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.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
When I began my speech earlier this morning I thought I noticed that the House was beginning to fill, but I never expected that it would be as crowded as it is now. At that time I expressed surprise that the Leader of the Opposition was not in his place, as I had written to tell him that I was going to speak and would be making reference to him. I would always—and I mean this sincerely—show the greatest courtesy to the right hon. Gentleman, and I shall do so this afternoon to him and to the House and not take too much time from the right hon. Gentleman. But I feel that I owe it to the House, as I have the opportunity, to express my views on the great decision that stands before us and also to mention some of the problems which I face in my constituency.
My constituents have known my views as a supporter of Britain's entry into the Common Market for many years, and I have listened to their views, too. I have listened, in particular, to the views of a minority of my constituents, but a very important minority, who are concerned at the prospects of Britain's entering the Common Market, and I refer to the fruit growers in my constituency, the fruit growers in Kent.
All I say to my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench is that a problem still exists and it is no use ducking the issue. The price of apples and pears in this country will be affected by overwhelming supplies arriving here from the Continent when we are full members of the Community at the end of the transitional period. We in the fruit industry are not in for an easy time, but we are not throwing in the sponge. I am very close to the fruit industry and to the fruit 2077 growers, and I can say that we are prepared to meet the invasion.
The small growers have decided that they must get together and co-operate to become much bigger and more efficient and effective economic units. I believe that when we are in the Common Market we, as a Government, must aim to see what changes we can effect, minimal though they may be, in the manner in which we allow this flood of fruit to come to this country, because I do not believe that it is in the interests of this important section of English farming to allow a flood of poorer quality fruit to drive off the market and away from the consumer and housewives the best quality fruit that we produce in this country. I do not believe that such economic forces should go altogether uncontrolled.
My attitude to the growers is that they are an important minority. I believe that they have a case. They accept the overall economic and political reason for Britain's joining the Common Market, but they need help—help now, and in the future. They must not be forgotten. They must be sustained. The questions that we have to answer in regard to this industry are: first, how big an industry are we going to have in the future; second, how can we make it more efficient? People in the industry will require generous compensation—and I mean generous in a very big way when we are considering farmers being driven out of their livelihood.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), in his excellent speech in this debate, spoke of the safeguards which he thought were necessary for the fishermen in Orkney and Shetland. I, too, have a fishing industry, in Whitstable, and I am equally concerned about it. The right hon. Gentleman said that he allowed his judgment on this issue to be conditioned by his duty to his constituents. I have both fishermen and fruit growers in my constituency, and I am not prepared to see them sacrificed to our larger economic interests.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. There is a kind of buzz of conversation going on which gives me the opportunity I have long wanted of reminding the House of what Speaker Cook said in 1593, 2078it is not the manner of the House, that any should whisper or talk secretly, for here only public speeches are to be used.
§ Mr. Crouch
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your support. I thought that I heard a murmur of assent and understanding for what I was saying. It may be that as I pursue my arguments the type of reception that I get will be different.
I believe that the economic case for Britain's joining the Common Market is clear and convincing. I do not believe that we can find an opportunity for increased growth anywhere else. Of course there is room for argument about the costs, about the benefits, and about the time for such a move and such a decision. I accept the costs, and I accept the opportunity to gain benefits, but I stress to the House that the benefits come not by decisions in this House but by the initiative and energy of the British people, of British industry, and of British trade unions and trade unionists. I believe that the British people will respond and that British industry will meet the challenge.
I believe that the Community will advance from its present free trade area towards greater co-ordination of production and ever greater co-ordination of research and development, greater coordination of markets and orders—orders big enough to support the massive research and development and production costs—and greater co-ordination perhaps of temporary protection even as those industries develop and grow. I would not like to be outside such an organisation if it developed on such efficient and organised lines.
Much has been said about sovereignty. It is not humiliating to go to Europe today. Britain in Europe is respected and admired. We have friends throughout Europe in all the Common Market countries. None of us in this House wants to lose one jot of our significance, the sovereignty of the British Parliament, but let us not get puffed up with our own self-importance. First and foremost, we must strive for the well-being of the British people. I would be prepared to sacrifice some national sovereignty if I felt that it made a contribution to this peace. The sovereignty that I most desire is the sovereignty of peace itself—
§ Mr. Crouch
The hon. Members asks a question about an important minority. I have taken a great interest in an important majority, the miners—
§ Mr. Crouch
—and I hope that he will show consideration for the minority that I have mentioned.
Today a question mark hangs over Europe. Today we should be concerned about Europe's future and security. We cannot stand aside and say we are not involved. We are alongside Europe already. Europe today has an opportunity of much greater influence, greater size and greater strength. I believe that Europe could become the greatest influence for peace that the world has ever known.
I am sad at the arguments which so many hon. Members have advanced against our entry. We have an opportunity today to make a greater Europe. We have an opportunity to make history. Europe's influence could be an influence to balance the new super-Powers in the world. It could be an influence for greater peace and stability, for friendship and understanding and an end to bitterness. Are we really afraid to make this decision? I do not think so, but we have to be sure that we know where we are going.
This great debate has been robbed of some of its greatness by the insincerity of some of our parliamentary leaders. We in this House know the reasons for this political finesse which has affected these decisions, but the public have no time for them. They distrust politicians who have put party before country and themselves before the people. We have a duty to earn the people's respect—not only for our debate but for our decision and the reasons for it. The public are dismayed at the attitude of some of our former leaders who have changed their minds for the wrong reasons. They see it as a sham, a political trick that fools no one. Let the Opposition oppose for all they are worth the Conservative policies which they dislike, but our decision today is above party politics: it is a turning point in our history.
I do not believe that the Labour Party is turning its back on Europe. But what has happened to the Leader of the Opposition, who used to be so keen? He 2080 said that he was going to go into Europe at a hell of a pace. He said that he believed in the big market, in the technological community. He said that he accepted the Treaty of Rome. He wanted European unity and told General de Gaulle so. He was so confident that I supported his ideals, as did the great majority of hon. Members, and we went into the Lobby behind him.
Why has he turned against us now and let us and Parliament down? What sort of a leader has he become, and where do his loyalties lie? Do they lie with his principles or with those who push him hardest? No wonder the people are confused and dismayed, because the alternative Prime Minister has proved a pushover.
I respect all those who do not believe that we should go into Europe at all, but I respect above all those who have decided, on the principles of the issue, to vote according to their real judgment and their real beliefs. These are the men who will be remembered in future—who put their country first and made the right decision today.
§ 3.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
The House has heard the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) and has been much impressed, as I was, by his arguments about technology, a subject to which I hope to come a little later.
The geat debate for which the Prime Minister and I called has now reached its culmination in this parliamentary debate of the last six days, and the decision which the House must take tonight. I feel that it is right today to pay tribute to the standard reached on both sides of the debate in all parties and, indeed, more widely. With very few exceptions, it has been carried on at a high level, in no way unworthy of the fundamental importance, the historic nature of the issue which we have been debating.
But the right hon. Gentleman will have recognised one incontestible fact. The full consent of the British people for which he rightly called in the General Election campaign has not been forthcoming. What he appealed to is not now at his command. This is after one of the most expensively-financed P.R. campaigns in our political history—transcending, I think, all others—liberally 2081 financed, mainly by private interests. This has been aided by a somewhat less than fastidious attention by the Government to the established rules about the use of the taxpayers' money for such purposes on any issue on which Parliament has not pronounced—a long-standing rule. The Secretary of State for Employment invoked this rule at the Conservative Party conference when he said that before the assent of Parliament had been given the Government could not constitutionally distribute information on his Industrial Relations Act. It has been done, of course, in this case.
In addition to that, we have had the united pressure of the whole of the Common Market Press. Never have the Press and the other communications media been so united or so ineffective. Their only achievement has been an unprecedented loss of circulation. Their campaign has succeeded only in boring the pants off the British electorate. What we have seen has been a classic confrontation—the Establishment against the common sense of the British people—and it will continue. Today is not an end; it is a beginning.
The two major national parties and the Liberal Party have taken their decisions at their annual conferences. Last week, my right hon. and hon. Friends, in a free vote of the Parliamentary Labour Party, took their decision by a substantial majority against entry on the terms negotiated—if the acceptance of the diktat enshrined in the Prime Minister's meeting in the Elysée Palace can be called negotiation.
The House has debated these terms, or at least such constituents of these terms as the Government thought it politic to reveal to the House in their White Paper in July. Now for a week this parliamentary debate has continued, and in these two debates, I think I am right in saying, 223 hon. Members have been called by the Chair. Every point of view has been expressed. On this I should like to pay my tribute to the Leader of the House for the arrangements he made, as he promised us, for ensuring that this should be so, and certainly to you, Mr. Speaker, on the way this debate has been conducted.
So my comments on the terms—and that is basically what this debate is about 2082 —will be no more than a survey or a summary of what a number of us said in July and have said again in this debate recognising, as we must, that what so many said in the July debate has been massively reinforced by events since July.
To my mind, the most serious charge against the right hon. Gentleman in negotiating these terms relates to their consequences for Britain's balance of payments with all that that means for prices and unemployment, and I shall come to this subject a little later. But there are other issues which should not be glossed over before this House, and, still more important, the country, makes its final decision. I should like to deal with them point by point, as briefly as I can, before putting my more general conclusions before the House.
I begin with two major measures affecting the Commonwealth. It is a grave commentary, I think, on the parameters within which this debate has been conducted not only in the Press but elsewhere, and nowhere more than in the speeches and arguments of right hon. Gentlemen, that we have had what has been tantamount, I think, to a conspiracy aimed at discounting the Commonwealth throughout the debate. In asserting this I do not seek to impress the right hon. Gentleman, whose stamp of Government on every issue, from South Africa to what we shall shortly hear about Rhodesia—though that will not be till he has collected every conceivable vote in his Common Market Day—has shown his total unconcern, his contempt even, for the modern Commonwealth.
I take, first, Commonwealth sugar. The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement was negotiated more than 20 years ago by Board of Trade Ministers, notably my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley), under my direction as President of the Board of Trade, and so the House will, I think, afford me some sentiment in this matter.
I regard the Government's deal over sugar as a betrayal. Yes, I know they will quote in aid the acquiescence of Commonwealth representatives, to say nothing of my noble Friend Lord Campbell of Eskan in this context. With whatever shamelessness this Government 2083 can muster, this is what they will argue. I would not have accepted, and no Cabinet I chaired would have accepted, any settlement—[Interruption.]—I hope the right hon. Gentleman could say the same—which failed to maintain the privileged access to the British market accorded by the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement or the equivalent access to a wider European market. Under-developed countries in the Commonwealth uniquely dependent for even a minimum standard of living, depended on that agreement, and depend today on the maintenance of the privilege accorded by that agreement.
When the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster caved in on that agreement, after his strong words at tea time—remember, he caved in in the small hours at the coffee and cognac stage—the settlement was immediately condemned by Commonwealth countries, and, indeed, by my noble Friend, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Sugar Exporters Group. Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman got to work with the Commonwealth—at a meeting at Lancaster House, I think. Commonwealth countries were concerned, as were hon. Members in all parts of the House, that the negotiations did not provide a bankable proposition—bankable in the sense that sugar is a seven-year crop, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman had caved in on a three-year settlement. He called the Commonwealth representatives together and spoke encouragingly in terms of positive commitments going far beyond three years. What the right hon. and learned Gentleman said to them lie read into the Brussels record, but the Six gave him no undertaking. They simply took note. They said they would aura à coeur what he had said. There was no undertaking that the Common Market countries would maintain the benefits of the C.S.A. Why not? If the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been negotiating as an equal, not a suppliant, he would have demanded an undertaking.
As for the Commonwealth representatives, what could they say? If they did not accept the right hon. and learned Gentleman's note for the record as a bankable proposition, how could they convince the banks to advance the money for a seven-year production period? 2084 Their action carries no more conviction than the right hon. learned Gentleman in his other sell out on this question of the beet sugar interests of the Six. The interests of the British housewives and of the Commonwealth countries called forth no response from the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
I turn to New Zealand. In July I told the House, with quotations no hon. Member, and certainly no member of the then Cabinet, can gainsay, the exact basis on which the Labour Government applied for entry. It may be true that the Commonwealth Press, with their consistent record of selective representation or misrepresentation of any facts inconvenient to them, had some success in suppressing these facts. I quoted, as I say—and I do not think hon. Gentlemen are in a position to query this. I have read much of the arguments in these months about what the Labour Government would or would not have accepted in the final terms. I gave the House the facts. I quoted the basis on which the Labour Government were recommended by the then Foreign Secretary, my noble Friend Lord George-Brown, and myself to apply for entry. No one has denied the reporting of what he and I told to the Cabinet.
On New Zealand, I set out what my noble Friend and I had said to each and every one of the Heads of Government about the terms on which we would insist for New Zealand. I am not going today to repeat those statements. It is not necessary. They have not been challenged. If hon. Members will refresh their memories by reading the exact words used by my noble Friend in the capitals of the Six, they much accept that the basis of any settlement we then decided that we would regard as acceptable is totally different from what this Government brought home. I repeat that in the recommendations from the Foreign Secretary and myself, on what the then Cabinet made application, it was laid down, and was accepted by the Cabinet, that either by a permanent derogation or a period of transition lasting "for a generation" the British consumer would have a guaranteed right to buy cheap New Zealand butter.
Right hon. Gentlemen, perhaps the Prime Minister tonight, may argue that such an insistence was unrealistic, that it could not possibly be accepted by the Six. 2085 The fact is that after the then Foreign Secretary and I had so argued in all the capitals of the Six—and I set out the precise words we used and which I quoted in July—after we had so argued with the Heads of Government of the Six, there was no demur that this was what we demanded. Five out of the Six, nevertheless, urged us to make our application without delay, knowing what our terms were. The sixth, General de Gaulle, did not want us in on any terms.
It will be argued—it has been argued—that the New Zealand Government have accepted the terms. They were closely involved in the negotiations, and again I ask: what else could they have said? What they have said has not been endorsed by the Labour Opposition in New Zealand. I emphasise that. The New Zealand Tory Government could hardly, after their involvement in the negotiations, have gone back and admitted to their electorate that they had about one-tenth of 1 per cent. as much influence with a British Tory Prime Minister as the President of France had; still less did they wish to see the electors as a whole arguing that the President of France held the key to Britain's entry and to that extent could dictate the terms. Indeed, still less again could they argue that a British Prime Minister, contrary to his General Election pledges to the British housewife, contrary to the national interest, was more concerned to meet French demands to secure hundreds of millions to subsidise inefficient French farmers than he was to discharge our obligations to the immeasurably more efficient New Zealand farmers. No. What the New Zealand Government said is not conclusive here.
The condemnation of this Government is not that they failed to secure terms which would have ensured that the Labour Government's stated requirements were met. The condemnation of them is that they did not even try. The pass was sold in the Elysée. Some would say that that is arguable. I believe the pass was sold first in the British Cabinet by right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
While I am on the subject of New Zealand, I hope the Prime Minister will comment on reports in the New Zealand Press this week about the British Government's levy on the New Zealand lamb. This was, of course, oriented to Market 2086 entry, but was introduced independently of it; and since it was introduced before we knew what the terms were, it must have been a deliberate decision of the Government irrespective of whether or not we got in. It has created a total crisis in New Zealand lamb production, with the likelihood of a large number of producers going out of business. That of itself means, with virtual certainty, an acute shortage and high prices for the British consumer.
I understand that the New Zealand Government have appealed for urgent action by the Government, and I would like the right hon. Gentleman to comment on reports, said to derive from Whitehall sources, that the British Government said that they would take no action on New Zealand's request, or even discuss it, until tonight's vote was in the bag.
I pass briefly over the other constituents in the terms we negotiated. First, fisheries. This is not only a matter of importance to the constituencies of 20 or more hon. Members in all parts of the House. It was the subject of a remarkable announcement by the Chancellor of the Duchy in Brighton when he said:I will make this clear this afternoon".—We saw him say this on televsion:we should not sign a Treaty of Accession which would commit us to the present fisheries policy, nor would we accept any arrangement which did not satisfactorily protect our legitimate interests.Despite this uncharacteristically robust pronouncement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, hon. Members will not know the outcome about fisheries until after the vote tonight. A Minister who has shown his ability to surrender on major issues overnight is playing the fisheries issue long. Could there be a reason? What is it? The Market correspondent of the pro-Market Guardian reported on 16th October under the headline "E.E.C. Lets Fishing Issue Dangle":The Common Market countries are going along with Britain's unofficial—but no less clear—request that they should not reach a common negotiating position over access to fishing waters until after the parliamentary vote on E.E.C. entry on October 28th.It went on to speculate that no action would be taken in the Norway negotiations either, since Norway might insist on and get, better terms than Britain. Hon. 2087 Members in all parts of the House may have their own views on whether this is the best way to secure Britain's interests on fisheries, but they can have little doubt that it is a contemptuous way to treat Parliament.
The question of regional policies I shall leave for the moment while I refer to what I believe to be the key issue, which is the financial burden and the commitments laid on Britain by every aspect of the terms negotiated, and principally by the Government's total surrender on the common agricultural policy.
The Government have not given their estimate of the cost to our balance of payments. We pressed them to do so in July. We urged them to publish a White Paper and have a Select Committee. The Chancellor of the Duchy was particularly reticent, even for him, and misleading on Monday about the figure he disseminated during the summer. He sought to deny it when challenged by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). Later he conceded that there was a figure. It was, of course, £500 million a year.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)
Could not the right hon. Gentleman, just on this one occasion, abandon this degenerate fondness he has for trivial fallacies? [Interruption.] I thought I made it perfectly clear that I had said nothing at all privately that I had not said publicly. The only figure I used—I quoted it—was the one I gave when I said that we might have a balance of payments surplus of £1,700 million. I agreed that that was the utmost, or optimistic edge, but everything else I said, whatever the newspapers may have quoted from published sources, did not go beyond what I have said publicly in this House.
§ Mr. Wilson
I entirely respect the right hon. and learned Gentleman's intervention. I was hoping to come to this point in more detail shortly. When I do, perhaps he will then allow me to quote what he has said in the House. He has been wrong again—in what he just said—and when I have dealt more fully with the statements he has made in the House, I will, of course, allow him, if he wishes, to intervene again.
2088 The fact remains that we have had no statement from the Government except this figure of £500 million, which was quoted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Mr. Rippon indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Wilson
I can only give my understanding of the matter.
Authoritative calculations suggesting not £500 million but £700 million, or even more, have been put forward as the cost to our balance of payments. Indeed, some of these, based on entirely reasonable assumptions, give a figure rising to over £1,000 million in the early 80s. I grant that this is a sphere in which estimates are bound to be speculative and controversial.
On visible trade, the whole Government case is that Britain's destiny will be changed by the reduction of Europe's tariff on manufacturers from 7½ per cent. to nil over four and a half years. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) said in the debate last week, the advantage is less than the appreciation of the deutschemark and the yen. And the deutschemark-yen appreciations are much more painless. They are gained without having to pay hundreds of millions of £s a year in subventions to the European agricultural welfare state for the privilege of joining the Community.
There is general agreement—I am still speaking about exports and imports in terms of visible trade—that in the early years we shall fare badly. Our tariff on manufacture is higher than that of the Market, and certainly keen exporters will exploit this.
This point was well made by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who was reported on 20th May as having said that Britain's external trade was likely to drop in the early period of Common Market membership. He said that there would be "a downturn", and went on:It is likely to prove the case that the balances of disadvantage, created by the progressive adoption of the common external tariff, will have a somewhat sharper and quicker effect on external trade than will be the expansionary effect of a progressive elimination of tariffs between us and the Community.That is what the right hon. Gentleman said, and fairly so; and, of course, in the short-term it will, therefore, be harmful 2089 net. It will deteriorate, though in the longer-term, perhaps after 1978, it might improve. The right hon. Gentleman was, I thought, eloquent and strong about what he thought were the long-term advantages after 1978. The Chancellor of the Duchy argued on Monday, however, that any discussion of what would happen after 1978 was "irrelevant"—and that was his word.
On invisibles, I think there may be better prospects, and probably the City stands to gain a good deal from our entry. It may well do so because of our invisible exports. Our calculations in the February 1970 White Paper suggested a deterioration for some years, and, rather to my surprise, not one argument has been produced from the Treasury Bench to suggest otherwise.
Capital movements are likely to be adverse, and possibly heavily adverse. We are, far more than any of the Six, highly vulnerable to short-term capital movements, and these, as successive Governments have learnt—this was said by the Home Secretary in 1968 on the radio—are capable of developing on a multimillion pound scale whenever there is doubt about our balance of payments and whatever Government are in power.
But this is not all. When the then Foreign Secretary and I—I am now taking a point that was thrown at me in a selective quotation made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday—were in discussion with the Heads of Government of the Six early in 1967, we clearly warned that special arrangements, special derogations from the E.E.C. policy, would be required, and, as I tried to point out yesterday in an intervention, we said this for one main reason—the provisions made by the Six on these matters make no discrimination between short-term capital movements within the Six and between the Six and the outside world.
For a generation successive British Governments have maintained a comprehensive system of exchange controls to prevent the free movement of funds to the outside world, varying from time to time in method and intensity but never varying in determination to check an outward flow of funds on British resident account. On the right terms of entry—right in balance of payments terms—I would have far less fear of movements 2090 from Britain across the Channel, to Paris or Frankfurt, than I would have of movements from Paris or Frankfurt, through London and then across the Atlantic. Our terms, clearly stated in 1967, required control over the movements of British funds to Europe until an effective ring fence was erected around Europe to prevent triangular transactions under which a British house could, almost simultaneously—with two telephones linked to, say, Brussels or Paris, and New York—transfer millions and millions to Europe, to be followed within seconds by a further transfer to Wall Street. This is what we set out to ensure, and I am not satisfied, in the terms negotiated by the Government, that this has been done.
On top of this, in my view—others may disagree; many of us are bound to disagree on many of these questions—there would be a further loss of capital as a result of the Pompidou-Heath deal about a progressive run-down of sterling balances. We have not been told exactly what it means, but unless that was backed by a simultaneous special creation of long-term international liquidity, this could mean, under a 20-year run down exercise, the loss of a further £100 million or so across the exchanges each year, unless there was especial cover by an international creation of credit.
All I have referred to is, in the main, short-term capital. What about the long-term capital? Here again, different views may be taken, both in the short and in the long run. We heard the optimism of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Employment in his unequal cross-talk act with my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) on Monday evening. My view on this question—unless one believes in fairies in international capitalism—is that the movement would be adverse to Britain and, more than possibly, heavily adverse. In this context, hon. Members will have seen the calculation of Professor Cooper of Yale, arguing on the basis of the relative profitability in recent years of capital investment in Britain compared with that of capital investment in the Six, that that movement of long-term capital would be heavily adverse to Britain.
So there is little in any sector of the balance of payments, on trade account or capital movements account, to suggest 2091 anything but a heavy drain on our balance of payments as a result of the terms negotiated. Having said all this, it is Hamlet without the Prince because, as the House knows, the key factor in our balance of payments is the commitment the Government have entered into on the financing of the E.E.C. agricultural programme. We must accuse right hon. Gentlemen opposite of frivolity, not only in their negotiations but in their presentation of what they have negotiated to the House.
The Government's case in defence of what they have given away—we have heard a lot of this during the summer, but rather less in the last week or two—is that the gap between the world prices we pay and Common Market's managed prices will narrow as compared with recent years. There is no warrant for this, except an assumption based on two years' bad harvests. This year's good harvest is widening the gap. The world grain market has collapsed, and consumers and livestock rearers all over the world are deriving benefit from it, but not in Britain because of the Government's levies. But the very size of the levies, related to grain prices which are far below Common Market prices, shows the shape of things to come. Meanwhile, they are burning grain in America, which does not suggest to me that there will be this narrowing of the gap about which we have heard.
But even since the House last debated this, a new factor has emerged widening the gap and forcing a still larger balance of payments burden on Britain on the C.A.P. account and, incidentally, by an estimate which I have seen, raising by 6 per cent. the already excessive burden of rising food prices falling on housewives, which entry to the Market will mean.
Hon. Members will have seen the lead story in the Sunday Times Business News on 24th October under the heading,U.K. faces massive $ crisis bill".The Economics Editor makes this assertion:A new wave of increases in Common Market food prices and import levies, which would raise both British food prices and the U.K.'s contribution to the Community Budget, is now foreseen in Washington following a new analysis by officials of the backwash of the impending international currency realignment.2092They foresee grain support prices in France, Italy, Britain and Denmark going up, by an average of as much as 6 per cent. As the import levies would go up too, America's already-dwindling grain exports to Europe could be stopped, and bigger grain surpluses would flow outward from Europe and spoil America's world-wide grain sales.For Britain, the threatened increases would add to her entry costs, over and above the price increases envisaged at the time membership was being negotiated."—That was three months ago—They would add to prices in the shops, and proportionately rather more to the balance of payments cost.The C.A.P. is an established feature of the Market in the second five years of its development. In its present form, it is General de Gaulle's price for accepting French involvement in a Community he had not himself taken any part in creating and which, in many of its aspects, he actively disliked. From the moment he took office—this he made clear, publicly clear, beyond doubt—he made its subordination to the requirements of French national policy, especially on agriculture, his condition for not precipitately wrecking the Community.
In the earlier speeches in the debate, the Minister of Agriculture and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made great play of one quotation from my speech in the debate on 8th May, 1967—I kept asking them to read the other relevant part—and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was at it again yesterday. The reason for their selective quotation—I am not accusing them of any lack of good faith—is that they were taking all their briefing from the Tory Central Office's dirty little red book clearly written by schoolchildren for people of a less than mature age. The Ministers concerned, one after another, refused to read out the key words about the terms of entry, even when I generously gave them the column reference. So I shall read it to them. I ask for their close attention:'It is also the Government's view that the financial arrangements which have been devised to meet the requirements of the Community's agricultural policy as it exists today would, if applied to Britain as they now stand, involve an inequitable sharing of the financial cost and impose on our balance of payments an additional burden which we should not in fairness be asked to carry'".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1070.]Why could not they have quoted that? Admittedly it is not in the book. Those 2093 words were not only said on 8th May, but they were a direct quotation from my statement on 2nd May announcing the application, and from the Government's White Paper, Cmnd. 3269, for which right hon. Gentlemen as well as the Government voted. More than that, those words represented much fuller statements on the same lines made by my noble Friend, and by myself, to each of the Common Market Prime Ministers whom he had met before deciding to submit the application. This is what we said to each of them. More than that, the House should know that we made this point to the Commission when we met them in Brussels on the same series of visits. They accepted that the existing arrangements would be inequitable on the C.A.P. as it then existed—but I say, as it then existed. But that was when we should have been accepting an obligation to surrender 90 per cent. only of food levies, not the 100 per cent. of today; there was no suggestion then of the whole of our Customs duties—and we are a leading trading nation, if not the leading trading nation, on imports other than foods—nor did it then involve the further burden of an automatic transfer of up to 1 per cent. of the yield of V.A.T. When we said then, as we did, that calculations on 90 per cent. of the levies were inequitable and that we could not accept this—and that was the position before the Cabinet in 1967—how much more unacceptable would be all those further burdens now accepted by right hon. Gentlemen?
That was in fact the basis of our application. Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer argued that there was something dishonest about making an application to see whether we could get the right terms: he thought that was really not quite comme il faut. I remind him that that is not only what his manifesto said at the last election but that our commitment is no more and no less than what his Government did; because in 1961, when the Prime Minister himself was Britain's Common Market negotiator, that negotiation was on the basis of a Parliamentary Motion which clearly set out the basis of the negotiations.
This is what the Motion said:That this House supports the decision of Her Majesty's Government to make formal application under Article 237 of the Treaty of Rome in order to initiate negotiations to see 2094 if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom, of the Commonwealth and of the European Free Trade Association; and further accepts the undertaking of Her Majesty's Government that no agreement affecting these special interests or involving British sovereignty will be entered into until it has been approved by this House afterand then it set out about the consultations.
That is what the Chancellor voted for in 1961. That was the basis of the negotiations between 1961 and 1963. So much for the Chancellor's argument yesterday that it was dishonest to negotiate in order to see what we could get.
Our application and every statement made in the House, outside the House and in our General Election manifesto, made it clear that, although the Labour Government saw great political advantage in entry on the right terms, a Britain strong through her own efforts, with an unchallengeable trade and payments position such as we handed over to right hon. Members opposite—£600 million surplus, very different from £800 million deficit—was not prepared to see that strength destroyed by crippling terms of entry.
I believe that the terms so frivolously negotiated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman inevitably have that effect. They involve an intolerable and disproportionate burden on every family in the land and, equally, on Britain's balance of payments.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not, as he rushes to admit, given us any calculations about what our contribution to the Common Fund will be compared with that of others. We must rely on such calculations as have been made. I know that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not agree with these calculations—he would carry more conviction if he would give us his own—but I do not think that he will disagree with the general relativity of these calculations.
At the end of a surprisingly short transition period—it is a short period, much shorter than the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked for last June—we shall be transferring by levies and other imposts placed on the family budget—that is, transferring across the exchanges—a total sum which, it has been estimated, after allowing for estimated receipts the other way from the Fund, would mean 2095 a net outgoing from Britain of £470 million a year, against £131 million net outgoing for Germany, minus £2 million for Italy—that is a net gain for Italy—minus £27 million—a net bonus—for Belgium and Luxembourg, a £179 million benefit for the Netherlands net, and £315 million for France, mainly paid for, for the lot of them, by what will be exacted from Britain.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is perfectly entitled to give his own estimates if he does not agree with those. At least I do not think that he will for one moment disagree with the view that, if the figures are reasonably accurate—they may be wrong in detail because of the speculative nature of what is involved—Britain will be making a big payment across the exchanges to the Common Fund and with the exception of Germany, which will be paying less than Britain, all the others will be making a net gain out of the Common Fund as a result of our contribution from the British taxpayer and the British housewife.
It is virtually inevitable, not only that our total, but also the disparity between it and the other countries, will grow in the years following 1978.
I must tell the House again that the Labour Government, before making their application, made it clear to every Head of Government of the Six that we could not accept such a disproportionate burden. This cannot be gainsaid. What we said capital by capital is on the record. It was summarised in my statement to the House on 2nd May, 1967, in the quotation that the right hon. Gentleman could not read out, quoted in the White Paper, and quoted again in the debate on 8th May. It was the definitive statement governing our application for entry. It has been my definitive position throughout and is today, and it involves a total rejection of the Government's terms.
This is not all. It is not only a question of what we asked for—
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
We understand that the right hon. Gentleman does not particularly like the terms. Will he now tell the House whether the Labour Party is officially in principle in favour of Britain's joining the Community if satisfactory terms can be obtained because otherwise those who go into the "No" lobby will not 2096 know what they are voting for and what they are voting against?
§ Mr. Wilson
I am sorry for the hon. and gallant Gentleman's apparently not having read or understood what I said in the debate in July when I said clearly, repeating the statement which I had made from the Government Front Bench and at party conference after party conference—
§ Sir T. Beamish rose—
§ Mr. Wilson
The hon. and gallant Gentleman asks me a question and then, when I am in the middle of a sentence answering him, he rises. I will begin again, hoping that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is listening this time. I am sorry that he did not hear or read—it is in HANSARD—what I said here in July—
§ Mr. Wilson
—repeating everything that I had said on the Government Front Bench, at my party conferences and in our election manifesto, namely, that we saw great advantage in getting into Europe if the terms were right, but that, if the terms were wrong, we thought that Britain was strong enough to stand outside and prosper. I am sorry if there was a little misunderstanding between us, because I know that the hon. and gallant Gentleman did want to listen.
§ Mr. Sandys (Streatham)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, will he make it absolutely clear, because these references to past speeches are not wholly satisfactory in a debate, that it still remains the official policy of the Labour Party to seek entry into the European Economic Community provided that the terms are satisfactory?
§ Mr. Wilson
I was hoping to come to that point at a proper moment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Right hon. and hon. Members are entitled to make speeches in their own way. I was intending to come to the point raised by the right 2097 hon. Gentleman. I can well understand why some hon. Gentlemen are anxious that I do not pursue the question of the present Government's terms on C.A.P., because I was just about to say that when I interrupted the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food last Thursday, when he was making his favourite selective quotation from his little red book, I not only challenged him to read to the House what I have just read, which the right hon. Gentleman refused to do, but I made another point which is relevant to the present position.
The C.A.P. of 1967, indefensible as it was, and entry on the then terms being indefensible, as I made clear, it was interesting that not one of the five Heads of Government with whom my noble Friend and I discussed this defended the C.A.P. or could find anything good to say of it. Some were caustic in their criticisms. I say five Heads of Government, because the comments of General de Gaulle were much more stratospheric and did not deal with such questions. Indefensible as they regarded it, the C.A.P. as it exists today is an entirely different animal. President Pompidou in the autumn of 1969 greeted the onset of negotiations by a determination, accepted at the E.E.C. summit, that the C.A.P. would be completed, finalised and put beyond all doubt and argument above and beyond the ability of any negotiations to change. That was completed after and not before I had made our Government's last pronouncement, in the White Paper, and my accompany statement, in February, 1970.
There is a further factor. The suggestion has been made in the House in debate, and outside, that the terms that the Government have negotiated represent or are in some way related to a negotiating position, paper or statement agreed to by the Labour Government before we left office. This is, indeed, asserted in the present Government's White Paper. This I categorically repudiate. No negotiating position, no statement, was ever submitted to the Labour Cabinet in the June, 1970, negotiations, or to any Cabinet Committee of which I was chairman or, indeed, to any representative body at top Ministerial level of which I had any knowledge, and no paper was submitted to me for 2098 approval which could be regarded as in any way a statement of our negotiating position. That is another myth discounted, and I shall be just as surprised if that is printed in the pro-Market Press tomorrow as I would be if any other such discounting material were to appear.
That being so, right hon. Gentlemen opposite must take full responsibility for the position that was put to the Six at the opening of the negotiations, as they must take full responsibility for the conduct of the negotiations at every stage. This I am sure they accept. I am sure they accept full responsibility for all that they have done in the negotiations.
I do not underrate the difficulties that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster faced in these negotiations. None of us would. My criticism of him is that he weakly bowed to the E.E.C. decision and meekly accepted an intolerable burden for Britain. It was this which resulted in terms which can only mean an unacceptable burden, in terms of prices, on the balance of payments on the average British housewife, and an equally unacceptable burden on the balance of payments of our nation as a whole.
I will tell the House what this means for all of us, especially for those of us such as myself who saw in entry to the Market on the right terms the opportunity of sustained growth, export-led growth, in a wider market, and, no less important, an outlet on the basis of a wider market, for our technological industries capable of leading Europe. The essence of modern technological industry is the enormous cost of research projects, and the still greater costs of developing that research into production processes, which, with the risk and, indeed, the certainty of industrial projects going wrong, require a large market for the successes to pay their own cost and the cost of the failures. This is a valid argument that many of us have used. But in the last 16 months we have seen British technology dealt one blow after another by a Government preoccupied by a free market—Rolls-Royce, Upper Clyde and now Britten-Norman—a world beater—where a cash flow problem has been brought to a head by arbitrary action by a clearing bank, despite the bulging order book, mainly from abroad. There is the other argument that many of us have used, the wider argument, 2099 on the economies gained from large-scale production, though I do not wish to get into too much controversy with the right hon. Gentleman. I shall have the pleasure of conferring the degree of Doctor of Technology on him on Saturday morning, so at least he will be in my lobby then. I hope this will inspire him to take more interest in technology when he becomes a Doctor of Technology rather than a destroyer of it.
The wider argument about the economies gained from large-scale production is one that many of us have accepted. But this pre-supposes that we are economically free—as with our strong balance of trade surplus we are today free—to go all out for economic expansion, with full employment, so that we can take advantage of the economies of large-scale production. But, on these terms which have emerged, the balance of payments burden means that we shall not be free. It is this fact which underlies the fallacy of what the Chancellor of the Duchy admits he told journalists after misleading the House on Monday by completely denying that he had said any such thing. He now tells us that what he told them, that one particular point which was seized on,was that I said we could have an overall improvement in our balance of payments of £1,700 million by the end of the period."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1249.]This is not so. What the Press printed was his indoctrination that G.N.P. would rise by £2,200 million—not balance of payments—while the balance of payments effect would be minus £500 million. In that event, they were instructed, the net gain to the economy would be only about £1,700 million a year. It is on the record. It is not a gain of £1,700 million to the balance of payments, as the right hon. Gentleman tried to tell the House on Monday, and he repeated it this afternoon.
This is illiterate. The £2,200 million he postulated from increased production which he assumes would emerge from the magic wand of joining the Market. Even if he were right—and I do not agree that he is right—this has nothing to do with the balance of payments. One cannot subtract from £2,200 million increase in G.N.P. £500 million on the balance of payments and call it a net gain of £1,700 2100 million to the economy, least of all, as the right hon. Gentleman did on Monday, call it a £1,700 million gain to the balance of payments. I shall not torment the right hon. Gentleman further. I will put this question to him.
§ Mr. Wilson
I will put this to the right hon. Gentleman. Suppose that one envisages a consumer boom in this country yielding £2,200 million extra production. Would that automatically accrue, wholly or in part, to improving the balance of payments? All experience under successive Governments since the war proves the opposite. Expansion can be soundly based only if the balance of payments is kept strong by specific policies to help exports, policies which the present Government reject and which entry into the Market on these terms would preclude.
The same argument applies to employment. Entry into the Market on these terms is a prescription for more unemployment and not less. I think this is reinforced by anxieties about the regions, so forcefully advanced on Tuesday. In 1967, for reasons which I have given the House, I was somewhat reassured about our ability within the Market to pursue the regional policies which we consider necessary. I think this has been quoted this week in the House. For the reasons I gave in July, and I will not repeat today—they have been reinforced by reports coming from Brussels—we no longer have that reassurance because of policies for public industry—coal and steel, E.C.S.C. pricing policies, transport cost policies, because of policies for private industry, and the growing pressure to ban so many of the incentives which successive Governments have considered necessary. I.D.C.s would be meaningless, R.E.P. investment allowances and many of the decisive operations used under the Local Employment Act, and certainly some of the special development area incentives, would be out.
I invite right hon. Gentlemen who have taken a contrary view in this debate to study the exact mechanism, assistance-varied, comprehensive, which added up two years ago to a sufficient incentive to get the Leyland bus factory established in hard-hit Cumberland, and say, not 2101 before tonight perhaps, how much of this would have been allowed under the rules of the Community. It is a fair test.
In this debate, I do not believe the House has fully come to terms with the major change in world economic relationships as a result of the events of 15th August, President Nixon's statement and all that followed. The Six, at their meeting, immediately after the statement, even with the Chancellor of the Exchequer waiting outside the door until the Six had deliberated—and when the door was opened, I thought he talked more sense than they did—have presented the world with a sorry spectacle. It is a shambles which is steadily getting worse. The deep rift between Germany and France has widened, this morning's Press says, to its widest for many years, and there is talk of a summit to attempt to bridge it.
It is a widely held view, not just mine, that the Government's preoccupation with not upsetting the Six, and, above all, with grovelling to their French patrons, which is what they have been doing, has decisively weakened British influence in this crisis.
I grant to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, when he finally found his tongue at the I.M.F., he said a great deal which we could applaud, and he spoke the language of sucecssive Chancellors in this country, from the Home Secretary and my right hon. Friends the two Labour Chancellors onwards, in terms of the creation of new international liquidity, free of any link with gold, the language of special drawing rights, and the proposals of successive Governments to build on special drawing rights as a new source of liquidity.
But that speech was six weeks after the crisis began, six weeks during which our influence was needed, and was not there. Hon. Members will have seen how The Times reported the matter last month:…the Americans were apparently particularly cross with the British for ganging up with the Europeans on the gold price issue rather than making constructive suggestions…There is a strong suspicion in American minds that, as the price of Briitsh entry into the Common Market, Mr. Heath promised M. Pompidou British support for French anti-American monetary policies and that pressure from Downing Street and the Foreign Office is preventing the British Treasury from playing its usual constructive role in the Group of Ten.2102 The same line has been taken by commentators in other pro-Market papers. There must be some reason. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us what has prevented us from exercising our influence.
These things are relevant when we hear so much from right hon. Gentlemen opposite about the influence that European accession would bring us, and all we have heard, and, no doubt, shall hear today, about the political case for entry. In nine Ministerial speeches in this debate, we have, in fact, heard little on this subject from right hon. Gentlemen, except for a few amiable generalities from the Foreign Secretary in opening. The effect of the rest of the speeches from Ministers on this particular question of world influence recalls the immortal words of Ernest Bevin—"cliche after cliche after cliche".
There may, indeed, be a reason, a serious reason, for this. The real political case for Europe—I do not share it, and the Prime Minister has said several times that he does not share it—is the federal case. Many of the pro-Marketeers on both sides of the House and many young people throughout Europe have this vision, and they are entitled to respect. But if Ministers share that as a long-term objective, if they vaguely hope that something will evolve from what the early Fabians would have called "gas and water Europeanism" into a political reality in Europe, it seems to have been their present purpose this week to deny it. They are playing down, even denying, such unworthy suspicions, because they dare not lose support by even a hint of supra-nationality or loss of sovereignty—not in economic but in still more sensitive political matters. At any rate, that is their posture today, and until the long weary series of parliamentary procedures which they envisage is complete.
The E.E.C., as it stands today, was recently described in a pro-Market Sunday paper as a Monopolies Commission writ large. That is not true. It is a Monopolies Commission writ large on which there has been superimposed a gigantic public assistance committee, handing out doles without any means test to European farmers. The difficulty right hon. Gentleman have is to show just how joining such an organisation of itself generates the political revolution in 2103 Britain's position in the world which, one after another, they have postulated.
On political matters, I think it necessary again to warn right hon. Gentlemen and the House. At all points in our debates, from 1961—I think that that was the first time the mess of pottage argument was used in relation to a nuclear package—and throughout these 10 years, some of us have consistently warned about any policies relating European entry to questions of nuclear defence. Last week, answering questions about the article in Le Monde and about the MacMahon Act, the right hon. Gentleman said that his views on these matters had been the same for six years. I long suspected that this was so, though he was singularly unforthcoming about them in the House for a long time and totally dumb on the subject at the General Election. I hope that he will be explicit tonight and, in particular, will tell us whether it is his view that any change in the MacMahon Act should be sought from Congress, and whether this and related matters were discussed in any shape or form in the Elysée.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) asked me about the position of the Labour Party in relation to the Community. I had already answered his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish), but I now wish, before coming to a conclusion, to deal with the position of a Labour Government coming into office, after accession to the Community, in, say, 1973 or 1974.
The answer to this question was given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) quite recently. As is well known, one Parliament cannot bind its successor. On the other hand, we recognise what is involved in a treaty signature. What we should do—this was made clear by my right hon. Friend—would be immediately to give notice that we could not accept the terms negotiated by the Conservatives, and, in particular, the unacceptable burdens arising out of the C.A.P., the blows to the Commonwealth, and any threats to our essential regional policies.
If the Community then refused to negotiate, as we should have asked, or if the negotiations were to fail, we would 2104 sit down amicably and discuss the situation with them. [Laughter.] Well, neither coffee nor cognac but British beer, at its present standards. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have been asked the question and I am giving the answer. We should make clear from that moment our posture—[Laughter.] This is a frivolous response to a serious question by the right hon. Member for Streatham. The right hon. Gentleman was entitled to ask it, and I am entitled to reply. It is a serious matter.
We should make clear that our posture, like that of the French after 1958, would be rigidly directed towards the pursuit of British interests and that all other decisions and actions in relation to the Community would be dictated by that determination, until we had secured our terms. They might accept this, or they might decide that we should agree to part that would depend on them. That is our position.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough) rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that, if the right hon. Gentleman does not give way, lie must resume his seat.
§ Mr. Wilson
I apologise, but I have given way several times, and I want now to come to the end.
I have referred to the speeches which we have heard during the debate. What appals me is their utter defeatism and their utter loss of any confidence in Britain and the British people. The impression I have increasingly gained this week is that Ministers, who knew all the answers, in May and June, 1970—on prices, on unemployment, the lot—are now desperately staking their all on entry into Europe, not as a coherent policy but as an escape from the realities they find themselves powerless to deal with. The Secretary of State for Social Services, 2105 for example, is reported as having said in Macclesfield,I have to tell you that jobs in this country depend on joining Europe.That is not what they said in June, 1970—and all this regardless of the warnings of his colleagues from trade and industry, who had fairly warned of the worsening in the situation in the early years.
The most pathetic intervention was that of the right hon. misnomer, the Secretary of State for Employment, who talked unhappily about the unemployment situation. Each month we have him expressing his amazement at the increase in the unemployment figures, and now he is even blaming his officials for getting their forecasts wrong. He must know that he is only in his office because enough people believed the right hon. Gentleman when he promised to reduce unemployment at a stroke. The right hon. Gentleman must bear the responsibility. If he misled the people then, no one will believe him now when in his vague way he says that jobs depend on getting into Europe.
He must carry the responsibility, as the Prime Minister must carry the full responsibility for his clear commitments about Europe to the British people before and during the General Election. His claim to a mandate, which he did not seek and did not obtain, is shown to be false by his manifesto:Our sole commitment is to negotiate; no more, no less.a sentence the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary forgot to read last week.
Further, the right hon. Gentleman said in May last year:It would not be in the interests of the Community that its enlargement should take place except with the full-hearted consent of the Parliaments and peoples of the new member countries…On B.B.C. television, on "Election Forum", he said:…no British Government could possibly take this country into the Common Market against the wish of the British people…He must tell us tonight whether he believes he has secured the full-hearted consent of the British people. I hope for his sake, because I wish him well, that he will do better than he did on "Panorama" a week or two ago, when he confirmed that it was still his view that 2106No British Government could possibly take…this country into the Common Market against the wish of the British people.Asked about that, he said that he had had…a lot of letters from official organisations…I would have said that the organisations have become more and more strongly in support of our entry into the Community.The C.B.I., no doubt, the Chambers of Commerce, the employers, the merchant banks—oh yes! But not the trade union movement, not the pensioners, not the unemployed, not the housewife, not even the Housewives' League, if it exists today.
§ Mr. Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman holds his office not by the suffrage of the organisations. He has no mandate, for he sought none and obtained none, to take Britain into the Common Market except with the full-hearted consent of the British people. That is not at his command, and no vote of this House can of itself redeem his personal pledge to the British people.
We have warned what it must mean for the right hon. Gentleman, by whatever subterfuge, to take a divided and embittered people—divided and embittered by his policies—into Europe. Let him now seek from those people the mandate he spuriously claims by submitting this, and all his policies, to the free vote of a free British people.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ The Secretary of Slate for the Home Department (Mr. Reginald Maudling)
There is one point on which there will be universal agreement, and that is the importance of the vote to be taken tonight. That being so, the best service I can give the House is to try to analyse the issues upon which the House will be asked to vote tonight. We have no reasoned Amendment before us, for fairly obvious reasons. I understand that there is determination by the official Opposition to vote against the Motion.
I and my hon. Friends want to be quite clear exactly where the Opposition stand on the issue. The Leader of the Opposition said, as he rightly said in the debate in July, that…the official position of the party, since 1962, at the time of the application in 1967, 2107 and at all times since has been support for entry given the right terms, the necessary conditions and the essential safeguards…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1971; Vol. 821, c. 1472.]If that is the official point of view, we are entitled to say that there has been a fair number of rather unofficial speeches from the Opposition Front Bench in this debate. Certainly, the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), in a powerful speech, was not exactly friendly to the idea of joining the Common Market in principle, nor was the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot).
The Opposition Front Bench has suffered a considerable sea change since last the subject was debated under a Labour Government. Then the speakers supporting the now Leader of the Opposition were the right hon. Members for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins), Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) and Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever)—rather different from the team supporting him now.
Therefore, I hope that we can take it from what the Prime Minister said—[Interruption.]—in reply to interventions that the official position of his party remains quite definitely that it is in favour of joining the Common Market if the terms are right.
§ Mr. Maudling
I meant the Leader of the Opposition. My mind sometimes dwells in the past, and very often on what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have said in the past. I shall use some of their statements in my remarks.
Let us be clear, therefore, that the Opposition's argument is that it supports entry given that the terms are right. The right hon. Gentleman has himself stressed in the past the enormous advantages of the wider market and the growth of the technological community. He has stressed it often, but he did not stress it very much this afternoon. [Interruption.]
The right hon. Gentleman has also referred in the past to the political importance of our joining the Common Market. He said that there had not been enough reference to that in this debate, and 2108 perhaps there is something in what he says about that. I attach enormous importance to the political consequences of joining the European Community. I think that the right hon. Gentleman would agree that…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 must play our full part in it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd May, 1967; Vol. 746; c. 313–14.]Everyone will agree with those words; they are the words of the right hon. Gentleman himself back in 1967, when he was passionately advocating both the economic and the political advantages of joining the Common Market.
So we come to the following position, that the argument about which we are voting tonight, as explained by the Opposition, is not about the principle of joining the Community but about whether the terms are right. We must balance the economic and political advantages of membership, accepted by the official Opposition, against the possible disadvantages of the terms before the House.
I will analyse, as did the right hon. Gentleman in his speech, the terms and the particular points to which he attached importance in his speech in July. They were the balance of payments, capital movements, Commonwealth sugar and New Zealand. He has gone through all of them today. They have all been points that the Opposition have been resting their case upon, and they are the points that we must analyse when we decide how we are to vote. There were one or two other points that he added subsequently: fisheries, regional policy, and iron and steel. I will also refer to them later on. I want to deal in detail with precisely the points the right hon. Gentleman has raised and the fundamental argument, which is about the terms we are now discussing.
The question whether a Labour Government would have done any better in the negotiations is often argued. I do not think that it is a major point. I certainly feel it is a bad point. I do not think anyone in Europe who knows the facts thinks for a moment that a Labour Government would have negotiated better terms than have been negotiated by the present Administration.
2109 We have great respect for the judgment and ability of the right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson), and we retain that respect. But I do not believe even he could possibly have done better than my right hon. and learned Friend has done in the negotiations which have taken place. Nobody in his right senses believes the governments of the Six, considering their own interests and the interests of Europe—as they would be bound to do in these negotiations—would have given better terms to a Labour Government because it was a Labour Government. This is not the major argument.
The basic argument is that we have the terms, they are on the table in front of us, and we must consider the consequences of acceptance and the consequences of rejection—to which the Leader of the Opposition did not refer this afternoon. Does he really think he could have got better terms? If we break off now, this not only means rejecting the enormous economic and political advantages of membership, which the right hon. Gentleman has often described, and rejecting them permanently. It would mean a break in the political pattern and cohesion of Western Europe and possibly the whole Western world. This would be a very serious matter indeed.
If the right hon. Gentleman votes tonight against acceptance of these terms, he will also be voting for acceptance of those consequences, and that is a very serious thing to vote for.
§ Mr. Neil McBride (Swansea, East)
I am interested in the right hon. Gentleman's argument, and I appreciate his courtesy in giving way. Has he read the recent report of the E.E.C. which is gloomy in the extreme and says that consumption is rising rapidly, that industrial production is stagnating and that investment prospects for 1972 are most disappointing? How can he relate the grandiose dream of his right hon. Friend with a reluctant acquiescence to entering the Common Market?
§ Mr. Maudling
I shall come to the economic problems a little later. At the moment, I am dealing with the consequences of a vote against the proposal, and the consequences to our future and to that of Western Europe as a whole would be very serious indeed.
2110 I am concerned also with what the right hon. Gentleman said about his action if at some future time he were to become again head of a Government with Britain inside the Community. As I understand it, he said he would sit down amicably with the other members of the Community and say, "These are our terms. Unless you accept them, we walk out."
§ Mr. Maudling
There is very little noise from behind the right hon. Gentleman now. I believe we should know where the right hon. Gentleman stands. [Interruption.] I am sorry if I misheard the right hon. Gentleman. Perhaps he would correct me if I am wrong. However, as I understand it, he said he would sit down amicably with the other side and present certain terms and, if the terms were not acceptable certain consequences would follow which I understood to be our getting out of the Community.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. Obviously against the barrage of noise he did not hear what I said. I have not the exact words I used, but I can recall them. What I said was that we could not accept these terms. I said that one Parliament cannot bind its successor—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up."] I said that one Parliament cannot bind its successor, though we recognise what is involved in the signing of the Treaty. I said we would ask for negotiations to be reopened so as to get the right and acceptable terms. If either they refused to do that or if, when the negotiations began, they did not offer acceptable terms, I said that at that stage we should sit down amicably with them. [Interruption.] That is exactly what I said. Hon. Members opposite were too busy muttering to know what I said. I said we would sit down amicably and would make clear that in certain circumstances we would follow a policy such as the French did after 1958, when de Gaulle had a set-up he did not want and did not like but inherited. We would then follow British interests uniquely through this period, and 2111 in all our dealings with the Market that would dominate all we did. If when we sat down with them they said, "We had better part company", we would understand. And if they accepted it, we would work it as the French did after 1958.
§ Mr. Maudling
That is rather what I thought the right hon. Gentleman said. It was that in the first instance we should sit down amicably, secondly, present our terms; thirdly, if we did not get them we would go on strike; and, fourthly, if they slung us out we would go. It is important to realise what precisely the Leader of the Opposition is saying in this matter. I think that what he is saying is going rather further than, on reflection, he will wish to have done.
I turn to the four items upon which he bases his case, capital movements, sugar—
§ Mr. Maudling
The July speech was very similar to this afternoon's speech. I studied it carefully. I wanted to know what the right hon. Gentleman really meant, and a great deal of study very often does not take one very far, but it certainly confirmed that he meant what he said in July.
I refer to the four items on which the right hon. Gentleman based his case. First, there was capital movements—and I am baffled why the right hon. Gentleman should refer to those. In the opening statement made by the Labour Government in the 1967 negotiations, they said:We fully accept the obligations of membership in this field subject only to a transitional period during which we would by stages bring our policy into line with yours"—precisely what we have arranged. There was the further point which I have not overlooked about what he called the "leak" of capital to North America and, in the same statement, the Labour Government said that they were worried about a…possible leak of portfolio investment from the United Kingdom into third countries, particularly North America.Then they said:We would propose, if it proves necessary, to take action and deal with it ourselves after consulting you as provided for in Article 70(2).2112 That is precisely what we have done. In other words, what we have done on capital movements is 100 per cent. what the Labour Government said that they would do.
I come to the second and third points: Commonwealth sugar and New Zealand agricultural produce. These have always been immensely important points and much in the mind of the House, although not much reference has been made to them by Opposition Front Bench speakers.
§ Mr. Maudling
I know the right hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) referred to it, but he always does—he knows the subject. I do not think, apart from him, these two problems have bulked very large in what has been said in the House. The reason is clear. They have been solved—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They have been solved to the satisfaction of the Governments and producers' boards of the countries concerned. [Interruption.] I know the Leader of the Opposition does not like it. He does not think that those Governments and producers should have agreed. He thinks he knows better than they what their interests are. What he is saying is that in expressing satisfaction with those results achieved by my right hon. and learned Friend those Governments were not telling the truth. I believe they were, and I believe that it is wrong for the right hon. Gentleman to suggest anything to the contrary.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone) rose—
§ Mr. Maudling
I am sorry. I must get on. I am following a consecutive argument by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and am taking, point by point, what he said. All this is interlinked.
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
Order. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) knows perfectly well that if the right hon. Gentleman does not give way, he must resume his seat.
§ Mr. Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Maudling
I am sorry, but I am following a consecutive argument.
I have dealt with the capital movement point and I have demonstrated that both the sugar and the New Zealand products problems have been solved to the satisfaction of the Governments and producers' boards concerned. That leaves of the four original conditions only that about the balance of payments. Therefore, the decision to stay out of the Common Market and to miss all the economic and political advantages which the right hon. Gentleman has accepted time and time again, must rest on this one point of the balance of payments.
§ Mr. Maudling
I think so and I find it very difficult to see how the right hon. Gentleman could refute the arguments which I have used in the last five minutes.
The elements in the balance of payments problem are twofold. There is the major item, the consequence for our balance of trade of membership of the Community, and a second large item, the consequence to our balance of payments of the contribution to Community funds linked with the agricultural policy. These, after all, are the two things which will affect our balance of payments, and it is on these that we must concentrate in deciding how the advantage lies.
I take first the effect on our trade as a whole, which is by far the biggest item of all. It is generally accepted that there are two elements, impact costs as they are called, and the dynamic effect, the impact costs of what happens as a result of changing our trading position, and the dynamic effects which arise from membership of the Common Market. We must try to assess where the balance between the two will lie.
Of course it is impossible to make this precise. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said last night quite clearly that we could not quantify these things, but there are qualitative judgments. It is essential to point out that in this fundamental part of the overseas balance of payment what we have secured is precisely what the Labour Government wanted. They were not asking for special treatment in this 2114 respect. The conditions upon which we shall trade in Europe and outside Europe under our agreement are precisely the conditions which they would have accepted themselves. There was no difference and there could be no difference in this matter between what the Labour Government proposed and what we are proposing.
I believe that the right assessment is:If we take into account the benefit which would result from the expansion in demand for British goods which would come from the dynamic which an enlarged Community would be generating and the enormous and growing market for our own more sophisticated technological products which would result, I believe that within a very short period the balance of payments effect which I have been describing could be not negative but excitingly positive for Britain. And even if this took longer than, I would hope, the short-term balance of payments effects…are…well within our capacity to deal with."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1084.]I am sorry if the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) disagrees with those words; they were the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in 1967. That was his assessment and I entirely share it.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
The right hon. Gentleman said that it was not possible to quantify the effect on industrial trade of the tariff changes which would result from our entry, but he will be aware that his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster quantified the effects when he spoke in the House on 16th December, last year, when he gave them as between £200 million and £300 million. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman is right to say that this is an inevitable consequence of tariff changes, which are the most integral part of joining the Community, but what we argue—and I wish that he would come to it—is that for that reason the foreign exchange contribution which we make to the budget in other respects should be smaller. In spite of that, is it not the case that we should give net to the budget four times as much as Germany, which has a gross national product 50 per cent. higher than ours? That is a figure produced by the Government themselves in the document which they presented to the Commission in June last year, and which they confirmed in December, last year.
§ Mr. Maudling
I was coming next to the point of the cost of the contribution to Community funds. I had already said that it was the second item in the balance of payments problem. I was saying that our total trade, running into thousands and thousands of millions, was by far the larger element in this calculation. On that total trade, what we have obtained is precisely what the Labour Government were seeking and it is precisely the situation which the Leader of the Opposition rightly said we should very shortly find was a positive advantage to our balance of payments.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North) rose—
§ Mr. Maudling
My right hon. and learned Friend has clearly answered that time and time again. A precise calculation is not possible in this respect, but I accept the judgment of the Leader of the Opposition that the terms which we have arranged will be a very good thing for this country.
I come to the one remaining factor of the four conditions, the contribution to Community funds. I state quite categorically, and I am certain that the right hon. Member for Fulham, for instance, will support me in this, that the terms in this regard are as good as could realistically ever have been expected by anyone genuinely seeking to negotiate. The Labour Government knew perfectly well that the decision in December, 1969, was on the basis of the common agricultural policy. They knew that the general framework was a share on entrance in relation to the broadly comparative size of the countries involved and they knew also that transitional arrangements were needed for our protection in the course of negotiation. Transitional arrangements are what we sought; transitional arrangements are what we obtained; transitional arrangements are what the previous Government in their White Paper said 2116 they were going to go for. I quote paragraph 43 of that White Paper:For the purposes of illustration, an attempt has been made above to show on various assumptions what the cost of the common agricultural policy might have been for the United Kingdom if we had been a party to the recent agreement by the Community on agricultural financing. But of course we were not, and in the negotiations it will be necessary, not only to settle our starting contribution to the Fund, but also to settle the transitional arrangements under which we approach paying our full share of the recently agreed Community financial arrangements…That is what the Labour Government said in paragraph 43 of their White Paper; that is what we have done.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware of what was said in paragraph 44 on this question, following up something done by hypothesis, as he said. He will also be aware that my right hon. Friend the then Foreign Secretary, in the debate following publication of the White Paper, said that the whole White Paper represented a statistical analysis and gave no indication at all of our policy in the negotiations.
§ Mr. Maudling
I read the whole White Paper, both the preceding and the following paragraphs. The point is simple and it cannot be denied however much the right hon. Gentleman tries to deny it. What the Labour Government were then seeking was transitional arrangements on the starting contribution. We have done precisely that.
We have negotiated on capital movements; we have negotiated as they would have done on sugar and on New Zealand products; we have the same conditions for the vast bulk of our trade; and we have negotiated a starting contribution and transitional arrangements for our contribution to the Community funds. All four conditions have been met. Therefore, the argument for voting against the Motion rests in fact and in truth not on the terms, but on the fundamental basis of the whole argument.
§ Mr. John Mendelson rose—
§ Mr. Maudling
No, I will not give way; I am just coming to the end of my speech and I know that many hon. Members wish to speak. I have devoted myself in consecutive argument to dealing with the four points of the right hon. 2117 Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and to showing that all are bogus.
§ Mr. Maudling
My right hon. and learned Friend said:Turning back to sugar, for the developing sugar producer countries of the Commonwealth the terms we have negotiated constitute a firm assurance of a secure and continuing market for sugar for all the developing countries which are signatories of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. That is not just my view; it is the view of the Governments of the countries concerned, which have expressed their satisfaction, and of the representatives of the Commonwealth Sugar Exporters' Group and the West India Committee".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1238.]I have dealt consecutively with the four points. I now come to what is the real division of opinion in Parliament. That division is not about the terms, but about the merits. It is a real and serious division, not between the two sides of the House but running across both sides. Looking back and reflecting on many of the speeches made in this debate, the difference, it appears to me, is between those of us who take one view and those of us who take a different view of the nature of the Community we seek to enter. There are very different views held about this.
Those of us who believe in entry believe that we shall be joining a partnership, a group of like-minded people who gain strength by co-operation and who, by safeguarding their own interests, respect the interests of their colleagues. This is the only way common success can be achieved, and this is the way the Community is working. This is the basis of the Luxembourg Agreement.
This is surely the true spirit of partnership, which is the concept we have in mind. The Community, in practice, has shown that it is outward-looking and conscious in its attitude to international trade, to the liberalisation of international trade, to overseas aid and development. In all these matters the Community has shown up 2118 well. Our accession will strengthen those tendencies in the Community to liberalism, to aid, and, above all, the links between the Community and the rest of the world, the Commonwealth and North America. These are the beliefs in which we approach this question of joining the Community. If it is a partnership, as we believe, surely we lose nothing by joining and may gain a great deal.
There is another view, sincerely held, in which it is believed that by entering we would be surrendering control of our own affairs to a group of foreign countries who would be determined to disregard or to try to override our British interests. This is a fear which, in issues about unemployment and regional policy, runs through the debate. People ask, "Supposing that you are not allowed to do it. Supposing the Commission, the Community, will not let you do what you ought to do in the interests of your people?" Why suppose that? Why suppose that we are joining a lot of people who want to do us down?
Look at the truth of the way the Community works. Look above all, as the right hon. Member for Leeds, East said, at the views of the Socialists, the Labour Parties and trade unionists in the Six. They do not approach this on the basis that it is designed to stop people getting jobs, to stop a proper regional policy. They believe, having had experience of the workings of the Six, that it has been advantageous to them. It could not have been advantageous to its members unless it had been a good way of dealing with the problems of unemployment and regional policy. The trade unions and the Labour Parties of the Six all agree that the Community has been good for them and they agree that our membership will be good for us and for them. This is the real basic issue. The choice is before us, there is no third alternative. There is no possible deferment. [Interruption.] If we turn our back on Europe now, we turn our back on it for decades.
I beg hon. Members opposite to realise the seriousness of this and not to jeer and make noises like that. I am convinced, after 15 years or more dealing with European affairs, that if, after all the help we have received from our friends in the Community, we now turn it down, the 2119 shock will be traumatic. It is not right for this House of Commons.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson
Part of the argument of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen is that we have changed our views on Europe. I think we have shown today that we stand where we did in the application. Would the right hon. Gentleman, having referred to his 15 years in Europe, say whether he still agrees with what he said in the House before a certain election following which his Government applied for entry to the Community:I cannot conceive that any Government of this country would put forward a proposition which would involve the abandonment of Commonwealth free entry. It would be wrong for us and for the whole free world to adopt a policy of new duties on foodstuffs and raw materials, many of which come from underdeveloped countries, at present entering a major market duty-free."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th February, 1959; Vol. 599, c. 1381.]Is that what he has learned in his 15 years? Why did he say that just before an election and vote for entry immediately afterwards?
§ Mr. Maudling
As I recall that quotation, it referred to 1958. I have certainly changed my mind on this, but I would say that it is rather more understandable to change one's mind in 13 years than in 13 months. It is rather more reasonable to change one's views on the basis of a fundamental development in the pattern of world trade and payments than on a sheer geographical transition in the House of Commons.
The issue tonight has been put before us by the right hon. Gentleman as one of terms. I have analysed the four points he made and shown that what he says about the terms cannot begin to justify an argument for voting against and voting out this opportunity facing the British people. Let us be quite clear that those who vote against the Motion tonight are not voting on the terms, but because they want to remain the littlest of Little Englanders.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
I begin by agreeing with the Leader of the Opposition on at least one point. I should like to pay him a tribute for the part that he has played, although, with a certain degree of modesty and self-effacement he failed to take the credit. He 2120 rightly said that the campaign for the European movement had been liberally financed. Indeed, it has been and it is fair to say that he, myself and the Prime Minister, if we are not being immodest, must claim some part of the credit for the success of those money-raising activities, by our attendances at the great European Guildhall dinner on 29th July, 1969. I have no doubt that as a pleasant reminder of the occasion, we are all still using the gold pens and pencils given to us as a memento of the occasion.
Secondly, we must be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for telling us what he will do in the event of a disagreement following the "amicable chat". He will behave, if he were Prime Minister, like some pocket de Gaulle in Europe, rampant nationalism, Britain first, last and foremost. All I say is that I thank God that, when he was Prime Minister, he did not bring those narrow nationalistic ideas either to the policies which were followed at the United Nations or to his dealings with the European Community. One advantage of a Labour Government over a Tory Government is that those nationalistic considerations are less likely to be taken into account than under a Tory Government.
If I had not been a convinced and converted European from the beginning, at the time of the Schumann Plan I would have been totally convinced and converted by the right hon. Gentleman's speeches from 1967 to 1970 and I would have been reconvinced by the speech he made today.
There has been much talk about the sovereignty of Parliament and the value of our existing parliamentary institutions. I was one who advocated a free vote in this matter from the very beginning. I was also totally convinced that at the last minute the Prime Minister, albeit for the wrong reasons, would concede a free vote. It was one of the two very handsome bets which I have so far won on the Common Market. The other was one I entered into on 20th June, 1970, that the Leader of the Opposition would change his view on the Common Market.
If we believe, with Burke, that Parliament should be the great inquest of the nation, then I say in all sincerity, and I can say this because I am a member of a minority who has no connection with either of the two major parties, that the 2121 reputation of Parliament will be greatly enhanced, probably more so than by any other single factor, by those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen wherever they sit and whatever view they take, who, finding themselves honourably in disagreement with their colleagues, finding it difficult but none the less necessary to carry those convictions into the Lobby, not in company with the majority of their colleagues, do so tonight.
Nothing to me symbolises more the rights and integrity of free men in a free Parliament. I hope that those who have this courage and integrity so to do will be enabled to carry on, having willed the end, to help to provide the means, or if they are anti-Marketeers, to plead the viewpoint they have expressed. I believe that those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will have a higher place in Parliamentary history than the 101 Members of Parliament who said in a much-publicised letter to their Deputy Leader "We do not ask you to change your convictions between now and Thursday but merely to vote against it."
§ Mr. Thorpe
I have the letter here for greater accuracy. It says:…we do not expect you, between now and Thursday, to change your mind about the merits or demerits of British entry into the Common Market on the terms so far proposed. But we do urge you to weigh your views on that matter against the damage which your vote and your example might well do to the nation and party.If that is not a suggestion first that a Member does not vote according to his conviction and secondly, either abstains or goes into the Lobby against this then I do not know what the English language means. It is no doubt typical of what I believe, if I may put it in the vernacular, to be the "lulu" of the Common Market debate which was the dictum of the right hon. Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) that "Members exercising their integrity could destroy the credibility of the whole party." It seems that those, whether pro or anti-Market on the Labour side who are doing precisely that are doing something to preserve the credibility of the Party not to destroy it.
I prefer the rugged independence—on the Tory side I take one Back-Bench example—of the hon. Member for 2122 Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) who gets up and says "I rise to oppose the Motion", being more in the parliamentary tradition than the reception accorded to the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen) who dared to interrupt the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). Then we saw democratic Socialism on the march, marching backwards from Europe and attacking anyone who wished to continue to advance. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale to refer to "Free Vote Francis", but with his obvious relish for the rigours of three-line whips and the party discipline which he appears so to like, he will go down as "Martial Law Michael". I further believe that those who are asking for the free vote of the British public at a General Election would be more convincing if charity began at home with a free vote for their colleagues in the House of Commons. As for those who believe that the sovereignty of Parliament will be impaired, the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) never answered the question put to him by the hon. Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) who asked how, even though the details of the conditions might be different, would a Labour application in any way have made a difference to the question of the sovereignty of the British House of Commons as compared with the current Tory application.
My record is perfectly plain on the question of a General Election. When the Macmillan Government announced their conversion to the idea of joining Europe I applauded and supported it but suggested that there should first be a General Election because the Tory Party in the 1959 election had campaigned throughout the country against the Common Market.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Not all. My own oppoment, supported by the hon. Member for Torquay, opposed the Common Market and it was not officially adopted in 1959. It was quite the reverse. I felt it was right, having no mandate, for the Government to go to the country on that account. We are now in a different situation. I asked the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale where in the Labour Manifesto did it say that a General Election 2123 was a re-condition before the Labour Government took the British people into Europe after the terms had been ascertained. He went off on another track and talked about what he said in his constituency, but nowhere did he answer that question.
On the last page of the Labour Manifesto there is no reference whatever to the intention of a Labour Government to commit the Party or a Labour Government to a General Election before their final opinion was expressed. In case it was left out completely.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
The right Hon. Gentleman is all in favour of people speaking for themselves in this House, and so am I. Would he tell us whether he thinks it proper that the last chance that the British public should have to pass judgment on this question of entry into the Common Market should have been in the election of June 1970. Does he think it fair to the British electorate that that should have been the last chance? Let him speak for himself.
§ Mr. Thorpe
I never speak for anyone else but myself. [Laughter.] It so happens that, speaking as I do as a free man, my colleagues practically always find themselves in total agreement. The answer to the hon. Gentleman is "Yes." The Labour Party manifesto made it quite plain:We have applied for membership of the European Economic Community and negotiations are due to start in a few weeks' time. This will be pressed with determination."—
§ Mr. Thorpe
I am going on.with the purpose of joining an enlarged community provided that British and essential Commonwealth interests can be safeguarded.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Very well, I will read to the end. This form of political masochism is something new to me. [Interruption.] I went to the Oxford Union three weeks ago where we had a three to one majority. I do not think that it will want me to go back for a little bit. [Interruption.] If hon. Members do wish me to go on—
§ Mr. Thorpe
I think enough is enough. The point that I am making is that the 2124 Labour Party made it perfectly plain that it would pursue its application. If the terms were right, we should join, and there was no reference whatever to having a General Election first. Having read the Labour Manifesto without receiving much help we should seek what inspiration was given to the voters of Huyton or of Leeds, East. If we look at the election addresses of the two right hon. Gentlemen representing those constituencies we see no references to it, still less to Europe. The word never even appears in the election address of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson). The nearest he got to foreign policy was discussing east of Suez, and Rhodesia, which he had very nearly made a foreign policy issue through the total independence of that country.
If we look at the election address of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) again apart from east of Suez there is no reference to need for a General Election, no reference to the question of Europe. All it said, and I am sure it was right, is that he had given good service to his constituents—and I concede that—that he had been visited at his surgeries by thousands of people or they had "nobbled" him in the clubs or written to him in the House of Commons. All I can say to the right hon. Gentleman is that a lot of nobbling has been going on in the last two weeks.
There is only one hon. Gentleman whom I must acquit of having failed to mention any of these matters or having failed to include them in his election address. I acquit the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. Every Labour candidate is asked to send six copies of his election address to Transport House, and I regret to say that those from Ebbw Vale have not yet arrived. So I am in no position to comment.
The talk of a General Election is sheer humbug. I can understand it; we have an incompetent Tory Government, high unemployment, disaffection in the country. The Labour Party thinks that it would win a General Election, and it probably would. That is why it cries for a General Election; it has nothing to do with the Common Market. In practice, it would be quite impossible to have a meaningful General Election under our extraordinary electoral system. Perhaps I could be told how a Tory pro-Marketeer would be 2125 expected to vote in Thirsk and Malton, and how a Labour anti-Marketeer would be expected to vote in Birmingham, Stechford. So much for the canard of a General Election.
The somersault of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition does not surprise me. What does surprise me, having heard the speeches of so many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen whose opposition in this debate was fundamental and not as to the terms, is that the Leader of the Opposition managed to drag so many of his hon. Friends so near to Europe when he was Prime Minister. The right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) seemed to feel that we were causing offence to the Americans, and cast herself in the new rôle of a world-wide free trader. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was almost becoming a free trader. We have seen the conversion of protectionists. Years and years of protectionism have not eaten into their souls; they are now becoming world-wide free traders—another new argument that is being put up against Europe.
We have had mute in this debate the Labour spokesman on Europe, the Labour Party Chairman and the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. We have had a procession of prodigal sons headed by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). No fatted calves have been killed for them. They have been content merely to serve up the Leader of the Opposition.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in the Central Hall, Westminster on 19th July, 1970 asked whether we should be dealing with people who are a rule-ridden bureaucracy. He said:The negotiations would show whether the Community had a rule-ridden bureaucracy; whether in its motivation it was looking outwards to a Europe-wide unity, or whether it was basically an agricultural welfare complex based on subsidies to high-cost producers, tariffs on imports of cheaper produce, backed by expensive export subsidies to sell high-cost produce to the world at low-cost world prices.If the right hon. Gentleman had these grave doubts about the people with whom he was proposing to deal, why did he apply to join? Would it not have been much more honest not to have done so, and would not this have given more satis- 2126 faction to the majority of the present members of the Parliamentary Labour Party?
Is this really an inward-looking and protectionist organisation? Do hon. Gentlemen not attach any importance to the decision of the Council of Ministers on 31st March this year in which they agreed to lift trade barriers on £416 million worth of goods affecting 91 countries? Was U Thant wrong to say that this represented a major breakthrough by a world trading bloc and was the first definite move towards giving effect to the U.N.C.T.A.D. Resolution of 1968? Is it really inward-looking for the European Development Fund to have spent $1,400 million between 1958 and 1969 on the 18 African countries associated with the Six? Is it right to say that it is inward-looking when overseas aid between 1960 and 1964 from the Six has gone up 50 per cent. compared with our own 6 per cent. increase?
Do not we recognise the value of the forms of association or other preferential trade rights already according to 30 countries, the options open under the Arusha and Yaoundé Agreements and other forms of association to 20 independent members of the Commonwealth, and the association under Part IV with 19 British dependent territories; in the event of our joining, so that at the end of the day an enlarged Community of 10 members, 30 associated and 39 independent and dependent would give us a world trading movement of nearly 80 countries? Is that really narrow and inward-looking especially when the Six have expressed their intention to expand their trading relations still further?
What about the cost? Of course it is difficult to calculate the cost; I accept that. No one made that point more clear than the Labour Government. It is true, and it is only fair to say, that when the Labour Government produced their White Paper negotiations had not yet reached finality, or at any rate the negotiations had been temporarily vetoed by President de Gaulle. But even the Labour Government said, in paragraph 35 of their White Paper, that our food import bill might go up £255 million or it might go down £85 million. The cost to the balance of payments might be as little as £100 million or might be as much as £1,000 million.
2127 Now, Professor Kaldor, the well known adviser to the Labour Party has said that the cost to the balance of payments might be as much as £880 million. If there is one piece of advice I would give any politician it is to disregard the advice of Professor Kaldor. He advised the Ceylon Government, and that advice was followed by riots. He advised Guyana, and the Brigade of Guards had to be sent for. He advised Nkrumah and there was a general strike. He advised the last Government and did the maximum possible damage.
The Federal Trust Publication, "The Economics of Europe", which will be published next month, is worth studying. I accept that in any group of economists there will be great variations of view, but I believe that the estimate given in this publication that there will be per cent. gain in the gross national product, a gain of £750 million by 1978 and a budgetary cost of ½ per cent. on our gross national product, is getting fairly near to the equation. I believe that these economists are right in saying that import levies will be lower than predicted.
Doctor Josling of the L.S.E. has expressed the opinion, which he has cogently argued, that there could be an actual balance of payments gain—not loss—of about £150 million. Can it really be said that we shall be worse off going into a community which spends, per head of the population, more on social security than we do in this country? Are we to disregard the view of the O.E.C.D. that in 1980 growth will be up by 67 per cent. in the Community, as opposed to 37 per cent. in this country?
We on this bench are and have been as a party totally consistent in the concept of Europe from its inception at the time of the Schuman Plan in 1950. I do not have the same concept of Europe as the Prime Minister has. The Prime Minister's approach is the Gaullist approach. I believe in a federal Europe, and I want to see far greater political co-operation.
Whether we are for or against Europe, we should not under-estimate what has happened. The main product of Europe in this century has been two world wars. That has been Europe's major political contribution. The Second World War 2128 cost more than all the wars since the Middle Ages. That war left practically the whole of Central Europe economically and politically shattered. Whether one is in favour of joining the Community or against, it is a staggering achievement that the Six came together, determined that this shall never happen again and that they should unite, not merely to preserve the peace of Western Europe, but collectively to build a better world.
Can anyone who sits on the Labour benches say that he does not have some feeling of pride for the Nobel Prize being awarded to Chancellor Brandt for his Ostpolitik, just as I take pride in the fact that his Foreign Secretary is the leader of the German Liberal Party? These people want us in Europe, and these are the people with whom we should be prepared to work.
I want to close with one quotation which goes very much further than many right hon. and hon. Members on either side would be prepared to accept. It comes from a great statesman—a man who I believe to have been a great Prime Minister. He was a man of great integrity and vision. I refer, of course, to the late Clement Attlee. On 8th November, 1939 he said:There must be acceptance of the principle that international anarchy is incompatible with peace, and that in the common interest there must be recognition of an international authority superior to individual States and endowed not only with the rights over them, but with the power to make them effective operating not only in the political, but in the economic sphere. Europe must federate or perish.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
Having quoted that speech, will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that Mr. Attlee was strongly opposed to British entry into the Common Market? Is it not misrepresentation to quote Mr. Attlee in this context, without quoting him in that other context too?
§ Mr. Thorpe
With respect, the hon. Gentleman is not quite accurate. The late Clement Attlee was initially opposed to the Schuman Plan. Stafford Cripps moved an Amendment in the House, and he refused to go into the Schuman Plan. The late Clement Attlee was opposed to the idea of the E.E.C., as was the late Hugh Gaitskell, and as have been most other Labour leaders, except for a transitory transitional period, the present 2129 Leader of the Opposition. But Attlee believed that Europe should federate.
I, too, believe that. I have heard of no suggestion how that can be brought about, economically or politically, other than by expanding the E.E.C. What I want to make plain is that the concept of Clem Attlee, of a federation of Europe—because that is what he was advocating, whatever he may have said about the Community—can be achieved only through the Community. Clem Attlee was talking not only international Socialism but common sense.
I hope, with great humility, that tonight every right hon. and hon. Member will vote according to his conviction, wherever he sits in the House. I believe that a large majority will cast their votes to unite and expand an outward-looking, free democratic Europe, because by doing so they will cast their votes for a better world.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
It is a privilege to follow the sparkling contribution of the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe). He has a long and honourable record in this matter. His view and mine have never coincided on this issue but I have always respected his view and the sincerity and candour with which he holds and expresses it.
A little later I should like to refer to the question of federalism, of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke at the end of his speech. First, however, I should like sincerely to thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he said about minorities in this House on this issue. The right hon. Gentleman speaks with authority on this matter. If I may echo Disraeli, but with more sincerity, "The speaker, the theme, the occasion—what a felicitous combiation". This is not only because the right hon. Gentleman is a great ornament of the House but also because, as Leader of the Liberal Party, he has a particular, and perhaps permanent, expertise in the matter of minorities.
I belong, and have done for a long time, to a minority on this issue on this side of the House, but it has not, I am glad to say, interrupted pleasant personal relationships with those holding the 2130 majority view. It is now rather more than ten years since I rose from this bench to express my dissent to the proposition of entering the Common Market on the terms of the Treaty of Rome, and I have been consistent in that. Consistency may, perhaps, from time to time, have brought me certain attendant inconvenience, but at least it has saved me the agonising contortions and calculations of timing the transition from fence to bandwagon.
My consistency has not been due to obstinacy. In the quarter century, and more, that I have sat in this House I have always sought to have regard to the Cromwellian injunction, "Conceive it possible ye may be wrong". But I do not think that I am wrong on this matter. The Times compared my speech at the Conservative Party Conference a fortnight ago to that of an Old Testament prophet; but the main characteristic of the Old Testament prophets was that they were always proved right in the end, and sometimes with not very pleasant consequences for those who refused to heed their warnings.
§ Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford) rose—
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I am sorry, but we are getting near to the end of the debate. My hon. Friend knows that I always like to give way, but I think that I should meet the wishes of the House better if I were to deny myself the exquisite pleasure of replying to my hon. Friend.
May I, therefore, say this to any latter-day Balshazars and Nebuchadnezzars of the Treasury Bench. First, to thank them for having, even if belatedly, accepted my Motion calling for a free vote, tabled in July. Second, respectfully to ask them to heed my advice on this great issue and go along with it perhaps a little more quickly in future.
My judgment on this matter has been based on the evidence, and that, over the years, I have studied, as I have been trained to do, closely, diligently, analytically and objectively. And, having studied the evidence, my judgment is clear, that entry would not be in the interests of the British people. I believe that to be so on both economic and political grounds. There is, of course, the paradox that the presentation of the case for entry has 2131 varied. Sometimes we have been asked to believe that the economic advantages are so great that we must put up with the political detriment. At other times the argument has been propounded in exactly the opposite sense.
But that is not the only paradox in this matter. One would expect, if a case is a good one, that its presentation would become increasingly factual over the years, but it is still blurred and imprecise. The White Paper, I regret to say, was in the context of a great issue, a slight unmeritable thing. Too many questions were left unanswered, and too many doubts were left unresolved. If, after ten years, a case cannot be made with precision, and be factually supported, then, at best, we must conclude that it is a weak case.
On the economic aspect, it is a matter of balance. But it is a balance which should be struck on the facts and not on hopes, claims, aspirations and remote possibilities. The facts show that, except for the tariff, which is of dwindling importance, the gains are mainly in the realm of surmise and speculation, whereas the penalties are certain, substantial and inescapable.
The economic aspects are not just a matter of and arithmetic. They are not just a matter of the economics of the counting house. There is a strong social and political element in the economic aspect. If there is any appreciable risk, let alone any probability, that entry would result in industry and employment being diverted from Britain to the golden triangle of the Rhine, that would be a serious matter for the lives and future of the British people. Therefore, my right hon. Friends must ponder the political consequences—not merely in electoral terms but in the wider context of Parliamentary democracy—of any attempt, without the full-hearted consent of the people, to insist on entry on a speculative economic assessment at the risk of grave social injury.
I come, then, to the question of sovereignty. In my judgment, we will pay a heavy price in the loss of sovereignty and Parliamentary democracy. To me, that is the decisive consideration. The argument in regard to sovereignty is often blurred, because sovereignty has two meanings, both relevant in this context.
2132 First, there is the ordinary concept of sovereignty in international law, which we share with other nations. But second, there is the distinctively British concept of the sovereignty of Parliament, which Dicey identified, together with the rule of law, as the twin pillars of our Constitution. They are the pillars on which the vast and varied superstructure of our national arrangements stand solid and secure.
First, the international law concept of sovereignty. Of course it is true that, normally in international law, signing a treaty is an exercise of sovereignty. It could even be semantically argued that to sign a treaty to surrender all one's sovereignty could be construed as such an exercise—semantically, but not realistically. The realities of this matter are clear. The Treaty of Rome is not a normal treaty, either in scope or in duration. Normally, treaties are restricted in scope and limited in duration. Exceptionally, the Treaty of Rome covers an enormous range of our domestic life; exceptionally, it is forever—no limit of time and no right of withdrawal.
There would be two possible ways of withdrawal and two only once entry has been made. The first would be to secure a voluntary release, freely and unanimously given by every member State. But how could we hope for that, when the Community's budget would be geared to our very substantial contribution? Could we even ask for it in practice, when by that time all our economic and social arrangements would be inextricably intertwined with those of the Community?
The second and only other possible method would be by unilateral repudiation, of the "scrap of paper" variety, which Britain has traditionally rejected for herself and opposed in others to the point of war.
So I say that signing the treaty would be, in law, in practice and in honour, forever. But—and here is the rub—Parliament cannot constitutionally bind its successors. That is the central and inescapable dilemma which entry would bring—to escape by unilateral action would be a breach of international obligation, but to deny to successor Parliaments the right of escape would be a breach of Constitutional principle.
2133 I come then to the other aspect—the sovereignty of Parliament. Here, the case is even clearer and the consequences even more injurious. In Britain, Parliament is sovereign. That is the basis of our Constitution and of our democratic way of life. The sovereignty of Parliament is subject to no written constitution, let alone a written constitution devised by other countries to suit their needs.
Constitutional experts have identified two basic ingredients in our system of Parliamentary sovereignty—that the exercise of Parliament's will must be unfettered, and that it must be the exclusive law-making agency. Both those characteristics would be fatally eroded by entry.
In time, the edifice of our Parliamentary system, built by the resolution of our forefathers and sustained by the sacrifice of successive generations, would crumble at last in the dust—[An HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense."] Parliament would no longer be sovereign. Over a wide range of our economic and social life—taxation and tariffs, transport and agriculture, employment and planning and much else besides—the law and practice of Britain would be subordinate to the law and practice of Brussels.
In many vital matters, Parliament could discuss but could not decide. We would have to accept the treaty in toto which we have had no share in making and would have no power to alter. We should have to accept all the regulations flowing from Brussels, past, present and forever. These regulations, in the terms of the treaty, are binding in every respect. They would govern us here in Britain even if every Member of Parliament would wish to vote against them if he had the chance. Even our control of taxation would be impaired—the genesis of our parliamentary system and its indispensable ingredient.
We would suffer this surrender of sovereignty, unique and irrevocable. But, heavy as it is, it could be but the first instalment. At present, the Community is an economic community, not concerned with defence and foreign policy. But if there is to be any question of increased power—that is the bait dangled before us to make the loss of sovereignty less clearly 2134 unacceptable—the Community would have to proceed to a political unity capable of unified decision on defence and foreign policy.
So we must consider the conditions attaching to such political unity, the conditions attaching to having a collective voice in defence and foreign policy, the conditions attaching to the effort to rank with the super-Powers. The condition, of course, would be a final and total surrender of our sovereignty to a central authority with a central power of decision on such matters as the allocation of resources to defence, conscription and a single finger on a single nuclear button.
For these things, there would have to be a central, single European Government, with Britain always only a minority voice. Is this what is wanted? It may be the logical consequence of entry—the right hon. Member for Devon, North accepted that in a candid way—but most advocates of entry are curiously coy and unhelpful on this matter. The reason, of course, is clear. They are in this dilemma—either the Community stays an economic Community and does not affect defence, or power and influence; or we put the whole of our defence and political arrangements in pawn with a total loss of sovereignty and national identity.
We want to know how the Government see the matter in the long run as well as in the short. That is what the British people are entitled to know. But even if the Community were to stay as it is, as an economic entity, I believe that the very fact of entry would diminish British influence, because it would be taken in the world, where our influence lies, as sign and symbol of Britain's intention to be absorbed into Europe and to turn her back on the open seas.
We are asked by the White Paper to say that entry will involve no sacrifice of essential sovereignty. Of course it depends on what is meant by "essential"—not essential, perhaps, if only the Executive matters, if Members of Parliament are to be seen and not heard, to acquiesce and not decide; not essential, perhaps, if one believes in élitism, to use the new fashionable expression.
I am indebted to the Financial Times of 9th July, in a discussion of this very 2135 subject, the Common Market, for this illuminating definition:Elitism' means decisions being taken by an extremely small section of people at the top of the pyramid.If this is the product of élitism—government by Community decree, with Parliament a rubber stamp—new élitism is old autocracy writ French. If this is élitism, then give me democracy.
For those who believe that Parliament still has a function as the elected representatives of a free people, who believe in the ancient processes cradled here in Westminster and going from hence to the uttermost ends of the earth, to the envy of the bond and the glory of the free—for those who believe these things in their hearts and not only with their lips, the sacrifice is essential indeed.
Are we to view with equanimity this paring down of Parliament, reducing it to an assembly having—to paraphrase a famous saying, titular responsibility without real power—the prerogative of the eunuch through the ages? I hope there are none such in this mother of Parliaments. But if there are, then let those Parliamentary geldings seek out some shadowy assembly where they can graze impotently—
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas rose—
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
Would my right hon. and learned Friend explain how one can be a eunuch and titular at the same time?
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
If my hon Friend can spare time from his studies of the Common Market, absorbing as they are, he will be able to pursue his researches into these other questions, when I am sure he will find the answer.
For the rest, let us recognise the thing for what it is—the forced abandonment of our constitutional principles and the sovereignty of Parliament in favour of a system fashioned for countries in which, whatever their virtues and qualities, and they are many, Parliamentary democracy has neither the deep roots nor long familiarity obtaining here.
2136 I end by asking this question. Do these things matter? In the early days of this dialogue I said this:When I first raised the issue of sovereignty, I used a phrase which I knew was not part of the everyday idiom of the British people, but was, nevertheless, deeply felt and instinctively understood.I went on to say:It is like the air we breathe—little noticed in its presence but valued beyond price in the event of deprivation".Time has not changed this, nor ever will. We are asked to part with that which we have no right to give. I therefore ask right hon. and hon. Members, wherever in this House they sit, exorcising all personal and partial considerations, to rise to the level of the opportunity and respond to the challenge of the occasion. I ask them so to cast their votes that history will record their names in the roll of those who said: "What we hold in trust, we will not surrender."
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Dr. John Gilbert (Dudley)
I begin by addressing myself to some of the remarks made earlier in the debate on the general question of what does not appear in the treaty but may be expected to flow from the consequences of our joining the E.E.C.
In referring not to what is laid down in black and white but to what the whole thrust of the Community is about, and the implications of that for our economic life, I come first to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon).
I was impressed with their disclosure that if they could be persuaded that there was anything in the treaty or what might flow from it for this country that would inhibit us in our ability to exercise complete fiscal freedom, they would reconsider their position. It is probably beyond my powers to influence them wholly in a short speech, but there are certain points which are fundamental to this problem and which I think they may accept.
When one examines what necessarily follows from our signature of the Treaty of Rome in the fiscal sphere, one finds, first, that over tariffs we shall have no freedom whatever. As a function of our 2137 signing that treaty we must adopt the common external tariff. Secondly, we must adopt V.A.T. That is not in the treaty but it has been made clear subsequently.
There are great pressures, which will persist, for this tax to be harmonised right across the Community. There are now great disparities between the classifications of this tax and the rates that are obtainable in different countries. However, it is the inevitable intention of the Community that V.A.T. shall be harmonised right across the E.E.C. both as to rates and classes of goods.
There is also considerable pressure coming—it has not yet been made fully effective—for the harmonisation of corporation tax within the Community. It is hoped by Community officials that this harmonisation will cover both the type of tax and the basis of assessment—and will eventually cover the rates at which it is levied. We have not reached that stage but that is the whole intention of the Community and the Commission. There is also pressure for the harmonising of social security taxes and benefits.
What are we left with? We are left with only income tax out of the major taxing systems, and over that we will have complete fiscal independence. It is the intention, as expressed by the Community, that individual countries shall express their fiscal personalities through their income tax. I accept that none of this has yet arrived, but it is the whole purpose and thrust within the Community.
It is beyond me to see how on earth, if one's tariff, corporation tax, V.A.T.—which will be the primary source of indirect taxation—and social security benefits and taxes are fixed centrally, one can have much room for manoeuvre, left with only one's income tax system, particularly with the free movement of capital. That is not laid down in black and white but it is clear that we shall find ourselves absolutely hogtied from the point of view of fiscal independence.
It is clear that it will be beyond the power of this Parliament substantially to alter either the balance between direct and indirect taxation in this country or the degree of progressiveness within the income tax system. If one tried to do that—if one sought to get out of line with the countries of the Community— 2138 then, with the free movement of portfolio capital, capital would go out of the country.
Although in theory the power to do so is there we will not in fact be able to maintain an independent fiscal policy. That is the whole purpose of the Community. If it is going to waste time, as it does, trying to harmonise the way in which ice cream is made, in what sort of containers soft drinks are to be sold, and whether beer shall be made from male hops or seedless hops, it is clear that they will not let us mess about with our own fiscal system to suit our own purposes.
I address myself briefly to one of the other economic arguments. It is a very simplistic argument and we have heard it so often, but it could still stand further refutation. The argument is that the Community has had a higher rate of growth and that we have had a lower rate of growth because we have not been a member. It is argued that if we join them we may not get as high a rate of growth as they have had but we must inevitably have a higher rate of growth than we have had in the past. I have heard that stated so many times in the last five days that I have lost count. I have not heard a single shred of evidence to establish a casual connection between those two postulates.
I confess I am an agnostic about the economic effects. It is possible that the dynamic effects on Britain could be negative. It is just as possible as that they will be positive. We have never heard an admission from the Government Front Bench that that is even a possibility.
There is no reason why the construction of any free trade area or customs union will necessarily mean enhanced prosperity for this country or any other. History is replete with examples. One looks at the state of Italy. Before unification the Kingdom of the Two Sicilys was a most prosperous part of Italy. Its gradual degradation followed almost inevitably and immediately upon the elimination of customs barriers between the different parts of Italy.
I have always been very surprised at the diffidence shown by some hon. Members on the question of investment flowing to the North of France and the South of Belgium. It has been beyond me why 2139 they should be so reluctant to accept this, because I have always thought that one of the strongest arguments in favour of our entry into the Community was that it should, through the market system, lead to the optimum allocation of economic resources. That is what it is all about. If hon. Members say that even though we enter the Community, British capitalists will not start to invest more and more funds near the economic centre of gravity of that Community, what benefits are we supposed to get? Why on earth are these firms investing there now?
The hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Tugendhat), whom I am glad to see present, said yesterday very thoughtfully—and I agree with him—that the thrust now was not to larger firms but to larger plants. That is absolutely right. There are larger and larger plants serving one market. The larger the plant and the bigger the concentration on one plant operation the more likely it is that that plant is put at the economic centre of gravity of the Community. That is the whole purpose of the arrangement. I am surprised that hon. Members are so diffident about that.
Regarding the higher rate of economic growth in the Community because it is a community, I have heard very little evidence of any casual connection between those two facts. Certainly the Community has had a higher growth rate than we have, but it is just a series of post hoc propter hoc assertions that have been made. No mention has been made of the fact that the Community has spent less on defence, or that it has had a pool of cheap labour coming in from the periphery. There has been no mention of the movement of labour off the land, or that the Community has been in a catch-up position which made a faster rate of growth easier than in countries which were originally more industrialised than it was. Above all, and most crucial, there has been no mention that the Community has not had the burden of carrying an overvalued exchange rate over the last 20 years. That alone should have been in the thoughts of my hon. Friends.
We should attempt to get a reasonable and appropriate exchange rate and a proper system for changing that exchange rate should circumstances demand it. In those two endeavours lie the best 2140 hope for economic prosperity for this country. We have already seen what has happened since we have moved to a more realistic exchange rate. We have had a balance of payments surplus. Hon. Members seem to have forgotten it. They ask about alternatives to going into Europe. But we no longer need an alternative. We have the balance of payments surplus which entry into Europe was supposed to produce. The excuse for going in was that we were economically destitute, that we had a series of balance of payments deficits and we could not survive without a larger market. But now, for month in and month out, we have had a balance of payments surplus. We are being asked to throw that away. But for what purpose? It can be only because hon. Gentlemen want to see a federal solution. It makes no sense otherwise. I respect them for it and there are very good arguments in favour of setting up a federal state in Western Europe. I happen not to share their views but I appreciate them. They talk about power and influence, and we have heard a great deal about that from the benches opposite in the last few days.
I ask hon. Members to consider very carefully the distinction between power and influence. They are two very different matters indeed. Power is a question of nuclear weapons, of ballistic missiles and rockets and of armaments in general. Influence has very little to do with any of those things. Influence has a great deal to do with the quality of life in one's own country, and it has everything to do with the quality of political leadership obtained in one's country.
I am not satisfied with the quality of life in Britain and, Heaven knows, I am not satisfied with the quality of our political leadership. But one can see how easy it is for Britain to exercise influence if the conditions are right. We have heard stories that have wrung our hearts, stories of Chancellors of the Exchequer being made to wait in ante-rooms while the Americans decide one thing and the Europeans decide another.
It was said that we had to get into Europe to exercise any influence in economic affairs. Yet a couple of weeks ago the Chancellor picked up a bright idea from one of his civil servants. He trotted it out in Washington and, because it was the first intelligent idea that he 2141 had had since he took office, they called it the Barber Plan and everyone said that it was marvellous. We did not have to go into Europe for that. That was the power of a good idea.
It is those who insist that we must go into Europe because there is no alternative are the defeatists. Those who are confident that we can, with initiative, improve the quality of life in Britain, and the leadership and influence that we offer to the rest of the world, are those who have faith in the future of this country.
§ Mr. Jeffrey Archer (Louth)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There is a queue of people waiting to hear this debate. It is called "The Great Debate". The first person in that queue this morning has been there for 12½ hours and is still not in the debate. I suspect, as the debate continues, that they will be invited in at 10.30 p.m. after the Division. I consider this to be disgraceful. I hope that the first few people in the queue, who will have been waiting for 15 or 16 hours, will be allowed to hear the speech of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. It would be a sad comment on the great debate if they are still in the queue at 10.30 tonight.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
I am not sure what the hon. Gentleman means. Is he referring to hon. Members who are not getting into the debate or to the public outside?
§ Mr. Archer
I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There is a queue of 300 to 400 people waiting to get into the Public Gallery. A person who was in the queue first at 6.30 a.m. is still there now.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)
I believe that it was Lord Mancroft in another place who first described cricket as a game which the British, not being a naturally religious people, had to invent to give them some idea of eternity. In his report in Tuesday's Daily Telegraph of the debates on the Common Market which had taken place so far, the Lobby 2142 Correspondent adapted that story to this debate. There have been occasions when I understood what he meant.
Unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—it was not possible for me to attend the first few days of the debate, because I was attacked by certain bugs which did not realise the importance of the occasion. I was able to take the advantage of an enforced rest to skim though HANSARD and read what had been said. I say "skim through" because to read HANSARD in its entirety is much more likely to retard one's recovery than to hasten it.
When reading the debates I was impressed, in particular, by the extreme confidence of so many of my parliamentary colleagues on both sides, whether advancing the case for or against entry, that what they forecast would come to pass. I find it a little difficult to be at all positive about what is likely to happen, whether we go into or stay out of the Common Market.
My heart rather warmed to the man who wrote to the Daily Telegraph last week following the letters which had been written by distinguished economists supporting and opposing entry. This person said, "I am a full-time working nonacademic economist. I am willing to admit that I do not know whether there are advantages or disadvantages in entering the Common Market".
That person was probably more correct than many of us who try to express very clearly and positively our view of the advantages of entry or, on the contrary, the disadvantages of doing so. We must all make informed guesses. The more information we get and the more we study the question, the more informed the guess will be and the more confidence or the less confidence we shall have.
In these respects we can do no better than the directors of any company who are asked to prepare budgets for five to ten years ahead. They must examine all the information known to them, weigh up the possibilities, make certain assumptions, try to arrive at conclusions, and in the end their decision must be basically an act of faith.
Every hon. Member who will vote tonight will be voting on the basis of an act of faith; because we do not know, 2143 and we cannot know, what is likely to happen as a result of entry into, or refusal to enter, the Common Market.
It is not my purpose in my short speech to question anybody's now declared faith. On an issue which is so vital to Britain, to the European countries and to the Community, and in the long run to the world as a whole, I must assume that every hon. Member will vote tonight having in mind only the long-term interests of Britain and without regard to any personal or party interest. I must assume that, however much the evidence may lead me to believe otherwise.
Further, if hon. Members vote to enter then, if they will the end they must be prepared to will the means. I believe it to be the height of hypocrisy to assuage one's conscience by voting for a principle in which one believes and then refusing to give power to the legislative arm to give effect to the very principle which one has supported.
Like my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), I have long-held convictions on this subject. Unlike my right hon. and learned Friend, I have for many years been in favour. My right hon. and learned Friend said that his speech at the Conservative Party Conference was likened to that of an Old Testament prophet. He suggested that Old Testament prophets were notable for the accuracy of their prophecies.
If my right hon. and learned Friend had read his Bible more closely he would have remembered warning after warning against the false prophets. Indeed, the ears of heaven were assailed by the cries of false prophets and the Lord was sore displeased. One can read whatever part of the Old Testament one likes and take one's pick.
For many years I have been in favour of entering the Common Market, not on economic grounds, although it is an economic treaty that we are to sign, but because I am attracted by the political implications, the very implications which many people may dislike even though they may like the proposal to enter on economic grounds. My views have been known in my constituency for many years. It was perhaps for that reason that I was returned at the last election with a record majority.
2144 I shall talk of the economic issues first, although I think that the arguments have been exhausted and that they are of less importance. My view is that in the long run Britain and Europe must benefit by the increased prosperity, which will be of benefit not only to the peoples of Europe but will be shared by the peoples of the less fortunate countries.
From listening to the debate, and even from reading the reports of it, I have sometimes got the impression that we look upon the question of going into the Community rather as if it were us against the rest, as if we had been invited by the spider to enter the parlour and that the Community was waiting for us prepared to do us down, to drive the hardest bargains against us, and determined to do all the things which would drive our economy into ruin and bring us to a state of chaos.
That is not true. We shall be part of the Community, taking part in the decisions. I have sufficient confidence in the quality of our statesmen, even on both sides—that takes a lot of saying—to believe that they will be able to hold their own in the councils of Europe and ensure that our influence permeates through the discussions and debates in the councils of the Economic Community. So I am not particularly impressed by that fear.
Much the same fear is expressed on the other side. At the recent Inter-parliamentary Union Conference at Paris I discussed this issue with one or two Gaullist M.P.s. One Gaullist said to me, "You may like us. You may like to come into the Market. You may like the French. But you like us as you like the beefsteak. You want to gobble us up". That is the reaction which is heard on the other side. There is as much fear among them that they will suffer from our dominance as some hon. Members fear that we shall be dominated by them.
One of the interesting things about this debate which has beeng going on for years, not just for days, is that many of our major industries, after a careful and searching examination and a hard-headed study of all the facts, have concluded that it is to their advantage that Britain joins the Common Market.
I would be the last to say that, because it is to the advantage of the chemical industry, the car industry or any other 2145 industry it is necessarily to the advantage of the nation. But when so many industries say that they believe that it is to their advantage that Britain enters one can legitimately conclude that economically and industrially there should be a long-term advantage to the nation as a whole.
Most companies have carried out some exercise on this. Here I declare an interest. One hon. Member opposite said that all hon. Members should declare an interest in taking part in this debate. We ought to do that, for every one of us has some interest, direct or indirect, in the results of the debate.
Following an exercise on behalf of some of my companies, we came to the conclusion that in some respects we would be challenged and might be marginally at a disadvantage whereas in other respects we would be at a considerable advantage. Taking a long-term view, we believed that, overall, entry would be to our benefit in our industry. We are one of many, but I have no doubt that companies are to be found which have arrived at a different conclusion. Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of those engaged in industry come down in favour of entry.
Everybody knows that in the short term there will have to be painful adjustments. There are certain problems in connection with the effects of the rising cost of living on some sections of the community whom it is not easy to protect. We know that there are certain short-term disadvantages, but no Government, and no House of Parliament worth its name, takes a decision based only on the short-term effects. Measures of this kind must be thought of not in terms of 10, 20 or 30 years but the next half-century and longer. It is not only the economic development but the steps which will follow—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) will forgive me, I will not interrupt his seated intervention.
If I were concerned about the long-term economic effects only, this would not be enough by itself to persuade me to vote for entry of this country into the Common Market. My own feeling about the future of Europe is summed up in an extract from a report to the British Council of Churches, and I should like to quote it. It says:We are encouraged to believe that, if we join the E.E.C., we shall never have had it so 2146 good, or alternatively, that if we stay out we shall never have had it so bad; which again may be true; but it is an appeal to greed, or again, to fear. What we need is a vigorous campaign based on the positive aproach that Europe is our homeland, the origin of so much that is of lasting value in our culture, that after the family quarrels of the last four or five centuries, it is time we made it up and tried to present to the world an ideal of civilised living, based on a genuine conception of common ideals, clearly seen and honestly practised. If we come to think of Europe simply as a large factory, a more productive economic unit, a more powerful military arsenal—if we think exclusively in these terms, we are betraying the cultural and religious tradition for which in the past Europe has stood. That is not Europe except in the superficial geographical sense. It might prove a new sort of Assyrian Empire—powerful, wealthy and dead.Basically, that sums up my own approach to the proposals to join the Community. There is so much that we could do in conjunction with the European countries that we should find difficult to do by ourselves. There is so much that the European countries themselves cannot do without Britain, because Europe cannot be European unless Britain is part of it.
A movement towards lasting peace must be given greater emphasis and force. With a united Europe, united in the sense that the economic and social systems are developed together, there will be a possibility of success. Such problems as world pollution, environmental control and population expansion are difficult for one nation to tackle on its own. They can only be tackled successfully as part of a much larger grouping. There is not too much time to deal with some of these problems. The effective use of resources designed in part to help the underdeveloped countries can be done more efficiently together than separately. If we are really sincere in our desire to help these under-developed countries, to give more and more of the resources from the increasingly rich countries to those which are poor and becoming poorer, we should wish to co-operate to the full with all nations, pooling our resources in order to do so. It can he done much more effectively together, rather than merely by Government co-operation.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton) rose—
§ Mr. Hall
I do not wish to give way. I am trying to keep my speech as short as possible in order to allow as many 2147 other Members as possible to speak. I know how terrible it is to sit on these benches waiting hour after hour, trying to get into the debate.
I can visualise a Europe which might come about in the lifetime of some of us here, which, under a federal, confederal of whatever system one calls it or under whatever form of loose association which is inspired by the economic union which we are now seeking, will increasingly turn its face away from the idea that we are all members of individual and warring tribes to the idea that we are all part of the same human race; a Europe trying to develop its resources not just to increase its own prosperity and leisure and improve the standard of life of its own people, but to improve the standard of life for others in the world as well.
Such a Europe by itself may not be able entirely to arrest a third world war, but it will go a long way towards doing so. This is the first major step for centuries towards achieving that aim which all of us must have—of one day having a human race that regards itself as such, every one of us being members of that same human race, not divided by nationalistic or party prejudices and misconceptions.
"Young men see visions and old men dream dreams." I am perhaps midway between the two. Many people regard these aspirations as being dreamlike, and they dismiss them out of hand. We are said to be looking for Utopia. But today we have a chance at least of taking the first step. Surely it cannot be said that we lack courage to take a leap into what some would call the unknown. Surely we do not lack courage to seek a complete and radical change in things to which we are accustomed. Surely we do not lack courage to do something which must help the human race. It is for these reasons that I shall vote in the Lobby tonight for entry.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
I agree with one thing, if northing else, that the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said, namely, that there is a certain air of unreality about this debate, because although it is taking place in form as a debate on the terms negotiated by the present Government we all know 2148 that in reality it is not about the terms. It is, in fact, about the principle.
The great divide which exists in the House at the moment is between those of us, like myself and the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall)—who made a very sincere and compassionate speech—who feel that entry into the Community is a first step towards a very worth while goal and those who feel that they cannot support entry into the Community.
Having listened to a large part of the debate, I have been somewhat depressed by the way in which it became bogged down, on both sides, into semantics, self-justification and textual nit-picking across the Chamber. I hope that at least in this debate those of us who are called in the time that remains—certainly I propose doing so—will say exactly and precisely what we mean and that we shall all mean exactly and precisely what we say.
If one assumes an excess of malice on the part of the Community, and a succession of incredibly supine British Governments, one can produce a recipe for economic and political disaster. But one always could. That is not a realistic assessment of the present position in Europe; it is an argument proceeding from a set of false assumptions. The Community having negotiated entry with us so that we can become a member of an enlarged Community, the idea that it will almost immediately adopt policies the effect and design of which is make it more difficult for Britain to live in such a community is a nonsense.
This is an important debate, and it is an important vote tonight. Since being a Member of Parliament I have not voted against my party on a three-line Whip. I hope that some of my hon. Friends will forgive me if I observe that a large section of those now advocating that I should stand on my head and vote against my principles and, instead, vote with my party, have far greater experience of the way in which one votes against a three-line Whip than I have. So if I need lectures on party loyalty I do not think, with respect, that I would first turn to them.
I must also tell some of them that I do not think that this is an issue upon 2149 which one can abstain from voting, if one believes, as I do, that this is possibly the greatest single issue which the House of Commons has had to decide, certainly since May, 1940, and arguably since the beginning of the century. I cannot accept the idea that a Member of Parliament sent here to take part in the great decisions and debates of the nation should, faced with that sort of issue, abstain—that when asked, as it were, "What did you do in the Great War daddy?" he should reply: "Well, I abstained. I did not abstain because I did not have any views on the issue, or because I had not come to what I believed to be sensible and rational conclusions but, quite frankly, because it was said that I must do so in the interests of party unity."
Whether there should be another way for the British people to take a decision is an entirely different argument. I have some sympathy with the views expressed last evening by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn). It may well be that the British people should have been consulted in a different way or perhaps at a different time but, with all respect to my right hon. Friend, that is not the issue. The fact is that there is not to be a referendum on the issue. The fact is that there is not to be a General Election on the issue. The fact is that come 10 o'clock tonight ail of us as Members of Parliament have to take a decision which is within our own competence as to where we propose to stand—
§ Mr. Molloy
And the other fact is that the Prime Minister promised the people that there would be a General Election. That is another fact to add to my hon. and learned Friend's list.
§ Mr. Richard
That may be, but if the Prime Minister has broken what my hon. Friend tells us is his word to the British people, that, with respect to my hon. Friend, does not absolve me and other hon. Members tonight from deciding which way they will vote on this issue.
Let us therefore look at the realities of the existing political situation. Of course there are pressures being exerted both ways. Of course to go into the Division Lobby against one's own party is not something that one would do lightly. Of course I feel a loyalty to the Labour Party; I have been brought up 2150 with it and have worked for it all my political life. But, knowing the views, sincerely held, of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), I say that had the argument gone the other way I would not have expected him suddenly to turn his back on all that he has said about the Common Market for more than a decade and walk into the other Division Lobby on the greatest issue that we have had to decide for at least a quarter of a century.
To pose the question in that form demonstrates the idiocy of some of the attempts made to persuade us to vote against our principles. But if we feel as strongly as this on the issue, it is important that those of us who will vote for entry should justify our view, and should do so publicly. It is not enough for us just to say that we feel strongly about it: we are under an obligation to say why.
I am voting for entry into the Communities for the one very simple reason that I believe that our entry is a small but very necessary step towards an eventual European political unity. I do not burke the issue; I welcome it. We who believe in the cause of Europe do ourselves and the cause of Europe itself a grave disservice if we pretend that entry into the Communities does not involve some loss of autonomy. Of course it involves some loss of autonomy—and of course it should, because it is in the nature of the organisation that we are entering, and in the nature of the organisation which, hopefully, will emerge in Europe, that out of it we will get a European political entity rather than a set of individual national units.
It is not the common agricultural policy itself which attracts many people on both sides but the vision underlying it. It is the fact that even in the common agricultural policy there is an attempt to look at agriculture on a European and not a purely national scale. I ask my hon. Friends, "What in Heaven's name is wrong with that?" Centralisation of economic and agricultural planning is a principle that we in the Labour Party have sought for years. It has been carried on in Europe to a far greater extent than in any other continent, and I wish us to play a part in it.
If I believe, as I do, in European political unity, why do I think it important? It is because I think that we are likely 2151 to be more secure and more prosperous, and less vulnerable, inside Europe than outside. I believe that our influence inside the Communities and within an eventual political unity will be greater, particularly over those events which, if they do go wrong, are no longer under our direct control and will obviously affect our standard of living, whether one expresses that in terms of trade, national interest or security.
There are other possibilities. First, the European Economic Community exists, and that in itself is an obvious attraction. It is an organisation that is there and active, and with which we have negotiated entry. Secondly, it is an organisation which has the pragmatism and the flexibility which I should have thought would commend itself particularly to British politicians. One of the striking features of the way in which the E.E.C. has developed is its lack of ideology. It is not a dogmatic, inflexible type of organisation. It has adapted itself to face different political situations.
My next reason for wanting us to join the Communities is that they are there, and that the movement towards political unity will take place whether we are inside or outside them. If I have a nightmare of our position towards the end of this century it is that we shall then be a nation of some 75 million people, 22 miles from the coast of Europe—a Europe which is by then a united and integrated political and economic unit of between 200 million and 250 million people. Events taking place within that unit will have a direct effect upon our standard of living, and if we are outside that unit we shall not be in a position to influence those events. A basic political consideration with me is that the world, and particularly Europe, may go in a certain direction, and unless we are part of the Community we shall not be able to influence it effectively. Individually, we have little influence. Collectively Europe is as yet unorganised.
Here I recall what was said by Lord George-Brown—as he now is, and then Foreign Secretary—in our emergency debate on Czechoslovakia on 26th August, 1968. He said:One of the tragedies of this affair is not that each of us is impotent in the face of a Russian move but that the whole of Western 2152 Europe is impotent. We have no European influence to bring to bear because there is not such a place to have its influence. Each of us individually will always be impotent. We need greater developments in Europe."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th August, 1968; Vol. 769, c. 1303.]Believing that, as I do profoundly and deeply, and holding to it with a conviction which is as deep and sincere as that, for example, of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), to vote against the accession of Great Britain to the European Economic Community would in my judgment be wrong. I may be wrong about it, but that is my judgment, and in this situation I must stand by my judgment, just as my hon. Friends must stand by theirs. Believing that to vote against entry would be to deny Great Britain the opportunity to increase her influence and eventually to safeguard more effectively the people's living standards in the future, I must vote for the Motion tonight.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Wokingham)
I am glad to be called at this late stage of the debate, not least because, unlike some hon. Members, I have had time to prepare a short speech—a task made all the easier by the fact that virtually everything has now been said, and I agree with more than half of it. I do not, however, agree with anything that was said by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). For some strange reason, his speech, with which I am becoming increasingly familiar, also becomes increasingly unconvincing each time I hear it.
I shall make one assertion to the House, I shall put one suggestion, and add just a brief comment or two. My assertion is that the interests of the British aviation industry and its prospects in the future would be most gravely damaged if we were to fail to gain access to the European Economic Community. Our aircraft manufacturers and manufacturers of aeroengines and avionics must have a European base if they are to prosper. I assert that without fear of contradiction.
Now, my suggestion, which I put to those right hon. and hon. Members who are worried about regional policy. As a Member from the South-East Region, I am not the greatest believer in the I.D.C. system as a benefit to British industry. There are firms in my constituency which 2153 are operating at 75 per cent. of their potential simply because they do not wish to move to another region. Moreover, I believe that it is high time we stopped thinking in terms only of moving blue-collar jobs to the remoter parts of the country; we should seriously consider office redeployment—a matter on which some of the nationalised corporations could show a lead—as likely to be a great deal more beneficial as well as a great deal more logical economically.
I come now to my comments, which I address to those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who feel that their correct course at the end of the debate will be to go into the "No" Lobby. I respect their integrity, but I do question their judgment. Let them rationalise as they may, but in that Lobby they will find what can only be described as the Left rump of the Labour Party and its theoretical leader, who has proved once again, as though it needed proof, that there is no principle that he will not abandon in the search for short-term political advantage.
Perhaps my right hon. and hon. Friends can rationalise that way. What they ought to take into account as well as the evidence which all hon. Members must have found coming through their letterboxes since the very day on which this great debate began. If my hon. Friends feel that they must go into the "No" Lobby they will be allying themselves with some very unsavoury forces. I am not talking about the cranks—though goodness knows, this has been a wonderful autumn for nuts. I am not talking about the British Israelites or the Flat-Earthers. They do no great harm. I am talking about the sinister conjunction, which most of us must have seen, between the Communists and the Fascists—or the National Front, as they now like to be called: a conjunction which, I believe, we have not witnessed in this country since the black days in 1939 when the Communists and the Fascists were cutting up the carcase of Poland. Anyone who cares about the future of this country should think most seriously before identifying himself in any way with that sort of alliance.
However high their motives may be, and however sincere their convictions—I do not question either—let my right hon. 2154 and hon. Friends consider the company that they will be keeping. In going into the "No" Lobby tonight they will be aligning themselves with the forces of political opportunism, religious bigotry, racial prejudice and false national pride. If they feel that they can stomach that, that is their decision. For my part, I could not. I am sorry to see them go, but I shall be proud to vote against them.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
I shall not take up the rather sewerish remarks of the hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Onslow). It seems that, to him, whenever anyone disagrees with him that person lacks intelligence, they have no brains, and they cannot comprehend the great issues of the day. One is tempted to say to him, "There but for the grace of God goes God".
I have listened to practically every speech in the debate. The House will probably agree that, irrespective of party, one of the most brilliant expositions of the entire situation and of the factual issue facing the country was given to us today by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!".] The proof of that is shown at once by the jealousy and anguish of right hon. and hon. Members on the Government side. That always happens. Whenever some great truth irritates and annoys them we find that the gentlemen of England make all sorts of squawking noises to try to drown that truth. But it will he read and understood by the British people.
I have something to say to the Prime Minister, too. Many of us have argued that we thought that he was right when, speaking in Paris on 5th May, he said:Nor would it be in the interests of the Community that its enlargement should take place except with the full-hearted consent of the Parliaments and peoples of the new member countries.What opportunity has he given the people of this country to express their view? Parliament will express its view tonight, but what about the people who have been given that promise? Among all the dishonoured promises in the right hon. Gentleman's list this will be regarded as the most savage, and it will be the one that the British people remember most.
2155 I have endeavoured to gain information on the economic questions to help me make a correct assessment, lest I may have made a wrong assessment in 1967. In 1967, I was not prepared to support my party in its argument that we should even make an application, and I went into the Lobby against it. I wish to make my position clear. In view of the way in which the Tories have behaved towards the nation since they cheated and won power I would not go with them into Shepherds Bush Market, let alone the Common Market. Their whole behaviour has been appalling.
We are told that the Government have given us information. I remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer of what he told me in answer to a Question. I asked the right hon. Gentleman—I thought it a fair Question—whether he wouldmake available in the form of addenda to Cmnd. 4715 the detailed calculations upon which he has based his judgment that neither the United Kingdom contributions to, nor the receipts from, the Community budget are susceptible to valid estimation at this stage.This was the Answer:The White Paper contained estimates for our budget contribution and receipts in the transitional period. The reasons why similar estimates cannot be made for the 1980s were explained in paragraph 95 of the White Paper …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th July, 1971; Vol. 821, c. 52.]After all the talk about this great event—the greatest event this country has ever faced—the Government have not taken the trouble to see what the situation will be even before the end of the decade. In my view that alone should disqualify them from office.
I am sure that those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who will be going into the Prime Minister's Lobby tonight are sincere in their belief that by so doing they will be making a move towards the creation of democratic Socialism within a part of Europe. Let them look about them in that Lobby and consider the divisions there and, perhaps, have second thoughts before they give their names and come back out. Do they really believe that the members and supporters of this, the most reactionary Conservative Government we have had in decades, are such as would be likely to do anything which carried with it the risk of establishing democratic Socialism in any part of Europe?
2156 When it suited their purpose, in order to win an election, and without any thought of going into the Common Market, under Harold Macmillan they told the British people that they had "never had it so good". Now that it suits them to go into the Common Market they tell us that things are very grim.
I am also concerned about the way in which entry will affect the British Commonwealth of Nations, in which I have great faith. I concede that at present it has not got the great economic strength of the E.E.C., but within a decade or two it could well achieve that sort of growth if modern science and technology are made available to it. It has made a great contribution in the past. It is remarkable that it was born out of the British Empire. There has been no other case, in history of a voluntary commonwealth, of nations being created from a great empire. That organisation should not be put at risk by the mother country's joining the E.E.C.
I agreed very much with what the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) said about the constitution of our land. Britain's constitution, as we politicians understand and know it, is one of the greatest things that we can take into Europe or any other continent. The terrible paradox is that by going into the E.E.C. we shall destroy it for ourselves, never mind taking it anywhere else. Within a year or two there will be Questions on the Order Paper from hon. Members on both sides, in reply to which we shall be told by the Minister concerned, "I am very sorry. This is a matter for the Common Market Commission, the Council of Ministers, or the E.C.S.C. High Authority."
§ Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
A letter has just been issued by the Scottish legal profession to the effect that in future the courts will require to determine whether legal issues come under our law or Community law. If they are under Community law the case will require to be disposed of in Brussels, and the decision there will be binding.
§ Mr. Molloy
I agree. I was also going to say that on other issues concerning us generally the Solicitor-General or another Law Officer will tell us, "I am very sorry. 2157 This is a matter for the European Court of Justice."
One of the fascinating things in our history—and this affects both our parties—is that the magnificent story of the rise of the Labour Party reflects a great deal of credit on the Tory Party, because in the rise of our great radical movement, to which many men gave their lives, no one was destroyed by violence. Hardly any other country can make such a claim about the rise of a great political party. It reflects credit on both sides of the House and nation, and it is something of which we should be proud.
I very much regret that neither of our great parties has thought about producing a real alternative. If we are not satisfied with the Treaty of Rome, neither party is capable of thinking about creating the Treaty of London.
This country still has much to offer the world, not only in science and technology but on the more important questions of the way in which society should organise itself, and how people should be treated. Our great traditions of liberty and freedom of speech are very dear to me, as I hope they are to many other hon. Members. Because we can offer those things, we should be very careful about what we do tonight. By joining the Community, as I fear we shall, we might very well drown the great contributions that we have to make.
Let right hon. and hon. Members opposite realise that the end of the Division tonight will be only the beginning of a very big battle.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Buck (Colchester)
As the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) said that he would not follow the Tories even to Shepherds Bush market, I trust that he will forgive me if I do not follow him in his argument.
With a few gaps, this has been a great debate. The first reason for that was the outstanding nature of the contributions from the Government Front Bench and the second was that from Labour backbenchers. It was a privilege to hear the speech of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), which was succinct, sincere and totally convincing. Later we had similar speeches from 2158 other Labour hon. Members speaking from the back benches, including a colourful and convincing contribution from the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) and the speeches of the hon. Members for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and Heywood and Roy-ton (Mr. Barnett).
But in the contribution from the Opposition Front Bench we have not had credible answers to two questions. Despite the inordinate length of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, he has not shown in a credible way what terms the Labour Government would have accepted. He attacked the terms obtained, but right hon. Members who had been appointed by him to negotiate his terms were sitting beside him, and the expression on their faces made it pretty clear whether or not they agreed with what he was saying.
The Opposition have not answered the question of how, if they had won the last General Election and had then succeeded in negotiating terms satisfactory to themselves, they would have presented the issue to the country. Is there any suggestion that they would have done so any differently from the way in which the Government are now presenting their terms to the country? Those are two major gaps in the great debate.
I have long been a supporter of joining the E.E.C. Its very existence is hardly short of miraculous. Just after the war I served on the Continent as a National Serviceman, and there I saw the fantastic destruction wrought by the war. We had suffered, but the suffering and destruction on the Continent was gargantuan in scale. It was not only a case of lives lost and material damage done. Much harm had been inflicted on the national pride of continental nations by continental nations. From all that death and destruction there might well have resulted a deepening bitterness in ancient enmities, a growing dislike between the countries of Europe. It is miraculous that there was a determination that that should not happen, and it did not happen. There was the determination to work together, and the countries of the E.E.C. have done this.
The inspiration for that unity came in no inconsiderable measure from statesmen in this country, though we did not join then for understandable reasons, 2159 particularly our preoccupation with the end of Empire.
Now the time has come for us to participate, the arguments of right hon. and hon. Members opposite when they were in Government still hold good. They make a convincing case, which has not altered over the few months in which they seem to have changed their minds; the arguments remain convincing.
We must face the fact that there is not so much positive support in the country as we should like. Why is there not a wider measure of support? Perhaps it is for two reasons. The first is the volte-face of Labour leaders. They still maintain a certain tiny shred of respect among some sections of the community, and people are puzzled by their volte-face.
Another reason is the way in which the public opinion polls are presenting the issue. The pollsters are asking, "Do you want to go into the Common Market?" If they had asked, "Do you think it right to go into the Market?", the result might have been different. Many people I have talked to, after the many meetings I have held on this matter, have said, "We do not really want to go in, but we have got to, have we not?". They are the sort of people who say to the pollsters, "I do not want to go in", but who feel it is right to go in. Had the question been put by pollsters in the form, "Is it right to go in", I think there would be a considerably added measure of support for entry.
We can take note of the fact that some people have been confused by some of the propaganda which has been put out—not by hon. Members in this House but, for example, in the sort of pamphlet put out in East Anglia and elsewhere entitled, "The Queen and the Common Market". It suggests at the end that our common law and our jury system, indeed our whole legal system, will be put in peril if we enter the Common Market. I was glad to see that suggestion discounted in the July debate by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith). I wish that we could have had a contribution from a Government legal officer so that we could be told the precise position on the legal side.
2160 I would point out to hon. Members opposite that the court does not sit in Brussels; it sits in Luxembourg and the matters the court can deal with are very limited and there is, as I understand it, no power, even, for the court to impose a fine or to send anybody, to prison. Yet we have had so much scurrilous comment about the possible impact of this court on our affairs. This is the sort of propaganda that has been going the rounds.
There is a suggestion in this pamphlet that the institution of monarchy might in some way be destroyed. Undoubtedly people's minds are affected by this sort of literature. These factors should cause us to take less heed of public opinion polls. Those of us who think it right to go into the Common Market can take great comfort from the fact that we are undoubtedly supported by the majority of the young.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
I hope in the course of my few remarks to refer to one or two points made by the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck). I say at the outset that my speech will be short in statistics but fairly long in conviction, assertion, accusation and puzzlement.
I cannot understand, nor can others, why all the alleged horrors of going into the Common Market, now apparently so glaringly obvious, were not so equally glaring between 1967 and 1970. With the loss of sovereignty, the deserts that will be created in Scotland and Wales, and the floods of Italian blacklegs we are now going to get, I fail to comprehend that some people have now discovered, quite suddently, that the common agricultural policy, the value-added tax, the regional policies and other things should now be regarded as among the most objectionable features of the Community.
I understand and respect the fundamentalists, those who want to go in under any terms, like the Liberal Party. I also respect and understand the anti-Common Marketeers who do not want to go in under any circumstances. So far as concerns the dedicated Europeans versus the international chauvinists, it would appear that their internationalism stops at Dover. I can even respect those who have changed their minds and admit 2161 it. Those I find very difficult to respect are the people who have changed their minds and pretend they have not—in particular, all those ex-Ministers who have had access to all the brief papers circulated between 1967 and 1970 on every conceivable aspect of this problem. They knew we were negotiating in good faith and knew the maximum and minimum terms we hoped for or expected to get. None of the fundamentalists resigned from that Cabinet—or even, so far as I know, threatened to do so.
Some of the others who wanted to be in now say we must stay out. They have been engaged in what I would call some kind of political coitus interruptus. Such an exercise might have some short-term advantages but can lead to long-term misery—and I do not speak from any personal experience.
There has been much talk about sovereignty in this debate and, frankly, this is my worry, too. Therefore, I intend to abstain tonight, and I hope no one will accuse me of being a coward in this or any other matter. I simply do not know whether it will be good or bad for us. I think that on balance it will be good, and that we have nowhere else to go. It is a rather negative position, and that is why I shall sit on the bench when the convicted people, if I may so call them, go in one Lobby or the other. I might be convicted for not going into the Lobby at all.
I believe the question of sovereignty has been deliberately under-played by the Government, both in their White Paper and in this debate. The effect of the reduction of the rôle of this House has been very much under-estimated, and that again is a considerable worry to many people. This House will not be the same when we get into the Community.
I very much valued the article on this topic by Donald Chapman, a very respected former Member of the House, in The Guardian on 20th October. One can see from the article that the power of this House will certainly be reduced when we get into the Market. Indeed, a great deal goes on even now under our own eyes that we do not know about. Donald Chapman quoted in his article facts and figures showing that some 2,000 2162 Statutory Instruments, which have legislative effect, go through this House every year and only a handful of them are debated. This is already government by default. In that sense this House, voluntarily and negligently, has surrendered a large part of its sovereignty to the Executive. Mr. Chapman thinks we ought to think carefully about setting up a Select Committee on European affairs and introducing new machinery to take care of the reduction of power in this House as a direct consequence of entry into Europe. We should think carefully about this.
One of the reasons the European Socialists and trade unions want us in is precisely that we are more conscious of these problems than they are and have more experience of tackling them. This is no reason for us to stay out and to say, "We are international Socialists, but are not accepting the French or the Germans." We cannot say that and be true to ourselves.
Much play has been made of the decision-making by the bureaucrats in Brussels. Things are not as simple as that. What about our own faceless bureaucrats in Whitehall? What part does this House play now in making policy decisions and in framing legislation? We have none at all. Everybody is consulted except us. Therefore, let us not pretend there will be any serious derogation there when we get into Europe. Furthermore, our independent rôle in world affairs, and even in our domestic policies, has become a myth. When I hear people in party conferences and parliamentary party meetings talk about an independent Socialist foreign policy, or an independent this, or an independent that, I think to myself, "We cannot really be independent on anything".
I remember my right hon. Friend, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party until tonight—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—hon. Members opposite obviously do not know that it automatically comes to an end tonight—in 1965 talking about increasing old-age pensions and damn the international bankers. He was told to watch his step because the international bankers were already knocking at the door and saying, "Watch it, boys. You can't do that there 'ere!" This is the kind of limitation which we have now on our sovereignty.
2163 The British people are fearful of the change now being suggested. They have a terrifying conservatism. They shrank from the possibility of the disappearance of the 10s. note. When decimalisation came, all kinds of things were forecast as happening to us, and now we have enormous pressure against metrication. We are carrying on the revolution much too fast! To take the step which we are now being asked to take is the last thing the British people want, not because they are suspicious of change as such, but because it is being done by the present Government.
That is why the public opinion polls are what they are. People are not saying only that they are against entry into the European Economic Community; they are saying that they do not want to be taken in by a Tory Government which took them in so easily on 18th June, 1970. They do not trust the Government. They do not trust anything they have said. The Prime Minister has deceived them about the three-line Whip, which he said there would be, just as he deceived the housewives with his prices policy. If he has deceived every woman in the way that he deceived housewives on 18th June, it is no wonder that he is a male virgin.
That is the kind of attitude which I find in my constituency. My people say to me, "Willie, we do not trust the Conservative Government to take us into Europe to enable you to build Socialism." And I think they have a point. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon dazzled us with science and statistics. He reminds me of watching an acrobatic performance of Olympic standards on television, when I say, "I wish that I could do that"; I cannot do it, but I admire the fellow who can, who can jump from one place to another and always manage to keep his balance—more or less.
I cannot do it in the Lobby tonight. I cannot simply say that because pressure groups outside have taken decisions, I must follow them. It is no part of the Labour Party constitution that we in Parliament must behave according to the dictate of an outside pressure group, be is National Executive, the party conference, the T.U.C., or anybody else. This is an issue which may come once in a 2164 lifetime. It is certainly the only occasion in my life when I have to take these decisions on my own judgment regardless of what anybody has said to me.
I have piles of documents—we all have—hundredweights of them, pro- and anti-from all the so-called experts: 50 per cent. of the economists say that it would be a damned good thing if we went in and 50 per cent. say that it would be a damned good thing if we stayed out; it would be a damned good thing if 100 per cent. of them kept their mouths shut. Over all the years since 1945 Governments of all persuasions have had the expert advice of the economists and one has only to look at the record of the country's economic performance to see the mess they got us into, Tory Governments and Labour Governments—we have all gone to the polls at elections promising, "Give us another chance and we will sort everything out." That is what the Tories said and that is what we shall say at the next election.
That is why people are cynical about politicians and they would be more cynical if they felt that we were being whipped into the Lobbies not because of our convictions, but because some big cheese on the Front Bench said, "You get in there and never mind what your opinions are". Those days in the House are gone. [Interruption.] That was the voice of one of the experts who does not think we should go in, but at least that one will not be abstaining later.
The Conservative Party has taken pride in having a free vote and chastises us for having a three-line Whip. The Prime Minister himself, however, was admitting defeat. He wanted a three-line Whip, but he could do simple arithmetic—perhaps he got the Foreign Secretary with his matches to help him do his sums—and he made his calculations. It is not a free vote. There are 100 on the payroll vote. We had the same problem when we were in Government.
§ Mr. Hamilton
They have 100 on the payroll and they have 100 who want to be on the payroll. They have 100 of what I would call the clotted cream—at least the clotted 100—who have no chance of being in the Government, and it says a lot that 100 do not stand a 2165 chance of Ministerial appointment, in view of some on the Front Bench. Just 100 hope for knighthoods and life peerages and perhaps a governorship of one of the little islands which we still have left from the Empire in the Pacific or in the Indian Ocean. The remaining 35 already have their knighthoods, or their futures behind them, like some of the ex-Ministers or those who retire at the next election. They are the 35 who will oppose, but the rest will go into the Government Lobby for one reason or another. There is no such patronage on the Labour side, and, therefore, a free vote is more genuine on this than on that side. Therefore, too much should not be made of this point.
I have been in very little trouble in my constituency. At the last meeting we had a fairly short discussion and at the end of it an old loyal supporter said, "Willie, we have had some debates on this subject and we are now so thoroughly confused that we had better leave it to your judgment." I think that that is the sort of thing that many people have done. It is said that there has been no debate, but there may have been too much debate, too many statistics and too many experts. In the end, we are saying in effect, "Are you Catholic or Protestant?" One may argue about that, but one will never convince anybody that he is wrong and one is right.
We once had—I will not disclose the name—a former senior Minister in my party who attended a party meeting upstairs. No doubt someone will recollect this. She sought to prove that the majority of the bureaucrats in Brussels and elsewhere were Roman Catholics, that the trade unions were run by Roman Catholics and that it was a Catholic conspiracy. It may well be. If it is, I am an atheist.
To debase this kind of problem in that kind of way is not worthy of the occasion. All of us in the House have to uphold the prestige of the House, and we can do it tonight by exercising our own right and our own judgment to say frankly, "I may be wrong in what I am doing, but at the moment I believe that I am right". There are many of my hon. Friends who will support the Government. They are among the most sincere, the most able, the most conscientious, the 2166 most loyal and the most dedicated members of my party. We cannot afford to be without them. I do not believe that Parliament can afford to be without them. Parliament will be a better place to live in if we tolerate them and, when it comes to the legislation afterwards, we treat it with meticulous care, as all parliamentary experts can. I say to the Prime Minister that we shall do as he did on Rhodesia and House of Lords reform. The Prime Minister accepted that there had been created in Rhodesia a police state. He accepted five principles—not one—and ratted on them, and he will do it again. On House of Lords Reform, the two Front Benches got together; we were not consulted about it, and they came to some agreement and again the Prime Minister ratted on that.
Let him not preach to any of us. Whatever we do tonight we give no guarantee that we will ensure that the Government get their ensuing legislation in this matter. Indeed, we shall come together and see that they do not get that legislation nor the other legislation that we might get cut out of the timetable as a result of our minute examination of their legislation.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Adam Butler (Boswell)
The hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) clearly needs a lot of advice on a number of problems. His sex life and gymnastic difficulties are nothing to do with me, but he has made out a good case for entry. He has also said that there is nowhere else to go. If I may give him some advice, I would ask him to go into the "Aye" Lobby tonight and to remember that we too have consciences.
Briefly and quickly I would deal with two main strands of the argument. If there is repetition in what I say there is no harm in that because we have had six days of debate and I, with a brief interlude, have sat here since the early hours of the morning. I want to knock on the head the myth of the continuing costs of Common Market membership, the widely held belief that there will be a perpetual net drain on our balance of payments. Secondly, we should look full in the face the political implications of joining.
2167 Most of my first theme has been dealt with at length by the Leader of the Opposition, with the excellent reply by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. The figures which are suggested for costs of entry have been widely exaggerated. It is one of the weaknesses of the case for the anti-Marketeers that they find it necessary to exaggerate the case. Let us look at the three points where the costs would be incurred: normal trading conditions. Here we might suffer a short-term loss, but would enjoy long-term benefits. I personally have always seen fit to accept the views of the industrialists and not of the economists. Before it is thrust in my face that the trade unions do not see the benefits of entry, let me say that one of the principal trade unions in my constituency, the hosiery workers' union, is in favour of entry. I believe that my hosiery workers will not have automatic benefit from entry, but they will face the competition here because they are fit to do so and will benefit from being able to compete in Europe.
The other industry in my constiuency is coal. One or two nights ago the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas), when talking in dismal tones about the future for South Wales, would not be drawn on the position of the coal industry. Quite rightly too, because, among other people, his right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) has said that coal mining has nothing to fear by going into Europe and indeed the prospects are great. I subscribe to this as does the Chairman of the National Coal Board, Mr. Derek Ezra. There are imports going into the Six at the moment, some 30 million tons a year, which are there for the taking by our coal mining industry.
The second point where an adverse balance of payments is feared is in regard to capital movement. There is no evidence to suggest so far as I can see that there will be a net outflow of capital investment. The hon. Member for Dudley (Dr. Gilbert) suggested that capital would flow to what he called the "economic centre". He is not, unfortunately, in his place but what would be the effects of our not going in? Even more of our capital would flow into Europe as it has been doing over the past few years, because we have not already gone into the Market. If we did not go in, more 2168 American investment would go to the Common Market countries instead of into this country. Because of the greater growth potential of this country, as a result of entry, it must automatically attract more capital investment. We have the evidence of the Germans wanting to invest in Scotland. I do not doubt that there are other Common Market countries so inclined.
The final point at which there is a potential and indeed actual drain, in the short term, in the balance of payments is our contribution to the budget, largely as a result of the common agricultural policy. This is a vast subject. I believe that the common agricultural policy will probably continue but, as soon as the enlarged Community becomes less than self-sufficient, the common agricultural policy will not continue to be the monster which it now is.
The second point in this context is that the trends towards greater efficiency and higher productivity in continental farming are clear to every one of us. The Mansholt Plan will not be implemented in the original time scale—I think that Professor Mansholt calculated that fulfilment would be achieved by 1980. It will be implemented in its modified form within a few years after that. The population is leaving the land at a rapid rate; inducements have been agreed on to encourage this, inducements towards farm amalgamations. There are massive increases in productivity in cereals and milk. These are visible and actual trends which suggest that the costs of producing food on the continent will, by the middle of the 1980's be comparable to what ours are now. The result is clearly that if costs are comparable so are prices.
Looking forward, this reason for the short-term drain on our balance of payments disappears and the relatively high cost of food which we have to accept also disappears in that time scale.
To turn to the political argument, although the debate has been highly varied and wide ranging it is the majority view and mine also that the crucial question is the political one. The House must be fully aware of the implications of membership. So also those other countries in making present and future applications. I am personally satisfied, if not totally without reservation, with the political consequences. I am also satisfied 2169 that our vital sovereignty will be safeguarded by the Luxembourg agreement reinforced by the understanding between the Prime Minister and President Pompidou. I am well aware, and I accept this fact, that if it proves to be in the best interests, and if it is the common consent of the other Governments concerned, the countries of Europe will, in the lifetimes of future generations of our people, move closer together in political unity.
The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) seemed yesterday to find an obstacle to Europe in the fact that government there could never be democratically representative. If the political unity of which I have spoken comes about, then we shall have played a part in achieving it, we shall have willed it and, if that is the case, we shall have insisted upon democratic representation.
No doubt we could continue on our own for some while but the tendency is for countries to form blocs to protect their own interests with external tariffs. Here I must disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) in whose constituency I live. He sees a reduction of tariffs throughout the world, I see the contrary. In the United States of America tariffs are already high and the developing countries are rightly protecting their own emerging industries. On our own, we risk being cut of while our industrial competitors forge ahead.
This is a judgment on balance and, as I assess the arguments, I find that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and I am fervently and firmly in favour of entry. If we stay outside, we face the risk of political and economic isolation. Within Europe there are better prospects for our country and our people and a greater likelihood of political influence and security.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Dick Leonard (Romford)
It is not my ambition to make the most eloquent or the weightiest speech in the debate; I want to make the shortest speech. For that reason I shall not comment on the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Adam Butler).
When I appeared before the electors of Romford in June, 1970, it was as a 2170 long-term supporter of British membership of the Common Market. I successfully fought that General Election—as did the great majority of my fellow Labour candidates—on the platform of support for membership providing that reasonable terms were negotiated. Since July of this year we have known what the terms are, and in my judgment, for what it is worth, these are reasonable terms. I, for one, would have been happy to support a Labour Government in recommending them to the House and the country.
That being the case, can I honestly refuse to support these same terms when they are proposed from the other side of the House? The only argument that I have heard advanced which might justify me in this course is that the Government are untrustworthy, that they broke their election promises at a stroke and, therefore, cannot be trusted to take the necessary action to protect the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens in the difficulties that are likely to arise during the transitional period. It is unfortunately the case that that distrust exists and is widespread.
It was referred to earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) when he said:There is a great obligation on the Government of the day to show a humanity and care which have been noticeably lacking in the last eighteen months. I wish a Tory Government were not presiding over this great change. I am satisfied that, whatever happens, they will not be doing so for long."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 949.]In those words my hon. Friend effectively refuted that argument. This Tory Government will be with us for a very few years at the most. We are building for generations and we should be betraying our constituents rather than serving them if we allowed short-terms fears, however well-justified, to prevail over the long-term opportunities which will far outweigh the initial difficulties.
Another objection advanced to those hon. Members contemplating voting in favour of British entry is that it is against the wishes of our constituents. The secretary of the local anti-Common Market committee in my constituency, a Mr. J. C. Collins, said in a letter to the Havering and Romford Recorder:It is unquestionable that the opposition to entry is overwhelming.2171 I cannot speak for other constituencies, but it is clear to me that that statement is quite untrue as far as Romford is concerned. I can offer a great deal of evidence to support that argument. A so-called mass anti-Common Market rally organised by this same organisation in Romford attracted under 40 people, whereas over 100 attended a meeting of mine at which I argued the case for membership. I have over 80,000 electors in Romford, yet I have received only 40 letters from constituents in opposition to membership of the Market.
Another local paper, the Havering Express, ran a poll which showed a majority of six to one against. That is not surprising, in view of the anti-Market wording on the newspaper coupon. But only a tiny proportion of the electorate took part in the poll—precisely 74 people out of an electorate of over 80,000, or less than one-tenth of 1 per cent. The truth is that in Romford a number of people are strongly and sincerely opposed to British membership. I respect their view, but it is evident that they form only a tiny proportion of the total electorate. Those who are strongly in favour are equally a small minority. It is clear that the great majority of my electors have no strong views on the subject, and I strongly suspect that that is true of the country as a whole.
The widely varying fluctuations in opinion polls, not only over the last few weeks but the last several years, show that relatively few voters have strong and stable views on the subject. I am not a 100 per cent. adherent of a Burkeian view of representation, although I never thought that Members of Parliament should be mere bellwethers of their electorates. Nevertheless, I should be deeply unhappy if I thought that I was about to cast a vote against the strongly-held views of the great majority of my electors.
There is no question of that. If I were to represent most accurately the views of my electors I have no doubt that I should abstain tonight. I have no intention of doing so. In my view that would be an abdication of responsibility, and would go flatly against the repeated pledges which I have given to my electors to exercise a considered judgment of what is in the best interests of the people I represent. For the same reason, on this issue, I am 2172 not prepared to hide behind the protection of my Party Whips.
If ever there was an issue on which Opposition Members, at least, should be prepared to exercise their own judgment in a free vote and consequently justify themselves to their electors, it is this. I greatly regret the decision of my Party not to allow a free vote and, with full knowledge of the likely consequences to myself, I shall not be voting with the majority of my fellow Party members tonight. I shall be casting a vote for Europe. This will be a vote for wider opportunities and a higher standard of living for the people of Britain. It will be a vote in favour of closer international co-operation and a vote for peace. It will be a vote for the future.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)
My first comment will command universal assent. This is not a moment for orations of Gladstonian length and complexity. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] A short speech, as our national poet might have put it, shines like a good deed in a naughty world.
I want to make three points. The first is that this is not an occasion for the Government, the Opposition, or any single political party in this House; this is an occasion for Parliament. It is Parliament which will decide the issue of this debate.
The Government conceded the right to a free vote and were correct in doing so. The motives which inspired the Government are of little importance; the fact of the free vote is. It is not our job to look into the conscience of "Free-Vote Francis", as he has been called by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), or into the conscience of "Flagellation Foot", if I may be permitted so to describe him. Our late Majesty Queen Elizabeth I said that it was not her business to make windows into men's souls. The Prime Minister took the initiative here, and I only wish that the Leader of the Opposition had been able to follow that example, because that would have been not only constitutionally correct but an act of enlightened self-interest.
In this debate what is decreed by those in authority matters not, because Members of Parliament will vote according to their consciences and according to what they believe to be right for Britain. The 2173 Whips on either side of the House can huff and puff as long as they wish, but this is one House which they will not bring down. How important a free vote can be is shown by the interest which this debate has aroused throughout the country, for the simple reason that the result is not pre-ordained in advance. This is the way in which to restore the prestige of Parliament.
I want to say one word to those Members of the Opposition who will be voting for British membership of the Community tonight, and in particular to the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Leonard), who made an extremely well-argued speech. It is not an easy step for members of the Opposition to support this Motion. I fully accept that, and I think that hon. Members on the Government side of the House have throughout the debate been conscious of the difficulties in which Members of the Opposition have found themselves. Nearly everyone on this side of the House has imposed on himself or herself a self-denying ordinance not to make that task more difficult. It is a courageous act, because no hon. Member, however independent he may be, likes to be out of step with his own party and separated from a majority decision. It is extremely disagreeable, but in certain circumstances it has to be done.
I am speaking not from theory but, alas, from experience. I have been unpopular with my party in the past. I am thinking particularly of the occasion when I voted against the Bill dealing with the immigration of Kenya Asians. This was received with less than rapture by many of my colleagues, and was not exactly an occasion for rejoicing in my constituency. Those of us who voted against the Bill did so simply because we believed it right to do so. That same belief animates those on the other side of the House, whichever way they will be voting—those on this side too, but we take that for granted. Mercifully, we in this country do not suffer from the elephantiasis of the memory which afflicts those on our sister island across the Irish Sea. However strongly people feel about these things, they are fairly soon forgotten.
Those Members of the Opposition who are voting for the Motion tonight are voting for Britain and for Europe. They 2174 are not keeping the Tory Government in power. Even if the Government were to be defeated tonight, there would not be a constitutional occasion for resignation because this is a free vote and not a vote of confidence. If hon. Gentlemen opposite find themselves in the same Lobby as Tory Members, that can be regarded as a beneficial or malevolent side effect, according to one's point of view.
Opposition Members are making a contribution to restoring faith in public life and in the integrity of those in public life. It is extremely important that that should be done. What would the people outside the House think if the life-long Europeans—those who were totally convinced of the need for Britain to take this step—were to go into the Lobby and vote against their most cherished convictions, or take the pusillanimous course of merely abstaining?
My second point is that this is truly an historic moment; it is a parting of the ways for the country. This is the moment of effective recognition that our imperial past lies behind us—that it is over, and that this is the start of a new era. The limbo of being suspended between two worlds that has lasted for nearly 20 years is about to come to an end. The British Empire, with all its shortcomings—and there were shortcomings—was one of the greatest civilising forces that the world has seen since the time of the Roman Empire. It carried fair adminstration, liberty and the rule of law to the furthest parts of the earth. That is something of which we can be proud. The transformation of the Empire into the Commonwealth was not a tragedy, as Senator Kennedy so foolishly said in the unfortunate speech he made last week in the Senate; it was much more a triumph.
Today, the country is being given a chance to return to an older tradition. The imperial tradition, although a great one, was a comparatively late tradition in Britain. For the greater part of our history the rôle that we have played has been that of a country which is an integral part of Europe, and it is to that more ancient rôle that we are returning.
No easy options are opening up. No guarantees can be given by entering into the Community—only opportunities. We should remember that if the prizes for 2175 success are glittering, the penalties for failure will be equally severe.
My third point is that Parliament must decide the issue—but once Parliament has decided the issue it is our duty to make the best of it.
Although this is the fundamental decision on which everything else depends, other decisions have to be taken outside the House. Investment decisions have to be made. Decisions have to be made throughout British industry so that we make the best of the opportunities and are ready for instant action. We cannot afford to push open the door and fall flat on our faces. That would be to get the worst of every possible world. Once this decision has been taken, let us seize the opportunities that are opening out for us, not for any party in this House but for the country as a whole.
§ 8.8 p.m.
Mr. James Lomond (Oldham, East)
Possibly, the best known remark of Henry Ford is, "History is bunk". As a new Member who arrived in June, 1970, I am not interested, and I am sure the electorate are not, in the battle of quotations that has been waged in the debate on this important matter.
It is difficult to come to an accurate assessment of the best course for this country, because so many of the assurances that have been made have not been quantified. I am quite certain that the majority of people in this country are not in favour of joining the Common Market. I know that some hon. Members have twisted and turned in an attempt to discredit people who have told us either through the post or personally that they are opposed to entry, but these people, bigoted though they may be and basing their decision on religious or other grounds, are as entitled to their opinion as any of us here tonight.
A large number of people have based their decision not to support entry on an instinct, and that instinct is that prices will rise more sharply if we enter the Common Market than they will if we do not. We should not be surprised if people do not believe what is said in this Chamber when they are told that prices will rise by only 2½ per cent. per annum 2176 because—and here I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton)—in the recent past they have been misled on this very question of price increases, and they arc determined not to be fooled again by anyone in this House.
The second, and more important, point is that of regional development. I have had a little experience, from 12 years of membership of a development authority and a local authority, of trying to attract private industry into an area which, geographically, is not attractive. It was a tremendous task, and even with the many advantages provided by the previous Labour Government it was exceedingly difficult to attract even one or two firms into the area. How much more difficult it will be, even if we are allowed to have a development area programme, to attract firms, not from the South-East of England, but possibly from the Continent of Europe. I believe that there is no incentive which could be conceived, even if we were free to try to provide it, which would make these firms go to the areas in which we would like to see them develop.
Entering the Common Market will be disastrous for people on fixed incomes, such as pensioners, and for lower paid workers. We are told that trade unionists should not be afraid of entry because, if they examine the facts, they will find that their wage levels are about £7 a week below those of their fellow workers in Europe. That contrasts strangely with the assertions during the last few years that we have been paying ourselves too much, that we have been asking for far too many increases in wages, and that we have been pricing ourselves out of jobs.
Do hon. Members really feel that entry into the Common Market will transform the employers of this country into kindhearted people who will go to their workers, especially the lower paid, and offer them increases of £5, £6 or £7 a week? I prefer to take the more realistic view that in the years to come it will be even more difficult to get employers to pay increases of any kind.
I do not think that we need to go far among pensioners to find that they, too, have a feeling of insecurity about the future because they do not trust us in this House to give them a square deal. 2177 Having had to wait so long for a miserable £1 increase in their pension, they found that it had been eaten up by rising costs even before they got it.
I am not prepared to vote for entry, in the hope of benefits to come, and sacrifice these people who depend upon us to protect them. For that reason, and very shortly, I shall vote against the Motion.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Duncan Sandys (Streatham)
This is one of the biggest decisions that Parliament has ever had to take. But it is a decision which only Parliament can take. A great deal has been said about public opinion and sovereignty. Sovereignty resides in Parliament, and not in the Gallop polls. Despite changes in its party political complexion, for more than 10 years there has been a substantial majority in the House of Commons in favour of the principle of joining the European Economic Community, and that notwithstanding very clear evidence of public doubts and opposition.
Public opinion is not invariably right, particularly on broad international issues. If a referendum had been held in September, 1938, there is little doubt that it would have shown massive support for the policy of appeasement and a general belief that the Munich settlement had removed the danger of war.
If the people of Western Europe had been asked to vote for or against the creation of the European Economic Community, again there is little doubt that there would have been adverse majorities in at least four of the six countries. Yet, if a referendum were held today, after a decade of successful experience, it would certainly show overwhelming approval. There is a natural tendency for individuals to take a short-term view. Parliament has the duty to look further ahead.
The large number of votes that will be cast tonight against this Motion will be a disappointment to our friends on the Continent, but I hope they will understand that the disagreement between the Government and the official Opposition is over the terms, and not over the objective.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West) indicated assent.2178
§ Mr. Sandys
I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman agrees.
This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition quoted from his speeches at the General Election in order to confirm that the official policy of the Labour Party has not changed and that it still favours joining the Common Market provided that the terms are right.
Those who say that they are, in principle, in favour of joining the Common Market, but that the terms are not good enough, must know that they are being quite unrealistic. Having, as Commonwealth Secretary, been involved in the further round of negotiations, I am convinced that the terms which have been secured are as good as anyone could reasonably have hoped for.
It has been said repeatedly, and my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) said so again this evening, that the vote tonight is an historic event. It is an historic event not only for us, but also for Europe. The entry of Britain and her E.F.T.A. partners will immeasurably increase the stature and influence of the Community which henceforth will be able to speak on behalf of all the free peoples of Europe.
The Economic Community, as its name implies, is concerned only with economic affairs. Its sphere of responsibility cannot be extended except with the unanimous consent of its members. But I am sure that, before long, we shall all see the advantage of working together not only in the economic sphere but also over the whole range of foreign relations and defence—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."]
It is all very well for hon. Members to say, "Ah". I have made it perfectly clear that the sphere of responsibility of the Community cannot be extended beyond the economic field without the consent of all the members, including, of course, Britain. What I am adding is that, in my opinion, we shall find that the experience of working together in the economic field will lead us to want to extend co-operation to wider areas. But that will happen only with our consent. I believe we shall wish to do so, for that is the only way in which we and the other great nations of Western Europe, who have so long led the world, will secure our rightful say in the big international decisions.
2179 If we have had a long wait, the fault is ours. We were invited to join the European Coal and Steel Community and later the E.E.C. as founder members; but we declined. If we were now to allow this third and probably last chance to slip away, we would be committing one of the most monumental follies of all time.
But of course that will not happen. In an hour or so, we will assuredly decide to accept the challenge and the opportunity which Europe offers us. The Leader of the Opposition said today that this is not the end but the beginning. I believe that it is both the end and the beginning. Our vote tonight will mark the end of a period of growing isolation and weakness and the beginning of a new period of partnership and growing strength. Having worked and campaigned for 25 years for European unity, I am indeed happy and proud to be able, as a Member of the House of Commons, to take part in this great decision.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Michael Barnes (Brentford and Chiswick)
On a point of order. In view of the great public interest in this debate and the fact that the Serjcant at Arms does not appear to have made adequate arrangements to ensure that late admissions, firmly booked months ago, can now be honoured, and since there are many seats not normally allowed to the public empty in the Gallery, could consideration be given to them being made available to members of the public who have had firmly booked admissions made on their behalf by hon. Members?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
I have myself been carefully into this matter during the past hour. I am obliged to inform the hon. Gentleman that there is nothing that can be done more than is being done. This is an extraordinary day and I am afraid that he will have to accept it as such.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Edmund Dell (Birkenhead)
The right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) said that this decision is of historic importance. I believe that it is and that being the case I can see no way of reaching a conclusion on this issue other than by considering the merits of 2180 this case—the merits of the particular issue of entry of the E.E.C. as I see them after consultation with my constituents. I believe that the people of this country are entitled to Parliament's honest view on the principle of entry and on the terms negotiated.
I want to say something about the nature of the Community—a matter which is greatly questioned on this side—and then something briefly about the terms.
Many of my hon. Friends do not believe that this is the sort of community that we should join. They regard it as a club of rich countries, and compare it unfavourably with the Commonwealth, which is multi-racial and contains rich and poor nations who can help each other in a variety of ways. Before coming into the House my own experience involved my working in and with under-developed countries, particularly in Latin America, India and Pakistan. I feel a deep commitment to the developing countries.
I believe that we can maintain and improve our Commonwealth relationship if we join the Community. I do not believe that membership will be inconsistent with our Commonwealth relationship. The real danger is different—that, because of our slow growth rate, we will do less and less to help developing members of the Commonwealth with trade and aid.
We can see what has happened to our aid over recent years. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice), who made a brilliant speech against entry the other day, re-slimed from the Labour Government because he was dissatisfied with what we were doing. Note today the increased pressure for greater protection for textiles. We exaggerate even now our ability, and sometimes our inclination, as a people to help the developing Commonwealth countries in their trading requirements as much as they need to be helped.
We are confronted by difficulty in doing all that is necessary, for two reasons. The first is the vast size of the problem; within the Commonwealth live virtually half the population of the developing world. The second is our slow rate of growth. It reminds me, in a way, of the east of Suez problem, on which I 2181 also used to have certain points of difference with my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench. I was not so much against the principle of those commitments; I believed that, for economic reasons, we would default on them.
Similarly, in our relations with the developing Commonwealth, I fear that with our slow growth and our growing introspection we will see growing protectionism in this country—a growing rejection of the Commonwealth and of responsibility. I believe that we will default on our commitments unless we can speed our rate of growth.
My right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North said that neither we nor the Community are doing enough in this matter. I entirely agree, but at any rate what they are doing is expanding more rapidly than what we are doing. I believe that in the European Community there is a growing sense of responsibility about this problem, particularly on its trading aspects. But more yet needs to be done by the E.E.C. and by the United Kingdom, in or out. For example, it is necessary to develop and improve the system of generalised preferences. If we are members of the Community, or if we intend to join, we in the Labour Party should be pressing for more to be done within the Community and in this country.
But here there is a question. Some of my hon. Friends may think that this question is not yet relevant, but I believe that it is. During the next 18 months the policies and nature of the European Community will be changing, as they have been changing throughout its history. New policies will be decided. This issue, in particular, will be a matter for discussion within the Community.
We should be influencing those decisions. We should, to use a piece of complacent terminology that is sometimes used in this connection, be influencing the Community to make it more outward-looking. If we in the Labour Party are to spend the next 16 months simply fighting entry, how do we also do the job of pressing the Government to do all that is necessary to improve the policies of the Community in this and other respects?
Another objection to our entry is that the Community is protectionist. It is no more protectionist than the United States, 2182 with its higher tariff, the American selling price, and the "Buy-American" Act. It is certainly no more protectionist than Japan, with its policy of an undervalued currency, its virtually unique tariff on ships, and control on imports. Nor is it more protectionist than the United Kingdom, with her higher level of tariffs. If the measure of protectionism is the increase in trade the Community is among the least protectionist units in the world.
It is no use pretending that the world of international trade is all sweet, light and laissez faire except for the E.E.C., which is protectionist. The real question is whether we will be able to do more for freer international trade if we are in than if we are out. At any rate, in the Community our tariffs will be lower. Some of my hon. Friends would object to that, but it would be one contribution to freer trade.
People who believe that this country can do more out rather than in exaggerate the influence we have, standing alone, on international affairs. That is probably the main reason why the Labour Government applied for entry. We found that we had insufficient influence over matters that greatly affected the destiny of this country, and employment opportunities in this country.
A word about the terms: are they good, bad or indifferent? Perhaps I might offer a word of caution to my right hon. and hon. Friends. They have made their calculations as to the cost of entry, and have spoken of renegotiation with, I sometimes think, the object of fundamentally changing in short order the whole nature of the Community.
I will simply say that if they pitch their arguments about the terms too high it will be difficult to understand—if it is all that ruinous, bad or unfair—why there is no categorical pledge to take us out of the Community if renegotiation fails to produce substantial results. I do not believe that we have had such a categorical pledge today, or that one would be sensible, or even that my right hon. and hon. Friends believe that it would be sensible. After all, entry into the Community may work. All the scares may prove false. It might be silly to be hoist on that sort of pledge at the next election. I suggest that the question of terms should be handled with greater care.
2183 Will entry benefit our growth rate? That is a question on which we have had plenty of advice. Many books and articles have been written about it. One eminent economist has already adopted three different opinions. In The Times letter pages we have had 12½ column inches of economists who are unfavourable towards entry and 11 inches of economists who are favourable. I am reminded of Bertrand Russell's principles of scepticism. The first was that when the experts are agreed the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain. The second, which is more relevant, was that when the experts are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert.
This suggests two alternative conclusions. Either, first, we should not exaggerate the fatal or favourable consequences of entry—though that is too much to expect in a debate such as this—or, secondly, this is not a subject on which economists are expert, rather like the rest of us. We are thrown back on our honest judgment. My judgment is that entry will have a beneficial effect on this country and on our rate of growth.
That leaves me in a difficult position. My party says "Not on these terms" and has issued a three-line Whip—which, as we all know, is on this side of the House more liberal than a free vote on the benches opposite. My party says "No" and my judgment says "Yes". Can I vote "No" tonight, against my judgment on this great issue? I have no alternative but to vote in accordance with my judgment.
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Smethwick)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I sat up until very early this morning and I do not recall the presence of that particular gentleman in the Chamber. I do not recall his presence until 2 o'clock the night before.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
No, I am afraid not. It is clearly not a point of order. There is no question of the Chair's being concerned with who is or is not present. The hon. Gentleman knows that.
§ Mr. Faulds
May I come to my point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker? I was told last night by one of the right hon. Member's acolytes that he was going to speak tonight, by special arrangement, late in the debate. How do such special arrangements come to be made, and made with the most pernicious and poisonous political personality of the day?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Gentleman knows that those remarks are quite out of order and that they should not be made.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
The House is approaching with relief, and with some impatience, the conclusion of these protracted but preliminary proceedings. I refer to them advisedly as preliminary not from any desire to discount the quality of this debate, to the vast majority of which I have listened with great enjoyment and admiration of what has been spoken here. It has been a debate which has confounded the detractors of the House of Commons, both in its seriousness and in its quality.
I call it preliminary because this House does not come to its great decisions by voting once-for-all upon an abstract principle. This House is at its best and is best performing its duty when it applies itself persistently to the detail and to the practicality and consequences of what is put before it. It is for that reason that we are coming to the end of only the first preliminary stage in this matter.
One of the more repetitive characteristics of the debate has been the absolute hail of ridicule and taunts which has descended upon the heads of the occupants of the Opposition Front Bench. The quotations of speeches made by themselves a year, two years and three years ago, which they were now verbally and textually contradicting; the exposure of 2185 argument after argument, which, if it was valid at all, must not just be valid against one set or another of transitional terms but must go to the heart of the matter—day after day there has been a fusilade of jeers and taunts pointing all this out. Yet those jeers and taunts recoil upon those who utter them.
The question has been repeatedly addressed to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, "What has changed? What has changed in the last year since you said that, or the last two or three years, since 1968 or 1967?" I will tell the House what has changed. What has changed is that for the first time a proposition has been put to the people of this country. For the first time the people of this country have addressed themselves to the question of membership of the Community not just as something which might happen somehow sometime but as something on which a decision has to be taken whether it shall or shall not happen now and in these circumstances. It has been the response of the people of this country to that sudden real proposition put before them which is the change that explains all that has happened.
It has imposed the most severe gymnastic contortions upon many hon. Members opposite—
§ Mr. Powell
—upon many hon. Members opposite, that this has come about.
Nevertheless, it has the fortunate result that the majority in the country are represented and have a voice in this House as well as the minority. It would have been tragic if that were not so.
Repeatedly in this debate words of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister have been quoted—his words about the necessity for the full-hearted consent of Parliament and people; his statement—his repeated statement—that this country could not be taken into the Common Market against the majority of the people or against the wishes of the people.
These words have not been quoted textually and repeated just to pinpoint a phrase or two which the Prime Minister used. They have been quoted because they are manifestly true. They are not true because my right hon. Friend said them. Rather my right hon. Friend said them because they are true; and all honour to him for having said them and 2186 all honour to him for the clarity with which he expressed them.
The reason they are true—they are not true of every question which falls to be decided by the House—is the unique character of the decision proposed to the House, which involves a cession by the House—initially perhaps minor, but destined to grow—of its present sovereignty, of its present ultimate sovereignty, and requires from the people a commitment to merge themselves and their destinies with those of the countries of the adjacent Continent.
I do not think the fact that this involves a cession—and a growing cession—of Parliament's sovereignty can be disputed. Indeed, I notice that those who are the keenest proposers of British entry are the most ready to confess—not to confess, but to assert—that of course this involves by its very nature a reduction of the sovereignty of the House. Nevertheless, it is worth while reminding the House that the advice which it was given by the Lord Chancellor in Cmnd. 3301—the highest source of legal advice which the House can receive—put the nature of that transfer of sovereignty very succinctly in paragraph 22:The constitutional innovation would lie in the acceptance in advance as part of the law of the United Kingdom of provisions to be made in the future by instruments issued by the Community institutions"—then follow these words—a situation for which there is no precedent in this country.It is an unprecedented act of renunciation which this House is called upon to make. No wonder, then, that it should be a condition for that that it should have our full-hearted consent.
The development of the Community which is envisaged by those who support it on the narrowest, as by those who support it on the broadest, grounds can, in the nature of things, be only a progressive one. My right hon. Friends, particularly my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, are right to assert that its ambit could be extended stage by stage only with the unanimous agreement of all the parties to the Community and that, at each point in that extension we would have a veto.
But the fact of the veto does not alter the nature of the commitment which we are asked to make. First, a veto is not 2187 only a defence: it is also a weapon. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) made this point very effectively. As we can protect ourselves by our veto, so every other member can protect itself; and its very ability to do so imposes the like duress upon us as upon all the rest.
That leads to the second aspect of the veto, which is the real one. It is that we do not enter, if we enter at all, into such an undertaking as this in order to veto whatever we do not agree with. Of course not. We enter it with the object of only dissenting where we cannot avoid dissenting, and with the intention that unanimity shall prevail more and more and in the spirit that we in this House and in this country will accept the overriding voice of something larger than ourselves.
My right hon. Friends on the Front Bench have not sought to burke this issue. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary this afternoon repeatedly said that what he looked for in the Community in the future was political unity. Political unity is meaningless if it does not mean that normally one accepts here, as others accept elsewhere, not what we ourselves might have chosen for ourselves but what is decided and decreed by the whole.
It is in this fact that the irrevocability of the decision consists. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) demonstrated, I thought irrefutably, that for legal purposes we ought to regard this as an irrevocable commitment. But leaving that on one side, this is a step which by its very nature makes no sense unless it is intended to be irrevocable or irreversible. This is not the kind of community, nor are these the kind of grounds, of which one can say that we will enter into it but that if we do not like it we shall be off like a shot. What we are asked for in this House and in this country is an intention, an irrevocable decision, gradually to part with the sovereignty of this House and to commit ourselves to the merger of this nation and its destinies with the rest of the Community. It is there that the validity rests of the conditions which my right hon. Friend imposed upon the achievement of that aim.
2188 Of course, one could imagine perhaps some emergency, some sudden deterioration of our position and prospects in this country, which would justify us in brushing those conditions aside, when we might say that there may or may not be full-hearted consent for this indoors or out of doors, but that the urgency is such, the manifest unacceptability of any alternative is such, that needs must, however we do it. But although I have heard that proposition at various times during this debate, that is not—
§ Mr. Powell
I am sorry. I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way. We are speaking under a constraint of time. I am very sorry.
This is not an argument which the Government and, indeed, which hon. Members in most quarters of the House have sought to put. On the contrary, immediately before the General Election my right hon. Friend who is now the Prime Minister assured the country and the world that we could live and thrive outside the Community with equal success in the future to that which this country has enjoyed in the past.
§ Mr. Crouch indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Powell
My right hon. Friend said it. My hon. Friend shakes his head, but in the manifesto on which he and I both fought at the election we told the country that if we did not like the terms which were offered we could perfectly well stand and thrive on our own. So there can be no urgent, evident, irresistible necessity, and we come back to the fact that this act which is proposed to us is an act which by its very character must require from this House and from the country manifest, full-hearted consent, active and overwhelming commitment.
The Division which takes place tonight at 10 o'clock is being awaited not only inside the Chamber but far and wide outside. The emissaries of radio, television and the Press are all waiting like harpies to pounce upon us as soon as we emerge from the Lobbies, and to write their deductions, their dispatches upon the outcome. And yet, Mr. Speaker, 2189 that which we require to know, that which it most concerns us to know, we know already before the Queston is put.
We know before the Question is put that this House is deeply and, indeed, passionately divided. We know, and this has come from speech after speech of the most fervent supporters of the proposal that we should enter, as well as from other quarters, that full-hearted consent to this step does not exist out of doors. We know, in short, before we vote that the two conditions precedent to the decision to enter do not exist: they are not available.
In the course of these discussions, there has been repeated reference to the name of perhaps the greatest of all the sons of this House. We have been reminded repeatedly of Edmund Burke's Letter to the Electors of Bristol; of how in 1774 he warned them that he was a free man, that he would not consider it necessary unless his judgment approved it to be the mere mouthpiece in Parliament of their interests. But we would be mistaken, and we would mistake the nature of this House, if we thought that what Edmund Burke was saying was that this House could legislate without regard to the sentiments and opinions of the people.
It so happens that in the heart of the debates over the American colonies Edmund Burke wrote another letter to Bristol—his Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, in 1777, and he there defined what he believed was the function of this House. He wrote:To follow, not to force, the public inclination, to give a direction, a form, a technical dress and a specific sanction to the general sense of the community is the true end of legislature.Anyone who tonight, knowing that the necessary conditions to approval of these proposals have been withheld, that they do not command the full-hearted consent either of the House or of the country, nevertheless votes for them, casts his vote against the vital principle by which this House exists.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
It is a privilege to speak last for the Opposition in this six-day debate, and immediately before the Prime Minister. The House is, perhaps, never at its best when it is self-congratulatory, but I 2190 believe that all of us who have listened during these six days will feel that democracy has triumphed on this occasion. It has been an exhibition of argument and passionate conviction—of argument about principle, in which deep feelings have been expressed and yet good humour and tolerance have been shown. If we have to go into Europe I shall be delighted to see that we can carry those qualities there, at any rate.
I give one promise to the House. I do not think that I have a single quotation from anybody, so all the counter-quotations can be put away.
If the Government's Motion is carried tonight, as I am told by all the psephologists it will be, there is no doubt that Parliament will be making history, whether or not the Government get their later legislation. The occasion is historic because, whether one believes it to be a good thing or a bad, by registering an affirmative decision—if so it does—Parliament will take the first step in the long centuries of our history in stripping itself of its power of independent decision over a large sector of our national life.
Whether good or bad, that will be the consequence over such humdrum but important matters as, for example, the prices of foods in the family larder and the amount and nature of the tax which is deducted from the weekly pay packet to much more majestic considerations, such as the kind of countries with which we trade, the basis on which we trade with them, and our political connection with the 200 million people who live in Europe and with whom we are so closely associated.
So it is a historic decision. I rejoice in the fact that the crowds are gathered at the entrances to Parliament today. It shows that the people recognise the occasion for what it is. Not only do they recognise it; they know something else. We are all brought up in the tradition and the belief that we want to have a say in our own affairs. It was our predecessors who won that for us. We intend to exercise that power of decision and control over the levers of power in so far as we can. So, although the ordinary men and women gathered at the entrances to this building tonight, or attending to the debate far more widely, may not have gone into the complexities of the C.A.P. 2191 and the V.A.T., the balance of payments, what the difference is between the balance of payments and the G.N.P., and the rest, they do not need a great deal of subtlety to recognise that, whether it be a good thing or a bad, joining the E.E.C. will reduce their say in the way their affairs are conducted.
I believe that it is partly because the ordinary man recognises that, and partly because they have failed to get across their own case, that the Government have failed to secure the support which, in my view, they need for this unprecedented venture. I believe, also, that the feeling of the ordinary man that he is in some way losing control and that the case has not been made out fully has been strengthened by the circumstances in which the veto on negotiations, which had been banged down so often against us, was suddenly withdrawn.
It happened after the fateful meeting between M. Pompidou and the Prime Minister, as recently as 20th and 21st May last. It is generally recognised that it was the French who had it within their powers to enforce or lift the embargo and veto. They decided to lift it. So it was a crucial meeting.
We have had the Prime Minister's version—not in detail—of what took place at that meeting. We have had a much more extensive version of what took place from M. Pompidou. He said that he regarded it as necessary to put certain test questions to the Prime Minister. First, "Do you accept the basis of the agricultural Common Market, that is to say, preference for Community produce as against produce from other parts of the world?" Second, "Do you accept the unanimity rule in the functioning of the institutions of the E.E.C.?", a matter to which France is fundamentally attached.
Third, "Will Britain play her part in the creation of a European monetary union?"
The fourth is in M. Pompidou's view the most important question of all, so I quote the words he used in reporting on his conversations:I asked the British Prime Minister what he thought about Europe, that is to say, whether Britain was determined to become European: whether this Britain, which is an island, was determined to make herself fast to the continent: whether she was ready consequently 2192 to draw away from the open seas to which she had always turned.M. Pompidou said that the opinions expressed by the Prime Minister in reply were in agreement with the French conception of the future of Europe. Nowhere in that report is there any account of what counter-questions, if any, the Prime Minister put to M. Pompidou, or whether he explained to him how the British Government saw the future conception of Europe. I want to press the Prime Minister on that aspect a little later. Before it votes tonight the House is entitled to know which way the British Government want Europe to go.
But let us first take M. Pompidou's questions about the common agricultural policy. In 1967, it has been said, but it is important to rehearse it again, the E.E.C. was working on the basis of a temporary policy due to expire in 1969. It was unfortunate that after our original application went in, and before the French would allow effective negotiations to start, the nature of the common agricultural policy was decided by the Six, in the full knowledge that if Britain became a member of the Community we would be the largest food importer of all, and therefore that the impact on us would be greater than on any other single member of the Community. It was a slap in the face for Britain. What we could only guess at the time, but what M. Pompidou has subsequently revealed to be the truth of the matter, was that slap was deliberate, and was taken at his insistence. Let me quote from the same interview that I have already quoted. It says:… he had struck a clear deal with France's partners in the Common Market. He, M. Pompidou, had ensured that the Agricultural Common Market should be finalised in exchange for the opening of negotiations with Britain.According to the Fourth Annual Report of the Communities, the cost of that policy, which was finalised at the beginning of 1970, for the current year is 3,484 million units of account, which at an exchange rate of $2.40 to the £ is equivalent to £1,450 million. There is a substantial discrepancy between that figure and the figure of £1,096 million given in the White Paper. I believe that that is in part explicable by the fact that there is a carry-over of funds and expenditures not expended in earlier years. But, 2193 from the time we join, a substantial proportion of that staggering figure, whether the net figure of £1,096 million or the gross figure of £1,450 million, will be borne by the British consumer in the form of higher food prices than he would have to pay if we were outside the Market.
When the gibe is thrown at us on this side, "Why on earth did you apply?", I should like to give at least a partial answer. I do not think that the House has realised what the figures were at the time of the application. We had before us the figures for 1964–65 and 1965–66. I do not know whether the House will be surprised to learn that compared with the figures of £1,096 million and £1,450 million, the directly comparable figure in the budget for 1964–65 was £77 million and for 1965–66 it was £107 million.
Surely even the most ardent pro-Marketeer would be justified in having second thoughts when he recognised that the price of subscription to the club that he had applied to join four years before had gone up thirteenfold in the last four years. Is the difference between £107 million and £1,450 million to be swept aside as being of no account?
It is the view of the Labour Party that against this background the terms which have been negotiated by the Government are unfair to Britain and involve many people in too heavy a sacrifice. For the reasons that have been fully developed in this debate, the Labour Party believes that the price of our domestic foodstuffs will rise faster and higher than the Government's own estimates in the White Paper.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has reminded us that the criteria on which he based his figures are the same as the criteria on which we based ours. But it is not the criteria which are of ultimate importance, it is the base year chosen by the Government. Those who will vote for entry tonight must take this into account, because they will certainly have to account for this themselves later. The base year chosen by the Government, as is well known to the Minister of Agriculture, is an abnormal year for the price of world foodstuffs. If the Minister of Agriculture does not believe this, perhaps 2194 he would care to tell us for what he sold a ton of barley last year, and how much he has been offered for it today. Can he give me those figures?
§ The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. James Prior) rose—
§ Mr. Callaghan
Let me tell the right hon. Gentleman before he gets up. I can save him the trouble of an intervention, and he can correct me if I am wrong. Is that not fair? [HON. MEMBERS "You asked him to tell yow"] A year ago he would have been offered £31 a ton for his barley. This year he will be lucky to get £21 or £23. Is that not correct?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I have prepared two speeches, the serious one that I hoped to give, and the swapping of insults, if that is what the other side wants—[An HON. MEMBER: "You started it."] I am saying that cereal prices, which enter into the price of so many foodstuffs, in the past year chosen by the Government were unduly high and have already fallen back. I can only put my judgment on this by saying that it is clear that what the Government have done in selecting that abnormal base year is to create a situation in which they will find that the price of foodstuffs for the consumer will rise faster and higher than they have calculated. Nobody can prove the position either way. Only history will tell what is the difference.
That is my view, and it is my conviction that the Government will find themselves in a very serious situation. They will find that they have misled our people on this matter. In the interests of French agriculture, M. Pompidou has successfully denied us access to food that is cheaply and efficiently produced by New Zealand, Australia, the United States and other countries.
There will be heavy increases in food prices. Such increases will hit everybody, but they will hit the less well-off hardest, for more of their incomes is spent on food than is that of those who have higher incomes. I listened to the demands from both sides of the House for the Government to give the most explicit guarantees to the pensioners, to 2195 the elderly, to the sick, and to those on fixed incomes. The House expects those guarantees to be given and to be honoured. But even if they are given and honoured, the Government cannot remove the bias that results from going from a cheap food policy to a dear food policy, and the bias is that it will result in the redistribution of income away from the poorer families to the better-off.
When this transfer takes place and the poorer families in our midst have to pay out much more on their domestic food bills do the Government expect the workers in the factories and their trade union representatives to sit back and passively watch these increases without taking any steps to correct the position? Should they put in wage claims in compensation? What will be the Government's attitude to such wage claims? I ask the Prime Minister to tell the House tonight whether it is the Government's view that wage claims based on the increased cost of food arising directly or indirectly out of the E.E.C. will be justifiable.
In addition to the domestic effects we shall be giving up our long-standing trading preferences with the Commonwealth and our preferential position with the E.F.T.A. countries. What do we get in exchange? We get a reduction from 7½ per cent. to nil in the tariff barriers between us and the E.E.C. countries for a range of manufactures which are equivalent to about 20 per cent. of our total world trade. It is not a great advantage in itself as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said this afternoon, and as has been said earlier. The reduction of the tariff from 7½ per cent. to nothing can be offset, and is being offset at the moment by changes in exchange rates which are taking place during this period of floating.
Of course, some parts of industry will secure an advantage. I hope that Lord Stokes' optimism will be justified. But it is also clear that other parts of British industry will not profit to anything like the same extent, and that some parts will suffer very seriously.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Portsmouth, Langstone) rose—
§ Mr. Callaghan
I prefer not to give way; there are many matters to cover. 2196 I have listened to all the arguments over six days and I could easily get sidetracked into a dozen different byways.
Is it any wonder, in the light of this, that the claims made some years ago that our entry into the Community was the way to economic salvation are now being dropped? The advocates of entry are now much more muted and cautious. The new in-word is "dynamism". There is also the phrase, "larger home market". These are now supposed to bring us the benefits, but at this point there are precious few hard facts. Here we pass out of the realm of fact into the realm of opinion and even mysticism.
Apart from "dynamism" the words "belief", "hope", "faith" and "conviction" have been overworked in the debate. That has been the coinage, and in the face of the Government's record that kind of language has cut little ice in Wales, or Scotland, or the North-East. Faith without works is dead. The people of these areas have no intention of waiting for the Community dynamism and the enlarged market to put men and women back into jobs.
The Prime Minister aroused a good deal of anger when, on television, he argued that we needed to enter the E.E.C. in order to ensure full employment. The people of Wales, Scotland and the North deny it. Nor do we accept it from the right hon. Gentleman. In these areas we know that the Government's economic and monetary policies have led to a record number of men and women being out of their jobs; it is not the fact that we are excluded from the E.E.C. By the off-hand manner in which the Government have dealt with these areas, which few Conservative Members represent, they have done damage to the social cohesion of these islands.
I turn to M. Pompidou's next question, which was answered in the affirmative by the Prime Minister, about the creation of a European monetary union. Apparently we are willing to join such a union. This involves much more, as the former Chancellor of the Exchequer will recognise, than the partnership that he was talking about this afternoon. In a partnership the partners retain their independence but in an economic monetary union it is meaningless unless we lock our exchange rates into those 2197 of the other European countries and unless they are locked against each other and all move against the dollar in unison. That is the purpose of it. There is less emotion today than there was even as recently as four years ago about an alteration in the exchange rates and the par value of sterling. I welcome that although it is not a prescription to be taken too frequently.
Is it not ironic if, having escaped from the shackles of regarding the fixed exchange rate of sterling as unalterable, the Prime Minister is now ready to hug the same chains to himself in an enlarged European Community, to retain the rigidities we had before 1967? I do not intend to go into detail on this technical matter now, but in the circumstances of 1971 a union of European exchange rates moving against the dollar and other currencies could have the most serious repercussions on world trade and the developing countries. I say in the circumstances of today advisedly. The actions of the United States on 15th August uncovered the latent crisis that has been developing in our post-war trading and monetary arrangements, that has persisted since 1945 and since the birth of the E.E.C.
The E.E.C. was created at a time when the I.M.F., G.A.T.T. and other institutions were young and seemed to be providing the impetus for new world arrangements. All of them are now under challenge, not only the I.M.F. and G.A.T.T. but the E.E.C. itself. The greatest danger to Europe is not the danger foreseen when the founders of Europe set it up—noble ambitions they were—to prevent war between France and Germany on the political side. That is not the danger today. The danger today is of commercial hostilities between an enlarged E.E.C. and the United States and Japan.
It is to this aspect of the matter that we ought to be directing our attention and it is far more important than securing a reduction of 7½ per cent. in our tariffs inside the E.E.C. These problems will be solved not in the forum of the E.E.C. but only in a world forum, and that is why I have come to see more and more that abortive attempts to work out solutions inside the E.E.C. do no more than delay those solutions. They are an obstacle towards getting world discussions going. The E.E.C.—and I take no fort in this because we are concerned 2198 with the prosperity of the whole world—is now in complete disarray on monetary and economic matters.
It is absurd to suggest that our influence in settling these matters is any the less because we are not part of the Community. I heard the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the I.M.F. It was a good speech and it was well received because Britain has got influence and he knows it. I did not hear the views of the E.E.C.—what I heard were speeches from the French, Italian and German Finance Ministers, and two of those three were diametrically opposed. It is because the E.E.C. is in such disarray that it is doubtful whether, despite the affirmative answer given by the Prime Minister to M. Pompidou about an economic and monetary union, such a thing can get off the ground.
We ought to consider, and here I agree with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) what would happen if it did. There would be a substantial political fallout, quite apart from the economic consequences. When the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Mr. Werner, put forward his plan for a monetary and economic union two years ago it would have required the surrender of independent decision in fiscal and monetary matters as well as in others—such important matters as determining the level of demand in each country deciding whether to accelerate growth or slow it down with the resulting effect on the level of unemployment in individual countries. That plan, which was quickly buried, at least had the advantage of bringing into the open for the first time the inherent conflict between what is called European-ism and national sovereignty. That is why it was buried so quickly by the Council of Ministers. Public opinion would not have stood for it.
The question has been asked, and it must be answered. Such a union—and I think that the Government Front Bench will agree with me on this the Prime Minister said "Yes" to it, if M. Pompidou is to be believed—would require a large measure of sovereignty to be forfeited. The question arises, who is to control it? It is unthinkable, except in the closed world of Brussels or a group of central bankers, that such vital decisions should be left to a group of civil servants. The inevitable logic is that we 2199 must be driven to set up a federal Parliament. I can understand Ministers shying away from this. Public opinion in their countries would not tolerate it.
Opinion in this House ranges from the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys)—who is ready to see a federal Europe—and the Leader of the Liberal Party—who is ready to see a full monetary union by 1980—to the great majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House who would not accept such a concept, whatever their views about entering Europe.
The pro-Marketeers justify their general position by saying that no more loss of sovereignty would be involved when we enter than when we sign any other international agreement—[An HON. MEMBER: "S.E.T."]—It is not so but, if it were, I simply do not understand how one builds a Community on the basis of individual vetoes.
As the question of S.E.T. has been raised, let me say that through the regional employment premium the product of S.E.T. was used to support the regions of this country and to bring industry to them. The product of the value-added tax will be used to support French agriculture.
Where does the Prime Minister stand on this matter? As he is asking us to agree to an economic and monetary union we ought to know where he is going, and where he wants us to go. What kind of Europe is he aiming at? There is a credibility gap between the vision and the reality. There is in this matter, as in some others, an unwillingness to face the realities of the situation and a determination to underrate the practical difficulties that would be involved in the generalised exchange that has been taking place between M. Pompidou and the Prime Minister.
That brings us automatically to the question that M. Pompidou thought was the most important, namely, the open sea argument. Let me repeat it. Are we determined to make ourselves fast to the Continent? Are we ready to draw away from the open sea to which we have always returned? The Prime Minister is enthusiastic for the E.E.C. I respect that point of view, and I know that it is a strong conviction that he has held ever since he has been in the House, but it 2200 has taken him down the wrong road. He has permitted M. Pompidou to put him in a position where he is required to make a choice between Europe and the open sea. Despite what he said in the last debate on this matter, I do not know of any people in this country who believe that Britain's place lies elsewhere and that our destiny lies outside Europe.
The Prime Minister is wrong to put the issue in this way. He got himself into a bad negotiating position when he found himself compelled to agree that, as the price of entering the Community, he must forfeit our long-standing trading and political links with the Commonwealth and our monetary and other links with the United States.
The British people have a strong dislike of being told that they must cut off one set of relationships to embrace another. The truth is that our history is different—there is no need for pride in the fact—from that of the countries of the E.E.C. The Prime Minister should have told M. Pompidou that geographically and historically we are bound to Europe, and that nothing can or will disturb that, but if the price of the Treaty of Rome is as high as M. Pompidou demands, although we shall still seek the closest relationship with the countries of the E.E.C. we have for centuries looked towards the open sea and the world beyond, and we shall continue to do so.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles (Winchester)
The Prime Minister knows more about the open sea than does the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I did not have the pleasure of sitting in the admiral's cabin. I slung a hammock on the mess deck.
If the Prime Minister had replied in the terms to which I have just referred it is probable that the negotiations would not have got very far, but he would have been reflecting truly the thinking of the people of this country, and in my view it is because he has failed to do that that the British people are not giving him their support or their encouragement in this venture.
Our conclusion in the Labour Party, having taken into account the costly nature of the terms of entry, is that we do not believe that the economic benefits of entry are sufficiently clear to justify the price that is asked. Nor have we been given any clear concept of the 2201 political future of Europe, and in the present circumstances, in view of the disruption that is taking place in world trading and monetary arrangements, it is our view that discussions on these matters should be conducted against a world canvas. I simply do not accept that we cannot exert our influence unless we join the E.E.C. There is no united E.E.C. view on any of the major questions affecting the world at present.
We are about to reach the moment of decision, but this vote tonight, even if the Government are successful—as I am told they will be—will be only the first of many along the road to entry. It ought to be a matter of great concern to the Prime Minister that whatever Parliament decides the Government have failed to convince public opinion on the desirability of entry. Despite the massive publicity campaign that the Government have mounted, the people of this country continue to say "No". It not infrequently happens that on domestic matters the Government go against—and perhaps have to go against—the majority of pubic opinion. They may have to go against it on international affairs, too, from time to time. But surely it is dangerous in the extreme for a British Government to reverse our traditional overseas policies and embark on an entirely new foreign venture, knowing that the sentiment of the people of this country is ranged against them.
How ought Parliament to resolve this difference between what the Government think Britain should do and what the British people would prefer? Parliament is the forum of the nation. I do not deny Parliament's right to decide. If the majority of Members tonight vote in favour of entry there is only one thing that can gainsay them—a General Election.
A General Election would be highly inconvenient for the Government, but it will come. We do not know how soon, but the issue is so profound, and cuts so deeply into the roots of our system of Parliamentary control and our national life, that this issue will remain alive whether the majority in this Parliament desires it or not. It will remain alive until the Parliament Act, under which the Government and the Opposition are bound, requires a General Election to be held. That is when the voice of the 2202 people will be heard. So, if this Motion is carried tonight, we are not at the end of the debate but at the beginning of it.
Tonight is no more than the first skirmish in the struggle, in the course of which we shall, I hope, by debate and discussion between ourselves, establish what is Britain's correct relationship with Europe and what is our rôle in the world in the years ahead. That debate will go on until the next election takes place. However near or however distant it may be, this issue will be settled only when the British people themselves are given the opportunity to express their view and to decide for themselves by those whom they elect to this House
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)
I do not think that any Prime Minister has stood at this Box in time of peace and asked the House to take a positive decision of such importance as I am asking it to take tonight. I am well aware of the responsibility which rests on my shoulders for so doing. After 10 years of negotiation, after many years of discussion in this House and after 10 years of debate, the moment of decision for Parliament has come. The other House has already taken its vote and expressed its view—[HON. MEMBERS: "Backwoodsmen!"]; 451 frontwoodsmen have voted in favour of the Motion and, for the rest, 58.
I cannot over-emphasise tonight the importance of the vote which is being taken, the importance of the issue, the scale and quality of the decision arid the impact that it will have equally inside and outside Britain. On one thing I agree very much with the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). He finished by saying that he wished to set this against a world canvas. It has been said that this is a historic decision; it is being taken in what many would describe as a historic week.
Earlier, the world was watching New York. They were waiting to see whether China was going to become a member of the Security Council and of the General Assembly. Tonight, the world is similarly watching Westminster, waiting to see whether we are going to decide that Western Europe should now move along the path to real unity—or whether the British Parliament, now given the choice, 2203 not for the first time but probably for the last time for many years to come, will reject the chance of creating a united Europe.
There can be absolutely no doubt of the world interest in this matter—of those physically watching and those waiting for the outcome. Nor can there be any doubt of the reasons why. It is natural that we in this House, in this long debate, have been largely concerned with the impact on our own country, but our decision tonight will vitally affect the balance of forces in the modern world for many years to come.
It will affect the sort of world in which we British people and many generations to come will live their lives. Even since we last debated this in the House in July, the situation has been transformed by China showing that, certainly within this century, it will be the third super Power. We could not tell, when this decision was taken in the United Nations, what the consequences of it would be, either for China or for the rest of us in the western world. But we thought that decision right: it is one that British Governments have worked for since 1961.
There are and have been growing, even since our last debate, pressures for changes in the American forces in Europe. These pressures are growing apace, and with them, the renewed demand for Europe to do more in the cause of its own defence. We would maintain that an Atlantic alliance is still vital for the defence of Western Europe, but there can be no doubt of the growing pressures for Europe to consolidate its own defence position.
The system of international trade and finance is disintegrating, and unsatisfied demands are there for a new system somehow to replace it. So much has been taken for granted over the last 25 years and so much of that no longer exists.
This is the position facing the western world today, and if many of us have pursued the course of European unity for so many years with some persistence—and, I suspect the right hon. Gentleman thinks, with some boredom—then the reason is perhaps that we have foreseen in part that some of these changes were bound to come about; and, by some strange permutation of history, in 2204 this very short span all these changes have come together.
I therefore agree with the right hon. Gentleman that on the world scene, against which we must set this debate and decision tonight, where I am afraid we differ is on how best this can be handled and what the solutions to these problems are.
The right hon. Gentleman described the pursuit of a united Europe as an ideal which he respected. It inspired the founders of the European Communities after the war. At that time we in Britain held back, conscious of our ties with the Commonwealth and of our relationship with the United States, both of which had been so strongly reinforced in war. We did not then see how we could fit that into the framework of European unity.
The Commonwealth has, since then, developed into an association of independent countries with now only a few island dependencies remaining. It is a unique association which we value, but the idea that it would become an effective economic or political, let alone military, bloc has never materialised. It has never become a reality. [Interruption.]
Our relationship with the United States is close, friendly and natural, but it is not unique. It is not fundamentally different from that of many other countries of Western Europe, except, again, for our natural ties of language and common law, tradition and history. The United States is now inevitably and increasingly concerned with its relationships with the other super Powers. This applies also in the economic field, because in the situation which I have described the United States is bound to find itself involved more and more with the large economic powers, Japan and the European Community.
This is a time of profound change. It is a time in which United States policy towards Soviet Russia and Soviet China, and in the trade and monetary field, is changing. It is a time when we must see how these problems can best be handled by Britain.
The post-war international monetary system, after which I think the right hon. Gentleman hankers, and its trading system is no longer the basis for international relations and, as a consequence, the risks to liberal trading policies on 2205 which we ourselves so much depend are now immense.
I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman's condemnation of the attitude of the Community in the past, which took a lead in the Kennedy Round, in achieving a solution there, and which has shown such an outward-looking aspect towards the developing world through aid and grants. They do more than we can do, not confining themselves only to Africa but concerned with the Indian sub-Continent and the West Indies as well.
When it comes to dealing with the major economic Powers in creating what has now to be a changed, if not a new, trading and financial policy, the strength of this country alone, or of any individual member of the Community, were it to act alone, is not enough to ensure a sensible or satisfactory outcome to the current monetary and trading discussions which, I believe, are bound to go on for some time.
We as a country are dangerously vulnerable to protectionist pressure if such a satisfactory outcome of a new financial and trading system is not achieved. But in Europe we can share and reinforce the strength and experience of the Community. We can work with partners whose interests are the same as ours.
In this time of change the Community, too, has developed. It has been not only working in the constitutional framework of the Treaty of Rome; it has been acting pragmatically and ancient and historic States have developed the habit of working more and more closely together.
Neither do I accept the strictures of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East about the situation in the Community at present. May I suggest that if he looks back over the history of the past 12 years he will find that there have been occasions when there have been differences between the members of the Community, but on each occasion this has led to a solution which has then reinforced the Community in its strength and in its purpose. So in the Community, old institutions have been adapted and new ones have been invented to meet the realities of the new situation.
§ The Prime Minister
In the debates of the last six days, the economic arguments have figured very prominently. They are important. Again, I do not accept the argument of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East that merely to have a reduction of a 7½ per cent. average tariff is not of great consequence. We know that it is not entirely the average tariff which matters; it is the very high level of some individual tariffs which are important to us and to our industries.
The questions of larger firms, technology, capital investment and rate of growth are of immense importance. I agree with those who say that there can be no final proof of this. It must be a matter of qualitative judgment. I accept that, and we have offered our judgment to the House. If one needed any indication of the difficulties, it has already been said that the economists have lined up in two columns in The Times I notice that one was one-quarter of an inch shorter than the other. On what basis can one make an economic judgment of one-quarter of an inch of a column in The Times?
But what is important is the question of being in the best possible position to influence economic decisions which are determining our future. That seems to be the real crux of the economic argument. Over these next few years, in which new patterns will be formed and new decisions will be taken, they will affect the livelihood of everyone in this country and they will be taken in practice by those who have the greatest economic power. We may not like it, and we may wish it otherwise, but we have to recognise these facts as they exist.
But this is coming about just at the moment when we have the opportunity of joining the Community and of influencing one of the major economic Powers. In those circumstances, I believe that a Prime Minister who came to this Box and recommended that we should reject the opportunity now before us of taking an active part, a share in these decisions, would be taking a terrible gamble with the livelihood of the British people for many years to come. That Prime Minister would be saying to the House, in effect, that he was prepared to accept the situation in which vital decisions affecting all of us were taken in circumstances over which we had no control and little 2207 influence. This is a gamble which I, as Prime Minister, am not prepared to advise this House to take. Nor can these matters of trade and finance ever be separated entirely—as we are seeing today in the news which comes from the United States—from the security of our country or of the Community.
The right hon. Gentleman raised some matters about the terms. The Government have made their recommendation on this. They have been discussed in great detail in the House. I was not proposing at this stage of the debate to go over them again. They are better than anyone thought possible when the negotiations began. This is widely recognised in Europe by the friends of this country. It is widely recognised by the friends of the Labour Party who had great influence in securing those terms. It has been widely recognised right across the Commonwealth and the world.
I want to make some very brief comments on the questions that the right hon. Gentleman put. First, Community preference was accepted as far back as 1962. It was known in 1967. It was accepted in 1970. There is nothing whatever new about the conception of Community preference inside an enlarged Community or its acceptance. Most of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues know that this is not a question of M. Pompidou or France. No one in the Community is prepared to abandon the present common agricultural policy. This was very forcibly and clearly stated by members of the Government to whom the right hon. Gentleman belonged. The last three British Governments have fully recognised this, as indeed did the present Leader of the Opposition.
Unanimity was the result of the Luxembourg agreement which the Community accepted, which we accepted, and which I believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition during his tour of the capitals accepted also.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer in the last Administration himself set out the position on monetary union. I am told that, if the right hon. Gentleman likes to look up the article which he himself signed in Le Monde in 1967, he will find there his own aspirations in that direction set out very clearly.
As to whether Britain is European, I fail entirely to understand the argument 2208 which the right hon. Gentleman was trying to advance about cutting off our links with the outside world, when the members of the Community itself are the great trading countries of the world; when the Community itself is the greatest trading bloc in the world; when, as the Leader of the Liberal Party pointed out this evening, when the enlarged Community is created, it will have arrangements with 80 countries. Twenty-nine of the Commonwealth countries and 19 dependencies will be associated with the Community. What on earth does the right hon. Gentleman mean by our cutting off our links with the outside world?
To sum up, the outcome of the right hon. Gentleman's analysis was, quite simply, that he wished to stipulate terms on which we would enter the Community which everybody who has observed events for the last 12 years knows from the beginning would not even have allowed negotiations to start and which, if the Community had been prepared to accept them, would have meant the break-up of the Community. That is the plain fact about the remarks which the right hon. Gentleman has made about the terms for going into negotiations.
I have sometimes felt that among those who have been in this debate seeking to balance up the advantages and disadvantages there was a desire for a degree of certainty which is never obtainable in human affairs. Hon. Members will not ask for it in their lives, in their own businesses. As a nation we have never hitherto asked for it in a trading agreement or in international affairs, either economic or political. Anyone who studies the length of our trading agreements outside will accept that that is the case.
It may be that it is showing a lack of confidence in ourselves, but I suggest that, whatever the explanation, we are worrying about the wrong question. Surely the right question to ask ourselves is this: has the Community the necessary and appropriate means for dealing with the problems of its members, whether they arise out of these present negotiations in which we have taken part or whether they arise from any other cause in the life of the Community? That surely is the question one has to put about a living, changing, developing organisation 2209 such as the Community. That is what matters.
The answer to that question is undeniably—yes, it has got those means and, what is more they have been and are being used successfully. They are proven means for dealing with the problems inside the Community—through the Treaty, through the Commission, through the Council of Ministers these matters are being handled the whole time.
Perhaps, therefore, the final statement of the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon was not quite so bloodcurdling as he meant it to be. I must say to him that the position in Europe today is that no one is sitting there waiting to have an amicable cup of tea with him. Nevertheless, should any of the apprehensions expressed by himself or by his right hon. Friends materialise, then the machinery exists and is functioning to deal with them.
This leads me to a kindred and allied point. It is understandable after 10 years of negotiation and frustration that many in debate and many in the country outside have fought and talked in terms of "we" and "they". Some, I think, have been overwhelmed by a fear that this country in an organisation such as the Community must always be dominated by "they". That is certainly not how the rest of the Community sees it. But we are approaching the point where, if this House so decides tonight, it will become just as much our Community as their Community. We shall be partners, we shall be cooperating, and we shall be trying to find common solutions to common problems of all the members of an enlarged Community.
We have confidence that we can benefit as well as contribute, that we can further our own interests and the interests of the Community at one and the same time. After all, the leaders of all three parties in this House accept the principle of entry into the European Community, as the right hon. Gentleman reaffirmed this afternoon. The Community is not governed by any particular party ideology. How can it be, with a Socialist Government in the Federal Republic, with a Right-wing Government in France, with a coalition in Italy con- 2210 taining Socialists? Of course not. What is more, all the opposition parties in the member countries of the Community support membership of the Community just as much as the governing parties.
It is right that there should have been so much discussion of sovereignty. I would put it very simply. If sovereignty exists to be used and to be of value, it must be effective. We have to make a judgment whether this is the most advantageous way of using our country's sovereignty. Sovereignty belongs to all of us, and to make that judgment we must look at the way in which the Community has actually worked during these last 12 years. In joining we are making a commitment which involves our sovereignty, but we are also gaining an opportunity. We are making a commitment to the Community as it exists tonight, if the House so decides. We are gaining an opportunity to influence its decisions in the future.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me questions as to how we saw this. The Community in future months will be discussing future policy in an enlarged community. No one is committed to this at the moment—no member country, nor we as a country, nor this House. What we shall have is an opportunity, which we do not possess and will not possess unless we join, of working out schemes for the future of the major part of Europe. I put this point in a practical form to the House. It is well known that the President of France, supported by the Chancellor of Germany, has proposed a summit meeting of heads of Government in the course of next year and probably in the spring. This meeting, will, I believe, settle the European approach to the problems that we have been discussing of monetary arrangements, trading arrangements, and future political development.
If by any chance the House rejected this Motion tonight, that meeting would still go on and it would still take its decisions which will affect the greater part of Western Europe and affect us in our daily lives. But we would not be there to take a share in those decisions. That really would not be a sensible way to go about protecting our interests or our influence in Europe and the world. But to be there as a member of the Community, in my view, would be an 2211 effective use of our contribution of sovereignty.
Surely we must consider the consequences of staying out. We cannot delude ourselves that an early chance would be given us to take the decision again. We should be denying ourselves and succeeding generations the opportunities which are available to us in so many spheres; opportunities which we ourselves in this country have to seize. We should be leaving so many aspects of matters affecting our daily lives to be settled outside our own influence. That surely cannot be acceptable to us. We should be denying to Europe, also—let us look outside these shores for a moment—its full potential, its opportunities of developing economically and politically, maintaining its security, and securing for all its people a higher standard of prosperity.
All the consequences of that for many millions of people in Europe must be recognised tonight in the decision the House is taking. In addition, many projects for the future of Europe have been long delayed. There has been great uncertainty, and tonight all that can be removed—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East was very kind in the personal remarks he made about myself. Throughout my political career, if I may add one personal remark, it is well known that I have had the vision of a Britain in a united Europe; a Britain which would be united economically to Europe and which would be able to influence decisions affecting our own future,
§ and which would enjoy a better standard of life and a fuller life. I have worked for a Europe which will play an increasing part in meeting the needs of those parts of the world which still lie in the shadow of want. I always understood that the right hon. Gentleman wanted that. I want Britain as a member of a Europe which is united politically, and which will enjoy lasting peace and the greater security which would ensue.
§ Nor do I believe that the vision of Europe—and the right hon. Gentleman raised this specific point—is an unworthy vision, or an ignoble vision or an unworthy cause for which to have worked—[Interruption.] I have always made it absolutely plain to the British people that consent to this course would be given by Parliament—[HON. MEMBERS: "Resign."] Parliament is the Parliament of all the people.
When we came to the end of the negotiations in 1963, after the veto had been imposed, the negotiator on behalf of India said:
When you left India some people wept. And when you leave Europe tonight some will weep. And there is no other people in the world of whom these things could be said.
§ That was a tribute from the Indian to the British. But tonight when this House endorses this Motion many millions of people right across the world will rejoice that we have taken our rightful place in a truly United Europe.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 356, Noes 244.2217
|Division No. 480.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Benyon, W.||Buck, Antony|
|Adley, Robert||Berry, Hn. Anthony||Burden, F. A.|
|Albu, Austen||Biggs-Davison, John||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Blaker, Peter||Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Carlisle, Mark|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Boscawen, Robert||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Bossom, Sir Clive||Channon, Paul|
|Astor, John||Bowden, Andrew||Chapman, Sydney|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher|
|Awdry, Daniel||Bradley, Tom||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Braine, Bernard||Churchill, W. S.|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Bray, Ronald||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Balniel, Lord||Brewis, John||Clegg, Walter|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Brinton, Sir Tatton||Cockeram, Eric|
|Barnes, Michael||Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Cooke, Robert|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Coombs, Derek|
|Batsford, Brian||Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Cooper, A. E.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Bryan, Paul||Corbet, Mrs. Freda|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Cordle, John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M)||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Cormack, Patrick||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Costain, A. P.||Heseltine, Michael||Morrison, Charles|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hicks, Robert||Murton, Oscar|
|Critchley, Julian||Higgins, Terence L.||Neave, Airey|
|Cronin, John||Hiley, Joseph||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Crouch, David||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Normanton, Tom|
|Crowder, F. P.||Holland, Philip||Nott, John|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Holt, Miss Mary||Onslow, Cranley|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hordern, Peter||Oram, Bert|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hornby, Richard||Osborn, John|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj. -Gen. James||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Dean, Paul||Howell, David (Guildford)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Palmer, Arthur|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Hunt, John||Pardoe, John|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Iremonger, T. L.||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Dixon, Piers||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Percival, Ian|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||James, David||Peyton, Rt. Hn John|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Jenkins Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Drayson, G. B.||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Johnston Russell (Inverness)||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Edelman, Maurice||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Proudfoot, Wilfreo|
|Eden, Sir John||Jopling, Michael||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Raison, Timothy|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kershaw, Anthony||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Kimball, Marcus||Rankin, John|
|Ellis, Tom||King Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Emery, Peter||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Redmond, Robert|
|Eyre, Reginald||Kinsey, J. R.||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Kirk, Peter||Rees, Peter (Dover)|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Kitson, Timothy||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Fidler, Michael||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Knor, David||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Lambton, Antony||Richard, Ivor|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lane, David||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Foley, Maurice||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Lawson, George||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Ford, Ben||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)|
|Fortescue, Tim||Le Merchant, Spencer||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Foster, Sir John||Leonard, Dick||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fowler, Norman||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Fox, Marcus||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Roper, John|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Gardner, Edward||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Lomas, Kenneth||Rost Peter|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Longden, Gilbert||Royle, Anthony|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Loveridge, John||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Luce, R. N.||Sandelson, Neville|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Goodhart, Philip||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Goodhew, Victor||MacArthur, Ian||Sharples, Richard|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||McCrindle, R. A.||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Gorst, John||Mackie, John||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Gower, Raymond||Mackintosh, John P.||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||McLaren, Martin||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Gray, Hamish||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Simeons, Charles|
|Green, Alan||Maclennan, Robert||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Grieve, Percy||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Grylls, Michael||Maddan, Martin||Speed, Keith|
|Gummer, Selwyn||Madel, David||Spence, John|
|Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Sproat, Iain|
|Gurden, Harold||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Stainton, Keith|
|Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Marquand, David||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Steel, David|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Maudling Rt. Hn. Reginald||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mawby, Ray||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Mayhew, Christopher||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Stokes, John|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Hastings, Stephen||Miscampbell, Norman||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Taverne, Dick|
|Havers, Michael||Money, Ernle||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hawkins, Paul||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Hay, John||Monro, Hector||Tebbit, Norman|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Montgomery, Fergus||Temple, John M.|
|Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret||Waddington, David||Wilkinson, John|
|Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||Walder, David (Clitheroe)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Wall, Patrick||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)||Walters, Dennis||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy||Ward, Dame Irene||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Tilney, John||Warren, Kenneth||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Tomney, Frank||Weatherill, Bernard||Worsley, Marcus|
|Trafford, Dr. Anthony||Wells, John||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Trew, Peter||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Tugendhat, Christopher||White, Roger (Gravesend|
|van Straubenzee, W. R.||Whilehead, Phillip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Vaughan, Dr. Gerard||Whitlaw, Rt. Hn. William||Mr. John E. B. Hill and|
|Vickers, Dame Joan||Wiggin, Jerry||Mr. John Peel.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone)||McMaster, Stanley|
|Ashton, Joe||Fraser, John (Norwood)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Freeson, Reginald||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Fry, Peter||Maginnis, John E.|
|Baxter, William||Galpern, Sir Myer||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Beaney, Alan||Garrett, W. E.||Marks, Kenneth|
|Bell, Ronald||Gilbert, Dr. John||Marsden, F.|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Golding, John||Marshall, Dr. Edmund|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Gourlay, Harry||Marten, Neil|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mather, Carol|
|Biffen, John||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Maude, Angus|
|Bishop, E. S.||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Meacher, Michael|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Body, Richard||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mendelson, John|
|Booth, Albert||Hamling, William||Mikardo, Ian|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Hardy, Peter||Millan, Bruce|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Milne, Edward|
|Buchan, Norman||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Heffer, Eric S.||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hilton, W. S.||Moate, Roger|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Hooson, Emlyn||Molloy, William|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Horam, John||Molyneaux, James|
|Cant, R. B.||Huckfield, Leslie||More, Jasper|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Morris Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hunter, Adam||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Irvine, Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill)||Moyle, Roland|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Janner, Greville||Mudd, David|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Murray, Ronald King|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Coleman, Donald||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Concannon, J. D.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jessel, Toby||Ogden, Eric|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||John, Brynmor||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Orme, Stanley|
|Davidson, Arthur||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Judd, Frank|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Padley, Walter|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Kaufman, Gerald||Paget, R. T.|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Kelley, Richard||Paisley, Rev. Ian|
|Deakins, Eric||Kerr, Russell||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Dempsey, James||Kilfedder, James||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Devlin, Miss Bernadette||Kinnock, Neil||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Doig, Peter||Lambie, David||Pendry, Tom|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lamond, James||Pentland, Norman|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Latham, Arthur||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Driberg, Tom||Leadbitter, Ted||Pounder, Rafton|
|Dunn, James A.||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Eadie, Alex||Lestor, Miss Joan||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|English Michael||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Prescott, John|
|Evans, Fred||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Ewing, Harry||Lipton, Marcus||Probert, Arthur|
|Farr, John||Loughlin, Charles||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Fell, Anthony||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||McBride, Neil||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Fisher,Mrs.Doris(B'ham,Ladywood)||McCann, John||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||McCartney, Hugh||Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McElhone, Frank||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McGuire, Michael||Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n&R'dnor)|
|Foot, Michael||Mackenzie, Gregor||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Forrester, John||McManus Frank||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Sutcliffe, John||Wallace, George|
|Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)||Swain, Thomas||Watkins, David|
|Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)||Weitzman, David|
|Sillars, James||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Silverman, Julius||Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Skinner, Dennis||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||Whitlock, William|
|Small, William||Torney, Tom||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Soref, Harold||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Spearing, Nigel||Tuck, Raphael||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Stallard, A. W.||Urwin, T. W.||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)||Varley, Eric G.||Woof, Robert|
|Stoddart, David (Swindon)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Storehouse, Rt. Hn. John||Walden, Brian (B'ham, All Saints)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Strang, Gavin||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Mr. Ernest Armstrong and|
|Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek||Mr. Joseph Harper.|
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.
§ Sitting suspended till 10.25 p.m.
§ Sitting resumed—