or economic needs, and the sacrifices made on one side or the other at that time had nothing to do with us. I remember it being said that Germany was prepared to do what it did for purely political reasons; that it was prepared to make economic sacrifices, first, because it wanted agreement with France, and, second, because it wanted unity in Europe against the threat from the East.
On 20th June, 1950, this House debated the extent to which we should involve ourselves in that process and the question whether we should accept the principle of supra-nationality and take part in the discussions, as laid down by, in particular, the French. We had a Division on it. All the great Europeans went into the Lobby in support of the Attlee Government in their attitude. Many have changed their minds since, but I shall go into the same Lobby on Thursday as I did on that occasion.
The argument of the Opposition at that time was not that we should actually join but that we should accept the principle in order to discuss, and then come out. [Interruption.] No. I took the trouble last night to read the Prime Minister's speech on that occasion, remembering that it is not necessarily economic considerations that motivate people in respect of joining these Communities. But that apart, let us look at the provisions, and then be honest with the British people and Parliament about what we give up. I think that the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) will agree with me, because he did not support his party on that occasion, for that very reason. He has been consistent throughout.
I hand it to the Prime Minister that he has been a consistent European, despite the rebuff he got from President de Gaulle when he negotiated. He has carried on and has shown leadership, but he has not persuaded the British people 1487 to follow him. This is one of the fundamental points about the way the debate has been carried on in the country. It does no credit to the great issues involved. We have had leaflets by the million and pamphlets galore, glossy magazines, and even mini-skirted dolly girls handing out pamphlets giving a partisan point of view—and all unsuccessfully.
§ Mr. Ross
The hon. Gentleman goes to the wrong places. Every gimmickry of the ad-man has been put to use—every slogan. I do not think that the Prime Minister or anyone else in the Government would agree with one slogan I saw, to the effect that "Europe is fun". We are talking about a serious business. We should accept it in that way.
If it had been an objective debate, if there had been fairness in the way things were discussed, a better atmosphere would have existed for an objective decision in the House. It is no good the Prime Minister and the Chief Whip coming along after all the pressures of the summer and saying, "Let us have a free vote". How many free votes are there on the Government side? If there had been a free vote, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) would still be in office, and so would one of the Whips. It was Tacitus, I think, who spoke about a general of old who created a wilderness and called it peace. The Chief Whip has loaded chains on his supporters and then called them free men.
Every Government Front Bench speaker has given us a new reason for the peculiar position in which they find themselves. Last night, the Secretary of State for Employment told us that full employment could be created and maintained only if we joined the Common Market. That is not what we were told at the General Election. It is this kind of thing, this changing of the story so quickly, that creates cynicism among the British people.
The Secretary of State for Employment has to deal with the problem in Scotland, where we have the highest post-war unemployment. He tells us that we shall be able to secure and maintain full 1488 employment only if we go into the Common Market. What answer does he get from the people of Scotland? The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said that there was no mandate, but the Secretary of State for Employment now tells us that that is what we require. On 4th April, 1970, he told us that we wanted a return to Tory policies. That we got, and with it mounting unemployment, from which the Government can point no way out. It is the politics of despair to say that the only way in which we can cure the problem is to go into the Common Market. It is not even worth the idealism of those who would take us in because they are and always have been attracted by the European idea.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster told us that all the present negotiations were about was purely the transitional arrangements.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)
What I said was that that was what was said by the Labour Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member, and they were right.
§ Mr. Ross
That is not true. I remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman and all those who suggest that, because one has entered negotiations, one has to accept what comes out whether one is satisfied or not—a new doctrine of negotiation—of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in his opening speech to the Council of Ministers of the E.E.C. on 30th June, 1970:… we were not party to your agreement.This is a reference to the new financial agreementAnd the arrangements which must in any case be agreed to enable a new member to take part in the budgetary provision of the European Communities will constitute one of the crucial elements in the negotiations on which we are embarking.Not the transitional arrangements, but the whole financial arrangements and the sharing of costs.
When the European Commission gave its opinion on our candidature in September, 1967, it was recognised that the existing financial arrangements would, if applied to Britain, give rise to a problem of balance in the sharing of financial burdens.I think it will be generally agreed that the new decisions have for us made the problem of balance more severe. And so we have to 1489 work together to find a solution to this basic problem which will be fair and sound for the enlarged Community and for all its members.If I appear to labour this point it is only because, unless such a solution is found, the burden on the United Kingdom could not be sustained and no British Government could contemplate joining.After all these days of argument, we have not yet been given a true estimate—and all we ask is an estimate—of what that burden will be.
§ Mr. Ross
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that there will be no burden. He had a long time in his speech yesterday to give us all this information, but he gave none. He could not tell us the cost, he said, because he did not know what would happen after 1977.
When we ask about the dynamic benefits, we are always told that they are unquantifiable, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not quantified them. I shall later ask him what the benefits will be for certain parts of the country. Yet we are asked, in something so vital for our continued existence, to accept this as the basis of our agreement to join these Communities. I think that it was Winston Churchill who once asked certain people, "What kind of people do you think we are?"
That is why the British people reject the Government's proposals, for the Government have not made their case to them clearly, bluntly and candidly. Let the Prime Minister beware of this. Inevitably, if we accept these proposals and go in, Parliament will first begin to discover what is involved as we deal with the consequential legislation. Let no hon. Member squeal then that he does not want this or that regulation to apply to this or that industry, for hon. Members are accepting these proposals blindly. We ought to have had a Committee of the House to go through the proposals and let us know exactly what was involved. The instincts of the people are often right, and their instincts about these proposals are right.
One example is the price of food. The people will not be put off, after what has happened in this last year, by the Government's suggestions of minimal increases, forgetting to tell the people that we are already paying part of the cost of the Common Market as a result of 1490 the last Price Review and will start to pay yet more as a result of the next Price Review. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us on 27th October that he would start to save, even before we started to go in, or only just after going in, to the tune of £150 million a year on agricultural support. By that much alone we shall have to have food prices increased.
Here we are giving away the world's finest food market, which over the years has been the pattern of our development. Is it any wonder that there has been a decline in Commonwealth trade over the last 10 years when we have been showing how ready we are to desert the Commonwealth countries? We have the cheapest food in the world and the biggest food imports in the world. It is no wonder that M. Pompidou is delighted—he appreciates the opportunities for him. So we are to pay increased prices for food and the farmers are to "benefit" by the creation of difficulties between them and the urban population.
For a number of years the farmers' unions have been at great pains to point out, quite rightly, that agricultural support was not subsidies to farmers but subsidies for food. But the prices of beef, lamb, cheese and butter will still have to go up by yet another 50 to 60 per cent., according to the Milk Marketing Board. In case the Minister of Agriculture does not know, I ought to say that butter is made from milk. It is no good saying that some farmers will be better off. Divisions will be created between farmers and the people for whom they grow the food. Agriculture does not exist purely for the farmers, but agriculture will have a stable existence only so long as it provides the right kind of food at the right price for the people. That is its purpose. While prices rise and continue to rise, housewives in Britain will be paying these colossal costs, but they will be paying these costs not to British farmers but to the farmers on the Continent.
The Minister of Agriculture said that costs would not rise—"We have them under control". The Prime Minister now has the chance to get one of his own back he can tell us when he winds up that no one is to take the Minister of Agriculture seriously!
We have some information that comes from the Community. I am an avid reader 1491 of the European Community, and I have its issue No. 9 for September, 1971. Referring to the likely movement of prices in the Community, it says that prices have gone up in the past three years as they were not expected to go up, and will continue to do so. With the kind of frankness which we have not had from some of the proponents of joining for a long time, it says:No government can afford to ignore the morale of its farmers; elections are always pending somewhere in the Six".But there might be an improvement. Remember that this comes from the Community itself. It goes on:A gradual policy, taking perhaps 20 years to see through and growing organically from the present policy, is the only practical course.Quite rightly, it points out that in March last, because of the attempt to hold down prices… there was every indication in March that the German and Dutch Governments would have been prepared to break away from the common pricing policy if they had not been able to achieve some price increases at the decisive Council session.So it will be two decades before the Community's farm policy plays a secondary position in Community thinking. For two decades we will have to bear these inequitable burdens for the privilege of dear food, for the privilege of division within our own communities, between town and country, and for the greater glorification of agriculture.
§ Mr. Rippon
If the right hon. Gentleman feels all this, how did he come to agree, as a member of the Labour Government, their application to join?
§ Mr. Ross
Because I, like everyone else in the Labour Government—indeed, like everyone in the Conservative Cabinet now—was committed to negotiate. The decision was to be taken after we had found what the terms were and what the effects would be on Britain. That is implicit in the quotation from the Chancellor of the Exchequer which I read out.
The Scottish farmers are not entirely overjoyed by all this. We have had rather selective quotations from the N.F.U. But the President of the Scottish N.F.U., in his speech to the Scottish N.F.U. council meeting on 28th Septem- 1492 ber, said that the answers the N.F.U. had received from areas were not, "Yes" or "No", but rather, "Yes, but", or "No, unless". Every area had qualifications about the assurances which had been given. They were not fully satisfied. They wanted proper assurances for the longer term. Can the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster give them those assurances?
The President went on to say that, within the terms of the Treaty, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has accepted, in relation to marketing boards, hills and uplands, animal and plant health,Our willingness to accept on balance the proposition that we should join Europe is, however, subject to unequivocal insistence that the assurances already obtained must endure for as long as they are needed. In this we are in effect making the distinction between the more immediate prospects and the longer term in which we believe that problems flowing from the inevitable disadvantages which our Scottish industry has to face will become more acute.Can the Government give those assurances? I do not think they can, unless they intend to do what some have suggested that they intend—I think that it is an unworthy suggestion—and that is, once they are in, to destroy the common agricultural policy. We cannot exercise a veto on everything, but even where they could exercise the right of veto the Government are not in a position to give these undertakings. To that extent they have been deceiving many people in the countryside who have supported them.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) referred to fisheries. He used to be one of the most enthusiastic and blind supporters of the Common Market. On balance he has decided to support the Government, but he still hangs a large question mark over the question of fisheries policy. We used to be told that we should not worry about fisheries policy because the Common Market had none. Suddenly, the Community has a fisheries policy, and even those hon. Members who had been unswerving in their loyalty to the Common Market suddenly had second thoughts.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman in a position now to give any assurance about fisheries policy? The law is already there. It is not something waiting to be done. What is the legal position of the standpoint which he has taken? Will he, if necessary, use a veto on this aspect? What would be the effect? There has 1493 been far too easy an acceptance of the claim that there will be further negotiations about fisheries. In fairness to our fishing industry, those further negotiations should have been held before the Government brought this proposition to the House. It is an important matter from the point of view of Scotland.
§ Mr. Martin Maddan (Hove)
All these cries of woe were uttered about every single issue for which my right hon. and learned friend has already negotiated satisfactory terms.
§ Mr. Ross
Whatever the right hon. and learned Gentleman has negotiated or not negotiated, he has not negotiated a position satisfactory to the fishing industry. Indeed, the negotiations have not yet been completed. I am questioning the legal status, since we are dealing here with something that is already part of the Treaty of Rome under the regulation-making power. This is all part of the common agricultural policy.
We must face this sort of situation. We shall discover a lot of other things once we are in the Common Market. I remember the case of I.C.I. in Scotland when the Treasury, under the Labour Government, brought forward an order about flexile. The Secretary of State probably recollects the debate. He has probably been troubled by it ever since. The decision to introduce that order was determined by our membership of E.F.T.A. under the terms concerning discriminative treatment of individual firms. We had to impose purchase tax on flexile because of this. My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) will remember the case well. He came to see me about it. We were going to lose a by-election because of it. [Laughter.] I assure the Prime Minister that it was a serious point in view of the number of people in Ayrshire who are employed by I.C.I., and from the point of view of the local authorities, who were concerned about the price of the item.
This is the kind of things we cannot get away from. There are costs in everything. We have been told about the sunshine of the benefits, about the dynamic changes which will take place. But what about the other side of the coin? For example, not only will this wide market be opened up to us—our market will be opened up to the Six. Our E.F.T.A.
1494 preferences will disappear and our markets in the other E.F.T.A. countries will be equally open to the Six. We shall lose our Commonwealth preferences.
What will be the effect of all this on Scottish industry? I hope that the Secretary of State is aware of the report about the boot and shoe trade which said that although there is going to be a very considerable increase in the demand for boots and shoes in this country over a period of years, output because of import penetration is going to fall, or could fall, by 10 per cent. The greater part of the penetration is going to come from Europe.
§ Mr. Ross
Yes, and from other parts as well. The report is there for every person employed in the boot and shoe industry to see. It costs only £25. That is probably why it is not so well known in my constituency where we have an important firm, Saxone. The heaviest penetration will be in ordinary footwear. What does that mean? We are told that we shall have the benefit of competition, which means that firms all over the country will go to the wall. I deplore this.
The Government have been telling us how dynamic the Common Market is and how sluggish, stagnant and lacking in adventure we are, with no investment. These arguments were used last night by the Secretary of State for Employment.
§ Mr. Ross
I cannot send to sleep anyone who is not awake.
I am talking about the Secretary of State for Employment, and if he is concerned at the moment about employment in Scotland, he will be much more concerned after we go into the Common Market.
I see that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is now honouring us with his presence. Where is all the investment that is supposed to be dashing into Scotland in anticipation of our entry to the Common Market and of the great dynamism that is coming? There is no evidence of it. I agree with the opinion 1495 expressed in The Guardian business section a few days ago, and again yesterday, that any investment that we are likely to see as a result of entry will be investment not in Britain but on the Continent. I know that there are firms in Britain today with large interests which are looking at the possibilities and opportunities there are in the Market—
§ Mr. Ross
For a very obvious reason. The whole industrial history of Britain should tell the hon. Gentleman why. Why is the whole population of Scotland concentrated in the central belt? It is because in the first industrial revolution the central belt attracted people; this was where the investment and the opportunity were. When the motor car and aircraft industries were centred in the South and the Midlands, the attraction was to the Midlands and the South-East. That was the new centre. Where is the new centre? It will be the golden triangle, the Rhine-Rhone axis from the Netherlands to Southern Italy. If one throws a stone into a pool, ripples will run out from the centre, but the ripples will need to run a long way before they reach Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These are the facts of economic life.
§ Mr. Norman Tebbit (Epping)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman do better service to his constituency and to Scotland by saying that in his belief—and I am sure it is his belief—the workers in Scotland are well capable of competing with the workers in Germany, France and Italy, and should be given the chance to do so? They have to compete today in the wider markets, and they could do so in Europe, provided that he backed them and his party did not hinder them.
§ Mr. Ross
The hon. Gentleman misses the point. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry recently told us the number of industries which were entirely dependent for their existence on regional employment premiums. That is where the weakness is. If all the incentives and special protections are withdrawn, those industries must and will go. They will have no chance to build up. The hon. Gentleman should be aware of what has happened to the paper industry, which has gone down, not because of lack of 1496 modernisation but because it could not face the competition from Scandinavia.
There are disadvantages in every convention and treaty, but we have not had the disadvantages of this one enumerated. The Prime Minister knows that, under the Treaty, far from it being easier to get development in Scotland, it will initially and in the long term be very much harder.
We have been told by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Chancellor of the Duchy and, last night, by the Secretary of State for Employment that there is nothing to prevent us using any of our regional aids. Those Ministers must be a little out of touch with the Treaty of Rome and what is happening under it. All aids to industry are governed by Articles 92 and 93 of the Treaty and United Kingdom aids will be acceptable only if they are authorised by the Commission. The aids which we are presently using may or may not be all right, but this will not be determined by us. Over the years under Governments of varying complexion we have fashioned a sophisticated set of regional development policies which have met with considerable success. Ministers do not even give credit for what has been done in this country in relation to regional development.
What we have been told about the standard of living in Southern Italy compared with the standard of living here just is not true—
§ Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what has changed since the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister spoke about finding out whether we should be able to continue our regional policies in Europe and said:Our discussions with the Heads of the Governments and the Community, not least the information we were given about the policies currently being pursued by member countries, have reassured us on this score."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 313]What has changed since then?
§ Mr. John Tilney(Liverpool, Wavertree) rose—
§ Mr. Ross
I cannot give way. I think we are entitled to develop coherent arguments—[Interruption.]—and I hope the Chancellor of the Duchy agrees with that. The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Jopling) must appreciate that the ability to make regional policies work depends upon the terms of entry. He must also remember that Italy looked after herself by a special Protocol to the Treaty. There is no special Protocol for us, and it is no good saying that we are going in so that we can break the Treaty, because that is not on. The theory is—and I have used it myself in answering for the Government—that if the Market is so good and if the regional policies are so good, we shall get growth and in relation to the overspill we shall get some benefits in the South, but the terms do not make that possible now.
Let us look at what is happening in the Market. It is very interesting. Far from the under-developed regions being helped, these regions are actually being hindered. In 1969 the Commission established a special committee to look into just exactly what was happening and how the under-developed areas under the Commission's review were being affected in and by the actual Market itself. The result was the report, which is in the Library of the House. There is only one copy, I am sorry to say, but I have taken a quite liberal number of photostats of various parts of it. It is worth noticing and we should appreciate it. On page 19 it says:In spite of progress made, the Member States' regional activities have not been altogether sufficient to counter-balance to the extent desired the natural tendency to set up enterprises in regions with the largest external economies. i.e. those which are already developed.That is after 12 years. Then we are told that co-ordination of national policies—and remember that these have to be authorised and passed through the sieve of the Treaty—in relation to competition, discriminatory aids to industry, and in relation to Article 93,is insufficient … it is evident from the tendency for activities to be concentrated in regions where expansion is already most vigorous and from the way each Member State endeavours to outbid the others in offering aids to facilitate the establishment of firms in regions within its borders that it wishes to 1498 favour. Both firms and governments are prompted by competition to seek the quickest returns.There is no good in saying we can avoid that. The underpinning element in our regional policy is the I.D.C. Given the freedom of capital, given the right of firms to elect to go elsewhere on the Continent, a right which we cannot deny them—which we dare not deny them under the Treaty—then the I.D.C. policy falls to the ground.
I draw the attention of the House to what was said by Mr. Whitehouse, the head of the Distribution of Industry Division of the right hon. Gentleman's Department:When one looks at what other countries have done, there is one outstanding difference between what they do and what we do here; that is that there is not another country, other than those perhaps in complete State control, where you have an industrial development certificate control.… There is a limited one in France. … But the one difference here is the existence of a control over the location of industry so that you are not wholly dependent on financial and taxation devices.If I.D.C. policy is ineffective—and it will be ineffective in the new circumstances—then that is why it is so irrelevant to argue that we shall be able to do anything we are doing now. We shall be in an entirely different position. We shall be very peripheral, and there will be the pressures of industries, which are effective and have been proven effective on the Continent, to go where they want to go, and where they will want to go will be where there is expansion—in this country, if expansion there is; and it will be in the South-East and the Midlands and the new growth area which is being prepared at Foulness. The sooner we face these facts the better, and the sooner the better that we face the facts of what has happened and will happen in the Community. That is what my hon. Friends are worried about. Read the Treaty of Rome and see that there is an established common policy in relation to industry, but there is no legal basis for positive regional policy in relation to industry.
§ Mr. Tilney
I am most grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. Is he aware that 40 per cent. of all industry in Italy has got to go to the development area?
§ Mr. Ross
Exactly. I pointed out what they were able to do in Italy. Italy 1499 protected itself by the fact that it had a Protocol in the original Treaty, for it had started on a 10-year programme in relation to that particular part of the country. If the hon. Gentleman is interested in Italy let him look at the facts. In Italy the differential between the two extremes, the north and the south, was that, despite the fact that 1.7 million left between 1951 and 1962, migration continued thereafter at an anuual rate of anything between 150,000 to 200,000 and it has been rising since 1966. The report to which I have just referred says:In Italy the differential between the two extremes, the South and the North-west, has certainly narrowed somewhat—partly due to population migrations—but it is still fairly large.In Italy, the area with the strongest economy, namely the north-west, has become stronger, while the growth rate in the south, despite all that has been donehas lagged somewhat behind the national average. It has frequently been stated with regret in recent years that the South has not been catching up, and that only emigration has prevented this lag from increasing. … Some have pointed out that in absolute terms this differential has even increased.This is a fact. Let us face it. The same thing is true of Belgium; the same thing is true of France. Despite all that has been done in relation to Paris, Paris has increased and there has been a lag elsewhere.
§ Mr. John Nott (St. Ives)
I represent a development area, as does the right hon. Gentleman. I am very concerned about this point, but what, surely, the Community is trying to do is to remove capital tax-free subsidies available within a mile of Milan or a mile of Brussels. If we can remove the tremendous advantages in Milan and Brussels then we shall help to widen the differential, which is what we want.
§ Mr. Ross
Yes, but the hon. Gentleman should appreciate that we are not in a position to exercise a veto on this one, because as I have already pointed out, the most that they can do is coordinate, and they have not started that. I think they hope to start about 1st January, 1972, to co-ordinate Government policies, but they have an inhibiting power which they have not exercised, and the same pressures are going to build up here, to our disadvantage, in spite of 1500 what happens with this country and the right of people to go outside.
Mr. Albert Borschette is recorded as saying thatA Community regional policy, which should complement national policies, had become urgent because the gap between rich and poor areas was growing.Let us face that fact. This is after 12 years. This is part of this blinding fog of selective statistics the results of which we have been getting. I think it is a matter of pride indeed that the people of this country have been able to resist the blandishments to lure them to the Common Market.
There is another thing in relation to what the Government can do and cannot do. The Prime Minister will remember that he was concerned about certain things that have happened in Scotland about petrochemical installations, the cost of them—they do not seem to be worried about that in Italy, by the way—and also about aluminium smelters. Let us look at the minutes of evidence given to the Scottish Select Committee, evidence given by Mr. Cole, the head of the Regional Economics and Statistics Division. If the Prime Minister were to read it he would read this:If you introduce on any very large-scale industrial considerations you can come into some international complications as did arise … with Norway over the aluminium smelting agreement, and which, particularly of course under the terms of the E.E.C., might become another question whether these things internationally are justified on regional grounds.Is the right hon. Gentleman worried about these powers in relation to coal and steel—or special projects? These are going to be in danger and indeed ruled out under the Treaty of Rome.
Therefore, I do not think that the people of Scotland are wrong in rejecting the blandishments of the supporters of the Common Market. The sooner we appreciate that the vast majority of the people of Scotland are opposed to entry on these terms, the better.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
Is my right hon. Friend in favour of putting a wall around Scotland and shielding us from any kind of international competition?
§ Mr. Ross
My hon. Friend should appreciate that I am not. He should know that what we are considering is 1501 the effect on Scotland of entry on the terms before us.
There is no doubt in my mind that our regional policies, which were successful to a certain extent under successive Governments, will not, and cannot, be successful under what is proposed. The regions will be further away from the centre, and, therefore, it will be more and more difficult to get industries to go to them. When my hon. Friend accepts the free movement of capital, he should understand the effect that that can have. We shall not see the expansion that some people have spoken so eagerly about.
The Government should think again. I have spoken about the Prime Minister's leadership. When a leader becomes separated from the people he leads, he is in a very dangerous position, and that is what is happening today. Whether the Prime Minister likes it or not, he had better face it. He has lost the confidence of the people of this country. The people of Scotland never had any confidence in him. The credibility gap between the Government and the people is widening every day. If the right hon. Gentleman meant what he said when he said that we could not go into Europe or join the Communities without the full backing of Parliament and people, he should let the people speak. If they do, it will be to say even louder than General de Gaulle—and please give us the same right as General de Gaulle exercised—"No".
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Gordon Campbell)
I am glad to join the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) in his welcome to my noble Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith). I am sure that I reflect the feelings of the whole House when I express admiration for his courage and strength of mind which, since March, have enabled him to do the apparently impossible and overcome a sudden and overwhelming state of disablement. It was good to see him back earlier today, clearly in excellent spirits.
The present situation, in which we have an important decision to take as a country, is a result of our application for membership of the E.E.C., made four years ago with support of a massive majority—over 400, if I recall correctly 1502 —in this House. It led to negotiations which had already been arranged to start at the end of June last year, before the present Government took office and only a few days after we arrived in office. In accordance with the undertaking we gave during the General Election campaign, we entered into those negotiations despite the short notice.
It is widely recognised that the results achieved are as good as had been hoped for when the negotiations were first planned. Indeed, there are some who think that they are better. Therefore, the way is open for us to embark on an enterprise with countries which are neighbours and allies, and which have already proved it to be beneficial for themselves.
We shall be joining, and thus enlarging, a huge domestic market, with all the opportunities it offers including the prospect of increased economic growth. New investment is what is especially needed in industry in the assisted areas, by which I mean the three categories in this country known as special development areas, development areas and intermediate areas.
Certainly in Scotland new industrial development is what we are aiming for. While the Government are promoting public works programmes on a large scale, these are complementary to, and cannot be a substitute for, industrial growth and renewal, for which the Government have also provided powerful incentives. At present a restricting factor—and this answers one of the points the right hon. Gentleman has just made—is the amount of mobile industry available to move into assisted areas. It is at present limited.
Today I will speak particularly on the E.E.C. and regional policy and the main effects likely for Scotland. This evening my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales intends to address himself also to that subject while dealing with any special points affecting Wales.
The need for policies of regional development was recognised at the formation of the E.E.C. in the preamble to its Treaty, which stated that the members were anxious to ensure the harmonious development of their economies by reducing the differences existing between the various regions. Up to the present time, each member of the E.E.C. has been left to apply its own measures of regional 1503 development which it considered appropriate to particular situations. It has been accepted that different regions have special problems which may need to be dealt with in various ways.
The Community has not yet reached a stage where an overall common policy for the Six has been attempted, but it is beginning to consider co-ordination of policies. The six members at present individually apply measures of regional development, including some which are similar to ours. It is perfectly clear that the various kinds of measure used by the United Kingdom in recent years would be in order within the E.E.C., applied as they are, in areas which clearly are in need of special help.
§ Mr. Neil McBride (Swansea, East)
I am interested in what the right hon. Gentleman says about each nation applying its own regional policies. Why is it that the freely-elected representatives in three countries of the Six, making the laws their people wanted, have found—in Belgium, Italy and West Germany—that they have had to lodge defences with the judicial court of the Common Market because those freely-made laws are held to be distorting competition?
§ Mr. Campbell
I should not have given way to the hon. Gentleman because I was just corning to that point, which is important.
Because no common regional development system has yet been evolved, it is likely that we shall join the Community before major decisions on that matter are taken. In regional policy, therefore, we shall be able to take a full part in discussion and in its formulation in due course as a member. In the meantime, until new arrangements are agreed, we shall be free to apply our own national measures. Entering now, therefore, we can take part in the eventual design of a common regional policy in due course.
The Commissioner responsible for regional policy, Mr. Borschette, was in this country last month. He said at Bristol:It is unlikely that a single regional policy could ever apply in all details to all regions since each region often requires special treatment. It is primarily for national governments to produce the ideas for dealing with them. It is no part of our "—1504 the Commission's—task to seek to interfere with the efforts of national governments directed towards this end. But we think that a common regional policy is necessary to supplement national efforts.That statement confirms the position I have described.
Now I come to the point the hon. Gentleman raised. Very recently the Six have been considering, for example, a situation in Belgium where it appears that regional aid was being proposed for an area which seemed healthy and prosperous. Clearly, we would agree that special regional aid should be applied in areas needing help rather than in prosperous areas. This is certainly a matter upon which we in Scotland would feel strongly. To take an imaginary and extreme example we would in present circumstances think it inappropriate if London were to be designated a development area.
What the Commission has been doing fully accords with the British attitude to regional policy. This kind of monitoring of the principles upon which regional aid is being applied is something we would support. It makes sure that the genuine areas of weakness and unemployment will not suffer and at the same time ensures that an unfair competitive edge is not given to a sound and prosperous area. We in Scotland, and I think persons in similar areas, would have the same interests as the E.E.C. Commission in this.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
Is it not a fact that the Belgian Parliament desired to make these proposals and the Commission overruled the Belgian Parliament?
§ Mr. Campbell
These matters are being gone into within the Six but my point is that it is in the interests of special regions in this country, including Scotland and Wales, that the special competitive edge should not be given to a prosperous region in another country of Europe, whether or not we are in the Common Market. Therefore, when we are members of the Ten. as I hope we will be, we shall be in a position to take part in discussions and help to work out the simple definitions upon which it can be decided whether an area needs special help. It is of concern to us that 1505 areas should be correctly treated and that there should be no question of a prosperous area being given regional aid, irrespective of whether we are in the Common Market. If we are in we shall be in a position to influence it.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
What the House wants to know is whether it is the case that it is the Commission in Brussels and not the national Parliament that decides which are the development areas of the E.E.C.
§ Mr. Campbell
It is the Commission which will draw attention to the way in which this is being applied, and it is our business to make sure that we influence the results. At present we have little or no—
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. Only one right hon. Gentleman may be on his feet at any one time.
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) knows the rules of the House as well as anyone. If the Secretary of State will not give way there is nothing to be done.
§ Mr. Jay rose—
§ Mr. Campbell
I have given way three times on that point, and I must move on, otherwise it would be very unfair to the many hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate. The right hon. Mem- 1506 ber for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) took 50 minutes.
If we are not in the Common Market we have no influence whatever upon the decision of such a question affecting British industry.
I want to deal with another point, the Irish question. I have with me the text of the Irish Protocol. This is a matter which was raised last Thursday, and I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) is listening because it was he who raised it. This was the Irish Protocol agreed last week by the Council of Ministers, to which he referred. He appeared to see much more significance in it than is warranted. I have the text here, and it amounts to a short statement of Ireland's problems and intentions. The Irish apparently feel it helpful to have this Protocol, but so far as the United Kingdom regional policy interests are concerned, we have no doubt that the Commission in carrying out its tasks will take our objectives into account—
§ Mr. Campbell
This will be the position of all members of the Community, old and new alike. We did not, and do not, feel it necessary to seek a special Protocol for the United Kingdom. Our measures are entirely consistent with what is now being done and being proposed within the countries of the E.E.C.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)
Would the Secretary of State not agree that there is this vital difference between the Republic of Ireland and the peripheral regions of Great Britain: the Republic of Ireland has something, the peripheral regions of Great Britain have nothing whatever?
§ Mr. Campbell
I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman has actually read the Protocol but if he thinks there is something in it, then I find it very hard to find.
I turn to the main effects upon Scotland. In the debate on the Scottish economy in this House on 13th July I pointed out that the stimulus to the British economy as a whole which is likely to accompany membership of the E.E.C. could be of great benefit to Scotland. We need additional investment in industry. 1507 One important way in which more growth in our economy can be achieved is by the dynamic effect of entry into the Community. We want to promote a situation in which there is more mobile industry looking for areas in which to expand.
I can answer another point raised by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock, and that has to do with the attitude of Scottish industry. It is not surprising that the main bodies representing Scottish trade and industry have made it clear that they see advantages for Scotland in membership of the Common Market. These bodies include the Scottish C.B.I. and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, covering a wide range of economic activity in Scotland.
More than three years ago the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) commissioned studies leading to the Oceanspan Reports. These show how the deep-water facilities in the Firth of Clyde could be used in conjunction with ports in the East of Scotland to form a west-east axis to Europe. I welcomed all three reports at the time they came out—the interim report of June, 1969, the Oceanspan report and last week the Eurospan report as it was called.
The latter was published for information and discussion and described as a study of port and industrial development in Western Europe. It aims to put the port and major industrial development prospects for the United Kingdom and in particular for Central Scotland in the context of development in north-west Europe. It provides a glimpse of the enormous potential growth in trade which is before us and of the opportunities which membership of the E.E.C. would open up for Scotland to benefit the natural physical advantages which we enjoy.
§ Mr. Dick Douglas (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the central feature of Eurospan is that the Government must take a decision over the development of Hunterston? When will the Government take that decision?
§ Mr. Campbell
I took the Government's decisions last December, as the hon. Gentleman knows. Those decisions opened the way for a deep-water port, 1508 iron ore terminal and other industrial developments. I lost no time in taking those decisions, which were Government planning decisions. I did my best to assist the other non-governmental bodies concerned in making progress there. It is not possible exactly to foresee every event or trend over the years ahead. It was said—
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Campbell
Not art the moment. It was said in 1969:A detailed analysis of the consequences of membership for particular parts of Great Britain is not practicable, but the Government are confident that in the long run membership will be of economic advantage to all parts of the United Kingdom."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th July, 1969; Vol. 787, c. 113.]Those are not my words, and the Government referred to were not the present Government but our predecessors, and that was a parliamentary reply by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock to a Question asking about the effects on Scottish industry, agriculture, prices and unemployment, most of which he has spoken about today.
§ Mr. Campbell
I am glad that apparently the right hon. Gentleman agrees with the Eurospan report and other reports that developments in the Clyde estuary are not only essential to Scotland but important for access to Europe. As the right hon. Gentleman knows—because I had a long discussion with him only a few days ago about this—all the Government decisions have been taken, and the Government, with a private company, have already set up the initial study which is essential, and the other bodies, including the British Steel Corporation, will no doubt come out with their decisions as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Campbell
I turn to the Leader of the Opposition's conclusion about 1509 regional policy, because hon. Members who were not Members of the last Parliament may have forgotten what it was. When he was Prime Minister and moving approval of the Labour Government's White Paper on Membership of the European Communities, he said:On balance, therefore, I conclude that, in regional policy, the net effect of the new industrial investment capable of being steered to the development areas will exceed the potential loss which could result from British firms moving across the Channel."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1076–7.]That was the reply given in 1967 by the right hon. Gentleman to points which have been raised by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock today.
By our decision on Thursday, we can open up a new prospect for Scotland and areas in the United Kingdom with similar problems. The European Economic Community extends our horizon and gives us greater opportunities for progress towards increasing the number of jobs and prosperity. It is fundamental that we have to produce goods which are wanted in the world and that the price should be such that people will buy them, whether we are in the Common Market or not. Our nearest single market is one of the largest in the world—the Common Market of the Six—and it presents a tariff wall to us. We must surmount that wall before we can compete with the present members.
Reducing trade barriers will not only give our exports a better chance but will make sites in Scotland and similar areas elsewhere in the United Kingdom more attractive for incoming industry. At this moment a concentrated Scottish effort is being made in Europe to attract industry to settle in Scotland. The Government and the Scottish Council are assisting and co-ordinating that campaign, and I pay tribute to Lord Taylor of Gryfe, the chairman of the committee in charge of the operation, for the flair and energy with which it is being pursued.
We need more industry besides the expansion of existing industry. This is essential to overtake the rate of redundancies from contracting industries and from the modernisation of plant. The E.E.C. gives us the chance to make bids over a wider field. It broadens our scope for improving our economy and speeding 1510 up the rate at which new jobs can be created. For Scotland and for other areas with high unemployment, this must be one of the main considerations.
It is certainly the improvement in employment prospects which influences me strongly in wishing to see Britain a member of the Community. Our pressing need in Scotland is for more jobs—proper secure jobs in successful industries. By joining the E.E.C. we are likely to get more of these jobs than if we stay out and try to go it alone. I agree with what Sir Frederick Catherwood says in his letter in The Times today:… if we go in because the Six want us in and with a British government committed to success in Europe, then all the pressures will work for our economic development.My survey would not be complete if I did not refer to fisheries, on which other Ministers have already spoken during this debate. The main point which the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock seems to have missed is that the Six have already accepted that their common policy would be inappropriate for the Ten. The continuing prosperity of our fishing industry is of great importance to many areas of our country, among them the outlying areas of Scotland. Many of my constituents depend upon the industry for their livelihood, and I know very well, as other right hon. and hon. Members do, their hopes and fears in this context. We had this consideration very much in our minds even before our talks with the Six began, and at the outset of those talks, a few days after we came to office, we reserved our position on the fisheries question. It is important that a satisfactory solution should be found, and we shall spare no efforts to attain such a solution. We must be prepared, should it prove necessary, to find time to reach it.
The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock raised some legal points. The matter has been summed up by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland, which has produced a memorandum on the question of accession to the Treaty of Rome and the effect on Scots law. I should like to read two excerpts:To sum up: whilst the impact in certain economic spheres of Community law will be important and complicated, there appears to be little cause for concern that entry into the E.E.C. will adversely affect the law of Scotland.1511 Then, on regional matters, the memorandum says:One question which has given rise to some anxiety is that the economic philosophy … embodied in the Treaty of Rome will prevent the U.K. Parliament from giving economic assistance to remote or economically handicapped areas of the U.K., e.g. Scotland in general and the Highlands in particular. The Society believes that the anxiety is not justified. The treaties contain express provision for special consideration to be given to such areas which are to be found in several Community countries, particularly the South of Italy.
§ Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Would the right hon. Gentleman go a bit further and refer to the opening paragraph in the memorandum from the Law Society of Scotland, which says that… until the relevant legislation is introduced in this country, many of the conclusions reached in this paper must be to some extent speculation"?
§ Mr. Campbell
I should be perfectly happy to read the whole document, but I do not think that that would be the general wish of the House. Surely this is what anyone who is giving an opinion on this subject prefaces his assessment with. I have read out the opinion of the Law Society of Scotland which produced the memorandum.
§ Mr. Rippon indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Campbell
This matter has been dealt with by two Ministers already in this debate, and I do not propose to go over the ground again. But the point the right hon. Gentleman did not mention in his speech was that the Six had accepted that their common policy was inappropriate to the Ten.
Entry to the E.E.C. holds out in regional policy the prospect of four identi- 1512 fiable benefits for the areas in need of development in Britain. First, the enlarged Community offers prospects of faster economic growth, which will provide not only more mobile industrial projects for the assisted areas but also more jobs created by local industries. Secondly, within the enlarged Community Britain will be a more attractive place for foreign investment, and the assisted areas will benefit from this.
Thirdly, the United Kingdom can expect to benefit from Community assistance for regional development purposes. Fourthly, we shall be able to pursue vigorous and effective regional policies within a Community which is committed to a balanced and harmonious development of its regions and has already taken practical steps to ensure that internationally mobile projects are not diverted from areas that need them most.
We are at the beginning of a great enterprise. If, as I hope, we decide upon entry, we shall start a new era of working together with many millions of our fellow men and women to a common purpose. We shall be working to improve, in our part of the world, our own economic and social conditions; and, with the influence in the world which we shall have through membership of the E.E.C., we shall be working with the other members to promote peace and progress further afield and help the new and developing countries.
A common bond among the future Ten is the immense contribution that these countries of Western Europe have made to the rest of the world. It is a paradox that the influence of the parent countries has waned over the past 50 years, partly owing to two world wars and partly because of their division into separate economic units small in comparison with the super-Powers.
The North Sea and the Channel have in the past been a defensive barrier for Britain. Fortunately, that barrier is no longer needed where Western Europe is concerned. Even in wider terms it is no longer relevant. Indeed, that sea bed is now itself a fruitful source of energy, with rapidly growing activity to glean the gas and oil from the North Sea. Far from being a gulf dividing trading countries, it is rapidly narrowing as each reaches out with new ventures to the 1513 median line. After joining the Community we shall be engaged in combining with others to achieve faster progress and better results, with more resources available. We have the chance of making a great stride forward in fruitful co-operation with our neighbours. It is unlikely to be offered as favourably again. We would be letting down our children—and our grandchildren—if we were to ignore or reject it.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
For some time during the tenure of the office of the Labour Government I was concerned with and responsible for the working out of regional policies. This was at the time when we began to develop regional employment premiums and at the time of our earlier attempt to join the E.E.C. in 1967.
It was gratifying during that year and during the other years of the Labour Government's term of office to notice the steadily mounting evidence of the figures that the various regional policies we were employing were having an impact and that the ugly and unhappy difference between the different parts of the country, though still substantial, was narrower.
Two recollections remain with me from those experiences which are relevant to our position today and the matter we have to judge. One is that while regional policies can by themselves certainly produce enough effect to make them well worth while and it is the duty of Government to pursue them, their full effect and all one hopes to get from them will not arrive unless there is a steady atmosphere of general growth in the country.
The other recollection is that, since we were at the same time considering our approach to the E.E.C., I was naturally concerned with the relevance of regional policies to this approach. It was my firm conviction then and now that, when we became members of the E.E.C., there was no substantial hindrance to our being able to do what we wanted to do in regional policy. I do not recollect any of my colleagues who took a contrary view.
I shall make only one other reference to the past, and it is only necessary to do so in order to make clear why a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends 1514 will feel it right and unavoidable to vote on Thursday night for this country to enter into the E.E.C. For this purpose it is not necessary to go as far back as 1967. One need only go back to 1970, when there was a clear statement by the Government at the time that we were entering into the negotiations in good faith. I take it that means we were not entering riding for a fall, that we were not entering seeking to ask for terms which any reasonable person would know in the nature of the case one could not expect to get.
Let us take, for example, our attitude to the common agricultural policy. One could certainly go in determined to do one's best about New Zealand, transitional periods, contributions to the Community budget, the sugar communities and so on. But surely it was not possible to say "We are entering the negotiations in good faith and one of the things we shall ask for is that the whole nature of the C.A.P. shall be altered." I do not see how anybody who knew the nature of the E.E.C. could do that, or how anybody who knew the nature of the Community and said "We shall enter into the negotiations in good faith" could have expected terms substantially better than those which are now available.
I must say there were criticisms in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. William Ross) and points on which he thought more might have been done. I wish we could have had a more impressive answer on those points. But I do not believe the terms could have been substantially better. For that reason I, and, I believe, a good many of my hon. Friends, feel we shall have to vote for entry, for that is the only vote that would be consistent with the policy many of us have pursued in Government and with the attitude towards the Common Market set out in the Labour Party election manifesto at the last election.
There has been much argument during this period as to the exact relationship of right and duty between the Member of Parliament and his constituents. This can never be reduced to a rigid rule. It is not a written contract to be interpreted by the courts. Surely one element in a Member of Parliament's obligation to his constituents is what he gives them to understand he believes in at the time he 1515 is asking for their votes. I do not suggest that the majority of my constituents agree with me on this issue, but they knew what I believed at the time of the General Election. On the ballot paper there was another candidate with against his name the description "Conservative and anti-Common Market". Had they wanted a Conservative anti-Marketeer instead of a Labour Marketeer they could have had one. In their wisdom they decided to choose me. Even those of them who disagree with me heartily would think that I was behaving in an odd and not very creditable fashion if I said now that I believe in something else.
Everyone from Edmund Burke on has written about these subjects. Fascinating though they are, I must now say something about the merits of the matter, but I do so briefly since they have been discused fully already. Since I have mentioned how the Labour Government took a decision to enter in good faith, one must ask what were some of the reasons which led them to do that. I have no doubt that in that Government, as in all the Governments, different reasons weighed more or less strongly with different members. But there are certain factors which to my mind were then and still are valid.
First, when one has waded through the general economic arguments, at the end of the day it is clear that the weight of evidence supports the view that if this country goes in it will have a substantial opportunity to increase its wealth-making power, whereas, in a world in which the large bloc is increasingly the rule, if we, comparatively small in numbers though not in spirit, stay out, we shall face the very great risk of a continued decline in our power to produce wealth. I refer to our power to produce wealth, recognising that that is only a means to an end. A community may use that power either to make profits, for the few or to make a civilised life for all. But if this country is put in a position where its power to produce wealth is threatened and constricted continually, none of us will be able to do what we want to see done in the country.
That point was very much in my mind. Substantially, I believe it to be true, because this country depends so greatly for its wealth-making power on industry and increasingly on the most sophisticated and technological industries—exactly those 1516 which have the greatest need of an assured large market. Therefore, for us to proceed in one direction, quite rightly using and developing the scientific skill of our people, and at the same time to leave ourselves in a comparatively narrow enclave in the world would be to pursue an inconsistent policy and one which would damage the prosperity of the country.
Secondly, I was influenced by the fact that a number of the arguments sometimes advanced against the Community proved on examination to be not only unsound but pretty well the reverse of the truth. It has been argued that the E.E.C. is an inward-looking body and a white man's club. In the course of the argument, fewer things have been more clearly demonstrated than that the Community, both as a body and its individual members, has been able to be more generous in ways that we should like than British Governments have been able to, even with the best will in the world. So far from being inward-looking, the extent of the world over which it makes arrangements and agreements and the area of the world which turns towards it are increasing steadily. Therefore, we are more likely to find ourselves getting more remote from parts of the Commonwealth if we stay out than if we go in.
Next, there is the argument that this is a body which is restrictionist in trade, and that what we should work for is a general liberalising of world trade. However, joining the E.E.C. is not inconsistent with working for the liberalisation of world trade as a whole. In these last years, the nations of the Community played a considerable part in the work of the Kennedy Round. Anyone who followed the proceedings then was left with the feeling that Britain will have more influence in securing the liberalising of world trade as a whole if she is a member of this large and influential group than if she speaks simply on her own. I believe, therefore, that it is right to regard that measure of wider market which we get by entering the E.E.C. not as a cul-de-sac which blocks any further liberalisation of world trade but, with skill and good fortune, as a partial move towards larger and more worldwide liberalisation measures.
There is also the consideration which weighed with me a great deal when I 1517 was Foreign Secretary. Does this drawing closer together with Western Europe mean that we shall make the unhappy estrangement between West and East harsher and more difficult ever to heal? Here again, I believe that the evidence is to the contrary. In the last 18 months or so, we have witnessed the growing knowledge in the world that the negotiations to turn the Six into Ten were proceeding steadily. At the same time we have witnessed, fortunately, various events which have shown somewhat greater understanding between the nations of Western and Eastern Europe. Certainly it cannot be argued that the Soviet Union, as the chief member of the Warsaw Pact alliance, is so hostile to the enlargement of the Common Market that it calls off all moves towards détente when it sees us moving towards a larger market. On the contrary, the Soviet Union has been more ready to come on. I believe that the reason is that if the Russians thought that the West was likely to be increasingly disunited they would not think us worth talking to. If they see the democratic nations of Western Europe more inclined to work together, to try to understand each other and to think together, the Soviet Union and her allies will think that discussions with such a West are serious business worth serious attention. That is certainly the view of those on the other side of the Channel in the democratic countries of Western Europe who belong to political parties like the one to which I have belonged for so long.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis) drew a picture of events in Germany, of Herr Willy Brandt pursuing a policy admired and approved of by everyone on this side of the House and by a good many right hon. and hon. Members opposite. My hon. Friend drew also a menacing picture of possible forces which might overthrow Herr Brandt. If that picture is true, do we really want to send him a message, from our party of all parties, that he cannot but take as one of discouragement and disappointment?
I believe that any politically-minded person whose lot is cast in Western Europe and who asks what he can best do to help the general course of mankind can arrive at only one conclusion. It is that he should try to work, first, for the 1518 maintenance of political democracy and then, wherever possible, for its extension not only in space but also in spirit by the increasing use of the democratic political method to remedy social injustice and to solve economic problems. For a long time now that has been my political creed as a democratic Socialist.
At this time in the twentieth century, I believe that the possibility of increasing understanding between not only six but ten democratic nations in Western Europe gives us—I do not say more than—a hopeful base on which to try to build that kind of policy and belief.
The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that many of the criticisms advanced against our entry in the end turned back on themselves. Therefore, a very great opportunity, not only economic but political, not only for Britain but for Europe and for mankind, would be lost if we turned down entry now. I cannot think that anyone would kid himself with the idea that if we turned down entry now we would only have to wait until it suits the convenience of Great Britain, and never mind about anybody else, and that we should be offered entry on more agreeable terms. Everyone knows that that is a puerile proposition.
These are great matters with which we are dealing. There are some who say, "Think of these great matters, think of the large landscape, and do not be too worried about the price of butter." That is all very well, provided that one is the kind of person who has the size of income which means that he need not worry about the price of butter. I say to the Government, and to all right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House who think as I do on the main question. that we have to think about not only the great possibilities, vital as they are, but the immediate pressures to which entry may subject us and the hardships to which many people could be subjected unless deliberate action is taken to prevent them.
§ Mr. Stewart
I beg my hon. Friend to be indulgent to me. This is the first time in 26 years that I have defied a party Whip, so I am in a sense making a maiden speech. In a sphere where I am a maiden and she is an experienced 1519 matron, I hope that she will show me indulgence. I hope the House will also show me indulgence, because I shall not be much longer.
Concerning prices, I believe that what I call the increase in the wealth-making power of this country means that people who are able, fit and of an age to work will find that the rise in wages and salaries will exceed the rise in prices and that the standard of life will go up. But pensioners and many on fixed incomes will not get the benefit unless deliberate action by the Government gives it to them. I was glad to hear the Secretary of State for Social Services on Friday give us assurances on this aspect.
But let the Government notice two points. First, the help given to the pensioners has to be at least adequate. If, when working out exactly how much is fair, they have to make any error, it should be in the pensioners' favour.
§ Mr. Stewart
Secondly, it will not be enough to do it by raising supplementary benefit. Those who do not have to go to supplementary benefit now should not be required to go to it because of any result which comes from joining the Common Market. We must arrange matters so that increases in benefits come to people as of right.
If that is going to cost a bit, then people with above-average incomes, among whom I am lucky enough to be included, must be prepared to pay their share to see that that result is achieved. It will be a bit of a test for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite as to exactly how much they believe in Europe. What is that old phrase? A man said to an elderly Quaker, "I deeply sympathise with the victims of this disaster". The Quaker replied. "Friend, how much dost thou sympathise?" We shall judge partly how much the Prime Minister and his colleagues really believe in Europe by the degree of generosity that they apply to this matter.
There has been mention of consequential legislation. It would be impossible for anyone who believes as I do at any stage to give a vote which he knew, if successful, would have the 1520 certain consequence of frustrating our entry into Europe. It would be neither consistent nor honourable. But we are entitled to tell the Prime Minister that he cannot say to Parliament that we must all vote for this or that here and now, not because it is necessary to get us into Europe, but because it is necessary both to get us into Europe and to give the Government time to do a number of other things which many of us would regard as detestable. If the Prime Minister is serious, the Government may have to drop one or two of their other cherished ideas—pushing up the rents of all council tenants and doing things which will bring back the evil of Rachmanism. The Government can perfectly well get their consequential legislation through if they want it. In that job they must have the help of anyone who honestly believes in Europe. But if they try to use the European cause as a kind of hostage—women and children advanced in front and the ugly monsters behind—they will find that it will not work.
Many right hon. and hon. Members will show plainly how much they believe in Europe by their votes on Thursday. It is no pleasure to me to find myself in a minority in my own party, though I am inclined to think that if we looked at the whole community of democratic Socialists in Western Europe, my right hon. and hon. Friends and I would not be in a minority. As I say, I take no pleasure in that fact, but I shall vote as I have indicated because, for the reasons which I have given, I believe it to be right. I know that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I will show on Thursday night how much we believe in Europe. I have suggested a couple of ways in which the Government can show how much they believe in Europe. I trust that they will respond.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I do not think that any hon. Member who is opposed to entry to the Common Market would in any way doubt the deep sincerity of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) expressed in his speech today and consistently expressed over a number of years. In the same way, I do not think that anyone would doubt the sincerity of my right hon. Friend the 1521 Prime Minister and others who have consistently supported our entry. At the same time, we have seen on both sides of the House hon. Members who have changed their views quite substantially.
Being among the first speakers in the debate today, and following the splendid example of the right hon. Member for Fulham, I hope that at least on this day, if not on others, we can have a debate not about who said what, not about who supported any particular point at any particular time, but whether entry to the Common Market on the basis of the arrangements put forward and negotiated by the Government is good or bad for Britain or good for Britain and bad for its people.
I believe that entry to the Common Market on the basis of the arrangements which have been made according to the rules of the Community as they exist will certainly not be to the advantage of Great Britain. The economic argument, so rightly put by the right hon. Gentleman, hinges entirely on the dynamic impact, on the growth which it is alleged will stem from our entry. If the growth does not come, then the economic case collapses, and collapses absolutely.
It has been argued that by entering the Common Market we shall get not perhaps the current rate of growth of the Community, which does not look like being very good this year, but the rate of growth which was established by the Community after it was formed. I do not believe that size itself creates growth. It is interesting to note that although at one time we used to be told that if we joined the Common Market we could establish a great market the size of America we do not now hear America being referred to a great deal. That is because growth there is not very good.
But even if that argument were true, even if we accepted that entry by the Europeans into the Common Market created growth, surely there are two crucial points to establish. The first is whether the situation of Great Britain is the same as that in those countries; and the fact is that there are many respects in which it is entirely different.
First, there is the fact that the tariff reduction which we shall experience in the event of joining the Common Market will be much smaller than that experi- 1522 enced by the countries of the Community when they established it. Second, only one-fifth of our trade is with the Community. The countries of the Community had much more trade between themselves before they joined it.
Third, our net contribution to the Community will undoubtedly be much larger than the amount which any other member of the Community has had to contribute. Our contribution will be substantial, perhaps even massive. Fourth, we alone of the countries about which we are talking have a tradition of cheap food, and we shall pay dearly for having to move to the other system. Fifth, none of the countries of the Community had to surrender the kind and the extent of preferences that we have with the Commonwealth and elsewhere. That is something that is unique to Britain. Sixth, we do not have a massive agricultural population which can transfer to industry and thereby create new growth.
For all those reasons, even if it is true that entry into the Common Market automatically creates more growth, it does not necessarily follow that the same would happen for Britain.
But even if we were to go as far as saying that despite all that we shall have massive growth by removing, on average, a tariff barrier of 7½ per cent. on one-fifth of our trade, the disadvantages to Britain greatly outweigh any such advantage. There is, first, the question of the contributions, to which there has been a great deal of reference in this debate. Whenever the question has been raised we have been told that the previous Government were prepared to accept this arrangement, that they did not question it, that they suggested not that the basic contribution should be negotiated but that only the transitional arrangements should be. That may be true, and I am sure it is, but what we want to know is whether this is right for Britain, and whether this is a fair basis on which to join the Community.
Many of us are members of the House of Commons Motor Club. We pay a small contribution, and we all get the same advantages of being able to display a badge on our cars, and perhaps one or two other things. My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) is greatly involved in the 1523 activities of the club, but what would the House say if at the annual meeting my hon. Friend were to suggest that we ought to change the rules, and that as from next year Scottish members should pay a contribution of £1 a year, Welsh members should pay a contribution of £5 a year, members from the North-East should pay £20 a year, but London Members should be paid £25 a year for being members of the club? I think that many hon. Members would immediately feel resentful. It would be a crazy club; but that is exactly the kind of situation that we have in the Common Market. The situation is that this country will have to make a massive contribution to the Community.
If we are not to make a massive net contribution, why are we trying to negotiate transitional arrangements? We must have some indication of what the net cost will be. We are told in the White Paper that it is impossible to quantify, but we cannot escape the fact that according to the document in the House of Commons Library, which has been referred to several times in this debate, such an estimate was made. It was estimated that in 1978, after the transitional period, Britain's net contribution would be about £450 million a year, or 75p. a week for the average family in Britain. For the Six there would be a massive payment the other way. In other words, the Six would gain from our contribution. How can that be fair to Britain? How can that be accepted as a sensible basis on which to join the Community?
The same considerations apply to the common agricultural policy. We know that the previous Government, or at least a majority of the Cabinet, were prepared to accept this policy. That is not in doubt; but the important thing is not whether we support it, or whether the Opposition support it, but whether it is a sensible arrangement to adopt for Britain's entry into the Community.
It will mean a substantial increase in food prices. The White Paper refers to an average increase of 2½ per cent. a year, but I think that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, in his splendid speech last Thursday, made the position quite clear. When asked to give 1524 the basis of the Government's estimate of 2½ per cent., he said thatall 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1029.]In other words, the levies which we are introducing of our own volition—perhaps nothing to do with the Common Market—cannot be discounted in assessing the increase of 2½ per cent. Nor is the effect of V.A.T. taken into account in assessing the 2½ per cent. The increase is the direct result of entry, and does not arise from our own policies.
It will mean that substantial taxes will be imposed on all the food coming into this country. As the largest importer of food in the world, this means a lot to us. It will mean that 90 per cent. of the extra amount that we pay for our food will be contributed to the Common Market's agricultural fund, to be spent principally on agriculture in France and the Netherlands. How can it possibly be in our interests to abandon our cheap food policy, to put taxes on food being imported, and to give the money obtained from the extra contribution to the Community?
No one seems to question that there will be a substantial net adverse balance of payments, for the first few years at least. Does this matter to the man in the street? Those who have been in the House for a short time, as I have, but who studied the matter before coming here, have time and again seen how when Britain is in trouble with her balance of payments the Chancellor slams on the brakes and brings in squeeze and freeze. That has been done by both Governments. If we start out on this great enterprise with a basic adverse balance of payments, the inevitable result must be repeated deflations, or else small devaluations, and I fail to see how that can help.
Those reasons alone would justify my opposition to the Market, but the most important thing for me is the additional issue of Scotland and regional policy. Our traditional problem in Scotland, under both Governments—for this is not a Tory problem or a Socialist one—has been that of fighting the centralisation of industry in the south, or wherever the 1525 industrial centres are established. Both Governments have had to fight that problem, and they have not been entirely successful in overcoming it. I am not saying that entry into the Common Market would change the picture dramatically one way or the other, but surely it is crystal clear that if we are in the Market the pull to the centre will be greater and the weapons that we shall have to fight it will be less effective.
I am not saying that regional policy will disappear. That would be nonsense. I am not saying that most of our present regional policy will go out of the window. That, again, would be nonsense. But surely we know that the pull towards the centre—and it will not be London—will inevitably be greater, and that the weapons with which to fight it will be fewer.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
Why has the Scottish Council for the Development of Industry argued in favour of the Market
§ Mr. Taylor
Many people are for or against. I cannot speak for them. I can speak only for myself.
What is the proposition about which we are talking? The moment we join the Common Market, all our existing regional aids will be subject to approval by the Commission—not an elected body, chosen by us, but a group of officials. We can participate in the discussions, but they will have the final word, and all our existing regional policies will be subject to their approval.
My right hon. Friend said today that it was his expectation that they would not object to our existing policies, and that is splendid, but the fact is that Article 93 of the Treaty of Rome says that all new proposals on regional policy would have to be subject to the approval of the Commission before we could introduce them. To that extent, surely, our freedom of action would be reduced.
Is this just a hypothetical question? Is it just scaremongering? Surely not. There was a recent example in Italy, where, despite all that has apparently been done, at the height of summer they had over a million unemployed, a figure rising fast, and the prospect of little growth this year. In the region which includes Trieste it was decided that there should be new 1526 regional aids to help unemployment. This was agreed, and everything was going through. But the Commission stopped it. It instructed that this should not proceed, and it has not been proceeded with. This is a clear example.
Yesterday asked my right hon. Friend what were the implications of this decision, and I was told:I see no reason for concern at the Commission's action. The measures in question were introduced not by the Italian Government but by the regional authorities, in an area where unemployment has traditionally been below the Italian national average."—[0FFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 225]But surely we have introduced measures to help in similar areas which have unemployment which is above the national average. Scottish Members know of one particular area in Scotland, now an intermediate area, where help has been given. We know that more than half Great Britain is covered by special, intermediate or development area status.
I do not suggest that the Commission will step in tomorrow or next year and drive a coach and horses through our regional policy. But we must at least accept, on the Trieste example, the rather more silly one in Belgium, and the example in Germany, that our complete freedom of action in regional policies will disappear. This is the freedom to spend our own taxpayers' money on what we think is proper for development in the regions.
§ Mr. Douglas
The hon. Member has made a great case of his concern for regional policies, but he supported a Government which eroded the advantages of development areas and certain advantages of I.D.C. policy. The two instances which he gives are not manifest examples of the onerous powers of the Commission, as he knows.
§ Mr. Taylor
Perhaps some actions that I have taken in the House have been against Scotland's interests; it may be that the same could be said of some of the hon. Member's actions. I believe that the policies of the present Government will be good for the nation. Perhaps in this debate we can get away from this cross-questioning of who is right and who is wrong in particular issues. Let us stick to the great issue which will affect our whole future.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
Some of us have been interested in the Italian case which the hon. Member has made so much of and have discussed it with officials of the Commission. Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that this policy has not been over-ruled, that the Commission has asked for further information about the proposed policy, and that what has happened is that its implementation has been held up pending further evidence of the need? If there is to be any Community policy on the regions, it is surely entirely desirable and reasonable that need should be demonstrated.
§ Mr. Taylor
Yes, but surely this is the whole point: who is to determine the need? Would the hon. Gentleman be prepared to go to the Commission tomorrow and justify intermediate status for Edinburgh on the basis of the Italian case? Does he think that he would win such a case? Surely the whole question is: who makes the decision? This is a big step.
We are not just discussing regional development. There are also the I.D.Cs. Of course we could continue our own I.D.C. policy: there are two areas of France where there is some kind of I.D.C. policy. But can we honestly say that the I.D.C. policy will be as effective if we go into the Common Market as it is at present?
It is not just a question of firms saying, "If I cannot develop in Oxford and am being told to go to Glasgow, I will go instead to France." Suppose one of them was thinking of building a factory in Oxford and the Government wanted it to go to a development district. Suppose that firm threatened, by means of an inspired leak, perhaps, "If we cannot get permission to build where we want, we will go to the Common Market." Surely this is just the kind of political situation in which hon. Members become involved. Our I.D.C. policy to at least that extent would be much less strong than it is at present. Is the situation in Scotland and the regions such that we can afford to make this sort of Hobson's choice?
A crucial factor for Scotland—hon. Members opposite represent seats where this matters—is steel. The battle in Scotland is to maintain it as an industrial country. What about the steel pricing 1528 policy if we enter? Do we know what it will be? Of course not. There are so many questions unanswered. Only one thing we do know absolutely. I gathered this from the very direct answer which the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who always gives us straight answers, which I appreciate, gave me yesterday. I asked him… whether it will be possible for the British Steel Corporation to maintain its policy of offering a uniform delivered price for steel products … in the event of Britain joining that Community.The answer was:No, Sir. The pricing rules are an integral part of the Treaty of Paris."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1222.]I then asked another question, whether, if the Corporation wished to introduce regional pricing, we as a nation would have the power to stop it. Once again, the answer is quite clear in HANSARD.
In most of our nationalised industries, we have differential pricing, regional pricing. For gas, we in Scotland pay an average of about 25 per cent. more than the average for England and Wales. For electricity for domestic consumption, we pay a little less. Steel is the one example of a uniform delivered price maintained as a result of Government policy. This is surely something which matters to Scotland.
What will be the position if we enter? I do not believe that there will be any requirement for an economic regional pricing. Italy has a system of aligning down, which is a loose interpretation of the E.C.S.C., and appears to win. But what happens if the British Steel Corporation decides to introduce regional pricing? Everyone knows what this would mean in Scotland, certainly without Hunterston. Would our Government have any power? Would our sovereign Parliament, which owns and controls the nationalised industries, have the power? The answer is "No." The moment we join, any power in that respect disappears completely.
There is so much more that I want to say, but I appreciate that time is short. I have one final point on the question of a mandate. There is no doubt that my party has made it clear in the past that we believe that entry of the Market would be a good thing for Britain, but on the 1529 other hand we cannot deny or run away from the fact that at the last General Election, when this was to some extent a real issue, the people of Britain were faced with three major parties all of which officially supported entry. To that extent the people of this country have not had a chance to declare their opinion on this great issue.
Of course it is right that on most questions in Parliament it is the job of hon. Members, according to Edmund Burke, to decide on behalf of the people. But it was rightly said not long ago that this was not just an ordinary issue in which we could follow the example of Edmund Burke, but the kind of issue on which it would be wrong to proceed without the full-hearted consent of our Parliament and people. I believe that this is that kind of question and that it would be wrong for us to enter on the present basis.
I believe that the one great danger to this country, apart from those that I have mentioned, is perhaps a loss of people's respect for our democratic institutions. For these reasons, I will certainly oppose the proposal that we should enter the Common Market on the basis of the arrangements negotiated. If we do enter, I can only say that I hope I am wrong.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)
I listened with a great deal of attention to what was one of the best speeches that I have ever heard from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor). It was extremely well-balanced in the arguments, particularly about regional policy. The trouble is that the hon. Gentleman, like so many, has basically always been against joining Europe. There is a certain amount of consistency and I envy those who have always been against Europe and who voted against Europe in the 1967 vote, with one or two others from the Conservative Party who are in exactly the same position today.
But, fortunately or unfortunately, most hon. Members are not like that, and the great trouble about these debates is that everything in what we are arguing about is so marginal. Much is unknown, even to the Government, even to a well-equipped Civil Service and to 1530 the hardest worker on this subject. By its nature, much has to be speculation.
In the Motion before us and the Amendment, we are asked to discuss the question of principle and to decide this matter, which is clear and simple.
I am very strongly in favour of Britain joining the European Community. If the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) had been accepted by the Chair, I would certainly have wholeheartedly voted for that, and if the consequences of were to be that we would have a General Election three weeks from now, I should be delighted. There is no one on this side of the House who does not want to have a General Election, not only on this issue but on every issue surrounding the political climate of our time.
If my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short), the experienced matron to whom my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) referred, believes that this Government will resign on being defeated, if there is a free vote, she has some bigger thinking to come. The Government are not obliged to resign. Knowing this Government and the Tory instinct for self-preservation, it is a delusion to believe that about this issue the Government will waver.
§ Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)
Would not my hon. Friend agree that if the Government were defeated on this issue, at least the Prime Minister would need to resign.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
I confess that he is one of the worst Prime Ministers that we have had. But the Tory Party could possibly produce a worse one. I will not name the names, but it is possible. It is not for me to bend my principles or views in conformity to which leader of the Tory Party I should like to be Prime Minister. With respect to my hon. Friend, I regard that argument as a little absurd.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was arguing that it was a curious doctrine of negotiation that one must accept the outcome. But it is also a curious doctrine of negotiation that one must always reject the outcome. When I had the great privilege of being a Minister in the previous Government, 1531 one of the most interesting exercises that I have ever seen in the action of a government was when we decided, as a government, to apply to join the European Economic Communities.
For those who want to read a very fair and accurate summary—as far as I am aware—of these events, I recommend a reading of the book written by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, "The Labour Government 1964–70—A personal Record ", particularly pages 386–70. Summarised there is one of the best précis of how we arrived at a firm decision to apply. I do not say this to embarrass anyone but quite deliberately because it was an exercise in government which to me was very impressive.
When I was an Under-Secretary at the Scottish Office, we were not allowed to see minutes of the Cabinet unless they applied to our Department. No doubt that was a decision of the Secretary of State. Fortunately, by January, 1967, I became a Minister of State. Therefore, I was entitled to see all the Cabinet papers and records.
My right hon. Friend says in his book:… I was plunged immediately into a series of Cabinet discussions on the Common Market. Colleagues had by this time had the opportunity to study every word of the discussions in the six capitals. A further series of authoritative papers, some of them very lengthy and on almost every issue raised, was prepared for circulation. They covered the balance of payments, monetary problems, tax policies—including 'fiscal harmonisation' agriculture, the cost of living, regional questions, mobility of labour and immigration policies, social policy—including 'harmonisation', human rights and a very full statement on the constitutional issues involved, prepared under the direction of the Lord Chancellor. With that last exception, all the papers were prepared, without ministerial intervention, by the special unit I had set up in the Cabinet Office …".My right hon. Friend goes on to explain the intense discussions which began on 30th March and were not concluded until the statement in the House on 2nd May. I am glad to say that I was part—a very small part—of the preparation of these papers and of the deep discussions that we had. One cannot, therefore, dismiss from one's mind that experience, even when one is outwith the centre of business and the centre of the papers and the knowledge which is the prerogative of the 1532 Government. One cannot dismiss past experience.
The Cabinet discussed it with all their junior colleagues. My right hon. Friend says in his book:I suggested, therefore, that we should spend the whole of the next weekend on it in a relaxed and free debate—the Saturday at Downing Street, the Sunday at Chequers.When minister after minister, including those who had pressed for fuller examination, and postponement, said they felt that one day would be enough I knew then that we were within sight of a decision. We agreed to meet on the Sunday, 30th April.It would be worth while for us all to reread that section of those memoirs. No one can say that the previous Government did not take into full account every possibility, as far as they could judge. On the basis of that, they applied and negotiated. In our manifesto, we made it clear—certainly I made it clear—that we in the Labour Government would pursue our application. Indeed, during the election, on 11th June an instruction was sent by the Labour Government to our representative in Brussels to say that 30th June would be convenient for the reopening of negotiations by the British Government, whoever won the election. Our Government were convinced that that would be quite possible. Indeed, the negotiations began on 30th June, but without a British Labour Government present.
For hon. Members to argue over the terms as they are is a marginal argument. It may be a very important argument but it is marginal. It is not an argument of principle, and the Motion which we are asked to support or deny is a Motion of principle.
I do not say one thing here and another thing in Strasbourg. In Strasbourg I opposed the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers), who was suggesting, in a report which he presented to the Council of Europe, that the terms were fair and reasonable—a phrase which no doubt he borrowed from the White Paper. In that debate I said that I did not agree that the terms were fair and reasonable but that they were the only terms that we had ever had since we sought to apply in 1961.
If General de Gaulle had died four or five years earlier, we would be in the Common Market now. But General de Gaulle, alas, carried on for that time blocking our way, and we are still not in 1533 the Common Market. If we had negotiated in 1963 and 1967 successfully, the terms would be better.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
Is my hon. Friend saying that the future of the British nation can be guided by the demise of one man in the past, that that might happen again in the future, and that that is the basis of this philosophy for the guidance of this country?
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
It is not a basis of philosophy. It is the determination of God whether men live or die. The death of even one man can distort many currents of history. It may be right or wrong, but it is a fact. If we had applied in 1967, with a France not governed by de Gaulle, we would be in the Market now and on better terms. I am not defending the present terms as being fair and reasonable, but they are not unreasonable. There is a distinction, I insist.
For example, we are not getting a fair deal on fishing. We are not getting a fair deal in many ways.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
That may be so. The Minister is entitled to his opinion, just as is my hon. Friend. Strangely enough, we are all entitled to our opinions.
Although the terms may not be as good as we would like, they are the only ones we have at present. They are not as onerous as those who are opposed to the Market in principle seek to suggest. The hon. Member for Cathcart is a man of principle, inasmuch as he is against the Market root and branch. Therefore, logically, any terms are bound to be opposed by him. I respect such consistency.
What I cannot understand is the argument that, because this set of terms or that set of terms is somehow or other not acceptable, we can go and get new terms. We are deciding whether we go in now or whether we postpone it for another Government in another time and go in five, 10, 20 or 30 years later. We have not got that much time. I believe that, for political as well as for economic reasons, it is essential for the welfare of the British people that we join the Common Market.
1534 I agree that the political reasons are decisive. [Interruption.] In saying that, I quote my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson), who pressed on us many times that the political reasons were important. [An HON. MEMBER: "What are they?"] They have been well ventilated. We need not go over them just now. In any event, I do not intend to do so. It may be 53 minutes for a Front Bench speech, but it will not be 53 minutes for a back bench speech.
I want to say a few words about some matters affecting Scotland, because it is in the Scottish context that I see this as a great issue. It is only natural for Scotsmen, with all the experience of past events, to believe that this might be a bad decision. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock talked about regional policy and of progress within the Six of the poor regions. He said that the gap between the poor and the rich had not closed, even after 12 years.
I ask the House to read the Distribution of Industry Act, 1944, which was piloted through by the late Hugh Dalton. The Schedule to that Act listed all the areas which needed aid. That was 27 years ago. They are exactly the same areas as those which today are listed as development areas. Therefore, there is no point in pouring scorn on those who have failed to achieve something in 12 years when both parties in Britain have failed to achieve much in 27 years.
I speak comparatively, not in absolute terms. It is a question how the standard of living of all the people can be raised to the same average level rather than that there should be these differences.
In Scotland there are definitely two views. There is the view of those who believe that this is a great challenge, who believe that the European concept is the right thing for Scotland. We must get away from the idea that we are on the periphery. The more we say it, the more we are believed. When we get away from that idea we see that this is an opportunity, not a calamity.
As to the other view, for a comparable situation one must go back to the Treaty of Union and the days of Lord Saltoun, with the talk of all the miseries which would fall upon the Kingdom of Scotland if the Treaty were signed in 1707. All that was said on that side in 1707 was 1535 wrong. The only person who will disagree with me on that score is a Scottish Nationalist, and he is entitled to his opinion.
Many of the woe speeches, which see everything black and nothing but calamity, will be conveniently forgotten in five or 10 years' time if Scotland, like so many other parts of the United Kingdom, rises to the challenge of Europe. It is not the case that we shall join a Europe that will suddenly do everything for us. We must do a great deal for ourselves. [Interruption.] A Labour Government might try. It is not the case that Labour always succeeded.
The hon. Member for Cathcart talked about the balance of payments crises. He was right. We have been terrified by them for 25 years. We shall go on being terrified by them until we get the albatross of sterling off our necks and have an international reserve currency which need not leave us at the whim of the international markets.
This is the end of Britain as an imperial power and the beginning of Britain being part of the family of Europe of which she is naturally a part. Let us see ourselves in that position so that our political parties can fulfil the manifestos on which they are elected rather than allowing themselves to be blown off course, once they are in office, by some circumstance of international trade over which we have no control.
As to regional policy, the Secretary of State could have made a better speech if he had mentioned what he intends to do about Hunterston. If we had had an indication that there was to be massive investment at Hunterston the whole climate of opinion might change. The Secretary of State says that he has done all he can. He has not. He has argued the case on planning and said that he has done well on that. I disagree. He has not done badly, but he has not done well.
The Secretary of State says that he has helped to set up a private company to seek to prospect this area. What we should like to have is direct investment in what is potentially the best deep sea water port in the United Kingdom. If the Secretary of State realises the importance of his argument, I hope that he will do something concrete and definite 1536 about Hunterston, if he wishes to be believed, along with the Scottish Council and others, that our future is a great one.
I want to deal with the comment of my right hon. Friend about squealing on this regulation or that regulation. Every industry going into the Market does not know exactly what will happen to it. Industries must work out their possibilities, practicabilities and needs.
There are no whisky interests in my constituency other than those of consumers. The Whisky Association, through the Government, tried earnestly to have two matters secured which are important for its future. When we enter Europe, as I am sure we shall, Scotch whisky will be sold, not mainly to Europe, but still as to three-quarters of its sales outside Europe. Therefore, it will switch from becoming a British asset to becoming a European asset.
The Scotch Whisky Association has been trying hard to get from the Common Market a guarantee of the right to obtain restitution in respect of exports of whisky produced from cereals within the Community territory. The Association is also trying to get levy-free imports for production of whisky for export of maize and barley of a high diastatic potential. The Association has argued the case with the Government and has insisted that this is only justice in view of the position of the German brewers who get these two advantages and possibly of those presently seeking them who produce cognac in the Common Market.
The Commission, which is so often paraded as a great menace, recommended to the Council of Ministers that whisky should be added to the list of commodities processed from agriculutral products. The Council of Ministers rejected that recommendation, for the simple reason that the present arrangements had not been designed to deal with the production of spirits from grain, cereals or agricultural produce, but said that there would be an agricultural alcohols arrangement discussed and settled, for the first time in the Community's history, in the near future.
The Whisky Association's riposte to that is, "That is fine. We shall be better off in the Market than outside the 1537 Market. But we need to get these guarantees as soon as possible". I ask the House: "Would we get these guarantees for whisky better outside the Market or inside the Market?".
The answer is clear. It is not true that the bargain struck today, the Treaty of Rome and the present regulations, are the laws of the Medes and the Persians which can never be changed. This is a caricature of the whole idea of the Community. The political life of the Community is bound to change as things change. As the Community's political life changes, it will change its regulations and in time I have no doubt that even the Treaty of Rome will be rewritten. Now that the three Communities are effectively merged into one, the Treaty itself is due for revision, with many of its clauses now being inoperative and some of them being so badly interpreted that they are almost beyond the original concept of those who wrote them.
This is the approach we must make in terms of the debate and next Thursday's vote. I reserve the right to argue for any Scottish or British industry on the Floor of the House or elsewhere in relation to any of the instruments of ratification or later matters of legislation that may come before us. But the issue we have to decide on Thursday is one of principle.
For those who are against the Market now and forever more I have respect. I respect their rejection of the present terms or any others. For those, like myself, who are convinced that the Market is a good thing for Britain and Scotland. it would be wrong of us to bend our principles and smash all the things we said in the past because we are commanded by loyalty to our party.
In 16 years I have never once voted against my party. As Gilbert and Sullivan say: "I always voted at my party's call; I never thought of thinking for myself at all." I do not plead guilty to that accusation but there must be some truth in it after 16 years of faithful, loyal. virginal service. There comes a time—and that time is on Thursday.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. John E. B. Hill (Norfolk. South)
We have just listened to two remarkably sincere speeches from the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon) and 1538 my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor), both of whom were curiously similar in their positions. Both have held Ministerial responsibility in the Scottish Office, knowing the difficulties of Scotland; both are in disagreement with their party leaders on this great issue. It seemed to me that they illustrated the trend in this debate, as I detect it, for Members to use arguments which illustrate the basic attitude to this great question—whether one is optimistic or pessimistic about the prospect of Britain entering into a permanent working arrangement with foreign countries.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart is a pessimist, the hon. Member for Greenock is an optimist. In this case, I share the optimism of the hon. Member for Greenock. I hope that the House will accept that my attitude is dictated not simply because I am a farmer, but I must redeclare my interest.
Anyone with a farm prefers, even more than most people, to see land under crops rather than laid waste by war. Many years ago my own farm was a bloody battlefield when Anna the Christian King of East Anglia was defeated and killed by the pagan forces of Mercia. No doubt, most of those slain and surviving had thought it impossible, unthinkable, that even the two, much less several. kingdoms should ever become one.
During the last Parliament, while the Select Committee on Agriculture was delving into the complexities of the Common Agricultural Policy, I visited, by chance, two modern battlefields, Ypres in Belgium and the Mejerda Valley in Tunisia, now irrigated, with Longstop Hill, once of ill omen, now under an afforestation scheme. Both of these former battle fields are now highly productive and will add in their ways to the problems of the C.A.P. But I believe that that is infinitely preferable to the disasters that went before.
Formidable as the agricultural problems of the E.E.C. are, they are not immutable, but declining. Even the problem of food prices, emphasised and exaggerated time and again, will be seen to be a subsidiary factor in the longer run.
It seems to me, not only in agriculture, but in so many other aspects, trade, industrial investment and employment, that the factors urged against entry are of a 1539 lower order of magnitude and of shorter duration than the advantages. I have tried to assess the economic prospects for growth should we enter. I have found it most significant that the great majority of those who have to make decisions about the productive deployment of resources believe that entry is in Britain's best interests. That certainly goes for the Eastern Region and the County of Norfolk. It goes not only for those who have to fill the wage packets, but also for the politicians when charged with the responsibilities of Government, whether it be the Leader of the Opposition, consistent only in his opportunism, or my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell).
I endeavoured to consult public opinion in my constituency during the recess and found no sign of the massive majority alleged by the polls against entry, any more than I did in the General Election last year. Here, I disagree with what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) said yesterday, that the British people are disillusioned with Parliament and that is why, although a majority is said to be against, a much greater majority believe that we shall go in. I believe that in that larger majority a very considerable number believe that we certainly ought to go in, and that there are a great many who feel personally vulnerable but believe that entry is in the national interest.
I emphasise what has been said on both sides of the House, that it is essential that the Government should pay particular attention to, and construct measures to assist, those large families and small-income groups on whom the impact of entry may prove heavy in the short run. We do not know. We must be on their guard.
I have never expected massive support in advance for change. I believe that the British people will suspend judgment until they are eating the pudding. This is the only way they will preserve their characteristic right always to be justified and able to blame politicians if things do not turn out as they had hoped.
The case against entry has not grown. It has always been static and has diminished as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster negotiated each obstacle. Now 1540 the main argument is about sovereignty. This barely conceals an attitude of "non-co-operation with foreigners." The question is—has Britain something to contribute to Europe and to gain or not?
From what I have been able to see of the Council of Europe, I am certain that the Six expect and want Britain to play a large part in making the institutions more democratic. Likewise, Britain can help, from her great experience, to write the regional policy about which there has been much talk today. I agree that we shall need a tough one to achieve the stated objectives of the Treaty of Rome.
I feel that the prophets of gloom overlook the realities of the Treaty of Rome. The Community cannot work, still less make progress, if any member or members feel specially aggrieved or hard done by. Apart from the specific safeguards in the Treaty relating to balance of payments problems, the aim of the Community and the Commission is to see that no country suffers adversely from the overall balance between the costs and benefits of membership. This, I believe, is where one comes to what is described as the act of faith in joining. It is an act of faith in the good faith of the Community.
I agree with the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) that entry offers no panacea for British problems. I have repeatedly told my constituents that there is no question of cosy adherence to the status quo. The choice is between two uncertainties, or, as I should prefer to describe them, opportunities, for that is what they are. I believe that entry offers bigger and wider prospects than any other alternative policy, even if a coherent one had been put forward. This opportunity is both too great and too short-lived for us to deny it to our generation, much less to those coming after us.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
I am glad of the opportunity to say a few words in this great debate, and I agree with the hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. John E. B. Hill), that we have just heard two admirable speeches, one from my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon), in favour of entry, the other from the hon. Member for Glasgow, 1541 Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor), who spoke against. I envy them the conviction which they feel and the assurance of mind which they obviously possess on the subject of this debate. For my part, I confess that I have hesitated on this matter for a long time.
Over a long period, my inclination has been to support entry into the Common Market. It was not the arguments in economics which weighed with me. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) is in disagreement with my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) on economic consequences I am disinclined to come to hasty conclusions upon the economic arguments, and I do not find the right answer to the economic questions on either side at all easy to come by.
Nor was it, at the time when I was weighing the issue of entry, the Treaty of Rome which caused me the greatest concern. Although I have listened with great care to the arguments advanced by, for example, the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), who has been prominent in this part of the argument in recent months and years, it has always seemed to me that if General de Gaulle could feel confident in the survival of French power, with all that that meant to him, in the context of the Treaty of Rome, there was probably not very much ground for anxiety or fear on our side that we should suffer a substantial loss of power and independence by becoming party to that Treaty.
What led me to favour entry was the opportunity which the Common Market and our presence in it seemed to offer for this country to enter upon a new era of policy and enterprise in which we could recover our greatness. We all want to do that, on whichever side of the House we sit. It seemed to me that, perhaps, that opportunity was open to us. One had seen our imperial power diminish on a scale and at a rate which beggared description, which was almost incredible, and, although there were arguments and counter-arguments about the correctness of that process, we all wished to turn to a phase in our national history in which we could become great again and resort to processes of leader- 1542 ship and enterprise appropriate to our historic tradition. I felt that the Common Market might offer an opportunity for that.
I never felt the enthusiasm for the Common Market—I think that my hon. Friends who know my position on the matter realised this—that I should have liked to feel for the concept. There are matters which fire me with enthusiasm. This was not one. One of the features of the situation in recent months, as I have seen it, is the widespread lack of enthusiasm for the Common Market. There is a strange and pervading lack of enthusiasm. There is a strong element of the apologetic and the defensive in the speeches in favour of entry which we have heard in this Chamber. I regard this as a significant and important matter, and I believe that right hon. and hon. Members opposite must be aware of it and be discomforted by it. It is one of the realities of the situation.
I have spoken of the lack of enthusiasm for the project which, it seems to me, underlies the attitude even of many who purport to be supporters of entry. But a more significant feature is that there is a strong feeling in the country, which I cannot ignore, of hostility to the enterprise. I have no doubt about that. It is a significant feature of public opinion in this country today that there is an underlying strong hostility and objection to the proposal. There is a sense that we have been pushed around long enough, that we have made great changes at the behest of forces which are often difficult to recognise and define, and there is a widespread sense that this process should stop.
With due respect towards all who are concerned in this matter, I have to tell the House that, not without difficulty, I have reached a position in which I am satisfied in my own mind, once and for all, that it would be arrogance on my part—arrogance and nothing else—to ignore or disregard this condition of public opinion which, on inquiry, I have felt to be present.
§ Mr. Richard Crawshaw (Liverpool, Toxteth)
It may be as my right hon. and learned Friend says, but is it not so also on questions such as capital punishment, about which we ought to take a lead?
§ Sir A. Irvine
Well, I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that intervention, but perhaps I may be allowed just to pursue the point which I was on.
How far should we have regard to the state of public opinion as we assess it? I have suggested that it would be arrogance to ignore the condition of public opinion. I am perfectly satisfied, as I have said to the House, though one has not to be dogmatic about it because it is a matter of personal judgment, that the instinct of the British people is against our entry at the present time. How far has that instinct, which has been so powerful for so many centuries, been spoiled and warped by the mass media? That is a matter for argument and a matter for dispute, but I think that, on the whole, the instinctive judgment of the British people remains today a powerful and healthy influence which we ignore at our peril.
I have come to the conclusion, therefore, that it would be arrogant and mistaken to ignore the state of opinion which I have assessed in the way I have indicated to the House. My intention is either to abstain or to vote against entry, and I still have a little time in which to consider which of those two courses to follow.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Lt.-Col. Colin Mitchell (Aberdeenshire, West)
There is a Chinese proverb which says that it is extremely difficult to prophesy, especially with respect to the future. In the realm of international politics which we have been discussing here for the last few days, I began to fear that it was well nigh impossible. Indeed, it was Rousseau who said 200 years ago, as some hon. Members will know, that the Treaty of Westphalia "will for ever remain the foundation of our international system". I was delighted to hear from one hon. Member opposite that it is impossible to conceive of the Treaty of Rome being there 200 years from now.
I have appraised the future basis of feasibility, probability and reasoned judgment of this proposal and I have concluded that we should not sign the Treaty of Rome. I shall not elaborate on this from a Scottish point of view because there are far better Scottish advocates here than I, but Robert Walpole said of an ancestor of my wife, "He was the first Scot who ever pleaded 1544 at the English Bar, and, as it was said of him, he should also have been the last". I hope that the words of the Foreign Secretary on Thursday can be substituted for this bad omen thateach of us can speak only for himself this debate".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 923.]As if democracy required any other role of us!
There are a number of major factors which one has to consider in the world scene before one takes such a grave decision as this, and there is an element of complete unpredictability here.
I believe that at the moment there is no longer what I was brought up to call a Communist world in terms of political doctrine, but we have a situation of Russia versus China and Russia against the nationalistic freedom spirit of the peoples of eastern Europe. In saying this I realise that I disagree entirely with just about everything that was said so nicely by the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), but I believe that it is a fundamental element in the philosophy of the Soviet system to have a need for enemies, and I believe that the Europe that we are creating provides that. The Russians need this now not only as a remnant of the revolutionary era but as a vital function of cohesion and legitimisation of the totalitarian system. Moscow at this moment is endowing itself with a worldwide intervention capability which puts the fear of death into me, particularly as it gets more involved in the Middle East and as its navies spread across the seven seas. I personally believe that a genuine détente with Russia is impossible, not least because she is two-thirds an Asian Power, and that such détente is little more than a ruse.
I turn to America, on which we depend for our protection against Russia in Europe, and I find something even more shocking because America is disentangling itself from global commitments. Vietnam will be regarded as the high-water mark of United States political and military intervention. American universalism, as it has been called, is now draining the national purpose. I believe the crucial role of will—will—in the exercise of power has departed from the United States because they lack domestic support, without which one cannot impose 1545 one's will in this world. Indeed, the Americans have a further factor in that 25 per cent. of their population live in a state of poverty owing to the high cost of living.
This brings me to the humanitarian factors which have been explained so well on both sides of the House in the last few days. My own view of the humanitarian factors is that they are excellent things in the air but very difficult things to do anything about. The post-industrial society is perhaps dissolving the illusion that all change is change for the better—even if we dress it up with the word "progress". A great deal of this "progress" surrounds E.E.C. entry. But our productive processes are making life unbearable for many people in the world today. We know that the environment is impoverished; we all know that resources are being squandered; we all know that population is exploding. We also know that there is resistance to technical and economic developments of the type we have been talking about in Europe, which are regarded by the great majority of people as being anti-social. To many people, particularly the young, growth and influence mean the same thing as greed and power lust. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The groans from the other side of the House make me even more sure that I am right. I believe that politics are becoming increasingly irrelevant to the real problems of the age.
Another major factor in the world scene which brings us up against the Treaty of Rome is that nation States are being eroded, but are being eroded not only from above but from below as well, and with the weakening of nation States there are supra-national groupings and sub-national independence movements. They are really on the march again, and many national independence movements are flourishing. They are flourishing in Ireland and they are flourishing in Wales, and if the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Donald Stewart) were here I am sure he would get up and say that the national independence movement is flourishing in Scotland, too. It would doubtless flourish better if it had more supporters. However, these national independence movements are flourishing—in Brittany, Catalonia, the Basque province, regions of Italy, and among the Lapps in Scandinavia. It is because people are 1546 becoming frustrated, and, with the larger groupings, they turn to the concept of nationalism.
It is a fact of my political philosophy that it can be summed up in one word, if hon. Members opposite would like it so, and I am sure they would because it will help to make my speech shorter. My own political philosophy is that it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees. That is basically why I do not want to go into Europe.
In the early seventies of the 20th century capitalism, to my mind, is no longer a viable alternative to Communism—or internationalism. Hon. Members opposite would not have expected that to have come from this side of the House. I do believe in that national spirit, and I also believe in free enterprise, and they are things which are viable alternatives to Communism. The strength of national spirit will go on, and it will go on during this speech to the end.
I turn to one immediate question, that national security hinges fundamentally on effective internal security, and external defence treaties are complementary, though separate, elements of national security. In a world where young people are rejecting external war but finding the moral answer in civil war, we get back to the saying that the "wars of the people will be more terrible than the wars of kings". I believe it, because of my strategic analysis of the situation in Europe today.
There is an incredible ignorance among politically-conscious people of the technicalities of defence. One has only to spend 16 months in this House to realise what an incredible depth that ignorance reaches. Strategic issues for politicians normally rely on crisis judgments or drifting into weapons or roles without proper analysis.
The White Paper has no analysis of the strategic effect of entry into Europe. Paragraph 2 says:Our security has been bound up with that of our European neighbours for over a thousand years.But we have always been most secure when we have been out of Europe. Our military posture as a Continental land Power in two world wars created more misery for this country than anything we could ever gain from the present talk 1547 of entering Europe. I am not one of those open seas, blue seas chaps in the traditional naval sense, nor do I believe in splendid isolation. But I know that it is better for Britain to be non-aligned than to have a non-credible defence posture. That is what we are walking straight into in Europe.
What do I say on the forward defence concept of N.A.T.O., on which we now put our whole dependence for defence? It seems that without America a European defence identity can be secured only if we have a viable, independent, centralised, second-strike nuclear capability, vastly superior to anything either planned or possessed by the existing Six or the future Ten. It would require German access to nuclear weapons, and the Russian reaction to that must be obvious, even to the most unintelligent person who listens to the debate and has not taken account of Russian reaction to a Europe which is going perhaps towards the reunification of Germany or the rearming of Western Germany with nuclear weapons—probably a more likely cause of a third world war than anything I have ever heard of.
I admit that the United States is impatient about European reluctance to devote more of its own resources to its own defence. I know that the Americans have 300,000 men in Europe, with 80 per cent. of the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force flown by Americans and three-quarters and more of the Nike and Hawk missile batteries covering Southern Germany American-manned and owned. We examined earlier the likely possibilities of American withdrawal. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has spoken of U.S. force reductions, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, the Ostpolitik, Berlin, the European Security Conference and mutual and balanced force reductions—all those great words hurled across the Floor of the House. But a U.S. détente with the Soviet will be bilateral when it comes. One day it will come, and Europe will be left out, because the Soviets and the Americans deal together over the nuclear problem. Europe will find itself in the most embarrassing and difficult military situation.
I believe that if the E.E.C. becomes a political and trade rival to the United 1548 States, which it seems bound to do, our interests will diverge on so many issues that there is a danger of the United States simply declaring that the threat in Europe has disappeared, and it will go, preferring rhetoric to reality, as so many here do.
I have one more thing to say on the strategic factor, which is close to my heart. I apologise if not everyone understands it. It is that the creation of a European State is possible only through the will for greater stature and power. That requires a major effort in armaments and nuclear second-strike capability and, for a certainty, the reintroduction of national service. We could not face the rest of Europe in a Ten without reintroducing it, particularly in the light of the American withdrawals which must come. I believe that that effort could come only as a result of a political union, and not precede it. The pooling of Franco-British nuclear resources is not otherwise acceptable, because there is no such thing as a European foreign policy, which can come only from political amalgamation.
The emergence of a truly Western European independent and authentic foreign policy is dangerous to the world balance of power. A true global role for Europe is impossible. It can have only a psuedo-global role or a regional role. Strategically, we are hostages to fortune in a federal European State.
Having said my piece on strategy, and knowing that I must not go on for too long—I have not done so yet—I should like to turn to some points made earlier this afternoon about sovereignty. When I decided that I was still against the Treaty of Rome, which I had been against since I first examined it over 10 years ago as a serving officer, I asked myself why the Six wanted Britain. I remind hon. Members that I am now going outside the strategic concept.
I went to Brussels at the expense of the European Movement. I am afraid that it was money down the drain, and I apologise. They asked me, "Do you want to go to Brussels?" and I said, "Thank you very much", and I enjoyed my trip. I was told there by all the experts who have been quoted already that they wanted economic territory to expand. I thought, "That's great. I have heard that sort of thing from other chaps in Europe." But that is not a 1549 reason for me to hold a conviction that Britain should join Europe.
They told me that they would get financial aid for European agriculture. I thought that that still was not a very good reason why Britain should join Europe.
They then told me that Britain would bring skills in science, communications and finance. I am not a scientist; I am not a communicator, except in a verbal sense; and I am certainly no financier. But the fact remains that, as they went through the list of reasons why we should join Europe, the advantages all seemed to be with the people who wanted us to join.
The very nice and polite Dutch said that we would protect them, that we would counterbalance a growing Germany. They said, "Other nations will follow your system of democratic government." By golly! They obviously have not had the close experience of it that we have. They were actually telling me, "Your system of democratic government will give us greater stability and tolerance." In a more serious vein, perhaps they are right. I believe that it is a sad fact that without Britain in Europe the present crisis of the Six will not be overcome.
The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, quotes Professor Dahrendorf, the Six's Commissioner for External Affairs, in an article in The Times on Monday, and what he says is thrown at us at various times in the debate. But Professor Dahrendorf has said on the terms of entry—and he said it only two months ago—that the real problems of the Six are "sovereignty, a common foreign policy, and other political aims and institutions." He also said:The Europe which these people have created has become an illiberal and bureaucratic leviathan obsessed with harmonising things for the sake of harmonisation.That ended my trip to Brussels. Having heard and read a description of why we were needed, and an account by people actively concerned in the Common Market of what it was like, I felt that it was not a place into which we should go.
We are all heirs of the past. It is characteristic of countries entering a coalition or alliance to identify their own 1550 national interests with those of the coalition itself and to underestimate the preoccupations of the other partners. That happened in the Second World War with Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill. They took Churchill to the cleaners over the future of Britain, because we are perhaps naïve. We must not be naive over German reunification, which is the major problem of Europe, both East and West.
What is this Europe? There is no definition of it. There is talk of "the Atlantic to the Urals". But what is it? There is no definition of the nationality of Europe. All who believe so fervently in the strength of nationalism and the emergent sub-nationalism which we have talked about know that for more than one reason there is no definition of the nationality of Europe.
British politicians on both sides of the House delude themselves that they are engaged in a European debate these days because we are discussing whether Britain should join Europe. What we are trying to do is to vote to form a Western Europe power bloc formation which may or may not stem United States economic dominance but which will certainly, whatever else it does, not unite Europe.
In Scotland we are asked about sovereignty and the only answer I can give is that for some of us sovereignty means freedom, no more, no less. It would be wrong for me to underline the points brought out by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). We must have the same speech writer because so many of the points he made were those which I had written down to bring into the debate. The likely effects of a common currency and economic integration on the Scottish economy was one point. I am sorry that it is necessary to agree with people to whom one is normally opposed politically, but I am sure that we can all say sincerely that the way we vote over the Common Market is bigger than politics. If I cannot speak in that vein I might as well sit down because this is what I believe.
The likely effects of a common currency and economic integration on Scotland will, I believe, lead to Brussels administering regional policies for a backward Scotland. This is because economists cannot explain to me why one country grows faster than another. I do know that the 1551 fast growers acquire a cumulative competitive momentum and that the slow growers get worse. This is what has always happened. I also know that the only remedy in the world at large seems to be changing a country's exchange rate. This I am told is not possible between England and Scotland—even though we print our own banknotes! We therefore have these elaborate regional policies and the E.E.C. is committed to a policy of fixed exchange rates. From that I conclude that monetary and political integration will eventually lead to Brussels administering regional policies for a backward Scotland.
Another greatly contributive factor will be the free movement of capital. There will be this temptation for British firms to go for the 80 per cent. of the customers in the E.E.C. home market on the Continent and to close factories in Scotland, let alone reopen them as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland implied today. I believe that the cost of transportation—and anyone living in the North-East of Scotland or representing a constituency there, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolridge-Gordon), knows of the problems of transportation—will increase and bring about a situation where firms would prefer, quite rightly in their own minds, to reopen across the Channel.
I will not say how disappointed I was in paragraph 27 of the White Paper, to see the assumption that only super-Powers count, because Japan without vast territories and enormous natural resources is, according to the White Paper, well on the way to super-Power status. On my reading that has been obtained by hard work and good leadership, not by a larger political grouping, so I think that is a rotten argument.
I also believe, despite what the White Paper says, that in Europe we shall eventually and surely lose our identity and become a mere province of a European supra-national State. I could go on about the agricultural implications for Scotland; and here I must speak as a Scottish M.P.—it is a nice change. I could go on about the dynamic effects being patchy in Scotland leading to further employment. The unemployment in Scotland is so dreadful now that if we have further unemployment 1552 after Common Market entry, heaven knows what will happen. It is a terribly responsible position for us all to be in. I believe, too, that the possibility of an Atlantic trade war is with us.
To deal with something which has not been touched upon in this House I also sense that there is a suspicion in Scotland that the running over E.E.C. entry is being made by what people describe as the "Metropolitan élite", quality journalism, high finance, intellectual circles—you name them, those are the chaps, it is not being made by the Jocks on the ground.
I apologise for detaining the House for so long with what has perhaps not been a very good speech but which was one I felt had to be made. To give my conclusions, I believe that the big power blocs are outdated, that there would be a loss of our common link with America and the Commonwealth through the English language—a link we do not share with Europe. The other conclusion I reach is that the role of leadership as I define it is to maintain the permanence of our national interest and I do not see that happening by us signing the Treaty of Rome.
I could give some splendid alternatives to going into Europe, the first being to take our coats off all over the country, roll up our sleeves and get on with the work. We might even be able to take on the Japanese! I believe that E.E.C. entry is wrong. I still find it embarrassing, however, to be voting against the Government, but I am sure they are wrong because I am sure that, not even in the long but in the sort term, Britain will discover it has lost more than it has gained and, having failed to respond as we have done to the challenge of internal difficulties, it will be seen that we are looking for something outside of ourselves, some external scapegoat.
It is contrary to our history, about which a lot of people do not care, to our traditions, about which a great many people do not care, and it is contrary to our geographical situation, which we are stuck with anyway. It is also contrary to our true economic interests. It could and might lead to a break-up of the United Kingdom. If Great Britain joined Europe the long-term interests of Scotland might best be served by restoring 1553 our national independence. By that means we could obtain direct representation in a federal Europe or the option of an alternative alignment in our own self-interest. In the final analysis that is in our own self-interest if it ceases to be in Great Britain's interest. It must then become a Scottish problem and the Scottish people have a great tradition of knowing how to deal with that sort of problem.
I plead with the House—there is plenty of time for all to change their minds after hearing what I have said: Think it over, do not be frightened to change your minds. Hon. Members could change their minds and keep us out of Europe, because that is what we must do.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)
On a point of order. As one or two speeches are getting a little lengthy would it be out of order if the alarm clock which I have in my pocket happened to go off every other 17 minutes?
§ Mr. Speaker
We appeared to be getting towards shorter speeches. There was one of 10 minutes and another of 11 minutes. We have lost ground a little lately.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)
I do not think that the hon. and very gallant Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lt.-Col. Colin Mitchell) need apologise for the quality of his speech. There are parts of it which will repay study when the OFFICIAL REPORT appears tomorrow. It is one of the few speeches in this long debate which has gone into any depth into the extremely important questions of strategy and foreign policy.
The Motion before the House seeks approval for a principle and if it had stopped there no doubt on Thursday evening there would have sbeen a very big majority for it. However, it goes on to ask for approval of the terms negotiated by the Government, and that is a very different matter. As one who yields to no other Member in the intensity of his internationalist views and objectives, I feel bound to apply three tests to these terms—the economic, the constitutional and the international. On all of these I sincerely regret to say that the terms must fail.
Economically they include the acceptance of the grotesque contrivance of the 1554 Common Agricultural Policy which is bound not only to increase the cost of living markedly, bearing particularly hard on the lower paid and the weaker among us, but also to increase industrial costs and, one fears, to disrupt the Commonwealth. The terms put an increasing risk on our balance of payments and they involve an inescapable obligation being imposed on this country—the value-added tax, the most reactionary and anti-Socialist tax one could think of.
Moreover—and this is of crucial importance to us in Wales, as it is in Scotland and certain regions of England—the Treaty of Rome, particularly Articles 92 and 93, dedicated as it is to the free movement of capital, imposes restrictions on the ability of member Governments to do what they consider necessary to restore the prosperity of such areas. It is no good arguing that we can proceed to the Brussels bureaucrats for authorisation. We cannot afford to have placed between us in Wales and the central Government an external power which might veto this or that method of rehabilitating our country. This is the final condemnation of the terms. To put it simply, we in Wales cannot afford them.
§ Mr. McBride
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Commission, in defining financial aids to regional areas, approves of what are termed transparent aids, but the opaque or hidden aids which it alleges to be distortions to competition, although beneficial to an area such as Wales and although passed by the Government of this country, would be vetoed by the Commission? With unemployment reaching 50,000 in Wales by the end of this year in the opinion of the Welsh C.B.I., would not that be a most dangerous position?
§ Mr. Roberts
My hon. Friend is quite right. The effect of carrying out the policy embodied in the Treaty will be exactly as he has said.
Moreover, the Government, in stating that once we accept the terms we can negotiate ourselves out again, seem to be placing themselves in the position of Houndini, who deliberately shackled himself in order to show how easily he could free himself from the shackles. I hesitate to equate the Secretary of State for Wales with Houdini, whatever else I may find it necessary to say about him. 1555 Most of the restrictions will not be negotiable. The Government have accepted large sections of the Treaty, as they were bound to do, without negotiation, and the small residue which is negotiable will be at the mercy of the veto of any member country.
That brings me to the second of the three criteria which I have tried to apply to the terms—the question of responsible democratic control. There is confusion in the Government's thinking and advocacy on this point. First, they hold out vague aspirations of moving on to a responsible Parliamentary system on a European basis. In the next breath they vehemently deny that anything like a federal or even confederal system is envisaged. But unless the present set-up, which is almost entirely bureaucratic and non-responsible, is persisted in, they must move on to a democratic system—an elected Parliament. I should like to know exactly what the Government intend and what lead they will give Europe in this matter once we are in the Common Market.
All is vague aspiration for the future on that point. But the present reality is grim—a bureaucratic Commission which runs the show backed by the sanction of a supreme court on the American model. This could be a most terrible tyranny. There is a European Parliament, but in 12 or 14 years of activity it has not moved a millimetre, let along an honest British inch, towards responsible powers. It is a debating society. There is the Council of Ministers, but its function is the purely negative one of vetoing any new proposal. So far as I can see, it has no positive powers, and, even if it had, the substitution of a ministerial Council for a proper Parliamentary and democratic institution is not sufficient.
The abject position of the Council of Ministers is underlined by the way in which their own Governments can be hauled before the European Court for infringing restrictions on regional employment policies. Whatever the facts about the operation of various national employment policies—and no doubt all these countries have some sort of policy for their depressed areas—the Commission in Brussels sets the ceiling on what they can do. If they go through the ceiling, which, according to the reports, 1556 is low enough, they can be proceeded against in the European court.
I turn to the criterion of international co-operation in which I passionately believe and which I have tried to apply to the Government's terms. I hope that I do not speak polemically. The Secretary of State for Wales, like myself, served in the Foreign Office, and I am sure that, like me, he did his best to advance the cause of peace, security and disarmament. But we must ask whether the strategic and foreign policy implications of the Government's move have been thought out. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeenshire, West said enough to show that there are very grave gaps in the Government's thinking on this important matter. I believe that I agree entirely—and I will study his words carefully tomorrow—with his analysis of the strategic position which might arise if we were to go in on the Government's terms without very careful preparation.
I do not wish to be polemical about the point, but, because an Anglo-French nuclear deterrent appears to be part of the package, I must ask what is the likely effect of that on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, an initiative of the British Government, acceded to by 80 countries and an abrogation of national sovereignty which was well worthwhile. Will this be the signal for an international stampede of nations, each seeking its own nuclear deterrent?
Someone has said that the E.E.C. is not a matter of the price of a pound of ham—although that is important enough; it is also about strategic and foreign policy, and one of the indications that we have been given about the international implications is that there will be an Anglo-French nuclear deterrent. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster yesterday argued that Herr Brandt's attempts to secure détente in the East somehow derived from the existence of the E.E.C. Reasonably, I ask: is this so? Has the E.E.C. anything to do with it?
Many of us, if not most of us, regard with some reservation the long-term continuance of N.A.T.O. or of any similar regional military alliances, but the fact is that if Herr Brandt, if he is strengthened at all from the West in his Ostpolitik, it is because of N.A.T.O. rather than the E.E.C., and to argue that the E.E.C. 1557 somehow makes war impossible in Western Europe is to go away from the facts. The fact is that the kind of war that we endured in 1914 and in 1939 had been made technologically impossible in Western Europe long before the E.E.C., was thought of, and Britain, from outside the E.E.C., has by technical co-operation been able to contribute to this development.
I hope that I am wrong on this point, but I fear that on the international front a move into this kind of community, unless it is radically changed in posture, may at once exacerbate the East and estrange the West. We must not run any risk of breaking the bonds that exist between this country and North America if we are to succeed with the other leg of our foreign policy—namely the achievement of a lasting détente in the East—
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
But is it not one of the main features of this power pattern that the United States of America represent one of the groups that most want us to get into Europe? Surely they have made their assessment.
§ Mr. Roberts
This is most arguable. We recall what Senator Humphrey said as recently as June—and others may be quoted to illustrate the deepening reservation among our friends in America about what we propose to do. I put it no higher than that. As I say, I hope I am wrong about this but I feel it is my duty to give my view, for what it is worth, of what might happen unless we are extremely careful about how we go about foreign policy once we are in.
My final point has already been put by other hon. Members with great force. These terms are not acceptable to the British people. Almost every opinion poll, every constituency poll—including a most revealing poll in the Prime Minister's constituency of Bexley—has shown that the great majority of our people are against these terms. I do not believe that we in this House have a right to vote on Thursday on a question of this magnitude and irrevocability against the clear evidence that these terms are rejected by the British electorate.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
Like other hon. Members, I greatly enjoyed the rumbustious speech of my 1558 hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lt.-Col. Colin Mitchell). I, too, would prefer to die on my feet rather than on my knees, but politically I would prefer to live in peace for the rest of my days with my friends. His argument, as I understood it, was very much that of a valued constituent of mine who complained to me that he had fought on the Somme in the First World War and that his son had been badly wounded in the Second. From that he concluded that one could not trust the Germans—and he threw in the French for good measure—and that we certainly should not join the Common Market. What had escaped him was that if after the first blood bath magnanimity had prevailed, wisdom had seen the light and political leaders had devised a settlement along the lines of the European Community, the Second World War would not have taken place.
It has not been easy for me to come to my conclusion on this great matter because I have had, as many hon. Members know, a long attachment to the Commonwealth ideal. In the fifties as tutelage gave way to partnership at an ever-accelerating pace, I, like many of my hon. Friends on both sides, dreamt of the Commonwealth with a foot in every continent, spanning every ocean, embracing all sections of the human race, evolving to the point where it would provide a base for trade expansion, growing prosperity and increasing influence in the world.
It has not worked out like that. Important though the Commonwealth is—and I believe it still has enormous importance for us; the markets of the future, the sources of raw materials for the future lie there—it never has been and never could be a single economic bloc or power group speaking with one voice on the world stage. The interests of its members are far too divergent, and only the most naive would think otherwise. Nor is there any escape from the fact that our own trade with Europe as a whole is now twice as great as our trade with the Commonwealth. Indeed, last year, for the first time, our trade with the Economic Community alone was greater than that with the Commonwealth.
Until quite recently I had reservations—indeed, I still have some—about the 1559 possible effects of British entry upon the poorer Commonwealth countries, and I found the haggling that went on in the Brussels negotiations over butter and sugar particularly distasteful when one bears in mind that for the Six these commodities were purely of marginal importance but were vital to the Commonwealth countries concerned.
These doubts were largely removed as a result of the skilful negotiations carried out by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon). If the Chairman of the West Indies Sugar Association could write to The Times of 5th June accepting the undertakings given by my right hon. and learned Friend as "bankable assurances", and if the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand could emerge from the Luxembourg agreement on 23rd June saying:Any impartial person would agree that this is a major achievement and one which is very satisfactory to New Zealand.it is not for me to be more royalist than the king—
§ Mr. McBride
I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument, and I appreciate his courtesy in giving way to me, but is he aware that on the evening succeeding the publication of the terms relating to New Zealand, when the statement was read out in the Parliament building in Wellington the Prime Minister's remarks were, to quote The Guardian, "greeted with chilly silence"?
Neither the hon. Gentleman nor I, nor, I think, the editor of The Guardian, was then present in the Parliament building, but I have read what the New Zealand Prime Minister said approvingly on that occasion to his Parliament and I cannot add to it.
But in the end, whatever one's doubts and reservations, one has to decide. The choice in politics, as in life itself, is rarely between the obviously good and the palpably bad; one has to choose between two courses of action, two sets of risks, and to decide, as we in this House have been doing for the last few days, where the balance of advantage lies.
I am bound to say that in coming to my decision I have been influenced very much by the failure of the opponents of entry to suggest any viable alternative 1560 based on the realities of the world as it is and as it is likely to be in the decades ahead. In essence, it seems to me they argue that as in the past Britain has done well enough on her own, why should she be fearful of going it alone in the future. That is a good question, but it is based on the assumption the world does not change or that if it does it will not change to our disadvantage. Of course, as my hon. and gallant Friend has said, we are heirs of our past and have every right to be proud of it. But we cannot live in the past.
We are no longer living in a world where Britain is, or ever could be, the leading manufacturing and trading nation. It is sad but true that we cannot even deploy to the full our great technological potential because in a world of industrial giants our home market is too restricted. This is so true and has been said so many times that it should clinch the argument. This is not because we have grown inherently weaker, but because in a strictly relative sense other nations, with larger populations and vaster natural resources, have grown much stronger.
That is why I am not all that impressed by the loss of sovereignty argument. It seems to me that there are many misconceptions about the nature of sovereignty. If one takes a purely legalistic view, there are dozens of small States scattered round the world each with its own army, flag and national anthem, and a seat at the United Nations, who certainly possess full sovereign status. But their control over their economic destiny is minimal, their voice in world affairs nil.
What we should be concerned about in this debate is the question whether entry will give us power to protect and advance our essential interests. Is our power to do that strengthened by entry or not? What sovereignty means surely is having that practical ability to act autonomously. It is never absolute since limitations are placed upon it by existing agreements in regard to defence, trade and other matters. Since the war these limitations have grown to the point where national independence can be effectively guaranteed only by the acceptance, even by the greatest of Powers. of a high degree of interdependence. Looked at in that way, can there be any doubt that our sovereignty will be more impaired 1561 by our staying out than by our going in? I thought that the White Paper on that point at least was very clear.
What matters surely is that we should be strong enough to ensure that the age-old rivalries of our continental neighbours are brought to an end, but in a way which does not range them in hostility in the future against us. How can that be ensured by our staying out? What matters surely is getting out of a situation where the most important decisions of peace and war and trade—the very matters my hon. and gallant Friend is concerned about—are taken over our heads, and also over the heads of our European neighbours by the super-Powers—two of them now but increasing to five within the next decade. How can that be achieved if we reject the opportunity of being at one of the centres of world power?
What matters surely is that in a situation where two-thirds of mankind still live in conditions of deprivation and poverty and where the gap between them and the affluent West is widening with every year that passes, with all the dangers that this brings to world peace and stability, we are strong enough to make a really effective contribution to the conquest of world poverty. How can that be achieved by an economy operating on a narrow, and narrowing, base when already our aid contribution, expressed in terms of a proportion of gross national product, is less than that of most E.E.C. countries?
The right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) yesterday tried to show the House that we did not compare too unfavourably with the E.E.C. To support his argument he used figures based on percentage of G.N.P. On that basis alone France, Germany and Holland all had better performances last year than Britain. But what matters to developing countries is not the percentages but the total flow of resources. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman had been here because I wanted to put this point to him. He failed to mention that last year in official aid alone France contributed twice as much as Britain, and Germany substantially more.
Do not let us get inflated ideas about our contribution to the conquest of world poverty. President Nixon's 10 per cent. cut in foreign aid in effect deprives at a stroke many of the developing 1562 countries, which include many countries in the Commonwealth, of resources equivalent to two-thirds of the British official aid programme. This illustrates the importance of not talking airily about percentages as a yardstick of performance ante, but taking the actual volume of resources being made available. If one seeks to argue that trade is vastly more important than aid, we can scarcely claim that we shall be able, if we go it alone, substantially to influence the situation when we bear in mind that the Community's share of imports from developing countries has risen consistently since 1958 while ours has remained static.
Yesterday the right hon. Member for East Ham, North asserted that 26 per cent. of our imports came from developing countries whereas the E.E.C. takes only 20 per cent. from them. Here again what matters is the volume of trade. In absolute terms the E.E.C's total of imports from the developing countries—the countries where the fate of the world will be decided in the next 25 years—is now greater than the total of British and United States imports combined.
Those of us on both sides of the House who are concerned with the need for the rich nations to make a greater contribution to world development know that there are two major obstacles to the more rational use of aid. The first is the lack of co-ordination between bilateral programmes and between those programmes and multilateral programmes. The second is the persistent tying of aid which effectively reduces the value of such aid to recipient countries by about 25 per cent.
My conclusion is the exact opposite of that reached by the right hon. Gentleman; namely, that we are more likely to secure a more stable and rational strategy for development aid, and indeed for trade, if we join the Community rather than if we stay out. Moreover, we and our Continental neighbours—and this is not just an academic argument—have not got much time to make our arrangements. The reason is simple. It is that the world population will double in the next 25 to 30 years. Nothing short of a nuclear holocaust can reverse the process. But the greater part of that increase will take place not in Europe or in North America but in Asia, Latin America and Africa—precisely those areas of the world which are already in the grip of 1563 debilitating poverty where unemployment is widespread and on a scale that is completely unknown in the affluent West. It is here that the cold war is being waged and will be waged increasingly in the future. It is here that the fate of civilisation will ultimately be determined.
For me this is the clinching argument. I believe that an enlarged European community holds the key to the survival not merely of our own nation but of our continent and Western civilisation. With Britain inside and sharing in the Community's dynamism and contributing to its collective strength and prosperity, I believe that we can jointly make a massive contribution to solving peacefully the problems of world development.
For me the rejection of the European opportunity would be unforgivable, not merely for our generation but for those yet to come. For a nation that has always had a high sense of endeavour, has never feared to move out into the wider world, has never hesitated to lead and accept responsibility now to turn inward on itself would be more than a disappointment, more than political abdication. It would be a form of slow but inevitable suicide.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Ifor Davies (Gower)
The House is well aware of the concern of the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) for the Commonwealth and will appreciate, therefore, the sincerity with which he has spoken. Indeed, this debate will be memorable not only for the subject matter but also for the conviction and sincerity with which hon. Members have addressed the House. It is in that spirit that I propose to address the House.
I am sure that there is complete unity in the House on one matter at least—the far-reaching importance to the British people of the issue at present before us.
Before coming to specific Welsh matters and regional policy, perhaps I might say that, throughout my life, especially in the past 12 years since first becoming a Member of this House, I have been second to none in my loyalty to the party represented on these benches. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), on no single occasion have I failed to respect a three-line, two- 1564 line or any other Whip in the Division Lobbies. Therefore, I deeply deplore and resent any attempt, inside or outside this House, to question my loyalty to a principle accepted in recent years by all political parties which, in my view, should never have been made a party political issue on this occasion.
The Motion refers to the principle of entry based upon certain arrangements. But in the country generally the debate is not looked upon as an issue about terms. It is regarded as a debate between those who are pro-Europe and those who are anti-Europe. In my view, that is a great tragedy. Whether we like it or not, we are all Europeans and cannot escape from that fact.
The real issue is whether we should become more closely identified with Europe both from the point of view of our economic well-being and in the interests of greater international understanding, or whether we should remain apart.
As regards our economic well-being, I recognise readily that there are wide differences of opinion throughout the country about the advantages and disadvantages of entering. They exist among people in all walks of life and of all shades of political opinion. Even the economic experts are divided sharply, as we noticed last week in the correspondence columns of The Times.
In that connection, I remind the House that in May, 1967, when the case tot membership of the European Communities was put before us in Command 3269 the then Labour Government said:On the economic arguments each hon. Member will make his own judgment of the effect on exports and imports, on industrial productivity and investment. Equally, every hon. Member must make his own assessment of the economic consequences of not going into the Community and, in an age of wider economic groupings, of seeking to achieve and maintain viability outside.The White Paper then reminded us of the long-term potential for Europe and therefore for Britain of the creation of a single market of approaching 300 million people with all the scope and incentive which this will provide for British industry, and of the enormous possibilities which an integrated strategy for technology on a truly continental scale can create.
1565 There was one paragraph in the White Paper which was of special significance to me. It said:But whatever the economic arguments, … the Government's purpose derives above all from our recognition that Europe is now faced with the opportunity of a great move forward in political unity and that we can—and indeed we must—play our full part in it.I was not ashamed to vote with the Labour Government in 1967 in full support of that principle, and with conviction. I am not ashamed, either, to say tonight that I shall vote again this week for the same principle and with the same conviction.
The 1967 White Paper referred to a strategy for technology on a continental scale. In fact, the technological revolution has brought new problems in its train. In the most important and basic areas of modern technology, be it computers, electronics, telecommunications, defence equipment, or nuclear power, research and development costs are fast reaching a level which is beyond our means, unless the home market for our products is enlarged considerably and development costs are shared with others. The same is true of many of the more traditional industries, such as aviation, motor cars and machine tools.
If these industries are to survive and remain under European control, design, production and marketing techniques must be developed on a continental scale. This requires the development of an effective political infrastructure of similar geographical dimension. The price that we shall pay for failure is that American industrial giants increasingly will control or displace our own industries. This could lead to major decisions about our economic development being taken out of our hands, in any case.
While I respect the opinions of those who take a different view, it is my conviction and judgment that the balance of economic advantage points in favour of Britain's entry. I emphasise one outstanding fact. It is that, if the six Common Market countries, not dissimilar from ourselves in many respects, could increase their rate of growth so rapidly, there is no valid reason why Britain within the E.E.C. could not achieve similar results.
I say "Britain" deliberately because, although we are paying special attention 1566 to Wales today, it has always been my view that the best way to help Wales and all the other regions is to ensure greater growth in the economy of Britain as a whole. It is an inescapable fact that the Welsh economy is deeply and extensively involved in the overall British economy. The well-being of Wales and all the regions depends to a great extent on the strength and economic vigour of Britain as a whole.
I realise that at some time or other most hon. Members have had reservations. We heard that note struck by the hon. Member for Essex, South-East. In my own case, I was concerned about regional policy. In fact, more concern has been voiced in Wales about the effect of entry on regional policy than about any other issue.
A large part of my constituency is designated a development area. I should be the last person to support entry into the E.E.C. if I thought that it would have a detrimental effect upon the development areas. I have been far too involved in their development to see any damage done to them. On the contrary, after all the personal inquiries that I have carried out at home and abroad, I see no reason to fear that entry into the E.E.C. will prevent active regional policies being continued in this country, to the benefit of my constituents.
Much has been said about the lack of clarity in the Treaty of Rome about regional policy. There has been criticism that the Treaty does not deal specifically and exclusively with the subject. On the other hand, the Preamble to the Treaty affirms, as the essential objective of the members of the Community, the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples. It emphasises the anxiety of member countries to strengthen the unity of their economies by ensuring their harmonious development and by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less-favoured regions. Article 92 deals with State aids, including help for the development of regions with severe unemployment and the promotion of economic development.
The real test of regional policy is not how effective it is in print but how effective it is in practice. In that context, I commend the view on the Treaty of Rome 1567 expressed by my right hon. Friend the then Prime Minister in November, 1966:In judging a written constitution, it is more important to examine the way in which it works and operates when it becomes a living constitution—to examine the practices which have grown up under it and the manner in which those who have to operate it do operate it, to examine the common law, as it were, rather than the statute law—than to be obsessed by perhaps literal interpretations of the original constitution."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1966; Vol. 736, c. 762.]In the spirit of that classical definition, which I greatly applaud, any examination of the way in which the Treaty works will reveal that many of the regional support measures in operation in the E.E.C. are similar to those in this country, including loans, depreciation allowances, and investment grants, too, which the Government have unfortunately withdrawn. Interest rebates are normal in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany, tax reliefs in Belgium, France and Germany, and transport costs reliefs in Italy and Germany. Also, there is control of industrial building similar to our own I.D.C. policy. In Italy there is a relief on employers' social insurance contributions which, in effect, is not unlike R.E.P. in that it is in the nature of a labour subsidy.
Furthermore, all the member countries lay particular stress on the need for infrastructure development. In this connection it is important to note that the Welsh Council, as quoted on page 5 of its excellent report,sought and received an assurance from the Commission of the E.E.C. that the U.K. infrastructure modernisation programme, which is of such importance to regional development, would not suffer interference by the Commission. This is clearly, in the Commission's view, a matter of national policy and to be supported as a necessary means of dealing with regional imbalance.There is further confirmation of this attitude in a speech delivered in Bristol on 17th September by Albert Borschette, the Member of the European Commission with special responsibility for regional policy, when he said:We are as aware as you are in Britain that certain urban and industrial areas have as grave regional problems as certain rural and agricultural areas.We know, too, that each region is a special case often requiring special treatment. We also know that it is primarily for national 1568 Governments to produce the ideas for dealing with these special problems.During a recent visit to Bonn with some of my hon. Friends, we had a long and detailed discussion on regional policy with Dr. Everling, Director of the European Department. Some of my hon. Friends are present. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. William Hannan) was present at this meeting. It was a remarkably frank and indeed, memorable meeting, and the verbal assurances given to us were later followed by confirmation in writing. I quote from Dr. Everling's statement:… in the field of regional policy all member States have similar concerns as Great Britain. All of them are applying measures of promotion … there appears to be no doubt that important regions, especially in Scotland"—and Wales—will enjoy an exceptional position. … But also other regions in need of promotion … will continue to be eligible for regional promotion measures.In the light of these statements and the mounting evidence which is available, it is clear to me that the importance of regional policies is fully recognised by the Community as a whole. This is reflected in the particular regional policies which have been adopted by individual member States.
Regarding the effect of entry on Wales, and Government administration in particular, I accept that the Principality is an integral part of the United Kingdom economy, and, consequently, there can be no question of Wales' interests being carried on outside the Government machinery. It is clear, however, that additional responsibility will inevitably fall upon the Welsh Office. I am glad to see the Secretary of State for Wales in his place, because I want to urge him to ensure that adequate staff resources will be made available to meet the new burdens.
I hope that the Secretary of State will also be able to give an assurance, when he replies, that membership of the United Kingdom delegations and other S Community institutions will include men and women who possess a thorough knowledge of Welsh problems and an understanding of Welsh interests.
I conclude with the realisation that the European Community does not offer 1569 a magic wand with guaranteed solutions to all our problems. But it offers a path along which solutions can be found, together with international co-operation and understanding, giving new hope for world peace. It also reaffirms an old truism—that the interdependence of nations is such that no peoples can live to themselves and no nation can separate its national life from the rest of the world.
That is why I support entry. That is why my trade union—the Clerical and Administrative Workers Union—supports entry. That is why I believe that the British people are capable of playing a great part in strengthening it for the benefit of mankind.
My vote, therefore, will be a vote to ensure our entry to Europe. It will not be a vote for the Government. Legislation will be an entirely different matter as far as I am concerned. It is the Government's responsibility to manage their own affairs. I look forward with confidence to an early return to office of my right hon. and hon. Friends to complete all the arrangements of entry.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley R. McMaster (Belfast, East)
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Ifor Davies). I congratulate you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on taking first a speech from the Opposition in favour of entry and then a speech from this side which takes a more critical attitude.
I followed with interest the hon. Gentleman's point on whipping. I am particularly pleased that my own Leader announced that we were to have a free vote on this issue. There has been too much sophistication in the Press on this issue. Of all issues in this House, certainly in the short time that I have been here, a Member finally votes according to his conscience. Therefore, it is of little relevance whether there is a one, two, or three-line Whip. The only relevance of a two-line Whip is that hon. Members can pair for absence; on a three-line Whip they cannot pair. But how a Member cares to vote depends entirely on his conscience. In a matter such as this it is obvious that there is to be no pairing. We shall all be here and we shall vote as we always do, whether we have a one, 1570 two or three-line Whip—namely, according to our consciences.
Like the hon. Member for Gower, I represent an area which has a high unemployment problem. Therefore, I approach this issue with a more critical look than perhaps he did.
I am extremely concerned about the effect of acceding to the Treaty of Rome, because it means, if we do join the Common Market, that our entire pattern of trade will change. We will look for growth in trade with the Common Market countries as opposed to the traditional markets in the Commonwealth and elsewhere in the world.
Hon. Members have stressed that Britain will be able to continue to trade with the rest of the world; that the external tariff of the E.E.C. is in some cases lower than our own external tariff. But that is the external tariff for manufactured goods and not agricultural produce. If we are to get most of our agricultural produce from the Common Market, or produce these foods for ourselves, then, whether or not we wish to trade with the rest of the world, they will not have the necessary resources, that is to say, they will not earn their income by selling their food to us, to enable them to go on producing our needs. We must, therefore, look to some reduction in our trade with the rest of the world.
We have to balance against that reduction in the natural outlet for our goods the prospect of increasing our trade with Europe. I remind the House that the Common Market is already well supplied with consumer goods—durables and semi-durables—which, by joining the Treaty of Rome, we hope to be able to sell there.
On the other side of the balance sheet, we shall have to pay a great deal more for our food. In addition to paying more for our food, we shall have to make a substantial contribution to the Common Market. The White Paper estimates the figure at about £200 million, but it is variously thought to exceed that figure. In fact, a sum of £450 million has been mentioned in one authoritative study, and the assessment of the Labour Party, when it was in Government, was that it might go up to £1,100 million. In other words, the profit that we have to earn from 1571 entering the Common Market has to be very considerable in order to cover not only the cost of our membership, but the extra price that we shall have to pay for our food.
I am worried about the situation. I dispute the facts in the White Paper on which the argument for entry is based. The White Paper says, in paragraph 43, that the additional cost of food importsseems unlikely to amount to more than about £5 million in the first year, and £50 million a year by the end of the transitional period.It goes on to say that that will represent a 2½ per cent. per annum rise in the cost of food, and then concludes:The influence on wage movements of the increase in the cost of living is not expected to have any significant effect on the costs of industry nor, therefore, on our balance of trade.That was written against the background of rising international food prices but, as we know now, food prices are falling. There has been a bumper harvest of grain.
In addition, the argument is based on a comparison between the new agricultural support costs, the Government's new agricultural policy, and existing world food prices. I ask the House whether that is fair. Would we, as a country which imports most of its food, have changed our agricultural support policy if we were not going into the Common Market? I suggest that the true figure for comparison is not the present price under our new agricultural policy, but what the figure would have been if we had continued to sell food in Britain at world prices. Therefore to that extent I question the conclusions set out in paragraph 43 of the White Paper.
I am particularly concerned about the effect on pensioners, people living on low fixed incomes, and those who are paid low wages or are unemployed. The Government have promised that there will be an increase in social security payments to help pensioners, but many people live partly on interest from their savings and partly on their old-age pension. They will be particularly hard hit. Inflation will be rapid if we enter the Common Market, there is no doubt about that. In fact, the estimate given in the White Paper has already been disproved by the rapid rise in the last 12 months. People 1572 living on their savings will find those savings completely eroded, and there is no machinery of which I am aware to make up the difference to them.
As a Member for Northern Ireland I am concerned, too, about the effect on the average person in Ulster. On average families in Northern Ireland tend to be larger and wages lower than in the rest of the United Kingdom. I am not convinced that adequate arrangements will be made by the Government when we join the Common Market to make up for the increase in the cost of living as it will affect people in Northern Ireland who will be hit very hard, indeed.
It is all very well to say, as the White Paper does, that an increase of 2½ per cent. in the £ per annum amounts to an increase of only ½p. in the £ per person in the cost of living. That is averaged down by dividing by five. In the average household food is a small part of the annual budget, but to people living on a low fixed income it represents a very much bigger item. They will suffer an increase, not of ½p in the £, but something nearer 2½p, if the figure in the White Paper is correct, and I have already said that I beg leave to doubt that.
I am concerned, too, about the provisions relating to the safeguarding of employment in Northern Ireland. The White Paper deals very briefly with this subject. It says that there is to be a special arrangement for Northern Ireland, but it will last for only five years and then the matter is to be considered again by the Commission. I regard that as totally inadequate to deal with the situation in Northern Ireland and, indeed, in other development areas. Unless one is very starry-eyed in approaching the problem, I cannot see that there will be a significant reduction in unemployment in Scotland, Wales, the North-East or Northern Ireland in the short period of five years. We have been fighting this problem ever since the end of the war, and we have not yet beaten it. What solutions are we likely to find in the next five years?
I am particularly concerned, not because I am expecting a great movement of labour from the South of Italy to Northern Ireland, but because I know that Eire is also applying to join the Common Market. The White Paper says that there has been little movement of 1573 labour, but there is no comparative situation in the Common Market as it exists today, there is nothing which compares with the situation that will exist between North and South Ireland if both of us join the Common Market.
We in Northern Ireland have worked hard to produce new industries and new work for our people. Our average wage rate is higher than that enjoyed in Southern Ireland. Our social security benefits are very much better than those enjoyed by people living in Southern Ireland, and I foresee the trend of people from Southern Ireland moving into the North. They will be within an hour or two's drive, or maybe even less, from their homes if they want to return there at the weekend. The situation will be very different there from that which exists for the movement of labour from, say, Southern Italy to Germany. There will be a great tendency for people from Southern Ireland to come to Northern Ireland to take the better jobs there, knowing that if they lose their jobs they will enjoy better social security payments.
I should like a provision written into the Treaty of Rome to cover that situation. There are already 29 protocols to the Treaty of Rome. Of the original protocols, I see that Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6 deal with matters such as Germany's internal trade, and provisions affecting France, Italy, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. All those protocols were added to the Treaty of Rome to deal with special problems such as those which we are considering today. They were added to deal with the difficulties raised by special tax measures imposed in France to assist certain of her exports. They were added to enable Italy to assist those parts of the country which suffered from high unemployment.
I should like to know why the Government have not asked for such a protocol to cover high unemployment areas in the United Kingdom. Eire has asked for a protocol and has got it. She cannot hope to be a member of the importance and significance of Great Britain. If Great Britain is to be the partner that is promised by my own Front Bench, then in return for the substantial contribution which she will make, especially to agriculture, surely we can have such a protocol.
1574 Nor am I satisfied with the provisions relating to regional policy. The Treaty of Rome is quite clear on the subject in Articles 92 and 93, providing that any such provisions should be referred to the Commission, which shall have the last word. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) developed this point in a very good and forceful speech, mentioning particularly the example of Trieste. I am worried about the implications of that myself, particularly in Northern Ireland.
We must pursue a vigorous regional policy. The hon. Member for Gower said that we must not only build up the infrastructure of the development areas but also pursue a policy of investment allowances or capital grants, two devices which we have used, or special tax allowances, which we have not used but which would encourage industry to set up in Northern Ireland.
If each of these provisions has to be examined by the Commission and if it decides that Belfast, let us say, has reasonably severe unemployment compared with Northern Ireland as a whole, it might say, on a par with Trieste, that Belfast should be allowed to enjoy the benefits of this policy. But one cannot divide: we should treat Ulster as a whole. So the provisions of the Treaty of Rome could be to the detriment of my constituency, and I should like another protocol to deal with special regions like this, to recognise that they exist and will require special consideration.
I say this all the more forcefully because I represent part of a Province which is to the United Kingdom very much what the United Kingdom itself will be to the Common Market. We are an area remote from the market. Northern Ireland has suffered from this. I would not like to see the United Kingdom suffering in the same way. But whether or not the United Kingdom as a whole becomes simply an offshore island, a poor neighbour of the Common Market as Northern Ireland is of the United Kingdom, I am convinced that Northern Ireland, because she is so far removed from the centre of trade in Europe, is likely to suffer a disadvantage from our entry.
We in Northern Ireland, and to a lesser extent those industries in Scotland and 1575 Wales, will certainly feel the effect. So far as industry does benefit from our entry, it is more likely to be industry in the South-East or the Midlands. What factory will set up in a remote area with high transport costs, like Northern Ireland, without a special inducement? Therefore, the regional policy and the agreement so far negotiated is not adequate. I am not satisfied either about I.D.Cs. and I should like all this properly covered.
Unlike many hon. Members, I have not taken a fixed position or decided yet how I shall vote. I should like my Front Bench to listen carefully to what I have said. I can see advantages and disadvantages. I should like them to deal with the points that I have raised; when I have heard the final speeches today and on Thursday, I shall make up my mind.
But I will not be prepared to support the Government in the Division Lobby unless I can get adequate assurances that, if we enter, the Government will negotiate for a protocol—in other words, that they will have an amendment to the Treaty of Rome, setting out fairly and squarely their intention to protect areas of high unemployment from the free movement of labour provisions and also to preserve the regional policy programme of this Government either as it is or as it might develop if we join.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)
I trust that any hon. Member who feels inclined to interrupt me will not consider me discourteous if I do not give way, because I have promised to speak for the shortest possible time.
We are being asked to vote to place on Great Britain's shoulders a burden much heavier than she can ever bear—the enormous costs of the financial contribution to the Common Agricultural Fund, dearer food imports, higher labour costs and loss of preference in the Commonwealth and E.F.T.A., with the resulting adverse effect on our balance of payments.
Food prices, with the levy which we have to put on, will result in a 25 per cent. increase in food prices. My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) said 50 per cent., but perhaps he is a little pessimistic. How- 1576 ever, the money will go to the Common Market, and we shall put much more in than we get out. Let me briefly explain why.
The E.E.C. budget is financed partly by levies on food imports. Great Britain is the biggest importer of foodstuffs in the world. About half her foodstuffs are imported. The Common Market is self-sufficient and has surpluses. So we would pay while the Common Market countries would not. The E.E.C. budget is also financed partly by the yield on customs duties and manufactured goods from outside the E.E.C. We do a far larger share of our trade outside the Common Market than the E.E.C. countries do, so we should pay more in customs duties than they would.
What about the other side of the coin? What do we get for it? Almost all the budget of the E.E.C. is spent on subsidising the food surpluses which the Common Market countries have. They export food and subsidise it to enable it to be sold at dumped prices. We have hardly any food surpluses so we will take much less from the Common Agricultural Fund than the others. As a result, a disproportionate share of the cost of the E.E.C. budget will be borne by Great Britain.
Second, there is the curse of V.A.T., imposed on all necessities of life. It is non-selective. It must include food, which will probably mean 7 per cent. on top of the price rise caused by the agricultural policy. I need not stress the terrible effect of all the foregoing on old-age pensioners and those on low incomes.
As for the balance of payments, of course we will gain about £300 million a year in increased exports to the E.E.C. At the moment, the tariffs are down to 7½ per cent., but this is at present tariff rates and we will gain that. But this amount—£300 million—is precisely what we will lose by the loss of preferences in E.F.T.A. and the Commonwealth. Furthermore, our exports to the outside world will be reduced. It has been calculated that the total loss in our balance of payments will be £650 million after having allowed for the gain in exports to E.E.C. countries.
Our invisible earnings will also suffer. Some 68 per cent. of our earnings come from the sterling area, E.F.T.A. and North America, and only 14 per cent. 1577 from the Common Market. Again, we shall not be able to alleviate unemployment or pursue a good regional policy; we shall be a depressed area. To add to our balance of payments problem, there is to be no control on the export of capital. Certain people ask, what is the viable alternative? The hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) asked that tonight. My answer to him is that the alternative to committing suicide is not to commit suicide.
Britain is not "going it alone". She is doing quite well outside the Common Market. Her exports to the Common Market have done better than when the nations of the E.E.C. were independent nations. Only 20 per cent. of our trade is with the Common Market countries and 80 per cent. goes to others. Our trade with the preference area has doubled in the last 10 years and our exports have trebled. I might here quote the report of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research which reads as follows:It is hard to see anything which suggests that the United Kingdom's performance will improve more rapidly inside than outside the Community.Right hon. and hon. Members opposite will not take note of what I say to my hon. Friends on this side of the House, but it is that Socialism is incompatible with the Treaty of Rome. With the exception of agriculture, competition is encouraged in every way and anything which is incompatible with competition will go by the board.
On 29th July the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Woodnutt) was reported in The Times as saying that:Left-wingers were against Britain's entry into the Common Market "because they know it will kill socialism for ever in this country.The safeguarding of our Commonwealth interests is to be abandoned. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy has said that New Zealand is satisfied with the arrangements. I ask him whether he has ever been in a divorce court, not as a party but as a spectator. If he has he would know that on many occasions the judge says, "I am not satisfied with the arrangements for the children but I certify that they are the best possible in the circumstances"—a grudging admission. That is precisely what Mr. Marshall said, not 1578 about children but about the arrangements in the Common market—the best possible in the circumstances. Countries like New Zealand fought for us in two world wars and rationed themselves to provide food for Great Britain, and now they are apparently to be thrown to the winds.
What about the sugar-producing countries? The real arrangements will be made after 1974, when Britain has joined. What a way to manage one's affairs—joint first and negotiate afterwards. I feel sure that the Common Market countries will be more concerned with their own sugar beet growers than with the sugar-producing countries of the Commonwealth. The E.E.C. sugar price at present is £78 per ton. The Commonwealth price is only £48 and the Australian price is only £44. That will be another lovely increase for the housewives.
What about our fishermen if we join the E.E.C.? We have 12,000 inshore fishermen in England and Wales and 8,000 in Scotland. One hundred thousand people depend on this branch of the fishing industry. The E.E.C. fishermen do not practice conservation—we do. The result is that our waters are full of fish and the E.E.C. water are depleted. It is no wonder that they cast envious eyes and want to abolish the 12-mile limit.
Despite all this, there is one most important point which has been belaboured ceaselessly by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), and was touched on by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) yesterday. The E.E.C. Commission has said lately that it will offer those E.F.T.A. countries which are not candidates for E.E.C. membership free trade in industrial products. So the E.F.T.A. countries will get it without joining the E.E.C. Great Britain is an E.F.T.A. country. Why should we not do the same, also getting it without joining the E.E.C.? France and Germany want us in. Our joining will benefit them. They have said so. Why, therefore, should we pay hundreds of millions of £s to join?
Regarding the political situation, the Treaty of Rome is a straitjacket. The Commission will govern. It is a thoroughly undemocratic body but it will 1579 govern. It can override national Governments and legislate directly without consulting them. We would have no power to amend or reverse a law, and hundreds of our laws would have to be altered to conform with the E.E.C. We would have no foreign policy. Many people say that this is all right and that we could go in and give a lead, changing it all from inside. But how do we expect a new boy in a club of six, or even of 10, to come in and make all the rules and change it all from inside? He will not be allowed to do so. This pushes insular complacency to the extreme.
Not so very long ago a leading English newspaper had the following headlines: "Fierce Gales in the Channel—Continent Isolated". This is the kind of insular complacency I mean. These people are not little Englanders; they are big Englanders, big heads. They think that they can change everything from inside. They will be sadly disappointed.
If this were an association such as the U.N., E.F.T.A., or O.E.C.D., one might say, "Let us enter and give it a try". But once we are in the Common Market there is no getting out; we are in for good, tied to the E.E.C. laws. That should be remembered by all right hon. and hon. Members.
Despite all the disadvantages I have mentioned, if the people of Britain want this they must be allowed to go to hell their own way. But they must say so; they must make the decision. This is the gravest and most vital issue that Great Britain has ever had to face, much more vital even than, for example, the Parliament Act, of 1911, if for no other reason than that, first, it involves the abdication of Parliament as we now know it and, secondly, it is irrevocable.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister recognised this when he stated—and I agree with him—that it would be unthinkable for Great Britain to join the Common Market unless her entry had the full-hearted support of the British people. I call on him now to honour that pledge and let the British people make that decision. If he goes back on his word, he will be betraying both his pledge and the people who put him into power. At present he has no mandate whatever, the Government have no mandate and no 1580 right hon. or hon. Member has any mandate either for or against the Common Market. At present there is no authority from the people, and the Prime Minister has no more authority to sign the Treaty of Rome than he has, for example, to sign a treaty with the Prime Minister of South Africa to establish apartheid and enforce it in Britain. He has no authority, and if he signed the Treaty of Rome without such authority, I maintain that such a signature would be of no effect whatever.
I call upon my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—I hope that he will read my speech—to state publicly now and to make clear to the E.E.C. countries that if the Prime Minister signs the Treaty of Rome without the people's authority he, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, will consider such a signature null and void and will act accordingly when he is returned to power at the head of a Labour Government. It will not be a question of taking Britain out, which many people talk about, because Britain will not be properly in. The signature will be without authority.
§ Mr. Peter Rees (Dover)
Is this an assertion of international law that the hon. Gentleman is making or a piece of rhetoric?
§ Mr. Tuck
It is neither. It is based on principle. If the signature is given without any authority from the country, that signature will be null and void. If my right hon. Friend does what I suggest, it may cause the Common Market countries to have second thoughts. They may think, "We do not want Great Britain purportedly in the Common Market now and out again in one, two or three years. We will wait till the people have given their decision." In this way the British people might be allowed to decide their own destiny, as, in a democracy, they inevitably must.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards (Pembroke)
I hope that the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) will forgive me if I do not follow him down all the breathless paths he took. I will merely say that I would enjoy the spectacle of the present Leader of the Opposition attempting the feat of leadership and control that has just been demanded of him.
1581 We have reached the point when there are unlikely to be many conversions. Either we believe or we do not. I say at the outset that I do. After discounting the theories of the economists—even before their performance in The Times last week I confess to having had some scepticism about the theories of most of them—and having given due weight to the views of business men, who may be fallible, for me it is perhaps the experience of the last decade that has tipped the scales in the economic arguments.
It is said, on the one hand, that the other countries outside the E.E.C. have done as well or better and, on the other, that the consequences would be different here.
On the first point, it is not surprising that it is possible to find other countries or groups that have done well and have responded to their own problems and made best use of their own peculiar characteristics. However, it is a rash conclusion that the performances of Japan on one side of the world—twice our size and with very different social conditions—or Sweden, on the other, with a population of 8 million and with the bulk of its export trade directed to the Nordic and E.F.T.A. countries, necessarily provide a good guide to our own course of action.
The impressive thing about the E.E.C., where so many of our own characteristics and problems are duplicated, is not just the high level to which the rate of growth has climbed, but the manner in which it has been sustained over a long period. In the increasingly competitive world of the 1970s the E.E.C., where massive population is linked to proved performance, is on balance a better base for the re-creation of our own prosperity.
On the second point, the consequences here might be quite different, but I am impressed by two things. First, many people engaged in trade and industry do not believe that they will. Second, all the doubts, fears and criticisms that we hear today in Britain have been voiced before in Europe and proved to be unfounded. The great majority of British industrialists, together responsible for a huge preponderance of our export trade, believe in the benefits of entry and are supported by the heads of the coal and steel industries and those responsible for our invisible exports.
1582 For a country totally dependent on trade to ignore the judgment so clearly stated of those who have to produce that trade would be the height of folly.
Every argument we hear today in Britain from the anti-Marketeers was advanced a decade ago in Europe. Germany was to be brought down by the intolerable burden of supporting French agriculture. No country has been stronger. France was to be prevented by rigid Community rules from restructuring her industry or changing her exchange rates. She has done both.
Italy was to be unable to compete with the efficient Germans in the production of manufactured goods such as refrigerators, and the impoverished South would be forgotten. Today, Italy makes refrigerators for the rest of Europe, and the South is on the way to transformation. So I could go on.
It was the same story, not just with the different countries of Europe, but with their regions, with their own special fears. The fears about the regions have been effectively dealt with by a number of hon. Members, including the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) and the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Ifor Davies).
The Chairman of the Welsh Council reported after discussions with Common Market officials in an article in the Western Mail on 19th October:Again and again European experts assured me that the fears expressed in Wales today about E.E.C. entry were very similar to fears experienced within the Six in its early days.Since then, in the opinion of people I talked to, the Community has proved positive and beneficial. I believe that this will be equally true for Wales, Scotland and the other development areas of the United Kingdom.The explanation is that the critics then, like the critics now, regard the Community and the treaty which gave it birth as something rigid, fixed, inflexible. The hon. Member for Watford described it as a straitjacket. The truth is that it is a living, developing body, changing to meet the needs of its member States, conscious that failure to adapt means the inevitable destruction of any human institution. It is because it has shown that it recognises this that I look with confidence to the time when its chief energies and the bulk of its funds will be directed not to assisting the declining 1583 agricultural population but to solving the problems of the regions and reviving areas of industrial impoverishment. Our influence at this critical time could have an immense importance in seeing that this is so.
But if we for a moment accept the worst forebodings of those who do not believe that, if at the end of a decade or so we were contributing some 30 per cent. of the budget and getting some 6 per cent. back, surely, the argument of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) yesterday could be reversed. He said that the Common Agricultural Policy came into being because one country, believing it to be absolutely essential, could threaten to break up the whole Community and blackmail, so to speak, the other members into acceptance.
If our position were so critical that our economic future was in grave jeopardy, we should insist in exactly the same way on a change in that policy. In any case, the agricultural policy was designed to cope with a changing problem. Between 1958 and 1969 the proportion of those employed on the land fell from about 22 per cent. to about 14 per cent. By the time we are full members it will be well under 10 per cent., and we can look forward to the time when the proportion will be not much higher than our own.
Clearly, a policy that depends on a variable levy on imports can hardly work if the Community becomes self-sufficient in most temperate products, as is likely before the end of the decade. The needs of the Community are changing, and it is inconceivable, even if we ignore the influence of the new members, that it will continue to devote over 90 per cent. of Community resources to agriculture. Recent statements by members of the Commission—one was quoted by the hon. Member for Gower—clearly indicate that its efforts will be increasingly directed to the solution of regional problems. Wild claims of anti-Marketeers that we shall be unable to pursue a regional policy are firmly refuted by the available evidence, as has been shown in convincing detail in the unanimous Report of the Welsh Council.
Fears have been expressed about the industrial development certificate system. 1584 But the Governments of the Six have always regarded the control of industrial location as a matter for individual countries. As the Chairman of the Welsh Council, reported in the Western Mail article I have already quoted, said:Far from planning to oppose the United Kingdom system of industrial development certificate controls on industrial location, one of the Commissioners of the E.E.C. told me that they were expecting to bring forward proposals of their own for wider adoption by national Governments of negative controls.The only anxiety in this area that I understand was advanced by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), when he said that the policy could not operate in the wider context of the E.E.C. because firms refused permission to expand here would do so in Europe. Many of the larger companies have been using that kind of threat for years, and, no doubt, there will be some companies which will set up in Europe, as they have done in the past; but the removal of tariff barriers takes away a prime incentive, while the problems of labour shortage—labour is probably the key factor in an industrialist's decision—language, law and custom seem to me to provide formidable obstacles to any company choosing that course of action. Moreover, any losses in this direction are likely to be more than offset by the arrival here of overseas investment and capital, attracted by the availability of labour, our industrial incentives, and, in the case of American companies, familiarity with our way of life.
What we may reasonably hope, therefore, is that, with us inside, Europe will move forward and create a system of Community aid for the regions which will be superimposed on our own national system.
I believe that, far from facing decline on the periphery, Wales will be well placed to benefit, with its sound nucleus of mixed industry, its modern steel plants, its rapidly improving communications and its excellent ports. I am delighted to find that that optimistic view is shared by the Welsh Council in its unanimous Report.
If the economic experience gives me encouragement, it is the political cooperation of old enemies which inspires. We have short memories, but it was the desperate need to abolish forever the tensions of the old Europe, tensions which 1585 destroyed two generations, which was the prime aim of the founding fathers. The fact that we now tend to forget it is a measure of their success. As one great historian wrote after the war,The restoration of Europe is a task which no political party and no single State is capable of achieving. Nevertheless, it is a question of life and death for every man and woman in Europe.That remains as true today as it was then.
We have to find what we have in common, net what divides us. If we take, as we rightfully may, pride in our own country, we must, surely, recognise the damage done by a narrow nationalism, and that our roots, our language, our art and architecture, or political institutions, our strange mixture of races, even our mode of thought, all stem from a common European culture.
It is a worthy aim to seek to bring people together. It is a worthy aim to cast out old prejudices, prejudices such as those which the French and the Germans, who suffered more than we, have overcome, so that a whole generation growing up hardly recognises them. It is a not ignoble aim to seek to develop Britain in order to reinforce Europe.
It is these great objectives, perhaps the greatest that modern political man in Europe has striven for, which have to be set against the natural fears and anxieties of the British people. There are those who favour entry and there are those against, but it is my impression that the majority are anxious, uncertain, unwilling to make up their minds, or, making them up, choose the womb they know rather than the dangerous world outside.
There are hon. Members—I greatly respect their view—who believe that it is their sole duty to reflect these anxieties. But I believe that government based on doubt and fear is bound to lead to disaster. The British people look to their representatives to consider carefully and then to do, with courage and with consistency, what they believe to be right. I could not forgive myself, and I do not believe that the next generation—my young children or their children—would forgive us, if we were, through lack of nerve, to miss this opportunity, if we were to put aside this chance to mould 1586 the future and stumble along, blind to the realities of the present and the prospects for a better world. That is why on Thursday night I shall cast my vote for entry.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Barnes (Brentford and Chiswick)
As several hon. Members have said in the debate, there is very little which is new which can be said at this stage in the so-called great debate which has reached the House of Commons, and I certainly do not wish to detain the House for very long. This debate is of interest not so much because of the nature of the arguments being put forward on either side, for I think we all know and are all familiar with the arguments by now, but rather because of which of the arguments appear to be uppermost in lion. Members' minds as they indicate how they will vote on Thursday.
My own belief is that this issue of entry into the Common Market is genuinely a non-party issue. What we are talking about is the rôle for Britain at this point in our history. We are talking of a framework within which to play a political and economic part within this framework, the kind of community which the enlarged Community will become will depend to a very large extent on the political complexion of the Governments which the member nations will throw up in the years ahead. I believe that there are equally good arguments for Socialists to go in—there are better arguments in some ways for Socialists in favour of going into the Community—as there are good arguments on the other side for capitalists who are in favour of going in.
When we are talking about a framework, I do not believe that any of the traditional aims of the Labour Party are threatened by membership. but whereas at the moment the pro-Marketeers are united on this issue across the House—and, indeed, the anti-Marketeers for that matter—once Britain is inside the Community the friends of hon. Gentlemen opposite inside the Community will not be the friends of us on this side of the House. We shall look to our Socialist colleagues in Europe to try to work with them to make the Community the kind of society we would wish to see it become.
1587 I believe that the Labour Party will accept British membership of the Community as a fact, and will accept it as a fact very soon after our entry in January, 1973, and I believe that despite some of the things which my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said in his speech at Brighton. I believe that once we accept it as a fact, hon. Gentlemen opposite will find that it is those on this side of the House who will be the keenest and who will work the hardest to strengthen the Community's institutions, and to move forward at a greater speed towards political and economic union.
Because it is essentially a framework within which this country can play its part we are talking of something which have very little to do with party politics except in the purely technical sense, and I would hope that most hon. Members will feel that on an issue of such importance party tactics should not be allowed to dominate.
It is for this reason that I deeply regret the impression which some of my hon. Friends have sought to give to our supporters in the constituencies that the Government can somehow be forced out of office on this issue. The point was made in Tribune last week:Every Labour Party supporter, every trade unionist. indeed everyone who wants to be done with this vicious Tory Government will be watching the Labour Members of Parliament next Thursday, 28th October. For, after the events of this week, it is clear that the Tory Government could be defeated and driven from office if every Labour M.P. records his or her vote against the Tory terms of entry to the Common Market.Every hon. Member who knows this House knows that this is nonsense—absolute nonsense—in terms of practical politics.
If the Government were defeated on this issure, even if the Government had on a three-line Whip, what would happen? There would be a sort of convulsion on the other side, and certainly hon. Members opposite would drop the idea of going into the Common Market. They would drop that, and they would drop their Prime Minister, too, but they would continue in office under another leader. Because they did not expect to be there. In June, 1970, they did not expect to be there, and they are not going to 1588 give up that easily. That is what would happen, and anybody who knows this place knows that.
§ Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)
Is my hon. Friend arguing that it is not possible to bring down an existing Government within our parliamentary system?
§ Mr. Barnes
I am concerned with the issue of the Common Market. Of course, the Government can be brought down on other issues, but this is the issue before the House. On this issue, anyone who knows anything about this House knows that it is nonsense to suggest that the Government can be driven from power.
My hon. Friends are trying to achieve their objective of the dropping of the policy of going into the Common Market by seeking to give currency in the constituencies to a belief that is nonsense from a constitutional point of view. More seriously, they are seeking to give currency to a belief which, although unfounded, could be deeply damaging to those of their comrades in the Labour Party who happen to take the other point of view.
Several hon. Members have said today that on Thursday they will vote for the first time against the party Whips. I shall not be voting on Thursday for the first time against the party Whips. I have voted several times with some of my hon. Friends against the party Whips. On 21st April, 1967, I voted against the Whip with many of my hon. Friends below the Gangway on a Motion on Vietnam moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson). I also voted the same way as the former Member for South Ayrshire, Mr. Emrys Hughes.
§ Mr. Barnes
Indeed. But I would say to my hon. Friends, particularly my hon. Friend the present Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars), that it is none of my hon. Friend's business to write to the constituency parties of his colleagues on an issue of the kind before us. The constituency parties of all hon. Members will 1589 take care of us; they will say whether they do not like us.
§ Mr. Sillars
Has my hon. Friend read the communication? Before he made that remark, had he read the document sent to each of the 71 constituency Labour parties in Scotland?
§ Mr. Barnes
I have seen the reports in the Press on the document, and on television only the other evening I saw my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire debating with my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse).
§ Mr. Sillars
I am very disappointed that any member of my party should make an attack on a colleague on the Floor of the House on the basis of a statement in Miss Nora Beloff's column in the Observer, which was grossly inaccurate.
§ Mr. Barnes
I do not think that my hon. Friend has yet spoken in the debate. I am sure that if he is fortunate enough to catch the eye of the Chair he will have the opportunity to clarify that point.
All I am saying—and this is my last word on the matter to my colleagues—is that I have stood with them on some issues, but I would not seek to bring to bear on them the kind of pressures which appear to be being brought to bear, on an organised basis, on some of us now.
§ Mr. Maclennan
I endorse everything my hon. Friend has said about unfortunate pressures being brought to bear. I have had the benefit of reading the letter concerned in full, and I very much resent it, as does my constituency party. But this is perhaps not the occasion to discuss it. Can we get on with the substance of the debate?
§ Mr. Barnes
We are concerned very much with how hon. Members will vote on Thursday night. I must also say that I regret the decision of my right hon. Friend the Opposition Chief Whip to attempt a whipped vote on this side. There is strong support in the country for a free vote among Labour hon. Members. —[HON. MEMBERS: "For a free vote of the people."] My hon. Friends may or may not be right about that. What I am saying is that there is strong support among the people for a free vote of Labour hon. Members. This is borne out in a public opinion poll—[interruption.] 1590 —hon. Members may sneer but my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) had an interesting poll in his constituency showing 80 per cent. in favour of a free vote for Labour Members of Parliament.
Gallup Poll reporting in the last few days—[Interruption.]—it is no good hon. Members shrugging their shoulders at opinion polls—[Laughter.]—hon. Members may laugh, I do not want to be drawn on this. Many explanations have been given for a late swing. Hon. Members have in mind what happened in June, 1970, but there are countless explanations for the late swing and if they are dismissing all market research, then many people engaged in industry and commerce would want to know much more about the grounds on which they dismiss such research.
Many of my hon. Friends will not feel able to respond to the three-line Whip, which the Opposition Chief Whip has put on. I will not feel able to so respond. I was encouraged, by the attitude of many of my hon. and right hon. Friends when they were in government, to say in my election address at the last election that I was in favour of Britain entering the Community if satisfactory terms could be obtained. I believe the terms are satisfactory. I accept entirely what my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) said about this. I believe the terms are satisfactory, are the best terms any reasonable person could have thought could be obtained, thinking back to the early months of 1970 when a Labour Government were preparing to negotiate.
I do not want to go into the arguments which in my case have swayed me in my decision. The decisive arguments for me are that this country will have greater influence to protect our own interests and to do more for the world, for peace, and to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor nations. I accept what my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) said about that the other day. I also believe that the chance that the Community holds out to us of a higher standard of living than we would get if we did not go in is a chance surely worth taking. What is happening in the Community, the enlargement that is about to take place, the moves towards greater economic and political union, all 1591 of this is too big and important for Britain to stand aside. If we do not take the chance now, it will not be open to us again for at least a generation, and for that reason I shall cast my vote on Thursday night in favour of Britain's entry into the European Economic Community.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
We have had further evidence of the deep concern with which hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House view their responsibilities in this matter. A great deal of emotion has been revealed, and that is right and proper, for we are talking about something that involves more than pounds, shillings, and pence, more than jobs. It concerns the way of life of our people.
The very depth of feeling revealed today, not least by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes), is an indication of the great issues at stake. A substantial number of hon. Members have expressed themselves as being in favour of entry or opposed to entry almost regardless of the terms. My hon. Friend has said that he considers the terms to be satisfactory. I hope to advance reasons why the House should feel that the terms are not satisfactory for our people.
I realise there are some people who are opposed to entry under any conditions. There are others who would he prepared to swallow almost anything in order to get into Europe. The words which I have to address to the House are not, in the main, directed to those people. I believe in conversion, but not at this late stage in the debate. I address myself to those who are in between those two groups who want the best for Britain, in or out. I think that the people of these islands are tired of this matter being dealt with on a party point-scoring basis. They want us to get down to the merits and demerits in order to help them to reach a firm decision. The first question to be resolved, therefore, is: is this a do-or-die exercise for Britain? Are we finished as a great world influence unless we accept the terms which the Government have obtained from Europe?
Some hon. Members have painted a depressing picture of decline unless we enter the Market. The hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) said 1592 that we would be committing suicide it we did not go in. In fact, he went further and though that Western Europe would be in danger if Great Britain turned down the terms which have been submitted. There are members of the Government Front Bench who believe that our only hope for the future lies in the Market. I do not share that view. I take the view of the Home Secretary, who said on 26th July:I have never accepted for a moment that it is disaster to stay outside of the Community and automtic prosperity to be inside. Anyone who argues that is quite wrong."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th July, 1971; Vol. 822, c. 160.]That is the view that I shall advance tonight.
The House has been giving consideration to those parts of the United Kingdom which require special assistance in order to provide employment for their people. Therefore, for the people of Scotland, Ulster, Merseyside, the North and South-West of England and Wales today's debate has a sombre significance. No one has contributed more than those people to the economic strength of these islands, and yet, by cruel irony, no one has suffered greater hardship due to economic difficulties. They are the victims of geography. Distance from the centre has always magnified their problems. This consideration is very much to the fore in all the special areas needing assistance in Britain.
It can be very cold on the periphery of any market, but the bigger the market, the colder it can become. Ever since the 1920s the people in the areas to which I have referred have known higher unemployment than the rest of the United Kingdom. Families and whole communities have disintegrated: Scots, Irish, Welsh, Northerners, Cornishmen have trekked to the more prosperous parts of England to seek work. Conservative and Labour Governments alike have acknowledged that these areas present special problems and that they have special needs. We disagree on the most effective means of helping these areas but we agree that special problems require special solutions.
The vital importance of today's debate hangs therefore on the question: will the terms of entry as submitted to the House help or hinder future development in the regions? I do not deceive myself that there is on this side of the House a 1593 monopoly of concern about the unemployed, but those who are responsible to electorates in regions needing aid will find very little comfort indeed in the Government's White Paper.
It is surprising that regional development was not even an issue in the Brussels negotiations. Guarantees about the possibilities of our giving aid to our special areas were neither sought nor offered at Brussels. The Government give no impression at all of considering this a matter of high priority. The White Paper is itself revealing in this regard. References to regional and industrial policies come only at its tail end, and then occupy a miserable 14 lines.
In the first reference made to regional and industrial policies the Government say:Because of the new opportunities for the economy as a whole, we shall be able"—and I want my hon. Friends to note this; especially those who are in some doubt about it—as members of the Community to deal more effectively of our problems of regional development.There is an assumption in those words that is entirely unjustified. The present Government, I have no doubt, expect to have to tackle the problem of these difficult areas if and when we enter the Common Market, but they do not propose to change their economic strategy. They intend, if we go into the Common Market, to function on economic policies identical with those that they pursued so disastrously already.
Will these policies operate inside the Market? They have been damaging enough in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Cornwall, Merseyside and Ulster while we have been out of the Common Market, and have brought regional development there to a full stop. They have elevated unemployment to a way of life in the parts of the country under consideration, and this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland could only underline that the Government will pursue their same policies when it is that they are in the Common Market. They know that even the inadequate measures of help they are giving to the regional areas will have to come under scrutiny by the Commission at Brussels before they can be continued.
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for giving way because, for the sake of accuracy, I should like to point out that I said that these measures have been applied in Britain in recent years; all these matters were consistent with Common Market measures. Therefore, this does not rule out measures applied by the right hon. Gentleman and his Government.
§ Mr. Thomas
But measures introduced by anyone in this House will no longer have the authority they carried prior to entry because scrutiny by the Commission at Brussels becomes a very important part of policy.
Our complaint is that the other side in the negotiations made no effort at all to ensure that we would have the right to continue to give aid which we think right and proper to our development areas.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Bradford, West) rose—
§ Mr. Thomas
No, I am sorry, but I cannot give way.
The Community recently showed a growing realisation that a co-ordinated approach to financial incentives for industry is important. It is only in recent weeks that the Community has really begun to move in this regard. The system it now has under consideration for aiding areas with special needs would limit the aid obtainable by an investor in the so-called central areas of the E.E.C. to a fixed percentage of costs, probably 20 per cent. The next step is almost certain to be a limitation on the total aid given in the central areas.
§ Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his gallantry in giving way. He said that it is only in recent times that the Community has taken an interest in the more balanced spread of the economy of the Common Market countries. Following Article 129 of the Treaty, setting up the European Investment Bank, we see from Article 130:The task of the European Investment Bank shall be to contribute, by having recourse to the capital market and utilising its own resources, to the balanced and stable development of the common market in the interest of the Community.1595 It can be seen from that Article that this includes:projects for developing less developed regions".Since it has already increased its capital in the last few months by no fewer than 500 million dollars, surely that is not just a recent development but something which has been there from the inception of the Community.
§ Mr. Thomas
The worst thing, about giving way to an hon. Lady is that there are so many points to answer at the end. If she had listened a little more carefully she would have realised that I was referring to the Community getting together to try to have a co-ordinated regional policy, and that is of very recent origin indeed. But there are questions to be asked—
§ Mr. Michael Fidler (Bury and Radcliffe) rose—
§ Mr. Thomas
No. I do not wish to be discourteous, but I want to get on. Other hon. Members wish to speak.
One question that has to be decided under the plans now before the Regional Commission is what will be designated central areas. We have a right to ask whether Merseyside would be considered a central area under the proposals now before the Commission. It appears that the Commission would say "No". But we would say that it is an area with a special need.
The type and quality of aid that the House will want to give to our developing areas will have to be approved by Brussels. Decisions will not be made on the basis of where help can be given, and the Secretary of State for Wales knows that that is so. I quote the example of what has happened already in the Common Market in terms of the disparity between North and South Belgium. It needed to be tackled. They are better off in Southern Belgium than they are in Southern Italy. However, the disparity between Southern and Northern Belgium is such that the Belgian Parliament took steps to relieve it. Immediately, the High Commission at Brussels intervened. What happened to Belgium can happen to us if we go in without guarantees about aid for our development areas.
Article 92 of the Treaty of Rome makes it clear that there are exceptions 1596 where aid can be given even though it distorts the economy. But, in order that that aid shall be given, it is necessary first for the standard of living in that area to be abnormally low or for serious under-employment to exist. By those tests, parts of the United Kingdom which are receiving some form of aid from this Government and which received a lot of aid from the previous Government will be disqualified from benefiting if we enter on the present terms.
The Commission can and does modify the regional policies of member States. What it will think of our way of dealing with regional aid has yet to be revealed. Certainly the regional employment premium would be under fire if a future Labour Government considered it a weapon for relieving unemployment in Cornwall, Wales, the North, Scotland, Merseyside or anywhere else.
Reference has been made to Italy and how well she has done. The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Nicholas Edwards) spoke about the miracle in Italy. It is worth remembering that unemployment there is running at a rate of about 1 million, but that if it were not for the mass migration of her workers to Germany, it would be nearer 1½ million. It so happens that the Library of the House has obtained for me the official figures. In 1966 Italian workers entering Germany for permanent employment totalled 163,982; in 1967, 57,618; in 1968, 130,236; and in 1969, 136,225. The total number of Italians now employed in Germany is 340,200. That is the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question.
§ Mr. Selwyn Gummer (Lewisham, West) rose—
§ Mr. Thomas
The Welsh people, the Scots and the Northerners can sympathise with the Italians, because we have tasted the same cure for unemployment in our areas. When they talk to us about how well the Community has served Italy, I think of the families which have been broken there as their breadwinners have had to leave their homeland and native culture to find employment in other parts of the Common Market.
I want to refer to other powers of the Commission at Brussels. [Interruption.] I do not know where the hon. Gentleman 1597 has been, but I can have a jolly good guess.
§ Mr. Barney Hayhoe (Heston and Isleworth) rose—
§ Mr. Hayhoe
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the right hon. Gentleman is using those expressions to indicate that I have been in the bar of this House I suggest that it is out of order, and, equally, it is untrue.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is not a matter for the Chair.
§ Mr. Thomas
The hon. Gentleman must realise that I have been here a long time and I know what happens—and I am well accustomed to Tories after dinner.
I want to refer to other powers of the Commission at Brussels. It is the Commission of bureaucrats which has the obligation and duty to see that the Treaty of Rome is observed. It is not the Council of Ministers, but the bureaucrats who hold the big stick. They are the disciplinarians for the Common Market. Under present terms they can put the brake on the rate and scope of regional aid in any one of the member States, and they do not hesitate to use their powers, as my hon. Friends have pointed out this afternoon.
If we resent over-rigid attitudes in Brussels on this matter we shall have no remedies, because the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster never asked for any safeguards. He had not the prescience of either the Irish or the Italians in this regard. He did not negotiate on regional development; he capitulated. Cries of anguish from Scotland, Ireland or Wales will bring no tears in Brussels. Even those measures of aid which may be approved by the Commission in Brussels will be less effective in future than in the past.
Consider the system of I.D.C.S to which reference has been made this afternoon. The Secretary of State for Wales, who is there by the grace of the Prime Minister rather than by the grace of the Welsh people, knows that 30 per cent. of the 1598 new industry that came to Wales in 1970 came there because it was not allowed to establish itself in the Midlands or the South-East. It came solely because of our I.D.C. policy. It was a common experience for me, when I carried the responsibility which the right hon. and learned Gentleman now carries, to be told by industrialists in Wales that they were there only because we have refused them permission to develop in more prosperous areas.
All that will change, and the hope that had been fired for people in the neglected areas will fall once again. No one, no Minister carrying responsibility, will stand at that box and tell us that he is satisfied that our I.D.C. policy can work as effectively if we go into the Common Market as it is working now. The responsibility for our jobs will rest in other people's hands, and will be the responsibility of other people.
Capital moves to the centres offering the greatest and quickest profit, and Wales, Scotland, the North, Cornwall and other areas will not stand a dog's chance once free capital movement is agreed to without the guarantees to which I have referred. Our indictment of the Government is that they have made no effort at all in the negotiations to ensure that we, as a responsible Parliament, will still be able to decide, on social considerations, where we want industry to be established. The Government have given that up without a struggle. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's emblem should be a white flag, because he has given up the very requirement which our people want for full employment.
§ Mr. Rippon
I am sorry that I have not heard the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, but I give him the assurance that we have negotiated exactly the same requirements for capital movement as the Labour Government sought.
§ Mr. Thomas
The right hon. and learned Gentleman may deceive himself, and perhaps one or two innocents opposite, but he will deceive no one else. I belonged to the Cabinet which took the decision—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I should say I joined the Cabinet which did so. My whole argument has been that the right hon. Gentleman has not negotiated but has capitulated. We all 1599 know that the free movement of capital will enable investors or developers to tell any Secretary of State who tries to put pressure on them to go to a development area that they will go to Europe instead. The right hon. Gentleman has made the road clear for them to do so, and if that threat is made potential developers will soon get permission to go to the South-East and to the Midlands. Panic will strike the man responsible when he realises the effects of the policy which has been unleashed upon us.
Where else in Europe, I ask the Minister—or perhaps the Secretary of State for Wales for the time being will tell me—is there the same network of location of industry controls as we have in Britain? The regions have every cause for alarm. What we need are not fewer incentives than we have now but stronger ones.
The Government's answer has always been that growth in the regions depends on growth in the whole economy. My hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Ifor Davies) repeated this today. We know that we fare better when the economy is strong, but that is not the whole answer. The Government believe that the dynamic effects of entry will give us the growth we require. This is an act of faith on their part. To call it an act of faith is to exaggerate—it is a gamble. They never support their faith with evidence. The myth has been exploded. Major economists throughout the land disagree with the Government's prophesying.
But let us assume for a moment that growth will be greater within the Common Market. All our history bears its own evidence that these areas will still require special help when the economy is strong. We all know that when there was only 2 per cent. unemployment in England there was 4 per cent. in the regions; when the economy is strong here we still need special help in the peripheral areas.
The tragedy is that we no longer have the authority in this House to decide what help shall be given if these terms are accepted. Scotland, Wales and the rest do not automatically share when prosperity reaches the rest of the country. In any case, growth depends as much on economic policies as on the size of the market, and the Government's policies 1600 have reduced us to a shambles. They know that industrial development was down 3 per cent. this year. They themselves forecast that next year it will be lower still. The C.B.I. fears a catastrophic fall in industrial development next year—
§ Mr. Thomas
—as a result of this Government's policies. I submit to my hon. Friends and anyone who is weighing these issues carefully that to expose our people to the Common Market on these terms, with this Government's policy, is to betray our trust.
Another fact or essential to our consideration of the regions is our dependence on the old-established basic industries. I do not want to go into this to any depth, but the 80,000 men working in the steel industry in Wales know that there is a question mark over their future. They know that the £4,000 million planned expansion for the steel industry will have to be permitted by Brussels and that the interests of the Europeans will ultimately decide that question. The present investment programme of our major industry in Wales will be subject to the overriding authority of the Community.
There has been a good deal of discussion on the mandate of the Government to force this matter on us.
§ Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)
If he is now leaving the steel industry, would the right hon. Gentleman deal with the coal industry? Surely the prospects for that are very good.
§ Mr. Thomas
It is very flattering to be invited to continue talking about coal, agriculture, transport and all the other problems, but it would be a little unfair to the House. I want to talk about the mandate of the Government.
§ Mr. Thomas
I am not surprised in the slightest that hon. Members opposite treat this with such frivolity. I hope that the hon. Gentleman's constituents know his attitude to a mandate from the people. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Emery rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman knows very well that if the 1601 right hon. Gentleman does not give way, he must resume his seat.
§ Mr. Emery rose—
§ Mr. Thomas
The hon. Gentleman should know me well enough by now to know that anyone who makes fun of my accent does not get me giving way. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Emery rose—
§ Mr. Thomas
It is another example of public school behaviour.
I want to talk about the mandate that this Government claim, and even the phantom Secretary of State there—
§ Mr. Emery rose—
§ Mr. Thomas
The Government know that Wales and Scotland did not want them in power. The Government also know that the North and Merseyside did not want them in power. This may account for the disdainful disinclination to fight for our interests when negotiations were conducted.
During the General Election I was flattered by a visit by the Prime Minister to my constituency. Did he tell Wales that its only hope of prosperity was to join the Common Market? Not on your life. Did he tell Wales that the unemployment could be solved only if we accepted any terms offered to us? Did he tell the constituents of Cardiff, West that unless we went in we would lose our world rôle? Not at all. I have read his speech with very great care. In order to get the votes in Wales this is what he had to say:In this way we can keep costs and prices down, and with slower increases in prices and low unemployment we will have created a favourable climate for the reform of industrial relations.The Prime Minister was then so busy making promises which he has since broken that he forgot all about the Common Market when he was talking to the people of Wales. I am sorry that he is not present, because I want to address a few words to him. His picture was plastered on the hoardings in Wales— "A Man You Can Trust". I would 1602 not trust that man to take me to Sunday School. Experience has taught us how much that man can be trusted. He has broken more promises than Horatio Bottomley. This is the man we are asked to trust to lead us into Europe. I believe that he has lost faith in the ability of his own Government to restore full employment. He has lost faith in the ability of his Administration to maintain a high standard of living in these islands or to protect our proper interests.
But, because the right hon. Gentleman throws in the towel, because he has not bothered to demand proper terms, there is no reason why the rest of the British people must capitulate as well. We stand by this that Great Britain is strong enough and rich enough in her ability, her skills and her talents to face the future with her world contacts as they are well established without feeling that utter defeat stares us in the face unless we accept whatever terms Europe offers.
I am in my 27th year in the House. [Laughter.] Many who are now laughing will not be here five years: the writing is on the wall, and they know it as well as we do.
The House must ask itself how far it is entitled on a major issue of constitutional importance, changing the whole course and direction of the life of the British people, to say to the British public, "Never mind what you think. We are making up our minds and you will drag behind us".
When I think of the names of the great parliamentarians of the past who have addressed the House, I believe that we have a heritage which no one should lightly throw on one side when the instinct of the British people is so strongly against it.
§ 9.43 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Thomas)
I can start by saying something which will commend itself to everyone in the House. Tomorrow's papers are unlikely to suggest that today's debate up to now has been dull. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) said yesterday that the Press had been referring to these debates as boring. If the hon. Gentleman had been here today to any extent, he would 1603 agree with me that this has been a very stimulating debate. The hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Ifor Davies) spoke of it as a memorable debate, not only for the quality of the contributions made but for the depth of conviction and the sincerity of those who spoke. That is true. We have heard speeches today of considerable conviction and sincerity.
A major decision will have to be taken on Thursday. Over many years, those who have been interested in this subject have arrived at a conclusion on a matter of principle. That is how the hon. Member for Gower described it, and he is right when he says that it should never have become a matter of party issue.
I pay tribute to the sincerity of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas). I have never impugned his sincerity. But I must admit that I found it difficult to reconcile what he told the House today with what must have been his view for Wales just 16 months or so ago. The right hon. Gentleman listened with great attention to the speech made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), who said that one does not need to go back to 1967; one need go back only to June. 1970. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, West listened also to his hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon), who told the House that on 11th June last year a message was sent to our representatives in Brussels that negotiations would start on 30th June. The right hon. Gentleman was a member of the Cabinet which decided to reopen negotiations on 30th June last year.
He will remember, also, what was said today by his right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, that the Government of the day had come to the conclusion, which was endorsed by the then Prime Minister, that, in joining the Common Market, there would be no substantial hindrance to our being able to do what we wanted to do in regional policy. The right hon. Gentleman added that not one of his colleagues, so far as he could recollect, dissociated himself from that view.
The right hon. Member for Cardiff, West knows full well, as does the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, that the question of negotiating 1604 regional policy was never an issue. It was not an issue with the previous Government. It was not an issue when they decided to reopen negotiations, for the previous Government had already come to the conclusion that our regional policies were compatible with the Treaty of Rome. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has said so in definite terms. His right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham said so today, too, and he said, further, as I have reminded the House, that not one of his colleagues was disposed to disagree with him. One of those colleagues was the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West.
Although I have not impugned, and I will not impugn, his sincerity, undoubtedly a great change has come in the attitude of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West, for I take it that, if he had felt that our regional policies would be adversely affected so far as they concerned Wales, he would not have supported his Government in deciding to reopen negotiations in June, 1970. The right hon. Gentleman today made a speech which was not just a speech in which he was referring to certain terms which could be negotiated. He knew that he was suggesting terms which could not have been negotiated.
§ Mr. Peter Thomas
The right hon. Gentleman made a speech which was a condemnation of this country's going into the European Economic Community.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to Wales, and I would like to remind him of viewpoints which have been expressed in Wales, in particular in the last few months, by bodies of responsible opinion covering many areas of our national life and which have seen this great move to get into Europe in an entirely different light from that which we heard from the right hon. Gentleman today. For instance, the National Farmers' Unions in Wales have—both—come out in favour of entry. They did so only after a deep study of the interests of all their members, those on large farms, on small farms, lowland farms, upland farms—all of them. Similarly the Welsh Regional Council of the Confederation of British Industry, after detailed discussions extending over six meetings, unanimously agreed on the desirability of Britain's going into Europe 1605 on the terms negotiated by the Government. I emphasise, unanimously agreed.
The Leader of the Opposition appears to cast scorn on the position by the Welsh Regional Council of the C.B.I. I think I am entitled to ask, as indeed a former Labour Member of the House, Donald Anderson, asked recently, how is it that hon. and right hon. Members opposite who are opposed to the United Kingdom entering the Community pretend to know more about the effects of entry on industry in Wales than do Welsh industrialists themselves?
Then again, the hon. Member for Gower referred to the opinions of economists as being much divided. Of course they are, but, again, there have been powerful contributions of support for United Kingdom entry, viewed at from the Welsh aspect, from senior Welsh economists in Wales, such as Professor Brinley Thomas. I know that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West would not consider that his views were worthless.
Finally, and, perhaps, most important of all—and what the right hon. Gentleman did not refer to at all—there was the publication a few weeks ago of the Welsh Council's Report on Wales and the Common Market. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Timid". I would suggest that no one who is objective could refer to this as anything other than an exceptionally fine piece of work on a difficult and complex subject. The Report does not purport to give a view on whether the United Kingdom should or should not join the Community because this question goes wider than the remit of the Welsh Council, but it does give a detailed and constructive commentary on the implication for Wales if we go into the Community, and it is important to note that the council's assessment was unanimous. This does not mean, of course, that every member of the Council was in favour of entry—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—but it does mean that every member of the Council agrees with the Council's assessment of the implications for Wales, and the message which emerges is perfectly plain over a wide front.
In respect of regional policy the Council concludes that there is nothing in the present situation which need arouse concern in Wales. On the industrial side, the Council's view is that the overall prospects for Wales are encouraging. On 1606 agriculture, all the evidence the Council obtained indicated that Community entry should not have any adverse overall effects on the interests of Welsh farmers. Indeed, in some spheres of Welsh agriculture entry into the Community would open up bright and prosperous prospects.
The Council's report has the stamp of authority about it, partly because of the thorough way in which the question was tackled but also partly because the Chairman went to great lengths to satisfy himself about the facts. He visited Belgium and Italy.—[An HON. MEMBER: "For how long?"]—He talked to Commission staff, including the Commissioner for Regional Policy, and to officials of the Belgian and Italian Governments. He also visited their assisted areas and talked to people on the spot there.
§ Mr. McBride
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that no harm could come to Wales. Yesterday his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the chief negotiator, inadvertently told the House how great would be the annual cost—£500 million. May I direct the Secretary of State's attention to the following sentence in the Welsh Council's Report, in paragraph 13—unlucky for some:The Council certainly hope that the U.K. Government will not be tempted to weaken their own regional policies because of the costs of entry in terms of the balance of payments.That sentence sinks the Government and the Secretary of State without trace.
§ Mr. Thomas
I agree that the hon. Gentleman has correctly quoted from the last part of that paragraph. But the sentence before reads as follows:The Council sec no reason to fear that entry to the EEC would impair our ability to pursue active regional policies along the lines of those pursued in recent years.The crucial question is whether this country could, within an expanded Community, continue to have the power to operate a vigorous regional policy that suited our own particular needs. The evidence from every source, official and unofficial, is surely overwhelming that this country will be able to carry out regional policies to suit its needs as a 1607 member of the European Economic Community. Nothing that has been said in this debate has contradicted that conclusion, which is by no means a new one. The right hon. Member for Fulham said that he is convinced that there would be no substantial hindrance, which is what I have told the House before.
§ Mr. Thomas
The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) has said:Our present system of incentives for regional development is not, in my belief, inconsistent with present Communiy practice." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1076.]
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is quoting 1967, when my noble Friend the then Foreign Secretary and I were assured that the Six were able to get away with murder in regional policies. Since then there have been many changes. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted that blue document a few moments ago, was he satisfied that the Government will be able, in the Common Market, to maintain both investment allowances and regional employment premiums?
§ Mr. Thomas
I am satisfied, because we have been told that investment allowances are regarded as transparent, and, therefore, they would be allowed. As for regional employment premiums, I believe that it was the right hon. Member for Fulham who told the House, again in 1967, that they would be allowed within the Community. We have the view which was expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in 1967, endorsed in our White Paper.
§ 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 Two o'clock.—[Mr. Humphrey Atkins.]
§ Question again proposed,
§ Mr. Thomas
The Welsh Council was equally unequivocal and said, and I refer 1608 an hon. Gentleman opposite to the book he has, page 7, paragraph 13, that it saw… no reason to fear that entry into the E.E.C. would impair our ability to pursue active regional policies along the lines of those pursued in recent years.[HON. MEMBERS: "What about R.E.P.?"] That is coming to an end in 1974.
The responsibility of the Commissioner, Monsieur Borschette, has been referred to and he was quoted by the hon. Member for Gower. What he has said is worth repeating. He said:We know that each region is a special case, often requiring special treatment. We also know it is primarily for national governments to produce the ideas for dealing with these special problems. It is not our task to seek to interfere with the efforts of national governments directed towards this end. But we think that a common regional policy is necessary to supplement national efforts.The Welsh Council and the Government attach the greatest importance to this concept of Community regional policy supplementing the regional policies of individual members. In the face of the statements of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues and others I have quoted—the overwhelming catalogue of statements—can anyone seriously doubt our ability as members of the Community to safeguard the economic interests of Scotland, the North, Wales and other areas in need of assistance? If they still do, either words have lost their meaning or the right hon. Gentleman has lost faith in his colleagues.
A good deal has been made in the debate of the actions taken under Article 93 of the Treaty of Rome, the part of the Treaty concerning the Commission's ability to examine or prevent national aid policies with which it disagrees, and various cases have been cited. We must be realistic. Article 93 concerns aid specified in Article 92. Aid having a social character is explicitly allowed in cases of regions where there is a low standard of living or severe under-employment, or to facilitate the development of certain economic activities. It exists to forestall abuse of Article 92.
The cases quoted, which refer to very small parts of the total regional measures of the States concerned, refer to relatively prosperous areas where unemployment levels do not exceed the national average and yet special incentives have been 1609 applied. It is clearly right, and right for the less developed regions, that some restraint on the relative advantages of the prosperous areas should be maintained. The Community policy is a true regional policy which militates against attempts to give special aid to prosperous regions. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, West, has sometimes referred to what has been described as the central-peripheral issue—
§ Mr. Elystan Morgan (Cardigan)
Is it not true that in the Report of the Welsh Council the point has been made, time and again, that Wales is a prosperous area and that being so it would not come within the ambit of the exemption mentioned in Article 94?
§ Mr. Thomas
The Welsh Council came to the conclusion in its Report that there should not be any difficulty in the development areas in Wales remaining. I will refer the hon. Gentleman later to the specific part.
I said that I should like to refer to the central-peripheral issue, as it is called, because of all the regional aspects of the overall question of United Kingdom entry this is the one which has given rise to the greatest misunderstanding and doubt. In the central areas of the Community there is to be a ceiling for financial assistance. In other words, all forms of regional assistance taken together should not exceed 20 per cent. of the total investment. This 20 per cent. is exclusive of the national tax and depreciation arrangements and therefore is not ungenerous. But a higher level of assistance can be made available if the social and economic circumstances of a particular areas within the central area should justify it. This is how the Community works—prepared to give the greatest help to those areas in greatest need. Outside the central areas higher levels of assistance would be the rule.
There were two main reasons why a ceiling was being introduced to aids in the central areas. First, the rapid growth in recent years of regional aids in the central areas had had the effect of narrowing the differential advantage enjoyed hitherto by other areas which had more acute and intractable problems. Secondly, there was evidence of over-bidding between member States for mobile industry, especially foreign investment. In short, 1610 the recent decision is a "code of good conduct" designed to increase the attractions of the areas of greatest need—a policy which I believe should commend itself to all sides of the House.
As the Welsh Council stated,It is certainly in the interests of areas such as Wales that sanctions should be imposed in order to prevent prosperous and congested areas offering unreasonable inducements to industry which is badly needed outside the central areas".
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
Would the Government resist the Commission if it suggested that Merseyside should be included in the central belt? That suggestion has been made. May we have a clear statement from the Government tonight that they would in no circumstances agree to that proposal?
§ Mr. Thomas
I was coming to that matter. An important question which hon. Members on both sides of the House would like to have answered is which parts of the United Kingdom would be classified as central and which would be peripheral. It cannot be answered firmly at this stage, because the precise definition of the United Kingdom areas will be a matter for discussion and joint decision after the United Kingdom's entry, in the same way that the areas now defined as central and peripheral areas by the Community were defined in agreement with individual States. The individual States reached agreement before the matter got to the Council of Ministers. [HON MEMBERS: "Sell out."].
In short, we shall have a major say in the application of the central-peripheral doctrine to this country. The Community has no standard formula for the definition of central and peripheral areas. The important point to stress is that the United Kingdom Government will be party to the decisions. In discharging their responsibilities, the Government will take full account of the need to ensure that the interests of the existing assisted areas in the United Kingdom, including most of Wales, should not be jeopardised.
§ Mr. Neil Kinnock (Bedwellty)
The Secretary of State has told my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) that he could not say which areas would be central and which would be peripheral. He says now that in every case the decision has been reached in 1611 Europe by consultation with the individual Governments. My hon. Friend asked: Will the Government give an undertaking that they will negotiate areas like Merseyside and Wales as peripheral areas? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give that undertaking, and why did he not answer my hon. Friend's question in the first place?
§ Mr. Thomas
What I said—and I think that it is clear enough—was that the Government will take full account of the need to ensure that the interests of existing assisted areas in the United Kingdom, including most of Wales, should not be jeopardised. What is perfectly clear is that within the Community family there is a real concern in spreading the prosperity that arises from the breaking down of trade barriers and the removal of other obstacles to economic growth.
§ Mr. Ross
How can the Minister first virtually tell the House that there is no change and that we can do what we like in respect of economic help for the regions, when he now tells us that the aids and kinds of aids have to be authorised under Article 93? He now tells us that all we will have will be a voice, one of many voices, in respect of which areas of the country will get aid. This is surrender.
§ Mr. Thomas
The right hon. Gentleman spoke earlier today for 55 minutes—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—and he is trying to make another speech now. It is perfectly clear—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—that the Government of which he was a member were prepared to accept Articles 92 and 93—
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
As a Merseyside Member of 26 years' standing, I never expected to hear any Minister of any party tell the House that the future of Merseyside, its scheduling and incentives for employment will be decided outside this country, which is what the right and learned Gentleman has just told the House.
When he seeks to say that the Labour Government ever agreed to such proposals, I reply that they were never put before us, that they were never considered by us, and that they would have been totally rejected by us.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman having made an intervention to which the Minister is seeking to reply, it is exceedingly discourteous of hon. Members to shout at the Minister like that.
§ Mr. Thomas
One thing that is quite clear is that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, despite the high office has has held, is not a courteous man. He has come to this debate late, and he has been talking all the time during my speech.
I will answer the right hon. Gentleman's question. First of all, I never said what he imputed to me as my words—[Interruption.] If the right hon. Gentleman had listened to what I was saying, he would have understood that I said that the matter for negotiation whether they be central or peripheral areas is something which would take place between a Government and the Commission. [Interruption.] Ultimately, it goes to the Council of Ministers of which, of course, we would be a member. The decision on central or peripheral areas which has now just gone to the Council of Ministers was arrived at amicably between the Commission and the respective member Governments. What I said—the right hon. Gentleman knows it—was that he, as Prime Minister, told the House that his Government were prepared to accept the Treaty of Rome and were prepared to accept Articles 92 and 93. I am saying that if we went into the Community, we could make a massive British contribution of experience to the working out of ideas on original issues in which process we would benefit, too.
§ Mr. McMaster
Is it not clear that this is totally unsatisfactory to areas of high unemployment? Would it not be better if this were all covered before we go into the Common Market and written in general terms into the protocol, rather than that it should be left to the Council of Ministers, particularly after the experience with Trieste?
§ Mr. Thomas
No. The position in Trieste is totally different. We, in the 1613 same way as those in the previous Administration, did not consider the question of regional policy was a matter for negotiation. We were satisfied that within the Community rules we would be able to carry on the regional policy nationally in this country.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson rose—
§ Mr. Edward Taylor rose—
§ Mr. Taylor
I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for giving way since this is a matter of very real significance. In regard to the Commission's new July plan, what will be the position if the British Government and the Commission disagree fundamentally as to the areas to be designated as central areas since more than half of the country is designated as an intermediate area? What I am asking is what will happen in the perhaps unlikely event of the British Government and the Commission disagreeing fundamentally on the areas to be designated?
§ Mr. Thomas
We do not expect that will happen. The reason we do not expect this will happen is that it has never happened.
I would like to remind the House what the right hon. Member for Huyton said about this matter. In speaking of articles in a written constitution, the right hon. Gentleman told the House:In judging a written constitution, it is more important to examine the way in which it works and operates when it becomes a living constitution—to examine the practices which have grown up under it and the manner in which those who have to operate it do operate it, to examine the common law, as it were, rather than statute law—than to be obsessed by perhaps literal interpretations of the original constitution and its wording."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1966; Vol. 736, c. 762.]I adopt every word the right hon. Gentleman said.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
The right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the Treaty of Rome. Will lie point out where in that treaty there is any power—[Interruption.] This is no laughing matter for Merseyside or Wales. The Treaty 1614 of Rome does not give the powers the right hon. Gentleman is now conceding. In 1967 this regional policy had not been worked out. Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that on the point he mentioned the initiative comes not from this country but from the Commission, and is subject to veto in the Council of Ministers? Therefore, there can be a veto on my constituency, on the constituency the right hon. and learned Gentleman used to represent in Wales, or on any other constituency. Is—[Interruption.] We have never had anything from the Chancellor of the Duchy about his negotiations, and we are not listening to him now. We are listening to the Secretary of State for Wales. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks that I have been discourteous. I regret that he should think that. I have listened to him for half an hour longer than the Prime Minister has, and I agree with the Prime Minister's assessment.
§ Mr. Thomas
The former Prime Minister knows that Articles 92 and 93 do not confer any regional power on the Commission. I was reminding the Leader of the Opposition that he had said that, in looking at the literal interpretation of a constitution, of a document, one must look at how it happens in practice. That is important. Looking at the practice as we have seen it developing over the years in the Community, it is clear that the apprehensions which have been voiced by many right hon. and hon. Members ought not to be realised.
An important aspect of regional policy which has been referred to by a number of hon. Members, especially by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West, is that of I.D.C. control. In the totality of the economic endeavours of Governments, Conservative or Labour, the key question is how to secure adequate economic growth without running the risks associated with getting the rate of growth wrong. The Government believe and have said over and over again that entry into the Community will generate soundly based growth. That is the first interest of the regions of the United Kingdom. Secondly, they are interested in where the new economic activity and new investment will take place. We all 1615 recognise that fundamental to the management of this aspect of our economic future is the operation of I.D.C. control.
The right hon. Gentleman said that once we get in all this will change. I do not know why he says that. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland dealt clearly with I.D.C. controls and their efficacy. But the point was raised again during the debate by a number of hon. Members, mainly related to the effects of the full movement of capital. I make it clear again that the I.D.C. control will continue to operate.
The right hon. Member for Huyton said on 8th May, 1967:Our I.D.C. policy … can be continued provided that we do not seek to discriminate—nor should we seek to discriminate—between British firms and European firms in our location policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1076.]Of course, as has been pointed out during the debate, it must be expected that the threat of establishment elsewhere in the Community will be used by firms when applying for an I.D.C. in the South of England. But the Welsh Council, which looked into this matter, thought it doubtful whether the position in Wales after entry would differ greatly from the present.
Again on the question of industrial location, foreign firms which might previously have been tempted to invest in the Community when we were outside the tariff barrier will now have no such incentive.
There is also the importance of the availability of labour. Trained labour is at a premium in the Community of the Six. It is not likely that a firm would willingly seek a location in the heart of a congested area where labour is scarce when labour resources elsewhere inside the larger Community of the Ten together with substantial infrastructural and other advantages are available.
Again, there are the factors of language and different legal and Government systems which inhibit a high mobility in choosing locations. In the case of the United States, the principal overseas investor, surely the United Kingdom, with its common language, would be at an advantage over our Continental neighbours.
1616 Concerning uncommitted capital, mobile industry, we are satisfied that, at the very worst, the various effects will even out. At best, with a good supply of trained and available labour, a rapidly expanding infrastructure, and a determination to use every opportunity to the full, the prospects could be good; and good prospects are what regional Members have been seeking for a long time.
As for committed capital, what is already invested in the regions of Britain, I am equally satisfied that the forces of inertia and the costs of movement would be a powerful disincentive to such capital uprooting and transferring to what has been called the "golden triangle".
I apologise to the House for having spoken at length. I have given way on frequent occasions. My speech has been greatly lengthened as a result.
Out of to-day's discussion may I finally state, or restate, the two main points on which to judge the regional aspects of British membership of the Community.
First, it means involvement in a Community which is very conscious of the regional problems in every member country and which construes the association as a way of helping to find solutions, not to hinder them.
Secondly, it is an opportunity, in the context of national economic growth, which promises to give our people chances of work and a higher standard of life than any other prospect open to us can.
I should like to stress that, as regions. we bring assets to this course of action. We can offer a constantly improving transport and environmental infrastructure, industrial facilities, and trained manpower. We also have alert, adaptable and ingenious people who deserve a break.
To some, everything in this Common Market issue is hopeless and gloomy. But others, of whom I am one, believe that entry into the Community would provide the regions of Britain with a unique opportunity of breaking through into better times. They deserve better times. They must not be deprived of the opportunity of enjoying them.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)
Throughout the debate the recurring theme which we have heard in speech after speech is the fear that there is a degree of cynicism in British democracy about parliamentary institutions. Whatever may be said about the faults on either side in the debate, of one thing there can be no doubt: at the last General Election the people of this country were given a clear undertaking by the right hon. Gentleman who is now our Prime Minister that there could be no question of entry to the European Economic Community without the wholehearted consent of the British people. What has been made patently clear again and again throughout the debate is that there is no evidence that that wholehearted support exists in the nation at the moment.
We have heard a good deal about the possibilities of economic growth should Britain join the Community. It is interesting that so many speakers who normally pride themselves on their pragmatism in their approach to national political and economic affairs should have relied so frequently in their arguments upon unsubstantiated generalities in this respect.
I have listened most attentively to those hon. Members, on both sides of the House, who have suggested that economic growth must follow entry. I have heard that asserted repeatedly, but I have heard no concrete evidence whatsoever of how that would necessarily occur. One of the things that we have been told is that we would automatically enjoy the growth which has occurred within the Community during the years in which it has existed, but again nobody has managed to demonstrate clearly to the House how something that has taken place in previous years, even if it were related to the existence of the Community as such, would automatically rub off on Britain if we were to join at this stage.
What particularly disturbs me about these observations is that, at a time when this country faces profound economic problems, problems which must be overcome if we are to sustain our well-being, let alone enhance it in the future, there is obviously acute danger in suggesting to the nation that these difficulties can 1618 be solved by panacea solutions of one kind or another. The fact is that unless we get our economic management right in Britain whether we are in the Community or outside it there is no hope for the future, and it seems to me, therefore, highly relevant, at any time when an approach of this kind is being made, to assess the competence of the Administration in power at the time in deciding whether we have the expertise, the right policies, to make a go in any particular direction.
The other argument about which we have heard a good deal in this debate is that about the balance of payments. I think that charitable hon. Members, even on the benches opposite, would agree that one of the reasons why we are apparently in a position to contemplate taking on the burden of the cost of entry in terms of the adverse charge on our balance of payments is the dramatic turn round in our balance of payments situation as a country between 1964 and 1970.
With all the sincerity that I can command I say to my hon. Friends on this side of the House, and to hon. Gentlemen opposite, that while the policies of my right hon. Friends were highly relevant in securing that change in our balance of payments situation, the accumulated surplus when we left office was not simply the achievement, as I am sure my right hon. Friends would agree, of successful administration on their part. That surplus was the result of the efforts and sacrifices of the people of Britain, and, therefore, we in this House, on both sides, are acting at this juncture as trustees of their hard work and sacrifices. It simply is not good enough to suggest to them that we must accept crippling charges of this kind, unless we can demonstrate beyond doubt what the return on this investment will be, and nowhere, at no point in the debate, has that been demonstrated.
There has also, during the debate, been a lot of specious talk, as we have heard from commentators on the news media, and on the radio and television in recent weeks and months, about terms. It is extraordinary arrogance for us in this House to suggest that for the people whom we represent terms are simply the shape of the overall economic package 1619 agreed between the British Government and the European Economic Community.
Terms for my constituents, and, I suggest, terms for the constituents of every other right hon. and hon. Member, mean the legislation which will or will not be introduced by the Government of the day to protect or to enhance the well-being of ordinary people in this country following entry. What has been conspicous by its absence throughout the debate has been any suggestion whatsoever in detail from the Government of how this aspect of the terms, this responsibility to the people of Britain, is to be discharged.
One thing on which hon. Members are agreed, whatever their final decision, is that a fundamental principle of the Community is the free movement of capital. Thus one can understand the attractions of entry for those in our midst who control large amounts of capital. But it is not self-evident that such a move will be in the interests of ordinary people, who have nothing to invest but their labour. Therefore, we have a right to demand from the Government an explanation of how they would prevent large parts of Britain from becoming Northern Europe's Calabria—
§ Mr. Judd
It is clear from the unfortunate remarks of the Secretary of State for Wales that we can have no confidence that the Government have policies to prevent such a disaster.
One thing which we should have heard, and which I hope we will yet hear, is how the benefits and burdens of entry will be shared throughout the community. We should hear in much more detail precisely which industries the Government expect to expand and which they expect to contract. Then we will want to know some. thing of their contingency plans for dealing with the social consequences of expansion and contraction of this kind.
§ Mr. Crouch
The House always listens to the hon. Member because of his sincerity of argument, but is he really suggesting that Great Britain, an industrial nation of over 150 years of development and experience, second to none in Europe, will not achieve the objectives that it seeks in entering the Common 1620 Market? It is incredible that he should try to persuade the House in this argument. He is convincing no one.
§ Mr. Judd
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the flattering terms in which he couched his intervention. I should like to hear him develop detailed answers to the points which I have raised and which I believe deserve an answer if the Government are to win the vote on Thursday night.
I sometimes fear that in the aftermath of entry those who were in a strong bargaining position might be able to seize the advantages of entry to enhance their well-being, certainly to make good any short term losses following entry. But we must know how the weaker members of our society will be protected and social justice preserved. What will be the Government's policy towards the elderly, the unemployed, the sick, the professional workers, nurses, social workers and public sector workers?
In my constituency a higher than average number of people work in the Government service and the public sector. They constantly ask me how, with their weaker industrial bargaining position, they will be protected and by what Government measures.
I have fairly strong views about another issue in the context of this debate. In many ways I have a great deal of respect for those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who have come to a different conclusion from mine, and I respect their position. Frequently they argue that one of the fundamental planks in their approach to the Common Market is that we must accept that in the world in which we live and in an age of potential mass destruction we have to move realistically towards practical internationalism. They argue that to enter the E.E.C. would be a step in the right direction towards recognition of international interdependence. I want to examine the Community's approach to three major world problems and to examine the approach of our present Government, who are taking us into the Community, towards the same problems.
Let us first consider world development. Probably the greatest crisis facing human society is the employment crisis of the world as a whole. Outside China, for which we have no statistics, there are at 1621 present 75 million people totally unemployed. During the next 10 years the population of working age in the developing countries will increase by 225 million. Nothing can stop that. No one in the House can suggest that any of us in the so-called industrialised world can be immune from the social and political consequences of an explosion of this size.
Let us look at the Community's economic policies. We hear a great deal about its better aid record. Let us look at the terms and the areas of concentration of that aid and at the political motives for it. Very frequently one will find that it is in no way related to overcoming the major issue I have just described.
But, even worse, let us look at the common agricultural policy and at the tariff structure of the Community. When one examines these in detail—there has been references to sugar—we have had no convincing reassurance from right hon. Gentlemen opposite about the sugar agreement. If we look at the tariff structure of the Common Agricultural Policy we see that it is designed to shore up relatively high-cost European production and even to subsidise dumping on world markets, when the overriding need in the developing countries is to develop labour-intensive economic activity—that is, largely rural and agricultural activity. The quota systems of the E.E.C., with their ceilings, are weighted against the products from the agricultural sectors and rather ridiculously favour the manufactured products of developing countries, which are not competitive.
Here is one issue which must provide grounds for concern. We have heard nothing from Ministers about how this was raised or discussed in the negotiations on entry.
Let us consider the racial confrontation in the world. Surely all of us must be concerned about its possible consequences. Its nerve centre is the African continent. I respect the sincerity of my right hon. and hon. Friends, but how can they suggest that under this Administration it is a step towards internationalism to join this Community? The French not only export arms to South Africa but also permit the manufacture of French arms in South Africa under licence. Repeatedly we see evidence of countries 1622 within the Community being implicated in the breaking of sanctions against Rhodesia. We see even our friends in West Germany refusing to put pressure on German industry to withdraw from involvement in the Cabora Bassa dam in Mozambique, with all its implications for the support of white supremacy in Southern Africa. At the Singapore conference right hon. Gentlemen opposite were locked in irreconcilable conflict with a representative cross-section of the Third World. How can we say that these men, taking us into Europe at this juncture, are taking us further on the road to internationalism?
My third and final example in this context concerns East-West relations—dear to us all. On this issue I am afraid that I shall surprise some of my other right hon. and hon. Friends when I make this point. Any sane objective look at this situation must demonstrate that we can make progress only in the context of wide, strong alliances.
When I go to meetings of the Council of Europe or of the Western European Union and this subject is discussed, it seems no time at all before someone is talking about the need for an integrated Western European defence system with—somebody says it sooner or later—a European nuclear deterrent. How can we possibly further the cause of an East-West détente in the long run if we are at the same time trying to build up, with all the pressure needed within so-called democratic societies, a new militancy for a compact, integrated Western European defence system? We know that right hon. Members opposite, however much they deny it, are utterly committed to this approach in the organisation of defence.
I hope that I shall not be considered melodramatic in saying that I worry deeply about this debate for another reason. All of us as politicians seem so hemmed in and so lacking in vision in the discussion of our future policies. We seem always to be thinking of a decade, or perhaps two decades, ahead. When I look back at the history of human society the one thing that seems self-evident is that every civilisation in history before us, without exception, has destroyed itself or declined. What reason have we to believe that our civilisation will achieve what no other civilisation in the history of human society has achieved?
1623 If we accept that challenge, we must look to radical solutions to ensure that our civilisation has a future. For 50 years we have talked in various circles in a rather effete, elitist way about how good it would be if other people shared our sense of enlightenment, how we could have a much healthier democracy if we could have a more participant democracy, more decentralisation, more involvement of people in shaping their affairs in work and in leisure. We have talked about that as a value judgment.
I sometimes think that the paradox of our society at present is that, although we have unrivalled capacity for centralised planning, the system has become more intricate, more vulnerable, than ever before. I fervently believe that if our civilisation is to survive and prosper we must now accept that devolution and decentralisation—involvement—is the only basis for stability in our society.
How can political momentum be generated in the direction of decentralisation, devolution and involvement at the same time that our highest political priority is the building up—the joining—of a more remote bureaucracy in Brussels?
§ 10.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
The hon. Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd) will understand if I reach the same conclusion as he does but for rather different reasons. Since 1957 I have seen the attitudes of most right hon. and hon. Members change through 180 degrees and in some cases 360 degrees. As one who is not vulnerable in this respect, I say that it is a pity that so much time is taken up in our debates in jobbing back to what people said in the past. There are few on either side who have not changed their position on this issue. The only question which we ought to be considering is what is in the best interests of the country which we serve at this very important time in our history.
There was, however, one rather more serious point which was made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, and, because I always respect him greatly, I wish to take a moment to tell him why I think that it was a bad point. He said that the House would be contradicting itself if it were to reach a con- 1624 clusion against the Motion now before it. I believe that to be a bad point because of the nature and effect of Parliament's decision on the two previous occasions.
In 1961 it was made clear that we were asked to authorise only an exploratory negotiation. This was emphasised over and over again, that it was totally without commitment for the future. That was what the House then authorised. Again, in 1967, although some indication was given by the then Labour Government of the extent of commitment to which we might have to go, still there was immense emphasis on the tentative nature of our inquiries. We were uncommitted by them, and, if we did not like the idea in the end, there were acceptable alternatives. Indeed, I remember that when the late Fred Bellenger somewhat rapturously described the change of attitude of his leader and compared it with the conversation of St. Paul on the road to Damascus I intervened to say that St. Paul on that occasion had not said, as the then Prime Minister had, that there were other acceptable alternatives. Again. therefore, Parliament was voting for an exploratory negotiation.
What worries me is that there never will be an occasion when this issue has been clearly put before Parliament for its unqualified and committed approval. In 1961 and in 1967 we were told, "Not yet". In 1971 we are inclined to be told that we cannot decently go back on our earlier votes. In my view, this matter is one too fraught with destiny for any manipulating techniques of this kind. I do not, of course, accuse my right hon. Friend of that, but there has been a tendency to say that Parliament is committed by its past and that we must now go forward because it would be insulting to go back.
What is true of Parliament is even more true of the British people. They have not only not been asked; they have been earnestly and repeatedly assured that they were not voting for commitment beyond negotiation, that there was no question of going in against their will, or, even more strongly put, without their full-hearted consent. Yet we are now being told that it was implicit in negotiating that success, by which one means the termination of the negotiation, implied entry.
1625 Were the public told that negotiation meant total acceptance of the Treaty of Rome, without any except numerical amendments, that the much trumpeted negotiations were about nothing but the stages by which we should assimilate the conduct of most of our affairs to the pattern of the wholly unchanged Treaty of Rome? Or were they constantly asked to "Wait for the terms" before making up their minds? And were not the negotiations given a public relations treatment of the highest order, and their termination marked by the induced euphoria of a great triumph?
But for the unsubsidised efforts of individuals on both sides in politics, would the public ever have been told that, in intention, not only were we committed to the unamended Treaty of Rome but also, in the words of the British Ambassador in Paris:We have solemnly and explicitly undertaken to adopt the Community system of agricultural support, Community price levels, the mechanism of Community preference, Community levies, the Community system of ressources propres … the Community fiscal system, Community rules on capital transfers, the Community blueprint for economic and monetary union: in short, the Community itself? All of these we are explicitly and solemnly committed to adopt.I remember my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary saying in the years before 1961 that we should not undertake courses which we were not prepared to see through to their ultimate conclusions, and that if we did so we could rightly earn the title of Perfide Albion.
I must say that I fear that we are in danger of earning that title now, unless in joining we go through with the prospects to which, in the Ambassador's description, we are solemnly and explicity committed, which means we are totally committed for all foreseeable time by the blueprint and the pattern of the Treaty of Rome as it at present exists.
This is, perhaps, a good moment to clear up one other obscure facet in this matter, and that is the question of the veto, of which we hear a good deal in this debate and which appears in the White Paper where it says that no nation will be forced to do anything against its vital interests. It cannot be too clearly or too often stated that this is quite contrary to the Treaty.
1626 What actually happens in Davignon is clear from the broadcast of President Pompidou to the French people in which he said that he asked the Prime Minister whether the Prime Minister would support the French attitude to this, that this is how it ought to be, and that we said we would.
Do not let us forget that the other. Five have said in the most emphatic and clear terms that they would not agree to that, or forget that the Treaty is on their side. All we have undertaken is to support the French in a point of view which they are strongly pressing, and, in fact, we can be, and we may be, overruled in any matter of national significance.
Reference has already been made in this debate to the remarkable article in Die Welt in July by Dr. Dahrendorf, a member of the High Commission, and how he described the Community asa bureaucratic leviathian, obsessed with harmonising for the sake of harmonising.What is not often quoted is this further passage in the article in which Dr. Dahrendorf made the point of the distinction between theory and practice of the treaty. It is so often said that it is, of course, a pedantic treaty, an absurd, a jealous treaty, but that that is not how it works in practice, and that we can take a commonsense view of it because that is what the Six do. Dr. Dahrendorf, who knows what he is talking about because he is one of the nine bureaucrats, says in that passage that it is bureaucracy and harmonisation gone to madness—with specific recipes for sauces, the composition of ice-cream, shapes of bottles—beer, wine. Anything one can think of has a regulation about it. That is what he calls harmonisation for the sake of harmonising.
There is here a false distinction between theory and practice. The practice is worse than the theory. The best that the proponents of entry can hope for is to fall back on the pedantic prescriptions of the treaty itself, or on this bureaucratic state which Dr. Dahrendorf described.
This, too, goes again to the distinction between theory and practice. Dr. Dahrendorf described the High Commission and, indeed, the Community itself as 1627technocrats de jure answerable to no parliament and de facto answerable to no oneHe said:if the current negotiations"—he was writing before their end—had covered the actual political problems of joining, they could never have succeeded.
§ Mr. Bell
It is not only on the record; it is in the treaty. That is about the feeblest point anyone can make. The European Parliament can dismiss the Commission by a two-thirds' majority vote, which in that assembly, without single parties running right across it, would never be collected. Even if it were, the result would be that the Commission would stay in office until replaced, and all its members could be reappointed. As a method of day-to-day control of an executive by a parliament that is a pretty blunt weapon.
I was not going to say this, but it is a nominated parliament. The treaty says that it may be elected—[AN HON. MEMBER: "Shall be elected."]—It says "may", not "shall". But it does not say in the treaty that it should ever have any powers. For that a total amendment of the treaty would be necessary, going through all the processes of unanimity and ratification in every national Parliament.
I therefore describe it as a Community which we should not enter as it is, and which we cannot sensibly alter for the purpose of changing it. If we went in to change it, there are two things we should want to change. One is the common agricultural policy and the other is the dominance of the Commission. By general agreement. those are the two things that would be intolerable to Britain in the long term.
If we wanted to change the common agricultural policy we should be up against a fatal snag. We were kept out by the French veto precisely because we would gang up with the other Five to break the C.A.P. That veto was not lifted until at The Hague in 1969 the 1628 other Five agreed to what Mr. Pompidou called on French television the "clear bargain" that the common agricultural policy would be permanent if we were allowed in. In other words, the Five promised that they would not gang up with Britain to smash it if Britain were allowed in. And we promised at the Elysée—this also is in the television broadcast—that we would not gang up with them to smash it.
Therefore, if we wanted to break the common agricultural policy from inside, we should first have to persuade those who had promised not to do so to join with us in doing it. That would surely turn the place into a bear garden, even if it succeeded.
Second, if we wanted to change the Commission's dominance we should have only one ally—France. All the others are against us. So we should be ganging up with the others against France for one of those changes and ganging up with France against the others for the second.
For those obvious reasons of morality and practicability the idea of going into the Community to change it from inside within any reasonable period is purely illusory.
The other difficulty I foresee—and I am keeping to very general difficulties—is the character, the ethos, of the Community. We talk about going in and giving a lead, and about making bargains with them in our negotiations—"aura au coeur" and the like.
The Commissioner said in his article that in their dealings Community officials talk "Euro-Chinese" and he castigatedthe appalling habit of the European Community of always concealing what is important, to hold it always as a victory when the people you are dealing with have not noticed what your purpose is; in every case never to say what you think—that habit that has rightly caused misgiving to the applicant countries about the negotiations concerning the Sugar Agreement guarantee.That is what he thought about the Commission's guarantee. He thought that we were very wise to be worried because the Community lies, not from malice or bad faith but from ingrained habit.
§ Mr. John Roper (Farnworth)
I have followed the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech with great interest, and he has obviously read Dr. Dahrendorf's 1629 article with great care, but did not Dr. Dahrendorf go on to say that he expected that British entry would change some of the practices which he had been criticising?
§ Mr. Bell
I do not think he said that. What he said was that this was a Europe which was already almost dead and that it would have to be replaced by a second Europe which would arise from its ashes, not through our accession but through the Davignon Committee. I am concerned with what he said—that lying and cheating are their ingrained habit; they go on doing it because they cannot stop; they deceive as a matter of course; they use words to obscure their meaning. He also thinks that we should be worried about the Sugar Agreement. If that is right, should not we be equally worried about the reassurances given to New Zealand?
What the Commissioner said should not surprise us. We know about the Latins. They have many gifts, but transparent honesty is not among them. It is not surprising that one of the two German members of the Commission should make those comments, because the Germans have their faults, too. They have their virtues, but among their virtues is not verbal chicanery. We would be joining a community which, by this description and by general experience, is one in which the standards of political and commercial honesty are not ours.
Is this the Community in which we are going to lead, with our greater experience? Are we going to out-lie the liars and out-cheat the cheats?
§ Mr. Bell
It is no good saying "Disgraceful". I have quoted my source for my comments, which is one of the nine members of the Commission of the Community.
However, we are perhaps learning, because I noticed that Lord Thorneycroft was earlier quoted with approval. In his book "Design for Europe", he said:No Government dependent upon a democratic vote could possibly agree in advance to the sacrifices which any adequate plan must involve. The people must be led slowly and unconsciously to an abandonment of their traditional economic defences.This kind of thing is dangerous. We must be absolutely straightforward with 1630 the British public about this. What my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said in 1959 was profoundly true: we must not embark upon courses which we are not prepared to see through to their ultimate conclusion; otherwise we shall be accused of bad faith.
It is our duty to tell the British public that if we go into the Community, never mind the economic pluses and minuses which I have not time to deal with, it will be the end of the significant exercise of the parliamentary system here because the main powers will go over to Brussels and, therefore, to a Community extremely unfamiliar to us. One might say that Dr. Dahrendorf's language was too florid, but there must be something in it. Would our experience in this democratic assembly qualify us to lead in continental politics where there are all these ad hoc coalitions, shifting alliances and sometimes rather shady compromises? We are children in these matters. We should not go in to lead, nor should we succeed in making any significant impact in the short time available to us.
We should be joining, it would appear, not only a Community that would be politically strange and disagreeable to us but one where the economic promise has already faded. So much has been said about that, so many comparisons made over the past 10 years. Why does not someone compare performances between the Community and us over the last three years? That would be a very different picture. I do not know whether that slight decline in its growth rate at the time of the formation of the Community had any significance but certainly since the treaty came into full effect less than two years ago the position has been fairly dramatic.
There are few hon. Members who do not know what has happened to the German growth rate over three years. It was less than ours. What has happened to the Italian growth rate over three years? This year it is a minus quantity. What about the other growth rates in the Community? How will we gain dynamism by entering a Community which is heading into stagnation, inflation and I fear, in the end, recrimination?
On political and economic grounds this is a foolish moment for taking this step. If we enter, the bargain at The Hague in December 1969 clicks shut, 1631 they are bound by their terms and we by ours. If we do not go in, the bargain at The Hague falls to the ground. In no time at all the common agricultural policy, now so burdensome because economic growth has faded, will fall to the ground and in a short time we shall have the opportunity of joining with those nations on the Continent without the common agricultural policy, without the dominance of the Commission and, therefore, with the Commonwealth, with control over our affairs and with cheap food, just as we have these things now with E.F.T.A., and should seek to have them in any association which we in this country with our long history of proud institutions ever negotiate.
§ 11.13 p.m.
§ Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Sutton)
Divisions of opinion on whether Britain should enter the E.E.C. cut across party lines, across party political labels, and the speech by the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) illustrates that. He was barracked more by his hon. Friends than by this side of the House, and possibly more than he has ever been barracked before in this House. None of us can claim that in making our decisions on Thursday night we shall be choosing the ideal companions with whom to troop through the Lobby. All of us can point to those with whom we would not normally agree but with whom we shall be voting.
Although there are few things on which we are all agreed, very few have challenged the fact that on Thursday we shall be making a decision of the utmost importance, more important than has been made in this House for decades, one which will affect the future of the country for decades. I have been a longstanding supporter of Britain's entry to the E.E.C., and the major reason why I believe we should go in is political. I am the first to admit, however, that the economic reasons, the reasons which will affect our constituents, are fundamental and the first and most important issue which all of us must take into account.
I would not be prepared to recommend Britain to enter the European Economic Community if I seriously believed that my constituents and their standard of living 1632 would be severely adversely affected over even the transitional years, let alone the years to come. I come from a region which has over the last 20 years had perpetually high unemployment levels. In the early hours of this morning I drew the attention of the House to the severe unemployment problems that Devon and Cornwall face, and they do not just face them now but have faced them year in and year out ever since the war.
Unemployment and the misery that goes with it have been with us in this country for many, many years, and when people speak about the dangers of entry to our standard of living I remember the many years when this country has not been able to put the public expenditure resources into the health service, into education and into housing which every hon. Member wishes to see put in. I have seen this country's economic growth rate stagnate and deflate. I have seen the stop-go cycle of the economy as part of a perpetual state that has bedevilled us over 30 years. Like many other hon. Members of both sides, I believe the opportunity exists within the Community to break out of this cycle.
I readily concede that entry does not give automatic growth. I readily concede that the economic advantages are in some areas finely balanced. I know that people have different views. But, speaking purely in my constituency capacity, I am convinced that there is no reason for me to change my belief that the regional tools used by successive Governments over the last 20 years can be used just as effectively as in the past within the framework of the enlarged Community.
I do not believe that it will be a painless period when we enter the Community. I believe that a good deal of the proganda in favour of the Common Market, particularly on the economic issues, has been slanted and unrealistic. I do not wish any of my constituents to think that in advocating entry to the Community I am offering them automatic prosperity. But I do believe that a radical party, a party that wishes to see change, should not be afraid of accepting challenges, and I believe, as the best judgment I can make, that the economic advantages of Britain's entering are likely to emerge progressively over the years.
When I look at the existing members of the Community I see certain facts. 1633 There is no political party within the Six that does not wish to stay within the Community. There is no Socialist party within Europe that does not wish its Socialist colleagues in England, in Ireland and in Denmark and in Norway to join the expanding Community of the Ten. There is no major trade union in Europe that does not wish its trade union colleagues in this country to join it in the Community of the Ten.
Every country of the Six has seen over the years a real increase in the standard of living recognised by the members of its trade unions. There is not a region in the European Economic Community that has seen an actual worsening of its standard of living, and many regions have shown a very marked relative improvement in their position as compared with the more prosperous regions.
So I believe that the fears of my hon. Friend in the regions about the effects of entry are unrealistic. I believe, as we in government believed in 1967 and again in 1970, that there are no regional arguments why we should not enter the Community. But, as I said at the beginning of my speech, the real reasons for advocating entry into Europe are political.
Let me make it quite clear that this is not to chase again after some super-Power image or the attainment of some European super-Power. I have not advocated for years that this country should face its real role in the world, I have not been a strong advocate of leaving east of Suez and of deserting the old nostalgic image of imperial grandeur, suddenly to want to replace this by some European illusion of grandeur. But I believe that the whole idealism behind the unity of Europe is something we in this House should look at most carefully and reject with extreme care. For nobody in the House can be under any illusion that the choice we are asked to make on Thursday will not recur.
I freely admit that the terms are not ideal. I believe my right hon. Friends would have achieved better terms, but the issue is whether we should reject the concept of European unity.
When I talk about European unity, I am talking in part about our concept of nationalism and internationalism. I find that one of the most dangerous facets of modern life and, indeed, of our history 1634 over the last 50 years is the scar of nationalism. I believe in internationalism as an article of faith. Of course that means that one gives up sovereignty, and a lot of the debate in this House has been focussed upon sovereignty, and rightly so, because this is a central matter to many of the people who fundamentally do not wish us to go into Europe. They do not wish to give up any measure of sovereignty, and the debate today on regional policy has shown the reluctance of hon. Members to give up power from this House; they do not wish to give up any power that we exercise as a nation and put ourselves into the decision structure of other nations because it involves compromise. It involves not always getting one's own way. It is, however, foolish to try to sell the concept of the E.E.C., and not admit that this means giving up some sovereignty. Of course it does, and I believe it rightly does. I believe this is one of the central appeals of it.
I would say this to my hon. Friends, with many of whom I have agreed in the past on issues of race and of Britain's position in the world. Many of us at the moment look to the United Nations, but we see it as a weak institution. Many of us are asking for its powers to be strengthened. When we look at the present situation in a country like East Pakistan, many of us are asking that the United Nations should start taking powers to intervene in the internal affairs of a member country. Many of us when we were faced with the problem of Rhodesia believed we could actively interfere in the affairs of a nation and not allow ourselves to be confined to a maritime strategy. Therefore, if we believe in the United Nations having more power, it means we must give up some of our power to the United Nations.
When we give up power to other organisations or treaties that we join, whether it be G.A.T.T., E.F.T.A., N.A.T.O., or whatever it may be, we give up that power as a conscious decision to an international organisation. We have often done so to regional groups mainly in the hope that doing so will be just the start of a process of eroding the corrosive power of nationalism leading to internationalism.
I say to my hon. Friends that if international Socialism means anything, it means giving up power from this House and collaborating with other nations. If 1635 it means making sacrifices for those in the less fortunate regions, even in regions of Europe, so what? What is it all about? Why have we always talked about Socialism International? It is because we have refused to believe that poverty can be looked at just within these shores. Those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who have a long record of backing aid to the under-developed world, to the third world, to Africa, should not turn their backs on helping to get a more egalitarian society in that area which lies most closely within their power to influence.
On some of the other international aspects, it has been said how much we dislike France being outside N.A.T.O. I believe that the French attitude to N.A.T.O. causes a very serious deficiency in the effectiveness of the Alliance. A major nation like that outside N.A.T.O., quite apart from 40,000 troops and their ability to contribute to the defence of N.A.T.O., destroys the cohesion of the organisation.
When people say that they dislike the French attitude to South Africa, I reply that in the political dialogue which will be opened up by Britain's entry into the E.E.C., though it may take time, we should be able to exert our influence on the French to make them more responsive to many of the attitudes about which we feel deeply.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I follow my hon. Friend's argument about the reduction of sovereignty, but how has Britain's membership of N.A.T.O. influenced the Portuguese to lessen the atrocities that they are committing in Angola and Mozambique?
§ Dr. Owen
My hon. Friend has pointed to a weakness in N.A.T.O. I have long believed that N.A.T.O. should adopt more vigorous policies in relation to Portugal and, for that matter, Greece. If N.A.T.O. is to be a proper democratic organisation, it should adopt much tougher policies. Although I was a member of the previous Administration and served in the Ministry of Defence, which was most closely associated with N.A.T.O., I repeat something which I have said consistently both inside and outside Government when I say that I wish to see N.A.T.O. strengthened in that way.
1636 One of the major contributions that our entry will make will be to retain the North Atlantic Alliance. This country has strong links with America which I value. I value them especially in terms of defence. I have no wish for Europe to set itself up as a separate defence force. Apart from the sheer defence arguments, that would only reveal how weak it was, and it would undermine a central feature of N.A.T.O. in that we have a strong link with a super-Power. As long as America remains tied into the Alliance, there is no need for us to chase European super-Power status.
How will we keep America in the Alliance? Those of us with close friends and relatives who are Americans know that among the youth of America there is a growing mood of isolationism. Their frustration and anger about Vietnam has turned into apathy about America's world rôle. They are no longer angry; they simply do not want to know.
Many responsible Americans know that Europe must start taking a bigger share. Europe must start to develop some greater political identity and cohesion. When I talk about Europe, I do not talk just about Western Europe. The amount that Willy Brandt has done in the last three years to ease the tensions between East and West has been immense. But those tensions exist still. It may be that, if we see the S.P.D. continuing in power inside Germany. it will want to move to a policy of disengagement in Europe. It may be that, in order to have such disengagement, we shall need a strong and integrated Europe.
We in this House have not much to fear from trying to have a greater influence on France and a greater diplomatic influence on our European colleagues. This is particularly so for those of us who are Socialists. I say that I shall vote on Thursday for Britain to enter the European Economic Community—for Socialist reasons. I support entry now, just as I supported it in 1962 when it was unpopular in this party, and just as I resisted the temptation, in fighting an agricultural seat in Devon in 1964, to change my mind for cheap votes which were then easily obtainable. I stayed constant to Europe then.
1637 I saw my party change its mind because it saw the economic realities facing it when it took office in 1964. It was no accident that we changed our minds. We lived through the experience of July, 1966. I have never voted against my party, nor abstained, but the one decision I regret is that I did not vote against my Government in July, 1966, because the deflationary policies which we followed then were wrong, but I knew then I should be voting against a party when it was in Government.
Today I feel a free man. In 1967 we decided to enter the European Economic Community. We on this side should remind ourselves that we were very unpopular as a Government in 1967. It was not all that easy for the then Tory Opposition to vote with us. They did so because some of them genuinely wanted the issue of European unity not to become a party political issue. It should not be a party political issue.
The transitional arrangements for entry would be very different under a Labour Government from what they will be under a Tory Government. The measures that the Tory Government will take to shield those people on low incomes, to shield the old, the sick and the disabled, will not be the measures which I will want. But we make the decision to go in, as we have made the decision on every treaty which we have signed in the last 25 years, not on party political grounds.
We have a real opportunity of removing this Tory Government from office. We will do it, as we have already begun to do it—by whittling away at by-elections, by showing that their resolve to govern is so weakened that they will be forced into a General Election on the legitimate constitutional grounds that this House allows to erode the power placed in a Government. It is not inconceivable that we may be in government again even before we join in 1973. When we are in government again we must be in government so that we can influence Europe, talk to our Socialist friends and colleagues, and be able to go to the British people with a credible and consistent record.
Power is exercised by permission of the people. It upsets me to find that at the moment public opinion is against us on this issue. I take no pride in the fact that we are making our decision on 1638 Thursday when all the evidence seems to show that public opinion does not wish to enter the European Economic Community. It worries me as a democrat that we should be making such a major decision against public opinion.
But public opinion has not always been right on major issues. Public opinion was in favour of appeasement in the 1930s. Public opinion has, on occasions, to be led, and to be led from in front. What is at issue at the moment is whether a political party sticks to its beliefs because it believes in political principles. Is it prepared to lead opinion, not always to follow it? That is the issue.
I believe that a Labour Government which is returned to power will find it easier to exercise the Socialist priorities in social spending, in spending on health, education and welfare, which all of us in this party want, if we are within the European Economic Community, not outside it. I believe that we shall be better able to exercise an influence for good in international affairs and in East-West relations within the Community than outside it.
That is why I shall vote on Thursday to support British entry, but I shall do so in a mood of sadness that I have to make a decision to go against the will of my party. I believe in party unity. I believe that we exercise power here because we have been sent here as representatives of our party, not as individuals. But, equally, I believe that the electorate expect us to make our decisions on this of all issues on the way ahead that we think will be good for the country for decades to come. They will expect us to exercise judgment, and my judgment is that Britain should enter the European Economic Community.
§ 11.34 p.m.
§ Mrs. Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
It is quite an experience to have a ringside seat for the six-day circus act opposite and to watch the effect of the ringmaster cracking his three-line Whip to make his dogs do acrobatics with their tongues. [Interruption.] I am sorry they do not like this. If the three-line Whip does not get them the threat to remove their dog licence well may, and one can, of course, have sympathy for them in their position. But it is the integrity of the hon. Member for 1639 Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen) which will come through. When the dust and noise of this particular parliamentary battle have subsided the ones to retain their integrity will be those who have struck to their opinions no matter what the pressure might have been.
One has a great many reservations and fears about this question, and one has searched out and studied all the available information on it for something like 10 years. I will confine my remarks to one aspect which worried me very much—the position of the Commonwealth were we to enter the Common Market.
I took the opportunity through the summer to go to three Commonwealth countries and to see their reaction for myself; to see whether it was true, as so many letters from my constituents had feared, that we were in some way betraying them and that they were very much against what we intended to do.
The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) had a lot to say about New Zealand. I wish he had taken the trouble to go there as I did to find out the true position. I had an hour-long interview with the Prime Minister, Sir Keith Holyoake, but I also spoke to many other Members of Parliament and people like farmers, businessmen and men and women in the street from the North Island to the South Island.
I learned four things. One is that the economic dependence of New Zealand on Britain, about which so many people have been very concerned in view of New Zealand's special position, has declined markedly in the last 30 years and not just in the last two or three.
I have the full percentages for the direction of New Zealand exports from 1940. In that year the United Kingdom took 88 per cent. of those exports. Last year we took 39 per cent. While their exports to us have been declining their exports to other countries have been increasing. In 1940 New Zealand sent only 4 per cent. of her exports to the United States of America. Last year they sent 17 per cent. In 1940 they sent 1 per cent. to Japan; in 1970 they sent 10 per cent. Exports to Australia went up from 3 per cent. in 1940 to 8 per cent. in 1970. So they are developing other markets very fast.
1640 The second point was on the terms. When one talked to the people of New Zealand there was no doubt that they held a widespread belief that the terms negotiated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Mr. Marshall were satisfactory to New Zealand.
For the next 6½ years the dairy industry there has more certainty than ever before, and guaranteed prices which it never had before. Even after 6½ years they know there is still a market in Europe for their dairy products. The hon. Member for Watford quoted Mr. Marshall. I, too, shall quote him, and this is what he said while I was there:Let me emphasise that this is a remarkable situation for the industry which has in the past had to face uncertainty in prices and sometimes in quantity of sales in its export markets.I went down to South Island, where I spoke to the farmers of Otago at Dunedin. Their main concern is about sheep meat, and there is uncertainty, in that as there is so far no Common Market policy on sheep meat, no negotiations could be held with the Six on the question of New Zealand lamb. To quote Mr. Marshall again, he said:However, it has always been a very high priority with us to obtain an assurance from the British Government that our lamb trade will be safeguarded. The form of the assurance that we have obtained is a statement by the British Government of its confidence that there will continue to be adequate and remunerative access for lamb from traditional sources of supply after Britain has joined the Community. When, and if, an enlarged Community comes to consider adopting a common sheep meats policy, we expect that this assurance from the British Government will be fulfilled.In other words, they are perfectly happy about the terms.
Another fact that I learned when I was in New Zealand was that for many years they have been bedevilled by the uncertainty of whether Britain was to go in or not, and what kind of conditions and terms would be negotiated for entry. When I arrived in New Zealand I found that there was a great deal of satisfaction that this long period of uncertainty was over, and then the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition did his somersault and came down flat on his face on the wrong side of the fence, which had a terrible effect in New Zealand, because the people were 1641 starting all over again—[Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh, but it was not a laughing matter in New Zealand, because until then they had thought that the uncertainty was to end. If only the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition would think sometimes about the effect that some of his statements have in other parts of the world, he might make them with rather more care than he does.
The fourth thing that I was told in New Zealand was, "There is no point to us to have Britain less than prosperous. We do not want the prosperity of the head of the Commonwealth to be declining, and for this reason, too, we want you to go in, and we wish you good fortune in your efforts". That is what I was told, even though I had gone to New Zealand with many misgivings about their views.
I have here two letters which I have received from New Zealand during the last few days. The first is one that I do not doubt has been received by nearly every hon. Member. It is from the New Zealand Social Credit Party. When I was in New Zealand I discovered that although this letter suggests that the party carries great weight there, the New Zealanders themselves have so little time for it that they have not elected even one member of the party to their Parliament.
The second letter is from Oamaru, and the writer says:When Mr. Marshall, our Deputy Prime Minister, returned from the United Kingdom, there was a feeling of profound gratitude and relief at the favourable terms which had been arranged for us. Mr. Kirk, however, has chosen to make political capital of this issue"—a manoeuvre which is familiar to hon. Gentlemen opposite—and to present an entirely misleading impression in Britain, with which few people here would wish to be associated.It is appalling to read of Mr. Wilson's volte face, and also of the apparent closing of the British Labour Party ranks in an anti-common market attitude. …My purpose in writing to you is to stress the predominant attitude of the people of New Zealand—so grossly and deliberately misinterpreted by Mr. Kirk. It is widely recognised that Britain's future lies in Europe and that the consideration shown towards us has been more than generous.That is quite unequivocal. So my misgivings in New Zealand were not at all confirmed by the facts.
1642 Second, I went to Australia. There I found a great deal of concern about trading matters, but this was nothing to do with the Common Market. This was because the bottom has virtually dropped out of the wool market. I was told in Queensland, by the Premier, Mr. Bjelke-Petersen, that on many once prosperous wool farms the farmer has dismissed all his hands and is now merely living on the produce of his garden.
But this is nothing to do with the Common Market. Everywhere in Australia, they make it clear that they recognise entirely that we should seek entry, that this will give us the best chance of prosperity. They stress that they have had increasing trade with Japan because our delivery dates, they say, are all over the place, and they cannot be certain about the help with spares which they may need. There is also the question of dock strikes and so on. So they have stepped up their trade very much with Japan—[Interruption.] I am sorry that hon. Members opposite do not like this—they so rarely like the truth—but they will have it whether they like it or not.
In fact, only a tiny proportion of Australia's exports—7½ per cent.—will be affected by our entering the Common Market. So any misgivings which I had when I went to Australia were similarly removed.
I then went to little Mauritius, a tiny island in a particular position in the Commonwealth. Their position is awkward because nearly all their export eggs are in one basket—sugar. About 96 per cent. of their exports is sugar. So of course they are concerned about the future when Britain enters the Common Market. But again they recognise, I found when I talked to Ministers, that they have several alternatives open to them. They could join another Yaoundé Convention, or they could have some commercial agreements, some of which are under consideration. I was asked in Port Louis whether the French farmers might decide to grow more sugar beet. They too had heard that the French farmers were not very efficient.
I quoted to them that part of the White Paper which says:The Community's firm purpose would be to safeguard the developing countries w hose economies depend on sugar.1643 This is mentioned not once but several times in the White Paper, and it is abundantly clear.
Furthermore, Mauritius has a special advantage because of the enormous interest which France takes in Mauritius. The reasons for this go back into history. To give one example of how much French influence there is in this tiny island, of its 19 newspapers, seven are printed in French. There are great ties still between France and Mauritius. Therefore, not one but two members of the Common Market will be interested in the future of this island. So, again, my reservations and concern were quite overcome by what I found when I talked to the people of this island.
The other considerations—of prices, of sovereignty, of opportunity, costs and influence—have all been covered by other hon. Members. I promised to be brief. I wanted to speak particularly of this experience of mine. because I found it most relevant in the context of this debate. All in all, it is nonsense to suggest that the Commonwealth will end because the Common Market is to include Britain. I shall most certainly support entry.
§ 11.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow, West)
I apologise to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) for being unable immediately to follow her in my remarks. I want to return later to the theme of Mauritius and the developing countries.
I have never before spoken to such a distinguished audience in the House. The few speeches I make in the Chamber are usually made between midnight and 4 o'clock in the morning to about five people. Therefore, it is rather overwhelming to see so many hon. Members who I know are anxious to speak and hope that I will get on as quickly as possible.
I cannot pretend to the flowing eloquence of many of the speeches on this fourth day of the debate. Having read the first two days of the debate and heard the whole of it yesterday, I regard this as the best day's debate we have had. The speeches on both sides have been excellent. I hope that I speak as an unbiased observer when I say that the 1644 best pro-Market speeches were delivered today and yesterday and were made almost entirely by hon. Members on this side of the House. From the point of view of presentation of the Government's case, it is a great pity that some of my hon. Friends, just for this occasion. could not have been speaking from the Government Front Bench. I mean no disrespect when I say that. They could have done the job for the Government much better than the Government spokesmen have done for the cause in which they believe.
I ask two questions of my hon. Friends who wish to enter the Community. As the House well knows from the number of Questions I have asked in the year 1970–71 on the Common Market issue. I am a passionate opponent of British membership on any terms whatsoever. The basis of the appeal which some of my hon. Friends are directing to me and to others who intend to vote against the Motion on Thursday seems to be twofold. First, there is the appeal that we in the Labour Movement must forget the New Jerusalem and concentrate on building the New Brussels. This is a substitute, and one which I oppose for the very good reason that the New Jerusalem, as we in the Labour Movement understand it, does not yet exist in blueprint form and we have certainly not yet started the task of acquiring the materials to build it, whereas the blueprint of the New Brussels exists and the building has already started—and I do not like the blueprint or the building. It does not represent the ideals to fight for for which I entered the Labour Movement and Parliament.
The second appeal directed to people like myself and some of my right hon. and hon. Friends is the appeal of internationalism which marked the excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen). We are told that we should forget the disadvantages to our people, which in any case would be only temporary, that if we had a Labour Government we could overcome them and all manner of things would be well, that there is no need to worry, and we should concentrate on building a united Western Europe. My hon. Friends who took this line disagreed among themselves as to whether there should be a federal or a confederal Europe. This question was left vague and they are not concerned about it at 1645 this stage. They say that the idea of a united Western Europe is an internationalist idea. That is a proposition I intend to examine.
My problem, however, is that as a passionate anti-Marketeer I could adduce many arguments, but I do not have time to do so, against entry. I could, for example, as many other hon. Members have done, look at the effect on my constituents. I am a London Member with a working class constituency, with a large, disproportionate number of old-age pensioners, large families, people living on fixed incomes, low-paid workers, and so on. These are the people who will suffer from the common agricultural policy, the value-added tax, the new method of financing social services which Britain will have to adopt when there is harmonisation of indirect taxation. These are the people who will suffer under any Government, whether they be Labour or Conservative, on our way into the Common Market and once we are inside; because no Government whatever they promise, can adequately protect these people at the lower end of the income scale from the ravages of higher prices in the Common Market.
I do not rest my case on that alone. I can argue about growth. It is strange that in such a major debate not one speaker has tried to indicate why Britain has had slower growth than its major industrial competitors. Not in the last 10 years during the period of the Common Market but since 1870 Britain has grown slower than her major industrial competitors.
I have no time to go into all the reasons. Could it be that Britain spends a far greater proportion of its gross national product on defence than any member of the Six and has done so for many years? Could it have anything to do with the reserve role of sterling, which has been a millstone round our necks and which we can get rid of by international agreement but which we do not have to go into the Common Market to get rid of? Could it have anything to do with the appalling quality of much of British management and, until very recently, the dreadful state of industrial training in Britain compared with our major industrial competitors? Could it have had anything to do with the disastrous waste of educational talent in Britain since 1870 1646 compared with many of our competitors, because of the socially divisive, biased educational system we have had? Could not slow economic growth have had something at least to do with all of these reasons? Will going into the Common Market settle this? It will not. The causes of slow economic growth are within our own control if we choose to decide that we want faster economic growth.
I do not rest my argument on that alone. There is the argument about essential national sovereignty. The Government have used the word "essential". This means that the Government and those who accept the phrase say that the power to decide forms of indirect taxation, the power ultimately—under harmonisation policies—to decide the rates of indirect taxation, and in the more distant future the power to decide forms and rates of direct taxation, are not part of the essential sovereignty of Britain. I reject that argument; but I do not rest my case on that alone.
My case basically is on the argument of internationalism. There are three aspects to this. The first is the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton. Is going into Europe true internationalism? My hon. Friend disclaimed any desire for his Europe to be the sort of nationalist Europe which many hon. Members want. What they want is not supra-nationalism. It is super-nationalism. Many hon. Members on both sides have spoken of a "super-State", a united Western Europe, a united states of Europe, and so on. Is nationalism writ large morally any better than nationalism writ small? Is this true internationalism? I do not think it is.
Again, we are told that we are fearful of our loss of power; we must catch up; we are envious of the power of others. Are not fear and envy poor task masters in a great debate like this?
There have been few references to the dangers of the new super-State which, it is hoped by many hon. Members, will emerge in Western Europe, the dangers of nuclear sharing which will cause us to breach both the letter and the spirit of Article 1 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and which will ultimately mean the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the world, for, if we break that treaty, as we inevitably shall once there is a 1647 common defence policy and nuclear sharing, why should other nations continue to observe it?
We are told that Europe must have more power and influence in the world, and that we need this super-State. Since when have a vast number of nation States or super-Powers been a positive asset to the cause of world peace? In the 19th century, in the great days of the nation State, the shifts and combinations of alliances between them created a state of affairs which led eventually to the First and Second World Wars. The more great Powers we have in the world, the greater the dangers of alliances and combinations. It is not a process which we should willingly foster by erecting as our ideal the creation of yet another super-State in Western Europe.
But I do not rest my case on that alone, either. The argument for giving up sovereignty can be used in two ways. We can give up our sovereignty in a bad cause as well as in a good cause.
That brings me to two points in connection with the developing countries, which have had little mention in this debate, save by the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. More) and my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice). The gap between the rich and the poor countries is growing wider. If we ignore that gap in this debate and the decision we take, we shall not serve the best interests of the people we represent or the best interests of the people of the world.
The figures are appalling. I shall not bore the House by citing them all. Suffice it to say that, whereas in 1958 the average gross national product per head in the rich countries was 11 times that in the poor countries, in 1966 it had risen to 12½ times. There seems to be an inevitable process whereby the gap grows wider unless we do something about it. Why has the gap grown?—partly because of the faster economic growth in the rich countries than in the poor, partly because of the population explosion in the poor countries, but partly also because of the creation of regional trade groupings which tend to reduce the share of world trade taken by the developing countries. The figures show this. In 1950 the poor countries had 31 per cent. of the trade of the world. In 1966 their 1648 share had fallen to 19 per cent., largely as a result of the creation of the Common Market and other regional economic blocs. To allow that gap to widen would be to do a disservice not only to our constituents but to the whole world.
Moreover, it is not just that the gap between our standard of living and that of the rest of the world is increasing. We are hogging and using an increasingly disproportionate share of the world's scarce natural resources, as the hon. Member for Ludlow reminded us yesterday. At present, the rich countries account for 37 per cent. of the world's population, but we are using nearly 90 per cent. of the world's energy and a similar proportion of the world's mineral resources. How can we justify that disproportionate use of the world's scarce, because finite, natural resources?
Scientists tell us that there may be possibilities in re-cycling, as it is called, but we must nevertheless seriously consider whether we can any longer justify going for maximum economic growth in the rich countries of the world, particularly at the expense of the poor. It is certainly immoral, although that is not an argument which, perhaps, will appeal necessarily to many hon. Members of this House, but surely they will appreciate that it is an untenable proposition that we go on for ever and ever increasing our wealth out of a diminishing amount of world natural resources and at the expense of the poor countries. Eventually we are going to be called to account.
I may be in a minority of one in my own party when I say that I think we have seriously to consider going for slower economic growth rather than faster. We have got to realise that we could give our people—most of them—a higher standard of living if we were to go for measures of redistribution. I know that that is an unfashionable word even among many of my hon. Friends in the Labour Party, but, nevertheless, it may be the only real choice we have. We cannot for much longer go on with inordinate economic growth.
I realise that the decision on Thursday will not be affected by what I say here, but surely we ought to be looking not only to the next decade but to the rest of this century, and, indeed, if we are taking an historic decision, well into the 1649 following century, the twenty-first. Surely it is not going to be in the interests of our children, our grandchildren or our great-grandchildren that we should rest content with being part of a beleaguered white minority in the world, with our tariff barriers up? Oh, we can give aid, of course—aid seen as crumbs from the rich man's table. I have never accepted that we can only give more aid by first making ourselves richer. That is not a tenable, and it is certainly not a moral, proposition, and it is one which, I hope, the House will reject on Thursday, or, if not on Thursday, subsequently.
§ 12.7 a.m.
§ Mr. Robert Taylor (Croydon, North-West)
I had not thought that on the first occasion I should have the privilege of following the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) I should find myself in agreement with the conclusion of his speech, although I certainly was not in agreement with much of what he said in his speech, particularly that part in which he suggested that as a country we should have slower economic growth.
I speak as one who has been consistent in his views on the Common Market. Since before I arrived here I have always felt the spirit of and the intention behind the Treaty of Rome to be incompatible with the aspirations and temperament of the British people. Having held this view for a very long time, the last three months have been for me a mixture of hope, alternating with periods of despair, but always coupled with very grave and very real concern. Sometimes I dared to hope that what is manifestly the will of the British people would be paramount in deciding this great issue, but there were moments of despair when I realised that this was not to be the case. But always my feelings were coupled with a grave concern because, on an issue of such magnitude and historic importance—on an issue which must be permanent—it is difficult to be absolutely certain that one's own point of view is in the best long-term interests of the nation.
My concern has increased over recent months because of the great amount of propaganda to which hon. Members have been exposed, much of it from respectable organisations and eminent people, the majority of whom seem to favour entry into the Common Market. Anyone who 1650 finds it easy to dismiss the advertisements which have been signed by so many of our leading industrialists in The Times and other media must be very certain of his case.
I am in business, and during the Recess I travelled over 16,000 miles selling British goods in overseas markets. I came back from that trip still convinced that it is not in the interests of this country to join the European Economic Community. I must therefore ask myself why many people whom I greatly admire have reached a completely contrary view. The reason is to be seen in the fact that in all the letters that I have received, and all the advertisements that I have read, there is no mention of the Treaty of Rome. Too many people consider that the discussion is wholly about the commercial aspects of joining the Community.
I was not present at either of the earlier debates when we decided to negotiate, but I regard this week's debate as being on the question whether we should sign the Treaty of Rome. My interpretation is that the treaty will lead to a federal Europe. Article 44 refers to the approximation of prices, and Article 99 talks about the harmonisation of taxes.
If the treaty was not enough to convince me of the ultimate federal intention, the Werner Report has convinced me of it. The treaty requires that by 1980 the countries which are signatories to it should attempt to achieve monetary union. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has welcomed this and stated that Britain is prepared to play her part towards that end. If we have a form of monetary union in an association of countries which already have the right of free movement of capital there must immediately be a standard bank rate for the Community. I ask myself whether I am prepared to accept the surrender of that economic weapon, which has been used by successive Chancellors on many occasions, and I conclude that I am prepared to accept that surrender of sovereignty, because it is very limited.
But if we have monetary union, free movement of capital and a standard bank rate, company taxation must be completely harmonised. I am not prepared to allow that part of our sovereignty to be taken from this House and removed 1651 to the Commission in Brussels. That is going too far.
The Werner Report is a far-reaching document, but no translation is available through the Stationery Office, and there is no English text. But it is reported in the Financial Times today that in addition to suggesting a common currency it suggests the centralised creation of liquidity, Community direction of national budgets and other things, including a central decision-taking body for economic policy. If those matters are all included in the report a copy should have been available in our Library for hon. Members to read. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is."] There is no official translation from the Stationery Office.
Three hundred years ago John Hampden saidNo taxation without representation.If taxes are to be decided by a commission in Brussels, that is taxation without representation. I am fully aware that we shall have 36 elected members at the Assembly of Europe, but that means that each will represent about 1½ million constituents, and that is not what I think John Hampden meant by representation. It is certainly not my view of representation.
This country has prided itself in having no written constitution; we have said that our constitution is constantly evolving. But by the step which the Government propose we shall at one stroke have a written constitution. The great paradox is that it is precisely because we have no written constitution that there requires to be a very heavy majority to enable it to be changed.
It is with regret that I find myself out of step with my right hon. and hon. Friends on this issue but, like one right hon. Member of my party, I neither can nor will vote with the Government on Thursday. I shall be walking through the Lobby with the Opposition.
§ 12.15 a.m.
§ Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)
Perhaps it is appropriate that I should speak after the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Robert Taylor) because almost exactly the reasons he has given for his opposition to our entry into Europe have led me to support our entry.
1652 For as long as I can remember being politically conscious, I have been an advocate of a United States of Europe, and for 20 years or more I have watched with growing frustration the poor and inept leadership exercised by men on both sides of the political fence which has been given to Britain in the past by those who were opposed to our entry in principle and more recently by some who, although apparently converted, have found it necessary or expedient to conduct their crusade for the conversion of others in the lowest possible key. They have run away from the political challenge. They have shied away from what I would call historical destiny, and, instead of crusading for the most heroic concept to have crossed Europe since the French Revolution, they have tended to grovel around in the bargain basement looking for threepence off.
I favour entry to Europe for political and historical reasons and only then economic reasons. I have never believed that the economic arguments were preeminent. I am not surprised that the Government cannot quantify the costs or the benefits. I am not surprised that there is an almost fifty-fifty split among the academic economists. "Give us the facts" is the cry which goes up from people on the doorstep. It is as though they want something which they can put in a computer and so get a definitive answer on something which cannot be quantified as simply as that. It has never been possible to quantify exactly the great leaps of history. If the world had waited to do so, no progress would have been made at all.
Even if we could produce all the facts and could quantify the costs and benefits exactly, it would not convince many people. Since this is a European debate, perhaps it is appropriate to quote the greatest French author of the last 200 years, Marcel Proust, when he said:The facts of life do not penetrate to the sphere in which our beliefs are cherished, as it was not they that engendered those beliefs, so they are powerless to destroy them.To a certain extent, we must conduct our debate for conversion on Europe in those terms.
The argument, division and decision is and must be political. We are called upon to make a political judgment, not an economic or mathematical judgment. 1653 There are some in the House and outside who are convinced Europeans, and they always have been. There are others who believe that we have no role in Europe, summed up best perhaps in Hugh Gaitskell's phrase, "one thousand years of history", described best by Macaulay in the phrase,Islanders, islanders not merely in geographical position, but in their politics, their feelings and their manners.There are some who are neither one thing nor the other. I am in the first category. I cannot exactly date the moment when I came to a European view, but I know exactly where I got it from. It came in a chapter from a small pamphlet headed "We are Europeans now". The following comes from it:France and Britain are now partners in a common fate. In times past we both used to fight major wars from our own resources; now we are both unable to do so. The Channel has ceased to matter, and, strategically we British have become Europeans whose prosperity and security depend on that of the rest of Europe… A Socialist Britain cannot prosper so long as Europe is divided … If we could work towards an economic union of European States, we should be able once again to stand up to an American slump.I did not read that when the pamphlet was first published, I was rather too young to take an interest in these things then, I think. It comes from a pamphlet published by the "Keep Left" group, printed by the New Statesman and the names of the authors are on the front cover—R. H. S. Crossman, Michael Foot and Ian Mikardo.
Some of them have not been as consistent as they make out. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) may say that this is not now a Socialist Europe, but it was not a Socialist Europe in 1947, nor is this a Socialist Britain. Nor, indeed, is this a Socialist Party—it is even singing the Red Flag at half mast. He might say that his ideal was of a Europe encompassing both east and west, and so it was mine, and so it is mine today. But how are we most likely to bring East and West European countries into this greater Europe? Are we likely to bring them in by staying out of what is already there or by going in and adding our influence to those who also want to create the unity for a greater Europe?
The hon. Member is right to say that the E.E.C. is not the kind of Community 1654 he wants. It is not the kind of Community I want, exactly. What he wants and what I want are very different things, and what the Prime Minister wants is no doubt a very different thing again. We have to seek to change any society of which we are members according to our political ideals. If I thought that Europe had a span of political ideals different from our own I might reckon the task too great. But those political ideals represented in this House are to be found in Europe. There are Socialists here and in Europe, just as there are Liberals and Conservatives here and in Europe.
I am happy to join with the Liberals in Europe and take my chance in building a Liberal Europe. Why should Socialists be so fearful of taking their chance with their fellow Socialists? Is there some suspicion on their behalf that European Socialists are some lesser breed of men? There are those who have said "'Yes' to Europe, but not under a Tory Government." No one has greater reservations about this Government than I. But I am incapable of suspending all rational judgment about Europe or anything else just because I find that some Tories agree with me.
There is one argument in this respect that is exceedingly respectable and that is the one relating to those who are on low incomes. Can I trust a Conservative Government to help them sufficiently? We heard from the Secretary of State for Social Services on Friday how the Government were committed to raising pensions. We all know that the cost of living can rise very rapidly, and if the Government are committed only to raising pensions every two years the rise in the cost of living will out-run the old-age pensions. I hope that the Government will reconsider this commitment and make clear that they are not only prepared to keep to their schedule of raising pensions in 1973 when the effects really start, but will then, for at least five years, review pensions annually.
Again, because the cost of food is rising it will be families on low incomes that will be most seriously hit by this. This is one reason why in the Common Market family allowances are very much higher than here. I want a commitment from the Government. The right hon. Gentleman made no mention of family allowances. I am not entirely surprised that he 1655 did not but I want a commitment from the Government on this question of family allowances because they made a commitment at the last General Election which they did not honour. I hope they will make one which we can accept as more binding than that.
Much mention has been made of the regions. I represent a constituency in Cornwall which has the lowest incomes of any area in the United Kingdom. We suffer grievously from the imbalance in the regional economy, but I believe that when the Labour Government came to power in 1964 they attempted seriously and sincerely to overcome the problem. They came into power equipped with a large body of policies which they then started to implement and which had considerable effect. They brought a large number of new factories to Cornwall, and a lot of new jobs. The desire and the will were there, and to a certain extent the money was there, too. But we have to recognise that during the six years of that Labour Government the number of unemployed actually doubled there, though not because the Government wanted it to happen; it was against their every wish and desire, and against the whole run of their policies.
I am convinced that we shall not solve our regional imbalance by this means alone. The basic reason for regional investment is pressure for expansion in the overcrowded areas. If that can be stopped by I.D.Cs, or if there is a shortage of labour which then causes a blockage to expansion, people will look elsewhere and start to take up the various incentives which any British Government can introduce. I do not think that there is anything in the Common Market arrangements that is against Cornwall's interests, and I have no hesitation in voting for entry, and feel none at all in recommending our entry to my constituents.
Fishing affects the prosperity of the county very considerably. I do not think that the negotiations have been well conducted. The fears of the inshore fishermen are well founded. But conservation within whatever limits we have—whether they be five miles, or six, or 12 or 50 miles, and applied to boats of any nationality—is more important than the extent of the limits. I hope, again, that 1656 the Government will be able to tell us in the next two days about the possibility of Cornwall getting special exemption from the common access policy which is allowed in the common fishing policy.
These terms are not ideal, but I do not believe that they could have been significantly bettered by any Government of any persuasion at any time in the last 10 years. They could have been bettered 13 years ago by a Liberal Government, committed to entry to Europe. It could have been done then, but it is not up to the people not then advocating entry to say that it could have been done then but that we must not go in now because it is too late.
Europe is not ideal, any more than Britain is. I want a federal Europe with democratic institutions. The answer to the hon. Member who quoted Hampden—no taxation without representation—is: "Then for heaven's sake let us get in and have representation. Let us have a democratic Europe." How can we get that if we stay out? If we go in, we can create a democratic Europe.
I welcome the Prime Minister's belated conversion to the free vote, though, as with Charlemagne's conversion to Christianity, I would think there was more calculation than faith in the matter. Also, we have problems about the payroll vote, which detracts from the value of the free vote—but that would be true of any vote on any matter of such importance unless we separate the Executive from the Legislature. I hope that the Government will extend the principle of the free vote right through all the legislation required to get us into Europe. It is much easier not to have to go into the Government's Lobby, although I look upon it not as the Government's Lobby but as the Europe Lobby, and I shall be voting in it on Thursday as an internationalist.
§ 12.30 a.m.
§ Sir Tatton Brinton (Kidderminster)
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) in much of what he said. I agree with him that the decision we have to take on Thursday night is something which must be taken in the context of the tide of history. The hon. Gentleman began his speech in this vein and although he ended with a discussion of the nuts and bolts of the matter 1657 he and many Members of his party have been for a long time committed to the cause of Europe as something which they have conceived to be inevitable in the long run. That is the way I have always seen the situation.
The right hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Sir A. Irvine), a former Minister in the Labour Government, complained earlier this evening that there was a certain lack of enthusiasm in our discussions this evening—too much discussion of details, perhaps. I rather agree with him. I do not believe that tonight or on any other night in this debate we want to talk too much about the possible fears of what may happen when we go in. Worries have been expressed about possible control of taxation in the future by the Common Market authorities and about authority being taken out of our hands. All that is very much in the future, and it will be largely a matter for us to decide when we are in whether or not it happens. It is clouding the issue whether we should take a great historical decision covering far more than our immediate future.
Many attempts have been made in the debate over the last few years to excite the sort of feeling which is summed up in the words, "wogs begin at Calais". That is not the way to look at the position. I do not believe that we should consider it from the point of view of short-term calculations of profit and loss. What we are being asked to decide is the future of this country and of Europe—and thereby of a large part of the world—for many decades, and even centuries. This is a vitally important decision. One view or other may be taken as to which way we should move, but let us not take that decision on the basis of short term calculations.
I believe that on the whole the economic calculations are favourable. I speak as a businessman, and my view is supported by many businessmen, and particularly by the Confederation of British Industry. Hon. Members opposite may consider that not to be necessarily a good view, but it must be taken into account. I believe that on the whole these short-term calculations are likely to be favourable. Therefore, I would set them aside and look at the matter in the longer term.
1658 We are offered an opportunity. We would be welcomed into the Community on the basis that we are going into what at present is only an economic community. But if future generations seek to do so, on that basis can be erected a much wider, more far-reaching association of a political and perhaps defence nature. I do not believe that it will be for our generation, or even for our children; it will be for our grandchildren to decide how much further to go along these lines.
I passionately believe that if we lose the opportunity of taking this first step by making this a basis on which others may build, we will never be part of whatever political organisation may be constructed in Europe. That is why we ought to take this first step.
To those who fear that we are thereby committing ourselves for ever and a day I would say that although I do not believe anybody should go into marriage asking their lawyers what the divorce rules are, nevertheless difficulties could arise. It is only too easy to destroy, although it is so difficult to construct. We have here the opportunity to construct something for our grandchildren to build on. They will decide whether to go further. But if we do not give them the opportunity, I believe that in the future they will look back on this generation as a short-sighted, narrow-minded and restrictive one.
§ 12.35 a.m.
§ Mr. Barry Jones (Flint, East)
I am glad to be called immediately after the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir T. Brinton), if only because he has been extremely brief. I recall leaving the Chamber at 2 a.m., not having been called, and I realised that it was because some hon. Members had spoken at considerable length. I hope to be able to counter-balance the brief and pithy speech of the hon. Member for Kidderminster.
In the course of his speech the Secretary of State for Wales made considerable use of the document published by the Welsh Council entitled "Wales and the Common Market". He used it, justifiably, to strengthen his views about the Welsh case and the regional policies of the Government. My own view of this publication is that the Welsh Council has 1659 achieved its unanimity by omitting all contentious matter. I would describe it as being somewhat neutered, non-descript and pallid. In it there is no reference to education in Wales, bearing in mind the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the education services in Wales. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman did not have inserted in it any reference to the effect that entry would have upon the teaching of the language, upon the higher education system, and upon the training and status of the teaching profession. Since the Council of Europe is working hard for the formation of a European education office I should have thought that these matters warranted inclusion in such a report.
My brief intervention will be concerned mainly with Wales. No one will deny that Wales is a small, highly individualistic Celtic nation which, in the origins of its current nationhood, was overrun militarily by the Plantagenets and later ruthlessly oppressed by the Tudors. Today, it is culturally and linguistically besieged by conditions of modern life as they exist in Western Europe and weakened considerably by depopulation. It is over-dependent upon declining and vulnerable industries.
It is no easy task for any Government or community to help a nation such as I have described to face the future with confidence and with effect. Wales is a nation with a proud tradition, but also a tragic past. It is world-famous already for the trauma of its industrial paroxysms between the wars, which is why I suggest that the majority of hon. Members would wish always to see an effective regional policy for it, in or out of the E.E.C.
Central to the case relating to Wales and its economy is the steel industry. In Wales the B.S.C. is the largest employer. I agree with the Welsh Council's document that… under new, highly competitive conditions modernisation and redundancywill occur. I am deeply anxious about the prospects of the British Steel Corporation. Recently, we have heard talk of a £4,000 million investment project for 1971–81, with a target of 43 million tons of steel a year and a plan for large, integrated steel works in Scotland and Wales. This prospect for the steel in- 1660 dustry in Britain must be receding down the river.
I was further perplexed and disturbed on reading the New Statesman of 22nd October, which contained what appeared to be an authoritative, albeit leaked, article about the steel industry. Out of that article—indeed, out of any debate about steel in Wales and in Britain—some vital questions arise which I should like to address to the Government tonight.
Is it not a fact that the European steel pricing system is likely to play havoc with the United Kingdom's steel industry? Is it not vital for the steel industry that on entry to the Community there should be a two-year transitional period on pricing? Further, will not the United Kingdom's steel trade, both with the Six and with the rest of the world, be adversely affected? It seems to me that Common Market entry will mean that all the hopes and projects concerning large integrated steelworks in Scotland or in Wales will come to nothing. Is it not a fact that every man in the steel industry is still hoping for authoritative and exciting announcements from the Government about the future of the British steel industry?
Certainly the steelworkers in the steel-working community which I represent believe that they are deserving of the best prospects for British steel, but they feel that the outlook for them is grim. It would he very sad if they were to be conned into thinking that joining the Common Market would be good for British steel and would bring to the regions of Scotland and Wales and large integrated steelworks which were greatly hoped for because they would give the economies of Scotland and of Wales renewed vigour.
Finally, I should like to know whether any plan exists which postulates a rather high rate of redundancy in the steel industry in the decade ahead. Surely in the near future a Government spokesman could nail the rumours and lies concerning the development of the steel industry.
I want now to mention what has been called the Common Market's "dear food policy" and the prospective value-added tax. Every hon. Member who represents a working-class constituency should have as a priority the care and the furthering of the prosperity of such a community. 1661 The onus is on those who urge joining the Community to persuade us that our entering it would not mean a fall in the living standards of the working class people of Wales and Scotland. The value-added tax and the dear food policy of the Community make it difficult for me to accept the argument in favour of entering the Community.
Protein foods and decent clothing for children and adults are getting further away from the average working-class family's budget. It would be a very cruel joke if, on entry to the Common Market, the prices of clothing and protein foods continued to rocket as they have over the last two years—and particularly in the last year. It would effectively undermine the living standards of the great majority of working-class people. On those two matters alone I find the greatest difficulty in supporting any one who wants to join the European Economic Community.
Having said that I would be brief, I return to my original point about the future of Wales. Other hon. Members will no doubt consider the future of Scotland. It is a fact that within the United Kingdom there is another language and culture. In this document and in the White Paper prepared by the Government there is insufficient evidence to persuade me and many Welshmen that all will be well when we enter the Common Market. Therefore, on behalf of my constituents, if not my country, I urge a note of caution when we vote on Thursday.
§ 12.45 a.m.
§ Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland)
I am interested to follow the speech by the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mr. Barry Jones). I am not in a position to agree with him. I agree with the remarks of my right hon. and learned Friend who spoke at 9.30 p.m. when he said he thought this had been a particularly good day and we had had an interesting debate all the way through.
One speech I would like to refer to, which I thought was extremely moving, was that by the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), who explained his position very fully. It does not come to us on this side to lavish praise on those on the other side who are perhaps going to be our short-term colleagues in the Lobby on 1662 Thursday night and so I will say no more about it.
The debate sank to its lowest level during the speech by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas). I do not know if he was trying to qualify for the title of the best knockabout speech of the year, but in my view he would certainly have got it. I cannot help asking myself—I know whenever anyone says this it is greeted with groans from the other side—as I had to ask myself during the speech of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) how on earth they managed to stay in the Cabinet at the time the approaches were originally being made. It seems inconceivable to me that they could make those speeches and yet stay in the Cabinet at that time.
The right hon. Member for Cardiff, West said that the regions would not stand a dog's chance if Britain were to join the Community. I hope he has considered the service he has done to the regions in the likely event that this country does join. Many of his own colleagues have disagreed with him about this. I just hope no industrialists in this country will take particular notice of what he said because this could do very serious damage to Wales and to other regions.
The one thing that is apparent from the speeches from the Opposition Front Bench is the complete ignorance of the philosophy of the Community in the way they have worked over 14 years for the common good of the nations within the Community.
The subsequent actions of the Community over the years have shown their desire to work for the common good. I have never had too many problems about regional policy. I have always been much impressed by the officials I have met in Brussels, and I was also much encouraged by the remarks they made about their desire to move to a Community regional policy as soon as possible. This has already begun, and if the measures which have been announced during this year are extended to their logical conclusion we may well see a regional policy of which l3ritain is likely to be one of the greatest recipients.
§ Mr. Jopling
Because there are few countries either in the Community or trying to get into the Community which have the range of outdated Victorian industry which is a remnant of the Industrial Revolution from which we suffer.
§ Mr. Buchan
Surely this is precisely the danger in the speech by the Secretary of State for Wales, there being no guarantee or even any glimmer of a suggestion that the Government have tried to negotiate this point, either on the nature of regional aids or on the areas. This is precisely the point which emerged so dangerously today, and this is why the regions are rejecting the Common Market.
§ Mr. Jopling
I was fascinated to see the red herring which the three right hon. Gentlemen—the Leader of the Opposition was one of them—tried to drag over everything in the process of turning themselves inside out.
The principle of the Community, which we know so well, that it never takes action which is against the vital interests of any one State, would mean that where there was a conflict of that kind, where to give regional aids to one part of the country was held by, for instance, Britain to be of vital national interest, our opinion and desire would prevail. If the Opposition are right in the statements which they have been making about regional policy, I am amazed that other peripheral countries, such as Eire, Norway and Denmark, should be seeking to join the Community.
I should like to tell the House of my experience of that part of England which I represent, Westmorland, which is in a development area, and about the opinion of those who run businesses there. I wrote to every firm in my constituency which employed 25 people or more. These are not great, mammoth C.B.I. type firms, but relatively small ones..
There are fewer than 100 such firms in my constituency. I asked them to tell me whether, in their view, the effect of joining the Common Market would be that they would prosper and expand, whether it would not make much difference, or whether they might suffer. The results astonished me. I found that 70 per cent. of the employees—and it is people about whom we are concerned—worked in firms which were expected to 1664 expand and prosper, 28 per cent. worked in firms which did not think our joining would make very much difference, one way or the other, and between 1 per cent. and 2 per cent. worked in firms which the employers thought would suffer.
My constituency is far from the South-East and the London area, and it is in a development area. I do not understand how anyone can say that the livelihood of working people in my constituency will suffer if we join the Common Market. It seems to me that the figures I have given show that there is a good deal of confidence and hope that our standard of living will improve if we join the Community.
Something has been said about farmers, and I must tell the House what happened when I went to see my farmers. I was specially summoned to talk to the county branch of the N.F.U. about the Common Market. At the end of the day, when I counted everything up, I found that I had been asked 15 questions, but that only two had any relevance to the Common Market.
I have not changed my mind over this issue. I have always been enthusiastic for the European ideal. Almost the first speech that I made was at the Conservative Party Conference in 1957, the occasion on which, I think, my party debated Europe for the first time. I proposed a motion that the Government of the day should engage in talks to try to establish a free trade area in conjunction with the Common Market. The House will remember that the present Home Secretary looked after those negotiations, which I fear came to nothing.
All that my motion did was to give encouragement to the Government to negotiate to try to form a free trade area around the Common Market. That was a mere shadow of what we are talking about today, but it is interesting to note that many of my colleagues on this side of the House who are today opposing the concept of joining the Common Market are those who opposed such a small thing as that which I proposed all those years ago. Although we all respect the views of those of my colleagues who say that we must not join, we should recognise that their opposition is of long standing and was applied years ago to a much more minor application to be associated with Europe.
1665 I do not want to dwell on the argument that we cannot afford to stay out because there is no alternative for us. I believe that if we do stay out Britain will become a small but proud nation lingering on the sidelines of world affairs but outside the mainstream of world influence and power. None of the opponents of entry has tried to paint a future for Britain as anything but such a minor power.
Rather, I look at the prospect of joining Europe at this time with positive enthusiasm. I believe that many younger people share my enthusiasm and also believe that this is a positive concept, not one to meet in the resigned spirit of "Where else shall we turn?"
The trend of the nations of Europe to come together lies within the mainstream of history. Man has arisen from the tribe to the region and from the region to the nation. The logical conclusion now is for the nations to come together. There are some who say of this trend, "Thus far, to the nation, and no further," but I do not accept that. I do not want to see a federal Europe or a "United States of Europe", and I do not expect to see it in my lifetime. It is not a starter now and it would be wrong. But if our successors were to want it in years to come we should be wrong to make a move which pre-empted their opportunity.
We are talking today of an economic alliance. Britain has languished since the war, economically and politically. The time has come to take firm action. No opponent of entry that I have heard has pointed to any reasonable and practical alternative. The time has now come to take advantage of these new opportunities. If we are to do so, and to try to make peace between nations more likely, I hope that there will be a very large majority of saying, "Yes," to Europe on Thursday night.
§ 12.58 a.m.
§ Mr. Wiliam Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Jopling) said that we must not miss this opportunity, and I heartily agree with him.
Before I turn to the regional aspect of this matter, I have some general observations about the political and economic background. As has been said so 1666 often in the debate, entry into Europe is one of those rare questions which occur in the House only once in two or three generations and should call for the highest form of debate and consideration which the House devotes to those problems, where normal party divisions seem to be irrelevant, the question cutting across parties, trade unions and even families. Involving as it does the kind of country, life and future which our children and future generations will have, it is too important a matter for there not to be deep and abiding convictions on either side. But when all the dust of conflicting arguments over economic statistics has settled, at the end of the day it will be a matter of judgment on the information we have considered, incapable of proof either way except by the due process of history.
We have to decide where the balance of advantage lies for the British people, bearing in mind our history, the technological and scientific changes taking place in society, the brutal onslaught, as some would put it, of the huge international companies, some with budgets larger than some of the nation components of the Community, and how to exercise public control not only over these firms but over the Commission to meet some of the criticisms made about it.
It is many years since I became convinced of the need and desirability of co-operation between nations, especially in the economic sense, almost irrespective of their particular temporary political colours. There is the difference in outlook between, for example, Keir Hardie and Blatchford, as long ago as that, when Blatchford wrote his book "Britain for the British." Many of the arguments were similar to those we have had in present-day circumstances, about insularity, what the British worker should do, and the insistence that only Socialism within Britain was the solution.
We have passed on. In all that time we have had only a few years of Labour Government. The Socialist Internationals and the appropriate sections of Labour Party reports were read avidly by myself and many others long before the Common Market was even talked about.
My right hon. and hon. Friends will not be surprised, therefore, that I welcomed wholeheartedly their proposals and their excellent speeches which led the 1667 Labour Government to apply for membership of the Community in 1967. They are on the record. They were persuasive and cogent, answering effectively the fears and criticisms levelled by many Members of the House—answering them much more effectively than the present Government's meeting of some of the criticisms. That was followed by the White Paper in 1970, only two or three months before the General Election.
I am under no delusion that had we been returned as a Government at that election that White Paper would have been used as the basis for the proposals and the acceptance of the terms of entering the Common Market and as a Government we would have proceeded to implement the terms. I have no doubt about that.
It is a tragedy, therefore, that the continuation of the negotiations started by the Labour Government has become the responsibility of an insensitive Tory Government, with their abysmal indifference to unemployment and their economic bungling that has cast depression and shadows over the regions. The basic advantages of membership—the reasons for Labour's initial application—still remain. It will be a pity if we allow our hostility and animosity to the Tories to blind us to the essential merits of the case for entering Europe.
I deplore the impression that we as an opposition party have given to the country that we are going back on a commitment which we made as a Government. The overall effect of many speeches made from this side is that we are as a whole anti-Market. That is not true according to the statement of the Labour Party N.E.C. However, that is the interpretation of millions of people who cannot see the subtleties and niceties of the case. This attitude is different from that which we previously held. It is leading in the country to disillusionment and to a deteriorating respect for Parliament and its representatives.
In view of the excellent speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) about the terms, I do not propose to enter into a discussion of that topic, except to say that the negotiating briefs were prepared by the Labour Government under ministerial 1668 guidance and the principal problems were highlighted.
I believe that the terms are only marginally different and are acceptable. I believe that the change of front is due more to the internal politics of our own party than to a responsible assessment of the terms. I do not accept that an issue as vital as this, covering the future of the British people for generations to come and our relationships with Europe and the world, should be decided on the basis of which party is in power. I had hoped that we would have had more confidence in ourselves to sweep this lot out of office even before the transitional period was fully under way.
I want us to take the opportunity presented to us now to enter the Common Market so that a future Labour Government will have a better opportunity, more elbow room for expansion and growth than was possible or available to them on the last occasion. No one in the House or the country should minimise the efforts which the Labour Government made and which were alluded to by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe), who described the benefits which had accrued to his part of the country. The same is true of the efforts made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) as Secretary of State for Scotland. Under the Labour Government there was a closing of the gap between wage rates and other forms of income and schools, hospitals and houses were being built at a record rate. The present Government are still opening offices which were planned and started under the previous Administration. They have not opened one which they started themselves.
The great problem is how to maintain full employment in a free society without incurring balance of payments problems. The Labour Government had every reason to be proud of the magnificent results of its regional policies; and in a humble way I tried to serve the party in that respect. Those policies were right, but we did not solve the fundamental problem of industrial imbalance.
I do not want to be taken as asserting dogmatically that entry to Europe will automatically ensure growth and dynamism and be the cure for all our problems. However, I want a Labour Government to have a better opportunity for a buoy- 1669 ant national economy in which their excellent regional policies can be even more effective.
I am doing my best to cut short what I have to say, but I must take up one point made earlier today. One does not want to interrupt speeches, because interventions prolong our proceedings, so I let it pass at the time, but reference was made to the powers of the Commission, and the example of what the Belgian Government wanted to do at Antwerp was cited.
Along with my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Ifor Davies), I had the privilege of visiting Germany recently, where we learned some of the facts about the powers of the Commission. It is true that the Commission dissented from the action of the Belgian Government, which wanted to give permission to Ford Motor Company to build a plant at Antwerp. The Commission refused. Why?—I wish that the Labour Party had the same power—because there was full employment in that area and the Commission wanted it to go elsewhere.
That is a desirable state of affairs. If the Commission has such powers, I should wish to consult it and know what it was about, but I am assured that the regional policies followed by the various national Governments can be continued by those Governments without interference. [Interruption.] There is a misunderstanding here. In addition to what the national Governments can do, there are the proposals of the Commission—I hope that this is understood—to supplement national efforts. I think that some of the confusion has arisen in that connection.
I have a few difficult words to add now. I have had 26 years' experience in the House, with seven years as a Whip in the Attlee Government. I know the stresses and strains in political parties, and, not being an innocent abroad I hope, I am able to appreciate the nuances of political life. It is my firm belief that one of the most desirable of our aims lay in the establishment of economic cooperation between nations as the means of attaining peace. I am not prepared to allow that to go. So in the Division on Thursday night I shall not be voting for the Tories; I shall be voting for the policy enunciated by the Labour Government, which I had the privilege of voting 1670 for at an early stage. I have considered abstention, but, because of the importance of the occasion, I feel that, in a personal sense, I should be running away from my responsibilities.
I had the great advantage of being born into a Socialist home. I know what my father went through in the First World War. Not only did I work in my constituency but up to five years ago I lived in it. I know my people. I freely admit that on balance the majority, I believe, will be against going into the Common Market. I have met them on the streets. Like the hon. Member for Westmorland, I wrote to all the firms in my constituency, small firms, asking them their view, and I got pretty much the same answer as he did.
It is incumbent upon us all to make these decisions, hard as they are, I have stated my conviction. I recognise the fears and anxieties of my people. But I reiterate and endorse what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), and echoed by others of my hon. Friends, that on the question of pensioners and low-wage earners the Government must make a clear declaration even sooner than, perhaps, they had it in mind to do.
As a young Socialist, I recall, I felt the tremendous influence of Frank Horrabin's book, "Economic Geography". Political boundaries split the resources of Germany and France. He argued that economic co-operation would eliminate incipient political and military wars over raw materials, trade routes and markets; the answer lay in co-operation. The Europe which I want to build and which my hon. Friends want to build and join is not the Europe which our political opponents want to build. We want to build the Social-democratic Europe of Willy Brandt, the common market of millions and millions of other Socialists and trade unionists who, in Germany, at least—I can only speak of where I met the president of the trade unionists—they want us in, and advise us not to keep out. At this time when Willy Brandt is making such efforts to make a breakthrough, I think it is a tragedy that we should let him down.
It is not only in respect of Western Europe that we want a common market; we want to use that as the basis of the wider unity of all Europe, and from 1671 there go—and therein lies the wider vision—on the road to the comity of nations and the parliament of man. For tar too long the peoples of Europe have been divided by artificial barriers of class and nationality. In my view, Britain's entering the Common Market offers the best chance of tearing some of them down.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We have about three-quarters of an hour more tonight. I would tell hon. Members that I have noted carefully those who have stayed to this late hour, and even if I do not call them now perhaps their staying up so late will count for virtue later on.
§ 1.17 a.m.
§ Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)
I compliment the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) on the sincerity with which he spoke. One of the things that has impressed me most in considering our joining the Common Market has been the number of responsible politicians on both sides of the House who, when they assumed office, came to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of Britain to seek entry into the Common Market. That fact has impressed me more than anything else.
In the short time available to me I should like to go back to the problem of regional development, because that is probably the hottest political potato that any Government have to endeavour to handle. I do not believe that my right hon. Friends would advocate our joining the Community if they were certain that we would be unable to continue and to develop the sort of policy that we now have in Scotland, Wales and other parts of the United Kingdom which need special development.
Here I cross swords with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland because I feel that in regional development policy there is often too much emphasis on what he referred to today as mobile industry. I feel that if a mobile industry is helped to come into a region it can just as quickly go out again. In considering our regional policies we should be paying more attention to such things as the climate, geography and the natural resources of the regions, so that we can use the instru- 1672 ment of government to develop them to the best advantage.
Reference has already been made to the use that we can make of the deep water of the Clyde. There was a picture in—I was about to say today's but it is now yesterday's—Glasgow Herald of the biggest oil tanker in the Clyde having some oil taken out of her so that she could go on to dock at Rotterdam. If we are to use the Clyde s deep water we must develop the steel industry in Scotland. Unless we do we shall not produce the cheap steel which is essential in the industrial heart of Scotland if we are to attract more industries there.
In the same way, if we are to have a regional policy we must examine those questions which particularly affect the Highlands and Islands and the coastline of Scotland. One of the most important of these is the fishing industry. Here, surely, is something which must always be protected. It took us a long time to get through to my right hon. Friend the importance of the inshore fishing industry, particularly to Scotland.
Scotland have a large percentage of upland farms. Therefore, we must have special policies to look after that side of agriculture. We also have the chance of a bigger forestry and wood-using industry. That needs special protection. Scotland also has a great asset in the amount of water it has, which affects the fortunes of the paper trade. I have already made representations to my right hon. Friends about the plight of the paper trade in the East of Scotland. I will not repeat them now.
The distilling industry is a basic industry, using the raw material of barley. Its products are exported all over the world. If we do not take action now to protect the whisky industry it may be too late.
One other matter affecting the East of Scotland, and my constituency in particular, is the future of sugar beet. When the last Government agreed to the closure of the sugar beet factory in Scotland the possibility of entering the Common Market was fairly remote. The decision to close it was confirmed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, but that was almost a year ago, when it was problematical whether we should go in. The country consumes about 2¾ million tons of sugar. It produces only one-third of 1673 that quantity from sugar beet, and imports the rest. About 35,000 tons of sugar come from Australia at present and will continue to come in under guaranteed price until 1974. Thereafter, there will be either an increase of sugar beet growing on the Continent, with the sugar coming into Great Britain, or the extra will be produced in our own country. As sugar beet is a Price Review commodity, this is the wrong moment to close down the only sugar beet factory in Scotland.
That is in great contrast to what happens in the Irish Free State, which is also applying for membership. It has 75,000 acres of sugar beet and it increased its acreage last year by 10,000. We are asking that Scotland should have a quota of between 20,000 and 25,000 tons of sugar and an acreage of 15,000 to 16,000. That should be provided for in the changed circumstances of our entry into the Common Market. I very much hope that my right hon. Friends will take this matter into full consideration.
§ 12.22 a.m.
§ Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)
I shall take only the 10 minutes that, unofficially, we have all allocated to each other. There are several things I wanted to say, but I shall stick to the three principal reasons why I am opposed to entry to the Common Market.
First, I have always been opposed to entry, mainly because the philosophy on which the Common Market is founded is essentially capitalist, and I am a Socialist. The provisions of the Treaty of Rome on the free flow of capital underline what I have said. The Common Market is an organisation dedicated to placing the smallest impediments in the way of market forces. I am not impressed by the arguments of those who claim that there are important safeguards in the treaty with regard to capital flows. I heard the arguments at our special party conference and at our annual conference, and I am not impressed by them.
There was an important article in Monday's Guardian in which Anthony Harris, the economics editor, said that all the investment that the Treasury thought would come in anticipation of Britain's entry has not been forthcoming and that many people argue—and he says that it is true—that most of the investment will take place inside Europe 1674 and not inside the United Kingdom as a consequence of our entry.
§ Mr. Sillars
Maybe, but I am commenting now on only one of the consequences of entry.
As the Community develops its supranational organs for the implementation of the treaty provisions, means to ensure the Common Market's fidelity to the competitive philosophy will be more and more rigidly enforced. We are already seeing this in regional policy, and we are likely to see it in several other aspects. The implications for our future economic management of free capital flow are a cause for very great concern. In an economic system devoted to competition, the popular centres gain at the expense of the periphery. That happens in the United Kingdom, which is a capitalist country, it happens in the Common Market, which is a group of capitalist countries, and it will happen in an enlarged Community, which will simply be an enlarged group of capitalist countries.
I will be told that the answer to the problem of the periphery lies in regional policies. But in a capitalist system they are a major flop, and Socialists should recognise that. However sophosticated the instruments of regional policies may be, they have as their basis the assumption that industrial decision-makers can be bribed to allocate enough investment to the regions to keep those areas pacified. But pacification in future will not be enough. In Scotland 136,000 people are unemployed. If the number is reduced to 100,000, the Government will shout "Success" from the rooftops. We have been engineered into a situation in which if we have 3 per cent. unemployment in Scotland we are told that it is full employment. That is pacification. The people I represent are no longer satisfied with pacification. They want complete satisfaction. Full employment is our objective.
We can succeed in obtaining full employment only if we have a fully planned Socialist economy, and that is specifically proscribed by the provisions of the Treaty of Rome. That is the first reason why I am basically opposed to entry. 1675 Regional policies in a capitalist system can be partially successful—I have never disputed that—but they cannot be wholly successful because of the nature of the definition of the system under which they work whereby market forces predominate more than Community interests. No doubt we shall have plenty of time to discuss that when the legislation is before us. If the "eiderdown brigade" is not here, one or two others will be present to develop the argument.
My second point concerns the role chosen for the Common Market and the developments necessary for the fulfilment of that rôle. I refer to the explicit desire of many in favour of entry to see the Common Market develop into a political entity capable of meeting the Soviet Union and the United States eyeball to eyeball in the great power game. I would not welcome such a development as being in the interests of international harmony or as a contribution to world peace.
It has been said that joining Europe will help prevent the emergence of a European flashpoint leading ultimately to the third world war. I have listened with respect to that argument. I do not dispute that there are danger points in Europe. But we must look for the area of greatest potential conflict not to Europe but elsewhere. The greatest threat to peace lies in the polarisation of mankind between the rich whites and the poor black, brown and yellow races. World hunger, deprivation of opportunity and racialism pose a greater threat to peace than all the plans, counter-plans and counter-counter-plans of the N.A.T.O. and Warsaw Pact forces.
The key question is: where will the Common Market fit in to this explosive situation? Will its enlargement and development accentuate the divisions or will it help to bridge the gap? No one can say with certainty the course it will take. I make a value judgment based on observations. I do not claim anything more. I do not believe that the Common Market will become as outward-looking as many of my hon. Friends hope. If the Common Market is to become a bloc capable of meeting the Great Powers on their own terms, ultimately it will start to develop a military and political potential as well as an economic and 1676 social potential. Once the Community is enlarged and sets Great Power status as its goal inexorable pressures will be unleashed to Europeanise every member of the Community and to set afoot ideas of European nationalism to ensure that when a clash of interests takes place, say, between our past and our future we will in future distinguish as Europeans.
I am thinking specifically of the position of New Zealand and the Caribbean sugar countries because when next we come to argue about their position the New Zealanders and the Caribbean will be the foreigners and the French will be our European compatriots. That is a distinct difference between the situation now and what it will be in the mid-1970s. There has never been a power bloc created except at someone else's expense.
In an earlier intervention my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes) illustrated the point brilliantly when he said that N.A.T.O., despite the fact that democratic nations are involved, had never been able to influence Portugal and Greece. When a power bloc wishes to keep its basic power unit it is at someone else's expense, and the Western European power bloc will be at the expense of the Commonwealth and the third world countries.
There is the question of the price of entry for ordinary families. The price of food will rise as a consequence of entry. That is guaranteed. There is no guarantee about wages whatever. We have had aspirations from both sides of the House, but the number of times we in the trade union movement have heard the optimists talking has made us pessimistic because the goods have never been forthcoming.
§ Mr. Cecil Parkinson (Enfield, West) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Sillars
The hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Parkinson) shakes his head, but I would remind him that in the Conservative Manifesto the only place where wages are mentioned is under the heading on page 11 of "Steadier Prices." We have had a different set of policies since then, and in the last 16 months trade unionists have become sceptical.
1677 Prices are bound to rise and people say "Don't worry; we cannot guarantee it, but wages will ultimately overtake them." I put this point to my hon. Friends, that when working people are paying higher food prices for entry they will also be paying more for transport, higher prescription charges, and be finding themselves short of the three days' sickness unemployment and injury benefit that has been stolen from them by this Government. They will be paying more for school meals, and, above all, they will be facing crippling increases in the rents. The whole of Government policy, of which the Common Market forms an integral part, means that price rises in totality for working people will be of crippling dimensions.
Earlier my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes) complained about a document sent out to the Scottish Labour Party and said that my predecessor in South Ayrshire, Emrys Hughes, had burked a three-line Whip. That is true. He burked a three-line Whip on a number of occasions. I have to say to my hon. Friend, and I will make sure that he gets a copy of HANSARD, that the people I represent in the Labour Party in South Ayrshire in particular and the people of South Ayrshire generally bitterly resent any attempt by anyone in this party who seeks to imply that Emrys Hughes would be the posthumous underwriter for an act he would have found totally deplorable, and that is voting with a Tory Government. That is one thing he would never have done.
§ 1.33 a.m.
§ Mr. Michael Fidler (Bury and Radcliffe)
The result of this Motion is a foregone conclusion in the sense that we have already taken the decision to apply for membership, and I find it impossible to understand the official position of the Opposition.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) talked yesterday of association which meant having no choice whatever in rules and regulations. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) was adamantly opposed to entry at all, and he at least has the virtue of consistency. For some of us it has been rather sickening to see the successive somersaults by those who have changed their minds on so many occasions and 1678 proved themselves strangers to honesty of purpose and consistency in approaching the problem. If I may offer a suggestion to the Patronage Secretary, it is that on 1st January, 1973, he creates a new Order and bestows it on all those who have shown such inconsistency—the Order of the Chameleon.
There are others who are adamantly opposed to having anything to do with Europe, and who remind me irresistibly of a book I read some years ago by Czernin which had the title "Europe Going, Going, Gone", in which he said that England is a place where, when there is a fog in the Channel, the London newspaper headlines are "Continent Isolated." Some hon. Members do not appreciate what has grown up in Western Europe, and still live in Cloud-Cuckoo-land.
Each of us here must realise his responsibility, why we have been elected here and what our duty is. I think I know my duty. Since so many hon. Members opposite have talked of their Socialist responsibility, I say that the three main purposes for which I regard myself as having been elected are: first, to represent the best interests of every constituent; secondly, to support a Conservative Government in managing the nation's affairs; and, thirdly, to help to restore the word "Great" to the title "Great Britain."
Those three things should coincide, but the first is to represent the best interests of my constituents. In this one must be guided by one's conscience, even if on occasion it may lead one to vote against the party line. It has taken me a long time to decide the attitude I will take on Thursday night. I have never been an ardent advocate of entry. I have no passionate involvement blinding me to realities. I am conscious of what the Conservative Election Manifesto said, and I remind the House of just one sentence in it:If we can negotiate the right terms, we believe it would be in the long-term interest of the British people to join the European Economic Community, and that it would make a major contribution to both the prosperity and the security of our country.Any Government worth their salt in doing their duty, if they are able to negotiate the right terms, and having said that if they can do so they believe it best to go into the Community, must surely 1679 be right in making that decision to go forward once they have negotiated those terms.
As to references to the kind of mandate any party has, I could not help thinking of last night's intervention by an hon. Member opposite who, when asked how he would justify a Labour Government choosing entry to Europe knowing the state of affairs in the country, said that he presumed they would take the matter to the Labour Party conference and be guided by the decision taken there. If that is any basis for going in, I would have thought that the overwhelming vote in favour of entry at the recent Conservative Party Conference at Brighton was a much surer indication.
Some hon. Members opposite have had the temerity to cast aspersions on those of us who, so they say, never even mentioned the Common Market in their own personal election addresses. I have here a copy of my own address in which, under the heading "Common Market", I said:The economic, especially the political, cost of going in must be most carefully weighed. I value our independence, our ties with the Commonwealth, our position as a World Power, too highly to see them sacrificed. The terms for entry must be fair, acceptable, and without detriment to the people of Britain before I could support an application to join.I said quite clearly what I would expect the terms to reveal before I could lend support to our entry.
Reference has been quite rightly made to the way in which we canvassed opinion in our constituencies. I invited my industrialists not to write to me but to meet me, and members of some 60 national and international companies, some domestic and some foreign, met me at the local town hall, where we spent 2½ hours discussing the problem.
I asked them not for their personal views but what they thought of the situation in the long term as to their prosperity, employment interests, and expansion prospects on which the wages of my constituents depend. Did they think it an advantage or a disadvantage to their future if we went in or stayed out? Twenty-three said they saw tremendous advantage in going in; 16 expressed reservations; the others committed themselves neither one way or the other. Since that time, six months ago, most of those 1680 questioned at that time have since written to me indicating that, having studied the matter more deeply, they were satisfied that going in would be to their advantage.
I have addressed trades councils in my constituency and representatives of trade unions. I have invited constituents to write to me, more than a thousand of whom have done so. I have addressed groups of old and young alike. I have had open house two weeks running in all parts of my constituency and have invited constituents to give me their views. I have attended pro- and anti-Market meetings. I have read all possible literature on the matter, and have even spent three days in Brussels making searching inquiries to see whether the balance of advantage lay in staying out or going in.
We now know the terms and congratulate my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on getting the best possible terms—in my view, having studied the history of the matter, better terms than could have been gained by anyone negotiating on behalf of the previous Administration. But, knowing these terms, the question is: should we go in?
A great deal has been said about the feelings of the mass of the public. The feeling is that, having heard so many words on the subject, they are in the main confused. There has been so much confusion from all sides, so many presentations on radio and television, so much in the Press that, frankly, most now say "We do not know enough about the subject. You are supposed to be the expert. You study the matter and give us some idea of where the balance of advantage lies."
What I detest is the kind of pressure to which most of us have been subjected this week, such as the pressure I have received from a national trade union, which shall be nameless, whose literature is headed "The Voters' Veto" and says:We, the undersigned parliamentary electors, being aware of the Prime Minister's statement that the entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community would require the full-hearted consent of Parliament … request you to sign the undertaking below, on receipt of which we, the undersigned, undertake to support you at the next parliamentary election regardless of how we voted previously. However, should you find yourself unable to sign the undertaking and vote in Parliament in favour of Great Britain 1681 joining the European Economic Community and thereby fail to represent us in so vital an issue, it is with great regret that we must now advise you that it would be impossible for us to support you in the future.There are appended to that document a number of signatures. I have been inclined to write back and ask whether they as Socialists, as they obviously are, will vote for me if I sign the document.
We are not in this House to act in the sort of way expected of us in that document. We are not delegates of the people who instruct us how to vote. Surely we are here to represent their views but to act in what we consider to be their best interest. We cannot always be guided by what is seen to be the majority feeling of the public. When the House voted for the abolition of capital punishment, the vast majority of the country as a whole were in favour of retention. But there were those in this House who thought it was their duty to give a lead in what they thought were the best interests of all the people in the country and what they believed to be fair.
I will not go into statistics; the hour is late. But one is conscious that every leading industrialist has indicated that the best prospects for prosperity lie in entry into Europe. Lord Stokes has said—and let us remember that some 14 per cent. of our total exports are in the form of cars—that the best opportunities for increased employment and expansion lie in Britain going into the Common Market, and that is typical of many of his colleagues. The same is true of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce and of the chambers of commerce in my constituency.
As for the Commonwealth, with all the pleas for retaining our links, 28 out of the 30 Commonwealth countries have made special relationships with the Community. The only two which have not are Australia and Canada. I have met delegations from those countries in this House, and they have made it plain that they think that we should need our mentality examined if we did not seize the opportunity which is presented to us, since their future trade does not lie with us, in any event. Other parts of the Commonwealth such as Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have, under the Arusha Agreement, come to an arrangement with the Community which abolishes all 1682 customs duties and effectively sets up a 2 per cent. to 9 per cent. preference against any country outside the E.E.C., which will include the United Kingdom if we do not join the Community. In that way, our Commonwealth interests are adequately safeguarded, and we shall maintain links rather than sever them by going into the Community.
There are doubts in my mind still, of course. Mainly, they are political rather than economic. Accordingly, I went to Brussels and spent three days at Common Market headquarters, where I met the various directors general and one of the commissioners. I made a great many inquiries, especially about regional development. Having had a long conversation with the director of that part of the Commission, I am in a position to say that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) gave voice to a farrago of nonsense when he said that this country's regional policies would not be possible if we went into the Community. There is talk of a 20 per cent. limitation on subsidy, but that does not involve the infrastructure, the services, the roads or even the transport in areas designated as being in need of regional policies. In Brussels we asked specifically whether we shall be able to continue to assist Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, parts of the North of England and Merseyside. We got a categorical "Yes" to our questions. The 20 per cent. limitation on subsidy is designed to ensure that no country takes advantage of the subsidy arrangement to help an area which already enjoys prosperity.
Having made investigations about monetary policy, the operation of the common agricultural policy, the harmonisation of regulations, standards and patents, I have come to the conclusion that if the economic forecasts are accurate, justifiable and reliable, the political risks are worth taking and that we should seek entry.
There has been talk of our sovereignty being diminished, abandoned or reduced. If we go in, sovereignty will be shared because we shall be going into a partnership. The greatness of this country in the past has rested on the fact that we have been able to maintain a balance of power both to keep the peace and to prevent the domination of Europe. That is 1683 why in the last century we sided with the Germans against Napoleon and in this century with the French against Hitler. However, that balance of power is no longer possible, though I have no doubt that France is encouraging our entry because she fears the economic might of Germany.
We can only look forward to exercising that kind of balance of power if we join the Community and exercise that leadership inside now that the E.E.C. exists. We must be part of that Europe, sharing its growth and sharing in shaping its future policies and regulations.
I have indicated my political reservations. We must remember that two great wars left us bleeding grievously, and we are still suffering from the loss of men and economic resources arising from those two wars. We cannot afford a third world war which will bleed this country to death.
Membership of the Common Market—the Community of Ten—is an insurance. It is not infallible, but it is immensely more reassuring than the alternative for us outside.
Today's Motion is that we go in on the terms which have been negotiated. They are the best possible. No better are available. There is no guarantee of success if we are inside, but at least we shall have a great opportunity.
In my view, we must have faith in our future. Our knowledge of our great past should give us that faith and an even greater future. But it will only be there for us if we take advantage of the opportunities now open to us. Management and workers alike will have to pull out their thumbs and get down to the job of meeting and beating the competition as we always have in the past and will do in future.
In Brussels I particularly asked what opinion was like in 1958 when the Six were about to establish the E.E.C. I asked whether there were the same doubts and uncertainties. I was told that opinion was precisely the same as we are now experiencing: most industrialists in favour, trade unions very much against, and the public most certainly against. Yet now all the doubts are resolved and all are united that it has been to their immense advantage. 1684 France is certainly greater than she was before 1958; Germany is certainly greater economically and otherwise than before 1958; and Italy has certainly seen great improvements since 1958.
It is my honest belief that Great Britain has always led the concert of nations. I believe that our destiny now lies in leading the Community of Europe and, through the Community, again leading the world. For that reason, I shall vote in support of entry.
§ 1.52 a.m.
§ Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)
I am glad to have this opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. Fidler). I was intrigued when he said that his third reason for being in this House was to put the "Great" back into Great Britain. I am not absolutely certain whether he told us what he meant by that, but he said enough to convince me that his idea of a great Great Britain is radically different from mine.
In this brief contribution I wish to refer to the fisheries and agricultural policies and then to make one or two general comments.
Hon. Members opposite will probably agree that it is a great pity that it was not possible to conclude the fisheries negotiations before the vote which will take place on Thursday night. The fact is that we shall be voting for a fisheries policy which has not yet been decided. During the last months there have been continuous negotiations on the fisheries policy. It is many months since the Government put forward their proposals for retaining the six-mile limit. Then, when we learned, or believed, that those proposals were unacceptable, they said that they would maintain the status quo until they got acceptable terms.
After the meeting on 21st September I was under the impression—as were the correspondents of the Scotsman—there were no London newspapers at that time because of the dispute—that the six-mile limit and the alternative, which was to retain the status quo until we were in, had been rejected by the Council of Ministers. A number of meetings had taken place since the proposals had been put forward and they had not been taken up.
1685 After wilting to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster I was surprised but pleased to learn that these two proposals still stood. That was confirmed in the debate by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. We do not know what has been happening at the meetings of the Council of Ministers. No formal text was issued after the meeting on 21st September. The new optimism in Government circles stems from the fact that on this issue Norway is holding out much more strongly than we have done. It does not worry me if it is because of Norway that we get satisfactory conditions for our fishermen. I do not care what the reason is, provided my fishermen in Musselburgh obtain much better terms than they seemed likely to get at the outset.
I want to make four points. First, it is imperative that the Government should hold out for the present 12-mile limit, although I agree that some European countries have historic rights. No one will argue about that. Secondly, we cannot under any circumstances accept different arrangements from those applying to Norway. If Norway gets a 12-mile limit, we must have one. Thirdly, whatever arrangements are decided must be permanent. We cannot agree—as was suggested by the Government and other interested parties—so that we should have a five-year 12-mile limit or six-mile limit.
The final point is the most important, because it has not been clarified so far. It was raised by the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) yesterday. The Government's argument is that if in ensuing negotiations on fisheries they are unable to get a satisfactory settlement in terms of the Treaty of Accession they will insist on maintaining the present position until they can reach a satisfactory agreement. If they do not manage to reach agreement on fishery limits in time for it to be embodied in the Treaty of Accession they should not endeavour to reach agreement until we are a member of the Community in 1973 and have a vote.
We have always believed if we were in the Community with the status quo maintained we should be able to exert some sort of a veto on any fisheries policy which was likely to encroach on our limits. I hope that the Government will find an opportunity to clarify this 1686 point in the debate, because it has not been clarified.
Agriculture is important in these negotiations not just because of its effect on the agricultural community but because of the common agricultural policy, which was described to me once by an official in Brussels as the mother of European integration.
The common agricultural policy has been described in extreme terms by both proponents and opponents of entry. I remember one hon. Member on this side saying that it was surprising that Socialists should be so concerned about subsidising or helping the living standards of poor French farmers. I find that a strange view, because one of the fundamental weaknesses of the common agricultural policy, as accepted by Dr. Mansholt and other experts, is that it completely fails to maintain the incomes of small farmers in Europe. Further, because of its emphasis on high prices it benefits the big farmers.
Only when that policy clearly discriminates between, on the one hand, the social objectives of accelerating the movement of small farmers out of agriculture and encourage rationalisation and, on the other, the maintenance of higher prices shall we get a common agricultural policy that is in the interests of the European farmers, let alone British farmers.
On the other hand, it has been said by the opponents of entry—
§ It being Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed this day.