§ 4.2 pm
§ Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)
I beg to move,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the United Kingdom to leave the European Economic Community by repealing the European Communities Act 1972; and for related matters.After the pathetic statement by the Lord Privy Seal today, the Bill could not be more timely. I know that there are planted questions, but I assure the House that this is not a planted Bill. My reasons for bringing it forward are based not merely on that pathetic statement by the Lord Privy Seal but on the damage done to Britain by membership of the Community over the past decade.
Many people, even some of those who are ardent proMarketeers a decade ago, are beginning to realise that the prophecies that many of us made have come to pass. Membership of the Common Market has been an unmitigated disaster in terms of jobs, prices, trade, industry, agriculture, fisheries, food, our economy, and virtually any criteria that we apply.
In 1973, the first year of membership, average unemployment in the Unitėd Kingdom was 575,000. It is now three million—an increase of over 400 per cent. I do not suggest that the Common Market is solely responsible for that massive increase. Probably the Tory Government are the biggest single cause. Nevertheless, the Common Market has significantly worsened, rather than improved, matters.
The Treaty of Rome is a charter enabling multinational companies to shift their investments out of this country and, therefore, shift jobs out of the country and throw thousands of people on to the dole queue, with no thought of the social and economic havoc created. That has happened in Scotland with multinational companies such as Talbot and Massey-Ferguson.
Less than a decade ago, the Euro-fanatics were telling us that membership would mean jobs for the boys. What jobs? What boys? Perhaps there have been jobs for a few overpaid Members of the European Parliament, or Euro-fanatics and carpetbaggers like Roy Jenkins, who picked up over a quarter of a million pounds from his job with the Common Market and who is now trying to "con" the people of Hillhead into voting for him by saying that unless they support him and the Common Market unemployment will double. The people of Scotland will see through that nonsense.
The 1972 Act reduces our ability to adopt and implement an interventionist economic strategy, and particularly a interventionist industrial strategy. But it is odd that the people who dreamt up all this were not even consistent. We have the common agricultural policy, which is interventionist in such a way as to increase prices instead of keeping them down.
The Common Market intervenes in such a way that there are millions of tonnes of food in the Common Market going to waste while the rate of inflation in food prices in this country since we joined the Community has been 254 per cent. There is no economic, social or moral justification for tolerating such an agricultural policy.
Over the past five years our total net contribution to the Common Market budget has been over £3,000 million, yet 315 we are one of the poorest members of the Common Market. It is a little like Robin Hood in reverse. Promarketeers such as the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer), who wish to oppose my Bill, say that we have received assistance from the regional or social fund of the EEC. When we consider our net contribution, to be grateful for the regional or social fund of the EEC is like a man who has been mugged for every penny he has saying "Thank you" to the mugger for throwing a few pence back to him.
Despite the coyness of the Lord Privy Seal at the Dispatch Box a few moments ago, reports are coming from Whitehall that the official forecast for our net budget contribution in 1982 is £1,400 million, which is over £25 for every man, woman and child. We will then be the biggest—not just one of the biggest—net contributor to the EEC.
Today's ludicrous ministerial statement would not have been necessary if my Bill had been on the statute book. The Lord Privy Seal proposes to dole out more money to the EEC bureaucrats. We can see the mess that we are in. If my Bill were on the statute book, the Government would be let off the hook and they would be saved a great deal of embarrassment. That is why I hope that even the Foreign Office supports me.
Last week the negotiations in Brussels about a reduction in Britain's contribution to the budget broke down. The French Foreign Secretary, M. Claude Cheysson, is reported to have told Lord Carrington that he had better pay up or leave the Common Market. We cannot afford to submit to such blackmail. That is why we should get out now.
When we leave the Common Market we shall not be turning or hacks on the world or Europe, because the Common Market is not Europe. By world standards the Common Market is a fairly narrow protectionist bloc, consisting of a minority of nations and peoples of Europe and a smaller minority of the peoples of the world.
I remind people who say that we would suffer trade disadvantages if we left the Common Market that our non-oil deficit for the three months ending November last year amounted to £1,390 million. I would not be in favour of Britain lapsing into a siege economy. Common Market countries would still want to negotiate access to our markets and in return we would want to negotiate access to their markets. In case people believe that we have nothing to offer, I remind the House that we have more fossil fuel reserves than the rest of the Common Market put together. We could use that as a valuable trading card.
Leaving the Common Market would give us the opportunity to re-establish trading and other links with our former partners in the European Free Trade Association and our fellow members of the Commonwealth. We would retain the opportunity to participate in other international forums such as the Council of Europe, OECD, the Commonwealth and the United Nations. If we threw off the shackles of Brussels bureaucracy once and for all we would not diminish but enhance our opportunities to build up wider and better international relations with the rest of the world. Therefore, I ask the House to support my Bill.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer (Flint, West)
The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) says that membership of the European Community has made things worse for this country. It is true, and no one will deny it, 316 that the Community is not working particularly well at present. It is also true that over a long period this country has suffered a long decline. However, to say that our troubles are due to membership of the European Community has as much intellectual respectability as to say that they are due to Commonwealth immigration. Both arguments are completely untrue and equally squalid.
What is the argument against our membership of the Community? Is it the common agricultural policy? With all its faults, it has kept agriculture prosperous, and it has assured supplies of food for people in this country, even at times of world shortage, at prices that are rising less fast than the general level of inflation.
Is it our contribution to the budget? Even before my right hon. Friend negotiated a better settlement, and even if she fails to get a satisfactory settlement next time, the total of our contribution to the Community budget was ½p in the pound of public expenditure. For the record, last year it was one-twentieth of a penny in the pound of public expenditure.
Is it the size of the swollen Brussels bureaucracy, all 11,000 of them, and nearly half of them translators? It is smaller than the Scottish Office, and smaller than Lambeth borough council.
Or is it perhaps that the Common Market is selling more to us than we are selling to it? The Common Market is our largest trading partner by a long way. In terms of our total trade in manufactures, our deficit with the EEC is one-third of our deficit with the United States and one-twelfth of our deficit with Japan.
Or is it perhaps that membership of the European Community would limit the ability of a future Labour Government—frankly, no right hon. or hon. Member believes that there will ever be another Labour Government, but assuming that there were a future Labour Government—to pursue Socialist policies? Perhaps the name of President Mitterand has not been heard in West Stirlingshire.
It is not my task to argue the case for the EEC. I make only one observation. If we are to find capital investment for the jobs that we desperately need—and find that capital without intolerable sacrifices of current living standards—the only hope is a massive flow of inward investment. Does anyone seriously argue that United States, Japanese or even Arab investors are more likely to come here if they cannot use this country as a base from which to sell their goods and services to the Community? The figures are there to prove it.
Before the Common Market was formed, this country took 50 per cent. of United States overseas investment. The Common Market was then formed, and we were outside it. The figure fell to 10 per cent. Now that we are in the Common Market, the figure is up—over 40 per cent. again. That means a great many jobs.
I do not need to argue the case for membership of the EEC. It is not enough for the hon. Gentleman to prove, even if he could, that we would be better off outside it. He has to prove something very different and much more difficult—that we should gain by wrenching ourselves out of it, and to do so in violation of a treaty which was signed 10 years ago by a Conservative Government, after successive Governments—Socialist, Conservative, Socialist—had tried to get into the EEC over a period of eight years, and which was submitted in a referendum to all the people. The people had the chance to vote on the one issue, and they approved it by an overwhelming 317 majority. If, after all that, we were to pull out, who would ever take us seriously again? Who would ever enter into any binding commitment with a people who were so lacking in any fixity of purpose? After one of the most thorough national debates in our history, we decided to join the EEC. We have been full members for 10 years. It is time to grow up. It is time to cease hankering for a past that is gone for ever, stop dreaming impossible dreams, and end this futile argument.
I ask the House to listen not to the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire, but to wiser words that were spoken immediately after the people had given their verdict by referendum. I quote:I have just been in receipt of a very big message from the British people. I have received it loud and clear. I have always said the referendum would be binding. There can be no going back".Those were the words, reported on 7 June 1975, of the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn). I ask the House to take them to heart. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends, the Liberal and Social Democratic Parties, who have not wavered in their support of Europe, and hon. Members of the Labour Party, who know perfectly well that the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire is talking nonsense, to support me in the "No" Lobby now.
§ Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and Nomination of Select Committees at Commencement of Public Business):—
§ The House divided: Ayes 110, Noes 212.320
|Division No. 55]||[4.15 pm|
|Abse, Leo||George, Bruce|
|Barnett,Guy (Greenwich)||Hamilton,James (Bothwell)|
|Benn, RtHon Tony||Hardy, Peter|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Haynes, Frank|
|Booth, RtHon Albert||Hogg, N. (EDunb't'nshire)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P)||Holland,S. (L'b'th, Vauxh 'II)|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Jay, RtHon Douglas|
|Cocks, RtHon M. (B'stol S)||Jones, RtHon Alec (Rh'dda)|
|Concannon, RtHon J. D.||Jones, Barry (East Flint)|
|Cox, T. (W'dsw'th,Toot'g)||Kilfedder, JamesA.|
|Cunningham, DrJ. (W'h'n)||Leighton,Ronald|
|Davies, RtHon Denzil (L'Ili)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Davis, Clinton (HackneyC)||Litherland,Robert|
|Deakins, Eric||McCartney, Hugh|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||McCusker, H.|
|Dobson, Frank||McKay,Allen (Penistone)|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||McWilliam,John|
|Eadie, Alex||Marshall, D(G'gowS'ton)|
|Eastham, Ken||Marshall, DrEdmund (Goole)|
|Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh 're)||Maxton,John|
|English, Michael||Maynard, MissJoan|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Mikardo,lan|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Field, Frank||Morris, RtHon A. (W'shawe)|
|Foot, RtHon Michael||Morris, RtHon C. (0'shaw)|
|Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)||Morton,George|
|Garrett,John (Norwich S)||Moyle, RtHon Roland|
|Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Newens, Stanley|
|Oakes, RtHon Gordon||Silverman, Julius|
|O'Neill, Martin||Skinner, Dennis|
|Orme, RtHon Stanley||Spearing, Nigel|
|Powell, RtHon J.E. (S Down)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)||Stallard, A. W.|
|Price, C. (Lewisham W)||Stewart, RtHon D. (W Isles)|
|Race, Reg||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Radice, Giles||Tinn, James|
|Richardson.Jo||Varley, RtHon Eric G.|
|Roberts, Albert(Normanton)||Walker, RtHon H.(D'caster)|
|Rooker, J. W.||Winnick.David|
|Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)||Woodall,Alec|
|Sever, John||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Shore, RtHon Peter||Mr. Bob Cryer and|
|Silkin, RtHon J. (Deptford)||Mr. Thomas Torney.|
|Alison, RtHon Michael||Fry, Peter|
|Arnold,Tom||Gilmour, RtHon Sir Ian|
|Atkins, RtHon H.(S'thorne)||Goodlad,Alastair|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Gow, Ian|
|Beith, A.J.||Grant, Anthony (HarrowC)|
|Benyon, Thomas(A'don)||Grimond, RtHon J.|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Grist, Ian|
|Bevan, DavidGilroy||Gummer, JohnSelwyn|
|Biggs-Davison, SirJohn||Hamilton, HonA.|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Bottomley, Peter(W'wichW)||Hannam, John|
|Boyson, DrRhodes||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Bradley, Tom||Hawkins, Paul|
|Braine, SirBernard||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Heddle, John|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Henderson, Barry|
|Brown, RonaldW. (H'ckn'yS)||Heseltine, RtHon Michael|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Hicks, Robert|
|Buck, Antony||Higgins, RtHon Terence L|
|Budgen, Nick||Hill, James|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Hogg, HonDouglas(Gr'th'm)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth(Lincoln)||Holland, Philip(Carlton)|
|Cartwright, John||Hooson, Tom|
|Chalker, Mrs.Lynda||Hordern, Peter|
|Channon, Rt.Hon.Paul||Howell, Ralph (NNorfolk)|
|Churchill, W.S.||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Hunt, John(Ravensbourne)|
|Clarke, Kenneth(Rushcliffe)||Hurd, HonDouglas|
|Colvin, Michael||Jenkin, RtHon Patrick|
|Cope, John||Johnston, Russel (Inverness)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Jopling, RtHon Michael|
|Corrie,John||Joseph, RtHon Sir Keith|
|Costain, SirAlbert||Kershaw, SirAnthony|
|Crouch, David||Kimball, SirMarcus|
|Dean, Paul (NorthSomerset)||King, RtHon Tom|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Kitson, SirTimothy|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Knight, MrsJill|
|Douglas-Hamilton, LordJ.||Knox, David|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lang, Ian|
|Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Langford-Holt, SirJohn|
|Durant, Tony||Lee, John|
|Eden, RtHon Sir John||Lennox-Boyd, HonMark|
|Elliott, SirWilliam||Lester, Jim (Beeston)|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)|
|Fairgrieve, SirRussell||Loveridge, John|
|Faith, MrsSheila||Luce, Richard|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey||Lyons, Edward (Bradf'dW)|
|Fisher, SirNigel||Mabon, RtHon DrJ. Dickson|
|Fletcher-Cooke, SirCharles||McCrindle, Robert|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Forman, Nigel||MacGregor, John|
|Fox, Marcus||MacKay, John (Argyll)|
|Maclennan, Robert||Onslow, Cranley|
|Macmillan, RtHon M.||Oppenheim, RtHon Mrs S.|
|Major, John||Osborn, John|
|Marshall,Michael (Arundel)||Owen, RtHon Dr David|
|Mates,Michael||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Mather, Carol||Page, Richard (SW Herts)|
|Mawby, Ray||Parkinson, RtHon Cecil|
|Mawhinney, DrBrian||Patten, Christopher(Bath)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Pawsey, James|
|Mayhew, Patrick||Penhaligon, David|
|Meyer, SirAnthony||Pitt, WilliamHenry|
|Mills, lain(Meriden)||Porter, Barry|
|Mills, Peter (West Devon)||Pym, RtHon Francis|
|Mitchell, R.C (Soton Itchen)||Raison, Timothy|
|Monro, SirHector||Rathbone, Tim|
|Morris, M. (N'hamptonS)||Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Murphy, Christopher||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Myles, David||RhysWilliams, SirBrandon|
|Neale, Gerrard||Ridley, HonNicholas|
|Needham, Richard||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Nelson, Anthony||Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)|
|Neubert, Michael||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Newton, Tony||Roper, John|
|Nott, RtHon John||Rossi, Hugh|
|Question accordingly negatives.|
|Rost, Peter||Thomas, DrR.(Carmarthen)|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Shaw, Micheal(Scarborough)||Trippier, David|
|Shelton, William(Streatham)||Trotter, Neville|
|Shepherd, Colin(Hereford)||Vaughan, DrGerard|
|Sims, Roger||Viggers, Peter|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Waddington, David|
|Smith, Dudley||Wainwright, R.(ColneV)|
|Speller, Tony||Wall, SirPatrick|
|Spence, John||Waller, Gary|
|Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)||Ward, John|
|Spicer, Michael(S Worcs)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Stanbrook, lvor||Watson, John|
|Stanley, John||Wheeler, John|
|Steel, RtHon David||Whitelaw, RtHon William|
|Steen, Anthony||Whitney, Raymond|
|Stevens, Martin||Wilkinson, John|
|Stewart, A. (ERenfrewshire)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Stradling Thomas,J.||Tellers for the Noes|
|Tebbit, RtHon Norman||Mr. Robin Squire and|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Mr. Hugh Dykes.|