§ 2.54 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF DUNDEE) rose to move to resolve, That this House reaffirms its decision of August 3, 1961, in regard to the Common Market, and urges Her Majesty's Government to use every effort to bring the negotiations to a conclusion acceptable to Parliament. The noble Earl 392 said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. Since your Lordships last debated this subject on August 1 and 2 of this year there have been a number of further Ministerial meetings; there has been the publication of a White Paper and there has been the Commonwealth Conference in September. It is natural that your Lordships wish to discuss the matter again now, and I have no doubt that you may desire to do so on further occasions as the Session proceeds.
§ The great majority of those who speak on this subject are under an obvious disability, which I think is well understood. There are a few people who think that we ought to join the Common Market without conditions, or at least without pre-conditions, in the same way as Germany and France joined it at the beginning—leaving everything undecided, to be done after and not before they had joined it. Those who hold that view would naturally vote in favour of any Resolution however it was framed. There are, I think, a larger number in this country who believe that it would be a mistake for Britain to join the Common Market, and naturally they are in no difficulty about opposing the proposal that we should do so, on whatever terms and on whatever conditions there may be. I think the great majority of people in this country in all Parties hold the view that it would be a good thing that Britain should join the Community if satisfactory terms are obtained with regard to the Commonwealth, agriculture, E.F.T.A., and so on.
§ The obvious disability we are always under in debating this subject, because we are debating not a positive proposal but a number of contingent ideas which may develop out of what is now being discussed, is that if we concentrate, if we put all our emphasis, upon the desirability of joining and on what a wonderful thing the Common Market might be, we may give the impression that we do not care about the conditions. On the other hand, if we put the whole of our emphasis upon the conditions, we may give the impression that we do not really think it would be a good thing to join. Therefore, we have to be careful what we say, how we express ourselves.
§ As there are eighteen of your Lordships who wish to say something on this debate I shall try to be short. I shall 393 say a few words first about India, Pakistan and Ceylon; then about the rest of the Colonies and Dependencies and the African and Caribbean sovereign members of the Commonwealth; then a word or two on the white Commonwealth, the old Dominions; then on agriculture and E.F.T.A. In doing so, I shall try if possible to put emphasis not so much on what has already been achieved in the negotiations, what has already been agreed on, but rather on what has not yet been agreed on, what still remains to be worked out before we can come to Parliament with a definite proposal, so that we may have some idea of the nature of the task which still lies in front of us. It is a task which will need great patience and diligence.
§ When we debated this question in August several of your Lordships expressed the hope that we should not have to hurry the negotiations, because at that time there was a Ministerial meeting which some newspapers had mistakenly supposed to have fixed a deadline on which the thing had to be settled. Those who spoke for the Government, of whom I happened to be one, had to explain to your Lordships that while delay in itself was not a good thing, this was too important a subject to be unduly hurried. I am sure that, whatever view your Lordships take, you will all agree that there is no one who possesses the virtues of patience and perseverance in more eminent degree than my right honourable friend the Lord Privy Seal, who is in charge of these negotiations.
§ With regard to India and the other Asiatic parts of the Commonwealth, the shape of an eventual relationship between, not the present Community but an enlarged Community, and India, Pakistan and Ceylon can be, not completely but fairly well discerned now, because the Six had agreed before the August Recess that the enlarged Community should conclude comprehensive trade agreements with India and Pakistan by 1966 at the latest. This was the date which India had asked for. They had agreed that these agreements, which would be valid for a number of years, would then be renewable and that their aim would be to maintain and increase the foreign currency earnings of India and Pakistan. They would also be designed to facilitate the development 394 plans of these countries, and it was agreed that these objectives would be achieved by increasing mutual trade between the Community and these three Commonwealth countries.
§ We also said that we would make certain special transitional arrangements on behalf of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, whose main effect would be to retard the application as against those three countries of the common external tariff on goods entering Britain. Those transitional arrangements which we have envisaged would be of three varieties—into which I will not go in detail, because it was done by my right honourable friend in another place yesterday—covering cotton, textiles, jute and other manufactures.
§ Then the Prime Ministers of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, when they expressed concern during the Commonwealth Conference that their export earnings and investment in export industries might be adversely affected if there were a long gap between Britain's entry and the coming into force of the comprehensive trade agreements—a delay which might imperil their development plans—urged that the trade agreements should be concluded as soon as possible after Britain's entry and that, in the meantime, the common externals tariff should be suspended in trade. We have taken note of these points and we are now discussing them with the Community at Brussels.
§ As fox the African members of the Commonwealth, as your Lordships know the Community offered association, under Part Four of the Treaty of Rome, as an appropriate solution for most of the dependent territories of the Commonwealth, besides the independent African members. We have informed the Six that we think the dependent territories and the other Commonwealth countries, apart from the three independent African members, are likely to acccept this. The African countries of Tanganyika, Nigeria and Ghana stated at the Conference that they did not wish to accept it. We, of course, will respect that decision if they adhere to it. We do not want in any way to question their right to make this decision. We regret it because we feel that they are mistaken in supposing that associate membership would in any possible way affect their independence.395
§ Since all the farmer French territories in Africa which are now independent have accepted associate membership without any feeling that they are compromising their independence, we feel it is a pity that this opportunity for co-operartion of African countries with each other in developing their future trade should be missed. Nevertheless we shall consider, and are now considering, with the Six what alternative arrangements would be possible to secure the economic interests of those Commonwealth countries who wish to decline association.
§ My Lords, I think we have realised throughout the last two or three years we have been discussing this question, ever since we brought in the E.F.T.A. Bill three and a half years ago, that the problem which would need most work in our negotiations would be that of the white Commonwealth, particularly in regard to temperate foodstuffs. In respect of temperate foodstuffs we have reached provisional agreement that the enlarged Community (the enlarged Community, of course, means the Community after we and those of our E.F.T.A. partners Who have applied for membership have joined) would take an early initiative to secure world-wide agreements for the principal agricultural products, and that the agreements would deal with the price and production policy to be followed by both the exporting and importing countries—stockpiling policy, minimum and maximum quantities—to enter into national trade, and special aspects of trade with underdeveloped countries. These world-wide agreements, it has been agreed, would be subject to revision every three years, and if it should not prove practicable to reach a world-wide agreement it has been agreed that the Community would then be prepared to make individual arrangements with those countries who wished to do so, and in particular with Commonwealth countries—that means in this context, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It has also been decided that the enlarged Community should make an early declaration expressing its intention to define its price policy as soon as possible and to pursue a reasonable line in conformity with Articles 39 and 110 of the Treaty of Rome.396
§ My Lords, all this is of vital importance, in our view, because if prices within the Six—or within the enlarged Community after we have joined—were to be fixed at levels which led to the production of surpluses, then it is obvious that the Community would not be able to import the commodities in question from outside, particularly from the white Commonwealth. That would create an impossible situation for its relations with primary producing countries. In the transitional period before we can conclude either world-wide or limited agreements, a framework has been worked out for the treatment which could be used in dealing with all individual commodities for which there would be an intra-Community preference. For instance, in the case of cereals the Six have told us that they intend to ensure that the operation of intra-Community preference (which is a means of giving a competitive advantage to suppliers within the Community of such a kind that cannot be set off by price reduction by exporters outside it) would not lead to a sudden or considerable alteration in trade patterns. We have agreed that imports into the United Kingdom of cereals which enjoy a tariff preference in the United Kingdom should benefit from an agreed application of intra-Community preference. But the precise application of this, the amount of the preference and the periods, is one of the things—and it is a very important thing—about which we have still to reach agreement at Brussels.
§ Of course, we have always put special emphasis on New Zealand, and this has been recognised by the Six, because New Zealand depends to a much greater degree than the others on selling here not only mutton and lamb, but also butter and other dairy products. So that the special problems of New Zealand do require very detailed consideration, and this has not been disputed; in fact, it has been agreed to by the members of the Community. As your Lordships may have seen, at the last Ministerial session the French said that they could not commit themselves to the principle of special arrangements, which had been agreed on by the Ministerial Conference, until these were more clearly defined. Therefore, I hope that we shall soon be able to get this done. Meanwhile, we recognise that New Zealand is the most dependent of all upon our market, and we 397 cannot conclude the negotiations without having made suitable arrangements for her.
§ My Lords, one of the subjects which arouses most feeling, and often uncertainty, in connection with these negotiations is, of course, our own agriculture. We have told the Six that we are ready to accept the common agricultural policy by 1970, recognising that this means a change from our system of producer subsidies to their method of permitting the agricultural population to earn a fair standard of living by regulation of the market. They, in their turn, have accepted our suggestion for an annual review of agriculture, after the British pattern. This review, as I think I told your Lordships some months ago, would be carried out by the European Economic Commission, but it would be open to any individual country to conduct a purely national review if it so wished, as, of course, we always do. If the Community review disclosed, for example, that all or part of the farming population was not obtaining a fair standard of living, then the Commission, either on its own initiative or at the request of a member State, would examine the situation and propose to the Council of Ministers remedial measures under the Treaty as might be necessary. This procedure, backed by our constant attention in the Council of Ministers to the conduct of Community policy, would, in my right honourable friend's belief, provide a valuable degree of assurance to our farmers.
§ But we still have to agree what should be done in the transitional period before 1970, between our accession to the Treaty of Rome, if we join, and the full Common Market stage. At a recent meeting, which your Lordships have probably also read about, they asked us to stop our system of deficiency payments to farmers as soon as we join, and to move at once to a technique of consumer subsidies, which in turn would be phased out between the date of our entry and 1970. My Lords, this is a proposal which in our view gives rise to very serious objections of policy and administration, and therefore we have not accepted it. It would mean creating a very large new bureaucracy to administer this temporary system for a very short time, and it seems unreason- 398 able to make two changes, two completely radical changes, of agricultural policy, instead of one, within a period of seven or eight years. We have made it clear that we must have a gradual changeover to the Community's system, as the Treaty of Rome specially provides for.
§ My Lords, I should just like to say a word now about E.F.T.A. Your Lordships may remember that I had to introduce the E.F.T.A. Bill into your Lordships' House between two and three years ago. I think your Lordships will remember that it was agreed and recognised then that the formation of this European Free Trade Association was not intended to be a rival to the European Economic Community, not a rival to the Common Market, but a means of eventually bringing us all into it; although we did consider that, if that object should fail, E.F.T.A. would still be a viable concern in itself. Our E.F.T.A. partners are all now either conducting or expecting to conduct their own negotiations with the Community. The Danish negotiations are furthest advanced, but the Governments of Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria have made their opening presentation to the Community, and Portugal hopes to do so very soon. These negotiations will certainly throw up complex problems, but our view is that when our arrangements are made the main hurdle will probably be over, and the way should be comparatively clear for the completion of the remaining negotiations. We must, of course, see that their legitimate requirements are met before we join.
§ I repeat again that these things are too important to be unduly hurried, but it does remain of great importance to the future of Europe that the present uncertainty should come to an end as early as possible. Meanwhile we are, of course, keeping in close contact with our partners in E.F.T.A., and, at the same time, we are maintaining the agreed momentum of tariff reductions between us. In fact, the Association is in a flourishing condition, and the individual member States are in a position to play a full part in the closer economic integration within Europe to which we all look forward.399
§ My Lords, in every case, both our own and that of the E.F.T.A. countries, and in the case, perhaps, of every commodity and maybe of every Dominion, your Lordships will see that the type of solution may vary greatly from one case to another. But there are two features which are constant. We have always tried to work for arrangements which, in the long run, will enable Britain within the Community to work with the Commonwealth and with other countries, to build stable and mutually beneficial trading relationships within and outside Europe. We have also tried to ensure that, in moving towards long-term solutions, we provide adequate transitional safeguards against disruption resulting from the ending of current arrangements. We want to make sure that countries whose association with us has led to their present pattern of trade will not be damaged by our joining the Community.
§ We cannot resolve at one stroke every detail of all the problems of international trade and foodstuffs, world prices and trade between prosperous societies and poor ones: but what we can do is to establish certain principles and to confirm that, if we join the Community, we shall work together in a constructive spirit towards lasting solutions. And the further ahead we look the more necessary it is that our intentions should be expressed in general terms. You cannot realistically lay down precise tariff scales to come into operation in 1970, or anything of that kind.
§ My Lords, in the Amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is about to move, one of the conditions demanded is that Britain should have an independent foreign policy. I do not think it would be helpful to the debate if I tried to anticipate the noble Lord's Amendment before we hear what he has to say. The only general observation I should like to make, which the noble Lord may very likely have wished to develop himself, is this. Our foreign policy is already limited to a certain extent by our obligations towards NATO and towards the United Nations. Our obligations to both these bodies sometimes conflict rather sharply with what we might desire to do in some 400 respects; and I think perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, might agree with the view which is held by many of your Lordships: that in the long run it will not be possible to have a secure system of world peace and nuclear disarmament unless it is accompanied by some kind of world government. That would, of course, involve most severe limitations on foreign policy. Under those conditions one could hardly have what would in the past have been an independent foreign policy. But I will not pursue the point now: I will content myself with stating that I will wait and hear what the noble Lord has to say about it.
§ My Lords, I should like to conclude with a word about the nature of the Community. I myself think that the value of international Agreements of the kind we are trying to make now in Brussels must rest, in the last resort, not so much on the letter of the texts as upon the intention which is behind them, and that it is not only what you negotiate that matters. I think that is particularly true when you are negotiating arrangements which may have their main effect a great many years from now. The basic facts about the Community were apparent to all of us before our negotiations began in Brussels. With a population of 170 million and imports of about £7,000 million a year, the present Community is clearly going to play a major part in shaping the future course of world trade. If we join it, its influence will be even greater. We have always hoped, of course, that our joining it may influence it in what we believe to be the right direction.
§ I do not think the criticism sometimes made, particularly from interested quarters, such as those behind the Iron Curtain (where for political reasons they strongly desire to upset the Common Market project), that the Common Market is a rich man's club, can be really substantiated by the evidence. There is a great awareness in the present Community of the vital need to provide suitable and expanding markets for the primary products and industrial goods produced by the under-developed countries, and that is borne out by the Community's willingness, I think, in their negotiations with us, to conclude these comprehensive trade agreements which I have mentioned with India, Pakistan and 401 Ceylon, and to admit so many of our former dependencies as associates. The record of the Common Market countries where development trade is concerned has so far been a good one. They have a development fund which is growing steadily. Its figure has lately been raised from 580 million dollars to 708 million dollars for the next five years; and, of course, if Britain becomes a member, its joint capacity for helping the world in general will be increased. What is more, of course, as an importer we shall make a very great difference to its importance, because we are a much larger importer of goods than any other country now in the Common Market.
§ I think your Lordships will agree that one of the most unsatisfactory features of the under-developed countries and their economic position at the present time is that since 1954 there has been such a heavy decline in the price of primary products, on which they depend so much for their livelihood. It has fallen by an amount that is actually double all the aid which has been given to them by ourselves, the United States, Western Europe and everybody else. They have lost through the fall in commodity prices twice as much as they have received in aid from the richer countries. In addition to that, at the same time the price of manufactured products which we and others want to sell to them has been rising by almost as much as primary products have been falling. So it is no wonder that they have so much poverty and so many economic difficulties.
§ My Lords, the ultimate solution must lie not only in aid but, I would say, in world price agreements, which are very difficult things at which to arrive. It is difficult enough to arrive at price agreements when we are dealing with one industry in one country. I would ask your Lordships to agree that an enlarged E.E.C., as it would be if we and E.F.T.A. joined, would be in a far better position to promote such agreements than the EEC. in its present, more limited form. I think it can be said that, in pursuing the present negotiations, as he has done so assiduously for a year or more, the Lord Privy Seal is indirectly acting, not only for the Commonwealth but for the world as a whole. If the European Economic Community should become (which we do 402 not think it will) an organisation for establishing monopolies, keeping up high prices and keeping out foreign goods then it would not be of any help to the rest of the world. But if it can pursue, with our assistance, and that of others, a liberal trade policy based on fair world prices, then I think it may prove to be the strongest agency of our time in promoting the prosperity of the world and, what is even more important, the peace of the world. I beg to move.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, may I ask him whether he proposes to make any reference to the very critical and special position of Hong Kong, which is even more serious than that of New Zealand? When the matter was raised two days ago, the Lord Chancellor was kind enough to hold out hope that the Government would say something about it to-day. It is not a question of primary products: it is a question of markets for manufactured goods.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I do not think I had better say anything about that now, my Lords. I do not know whether my noble friend is speaking in the debate. If not, I am sure my noble friend the Leader of the House will take note of what the noble Viscount has said.
§ Moved to resolve, That this House reaffirms its decision of 3rd August, 1961, in regard to the Common Market, and urges Her Majesty's Government to use every effort to bring the negotiations to a conclusion acceptable to Parliament.—(The Earl of Dundee.)
§ 3.30 p.m.
LORD SILKIN rose to move, as an Amendment to the Resolution, to leave out all the words after "House" and to insert instead:
would support the entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community provided that guarantees safeguarding British agriculture, the vital interests of the Commonwealth and the European Free Trade Area countries are obtained and that Great Britain retains her present freedom to conduct her own foreign policy and to use public ownership and economic planning to ensure social progress within the United Kingdom: it regrets however that the terms so far provisionally negotiated do not satisfy either these conditions or the binding pledges given by Her Majesty's Government; and therefore calls upon Her Majesty's Government to negotiate terms which secure these essential conditions and fulfil the Government's own pledges.
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper. I should like to begin by expressing apologies on behalf of my noble friend, Lord Alexander of HILLS-BOROUGH, for not being able to be present at this stage of the proceedings, though he hopes to be present to wind up the debate from this side of the House.
§ This is the third time we have debated this vital question and, as the noble Earl has said, no doubt we shall be debating it from time to time possibly for some year or more ahead. In the course of these debates we have heard a considerable variety of opinions as to the desirability or otherwise of our entering the Common Market. As the noble Earl said, there have been some who would enter it unconditionally. On the other extreme there are some who would not enter it at any price. But I think most of us, and certainly I in particular, have been prepared to join the Common Market if the conditions were satisfactory, and I have myself said so in two debates in which I wound up on behalf of my noble friends on this side of the House. But to-day, as I understand it, there is no difference of opinion as to the desirability of joining the Common Market. Both the Motion on the Government side and the Amendment from this side of the House express the desirability of joining the Common Market. It is no longer an issue, certainly not as between Parties—indeed, the differences were not strictly Party differences at any time. There have been differences on the other side of the House and differences on my side Of the House, and I imagine that to some extent these differences still remain. But from the point of view of the Amendment which we are moving this afternoon, we are assuming that if conditions can be satisfied then we shall be prepared to join.
The noble Earl remarked that there was a very big difference between putting the whole of the emphasis on conditions (and thereby, I take it, implying that those who want to put the emphasis on the conditions were not keen on joining and were rather against it) and on not emphasising conditions. I would remind the House of what it is exactly that we are being asked to do this afternoon by the Government. The noble Earl did
not read out the terms of the Resolution of August 3, 1961, which we are being asked to reaffirm and perhaps he will allow me to remedy that omission. It is important, when we are being asked to reaffirm decisions, to be very clear in our minds what the Resolution was. This was the Resolution:
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 if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom—
and I take that to mean, among other things, agriculture—
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 after full consultation with other Commonwealth countries, by whatever procedure they may generally agree.
§ My Lords, if that is not an approval to enter the Common Market or to negotiate subject to conditions very firmly laid down, I do not know what is. I suggest therefore that it does not lie in the mouth of the noble Earl to criticise the Amendment on the grounds that we are putting down conditions which—with two exceptions, which I will face up to frankly—are exactly the same in tone and in strength as in the Resolution passed by this House in August, 1961.
§ Now one question which occurs to me is: Why are we being asked to reaffirm this decision? This is a decision authorising the Government to negotiate. Why do they come to this House to-day and ask us to reaffirm? Have they any doubts about it?
§ LORD SILKIN
Is it only to have a debate? We have had other debates without asking for affirmations. We had one last August. The noble Earl, Lord Home, opened that debate. He did not ask us to reaffirm the decision then. I wonder why this House is being asked to do it to-day. It may be the Government have fallen into certain difficulties. They have since had the Commonwealth Conference of Prime Ministers. There has been the White Paper. We have had further information—although it must be apparent 405 to every noble Lord here that this information is rather sketchy and very difficult to analyse and grasp—which tends to indicate that, up to this moment, things are not going too well with the negotiations. This, I say, justifies part of the Amendment we are putting forward. Be that as it may, I personally do not seriously complain that the Government should be given a fresh shot in the arm in order to strengthen themselves in the very difficult negotiations they have to come through.
Now I want to say further, in case it is suggested that the Amendment which I am moving is a destructive one, that that is not in the spirit in which it is moved. May I quote the first sentence of the statement on the Common Market made by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party at its Conference last month? This is what they said:The Labour Party regards the European Community as a great and imaginative conception. It believes the coming together of the Six nations, which have in the past so often been torn by war and economic rivalry, is, in the context of Western Europe, a step of great significance. It is aware that the influence of this new community on the world will grow and that it will be able to play, for good or ill, a far larger part in the shape of events in the 1960's and 1970's than its individual member States could hope to play alone.These are not the words of a body which is antagonistic to the idea of the Common Market. Of course, if one wants to make play with what follows, there are conditions laid down and certain reservations made—and that is very natural—and these conditions and reservations are, by and large, in the Amendment which is on the Paper. I have said that the noble Earl had his marching orders last August and clearly there was not much need for him to come to the House except with a peg on which to hang a debate. Only yesterday we approved the gracious Speech, and the gracious Speech referred to the discussions on the Common Market. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships of what the gracious Speech says:My Ministers recognise the great political and economic importance of the development of the European Communities and the opportunities which British accession to these Communities would bring. In close consultation with the other members of the Commonwealth and of the European Free Trade Association, and having full regard for those interests in the United Kingdom which are particularly 406 concerned, they will use every effort to bring the current negotiations to a conclusion acceptable to Parliament.Here again, even in the gracious Speech, we have a clear recognition that three of the terms incorporated in our Amendment have to be approved before we can enter the Common Market.
I should like to say a word about the conditions contained in my Amendment. First of all, I would ask: Do the Government still stand by these conditions which they themselves have laid down? I am referring to these three conditions and not to the other two with which I will deal in a moment. Do the Government still stand by these conditions?—because the impression has been created abroad that the Government are determined to enter the Common Market whatever the conditions may be, whether they can get satisfaction on agriculture, the Commonwealth and E.F.T.A. or not. In statements made by Her Majesty's Government and in speeches made by Ministers the conditions seem to be whittled down. They have become less important Chan they were at the time when we passed this Resolution in August, 1961. I should like to have an assurance that the Government still stand by this policy, and that if they cannot get satisfactory conditions on the points which they themselves have laid down they will not enter the Common Market. I hope that we may have a clear answer to that without any equivocation at all.
The first condition is the guarantees safeguarding British agriculture. I do not need to say a great deal about this. The noble Earl dealt with this, but I do not think that anyone who followed him, however optimistic he might be, could get the feeling that British agriculture is really being safeguarded under the terms so far negotiated. I have said before and say again that I am certainly not wedded to the present method of assisting British agriculture. I think that it is the best way, but I should be prepared, as I am sure would my friends, to consider any alternative which would safeguard agriculture. There is no doubt at all that there is a conflict about the availability of agriculture from France and other countries in the Six and our agricultural products, and that one of the battles which is going on is due to the desire on the part of France to restrict 407 the sale of British agricultural products inside the Common Market. The effect of this must be that there will be a reduction in the output of agriculture in this country. That has to be recognised and reconciled before we can pretend that the interests of British agriculture have been safeguarded.
I have heard what the noble Earl said. I gather that we are being asked to break off subsidies immediately we sign the agreement to enter the Community and we have to do the best we can somehow for British agriculture. That is not good enough. I would say that up to the present no one could pretend that British agriculture is being safeguarded.
There has been a good deal of controversy about whether entry into the European Community is compatible at all with the continuation of the Commonwealth, certainly in its present form. When we consider this, I think that we have to take into account the fact that entry into the Common Market is not merely for the purpose of the economic advantages that we are going to get, but that, as everybody recognises, certain political consequences must flow. The effect on the Commonwealth depends very much upon what are these political consequences, and we have to be extremely careful that nothing that is done as a result of our entering the Community affects our relations with the Commonwealth.
We have heard what has been proposed so far. I quite agree that we are not in a position to put great pressure on the African countries who are not prepared to be associated with the Community, but the fact remains that, following the Prime Ministers' Conference, no member of the Commonwealth is satisfied with what we are doing. They may all be unreasonable and, if that is so, it may well be that at the end of the day we shall have to make up our own minds in our own interests about what we are going to do. But, make no mistake about it, if we are entering into the Community against the wishes of the whole of the Commonwealth, it is virtually the end of the Commonwealth. It is only a matter of time. And if, as it may well turn out to be under the present position, 408 the interests of the Commonwealth are going to be seriously jeopardised, that will only accelerate the rate at which the Commonwealth may disintegrate. So no one can pretend at the present moment that the negotiations are satisfactory from this point of view, and we are perfectly right in insisting that the interests of the Commonwealth should be secured.
The third condition is in regard to E.F.T.A. Here we entered into a solemn contract. The noble Earl says that we did net go into it in competition with the European Community. I do not want to chop words with him. I rather thought that, on the whole, that was the idea. We were establishing the Seven as against the Six and, if it was not possible for us to go into the Community for one reason or another, here was the Seven, who would operate in competition with the Six. But I do not want to press that too hard. What I would say is that there was a bargain, a clear understanding, that we should not go in unless the E.F.T.A. countries were allowed to come in as well. The noble Earl has suggested that we should go in first and then, to use his own words——
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I did not say that we should go in first. I said that when we had completed our negotiations, it would then be easier for them to negotiate. But that does not mean that we should go in without them.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, does that mean that we should complete our negotiations but not go in until the other E.F.T.A. countries have been accepted? If it means that, we may have to wait a very long time until the negotiations with the other E.F.T.A. countries have been completed. If the noble Earl means that—and no doubt the noble Viscount who is going to reply can tell us whether that is the idea—I should have thought that that was a very unsatisfactory arrangement. It means holding the whole thing in suspense. If we come to an understanding, then we sit back and wait, saying that this comes into operation only when the other E.F.T.A. countries have been admitted. I shall be happy to hear what the noble and learned Viscount has to say on it.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
If the noble Lord would look at the speech of the Lord Privy Seal in another place yesterday, he will find it precisely stated.
§ LORD SILKIN
I am afraid that I have had to read some very long speeches since this morning, and I have not been able to get round to that. But if that point is clarified, all I can say is that this is one of the conditions that has been laid down for our joining; and if it is accepted, well and good: I need not dwell further on it. Obviously there is a need for some such condition, because, as I understand it, considerable difficulties are being raised by the existing Community about the admission of at least three of the seven—namely, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria, they being neutral countries. The point made is that these are neutral countries, and that if, as is the intention, some political association is contemplated, they will not be able to join in.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Would the noble Lord like me to quote what the Lord Privy Seal said in another place yesterday?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
It is a ministerial statement, and I think I am in order in quoting it. Mr. Heath said, in dealing with an interruption [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 666, (No. 7) col. 996.]That was what I thought I had very clearly described. If the right honourable gentleman wishes, I will read the actual undertaking:'The members of E.F.T.A. should coordinate their actions and remain united throughout the negotiations.'That is the first obligation. It means full consultation. The second obligation is that,'E.F.T.A. would be maintained at least until satisfactory arrangements have been worked out in negotiations to meet the various legitimate interests of all the members of E.F.T.A.'The third part of the obligation is:'and thus enable them all to participate from the same date in an integrated European market'I said firmly that the Government adhere to these. I do not quite see what purpose the right honourable gentleman seeks to achieve by constantly in public casting doubts on the obligations which we have accepted.
§ LORD SILKIN
On the face of it, that sounds very satisfactory, and that 410 part of my Amendment should be accepted.
I want now to come to the specific question which the noble Earl put to me about retaining our present freedom to conduct our own foreign policy. I think that, to a certain extent, the noble Earl himself gave the reply. Under the Treaty of Rome, of course, there is no question that we do retain such freedom as we have. I agree with the noble Earl that we have sacrificed a certain amount of our sovereignty on foreign affairs—NATO, our membership of the United Nations and so on—and we do so every time we enter into an international agreement. But there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome which requires us to make any sacrifice of sovereignty in relation to our foreign policy. But all the time it is implicit in our entering the Community that there will be discussions of some form on political unity: indeed, I believe that discussions have already taken place, and there has been some argument as to whether we ought to join in even before we actually join the Community, or at least go in as observers. So that this is a reality; it is not something that may come about in the end.
What we seek to do in this Amendment is to safeguard the position that by joining the Community we are not ipso facto making any sacrifice in our freedom to maintain our own foreign policy. The noble Earl referred to a subject which is dear to the heart of myself and my noble friends Lord Attlee and Lord Longford—namely, the setting up of a World Authority. I should not have thought that the most direct way of setting up a Would Authority was through entry into the European community; nor should I think, at this moment of time, that those who are mainly responsible for decisions as to foreign policy in the European Community are exactly the kind of people Who would be most likely to further the interests of world government. Be that as it may, I think it is a perfectly legitimate safeguard to put in that by going into the Community we are not thereby as a matter of course, sacrificing our freedom to conduct our own foreign policy.
The fifth condition is that we retain freedom to use public ownership and 411 our own economic methods. There, again, obviously there will be some interference with our economic position, and the Treaty of Rome actually puts forward certain respects in which we have to comply and which will involve even some effect on British commercial law. All that we understand, and if we go in we have to accept it. But what we desire to safeguard is that if we go in under the Treaty of Rome it will be possible for the Commission to give way to us as to the extent to which we shall nationalise, for instance, water or steel or any other undertaking. That we must reserve the freedom to do, as we think right. We have our own obligations to our own people. We have to deal with unemployment, and we have to deal with many other problems which may involve some kind of action. I do not want to be unduly controversial in this speech, or to be advocating nationalisation or control, but we must have the freedom to do these things, whichever Government are in office, if it is thought that it is in the public interest. I take the view that the Treaty of Rome does not of itself prevent us from doing this; but it seems to me a very proper condition to bring in to ensure that it cannot possibly happen.
These are the reasons for the Amendment. I should have thought that it could quite well be accepted by the Government, if they genuinely intend to comply with the conditions which they themselves laid down. The other two conditions that have been inserted are, as I have said, not such as to stand in the way of acceptance of the Amendment. I believe that if the Government did accept the Amendment they would be giving a lead to the world. We could go forward, at any rate, as a united Parliament, and indicate to the Six that we are determined that, while we want to go in, we will not do so just under any conditions; that we certainly will not go in as humble petitioners, or go on our hands and knees to certain gentlemen in Europe and hope that they may take a lenient view of us and allow us to join.
I have attached perhaps the greatest importance to E.F.T.A. I am glad that the noble Earl appears to have given satisfactory assurances on this point. We have given our word, and our word must 412 be our bond. We once went to war for a scrap of paper, and I imagine that if the need should arise we might be prepared to do so again. We have given certain assurances to the Commonwealth and to agriculture, and they must be satisfied. I therefore submit to the House that if these conditions cannot be satisfied, if we are being compelled to go on our hands and knees and beg for entry into the Common Market, we must be prepared regretfully to withdraw and postpone our application to a more favourable condition. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
Leave out all the words after ("House") and insert ("would support the entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community provided that guarantees safeguarding British agriculture, the vital interests of the Commonwealth and the European Free Trade Area countries are obtained and that Great Britain retains her present freedom to conduct her own foreign policy and to use public ownership and economic planning to ensure social progress within the United Kingdom: it regrets however that the terms so far provisionally negotiated do not satisfy either these conditions or the binding pledges given by Her Majesty's Government; and therefore calls upon Her Majesty's Government to negotiate terms which secure these essential conditions and fulfil the Government's own pledges.")—(Lord Silkin.)
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF AVON
My Lords, we are all grateful to my noble friend the Minister of State at the Foreign Office for his opening account of the recent stages of this inevitably very tangled negotiation. I think he threw some valuable light on some dark places. Whatever other considerations are in the minds of the House this afternoon, we shall all, I think, be agreed that certainly not in our lifetimes has this House, and this Parliament as a whole, ever debated a subject of more significance to our country. Purely in the economic sphere, what we may shortly have to decide is more important than any decision since the repeal of the Corn Laws. On the political side, it can be more important than any decision we have taken in our history.
I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, tell us that he did not think Party politics had anything to do with this discussion. I am very glad to hear that. I had a little suspicion that it was 413 not perhaps exactly so, but I happily take his assurance that henceforth it will be so, because I think we are all agreed that, though Party politics have their advantages—and many of your Lordships, like myself, have spent a great deal of their life immersed in them, not, we think, to our particular disadvantage—there are occasions, and this is one of them, when issues far transcend the importance of Party politics; and, therefore, if we can all agree that they do not any more play a part in these grave decisions, so much the more likely is a wise decision by Parliament when the time comes.
When the Government decided last year to open negotiations with the Common Market they laid down, I think rightly, three conditions which had to be fulfilled in the economic sphere if we were to accept membership. They were to safeguard the interests of Commonwealth, of our own agriculture and of E.F.T.A. For my part, I agreed with those conditions a year ago and I agree with them now. Our negotiators have laboured manfully to secure the interpretation acceptable to us of the necessary terms. Whatever the final outcome of these negotiations with the Six, no reproach can possibly lie with Mr. Heath or Sir Pierson Dixon, or with any of their team of most able and efficient negotiators.
But I do not think it will handicap them and it should, on the contrary, assist them, if some of us explain why we think that the conditions which the Government laid down a year ago must be fulfilled if agreement is to be reached. The nation, I should judge, is on this topic divided, like Gaul, into three parts: those who would go into the Common Market whatever the terms, those who would not go into the Common Market whatever the terms, and those who want to see the terms before they decide whether to go into the Common Market or not. The last category I suspect to be the majority of the people of this country.
I must confess that, in balancing the pros and cons in the economic sphere, I regret the possibility, indeed the virtual certainty, of the end of the period of free entry for Commonwealth foodstuffs into this country, especially at the present time. I regret it not only for the Commonwealth countries, but also for 414 ourselves, because without question the people of this country have benefited—they sometimes forget how much—from this free entry of foodstuffs into this country. Since the war—and it is to the credit of the Labour Government—this free entry has been accompanied, or coupled, if you wish, with a system of support costs for our own agriculture which has indisputedly had one result: Cheaper food for our own people than for, I think, any other Western European nation.
There are two things to be said about these support costs, because I think there is some public misunderstanding about them. First, the system was not the result of clamour in the agricultural industry; it was a political decision taken by the Government of the day with the purpose of giving agriculture a fair return while also benefiting the nation through the modest prices of foodstuffs. It is quite true that that system has become expensive, particularly in recent years, and particularly for some items, and the consequent burden has fallen on the taxpayer. But if our nation's taxation is graded according to ability to pay, it is probably fairer and more satisfactory than a rise in the price of food which must be most hardly felt by the poorest in the community. In other words, if somebody has to pay more, better the tax-payer than the consumer of foodstuffs.
However, it is also fair to add that this rising cost of our existing system is in part due to causes which have nothing to do with the British farmer at all. They are due to the dumping habits of some countries who find it convenient for the moment to place in this country foodstuffs which they want to get rid of at what are uneconomic and uncompetitive prices. Sometimes, for what may be very good reasons, we do not react very promptly to this dumping process, which puts a higher charge on the Treasury in consequence. There are, I suggest, certain national as well as economic questions at stake when we consider our agricultural position in this country, which ought not to be overlooked.
Twice in our lifetime many of us have seen the production of our farms, together with the gallantry of our merchant seamen, standing between the people of this country and starvation. I 415 think it would be very rash indeed to found any policy on the assumption that such conditions could never come again, even in this nuclear age. Agricultural production cannot be improvised; it is still an essential line of our defence. With that in mind I say to the Government—and I think they will agree—that if we are to enter the Common Market then the transition from our system of support costs to one of protection against the outside world, including our own Commonwealth, and free imports from the Seven or the Nine, will at best result in a major upheaval, accompanied by rising prices. How much those prices will rise is debatable, but I should not myself be surprised if the increase were of the order of 10 to 12 per cent. In any event—and here is the point—sufficient time must be granted for the adjustment of this transformation, because it affects not only our own national life but also our present suppliers of foodstuffs in the Commonwealth and elsewhere.
I was glad therefore to read that the Lord Privy Seal has made a firm statement that we cannot agree to abandon our price support system of deficiency payments immediately upon entry into the Common Market. The idea that we should introduce a system of consumer subsidies to cushion this transition will appeal to no one in this country who has any memory at all. To do this we should have to re-create elaborate machinery, at a heavy cost, and revive, I suppose, the Ministry of Food and all the paraphernalia of paper that went with it, while our citizens would have to foot the bill both as consumers and as taxpayers. I agree with the Government's view that that is not good enough, and I am glad they regard it as unacceptable.
But, my Lords, while I support the attitude of the Government in rejecting this suggestion, I confess to being seriously troubled that it should have been put forward at all at this stage after a Whole year of negotiations. This experience strengthens my conviction—and not having responsibility to the Government I think I can state it—that some of the Six, notably our French neighbours, see in this plan a means to dispose of the food surpluses with which their rising agricultural production now 416 embarrasses them, and will embarrass them a great deal more in the future Of course, they are entitled to cherish this hope—there can be no complaint about that; but Britain has to look at the consequences.
According to the proposal of the Six as now stated, the levy on foodstuffs entering this country (this is what they wish) is to come into force on the very day of our entering the Common Market. The proceeds of this levy, as I understand it—and my noble friend will correct me when he winds up if I am wrong; but I think I am not—will belong to the Common Market and will be used to an increasing extent to promote Continental agriculture and agricultural exports. This would mean that we Should subsidise Continental exports not only to the British market but even to markets outside Europe, in direct competition with our Commonwealth partners. I cannot think of a more extravagant proposal than that we should have to pay over to others the proceeds of a levy on our food imports and, at the same time, pay large sums to make our prices acceptable to our own people. I am glad indeed that the Government are not prepared to accept this.
There may be, and probably there is, a case for revision of support costs. There may be, as the noble Lord said just now, a better system that can be devised: and if so, we should all welcome it. But many of us would be reluctant to see this system go unless the corresponding advantages are greater than they seem at present, and unless the safeguards for which the Government rightly asked a year ago are fully met.
My Lords, I think something must now be said about the consequences for the Commonwealth of our entry into the Common Market. They are varied and they are of much greater significance for some parts of the Commonwealth than for others. I was glad to hear what my noble friend said about New Zealand. There is no dispute that the hardest case of all is New Zealand, which has built up a prosperous and, as those of us who have seen it know, a highly intelligently directed and managed agricultural industry on the basis of free entry into this country. It would not be possible, I am sure, for a British Government to 417 accept terms, however attractive they might be for us in other respects, which would strike a death blow at the economy of this most brave and loyal community. We are all agreed about that. I am fully satisfied with what the Government said about it, but that leads me to mention one other matter, because I have seen it referred to and it would be good, I think, to get it out of the way, if possible in this connection. It must be remembered that New Zealand cannot, with the best will in the world, replace her market here in a short time anywhere else in the world. That is not because there is no shortage of foodstuffs—of course there is—but because of inability to pay or for reasons of taste—for many of these lands do not happen to want to take New Zealand lamb or enjoy it as much as we do.
I have been a little concerned to see some Press reports—I think inaccurate, but I had better mention them—that the French Government have recently—in fact, last week—made certain reservations since their earlier acquiescence in a general statement of a desire to meet the New Zealand position. My noble friend said something about that at the opening of his speech. I hope that it will be possible to make it plain that, despite this apparently new French reservation, the Government do not anticipate that it will delay or prevent negotiation of the New Zealand position as a special case. If we could be assured of that, I think we should all be gratified.
It would be invidious and take too long—many other noble Lords want to speak—to deal with other Commonwealth positions in detail, but the problem of India is one which I think deserves special thought and care. That country is under the menace of foreign aggression, and I fear that it is likely to continue to be so. I do not myself believe that the Communist Government of China occupied Tibet for the sake of the scenery, any more than Mussolini went into Albania in order to have a pleasant view. They were more concerned with the neighbours lying to the south of the countries they occupied, and Mao is likely to be a great deal more formidable than Mussolini. In those conditions India will have to meet the additional strain of more armaments now, and perhaps for some years to 418 come, and we therefore have to help her general economy as much as we can.
In this world, where Parliamentary democracies are becoming rarer almost every year, the Indian experiment is a courageous and remarkable one and we must be careful—and no doubt the Government will agree—that in our arrangements with the Six we do not take action which makes its survival economically more difficult. In that connection I was rather sorry to read last week what appeared to be the reply of the Six to a limited request put forward by Her Majesty's Government on behalf of India and Pakistan after the Commonwealth Conference. It appeared to be in its essentials rejected. What was asked for was that the tariff on manufactured goods and textiles should be suspended so far as it concerned India and Pakistan, pending a comprehensive agreement. I think the answer was "No" to that, but "Yes" to an early negotiation, and some concessions, too, about carpets and castor oil—useful, no doubt, but not enough, if I understood it aright, to meet the full requirements of the Indian trade. I hope we can still expect from the Six rather more help towards those countries now.
In these debates one is always adjured not to be carried away by sentiment. I am not sure that it is a good rebuke, because, after all, what is loyalty except sentiment? I confess to feeling unhappy at the reflection of what is going to happen—and even though we decide that the terms are satisfactory I think we ought to have these things in our minds—to some communities. I have in mind one in Australia, which I saw forty years ago, up the Murray River, where they were beginning to make settlements for ex-Servicemen to grow fruit. That has since developed into a very large industry, and 80 per cent. of their production comes here. What precisely will happen if that industry has to meet a tariff here and has also to meet Greek competition, Greece then being an associate of the Common Market and therefore getting in free of duty, as against the fact that Australia will have to pay duty? I know one will be told that one must not lay too much emphasis on these comparatively small individual cases when deciding great issues of this kind. Certainly that is true. But it is also true that one cannot entirely overlook these human considerations which affect our own people in another 419 part of the world. I am sure the Government will understand my saying that, and that they share very largely the sentiments I have been expressing.
There is one other consideration on the Commonwealth side. It was referred to by my noble friend in general terms. The last few years has seen a steady decline in the prices which the primary producers are getting for their products. On the short term, that is quite agreeable to the Treasury, but in the long term it is very bad business indeed, for it increases the imbalance between the richer countries and the poorer—because in the main the primary producers are also the poorer countries—and the last thing in the world we want to do is bring that about I confess that why I am troubled about the food production aspect of this Common Market business is because I do not think it will be an advantage to the world if, at the end of our negotiations, we find ourselves here taking food produced in the Six—for instance, accepting their surpluses—and having to ignore in consequence the exports of the primary producing countries; because we are now the only open market left to them in the world. These are very important considerations and in relation to these negotiations they sway me very much more than anything else. We must get a position in which the primary producers, Commonwealth and otherwise, have some opportunity of sending their production here, and not accept what amounts to an inward-looking arrangement where we all take in the foodstuffs of our own countries, which very soon could well be enough for the needs of the Six, the Seven or the Ten.
There is one other subject to which I want to refer before I close, and that is the question of federation in relation to the negotiations which are now taking place. As I understand it, there are two sets of negotiations about closer unity, if that is the right term, now in progress. One is the negotiations which deal with the Common Market; another is a separate set of negotiations into which we have undertaken to enter. Personally, I have always been in favour of the closest possible political collaboration between ourselves and the countries of Europe. Indeed, I bore some responsibility for the negotiations of 1954 which resulted in Germany coming into NATO, and extending the Brussels 420 Treaty, which the late Mr. Bevin had made, so that it covered Germany and Italy as well as the Allies. As a consequence, we now have a mutual assistance pact between the five Western European nations, and a threat to any of them affects each one of us equally. In the same negotiations we brought Western European Union into being, which has perhaps not had the results we hoped for at the time. Whose fault that is I do not know; the French blame us, but there may be quite different reasons.
In addition to the arrangements I have mentioned, the negotiations of 1954 resulted in the stationing of considerable forces of our troops in Europe. I mention all these things, not to recapitulate past history but to show that it is not true that those who may have doubts about present negotiations for closer political unity are now contemplating or in any way desire to turn their backs on Europe. The truth is we are already in Europe and we have special responsibilities for helping to promote friendly relations between the European Powers. There is no dispute about that. I know and accept that the Rome Treaty as it now stands does not entail any new political obligation; but at the same time I am equally aware that in the view of the promoters of the Treaty that document is only a step on the road to further integration. What some of us find it difficult to visualise is the form which this closer political unity can now be expected to take. How much closer can we get to each other, and what will the process entail for the authority of Parliament in this country?
It is neither a secret nor an exaggeration to say that most of those on the Continent of Europe who have been eager enthusiasts for the Common Market are also convinced believers in European federation. Only this Monday a meeting was held, I think in Brussels or perhaps in Paris, of the Socialist Parties of the Six to discuss methods to promote federation between their countries. Of course, they have every right to do this, but it does not seem to me that we can pretend it does not matter or that it would not be quite important to us if we joined the Common Market. Last week the Common Market Commission published a memorandum, which I have seen, which forecast the development of the E.E.C. during the next four 421 years. It is a very far-reaching document. They argue that it is contrary to reality to negotiate for economic union leaving political union to be discussed later. They say that progress towards economic union is progress towards political union. In other words, the E.E.C. is not, in their opinion, just an economic venture but a means of bringing about political integration through economic policy. I am not for the moment arguing whether this opinion is right or wrong. On that there can be any number of opinions. But what I am saying is that it is a confession of intent which we should be ostriches to ignore.
It was this same conception, ultimate federation, many of your Lordships will remember, that lay behind the proposals of 1950 for the creation of E.D.C. That was essentially a federal scheme that postulated a European Minister of Defence responsible to a European Parliament. There were other difficulties about that particular proposal; it had its critics on technical grounds. I remember a well instructed one referring to it as a "sludgy amalgam". But I think it is fair to say that the Government of which I was a member, Sir Winston Churchill's Government, did what it could to help this scheme forward by various forms of association with it. But even the many concessions we could make were not enough to mollify French opinion at that time about the scheme. How much difference our full membership would have made I do not know—that is arguable. What is certainly true—and this is what I want to leave in your Lordships' minds—is that one of the influences, probably the chief influence, which made it impossible for the Government of this country, whether Labour or Conservative, to join the E.D.C. was its federal implication.
I cannot accept that this country at any time betrays Europe if it declines to enter a European Federation. In considering this matter, I think we should be completely candid about the motives which cause us to have these reservations. What is it, above all else, that Britain has made her legacy to succeeding generations? Not, I think, her Armies, her Navies or her Air Force; not her victories on land or sea or in the air; not her commercial competence; not her industrial skill; but the art of self-government by a free people. That 422 has been our donation to what we may like to call Western civilisation so long as it survives. If that be so, that conception is mirrored in our Parliamentary life, where to-day any minority, even the smallest—even a minority of one—is entitled to, and indeed is certain to receive, the benign but most effective protection of the Chair. It is quite true that the method of Parliamentary government is not to-day, unfortunately, on an increase in the world. We may regret the fact; we cannot do much to alter it. But the existence of this trend should make us especially careful that the very essence of our national faith and conduct should be protected in any arrangements we come to.
It is not, I would say to my noble friends on the Government Benches, so far as I am concerned at any rate, to the conception of federation as such that I myself have such strong reservations—I have not. In certain circumstances, I can understand our welcoming it if geography made it possible. But we in this country have this faith and long attachment to Parliamentary institutions, as some of the Six have always had and all of them now practise. But we are bound to take account of the reality that the history of the three great Powers in the Six has, in this connection, been a varied one. Each of these countries has made brilliant contributions to the ideals of liberty and to their expression; but they have not all found it possible to practise the same continuing loyalty to Parliamentary institutions as we have in this country.
In these circumstances, it does not seem to me unreasonable or offensive to any country to ask that Her Majesty's Government should make their position clear before they embark upon negotiations which may lead to the acceptance of conditions intended by others to promote federation. This seems to me indispensable, if we have no intention of travelling the full way ourselves. If we do not make our position clear at the outset, the danger, as I see it, is that to which I referred in a speech in Yorkshire eighteen months ago. I was then speaking only of the Treaty of Rome. There are now two sets of negotiations. I said then that what we must not do is to join any organisation without a full understanding of its implications and then find 423 ourselves being swept further than we intended. To try to back out at a later stage would be to multiply the difficulties and dangers and result, not unjustifiably, in loud cries of Perfide Albion.
There is, therefore, in my judgment nothing to lose and much to be gained by a statement from the Government of where they stand in respect of federation with the Six, or the Nine, either as a development of the Treaty of Rome or as a result of the separate negotiations now contemplated. Better clarity now than recrimination a few years hence. In this connection I must add—I am sorry to see that the Lord Chancellor is not here—that I did not take any comfort at all from the Lord Chancellor's assurance, if I understood it aright, in his Bristol speech, that we are not finally committed by what one Parliament does, because another Parliament can undo it. That may be legally correct—I am sure it is, otherwise the Lord Chancellor would not have said it—but politically, it is a most unsound doctrine. At a time when much of the mischief in the world is being done by dictator Powers, large and small, because they go back at their own convenience on the engagements that they have earlier signed, this country's whole weight and effort—I am sure the Lord President when he winds up will agree—must be laid in favour of the observance of engagements and a refusal to accept that they can be revised except by the consent of the parties who sign them.
THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND MINISTER FOR SCIENCE (LORD HAILSHAM)
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt my noble friend, but I think I should say now that I accept it.
§ THE EARL OF AVON
I am much obliged to my noble friend. I am sorry that I have detained your Lordships so long, but if I have done nothing else by this speech I think that assurance is worth while, if I may say so. Now I should like to wind up what I have to say. Usually, in a negotiation that has lasted so long one can observe towards the end of the proceeding some yielding in the positions of both sides working towards an agreement. In this instance, what disturbs me a little is that, on the contrary, it would seem that 424 the Six have stiffened, rather than shown more accommodation in their position, especially in the last few weeks.
In the important matter of the date when the duty on the import of foodstuffs into this country should be imposed and our system of support costs transformed, Her Majesty's Government had asked, I think, fox a period of twelve to fifteen years for the transition. I thought that reasonable. They later agreed that the date should be put forward to 1970. I thought that a major concession by them, considering the importance of it to our agricultural industry and to the price of food in this country. Now we are being asked to agree that the duty should come into force on the date when the agreement becomes operative. That is clearly unacceptable, and I hope it will be noted as such outside this country, because it would not be possible for a Government of this country to sign on those terms, or to sign on terms which did not take account of the position of our E.F.T.A. partners, in respect of which I thought the undertaking given just now by my noble friend the Minister of State was fully satisfactory.
It is to be remembered that these conditions that the Government mentioned were all known to our fellow negotiators when the discussions were embarked upon. It is not so unreasonable that they should ask that they should be met, if they cannot be accepted despite all the efforts that have been made by the negotiators, the Government cannot, in my judgment, be blamed. They could be blamed only if, in an effort to secure agreement at almost any price, they allowed themselves to sacrifice the conditions that they themselves had announced as essential when the conversations began. If agreement is not reached, then many will regret the fact. But that does not, of course, mean that no other arrangements are at any time possible, or that this country's future, either economically or politically, would be in jeopardy as a result. I do not believe it. We have faced and overcome much greater hazards than that, and the real problems that confront our nation go much deeper than whether we enter or whether we stay out of the Common Market. Britain's future will finally 425 depend upon leadership and on the temper and determination of the British people. Salvation will not be found in concessions to placate others, if we know in our hearts that these are not fair, either to the Commonwealth or to our E.F.T.A. friends, or to ourselves.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, we have just listened to a very remarkable speech. It confirms what I have often thought recently: that it is a pity we do not hear the noble Earl, Lord Avon, more often, because he has great experience and much to say. I think he made an admirable contribution to this debate both on the economic side and on the political side.
The division has been made between the people who were all for going into the Common Market on any terms, those who were hesitant and those who were dead against. I must confess that I have been one of those against, particularly from the long-term political view; because I am quite sure that it is impossible for us to enter into these economic arrangements without being pulled, sooner or later, into a political association, which I do not think is desirable. I am afraid that I shall be accused of being old-fashioned and out of date, but I still think that for this country a degree of flexibility is desirable. The Common Market means a great deal of rigidity—and I thank the noble Viscount the Lord President for the term. It will bring a rigidity into our foreign policy that we have never had before, because, although we have had temporary arrangements, or arrangements for particular purposes, such as defence, we have never before tied ourselves up so closely so that our whole economic life depends on the work of people other than ourselves.
The Question of sovereignty is often raised. I am one of those who believe that in a modern world one has to give up a great deal of sovereignty. I am prepared to give up sovereignty to the world, but not to a selected number of European countries. That is not giving up something for world security; it is giving something up to sectional interests. And we are entitled to look fairly closely at what those interests are.
Turning to the immediate position, I have a very great deal of sympathy with the Lord Privy Seal. He has had to go and negotiate under very unfavour- 426 able terms. Unfortunately, in this country the propaganda for entering the Common Market has been largely based on defeatism. We are told that unless we do it we are going to have a terrible time. That is no way to go into a negotiation. You ought to go into a negotiation on the basis that they have need of you, not just you of them. I think that has hampered the Lord Privy Seal all the time. Long-drawn-out negotiations are not good. My impression, from repeated reports, has been that we have not got much of what we wanted. But, inevitably, in long-drawn-out negotiations, when you meet with many negatives, you are apt to exaggerate the few positive things you get. For instance, there is the cup of tea—we shall be all right for tea. That is no doubt very satisfactory, particularly at this time of the day. But we cannot escape the fact of the serious injury to Commonwealth interests that might be sacrificed. Yet you are cheered because you get just one little thing.
I am afraid that during the course of this year the Government have set out to see whether it was desirable for us to go into the Common Market. They have come to pin their faith on it, and to put the whole of the Government behind success in the Common Market. That is again very weakening; and, as everybody knows, there are very wide divisions in this country, in all Parties. I would say that it was very strong in the Party opposite, in spite of (if I may borrow another word from the Lord President) the machine-made majorities available. Weil, we have our differences. That I admit freely—and I go beyond even the terms of this Amendment. But if we could get our Amendment put into force, and if we could get these conditions fulfilled, that would be something. So far as I can see, we are on the dangerous and slippery slopes of steadily giving up this and giving up that, driven back, until, at last, the Government prestige being so tied up with it, we shall go crawling in on almost any terms. And once we are in it will be very difficult to get out again.
I was very much struck with what the noble Earl was saying about the importance of the political outlook and of our conception of democracy. We are told that we have to accept the Treaty of 427 Rome. I have read the Treaty of Rome pretty carefully, and it expresses an outlook entirely different from our own. It may be that I am insular, but I value our Parliamentary outlook, an outlook which has extended throughout the Commonwealth. That is not the same position that holds on the Continent of Europe. No one of these principal countries in the Common Market has been very successful in running Parliamentary institutions: Germany, hardly any experience; Italy, very little; France, a swing between a dictatorship and more or less anarchic Parliament, and not very successfully.
As I read the Treaty of Rome, the Whole position means that we shall enter a federation which is composed in an entirely different way. I do not say it is the wrong way. But it is not our way. In this set-up it is the official who really puts up all the proposals; the whole of the planning is done by officials. It seems to me that the Ministers come in at a later stage—and if there is anything like a Federal Parliament, at a later stage still. I do not think that that is the way this country has developed, or wishes to develop. I am all for working in with our Continental friends. I was one of those who worked to build up NATO; I have worked for European integration. But that is a very different thing from bringing us into a close association which, I may say, is not one for defence, or even just for foreign policy.
The fact is that if the designs behind the Common Market are carried out, we are bound to be affected in every phase of our national life. There would be no national planning, except under the guidance of Continental planning—we shall not be able to deal with our own problems; we shall not be able to build up the country in the way we want to do, so far as I can see. I think we shall be subject to overall control and planning by others. That is my objection.
I do not think it is an up-to-date idea that we should be integrated with Europe. I am not allowed to mention history nowadays. It is forbidden by the Lord President——
§ EARL ATTLEE
We must not talk about history. If you talk about a thou- 428 sand years of history you are out of date.
§ EARL ATTLEE
But as a matter of fact the idea of an integrated Europe is historically looking backward, and not forward. The noble Viscount was looking at the Holy Roman Empire. We never belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, and we never belonged to the reactionary organisation after 1815. We have always looked outward, out to the New World; and to-day we look out to the New World, and to Asia and Africa. I think that integration with Europe is a step backward. By all means let us get the greatest possible agreement between the various continents, but I am afraid that if we join the Common Market we shall be joining not an outward-looking organisation, but an inward-looking organisation. I think that Germany, for instance, which has probably the most powerful influence in the organisation, will not escape from looking at what she thought she was going to gain, and what she has lost. I do not think we have a new look there. I think that by marrying into Europe we are marrying a whole family of ancient prejudices and ancient troubles, and I would much rather see an Atlantic organisation. I would much rather work for the world organisation.
In particular, I feed that the noble Earl, Lord Avon, was perfectly right when he spoke of the danger of the advanced nations' getting advantage to themselves, and leaving the poorer peoples to get poorer and poorer. I believe that the way to get what is wanted is not by the method that is put forward in these present negotiations. I think it should be done by what we were trying to do—that is, by getting long-term contracts. I am all for getting stability of prices. I think that very largely this country did something for that, in getting long-term agreements with the agricultural community on farm prices. I should like to see something done in the world on that basis. I do not think you will get it in a European organisation; you will get it in a world organisation, and you will get something in the Commonwealth.
Frankly, I think that the Common Market is a step back and, so far as I 429 can see to-day, there is very little chance of our getting acceptance of the terms that we have sought. There is no sign that France is to give up her present attitude; in fact, I am not sure that France wants us there at all. I think de Gaulle is a very good European, provided that Europe is run by France; otherwise, France comes first. I do not blame him, but I do not think we should delude ourselves by imagining that we are going to get acceptance of the kind of proposals that have been put forward, and are even put forward in the Amendment. I do not think we shall get them. I should have liked to see during this year, while these negotiations were going on, some activity shown in organising our own resources, and in working in with the Commonwealth. It is suggested that there is no alternative to these negotiations. There is an alternative. I do not believe that this country is so down and out, as is suggested. I believe that we ourselves ought now to be making much more progress.
There is one final point which I can never make out—perhaps someone will tell me. I am told that we must go into the Common Market, because we are going to get wonderful advantages in great markets. Of course, they come into our market, too. So I do not see that argument. On the other hand, I am told that the real advantage of going into the Common Market is that it is going to stimulate by competition, and wake up our own people. But they cannot have it both ways. Either they are going to sleep in the Common Market, or they have got to wake up in it. I do not see how a Common Market, like a patent medicine, can do two entirely distinct things. I should like someone to tell me what they really expect is going to be the effect on British industry, because in the debate earlier we had an abundance of remarks in this House about the need for greater enterprise, better training of men and all the rest of industry. Is this going to stimulate by a cold wind of competition, or is it going to make it easy and let people sit down with a comfortable market at their doors? I should like to be told that.
Up to the present, I cannot say that I have been satisfied in the least by what has been said. I tried hard to read the admirable but extremely detailed state- 430 ment by the Lord Privy Seal in the Commons. I cannot say that he really satisfied me on any point with regard to the Common Market. He did not satisfy my doubts about British agriculture; he did not satisfy my doubts about the Commonwealth; nor even about E.F.T.A. In fact, at the present moment there is very little to decide on, because at intervals all through his speech the Lord Privy Seal told us that everything is provisional. Yet when asked, "Can you go back and get a different decision?" he said, "Oh, no! That has been settled already." When asked whether we can get some change in matters which we thought were hurting the Commonwealth, he said, "No, that has been settled." He could not hold out any hope of change in that, or any change in the Treaty of Rome, and I should be very hesitant of signing the Treaty of Rome, without some very big changes in its construction and in its provisions. I hope the Government will stand by the pledges they have made, and if they are prepared to do that, I cannot see why they cannot accept the Amendment.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I am not sure that this debate is taking place at a very happy moment in time, because I feel that all we can do in practice, at the present moment—and I think this applies generally to the great bulk of noble Lords on both sides o£ the House—is to wish the Government well in their great efforts to get into the Common Market on terms consonant with our honour and our interest. So I will not weary your Lordships, in the few moments that I shall speak, with any repetition of the arguments in favour of going in on reasonable terms. Of course, there must be reasonable terms, and there I certainly find myself in the same part of Gaul as that inhabited by the noble Earl, Lord Avon. And the question is, of course, what the reasonable terms are.
I think that I myself would go along with a great deal of what he said, except perhaps as regards agriculture; because there I think that my ultimate judgment might be tempered by the suspicion that we might not be able, if we did go in, to continue our present excellent system, whereby we import all our food free and pay out very large and ever-increasing subsidies and deficiency payments to the 431 farmers. We might not be able to do that in the future, although it is possible. Everybody will have his own ideas, but I should define "reasonable terms" as meaning the terms already negotiated, plus something rather more concrete as regards New Zealand, more definite as regards the trade of the Asian members of the Commonwealth, with voting formulæ—and this is important—not dissimilar from those now existing, and the whole having the necessary blessing of our partners in the European Free Trade Association and enabling us also, of course, to meet in a general way our pledges to our farmers. As I see it, the political and the economic case for our signing the Treaty on such basic conditions as these has now been established (I know I am not speaking for everybody here, but I know most noble Lords will feel this with me) beyond all reasonable doubt.
I have, however, to confess that I must shortly, very shortly, leave this Chamber, since I have a long-standing engagement to argue this very case with no less a person than the noble, if reluctant, Earl, Lord Sandwich, in that home of lost causes, the Oxford Union Society. Before setting out for this kind of gladiatorial contest, I should like very briefly to make two points; and in so doing I would ask the forgiveness of the House for going before hearing any comments by your Lordships to which they might conceivably give rise.
The first is a very simple one. Every fair-minded person in the countries with whom we are now negotiating must, and I think does, admit that it is far more difficult for this country than for any other European country to accept the institutions and the political implications of the Treaty of Rome. The reasons for this are firmly rooted, of course, in the history of the last 400 years. Throughout that period. England has sought to build up her strength in the outside world for the main purpose of defeating attempts by any one Power to achieve absolute mastery over the mainland of Europe. However, we must realise, I think, that at a time when half Europe is already occupied by a semi-European Power, this game is hardly possible, even if it were still desirable. Indeed, on the legitimate assumption—and I think it is a legitimate assumption 432 —that the E.E.C. is eventually going to be some kind of Power in its own right, this traditional policy of ours would be possible only if it involved an alliance with the Soviet Union; and that, after all, could mean that the whole of Europe, including these islands, would eventually come under Russian domination.
Now ours is naturally not the only traditional national policy which can no longer, as I see it, be pursued in this period of potential Communist world States and the hydrogen bomb; but it is deeply ingrained in our national consciousness and it has resulted, among other things, in our being far more dependent on imports, and thus on exports, than any other State in the world, I think I am right in saying, and in our possessing physical overseas links which, again, are entirely without precedent. However much we may, so to speak, see the European light, therefore, however logical joining the E.E.C. may appear to be, it is no good thinking that it is likely to be wildly popular in this country, where it is calculated, I am informed, that every family in three—I do not know if that is true: but, anyhow, a great proportion of families—has some relationship with some other family in what used to be called the old Commonwealth countries. Besides, we have not been mixed up, as the nations of the mainland have been mixed up, by conquest and counter-conquest. Our last conquest was nearly 900 years ago, and for about half the period since we have enjoyed what I believe (I may be wrong; the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will correct me if I am) no other country in the Free World has enjoyed—namely, a special, separate, independent, national religion.
It must surely therefore be tempting to some people on the mainland of Europe to say, or at any rate to think, "Now we have proud Albion where we want her, begging to come into a Europe she has for so long divided and even, sometimes, derided. Now we can see to it that, if she does come in, it will not be as the centre of an Empire but as a smallish offshore island with nothing much in the way of raw materials and with an industry that is becoming more and more out of date." Tempting, my Lords, but most unwise. 433 I would indeed say most earnestly to my European friends—and they perhaps know more than most people how much I have myself laboured in the general European cause—that it is not yet at all certain that the Government will be able to obtain the approval of the House of Commons, to say nothing of the nation, for our entry into the European Economic Community.
It is possible, for instance, that, from the point of view of what Europeans may well consider to be logic and justice, the United Kingdom is not justified in asking, shall we say, for any very special terms for New Zealand. But all I can say is that, in default of such special terms, and indeed of some consideration for our position as senior partner in a Commonwealth which we should like to bring as a whole into satisfactory relationship with the new Europe, I simply do not see the whole, great project going through. The last thing, I think, therefore, that my European friends should do, I would beg them to believe, is to create a sort of 1940 mentality among the British. This it is true—and I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, would agree—might not be at all unpopular in this country. We think, and with reason, that we are at our best when we have our backs firmly against some wall: but it could be very dangerous, not only I think for Europe, but also possibly for the whole Western Alliance.
The other point that I should like to make in the two minutes that remain for me is one which arises naturally, I think, out of what the noble Earl. Lord Avon, said on the general political aspect, and as regards that problem which is commonly, if I think quite misleadingly, referred to as "sovereignty".
Everybody knows that if we come into the E.C.C. certain decisions in certain fields will be taken by what is called a "qualified majority vote" in the Council of Ministers, but not everybody knows that this particular majority is quite unlikely to be achieved unless there is substantial prior agreement between at any rate the larger Powers represented in the Community. If we come in, we shall, it is quite true, be joining a Customs Union in which all impediments to free trade will shortly be abolished, surrounded by a common external tariff 434 which we shall admittedly be unable to alter by ourselves. That is the main feature of the whole system, which does of course differentiate it from any other international system to which we now belong. It is a far-reaching obligation which we must indeed accept with open eyes if we propose to go into the Community at all.
But all the other objectives of the Treaty, all the common policies—agriculture, transport, social and so on; all those—will need to have such a qualified majority before they can become effective; and we have seen, my Lords, that such a majority can be obtained in practice only by intensive bargaining behind the scenes, first of all in the independent Commissions and then in the Council of Ministers itself, with the object of finding out what is in the general interest of the group as a whole and not only in the interests of one part of it. That is the object.
On the whole economic and social side of the thing, therefore, I do not think there is anything to be frightened about so far as this country is concerned. Nor is there any prospect, I think, of any loss of national face or of any real diminution of the powers of our great national Parliament. I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, ought to be reassured on that. It is true that the Treaty of Rome contains provisions for the election by direct universal suffrage of what would be a sort of super-Parliament, and if this ever came about then, of course, the situation would be entirely changed: but under the Treaty of Rome we know that this can be held only with the consent of all the members. We cannot therefore, obviously, be driven into any kind of Federation except with our own consent.
It seems to be imagined, however, that, whatever may be the position under the Treaty of Rome itself, we should be in even graver danger of losing our national identity by entering into some form of European Political Union which may conceivably be in existence before we come into the Community itself—though we should hope not. It is indeed possible that such a Union may by then be in existence, but this is most unlikely. Everything points to the likelihood of our being able to take part in its formation after we enter—if we do.
435 But it will clearly be necessary to set up something in this field. You cannot have economic and social unity without trying to co-ordinate other things as well. As your Lordships are aware, three broad fields lie outside the scope of the present Treaty of Rome. These are culture, defence and foreign affairs. For getting agreement in these fields either some new institution must be created or the present institutions could be suitably adapted. On foreign affairs it is obvious that majority voting cannot be contemplated—or, if it were, we could not take part. But, on the other hand, it is really rather unnecessary to lay as much emphasis as the Opposition Amendment docs on the absolute necessity of our continuing to have a completely independent foreign policy. The whole point, if we go into the Community at all, is that the entire group should pursue a sensible and enlightened and, if humanly possible, an agreed foreign policy. Obviously, if we were to pursue mutually conflicting and antagonistic foreign policies the whole thing would inevitably come apart.
It is really the same with defence. I speak open to correction; it is a subject I do not know much about; but the same principles apply. Here the position is that once we come in there will be two members who possess nuclear weapons. They will not be major deterrents but they will be of a certain importance and in any case will have to be co-ordinated. In other words, the group will be forced to have a defence policy of some kind which will be peculiar to itself. With all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, I cannot see why, in the absence of general disarmament, the Community should not eventually work out plans for a small but significant nuclear force, consisting perhaps largely of nuclear submarines. This force, while remaining in NATO and playing its part in the general Western strategic conception, would be immediately under the European Union in the same way as United States' nuclear forces are immediately under the control of the American Government. Whether any kind of majority voting—and it might be, some special kind of majority voting—should operate in the sphere of European defence would have to be considered. As regards culture, I 436 cannot see why the same sort of rules as now operate in the European Economic Community should not apply too.
My Lords, there is nothing which need frighten us in all these possibilities. On the contrary, they represent the great hope, the great vision, for the future. What is certain, I repeat, is that we are not going to be pushed into any Federation against our will. The word "Federation" ought indeed to be dropped as altogether misleading. The new Europe, as I see it, will never be a Federation on the American model. It will be a close and voluntary association of certain great States with long histories and separate cultures who are determined that, while preserving their national identities, they will, in this age of super-States, take certain major policy decisions in common for the benefit of all. It may be, and I hope it will be, that this association in the long run will develop into some kind of super-State. But if it does, it will not be the same kind of super-State as America or the Soviet Union or, possibly, eventually China. It will be an amalgam—and all the stronger for that—of continuing national entities which will ensure something that quite obviously might not otherwise be ensured: that the voices of Britain, France, yes, and of Germany and Italy, too, should not be suppressed, but should rather be strongly heard on all the issues of war and peace and generally in the great councils of the world.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, much of the discussion this afternoon has been concerned with the economic advantages or disadvantages likely to accrue to this country if it joins the Common Market: but I do not propose myself to embark on that particular aspect of this great topic. If I venture to trouble your Lordships this afternoon, it is to ask two questions. They are very simple questions, but, I believe, extremely important ones. The first is: is Parliament to be consulted—and by "consulted" I mean consulted by vote—before the Treaty is signed? The second—and, to my mind, even more important—question is: is the country also to be consulted; and by that I mean, are the electors to be 437 asked to express their views at a General Election for or against the final terms to be obtained, before the Treaty is signed?
Those are my two questions, which I feel ought to be considered both by the Government itself and, indeed, by all of us without delay; and they are two. I am sure, to which we in Parliament are entitled to have a clear, unequivocal answer. There are, I'm sure, many noble Lords in all parts of the House who, like myself, have never taken a rigid attitude for or against our entering the Common Market because we feel in no position to do so until the Government have put before Parliament and the country the final results of their negotiations with the Rome Powers. But that does not mean that we do not feel extremely anxious about the political implications to the country of signing this Treaty.
As the noble Earl, Lord Avon, rightly emphasised this afternoon, the ultimate aim of those to whom the whole conception underlying the Treaty of Rome was due has always been a full-blooded Federation, political as well as economic, of Western Europe. There would no doubt be certain spheres of domestic administration which would be reserved to the constituent States, but there would also be, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said, certain centralised organisations with considerable political power over wide areas of government in the Federation as a whole. That is the ultimate aim of a great many leaders in Europe to-day. And what is still worrying us is this. How far will the Government, by its signature of the Treaty of Rome, if it does sign, be laying the country open in principle, either legally or what is, I think, equally important, morally, to acceptance of this federal idea? The issues are so far-reaching that I am sure we may be forgiven if we continue to voice our anxieties.
We have heard a number of statements within recent months from distinguished supporters of Government policy, expressing views not, indeed, always identical with each other but all clearly aimed at reassuring us. There is one argument, if I understand it aright, to the effect that it does not greatly matter one way or the other what apparent ob- 438 ligations we undertake now; for Parliament is sovereign and it will be open at any time for future Parliaments to repudiate any obligations arising out of our signature of the Treaty of Rome if, in their view, these become unacceptable to the British people. My noble friend Lord Avon has dealt fully and conclusively with that argument and I do not think there is any need for me to say any more about it.
There is, however, another view which appears also to be widely held in important circles. This school of thought, as I understand it, makes no attempt to minimise the far-reaching nature of the obligations inherent in the signature of the Treaty of Rome, but it says that we need not really worry about them; for anything in the nature of closer political union is likely to be a very, very long way off. There is no need, it says, for us to bother our heads about them now. That reminds me of an agreeable story I was told many years ago of the negotiations between Lord Halifax and Mr. Gandhi over the future of India. According to this story, Mr. Gandhi had one day put forward a proposal which, it seemed to Lord Halifax, was likely to have pretty far-reaching implications for the future: and so he replied, after due consideration: "That, Mr. Gandhi, is clearly an extremely interesting and important proposal, but", he added "I feel bound to ask myself, looking into the future, what are the long-term implications. Where is it going to land us in the long run?" To which Mr. Gandhi replied, with a charm and diplomatic skill which must have delighted Lord Halifax, "Ah!, Your Excellency, when you ask me questions like that, I think of the words of your old English hymn: 'One step enough for me'."
That, I feel, is not unlike the present attitude of some members of the Government—judging by the Lord Privy Seal's speech yesterday in another place, "One step is enough for them". But is it enough for us? I feel that we can hardly take the country forward into an unknown future, and without any direct consultation with the people, with quite so easy minds as that. It is perfectly true that the Prime Minister himself gave more definite assurances in his final speech at Llandudno. He possibly shares the view which was expounded in your Lordships' House by my noble 439 friend the Foreign Secretary in the debate in this House on August 2 of last year. On that occasion, as your Lordships will remember, my noble friend made it clear that in his view—he will correct me if I misunderstood him, but I read his speech with great care—any move towards closer political union would be outside the ambit of the present Treaty of Rome: and, to quote his words [OFFICIAL REPORT. Vol. 234. col. 120]:… changes and additions outside the existing Treaty can be passed only if there is a unanimous vote in the Council.He assumed, in effect, that when that point was reached we could always impose our veto or opt out, and that we were therefore completely safeguarded. But, my Lords, what bothers a great many of us is this. Can the Government, or anyone, be really so sure that we shall be in any position to make our own conditions about staying in or going out of a federal Europe when the time comes?
Look at the experience we have already had about going into the Common Market. Only a year ago all the emphasis was on the conditions of our entry. What Parliament was asked to do—all Parliament was asked to do—was to empower the Government to enter into negotiations with a view to finding out whether terms could be agreed which would be acceptable to our own interests and to those of our fellow members of the Commonwealth. It was made fully clear to us, at least as I understood it, that if the conditions were not satisfactory to us and the Commonwealth, we should not go on.
No doubt, as every one of us knows, the Lord Privy Seal has worked assiduously and with immense skill to get the best terms he can; and he is still doing so. His speech yesterday showed. I thought, what heroic efforts he is making in this direction. But in spite of what my noble friend Lord Dundee said earlier in the debate to-day, it is surely now becoming clearer and clearer to a great many of us that any conditions which the Government are likely to obtain are most unlikely to be as satisfactory as was hoped, either to other members of the Commonwealth or, indeed, in respect of agriculture in particular, to ourselves. Most of the 440 advocacy, therefore, in favour of our joining seems to be nowadays becoming more and more of a general character. There is no longer the same emphasis as there was last year on special essential conditions. What is said to us now is that we are to "turn our backs on the past". We are to gird ourselves for "a great adventure", and so on. And though my noble friend Lord Hailsham is reported as having said, in South Dorset this week, that no final decisions have yet been taken—and I am sure that we are all extremely glad to hear that—it looks more and more as if the Government had pretty well made up their minds to enter, unless the conditions made are absolutely intolerable, simply because they cannot afford to do anything else—because they have gone too far to go back.
And, mark this, my Lords. That may well be exactly the same position—in fact, it probably will be—when the stage of the federalisation of Europe is reached. Our whole economy will have been geared to the Community by then. We may well have gone too far, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, frankly recognised, to opt out. He quite honestly explained what might be involved and how far from any real independence our initial decision may carry us.
That being the position, I repeat that it is fair that I should ask my first question. Is Parliament to be consulted before the Treaty is signed, before this great step is taken? I have little doubt actually about the answer to that question. No doubt we shall be told that Parliament will be consulted. Well, that is quite right. And no doubt the Government will get a favourable vote from their majority in Parliament, just as they have had already a favourable vote from their Party Conference. But here I come to what I feel myself to be a far more important question. Is the country going to be consulted before the Treaty is signed? Are the British people as a whole to be asked what is their view before they are committed to this great adventure, which is going to affect, as the Government themselves emphasise, the whole future of this country? That, it may be noted, is not referred to at all in the Government Resolution to-day. Nowhere, so far as I can see, is there 441 any mention of the country. There is mention only of Parliament, and that surely, I feel, is a very strange thing.
Moreover, it seems to be assumed by most of the organs of the Press that support the Government that the Government will not refer this immensely important question to the electorate until after the Treaty of Rome has been signed. Indeed, the Sunday Times on October 7 evolved this ingenious but somewhat obscure theory—and I quote their words:The likeliest event is that the General Election will come after Britain has joined the Common Market. The British people will then know what they are voting about"—though why, more than now, is not made very clear. The article went on to add:and it is far from certain that in such an Election a Government which had taken Britain into Europe, despite intense opposition"—I ask the House to note those words—would be at a disadvantage.Well, my Lords, of course, in one sense, it would not be at a disadvantage compared with now. For, whatever happened at the Election, even if it turned out that the majority of the country were strongly opposed to Britain's entry into Europe, it would be much too late for the majority of the country to do anything about it. The Treaty would have been signed. The country would have been pledged. The die would have been already cast.
That, my Lords, would be very skilful tactics, from a purely political point of view. But would it be, in any true sense of the word, democracy? After all, democracy mean's, to me at any rate, if it means anything at all, that the people shall rule. Can that possibly be twisted to mean that the people shall be consulted, but only after it is far too late for their views to have any effect at all? I know that there used to be a theory in the Labour Party in the years immediately following the last great war that once a Government was elected at a General Election it must be assumed that the British people had given them a free hand to do whatever they thought right.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
If noble Lords will look at the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lam- 442 beth, at that time, I think they will find that he was a very strong supporter of that theory.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I am thrilled with the speech that the noble Marquess is making; he is making a very fine speech. But if he will look at the document, Let us Face the Future, of 1945, he will find that we never passed a single major measure about which we had not consulted the people at the General Election. Every one of the major measures of the Government at that time was absolutely mandated by the people.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The context, I think, in which these expressions of view were made was over the suspensory veto of your Lordships' House. I am quite certain that if the noble Viscount will look back he will find that there were members, and distinguished members, of his own Party who based the whole of their opposition to a veto in a Second Chamber on the grounds that once the people had elected the majority in the House of Commons that majority had a free hand until the succeeding General Election. I am not quite clear whether the Labour Party still hold that view. Recent pronouncements by Mr. Gaitskell make it rather doubtful.
But what I think is certain is that the Conservative Party have never accepted that view. On the contrary, they have always violently opposed it. I remember speaking in this very House as far back as 1948, when I was leading the Opposition during the debates on the Parliament Bill of that year, and using these words—not, I can assure noble Lords, from any intrinsic merits of their own, but merely as representing the official Conservative view at that time. This is what I said, as the spokeman of my Party [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 156, col. 456]:Every now and then … a measure comes" before Parliament for which the Government have no mandate … On the great majority of these measures the view of the public is well known. In that event no difficulty arises. There are, however, certain rare cases … where extremely controversial measures are introduced on which the view of the electorate is not known or where there is good reason to suppose that it is hostile to the proposed legislation."—in fact, I may say in passing, almost exactly the present position. In that case, I said, stating the orthodox views 443 of my Party, Parliament must make every effort to ascertain the views of the people.
That, I have always understood, is one of the great basic principles of the Conservative Party. It is one of the chief things the Conservative Party have existed to conserve, up to now. If, therefore, the Government have it in mind (I do not know; perhaps we shall be told to-night) to depart from that principle—a comment in the Sunday Telegraph last Sunday, which had the air of almost OFFICIAL inspiration, seemed to indicate that the Prime Minister's mind was moving in that direction—then I would plead with them most earnestly to think again, to put their case before the people fairly and frankly before they sign the Treaty and to be bound by their decision.
Do not let them be led astray by the kind of specious arguments that are being bandied about to-day. There is the argument that all Parties are divided on this issue. There may, indeed, be varying opinions in all Parties on this issue, as on many others; but surely that is not a good reason for not allowing the people of this country to express any opinion at all. If the electors really are in favour of our entry into Europe—and that may well be; if they really think that the policy of the Government on this all-important issue is in the essential interests of this country, can anyone doubt, especially if the Government put it in the very forefront of their programme, that the electors will give Ministers a mandate to do what they think is proper in the matter?
Then there is the other argument, that the people would not understand (the issues involved. What a strange suggestion that is, from the quarter from which it comes! For, after all, the issues of the Common Market have been put to the vote once already, at the Conservative Conference at Llandudno; and I have never heard it suggested that the delegates there did not understand what it was all about. On the contrary, according to the Press they found it quite easy, after only quite a short debate, to come to conclusions—and we are told wise conclusions—and vote on them. Why, then, is it, except for some kind of Divine dispensation, that things 444 which appeared so simple to them should now be regarded as entirely beyond the comprehension of all the rest of their fellow countrymen? That is really asking a (great deal of our credulity. And, indeed, my Lords, it is not true (I say this in all humility) that the British people are incapable of coming to the right conclusion on complicated matters. In my experience the British people may not always understand ail the detailed technical arguments for or against a particular course: but their instinct is pretty sound.
Moreover—and I cannot stress this too strongly—if the Government do not consult the people on this supremely important issue, think what a precedent they sat. Supposing at some future time, not noble Lords opposite but some extremist Government were to come into power; and suppose that that Government were to put forward a proposal, say, to nationalise the banks, or to abolish altogether the Second Chamber—which is the only check, as we all know, against extreme action in our unwritten Constitution—or even something more far-reaching than that, one can imagine what shocked hands would be held up by the leaders of my own Party; what cries there would be that the people had never been consulted. And what would be the retort? "You never consulted the people before you signed the Treaty of Rome; and that was the most important decision of all; a decision which, by your own admission, was bound profoundly to affect the whole future of your country for countless years ahead." What reply should we have to that? None. By our own action we should have cut away the very foundations on which Parliamentary democracy rests. Indeed, to me, at any rate, the decision whether or not to submit this policy to the arbitrament of the people of Britain, with all the vital considerations involved, which have been stressed so well to-day, is as important a decision in its way as the decision whether or not to go into Europe.
No doubt it would be much easier, taking a short view, to accept the counsels of expediency, to sign first and consult the people after. But this is not the time for devices of that kind. It is much too serious for that. I hope, therefore, 445 that this House, at any rate, will make it very clear that they may approve the Treaty, or they may not approve the Treaty, but they will certainly not approve it until it has been shown at the polls that it has behind it the support of the British people, from whom, my Lords, we derive our very existence and whom, after all, we and the whole of this ancient Parliamentary system, of which we form part, only exist to serve.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, in view of its far-reaching implications, the Motion before the House looks needlessly dull. I wish the words "European Communities" had been used in it instead of "Common Market" which gives the impression that all that is involved is trading. As is obvious from the interest to-day, and from the speeches to which we have listened, very much more than trade is involved. I do not believe that this fact should be played down in the belief, which I think is mistaken, that opposition will be less. Nor do I believe that propaganda should exaggerate the advantages of membership by alleging that there is no alternative if this country is to survive as a prosperous people with any influence in the modern world. I do not share all the fears the noble Earl, Lord Avon, has voiced. I would, of course, agree that the building of confidence in working together is a necessary prerequisite to any move towards a federal or institutional political authority. But everything depends on the extent, the speed, the timing and the manner in which any transfer of powers is made.
Europe has always been the birthplace of new ideas and to-day, when so many changes are coming, whether we like it or not, the experimental nature, if I may so call it, of the new European institutions is its main attraction. We have to face the choice of building together in association of mind and experience in Europe or of taking an independent line, or of joining another group of Powers. I believe the first course of joining with our European friends is the right decision to make.
I am often asked by people in shops and offices what I think about this question, and whether I can give a reason easily understood why Britain should join. I would with respect and in all 446 modesty suggest to her Majesty's Government that they might make more use of the sort of answer I always give to this question. I remind my questioner that the purpose which prompted the Community idea was to make war impossible between France and Germany. Whatever else may be said about the Communities—and there is quite a lot to discuss, both of exciting possibilities and of latent dangers—this basic aim, taken up energetically by President de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer has, I believe, been achieved. I remember how I was struck some three or four years ago, on the first occasion when I listened to a Frenchman speaking on Franco-German relations, saying, "What we have in mind is nothing less than fusion".
So far so good. But that rapprochement alone is not enough, in my view, to assure the peace of Europe. With Great Britain outside the Community leading a group of smaller European countries, rivals of the Community, competing possibly for the adherence of new members from among the States of Eastern Europe, not to mention Africa, jealousies and new stresses in Europe are bound to arise again. In such circumstances who can say that the peace and co-operation, which is essential to Europe's survival, is assured? This reason, if frankly stated, might appeal to France and to de Gaulle and make the current negotiations in Brussels a good deal easier, for everyone realises that they are being dragged out by the Community Ministers. I am sure they are being prolonged because of a fear that our entry before further progress has been made in working the Community might presage dislocation rather than consolidation. The noble and learned Viscount who leads the House will agree, I think, that a certain degree of rigidity, to which he referred so much yesterday, is often used as a protective screen, particularly in the hope of giving stability to a new institution. That I think is what we are experiencing in the negotiations in Brussels.
I do not think it necessary for me to comment on the details of the negotiations, upon which several noble Lords have already spoken. The Government's Motion speaks of negotiating a conclusion acceptable to Parliament. Perhaps we are apt to forget that the 447 negotiated terms have also to be accepted by the six Parliaments of the Community. This does not mean that I have no questions to raise with Her Majesty's Government. We are continually hearing of the "dynamism" of the Community. I think this is a little exaggerated, as it is one of the chief complaints of the Commission that they cannot get on with their job because they are kept so occupied negotiating with prospective members. Sometimes, no doubt for this reason, I regret to say that visiting delegations from some of the countries who wish to put a case for membership or association find some members of the Commission not as good tempered as they would like and expect, having regard to the fact that the Treaty of Rome is expressly declared to be an open Treaty, a Treaty that is open to all European countries who wish to join.
My Lords, the dynamism on the Continent is still largely the dynamism of its member States. The Commission have had to admit that they have, as yet, not been able to formulate a consistent philosophy either of full membership or of association. But what upsets me is that no one ever refers to E.F.T.A. as dynamic. It is regarded, certainly by the Six, as a great failure. In E.F.T.A. we have an opportunity to remove barriers more quickly and more easily than could be done in the Six, and I ask why, for instance, could not we have an E.F.T.A. pass assuring free movement in E.F.T.A. countries at once to all their citizens? If we made a little more progress in E.F.T.A. and showed a little more initiative I am sure the Community members would be more impressed. Incidentally, might not Yugoslavia have been courted instead of waiting for that country to put out feelers to the Six? Could we know a little more of what happened at the last E.F.T.A. Council of Ministers which met in Oslo?
While referring to E.F.T.A.—although this has already been touched on—I must mention the very serious concern felt at this moment in some of these countries. This has perhaps been increased because of the use we have been able to make of Western European Union to discuss some of the problems involved in our application for member- 448 ship of the Community. I am quite sure that Her Majesty's Government would not go back on their commitments, but I fear that when the negotiations in Brussels have been concluded—and this may not be before the spring of next year—our intentions regarding our commitments to the E.F.T.A. countries may be tested. The difficulties of a rapid expansion of the Community covering what is being called "the fringes of Europe" are already being canvassed. Members of the Commission stress in conversation the administrative difficulties in attempting to absorb too many countries at one time.
Our commitment to the E.F.T.A. countries is repeated in the Second Annual REPORT published by E.F.T.A. in July last. Briefly, as has already been said, this calls for satisfactory arrangements to meet the legitimate and the special interests of the other members of E.F.T.A. and to enable them all to participate from the same date in an integrated market. The question, of course, is: who is to be the judge of what is to be considered satisfactory? Some countries like Denmark and Norway, from E.F.T.A., and Ireland, from outside E.F.T.A., have applied for full membership of the Community. The rest of the E.F.T.A. countries have applied for associate membership. If an attempt is made by the Commission or by the Ministers of the Community countries to relegate some of these countries from full membership to association, or from association to some form of trade agreement, I think reactions in those countries will be sharp and bitter.
I should like the noble and learned Viscount who is to reply on behalf of Her Majesty's Government to confirm that we support the applications which the E.F.T.A. countries have made after considering what would be satisfactory to them. I hope he will do this not only because we are formally committed to those countries but because we believe that a Europe consisting of small countries as well as of big countries will be a happier and a better Europe because of the contributions the small countries can make in the field of political development in which their record is better than that of most countries. In particular, I hope there will be no question of our suggesting to the E.F.T.A. Council that they might approve our 449 entry alone without waiting for decisions affecting other members, on the plea that our help would be more useful from within than with them outside the Community. I believe that such a course would be considered a betrayal of our friends and would damage our influence both in European groups as well as in the world. I think the sooner this is said strongly the more unlikely we are to be pushed into such a position.
My Lords, may I say just a few words on the Amendment? Frankly, the mentality behind it just baffles me. Surely the greatest need to restore something of Europe's diminished influence and prestige in the world is for Europe to try to learn to speak with one voice on matters of foreign policy. If this is not accepted the logical case is to oppose entry outright. Perhaps I may tell a story of an effort by a friend of mine during a recent Assembly Meeting. He strongly favours Britain's entry. He had the idea that opposition at the Labour Party Conference last month might be avoided or checked if he could persuade the Social Democratic Parties of the Six to send a message to the Labour Party Conference saying that they needed and would welcome the co-operation of the British Labour Party in building a Socialist Europe. He told me that he was not successful in persuading them to do this. He said that he received a reply from the Social Democrats whom he consulted that "they were not convinced that they wished to be married to such a frigid woman." I do not think I need add any comment to this expression of the feeling of their Continental colleagues towards the British Labour Party.
I should like just to raise very briefly a few other matters. Has there been any discussion yet on the subject of weighted voting in an enlarged Community? Import duties in accordance with the common tariff are payable at ports of entry. At present these ports are all situated on the Continent. If the boundary at which the common tariff applies is enlarged, are Her Majesty's Government satisfied with the position? Has any alteration, such as the institution of a common fund, been suggested by the Community? Can we have a report on the progress made by the Committee of Ministers of Education on the equivalence of degrees conferred by European 450 universities and of diplomas granted by technical institutes, to which I referred very briefly on Tuesday? I will not go on as there are so many other speakers on the list. I therefore close by wishing Her Majesty's Government success in the negotiations which I am afraid are still likely to prove difficult.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, when I read the substance of the Amendment on the Order Paper I must confess I had some difficulty in understanding why Her Majesty's Government could not accept it. First, the Amendment deals with the provision of guarantees for British agriculture. Surely that is in accordance with the pledges that have already been given by many Ministers on many occasions. The next point in the Amendment is the preservation of the vital interests of E.F.T.A. That has been the subject of many pledges by the Ministers in Her Majesty's Government. Then we come to the retention of Britain's freedom to conduct foreign policy. Surely the freedom to conduct foreign policy is in accord with the statements and undertakings of Her Majesty's Government. Then we have the retention of the freedom to pursue economic planning and public ownership. Even though some of us do not entirely believe in public ownership, nevertheless there is not one of us in any Party on any side of your Lordships' House who would not believe in Parliament's having the right and freedom so to do if an elected Parliament so wished.
It was not till I reached the words of the Amendmentit regrets however that the terms so far provisionally negotiated do not satisfythat I understood why Her Majesty's Government could not accept the Amendment. Because Her Majesty's Government, quite rightly, cannot accept something which is tantamount to censure. Nevertheless, the main provisions of the Amendment, for British agriculture, for E.F.T.A., for foreign policy, for freedom of economic planning and public ownership must gain the full support of Her Majesty's Government if the pledges given on many occasions are to mean anything at all.
I do not propose this afternoon to re-argue the case on economic or political 451 grounds for Britain's joining the Common Market. Your Lordships had a very full two-day debate on the subject at the beginning of August. But I think it is relevant to comment upon three events which have occurred since your Lordships debated it at the beginning of August. The three events—two of them have already been touched on this afternoon—are the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, the Conservative Party Conference, which has not been touched on this afternoon, and the present state of negotiations. To take the Prime Ministers' Conference first, I do not believe that anyone can be happy at the result, whether he be an ardent protagonist of entry into Europe, whether he be one who feels we should go in on terms if the terms axe acceptable, or whether he be one of those who feel we should not go in under any conditions at all. No one can be happy about a conference which results in fourteen Commonwealth Prime Ministers or senior Ministers voicing to varying degrees misgivings and reservations, and a conference at which some Commonwealth members have refused all association. The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, does not look too happy at that. I do not think he could raise a smile even at the result of that Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
Dressed up, neutralised, what I call politically pasteurised Press comments and Press communiqués cannot hide the fact of the disappointment of the leaders who came to that conference. We are treated to constant reiterations that entry by Britain into the Common Market will in fact strengthen the Commonwealth. We are told that it will create new opportunities for expansion of Commonwealth trade. It seems to me rather like the parent who says to the child. "It is for your own good, my dear; you may not like it now but you will like it later on", or, alternatively, one who says "The Minister in Whitehall knows best what is good for Ottawa, what is good for Canberra, what is good for Delhi, what is good for Wellington". I repeat, none of us can be happy at that.
I share to the full the grave misgivings which have been expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and other noble Lords this afternoon. If the Com- 452 monwealth pleas for improved terms are not substantially conceded at Brussels and if they are abandoned, as I pray they will not be abandoned, by Her Majesty's Government, or whittled down by Her Majesty's Government as the price of entry, it will give a severe blow to Commonwealth political and economic unity now and in the future from which the Commonwealth might never recover.
For a brief moment I should like to come to the second of the three events which have occurred since your Lordships' debate in August: the Conservative Party Conference, a gathering not unknown to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House. I think it was a triumph for the Government and it was a clear case for congratulation to the Party organisers. It is a victory for loyalty to the leaders; it is a victory for Party unity; it is certainly a victory for brilliant presentation, the illusion of those who were critical that they are old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy isolationists as against the virile, ardent international youth; it was beautifully done. But whether it was really a victory for reason and consideration and for careful argument, whether it was a victory for public support and conviction, remains yet to be seen in the future.
The third event I should like to touch on for a moment is the present state of negotiations since your Lordships' debate at the beginning of August. There is no need for me to say more than a few words on this, because it has been spoken of by others who can speak with greater authority and greater power than I can myself. But it is clear that there were no concessions of importance being made to the Commonwealth or United Kingdom viewpoints in the recent meetings. Rather there seems to be a hardening of the attitude of the Six, and they seem to me increasingly aggressive in some directions in the declaration that Britain must toe the line if she wishes to enter. The latest demand, that we should at once scrap our agricultural price support system directly we sign for the remainder of the transitional period is, fortunately for us, a suggestion which first goes against the pledges of the 1957 Act, and, secondly, it is a suggestion which we have heard rejected fully by the Ministers of Her Majesty's Government.
453 To me, it is unthinkable that we should give that second thoughts. I wonder whether Ministers, who live, quite naturally, in the ministerial atmosphere and perhaps do not get round quite so much as others of us in humbler stations, realise that the man in the street is beginning to ask how much longer are the British view, the Commonwealth view, and British interests and Commonwealth interests to be pushed around from Committee room to Committee room in Brussels. That is a growing feeling in the public mind.
To-day, it looks as if negotiations may cease unless the Six give way on major questions or indeed, which to me is unthinkable, Her Majesty's Government reduce the level of sincerity of the pledges they have given. If so, as my noble friend Lord Avon said, there is no need for despair, there is no need for depression; Britain and the Commonwealth are greater than entry into Europe or refusal of entry into Europe. Character, tradition and determination are the qualities that are going to get us through if we are not in the Common Market. If we lack those qualities, it would not help us much to be in the Common Market. If we do not go into the Common Market, Britain and the Commonwealth will not be isolated. There is the illusion put about that if we do not enter the Common Market, we are, as it were, done for. Not a bit! It may be that if we do not go into the Common Market ourselves, the Commonwealth and our E.F.T.A. partners can hammer out bold and more attractive projects than immediately joining the Six, to which the Six would listen later with a somewhat different attitude of mind from that which we see displayed at the present time.
My plea to Her Majesty's Government is this. The Government must know the risk of failure of these negotiations. The risk is quite real that we shall not get the terms which can be accepted in fulfilment of the pledges given; and the Government should now start making clear to the country that we have a positive alternative course which can be followed, and they should show something of the authority and something of the same enthusiasm as we have heard for many months past and watched for 454 many months past displayed as regards our entry into Europe.
Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, obtained the agreement of Lord Avon that Party politics at present play no part in this issue. That is true for the moment. But if we look ahead at the conclusion of negotiations each one of us will have to decide for himself our pattern of political conduct. We shall face either pledges fulfilled or a position where we consider that pledges have not been fulfilled. Your Lordships' House is not an elected assembly, but nevertheless it is an authoritative body. Many Members of your Lordships' House individually play no small part in the political life of the country outside this House. Each one will be faced with the choice of acceptance of what can be taken as fulfilment of pledges, or resistance if those pledges are whittled down.
Therefore, I think it is the main task of those of us who feel that entry should not come about unless there is absolute fulfilment of pledges for agriculture, for Commonwealth and for our E.F.T.A. partners, to press for the fulfilment of what, yesterday, we felt the Government agreed with us upon—but to-day I hope I am wrong in feeling some doubts in my mind as to whether they are as firm as they were originally. My hope is that we, as Government supporters, shall not be confronted with that choice. But whether we are or whether we are not rests not with us but is in the hands of Her Majesty's Ministers.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ LORD AMWELL
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, made it perfectly clear, if it was not clear prima facie, that to vote for the Resolution before the House or to vote for the Amendment to it amounted to the same thing, in so far as we are voting to support the entry of this nation into the Common Market. I myself see no reason for this country to enter the Common Market. I believe that there is a third course open to us, an alternative to going in or staying out; that is, the Socialist alternative, which is generally neglected, ignored or, if mentioned at all, dealt with inadequately owing to lack of comprehension as to the principle that should be representative of the Socialist Movement. 455 That principle is diametrically opposed to the doctrine upon which all the argument so far, and throughout the various debates we have had, has been centred—the doctrine that we must export or perish. Capitalism is all right. We are given to understand that all capitalism wants is a wash-and-brush-up—a streamlining. There is nothing wrong with the principle as such. No demand is made for any change of an economic system.
"We must export or perish" is the background of all the discussion about entering the Common Market. We must sell more cars or more mousetraps to the world in order to exist. Perish, mark you!—not be inconvenienced, or compelled to adjust our tastes, to do without some things that we now think necessary, or be thrown back upon neglected resources. Civilisation has been defined as a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities. But, believe it or not, we are alleged to be so dependent upon world trade, and upon world trade continuously expanding and increasing to our benefit in a scramble or rat-race round the world, that although we have, on the whole, an incomparable climate, good land and the best farming technique known, we should literally cease to exist if anything should happen to the expansion of the trade that is supposed to be backed by entry into the Common Market. No Socialist can accept that proposition.
I am not an expert, but I am aware of certain facts. As a Socialist myself, not using the language of capitalism all the time or accepting the assumptions of capitalism, or believing that working class interests lie in streamlining competitive industry so as to be able to share out money proceeds on a grand scale and call that Socialism, I beg to submit that the alternative proposition is right—that it is our duty, before we even think about foreign trade, to put first things first by making the best of our own resources in the production of food and other necessities. That, I think, is the correct Socialist attitude of mind on the subject.
From the Socialist point of view foreign trade is an extra, and always has been. We should not make ourselves dependent on it, thus leaving this country entirely subordinate to the 456 mechanical materialism of a vast high-powered factory system. When I note that such a body as the British Association for the Advancement of Science can spend time in debating whether or not Britain can feed herself, I am astonished at its being taken for granted so easily that it cannot do so; I am still more astonished when I hear people who claim to be Socialists fall, as they do, for capitalist jargon on this question.
The real and immediate question, however, is not that of feeding ourselves, but of bridging a gap. Leave out the Commonwealth, if you like, from this particular point, although I would hasten to say that an argument based on the traditional internationalism of the Labour movement is out of place. The Common Market is internationalism all right— international capitalism. What is this gap? We perish, if what? Take the facts. Since 1949 we have added more than 40 per cent. to our agricultural production. Another 20 per cent. would bridge the gap mentioned—the gap which involves our food supply and our balance if payments. I do not argue against foreign trade, because it would be absurd to do so. Have as much of it as you like, but put first things first. Do not work on the assumption that you have constantly to establish a vast and increasing foreign trade, to the detriment of the fundamental resources of our land and of our country, as has been done. Socialists have always taken the line that exchange between countries should be a surplus enterprise consisting of mutual arrangements in respect of genuine surpluses, not a rat-race; just as they have always said that machinery should be a means of lightening human toil, not of enslaving the soul of man.
Throughout the history of the Socialist movement in this country all the great Socialist parties or bodies—not only the sentimentalist followers of William Morris and the Utopians in general, but also those who call themselves scientific socialists, the Marxists—have always supported not the principle of nationalisation, not the idea of a centralised economy, but one of co-operative groupings, interlocked but more or less independent in their co-operative management. This was the ideal of Karl Marx, just as it was the ideal of William Morris and Oscar Wilde. That ideal, of course, has been completely discarded. To-day 457 it is regarded as necessary that there should be a vast system of high-powered manufacture, or as Engels called it, "machinofacture", as a vital thing without which we cannot sustain ourselves as a nation and a people. Scientific or Utopian, these views entirely correspond with those of Krapotkin, whose book Fields, Factories and Workshops had more influence on working-class thought before the turn of the century than is recognised. Aldous Huxley, in his introduction to an edition of Brave New World, accepts Krapotkinism as the most satisfactory alternative to capitalism and stateism, both of which, he says, mean slavery for the working class.
Many years ago Disraeli asked what would happen if we let our agriculture die, became the world's workshop and bought all our food from other parts of the world. He wondered what would happen if the rest of the world also became a workshop and did not buy from us, so that we could not pay for the food we need? Recently, Sir Winston Churchill struck a warning note against our relying upon certain resources and industries to the extent we do. A Government Committee, under Professor Solly Zuckerman, made a survey of all kinds of farming in Britain. It took ten years, and the Report is now in the hands of the Minister for Science. Among many other things, contrary to the conventional view about the capacity of British soil and farming technique, it disposes of the notion that people will not "go back." The Report says:The desire to possess and work land is shown by the number of men and women in all walks of life who adopt farming as a second profession.Let me insist again that a 20 per cent. or, at most, a 25 per cent. increase in food production would make us independent of any foreign market. We should pay for what we want in honest cash, and in regard to the balance of food we require it is surely possible to make mutual arrangements with the Commonwealth or, for that matter, with other countries.
Farming to-day is subsidised to the tune of £300 million and more. Costs of food distribution are fantastic. It costs about eight or ten times as much to put a potato into a housewife's basket as it does to grow it. There are hundreds of societies up and down the 458 country which put into practice the Socialist principle of production for use, and which save over half the ordinary "shop cost" of food, vegetables, fruit and so on. We should be able to bridge the gap if we applied the principle of smaller and less centralised farming and generally adopted the principles that have always been at the back of our Socialist propaganda.
At the last session of the British Association Dr. Kay, former director of the National Institute of Research in Dairying, said that British food production, already one of the highest in the world, could be increased by at least 50 per cent. by applying existing knowledge more extensively. That an important authority in such an impotrant gathering should commit himself to such a statement surely justifies my criticism of the defeatist contention, so easily accepted, that we are done for unless we sell more gadgets to the rest of the world. As I said earlier, my Lords, although I am not arguing against foreign trade as such, it should be an extra, and we should put first things first. But the Common Market does not suggest that we have anything of that kind in mind. If we go into the Common Market—and it is admitted, for a start, that the price of food is to go up at foreign dictation—we are to face fiercer competition—called, if you please, a challenge—and buy a political pig in a poke.
We are told that we are an intensely overcrowded country. Are are? A London daily newspaper reiterated this statement only this week—and it is taken as commonplace—and in the very same article deplored the drift of industry to certain areas, because it was leaving vast regions a barren desert. The Zuckerman Report does not confirm anything of the kind. But, of course, we cannot make the best of our land and also turn the country into a white-hot furnace of super-mechanical production.
The late Lord Bledisloe said once in this House:Let us take as my contrast that remarkable little country, Denmark. The farmers are not Government-controlled. They are self-controlled, mutually controlled. They succeed through sheer hard work, enterprise and cooperation. Co-operation has been reduced to a fine art.459 Sweden—a small country as densely populated as this, if we take into account the acreage in the whole of Great Britain and, of course, the fact that so much of our land is bracken-bound and water-logged—has a high standard of living, is prosperous, peaceful and, above all, happy. Scandinavia, with the Low Countries, is very much bound to the principle of co-operation, and Sweden has better social services than we have. Scandinavia is nearer to the Socialist ideal than any other part of the world, yet there are professed Socialists in this country who want to drag Scandinavia into a European—I was going to say thieves' kitchen. I should withdraw that, perhaps, but I feel that way about it, as against the better and more socialistic economy of Scandinavian countries.
The "Seven", of course, have to be taken into account. They are more in the category of our Commonwealth, and there is a world of difference between co-operative ties and competitive scrambles. Of her own free will, and without any dictation from abroad, Sweden insists upon the setting aside of a reserve of agricultural land for every factory set up. Specialisation of labour is no fetish, even in the Low Countries. In Belgium, for example, a man may drive a town bus for half a week, and work on his own land for the rest of the week—the right kind of division of labour, I think. But how uneconomical, it will be said. But it is not. A large measure of production for use and cooperative exchange prevails in all these countries, and the economics of the system are so much unimpaired by the capitalist winds of change. I do not ask for miracles. I do not believe in the dawn appearing in the East one fine morning. It will be a long, costly process to get a sane and well-balanced economy. But in Heaven's name we spend enough now upon lunacy! I ask only for a field capable of development, a direction, a mere 20 per cent. or so for the moment, that we can put up against the menace of slavery and materialism.
There is one other point, in conclusion. Where do all the trade unions stand in this matter? I prefer sitting upon a fence to rushing down to a main-line 460 track prematurely, but some unions are definitely in favour of the Common Market. I believe that is due to the existence of sectional interests. I think we ought to have an answer to this from the unions. Do they seriously think that restrictions, such as those which we have experienced, will any longer be tolerated if we join? Strikes without secret ballot; or any strikes at all; unofficial strikes; the closed shop; demarcation rules; political interference and so on? I warn the trade unions that vastly important modifications of trade union practice will be necessary and will be demanded. I think we ought to know what they think from that point of view. If we join the Common Market, things will not be what they used to be.
There is just one other point. Some time ago, Mr. George Brown, the Deputy Chairman of the Labour Party, said over the radio that it was ridiculous to expect Governments opposed to the doctrine of nationalisation to run nationalised industries successfully. That is the weightiest case yet made against nationalisation. For Mr. Brown did not see that, if the proper management of industry is to depend upon the ups and downs of political emotions, and we must therefore all vote for one Party to avoid such a position, there is the one-Party State complete.
For the reasons that I have just indicated, I shall not vote either for the Amendment or for the Resolution before the House. I wish to resist the present trend towards the super-mechanical, the materialistic slide into slavery that is going on, much of it imperceptibly; and I warn the Labour movement against it heart and soul. Modern technique is now good enough for the capitalists to tolerate syndicalism over a large part of the industrial field, on terms which include the destruction of liberty. Mussolini has been dead for a long time. Socialism is poles apart from this. It is a long and difficult road to the co-operative ideal, and I am no Utopian dreamer. But for Heaven's sake! let us keep the road open and free.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am happy to follow my friend the noble Lord, Lord Amwell—he occupies a worthy place in an illustrious list of speakers—the noble Earl, Lord 461 Dundee, who helped us so much at the beginning, and the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who made so firm and yet so delicate a statement of our Party's position. Then we entered a Prime Ministerial phase. We had two eminent Prime Ministers, then the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who is credited with having created the present Prime Minister, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who is often mistaken for a Prime Minister by visitors to this House.
There was in Irish history a rather painful episode called the Flight of the Earls. We have had a flight of the Prime Ministers since then, and, of course, one of them is an Earl. But I am very glad that my late and revered chief the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has returned, and I hope that he will not chide me—in the old days he might have done—for any rather unwary remarks that fall from me. The noble Lord, Lord Amwell, quoted Engels and, if he is an authority—as I dare say he is, though he denounced materialism—perhaps he would tell us whether it was Engels or Karl Marx who said:Man makes his own history, but he makes it according to the circumstances of his own time.I think that was said by Marx. But it comes to my mind only because man makes his own speech, but he makes it to some extent according to the time of the day, and to some extent according to the number of listeners.
§ LORD AMWELL
That was part of the philosophy which is the classical example of the petitio principle—an argument in a circle if ever there was one. I refer, of course, to the Marxian philosophy of history.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
Though I do not agree with the noble Lord about the Common Market, I am absolutely with him about the Marxist history, so we can go forward together on those topics.
I remember a revered Member of this House, a great lawyer, who used to take about a quarter of an hour to ask himself exactly why he had decided to inflict himself on the House. I should prefer to follow the example of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, who in a quarter of an hour can propound a complete philosophy and 462 programme for world peace. But if I am asked to justify, even in a few words, an intervention at this hour, when there are so many speakers and when, to quote a famous phrase from the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, a period of silence would be welcome—as he said once on a famous occasion to a great professor—I would mention that I have more than once in this House declared myself a 100 per cent. supporter of Britain's going into the Common Market, and at the same time, with even more fidelity, I proclaim myself a 101 per cent. supporter of the Labour Party. It is perhaps permissible, therefore, in the circumstances to discuss for a few minutes with the House how such a person finds himself at the present moment.
Of course, I followed with the closest attention all that the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said, and I drew a great deal of consolation from it, because I am sure he would agree that his total opposition to the Common Market is not the official Party line. If the noble Earl, whom I revere more than any other man in public life and to whom I am more grateful than to any other man in public life, cam deviate a small extent from the central position, then I feel that perhaps what is sauce for the goose may be sauce for the gosling, and we may all be deviationists. So, too, perhaps, I may be allowed to state a view which comes within the ambit of this very broad Amendment but which differs from that of one or two of my colleagues.
My Lords, I came away from the Brighton Conference of our Party very much distressed, as I ventured to explain in a leading newspaper soon afterwards. The special cause of my distress went deeper even than the fear that my own Party, the Labour Party, would stop, or would be instrumental in stopping, this country from going into Europe. I doubted whether that could occur in that way. In my mind, there was the deeper fear that the next Election might come between a Labour Party fighting on a nationalist and isolationist ticket against a Conservative Party presenting itself, curiously enough, as the internationalist champions. For anyone who, like myself, believes that the Labour Party is, in a unique sense, a Party of world-wide brotherhood, that would be not only an ironical but an agonising position. That horrible 463 anxiety has not been entirely removed from my mind, but for various reasons I confess to being a good deal happier to-day than I was immediately following the Brighton Conference. I may be deluding myself in this respect, but with all my heart I hope that is not so.
I agree entirely with any criticisms that are made on this side of the House about the record of the Government in respect to Europe. It has been painful, inglorious and, indeed, shocking. I have no doubt that if these negotiations should finally fail, as I devoutly hope they will not, the historians will lay the blame on our present rulers, who failed to take a very much better chance a few years ago, with the result that the affable Mr. Heath, and others, have been forced to go more or less cap in hand, having been refused the first invitation to the party. Whatever my own views about the Common Market and its intrinsic merits, I cannot resist the arguments and conclusions put forward by various speakers—Mr. Gaitskell and my leaders here; and certainly by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee—that this Government of ours have managed to give the impression to Europe that we are bound to come in. Somehow or other—and for this the Labour Party certainly cannot be blamed—the Government have got themselves into a position where it is widely assumed that we mean to go in, come what may. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, made that point, and it has been made by others. It is, at the very least, wretched diplomacy, and I am afraid the consequences will be very serious.
I cannot offer (I do not think any one of us from outside can offer) detailed criticisms of the negotiations, because inevitably we do not know enough of what has gone on behind the scenes; but almost everybody, I think, not associated directly with the Government will be inclined to regret, and many will be inclined to condemn, this atmosphere of defeatism, as it was called by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, in which our negotiators have been placed—the kind of mixture of desperation and illusory optimism which has surrounded them. I should just add one thing here—and I think it is right for someone who, like myself, is so determined, as far as it lies in my power, to see that we do enter 464 the Common Market, to do so—and that is to support the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, in informing the Europeans, who might possibly come across our words, that there is a sticking point. There must be a sticking point somewhere. It was very straightforward and right of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, to say that, and I think it should be realised in Europe that even those who would describe themselves as the most passionate Europeans draw the line somewhere; that there is a point beyond which this country cannot be pushed.
Now we come to the Amendment, which is the immediate concern of my Party. I am glad to discover from the Press—from the Daily Telegraph, for example—that this is generally regarded as a very wide Motion that imposes no strain on speakers of sensitive morals. I quote from the Daily Telegraph:Both the Government Motion and the Labour Amendment are drafted in such a way that neither Conservative anti-marketeers nor Labour pro-marketeers should have much difficulty in voting as their Whips suggest.I feel that for the moment I can accept that doctrine, just as I believe the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, with whom I sympathise a great deal in reverse, can perhaps accept it.
On reflection, I can persuade myself to-day that no acute question of conscience arises in the Division Lobby; but that does not mean—and I should like to say this as publicly and as clearly as I can in front of so many of my friends in this House—that on a later occasion this very sharp and painful question of conscience (and here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, but from a different angle) may not arise, when the final terms are known and the attitudes of the Parties are defined towards them. I hope that that grim predicament will not impose itself upon us. I can only hope and pray that that does not arise. In the meanwhile. I must re-emphasise very strongly my own support for British entry into the Common Market.
We have not heard much to-day about What might be called the general economic case. I do not think you can prove this coercively to anybody, any more than you could ever prove free trade or protection to somebody who did not want to have it proved to them and 465 started from a different point of view. I do not think this is like mechanical science: I think that, in the end, there is bound to foe a great deal of freedom of decision. But I myself do find some significance, not only in the fact that, when the Observer consulted about 60-odd economists, there were 4 to 1 in favour, but, with me an even more compelling thought, perhaps, also this. When one thinks—and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, will correct me if I am wrong—of the two gentlemen from outside who were regarded, at different times, I suppose, as the economic advisers on whom the Labour Party relied most (I refer to the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, and Sir Robert Hall), one realises that they are about the two most practical economists in the country, and they are both extremely in favour of our entry into the Common Market.
Then, if you want to look at a Socialist in a high position in industry—and for some reason or another there are not many; it is through no fault of theirs—you need look no further than Lord Robens, the head of the Coal Board, who is also an ardent champion of the British entry. Those facts, mentioned baldly, are not going to be decisive; but I cannot accept the view that, if one is counting heads, so to speak, there is no disparity, either in quantity or quality, among those who take the rival stands.
On the political side, I would once again re-emphasise my view that, while European unity is certainly a much smaller and more restricted ideal than that of World Government, it is in itself, as the Labour Party Executive document has indicated and as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, quoted, a bold, imaginative and, I would add, a noble conception. Whether Britain joins or not will in the end, when the terms are known, be a matter for ourselves and there are not many choices of that magnitude in the world to-day.
I learn all I can about Would Government at the knee of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and I was particularly interested that in the debate in this House last Thursday he not only supported a world police force but said he would like to see some real effort being made towards building up a world police force. But, if that cannot be done, he would like 466 to see a Commonwealth police force. This is one of the most important suggestions that has been made in this House for a long time. It would not amount to much coming from me. People would say it was fanciful. But coming from the noble Earl it has great significance. The difficulty about progressing toward World Government is that we cannot get other nations of the world to agree on any important step. In particular, we cannot get the Soviet countries to agree. Therefore, if we are talking about progressing towards World Government this step into Europe is, in fact, the only large step open to us.
My Lords, I have no desire to detain the House longer but I felt it necessary to make my position plain. It remains now for all who believe in Europe to redouble their labours and, if they feel this is right, their prayers. But, in conclusion, I would say one thing about my understanding of Socialism. Though my record in the Socialist Party is not to be compared in time and other ways with that of Lord Attlee and others, I have been a member of the Labour Party for 25 years. I think there is a narrower and a wider form of Socialism. In the narrowest form it is simply a kind of class selfishness. That is certainly not the view that the noble Earl has ever taken in theory and practice. It can take a form which is wider than that but which is not the finest imaginable. It can take the form of nationalism. Socialism can be advocated in such a way that "No other country is a fit partner for our international progress". Every large nation can be blackballed as not sufficiently Socialist enough to go forward with us. If we adopt that policy of blackballing countries which are not Socialist and refuse to draw closer to them we shall finish up in the end with a tight little Socialism here, and we may not even get that. In any case, it will be a pure conception compared to what I regard as real Christian Socialism, which must foe a world-wide, universal creed if it is to be anything at all. For that reason, I myself will always struggle to the last in any small way open to me to promote a closer unity of Europe as the only large step open to us on the way to World Government. I agree with what has been said earlier; but the people of Europe must understand that, 467 whatever particular individuals say here, there is a limit beyond which the people of Britain will not go.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ LORD STRANG
My Lords, the Motion which is before the House reads less like "Forward to success" than "Backs to the wall". The Lord Privy Seal has returned from his latest session in Brussels having suffered a severe rebuff. Neither in regard to agriculture, nor in regard to the Commonwealth, or E.F.T.A., is there any assurance that the satisfactions which Her Majesty's Government are committed to secure are likely to be attained. Even so pro-Common Market an organ as the Statist carries a report from its correspondent in Brussels which goes so far as to say thatthe meeting which produced all these negatives can hardly be described as anything but a disaster.I do not propose to enumerate the various difficulties which have arisen—other noble Lords have done that; but it is not difficult to see why Her Majesty's Government have run into these difficulties. By dint of negotiations, the true character of the problem is now being revealed. The reason is that there is a self-contradiction, both in the objects which Her Majesty's Government are aiming at and in the conditions in which they have had, perforce, to pursue them.
To take the latter point first. Part of the case which Her Majesty's Government, and still more the more ardent Marketeers, have put to the public in order to gain their support for current policy is to point to the disadvantages of our not joining the Community. We should, it is said, deprive ourselves of a large expanding market and condemn ourselves to an economic basis too narrow for our needs. Our economy would wither; we should be unable to help the Commonwealth; we should lose influence in Europe and in the United States. But if we try to carry our public by proclaiming that if we do not go in it will be much the worse for us, then, by so much, we weaken the diplomatic position from which we conduct our negotiations with the Six. We cannot say one thing at home and another abroad. If we emphasise our dire need to go in; if it is our view, as Lord 468 Boothby once said, that unless we go in we are done for; then the Six are entitled to conclude that we shall be ready to pay them a heavy price, and they will try to exact that price—as, indeed, they are doing.
And when we remember that the Lord Privy Seal and his team will be dealing with a French delegation which is pursuing an exclusively self-regarding policy and promoting that policy by the exercise of a highly efficient and quite ruthless diplomacy, we can guess how intractable is the task which they have been set. By all accounts they have acquitted themselves with great skill. But, starting from so disadvantageous a basis, how can they hope to get the terms that we want? And to succeed at all they will need to use a hard and unrelenting diplomacy, far removed from the diplomacy of give-and-take, the diplomacy of concession in the general interest, which has been traditionally characteristic of our foreign policy but which we can no longer afford. In what the Lord Privy Seal recognises to be "formidable negotiations" he will have to fight and fight and fight again.
But the cause of our difficulties lies deeper than this: it lies in the fact that we have set before ourselves what seem to be incompatible objectives. There is nothing unusual in this—Governments are always doing it. We thought we could give Germany equality of rights in the early 1930's without prejudicing the security of France; we thought we could give autonomy to the Nazi Sudeten Germans in 1938 without prejudice to the integrity of the democratic Czechoslovak State; we thought we could make a mutual assistance treaty with the Soviet Union in 1939 without doing violence to the interests of Poland and the Baltic States. Now, we think we can join the European Economic Union and still get satisfactory terms for our agriculture, for the Commonwealth and for our E.F.T.A. partners. I fear that this may well be a delusion.
Not without reason did a Frenchman once say, "If the British want to come into the Common Market they must come in naked". And there is point in the view which is attributed, perhaps wrongly, to Dr. Adenauer—namely, that Great Britain and her Commonwealth interests, together with Norway and 469 Denmark, not to speak of the Irish Republic and the three neutrals, would be too much for the E.E.C. to digest. The E.E.C. is in essence a closely knit body. It may well be thrown out of gear as an economic organisation by the entrance of all these rather ill-assorted elements, as well as being impeded on the road towards federation.
This is why it is at least possible that in the end, in spite of all denials, there will be for us a question of a choice between the E.E.C. and the Commonwealth. Nothing is more distressing to anyone with a sense of history than to note with what levity so many voices (I am not talking here of the Government) are raised today to write off the Commonwealth. It is as much as to say, "The Commonwealth no longer pays. Let us go for the fleshpots of Western Europe." Is that just shopkeeper politics or, is it a sign of distaste for this new Commonwealth, which is so different from the old Empire, a sign of nostalgia for an imperialist past which has gone for ever? At any rate, it is the deplorable conception.
There is another sphere where there is, I think, an uncertainty about Government policy which ought to be clarified, and where there may again be the pursuit of irreconcilable objectives. We are told that we accept the political implication of the Treaty of Rome. What does that mean? That question has been put very tellingly by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. If one searches among the various Government statements, no clear answer can be found, and I hope that your Lordships will bear with me if I give two or three quotations. On the one side, there is the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said in another place in 1959:We must accept that the aim of the main proponents of the Community is political integration … and for us to sign the Treaty of Rome would be to accept as the ultimate goal complete federation in Europe, including ourselves.That is quite clear, and I believe that to be true. Then again, the Prime Minister, in the pamphlet issued a few weeks ago, said:It is true, of course, that political unity is the central aim of these European countries and we would naturally accept that ultimate goal.470 That means to say that political unity is here authoritatively stated to be the ultimate goal of Her Majesty's Government. But the Prime Minister went on to make clear that political unity would not mean acceptingthe extinction of separate national identities.But he did not say what, in his conception, political unity would, in fact, mean.
So also the Lord Privy Seal, in his statement to the Council of Western European Union, on April 10, 1962, said this:We are looking forward to joining you as soon as possible in constituting a Europe united politically as well as economically.And he added:This new Europe will be a great Power, standing not alone but as an equal partner in the Atlantic Alliance.My Lords, if words have their accepted meaning, these statements about political unity and about a great Power should imply that Her Majesty's Government accept the future possibility of a Federation. And a Federation, by definition, would mean the creation of a new European Federal State, with a Head of State, Parliament and Government, Foreign Secretary, Foreign Service, Minister of Defence and Armed Forces. Without these things, Western Europe could not become, as Mr. Heath wants it to become, a great Power, with a unitary will. And side by side with this, there would be Parliament and Governments in each of the constituent States, including Great Britain, with independent jurisdiction over a limited range of domestic affairs, not including the main levers of the economy and not including foreign affairs and defence.
I think that the federalists are right. It was hardly worth while making the Treaty of Rome except as a step along the road to Federation, as, indeed, the Coal and Steel Community was, in terms, originally proclaimed to be. But Ministers have hastened to say that this is not what they mean. What they seem to mean is a political unity which is not of a federal character, in the accepted sense of the word. I am puzzled to know what that can be, though I note that the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has characteristically made a valiant attempt to give an answer. Let us see what Ministers have said.There was nothing "—471 said Mr. R. A. Butler, on September 29 last—in the present or future plans of any of the six Common Market countries which could risk impairing the position of the Monarchy in Britain, if we joined, or the authority of Parliament.Of course it is true that, so long as General de Gaulle is there, proposals for political integration will not get very far; but to suggest, as Mr. Butler seems to have done, that none of the Governments of the Six have ultimate federalist aspirations, is a proposition which, to say the least of it, is of doubtful validity. Professor Hallstein has made it plain thatthe logic of economic integration … leads on towards political unity by way of the fusion of interests.And, in their recent proposals about monetary questions and programming, the Commission have shown that they are driving full speed ahead along this line.
There have been other ministerial statements similar to that of Mr. Butler. Thus, at the Conservative Party Conference Mr. Heath said:We shall agree to nothing which undermines the essential powers of Parliament.But if this is so, Western Europe, with us in it, cannot become the great Power which Mr. Heath says he wants. What is the purpose of these disclaimers? Is the purpose to reassure our own public, not only to reassure them (which is, of course, true) that the Treaty of Rome does not of itself create a federal body, but to reassure them also that even if we join we shall have no obligation to move towards a Federation, and no intention of so doing, even in the future?
But if we say this at home, we must also say the same thing abroad, unless we are to be charged with being disingenuous. By saying these things, we are also, are we not? serving notice on the Six that, even if we join, we shall not assent to any curtailment of our power of independent action going much beyond what is required of the Treaty of Rome itself, as distinct from its political implications? Because, clearly, the further we move towards federation, the more we must curtail the powers of Parliament.
There is need for clarification here and it is to be hoped that the Government 472 will supply it. No such clarification was to be found in what the Lord Privy Seal said in another place yesterday. He confined himself to a vague phrase about closer unity developing pragmatically. The noble Earl, Lord Avon, has made a powerful plea for clarity on this point, and it is a plea which should be answered. If the British people were to realise what might be meant in practice by the acceptance of the political implications of the Treaty of Rome, and of the conception of the unity of Europe, I cannot believe that they would willingly accept it. It is no good thinking that we can merge our political will with others and yet keep it intact. And if our people cannot go wholeheartedly into the Economic Community, with full acceptance of its political implications, and knowing what they are, as they went wholeheartedly into O.E.E.C. and into NATO, then there would be a strong case against going into the Community at all. Unless the full assent of our public was forthcoming, one could understand that there might be hesitation on the part of the Six to accept us. That is one of the grounds, in addition to those so forcefully put by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, for holding that, however difficult it may be, the issue of the Common Market and its political implications should be brought before the electorate before we sign.
If there is one conclusion to be drawn from this present debate, it is that this is a case where it would be better to make no agreement at all than to make an unsatisfactory one; and that is especially so because it would be an agreement that would have consequences for our national life, and for the life of the Commonwealth, which would be fundamental, far-reaching and permanent.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Strang, speaking with his immense experience as a negotiator, has suggested, I think, that it seems unlikely that we shall succeed in obtaining the minimum terms for safeguards that we want for entry into the Common Market. It is this subject of safeguards, and one particular form of safeguard—that for Commonwealth interests—with which I should like to 473 deal in a few words before this debate concludes.
We agree on all sides of the House, I think, that these safeguards for vital Commonwealth interests are essential. Where we disagree is about what we regard as satisfactory from the point of view of safeguarding these vital Commonwealth interests. The Government take the view that they have already made good progress with the negotiations to obtain these requirements from the Six. But this was not the view taken by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers at their Conference in September. It was then made perfectly clear that most of the Commonwealth countries were profoundly dissatisfied with the course of our negotiations and, indeed, seriously alarmed about the damage that would be done to the Commonwealth unless the Government got much better terms than they appeared to be getting at the time. We certainly share the views and the concern of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. I should not be at all surprised if some of them had said privately that they would not expect the Commonwealth to survive unless the Government were able to get much better terms than they appeared likely to get at that time.
I do not want to be a Cassandra about the future, but I myself would expect a steady disintegration of the Commonwealth—not immediate perhaps, but steady and cumulative—to begin if we were to dismantle the Commonwealth pattern of trade which we have now, before it could be replaced by a European or a world pattern, another pattern which would compensate our Commonwealth partners for the loss of their traditional markets. It may be said that this is over-estimating the importance of our economic interests and national economic interests generally, and under-estimating the importance of other ties in the Commonwealth. But, after all, the modern Commonwealth is not held together by sentiment. Of its sixteen member States only four are still British. It is held together mainly by the national interests of its members, and these interests are economic, as well as political.
One has to bear in mind that 600 million of these 750 million inhabitants live in some of the poorest countries in 474 the world—the so-called developing or underdeveloped countries—and exist on an average income of less than £50 per annum. Is it surprising, in these circumstances, that for the new Commonwealth countries in Asia and Africa the question of trade is all-important, and that their great concern is to keep their existing markets and to find new outlets for their foodstuffs, their raw materials and their chief manufactured goods? Unless we are able to make fresh arrangements for maintaining the flow of Commonwealth trade, the effect of our entry into Europe would be that goods from the Commonwealth countries would not only lose their preferential treatment but would have to scale the European tariff wall as well. Moreover, we should have to cut down our capital aid to the Commonwealth, because we should be contributing to the Community Development Fund, which benefits the French African countries and could not be used to benefit countries of British origin. This is the position that would face the Commonwealth unless we were able to make different arrangements.
The Government have been trying to find what they call "comparable outlets "for Commonwealth trade. Their complete failure to find such outlets, however, can be measured by the two main concessions which they claim. These concessions are associated status, to which the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, referred in his opening speech, and the promise of trade and other agreements to meet the difficulties of particular Commonwealth countries. These two proposals deserve careful examination if we are to assess their real value, and that is where, perhaps briefly, I can say something that has not already been said this afternoon.
Associated status was the major concession that France gained for her dependencies when she entered the Community. It is a curious irony that France, who would not enter without enormous concessions for her dependencies, or former dependencies, is now placing every obstacle to our entry by objecting to similar concessions which we want for our partners in the Commonwealth. But this status of association would have had very little value for France, and no doubt France would not have regarded it as going nearly far enough, if it had not included all the French overseas territories. But there is no question of 475 associating the whole of the Commonwealth with the European Community in this way.
To some countries association is unsuitable. Other countries have turned it down. The offer has been limited to our awn Colonies and to the Commonwealth countries in Africa and the Caribbean. It has not been extended to India, Pakistan and Ceylon. The only African country that has accepted, or accepted in principle, is the Federation of Rhodesia with Nyasaland, which I think everyone would agree is a rather uncertain starter. Tanganyika has turned the offer down, and did so on behalf of East Africa. The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, did not refer to the other East African countries, Uganda and Kenya, and perhaps the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House can say something about the attitude of the Government of Uganda, which is mow a Government of an independent country, and the attitude of the Government of Kenya. But, at any rate, Tanganyika claimed to speak for these Governments, as well as the Government of Tanganyika. In West Africa, neither Ghana nor Nigeria has any use for association with Western Europe. We are therefore left with only a small number of British Colonies scattered all over the world, and among the independent countries Trinidad and possibly Jamaica. This is the total area of the Commonwealth that seems likely at the moment to benefit from association.
The Lord Privy Seal yesterday in another place claimed, I thought with some pride, that this offer of association has been made to 72 million people. But what does it really amount to if it is only conceivably acceptable to 2 million or 3 million out of the total population of the Commonwealth? I hope the Government realise that the political difficulties about association for African countries are really insuperable, and that they will not go on pushing that particular project in the hope that it may ultimately be acceptable. I believe I know enough about Africa to be able to say that with a great degree of confidence.
I think the Government should make a fresh approach to this whole problem of tropical foodstuffs which is the problem for the countries in Africa that have 476 been offered association with the Common Market. What we need is not a European/African trade bloc discriminating against other primary producers in Latin America and elsewhere, but free entry of tropical foodstuffs into Europe. That would be a much more promising line for the Government to explore, if I may suggest it. If we can get free entry into Europe we might, with the help of President Kennedy's trade Bill, negotiate an even wider agreement covering tropical foodstuffs from Latin America and other parts of the world. The Government have already negotiated a nil tariff on tea. I have not mentioned that, because in itself it is not a very big concession, but it is a useful precedent and it should encourage the Government to make every possible effort to get the abolition of the tariff on cocoa, coffee, groundnuts and other tropical foodstuffs. A trade agreement on these lines is surely the only alternative to association for the African countries, unless they are to be penalised in the way I have suggested, and Which would inevitably happen if we were to go in without these safeguards.
I should like to comment very briefly indeed on the second main concession the Government have claimed in their negotiations with the Community—the proposal to work out agreements to meet the trade requirements of other Commonwealth countries. We have the trade and aid agreements offered to India, Pakistan and Ceylon, to which the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, referred, the world commodity agreements to stabilise commodity prices, and the special arrangements for individual countries. In regard to these special arrangements for individual countries, I must say I share with several other noble Lords, including the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, a great deal of anxiety about the position of New Zealand. I hope the noble and learned Viscount will clarify that matter when he winds up the debate.
We all recognise the unique position of New Zealand in the sense that it is more dependent than any other Commonwealth country on the United Kingdom market. I believe that 90 per cent. of New Zealand's export of meat and dairy products still comes to this country. If Denmark joins the Community, 477 Europe will produce enough cheese, and almost enough butter, for consumers both here and on the Continent. The New Zealand economy would be wrecked unless we got a quota scheme, or something of that kind, for the continued admission of cheese and butter (after we joined the Community. A scheme to guarantee entry for New Zealand dairy produce and New Zealand meat to this country is, I should have thought, a sine qua non for our entry into Europe. I know that we all feel peculiar ties of sentiment towards New Zealand, and that those noble Lords who have been to New Zealand realise how immensely loyal and English the New Zealanders are.
This is what I am particularly anxious that the noble and learned Viscount opposite should explain. May I give point to my anxiety by quoting the reference in the White Paper, summarising the last stage of the negotiations on October 25 to October 27 in Brussels quoting the reference to New Zealand? Paragraph 8 says:The French Foreign Minister informed the Conference, with reference to the Ministerial meeting of August 1–5 that, in his understanding, the statements made about New Zealand from the Chair on that occasion"—that is to say, during the August meetings—did not mean either that France was committed on the principle, without knowing the method of application of that principle, or that she was committed on the methods given the uncertainty in which France still found herself on the principle.The principle was the principle of special arrangements for New Zealand. Does this mean, or does it not, that France has gone back on her undertaking to consider special arrangements for New Zealand?
The obvious comment—although I do not think it is a comment which has been made—on these proposed international agreements, on all the agreements of every type to which I have just referred, as a substitute for Commonwealth preference, is that none of these agreements has yet been concluded, or, indeed, that no start has been made with the negotiating of the agreements. We do not know how long it will take for these agreements to be negotiated. We do not know what they will contain or, indeed, whether the negotiations, how- 478 ever protracted, will end in agreement or disagreement. That is why we are saying to the Government: "Get your agreements first, and then we can judge whether they take care of the Commonwealth and offer anything like a comparable outlet for Commonwealth trade. But do not dismantle your present system of Commonwealth preferences before you have anything else to take its place."
Nebulous future agreements, and a form of association unacceptable to most Commonwealth countries, are surely a condition of failure, and not a measure of progress towards acceptable terms of entry into Europe. Of course, we wish the Government success in obtaining satisfactory terms—satisfactory for the Commonwealth and for our other interests and other commitments. But if, as the noble Lord, Lord Strang, suggested, we have in the end to choose between Europe and the Commonwealth, we, and, I think, most of your Lordships, will certainly and unhesitatingly choose the Commonwealth.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, at this stage of the evening, and after the tone and quality of the debate, one rises with some hesitation. Certainly I propose to discard my carefully prepared speech, a speech that I had prepared in some anticipation that I ought again be in the lonely group which was not so much opposed to British entry into the Common Market as concerned at the prospect of what would appear to be a grouping of rich and powerful nations—whether in Europe, in the United States or in the Communist bloc—fully industrialised, raising artificial tariffs and barriers which, in effect, would exclude the vast majority of the people of this world. I have been privileged to live for a good many years in Asia, and to go back there year by year. I wish that this House could lift its eyes above the richness, the ease and the comfort in which we in Europe now live, and were able to see the poverty, the sickness and the distress in Which millions of people, men, women and children, still live.
It is true that we of the West, particularly of the United States and of this country, have in past years given aid by money, toy education, by technical instruction and equipment. I think that 479 those who have been party to that effort will recognise that what we have done merely scratches at the surface. Many will say that what these countries need is a stabilisation of their raw commodity prices. That may be so; and it is a very important part. But if these people are to be lifted out of their distress and their poverty, these countries have to be industrialised. Recently I was in India and I saw some of the great strides that are being made—great in terms but, let us fully admit, very limited, considering the task that faces India. It can be equally said of Malaya, Singapore and many other countries of Asia; and Africa, which is now emerging to independence, will face the same task.
My Lords, these countries, when they are industrialised, and if they are to progress and increase in strength will need markets. There are many who say that these countries can develop and trade within themselves. This is sheer nonsense. These countries will require the markets that only the West can offer, markets in which there is a high purchasing rate. It would appear, certainly to the Asian, that what is now taking place in Europe, in which the United Kingdom is contemplating joining, is the creation of a tariff wall within which those who are (rich and powerful will prosper and whose markets will be denied to the industrialists of Asia.
I remember, certainly four years ago, listening in Washington to the speech of Professor Hallstein, who was then speaking on behalf of the new European Economic Community. He said something to the effect that the Community would be outward-looking, and that one of its purposes would be to create trade for these under-developed countries. I fully appreciate and believe that there are many in Europe who would wish to see this. And I think that there are many in Europe who believe that unless the peoples of Asia can be brought forward a vacuum will be created which only the Communist Powers can exploit.
Nevertheless, if you look at the trade figures of the European Economic Community with India, Pakistan and Ceylon, in particular, you will see that from 1951 until 1961 the trade of the rich and powerful nations of Europe increased fourfold, whereas the exports from those 480 countries to Europe increased only marginally. So one must look to the reasons why this trade has developed in such a way, in spite of the protestations. India imported from the European Economic Community in 1961 £140 million-worth of goods, but the European Economic Community imported from India £41 million-worth; an adverse balance of £100 million. Is it that India could not sell its grey cloth? Is it that India could not sell more of its other merchandise? I think we must face frankly the fact that the restrictions on India were man-made; that it was not the inability of India to supply, but the tariffs and the quotas laid down by the countries of the Community to protect its own industry against that of India which led to this adverse balance.
I have many other figures that I can quote. Take the case of Pakistan. They sold to the Common Market £27 million-worth of goods. The Common Market sold to Pakistan £43 million-worth. If we go through many other figures—even our own figures—we see that the balance of trade is against these under-developed countries in the British Commonwealth. Take the case of Hong Kong. It is only a small island, mainly occupied by Chinese, but when I look at the proximity of China I cannot help but relate it to Berlin.
Hong Kong lies close to a Communist country; the majority of its population to-day, as in Berlin, are refugees from a Communist country. Much has been done; but it has been done by Hong Kong itself, certainly not by any of the powerful nations. Hong Kong is extremely proud of what it has been able to achieve, but, as I understand it, in the discussions that have taken place in Brussels the position of Hong Kong has been left to the end. No decisions have so far been made. There is considerable fear in the Colony that their position will be brushed under the carpet at the end and that they will be left isolated. If no satisfactory terms are obtained, it is estimated that the trade between Hong Kong and this country—and we are very much its largest supporter—will be reduced by at least 30 per cent. Certainly, from the facts and the prices I have obtained from Hong Kong, its entire cotton export to this country will disappear. There are many I know who will be pleased to hear it, 481 but the tariff that will be put on Hong Kong goods will certainly mean that we shall have this import replaced by goods from the powerful cotton mills of Germany and Italy.
I know that the Government have had some undertakings from the Common Market countries. I wish that I could accept them in the same faith as the Government appear to have accepted, them. If I felt that the Common Market was going to be largely administered by politicians—those people who move about the world and see things—I should perhaps not be so concerned. But, like my noble friend Lord Attlee, I cannot but feel that the Common Market will evolve with the civil servants (and here I do not speak in any disparagement of civil servants) and the intellectuals working out on the graphs and making the decisions; decisions that would appear, as in the past, to be broadly accepted by the Ministers. But these people will not quite take into account the human problems and the human challenges that will beset Asia and Africa as they emerge. Before the Government make a decision on entry into the Common Market, in fairness to the Commonwealth, particularly those countries which are now Colonies and which will shortly emerge, I hope, into Commonwealth countries, I believe we should insist on the Government's obtaining promises and agreements which are as specific as possible.
The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, asked in very strong terms that, before any decision is made, there should be a General Election. It is too early to presume in which way the political Parties will fall. The House will recognise that our Amendment accepts the fact that it may be for the benefit of this country were we to enter the Common Market. It may well be that when the terms are before us they will be such that the two main political Parties will accept them. Certainly that would not appear to be so at the present. But even if that is the case I believe this decision on entry into the Common Market is of such momentous importance that at least the Government who ratify it should have a mandate, should have fresh support from the people. I believe that the Commonwealth is looking to Britain, to the ordinary men and women, to use 482 their judgment, to use their instinct, which has been such a big part in their life, in making this decision. I personally believe that the decision is so momentous that the people should certainly be consulted.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in his last remark when he said that the decision to join the Common Market is one of the utmost importance, and I also agree with the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that before this decision is taken it ought to be put to the people. But, of course, it is of very little use putting it to the people if the people do not understand what it is about, and the average person has had very little opportunity of really understanding the object of the Common Market. I should like Her Majesty's Government really to try to advertise all the facts to the country. I think that if it were possible for them to use a whole page in every daily and every local paper in the country just to put down the salient facts it would be a great help to the average person. Presumably they would have to get the agreement of the Opposition if they were going to do it out of public funds, but if that agreement were not forthcoming I should like to see the Conservative Party spend a great deal of money on bringing the facts of the Common Market to the people.
I have always been very much attracted by the Common Market, as I have said before in this House, because I desire Great Britain to remain at the centre of power, and the centre of power is going to be Europe. I believe it is inevitable, that we cannot really help ourselves: eventually we shall have a united Europe. I would personally far prefer a Commonwealth free trade area. Of course that is quite impossible, because to start with the Commonwealth will not have it; as it is, the Commonwealth raise certain tariffs against some of our exports. It is all very well to say we can do without the Common Market if we do not get our terms. Of course we can do without it, but if we do do without it the people of this country will have to tighten their belts. Their standard of living will have to decrease, in my opinion, if we do not join the Common Market.
483 Another thing that attracts me to the Common Market is that anyone very much to the Left, and all Communists, are extremely anti-Common Market. Quite a few Communists have even shown love for the Commonwealth now, which strikes me as being extremely fishy, to say the least of it. I quite agree that according to the Treaty of Rome—take Article 189—we shall have to subject some of our sovereignty to the wishes of the Council. Everybody who has spoken in this debate to-day has looked at the Common Market as it is without us in it. But if we join it we are going, of course, to alter it to a certain extent. We shall probably hold the balance of power. I think we are bound to influence it to a great degree. Nobody appears to have taken up that point.
I also think that the agricultural community—I am a farmer among other things—have really shown great panic in the face of the Common Market quite erroneously; because I can tell your Lordships that I know one or two organisations to-day that are exporting food to the Common Market quite profitably. I know an organisation that is sending a lot of fruit to the Common Market at a profit. I also know an organisation which is sending meat to the Common Market. If we can make a profit with the trade barriers against us, once the trade barriers are down the future should be extremely rosy. I agree that in horticulture the small horticulturist will get hurt. But surely it is not beyond our power to assist him in order that he may adjust his trade.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, might I interrupt the noble Viscount for just a moment, because I am greatly interested in his comments about agriculture? He has said that the farmers are panic-stricken and the like. I do not find that spirit in the memorandum which has been circulated this week by the National Farmers' Union. All they ask is that the pledges which were made by the Government should be kept and that they should realise the general problem that they have to face, not only as to the position in regard to food in the Common Market but as to the position in re- 484 gard to food in the whole world. I think the noble Viscount might look at that.
I do not know whether he has, as a farmer, considered the future. I have still got wheat in my barn which I want to sell, but French wheat is coming in and keeping the price of British wheat ex farm at about 16s. 6d. per cwt. That is because of the subsidised nature of the French wheat coming into this country. We have to put up with that; and the Government, under the subsidy scheme, have to pay the balance between the standard price and what they are forced down to by this particular kind of business. I think that the noble Viscount had better think again about this.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, the French wheat coming into the country is dumped wheat and it is coming in at under the cost of production. If we were in the Common Market I understand that we should not have food dumped here at under the cost of production. But Her Majesty's Government have told farmers that we are going to have this transitional period until, we hope. 1970, for the subsidies to be adjusted. Obviously, you cannot shut them off instantly—that would be quite impossible. But I cannot really see that British agriculture has anything to fear at all because we have far greater mechanisation; we have also a higher yield—with Denmark, we have the highest yield per acre of corn in the world. The opportunities for beef and mutton in the Common Market are limitless. However, I was extremely pleased to hear the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, say that we are going to press strongly for the protection of New Zealand. That is essential. After all, the population there is one of barely three million. It would be just a flea-bite in the Common Market to absorb the agricultural production of New Zealand. I think that protection is quite essential.
But there is one aspect of the matter that I am not quite happy about, regarding food prices. It is true that food is going to be more expensive in the Common Market for the consumer in this country, though of course it will be easier for the taxpayer. That will be the case in regard to the individual on a small fixed income. I am not talking of pensioners, because you can always raise pensions; but for people on small 485 fixed incomes this is a problem. I do not know how it can be solved.
The other day the noble Viscount the Leader of the House spoke about rigidity in our industry. I foresee that if we join the Common Market that rigidity will disappear. The days of three men using the same shovel, so to speak, will have to go. We shall have to be more competitive. Only the other day from my taxi I saw four men digging a hole in the road when I should have thought that two would be ample. All that will have to go by the board.
I am all for the Commonwealth. We have heard a lot of people say that we are going to desert the Commonwealth if we go into the Common Market. I think that is quite nonsense. If you were to tell me that the only thing that binds the Commonwealth is material advantage, then it cannot be a noble concept. I was always taught that the Commonwealth was bound by other ties. I am sure that if we join the Common Market after the public have decided, it is going to help the Commonwealth because we shall have far more capital to invest in individual countries of the Commonwealth. I cannot understand the argument that it is going to harm the Commonwealth if we stay out. It may be that for two or three years there will be growing pains, but on the whole I see a great future economically, and for the whole free world, if we join the Common Market.
In his Amendment the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, says that Great Britain must retainher present freedom to conduct her own foreign policy.But have we freedom to conduct our own foreign policy? What happened at Suez? After all, we are partners in NATO. We do not now have full freedom to conduct our own foreign policy. If we join the Common Market, the Six, we shall have a foreign policy which will have far more power to it and which we can influence. I think that this idea of staying outside is complete isolationism—it is backward looking. I am surprised that so many of your Lordships appear to feel that way. I only say that I, personally, hope that Her Majesty's Government can put the facts squarely before the people; and that, although of course we do not want to enter under any terms, we will be practical about it. We do not want to make impossible 486 terms. Therefore, my Lords, I support the Government in their efforts to join the Common Market.
§ 8.1 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I should like to apologise to the Leader of the House for the fact that I happened to be absent at the beginning of the debate to-day, and therefore did not have the pleasure of listening to the noble Earl who opened the case for the Government Motion. I have heard that he spoke very well. I heard also that he did not add much to my opinion of the Government's Motion. But, as I have said, I was told he spoke very well.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
I would not have been away if I had not had a public engagement. I have also heard about the very great impression made upon the House by the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Avon. I was here in time to listen to the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. I feel that those two speeches are of immense importance. I do beg the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House not, at any rate, to put all of us in what I call the category of aged "fuddy-duddies", or some such name, or to use the sort of appellations he attached to us the other night. This, in my view, is a very serious occasion. This is one of the greatest decisions the country has had to make, even if at this time it is not allowed to vote upon it but has got to give way to the delegated powers of Parliament.
Since I entered Parliament 40 years ago the noble Marquess, the noble Earl, and I have been through a great many crises together—we have not always been aged !—and we have always seemed to come together in opinion when something really national in the country was at stake. I should very much like to think that, so far, the Government would have on its side some people willing to listen to argument, willing to listen to warnings—as some, but only a limited number, of the Conservative Party listened to the warnings of Lord Avon, Lord Salisbury and Winston Churchill before the last war—and to take note of those warnings before they go any further. This is a time when we are faced with very great issues indeed.
487 My Lords, we have put down an Amendment to the Government Motion. The Government very clearly desire to proceed, if possible, and as early as possible, into the Common Market, subject only to the consent of Parliament. I think that is fairly clear. There is not the slightest suggestion—and the noble Marquess was quite entitled to-day to make the comments he did—that they would seek the sanction of the people before they signed the Treaty of Rome. I think that it would be a very great mistake not to do so. It is perfectly true that all Parties, even the Liberal Party—not among their representatives in this House perhaps, although that may be so; and not among their very small group in the other place, but certainly the Smedley group——
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
The noble Viscount has selected the right trade, I think. They were certainly behind the Albert Hall meeting of protest against entering the Common Market. As I was saying, all Parties are divided on this matter. At one time I considered that the position of my Party was certainly very difficult. We have now before us an Amendment, which gives some breathing space and a clear warning to the Government as to what we consider will be the position if they persist in trying to go into the Common Market without having obtained, to the full, the pledges they have made in the three directions: to agriculture, to the Commonwealth and to the E.F.T.A. countries. That means that an Opposition which felt that the Government had not honoured its pledges in these three vastly important directions would be opposed to signing the Treaty. In that case they would be entitled to demand that the country should give a verdict on it before the Treaty was signed.
My Lords, I listened to the general argument of the noble Marquess as to what is usually the right course of action in matters of this sort. He had a little poke at my Party about their position 488 in the 1945 Parliament with regard to a possible cutting down of the powers of the House of Lords. On that point I would say to him that we have never ceased, in the whole of my 50 years of political life in the country, to put before the electorate what we felt was a wrong position for the House of Lords to hold. The electorate knew our views on that from the beginning to the end. Perhaps you might say that in Let Us Face the Future we did not have quite so specific a reference to the House of Lords as we had to the five main principles which governed our legislative proposals in that Parliament. But I thoroughly agree with the noble Marquess that, when such matters as we are now discussing are proposed to be dealt with without the real view of the people having been obtained, that is something that ought to be put right.
My noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth said in this House the other day, speaking on quite another subject, that what was important in deciding these matters was truth and good faith. When you begin to think about a Party's appeal to the electorate, these are very great factors: tell the people the truth before you do something, and keep good faith. I go back over my Parliamentary life and pick out the action of Mr. Baldwin in 1923—the noble Marquess, I am sure, will remember this. It was outstanding. Mr. Bonar Law had died in the course of the year 1923, and Mr. Baldwin had been appointed Prime Minister in his place. He, and his Cabinet with him, I take it, decided that, because of the very grave unemployment at that time, the only course was completely to change the nation's fiscal policy—to change from the traditional free trade practices of our country, and to go in for all-round protection as found necessary in the different trades of the country.
What did he do? The Conservative Party had been elected only the previous November, but Mr. Baldwin said that it was not possible to deal with the situation without going to the country on that issue. And he went frankly to the country, at the end of 1923. He came out from the Election with the largest Party, but he did not have enough to have a clear majority over all the rest of Parliament. But he, at least, presented 489 the people with their proper opportunity of giving a verdict upon the issue. I do not think that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has done anything more to-day than to apply that same honest and just principle of what Governments should do in circumstances of this kind as Mr. Baldwin did in 1923. From that point of view, I pay the late Mr. Baldwin my tribute.
The situation now is that we have the Government's Resolution, which I have mentioned, and we have a specific Amendment to it. That Amendment clearly indicates that within my Party there has been a move of hardening against aspects of entering into the Common Market, and there is not that same undivided view in the section which wanted to go into the Common Market come what may. Such general pledges as have emerged from the Government's efforts to get what they want have not satisfied a good many of my people, and they want to make quite sure that the pledges of the Government are fulfilled if, ultimately, there may be an entering into the Common Market. My personal feeling about the matter is that, in any case, I should like the Election before signing the Treaty of Rome.
In regard to the actual feelings of the members of my Party, I can quite see, and our leadership in the other place sees quite clearly, that there ought to be a means of consulting the country. If our going into the Common Market is going to have such an effect upon these various interests—either on the agricultural industry or on other industries in the country; or on the Commonwealth or on other countries—we are not prepared to allow it to go forward for signature unless it is referred to the country for a decision. Therefore, I think that the Government are under a great obligation to-night in what they say. I hope that, whatever is being said in the other place, the noble and learned Viscount is going to be able to answer what I think was a most specific challenge from the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, to-day, as to what is their intention. I specially stress this question: do they propose to sign the Treaty of Rome after acceptance by Parliament, without going to the country about it? Do they propose to sign it before they have an Election? I think the country ought to be told quite clearly what the position is.
490 I should like to press very strongly the considerations which have been put tonight with regard to the Commonwealth, by my noble friend the Earl of Listowel, and, certainly, by my noble friend Lord Shepherd. I think that Members of your Lordships' House and of the other place have all been really keen, to see that justice is done to our Dominions, especially in the case of New Zealand. It is my happiness that I have been able to visit New Zealand twice, and it has been my very good fortune, as a Defence Minister and as a Service Minister as well on another occasion, to have had that instantaneous and constant, loyal support from New Zealand in the defence field, as well as from Australia and from Canada. In addition we never had any difficulty in the time when we were still the Government in India, with a mixed Government, in receiving enormous assistance from India. In the case of New Zealand, there is not the slightest shadow of doubt that unless something very much more is obtained than has yet been indicated to us there will be ruin of the economy of that brave and loyal people, so widely based upon English descent and practice. I think that that would be a very wrong thing to do.
The general position that was put from this Box this evening, as to the opinions which were expressed by the overseas Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth, and especially stressed by Mr. Gaitskell in his speech yesterday and quoted ad lib., is such that I cannot believe that the Government are really intending—I hope it is not so—to make a sort of deal with the Common Market which does not live up to the essence of the pledge they have made. They started very badly in regard to this Commonwealth matter. Many Members of your Lordships' House felt that there was no real live contact in time between Ministers of the Government and the actual Ministers of the Commonwealth before the Government went as far as they did in presenting their case to Parliament in July of last year. Then, suddenly, Mr. Sandys had to be despatched all round the Commonwealth to try to recover from the effect of this very grave restraint, in having built up this new idea of entering the Common Market without proper discussion with the 491 Ministers. But now there is not the slightest doubt that pledges have been given to the Commonwealth which up to the present have not yet seen fulfilment as a result of the discussions that have been going on in Brussels, Paris and Berlin. I hope that the Government can be relied upon, so that if they do not get what they have promised to get for the Commonwealth they will not fail to keep their pledge that they will not go into the Common Market on that basis.
The position with regard to agriculture is very strange. I do not yet understand exactly where they are. I hope to be able to read to-morrow the speech of the Minister of Agriculture in another place. I should have liked to hear the references to agriculture which I am told were made here by the noble Earl, Lord Avon, this afternoon. But I am quite certain of this: that whatever may have been the experience of agriculturists in relation to Governments in the past, we have had no repetition since the last war of the kind of betrayal that happened in the repeal of the Corn Production Act in 1920, after the first war, because we had a sound and sane policy for the maintenance and expansion—so vitally required—of the agricultural product and for it to become a real factor in helping our balance of payments difficulties. The 1947 Act has meant an enormous expansion of our agricultural production, helping industry at the same time by the immense purchases year by year of the products of the British engineering industry, as well as of some imported farming machinery. Indeed, the kind of machines which used to be sent here from abroad are, at the present time, nearly all produced in this country, also affording employment for British skilled labour.
The position was that all Parties said they were pledged to support the 1947 Act. In the 1950 and 1951 Elections, the Conservative Party were pledged to support it. There have been little whittlings away, cuttings away, in the process of carrying out the subsidy scheme. But it is only in comparatively recent months that we have heard a statement of the kind—" Ah! we are pledged to continue the 1947 Act until the end of this Parliament ". What sort of assurances have you yet been able to give British agriculture, bearing in mind that you quite clearly 492 contemplate doing away with the whole effect of the 1957 Act, which will mean abolishing altogether the 1947 Act? You have nothing real in the way of an assurance for them at all. What game is the Government going to play with agriculture in this matter, may I ask the noble Viscount? We ought to know to-night, because it is very important that we should know. If the position of the British agriculturists is put in peril by nothing effective being obtained, or they are to be thrown back purely upon improvements expected here and there as against the losses which they will sustain by losing their subsidy system altogether, by fiscal measures taken to make food more dear in this country, then I think we should regard the terms as not having fulfilled the Government's pledge. It would be a quite unfair position to thrust back on the agricultural industry. I hope, therefore, that we shall get a further explanation of that to-night.
The other thing I want to say is this. Last night my leader in the other place, having dealt with the questions of E.F.T.A., the Commonwealth and agriculture, turned to two other very important factors. They were that there ought to be an absolute understanding right from the beginning—now—if we are going in, that we are not going to be handicapped in any way in our foreign policy. Now I have heard the quotations made by other Members of your Lordships' House to-night as to what has been said in the past by Minister after Minister now in the Cabinet. We had reference tonight by the noble Lord, Lord Strang, to what was said by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and there were quotations from Mr. Heath and what he had said about the inevitability of political unity and the like if you go in on the economic basis. What other noble Lords have said must surely be right: it is merely a building up of a political federation of Europe, and it is that which would be the real threat to sovereignty.
But I go further than that. I say that the sovereignty of Parliament itself is threatened in this Treaty as it has never been threatened since the time of the Reformation. Since the time when gradually, through the Stuart period, Parliament assumed authority over the Crown, and it was decided that 493 sovereignty rested in Parliament itself, we have never had the kind of challenge that this Treaty is going to give—never. You would go into the Treaty; you would set up your organisation; you would discuss, either through the Commission of Civil Servants or, possibly, in the Council of Ministers also; and then, whatever they decided, whatever its effect on trade or commerce, all the social, industrial and labour matters that arise out of it are settled in law, as was pointed out to us on August 2 by the noble and learned Lord who sits upon the Woolsack. Those decisions immediately become law in this country as well as in the Administration by the High Court of Justice set up by the Treaty.
What of Parliament? Parliament then has no right at all to get any amendment of any of those things: none at all. We have not been in that position for hundreds of years. In regard to sovereignty, I am quite willing to lose sovereignty when it leads to a great basis for a world organisation for bringing lasting peace into the world, and that kind of thing, but I do not want to see our Parliament placed in a position in which it has no power whatsoever to get any amendment of laws of this kind. I read very carefully what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said upon this matter on August 2, and that is the position. That is a loss of sovereignty which we ought not to suffer.
How are you going to re-establish the real and fundamental authority of Parliament in your own country, when Parliament has let the country down by undertaking things abroad that no future Parliament can really undo? As I understand it, you could not, if you went in, do it in any way except by refusing to accept any decisions of the E.E.C. Then ultimately you could be brought before an International Court of Justice and, whatever else came out of it, you would be inclined to lose face in the whole international diplomatic world for having repudiated a Treaty which a previous Government had entered into with more than one country. That surely cannot be a position which the Government can accept and which they can decide upon now, without going to the country before Parliament loses its sovereignty.
494 So I want to put it to the noble Viscount, as we have put it into our Amendment to-day, that we must be free to conduct our own foreign policy and we must be free to have control of our own economic planning for the benefit of our own people, for the relief of those needs that arise from time to time in various directions and in various aspects of our social life. We want t0 be free to do all that planning without being afterwards hauled back, as Belgium was hauled back about its coalmining policy, and told, "You have no power to do that; you must conform to the law of the European Economic Community".
My friends in the Labour Party do not all go quite so far as I do on this matter, but I think they have gone a long way to meet those of us who hold the view that we do. They have gone a long way, and I think that they have covered the ground in this Amendment. I will certainly vote for it, and I only hope that all those who have spoken as they have from below the Gangway on the other side (I agreed with every word they said on it to-night) will be prepared to vote for this general plea that they have put forward and which I have put forward, and will be able to go into the Lobby and say that now is the time to halt and consider, to stand fast in the old ways, in spite of all that the noble Viscount said yesterday. It was a very good message from the Prophet Jeremiah. He said that the result of standing fast in the old ways would be that you would get rest unto your souls. I hope that we shall very carefully reconsider the position.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, this is, of course, an immensely complicated and an immensely difficult subject. One thing I am bound to say is that I think the only thing with Which I agree in the speech of the Leader of the Labour Party to his Party Conference and with which I wholly agreed When he talked about it, was his comment that anybody who thinks that it is easy is a fool. I accept that. We have had a very interesting debate to-day. There have been fifteen or sixteen separate speeches, and I should like in advance to apologise to those whose specific points I do not mention in the course of my argument for 495 any apparent want of courtesy I may show to them. I can assure them that I will do what I can to take their views into account, but should there be any particular point which I have not dealt with in the course of my answer, I hope that they will either write to me or put down a Question, in which case I hope to give them all the attention which they quite certainly deserve.
In a debate of this kind I think it is the duty of the speaker on behalf of the Government to come back to the central issues and business of the day. During the course of this debate we have, of course, risen to very considerable heights. I do not think anybody who heard the really tremendous speech of my noble friend, Lord Avon, will doubt that very high political thinking has been involved from time to time. If I do not answer him in full this evening he will understand that that is a courtesy rather than the opposite. I think a speech of that kind needs reflection although I shall refer from time to time to his remarks, which I not only admire but with which, if he will allow me to say so, I very largely agree.
My Lords, I think we must now consider the shape of the debate—a debate in which a Motion has been proposed which I shall ask the House to accept, and to which an Amendment has been proposed Which I must ask the House to reject. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin (and I understand, of course, that he was perhaps brought into this debate at rather shorter notice than he would have liked: and if he will allow me to say so he made an extremely moderate and conciliatory speech), asked why the debate had taken this particular form. The answer is quite a simple one. During long discussions in the usual channels in both Houses we understood that the Opposition did not wish to debate this question by way of Amendment to the gracious Speech, or generally on the gracious Speech, and that a Motion of this kind was the acceptable way in which we should discuss it. I think, as a matter of fact, that that decision was right, but I do not think it really lies in the mouth of either side to reproach the other for the form which the debate has taken. The Government must take full responsibility, and does take full responsibility, for the words of its Motion, and the Opposition must take 496 full responsibility, and, I hope will take full responsibility, for the terms of its Amendment.
Before I deal with the actual phraseology and implications of the Motion and the Amendment, there are two or three general observations I should like to make. I have been conscious, throughout the period of time during which this issue has been current before public opinion, of three general difficulties in the way of a member of the Government or, indeed, in the way of anybody with a sense of responsihibility, handling the issue. The first difficulty is that of conducting what is virtually a public relations exercise with one's own people and at the same time conducting what, by any standards, axe extremely tough negotiations with the other potential parties to the agreement. I think this is a genuine difficulty and I am sure the noble Lords who have carried the responsibility of government will sympathise with it. I think the difficulty was very well illustrated by some of the things which have been said this evening and, indeed, by the result of the Llandudno Conference.
We have to justify to our people the attitude (which I hope to explain at greater length later on) that we should like, if tolerable terms and reasonable terms can be accepted, to join the Common Market. We therefore have to put to our own people the case for the Common Market. Whenever we have done so we have succeeded decisively; whether in Parliament, before a Party Conference or before a public meeting, we have won that issue. We have, however, created in the minds of the Europeans at the same time what seems to be a kind of euphoria, a kind of atmosphere, to which the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, referred, in which they believe that we would be bound to go in at any price, and that our prestige and success as a Government were so far committed to the enterprise that we might compromise the essential interests of the country. I hope to persuade the House that that is wrong, but of course it is inherent in the suitation which I have been trying to describe and am again trying to describe, perfectly fairly and without passion on either side.
The second difficulty we are under is that you cannot altogether describe the 497 characteristics of an association of nations or of peoples when it is as yet not fully developed. That is, of course, true of the Common Market, even if it remains, as it is, the association of the Six. I have always been told that Rugby football and American football are played by virtually the same rules. But experienced footballers tell me that the games are totally different, and of course you cannot ultimately describe what you believe to be the true characteristics of the Common Market simply by asking your lawyer to construe the terms of the Treaty of Rome.
What is much more important than construing the terms of the Treaty of Rome—though far be it from me to deprecate the value of the lawyer's contribution to debates of this kind—is to try to understand the spirit of the institution and the direction in which it is going. You can have no guarantee while the institution is developing, and it is for that reason, I think, that during the course of the negotiations we have, as several speakers have pointed out, come to rely more and more on good faith, and to demand more and more general indications of policy made in good faith than on institutional requirements insisted upon as a condition of entry. Whether we have been right or wrong about this attitude which has resulted very largely from contact with the Community is a question open to discussion. Noble Lords will recognise that, when you are dealing with the spirit of an institution, and a developing institution, it is the spirit and policy and direction which must be looked at at least as much as the legal institutions and constitution of that body.
The third difficulty to which I should like to draw the attention of your Lordships is the fact which I believe is quite certain and which stems from the second point I am seeking to make; namely, that the character of the European Community, with Britain, Ireland and E.F.T.A. members in it, will be different as it develops from that which it would be if Britain and the E.F.T.A. members were excluded. That is quite inevitable. Again, of course, it is not simply a question of the legal terms when you go in; it is not simply a question of legal institutions, important as these are: you cannot create an association of human beings with different personalities and 498 add to it other human beings, with still more different personalities, without altering the character of the institution. And it is the character of the institution and the nature of its policies in which, on the whole, we ought to be interested to a very great extent. Stemming from that point, as a corollary to it, I must emphasise, before I embark upon the more formal part of my discussion, the importance which that consideration has to the future of the Commonwealth in relation to the Community. I do not think that we differ at all about the objectives here to be achieved. We may hereafter differ about methods, but, as I ventured to say in the speech to which the noble Marquess referred two or three nights ago, no decisive decision of policy has so far been taken, and personally I do not think that the crossing of the Rubicon has been reached yet.
The only point on which I differ from my noble friend Lord Avon was on what he said about agriculture, and for this reason. Agriculture throughout the world is undergoing a tremendous technical revolution at the present time. This has been going on for a long time but it is now developing to an extraordinary extent. Whatever happens to us about the Common Market, it is certain that with the population we are likely to breed in this island we cannot guarantee to take an increasing amount of ordinary temperate foodstuffs, or indeed of ordinary industrial products, into this island market alone. I think that this fact has to be faced and it has to be faced by the Commonwealth.
Both the old and the new Commonwealths, for slightly different reasons—because the new largely produces in the tropical and the old largely in the temperate zone, and each has a widely differing degree of industrial development—will increasingly have to look to the industrialised countries of Europe both for their food exports and for their industrial exports. I do not believe that this country alone will supply them with an adequate market, because the means of production of both, again for widely different reasons, are altering very much. All that I say at this stage of the argument is that both the old and the new countries of the Commonwealth would be very unwise indeed not to realise the importance to them of the real policy which will be pursued by the Common Market countries.
499 I believe that the Common Market countries will pursue a markedly different line, according to whether the Community is composed solely of the Six or whether it includes this country, the E.F.T.A. countries and Ireland. If they are composed solely of themselves, and taking agriculture alone, I should have thought that the support prices for European agricultural products are likely to be fixed at a high level, which will be extremely deleterious to the prospects of Commonwealth exports. Whereas, if we are looking for the best chance of creating grounds of Commonwealth expansion, we should hope by our membership of the Community to help to keep support prices at a lower level. This may or may not be correct. As I say, I do not think that the moment for a decision has arrived, and precisely because I regard the decision as one of immense importance to the future of the country and the Commonwealth I should be very sorry to feel that here this evening, before events have moved to a much greater extent than they have yet, we had reached the parting of the ways.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, may I put a point on the argument the noble and learned Viscount is making? It may well be true that the wider distribution of markets will be affected by the changes to be made, but how is it going to help our Commonwealth in general by taking away the preferences they have now and putting in their place preferences for French wheat, for Dutch dairy produce and animal foods from other countries coming here, without giving them an equal preference? I have not seen how that is going to help the Commonwealth. Would the noble and learned Viscount please tell me?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, that brings me to the actual Motion and Amendment before us. All I was seeking to do in this preliminary observation was to show, as I hope I have up to this point, that the actual character of the Community is what is to be considered rather than the purely legal structure of it, and that the character of the Community itself will be different according to whether we are members or whether we are excluded.
As the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, reminded us this is the third main debate 500 that we have had about the Common Market. The Motion refers explicitly to the first of the three—namely, that in August, 1961. The Government are asking the House to reaffirm that Motion, and, as the noble Lord fairly reminded us, that Motion, which was passed without a Division by both Houses of Parliament, was to this effect: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 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 Parliament after full consultation with other Commonwealth countries, by whatever procedure they may generally agree.One of the first questions which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, asked me in the course of his speech and one of the questions which has been raised by various speakers since is whether the Government adhere to these undertakings. The answer to that is unequivocally, Yes, we do adhere to them. The Motion before us explicitly refers to the Motion which contains them. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, again very fairly, I thought, pointed out that the gracious Speech actually contains them by reference or by implication. It is, of course, on one of them that my right honourable friend the Lord Privy Seal broke off the agricultural negotiations a few days ago. Therefore, the answer to that question is unequivocally, Yes.
We shall ask the House to endorse the Motion which the House passed in August, 1961. We ask you to add nothing to it, except to request the Government to carry through negotiations to a successful conclusion, and we ask the House to take nothing away from it. That is where we stand. If I may elaborate a point, which I think is perhaps sufficiently clear, there were three elements in the Motion: the first was that Parliament endorsed the decision to apply for membership; the second was that there were three interests to be safeguarded by arrangements, if they could be found, and the third was that Parliament will be asked to be judge of whether we have fulfilled our undertaking or not and that we are not the sole 501 judges, except of course during negotiations, of whether that is so. Parliament will be the judge, and that I think is the answer to the first of the questions, though not to the second, posed by my noble friend below the gangway, Lord Salisbury.
In my submission, nothing would be more fatal, and indeed nothing would be more dishonourable, than to ask us now to change our terms of reference. We want to keep our terms of reference to the terms of that Motion, adding nothing and taking nothing away. The second point I would make on the Motion is that, in the last resort, when the terms are put before Parliament for approval or disapproval, they ought to be judged broadly and as a whole. So far as I know, the result of any negotiation entered into in good faith is likely to be that there Will be some terms which we shall Hike better than others. This I think is inevitable; it is in the nature of negotiation itself. We are entitled to ask, I think, that the process should be allowed to continue to its completion, if we reach a completion, and that then the conditions should be reviewed as a whole and should be accepted or rejected on the broadest possible grounds and not in any niggling spirit. Nothing, in my submission to the House, could be more fatal to a sound decision upon this matter, which is, after all, what we desire to achieve, than an attempt to judge conditions piecemeal.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, may I ask the noble Viscount if the proper interpretation of that is that when you obtain certain concessions, although you have failed to get others, you will then decide to go into the Common Market, irrespective of which people you injure or those Whose trading position you improve; and, instead of getting proper conditions for both the Commonwealth and for British agriculture, for example, you will be perfectly ruthless and will get in by having accepted a compromise which is not sufficient to defend those interests?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I think it means almost exactly the opposite of what the noble Viscount suggests. It means that we have given certain undertakings separately to E.F.T.A., certain undertakings separately to the Common- 502 wealth and certain undertakings separately to British interests, of which agriculture is one of the most important. And, if we reach the stage when we find that there are other conditions which we feel fulfil those conditions, we shall ask Parliament to accept them judging them in the broad. It may be—I do not know; I have played no intimate part in this matter—that conditions for tomatoes will be less satisfactory than conditions for wheat. This is obviously something that we must judge. The question we shall have to consider then is whether, in the broad, the promises that we have given to Parliament have been kept. We do not seek in this matter to be our own judges; we come before the tribunal to be judged. But what I suggest would be fatal is to try to dig up the negotiations stage by stage to see how they are going, and to see how one particular concession in a complicated matter, where three-quarters at least has not been negotiated at all, on either side, viewed in isolation, is one which we can conscientiously accept.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, may I just clarify a point? I follow that there has to be give and take in negotiations. But I hope the noble and learned Viscount is not suggesting that you can set off, say, concessions on the Commonwealth against agriculture. He is taking each of these separately, and you must view what you can get on agriculture, as a whole, the Commonwealth, as a whole, and E.F.T.A.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I think that I broadly agree with the noble Lord. We have given three distinct promises, and it will be for Parliament to judge whether we have kept them. I am only saying that when they judge they should view this thing from a broad, longsighted point of view, and not from a niggling, legalistic point of view. That, I believe, is the spirit in which Parliament usually approaches a decision.
I now come to the Opposition Amendment.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
My Lords, I should like to put one question to the noble and learned Viscount before he leaves this vital point. When he comes to Parliament to be judged, will Parliament be asked to pass an opinion on the position as it is, or will 503 it be asked to approve or disapprove the Government's undertaking to go into the Common Market? In other words, shall we be asked to repudiate the Government's pledge to the other members of the Market, or shall we have an open question to decide?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I am not sure that I absolutely understand the question. But my understanding of the Government's position is that Parliament will have the ultimate arbitration as to whether the matter can go on or not, and can reject in toto or accept in toto, or possibly tell us to try to negotiate again—although I do not know whether a Government which have approved a particular set of proposals would be able to accept such a mandate. All I am saying is that Parliament is the judge of these matters. I do not think I can go into more detail than that this evening.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
But the noble Viscount could go a little further. The Government can make a decision ad referendum of Parliament. But if they have committed themselves, Parliament may wish to repudiate the Government's decision. In my submission, that is not a position in which we should be put.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I suppose that any Government when they put any set of proposals to Parliament are committing their credit to those proposals being the right ones. But I do not think this differs from any other set of international proposals of which I have ever heard. The ordinary constitutional position as regards treaties is that Governments in matters of this importance go to Parliament for approval, but only recommend to Parliament the things in which they can say conscientiously that they approve themselves. I do not think I can improve on that now.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
Apparently the noble Viscount is trying to get a kind of strengthening of the previous Resolution by the passage of this Resolution that has been put before us by the Government to-day. But, in fact, the negotiations have been going on and, as my Leader pointed out in another place last night, certain decisions have already been 504 taken by the Government in certain of these matters. The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has said on more than one occasion that they could not go back upon those decisions which have been taken; that has already been said. Therefore, I think my noble friend Lord Wilmot of Selmeston is perfectly entitled to put the question he has: how are we going to receive this finally? Will it be that this is an accomplished fact and the Government are pledged? Are we even going to be in danger, as might have been gathered from the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that you might actually have agreed to sign the Treaty before coming to Parliament?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I thought that I had made the position plain, and I think the answer is, indeed, very plain. No decisions have been arrived at in the sense which the noble Viscount attaches to the word "decision". We are in the course of negotiations which are incomplete. Any decisions which are taken are purely provisional, and if we think when the time comes that we cannot recommend them to Parliament, we shall not recommend them to Parliament. But I think that on the whole, without any desire to discourage the noble Viscount from his research, if I were allowed to develop the points I have in mind to make, some more of this would become plain in due course.
I come now to the Amendment which has been proposed. I said that I could not on behalf of the Government accept that Amendment. I think it must be fairly plain, when one comes to examine it, why that is so. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in the conciliatory speech which he made at the beginning of the debate, said (and I endeavoured to take down his actual words) that there was in this House no difference of opinion as to the desirability of joining the Common Market. Really! I was surprised when he said that. I wonder whether he still thinks so. He said—and it is true—that the Amendment claims in terms that the House would support the entry of Great Britain on various provisions. But would the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, approve of it? I understood him to say explicitly that he was against joining on any terms. I 505 wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, is likely to approve it on any terms whatever. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Strang, whose speech we listened to with great interest, would approve it on any terms whatever. The noble Lord, Lord Strang, said it was a delusion to believe that we could reconcile the three pledges we had given on entry into the Common Market, and that it was not worth going on with the negotiations unless we went into a federation. That was a very powerful argument, but can it really be said in the face of speeches like that that there is no difference of opinion? The noble Earl, Lord Longford, and the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, I accept as supporters on terms which we should regard as reasonable.
I am bound to say, however, to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of HILLS-BOROUGH, whose speech is still ringing in our ears, that we have heard him and enjoyed him on, I think, the three occasions that we have debated this subject, but the actual impression his speech created upon me—and I am bound to say that I am not the only one who received it—was that when the time came there would be no conditions which would really satisfy him. Indeed, he told us in the course of his remarks that never had the sovereignty of Parliament been challenged as it has been by treaties of this kind since the Reformation in the sixteenth century, and the challenge of the Stuarts. If he really thinks that, of course there is a difference of opinion as to the desirability of our joining the Common Market. The only thing which puzzles me (I will give way, I promise, in a moment, but I should like to complete this point) is not so much the assertion made by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, but how the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of HILLS-BOROUGH, are going to support an Amendment which says that, with certain provisions, the House would support the entry of Great Britain into the Common Market.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I was addressing myself to the Motion before the House and to the Amendment, and I think I was perfectly correct in saying that both the Motion and the Amend- 506 ment accept the principle of the European Economic Community. That is What I intended to say. There were speeches made from all parts of the House, and I am not responsible for them. But my friends are going to support the Amendment and, therefore, I am entitled to say that all sections of the House accept the principle.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, the last thing I intended was a personal attack upon the noble Lord, and I hope I was not understood in that sense. I was directing my mind to the desirability of this House accepting the Amendment. I was only saying that the first argument which was presented on behalf of the Amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, was open to the kind of criticism which I have been trying to extend. The fact is, of course, that the very first thing the Amendment does is to omit all the words before the word "House". The Motion of the Government—and it is, of course, for the sensitive conscience of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, to know how he can vote for it—reaffirms the decision of August 3, 1961. That is omitted from the Opposition Amendment, and no comparable words are inserted in their place. How on earth do noble Lords opposite, who, for such diverse reasons, are asking us to support this form of words which they have omitted, think that is going to strike the European Community if we pass it? What effect is it going to have on the negotiations? We are not lawyers; we are trying to be relatively intelligent politicians, and it will strike them, will it not, as a repudiation of the Resolution of August 3, 1961. I must say solemnly, on behalf of the Government, that that is how they will treat it.
It is not only the speeches to which I have referred in this debate which create this impression. The entire Press understood the proceedings at the Labour Party Conference at Brighton as having the same effect. The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, referred to the very carefully balanced and not so clear statement of the Executive of the Labour Party. But I must tell him frankly that in other circles the speech of his Leader at the Labour Party Conference was understood, not only by Conservatives but by such authorities as the noble Earl who sits 507 on the Bench opposite, as being a distinct movement against the Common Market altogether. It really is not good enough to ask this House, as if it was a kind of harmless Amendment which represents a balance of agreement between the Parties, to pass an Amendment which leaves out the important part of the Government Resolution, and then ask them to substitute other words.
What is far worse than this is that having omitted the reaffirmation of the Resolution of August 3, 1961, it then proceeds to give us a set of marching orders totally different in terms and in kind from those which we received on that date.
I promise you I will seek to establish that this is exactly what it does. The Motion of August 3, 1961, asks us to find out whether suitable arrangements can be found to meet the special interests which we are obliged to protect. The Amendment before the House demands something different in kind, for it demands guarantees which, if I understand the Amendment, means that in every case the thing which must be obtained must be something which is written into the Constitution of the Rome Treaty. At any rate, that is how it will be understood by those with whom we are negotiating. It asks us to introduce special terms as regards foreign policy, nationalisation and planning. I hope, as a matter of fact, to be able to persuade noble Lords opposite that these things are not in question and to give them full satisfaction that in fact these things are not challenged. But it would be a serious thing to introduce new terms into our marching orders, even if I can give the satisfaction I hope I can.
Then the Amendment goes on in terms which my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye rightly referred to as the conventional terms of censure according to common Parliamentary usage to condemn the conditions already negotiated, but regrets that the terms so far negotiated do not satisfy either these conditions or the obligations. If that simply means, as it might grammatically, that there are a great number of things which have not been negotiated at all and that 508 therefore the terms are incomplete, that, of course, would be one thing. But noble Lords who have spoken from the Opposition Benches have shown that that is not the meaning to be attributed to the words of the Amendment. On the contrary, what they have sought to do is to import not a provisional but a hostile judgment on the terms which actually have been negotiated provisionally.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, may I ask the House to judge whether the noble and learned Viscount's interpretation of my comments about the determination to negotiate for the Commonwealth can be construed in the way he has construed them? I said the two essential concessions, associated status and hypothetical agreements, were not satisfactory safeguards for the Commonwealth. Does the noble Viscount regard those concessions, those negotiated elements, as a satisfactory safeguard for the Commonwealth? I should like to ask the noble Viscount whether he agrees, and I leave the House to judge.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
All that has happened, so far as I know, about associated status is that the offer has been received and transmitted and, in a great number of cases, been rejected. But there is no final result of that negotiation at all, so far as I am aware. All I am saying is that the whole tone of the noble Earl's speech was that if we went on as we were going now there would be a steady disintegration. I am only saying that it is no good presenting this Amendment as something which does not really matter very much. Quite obviously, there are common features between the Amendment and the Government Motion; it would be a sorry day if there were not. But I am also pointing out that there are points of difference which make it utterly impossible for Parliament, consistent with its decision of August 3, 1961, to accept the Amendment in the form in which it is proposed.
Having said that, I should like to deal with a number of specific points, because, although I could not possibly accept an Amendment in these terms there are certain matters upon which we can offer some consolation to noble Lords who have rendered individual questions.
On the question of foreign policy, I should have thought that there was virtually nothing in the Treaty of Rome 509 which would prevent us from carrying on an independent foreign policy. I will come in a moment to the specific issue of federation, which has, rightly in my opinion, engaged the attention of many noble Lords, including the noble Marquess and my noble friend Lord Avon. But I can find nothing in the Treaty of Rome to which anyone could take exception.
Again, looking at the realities of the situation, which is what I invited Parliament to do, I would only direct the attention of Parliament to the specific case of France, which has been a signatory to the Treaty of Rome from the first. Can it be said that France has not been adopting a perfectly independent foreign policy? In many respects I should have thought it was a controversial foreign policy, but I should not have called it other than independent. Its attitude to America is not the same as ours; its attitude to a fourth Power nuclear deterrent is not the same as ours; its attitude in the United Nations and to the United Nations is not the same as ours. Nor, so far, is France's foreign policy the same as that of Germany, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg or Italy. There is no reality in the suggestion that in the Common Market, as it is developing as an institution, the Powers that are signatories to it have not, in fact, observed a perfectly independent foreign policy, in the ordinary sense in which those words are understood.
The same is true of planning and nationalisation. Of course, if by some chance a Dr. Schacht emerged from one of the Six signatories and sought to misuse his powers of nationalisation under the Treaty for some purpose of cheating—that is to say, to destroy the Community as a Community, or to destroy the policy of the Community as the policy of the Community—it might well prove to be that the Treaty was inconsistent with it. But there is nothing in the Treaty against planning, and there is nothing in the Treaty against nationalisation. And, my Lords, I must again appeal to noble Lords to look at the realities of the situation.
As regards planning, Western Germany has pursued what, to our standard, would be considered a wildly laissez faire view towards private enterprise. France in 510 contrast, has pursued a view towards planning which I could describe only as extremely dirigiste. It is on the Labour side of the fence in that particular matter. Neither has got into trouble with the Commission, so far as I know. On nationalisation, broadly speaking, the same is true. Very little is nationalised in Germany; the French have nationalised, broadly speaking, very much more than we have. At least one of their great motor-car factories—their Ford's, as it were; I think it is the Renault factory—is nationalised, but no one has suggested that that is contrary to the Treaty of Rome. Therefore, although I very much object to the insertion of this Amendment I cannot conceive how any honest-minded Socialist can possibly find anything to boggle at under either head.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords I have already put to the House on more than one occasion the example of the Belgian coal industry. It is a nationalised industry, and when they decided that they might want to close certain pits they were informed by the Commission that they would not be allowed to do it: that it was not in accordance with the Commission's policy.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
That is, if I may say so, a totally different point. What the Amendment asks is: is the Rome Treaty, or membership of the Community, inconsistent with nationalisation or planning?—and I say, "No". But, obviously, both private and public enterprise can commit acts which are contrary to the Rome Treaty. That is what the Treaty is about. Of course, if the noble Viscount really objects to the Rome Treaty as a treaty he should certainly not support either the Government Motion or the Amendment. He should vote against both. The fact is that the point he is now raising is quite a different one.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, may I intervene for a moment? I am trying to follow the noble Viscount very closely, but there are five points put in this Amendment, three of which have been given by the Government already. The other two, the noble Viscount says, do not arise, and therefore I do not understand why he cannot accept the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I thought I had already answered that. We attach great importance to the reaffirmation of the "marching orders" we were given on August 3, 1961, and to the support of Parliament until we carry on those negotiations to a conclusion in which we can recommend the results to Parliament or on which we have to confess failure. I thought I had dealt with it. And I had in my mind to add that if any tender consciences on the other side really are unwilling to take the word of a Conservative (and I can quite understand that this may well be so) I would invite them to inquire of the Socialist Parties in the Six signatories in the Rome Treaty. They do not think there is anything inconsistent in nationalisation and planning. Indeed, they are pressing noble Lords opposite in terms far more stringent than any I would employ to go a great deal further on lines of political federation.
I am sorry to take so long, but I am seeking to satisfy noble Lords who put questions to me and I will try to truncate my remarks. I can only say that when it is said or claimed that if we go into this arrangement we commit ourselves in advance to lose our national identity in a European federation, this is simply contrary to the truth. Of course I know, and I suppose everybody knows, that in the course of the next fifty years the face of Europe and the world will probably change beyond all recognition. I think the wisest of us would have to admit, his own wisdom being limited as it necessarily is, that he is not able to predict what the political map in 2062 is likely to be. Neither do I know, nor, with respect, does anyone else, what Europe or we shall want to do in so long a period. But we do know what is and what is not in the Treaty of Rome. There is no federation in the Treaty of Rome, and if ever at some future date we join one it would be because the British people of that date, through their Parliament, had voluntarily decided to do so and not because of anything in the Treaty.
Again, if I may refer to the realities of the situation, of course I am perfectly well aware that inside Europe there are powerful federalist forces. There are also powerful anti-federalist forces. It is difficult to believe that General de 512 Gaulle, that great man with all his virtues and qualities, and, if I may say so, all the défauts de ses qualités, would compromise the independence and greatness of France. Indeed, one suspects at times that he is not a cross, as one of his critics said, between King George VI and Sir Winston Churchill, but a cross between Joan of Arc and Charlemagne or Louis XIV. This is not a figure of a man who is plunging recklessly into federation; and, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Strang, who has a profound experience of this subject and from whom I differ only with a great sense of my own inadequacy, I would say that it is not realistic to say that you can join this particular club only if you decide to join the federal club as well. On the contrary, I would suggest to those who do not like federal equality that one of the best ways to stop it would be to ensure that General de Gaulle and his ideas had some supporters. However, perhaps I have now said more than I ought to say on this particular subject.
I should like to turn for a moment back to the attitude of the Government on a point which has been very widely canvassed and covered by my noble friend Lord Avon. I wholly share his view that it would be quite wrong to suggest that the Government are committed to go in at any price, or ought to be committed to go in at any price. Admittedly the Government are not neutral on the matter of the Common Market. We want Britain to join. We believe in the Community, and we are determined not to fail in our application for any want of good will or negotiating skill on our part. But I think we should all understand quite clearly, both in this country and outside it, both in the form of Lord Gladwyn's speech and of the speech of my noble friend Lord Avon, that the Government will not be prepared to join at any price.
The reason why we will not be prepared to join at any price is partly, of course, that we would not wish to do so, but partly because we cannot do so; and it is very important that people should realise the limitations upon any Government in this country. No matter whether there is an Election or no Election—and I propose to answer my noble friend Lord Salisbury on that point 513 separately, if he will allow me to do so—terms which are shabby, humiliating or unreasonable will, in fact, be self-defeating. They will not get through this Parliament or through any other Parliament. If anyone thinks that as the result of the overwhelming support given to the Government at their Llandudno Conference they can afford to take Britain for granted, or that the Government's prestige is so committed to the Common Market that they cannot afford to refuse unreasonable terms, he should revise his opinion. We cannot afford not to refuse unreasonable terms. In my opinion, one of the greatest dangers in the way of the negotiations is not British insecurity, because we are all relatively wholehearted in our desire to join, but European euphoria which tends to think we are compelled to join when we are not.
If I may for a second pursue that point, I do not go along with those who say we cannot afford to stay out or we cannot afford to go in. I believe—and I forget Which of the noble Lords it was who said it—that this country will remain great whichever we do. Indeed, I believe it is the great object of those who engage in the ardours and discipline of public life at this time to keep Great Britain great in the immensely changed circumstances in which we are placed. I believe we shall be great whichever of the two choices we take. But a united Europe is a British interest, and I believe Europe will never be united unless we do our best to join and succeed.
If we stay out we shall still be great. We shall be rich, although I think probably less rich. The Communists will rejoice, and I shall be sorry for that. Europe will be, I think, a good deal poorer and more inward looking and might not enjoy all the support she has had from this country. But one way or another it is not the only thing; we must not lose our self-respect about this matter, and I hope no one will believe members of the Government have lost their self-respect about this matter. Quite obviously our prestige is deeply committed to the success of these negotiations, but it would still more permanently be damaged if in a matter of this prime importance we allowed considerations of prestige to stand in the way of what we genuinely believe to be the honour or the interests of the country.
514 My Lords, I fear that I am proceeding a long way, but I really should deal at least with the arguments of my noble friend Lord Salisbury. He has contended, in the second of the two questions which he posed, that before we enter the Common Market there must in any circumstances be a General Election. In his little interchange with the noble Viscount opposite I thought I understood him to base this contention less upon a formal mandate doctrine, which I think he regards with me as more peculiar to the Party opposite, than upon the absence of any previous consultation perhaps contained in the Party manifesto of 1959. Of course the House is accustomed to listen to anything that falls from the noble Marquess with the utmost respect, and, speaking for myself, when I differ from him I do so always with the greatest diffidence. There are, of course, a number of matters upon which he and I on this subject would be probably in complete agreement. I need hardly tell him that had I been aware at the time when the General Election was fought that during the currency of the present Parliament an application would be made, I believe I would have made it my duty to see that an appropriate sentence or paragraph was added to the election manifesto.
I am equally bound to agree with the noble Marquess that there are many circumstances which may or might render a General Election necessary at any time between the present and October, 1964, when I believe the present Parliament runs out. But I do not think that I should accept on behalf of the Government, or rather on behalf of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister—because I have always understood that the prerogative of dissolution is undertaken personally on his advice—any one factor, whether the state of the Common Market negotiations or any other, as being conclusive in advance. Of course the noble Marquess, with that extreme brilliance which we always expect from him, set up one argument after another against his position only to knock it down. But I wish he had grappled, because I do not think he did grapple, with some of the difficulties which I personally see without expressing a final opinion about the matter.
The case against him, I should have said, is that an election about the 515 Common Market, as it would probably be called, may at any rate be not so much undesirable as not technically possible. Let us analyse some of the real difficulties together. Of course, you can hold a General Election, I suppose at any time you like, but nobody can ensure that the Election is in that sense "about" any particular one subject. It may be held about the level of taxation. It is "about" what the voters choose to make it about—the pay pause, the Opposition's Motion of censure yesterday, Cuba, the railway workshops, Southern Rhodesia, the 11-plus examination: any issue which happens to be current at the time. Votes are counted but the reasons are not given. How could we say, for instance, in the circumstances supposed by the noble Marquess that a vote for the Conservative Party would be a vote for the Common Market? How should we count the votes for Sir Derek Walker-Smith? They might be votes against Socialism; they might be votes against weakness in foreign policy on the advice of the noble Marquess; they might be votes against higher income tax, or for a modernised Britain, if anyone ever listens to my speeches. Which way would one count the voles for a Labour candidate like Mr. Ray Gunter?
I am sorry to see only the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, on the Liberal Benches. What would happen about votes for Liberals? Quite obviously the noble Lord would agree with me, in the event of an Election in circumstances supposed by the noble Marquess, that it would be the duty of every Liberal candidate to stand down in order not to split the Common Market vote. But supposing the Liberals do not do their duty? Suppose the result of the intervention of 400 Liberal candidates, all presumably devoted to the Common Market except Mr. Smedley, was to let in 350 anti-Common Market Socialists: would that be a verdict for or against? The truth of this matter, I think, is that you cannot—it is not that one does not want to, but you cannot—turn a General Election in this country into a referendum. It is not a referendum and most of us would dislike the introduction of a referendum as a specific——
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I greatly admire the noble Viscount's dialectic skill, but he is really 516 talking the most dreadful nonsense. What about the Election on Tariff Reform in 1905 which was thought necessary? What about the Election in 1909 and 1910 on the reform of the House of Lords that was thought necessary? What about the Election on Protection again in 1923 which was thought necessary? The noble Viscount could not say that a vote for the Conservative Party would be a vote for the Common Market. He could say, and I suppose the Government could say, that a vote for the Government would be a vote for the Common Market; and if the country really wanted a Common Market they would support the Government. But that is really nonsense and contrary to all the traditions of our country. He may get a great deal of fun out of this, but he is preaching a very dangerous doctrine.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I may be preaching a dangerous doctrine, but I happen to believe, quite sincerely, that I am drawing attention to the logical difficulties of the case, and although I happen to admire the noble Marquess's knowledge of our traditions and his love for them as much as anybody, I have at least a humble right to differ from his opinion when it does not happen to coincide with my own.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Viscount said nothing about the three Elections which I have mentioned and which were all undertaken because it was the constitutional duty of the Government to undertake them.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, the only reason why I did not mention the three Elections which the noble Marquess has mentioned, and the fourth to which the noble Viscount drew my attention, was that he interrupted me before I had done so. I am going to proceed to do it. I do not accept that the Election of 1905 was solely about tariff reform. That seems to me a travesty of political history. It resulted in a great debacle for the Conservative Party, but I do not accept that it was about tariff reform. I do not accept that the Election of 1910 or 1911 was solely about the reform of the House of Lords. There was a thing called the People's Budget which entered into it a great deal. There were vast differences between the Parties at that time.
517 To come to the Election of 1923, which is I think the only respectable precedent as distinct from those cited by the noble Marquess—it was cited by the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition—that is, of course, a case where Mr. Baldwin in fact went to the country and tried to fight an election about an issue. It so happens that this was the second Election which as a boy I remember, because my father was engaged as a candidate. I can assure the noble Viscount that Mr. Baldwin did not succeed either in winning the Election or in ensuring that it was about an issue. The vital difference, with respect, between Mr. Baldwin's decision in that matter and the decision to which the noble Marquess is now seeking to persuade me in advance to commit my Leader, whose responsibility it is, is that there had been an express promise given that no change in the food taxes in 1923 would be made without a General Election. There is no such express prohibition in our promises unless I am unwise enough to yield to the temptation of the noble Marquess, and I can assure him that I am not proposing to do that.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Viscount but I should like to have the answer to this: Is it the view of the Government, and of the Conservative Party, now that it is not necessary to refer an issue of this importance to the Electorate?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, all I said was that it would be wrong to commit the Prime Minister to this, and so far as I know the true, constitutional doctrine is that the prerogative of the Crown is exercised at the instance of the Prime Minister in this particular example. All I have done so far is to discuss some of the difficulties in the way of accepting the noble Marquess's point of view, and to refuse to commit my Leader in this respect.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, may I say that I am much indebted to the noble Viscount for answering my case about 1923. There was a decision by a Prime Minister to ask for a dissolution—which he got; he dissolved Parliament—because, as he told the whole country through Parliament before he did it, he felt that 518 he had to consult the people upon this vast change in policy. It was all mixed up with the only other main issue of the time: unemployment, and how we could get away from unemployment in the country. He brought this in and said he was dissolving Parliament for that reason. I say that what you are proposing to do now is going to mean so many hazards to different people, that it is of such importance to sovereignty, that you have every liability resting upon you, every responsibility, to see that you get the view of the Electorate.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I have not characterised either the noble Viscount's view or that of my noble friend below the gangway as nonsense. I simply say that I do not agree with their constitutional contentions. I do not want to end this debate upon this unhappy note of dissent. In concluding my rather lengthy remarks I should like to say that I do not think we should forget that behind this application of the Government is not, as a matter of fact, a nice calculation of material advantage. It is not a desire to abandon our great traditions for, as it were, a mess of pottage. But it is an ideal. It may be a mistaken ideal; it may be an impractical idea. But we do not think that it is. We place it, as does the noble Earl who sits opposite (therefore I think it would be unwise for the noble Viscount to ridicule it) as part of our ideal for the world, as part of our ideal for Britain, as part of our ideal for the Commonwealth, and it is certainly part of our ideal for Europe.
Of course these things are distinct, but our view happens to be that they are interdependent, and the realisation of any one of them is, in our view, largely dependent upon the realisation of the other three. We were talking about Britain yesterday. I believe that none of our national hopes for Britain will be realised if Europe becomes Communist dominated, blighted by depression, inward looking, cut off from the rest of the world or riven by internal war. A united and prosperous Europe is, for us, a British interest, and a prosperous and modernised Britain is, I believe, a European interest.
But there is really so much more to it than that. For nearly 500 years Britain has looked outward, as the noble Earl 519 has reminded us, outward to the oceans, outward to America, outward to India and China, and outward to Africa. Calais may have been written on Queen Mary's heart, but its loss was the last belated flutter of Britain's European ambitions. Afterwards she became an ocean Power, and the Empire and Commonwealth were the fruit of her achievements. British law, British religion, British morals and customs tended to grow away from those of Europe. Our rôle in Europe became that of a balancing force, the enemy of tyrants but not a continuing presence.
Yet, for all that, we were, we are, and for ever will be, European. Europe is the mother of our culture. She is the nurse of our arts, sciences and technology, and in more recent centuries she has become the chief home and capital of our Christian religion that makes us what we are, the founder of that doctrine of freedom under the law which we have brought in our own distinctive form into the five continents of the world. Twice in our lifetime this Europe has lain in ashes, her young men slain, her soul riven with bitterness and despair. Her sorrow has been our sorrow, and we have shared her sufferings. We cannot stand by and see her ruined. We cannot unmoved behold her surpassed by the New World and the newly awoken continents. Europe with her ancient civilisation has her own part to play in the future, and I think we must help her to play it. To attain her ideal Europe cannot be inward looking, cannot be withdrawn, cannot be self-preoccupied—a rich man's club, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd put it.
The European ideal implies a world ideal—an ideal in which America and the developing countries also must play their part. I know, because I have spoken with some of their leaders; and as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel,
§ reminded us, they tend to fear Europe. They believe quite wrongly, I think, that we wish to keep them underdeveloped as the mere producers of primary products, the markets of European industrial goods. But this is not my picture; nor do I think it is the picture of any Member of your Lordships' House. On the contrary, I believe we visualise a world order of the future comprising America, Europe, and the Commonwealth, with the developing nations, even in the end, perhaps, the nations behind the Iron Curtain. We think that in what we are doing now we are perhaps helping that ideal to come a little nearer to the truth.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, if it were three or four hours earlier I should be very sorely tempted to follow the noble Viscount into some of the avenues he has explored, but time being what it is I must resist the temptation. If the issues were to be decided by those who heard the debate and took part in it, I have no doubt at all as to which way the vote would go. I think only one noble Lord has supported the Motion of the Government. Every noble Lord who has spoken, apart from that one, has either opposed the Government or has supported the Amendment. But I do not think anything I can say at this stage will influence the noble Lords Who have come in from dinner without having heard a word of what has been said during the debate. I am not referring to the noble Earl, but to most of the other Lords who have suddenly appeared from nowhere ready to vote. So I will just conclude and let the House decide as between the Motion and the Amendment.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 23; Not-Contents, 62.521
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Kenswood, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Killearn, L.||Silkin, L.|
|Burdon, L. [Teller.]||Lindgren, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Listowel, E.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Longford, E.||Summerskill, B.|
|Fraser of North Cape, L.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Williamson, L.|
|Henderson, L.||Milne, L.||Wilmot of Selmeston, L.|
|Howe, E.||Peddie, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Dynevor, L.||Margesson, V.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Marks of Broughton, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Auckland, L.||Ferrier, L.||Melchett, L.|
|Avon, E.||Forster of Harraby, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Blackford, L.||Fortescue, E.||Mills, V.|
|Bossom, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Molson, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||Newall, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Grantchester, L.||Newton, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Hacking, L.||Perth, E.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Hampden, V.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Chesham, L.||Hastings, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Hawke, L.||Savile, L.|
|Croft, L.||Home, E.||Sinclair of Cleeve, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Somers, L.|
|Denham, L.||Jellicoe, E.||Swinton, E.|
|Derwent, L.||Lansdowne, M.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Devonshire, D.||Lothian, M.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Luke, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Dundee, E.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.|
On Question, Resolution agreed to.