§ 2.24 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved on Monday last by the Lord Carrington, on behalf of the Earl Jellicoe; namely, That this House takes note of the White Paper, The United Kingdom and the European Communities (Cmnd. 4715).
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, first of all I should like to congratulate all the maiden speakers. I do not actually see any of them, but I expect they are around somewhere. I have noticed that some of my colleagues tend to regard a three-day debate as an occasion for one night stands only, but none the less their speeches were acceptable to us. There was the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Burgh, and that of the noble Lord, Lord Blake—who disguised himself by adding 407 the word"Lord "; it took me quite a while to realise that he was Robert Blake, whose books we have all read and enjoyed so much—and there was also my noble friend Lord Robens of Woldingham (it was a pleasure to have him sitting fairly and squarely on the Labour Benches) and the noble Lord, Lord McFadzean, whose speeches were all very notable.
Yesterday we had a very remarkable debate which was very good throughout, but particularly good towards the evening. In this connection, I should like to say two things; first, that we had a quite excellent winding-up speech from the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie; and, secondly, that we had outstanding speeches from some of my noble friends and some noble Lords on the Cross-Benches. There were outstanding speeches from my noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge and others, and I am bound to say that I am sure it must have helped them that there were about 40 to 50 noble Lords present. I hope that when my noble friend Lord Delacourt-Smith and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, wind up to-night that they will have a House to listen to them. I should like to thank those noble Lords who have stuck manfully to the House. The noble Lord, Lord Robbins, has been here almost constantly, as have some other noble Lords in the House, and we appreciate the fact that they are prepared to sit and listen.
§ LORD ROBBINS
My Lords, I do not quite deserve that praise. I stole away at about half past ten last night.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I know the noble Lord stole away, but he was here much of the time when I was not. But he caught my eye, as did some other noble Lords. I will not single them out, but my praise is for those who were able to be here. As with other noble Lords who are speaking from these Benches, and indeed from the other parts of the House, I am expressing my personal views. One point I should like to make at the beginning, with which I am sure the House will agree, is one made already by one or two noble Lords. A major factor in the besetting problem of our balance of payments has been the load that we have 408 sought to carry in the world. This was particularly true in the defence field as compared with most of our European and indeed Commonwealth allies. This was a factor which led to the change in our overseas strategy initiated by the previous Government with the withdrawal from East of Suez and the reduction in defence expenditure which, with very minor adjustments and some rather skilled sleight of hand on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the present Government have continued. We have carried a burden as victors in the last war out of proportion to our ability to do so. Nor have our friends always helped us as they might. Therefore, we do not wish to argue the case for entry into the Common Market on grounds of some national failure. Indeed, it is possible to make a most impressive case for what Britain has achieved since the war.
There is a corollary to this: that we shall not solve our problems, even going into the Common Market, unless we also pursue the right economic policies at home. I do not intend to initiate a debate—we have had plenty of opportunity in the past, and we shall have again—in regard to the. Government's policies. However, I am bound to say that entry into the Common Market will still not obviate the need for the right policies, and particularly a policy for growth. I am sure that all noble Lords will accept that the present level of unemployment is something which would be quite intolerable for more than a short time, and certainly I believe it would be intolerable within the nations who make up the European Community.
As a committed pro-Common Marketeer, I should like to say that I have never known a major issue—and I wish to say a few words about the position of the Labour Party—on which there has been greater freedom and tolerance shown within what is sometimes accused of being a monolithic Party, to those who have different views. As one of those whose position in the Parliamentary Labour Party—irrespective of what the position may be in this House—is one of being in the minority in this matter, I am bound to say that it is a measure of flexibility and intelligence, and indeed recognition that this is a great debate, that we have been allowed, without criticism, that freedom which otherwise, on other issues, might 409 have led to much more bitter criticism than it has. Needless to say, I hope the views that we are expressing may serve to convert some of our colleagues and most of those on these Benches who are against entry into the Common Market. I noticed that the noble Earl, Lord Lauderdale, was a lonely figure, and I know that he has been lonely in the past in another place.
There has been a great dilemma confronting us, and it is a dilemma with which to a lesser degree, the other Party has been faced, too. I am grateful that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has urged us not to concentrate on making petty points or challenging one another's sincerity, and, for the most part, I believe that standard has been well maintained. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft—and I think this will be generally accepted—that it would be a disaster if the Labour Party were to fragment and suffer the fate of so many social democratic parties in other parts of the world. It is, however, for us to face this problem and to argue it out among ourselves. But it has now led to an unusual situation. I think this is the first time I have found myself debating with my own colleagues on the Front Bench. It is a somewhat novel, indeed a very remarkable, experience and, although I feel it is slightly unnatural, as I have become accustomed to it I have found it rather enjoyable. We on this side have deliberately sought to achieve fairness and equality of opportunity for all points of view. I should not like to say that I hope I have similar opportunities frequently in the future, but I am not regretting this and I think my noble friends have discharged their duties with great fairness.
I have no hesitation in paying tribute to the high quality of the speeches generally, but I must single out in particular my noble friend Lord Shepherd, who clearly stated the position of the Party in this matter; the admirable speech from my noble friend Lord Chalfont, and the speech from my noble friend Lord Beswick, which I thought, as a supporter of the Common Market, was the most damaging speech I have heard in this debate. Indeed, were it not for the equally eloquent speeches that followed, which more than overrode his baleful influence, I should have been rather more 410 disturbed. Of course, there was also the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, and I only ask the House not to be misled by his astonishing vigour which so impresses us all. One of the group of speeches which impressed me most in the delicate field of prices and agriculture was the group of my noble friends Lord Walston, Lord Sainsbury and Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge. I must admit that the case they made in terms of agriculture, in the changing nature of the Common Agricultural Policy and the success of the Community in facing problems which we have criticised in the past, was most striking. It has shown me that I and, I believe, others were out of date in regard to these developments.
Some very disturbing figures have been quoted in both Houses, and I am bound to say that I really felt some of them to be rather exaggerated. Concern was expressed about movements across the exchanges of something like £1,000 million a year. With the greatest respect to noble Lords and Members of another place, I believe this statement to be very inflated and very unlikely to occur. But to suggest that it might occur is, in my view, fundamentally to misunderstand the nature of the Community which we are trying to join. It is a Community with the objective of mutual support between its members. If we do not believe in this mutual support, then those who oppose going in at all are quite right, regardless of the terms. But the record of the Community shows beyond any doubt that they do support each other in times of difficulty. The Treaty itself contains safeguard provisions in Articles 108 and 109 in relation to balance of payments difficulties, and in Article 73 in relation to disturbances of the capital market. As the White Paper states, the Community have made clear thatif unacceptable situations should arise the very survival of the Community would demand that the institutions find equitable solutions'.We must accept that; otherwise, we should not be talking about entering the Common Market at all.
I sometimes find it difficult to assess the validity of the economic arguments. Who am I to distinguish between Kaldor and Cairncross? Indeed, I should be very frightened to start arguing with either of them. But I believe—and this debate has strengthened my belief—that the case 411 for entry on economic grounds has grown stronger rather than weaker, especially in the last few years. In general terms, the economic case cannot be proved. We acknowledge that. Nor can the economic case against going in be proved. But there is a general view, which is growing all the time, for an association with a larger group better able to look after itself in world negotiations—and the Kennedy Round is an example—and we should not remain outside if we can help it. Those who have argued against this have sometimes forgotten the nature of the Community; and I again stress that it is the Community as a whole. Reference was made to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, and it was quoted as an argument against entry to the Common Market. I am bound to say that the National Institute did not say what was quoted. It was in a published article, which was very strongly disputed by a large number of people.
But to me the case of my noble friend Lord Robens of Woldingham, as he opened up the prospects for the coal-mining industry and the advantages of being within the Coal and Steel Community, seemed irrefutable. The same applied to the striking speech by the noble Lord, Lord Stokes. Having heard his reasoned argument, the figures he quoted and his judgment on the future, and having heard what was said by the noble Lord, Lord McFadzcan, and other industrialists, one can well understand that there have been hesitations in Europe about the impact of British industrial competition. We should not therefore forget that we are not the only people who are taking a chance on British entry into Europe.
Furthermore, there were certain obvious long-term advantages which seemed to me to be incontrovertible at any time. Whatever else may spring from entry into the Common Market, it will almost certainly help our invisible exports. I agreed very much with the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, that this is an aspect which, surprisingly has aroused little discussion. Even if we are over-confident about the capacity of our industrial leaders—and I do not think we can ignore their views—there can be no doubt that our financial institutions, the insurance world, and other institutions will not only hold their own, but will 412 improve their position to the extent of building up great strength for operating within the Common Market and, therefore, an ever stronger base for the enormous amount of business which they do overseas.
I am trying to shorten my speech in the interests of the other 39 speakers. I should like to set a good example, but there are some points that I must answer. I would make only one remark on the subject of the Commonwealth. I do not believe that the change which is now going on all the time in the pattern of trade necessarily means that we are facing a conflict between the Commonwealth and the E.E.C. Indeed, we shall be more valuable to the old Commonwealth, and indeed to the new Commonwealth, if we gain greater strength and are based in a more secure Europe.
On the question of the terms for New Zealand, I am bound to say that I think the New Zealand terms are uniquely favourable: better in many ways than I had personally hoped for—and quite rightly, too, because this was a matter on which the British people felt strongly. On the subject of Australia, I can only say, having recently visited that extremely wealthy and expanding country, particularly in the field of mineral development, that I have no doubt that their position is a great deal stronger than ours, and that they will progress faster if there is more European capital available for further investment in that country. When I was in Australia we were well aware that they, too, have regional problems. Some of these regional or structural problems will increase; but as for the basic wealth and prospect for that great country, I have no doubt that my optimism as to its continued progress will be substantially unaffected by our entry into the Common Market.
My Lords, this is not the time to go through all the questions relating to the Commonwealth beyond saying that our entry into the Common Market will also open up that Market to a much greater extent to other Commonwealth countries than would be the case if we stayed outside unless, as is the case already, some independently enter into association with the Common Market and we find that they get the benefits and we do not. On regional planning, the case has been 413 made very clear that there is no obstacle to the carrying out of regional policies of a kind that we, and indeed countries such as Italy, are pursuing at the moment. There has been some anxiety expressed that if the E.E.C. move towards a Community regional policy this may restrict the freedom of the members. But, surely, if this happens the movement can only be in the direction of helping those with regional problems and not in the opposite direction; and it is both important that we should be there to influence this and, indeed, that we should be encouraged that there is this consideration going on. Last night we had some notable speeches. We also heard earlier in the day from the noble and learned Lord; and I again commend the speech of my noble friend Lord Lloyd of Hampstead and, earlier that of my noble friend Lord Chorley, both long-standing members of my Party and both lawyers of distinction. Their speeches in support of European institutions seemed to me to be very valid indeed.
Criticism has been made both of the Commission and of the other institutions. There are those who are saying that the institutions are not democratic. Of course they cannot be democratic while national sovereignty remains intact. The argument, if we wish them to be fully democratic, is to move towards a Federal Europe: but this is not the issue in front of us. In the long run, I would personally hope we should not exclude that, but we are not debating that matter now. But we shall be in a position to influence the development of the institutions, and it will be vital, if we go into Europe, that we should play our full part, particularly in the European Parliament. Again, there has been surprisingly little discussion about the forms of co-operation, while the great debate goes on. But we shall need to bear in mind that the European Parliament meets, I believe, anything up to 100 days in a year. This will present a very serious problem, particularly to Members of the House of Commons in the manning-up of this Parliament, bearing in mind their duties to their constituents and their duties to the House of Commons. I hope that if we go in we shall have opportunities to debate how we see this developing, and how the British Parliament should react.
414 To me, the institutions and the bureaucracy—in other words, the working organisation—is a positive advantage for good. Governments or communities of nations cannot successfully pursue policies without the organisation, without a Civil Service; and it is in the development of a European Civil Service, responsible and subject to the will of Governments or, as it may come about in the course of development, of a European Parliament that encourages me most. I do not see how else we can tackle the problems of European regional planning; nor do I see how we can tackle the problem of the preservation of the environment. We talk often about this, but the one thing that appears most clearly—and I am sure my noble friend Lord Kennet and others will have this in mind—is that we shall not be able to tackle the problem of pollution and preservation on a national basis. To start with, if one does it too rigorously one puts one's industry at too much of a handicap. Therefore, it is essential that there should be a European policy in this matter.
Parallel to the criticisms of the Commission and the Community, there has been concern expressed that, by entering the Common Market, we are tying ourselves to an inward-looking group. This phrase"inward-looking"has been bandied around so often that I only wish some real evidence would be produced to support it. All the evidence is, if anything, the other way; and when we look at the record of other countries and see that they do more in help for the rest of the world than we do, I just wonder who is calling the kettle black on this occasion. It is even a possible case—and I agree that there are historical grounds for suggesting it—that the British, despite their Imperial past, have an inclination towards insularity. Indeed, much of the argument that has been put forward against entering the Common Market—and I use this with the greatest respect—could be said to be inward-looking. A crucial argument here which bears on the economic and, indeed, the political responsibility is the extent to which we believe in our own judgment. Faith and trust really are the test. As the Prime Minister said (and this is the only quotation I am making; it is really the other 415 side in the other place who are so keen on quotations, but with this I agree):…if we believed that the members of the Community would not act responsibly to each other arid in international trading relationships—then, indeed, the question would not be whether the terms are right, or even whether we ought to join the Community; the question would be whether we ought ever to have applied for membership at all ".To me, this is a decisive question; and I should like to say that this is a subject which ought to appeal as much, I think, to the Labour Party as indeed to other political Parties. I ask my noble friends whether they are still prepared to dismiss the judgment of our Socialist colleagues in Europe. The fact is that nearly every important Social Democrat in Europe—and the Communists, who are not Social Democrats—are in favour of entry; and some of them are very surprised, to put it mildly, at some of the views which have been expressed. I beg my noble friends not to ignore the advice of men like Willy Brandt, Senor Saragat, Nenni, Deferre, Spaak, Mansholt and Mitterand. They want us in, and this leads me to the point as to why they want us in. I think they want us in particularly because they believe, as I do, that the British are uniquely qualified to make a contribution to the politics of Europe.
I still believe that, despite our present difficulties, this country, with its tolerance, is in some ways—in fact, I would say in many ways—the most pleasant community in the world in which to live. Our political stability is something which is recognised and admired. We do not need to be smug about it; it is history, partly, which has enabled us to come to this situation. But there is a belief that this country, and particularly, indeed, the Labour Party, have a role to play in developing a Socialist Europe, a more stable Europe, and, furthermore, one which will be even more outward-looking than it already is, and which will contribute to Europe and to the peace of the world. We ought to look at this not simply in terms of what we stand to gain or lose in Europe, but in terms of what we contribute to Europe and the world. This seems to me to be the right kind of enlightened self-interest. We are not entering a static Community. The Ten-will not be the same as the Six. This 416 is a fundamental fact, both far-reaching and decisive. The centre of gravity in the political complexion and intellectual tradition moves to the side of the habitual democracies, Norway, Denmark, Britain, Benelux—all with a distinctive outlook. The elements that stand for social progress and peace in Germany, the North, the Ruhr, the Rhineland, all follow this tradition. There is the non-Communist Left in France—and we ought not to ignore the small but staunch Left-Wing Socialists and the Socialist and Left-wing Catholic trade unions. They will derive support, tremendous support, from a stable and progressive Britain.
The Socialist and left-of-Centre movements in Europe had almost come to the point of believing in the inevitability of being ground between the extremes of Communism on the one hand and an authoritarian Conservatism (that we do not know in this country) on the other. With Britain's and Denmark's and Norway's accession, powerful forces of social democracy enter into the Community which we then shall be able to claim will be the most temperate zone in politics anywhere in the world. The opportunities for solving problems in a progressive community are immense. In labour matters, in trade union bargaining, a mutual collaboration already exists in some countries in Europe between labour and management which we have yet to achieve in this country.
It has been claimed that entry into the Common Market will prevent us from developing stronger ties with the German Democratic Republic or the Comecon countries and ultimately the Soviet Union. I believe that the opposite is true. The evidence is that the Common Market is already having a magnetic pull on Poland, Hungary, Rumania and others and there is a hope that by trading with the Community which will become a more powerful and independent force in the world and not an appendage of one of the world's great Powers, the political sting which is attendant on bilateral dealings, say, with West Germany or Britain will be diminished; and even the Soviet Union is coming to accept this. The German Democratic Republic, East Germany, can also feel more safe and less apprehensive if West Germany finds more challenges and scope in an enlarged Community as a substitute for trying to recover her lost 417 East German provinces. In Germany, the bugbear and nightmare of so many Socialist friends of progress in all Parties contained within an enlarged Community becomes a much greater force for good and for peace and is less likely to cause political mischief if we are all in this Community. This is no reflection on the many sincere men like Willy Brandt who see this all too clearly. This is more calculated to diminish German militarism or nationalist self-assertion than anything else.
All the above arguments are even more relevant to the Third World. Others have talked about the contributions that have already been made. Again, I believe that aid to the Third World comes better on a Community basis than on an individual national basis where political strings are all too often tied to it. I hope that this will diminish the gap between the"haves"and the"have-nots ". My noble friend Lord Pargiter spoke last night movingly—so I was told; I did not hear him, but read it—about the effect on the ordinary people. We need to remember that it is the ordinary people of this country on whose behalf we are speaking. There is concern as to whether our entry will lead to a slowing down in social progress. I believe that to think this is to ignore a cardinal fact of history. When a country joins a larger community, the inevitable development that occurs is a levelling up and not a levelling down. This is the experience of the Community. Wages tend to go up and and with the growing interlocking of interests, free movement of the working population, the benefits in one country are immediately noticed and emulated elsewhere.
It is my view that Europe can be the most positive force for peace. It is in seeing the dangers of a feuding Continent which for centuries has broken the peace and brought untold misery that the price we are asked to pay to secure this peace seems to be one which would be well worth paying, even if the terms were worse than they are. Despite that fact—and it is legitimate to argue about the terms; it may be that in certain areas they could be improved and we have heard evidence of this—I, for one, am content to urge the Government to continue towards the completion of their negotiations for entry.
§ 2.55 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ECCLES
My Lords, the enormous advantage of a debate on a deeply controversial issue which does not lead to a vote has, I think, never been better illustrated than in the last two days. Your Lordships have said what you believed to be in the interests of the country with hardly a reference to Party politics; and no speeches, if I may be allowed to say so, have been more movingly sincere and well-argued than those from the Front Bench opposite. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, gave us a speech which we shall always remember and one which I believe will have influence on doubters whether inside this House or outside. There are a great many people who have not yet made up their minds finally; and these are exactly the kind of people that a debate of this kind can help. More than 20 years ago, I took sides on going into Europe, and recently when the anti-Marketeers multiplied their objections and the White Paper brought the issue to a head, I went back over the old arguments to see whether I still held the same view. By starting my remarks with part of this reassessment I shall be able to comment on some of the major points raised by those who oppose our joining the Community of the Six.
I began to think seriously about a united Europe with Britain in it in 1948 when Sir Winston Churchill went to the Hague Conference. The next year he went to Strasbourg for the opening of the first session of the Council of Europe. My noble friends Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie and Lord Boothby and I were members of his team on both occasions, as was the noble Earl, Lord Kilmuir, who is no longer with us. Churchill was not very much interested in economics. He had seen Britain through two devastating conflicts, both of which originated in Europe, and he was determined to do what he could to heal the wounds and to prevent a third war. He never had any doubt that the reconciliation of France and Germany was the essential condition for peace in Europe. Over and over again he told us that, however well everybody was behaving then, so soon after the war, a lasting obliteration of the old rivalries would require new institutions. We used 419 to talk late into the night in his villa at Strasbourg about a European Parliament and a European Army. Our hopes ran high. We were going to create a new European structure for peace and prosperity!
Then the vision faded. Old vanities and prejudices came to life again. When the Soviet Union began parading and rattling its military strength the Foreign Office turned instinctively to America. How much easier it was for us to look away from Europe, and not towards France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg! Each of the Six had surrendered or been defeated. They would always remember that enemy troops had occupied their territory. Not one of them had been strong enough to avert that disaster. We had not had that experience. We forgot that in defeat one can learn a delicate kind of wisdom that may be denied to the victors.
The noble Lord, Lord Soper, who told us on Monday that we should pass by the Community for fear of contamination with the"republicans and sinners"of Europe, might recall that the three most eminent Europeans who absorbed and expressed the wisdom learned from the war were dedicated Christian Democrats, De Gasperi, Robert Schumann and Adenauer. They believed in a Europe inspired by a single faith. I knew them all, and Robert Schumann the best. He once told my wife that the British had a bad habit of thinking too commercially and in too much detail about embarking upon great enterprises. One must take the plunge, he said, "il faut se lancer ", or the chance might pass and not come again.
Here we are in 1971, and the invitation to a great enterprise waits for an answer. Responsible people like the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, on Monday, are playing with all sorts of reasons for not accepting. One man talks about the balance of payments, another man about the price of food, another about fish or the monstrous size of the lorries on the Continent. It is as though they were determined to look through the wrong end of the telescope in order not to see the real size of the issue before us. Let us try for a moment to understand the hesitancy that has grown so fast in these last few 420 months. Of course the arguments for joining in 1971 are not exactly the same as those which Churchill had in mind, partly because the economic case is now so much more important. Nevertheless, I still believe that the political argument is decisive.
Turning for one moment to the economic case—and it is a strong one—I never had any doubt myself that our standards of life would rise faster inside the Community than outside. Until about a year ago I was on the board of a textile company where the prospects of entering the Common Market were studied and the conclusion reached that when the British textile industry can export fibres, fabrics and made-up clothing to the Community without a tariff barrier it will do extremely good business. We heard yesterday, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton has reminded us, the noble Lord, Lord Robens of Woldingham, saying that the coal industry might increase its exports by £100 million a year. Yet the mineworkers' union is against going in. We heard my noble friend Lord McFadzean, in a notable maiden speech, draw on his great experience to tell us that the prospects for exports were good. The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, showed how much our invisible exports will find new openings. There is really no doubt that the City of London will earn many more commissions and profits, with the result that British industry will have a much stronger capital market to which to look for the money it needs. Finally, we had the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, telling us that for the British motorcar industry going in is essential.
Anyone who takes the contrary view shows himself a defeatist about the competitive strength of Britain. He would be saying that British labour and management are not so good as continental labour and management, and never will be. It follows from this pessimism that British capital would be invested in Europe rather than at home. If that were true and we remained outside the Community, where in the world could we compete successfully? No one else would give us tariff preferences of the kind which the Six would continue to enjoy in their Community of 250 million. All our overseas markets would be under attack from the industry of Western Europe which we had been afraid to join because we 421 believed that it was already more efficient than ours. How then could our balance of payments remain permanently favourable unless, of course, we were prepared to devalue the pound every time it showed signs of weakness? The economists among the anti-Marketeers all advocate a floating pound, which is in effect a recognition of one devaluation after another. Anyone who contends that British industry and finance would do better outside the Community has either lost his nerve or, like the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell—bless him!—believes that somehow the British can always muddle through and that all we need is the guts to be backward. Perhaps it is also true that there are trade union leaders who prefer to carve and keep their corner of power in a second-class Britain rather than take the risk of pooling their leadership and going all out for the much greater benefits for their members which success in Europe would bring. The Italians, with their industrial weakness and very old-fashioned education just after the war, must have faced this risk when they went into the Common Market on equal terms with their more advanced neighbours to the North. But what has happened? We see that great rises have taken place in the standard of living of Italian workers. If the Italians, to their great credit, plucked up courage to join, surely we can do the same?
I turn now to the political case. This remains what Churchill always said it was, the consolidation of a system of defence strong enough to deter aggression from any quarter at a cost not too great to prevent social progress in many new directions. Behind the military advantages is the question of how the combined resources of 250 million Europeans will be used to ensure peace in our Continent and beyond. Many noble Lords have said that it would be very foolish, and contrary to the experience of the last few years, to believe that without us the Community will inevitably neglect the seeds of conflict outside Europe. No one should believe that; but it does not alter the fact that we have a very special contribution to make to the policies of an outward-looking Europe.
I suppose we would all agree that unless the countries which have such a decisive start in modern technology are prepared to see justice done between them- 422 selves and those who are crippled by the population explosion and are far behind in education and capital resources, the threat to peace arising from the widening gap between the two is bound to grow more serious. This is a field in which our advice and example could do much good if we were a member of the Community.
We have had, for longer than any other great Power, a sense of the world as a whole. We made our history in all the continents. We sailed our ships North, South, East and West and learned the hard way that civilisation did not begin and end in Europe. But how much can we do by ourselves? We are rather more than 50 million in these Islands, a figure not much greater than the number by which the population of the underdeveloped countries increases every year. Every 15 months a new full-sized United Kingdom is added to the Third World. Faced with a problem of this magnitude, surely we must combine our resources with others if anything approaching adequate assistance is to be provided, and provided in a helpful and effective manner.
What is the nature of the aid which the Third World wants from us? Is it confined to money, goods and technical assistance? Certainly the developing countries need all these things. But, by itself, the offer of more material aid will not be enough. It will not resolve tensions between the rich and the poor nations, nor will it remove the danger that the Third World might succumb to the political doctrines of Communism. Something more is required of us, and that is the example of a political and social system which combines personal freedom and the rights of minorities with high economic growth, and with much more widespread educational and cultural activities than are now available to the mass of the people in any country. In Asia, Africa and Latin America they are watching to see whether we are capable of building such a society.
I was recently in Venezuela, which, as your Lordships know, has a well-run democratic régime. There the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who, like his President, is a Christian Democrat, went out of his way to impress upon me how much his Government hoped that we should join the Common Market. Latin America, he said, was waiting for Europe 423 to match and go beyond the political and social systems that were thrust upon it, from Russia and China and from the United States. But he added,"We shall not be able to hear what you are saying in Europe until you are as strong as the United States or Soviet Russia ".
Now, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said very well, this is also the reason why the Socialist Parties in Europe want Britain to join. They want to strengthen their own contribution to Europe's future and to Europe's answer both to Communism and to the threat, as they see it, of American capital getting control of everything. If I were a British Socialist and cared about my political friends across the Channel, I should be dismayed at the decision of some of our trade unions not to respond to the call from Europe.
The heart of the problem then is this. Should we, by ourselves alone, try to work out a social and political system that leaves behind both old-fashioned capitalism and the regimentation of Communism, or should we have a better prospect in company with others whose historic traditions are the same as ours, and whose rate of economic growth provides the margin for political reform? I think that for the answer to that question, as my noble friend Lord Bethell said in an impressive speech on Monday, and as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said in a speech, which I much regret I did not hear, yesterday, we must listen to what the younger generation are saying, because the moment we begin to think about the society of to-morrow we realise that it is much more theirs than ours. They were not brought up in days when the members of the Commonwealth were prepared to put each other's economic interests in front of those of the rest of the world. They have never known a Britain except in retreat from world power, and it is hardly surprising that they want to start again in a new direction.
I listen to the young and try to understand what they are saying. If they are religious, they are impatient with the Churches for taking so long to make up their differences. How can it be that men go more easily to the moon than Anglicans and Catholics can meet half-way between Canterbury and Rome? If they are appalled at the thought of a 424 nuclear war, they would infinitely prefer their country to take part in the disarmament talks as a member of the Community rather than not take part at all, which is the situation to-day. If they are interested in art, the radio and television bring to their homes and their clubs music, drama and film from all over the world, art and science are showing that frontiers do not matter. I seldom observe (and I ask your Lordships if you agree) any strong feeling among our young people that they expect or want to solve their problems within a British context alone. The unity of mankind, which was not a real objective to many of us, when we were young, is becoming a real objective to all our children, and furthermore they have the good sense to see that such a stupendous objective must be approached by stages.
I can give your Lordships a somewhat lurid example of what the young are aiming at. It comes from France. The French are highly articulate and adept at revolutionary outburst, much more so than we are; thus the events in Paris in May, 1968, were significant for all Western countries. Put very briefly, the French students were trying to tell their Government that in planning life for the next generation, Ministers should use their imaginations more and statistics less. There is nothing very new in this. It is an old cry that economic growth should be for people and not people for economic growth. But it remains a key to the answer, which Europe has to give to the rest of the world about the society of the future.
We have to face the fact that no answer will be convincing unless cultural and environmental policies are adopted, which will cost a great deal of money. We cannot make urban life clean and quiet, preserve the beauty of the countryside and give our architects scope to refine landscape and skyline, unless we earn much more than we are earning now. At our present rate of growth, and given the"couldn't care less"climate which the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, described very well, the electorate will refuse to divert enough of their personal incomes for these purposes, and everybody knows that higher taxation would now be self-defeating. So where are the new wealth and the new ideas to come from? I put it to your Lordships that 425 joining the Community offers the best prospect of becoming a richer and more human society, first, because our rate of growth will soon become theirs, and secondly, because our young people and theirs together will generate the enthusiasm and the vision to work out the new dimension of the politics of the West. Just as on the military level only our combined strength will contain aggression, so on the level of political and social ideas Europe has to give a combined example of justice and progress or the Third World will turn against us, and, without a shot fired, we shall be picked off one by one.
It is up to the opponents of joining the Community to prove to us that they have a more promising alternative. They must tell us how, left to ourselves, with no prospect of recreating Commonwealth preferences, no share in the Common Market, and no hope of free trade with North America, we can find the way forward to those reforms which will effectively raise both our rate of growth and the quality of life for everybody. The anti-Marketeers have not produced this evidence in the last two days in your Lordships' House, or in the other place. They cannot do so: and the reason is that almost all of them are looking behind them, at at past which has almost gone. They seem unaware of how the years since the war have changed the British people.
Every summer that passes a larger proportion of our growing population has experience of the countries of the Community. The rise in the number of British tourists visiting the Six has been astonishing. I can give your Lordships the totals for 1965 and 1970: only five years ago 2.5 million, and last year 3.5 million, an increase of 40 per cent. Furthermore, these holiday makers bring a little of Europe home with them every time. I suppose that can be seen in the 70 per cent. rise in the consumption of wine in this country in the last 10 years. But, more significant is the teaching of European languages in our secondary and junior schools. I wish I had time to give your Lordships a description of this; but since I was Minister of Education it has gone up like a rocket, and it is a strong trend that is sure to continue.
We are shedding our insularity at a rate which history will judge to be one 426 of the most remarkable changes in the period through which we are living. Nevertheless, there remains the difference between us and the Six that, unlike them, we have not been invaded or defeated in war. This difference haunts us still. It is, and should be, a source of pride to those of us who took part in the last war. But we are getting old now, and what matters to the next generation is whether Britain has reached the point of inevitable decline. Historians (and that reminds me of my noble friend Lord Blake, who made such a good maiden speech) have often looked for a common factor discernable in all civilisations at the time when they began to decline.
I discussed this with Freya Stark at the time when Arnold Townbee's great book The Study of History came out, and Freya Stark said that the most reliable signal that an empire's great days were going for good was the feeling, when it was shared by rulers and the people alike, that they had nowhere further to go. Our ancestors must have experienced this feeling several times. The Burghers of Calais stand in the Victoria Gardens to remind us that for many years after the Norman Conquest the King of England ruled a large part of France. When we were pushed out of the Continent, had we nowhere further to go? We turned first to North America and then to India. We lost the American Colonies. Had we nowhere further to go? We went to Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Now we have withdrawn almost completely from governing our Dominions and Colonies, who are making their separate way in the world, and the anti-Marketeers say that we have nowhere further to go. If they are right, then at last the signal is hoisted that our decline has begun, and will continue. My Lords, after such a splendid romantic record of gaining, losing and regaining a dimension beyond these narrow and damp islands, it would be shameful to turn inwards upon ourselves.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in a speech which set the tone for this important debate, mentioned his relatively recent conversion to Britain's entering the Common Market. I am not going to speculate on the comparative virtue of early or late decision in a matter of this sort; to me, 427 it is better to arrive than to journey hopefully. But there is virtue, as the Government Chief Whip reminded me, in short speeches, and I propose to be as brief as possible to-day. However, I want to say a little about the history of this matter, in so far as my own Party is concerned.
In common with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and the noble Lord, Lord Robens of Woldingham, whose maiden speech, with its revelation of history and its testimony, was such a notable one, we embarked upon this line of advance in the late 1940s, under the guidance of such people as Lord Layton, Lady Violet Bonham Carter, and many others who were working closely at that time with Winston Churchill. We welcomed the Schumann Plan in 1950. We criticised the Tory failure to take part in the Community negotiations in 1955 and 1957. We pleaded for full British membership right at the beginning as a founder member; but we were rebuffed.
When the Rome Treaty was being negotiated the Labour Party were hostile, the Conservative Party apathetic. In 1960 I fought a by-election and lost it in Bolton, and I made the main issue, much against the wishes of my two opponents, the Common Market: indeed, it was said of one of the candidates at that Election that he thought the Common Market was behind the town hall. Labour was apathetic, or hostile, at that time in 1960; and a leading Conservative politician came down to that by-election and annoyed a good many European-minded people by announcing that Britain would go into the Common Market in her own good time. This was the atmosphere in which we were working. I will come to the point of this brief historical picture in a minute.
I believe that it was only with the initiative of the Macmillan Government, and in particular the hard work of Edward Heath and his assistants from 1961 to 1963—and I do not often pay him a compliment—that we began to look like a nation which was beginning genuinely to want to join the Community. I have always believed that de Gaulle's veto was prompted by the fact that British membership was getting just a bit too close and a challenge to his leadership of Europe was on the horizon. By 1963, I 428 think one can say, the Conservatives were fairly well committed, and by 1967 the Labour Party made an application to join. At that time it looked to the Community as if there was a substantial majority of the leaders of British opinion who were committed to joining the Community, and the only issue was the impact of the transitional arrangements on the British economy.
The history of the last decade has been one in which all Parties have contributed in differing degrees to dispelling the suspicions of the members of the Community that we were merely paying lip service to joining them. It has been a long road. We have all come a long way. At least, I thought we had all come a long way; but now an entirely new situation has been created, and it is one that gives me great concern. There is nothing personal in what I want to say; I am not really talking about people; I am talking almost about the constitutional position. All that hard work, that experience and the confidence that was generated, is now being jeopardised and undermined by certain Leaders of the Labour Party who are seeking to reverse their support for entry into the European Community. This, to me, is a very worrying matter indeed. It is far more than an internal Party wrangle. If the Labour Party persist in this course of action they will throw so much doubt on the permanence of our membership of the E.E.C. that, even under a Conservative Government, we shall not be able to develop to the full within the Community, when we join it, our national talent for leadership. And this, to my mind, is the magnitude of the new factor which is entering into the Common Market debate.
In the light of the views that have been expressed by Mr. George Thomson, the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, Mr. Michael Stewart, the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and many others, that a Labour Government would have accepted these terms, any decision by the Labour leadership to oppose entry will be regarded here—and more importantly in the Community—as a Party manœuvre based on short-term expediency. This is what gives politics a bad name and politicians a poor reputation. As we embark, as I hope we shall, on one of the greatest political experiments ever put before a country, we cannot afford that atmosphere in 429 which to begin. I say this because the official Opposition is the alternative Government and is so regarded throughout the world, and this reversal of policy introduces into international politics a tremendous element of uncertainty. It weakens the position, the influence and the standing of the Government of the day, whatever its complexion, whether Labour or Tory, and it keeps in doubt the permanence of our adherence to the Treaty.
If it is said that joining the Community was never the official policy of the last Labour Government, I can only say, my Lords, you could have fooled me! Indeed, I believe that members of the E.E.C. were fully entitled to believe that the application to join in 1967 was a bona fide one. It not only casts a tremendous cloud of doubt over political activities but introduces serious uncertainty into business decisions and into investment policies. It affects programmes for employment and regional programmes. I hope that we shall not be deterred from investing on a long-term basis, but one can imagine the doubts that go through the minds of people who have to make those decisions, if there is the prospect of a militant Labour Government campaigning—as Mr. Michael Foot has said he and his colleagues wish to do—for the withdrawal of this country from Europe. Having been in favour of this move ever since it began twenty years ago, I can only say how much better in the national interest it would have been if the leadership of all three Parties could have exerted their efforts or influence to produce an overwhelming majority for enthusiastic membership.
I am not going over the well-trodden ground of the balance of advantage for Britain in joining, but I should like to mention briefly just two or three points. It is significant that on the whole they are points which have been selected by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles. When all is said and done, it is a choice between the insular and xenophobic approach and one which recognises that Britain's destiny lies within a much larger political and economic grouping. I think that the comparisons which are relevant for the future are such things as the G.N.P. and economic growth, not taken just between indi- 430 vidual countries but between large groups of countries; and I think one can call the United States of America a large group, Russia too, Japan and South-East Asia, China and Europe. This is the comparison that is being made in all the studies that are being made today in America and in Europe you do not see the United Kingdom: you see Europe. And an enlarged E.E.C. will constitute 80 per cent. of this new Europe. These are the political, economic and cultural areas which are going to matter in the next few decades. It is inconceivable to me that Britain can"go it alone ".
The second point I wish to make is that we have in this country some absolutely first-class businesses, both management and workers, and these are the ones which will take advantage of the opportunities created in the new Market. This, as the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, said, is where the new wealth is coming from. But, regrettably, this country has far too many"soft spots ". More and more people believe that someone owes them a living; too many people think in terms of subsidies and protection, and the removal of tariffs is regarded as a hostile act designed to interfere with the week-end golf. We cannot go on avoiding the rigours of competition. One of the reasons for the better growth figures in the Common Market countries is not that there is a bigger market but the competition which the removal of trade barriers produces. This cold douche will not be pleasant for some parts of our economy but, to my mind, it is certainly preferable to a lingering and lonely death.
The third argument, which I hope will appeal to many members of the Labour Party, is the one adduced by both the noble Lords who have already spoken. It is the sheer size of the problems which we have to deal with to-day, problems which can he dealt with only on the basis of a very large group, such as pollution, which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, mentioned, and aid to the Third World. It is not merely cash which is needed but properly co-ordinated aid efforts, which a group like the larger Community could provide, much fairer trading practices, low interest grants, in-Europe training of technicians from overseas. There are many things that can be mentioned which 431 can be successfully tackled when everything is scaled up; and that is why I want to appeal, even at this late hour and despite the decisions made by the Executive of the Labour Party and the Trades Union Council to-day, to those who oppose British entry, to recognise the frightful power they are exercising by this opposition on a vital decision affecting the future of this country. It is not their sincerity which is in doubt—it is not their sincerity at all—but their judgment. I hope it is not too late for a complete reconsideration of this against a wider backcloth to be made before October; because after October I think the chance will have gone.
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ LORD BLYTON
My Lords, when I was young I used to sing a Sunday hymn called"Dare to be a Daniel ", and after listening to thirty speeches for the Market each day I rise to say that I am opposed to the White Paper and also to entry into Europe. I am in good company, for by 16 votes to 6 the National Executive of the Labour Party to-day has voted against entry, and almost certainly the T.U.C. has made a similar recommendation. In September and October the Labour Party and the T.U.C. will be against entry. I was surprised to hear about the wonderful, glorious picture for the miners that was painted by my own leader, the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. This is a matter I know something about. The Tory and the Labour Governments closed so many pits that we now cannot supply the internal market with coal and had to import coal last year and this year; and if we join the Coal and Steel Community, where are we going to get the coal from? No more sinkings are taking place in the country. The miner has gone for good and will never come back to an uncertain industry, and if you have to reopen the old pits the capital needed will be colossal. So I would say to the House,"Do not be too optimistic about this issue "; and that is why the Miners' Union opposes entry into the Coal and Steel Community.
We have witnessed these last few weeks—and it is still continuing—the attempt to brainwash the people of our country into accepting the idea that we must join the Common Market. We are told by Lord Eccles that there is no argument. 432 This I do not accept, as I have never been a supporter of the set-up of the Common Market. We are told of the dire circumstances of Britain of the future if we do not go in on the terms before us. Harold Macmillian told us that in the other place in 1955, but we are still surviving.
The country has seen a barrage of propaganda, unequalled in my time, by the Tory Government, with taxpayers' money, to sway the British people to support our accession to the Treaty of Rome, in spite of the fact that they have not been able to alter one word of it, or to alter the agricultural policy of the E.E.C. which will hit poor families very hard. The White Paper I regard as propagandist, crudely selective, emotional, shifty and evasive. It offers very few, if any, of the vital statitstics we have been promised. What the Government make clear is that they have accepted the Treaty of Rome, also the Treaty of Paris, with all the rules and regulations made under these Treaties about which we know nothing. The Government have accepted the Common Market's dear food policy and a budget payment that will fall heavily and unfairly on Britain in the years ahead. There is no lasting safeguards for the Commonwealth countries, whether rich or poor, and in an extremely serious matter like the balance of payments no attempt at all is made to estimate what will be the cost of our entry. The Government have also accepted the value added tax of the Six, which also further threatens the standard of life—and this on top of all the increases in the price of food that arise from the E.E.C. agricultural policy. It will be the working class who will suffer under this and it cannot be brushed aside as of no consesequence, as some noble Lords have tried to do.
In the propaganda campaign of the Government, I am a little concerned at the way the Press, radio and television are dealing with one of the greatest issues to face us in peace time. The attacks on the Leader of the Opposition by these media have been disgraceful. The character assassination policy they are pursuing is nauseating. From the Tories you can expect it; they did it before the last General Election. But from radio and television some of their interviews have been nothing short of a scandal. It makes it worse when members of the Labour 433 Party who support going into the Market lend themselves to this disgraceful propaganda of denigrating the Leader of the Labour Party in another place. I would recall to them the words of Keir Hardie, who when addressing a conference, said:When the Tories cheer me I know I am wrong. When they attack me I know I am right.Therefore I ask my colleagues on this side not to lend themselves to this shocking propaganda which has been going on in the previous weeks. I hope that we shall not talk of a free Press. Journalists on all papers except two have been told to support entry, and do their best to create a situation in which to convey to the people that there has been a shift in opinion and that it is inevitable that we go in. The weight of the papers is to plug the Common Market propaganda and give scanty reporting of the views of those who oppose the Market.
The Prime Minister, in another place, has pointed out beautiful pictures of life if we go into the Market. He painted rosy pictures before the last Election of reducing food prices at a stroke; but they have gone up by over 14 per cent. in 12 months. Why should people believe his promises now? They were taken in before, and they are not likely to be taken in again. By-elections and council elections have proved this to be true. In the White Paper the Government state that they do not believe that the overall response of British industry to membership can be quantified in terms of its effect upon the balance of trade. Yet, without any evidence, they go on to say that they are confident that this effect will be positive and substantial. It is amazing that the Government White Paper should rest on such an argument. The effect on this country of going into Europe is bound to be different from the effect that it had on the Six.
As I said in my last speech to the House, before joining the E.E.C. the Six were already following dear food policies and their living costs and industrial costs were not forced up as a result. Again, they had not created a free or semi-free trade area as we had in the case of EFTA and the Commonwealth which they would have to sacrifice. Further, a major part of their trade was with one another. On the other hand, we were trading twice 434 as much with EFTA in the Commonwealth preference area as we were with the E.E.C. Also, in 1958 the Kennedy Round had not reduced the tariffs around the Six to the present level of 7 per cent. There is no evidence at all that growth in the Six has been increased by signing the Rome Treaty. The National Institute Review found that it had not been increased and the fact is that the annual growth of the Six has been lower since the Rome Treaty was signed.
It should be pointed out further that, while trade within the Six has increased since the Rome Treaty was signed, their share of exports to the rest of the world has declined. It is also not true that the gross national product is higher in any of the Six to-day, except West Germany, than it is in the United Kingdom. There has been no reputable international comparisons of real standards since 1964, and these can only be approximately brought up to date so far as 1968. They show that the United Kingdom real income per head in that year was certainly lower than West Germany, about the same as France, and higher than that of Holland, Belgium and Italy. A comparison of real wages on the latest figures available shows the same thing, assuming that the cost of living in the Six is only 10 per cent. higher than ours. Real wages per hour are higher in West Germany than here. They are lower in Holland and Belgium and much lower in France and in Italy.
Another comparison is the Government's admission that the main effects of our joining the E.E.C. on these terms would be to lower real wages in this country. Paragraph 88 of the White Paper says that retail food prices will rise 16 per cent. over the six years transition on top of the rise engineered by the levies in advance of that to make it nearly 20 per cent. In paragraph 43 of the White Paper the Government also say that the influence on wage movements of the increase in the cost of living is not expected to have any significant effect on the cost of industry. In plain English, it means that the Government and the know that there will be a major rise in the cost of living and practically no money increases as a result of entry. It means a fall in the living standards of most of the people of our land. It cannot mean anything else and this is true if we assume a rise of only 20 per cent. in food prices 435 —and we have competent men like Sir John Winniforth, a former Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, telling us that the rise forced upon us by joining the E.E.C. is likely to be 50 per cent. and that the gap between E.E.C. prices and world prices is more likely to widen than narrow. The F.A.O. forecast confirms this view.
Gone is the propaganda of the pro-Marketeers that wages will be £7 a week higher if we join the E.E.C. It has been blown sky high by Paragraph 43 of the Government's White Paper on this issue. No doubt this is another reason why we have the Industrial Relations Bill. Trade unions, let there be no mistake, will fight for their standard of life to be maintained regardless of the legal sanctions that are to be imposed. The Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party will stiffen their opposition, in the light of this White Paper, against entry into the Common Market.
The long-term effects on the balance of payments are not given in the White Paper. Probably the Government were afraid to give the facts. Why are the Government so shy of telling us the price to be paid? We have to consider the budgetary contribution, the increased costs of agricultural imports from the Six, the loss of preferences for our industrial goods in the Commonwealth and the effect of the increased cost of living on the level of industrial costs. It is no good abusing the economic calculations made by other people if the Government refuse to give any, because if the Government cannot give them then there is no economic case for going in. As Douglas Jay said in another place, the cost on any realistic basis on current account is bound to be nearer £1,000 million than £500 million a year by the time we have reached the end of the transitional stage, and it could be more if the food price gap widens. The White Paper talks about a wider market. It is impossible to say whether the market will be wider or narrower until we have a balance of payments calculation, which the Government say it is impossible to make.
In all the previous debates in which I have taken part, the pro-Marketeers have always talked about the dynamic benefits that will accrue to us, but they are not 436 to be found in the White Paper. Nobody yet has shown that Douglas Jay's estimate is wrong and it is the Government who must produce the figures to show that they are wrong. There is much to be said for the arguments raised in another place for the setting up of a Select Committee to probe into the cost of entry into the Common Market. If this is to be the burden, it must mean economic decline. It must mean squeezes, wage freezes and high prices to get us back to balance again. Again, it will mean great sacrifices by working people which they suffered under my own Government to get us out of the deficit in the balance of payments. The fact that the Government do not face the issues here or give figures, shows the weakness of the Government's case and also of those who support them. The Prime Minister has tried to tell the nation how little it will cost us to get into the Common Market. He said that it would be only one half of a new penny per pound per year over the six years. I do not for a moment accept this. The White Paper itself says that we shall see an increase of 2½ per cent. per annum in food prices. Over the six years there will be an increase of 16 per cent. in food prices due entirely to our entry into the Market. That 16 per cent. increase will be on top of whatever inflation takes place between now and the end of the transitional period. It will also be over and above the increases which we are now paying because of the change in the way we will support agriculture, from support costs to import levies. These increases must be taken into reckoning when calculating the overall cost of food, the increase in the cost of living and the cost of entry into the Market.
Paragraph 43 of the White Paper, if it means anything at all, means that the Government are expecting that working, people will carry the additional burden of this rise in the cost of living attached to our entry. The 2½ per cent. increase in the cost of food means in money terms that another £150 million a year will have to be found by the British housewife above our present bill for imported food; over six years that is £900 million. Even the White Paper admits that butter, cheese and beef will become more expensive and that many more food prices will rise. If we sign the Treaty of Rome these 437 increases will have to be borne by our people. In the lower wage groups it means that a housewife who now spends £8.60p a week to feed her family will have to spend £10.
If the Government think that this will come about without any effect on wages, they are most certainly living in a fool's paradise. The trade unions, quite justifiably, will fight. How can men in industry be expected to accept this sort of policy? Many noble Lords will be able to withstand this increase, but working people cannot do so, especially those on low fixed incomes, the pensioners, the sick and disabled. We know the plight of our pensioners to-day, that their £1 increase in September has already been eaten up by increased prices in the last few months; and I am not too happy about the Government's promise to look after them in the light of their policy recently of taking milk from children, increasing the price of school meals, and taking away the three waiting days from those on social security.
It is said that we shall not lose a significant amount of trade in other parts of the world. I think the people who say that are in for a rude awakening. If the increased costs of living are to be retrieved by increased wages and salaries—and this is bound to happen—then our industrial costs will become much more expensive, our exports will become less competitive in other markets outside the Six, and our balance of trade will suffer a severe blow through increased imports and falling exports.
On top of all this we are to have the value added tax. This can be an even more serious threat, and it will be applied to necessities when we enter the Community. The White Paper says that we have to pay part of these proceeds, namely. 1 per cent., to the Community. It makes no attempt to assess the size of this contribution or the burden that will be placed on our people in addition to the burdens I have already described. Probably it will mean that over £100 million a year will be added to our food costs.
Your Lordships will remember that when the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster started his negotiations with the Common Market he suggested a figure of 3 per cent. of the Common Market budget. The French called this"Anglo- 438 Saxon humour"He was asked to think again, and he did: he agreed to three times that figure, namely 8.64 per cent. We are asked to regard this as a jolly good bargain. It is to rise to 19 per cent. by the fifth year. The original demand of the French was for 20–21 per cent; and no matter how we look at this it is apparent that the French won the day. This is a hefty commitment because it will rise each year as the gross national product of the Six expands. This can mean anything over £200 million. The White Paper does not give the figure, but maybe someone will be able to tell us to-day.
So, to sum up this part of my speech, the terms mean that the Government have swallowed the loss of British sovereignty without consulting the people. They have accepted the whole of the Community's agricultural policy. We shall be told where to buy our food, we shall have to accept the method of financing the Community budget, and having been so dictated to we shall have to pay over 90 per cent. of the levies on our imported food, 90 per cent. of the customs duty receipts on our manufactured goods, and added to this a percentage of the proceeds from the value added tax to those on the Continent. We shall have to abide by the Treaty of Rome, and also rules, regulations and directives from Paris.
To-day, as there are many more speakers to come, I shall not deal with the effects on the Commonwealth, but from my observations I do not regard the bureaucrats in Brussels as persons who care for the economies of our Commonwealth. I predict that in 1974, when the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement ends—and in the meantime as the sugar beet industry of the Six expands—we shall have to accept the rules of the Community and give the Common Market the preference against our own Commonwealth. Monsieur Pompidou has made it clear that the deal is to enable French farmers to find markets in our country, and this is a useful market for the inefficient farmers of France.
Common Marketeers often sneer at Commonwealth trade. My Lords, our export trade with the Commonwealth is £1,695 million, out of a total of £8,000 million. This is a trade we cannot lightly cast aside. It will take a lot of making 439 up in other markets. We sell to the E.E.C. countries goods to the value of £1,754 million, which is only a little more than we sell to the Commonwealth, and the figure to EFTA is £1,286 million. Commonwealth trade has slowed down in the last ten years. Because of our keenness to get into the Common Market the Commonwealth have been forced to try to seek markets elsewhere.
I now come to the regional policies within the Six. I live in the North-East, where unemployment is chronic. There is long-term unemployment, and children leaving school cannot get jobs. What is the policy towards places like Wales, the North-East, Scotland and Cumberland? In 1969, the European Commission admitted in a major survey that the E.E.C. has failed to narrow the gap between the rich and poor regions, and they had not been able to reverse the trends and overcome the natural drawing power of the centre. The same situation exists to-day. What has happened to Paris and Hamburg is happening to London, and it will become more accentuated in the E.E.C. The pull to the South-East of England will accelerate. That means that industry will go to the South-East of England rather than to the distressed areas where unemployment is high.
As a Northerner I was not surprised when the value added tax headquarters were to be located at Southend. This tends to show how, in the E.E.C., the areas I have mentioned will be too remote from the centre of affairs. We are desperately in need of employment, but we shall be too far away from the centre in the years that lie ahead. The regional employment premium is being phased out, and in any event it would not have been compatible with the E.E.C. rules. The writing is on the wall for the distressed areas of the North. Industrial development certificates will have less value under terms of intense competition. Even investment grant subsidies to these areas are in danger.
This has been happening at the Eastern and Southern edges of the E.E.C. Now our Northern edges will suffer the same fate unless before we enter generous terms of entry are made available to our regions. There is a deep feeling about 440 this matter; in this 20,000 word document there are but a dozen lines on regional matters, and they contain nothing but pious platitudes which have no meaning. This aspect has come to the fore recently. Suddenly, people in these areas are waking up to the fact that, amid all the euphoria about our"bright future in Europe ", their jobs, whether in coal, steel, electrical plant or shipbuilding, may well be threatened. Though the jobs angle may not worry the Marketeers or those in the South-East, it will most certainly affect my people in the North.
In conclusion I want to say this: I am a Socialist. I have always believed in, and tried to work towards, a system of society changing from capitalist to socialist. I have always believed in a society that is run in the interests of the people and not for the personal aggrandisement of the few. I have believed in my philosophy for over 52 years. There is no hope of a socialist philosophy penetrating this bastion of capitalism about which Sir Alec Douglas-Home talked so much in the Tory pamphlet in 1969, that Western capitalism ought to co-operate in order to get the awards that were available. I have been against capitalism. I want to see democratic Socialism in Britain. You cannot get Socialism under the set-up of this great consortium of capitalism in Brussels and Paris. That is why I oppose it.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ BARONESS YOUNG
My Lords, I ask the indulgence of the House for this my maiden speech. I feel more honoured than I can ever say to be here, to be allowed to speak to-day, to be able to speak among so many very much more distinguished than myself. It is, of course, enormously flattering still to be considered a maiden in any context, though I much regret that this is hardly an occasion on which it can be said that I am going to blush unseen. Your Lordships have been so extraordinarily kind and welcoming, and the mere suggestion—and I think"suggestion"is the right word, for I feel certain that no one in this delightful House ever uses the categoric imperative—that I might take part in the debate to-day has almost enabled me to overcome far more than a few maidenly heart flutters. I hope, 441 therefore, that I have the right words for this occasion and for this subject. I shall, at any rate, be brief.
My Lords, my political experience has been in local government, and it may seem, therefore, inappropriate that I should contribute to this debate. But in local government one lives, so to speak, over the shop, and every day I meet people from all walks of life, who come to me, simply because I am the nearest person, to put questions and worries of all sorts, including those on the Common Market. These people differ enormously, from the businessman making highly specialised scientific equipment and looking for an enlarged export market in Europe, to the elderly lady who said to me,"Well, dear, I'm so worried about it all. Shall I have to speak French?"
From all the many people that I have met and with whom I have discussed this subject, I think there are three main worries. The first, I believe, is fear of the unknown, not, of course, expressed like that but in terms of worry about the future position of the Queen, of national sovereignty, of Parliament, of our institutions, and of competition. Then there is the fundamental dislike of change. Most people, in my experience, dislike change, and to many people the idea that in future they will be European, not simply British or even a part of the family of the Commonwealth, is very strange. It is easy to laugh at such an attitude, but to someone who has not travelled in Europe, or studied our common background of Western civilisation or the history of the Christian Church, the Continent of Europe can seem a world apart.
The next, I think, is fear of rising prices, and here I hope that it will not be considered improper or presumptuous in a maiden speech to ask Her Majesty's Government to say something to allay the very real fears of the elderly and pensioners, particularly on future food prices. To someone whose weekly expenditure is finely calculated, the propect of higher food prices is a very real worry. Whereas the young and enterprising can work for increased real wages within the European Economic Community, the elderly can only ask for increased pensions. Their real needs must be considered, too. I put these points because, although I am myself convinced of the rightness of joining E.E.C., it would surely be a most un- 442 happy situation if the majority of the population was not similarly convinced. Understanding the fears of people is the first step to overcoming them. For this reason the White Paper and its shortened version are much to be welcomed. Increased knowledge can help to allay these fears and help people to form a judgment on this great issue.
But for a great number of people the real difficulty arises because many of the economic arguments are finely balanced and depend for their resolution on deciding the balance of known disadvantages to-day against the expectation of great benefits in the future. Entry into E.E.C. is, therefore, an act of faith and judgment. It is not a panacea; it is an act of faith. For among many other things, no one can prove now that if we enter Europe the country will get that elusive economic growth which alone will enable us to pay the higher prices and other costs, such as our contribution to the Community budget. Despite all the figures and all the sophisticated techniques of cost-benefit, we can never do a controlled experiment; we cannot choose both to go in and stay out, and see which is the better in ten years' time."When doctors disagree," asked Pope,"who shall decide"And the answer, of course, is that we must use our common sense and judgment and weigh the arguments involved.
We do know, however, that in 1957 the European countries had similar doubts as we have now, and yet I believe there is no democratic political Party in Europe to-day that does not support the Community. We know that where there has been a larger market there has been greater economic growth, whether it is within the E.E.C., in the British Empire of the world of the 19th century, or in the U.S.A. when that country expanded West. And anyone who has lived through 1939, let alone through 1914, knows that this country is a part of Europe and inevitably affected by what goes on on the Continent.
But, of course, economics is only part of the question. To someone of my generation who came of age after the ending of the Second World War, it came as a great disappointment that when rebuilding began and new political structures developed these were not large units of co-operation but often fragments 443 broken off in a narrow nationalistic spirit. Almost alone among post-war developments against this tide came Western Union and E.E.C. It seems to me of supreme importance for the future peace of the world that Europe, in which we must be included, shall co-operate together, not only economically but politically. This prospect of a united and peaceful Europe must surely he the greatest prize to be gained from the whole imaginative concept of the European Economic Community. I am very happy and proud of this opportunity to add my name to those who have declared their support for British entry into Europe.
In conclusion, my Lords, I believe, like many people, that Great Britain has much to offer Europe. Many far more knowledgeable than I have given examples from British industry and technology. I started by saying that I know a little of the workings of local democracy, and it is surely our own practice of democracy that is a prime example known to us of something we have to give Europe. It is interesting to speculate whether any other country in the world could have discussed for over ten years, with such tolerance and appreciation of opposing views, an issue such as the decision to join E.E.C., could have suffered two rebuffs and yet continue to discuss it in that spirit of tolerance to-day. This, surely, is an example of our democratic system at its best. It provides one reason to have faith in our country and in ourselves. It is one reason among many to look to the future with confidence and to face the challenge of Europe when it comes.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD ROBBINS
My Lords, I count it a very great privilege to follow the notable speech which we have just heard from the noble Baroness; a speech which was at once candid, forceful and felicitous. I am sure that all Members of your Lordships' House, whether or not they adopted the view which she expressed—and I confess that I adopt it wholeheartedly—will have admired her delivery, and the felicity of the arrangement of her argument. I hope that we shall hear much from her often in the future.
When the noble Lord, Lord Annan, delighted us on Monday evening with a 444 very powerful speech, he treated the House to a very appropriate quotation from the works of Pascal. Rising, as I do, about No. 100 in the list of speakers, I am inclined to apologise to the House in the words of Pascal's contemporary, La Bruyere:" Tout est dit, et l'on vient trop tard ",which means,All is said and one comes too late.I feel that I must not be daunted by this position. It may be that there are background gleanings still to pick up, surveying this subject, and I confess that I am just a little tempted to expose myself by a speech which was made by another noble Lord, Lord Willis, on Monday afternoon, when he said that he wished (I think I quote him correctly) that all economists were dead, or words to that effect. I should like to present a further target.
I do not wish to begin with economics. I prefer rather to begin by taking up a point which was also made on Monday afternoon in a very felicitous speech, with almost every world of which I disagreed, by the noble Lord, Lord Soper. The noble Lord said that he thought the day of the nation State was over. With that sentence, at any rate, I find myelf in complete agreement, with due qualifications. Ever since I began to think about the political and economic aspects of international relations, I have felt that the nation State, as it has developed in Western civilisation, is no longer a sufficient condition for human progress. Historically, doubtless it has played an important part Only a philosophical anarchist would have argued that in the modern age we could have got along without it. But even before 1914 the divisions involved had become a danger to humanity, a source of economic friction, and a menace to international peace, particularly in Continental Europe. We all know what happened in 1914, and what happened again in the inter-war period, when the absence of sufficient solidarity and adequate institutions among the peace-loving peoples opened the door to aggression and, in the second instance at least, to barbarism and bestiality.
For many years after 1914—indeed, until well into the present period—many of the best spirits of the day placed their hopes for improvement in loose planetary supranational organisations. After the 445 First World War the League of Nations; after the Second World War the United Nations, and all the apparatus of secondary bodies going therewith. Heaven forbid that I should say that all that was without value! Life is far too complicated for any simple judgment of that kind. Certainly it may be argued that anything which kept alive the lamp of international sympathy in these days was better than nothing. But do we not all know, in our hearts, that we set our sights too high; and in fact missed many opportunities by cherishing the delusion that here, at this stage in history, was the instrument to maintain world order? What futilities we witnessed in the interwar period when men who feared and detested what was happening in Germany continued to oppose rearmament here and uttered impotent reproaches at those who would not rely on the League of Nations to see us through! In our day, after a Second World War which almost destroyed Western civilisation, how little has been the power of the United Nations to do anything but look after minor troubles where the great Powers did not feel that their major interests were at stake!
My Lords, I think we must face the fact that, much as we may hope for its eventual emergence, the world we have to live in is not the one world of our dreams. It is a world which is divided by rival ideologies, by unequal demographic tendencies, by unequal degrees of political development: and for those of us who believe that the traditions of the liberal civilisation of the West are the best hope for humanity it must surely be an axiom of conduct that unless the West is strong, chaos is unloosed. In the anxious years since the Second World War it has not been the United Nations which has saved the West from being dominated by creeds as inhuman, as cruel, in my opinion, as National Socialism itself; it has been the North Atlantic Alliance.
I have a confession to make. For years I personally hoped that that Alliance could deepen and widen into something more unified and permanent; that both on the diplomatic and the economic side, as well as on the military side, it could become an effective political framework of the Atlantic community enlarged, when possible, to embrace other like- 446 minded peoples. For that reason, I have to admit that when M. Monnet and his friends first propounded the idea of the Iron and Steel Community, and later on when the Common Market was first propounded, I opposed them. I opposed them, not because the organisations were too large, not because they involved too much surrender of sovereignty, but because in my then frame of mind they were too small and seemed likely to be too inward-looking. I hoped for something wider, and I confess that I feared, as I still fear, the inveterate anti-Americanism of some influential Continental intellectuals.
But, my Lords, that hope has faded. We have surely played a not dishonourable part in NATO, but we did not exploit its potentialities of development. And now, with the virtual certainty that the United States and Canada—while not, I hope, entirely disengaging themselves—will look more and more to Europe to organise and defend itself, at any rate on the ground, I confess that, in the circumstances, I see our best hope in entering into the project of a consolidation of a united Europe; not inward-looking, as some of its exponents would wish, but able to co-operate on equal terms with the other components of Western civilisation, especially in North America. What form this consolidation should eventually take, I do not profess to know. I personally subscribe to the general principles of federalism as laid down in the immortal work of Hamilton Jay and Maddison. I have never seen them anywhere refuted. But I certainly would not be dogmatic in their application to the union of ancient States with strong local traditions, complex differences of law and language. The fundamental desideratum is surely only greater unity in the spheres of military, diplomatic and economic action. Otherwise, my Lords, we are eventually lost, as helpless before superior power as were the Greek City States before the power of Philip of Macedon and eventually the Romans.
From a purely academic point of view, it is certainly an open question whether an economic union is the best way to begin a consolidation of this sort. Certainly, there is the precedent of the Zollverein which preceded the foundation of the German Bund. But in that case 447 politics were closely involved in that from the outset, via the surreptitious influence of Prussia. And I personally am clear that the degree of economic unification envisaged by the theorists of the European Community will indeed involve a great deal of political underpinning before much of it is workable. But this is not a purely academic question. Here we are in a concrete historical situation, with an economic community of power and strength evolving rapidly before our eyes. The beginnings were not our initiative—more is the pity I say, pondering on my own record—and we really are not in a position to suggest starting all over again. Once we are in, I think we can play our part. Our public service is rather good at that sort of thing. But now, to-day, having got the best terms we are likely to get, we have to take it or leave it; to take while there is still time the opportunity of participating in this great enterprise, or resigning ourselves to the difficulties of an off-shore island left behind in the march of events, and less and less able even to control what influences our own destiny.
That leads me to say one or two words about the economics of the problem. What about the prospective costs and gains? A great deal has been written about this question, and a great deal has been said about it in both Houses. White Papers have been published, learned calculations have been made. We heard many such calculations from the other side a few minutes ago. As an economist, I have thought a good deal about this and I am not ashamed to tell your Lordships that I am completely sceptical about much of what has been written on both sides, and I am very tentative about some of the rest.
Let me begin with the short period. I suppose that it is common ground that there will be some price to pay for the privilege of delayed entry. There will be some adverse effects on the balance of payments, some adverse effects on some—by no means all—food prices. But I am bound to say that any estimates that I have seen that seem to have any degree of plausibility, suggest that in the context of our ups-and-downs and the general economic landscape far too much can he made of this sort of trouble. I am 448 unhappy to note that, so far as the cost of living is concerned, we take more in inflation in one year than we are likely to take in all the transition period as regards the rise in agricultural prices.
As for the balance of payments, experience has shown—the experience of the late Government has shown—that it is not so difficult to generate a substantial surplus, when necessary, with properly adjusted exchange rates and restraint in internal finance. I have to add at once that having regard to present tendencies, with the continuation of inflation, I am not very sanguine that we shall not have more trouble in that connection in any case. But I do not think that going into the Common Market would add very much to the difficulty, and I certainly do not think that it should deflect us from the fundamental purpose. But, frankly, there are likely to be so many variables operating at the same time that I must say that in this respect any attempt at precision, any confident prediction, smacks to me of the slightly bogus.
As for the long period, I feel rather more confidence. Let me begin by alluding to the position if we stay out—a matter so eloquently expatiated upon by the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, yesterday. I do not predict economic catastrophe if we stay out, although I certainly think that our stock in the world at large would slump pretty quickly, and internally I am afraid that the morale of many—not all—of the most vigorous and enterprising would be shaken. But I am sure that we should be confronted with increasing difficulties of competition both inside the Market, as that economic structure is consolidated, and outside—this is important—as its power to compete in the world in general is strengthened in the home base. I know that some small—States how often has one heard this—like Switzerland and Sweden, do quite well without this kind of association. But our economy is not like the economy of Switzerland and Sweden. We are geared to much greater diversity. Our horizon is much more extensive. I am sure that if we ignore this opportunity the scope for that present gearing is likely to be progressively narrowed.
My Lords, what about the advantages and disadvantages of going in as distinct from staying out? I hasten to say that I am certainly not impressed by the 449 promise—I am sure it has never been made from this Front Bench—that the mere fact of going in will increase our growth rate. All that is highly conjectural; and it is not clear to me that the growth rate within the Common Market has all been due to the formation of the Common Market. Certainly merely passive entry will not raise our economic stature. Nor would I wish to minimise the absurdity of the agricultural system of which we have to become a part, although, as I think has been said already this afternoon, I think that some noble Lords may underestimate the force of the movement to change in this respect which is discernible already when one visits continental Europe. Certainly the younger political economists of that part of the world are very alive to all the deficiencies of the system under which they labour, and in the long run it is what the young people think which comes through. There are disadvantages, clearly, but I think also there are advantages which are likely to be more than compensatory—advantages arising from the size of the market.
I agree with, I think it was, the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, who said that he would take a lot of convincing that the aggregate national product of the United States would be what it is to-day if the different States had independent powers to restrict inter-State commerce. I think certainly that some—not all, but some, at least—of the prosperity of that great union is due to the width of its market, and I see no reason at all to suppose that in the long run we, too, cannot share in the prosperity of a united Western Europe if only we have the ingenuity and the will to take advantage of the opportunity.
In conclusion, my Lords, if I appear to play down somewhat what are usually described as the economic difficulties and recommend rather tentatively the economic advantages, I would certainly not wish to leave your Lordships with the impression that I think that the achievement of a truly united Western Europe is likely to be at all easy. I think it may be easier than some think, if only because it has the power of an idea on the march, which is apt to raise the potentialities of all of us, especially of the young, who badly need some sort of encouragement of that kind. Nevertheless, there are very 450 great difficulties—difficulties which have not been alluded to very much in this debate—and I think we deceive ourselves if we ignore them. There are difficulties in the economic sphere which have not been mentioned. I do not think that in the end a common market, just like that, can function well if there is not something like a common money. But the achievement of a common money must be fraught with very great dangers. It would certainly be a mistake, in my opinion, to clamp us all into the straitjacket of a common money without much more harmonisation of other policies, political and economic. In the end, surrender of the power to create money is justified on the part of any State only if there are guarantees of security, which certainly do not exist to-day. Moreover, fixed exchange rates without a common control of money creation are simply asking for trouble. Yet without something like this, without some sort of confederal financial arrangements, a common tariff and common subsidies are very apt to develop difficulties and to creak.
Then there are difficulties in the subtler spheres of mutual understanding and political co-operation. The States of Western Europe are not recently-formed political entities easy to mould to common habits and common purposes, as were the 13 colonies which founded the great union across the Atlantic. They have different languages—one of the most divisive factors in human societies. They have different histories and Constitutions. Alas! they sometimes have different ideas on the proper conduct of foreign policy. The proportionate influence of the various ideologies, characteristic of the Western World, differs in different parts. There are problems of internal stability even within the States of the present combination. So that even for the more limited functions of the supranational institutions contemplated it is very easy indeed to think of the emergence of difficulties which might imperil the whole structure. But to recognise such difficulties should not, in my judgment, lead us to be deterred by them. Surely they are a challenge to thought and to action, not limitations to reasonable aspiration. For I am sure that the alternative of declining the enterprise, of acquiescing in the status quo, has implications even more disagreeable than the danger of experimentation. 451 It is true that if we go forward we may fail. It is not certain that, either with us or without us, the final European consolidation will succeed, although I would say that our accession would render success much more likely. But if we remain inert, if we neglect the opportunity, then I would say that only accident will save us from mediocrity or something worse.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ LORD BUTLER OF SAFFRON WALDEN
My Lords. I should like first to add my own word of congratulation to the noble Baroness. Lady Young, on her maiden speech. I believe that her chief interest in local government is in education, which is also my favourite subject, so I hope that we may before long meet again on the Floor of the House on this or another subject. I was somewhat appalled, my Lords, by the list of speakers, and it so happened that I was reading Stanhope's Life of Pitt, in which he says that George III, in one of his many Minutes, wrote as follows in 1806:It seems wonderful that the fatigue does not incline gentlemen to compress their ideas in a shorter space, which must ever be more agreeable and useful to the auditors, and not less advantageous to the despatch of business.In view of this, one of the many witty Minutes of that famous King, I thought I would confine my observations to just a few words, the first of which is that I should like to express my view that an unequivocable decision should be taken, as in 1961 and 1967, to enter the Common Market when the vote takes place in October.
In 1961 I was chairman of the Committee of Ministers to co-ordinate our policy in relation to the Common Market, and I should like to pay tribute to the vision and determination of Harold Macmillan and the present Prime Minister at that date in forcing this decision through in circumstances infinitely more difficult than face us to-day, in 1971, and on terms and conditions many of which had not been worked out. In particular, there was no solution of the New Zealand question; there was no solution of the agricultural question: there was no support from the agricultural community in this country and yet we went forward. I think that it is incredible good fortune that an opportunity hay come our way 452 again in 1971 to make up our minds, and, I hope, go forward.
The terms and conditions, as I have said, are infinitely better than they were in 1961, or indeed in 1967. Why should things be better if we decide to stay out? Here I would endorse the thoughtful and, as usual, excellent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, who preceded me, to which I would add very little, on either the political or the economic side Things will certainly not be better for home agriculture if we stay out; things will certainly not be better for us and for Commonwealth trade if we stay out. On page 31 of the White Paper it is pointed out:Our entry into the Communities will place at some risk only a small proportion—at most only 7½ per cent.—of Australian export trade. In 1969–70 Britain took under 12 per cent. of Australia's exports—a very different situation from ten years previously when we were still buying more than 25 per cent.Compared to the situation which faced us in 1961, the position has completely changed in Australia's pattern of trade.
I had the honour to make a tour in Australia within the last year. I was astonished at the changed pattern which has occurred not only in my lifetime but in the last ten years. We cannot, in my view, looking at the Commonwealth, go back to Joseph Chamberlain, any more than Joseph Chamberlain went back to Adam Smith. We must move forward in economic thinking and take the risks, as my noble friend Lord Robbins pointed out. Moreover, I remember walking round with Harold Macmillan in the garden of Marlborough House in 1961. We wondered then whether we were going to get a decision through the Commonwealth Conference. We had all the robust oratory of Sir Robert Menzies; we had at that time the disgust and despair of New Zealand. Yet we decided to go ahead because, as I said to my friend the then Prime Minister,"We shall not be able to help the Commonwealth unless we are really strong. We shall not be really strong unless we go forward into Europe, enlarge our markets, enlarge our opportunities, enlarge our sphere of investment ". This is why we got our decision through then, and why we are going to get it through now.
I should like, in passing, to say something to the Government. I hope that Britain will go into Europe as a World 453 Power. I read a great deal about M. Pompidou's views about the future of Europe. Of course we must subscribe to the idea of a developing European community in which we take our full share, but I hope that we shall not forget our relations with the Commonwealth or our special relationship with the United States. I believe that the Government need to spend a great deal of kind caring for Commonwealth relations. I was not impressed by Mr. Anthony's speech from Australia. Yet, there is a lot to look after in Commonwealth relations, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made clear in his own speech in this House on Monday, In the case of India, I was rather shocked to hear of the alleged abrogation of the 1939 trade treaty. I understand, from inquiries that I made before my speech, that this is all being reconsidered and discussed, and that the Government are fully aware of the importance of our relations with India. Our relations with Africa will be looked after, as the White Paper makes clear, by certain degrees of association. It is as a World Power that I should like us to go into Europe and we must not sacrifice all our independence in the world in order to serve Europe alone.
Before I sit down, obeying the advice of George III, I want to mention the balance-of-payments position. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Blyton—and it was the only thing in his speech that I did agree with—that the balance of payments is not very fully described in the White Paper. What is mentioned in one small sentence is that our total national income will increase with only a half per cent. higher rate of growth. If that is so, it is said that we can earn in the first year or two, or the first few years, as much as £1,000 million more. That will help balance our balance-of-payments position. I sincerely hope that that is the case. I was somewhat comforted by the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in another place on Monday, but I still feel that this is a very difficult problem in going into the Market. I have discussed it with three of my colleagues who, like myself, at different periods of time have been Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have all come to the conclusion that the balance of payments will not necessarily be better if we stay out of Europe. In fact, I 454 would say that, on balance, with the rate of growth likely, the balance of payments will probably suffer less if we go into Europe. I myself, having struggled with the sterling balances for four years at the Treasury, was glad to read in the White Paper that this question of funding, or reducing, or doing something with the sterling balances is in evidence and is likely to be done.
Therefore, on the whole I would say—although I think this is a doubtful point—that on the whole we should do worse with our balance of payments if we were to stay out. I would only beseech the Government and the Chancellor of Exchequer to continue to worry about the balance. An enormous infusion of money and demand, over £1,000 million, has recently been infused into the economy. While that is a good thing for social reasons, do not let us ever forget the vital importance of maintaining our balance of payments in this country. On the financial side I only mention the statement made in this House on July 14 about the capital payments and fish. I think that both these subjects have not yet been fully resolved; I hope that, before October, the Government will come forward with more information on these subjects.
When I served Mr. Macmillan, I was asked to go round the country and talk to branches of the National Farmers' Union. I had an extremely uncomfortable and disagreeable time. Now I read on page 28 of the Green Book published by the National Farmers' Union the following sentence. This is the difference between 1971 and 1961. The farmers say in 1971:Outside the E.E.C. the repercussions for many sections of agriculture could be less favourable than inside the Community, with fewer opportunities for profitable expansion.That is a big change of heart. It means that the agricultural community really feel that they have a hope in going into Europe. I noticed a very careful interchange between the Minister of Agriculture and the President of the N.F.U. The Government promise in the Minister's letter particular help for horticulture where that may be justified. Like fish, horticulture is going to be a very difficult point in the future of the negotiations. 455 I therefore conclude by asking the Government, by beseeching the Government, not to leave this decision beyond October. Not only have we the decision to make, but, after it is made, both in another place and in your Lordships' House, there will be endless Orders in Council and future legislation. The whole industrial relations episode may be dwarfed by what we have to go through. At any rate, let us resolve to get a good majority to start with and to see to it that that majority is maintained in both Houses. I believe that this is a very important debate. It is a step forward as a world Power into Europe. I remember the Zurich speech of Winston Churchill; I remember the Hague meeting with Winston Churchill; I remember Ernie Bevin and the Brussels Treaty. I have just had the honour of meeting again my old friend Paul-Henri Spaak. He said to me."This is a moment of greater importance to the world than the whole of the Russian Revolution. This is a peaceful revolution in Europe which may heal many wounds." This is the atmosphere in which we should reach our decision, and I hope that that decision will be in the affirmative.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD STOW HILL
My Lords, it is by no means an easy task to join in this debate as speaker No. 104 after 103 most notable speeches, with 99 of which I entirely agree and with four of which I disagree. My task is made the easier in that at the outset I have to thank most sincerely the noble Baroness, Lady Young, who made her maiden speech. I thank her because I am certain we all enjoyed it and profited greatly from the personal contact and experience that she brought to the debate. I have a particular debt of gratitude to discharge to her, in that she has been the instrument, by what she said, of preventing a large part of the few remaining notes which I had made in order to found my contribution upon them from being destroyed as all the rest have been destroyed. I thought I should, in spite of the wealth of information and experience which your Lordships have heard throughout the course of our three-day debate, intervene, perhaps if for this reason: that it is, I 456 suppose, the time to stand up and be counted. My Lords, I think we must say either"Yes"or"No ", and it is no longer acceptable to say that one does not know. If so, I go straight to the point and express my own view as being strongly in favour of entering the Common Market. May I go back to the noble Baroness and tell her the passage in her speech to which I should like in particular to address the remarks I have to found on the undestroyed notes? She told us of her frequent conversations with people who were bewildered by the whole huge situation with which our country now finds itself confronted. They could not understand it, they did not know what would be the position of the Sovereign, they did not relish the idea of becoming European having previously been British. My Lords, it seemed to me that in that context I might add something from my own experience, not being either an economist or an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, nor having been involved in the very intimate way in which a number of speakers have been involved in previous consideration of these issues, nor being an industrialist, nor being a trade unionist, but being, if I may use Shakespeare's term.a plain blunt man,That love my friend.Having said that, may I go back and touch upon the issue of sovereignty which the noble Baroness mentioned? Yesterday the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, made a most powerful speech analysing the impact on our national sovereignty which might result from our accession. My noble friend Lord Robens of Woldingham also dealt with it and so did the noble Lord, Lord Tangley, in very notable speeches; but I thought that possibly I might add something on the more mundane plane by asking your Lordships to consider what the Rome Treaty in terms requires from us and the extent to which it can be said directly to limit our choice, to impose upon us obligations, perhaps unacceptable in extent, and generally to alter our own internal arrangements.
As the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor pointed out, every treaty of course limits the freedom of choice, the uninhibited, untrammelled freedom of choice by any nation bound by it to take its own decisions in respect 457 of any given situation. My Lords, that is the object of treaties. A treaty binds all the nations that enter into it. It is right and sensible that that should be the case. Without treaties there would be no progress towards international understanding and co-operation. Anybody who gives a promise which in honour he means to abide by realises that his freedom of choice is limited. If one understands the term"sovereignty"in that sense, of course we do substantially limit our untrammelled sovereignty as it exists at the moment. We did so when we joined the League of Nations. We did so when we joined the United Nations organisation. We did so as members of NATO. This is so in the case of treaty after treaty. The Convention on Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions and a number of treaties over the centuries have had the same effect with a useful and necessary result.
But, my Lords, apart from that, what should we be obliged to do in order to conform to the letter of the Rome Treaty? What we should be required to do by Article 189 of the Rome Treaty is to alter our domestic law so as to make it conform to the regulations which are referred to in Article 189 and which constitute the legal framework set up under the Rome Treaty. Article 189 also speaks of directives which have a less compelling effect. What I submit it is essential to remember is this: we should alter our own legislation by our existing Parliamentary process. The idea that the processes of Parliament would be in any way changed is wholly and absolutely illusory. We should introduce measures to change our law so as to make it reflect the provisions of the regulations. One has to remember that the Rome Treaty covers only a very limited extent of our activities. It covers purely economic activities, freedom of movement of labour, freedom of movement of capital, transport, agriculture and so on, and in particular, of course, restrictive practices and monopolies. The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, who preceded me said that there would be a whole variety of Orders in Council which would have to be passed and I think he also added legislation. No doubt there will be a great deal.
Obvious candidates for change, I should have thought, would be the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1956 and 458 possibly our Exchange Control Act 1947—Acts of Parliament of that kind. But anybody going in and out of the Palace of Westminster would see it functioning precisely as it has always functioned and would see it carrying out an operation which we have carried out over and over again already. I mention, simply as an example, the Hijacking Bill which your Lordships considered a few days ago. That, I agree, is a Bill smaller in scope than the other measures we are considering, but it is a Bill we are passing in order to make our own domestic law comply with the provisions of The Hague Convention of 1970. That was not a minor change in our internal legislation. It involved our making a major change in our existing law of extradition, which is a highly sensitive area of our legislation.
It is said,"Yes, but there is the European Court, and the Commission can hale this country before the European Court if it alleges against us that we have failed to comply with our obligations ". But, my Lords, by becoming members of the League of Nations of Nations years ago we accepted the jurisdiction of the old Permanent Court of International Justice. By becoming members of the United Nations Organisation we accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Both those courts had a jurisdiction which ranged over a far wider, almost unlimited, area of international activity and of international law. Over and over again in my capacity as counsel I have pleaded the cause of this country before the judges of The Hague Court, and, indeed, the cause of other countries. It never occurred to me that I was prostituting the sovereignty of this country or of any other country to some sinister alien influence. On the contrary, I thought that I was taking an extremely humble part in the furtherance of a great international purpose.
Therefore, I would ask your Lordships to approach this problem from the basis that our courts will function exactly as they function now, our common law will be the same, our habeas corpus principle will be the same. Criminal cases will have to be proved beyond a doubt, as they are now. The law of contract and of tort will be the same, as is pointed out with great accuracy in paragraphs 29 459 to 31 of the White Paper. The Monarchy will stay completely and absolutely unchanged; so will Parliament; so will our Civil Service; so will the place in our society of the police—so will the Changing of the Guard, and so will our quiet and green countryside, except to the extent to which of our own free volition we choose to change it.
I notice that it is stated in paragraph 29 of the White Paper that the practice has been accepted in the Council of Europe, where matters of vital national interest are concerned, of voting only on a unanimous basis. In other words, a practice something like the veto, which at present is part of the United Nations Charter affecting the Security Council, has been incorporated in the practical working of the Treaty of Rome. That is the first point I want to make. I want to make another point of a rather broader character, and it is one that was touched upon particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, in his interesting speech some moments ago. We cannot afford another 1939. I do not criticise anybody who was involved in the inter-war years. There was no monopoly in wisdom on the part of any Government or any Party, or of any individual actively concerned in those desperately sad times. But would it be an over-simplification, when we look at the melancholy series of events which passed from 1918 to 1939, to say that the substance of what was happening was this? The victor nations were standing by and watching Germany stagger into an economic collapse that brought down with it the Weimar Republic, post-1918 Germany's great bid for a democracy that was to replace Kaiserdom and the rule of the Junkers of pre-1914. The Weimar Republic was destroyed. The road was opened to the disastrous turn taken by Germany in 1932, which led almost with the inexorable certainly of a Greek tragedy to 1939.
My Lords, if in those years we could have stood by and worked with, and supported, the Willy Brandts of those days, the countless brave German men and women who, at terrible peril to themselves and to their families, would have fought back against the Nazis, and tried to do so, how different the whole history of Europe and of the world might have 460 been! Instead, we stood by, powerless, and watched while those resistors were overwhelmed by an outbreak of some of the most bestial passions known in modern history, when the vilest elements in the German community, led by gangsters, with a maniac at their head, seized the reins of government in Germany and dragged Germany and us into war. We are sadder and wiser Europeans now, especially those of us who live and work near the scenes of the former European battlefields and gas chambers. We now know that the distemper of one great European nation is the distemper of Europe, and possibly the distemper of the world.
The question which I put to your Lordships for consideration is this. If one pictures a Europe which has for years been working in association, united by the mutual exchange of ideas, by common work side by side, albeit in the purely economic field, used to making joint decisions through the Community's organs of thought and purpose, such as the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the Assembly as set up in the Treaty of Rome, would it have been possible for that Nazi situation to develop? I put it to the House that if one conceives a united Europe, working together in mutual understanding, deeply bound by common purposes, common habits and a common endeavour, over a period of years, the position of some nations' watching while one of their numbers declined into decay, bringing the others down with it, would have been an utter impossibility.
I have declared myself, as I am, a convinced pro-Marketeer. I listened with the greatest interest to the hesitations felt by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, and I was comforted by the circumstance that although he felt those hesitations and came only with doubt to the conclusion that the balance of economic advantage was in favour of entry, nevertheless he strongly wished to enter on broader and more long-term grounds. He referred to the unification of Germany and Italy. Anybody who reads the history of modern Europe since 1858 and 1866 must discern fairly early emerging in the strands of history, as the latter half of the 19th century rolled on, the seeds of the 1914 War. I believe that the only 461 way to try to prevent that kind of situation developing again is the joint endeavour of purpose and good will entry into which we are now considering.
I am ill-qualified to judge of the advantages and disadvantages in an economic sense. I can only assure your Lordships that I have conscientiously studied the White Paper, considered the arguments both ways and tried to come to an honest conclusion, as I think is the duty of all Members of this House. I believe that we must come to a conclusion now. What could happen between now and October to enable doubters to decide then, when they cannot now, I find it difficult to conceive. True it is that this is an exploratory debate; but it is also an historical debate, and it is as such that it has been conducted. I certainly respect the anxieties of those who take a view different from my own, and I hope that they respect my views. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Blyton does, because I remember not less than fifteen years ago sitting with him in the tearoom of another place when I expressed my views and he expressed his views on this subject. We differed radically; and we agreed to do so. My Lords, that is the contribution that I would offer to your Lordships, and I hope that the House will be able to come to a very clear conclusion, as obviously it is doing, that in the circumstances entry is the only possibility.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ LORD GOODMAN
My Lords, may I say at the outset how profoundly I agree with every word that has fallen from the last speaker. I alas! who have a variety of public duties have only been able to hear a relatively small proportion of this mammoth debate. But the last three speeches that I have heard were exceptionally encouraging, because they were made by men of great public distinction, who have contrived to depart from what can only be regarded as technical considerations, which are peripheral to this matter, and addressed themselves to the broad main issues, just as did the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, a moment ago. I do not believe that this is an issue that falls to be determined on the question of how to dispose of a quantity of frozen butter. I do not say that in the least disrespectfully, but I believe that unless this issue transcends the question 462 of frozen butter, then we are wasting our time in discussing it.
What I think is important about the debate to-day and over the last two days is the immense number of people—the staggering and encouraging unanimity of view on the part of the leaders of the nation, if one may use that expression—in favour of entry into the Common Market. This has a significance all of its own; and it has a special significance in relation to one argument which I regard as a most valid argument indeed, if it were true, against entry into the Common Market. It is asserted that the nation, as a whole, is against entry. I totally doubt the truth of that proposition. I would regard it as extremely unlikely, if the immense preponderance of speakers in this House, representing people of knowledge, statesmen, leaders in industry, people who are acquainted with the true detail of this matter, hold a view in favour of entry as firmly and as sincerely as they do, that the nation could be so stiff-necked, so arrogant in its refusal to accept opinions from people who know what they are talking about, that they would be determinedly hostile to the proposition.
What I believe to be true is that nobody has informed the nation. When I hear the discussions that take place (and everybody is trying very hard to inform the nation, I think perhaps excessively so) on the B.B.C., consisting largely of one gentleman enunciating his views about the Common Market and another gentleman endeavouring to explain why he has changed his views at that late hour of the day, I can understand the total confusion that must develop in most households about what the issues really are. I think it is crucial that it should be made known to the nation that in both Houses of Parliament there is a vast preponderance of opinion in favour of this vital proposition. I do not believe that that can be over-stressed. If that is the case, I believe that it will not be long before we discern in the nation a great increase of opinion in favour of the Common Market, and before long a majority of opinion in favour. I venture to suggest the perhaps slightly disrespectful view, that if some of the opponents of the Common Market, who have been expressing their opinions with more fanaticism than reason, were to be 463 employed nightly airing their views on television programmes, within about a fortnight the nation would have swung solidly behind the Common Market.
I may say that when I heard one or two of the special partisans of these viewpoints, I was reminded of the remark, attributed I believe to Disraeli in the course of a heated debate when Mr. Gladstone was being very vehement, that he felt grateful that there was a stout oak table between him and the other gentleman. I feel most grateful that there is a television screen between me and the person participating in the television debate because one thing that is certain is that this country will not be swayed by fanaticism: views that are fanatical, however sincere, will cut no ice. This issue will be decided—and I hope all issues will be decided—on the simple question of personal self-interest. The citizens of this country will assess the matter from the point of view of what is good for them; and I sincerely believe, as most speakers in this debate believe, that what is good for them is entry into the Common Market. That is my own sincere, convinced belief, and I do not believe it will be long before that view is universally shared.
My Lords, I know that I am the 105th speaker, and probably the 96th speaker in favour of the Market (in fact, if we were more sportingly inclined, I think a few like-thinking people should defect to the other side) but I should like to touch on a few of the arguments used in opposition to the Market. The noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, has discussed the question of abdicating our sovereignty, and as a distinguished lawyer, has analysed the matter, as did the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, with great care and wisdom. I am prepared to deal with this matter on a much more simple approach. I travel abroad quite a lot in Italy, Germany, Holland and Belgium. There I observe these shameless people holding their heads high, despite the obvious abdication of sovereignty that has taken place. Nowhere do I see them cowering, as they should, before the humiliation that they may have suffered in this regard. It is difficult to take this argument seriously. Where do you find a Frenchman, an Italian, a Belgian or a Dutchman who remotely considers him- 464 self as abdicating a single jot of sovereignty in relation to the Treaty of Rome? This is another argument, which is advanced with great force, which in my view has no validity of any kind.
I greatly respect the sincerity of the arguments of the opponents of the Common Market, but because I respect their sincerity is no reason why I should believe in their judgment or in their wisdom. I do not regard the arguments as wise or the judgments as particularly distinguished. I think that the opposition to the Common Market arises from a number of conflicting motivations. I think they are all honourable, but I think in many cases they are not very well advised. I think it is better to say that, because I want to say a word both in praise and in criticism of the Government in this matter. I think that historically they will have earned great credit for the determination, courage and persistence with which they have pursued entry into the Common Market: and previous Governments have earned similar credit. It is some comfort to me, also, to reflect that the Opposition, when they were the Government, pursued this course with the same determination and courage as the present Government. It is only, alas, when they come into Opposition that hesitations and uncertainties emerge.
I think the Government have cause for great pride in the course they have pursued. But if I may venture a word of criticism, I do not think they have been especially wise in their domestic policies if they wished to bring a united country into the Common Market. I think the issues in relation to the Common Market are of such importance that, however strongly they felt about them, they should have sacrificed such matters as the Industrial Relations Bill, the Immigration Bill, and all the issues that were tending to be divisive at an historic moment when division was dangerous and unity was crucial. I say no more than this. I think that a lot of the responsibility for the divided state in which we are now to be found is that the Government pursued an ordinary domestic policy while failing to realise the crucial and vital matter with which they should have concerned themselves, and upon which they should have totally concentrated.
Having said that, although I know that your Lordships have another 34 speakers 465 to come, I should like to take one or two points that I think have been over-emphasised in relation to the opposition to the Common Market. On the question of capital movement, we are told that there are grave risks that there will be capital movement to our detriment. One has only to look at the existing situation to see that there have been vast movements of capital, largely within the Commonwealth, nearly all one way over recent years. Could the situation be worse? I do not think it could. I do not believe that capital movement within the Common Market could possibly be worse than the present situation, in which there is no encouragement on the part of the countries to which we move capital to move their capital back again.
Then, on the question of regionalism, an enormous importance has been attached to the suggestion that this is a sort of bourgeois conspiracy, and that in the regions in this country which are under-developed and require development there will be no establishment of industry, because it will suit the Continental industries when they come here to establish those industries in the frequented and inhabited areas. All I would say—and here again I deal with the matter on a purely pragmatical footing—is that those underdeveloped regions have been underdeveloped for generations. Under a system which was not a communal system, that is to say under a non-community system, nothing to their advantage has happened at all. I venture to suggest that they cannot be worse off under the Common Market than they have been during the preceding decades, when only now people are suddenly displaying an incredible solicitude for them after having been previously totally silent. This is a consideration which weighs with me very much.
My concluding observation relates to the political issues. It is suggested forcefully that those people who believe in the true and undiluted vintage of Socialism will find that Socialism cannot be established within the Common Market. This of course is highly disparaging to the many sincere Socialist leaders and Socialist Parties within the Common Market, who have accepted the Common Market and abide by it. But more than that, just consider the conclusions. What they are saying is that a form of Socialism 466 which is not so extreme that it is not to be found within the Common Market is the only form of Socialism under which the European alliance becomes a possibility. I venture to suggest that there is another word for that form of Socialism and it is a word which does not begin with an"s ". I am profoundly unimpressed by the assertion that it is only if we adopt a system of Socialism so extreme that it would be totally rejected by an overwhelming majority of people in this country that it would be possible for us to have a European alliance.
This is a debate of great and historic importance. I think it is right that those of us who have views, however tedious and however much it taxes the fortitude and endurance of your Lordships, should come here to express those views. I believe that our decision is important. It we are mistaken we are encouraged by the fact that we are mistaken in good company and in great numbers. Let us go together and move together in that conviction towards what I believe, without any doubt at all, will be a better and more prosperous future.
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT BOYD OF MERTON
My Lords, I should like to join in the chorus of congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for her most moving, graceful and very effective speech. She represents to many of us another welcome voice from Oxford, which will be a most useful and eloquent addition to your Lordships' House.
When I was in the Government, and before and for some time thereafter, I was against our adherence to the Treaty of Rome. But in October I shall vote for our entry into the Community. Therefore I am one of those whose change of view, according to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, could lead to further confusion in the country as a whole; but the fact that I am now giving my explanation of that change in your Lordships' House, where I can be cross-examined (though I trust I shall not be at this hour) will, I hope, acquit me of the charge of causing confusion. I hope that your Lordships will bear with me for a short while so I may explain my change of views.
My first anxiety concerned sovereignty. I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, or with 467 the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, or with the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that this argument was never a runner. Perhaps to them it was not and it never has been; but to many of us it was, and to some it still is. I am very grateful indeed to the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, for his clear and eloquent exposition, which has been of great help to many Members of this House. I would never have disputed the statement that was made yesterday by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, that:Sovereignty is a question of fact…and not a question of legal theory."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27/7/71; col. 202.]I have always recognised, like everybody else, that every treaty involves a diminution of sovereignty; but the Treaty of Rome is an exceptional treaty. As an earlier White Paper said of it:The constitutional innovation would be in the acceptance in advance as part of the law of the United Kingdom of provisions to be made in the future by instruments issued by the Community institutions.At the time this seemed to some of us a considerable obligation, especially when we considered the consequences at that time of majority voting and the unstable condition of some of our potential European partners. But now we have, from outside, experience of how the Communities work, develop and take decisions; and it is clear, so we have been assured, that if any member country considers that its vital interests are at risk, the Community would not as a whole take action which would make that risk come about. I share with the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, the view that the whole of this proposal is based on a feeling of trust and mutual support, to which I now wholeheartedly adhere. I agree with the Foreign Secretary that sovereignty is concerned with the reality of power and influence, and I am now persuaded that our country can play a greater role in the world if we are in than if we stay outside. As to stability in Europe, I share the hope which the noble Lord, Lord Blake, expressed yesterday in his arresting maiden speech, that our adherence to the Community will enhance all the stabilising tendencies in it.
The second doubt I had was the anxiety I shared with others because the Treaty of Rome is for an unlimited period. Of 468 course, many other treaties are said to be for an unlimited period; but this is in many ways, I think, the most important treaty to which we shall ever have to adhere. I am now satisfied that no undertakings of the kind now before us can possibly be entered into for a limited period. I am wholeheartedly in agreement with the Lord Chancellor, who said in his speech yesterday.If we enter, we enter without thought of going back, as the others have entered and stay in without thought of going back."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27/7/71; c. 203.]I confess that in past years I have been anxious about differing interpretations between people, and sometimes between nations, of juridical commitments. Many noble Lords must have had experience of people and nations who have signed undertakings and then regarded themselves as being pledged only en principe, and they do not hesitate to try to evade some unwelcome consequences of that undertaking. I remember when I was first a Member of Parliament hearing the then Prime Minister of France, M. Tardieu, coming to meet a party of Members of Parliament and flattering us by saying that the United Kingdom always performed more than it promised. I thought at that time, and have thought since, that if we are to justify such a tribute, how careful we must be before we sign anything!
I confess that I was not very reassured when Mr. Healey in another place as recently as last January, but in a more enthusiastic pro-Market phase, said:We regard a juridical commitment as a minimum that we guarantee to achieve. Many of the other countries regard it as a maximum at which they aim. They regard it as a guiding star rather than as a route map.I must say that I agreed with the commentator who on the following day said of that speech that:We would probably be signing the Treaty on our own stuffy old standards.But, without being patronising, may I express the hope that Whitehall standards and expertise may make a major contribution to Europe.
My final and greatest anxiety was over our Commonwealth obligations. I once shared the view of many other noble Lords that an acceptable grouping might be made through a wide expansion of Commonwealth preferences, special links 469 with EFTA and a North Atlantic Free Trade Area. As the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, said in our debate last January:'Four years ago there were other alternative policies which had not then been fully studied and explored."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19/1/71; col. 347.]For reasons which the House knows well, there is now no answer to be found along this road, although Commonwealth trade will always be of great importance to us. A number of figures have been quoted in another place showing the sharp decline in inter-Commonwealth trade. I hope we shall all remember, as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Blyton, reminded us, that the Commonwealth have known for a long time of the anxiety of successive Governments to enter the Common Market and have rightly been making alternative arrangements which, at any rate in part, explain the decline in inter-Commonwealth trade.
Concerning Australia, I greatly welcome the readiness which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster expressed last week to have discussions, commodity by commodity, in order to ascertain where it is thought that there may be severe disruptions of trade and where we have an undertaking from the Community that they will take action where that is shown. As to New Zealand and the sugar Territories, there can surely be nothing but praise for the sustained and successful efforts of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to protect Commonwealth interests. We have the agreed objective for New Zealand of continuing arrangements, subject to review. For sugar countries, for which many of us feel a particular obligation and conscience, there is the assurance of a secure and continuing market in the enlarged Community for the sugar exports of the developing countries, for other territories associated under Part IV of the Treaty of Rome, and for many the generalised preference scheme of the enlarged Community. I agree with Mr. Arnold Smith, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, that with Britain in Europe the Commonwealth would be more important to all the 32 members and to the Community. And, still being proud to call myself—I hope without arrogance—a"Commonwealth man ", I shall, when asked to do so, give my vote in favour of our entry into the Communities, and 470 our entry, as the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, said, as a world Power.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, I stand up to"take note of"the White Paper, and at the end of my brief intervention I hope to express a clear opinion. But first of all may I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Young, on her charming and most relevant speech. I hope that we shall hear her often. We need more women in this Chamber like her with her experience in local government.
My Lords, I am an unashamed agnostic about joining the E.E.C. I become rather puritanical when extreme pro-Marketeers ask me to share their dream. Also, when I am told that going into Europe is an act of faith I cannot oblige with the faith. Despite my deep respect for my noble friend Lord Blyton, I also feel alienated from the extreme anti-Marketeers. I cannot believe that Europe wants us to come in merely to ruin us. I have enjoyed many speeches during these long debates, but I think that I enjoyed most the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, this afternoon, because it seemed to me so balanced, giving the doubts and the hopes; and that I understand. So I have tried to sift the many arguments and to reason my way to a personal decision on Europe.
This long debate may not have produced many new arguments either way. I think that it has been a very important exercise and it has greatly helped me. There is no doubt that, whether we go in or not, the debate in the country will go on about the Common Market for many years. Even men like the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, head over heels for Europe, have warned that we are not entering the Garden of Eden, and that for a time the short-term sacrifices might appear to outweigh the long-term gains, while that stalwart, long-time dedicated pro-European, the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, is now fishing in troubled waters.
Quite recently I have indulged a little in remembering things past. It is well known that in 1962 my late husband, Hugh Gaitskell, made a strong anti-Market speech at the Labour Party's Annual Conference. That was nine years ago. When I listen to the extreme anti-Marketeers' views I feel that time has 471 stood still. Recently I read my husband's speech again, and it helped me to make up my mind—though I hope that noble Lords will not jump to the too obvious conclusion from this remark. My husband was not against the Common Market on principle, as is sometimes assumed. In 1962 he knew positively that the French would veto our entry. He was a great Commonwealth man, rather like the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, if he does not my mind my saying this. In his speech my husband put forward five conditions for the terms of entry. In 1962 the logic of his speech was irrefutable. In fact, successive Governments have been working on just the terms and the conditions that he put forward: the Commonwealth, EFTA, pursuing our own foreign policy, planning our own economy, and safeguarding the position of British agriculture. Whatever we may think of the terms, time has not stood still in the past decade, and there have been many changes, political and economic, in the world. The most important one is that now we can get into Europe. That is the most important change that has occurred in the past decade.
The terms are perhaps not so much acceptable as accepted. That is the removal of the first and fundamental barrier. I noticed that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in his opening speech, did not wax very lyrical about the terms. Personally, I think that the New Zealand arrangements are good and the sugar arrangements tolerable. But the financial contributions seem to me harsh. The White Paper engenders much heat about the financial contributions and sheds no great light on them. The economists are too contradictory, and many industrialists are prone to wishful thinking. I suppose that it is not possible to draw up a balance sheet of the likely benefits and cost of our entry into Europe, so it has been left out of the White Paper.
One of the things that worries me when trying to understand these costs and benefits is that when we want to have a balance of payments which is healthy, we ask for restraint from the people of this country; when we want growth we get into trouble about the balance of payments. I do riot believe that anybody in this House has really tried to explain 472 this during the past three days. Those who understand these financial complexities assert that the Government have not thought the financial implications through or what measures they will adopt to deal with the difficulties that may arise. None of the measures, alas! introduced by the Government up to date, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, has said, to deal with unemployment and the economy, gives me any great confidence in their ability to cope with the severe problems that we may encounter, especially at the beginning.
The Conservative Government were very lucky to have inherited from the Labour Government a good balance of payments, and I venture to say that without this it would have been impossible for them to negotiate seriously for terms at all. I cannot even share the gloomy forebodings of those like the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who threaten the decline and fall for Britain if we do not accept entry. Perhaps I incline to what the noble Lord, Lord Butler, calls The Art of the Possible, in politics. The European Community has come to stay. Even in 1962 my husband said that the economic arguments and effects were finely balanced.
As I have said, there have been changes in political leadership, in trading patterns with the Commonwealth and throughout the world. Many of us may regret the decline in our trade with the Commonwealth countries, and I hope that the links will spread out and continue in various ways if we do go in. We might begin then to try and influence the Community towards more trade with the developing world. Though their performance on aid is rather better than ours, they are very selfish somehow about trading with the developing world.
Having spent four successive years in a Committee of the United Nations, I feel more relaxed about the dangers to sovereignty than some other people do. There, after all, in the United Nations we are trying to extend and bring about new forms of international association and co-operation, as my noble friend Lord Stow Hill has pointed out. I was much reassured by the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that fears of an Anglo-French arrangement about nuclear weapons were groundless. There 473 are inevitably dangers in any form of association and co-operation, political and economic, with other countries, but I have less and less sympathy with those who see only merit in Britain's refusing any form of European co-operation. A substantial measure of the five conditions spelt out by the Leader of the Labour Party ill 1962 have either been achieved or been brought about by changes in the world. The interests of the Commonwealth have been safeguarded; EFTA has not been excluded and is to be brought in on its own terms. I cannot believe that we shall not be able to pursue our own foreign policy when General de Gaulle managed to pursue his so well.
In 1962, the European Community was a tight litle band of Six more inward-looking than at present. In fact, I have an uneasy feeling, like the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition when he spoke to-day, that it is we in this country who have grown increasingly inward-looking in the last years. This reminds me of an old joke, a newspaper headline which read,"Fog in the Channel: Continent isolated ". My Lords, perhaps we have tended to treat the English Channel more like a moat, and I believe that now the time has come to pull down the drawbridge and perhaps go into Europe.
Finally, I believe that we have a great deal to contribute to Western Europe, and certainly many of us in the Labour Party hope that this Anglo-Western European Community will lead to co-operation with the Eastern European countries as well. We could do much, as has been said, to strengthen the hand of Willy Brandt in this objective. I do not often indulge in thinking about what might have been had my husband lived, but I venture to say that I cannot believe that he would not have grasped the hand extended by Willy Brandt at this time. So, my Lords, at the end of my pilgrimage over this issue, I emerge agnostic, anxious, in favour of going into Europe. Agnostics, after all, deny themselves faith, but no one can deny them an irrational hope. My hope is that the journey into Europe will not be as stormy as many fear, and I believe that the Conservative Government have a very great responsibility in seeing that the most vulnerable people in our society are protected.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ LORD HARLECH
My Lords, I am sure that all your Lordships will have listened to the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, with very great interest. It was a most moving speech, and one was impressed by the careful and thoughtful way in which she presented her arguments which made the final conclusion to which she came all the more impressive. If I may say so, I think it is one of the finest speeches she has made—and she has made very many fine ones. I speak as a convinced European, and I hope that the noble Baroness will not find the words I address to your Lordships too extreme.
I rise as a descendant of advisers to Queen Elizabeth I, although by no means the most illustrious in your Lordships' House, and despite the strictures of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, I do so without shame. When I think of the troubles that they had with a fragmented Europe of violently competitive States I see no reason why they should rotate in their graves to-day at the possibility of a united Europe. Indeed, perhaps more important, I think they would have slept much more peacefully in their beds when they were alive if there had been a united Europe in those days.
It is quite clear that the great debate which was billed to take place throughout the country once the terms of Britain's membership were known has not in practice materialised. We have had in your Lordships' House something more like a conference of affirmation. The simple reason for that is that opposition to entry on the terms that have been negotiated is simply not credible. I am not, of course, referring to those who have, like the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, and the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, consistently and honourably opposed our involvement in Europe on any terms, but to those who claimed to be in favour of our membership if the terms were right. One of the extraordinary features of this two and a half days of debate has been that, although that is supposed to be the official reason for opposition to our entry, at the present time I have not heard or read a speech which was based on that particular proposition. But even in the case of those who have always opposed even the opening of negotiations I notice 475 a significant change in their stance. At one time, they at least tried to present the case for a convincing alternative. They talked at length about Commonwealth, and when it became transparent that neither in political or in economic terms did the Commonwealth contain the necessary identity of interest or of will to make it a realistic alternative, they talked about the North Atlantic Free Trade Area. But now we hear little even of this project because, quite frankly, there is no other Government who are interested in it. It is a non-starter.
Apparently we are now offered no alternative to entry but to continue as we are. Increasingly isolated in a world of giants, we are asked to contemplate the possibility of wrestling with the problems of the 1970s and 1980s in precisely the way that we tried, unsuccessfully, to wrestle with the problems that faced us in the 1960s. What a bleak, depressing and uninspiring prospect that would be. For 25 years we have been experiencing an unbroken decline in the relative wealth, power and influence of the British people, and what we have to decide as a nation is whether we intend to continue down that gloomy road or whether we intend to set for ourselves a new course which will give us a chance to reverse the process. That is what we are debating. That is what we of all Parties and of no Party have to decide in this year of 1971.
Until the end of June it was possible for people to say that they would favour membership if the terms were right. Now we know the terms and they are right—or rather they are about the best terms that we could ever hope to get. Naturally, this is the view of Her Majesty's Government who negotiated these terms, but it is also the view of virtually every neutral commentator around the world; it is the view of the political leaders throughout Europe, including the leaders of all the Socialist Parties in Europe; it is the view of the New Zealand Government; it is the view of the 14 sugar producing countries, and, finally, it is the view of the majority within the Labour Party who are most closely involved in Britain's most recent application to join. Indeed, I would say that anyone who launched 476 Britain upon this enterprise expecting substantially different terms from those now before us, either did so hoping that the negotiations would fail, or was so totally lacking in political judgment that they ought not to be trusted to serve on a parish council.
So let us be quite clear. This debate is not really about the terms: it is a debate between those who wish Britain to take what they regard as her rightful place in Europe and those who are fundamentally opposed to entry into the E.E.C. on any conceivable terms. I hold strongly to the former view, and to-day I have little that I wish to add to the economic arguments which have been so often deployed, and deployed with great persuasiveness in your Lordships' House over the past three days.
However, I am deeply concerned about one matter; that is, about the direction in which capital investment will flow it we remain outside the Community. The noble Lord, Lord Robens of Woldingham, in his notable speech yesterday, dealt with one aspect of this matter. He spoke of the likely decisions by British industry with regard to future investment in this country or on the Continent. I want to deal with a rather different aspect. It is this. Savings for industrial investment will also continue to be generated on a vast scale by the United States of America and by the Six. Where is that capital for investment likely to go? When great companies have to make a decision as to where they are going to establish a new enterprise, or where they are going to enlarge an existing enterprise, where are they going to place their capital investment? Is it going to be placed in a community of 200 million people with a rate of growth of 5 per cent., or in a community of 55 million people with a rate of growth of 2 per cent? One does not have to be an economic genius to know in which direction that capital investment will flow. The result must inevitably be a further crippling handicap to British industry, already suffering from far too little capital investment.
I suggest that this is one answer to those who are concerned about an outflow of capital from this country. There may be some outflow; there may not be. It is a difficult judgment to make, but if there is some, the net result would be less 477 serious and less damaging than it would be if we were to remain outside the European Economic Community. There will be other compensating advantages to us. Mr. George Ball, the former Under-Secretary of State in the United States of America and now a merchant banker, said this in an article in The Times last Friday:Thus dozens of United States companies are waiting only for the final decision before regrouping their European operations under head offices in London—the city that will, as they see it, emerge as not only the financial but the commercial capital of the new and larger Europe.It is for these and other similar reasons that I believe it would be in our interests on economic grounds to become a member of the Community. But it is not the economic case which makes the need for British membership so vital to our future. It is the political case, as many of your Lordships have already stated to-day. For more than a decade the political situation in the world has been in a state of flux. The two hegemonies which came into existence as a result of the cold war have become eroded. They were, of course, of a very different nature: one imposed by force and military occupation, the other voluntarily entered into by the countries of Western Europe, who beseeched the United States of America to commit herself to the defence of Europe.
Throughout the 'sixties this simple division of political power in the developed world changed significantly, and in these circumstances one might have expected a revived and prosperous Western Europe to have developed an important and significant role in world affairs. She has clearly failed to do so, and most of the vital decisions which affect our interests and our security continue to be taken in Washington and in Moscow. In this coming decade we are bound to see further manifestations of poly-centralism, and perhaps even more profound changes in the world scene than we have witnessed in the last decade. For instance, a new chanter seems to be opening with regard to China's relationship with the rest of the world, and Chairman Mao himself cannot be with us very much longer. The United States of America has given fair warning to Europe that she will start withdrawing some of her forces from the Continent of 478 Europe next year, and in the light of the domestic pressures upon the United States Administration at the present time it would be a bold man who would claim to know just how far such a process will go.
Then again, Soviet penetration into the Middle East and the North African littorals is a fact and its further progress could have a profound effect on the political and military balance in the Mediterranean. This involves important interests so far as Europe is concerned and so does the continuation of the bitter quarrel between Israel and her Arab neighbours. In this connection we ought constantly to remind ourselves that oil is now the very lifeblood of Western European industry, and we are overwhelmingly dependent on supplies from this area. Fifty-eight per cent. of the E.E.C. energy consumption is in oil, and of that 58 per cent., 85 per cent. comes from the Middle East and from North Africa. We in Britain are in a similar situation. Obviously the state of our relations with those countries which control the supplies of oil is of vital concern to us, and in many respects the settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute is infinitely more important to us than it is to the United States or to the Soviet Union. Yet neither we nor Western Europe as a whole have been able to play other than a very secondary role in negotiating peace for that vital area of the world. Again in the 'seventies we are likely to see the present old and reactionary Soviet leadership disappear from the scene, and we in Europe will all be profoundly affected by the type of younger men who succeed to power in the Kremlin.
Finally, although this is obviously not a catalogue of all the things that might happen over the next decade, the whole international monetary system will require a fundamental overhaul. For almost twenty years the Bretton Woods Agreement served the world remarkably well, but in recent years there have been far too many currency crises which have hurt us particularly, and the tinkering with the system which has taken place so far falls far short of what will be necessary for an expanding world trade in the last quarter of this century.
All these developments are bound to have the most profound consequences for 479 Britain and for Western Europe, and in every instance we shall have a common interest in the outcome, for they involve the security and the future prosperity of us all. As these events unroll, how are we to protect our interests and ensure that they are not put in jeopardy? I suggest that we are most unlikely to do so effectively unless the countries of Western Europe harmonise their policies far more closely than they have done in the recent past. The need for closer co-operation is surely blindingly clear, and it is also clear that our entry, together with Norway, Denmark and the Irish Republic, will signal the start of more rapid progress in this direction. Everybody knows that one of the main reasons why the Six made so little headway towards a common foreign and defence policy was that there were those, and most notably the Dutch, who were not prepared to reach any final decisions in this field until they knew, one way of the other and for certain, whether Britain was going to be a full partner or not. Once, therefore, the time-consuming process of enlargement has been completed, I should expect all ten Governments to turn their minds to the problems of political co-operation and to the consideration of joint European policies that need to be pursued in relation to the rest of the world. As by then the Community will be by far the world's largest trading unit, her attitude will be crucial to the wellbeing of this planet Earth; and Britain, as my noble friend Lord Eccles said in his speech this afternoon, can play an important role in deciding what that attitude should be.
Finally, I would make a plea at this critical moment in this country's history that we should stand back a little from the present political battle and try to put the issue before us into perspective. We should ask ourselves the question whether Europe can at last rid herself of her self-destructive instincts. Fine claims are often made about the marvellous legacy that Europe has bequeathed to the human race—glittering achievements in science, political philosophy, art, music, systems of justice. That is all undeniable. But Europe has also been guilty of the most terrible examples of exploitation, and it has been guilty of unparalleled violence. Indeed, twice in 480 this century she plunged the entire world into war which brought death and destruction on a scale unrivalled in history. That is why I was often amazed at Western politicians who could not understand, during the height of the cold war, why non-aligned countries would not stand up and be counted on the side of the Western Powers. Mr. Foster Dulles was, of course, a notable example of that kind of thinking. He and those like him totally failed to see that it was possible to have something less than unqualified admiration for a group of States which, whatever might be said in their favour, had a unique record of destructive competition and internecine war. So let us not forget that Europe is still on trial before the eyes of the world.
This is not the time for faint-hearted quibbling. To draw back now would not only have a catastrophic effect upon morale here at home; our standing in Europe and in every continent would receive a shattering blow. That is why, no doubt, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson, said only last year that a failure of the negotiations would involve a cost for Britain, a cost for Europe and a diminution of Europe's influence in world affairs. Having missed the bus in 1951 and 1957 and having been prevented from boarding it in 1963 and 1967, we have now negotiated terms for entry better than we had any good reason to expect. It is surely inconceivable that we throw away this great chance, which could well be our last. Let us finally turn our backs on competitive nationalism and help to build a Europe based upon a policy of mutual co-operation for the common good of all its peoples, a Europe which Britain can feel proud to belong to.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ LORD NELSON OF STAFFORD
My Lords, may I add my congratulations to the Government and their predecessors on bringing this important question to a point of decision, the question whether this great country of ours is to belong to a wider European community. This question, to my mind, has been an open one for far too long. Now that it is known that entry is open to us, and on what terms, it is very right that we should have ample opportunity to examine this complicated and important issue and to 481 study as many aspects of the problem as is possible. This debate has given us that opportunity, and it has proved an extremely valuable one.
I decided to speak myself with some hesitation, and particularly when I find myself 109th on the list of speakers. At this stage there is not much left to say which has not already been said, and one also rather senses that the tide flowing in favour of the entry of this country to the Common Market is developing into a flood. But the issue is so important that it is right that some of the arguments should be repeated, and this is particularly so as it is such an historic occasion. The only way we can clear our minds on a subject so complicated as this is in fact to talk about it in debate, as we have done, because on so many of the issues involved many of us are ignorant to a great extent. We can speak, of course, with informed knowledge on certain aspects of which we have experience and knowledge, but many of the other aspects are to a greater extent a closed book to us and are areas where we hesitate to form a judgment.
My noble friend Baroness Young, in her very admirable maiden speech, on which I congratulate her, I thought brought out very clearly the problem we all have when she referred to the questions which are being asked by so many people of this country, namely,"What does it mean?, and What does it mean particularly to me? ". There is a great deal of anxiety on these matters and there is a great deal of fear of this great unknown. I, for my part, approach this matter from my experience as an industrialist, and I have listened with great interest to the very informed views which have been expressed from different angles. I think this debate has in fact clarified a number of important issues for all of us, and I hope this will become increasingly apparent throughout the rest of the country as the people apply their minds to this problem in the weeks ahead. One thing is clear to us all, and that is that for far too long now we have been watching steady economic progress in Europe while we here at home have been relatively stagnant. The question we have to ask ourselves is how much this is due to the Common Market, and that is very difficult to say. One 482 can only note facts, and this is a debate to take note. We can note that no member wishes to leave membership of the Common Market after fourteen years. We can note that certainly nobody seems to have suffered any harm by being a member of the Common Market. And we can note that in the opinion of those who are members it has contributed greatly to their good.
In this country we have struggled now for years with economic problems the solutions of which seem to have eluded us. We have often heard it said, for instance, that our economic future and our standard of living are dependent, and will be dependent increasingly, on high technology. Now increasingly it is heard that we cannot afford high technology; the base of our market is not big enough. It seems to many of us strange, and a contradiction in itself, but it is a fact that in so many areas—aviation, defence, computers, atomic power—in spite of an excellent early position some decade ago (if we cast our minds back), we find over and over again the greatest difficulty in maintaining a position in this expensive field, in spite of the undoubtedly excellent technological teams which we have in this country. This has led now to retrenchment in many industries and serious effects on employment, which worry us all.
Additionally, in spite of sincere efforts of successive Governments at home, we have seen a steady erosion of confidence, falling industrial investment, and productivity failing to rise. This has led to a general lack of growth gradually penetrating all areas of our national life. We have also seen a rapidly changing situation in the world outside, and it is a very rapid rate of change. I was very glad that my noble friend Lord Carrington drew attention, right at the start of this great debate, to the speed at which change is in fact taking place in the world around us.
Britain's role has greatly altered, and we hear many, especially among the young, saying that we have to define a new role for ourselves. I think this is very true. Therefore, in looking at the proposal which is before us, we have to keep very much in mind these indisputable facts. Of course nothing is going to change overnight or quickly, and we must 483 always remember this. The question the country has to decide is whether joining a wider European Community will help us to surmount the difficulties and limitations which have now been with us for far too long. We must take note of what has been happening in Europe. I will not burden your Lordships with endless statistics, but does our performance in recent years compare well with that of members of the E.E.C. on production, on productivity, on percentage of world exports, or on the growth in power consumption? It is not a very exciting picture that we have to look at.
Joining the Common Market, of course, will not solve all these problems overnight, nor will it be a bed of roses. It will not be easy at all. It is very easy to visualise the problems, and I can see many of them from an industrial angle. There will be a price to pay in some areas, and some changes in attitudes and practices will, without doubt, be necessary. Perhaps this will be a good thing in itself. But a move of this nature is a fundamental change of direction which will, in the long term, provide an opportunity to find a basis for an expanding future. I would emphasise however, what the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, told us this afternoon (and I agree with him) that this will come about only if we are active, and not passive, on joining.
In my judgment as a British industrialist—and not one of those, I hope, to whom the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, referred, who is taken to wishful thinking, (I do not think, by and large, industrialists are; they have a balance sheet at the end of the year by which they are judged)—we, in British industry, given the same conditions, can within a wider European Community give a good account of ourselves; and as European industry has profited so far, so can we in the future. I say this having a profound knowledge of European industry, having worked within it, and having competed against it in all parts of the world. I suggest that this is the view with which we should approach this problem, and I very much agree with those Members of your Lordships' House who have expressed this same confidence in British industry during the course of this debate.
484 The noble Lord, Lord Byers, suggested to us earlier to-day that British industry would be stimulated by the competition with which it would be faced. This is true. But I would also say that much of industry is facing this same competition in the whole of the rest of the world, and would rather face that competition from a common and equivalent base than from a much smaller one here solely on this little Island of ours. I think this same situation holds in fields with which I am not so familiar: and I believe that in commerce and in banking, in agriculture and our professions, we can also hold our own, but others can speak on this aspect better than I can.
In a world to be dominated by other major States for as far ahead as one can see, one must recognise that our role on our own is going to become of less and less significance, and so will our influence. We shall be left either in a backwater, or to flow with the stream without any say in its control. Within Europe, without any loss of sovereignty—and I am glad this point has been so admirably clarified by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor in his speech yesterday—we can be an important influence on events which must affect us, and we can contribute to its strength and thereby to the peace of the world. I believe that within Europe we can make a major contribution to the part it will play in the world in the years ahead, in its social and political development, in its economic development, and in its defence role. I also believe that the Common Market will be stronger with us in it than without us.
We of course have our Commonwealth friends and our Commonwealth interests to take into account, and it would be unthinkable to join the Common Market just for our own good if it was at their expense; this we would never do. In a fast developing world, however, we cannot be of much use to our friends if we have no economic or political strength or influence. They will need money; they will need support; to these needs we can only contribute from a position of strength. Taking into account, therefore, the safeguards which have been negotiated, and the transitional period which has been allowed, and also taking into account the changing situation in the Commonwealth itself (and attention has 485 been drawn to this during this debate), it seems to me that we can take this step of joining the European Common Market without, in fact, damaging our friends, and I believe we could possibly be of greater help to them from the much stronger base which I hone we shall have and that in the end they could benefit from our membership of the larger European market.
I do not think we should forget our EFTA partners. I hope the Government will have in mind the need to support their interests in the changes which are now taking place. We have worked together with them for a number of years now, and I think we should see that their interests are protected, as far as we are able, in the negotiations which are taking place. We all know how difficult it is to face decisions of great magnitude, and how much easier it is to do nothing than to do something.
One has listened with considerable interest to the arguments that have been put forward for not going into Europe; in other words, for doing nothing. I must say that I have been unimpressed by the advantages that have been put forward. But by doing something we provide opportunities to change a situation which everyone admits has been unsatisfactory for too long. As with any big decision there is a temptation to put it off because of immediate difficulties, and even disadvantages. But we must look beyond the immediate difficulties and disadvantages, to a longer-term position, one which is going to be of vital interest to our children and our grandchildren.
Over several hundred years this country has built up its population and its resources, its factories and its industries, its skills and its expertise, its schools and its universities, to serve a wider need than that of this country alone. It has peopled large areas of the world and provided the seedcorn for their advancement; it has provided men, expertise and equipment over the years for their development; and led great areas of the world to self-government and self-development—a role of which we can be proud, but which is now coming to an end. In my younger days I well remember—and I think most of your Lordships will also remember—that many of our contemporaries were planning careers in the great services overseas in India, in the 486 Commonwealth, in the Colonies and in the Armed Services around the world. These opportunities are not now open to our young people, and we must ask ourselves whether we can see enough opportunity for the many excellent young people we are training within the confines of this island by itself. In contrast, I see great opportunities for our young people to make their mark in a widened European Community, to the advantage of Europe, to the advantage of this country and to their own advantage.
We must also ask ourselves whether we can see enough opportunity effectively to deploy our human and material resources, recognising that, unless they are employed effectively—and let there be no doubt about this—we cannot improve our standard of living, our social services or the amenities which we should all like to have. With a widened European Community, I see opportunities for these resources to be put effectively to work to the advantage of all.
I am glad that this Government, building on the work of previous Governments, have created an opportunity for this country to make its decision on this important step. I believe that if this opportunity is firmly grasped, it can lead to the removal of uncertainty and the restoration of confidence, and all that goes with it. I believe that it is a step which can stimulate investment and create a basis for growth. I believe it will give this country the role it has been seeking and give opportunities to the new generation, wherever they work, which they will not otherwise have.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ LORD GREENWOOD OF ROSSENDALE
My Lords, I must begin by apologising to the House for intruding on the"love feast"in which most of your Lordships have been indulging, and for introducing a note of dissent. One of the saddest experiences in public life is to reach a point at which one is at odds with those for whom one has a personal affection and a political respect, and it is particularly sad when one finds oneself almost alone. In the course of this debate, my noble friend Lord Beswick and I have been fortified by the wise saying of Sydney Smith, that minorities are almost always in the right. That of course applies only to your Lordships' House, and not to the National Executive of the Labour 487 Party or the General Council of the Trades Union Congress.
But I am certain that it is to the credit of the Labour Party, and particularly of my noble friend Lord Shackleton, that, however unbalanced the debate may have been in general, our speakers at this Box have covered the whole spectrum of opinion inside the Labour Party. I am especially grateful, because it has given me an opportunity to congratulate the noble Baroness who made her maiden speech. Her distinction in local government preceded her, and her first essay in national Government has delighted us all and engaged our admiration. When we debate local government, as we shall be doing over the next two or three years, we shall look forward to the contributions which she will make at that time.
To-night, my Lords, I shall not indulge in an orgy of self-justification. Ten years ago I demonstrated with my noble friend Lord Shinwell against the Common Market. As a Minister I objected to our applying for membership when I believed that General de Gaulle would blackball us. Later, I developed a fear about what would become of us, if some of our EFTA friends went into the Market and left us outside, and I agreed very reluctantly to the approach being made. Since then, in the light of detailed studies I have made of the effects on the Commonwealth of our joining the E.E.C., I have become convinced, on balance, that it would be wrong to join, in spite of the brilliance and the skill with which Mr. Geoffrey Rippon conducted the negotiations; and the conviction that I have formed has been made stronger by what I think is the ambiguous nature of the White Paper.
I question nobody else's sincerity and I hope that nobody will question mine. Pace the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, there is no disgrace in changing one's mind as the situation develops, and as the arguments become more clear. Nor is there anything unworthy in seeking to preserve the unity of one's Party. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, apologised to me for not being here at this time, and I told him that I was going to comment upon what he had said about the Leader of my own Party, because I think that to animadvert against attempts to preserve Party unity come very ill from the Leader 488 of a Party which, in another place, has been almost completely wiped out because of the disunity that existed in that Party 20 or 30 years ago.
I am sorry that one or two of our Members spoke of honour. Honour is not a word to be lightly used, and is not a quality to be lightly questioned. Indeed, from time to time as this excellent debate has developed, I have recalled—and I assure your Lordships that there is no personal innuendo whatever in this—the saying of Emerson:The louder he spoke of his honour, the faster we counted the spoons ".This is too momentous an issue, too magnificent a conception, to become mixed with personalities or with debating points about political opportunism, and in my submission those who seek to introduce considerations of that kind fall far below the standard that an issue of this importance demands.
What has disturbed me most as the debate has developed is the tired, defeatist, almost desperate note that has been sounded by some at least of your Lordships; the lack of confidence in our capacity and our future. For Heaven's sake, my Lords, if we go into the Common Market let us go in with our heads held high, but without arrogance. I say"without arrogance"because I have been embarrassed by the almost patronising approach to the members of the Six which has been exemplified by some of the speeches that I have heard. We are told that we must give the Six leadership and stability, and political wisdom. We are told that we shall always have the veto up our sleeves.
I doubt whether any of those propositions will commend themselves to the exiting members of the Community. Indeed if I were one of them I would resent many of the speeches that we have heard in your Lordships' House. They would confirm any doubts there might be whether it is wise to accept into membership a nation as deeply divided as we are, and I should want to be assured that the people as a whole were behind the Government's application for member-hip. To establish that we need at best a General Election, at second best a free vote in another place. The debate in your Lordships' House, although important, is not so important as the public argument which has only recently begun. 489 We have heard a number of arguments in favour of joining. We have heard rather more assumptions and assertions than arguments. But the onus of proof—and I am glad the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, has returned to the Chamber—really is on those who want to make this radical change and not on those of us who have serious misgivings. So I want to confine my own remarks to what I see as the main obstacles to the course on which Her Majesty's Government would have us embark. May I deal first with the economic arguments, and say with what pleasure I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, and with what interest I listened to the points which were made by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins? My noble friend Lord Shackleton, with that impish sense of humour of his, said he had been convinced by the economic arguments. I take a rather different view, and I want if I may to take four aspects of the economic case and to deal with them quite briefly.
First there is the cost of entry in the broadest sense. Hugh Stevenson in The Times of July 8 wrote:The fact is that economists have no idea within a range so wide that it is useless for policy purposes what the economic outcome of British membership will be ".Mr. Anthony Harris has commented in the Guardian that the Government are committed to"evasive propaganda ". It has been said moreover that some speakers, at least in another place, have drawn material from a Cabinet Office study of the economics of Europe. It would be of help to your Lordships and to industry if this study could be more widely circulated, and I should like to put that suggestion to the noble Earl who is to reply to this debate. I believe that Cabinet Office study would probably provide the balance sheet for which my noble friend Lady Gaitskell was asking. Certainly without this information I think one must sympathise with the Commonwealth Industries' Association in asking,"Is this the Biggest Con' in History?"
Next, may I touch on the potential benefit in the increased rate of growth to which so many of your Lordships have referred and which is dealt with in paragraphs 44 to 48 of the White Paper? I discussed this proposition with Mr. Brian Griffiths, and I share his view that an enlarged Market is neither a necessary nor 490 a sufficient condition for faster economic growth. If I followed your Lordships correctly many noble Lords are saying that a large market means economies of scale, which mean increased investment, which means faster growth. But the economies of scale and the increased investment have still to be proved. To give an example, my Lords, there has been as much of an expansion of world markets for British industry as a result of trade expansion brought about by GATT as we would get from the E.E.C., and it has not significantly increased our rate of growth.
Incidentally, my Lords, nobody has proved—to my satisfaction at least—that growth inside the Community has been a direct result of membership. To quote Mr. Stevenson once again:There can be no proof that this dynamic effect will work.And I should like to hear from the Government and from the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, what reply the Government make to Mr. Douglas Jay's claim that the rate of growth in the E.E.C. countries was quicker before joining the Market than after.
I am also disturbed by the regional aspects, and my worries are not eased by the way in which the arguments of my noble friend Lord Beswick remained unanswered by the Government yesterday. It is at least probable, in my interpretation, that the preferential aid which we have been giving to the regions would be unacceptable inside the Community. I should certainly be hesitant about commending the Government's policy to those areas of Britain which have known serious unemployment and lack of investment in the past, and which are seeing the dole queues growing again. Like my noble friend Lord Beswick I have an uneasy feeling that new investment would not be in Scotland or South Wales or Lancashire. It would be in the South-East and East, or perhaps even more probably on the Continent itself.
The cost of living argument, too, my Lords, is one which I find extremely worrying. The noble Lord, Lord Garner, thought that the cost of living argument was irrelevant and unworthy. It would of course be the act of a poltroon to turn one's back on a noble concept because of the price of a pound of butter, but 491 the argument goes much deeper than that. Many people in Britain to-day are the victims of rapid inflation. So indeed—and I ask your Lordships to note this—are many people in Western Europe. Mr. Andrew Alexander in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday epitomised the point in these words:From a Government which promised to curb inflation (and succeeded in doubling it) the admission that a step would involve definite price increases sounds alarming indeed.It would I believe be a great political blunder for the Government to try to take a reluctant public into the Common Market when so many people are fearful of the impact it would have on their standard of living.
My Lords, I now turn quite briefly to the Commonwealth, which is still my great love and I listened with so much appreciation to the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, whom I regard as one of the great Colonial Secretaries. I have found it wounding in this debate to hear noble Lords say that we have"got rid of the Empire ", as though the Commonwealth and the Empire were an appalling incubus from which we had to free ourselves rather than a great institution that has played, and can still play, a major role in world affairs. I was saddened too when the noble Lord. Lord Carrington—and I am quite certain that this was inadvertent—spoke of our having been alone for two years after 1940. My Lords, it was the knowledge that throughout the world there were millions of freedom-loving people in the Commonwealth fighting on our side that made our situation tolerable in those dark years. I admit frankly, my Lords, that at times I have been less than fair to the contribution that the Common Market countries have made to the developing world. I hope that that contribution, great as it is, will continue to grow, because I am far from convinced that we ourselves have adequately protected the interests of our Commonwealth friends, both developed and developing.
President Pompidou's speech about New Zealand cheese giving way to French cheese must have been disturbing to many. The issue goes far beyond New Zealand butter and Commonwealth sugar. Very many other commodities are also 492 affected. But I should like to stress how unsubstantial are our much-vaunted safeguards for New Zealand and the sugar-producing countries. The continuing guarantees for New Zealand butter will have to be renewed in 1974. If I were a betting man I should hesitate to bet on New Zealand's interests being preserved at that time. Negotiations will certainly be tough, and if Denmark is by then a member of the Community she is hardly likely to be sympathetic to New Zealand's claims.
Equally, I believe that the whole future of Commonwealth sugar is very uncertain. The experiences of Madagascar and Surinam have been far from happy. It is true that we have placed on record our own ex parte interpretation of the safeguards we have received. The Six have received that interpretation rather than accepted it. New agreements will have to be negotiated in 1975, when the present Six will be under pressure, as Miss Hella Pick has pointed out, to provide the same safeguards for their own neglected ex-colonies as we hope to get for ours. It would be a tragedy if the delicate and effective international sugar machinery were to collapse under the stress created by our accession to the Community. I hope and pray that the Commonwealth sugar-producing countries have not irrevocably damaged their long term prospects. Before leaving the subject of the Commonwealth I should only add that Commonwealth Ministers, not least in Canada and Australia, have made clear that our entry into the E.E.C. could have devastating effects on our own export trade.
In conclusion may I say that I think it is probable that Britain will go into the enlarged Community. I should like therefore to make two appeals to those of my friends in this House, and perhaps those outside in the country, who share my views. I hope that between now and our entry, if it happens, we shall do nothing to lend colour to the charge that we are xenophobic. It was, I think, grossly unjust after the fine speech of my noble friend Lord Beswick that the suggestion should be made that we were motivated by considerations of that kind. Nothing is further from the truth. Indeed in my submission it is we who have the Weltanschauung, the vision of a much wider association than that provided by Western 493 Europe. It was not for nothing that as a young man I sat at the feet of Arthur Henderson and George Lansbury.
We have talked to-day about socialism. If I claim to be a Socialist, as I do, I am in no position to question the socialism of Nenni and Brandt, my old friends in the Socialist International, or to cast doubts upon their conception of a new world order. The fact that I have a strain of chauvinism in me should not prevent me from seeking to relax whatever tensions may still exist between Britain and her former enemies—just as I want to relax the tensions between ourselves and Eastern Europe, an aim which I think may be made more difficult by our accession to the European Economic Community. My second appeal is this. If, in spite of all our efforts, we go into the European Economic Community—and for me it will be a sad day—we must put aside regret and hesitation. We must all of us go in determined to make it work, determined to strive for its success. Failure would mean disaster for ourselves, for Europe and for the world.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ LORD ARDWICK
My Lords, I am afraid that we must now return to at least the threshold of the love feast. But first I should like to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Young. I am afraid that I heard only the latter part of her speech. May I say that I thought she finished like a classic winner, in a canter, full of breath; and some of us can look back on our own maiden speeches and feel we had no such good luck. The reason why my name is on the list of speakers to-day is that I failed to take it off. I was feeling very much like the noble Lord, Lord Robbins. I will not say what the actual words of La Bruyèere were going through my head, but certainly similar sentiments were; that everything had been said, what was there left to say? And then I recalled that the principles on which your Lordships run this Chamber come from a different European sage, from Goethe who said: "Die Zeit ist unendlich lange"—" Time is infinitely long ". During some of the debates on the Industrial Relations Bill, I felt that that was an under-statement.
I made a speech in our last economic debate, a speech that I might have made to-day. Mr. Geoffrey Rippon was return- 494 ing that afternoon from his successful negotiations in Brussels, and I think that I was the first person at Westminster to congratulate him on the result. I was one of a number of noble Lords who pleaded on that afternoon for an immediate measure of reflation. Our wish was speedily gratified. I think that we can congratulate ourselves, if not on our influence, at least upon our percipience. We were pushing at that moment at an open door. I also asked in that speech for a social policy to shelter the poorer people from the impact of our entry into the Market. Since then we have received assurances in the White Paper that pensions and family allowances will be adjusted. But this does not include all the people who need to be included. There is another class, not the poorest but the poorer people who are above the poverty line but below the line of affluence. They must not be forgotten.
Nor must this emergency reflation be mistaken for the macro-economic policy that we shall need if we are going to get growth in the Market. I think that we have to be ready to finance a deficit, perhaps over several years, if our major aim is to be growth. In the Market, and with our sterling obligations reduced, the financing of that deficit should be much easier than it was in the past. I believe that we have to forget many of our fears of a temporary balance-of-payments deficit, and whichever Government is in power will have to cease to make this the subject of Party warfare, so long as it is kept within reasonable bounds. It should be regarded as a courageous investment for the future.
My Lords, to-day is an unhappy one for those of us on this side of the House who support entry on the present terms. The National Executive of the Labour Party has invited the Parliamentary Labour Party to reject the terms and call for a General Election. This, of course, was expected and it is inevitable. If this invitation cannot be accepted, the decision to reject it can be taken only sadly and with great respect. Sadly, because Party unity, as my noble friend has been saying, is the basis of our political system at Westminster, and a very high price has sometimes to be paid for it. Perhaps it requires that only people with the very 495 deepest convictions can oppose their Party on a major issue such as this. This is an issue that divides not only Parties but even families. Some of the most notable political families in the land are passionately, though not I hope bitterly, divided. The trade union movement is also taking a vote to-day; and this appears to be split almost down the middle, with probably—I think almost certainly—a majority against entry. I must point out that the Labour policy remains, the compromise policy remains, that Labour is in favour of entry into the Community but not on the present terms.
I must say that, much as I should like to have a General Election, much as I should like to have this Government out, I should not enjoy an Election on the Common Market. It is too emotional. I do not think we should have anything like the reasonable debate which we have had in this Chamber. The case on either side would escalate. There would be exaggerated hopes on one side and exaggerated fears on the other, and a confused conflict, with the Parties divided among themselves. The time for a General Election will come later when the British public will be able to decide which Party is better fitted to protect them against the rigours of the early days of membership of the Common Market. I have no doubt of what that verdict will be.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, I have an apology to make to your Lordships' House. I was unable to be here yesterday. I was here on Monday and I have read some of the speeches which were made yesterday. On Monday night I was very sick. I do not know whether that was caused through trying to digest so many Common Market statistics. Anyway, I was very sick and I did not feel well yesterday so I did not attend the House.
I am happy to say that I do not have to jump on any band wagon, because from the earliest days of this matter of the Common Market being debated in this House I have always been pro, of course with certain reservations. Having read the White Paper, I think those reser- 496 vations have now been satisfied. My reservations concerned the fact that there was no practical alternative, and that New Zealand should be safeguarded and the developing Commonwealth should have a protected market in the Common Market. I was rather concerned about sugar as I have farmed in the West Indies and used to have a plantation there. Although I am prepared to accept the agreements that have been made in regard to sugar, I sincerely hope that, presuming we go in, we may be able to extend the sugar agreements. That is the only reservation I now make. I was of course also concerned about sovereignty, but I am happy about that now.
I felt rather inclined to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, when in referring to the statistics and figures in the White Paper he remarked that they obviously indicate a very wide margin. I think Mr. Bernard Shaw once said that if all the economists were laid end to end they would not come to a conclusion. I think that if I were an economist I would come to a conclusion only after the events had occurred. Therefore, I do not think I should be of much use as an economist. The extraordinary thing is that I have always been pro the Common Market regarding agriculture. I have farmed all my life, but I have really never understood why in the first place the great majority of farmers in this country were anti Common Market. I am happy to see that the White Paper says that there will be help for horticulturists and dairy farmers.
I have also been a manufacturer. I was rather amazed to hear the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, say that the Common Market was"a gigantic con ". The whole Confederation of British Industry, nearly every leader of industry in the country and the most experienced men in manufacturing industry are pro Common Market. There cannot be much"con"about that. This antagonism surprises me. I can understand it in relation to the ordinary man-in-the-street who has not had time to study the matter, who is patriotic and insular, and perhaps a little muddleheaded in his patriotism, but I cannot understand people like the noble Lord, who I am sure is far better educated than I am, being so very anti Common Market.
497 I remember the late Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, who was extremely kind to me whenever I was in this House, having several talks with me. He seemed convinced that the Common Market was a plot by the Pope to draw us all into Papacy. He seemed quite convinced of that. I can understand the antagonism of the extreme Left of Labour. I can only presume, although I hope it is not true, that they prefer the Soviet Union to Europe. I am sure that is not true; I sincerely hope it is not. I do not want to delve into the differences in the Labour Party because they are nothing to do with me; but what surprises me is that a great number of Socialists, of whom I know a number, are so anti-Common Market.
After all, they have been—perhaps"shouting"is not the Parliamentary word—saying for a long time:Workers of the world unitebut when they get the opportunity to unite with the workers on the Continent they turn their backs. Socialists appear to prefer an organisation like the United Nations, which does not do what it claims to do, while turning their backs on an organisation like the Common Market, which does in fact do what it claims to do in the promotion of trade, peace, stability and brotherhood. This is extraordinary. I agree that some people may think that I am a reactionary.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
I am a very tolerant individual. I do not mind admitting that personally (here I rather agree with the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale) I would far rather have a British Empire or a unified Commonwealth, but we have given the British Empire away, for better or worse—I am afraid rather for worse. We gave it away for political freedom, but it has deteriorated in so many cases into political tyranny. I quite agree that if in the last twelve or thirteen years we had been able to organise the Commonwealth into a more united organisation in close association with the Atlantic Alliance—and I was glad to hear what the noble Viscount, Lord Boyd of Merton, said about this—it would have been preferable to joining the Common 498 Market. I will not go into the reasons why we have not been able to do that.
If we look at the Commonwealth today, what have we got? Canada is in the embrace of America. South Africa has been driven out. Australia is looking to the Pacific, rather than to the Atlantic, for her trade; and one noble Lord has said that we import only 12 per cent. of Australian goods. The Indian subcontinent is usually at war and in economic chaos. Many of our former colonies in Africa are police States, liable to erupt into revolution at any moment. What alternative is this to joining the E.E.C.? I maintain that there is no alternative. I think that this is very sad, but it is a fact of life.
I was interested to read the book which the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, has just written, called, The Art of the Possible. The art of politics and of life generally is the art of the possible, or perhaps, to be more precise, the art of the practicable. We cannot look at this with emotion. We have to be practical. I believe that Britain still has an important role to play in the world, but I believe that we cannot do this by remaining a geographically small off-shore island of the Continent, grossly overpopulated—there are 56 million of us—with no raw materials apart from a little coal. We are losing our share of the world markets and we cannot exist by hanging out each other's washing. The only real asset we have is our skills and brains—and we have those in plenty. But I honestly believe that to give these full scope to-day we have no alternative but to join the E.E.C.
There is another aspect that I should like to mention. We are a part of Europe, even if we are an island. Europe has offered us the opportunity of joining their Community on what I consider to be favourable terms, and if we spurn that offer we do so at our peril. If we spurn Europe's offer, we shall become the outcasts of Europe. I consider that it would be the greatest diplomatic blunder that our country has ever made if we were now to turn our backs on Europe. It is extraordinary to hear some politicians talk as though we were being asked to join the Patagonian Indians. Some of your Lordships come from the Continent, and others have Continental blood in their veins. If we do not accept this 499 offer, we are bound seriously to weaken European and therefore Western solidarity. Perhaps we could have got away with this eight or ten years ago, because at that time the Atlantic Alliance was very strong; but to-day there are signs of cracks in the Alliance, and I do not think that we can afford to hinder Western European unity. I am sure that the average person does not understand how important the question of entry into the E.E.C. is. It is probably the greatest decision this nation has ever had to take in its history. It is a vast decision, and I think it is a tragedy that it appears to be a Party issue. We see the programmes on the B.B.C. about Mrs. Snooks having to pay a shilling more or a shilling less for her butter, but that does not come into it at all. I think that on Monday, the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft, hit the nail on the head, when he said that it was a matter of faith. We cannot argue the case on a few figures.
Before I end, I should like to say again that I believe that our destiny is with Europe. If we do not go in, the only alternative is to"go it alone"in a hostile world. I do not believe that that is a possible alternative. During the last few years I have never had any doubt that our destiny lies definitely in Europe and that it is only by joining our wisdom with the influence and technical know-how of Europe that we can yield the greatest benefit to mankind. I can see no alternative.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I listened with interest to the noble Viscount. He asked whether we would co-operate with the Patagonians. He forgot the Patagonian Welsh, who have been there for 100 years and have done very well.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
And 20,000 Welsh are as good as 10,000 Anglo-Saxons, if your Lordships follow the illogicality of that. I am giving a concession to those who have come over, as the noble Viscount said, from Europe and to those, like the noble Viscount, who have European blood in their veins. I should like to kill a few 500 of the absurd ideas put forward in this euphoric debate. It has been a delightful debate, and without sounding bumptious or presumptuous, as one who has not had the privilege of being long in your Lordships' House it is an honour to listen to this debate and to take part in it. May I reiterate seriously the point of view put forward by my noble friend Lord Greenwood of Rossendale. Whatever differences of view we may have, the discussion we have listened to has been a panegyric.
At the end of the day, when a decision is made whether we are for or anti the European Economic Community, if we go in it will be our bounden duty to do the best that we can for this country to make a success of it. I think that is the only fair position to take. I go back a long time—I think I was the first to raise this issue in Parliament—to when there was not even a copy of the Treaty of Rome. We have not an official copy of the Treaty of Rome at the present time, although I have three copies of different versions of my own at home. It is no dishonour to have changed one's position, because in 1957 the Government, then Conservative, produced Cmnd. No. 72, and they said:Her Majesty's Government could not contemplate entering arrangements which would in principle make it impossible for the United Kingdom to treat imports from the Commonwealth at least as favourably as those from Europe.A little later (I had great respect, and honoured and liked the man, despite his idiosyncrasies) the Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, in speaking to the President of the United States in the 1960s, was against the European concept and the European Economic Community.
Let us kill this atavism that people are trying to arouse here. Anybody would think that we are Little Englanders. Nobody in this nation is a Little Englander. What is this noble House talking about? Come down—I will use an old-fashioned phrase—to the homes of the working classes in the hills and valleys of Wales and, God bless 'em! you see old fretwork there of the 1910s. Any of your Lordships who have read Emlyn Williams or Dylan Thomas's poetry know the weirdness of the people who used to go soldiering at a shilling a day for the Queen or the King. We had to stop the colliers from joining up 501 or we should not have had any coal. All over the world the Britisher has shown his ability. What is this about us being Little Islanders, and a little island on the edge of the world? There is no edge on a sphere. Anywhere on a sphere is the centre of the world, if you have the energy so to make it. Anybody who knows a bit of spherical geometry knows that.
Let me take another canard, an illogical piece of arithmetic. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, had a lot of fun today: a vol-au-vent to politics—the French translation,"light wind ". I do not know whether the wind was light, or in which direction it was blowing, but the noble Lord made a lot of fun about sovereignty. That to me, coming from a lawyer, was a little inexplicable, because I know what sovereignty is about. I could give the noble Lord eleven cases of what sovereignty is about and where it is vital. Our excellent Ambassador, Mr. Soames (I had an affection for him, too, when he was Minister of Agriculture; but he was not quite sure then about the European Economic Community), said at Caen in Normandy the other day:By accepting all the laws and regulations of the Community—for we accept them all and the negotiations essentially concern transitional arrangements—we have made our choice, our act of faith.Let us be honest with ourselves. Whatever statistics I try to bring out, they can be counterpoised with statistics from somebody else. It is an act of faith. And there is nothing wrong with faith, because faith can move mountains. But let us see how much faith we can have in these things. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, had a jovial little time about sovereignty. I should like, with all humility, to tell him that sovereignty is about our tariffs and foreign trade policy; it is about our agriculture; it is about our small farmers and our fishermen in Cardigan Bay. Sovereignty is about our taxation—and, by God! we lost the United States of America because there was taxation without representation. Has this noble House forgotten that? In the Treaty of Rome there is a move for the harmonisation of taxation. And by the Colonna Plan and the Barre Plan there is the suggestion that in ten years' time they will have had a unity of Community interest in taxation, in approaches to tariffs and in approaches 502 ultimately to defence. I promise not to be long, and I will leave that, because a lot has been said about it already.
There are three things. Then, the free movement of capital will no longer lie in the discussions of the Prime Minister and the Treasury; it will be in the bureaucracy of Brussels. Perhaps I may put that interrogatively and say: will it be in the bureaucracy of Brussels? I think so. The aid for backward regions will not be entirely in our hands. Then there is the transport system, and roads. I see that the A.A. want another 2,800 miles of new roads in Britain. Heaven knows where we shall grow any corn or wheat soon if we go on like this! We are destroying man for the machine, and this is what worries me. It is the apotheosis of the multi-national firm. We are doing with the calculus and figures and bits of paper marvellous graphs and parabolas about the wonderful time we shall have in the Common Market, and forgetting the simplicity of the human being.
The noble Baroness, Lady Young, in making her maiden speech, opened it with first-class words of wisdom. If I may be allowed to say so, I very much enjoyed her speech, because she dealt with the simple people. The purpose of this Parliament, which over a thousand or more years of history we have tried to build, was to try to protect the simple, sometimes illiterate, but sometimes very wise people. A man can be illiterate and infinitely wise. As I said once before in this House, when God asked Solomon what gift he would like, he did not ask for cleverness; he asked for wisdom. I do not pretend that I have it. It is one of the greatest gifts that God can give. But this is what we need at this moment: and we do not get it by denigrating Harold Wilson. Nor do we get it by denigrating Ted Heath, if you like to put it that way. That is what upset me when yesterday my noble friend Lord George-Brown and the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, spent most of their time dealing with Harold Wilson. I remember the debate quite clearly. I was in the private meeting of the Party in another place when we agreed on the terms, and it was my noble friend Lord George-Brown who said that he wanted at least 20 years' transition period for New Zealand to learn the new way of life. It is vitally important to us to know these points.
503 Another point is this. Shall we have control over our social security? I had the privilege of being a Minister in the Ministry of Social Security, and had I the time I could point out vital differences between the European system and ours. I do not say it would be derogatory, but our sovereignty would be lost. Mergers and monopolies are fine for the multinational firms, but they are not fine for the hill farmers. State purchasing policy, State aid for research and development, our monetary and economic policy, and our regionalism have all been dealt with by other speakers to-day.
Consequently, summing it up, what do I want from whatever system we are developing? I was delighted with Willy Brandt's efforts of Ost-Politik. I have had the privilege, like others, of meeting the man. But I can see a world now that is moving rapidly forward. I remember talking to Mr. Trudeau. I had the privilege of being with him and talking about his effort to get into China. We see Mr. Nixon looking anew at China. Things are moving in the world. Maybe we do want this united Europe, but I want a united Europe that brings in the East and the West, and where there is a real effort to get a modus vivendi between the Eastern Powers and the West. How much I agree with so many of the historians and others who take both sides of the debate in this House! We have fought and shot at each other for too long. I hope we can find an answer. But, please—I say this to noble Lords in this House who think we are troglodytes who happen to question going in—at least Dive us our due in believing that we are sincere, even if you think we are wrong, in questioning the haste with which at this juncture we seem to have rushed into Europe. We need to beware. That is all I wish to say, and I keep my promise and finish at half past the hour.
§ 7.31 p.m.
LORD ST. OSWALD
My Lords, this whole issue is one which, by its nature, provokes evangelical ardours. Although my own ardour was ignited many years ago, and has been burning steadily ever since, it is wise in this debate to recognise a clash of evangelisms (particularly after listening to the noble Lord who has just sat down) between those who, with 504 equal sincerity, desire or oppose entry to the European Community, It does not seem proper to me in the context of a"take note"debate to add my evangelical fuel to the conflagration at this point. Therefore, although in a speech on this subject the easiest passage to compose is the peroration, I have purposely, somewhat self-denyingly, abscinded my peroration so that this speech will end in some minutes with neither a bang nor a whimper.
There are many arguments posed by the objectors which puzzle me, many illusions which seem to me to lead them astray. I am told that the witty wife of a diplomat of one of the Six countries, posted in London, remarked, though not in my hearing:"You British are certainly very unusual in some ways. You seem to think that if you officially take up membership of the Community at midnight on a particular date you will wake up at seven the next morning, wearing a beret and a thin black moustache and smelling of garlic. It isn't true!" My Lords, that is fanciful enough at face value, but I have a feeling that some noble Lords—and one example might be the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek—are tormented by exactly that kind of nightmare. I see his dreams as being haunted by that kind of vivid prospective peril. In view of the fact that the moment of technical entry is likely to be at midnight on New Year's Eve, such a transformtion would presumably take place during the singing of"Auld Lang Syne ", which might be even more disturbing and ironic. It might find the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, breaking into Breton, which is, after all, related to Welsh among the Indo-European languages.
Of course, that is no more than a colourful extrapolation of existing anxieties, themselves I believe figments of a somewhat nervous imagination. I wonder whether it is possible to say anything that has not been said before to allay these needless, baseless and I believe harmful anxieties. There is no effort, there is no intention, there is no desire within the European Community to suppress or to eliminate national characteristics or to transpose them. If there were such an intention it would fail. Far from being an endeavour to extinguish 505 the historic attributes of proud and distinctive nations, the concept of the Community is to co-ordinate those attributes and so derive the maximum benefit from them. Is there not as much to gain for Britain as for anyone in that concept? Is there not as much to be given by Britain as by anyone? What has to be eliminated, because it wreaks harm, is the suspicion of centuries. We must scotch that suspicion; we must scotch the snake which has whispered enmity between neighbours so effectively for so long.
We have the example of how it was done in the course of building the Community. My friend of long standing, M. Alain Camu, has done some specific and productive research—in some cases even embarrassing research upon which I shall plagiarise selectively to-day. Alain Camu is a Belgian and a European, Economic Adviser to three Belgian Prime Ministers, a graduate of Oxford, Louvain and Yale, with an English wife and a knowledge of this country which is translated into deep and intelligent affection. He has made the effort to look back and tabulate the kind of fierce objections being made against the European idea in all of the six potential member countries, and among their leaders, during the months of decision which led to the forming of the Community. In retrospect, he finds that they are being matched in every instance by the objections being made in our country to-day. He selected 14 instances from among many more, and I will no more than touch upon a few of them to-day.
There was the fear of a technocratic Europe ruled by faceless bureaucrats. In Germany, Herr Mommer, of the Social Democrats, was critical of too much power being given to that bureaucracy; and in Belgium M. Pierson, a Socialist, feared a transfer of sovereignty from the people to an institutiton relying on experts and international civil servants immune from control, either by Governments or Parliaments; while M. Moureaux, a Liberal, saw the masses becoming distrustful of the European institutions, and this mistrust degenerating into malevolence. From another direction came the fear of a member country being swamped with foreign agricultural products. Belgians, Luxembourgers and Germans all expressed this vivid fear, and the particular 506 fear that small farmers would be the first to be affected. The French joined them in this anxiety, and the Germans were particularly affected by the menace of"an impossible balance-of-payments problem ". This was a fear for the Germans! There were anxieties as to the increased cost of living, strongest in the Netherlands and Germany. In Holland, Mr. Korthals of the Popular Party for Liberty and Democracy said the Netherlands had been pursuing a policy of a cheap cost of living which would be imperilled.
There were warnings of a sacrifice of social advantage, brought about by the harmonisation of social systems—what was referred to as a levelling-down process. The French trade unions were particularly vehement in charging that their recent gains would be"wiped out ", and M. Mendes-France called the prospect"fearsome ". Many fears were expressed as to the threat of lower wages, unemployment and the invasion by cheap foreign labour. In France, Mr. Georges Villiers, the trade union leader, told the Conseil National du Patronat in January, 1957:If France enters the Common Market today, with the economic and and financial conditions imposed upon her, both unemployment and appalling economic disorder would be inevitable.Both Left and Right in most of the countries were certain that the growing German colossus would swamp their economies. There was a widely shared prophecy of a disruption of the industrial structure and a threat to all small businesses. Monsieur Raymond Scheyven, a Minister in many Governments before and since, declared:Belgium with its antiquated industrial structure is sure to be crushed!There was a charge that development areas would be neglected.
There were, characteristically, two quite contradictory alarms: first, that Europe would become capitalist dominated, and second that Europe would become Socialist dominated. In every country, without exception, the charge was levelled that entry had been negotiated on bad terms, with needless concessions; that the whole thing was being rushed through, and that public opinion was not sufficiently informed. In France and Belgium there was a vigorous 507 concern that association with former Empires would be destroyed.
The main and most ferocious complaint in every country was that sovereignty would be surrendered. The quotations of distinguished men voicing this certainty are beyond numbering. M. Leo Hanon, the present Secretary of State to the President and Government of France said:The treaty strips France of her personality, deprives her of her rightful place and means the end of a way of life which, as the country will see when it returns to its senses, is being sacrificed for a mirage.M. Debré spoke of"digging France's grave "; and M. Raymond Dronne, Progressiste, said that the idealists favouring entry were neglecting economic and political realities and would be brought down to earth; while the Communists declared that France would become a mere province ruled by a German/American capitalist coalition. Mr. Korthals of Holland declared,This transfer of power means that the keys to the life of our national community will be handed over to others.In each prospective member country equally savage denunciations were being uttered. Despite them, the Community came into being, not simply to the satisfaction and advantage of all the populations concerned but to the satisfaction of virtually all the former opponents, individually. Herr Margulies, of the German Free Democratic Party, who had said in May, 1957, that the measures were incompatible with the Basic Law, is now a convinced European and a member of the Euratom Commission.
None the less I have been told seriously, gravely and I have no doubt sincerely, by some opponents of British entry that one country or another in the present Community would be glad enough to withdraw. Holland has been mentioned as a case in point. I have been told this by my colleagues in my own Party. Yet every scrap of first-hand evidence I have been able to obtain directly and categorically contradicts any such belief. The testing time came for the Community from July 1, 1965, to January 17, 1966, the period of the"empty chair ": seven months during which General de Gaulle withdrew all representation from the Council of Ministers and all France's 508 permanent representatives from all activities, so bringing the evolution of the Community to a standstill; seven months during which he arrested the very dynamic on which the Community depended. That was the time when the Common Market would have collapsed, if it was going to collapse, if it had lacked the inner strength, stamina, conviction and the popular support essential to survival. During that time I went several times to conferences and seminars held in one or other of the Six countries and heard many expressions of dismay, even of bitterness, and a few proposals as to how the Community might have to adapt itself, but never a suggestion, however hasty, that the whole concept might have to be abandoned.
In the event, the Community lived through this testing period unchanged and undeterred, and nobody seriously doubts its health and sense of purpose to-day—at least no one within it. The Community survived even that ordeal without us to strengthen it. I am one of those who regret that we were not in from the beginning. But this late arrival on the threshold gives us one kind of advantage, it seems to me. The faults and deformities of the European structure, upon which our own national debate is focusing at this moment, have been shown to be, at worst, unimportant, on the European test-bed in the course of 12 years. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said yesterday that if it were shown that a majority of opinion in the country were against entry to-day, that would not mean to him that the same would apply in six months. I agree. What is equally pertinent is that even if scepticism should persist up to the moment of entry, in the light of Continental experience we can expect it to dissolve once that experience has been shared. Measured against the prize, we can face the ordeal.
This, I had supposed, was in the mind of Mr. Harold Wilson when on January 23, 1967, addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, he said:I believe that understanding, that spirit of give and take, the creation of the right conditions in the task on which we have embarked will enable us to carry the goodwill and support of the vast majority of all our peoples. And above all, the goodwill and support of the young people of Britain and of the other countries represented here.509 He continued with words which moved me, as a political opponent, at the time, and which move me to-day:Those of us who are entrusted with the responsibilities of Government have the challenging duty—and it is an exciting one—of leading an impatient generation. It is a generation impatient of the mumblings and bumblings and fumblings of what has too often passed for statesmanship.He continued by saying that this generation, which would write the next chapters of history—'will condemn beyond any power of ours to defend or excuse the failure to seize what so many of us can clearly see is now a swirling, urgent tide in man's affairs If we do fail—I want this to be clearly understood—the fault will not lie at Britain's door. But the cost, and above all the cost of missed opportunities, will fall, and in increasing measure, on every one of us.Those are Mr. Wilson's words, quoted directly from the Council of Europe report. What may also be significant is to recall the response to that speech, given before the Assembly in Strasbourg, by the Leader of the Conservative Party delegation. That was Sir Alec Douglas-Home, himself a former Prime Minister, and he declared:I wonder if he will permit me to make it clear that the Conservative members of the United Kingdom delegation to the Assembly fully support the initiative which he is taking and that therefore the movement for British entry into the European Community may now be seen against the background of broad national unity in Britain.My Lords, it is not necessary either to emphasise the heartening effect of that exchange upon our friends in Europe or to labour the discrepancy between the political climate which prevailed then and which prevails now. Neither, I should like to make plain, in case there should be any misconception here, am I quoting Mr. Wilson in order to score, still less to taunt. Such urchin antics have no appeal in this debate. I quote him in this instance in order to recall that when statemanship was called for in 1967 he was ready to provide it, assisted by what might be called a touch of the"pop"vernacular of modern statesmanship—" mumbling, bumbling and fumbling ". To-day that opportunity recurs. The frustrations and concomitant strains and pressures of Opposition are known to all of us, and it behoves us to try to understand. Yet I wonder whether there has ever been a time when a Leader of the Opposition had such an opening for an 510 act of definitive and enduring statesmanship. It looks to-day as if the portal to that act of positive statesmanship has been deliberately closed by Mr. Wilson. The only point of introducing this recollection to-day is to express the hope—although it may appear fairly naive (to-day of all days) that between now and October he may reopen that portal with equal deliberation, and so earn the gratitude of his thinking countrymen and of those on the Continent who would infinitely prefer to welcome a Britain openly united in purpose.
I agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Longford, said yesterday, that no Party is likely, or deserves, to gain by saying that it has been wiser than any other in this matter. As I view it, this endeavour was embarked upon by one Conservative Government and by two Labour Governments, and the second attempt of a Labour Government is now being carried on by a Conservative Government. This would seem to me a fair division of effort, rewarded, or at least acknowledged as I should like to have seen and should still like to see, by a fair division of tributes at the end of the day.
I have only one more thing to say, and it will be no more controversial in tone than anything I have said up to now, though it will reveal a certain comprehension-gap as between the opponents and proponents of entry. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, is one of those, as he declared on Monday, who believes that our desire to join Europe is impelled by"defeatism ". With all respect. I see it exactly the other way about. In our eyes it is reluctance to join which seems anchored to defeatism. So many of the arguments of the opponents seem to be rooted in the assumption that we in Britain cannot compete. If they needed a campaign slogan, it could hardly be more apt than."Anything we can do they can do better ". With every fibre of my conviction, I reject this, though not so roughly as the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, when he said, in his outstanding speech of yesterday,"If we are afraid, we had better pack up and go home and try to get back to a peasant society ". But there is far more to it than a rejection of an inferiority complex. The purpose of membership of the European Community permits competition and requires it, but it is the very opposite of a rat 511 race. The principal theme is collaboration.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark spoke yesterday of the"family"of Europe which we would be joining. It might be fair to call it a family business, in which we shall have an important seat on the board when we care to join, but not until and unless we so choose. The kind of welcome which awaits us, surely, is illustrated by the course of the recent negotiations. True enough, those negotiations, as they had to be, were a form of bargaining, and accepted as such by all those taking part. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, opening for the Opposition on Monday, said of the terms which had emerged that they were"not harsh or intolerable; but on the other hand they are far from generous ". In a somewhat artificial parenthesis, while referring to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, I should like to say how firmly I declare myself in agreement with him when he speaks of his vision of Europe eventually embracing East and West. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and with the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, in saying that Europe does not end at the Elbe. That is certainly a vision that I share with them, and I am certain that it will eventually be attained by a peaceful process of which this is an early step. But the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, spoke more immediately of the terms, and he did not find them generous.
The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, was, not many years ago, a businessman, and I have no doubt a shrewd business man. If, in a business deal, after the bargaining, the other party declared that Lord Shepherd's terms had been"generous"he might well have been somewhat dismayed if not offended. If the terms reached on this wider matter had been regarded by us as"generous"they might have been considered rash and improvident by many of the people of the present Common Market. That might have had the effect of undermining the authority of those negotiating for the Community, and could have caused some resentment against us, before or upon our entry. That would have been in nobody's interest. In fact, I will take very mild issue with the noble Lord, purely in terms of interpretation or 512 evaluation, and say with regard to New Zealand, for instance, the terms could be regarded as generous and are certainly so regarded by the Community.
And here I end by saying, once again, that we must leave suspicion behind and enter in a mood of bold but informed confidence. That is the mood which will best serve the mutual interests of ourselves and our partners-to-be. If the course and climate and proven intention of the recent negotiations is to be taken as a measure of our future fraternity, as I believe it can be, then in sober assessment we have abundant cause for that confidence. If the attitude of the founder members in those talks was an earnest of the welcome which awaits us, such confidence in a strong and abiding partnership is justified and, I would say, unconquerable.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ LORD CONGLETON
My Lords, I should like to commence by offering my congratulations to all those who have made maiden speeches during the course of this great debate: to the noble Baroness, Lady Young; to the noble Lord, Lord McFadzean; to the noble Lord, Lord Blake, and the noble Lord, Lord Robens of Woldingham. I should like to offer my apologies to the noble Baroness for having been absent during the course of her speech, but I will read it to-morrow with the greatest interest. I should also apologise to your Lordships for having been absent for a considerable period yesterday afternoon when it was not possible for me to be present in your Lordships' House.
I have set myself just two tasks in addressing your Lordships on this great national issue which is before us, and I shall be brief. The first is to make my own affirmation of faith as to the wisdom, or otherwise, of the Government's initiative in seeking to gain entry for this country to the European Economic Community; and the second is to draw attention to a specific matter (of which I have given previous notice to the Government) which might well be described as being concerned with one item in the small print of the White Paper proposals. It has to do with the Common Agricultural Policy.
As I have listened to this debate over the past two days I have become gripped 513 by something akin to a feeling of inevitability. I do not know whether I am alone in this, but the experience of hearing from so many wise and distinguished figures, representing an array of interests and experience, is quite remarkable; to have listened to this almost uninterruptedly favourable expression of opinion for the Government White Paper (Cmnd. 4715), which is before us, is beginning to have a numbing effect upon my own mental processes. It seems that there has been a massive vote of confidence, both in quality and in quantity alike, in the Government's efforts in this matter. Before I came on Monday to your Lordships' House I had decided that, unless there was something totally new and undiscovered which was unfavourable, or which cast a different bias upon the matter, I would offer my voice to support the Government on this issue. Having heard the remarkable and distinguished speeches, I am now further confirmed in my belief that the country's best interests would be served by gaining entry to the E.E.C., and that the terms now offered are acceptable. I further express this hope—and it is a hope that stops only just short of a belief—that I should have had the good sense to speak in this vein had the terms offered been presented by a Labour Government. For this really is a national issue: of that there can be no shred of doubt.
Not a great deal has been mentioned about the other countries who at this time are also seeking entry to the E.E.C. I will not take up your time with personal reminiscence and recollection, but I feel a personal sense of involvement, since I am a member of a generation of my family, the first to be born and wholly domiciled outside what is now the Republic of Ireland, for over 200 years. However, I have a connection with Norway, a country which I have known for over twenty years. It strengthens my belief that this is a truly European operation. We are going to join our friends, and our friends are with us as we move forward to that end. I share the hopes and aspirations that have been expressed before me in this debate, and with an eloquence which I cannot hope to match, that the joining of this country within the E.E.C. framework will lead to a better life in a better society for all who may live to enjoy it—I do not mean just inside the 514 E.E.C. framework, but outside those boundaries right across the world.
It is a fine thing to express these honourable, noble and ideal sentiments, and I hope that I shall not be thought carping or churlish if I turn for a moment to something which is both immediate and practical. After all, the edifice we seek to construct must be properly put together. I suggest that it is not altogether out of place to consider at this stage what might be called the"nuts, bolts and screws"in the whole matter, and I will detain your Lordships with my verbal screwdriver for a very short moment. I am a farmer; I am also other things, but I speak now as a farmer. The Government are dismantling the provisions of the Agriculture Acts 1947 and 1957 which allowed farmers guaranteed markets for certain produce, and I refer specifically to meat and cereals. The deficiency payment is being phased out and will become a thing of the past whether we enter the European Community or not. It seems to me that this has dispersed responsibility for the marketing of the two agricultural products which I have mentioned, cereals and meat, in two directions: one, towards the Minister with special responsibility (I suppose in consultation with the Board of Trade) for minimum import prices and levies, and in the other direction towards the individual producer who will be thrown back on his own resources.
The individual farmer will seek to form trade associations, and will get together with other producers so as to strengthen his position in the Market. This process of strengthening the individual producers in the Market can only come about, it seems to me, with a certain amount of Government encouragement. I believe opinions have been expressed that the Government feel that this will be a desirable thing to happen. But there is a difficulty. The operation of the Restrictive Trade Practices Acts 1956 and 1968 at present appears to be inimical to the formation of trade associations which would, as I have suggested, lead to the strengthening of the hand of the individual producer in the Market. There is a difficulty in this area. I will not argue in great detail the case against restrictive trade practices legislation and its effect on the farmers' marketing position, but there are two points to be made. First, 515 this legislation is apparently already frustrating attempts by individual farmers to get together with others to make some sense of what might otherwise be a rather chaotic marketing picture; and secondly, similar legislation enacted by member countries is much more liberally interpreted by the Council of the E.E.C.
My Lords, we have to get this position straight and clear before entry into the E.E.C. becomes a fact, otherwise farmers in this country will not be operating on fair and level terms when offering their produce in the Market. There will be a bias in favour of the other countries of the E.E.C. What I seek from the Government at this stage is some undertaking that they will look at the situation in order to correct the difficulty which is created by the present operation of the restrictive trade practices legislation. This is not just some esoteric topic which I have dredged up at this late hour in order to lend some semblance of individualism to what I have to offer this afternoon. There is a problem here, and I hope that the Government will be able to offer some reply, perhaps in the winding up speech. I have no quarrel with the Government's attitude towards the agricultural industry in this country. With the adoption of the Common Agricultural Policy provisions it seems to me that they have gone a long way towards offering the farmers of this country a very good chance of competing on fair and level lines with our Continental competitors.
I shall sit down very shortly. There is just one other thing I wish to say. It has already been stated, I think in particular by my noble friend Lady Sharp, by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, and the noble Lord, Lord Blake, that there is a feeling that the ordinary people of this country do not understand what this debate is about. I have said outside your Lordships' House on previous occasions that I believe this to be so. I should like the Government to make some effort to get the full facts before the country as early as possible.
My Lords, I support the Government on this issue. As a farmer I have no fears for the future, apart from that one particular matter which I have already mentioned. I cannot believe that the 516 farmers of this country can do other than support the proposals. Again I reiterate the hope they will have the good sense to do so. I think that they would have had sufficient good sense to do so had the proposals been put forward by a Labour Government.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, at this late stage of the debate I have no desire to detain your Lordships unduly, nor to attempt to cover again the economic and political arguments so convincingly deployed again to-day, not least by my noble friend Lord Harlech. However, as one who has been actively involved for nearly 25 years in promoting the cause of European unity, I hope you will pardon me if I say a few words on this momentous occasion. For me it is a matter of deep personal satisfaction that the Six have finally accepted our application and that the Government negotiators have been able to secure conditions and other arrangements which make it possible for us to go in
But when we say that this decision is momentous, let us not forget that it is all part of a process of advance towards European unity which has been going on for a very long time. It is hardly a question, as the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek said, of rushing into Europe. It was Mr. Attlee who, in the early days of the last war, said that when hostilities were over Europe must federate or perish. This theme naturally had a deep appeal to the shattered and newly liberated people of the Continent. It also met with an immediate response among many people in this country; and very much the same combination of men with widely differing political views have kept up the pressure over the years which has finally led to the present situation.
After the war many steps forward were taken in Europe in different fields—economic, military and political—not necessarily federalist, but all leading to a wider degree of unity. There was the great lead given by Mr. Churchill in his Zurich speech in 1946; there was the Brussels Pact of the Six negotiated by Mr. Ernest Bevin; there was the establishment of the Council of Europe with its Consultative Assembly in 1949; there was the Schumann Plan, later known as the Steel 517 and Coal Community; and finally, in 1957, there was the Treaty of Rome.
Very soon after I became a Member of another place in 1950 there was a debate on the Schumann Plan, which some noble Lords may remember. It took place on June 26, 1950, and was opened by Mr. Anthony Eden, as he then was. In a Motion calling on the Labour Government to take part in the consultations in Paris with a view to setting up the Plan he said, speaking of Franco-German relations:It is universally recognised, except by the Communists, that the French initiative towards an entirely new relationship with Germany is fundamentally a movement for peace.He went on to say—It must not, it cannot be allowed to fail.Unfortunately, the Government of the time, in the person of Sir Stafford Cripps, rejected the Motion in terms not dissimilar from many of the views we hear expressed to-day. I believe it was largely the fear of a supranational authority, so well described by the noble Lord, Lord Robens, in his speech yesterday, which lay at the root of this reluctance to be drawn into European affairs. At that time this was perhaps understandable. Yet then, as now, had we done so we should no doubt have secured modifications in what are now known as the terms.
It is notable that it was on that occasion that the present Prime Minister, who has been so largely instrumental in achieving success on this theme of Europe, made his maiden speech. It is also significant that my right honourable friend—my old friend—Mr. Enoch Powell, quite consistently abstained on our Motion, which was defeated by, I think, only 20 votes. This rejection, which was followed by the refusal of Mr. Bevin to support the proposal made at the Council of Europe for a European Army, was met with nothing but dismay on the part of our friends on the Continent.
I thought that my noble friend Lord Boothby, in his speech on Monday, rather unfairly accused my noble friend Lord Avon of being passionately opposed to anything beyond a vague association with Europe. Whatever Mr. Eden (as he then was) may have thought about supranational organisations, what is quite certain, it seems to me, is that the debate to which I have just referred, and his 518 further action in bringing Germany into what had then become Western European Union, and the guarantee to maintain British troops in Europe indefinitely, refute the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Boothby. However this may be, one thing is certain: at that time we could have come into European institutions entirely on our own terms. By 1957 the position had hardened, but even then I believe that great concessions would have been made to us if we had been willing to sign the Treaty of Rome. There again an opportunity was missed, but on that occasion it was by a Conservative Government. As I have mentioned this, I must say that this is a matter which has always transcended British Party political lines. From the earliest days in the European Union of Federalists, in the United Europe movement, in the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, members of all three political Parties have sat on the same committees, joined in the same debates and pursued the same objects. I can think of no other political field where Party political differences have been so consistently overridden by a higher political ideal. So it is to-day.
Of course, the converse also is true. The opponents of the European Unity in both Parties feel just as passionately, and I am sure quite sincerely, that we cannot abandon our insular position. We respect their views, but we cannot always understand them. I have sometimes the feeling that they recall with thankfulness the fact that we are an island and that the existence of the Channel has ensured the preservation of this country from invasion by Phillip II, by Napoleon and by Hitler. I feel myself that such thinking is a little out of date.
The question of sovereignty has been raised again and again, and once more yesterday by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who I am sorry to say is not now in his place. The fact that so many opponents of the Common Market or of a United Europe seem to ignore is that every time an international treaty is signed there is a secession, or a partial secession, of sovereignty. In the case of the United Nations, as in the Treaty of Rome, this is unlimited. Yet the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who objects to sitting down with Europeans, presumably does not object to the conduct of our affairs being the 519 subject of decision—I do not say"dictation"because of the Security Council veto—by 120-odd nations, many of them one-Party States, police States, Communist or military dictatorships. The noble Lord sees nothing strange in this.
During the past three days we have heard a great deal about the Commonwealth, and here I speak as one who, in our former Imperial days (and the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, will perhaps recall some of our interchanges in the other place) was sometimes considered to be Right Wing or perhaps even downright reactionary. I would only say that it is undoubtedly the case that had we gone into the Steel and Coal Community in 1951, had we entered the Common Market in 1957, had we in fact put ourselves at the head of the whole European idea, we could certainly have obtained far better terms for the Commonwealth than we have to-day.
I can remember well that in the late 1940's, and in particular at the unofficial congress in The Hague in 1948, the German, French and Italians and the smaller Powers were really on their knees, imploring us to come in and lead them. I remember being present when a German delegation, headed by Dr. Adenauer (and one must remember that these people were still virtually regarded as international pariahs) were first intoduced to Mr. Churchill. I spoke to Dr. Adenauer and his colleagues afterwards and they, just as the French and others at that time, assured us that we could obtain practically any terms we wished regarding the Commonwealth if only we would join in European unity. Of course the details were never thrashed out. But certainly some leading Commonwealth statesmen saw the advantages of a unification of Europe, which on at least two occasions had caused them to send their sons to fight and die alongside ourselves in Europe on account of Continental quarrels. There can be no doubt that those disputes, which lead to such terrible slaughter, were not solely dynastic, nationalistic or ideological but were due also in large measure to uncontrolled economic ambitions and pressures.
In the debate on the Schumann plan to which I referred, Mr. Eden quoted a speech made at about that time by Mr. 520 Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia. He said this:A peaceful and prosperous Europe would be a godsend to the British people the world over. I for one am not, therefore, hostile to the basic idea of European union but friendly to it and hopeful for it.I have always been convinced that the Commonwealth, including the developing territories, could only benefit from a strong and united Europe. Take the case of Africa. I think I am right in saying that it was Mikoyan who said:Europe without Africa is like a chicken plucked and ready for the pot.The same is true in reverse. Surely we did not develop and encourage our African Colonies, and ultimately bring them to independence, solely to enable them to be handed over to some harsher and far more terrible grip. I believe that as members of the Common Market we can offer to our former colonial territories advantages which they did not even enjoy in the heyday of Imperial Preferences which after all never went very far. With the agreed continuation of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement for the interim period, with the numerous concessions as associated States offered under the Treaty of Rome, with all the special arrangements which have been made and which can in future be made, I believe that the Commonwealth countries can and will obtain an access to great markets which will only increase as the years go on.
Let me take just a small case, in regard to New Zealand—I am not dealing with the matter of dairy products, which of course goes far wider. At the present moment, the sale of frozen lamb—in other words, New Zealand lamb—is for practical purposes virtually forbidden in France, Germany and Italy by national regulations; that is to say, regulations banning frozen meat or forcing it to be sold in special shops. Does anyone imagine that this sort of regulation would be allowed to persist once we were in and well established in the E.E.C. at all levels? Of course not.
My Lords, I turn finally to the political aspects. Mr. Dean Acheson made the remark that Britain had lost an Empire but had not discovered a role. This has been profoundly true, though I still believe that since the break-up of our Empire we have been able from time to 521 time to play a useful part as a link between the United States and Europe and s the centre of the Commonwealth; a useful part, but never a part which gave full range to our national political genius. I fear that we have felt lost at times, frustrated and sometimes humiliated. I have no doubt this has also had a demoralising effect on our young people. Here in Europe, in the Common Market, with our vast experience and our worldwide connections and influence, our chance has at last come. Here we can once more play a leading and decisive role in world affairs in one of the world's greatest economic and political communities. Here we can once more, not now as head of an Empire, but as one of the leading members of a powerful European community of nations with a common historical, intellectual and religious background, resume the mantle of greatness which for the past ten or fifteen years has been slipping from our shoulders.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, although over the last three days we have already had well over 100 speeches in this debate, it is a subject of such tremendous importance that I do not think we need apologise for having so many members from all Parties taking part—both here and in another place—because of all the crucial decisions in this century, or, I suggest, for a good many centuries, this is surely the most crucial. Few people would disagree that we have somehow to sort out the ideology from the practical when we discuss a matter of this kind. We have what some people perhaps may think the ideological aspect of the Commonwealth, old and new, as against the practicalities of a greatly enlarged market and of a closer association with European countries.
We have had in the course of this debate some very notable speeches; we have had, I think, four maiden speeches of great calibre. But the speech which impressed me more than any other was that of the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, not because I agreed with it—there may well be many noble Lords who disagreed, as I did, with certain parts of it—but I believe he did a great service to this House by pouring a douche of cold water, unwelcome as it might have been, at a time when we were in danger of becoming overwhelmed by euphoria. 522 I am, broadly speaking, for going into Europe, but if it came to a vote now I could not put my hand on my heart and vote for going in at this particular moment of time. It is rather like the batsman who has taken a long time to play himself in because he has not found the right ball to crack to the boundary. That may well come, and when I have read all the debates here and in another place I, and perhaps a number of other noble Lords, may come to a final decision.
It can fairly be said that the issue of the Common Market has had a good deal of publicity, particularly over the past few months, in Press, television, radio and so on. But the fact remains, as was pointed out by, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Blake, in a particularly outstanding maiden speech, that the general public of this country still has to be convinced that it is a good thing for Britain to take this major decision. The Government have not a great deal of time in which to convince the public, and the question is how this is going to be done.
It seems to me that we have two important aspects here. First of all, on the economic side, I think there are tremendous overriding advantages of going into Europe on those grounds. I agree so much with my noble friend Lord Selsdon, who made an admirable speech, based on his own experience of international companies; and bring in my own experience of 18 years in insurance with Lloyd's, and at present five years as a management consultant with, so to speak, an international looking faith. On those grounds I am convinced that entry into Europe can only be good.
When I say Europe, we have heard a good deal about the countries of the Six but we have not heard very much about the European Free Trade countries. The noble Lord, Lord Congleton, mentioned Norway. I have been recently to Finland and Denmark, and I believe in those countries we have pretty good prospects. Last year there was a"Britain in Finland"trade drive, and we increased exports by something like 70 per cent. Next year there is a"Britain in Denmark"trade drive, where again we have considerable prospects, particularly, I think, in industry, possibly in the building of new ports, and in farm implements 523 and so on. These countries must be considered very seriously, in addition to the benefits to be derived from the Six.
So my concept of a European Community is not only a partnership of the European Economic Community, where admittedly the financial strength lies, but with the European Free Trade countries, where I believe the good will resides. I think this is a point which has not been brought out enough. I wonder whether my noble friend the Leader of the House would have anything to say on that point when he comes to reply, whether there will be consultations with the European Free Trade countries, both before and after we join, assuming that we do join, so that all this can be made perfectly clear.
My Lords, I turn for a few moments again to New Zealand. I would not go as far as some noble Lords and say that the terms are very generous. I think they are generous, but I would not go further than that. I spoke with Cabinet Ministers in New Zealand when I was there two months ago, and I have spoken to New Zealand businessmen, both there and recently when they have come over here, and they mostly subscribe to that view, that they are generous terms; but I do not think we should get too carried away by this, because the real nub of the problem will come in 1977.
Reference was made to Denmark by a noble Lord, earlier on this afternoon, with the comment that possibly Denmark would not look too favourably upon New Zealand getting too much of the butter requirements. I was in Denmark for a short time last year. They and New Zealand have one thing in common so far as this country is concerned: they are both great allies of this country, and both Denmark and New Zealand have seen us through a number of problems, in peace and in war; and it is fair to say that Denmark may well take a more sympathetic view towards New Zealand than perhaps even some of the other European countries might do.
I think one thing is essential if we do go into Europe (and I speak now wearing a business hat, so to speak); I believe the setting up of a European management centre is an essential requirement, because one great advantage of our enter-524 ing a European Community may well be that our European partners will seek more knowledge of, and experience of, our business methods. I would hope that the Government will think seriously of setting up a specific European management centre in this country, run by this country and not by another power, because at the moment, so far as I know, we have not got one.
May I turn for one moment to the social services. We have not heard a great deal about this in the discussions so far, but one thing does worry me about the National Health Service. In the shortened edition of the White Paper there is a rather short and almost curt reference to the fact that the National Health Service would not be affected, but what happens to arrangements with the Six countries where there is not a reciprocal arrangement with health charges? Supposing one is taken ill in France. At the present time, as I understand—and I may be wrong here—there is no reciprocal arrangement for National Health treatment. Will this be remedied if we go into Europe? It seems to me that this is quite an important point to bear in mind.
There will be need for more extensive consultations with Commonwealth countries if we go into Europe. I agree with the expression of view that we have lost many links with the Commonwealth over the years through independence and for other reasons; but I would hope that we never refer to the Commonwealth in the kind of attitude,"Oh, them! ", because we still owe a considerable allegiance not only to Australia and New Zealand, but to countries like Canada, Fiji, and parts of Africa who, after all, have helped us in the past even if at the present time some of these countries are not as friendly as we should like to see them. I think it would be a great mistake in approaching this very big decision if this was completely neglected.
I say in conclusion that it is the young people of this country, and perhaps even more the middle-aged, who will have to act upon the results which emanate from this decision. We have to think of five, ten, twenty, perhaps fifty years' time, when some of us may not be here, but this very historic decision will still be with us. Whatever happens, I would hope that the Government will make quite 525 sure, during the few weeks which pass between now and the final great decision in October, that the general public are really fully informed in simple and understandable terms of what all this means, because at the moment, while Parliament may largely be convinced here and in another place, the general public at large, the electorate of this country, have still to be properly convinced.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, I, too, should like to add from this side of the House my warm congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, on a truly excellent maiden speech. Those of us who have had the privilege of knowing her can feel that her speech more than fulfilled all our expectations. I am sure that many of your Lordships, from all sides of the House, look forward to the time when she will gradually be able to release herself from the heavy burdens of local administration, and be free to participate actively in the debates of your Lordships' House.
There can now be little doubt that the idea of a united Europe is one that has already fired the imagination of the young people of this country. The opposition to it seems to come mainly from those who still have their doubts, whether they be found on the extreme Right or the extreme Left or somewhere in between. But the anti-Marketeers seem unable to decide among themselves on an agreed alternative course for our country to follow. The imperialists to-day are no more, as the Empire no longer exists. Instead, the anti-Marketeers are divided between the Commonwealth supporters and those who Want to"go it alone ".
But for the young, as my noble friend Lord Chalfont said yesterday, the idea of a European Community makes a direct appeal. To them, the hope of sharing political ideas, and a pooling of our economic resources, with the rest of Europe is a cause worth striving for, even worth sacrificing for. Because temporary sacrifices will be called for, and they must be faced. It is a delusion to maintain that any great step forward can be acquired cheaply, or is something for which other countries can be expected to contribute heavily in order to enable us to share in its privileges and opportunities. We must be prepared to pay some price—if need be, for 526 a time, even a heavy price—to join with Europe at this late hour.
For one thing is now quite certain: go into Europe we shall. Of that there can be no doubt whatever. Both Parties have already gone too far to retract, and public opinion is only now beginning to face up to the tremendous realities of the present situation. For the now steadily dwindling band of anti-Marketeers it may be some comfort to know that we have already saved ten years of annual contributions by not having joined in 1961. That represents, at the rate of £500 million a year, some £5,000 million. That is no mean sum to have saved already. But I believe the amount lost to this country, by our having missed the bus ten years ago, is a sum vastly greater than even £5,000 million. We must expect the costs of our entry now to be far greater than they would have been ten years ago. Can anyone pretend that our bus fares have not gone up during the last ten years? Equally, can anyone, on either side of the House, assert that all our costs are not likely to go up still further during the next ten years? Even during the next ten months?
I am convinced that this country will have a vastly heavier price to pay for entry if it misses the bus on this occasion and has to wait perhaps another ten years, or even longer, before any opportunity presents itself once again to join the Common Market. Wisely negotiated, and with hard terms wisely bargained for, the Government need not fear too much for the future. The Conservative anti-Marketeers are slowly melting away. In their ranks is occurring now a mass conversion, if not of Latter-Day Saints, at least of Eleventh Hour Adventists.
Here may I digress in order to ask a question of the noble Earl who is to wind up this debate on behalf of the Government, because it is most important, whatever may be the ideological considerations, that we should be fully informed of the facts. Can the noble Earl tell us what induced Sweden to withdraw her application to join the Common Market? I know there is no useful comparison between Sweden and this country. Sweden is a vast country with rich natural resources and a tiny population, smaller than the whole of London. But Sweden was one of our original EFTA partners 527 and, in some ways, one of our most important partners. Is the reason for her opting out due solely to her policy of neutralism, a policy which has served her so well during two world wars? In other words, are her reasons wholly political, affecting her future relations with Soviet Russia, or are they partly economic as well? And does she now intend instead to apply for associate membership of the Common Market? I shall readily understand if the noble Earl finds himself unable to give a categorical assurance, but it is important that the full facts affecting our EFTA partners should be made known and that nothing should be deliberately withheld.
The people of this country will. I believe, be prepared to pay a price for our entry into the Common Market, even at the cost of some temporary initial sacrifice. I remember in the early days of the war how appalled we were at its mounting daily cost. First, we were shocked to hear that it was costing us £5 million a day. Then the figure rose and the costs mounted steadily to £10 million each day, then to £15 million and even £20 million as the war went on. Afterwards, we just ceased to reckon the cost, without any idea of when the war would end or what the final bill would amount to. That was when we were locked in a desperate struggle for survival. That was our finest hour, while thousands of lives were being sacrificed. Perhaps to-day another hour may be dawning, without the sacrifice of precious lives. What a pity if we should be concentrating only on its cost, without balancing against that cost the greater freedom, the greater opportunities, the greater chance of leadership that we are now being presented with by our entry into Europe. We have just emerged from being a leading Power controlling the destinies of a large part of mankind. We have lost a vast Empire but are still struggling to take our rightful place in the new world that is taking shape all around us. Meanwhile, the Common Market has already taken shape and our rightful place is within it. I believe that any step that brings any nations of the world closer together must bring them that step closer to peace.
Of course we shall have to bring our friends in Australia and New Zealand in with us. In the early days of the Western 528 Desert campaign, I was sharing a tent with a young Australian pilot who was engaged on the daily postal run to Tobruk. He was a zoologist who had recently graduated from Cambridge, and before the war had been in Kenya collecting specimens of animals for English zoos. We did not talk of butter or even of fish, though at that time we were desperately short of both. We talked of the war and of what we expected afterwards. It was the time when the Messerschmitts had just arrived in the Western Desert and our slower Blenheims were being shot down one by one. I remember how one evening he sat, pencil in hand, working out his expectation of life and reckoned it to be just 30 days. Within one month he was shot down and another Blenheim was written off. I think that we who are left to-day still owe a duty to those who died during the war, who made sacrifices far greater than ever we are now called upon to undertake.
To-day peace, too, can have her victories, and this is one from which we must not shrink. Other speakers have reminded us that we are now called upon to take a decision as momentous as any other taken in our lifetime. Perhaps this is indeed a time for greatness, even more than we fully realise, even more than Her Majesty's Government, who now have greatness thrust upon them, may realise. But also, because I realise that better terms are now unobtainable, I believe that it is the duty of every citizen in this country who believes in the principle of a united Europe to lend support to the Government, to any Government, even to a Tory Government, who are faced with such heavy responsibilities at this critical hour.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MONCKTON of BRENCHLEY
My Lords, I am not in the happy position of the noble Lord opposite of knowing my mind so firmly. I am much more like the general public who have not yet made up their minds. My heart says, No and my head says, Yes, and I wish to know far more before I can marry the two. One has been surprised to-day that that most conservative institution, the Labour Party Executive, decided in half an hour, by 16 votes to 6, I am told, although the Trades Union Congress, which I suppose most people will consider even more conservative, took longer 529 and had a much closer vote. There seems to be an extraordinary dilemma across the Benches of Parties and politics. I only hope it is a dilemma and not politics. As a past soldier and now a farmer, I see the difficulties.
Unlike many of your Lordships, I lived in one of the E.E.C. countries, in Germany, for eleven and a half years, off and on, as a soldier and I was there again last week. I am told that prices of food in Germany have gone up in the last three weeks and are still going up. Does that mean that the estimated increase in the costs of food for us, as given by the Government, is based on the costs as now known in the E.E.C., or as they are expected to be then? We should know this because, at least in Germany, the costs are going up and up at this moment. Admittedly, also, one must be honest about the success of life for everybody in Western Germany. One has seen it rise up from the devastation at the end of the war, through its own efforts and with the help of this country. This country advised them on the number of unions they ought to have, and it was the Labour Party who were in power at that time and so advised them. I think they had only 12 or 13 unions. As a result, their wages are, for the most part, higher than ours, and their holidays are universally longer. Their standard of living is, for the most part, much higher, as those of us who have lived there have seen. In fact, I saw it again last week. One has only to fly over it to see the number of swimming pools in an enormous variety of small houses, small towns and small villages. There is hardly a village in Germany without a proper swimming pool. Compare that, my Lords, with the difficulties we have of finding one over here.
It is not for me to argue about the big issues. That has been done by better speakers, and the principles have been argued for nearly three days, both here and in another place. As a farmer, I feel that it is for me to put the small points which we ask the Government to look at before the final commitment is made. Fruit is going to be very difficult for any farmer in England once we are in. The apple market in Europe is dominated by France, the pear market by Italy. In France, they are helped by a system of declaring their tax at a convenient time 530 for the fruit farmers, and not like everybody else; and certain arrangements are made for the transport of fruit. Things are totally different from the large tax and cost of transporting fruit that we face in this country. Above all, they have a climate which does not produce a late May frost. Those of us who are small fruit farmers–50 acres or less—are in fact going to be ruined unless we are compensated. We have been told by the Government that we are to receive a grubbing grant, which will exactly pay for the cost of removing the fruit trees that we are now cultivating. It will leave us with, say, 30 acres of grass, some highly expensive buildings for storing fruit, gas and cold stores utterly useless for any other purpose. It means that the land has either to be turned into villages and buildings or it has to be left to rot. There is nothing else one can do with it.
There is one other small point—and I accept that these are small points. But the big points have been made, and I think it is for us who are speaking late to make small points of detail which should eventually be answered. We have a large export market of pedigree cattle and stock, and a growing export market in the semen of British bulls. This, unless we are careful, could be lost entirely by the E.E.C. regulations on foot-and-mouth. They vaccinate their cattle; we slaughter those of ours which are affected. If we allowed the import of vaccinated cattle, we should lose the right to export to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and many other countries which will not take semen and cattle from countries which only vaccinate against food-and-mouth.
My Lords, I said I was going to be short because we are late and that I was going to make only small points. I have not much more to say other than that I agree with what the Duke of Edinburgh said the other day. To be efficient in farming in the E.E.C.—and we should not believe that the French are inefficient: they are not; they are extremely efficient farmers—it is going to be cut-throat. We shall have to cut down every hedge that is in the way on our farms. We shall have to remove every copse which looks nice but does not produce money. If that is what we are going to have to do, it must be by the will of the people. But that is what is going to happen. Having said that, 531 my Lords, I would add that I know the majority of youth in this country are for looking outwards and not inwards, and that we old ones, who with our hearts, perhaps, look back, may be in the wrong.
§ VISCOUNT ECCLES
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, may I tell him that he really must not say some of the things he put forward. I am a farmer in Wiltshire. We do not have to cut down any hedges. Our stock-raising, is so efficient that the French come and buy our calves from us every week of the year.
§ VISCOUNT MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY
My Lords, my noble friend must be a very rich farmer, if I may say so. Those of us who are just making ends meet do have to cut down hedges, and I can show my noble friend plenty of other farms that also do that.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SIMON
My Lords, I want only to add my voice to those of many of your Lordships who have expressed approval and support for the Government's proposal as set out in their White Paper. The arguments for this course have already been rehearsed many times with greater eloquence and with greater authority than I can offer, and I am perfectly content to anchor myself behind either the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, or the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, both of whom, if I may be allowed to say so, I thought made outstanding speeches at the opening of to-day's session.
On the economic side, I agree with those who say that in the first place it is impossible to quantify the calculations, and that in the second place they are clearly rather finely balanced, and in consequence the decision we reach must be a matter of judgment. I do not go all the way with those who think that if we do not go into the European Economic Community there is nothing but ruin facing us. The noble Lord, Lord Crowther, in what I thought was a most interesting speech, outlined our economic position, and certainly it sounded pretty depressing. But he then went on to analyse this, and to suggest that, perhaps, when we go into the Market, as I am confident we shall, this will provide just 532 that jolt which may get us out of the rut; just a jab in the arm to start the cure of"the English sickness ". I hope that this will prove to be the case, and I was greatly encouraged in this hope by the speeches we had from leading industrialists—from the noble Lord. Lord Thorneycroft; the noble Viscount, Lord Watkinson; the noble Lord, Lord Robens of Woldingham, who made such an interesting speech; and, of course, the noble Lord, Lord Stokes. What we have to recognise is that going into the Community is not itself the cure—and that, I know, has been said already. If I may continue my metaphor, it is rather like going to the spa at which we hope to find the cure.
Here, I am bound to say, as we are, at any rate in form, discussing the White Paper, that I join with some noble Lords who have been critical of the objectivity of the White Paper. It seems to me that the Government, in drawing it up, rather went out of their way to emphasise the advantages, as they saw them, and advantages as I see them, and perhaps not to make quite so much comment about the disadvantages. This has been even more the case, I think, in some of the publicity put out since the White Paper was published. We hear a great deal about the great market on the Continent now open to us, but we hear a great deal less about the market in this country now open to our Continental competitors. We hear that the gross national product of the members of the Market has grown much faster than ours. I know that those figures have been challenged, and for the purpose of my argument it does not matter very much whether they are absolutely right. But what has not been pointed out, for instance—and I do not think it has been mentioned during this debate—is that an even greater advance has been made by Japan, which is of course not a member of the European Economic Community at all. One is indeed sometimes left with the nasty, nagging feeling that our comparative lack of success may have something to do with the fact that we do not work quite so hard or quite so efficiently as some of our competitors.
However, as I say, I was tremendously encouraged by the reception given to this proposal by those noble Lords who speak 533 with great experience of industry, and I hope that Lord Crowther's prognostication will prove right and that the challenge presented by going into the European Community and working on equal terms with our European partners in a much enlarged market will shake us up and make our growth reach something approaching the rate which our colleagues on the Continent have had.
But, my Lords, like most other noble Lords—and I have certainly felt this very much more as the debate has gone on—I have come firmly to the conclusion that the political implications of joining the Economic Community are far greater, far more important, than the economic considerations. I see it not as an answer in itself but as a first step towards a much closer, wider, deeper unity in Europe. This brings me, with some reluctance and a good deal of diffidence, to raise again the question of sovereignty. The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Hampstead, yesterday evening said that any further reference to this subject could only serve to confuse the issue—which I took to be a rather elegant way of saying"This correspondence must now cease'. But the issue was taken up again to-day by the noble Lords. Lord Stow Hill and Lord Goodman, and that is why I dare to tread these fields again. I would draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that everyone, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, Lord Lloyd. Lord Stow Hill and Lord Goodman all are associated with the law.
I am sure that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor gave us a perfectly correct legal definition of sovereignty. But I do not think that that is quite what the man in the street, whom I seek to represent, means when he thinks of loss of sovereignty. The questions he asks himself are these. Are important decisions within a certain field which are taken by Parliament in Westminster going to be taken by someone else? Are certain decisions which we can now control going to pass outside our control? The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, made the point, and it was quite a valid one, that in any treaty we agree to do something. I think that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor put it very succinctly when he said that it is just a matter of contract. If I understood him correctly he 534 was saying that if Parliament approved the contract then Parliament has exercised its sovereign will; a contract is a contract and there we are; and that is no loss of sovereignty.
The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, asks: How does this differ from any other treaty? I will venture to answer that. I think it is different because in an ordinary treaty we know exactly what we are agreeing to do or not to do. But this is a treaty, as I understand it, which says that when some other body, in which we are represented but which is not under our control, says,"These regulations are the regulations of the Community ", we are then bound to adopt them. The noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, said, perfectly correctly, that this means that a Bill will be introduced into Parliament—a Bill like the Hijacking Bill, to which he referred—and therefore Parliament is still controlling the issue. I venture to suggest that this is something different. In the case of the Hijacking Bill, Parliament thought there was a good international convention and therefore Parliament passed the Hijacking Bill; and I am very glad they did so. But in the case of the regulations of the Community, Parliament, although it has the theoretical possibility of throwing out the Bill, in fact cannot possibly do so. This is rather like delegated legislation when the Minister is not responsible to Parliament. It seems to me that this is a point which the Government, in endeavouring to persuade the people of this country—as I hope they will—that going into the Common Market is right, ought to try to explain in a little more detail.
As I understand the position, the Minister, or someone like him, will come back with a Bill and say,"This is to give effect to the decision of the appropriate organ in Europe. We have got to give effect to it because that is what we have agreed to do." The noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, actually gave me my case, although I do not know that he meant to, when he said,"Of course, what we agree to has got to be translated into a Bill in Parliament." This is the point:"has got to be ". It seems to me that it is different from an ordinary treaty and, from the point of view of the man in the street, to that extent we have given away part of our sovereignty. I want to make it quite clear that I think this is 535 absolutely right. I am not arguing that we should not do it, but I do not think that in trying to explain the position to the country it is right to pretend that we are not. My feeling is that in Parliament—I think in both Houses—the battle is won. But the battle is not yet won in the country. We must all seek to win it but not, if I may say so, under false colours.
It is not really any answer to say that, after all, this is only in a very narrow field. Anyway, is it in a very narrow field? I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to paragraph 47 of the White Paper. It is talking about the development of large business, of international business on the Continent. It says:The different national systems of corporate law and taxation in Western Europe make it difficult for European firms to combine and co-operate effectively to meet competition…from, let us say, the great giants from the U.S.A. It ends by saying:Together, the Western European nations can organise themselves to compete with these giants.If the implication of that is not that, under the new arrangements, we are going to have a common system of corporate law and taxation, I do not know what it means. That is quite a wide field.
Then let us look at the objects of the Six in their original arrangements. They go very much further. During the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, intervened to ask about monetary union. Monetary union may be some way away, and the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, referred to the great difficulties there would be in achieving it. Although it may be some way away it is quite clear that people are already thinking about it. I was astonished to hear, in one of the earlier television programmes after the White Paper was published, a distinguished member of the last Administration (a man for whom I have a considerable regard) say that he did not see any difficulty in having a European currency without having a supranational body to control it. I should have thought this was quite impossible. If one has a currency there must be some Government call it what you will—in charge of it. We can fore-536 see possibilities of a situation where the question of revaluation might arise. Who is to decide that question? These and other matters, which are obviously on the horizon although some years away, seem to make clear that some kind of effective supranational authority will have to be established to deal with them.
I take the point made by opponents of going into Europe, that indeed the present organisation will need some kind of modification to make it more responsive to public opinion in the various countries. That is something that I feel the British with their considerable skill and experience in the art of government may well be able to contribute to the Economic Community. I am not at all afraid of this. I feel that we should not go into the Economic Community unless in fact we regard it as a first step to a much closer and wider union. I think it would be wrong to do so. If it is a first step, I do not think it does any harm to look a little further ahead to see the sort of institutions which will have to be set up to control a united Europe.
I wish to make only one other comment, on our relations with the Commonwealth. I believe that in his speech the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, rather threw out a challenge to the effect that he did not see why, because we increased our trade with Europe by going into the Community, we should necessarily be throwing away our trade with the Commonwealth. I have not heard that point taken up by subsequent speakers opposing entry. It does not seem to me that it follows that we need be regarded as turning our backs on the Commonwealth trade-wise. In fact, the question links up with an old-fashioned idea of colonial trade by which, on a bilateral basis, we bought raw materials from the Colonies and exported manufactured goods to them. All our Commonwealth partners are now grown up and engaged in international trade. It is not necessary for our trade to be precisely balanced by their trade with us. I am sure that they will find many people, apart from ourselves, to buy their raw materials, and they will buy their manufactured goods where they want to buy them, but one hopes, the very long established links with the Commonwealth—I am thinking particularly of the developing countries 537 of the Commonwealth—will be of assistance to our manufacturers and traders.
As to the political relationship with the Commonwealth, of course we have had no organic political relationship since the Statute of Westminster. I certainly do not understand why our links, leading as they do to consultation on all sorts of matters, should be damaged in any way. If what we were trying to do were damaging to the Commonwealth nations themselves, of course I could quite understand that we might find ourselves making bad friends, but I do not see that happening. I certainly hope that our relations with the Commonwealth will be able to continue on just as friendly and useful a basis as now. In this matter I was very much impressed as I am sure all noble Lords were, by the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Burgh, who suggested that this might develop into a most valuable interchange of ideas between Europe and Commonwealth countries, both developed and developing. If I felt that there was a risk that going into the Community would be really damaging to our relations with the Commonwealth, I should certainly want to think again, although in that unhappy event I think I would reach the same conclusion.
Finally, I wonder whether it would be impertinent for a quite unimportant Member on these Cross Benches to say a word to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, who unfortunately is not now present. I wanted to thank him for the very fine appeal he made at the end of his speech. As a non-Party man. I was immensely impressed by his courage and his statesmanship in making that appeal to those of his friends who are taking the same view as he has now, that if Parliament decides that the country should go into the Common Market he and his friends should throw all their energies and enthusiasm into making it a success. May I ask whether he or one of his colleagues could make the same appeal to the Trades Union Congress? It would be tragic if, when we get into the Common Market, we cannot make the best of our enormous opportunities there because of the opposition of organised labour.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ LORD BROUGHAM AND VAUX
My Lords, first, I should like to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Young, on her excellent maiden speech, and to say that I hope she will grace your Lordships' House more often. I should also like to apologise to your Lordships because I shall have to slip away immediately I have finished speaking, as my wife is not very well to-night.
In speaking in this very important and historic debate, although there is a much more historic debate to come in October, I must apologise to the House in case some of the things I say have already been said, although, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said, one should not apologise as this is an historic occasion. As the hour is getting on and there have been many speakers and still more to come, I shall be brief. I must state that I welcome the White Paper and the terms negotiated. I am in favour of entry into the Common Market. I am in whole agreement with what the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, said in the debate on our entry negotiations on January 19 of this year. The noble Lord said:If we have to stay out, or if we choose to do so, where do my friends think that the future investment of the large international, almost uncontrolled corporation will go? Will there he investment in Skelmersdale? In the North? In the North-West, or Wales? And what about trying to sell over a 22½ per cent. tariff barrier? Or will there be investment in Rheims or Lyons; or in Italy or Holland, within the tariff barrier? What do people think the effect on job opportunities for ordinary men and women here is going to be if we allow that to happen? We have to face particularly almost the certainty that job opportunity would desert us for the mainland of our Continent if we do not face up to this matter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19/1/71; col. 371.]This must be a fact, and so far as I can see no one has denied it. It must make for better job opportunities if we go in. On the other hand, if we stay out, there will surely be higher unemployment (if that is possible) due to lack of foreign investment. I am also convinced that the British worker has nothing to fear from the movement of labour as he is much more reliable and trained to a much higher standard than his counterpart in Europe. But on the other hand, I would utter a word of caution and say that he will have to get rid of the apathy which exists in some sections of our community, 539 or else face the consequences. Furthermore, the United Kingdom has more to offer the Community in the form of know-how and expertise than the Community has to offer us.
So far as the Commonwealth and our dependencies are concerned (and I have been to many of the Commonwealth countries) I feel that the terms that have been negotiated are very fair. I would compare the United Kingdom going into Europe, so far as our dependants are concerned, to a large family with children who have become of age and have become self-supporting and independent. They leave home and the parents have to look after their own future. The problem they have to face is whether to retire and grow weak, or to face up to the new situation and prosper in new surroundings.
I feel that this is what we are facing and I believe, as other noble Lords do, that the future of the United Kingdom is in the Community. It is time that we looked after our future, like other parts of the world and other parts of the Commonwealth. Canada and Australia have opened new markets in the Far East and elsewhere. As noble Lords will see from the White Paper, Australian exports to the United Kingdom have gone down to 12 per cent., compared with 25 per cent. ten years ago, and only 3 per cent. of these will be affected if we go into the Common Market. If Australia and Canada can find new markets, then it should not be too difficult for New Zealand and other countries to do so, too. A farmer from Australia was telling me last night that most of the meat and butter that comes from Australia over here is only second-grade stuff, anyway; so they are not too concerned.
In conclusion, my Lords, I believe that the message that should go from this House to the country should be that we would be more united and better off in the Community, and that it is time some people started thinking about the future of No. 1: in other words, of this country's future, and not a personal and Party one. Joining the Community should not be a political issue, but should be for the good of the country. Come October, I shall support and vote for entry into Europe because I say so, not because any Party or Party backer says so.
§ 9.21 p.m.
§ LORD DOUGLAS OF BARLOCH
My Lords, it is just a little over 21 years ago since I first had the privilege of addressing your Lordships. The topic of discussion then was the Schumann Plan for the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community. I welcomed that proposal for eliminating tariffs and other restrictions upon trade, for abolishing price discrimination and unfair trade practices, so far as they affected those fundamental substances of national production and national enterprise. I thought it was a wise and imaginative proposal. It is true, however, that there was objection to it then because it involved the establishment of a supranational authority; and that difficulty still runs through the debate to-day. I thought then that this machinery was unduly elaborate for tile purpose which was in view; that a great deal of the objective could have been achieved by simple agreement or treaty between the participating countries; and I urged that our Government, a Labour Government, should enter into negotiation about the Schumann Plan and endeavour to secure a simplification of the machinery. Unfortunately that opportunity was lost.
In 1957 the Six decided by the Treaty of Rome to establish the European Economic Community, and again we lost the opportunity to enter it when we would have been better able, if we so thought fit, to modify the institutions by which it is governed. Now, in 1971, those institutions have become strongly established, and the opportunity of modifying them, if they require to be modified, is much smaller. Nevertheless, I still think that tile object of abolishing tariffs, restrictions upon trade, unfair practices and things of that kind is something that ought to be done, and therefore that we ought to enter the European Community.
It is not going to solve every problem; nor is it possible for even the most clever economists and statisticians to quantify what the results of entering the European Economic Community will be. I do not know that it is necessary to do so. Two centuries after Adam Smith it ought to be self-evident that there are very great benefits to be obtained out of having a wide, free market, without any tariffs or other barriers between the parties who are members of it, and that this is something 541 which does not now require to be demonstrated. But of course what advantage will come out of it depends entirely upon the energy and initiative of individual producers and traders. They are the effective means by which economic policy is carried out, and if they do not take full advantage of the opportunity then we shall not gain so much. But I am confident that extending the Market as widely as it will be extended is bound to produce substantial benefits.
At one time in considering these matters I was rather concerned at the possibility that the European Economic Community would become an entirely self-centred and self-supporting body of people who would cut themselves off from world trade and, in addition to abolishing their own economic barriers, would not bother to try to reduce those between themselves and the rest of the world. I feel now considerably reassured about that when it appears that they are perfectly willing to admit other members of the European Free Trade Association and to give the benefits of freedom of trade between those countries and the countries of the Community. I also feel reassured upon this point by the apparent willingness to admit Commonwealth countries to Associate Membership. Those seem to me to be very large steps towards a greater freedom of trade and commerce throughout the world.
It is perhaps well in this connection to remind ourselves that the Treaty of Rome lays down expressly that the objective of the Community is not merely to establish economic freedom and benefits between the members, but also to endeavour to secure a reduction of obstacles to trade between them and other countries in the world. On those grounds, therefore, I think that entry into the European Economic Community can be a very substantial benefit to trade and production generally, not only for us but for many other countries as well even although they are not formally members of it.
It is true that we must pay a price for this, and a considerable part of that price consists in the contribution which must be made to the agricultural policy of the Six. However, let us remind ourselves that in this country both of the major Parties in the State (I do not remember how the Liberals stand upon 542 it) have for many years past committed themselves to supporting agriculture by subsidies in one way or another. The way in which it is going to be done if we enter the Community will be somewhat different, and I hope that eventually the time will come when the amount of support given to agriculture will be reduced, because this is quite an inefficient and uneconomic arrangement. It may have a justification as a transitional policy, but it is not sense that we should go on subsidising this particular branch of production any more than we should subsidise other branches of production.
If the members of the European Economic Community follow out to their logical conclusions the principles which have already been laid down for avoiding discrimination and interference with trade, they must themselves come to the conclusion that a more rational agricultural policy will have to be established. If there is to be greater freedom of trade between the Community and the rest of the world, then there will have to be lower tariffs on imports of agricultural products—which is a very desirable thing to achieve because in the world there are many countries in different states of development, and a large number of them are dependent upon agricultural production and ought to have the benefit of the European market. I hope indeed that they will have it, and, if so, that might be one of the great contributions which could be made to the prosperity of the developing countries.
There has been a considerable amount of discussion about the question of sovereignty. So far as I am concerned, I do not view this with any alarm. It is necessary, if one is going to have an institution of this kind, that there should be some means of carrying out its purposes. We must not forget that one of the purposes is, as I have said before, to equalise conditions of trade and, in effect, to promote the greatest amount of competition. One of the means by which the Community is endeavouring to do that is to simplify the law regarding commercial transactions. At present, the process of evolving a common commercial law for the whole of Europe is going on. A number of people in this country may feel some aversion to our subjecting ourselves also to the Common commercial law now being evolved, but in fact we are 543 being subjected to it already: we have to consider it in every export and other transaction that we make with countries within the Six. Our lawyers are at the present moment studying all these things and are devoting a great deal of attention to them. By and large, although the transition may be a little difficult, surely it is just as well that there should be a common system of law relating to such transactions. In so far as that is established by the institutions of the Six, one can say that a certain amount of sovereignty has been taken away from the British Parliament. That is a true proposition.
On the other hand, we have to remember that the Treaty of Rome contains a quite elaborate system of checks and balances by which these operations can be controlled. There is the Commission, which is the executive or formulating body, but there is also the Council of Ministers and, ultimately, there is the Court of Justice, which will decide if any particular measure exceeds the objectives which are contained in the Treaty of Rome. Decisions on certain questions—this is set out in the White Paper—have to be taken by certain specific majorities, on important questions by a substantial majority of the number of votes, and on questions affecting the vital interests of a country, by a unanimity of votes. So a country which feels that it is being seriously and adversely affected has a veto which it can exercise.
I do not consider that the sacrifice of sovereignty which is involved is of a large or vital nature. On the other hand, although these are opinions which I have formulated to myself, I was a little disturbed within the past 24 hours to receive some information on what I thought was the Commission becoming a"busy-body"in other people's affairs, under the pretence, apparently, of equalising the conditions of trade. I was told they had made a proposal with regard to the trade in beer that countries which did not observe the high standards of quality and the avoidance of the use of any artificial materials—which prevails in Germany—should be allowed to export their beer without any labelling to show that it was a different quality—I will not say an inferior quality, but a different quality. I do not think that any institution should 544 be used for a purpose of that kind which, instead of being in favour of greater freedom of trade, is countenancing a form of deception or concealment of the quality of the goods being sold. I hope that our Ministers will look into this question and give it serious consideration. We certainly do not want to be involved in anything of that kind.
Not only do I support entry into the E.E.C., but I regard it (and I was of this opinion when I spoke 21 years ago) as being a step towards a much larger unification of Europe that will help to prevent the dissensions and difficulties which on so many occasions in the past have plunged Europe into conflict. I consider that to be an objective which will be well worth a great deal of sacrifice, because the sacrifices which may otherwise be thrown upon us are quite incalculable. But I do not think that the institutions of the Six are suited to that purpose. It would require a totally different political set-up in order to achieve a real political unification of Europe—probably something of a federal nature, certainly not of the nature of that which controls the limited economic objectives which the Six have set out to pursue. So, my Lords, I welcome the success which has been achieved in the negotiations for our entry into Europe and I look forward in due course to our becoming a member.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
My Lords, I should first apologise to your Lordships' House that I have been unavoidably absent from the earlier stages of this debate. I hope to atone for this discourtesy by making what I hope to be the shortest speech of the 115 in the debate.
I want to talk about one subject only, and that is regionalism, and the problem of the development areas, particularly that part of England, the North-East, which I know myself. First, I think it is an accepted fact that the attraction of new industry is the key to the problem of the region. Secondly, I believe it is an undoubted fact that many new and successful industries which have moved into this region, and are successfully expanding and doing very well, are international firms. Thirdly, it is a regrettable fact that at this moment there are almost no new industrial inquiries in the pipeline. 545 I am sure that the Opposition would like to say that this is a direct result of Government policies; but of course, apart from being totally irrelevant from the subject to-night, it is not even true. This Government's policies at the moment are basically the same as those of the last Government, only a good deal bigger and better.
Fourthly, it is in my opinion certain that both British and international industry is waiting for a favourable decision in Parliament on this matter before investing in the region.
§ LORD SAINSBURY
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord, but can he explain the large increase in unemployed men, women and resources as an indication of a better condition of the economy under this Government than under the previous Government?
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
My Lords, I should be delighted to explain this but it would take longer of your Lordships' time than I think is justifiable; nor do I think it is the subject of this debate. I am trying to say that I believe it is a fact that the reason there are no industrial inquiries for the North-East at this moment, and the reason unemployment is rising is that industry generally is waiting for a favourable decision on entry into the Common Market. I am confirmed in this opinion by my own personal, if brief, impressions of a visit to Germany where there is a great deal of surplus capital—perhaps an embarrassment in that respect—and a tremendous shortage of labour which has existed certainly since the end of the war and possibly before. I do not think that new industry is likely to go to a region which is already supplied with labour, and where there is a shortage of labour I am certain that new industry will look for new locations. We are, I think, in respect of regionalism—and I speak on no other subject to-night—on the brink of a major revolution which will come once this country has made it clear that it intends to enter the E.E.C.
Fears have been expressed throughout this debate, and by somebody called Foot in another place yesterday, or the day before, that there is going to be a sort of magnetic force which will draw and drag prosperity from the regions towards 546 the centre. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, used the word,"centripetal "—and I am indebted to him for the right pronunciation, if it is right, because I am not quite sure. What one means is the opposite to"centrifugal ". I do not think this will happen. My greatest fear in this respect is that if we do not enter the Economic Community we in the North-East shall see and will suffer a recession more serious, more desperate and more damaging than anything that has happened in that part of the world before.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, before the noble Viscount completes his speech may I ask whether he considers that the shipbuilding industry of Tyneside supports him in this view?
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
My Lords. I am aware that the noble Lord believes that the General and Sir John Hunter do not support this view. I would love to argue with him Sir John Hunter's personal views, which are not shared, I think, by anybody else on Tyneside.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ LORD STRANGE
My Lords, I offer my congratulations. I am not holding out a beggar's bowl for the Isle of Man because we seem to be quite happy with the promise of associated membership. We believe that our House of Keys will be left as it has always been, with our own particular form of sovereignty to look after us as it has done in the past. It happens to be the oldest Parliament in the world, and we respect it.
I am talking in rather a peculiar way about this because I feel it as deeply as I feel anything—which is not very much. About three weeks ago I threw a party for a very beautiful lady who happens to be a Member of your Lordships' House, and I invited an old friend of mine who was a most distinguished Ambassador at the time we were trying to get into the Common Market. During dinner I made a few mild jokes to him about his views on the Common Market and he made a few very mild jokes to me about it. Afterwards my wife said,"Your face swelled up; it turned mulberry colour and you yelled across the table. His face turned white and he screamed at you in a high soprano ". Women always take a rather dim view of our conversations, and I do not think the 547 occasion was quite so bad as that, although we did exchange notes of apology the next day. I do not think I was at all irritated, but I did chaff him a little because he was a distinguished Ambassador at the time when we had been asked to go up the red carpet, the champagne being at the other end (as your Lordships know) and we did not go up. Then the European countries put up a fence, the grass started to grow on the other side of the fence and everybody wanted to nibble the grass of the Common Market. His job at that time, along with a number of other people, was to formulate a sales policy for going into the Common Market.
My Lords, unfortunately, or fortunately—and do not think this applies so much to myself—nearly everybody, including salesmen and certainly diplomats and politicians, are driven into making sales arguments to sell their products. They cannot help it; it is the only way to go about matters. Later, of course, they have to think of objections that may be raised by their customers. About forty-five years ago I knew a man who had started to manufacture a very new and expensive form of gas geyser to put up in the bathroom and it performed exceedingly well. His salesman had learned all the stuff—he was very good salesman, and against a rather resistant customer he put one of these geysers up in his bathroom and make it work. It turned on and turned off and hot water came out at the right time. He went downstairs for the customer to sign the agreement and write out his cheque. He was telling the customer about the wonderful after-service that was available and suddenly there was an enormous explosion and part of the roof of the house started to fall on to the lawn. The traveller had to say something quickly, and he said,"Well, you know the excellence of our product and how it has to be mass-produced to give the best results to the customers; you just cannot expect them all to be good "!
The point of a sales argument is that there must be counter-arguments. My friend the Ambassador had gradually learned most of the arguments that were prevalent in those days. A terrible thing had happened to him, something which may happen to anybody: that you learn 548 off your sales argument, you do not really believe it; then you learn off your counter-arguments and you live with them and gradually you come to believe them. You have the right answers and, finally, a terrible thing happens—you become"hooked ". This is deplorable, because when a man loses his autocracy, his free-will, and becomes completely automatic, he is like a rat that is shut up in a cage. He cannot get out. Now, however kindly to animals one is, if you try to release a rat from a cage you will find that it will bite you. It does not quite get your intentions.
This is rather a terrifying thing that has happened so frequently in the last twenty years: people, with great sincerity, make up what I call homemade ideals and they start to have sales arguments for them, and the awful thing is that they start to believe them themselves. Having believed them themselves, they get hooked, and become rats in a cage, and lose their free will. You must not try to get them out of the cage because they will bite you.
In my last few years—well, I do not know; I am on a weekly tenancy; this is personal but it comes into the argument—I am trying to make my life as happy as I can, and I have learned two things. The first, which is very simple, is that when people ask you for your advice you find out what they want to do and advise them to do it. That saves a lot of trouble. If you find that people have become rats locked in a cage, let them tell you what their home-made ideology is and how much good it is going to do everybody. Then you say"Marvellous! what a wonderful thing! This must be Christianity or Mohammedanism; this is marvellous." Do not argue, because they get very angry, and think there is something wrong with you.
I have a great deal of sympathy with people who become hooked. In my childhood I became hooked and nearly lost my free will on nursery rhymes. I remember them to this day as I learned them as a child:Mary, Mary, slightly airy.How do the fashions go? "—I am not sure that that is quite right—Vertical all in a rowI will try another one:Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,549All the Queen's horses andAll the Queen's men,Couldn't put the Commonwealth together again.That is a very sensible one I learned as a child.
I went away at Christmas time and stayed with my daughter and son-in-law. He is in NATO, and that explains how we went to Brussels. I saw the Common Market from the outside looking in. I would cut off my speech to say that I consider the best speech made in this House, which I read because I was not here on Monday, was that of the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley. Not only is she the daughter of a distinguished Ambassador, but she is more in touch with the top people in the Common Market than anyone else in your Lordships' House. She knows them all. She speaks their languages—they usually speak English, of course, but she speaks their languages if they want to. She spoke extremely well. Her speech read very well; I do not know how she spoke—she usually speaks well—but, it read well; and I was very impressed by it.
It interested me because when I was there, as a somewhat unusual person, I thought I would try to find out about the Common Market by looking into it as if I were one of the factory managers—or perhaps higher up than that, an executive: how he would think of it in his own mind. I looked at it in this way, through his mind. Once, your Lordships may remember, I spoke to you as a seal: I am still at large. I thought to myself that, if I were talking like him, I would say,"It is very satisfactory. Where people are in the Common Market, however lowly paid they are, we see to it that they have enough money to eat quite well and enough money to buy all our products. They can fill up their flats with everything we have got, vacuum cleaners, all quite cheap, and they can have two motor cars. We have been very clever with motor car production. It is very important. We have managed to get the associated Governments to make extremely good roads all over the country ", which is very good sales talk."It is good. You can motor anywhere in cars at great speed. Of course we take great care that the casualties are not published." I am being funny.
The only thing which they complain about is that we cannot get them enough 550 money to buy houses, because unfortunately a house is not really a factory product. There is no point in selling a house as a factory product. It is a"ticky tacky"affair which you put up, but you must not press the walls or you will go through. But it costs about £20,000, which is rather above the lower factory worker's range; but if they get in the top grades, especially in the bureaucracy, then they can build themselves a house. They have plenty of money. You see these lovely modern houses, bungalows, filled with everything the Common Market can sell, all over the place. The gardens did not happen to be in flower at the time I was there, but I have no doubt they come out with man-made flowers. I have tried to think of this from his point of view. I am sure that is how they do think of it. This is not the top people, but this is the people who influence them—those to whom they have to listen. They have to listen to those sort of tough arguments.
Now I come to agriculture. I think I know quite a lot about agriculture, I was over on the Continent before the War. The trouble with agriculture is parcellement, which is from the Code Napoleon, as we all know, which divides the thing up among the family. One child gets one field and another child gets another, and they sell it to somebody else; so the farming there is like a chessboard with a lot of squares. The chap has to walk up to half a mile sometimes to one field, and there are some over here and some over there. This makes the venture uneconomic, but the land is farmed extremely well. It is farmed with horses and hands, and the occupiers do not use artificial manure but proper manure and compost. Their crops are extremely good, and even quite a big field will look like a tidy vegetable garden.
Speaking as my top executive, this has been a problem to us because we cannot sell these people very much. They are badly off, and they cannot buy much from us. But we are going to cure all that. The British want to come in, and we are charging the British a great deal of money to come in and we can spend the money they give us in doing away with parcellement, which will be a great improvement. In my thinking it over, what are my sales arguments? First of 551 all, we want to make economic units. That does not mean that the farmers are to have the fields a little nearer their houses; it is making them large enough to have tractors and all the appliances for tractors, which rust up in their sheds in the winter so that they have to buy new ones every few years. This is very good policy. We can also sell them poison sprays and artificials, which they have never used before, and we can really get into this farming and make it another profitable money-earning venture for the Common Market. It is a tremendous step forward.
We have a very good sales argument about that. We say, perfectly truthfully, that these peasants die far too early in life, and that this comes from walking down the roads, driving their horses, and stooping to pick up; and we are trying to save their lives and help them in every way we possibly can. When they are young the peasants are so poor they cannot afford to feed their children properly because they have to sell their own products and they suffer from malnutrition in early youth and so they die early.
But I would say that Europeans have never liked peasants very much. When Frederick, who called himself the Great, was in winter quarters some time ago he had a mixed army of Germans and Russians. The Germans, who were very polite people, turned the peasants out of their houses before they set fire to them to keep themselves warm. But the Russians, who have a sense of humour, shut them into their houses before they set fire to them because they thought it was funny. That is the view that Europeans have about peasants. There is no question of putting in machinery to help them live longer. They do not care what happens to them. That has always been their view, but it is not exactly my view.
I was on the River Severn in March, and I saw a ship which was so long that I thought it would never come to an end. I was curious about this ship, so I looked in the local paper and there it was. It had landed at Port Talbot the largest cargo of iron ore ever landed in Britain. The natives behind there are still trying to dig up some iron ore out of the hills. 552 At Barry Docks, before we went off in this banana boat, I found they were unloading coal from Australia. Now this is close to the Rhondda Valley. Hitler could not have afforded the War unless he had stopped and taken Norway to get the iron ore from Narvik, because the Ruhr Valley is holes in the ground. The whole of Europe is going very short on raw materials. They are nearly exhausted.
So my imaginary tough-guy executive would think something like this. We have to get raw materials. If we get the British in, we can get the raw materials from their Commonwealth because the British are completely mad. George II fought against the French Canadians to get America. George III fought against the Colonists. Recently, they have shut up one of their great resources, Rhodesia, and they have sanctions against it. You cannot deal with the British. They are completely"crackers ". They fought against the South Africans and won, and then they gave the country back to them. But now they will not sell them anything at all if they can possibly avoid it. You cannot deal with people like that. The British have no sense. But by our scheme we can stop them importing New Zealand materials—
My Lords, I forbear to interrupt the noble Lord, Lord Strange, but I wonder whether he has in mind the advice which my noble friend Lord Carrington gave, and followed very well himself, at the start of this debate, that we should confine our remarks within a reasonable canvas. It is rather late and the noble Lord has amused us all, and has spoken with his usual wit which we have all enjoyed, and perhaps he can come to the concluding point of his remarks within a reasonable compass of time.
§ LORD STRANGE
My Lords, of course you have only to ask me and I shall be only too pleased to stop. I have not got to the point, but I shall finish my speech by saying. Good-night.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, it is unfortunate if the noble Lord is stopping short of his proper conclusion.
My Lords, may I hastily re-interrupt to say that the last thing I would wish to do is to stand 553 between the noble Lord and his proper conclusion.
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ LORD GISBOROUGH
My Lords, as about the one hundredth speaker, there can be very little more to say in support of this great enterprise. Suffice it to say that the sovereign States of Europe have torn themselves apart for hundreds of years, and it would be a great disservice to our children if we did not grasp now this magnificent opportunity for the unity of Europe. It would be terrible if they were to grow up so close to this enormous grouping of nations and unable to play any part in the way thos nations went and unable to bring any influence upon them.
There are two quesions I should like to ask, and I would be most grateful if there could be a reply to them. The first concerns the Health Service when we join. In this little booklet, The Housewife and The Common Market, it says:It is true that no other country has the same comprehensive service as that given by our own National Health Service.554 Does this mean that once we are in a great number of Europeans who are not covered by their own health services will be able to come over here to work for a fortnight, or whatever it may be, and then take advantage of our Health Service, and be a drain on it? I think it could be a great problem.
The second point is, I am afraid, rather mundane. It concerns potatoes. In the new agricultural support arrangements and in the White Paper, and indeed in Barclays Bank—Farming Policies, there is not even a mention of potatoes when we join the Common Market. They account for 23 per cent. of the crop output of our farmers, and they are enormously important, not only as part of our output but also as a break crop. The crop is not supported in the E.E.C., so far as I know. We shall be subject to a free market, which has always been like a yo-yo in England. Inevitably, one gets over-production and under-production; and I hope that some assurance can be given that, like the other crops, potatoes will in some way be covered.
§ 10.7 p.m.
THE EARL of BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, at this late stage on the third day of our long debate all I really want to do is to stand up and be counted. I think that many other noble Lords want to do that, too—and to be counted among the vast majority of your Lordships who have spoken in favour of entry. There is little more to be said. Having spoken on various occasions in this country and abroad in favour of our going in; having studied the White Paper; having listened to every word of that amazingly effective World Press Conference given by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister; having read his speech at Central Hall, most of the Factsheets and most of the speeches in both Houses, including that of my noble friend Lord Carrington and my other noble friends on the Front Bench here; and having, I may say, taken note of the speeches of noble Lords on the other side of the House who, as Ministers, were responsible for these matters in 1967, I must say that it seems to me now inconceivable that anyone could say that we are not part of Western Europe or that we should not go into the European Communities on the reasonable terms set out in the White Paper. There may be a few outstanding problems still to be settled—for example, in regard to regional policy, about which Lord Ridley spoke—and also in regard to fisheries. But these should not be divisive and they should not be decisive. Clearly, we must not miss the opportunity to join on account of them.
Notwithstanding the remarkable maiden speech by the noble Lord, Lord Blake, and the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, and the noble Lord, Lord Tangley, I sometimes think that outside your Lordships' House, if not within it, our European historical background has not been given sufficient emphasis. My noble friends Lord Eccles and Lord Harlech, and my noble friend Lady Emmet of Amberley, touched on this aspect of the problem, the historical background, with great felicity, as indeed did my noble friend Lord Hood. But where would this country be, my Lords, were it not for the civilising influence of the Romans, their roads and their palaces; for the sturdy contributions of the Angles—they were a German tribe, 556 and by no means Britons—of the Danes and the Jutes who were Teutonic? Where would we be without that whole complex of Anglo-Saxon breeds, followed by the more sophisticated influence in architecture and land tenure of the Normans and those great Plantagenet Kings? They certainly improved our English blood and manners.
It is significant that within two centuries of the Conquest the distinction between Normans and English became obsolete. How many Members of your Lordships' House and of other families in England are decended from the Normans? I believe that I am; and I believe that even the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, from the first part of his name might also come from foreign stock. Would we have created our great British Empire without the descendants of our Continental European ancestors? Now that the old British Empire has become a free association of sovereign nations who have grown up, and who are growing up, and are certainly entitled to go their own way, has not Britain the greatest of the European countries, the right to return unto her own.
Where would Europe be without us? Is it not true that English kings ruled Aquitane longer than any French kings did, as the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud pointed out? And what would be the situation in Western Europe had we not supported France in 1914–18 and, more recently, had we not stood alone in 1940? I recognise that Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well as South Africa were with us in those days, and no one forgets their sacrifices before America came in. But in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, we are not letting them down. Our Commonwealth will benefit in the long term and in the not-so-very-long term from our entry into the European Community.
Only by joining can Britain regain her strength and not tend to become a somewhat ineffective off-shore island. I have heard it said by some that that should be our role, the role of a much-respected country such as Sweden or Switzerland. The noble Lord, Lord Robbins, made this point. I have often heard women, who hate war, say this. But it is not my view. Our heritage and our destiny cannot be 557 to follow the neutral line, however commercially rewarding it might be. We in Britain are part of Europe and we can help lead a united Europe to resolve the great problems which lie ahead. We must therefore join with our Continental cousins to help resolve those problems. They are cousins with whom we have had such close links in the past and to whom we are culturally so much indebted, as they are to us. Those of European stock in North America are broadly united, whatever difficulties there may recently have been between French-and English-speaking Canada. Let Europeans in Western Europe be united, too!
When some months ago I moved a Motion on European technological and industrial co-operation, I advocated more of it. If we now join the Community, this co-operation should in my view be easier to achieve. My noble friend Lord Thorneycroft spoke of sharing research and development expenditure, and there was a great deal of good sense in what lie said. There can be no question but that British industry, and in the long run our whole economy, will gain. I believe it is certain they will gain in the fields of commercial vehicles—Lord Stokes knows that—in chemicals, electronic equipment, paper and board, to mention only a few; and now, from a remarkably able maiden speech by the noble Lord, Lord Robens, it seems that our coal industry will benefit, too. I know that we shall be facing strong competition, but we must be gainers in a greatly enlarged home-based market. For us the size of the market is increased by 400 per cent.; for the Six it is increased by 25 per cent. Let us hope that what we gain in quantity, they will gain in quality.
I have not come lightly to the view that our destiny lies with Europe—that the destiny of our Commonwealth, too, can best be served by our entry. Like others, I have had my doubts in the past—doubts because I felt that after two French rebuffs we would only be admitted to the club on terms which might well be unacceptable. But my doubts are now proven unfounded, for the terms in the White Paper are fair terms. They are fair terms for the initial entry period, and we must not forget that if we join our voice will help to fashion all future 558 arrangements. I do not suggest for a moment that we will sink if we keep out, but I do suggest that we shall be very inward-looking and parochial (I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, in this) if we miss the chance to weld ourselves into a Europe that, united, can be only for the good of the world as a whole. In the words of Field Marshal Smuts:the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.Before coming to the conclusions, I have tried to view our entry from all levels within our community. I have tried to see it through the eyes of our farmers (and I am one), our workers (and again I am one), our management staff (I am one of them also), our housewives (and my wife is one), and as an old-age pensioner on a fixed income (which I may well become). I have no doubts. I have no fears either, like the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, who made a typical brilliant speech, on the question of sovereignty. In the Community we shall all remain individual sovereign nations with different characteristics. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has made this clear on more than one occasion. No one can pretend that the Commonwealth itself is made up of just one nation either, but great strength lies in a unified group.
How fascinating it was to read that article by Monsieur Massigli in The Times over a week ago about the differences between the French and the English. Was it all the fault of Descartes or was it the fault of Locke? These are weighty matters to which I have given much thought over the years, having a French mother and having served for many years in our Embassy in Paris. There are without doubt great differences in our culture and in our ways of thought and living; and the promotion of good Anglo-French relations has for generations been a crusade which never seemed to end. But now there is a real opportunity of bringing our disputes and differences to a stop. They must stop, and I believe that our present Ambassador in Paris is making a great contribution to that end. With close Canadian connections and also an American wife I have not in the past, like the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, been unsympathetic to the idea of an Atlantic free trade area, but as the 559 White Paper says this simply is not on. Neither Canada nor the United States wants it. There is no choice.
I have no doubts at all that if our future is to be as dynamic as our past we have no choice, for we are Europe and Europe is us. The young believe this. I think my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and Mr. Geoffrey Rippon should be congratulated very warmly on the terms which have been negotiated. But I would say this in conclusion. However much we have to pay it could not be more than we would lose if there were to be another world war starting in Europe.
§ 10.17 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, one recalls the story of the Shaw first night when"G.B.S."took a curtain call to vociferous applause and from the gallery there was a solitary"Boo! ", to which Shaw replied,"I entirely agree with you, but what am I against so many?" Speeches in your Lordships' House have been so everwhelmingly in favour of entry into the Common Market that one hesitates to say,"Boo! ". I think I have heard most of the speeches, and I have been impressed, as anyone must have been, by the consistently high quality and, as usual, by the personal authority, insights and information which noble Lords provided. Many have retracted from previously held opposition, and their frankness does them credit. There is no doubt about the mood of this House. It is almost churlish at this late stage to question the motivations of those who have spoken.
I am not questioning anyone's sincerity nor integrity, but I am sure that a latter-day student, on close examination of the arguments deployed in this debate in your Lordships' House, and indeed in the wider debate outside, including the page advertisements, and so on, will find the alignments extremely illuminating—rather like reassessing the special pleadings and the personalities at the time of the Act of Union between Scotland and England. Yet some of us are entitled to our doubts, and indeed our profound misgivings. I share the misgivings expressed from these Benches by my noble friends Lord Beswick, Lord Brockway, Lord Blyton 560 and Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, about the consequences of going in. My noble friend Lord Longford asked his noble friends on this side of the House to search their souls on internationalism and on world government, which had been our Socialist objectives. I can asure him that I have done a great deal of soul-searching. I am sure that none of my noble friends, or any noble Lord who has heard my speeches in the House over the last five years, can doubt my dedication to internationalism and to the ultimate objective of world government. They may even concede that my reservations about the Common Market may derive, as I assure the House they do, from this sense of dedication. I would certainly resist and resent the idea that criticism or even rejection of the proposals now before us would be a betrayal of our principles. And I am not talking about expediency but about real principles. It is not a rejection of our principles, because everything we are doing and discussing now must be related to what my noble friends and I stand for.
My Lords, in 1941 we had in this country another great debate. Probably it is almost forgotten. It was in fact called,"The Great Debate ". It was a debate on the rights of man, and H. G. Wells was the chairman. It resonated round the world and was being vigorously discussed in Europe until, at the end of the"phoney"war, Hitler overran four of the present Six. Most of the rights spelled out in that consensus of the British people in a state of war, remember, have been embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What I think is relevant to our present discussion are the arguments used by H. G. Wells in initiating that debate. He pointed out that with the development of science and technology there was bound to be a gravitation of power towards the centre. He used, I remember, the illustration of the electricity grid. But he pointed out the ideological analogy. Hitler and Nazi Fascism were an evil attempt to grasp and concentrate the political power at the centre; but that aside and the war aside, power and the manipulation of the modern means of power, the actual power, technological power, would gravitate towards monolithic communism and monolithic capitalism.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I think that perhaps the noble Lord was not around then, but I will give him full information later. Obviously this debate has been forgotten. I think, if I am not wrong, that in the course of his activities the noble Lord may actually have handled the material of that debate, which was supplied and embodied in the United Nations Declaration.
The point I am making is not whether there was a debate, or whether the rights of man was involved; but that Wells was talking about what I believe to be demonstrably true in present circumstances: that this movement towards monolithic Communism and monolithic Capitalism was almost inescapable, and in terms of the technocracies which administer these technologies there would be very little except adjectives to distinguish them. The real power would lie in the hands of a few men, and the politicians would be only their front-men. Wells's contention was that historically, whenever people became aware of this concentration there had been a reassertion of human rights. I agreed then and I agree now with Wells, and therefore I look with the profoundest suspicion on any restructuring which would make ordinary people the hostages of any system which they could not influence or control. It think that this is inherent in everything that we are discussing now, and I want before I finish to demonstrate that it is moving out of our control.
At another stage I was involved with David Mitrany and others in"functional internationalism ". The idea was that national frontiers and the entrenched hostilities behind them could be transcended by making countries interdependent through the resources of modern technology. I remember the scheme for the Danube Valley in which the countries of Central Europe and the Balkans would be laced together by mutual dependence on power-generation and collateral industries. It was rather like the hopeful plans for the Lower Mekong delta in Indonesia, which if they had been promoted and pressed effectively might have prevented the horrors of the Vietnam war. That functional internationalism 562 had in it the elements of the Coal and Steel Community. Therefore, in my thinking I have not been hostile to that kind of getting together. My question has been throughout, and is now,"For what? ".
I have never been a Little Englander nor a Little Scotlander. I have recognised that we are Europeans, and to think otherwise would be as unrealistic as towing these islands across the Atlantic to become the 51st State of the United States and the 51st star on the Star-Spangled Banner. What I am getting at is that when we are examining where we stand as of this moment—and we have all been doing it—we go through our own personal historical past and records, and we must come to the question not just of where did we stand, because as has been repeated, and I accept it, circumstances change.
But I still believe that after the Second World War we missed a great opportunity. When Europe was physically and morally ravaged, I argued passionately that Britain should use her unquestionable moral authority to convert the resistance and resurgent movements into constructive forces for consolidating a European system. There was nothing insidious or politically sinister in that suggestion, and nor was I suggesting a take-over bid by Britain. Our greatest asset at that time was"The Voice of London"from the B.B.C., which had been throughout the war the beacon light to which the whole of Europe had loked for guidance. Instead of it being the mentor of the new Europe, we dismantled the European services, we dimmed the light and left our friends to flounder. As T. E. Lawrence wrote in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom:And when the young men had suffered and given of their manhood and had won the victory, the old men came out again and took from us our victory and shaped again the world that they themselves had known.So it was after the Second World War. We could have been at the top of the staircase welcoming the peoples of Europe to a new concept. Instead, we are going in through the tradesmen's entrance, and after snubs at the front door.
My Lords, during the past twenty-six years my abiding concern has been with the developing world, the underprivileged 563 nations, not just of the British Commonwealth. But here I would say that, having been a lifelong anti-Imperialist and anti-Colonialist, I never have, and do not now, regard myself as a pallbearer of the British Empire, but rather as a trustee for the heirs of that Empire, and we shall disinherit those heirs to our eternal disgrace.
In the Commonwealth, with a free association, we had every opportunity, with them, and in concert with them, to have been the kind of thing which the world to-day, not just in Commonwealth terms, is looking for. It is about the consequences to the Third World in general—not just the sugar growers of the Caribbean—that I am most concerned. I have listened to the reassurances, or attempted reassurances, in this House. The Common Market can perhaps be justified in terms of enlightened self-interest. Please, do not let us carry those justifications of self-interest into transparent hypocrisy. The selfish interests—and I am not being censorious about them—have been gloriously deployed by the industrialists, the financiers and the economists in your Lordships' debate; but those interests can be secured only at the expense of the developing countries.
The Common Market is designed as big business—I repeat that, big business—always is: to buy cheap and sell dear. We are told that, out of the abounding prosperity, out of the surplus wealth we shall create through the Common Market, we shall have the money to increase aid to developing countries. My Lords, this is the John D. Rockefeller complex; you use every device to squeeze workers and customers, crush competitors and acquire wealth, and then set up a foundation and say:"Send in your application in triplicate and we will tell you what you can have when we decide to give it to you."
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, if I may intervene, does the noble Lord really think that if we stay out of the Community we shall have more money to devote to aid for underdeveloped countries than if we go into it?
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I am sorry but I must ask the noble Lord 564 to let me deploy my argument. I am saying that if we simply treat this whole matter of accumulating money which you are then going to dispense as charity—
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
It is not, my Lords. I have never regarded technical assistance and technical aid merely as a deployment of money.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
Of course it is not money, my Lords. It is people—you and I, and everybody who goes out and does positive things. It has nothing to do with money except as a bookkeeping transaction.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
I am sorry, my Lords, but it is not. The developing countries do not want charity—that is the point I am coming to. The word"aid"has been degraded into charity, so that a blind man's thanks is muttered as a curse. Developing countries want a chance to earn, by fair trading, the means to advance their own industrial prosperity. Nothing I have heard in this debate, even the honeyed words, has convinced me that the Third World will not be disadvantaged and retarded by the Common Market. If the noble Lord wants to go in for bookkeeping, I will follow him. But this is not a question of book-keeping; it is a question of attention; of how we are going to treat the real problems of the world.
That brings me to the real nature of the Market—the real nature which disturbs me. On June 16 we had a debate on international companies and their relations with States. To me the Common Market is a product of the multi-national corporations which we see growing up around us. This is not a question of individual corporations; it is part of the nature of the system which is now developing within the world which we are calling the multi-national corporation. I do not want to pursue that point because it was elaborated at great length in the debate on June 16. But this is 565 going to mean in European terms the take-over bid, not only of industry, but indeed of Governments.
§ 10.34 p.m.
§ LORD REAY
My Lords, I fear that by now this colossal debate, this oratorical banquet, which history through your Lordships is treating us to, will have produced in your Lordships a sense of surfeit and that by now even the soundest or the most popular argument can hardly be expected to be received with more than a weary tolerance. This debate has I think been remarkable for its extraordinarily high general quality; and remarkable I think also for the fact that the speakers in this debate, like those in the debate in another place, have by and large confined themselves to the issues and have ignored the attractive possibilities that this subject offers to comment on other people's behaviour.
I think the debate has profited from this somewhat unpolitical self-discipline because the issue is thereby given emphasis as being an issue out of the ordinary. For this is not a question of policy like any other: it is a question of national direction which is unlike any decision since 1939. In 1939, it was a question of whether we waited and risked subjection by a Continental power which was growing to a far greater position of strength than ourselves. To-day, it is a question of whether we wait and risk the consequences of being ignored by a Continental Power which is likewise growing to a position of far greater strength than ourselves.
If I were to select a single characteristic to describe the situation of Britain since the last war, it would be that she has been static. Our most notable achievement in foreign affairs, perhaps, has been to allow our former colonies to take their independence; but that was in one sense a negative achievement, and certainly a passive one. Moreover, there is no doubt that the form the Commonwealth took, and the way we behaved towards it, indicated a desire on our part to deny that those events had taken place. Our wish to continue to claim a moral responsibility towards the Commonwealth, whatever else it has done, has also meant that our role in the Commonwealth has been continuously defensive. Our role as an 566 international peace-keeper has been abandoned no less reluctantly. In the range of our commitments we have been continually on the retreat, never ahead of events but always withdrawing long after it has become plain that we should finally have to. When we have taken, often amid much national excitement, initiatives of our own, it has always been within the framework of these dying patterns.
If I were to single out one recurrent event for its negative aspects, it would be the Summit Meeting. Those journeys to Moscow, Washington or elsewhere, undertaken by every Prime Minister in this country since the war, including the last Prime Minister, may not have been useless. They may, even, in some cases, have been necessary. But each visit carried a heavy British investment of nostalgia for the past. Their importance was inflated by us, and they were without consequences for ourselves commensurate with the diffuse emotional expectations that surrounded them. They were bound to disappoint us even before they were undertaken.
Domestically, our situation since the war has also been static. To speak only economically, the pattern of low investment, low rate of productivity, low growth and recurrent deflation to protect a threatened balance of payments, as well as the blow to our confidence each time a balance of payments crisis arose again—these have continually disappointed and frustrated us. It may be correct for modern philosophers to argue that we over-valued economic growth as a goal; but there is no doubt that our failure to achieve it has been profoundly dissatisfying for the people of this country as a whole. I believe that the value for us in entering the Common Market is that for the first time since the war the present will become more important to us than the past. Because we have never abandoned the possibility of a non-European future for ourselves, we have never applied ourselves wholeheartedly to the task of keeping up with and competing with our national rivals in Europe. If we enter Europe we shall, of course, be partners with France, Germany and the rest, but we shall also be rivals both politically and economically. I believe that it is that competitive situation which we have so long avoided, and which 567 Europe will supply, which gives us ground to believe that problems, such as our apparent inability to identify with our economic performance, will solve themselves and that it is this prospect which entitles us to expect that we may develop a higher rate of economic growth.
I should like to say this about some of the arguments currently most in favour with those opposed to our entry into Europe. Against such a back ground as I have described, it seems frivolous to argue that the terms secured for New Zealand and the sugar-producing countries, while acceptable to the countries concerned, are not acceptable to us. The argument that our economy is now too weak to permit us to enter, seems to me more an attempt to stimulate opposition to the decision taken to enter the Common Market by stimulating opposition to the Government. It is a curiosity that an argument which is based on the stagnation of our economy, and which has long been used by those in all Parties in favour of entry, should now be making its appearance in the service of those arguing in the other directions. As for an argument based on the terms, it must be up to the country to decide whether there is any inconsistency in those who made earlier applications for us to enter the Common Market arguing now that those terms are unacceptable.
So far as the demand for a referendum is concerned, I see no consistency at all in those opposed to entry on principle, who wish to preserve inviolate all our formal traditions, apparently being ready to make, for the sake of securing their objectives, a derogation of Parliamentary responsibility which we have never made in our history. Though many of the arguments may be weak, sentiments are strong, and we cannot expect to enter Europe without a substantial minority, at least, being opposed to the decision. The substantial majority against the decision in the trade union movement is another instance of the fact, proved already in our economic affairs, that we have failed to integrate the Labour movement into our national purposes.
None of us can quantify the economic consequences of entering Europe, and, perhaps more important in the short to medium term, we cannot be certain of 568 the timing of the consequences. Even if an optimistic economic assessment of the consequences of entry is proved in time to have been correct, it is still possible that before that time is proved there may be a period in which the balance of payments runs into a substantial deficit. However, if such a situation arises, even in quite a severe form, it will be essentially quite a different situation, quite a different balance of payments problem, to those we have suffered from in the past.
In the past there has been a sense of despair, both in ourselves and in our creditors, at the moment we have arrived again at a point of deficit. To our creditors, such an event, each time it recurred, has offered again proof that the structural inadequacies of our industry and our economic approach have not been repaired. There has been a revival of scepticism that we lacked the will to compete and adapt in the modern world. And the suspicions of our creditors have been a cause to doubt ourselves.
But if such a phenomenon recurs as an initial consequence of the adaptations we are making as members of the E.E.C., the situation then would be altogether different. For a balance of payments deficit is in essence simply an overdraft, and there is nothing worrying about an overdraft except the doubts of the banker or the debtor in a future capacity to repay it. In such a situation, because it will be a fact of the situation that our industry is adapting to the modern world, and because it will be a fact of the situation that the calculated advantages of entry will not have begun to accrue, such a deficit will carry none of the connotations that it has in the past. In such a situation, provided there are no insupportable differences in price levels owing to a difference in rate of inflation between ourselves and our competitive partners, the correct policy must be to ignore the deficit.
I believe the Government should acknowledge these possibilities. They may also, if such a situation arises, need to borrow. But their present borrowing policy is not a very good preparation for such an eventuality. At the moment the Government do not miss an opportunity to demonstrate that where the previous Government borrowed the present Government repay. It is true of course 569 that a proved willingness to repay can be argued to be the best guarantee of future loans: but for the situation we are discussing, in the alleviation of which our European partners would have as much interest as ourselves, such guarantees are unnecessary. The Government, in their present policy, are stimulating a belief in a somewhat naïve symbol of security, in a manner which may well cause them to hesitate before changing the policy when the time comes when they should change it.
My Lords, I have concluded. I believe that this stands out as a decision of importance beyond anything in my lifetime. I believe it is a decision between the sentiment of tradition on the one hand, and the instructions of reason and experience on the other. I believe that we shall take the decision to go in, because our greatest tradition has always been that ultimately we have taken the decision which reason has shown us to be in our own best interests.
§ 10.46 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, we have listened to three days of remarkable debate. Unfortunately, I was unable to be here on the first day, but I have heard the speeches of yesterday and to-day and I think they have been among the finest that I have heard in your Lordships' House on any subject. I should like particularly to remark on the speeches made by three of my noble friends. The winding-up speech made by my noble friend Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie last night was something that I think none of us will ever forget. It was brilliantly done, and altogether remarkable. Then I thought that the speech made by the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, this afternoon was most moving and interesting: she made a great contribution. The third was the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, which we all enjoyed. She, too, made a great contribution to this debate. We have had some really remarkable speeches, and I hope that to-day our Front Bench will feel that from both sides of the House they have the encouragement which they require in order to take this great step forward into a new conception of our role in Europe.
My first point is simply that we in Scotland have always felt a very close 570 affiliation to Europe. For one hundred years or more we were in fact allied to France. Our students went to universities on the Continent—to Paris, Prague, Bologna. Our ill-fated and romantic Mary Queen of Scots was married to the Dauphin of France for a year. We have always honoured the"Auld Alliance "; and even to-day people know and appreciate and understand about our affinity and our close association with France. We can see it in the architecture. Many of the beautiful ancient buildings in Scotland are very French in design. Also many of the words that we use to-day in current conversation are derived from the French. Ordinary people talk about a"gigot"of lamb; ordinary people talk about an"ashet ", meaning "assiette"; and I could give many more words of that kind that are in our language to-day. So I do not think it is difficult for those of us who live in Scotland to feel a close affinity to Europe and to urge the Government to pursue the line they are taking in the White Paper. I am not speaking of the Scottish Nationalists—I am anything but that. But I do live and work in Scotland, and I have a great many of my interests there. Therefore it is from that point of view that I look at the White Paper.
From both sides of the House we have had the economic arguments put most brilliantly, and I would not for a moment repeat them. For me it is a simple thing to see that there are within half an hour's flying time of the United Kingdom some 250 million people all of whom have a standard of living that is higher than—or anyway quite as high as—our own, and all of whom could, if we succeed in our attempt, buy the products that we produce in this country. I live in an area where the woollen textile industry is of great importance, but at the present moment there is a considerable slump in the sales of this particular commodity. I am perfectly certain that if we do get into the Common Market the production from this particular area will have a ready sale in Europe, as the quality and excellence of the product are, I think, better than anything produced on the Continent at the present time.
Again, we have in Scotland a large agricultural industry, and I find in the White Paper very encouraging plans for helping certain areas, such as the hill 571 farming areas. As a farmer, however, I do not fear at all competition from Europe, since our industry is an extremely efficient one; it is modern in outlook, and even to-day we export. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, in his intervention, said he was exporting beef to France. We export mutton and lamb, and it is only when the French shut down and, for some reason or other, will not take any more that suddenly these products are thrown back on our market and we have to look for other markets in order to sell our products. So I feel that our great need, which has been stressed throughout the debate, is for more buyers of our products. We can produce most efficiently; we can sell efficiently. What we need is markets for our goods. I am quite sure that in the Common Market we shall find buyers for many of our products, whether they are industrial or agricultural. I did not hear the noble Lord, Lord Robens of Woldingham, speak yesterday, but I read his speech, and nothing could be more encouraging for Scotland, where we still have a large mining and heavy industry, than the facts he gave in his speech showing what a very big increase in exports could be gained for our heavy industries, particularly coal, if we went into the Common Market.
I was tremendously impressed by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, who knows Scotland well and is a great ambassador for us. He recommended us to join the Common Market. I agree with him about the foreign countries which have established factories in Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom. This sort of thing has been of very great assistance, and I am sure it will be encouraged when we become part of the Common Market. My Lords, all these arguments are very powerful, but the most compelling of all, for those of us who have lived through two world wars, and experienced the terrible bereavements and tragic consequences which follow war, is that we can see that the unity of European countries, France and Germany, in particular, is the greatest hope for peace in Europe and the rest of the world. If for no other reason, I would support wholeheartedly the White Paper and our entry into Europe to-day.
§ 10.53 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, this has been a very long debate in a summer of long debates, and about an hour or so ago I found that the length of it, excellent though it has been, productive of a kind of nightmare to me, in my capacity as an Assistant Whip, or, as the noble Earl, Lord Longford, was bandying about Latin, as a kind of Servus Servorum Dei. This nightmare was that I was in the Lobbies when a Peer, unidentified but fairly elderly and of my Party, came up to me and wanted to know whether the dumping of surplus peaches could be considered a restrictive practice, and whether persons of Burgundian descent counted as patrials or non-patrials; and could he, in any case, please go home. I think this hallucination must have been reinforced by the knowledge that it was the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, who is going to wind up for the Opposition Party. In any case, this experience could not have been more surreal than something which really happened to-day, which was that the National Executive of the Labour Party seems to have adopted for its motto the great words of not the present Lord Redesdale but a former Lord Redesdale:Abroad is bloody, and foreigners are fiends.I should like to add my congratulations on the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Young. She told us, if you remember, of the old lady who came up to her and said,"Will we have to speak French, dear?" I would only say to the noble Baroness, if she reads this, that that seems to be the worry also of M. Pompidou, only that he will have to speak English.
My only reason for intervening so late, and with so much so well said, is that I feel, in common with my noble friend Lord Bethel', and the noble Lords, Lord Reay and Lord Burgh—whose maiden speech I enjoyed—not only that it is time to stand up and be counted, but that my particular generation has a peculiar position vis-à-vis the Common Market, and this perhaps should be mentioned. It is roughly that we are liable, in midcareer—when our careers, for better or for worse, are at their most active—to benefit most from this move into Europe. 573 We shall not take it for granted like the next generation, and we will perhaps not have the doubts of the former generation.
As a university lecturer I want to identify very much with the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. Certainly in my university there has not been the whiff of a"demo"or a sit-in about this issue. If I may be personal for a moment, any incoherence in my delivery tonight is occasioned by euphoria, because I have just learned that two of my pupils have got Firsts. That is the nicest thing that can happen to any don. Of course students are not the only preoccupation of dons, and I want to say a word or two about research. I do not mean my own kind of academic research, but the crucially important subject to this country of research and development in industry.
I have produced some figures about this, but this does not seem to be the time for figures. Sufficient to say that, in the last decade, the United States had four times as many scientists as the E.E.C. countries, and spent seven times as much on research; and I think that the figures would be roughly comparable with Japan. My noble friends Lord Thorneycroft and Lord McFadzean have emphasised the crucial and critical need of more research in industry, and more research in science and technology. For my own part, as somebody who, though he works in the Humanities is in contact with colleagues in the sciences, I cannot see how England can maintain an expensive research budget alone.
Entry into the European Market will, in addition, go a long way to redress the brain drain. Your Lordships will remember the old saw:The squirrels that don't stock up on nuts are dead by spring ".That applies in research, and it applies also in investment. The two, to me, seem to be more or less co-terminous. We know that the Japanese investment/output ratio was something like 29 per cent. investment to 10 per cent. output, and that the British equivalent figures were something like 16½ per cent. to 3 per cent. I feel that many noble Lords have echoed me in saying that this is liable to be im- 574 proved on our entry into the Common Market.
My own special field of study is in American history and literature, and my first higher education jobs were in America, so I want very briefly to say one or two words about America in the context of our entry into the Common Market. For a start, I think we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to America, not only for her tolerance of our entry into the Market but indeed for her encouragement of it as an act of policy, because America knows full well that to some extent this is against her interests. I was very impressed by the speech by Mr. Duncan Sandys last Monday which I read, and was glad that it was echoed by my noble friend Lord Carrington and, from the other Benches, by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, saying that European safety depends as much as ever on the continued cohesion of the Western World whose defence is indivisible, and that in no sense are we going into Europe in order to try to separate from America in this context.
However, noble Lords will perhaps know, if that is not hubristic of me, that I have been critical of American foreign policy, like almost all academics of my generation who have been there, and they may find it inconsistent of me to be, as it were, a hawk in Europe and a dove in South-East Asia. I can only say that, whatever one thinks about the means by which the Pentagon Papers, so-called, got into public hands, I was very much reassured by the evidence shown of the wonderful part played by my noble friend Lord Harlech, as Sir David Ormsby-Gore, by proxy of the then Government, in trying to dissuade the United States from the sort of disastrous escalation which has jeopardised our interests and hers in Europe. If further evidence is needed, I think it was President Nixon himself who said recently that Vietnam has almost totally obscured our vision of the world. My own views on defence in Europe could not be better expressed than in the words of Franz Josef Strauss, who said that Europe is obliged to unite if it is to keep sufficient American protection which it still needs.
Another capacity in which I speak—if your Lordships will forgive my relating things to my experience rather than to 575 any expertise—is a sadder one, as an Anglo-Irishman at this time. I enjoyed very much and admired the speech of the noble Lord. Lord Shackleton, but when he talked about Britain being a temperate political zone I think he was temporarily overlooking events in my country. I cannot say—I should like to be optimistic—that entry into the Common Market, as some have said, will solve the troubles of Ireland, but I think it can only improve them. Certainly, the Flemish-Walloon tension is an area of experience from which we can learn, and the ethnic problems of the Alto Adige, the Austrian Southern Tyrol and Northern Italy, have shown a slight amelioration in recent years. We must hope that entry into the Common Markel, which is so greatly in the interests of both Northern and Southern Ireland, will do something to help this most crucial of all our present problems.
On a happier note, it is nice at the present time and at the end of this debate to be a Conservative. One can thoroughly enjoy seeing a long-planned, hard fought for policy approaching fruition. Industrial reform, we know, was attempted by the other side, and so was entry into the Market, and I do not think noble Lords opposite will think it in any way gloating of me to say that I am of course pleased that it is my Party that seems to be bringing both to fruition. However, noble Lords everywhere might take with a very large pinch of salt any praise that I should make about the present Government. But I think it is worth saying that this must be a triumph for the Prime Minister. Ever since I really was able to observe the Prime Minister in action, when I was an undergraduate at his old college of Balliol, I have noted this persistent will towards Europe. When I was a youngish don at Harvard he delivered the Godkin lectures there, and talked about it. I think it is deeply impressive to see this kind of persistency of application, which has been somewhat wanting in our policies, recently. I should also like to pay tribute, if he will take it from me, to my noble friend Lord Harlech. I do not think any man outside Government has done so much in the last five or six years to promote the cause of Europe up 576 and down the country and in industry, and certainly my own thinking on Europe has been enormously coloured by his.
While we are briefly on Party points, I feel that a point put by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, in, to me, an otherwise, as always, excellent speech, should be answered. He regretted that the Industrial Relations Bill should have been pushed forward at the present time, when all our energies were required for, as it were,"selling"Europe. It seems to me that industrial relations have two critical phases, and the most important is still to come. The most important, in my view, is that the greatest division in life, perhaps the greatest class division left, is between people with boring jobs and people with interesting ones. But I do not see how the problems of partaking pleasure in your work, of finding your work situations pleasurable, can be solved unless there are clear ground rules for all as to in what circumstances you undertake your work in the first place. I do not think the noble Lord should, with all his brilliance, get away with that one.
What I thought was a decisive and clinching argument was, of course, that of the noble Lord, Lord Stokes. We know of the importance to this country of the motor car industry; we are very conscious of the excellence of our motor cars and how well and how much better they will be able to compete once we are in the Market. Of course, to people like myself and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who is following me, this is a rather vexed question: on the one hand, the importance of the motor car industry and what it has generated for us; on the other hand, the enormous social, civic, civilised costs of that machine. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, this question. Can he and others in his industry who have put so much managerial, scientific and engineering talent into producing these machines come up with something about their control and use? It would seem to me that before government, whether local or national, is forced into a kind of severe and restrictive action about the motor car, the motor industry itself is the place to look for ideas. It is, after all, enormously in their long-term interests. A piece of good news hot off the Press from Italy, a country which does not take its motor cars lightly, is that Rome is at 577 last doing something about its traffic problem. When we are in the E.E.C., we must remember that every country there—this is perhaps a point for the anti-Marketeers has a higher accident record than our own. I think that is a fact. Deaths in France in the last decade accounted for something like 122,000 souls. That to me seems a totally unacceptable figure, our own of about 70,000 being equally unacceptable.
Penultimately, on the subject of pollution, may I urge your Lordships who have not done so to read the speech in the House of Commons in this debate of the Member for Berwick and East Lothian, Mr. John Mackintosh, who I think dealt with the vexed question of the Common Agricultural Policy best of all. He found it curious that people in his own Party, in the name of socialism, should call criminal an agricultural practice designed to make a difficult period of transition easier for those undergoing it, particularly the farmers. I would say, too, to my noble friend Lord Monckton of Brenchley that an inefficient agricultural policy, even if it is expensive, does in fact produce very beautiful countryside and many more hedges, I would have thought, as is the case in France; and, as my noble friend Lord Eccles pointed out to-day, these privileges have to be paid for.
My next point is, again, a personal one. I am very conscious that I owe my place in your Lordships' House which I value highly, to Australia. And therefore it would be quite wrong of me to make a speech about the Common Market without acknowledging this fact. Australia—to which, alas! I have never been but have every intention of going—has been very kind to me in my life, and to my family. When I needed funds for a tricky piece of higher education in America I got them from Australian sources. And no-one with my name could have anything but devotion to that country. I would say to those who are worried about the position of Australia two things: first, that no Member of this House could be more involved, even than I am, in Australia, than my noble friend Lord Carrington—and if he is happy about Australia, I think we all can be; and, secondly, that the Prime Minister pointed out that, thanks to the success of our own negotiations, we have 578 ensured that the vast majority of the countries associated with us can share in special arrangements or work out their own trading agreements. I do not believe that a country which, like Australia, has the welfare of this country always at heart can really be against this critical move at this time in our history. I feel that my noble friend Lord Boyd of Merton would agree with that.
Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, talked about our initial refusal to enter the Market on our own terms. He said it was the biggest political mistake for 200 years that we should have refused to become a founder member. I am not sure about that; but I think it would be our biggest mistake since the Battle of Hastings if now we refuse for a second time.
§ 11.12 p.m.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, thirty years ago this summer, being then 17, I left school and was precipitated with hundreds of thousands of others into a world of universal cold, pain, horror and grief. I asked myself,"What is this?—because, whatever it is, there is only one course of life open to such as me; and that is to devote ourselves, above all other things, to preventing it ever happening again." I found it was a European war, a world war certainly, but one which started in Europe and the course of which was determined by Europe. It was the same as the war which mutilated my own father and uncle; it was much the same as the war before that, and the one before that, and all the wars before, in which my ancestors had with unquestioning and docile courage taken to the cold sea to kill and be killed.
After the war I returned to finish a wretchedly curtailed education because the Foreign Office told me, in their language of the day, that they"needed young men like me to help rebuild Europe." So, at my university I studied the history and the languages of Europe. In the Foreign Office I worked on its economic and political history. I spent ten years as a writer and journalist and editor—always about Europe, its history, its national divisions and difficulties, its parts and the prospects of uniting them. After that, when I became a Member of this House, I went on the delegation to the Council of Europe and the Western 579 European Union and became, in time, the rapporteur of the Defence Committee of the latter—again Europe, its divisions, its attempts to heal them.
To-day is the first opportunity I have had in five years to speak on this subject in Parliament. I will therefore use the words of Sir Thomas More, on an occasion more important to him, but not more important to the future of England:I will now discharge my mind.When in the first years after the war the Anglo-French Treaty, the Brussels Treaty, Benelux and UNISCAN succeeded one another I, and many like me, conceived that here at last began that fusion of proud and ancient nations and proud and hateful nationalisms into a Europe which should at last realise its full potentiality. I and many like me then watched with distress the failure of the attempt to unite Western Europe wrong end first, by means of the European Defence Community. How can one unite the armed forces of several countries before we have even given them a customs union, let alone united their administrations, harmonised their tax structure, taken joint economic initiatives of one sort or another? One cannot. It was preposterous to suppose that one could. In fact one cannot do it without a common federal Parliament elected by federation-wide parties.
Then I and many like me admired the speed with which the Six picked themselves up after that disaster, dusted themselves down and produced the Treaty of Rome, which began right end first with an Economic Community. We were distressed that the Macmillan Government of those days did not go to the Conference at Messina and stood aside, as Churchill never did, from the new and successful attempt. Distress, let me admit it, turned to incredulity when, within only three or four years, the Conservative Government started to run after the bus. We were incredulous, not at the change of heart—which came better late than never—but at the inability of the Government of those years to understand the conditions that France would impose on our entry. Mr. Macmillan sat for hours at Rambouillet with General de Gaulle. Mr. Heath sat for days and days with de Gaulle's representatives in Brussels. 580 It was as though the Frenchmen were invisible to us. De Gaulle was on all counts the dominant statesman since the War in Western Europe; he was a Titan. We were first abashed and then annoyed by his extraordinary sense of destiny and grandeur, but it was we who had given him that sense, we and the Americans, when during the war we made light of his country, the reality of which was then incarnated in his enormous and ungainly person.
Neither then nor when the Labour Government applied again in 1967 did we understand that the price of entry was to cut some at least of those curious cords which tied us to the United States of America. In 1961 I thought we had little hope of succeeding; in 1967 I knew that we had none at all. But now that the great personage has gone to his grave, and now that the strange and brittle hatreds that he aroused in the British Establishment are stilled, we can succeed. Indeed, we have succeeded in rectifying at last that costly error of Macmillan's in 1957. Now we have got agreement, we do not want it. Well, of course, how could we? How could public opinion be expected to remain alert and convinced for 10 or 15 years after so much failure and disappointment? Do we not know in our own lives that when the obstacle to that which we desire is suddenly removed our desire cools? The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said yesterday:"If you do not when you may, you shall not when you will." That applies both ways round. For ten years France would not accept us, when she might.
But the analogy between nations and lovers is only good for part of the way, and like my noble friend Lord Chalfont, I am not surprised to see that public opinion is now beginning to swing back. The actual argument in Parliament to-day seems to me strangely lopsided, in that those who favour entry say,"Look, let us go in, because then we shall be better able to do this, that or the other better than we should be able to do it if we stayed out ". Those who say,"Let us stay out ", have never fully answered these points. They do not say, either, that it does not matter if we do not do these things better or that there are other international units in which they could be better does than in the E.E.C. These are 581 all things that must be done in any case, and I would like to take a moment to enumerate them.
First of all, is routine foreign policy co-ordination. If the nations of Western Europe turn up in the councils of the world all facing in different directions, they will cancel each other out, and Western Europe will go unheard. Where can we co-operate better than in the E.E.C.? Western European Union is not appropriate, since it has built into it from its foundation the role of disciplining and controlling West Germany, now a free, equal, democratic and rightly proud allied nation. If, as seems likely, part of the American Armed Forces in Europe go home, there will be much indeed to talk about among the nations of Western Europe in face of the Brezhnev doctrine. Again, in preparation for a European Security Conference, the interests of the nations of Western Europe and those of North America are not identical, and where can we discuss the former bettor than in the E.E.C.? Where I repeat to the anti-Marketeers. Of all the Communist countries, it is only the Soviet Union that wants us to stay out of the E.E.C, The Roumanians and the Yugoslavs will sleep sounder if we are in. I think that is plain. Again, if the trade war we all dread develops between the United States, the Six and Japan, in what convoy shall we float best? Alone?
Then there is the degradation and pollution of the environment. The Commission of the E.E.C. is making specific recommendations within the next few months about the very heartland of this matter, without which no progress can come: I mean co-operation between States in enforcing pollution regulations, both within their own territories and between them, as, for instance, on the North Sea. The North Sea is entirely surrounded by members or candidate members of the E.E.C. Where better can we handle these matters, I ask the anti-marketeers, than in the E.E.C.?
Next, the international companies, which this House debated so recently. In which unit can our Governments band together for the common good of their peoples, acting in the interests of their close and similar democracies and in the interests of other peoples into whose lands these mammoths are moving? In what unit better than in the E.E.C.? Lastly, 582 the United States and the Soviet Union are now capable of putting up communications satellites which can beam programmes into anybody's television set anywhere. Britain is not capable of doing that; but the countries of Europe would be capable of it together. If we want to be in this global mass communications business, do we wish to rely on programme time hired from the Americans, or perhaps from the Russians? Where better can we play our part than working to its through ESRO, an organisation which at long last seems to be coming back to life? The same conditions apply to questions of aid to the Third World, which I will not touch on because it has been well discussed in the debate already.
I do not attack, impugn or even allude to the sincerity, or even the good judgment, of those who are against our entry. This is a debate, and I should like to have out on the table for the first time for the purposes of debate, since I do not necessarily trust my own judgment, the views of those who oppose our entry on where these matters would be better tackled by Britain than in the E.E.C. I do not share the view of those who say that there has not been a debate in the country on whether we should go in or not. I believe there has been a highly informed debate, a highly articulate debate, a highly heated debate between persons of the highest intellectual qualification and the greatest political experience. It has happened within the Labour Party. This has been uncomfortable for some of us, but I conceive that among the national duties a Party may set iself is uncomfortably to debate those matters which remain undebated elsewhere. The Labour Party have done it for the country.
My Lords, may I now look for a moment at this terrible bugbear of the Common Agricultural Policy? Why, say the adversaries of entry, now that we have carried our own agriculture to a pitch of efficiency never seen before in the old continent, should we take on the burden of subsidising somebody else's? And how can we responsibly accept a structure of international payments of subsidies which we believe is unalterable? What such people forget is that though the policy is unalterable, the famous French peasants are not. We have quite a few marginal farmers ourselves, and we do a great deal through grants to help them. 583 But more important than this, in my view, is the fact that the number of the French marginal farmers is dwindling all the time. I believe that their average age now is 57. Their children are no more anxious to live on the benefits of an international system of welfare payments than you or I would be. They are leaving the land; and so they should. Should we in the meantime hold up our hands in horror at being asked to help them? Do we not have problems of our own, of elderly workers, in the collieries and elsewhere, who cannot convert to other trades? If other countries have their problems of transition, does not the very concept of"community"itself require that we should help them? To miss this, I think, is to miss the whole point.
My Lords, I started by speaking of war and peace. I did not mean by this to suggest that, if it were not for the E.E.C., Germany and France, and Germany and Poland, would once again be at one another's throats and that we should be dragged in. It is not like that. We live now in the age of nuclear deterrence, and that has had something to say to the course of our history in the last quarter century. The question is: will British accession increase or decrease the risks of war in Europe? I have thought much and written much about this, and I will not burden the House with my reasoning, but only with my conclusion. I believe that the accession of this country, of Denmark, of Norway and of Ireland, to the Treaty of Rome will somewhat increase the chances of peace in Europe; will impose certain short-term economic burdens on us; will bring considerable long-term economic benefits to us; and is in step with the search for a full, decent and meaningful life for all our people, which it is the duty of every Socialist and every democrat to pursue. What Julius Caesar did by force, and many lesser souls have since tried to do by force, our generation can do by agreement.
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, when the wheel of fortune has spun round and the blindfold pin has landed on the page, one then asks oneself what one's function is as the 38th batsman on the third day of a three-day test match. 584 It occurs to one that one is a night watchman, and then one wonders what his function is. The word stays with me because it must presumably mean that I am expected to stay in for a few minutes. I regret to say that I shall. I shall be a brief as I can, but after this notable debate there is still quite a lot to be said, and I will say a few of the things which are on my mind.
However, first may I pay a few compliments? This very notable debate is particularly notable for the fact that it has produced no fewer than five distinctive, relevant and immensely interesting maiden speeches, and the House is richer for that having happened. The second compliment I should like to pay, in company with other noble Lords, is to the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell. We were all very much moved by her description of the mental pilgrimage that she has been through in this matter since the terribly premature death of her distinguished husband.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
Then, my Lords, I should like to pay one more tribute. We have paid tributes in this debate to political leaders, quite rightly, including our distinguished Ambassador in Paris. It is time for somebody to pay a tribute also to those teams, mostly anonymous, who have made the successful negotiations possible for the leaders of our Governments, whether the previous Governments or this one. One cannot name too many names, but I would associate with this tribute particularly the names of Sir Con O'Neill, Sir William Neild, and our patient Ambassador to the Community, Sir James Marjoribanks.
I should like to say before I continue that I very much enjoyed the stimulating speech of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who has just sat down. I very much agree with his conclusions, although I am not altogether with him all the way on the historical analysis of how he got to them. But he will expect that.
I should like to do three things. First, I should like to make a rather formal statement on one point of history which I think perhaps is of importance even at this time. I should then like to try to analyse a little the general feeling behind the anti-Market philosophy; and 585 then perhaps allude also to the general colour of the pro-Market philosophy.
First on the historical side, I should explain to your Lordships that I have had two periods in my official life when I had closely and directly to do with these matters. The first was the period from 1956 to 1960 in the Foreign Office. I will say just one word about that, because the account I gave in a question two days ago was queried and I think I must have the correct version of it on the Record. From 1956 to 1958 the Foreign Office was engaged on one task only, which was to try to help, if we could, to sell the Free Trade Area project to Europe. We, and the rest of us, failed. From then on the next job was to achieve the highly successful, and grossly underrated, accomplishment of the foundation of EFTA. From then we proceeded to the transformation of the O.E.E.C. into the O.E.C.D., and an effort in which, as the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft, so rightly said, there was magnificent support from that great civil servant Sir Frank Lee, to reach better understanding with the Six. By 1960 the situation had been achieved which gave the Government of the day choices as to whether they would go forward or mark time, or what they would do; and of course we know that they elected to try for the first time to achieve entrance into the Common Market.
Then in 1966–67 I had the privilege of being the principal adviser on foreign affairs generally to the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, in the period during which the previous Government again attempted to obtain entry into the Common Market. I should like to say rather formally that, from my experience and knowledge of that time, and from my judgment then and my memory now, I am absolutely certain that if the previous Government had been able to get the terms which the present Government have now got they would have accepted them. In this, though from a rather different point of view, I associate myself with Mr. Roy Jenkins, the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, Mr. Michael Stewart and Mr. George Thomson.
Obviously I shall not proceed further with any political allusions, but I should like, if I may, to make two comments. The first is that there has been some 586 comment to the effect that individual members of the previous Government would have been in favour of acceptance. That is not what I have said. I have said, in the British Constitutional sense,"the Government ". Secondly, it has also been said that the previous Government were not bound to accept the terms which have now been agreed. Of course they were not. Through no fault of their own, they never reached the point when this question arose. But what I have said, of course, implies that if you are going to be against the terms it is necessary to prove that the situation in this country has greatly deteriorated in the meantime—and that, on balance, would be difficult.
Turning now to the philosophy behind being against this project, I have thought a great deal about this and can only arrive constantly at the conclusion that opposition arises largely from fear. I noticed that in his very moderate speech of opposition the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, kept using the words"I fear ". I find this to be at the basis of so much. For instance the attitude,"We are going to have a great deal to do with a lot of foreigners who can outvote us, so let's be frightened.""Possibly we are not going to be able to afford the financial and commercial risks which this project entails—let's be frightened." Or,"Prices are going up—very frightening." What I regret about this—and I do not think my analysis is incorrect—is that there should be going round the country people of great influence and well known in public life who are in fact, whether or not they know it, saying,"Fellow British citizens, please be frightened."
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, would the noble Lord forgive me intervening for one moment? He has used the expression"fear"with regard to those of us who have been opposed to the Common Market. I have never, I think, used the word"fear"at all; and I would say that my observation is based not on fear but on complete confidence in this country. I am a little surprised that he should use the word"fear"in this way.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, and I am sure that this is true in his case. I shall not even suggest that he is subject to unconscious fear. But a great many people are; and 587 it does not derive from any lack of confidence in our country. That I insist upon, and in that I am entirely at one with the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, who said that we must go into the Common Market, if we do, upstanding and with our heads held high. With that I entirely agree.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, may I, too, interrupt the noble Lord? I think that what he has said is absolutely offensive. So far as my friends are concerned, they have no fear at all; indeed, they accept the challenge of a wider world, rather than the fearful approach of some of those who want to go into Europe.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, there may well be those who are afraid, and want to go into Europe. What I am saying is that the arguments against going in constantly revert to:"No; do not let us do this because it involves us with foreigners ". This constantly happens. I have argued a great deal over this; I am not reproaching any individual person.
I wish to take up one or two points in the opposition argument. That has not been referred to very much in this House and it should be discussed for the Record. I take first the use of statistics. The difficulty that the public will have in judging this matter is that certain negative or detrimental statistics are quite fixed, quite identifiable and absolutely true. We know from the White Paper that by 1977 we shall have an adverse balance of payments item of £200 million. The White Paper also says that there will certainly be another £50 million to add, and it is perfectly fair to assume that when we come on to the next two years—and I have some sympathy with the noble Lord who pointed out the indefiniteness of the remarks about the next few years—that that figure may indeed double.
On the other hand, we must remember that these figures are gross as opposed to net, and cannot take account of what will come in to set off some of the money which will flow out. I agree with noble Lords who think that on balance we shall have credit items during that period. We may have more American investment. The noble Lord. Lord Stokes, assured us that he will sell more motor cars. We shall earn more on financial services, 588 possibly not more on insurance, but across the invisibles generally. I put that out as a general warning that one must be careful of the figures that are certain, because the only balance against them is bound to be figures that are uncertain. It is only fair in this context to refer to paragraph 96 of the White Paper, which quotes the Community as saying to us that the very survival of the Community would demand that institutions find equitable solutions in these cases.
I now come on to arguments about the share of trade—and I fear that I shall again be in trouble with the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. It is also misleading to say that we are making too much fuss about 20 per cent. of our trade and neglecting the other 80 per cent. Taking the figures used by the E.E.C. and EFTA together you get something like one-third of our trade, and I do not think it is placing a wrong emphasis that we should endeavour to turn one-third of our trade into higher absolute figures. This seems only common sense, the more so because some of the rest of our trade is, for instance, with the United States, and we have agreed that we cannot go into special arrangements with the United States. Another useful percentage, in economic terms, is with South Africa. I am sure that no noble Lord will want to go into special arrangements with South Africa. What we are doing, purely in terms of trade, is of much greater significance and benefit to this country than the original statement would have one believe.
On the strictly economic side, one matter about the White Paper which I do not find reassuring or satisfactory concerns paragraphs Nos. 129 to 131, about capital movements. I know that this is bound to be an uncertain subject and I appreciate that it is difficult to write in any depth, or with any argument, about things that are still under negotiation. But I hope that the noble Earl will be able to tell us a little more than the rather bland platitudes that are contained in those paragraphs, because the question as to which way capital will move has some effect on one's judgment of this question as a whole.
There is also the subject of aid. Here I feel bound to take issue with the somewhat astonishing doctrine that if we join the E.E.C. it will be at the expense of 589 the developing countries. I simply do not follow this argument. Fortunately, I do not have to argue in great detail because the noble Lord, Lord Walston, produced a remarkable assembly of figures to show that if we do go into the Common Market it will not be we who will be setting a good example; we shall be following. I am very glad that that is the case, because in the debate on overseas aid, and particularly as regards private aid, I expressed the view that the Government aid percentage should be higher than it is. Quite apart from that, it surely has to be accepted by people in this day and age that you cannot distribute wealth unless you create wealth. You must control it but you must create it; and the amount of aid that is given, provided that we all retain our democratic institutions, is in the end the amount by which the taxpayer can be persuaded that he should delay the improvements that he wants in his own country because the needs of others are greater—and they certainly are greater.
Then, my Lords, there has appeared, too, a somewhat more sophisticated comment on what we should do rather than that we should not do anything; that is, that we should join the Common Market but that we should join it, not now but perhaps later. That seems to me to be the worst possible point of view. The noble Lord, Lord Crowther, shot half of it down yesterday when he asked, in the simplest language,"Well, what do we do in the meantime?" But that is not all. That view is based on the logical fallacy that some day within the foreseeable future, nature or virtue or luck will deal out a hand containing all the honours in what will be trumps, and several aces into the bargain, and then you will be able to play. But fortune does not do that. As I previously implied, our position is less good than it was in 1967 in respect of inflation and employment, but is better in respect of the balance of payments; and we are probably in as good a situation now as we shall be at any time (even if we do quite well in our affairs) for seeking entry to E.E.C.
Then there is one other strange objection which has suddenly popped its head up within the last few days, although I must say that it has been in my mind for some time. It is the old objection that perhaps the Russians might not like 590 it. Mr. Brezhnev has said from the heights of the Caucasus that now is the time for all good Social Democrats to cease their aid to the party—the party being NATO. The implication there for the question we are discussing is that we should ignore the red carpet of welcome that is put out for us by the Social Democrats of Europe—by Herr Willy Brandt and others; that we should throw away the bird in hand until some day"the red, red robin comes bob, bob bobbing along"and tells us what we are to do. This cannot be the right way to bring about a détente of understanding, and it is not a reason for hesitating at this particular moment.
So, my Lords, in these circumstances I am bound to arrive at a conclusion which may not be popular to all noble Lords but which I really feel is right at this particular moment. It is that if now we were to be within sight of the goal, a goal for which one Government of one Party and two Governments of another Party have striven, if we were now to look at that goal and then turn around and go home we should certainly lose our credibility with our friends in Europe, including our Social Democrat friends. Not only that, but a procedure like that over a decade will cause us to forfeit a great deal of credibility, perhaps a majority of credibility, with the rest of the world as well. If we could do that, what else could we do.
I feel strongly about this. I feel strongly enough to quote a very famous line from a citizen of pre-Common Market Europe called Dante Alighieri, and it is a line in Dante's Inferno in which he sees a shadow, a ghost of a man who had failed in a great decision, and he wrote the unforgettable lineChe fece per viltate il gran rifiutowhich means, as near as you can translate it:who made through timidity the great refusal.But the point of the story in a way is that the place where he saw the shadow was the gates of Hell.
May I turn to the more cheerful aspect of this subject, the more positive aspect? We have tended to have Europe sold short to us ever since Spengler wrote about The Decline of the West. If one thinks of the history of Europe, what one really identifies Europe with over all 591 other qualities is resilience. The resilience of Europe through history has been quite incredible. They bashed themselves to pieces in the Thirty Years War, followed by the glories of Louis XIV. Then knocked themselves to pieces in the Napoleonic wars, followed by the tremendous economic, industrial upswing of the nineteenth century, and in this century, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, so graphically described, again Europeans twice fought themselves to a standstill, and this time with modern weapons, and we have only to go across the Channel to see the result. That is the kind of resilience which surely we want to be identified with.
This is where I join myself particularly with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and also the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles and others. This is the kind of upward swing and forward swing with which young people in this country want to be identified. As the noble Lord, Lord Reay, said, for 25 years we have been going backwards—respectably backwards, honourably backwards, and, except for one or two bad mistakes, on the whole sensibly backwards. But here at last is a chance to do something which is not defensive, which is not backward-looking, which is new among people whom the younger citizens of this country do not regard as foreigners. They regard people in a way which is quite startling to my own generation, simply as people, and they do not think it funny when they hear one of their own countrymen speaking German, Italian or French badly, which was the bad habit in my generation.
So there is this great forward movement with what the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft called a feeling of adventure about it, and the feeling of conviction. This is fortified by one other thing. Let us not forget that in this enterprise we are welcome. There is often the still surviving feeling that somehow we arrive in Brussels and find a whole lot of hostile foreign faces. That is not the case. We have friends among the Six. And not only that, but we have one remarkable piece of good fortune in this situation. We are not sitting, like the Japanese, off the coast of a mainland faced with nothing but super-Powers. 592 Our neighbours include three peoples of somewhat similar size and wealth and power to ourselves. That makes the foundation of a good club. You add our good commercial partners of Benelux and our persistent friends the Dutch, and it is a very good club to which we need not hesitate to belong.
In closing these remarks I would make one more quotation. The noble Lord, Lord Redcliffc-Maud, brought Zeus the premier ancient Greek God into this debate. The poet-dramatist Aeschylus in a very epigrammatic little line spoke of someone beinga welcome volunteer in the ranks of Zeus.We can be a welcome volunteer in the service of Europe and the world. I hope we shall be.
§ 11.55 p.m.
§ LORD NUGENT OF GUILDFORD
My Lords I should like to add my tribute to the five admirable maiden speeches that we have had in this great debate, and also to add my word of congratulation upon the range of remarkable speeches we have had in these three days. I am constantly lost in admiration and respect for the originality and authority with which noble Lords speak from all parts of the House, and it is quite remarkable to hear, at the end of a long debate, speeches of the originality of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and the authority of the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth. I remember that when I was in another place I used to read the debates in this noble House on great occasions, and I can particularly remember reading the House a Lords Hansard on the Common Market debate in 1963, and at that time feeling how immensely informative and authoritative it was. I only hope that this debate, which in my judgment is even greater, will be read by many honourable and right honourable friends in another place. I feel that they would gain much by it.
I am privileged to stand up and be counted in favour of entry into the Common Market. I do not propose to traverse the economic and political arguments which have already been so splendidly dealt with. I should just like to invite noble Lords to cast their minds forward to three months' time, when the vote is taken, and the state of mind that our 593 country may be in. I feel in my bones—and I think most noble Lords do as well—that we shall go in this time. I was particularly interested in the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, who, despite his charming manner, had some very sharp things to say about the Common Market. Nevertheless, he felt that we were going in, and he added what I myself feel passionately: that if we go in, let us go in wholeheartedly. I could not agree more with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, in his excellent speech: that it would be disastrous for us to go in in a half-hearted way. There are great opportunities there, but they are only opportunities, and we shall not make the best of them unless we as a nation go in with vigour and determination and, so far as is humanly possible, united as a nation to do so.
There is no doubt that in this House the great majority of your Lordships in all parts of the House are in favour of entry. But, of course, our anxiety at this time is how the vote will fall in the other place. In this context it will not have escaped your Lordships' attention that when the debate was taken in the other place in favour of applying for entry in May, 1967, the Labour Government of the day received the official support of the Parliamentary Opposition of the day, under the leadership of my right honourable friend Mr. Heath; and the result was that on the main question the overwhelming vote in the other place was 487 votes to 62. Secondly, the interesting point is that, had the Labour Government decided to run their full five year term until this spring, with the saving of a month or two in the negotiations which were undoubtedly lost by the change of Government, and assuming that the same terms were achieved, it would have been the Labour Government which would have led us into Europe with a similar overwhelming vote in the House of Commons, and no doubt an overwhelming vote in this House as well. This would have given the clear lead to public opinion which undoubtedly most people in the country are now looking for. It would be ironical if the choice of the date of the General Election should adversely affect our nation's prospect in this great adventure. 594 The present position, with the much-publicised differences of opinion in the Labour Party, is undoubtedly adding to the confusion in the minds of the public. The public complaint which we all hear, that people do not know enough about the matter to make up their minds, is really founded on a misconception. They have all the information—after all, we have been discussing it now for at least ten or fifteen years—but the fact is that the average person is unable to get his mind in focus to decide where the national advantages lie and, indeed, where his own advantages lie. But it has been said many times, from all sides, during this debate that it is impossible to prove 100 per cent., either economically or politically that we should make entry now. The decision must at the end of the day, be a matter of personal judgment.
I have two points that I should like to make. First, the huge majority of noble Lords in all parts of the House, including the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, who have spoken firmly in favour of entry, will undoubtedly inform and influence public opinion substantially in the coming three months and will help people in reaching a decision. In my opinion, it would be hard to find a better informed or more authoritative source than this debate which we are concluding. Secondly, far more striking than the present change of course by the leadership of the Labour Party was the change in 1967 to apply for entry. In 1961, the Labour Party, with a few distinguished exceptions like Mr. Roy Jenkins, was solidly against entry and voted so in the House of Commons. But in 1967, the Labour Party in Government, in the driving seat with the books of the country opened in front of them, decided that this was the best policy open to the country, whatever the difficulties and the risks they might encounter by going in, and in spite of the known dissensions they would be bound to meet in their own Party. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said earlier,"All credit to them! ", and certainly I join with him. And I should like to say that we are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, for his graphic account of the preparatory steps leading up to the application for entry.
But this is the point. This conversion of the Labour Party to the merits of 595 entry when they were in Government, when they had the facts of our national life before them, is one of the few incontrovertible facts in this vast hazy situation that strikes the minds of the public, and I believe that this will have a considerable impact in helping people to make up their minds where the advantage lies. I think it will have far more impact on them than the changes that are going on at the present time. Of course I regret, like everybody else, that the leadership of the Labour Party has made a reversal of policy now, but personally I would be sparing in my criticism. Like other noble Lords who have served in the House of Commons and played an active part in the inner organisation of their Party, I understand that ever-present problem of maintaining unity behind the leadership of the Party. The noble Lord, Lord Ardwick, had some wise words to say about this, and he was completely right.
It was epitomised in a story of the great Lord Melbourne, one of the great Prime Ministers of the last century. Lord Melbourne was forming a Cabinet on one occasion and he approached a leading member of his Party to invite him to join the Cabinet. This man replied rather cagily:"Well, yes, I agree to join your Cabinet, and I will support you so long as I think you are right ". To which Lord Melbourne replied:"That is no good to me. I want men who will support me when I am wrong." How profoundly true it is, as all of us who have been in the hurly-burly of the Commons know, that everybody is wrong sometimes, and that unless a Leader can get the support of his friends then it is quite impossible to run a political Party! So I would only say that I hope that in due course the Labour Party will find a better rallying point than opposition to the Common Market.
Some noble Lords have already predicted that public opinion will swing in favour of entry; and now that the terms are settled and. Ministers can explain the benefits, as well as the costs which have been set out in the White Paper, public opinion is undoubtedly already beginning to swing, especially among the young people—and this has been felicitously referred to by a number of noble Lords, 596 notably in a striking speech by my noble friend Lord Gowrie and a quite remarkable speech by my noble friend Lord Eccles. The young undoubtedly see the prospect of entry as a challenge and an opportunity, and they are not inhibited, as are many of us in the older generation, by our sense of an Imperial past and the suspicion of foreigners with which many of us started. I believe that public opinion will continue to swing, and I believe that we are set to vote in favour of entry in October and that we shall carry a large majority of our countrymen with us.
§ 12.6 a.m.
§ LORD DELACOURT-SMITH
My Lords, we have had a long and wide-ranging debate which has shown a wide spectrum of opinion on both sides of the House on the subject before us. As noble Lords have said, it has been a debate which has been marked, among many other things, by the number of excellent maiden speeches to which we have had the privilege of listening; and, if I may, I should like to make particular reference to the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, who combined, on the one hand, a lucidity and clarity of thought and expression with, on the other hand, a warmth and humanity of thinking which I believe made a great and direct appeal to your Lordships' House.
My Lords, almost inevitably each noble Lord who has taken part has felt it appropriate to make an explicit statement of his personal position, and I can unequivocably state my own. It is that I have been for some years now of the view that we should be well advised to join the European Economic Community, and that the best thing, of course, would be if we could enter with well thought-out policies for action within the Community, with the support of the overwhelming majority of the people of the country, who knew what was involved and who believed that what was involved in this decision was fair and reasonable for them.
But despite that general declaration of my point of view I may not see the issues before us in quite the same way as some noble Lords have done, for I believe that there is a much greater obligation on the Government than many noble Lords appear to believe there is 597 to answer more effectively than I have so far heard answered some of the questions and points raised by critics of the Government's proposals. My Lords, I favour going into the Market, as I have said, but I do not regard the advantages as so automatic as some who have taken part in this controversy, not in the last two or three days but over a period of years, have seemed to me to do.
I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, who earlier referred to euphoria; and he praised my noble friend Lord Greenwood for having perhaps contributed to checking any tendency in that direction. I am not speaking of the last three days but of a long period of time. I feel that there has been a tendency on the part of some of those who are the warmest advocates of entry into the Common Market towards a degree of euphoria which, despite my conclusions on this subject, I cannot altogether share. I am bound to observe that I have heard in the course of this debate a number of answers to arguments which, for my own part, I have never heard advanced, certainly not advanced with any great emphasis, by anti-Marketeers whom I know. But I have not heard answers to what I felt myself (even though I reject them) would be the most formidable criticisms that were put forward.
It is a basic argument that if we do not enter the Market we shall find ourselves in a world where, economically, the prospects and opportunities get narrower and narrower. I will not seek to embark on the political argument, although I am very conscious of the considerations which have been put, for example, in such exceedingly moving terms by my noble friend Lord Stow Hill; but I believe too that the political argument to some extent rests on the economic strength which this policy can expect to secure. It is true that those who oppose entering the Market can point to the strong foothold we already have in growing markets, such as Australia, and to the various substantial footholds we already have in the Community itself. But to my mind this line of argument ignores the fact that world trade patterns are changing, and will change with increasing rapidity in the future.
This line of argument ignores in particular the effect which the E.E.C. itself will have upon world trade patterns— 598 an effect which it will have whether we are in the E.E.C. or not. If we remain outside we shall find to an increasing degree in the years ahead that the Community becomes a most powerful competitor in those markets where at the moment we enjoy a satisfactory position. The Common Market has remained until now largely a Customs union. If one compares it with the U.S.A. one sees at once a striking difference. The Community has no common currency, no central bank, no common tax system, no common company legislation. It is still divided by its varying practices and standards in matters of health and welfare, which can affect manufacturing as well. But, of course, this is the current situation. It is a situation in which the present industrial structure is not adapted to the full use of modern technology. Hence the paradox that has been so often remarked on, that it is very largely the U.S. firms which have been investing in Europe and establishing themselves in Europe, and have in some ways exploited the facilities of the Community to the greatest degree; but in my judgment this is a situation which will not last.
It is only now that the Community, as I read the situation, is about to pass, or can be about to pass, into a new phase of great importance, where it becomes an area in which large, unified industrial units come increasingly into existence. This is not the time to develop this point; but the discussions of the concept of the European company, the discussions of the new industrial policy, all underline this immensely important new phase which the Common Market is entering.
My Lords, the debate in your Lordships' House has shown great support for entering the Market, but I think we are conscious of the fact that there is, and there has been, a wider gap between opinion as expressed in this House today, expressed in another place on earlier occasions and expressed by the political Parties, all three of which, in their various ways, have accepted the principle of entering the Community—a wide gap between that and a great deal of public opinion in the country. I am well aware of the fact that among trade unionists—it is no good refusing to face this fact—there is widespread scepticism, anxiety and hostility to the idea of entry, 599 at any rate on the basis at present proposed. Political leadership has its scope and its rôle, but in the end political Parties and trade unions exist to represent those who are members of them. Anybody, for example, who saw the televised proceedings of the Labour Party's special conference a fortnight ago could not doubt the sincerity and deep conviction with which conflicting views on this subject were being held and expressed.
Reference has been made to those who were Foreign Office Ministers in the previous Administration and who were, or would have been, concerned with negotiations on this subject: They have made clear that they would have been prepared, as I understand it, to recommend the terms which the present Government have accepted. That is a clear situation, and they are men of integrity and of high ability. What I am not so sure of is whether they or anybody else is entitled to suggest that the same degree of unanimity would have been applied to that recommendation by Ministers who were concerned with economics, with trade and industry, with employment and with the other aspects of the living standards of our people. We must of course look at the terms, at the White Paper, at the prospects which it implies, at what it discloses and, if I may say so, at what it does not disclose as well. I think the Government case follows now a fairly clear pattern, and a part of that pattern—not the whole of it, but a part of it, the part which is material to my argument—is an enthusiastic, but I would accept a somewhat uncritical, account of the prospects which will arise on entering the Market. But of course it does inevitably and generously admit that prices will rise and that there will be problems during the period of transition.
I am bound to say that notwithstanding my good will towards entry to the Community, I do not believe that the case as stated in the present White Paper will go as far as is necessary in winning confidence. I do not believe that the White Paper deals convincingly with a number of aspects of great importance. The debate in another place revealed that there were Members on both sides of the House who made searching criticisms of the White Paper, criticisms which I 600 believe merit a fuller answer than they have, so far as I have seen, yet received. The Government I believe would be wise, the Party opposite would be wise, to recognise how genuine and widespread anxieties are. Those anxieties ought not to be brushed aside as, quite frankly, some noble Lords in our debate have tended to brush them aside, as trivial and unimportant against the great prospects, against the great conception, which is embodied in joining the Community. These are anxieties of which nobody need feel ashamed. The Government, since they are advancing these propositions to the people, are responsible for doing whatever they can to allay these anxieties.
There are anxieties about regional policy, which have been voiced in your Lordships' House. I do not think that these anxieties will be fully met by expressions of the expectation that entry into the E.E.C. might stimulate a larger amount of American or West German investment in some of the areas which in the past have benefited from regional policies. I do not think that that is an adequate answer to the anxieties which are undoubtedly felt. It is no good believing that one can leave out of account what has happened in the last twelve months. When a Government advance a new policy, an important stage of policy, such as the present Government are advancing at the moment, then what people have experienced in terms of prices, unemployment and the Government's conception of social justice will seem to people to embody the values and principles of that Government, which they expect will be reflected in the way the Government carry through their new policies in the new sphere. I believe it is wise to recognise these facts and not to suggest that those who argue, as I am doing now, are trying to invent or magnify arguments against the Government's policy. It is no good trying to brush these anxieties away.
There are anxieties about prices. The repetition which, with respect, is all I have so far heard by way of reply, of what is in the White Paper about the expectation of a 15 per cent. rise over five years, does not seem to me, in view of some of the contributions that have been made by other noble Lords who 601 appear to speak with a degree of authority, to be a sufficient answer; and some amplification of the basis upon which these calculations are made is required. There are anxieties about the balance of payments. It has been suggested that the impact upon our balance of payments will be far greater. This, too, requires that the fullest information that is in the possession of the Government should be made public. After all, we have seen what an effect upon our economic position the balance of payments has had over the last few years. There are anxieties about our future relations with the Commonwealth. There is a deep sense of loyalty to and kinship with the Commonwealth countries. I urge the Government most seriously to take heed of the words of the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, when he said:"There is much to look after in Commonwealth relations." I am sure that those words are wise words, which reflect a real anxiety and a need which people feel.
Then there are the direct trading consequences in the transitional period. The Secretary for Trade and Industry, I see, is quoted as saying that there will be an initial position of disadvantage, since the adverse effect of applying the Common External Tariff will be felt more quickly than the expansionary advantages of progressive abolition of the tariffs between ourselves and the Community. What effect will this have on jobs?
The answer to all these questions which is offered by noble Lords opposite is that these are mere temporary, relatively trivial, considerations and difficulties, and that one should dismiss them from one's mind and concentrate upon the beneficial long-term effects. I am one of those, as I have said, who accept the beneficial long-term effects; but I do not believe that one can so easily brush aside the transitional difficulties that are going to arise. How long indeed (I know that nobody can answer this question) is this period of short-term difficulties going to last? My noble friend Lord Pargiter reminded us that there are many people who, for reasons of age, are inevitably concerned with the short-term. There are many sections of our population whose standards of living are such that they cannot calmly or with equanimity accept the idea that it is going to be lowered 602 further, or imperilled in some way, even for what is represented by the Government as a temporary period, to be much more than compensated for by the long-term improvement.
These, I believe, are problems which need to be faced and need to be recognised. The Government must show more candour in handling these matters. I believe that it would be possible for the United Kingdom to enter the Community with the support of the great majority of the people, but this is only likely to be achieved by a Government who can end the divisive policies with which we have become unhappily familiar; who can bring down, and show that they are bringing down, the unemployment figures which create such a background of anxiety and uncertainty for working people; who can give effective assurances that living standards will be protected against the hazards of transition; who show, by their record, a real determination to pursue constructive regional policies, and who recognise a need for a measure of intervention in terms of the E.E.C. industrial policy.
Let me, in conclusion, ask the noble Earl whether, when he comes to reply, he will say something about the question of the mandate. Is he satisfied that the Government have a mandate in the present Parliament to reach such far-reaching decisions and to undertake such far-reaching commitments? A mandate of a Party at a preceding General Election is of course a document in which your Lordships' House has always taken great interest. I would echo, though, the words of my noble friend Lord Greenwood of Rossendale: that if indeed we do, after whatever debate and after whatever process, go into the Common Market, we must make every endeavour to ensure that it can be a wholehearted participation in which we take a share with a willingness to see that as a nation we play our part in this enterprise.
§ 12.29 a.m.
My Lords, I must confess that when two days ago—it seems a little bit longer—on Monday afternoon I looked down the list of the prospective speakers, five score and ten, I wondered whether our three-day marathon would be a good thing. Now, two days later, after some 28½ hours 603 of discussion, it is my firm view that this debate has been a good thing; that it has had real meaning, and has been eminently worth while. I speak of course in support (though we are just taking note of it) of the White Paper, and I am naturally glad that in your Lordships' House that White Paper has received so overwhelming an endorsement. I trust that that endorsement will be noted outside your Lordships' House. This is a forum where opinion can be firmly held, but almost invariably moderately expressed, but it does not lose from that. It is above all a forum which permits, nay, encourages, the expression of free and independent judgment, and it is therefore worth remarking that in this forum in this exploratory discussion, to the question whether Britain should enter the Community your Lordships have replied with a pretty clear-cut and a ringing affirmative. I think I am 112th in the batting order. I believe there have been 13 speakers against; there has been one sitter on the fence, and there has been that notable agnostic Lady Gaitskell, who I think slid away a little bit from agnosticism in a speech which I also should like to acknowledge for its distinction and very moving quality.
The response which your Lordships' House has given has not only been a quantitative response; it is true to say that it has also been a response of quality, not least, if I may say so, from those who have spoken either balancing or against—like the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, in a very notable speech opening our debate yesterday afternoon. And that response has come from all corners of your Lordships' House. It has come from elder statesmen and, I am glad to say, from a number of the younger Members of your Lordships' House in speeches of the very highest distinction. The five maiden speakers must be almost weary of hearing praises heaped upon them, but our five maiden speeches in this three-day debate have been of quite extraordinary quality.
My Lords, in listening to this long debate, what has struck me is that this response has been drawn from many different sources. There are those who have said Yes for mainly pragmatic and economic reasons; there are those who have said Yes mainly from political and 604 idealistic reasons; there are those who have said Yes who were formerly doubters, and there are those who have said Yes who have been in favour of our joining the Community for a very long time. It is significant that so many different routes have brought so many of your Lordships to precisely the same conclusion here and now in July, 1971.
Like some other noble Lords, I did not reach this conclusion at a stroke. I was concerned with European affairs when I joined the Foreign Office after the war, and I believed then in a closer association between Britain and Europe. But I was not, I must confess, thinking of a close organic association of the kind which the Community represents. Like others at that time, my political imagination was beguiled by the grand Churchillian vision of Britain at the centre of three great concentric circles: the North Atlantic circle, embracing a special relationship with the United States; a Commonwealth circle, with Britain at the heart and centre, the nexus of Commonwealth countries; and a European circle, which again would rest on Britain at its outer edge. That was a beguiling vision and a flattering one for those who live in this country. But as the 'forties faded into the 'fifties, so did that vision begin to fade and to tarnish, because, sadly, it was based on false premises: a false premise of our relative weighting in the world vis-à-vis the United States; a false premise of the Commonwealth's developing to greater organic unity; a false premise—in this case a pessimistic one—of the speed of European recovery from the war and of the speed of the progress towards greater European unity.
Thus it is that I became, a decade or so ago, and have remained, a strong believer that our destiny as a nation lies with Europe, although at the same time we must, in my view, maintain the firmest possible links under the North Atlantic Alliance with the United States, while nourishing and fertilising wherever possible the Commonwealth connection. I have stated my reasons for that belief at some length on a good many occasions in your Lordships' House and I will not expand on them at this moment, but I should like to summarise them in the following words because what I believe here represents what many of your Lordships have said in this long debate. 605 I believe that membership, with its access to a market of some 300 million people and with the further access which will come with it—and this is a point which has hardly been touched on during this long debate—to a further 100 million people who are in association with the Community, will be decisively to the advantage of British industry. I believe that that applies to those companies able and willing to seize the opportunities that are presented, be they giant, large, medium or small. I also believe that we should thus have the possibility of attaining a rate of economic growth which has eluded us, but not our neighbours, over the last decade or so, and, with that economic growth, the possibilities of investment and a higher standard of living. I concede straight away that these beliefs are not provable by statistical analysis, whatever intricacies of statistical analysis have been or could have been put into a White Paper. However, I know that my views have been shared by bodies like the C.B.I. and I see that they have been endorsed—and more than endorsed—in a series of brilliant and convincing speeches in this long debate made by the noble Lord, Lord Robens of Woldingham, the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Nelson, and by many others. And these views are supported not only by the testimony that we have heard in the last three days but by the evidence of the performance of the Six themselves.
Having said that, I would concede that economic growth by itself should not represent the be-all-and-end-all of national policy but, by the same token, I see no reason for us to be masochistic about growth, as I thought the noble Lord, Lord Soper, was on our opening day. Of course, I agree profoundly with what my noble friend Lord Eccles said in a very distinguished speech at the start of our debate to-day—that growth properly directed and wisely used can enormously enhance the quality of life in this country and can enormously increase our influence for good in the world.
That is the positive side of the economic coin. The negative side is the grave and growing danger that if we are excluded—nay, rather, what I think is the main possibility now, if we succeed 606 in excluding ourselves—over a period of time our industrial base would become too narrow for our high-technology industries, as the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft, and my noble friend Lord Bessborough have said. Progressively, if that should happen, we could become the drawers of water, the hewers of wood and the sub-contractors for the mainland of Western Europe. But exclusion could also impose perhaps an even heavier economic penalty. Progressively as Western Europe exerted its influence as a great trading bloc, progressively as it harmonised its economic environment, we could find ourselves shut out from a leading role in the decision-making process, the things that make the world's economic and monetary systems tick. These negative arguments are, I believe, a very strong positive argument for entry.
So much for the economic situation. My Lords, I am not a Marxist, and I do not therefore admit the automatic primacy of things economic over things political. I do not wish to quibble over whether the economic or the political arguments for entry are the strongest. Both are strong; but the political arguments, as we have heard them expressed in this debate during these last three days, are very strong indeed. Put very simply, I have a profound belief in the political genius of our 50 million people and of our ability to contribute thereby to saner policies in this sometimes rather neurotic world. In a world increasingly dominated by the four or five actual or emerging power clusters, it is my profound belief that if we do not accept the Community's invitation to join, we shall find it increasingly difficult, year by year, and decade by decade, to exert that leverage on world affairs which most of us would like to see us exerting. I believe profoundly that for that reason alone it must be to our advantage to join.
But there is a mutuality of interests here, my Lords, as in all good bargains. I believe that it is likewise in the political interests of the Six that we should join. With an enlarged and more united Western Europe we should be able, possibly, to banish for ever the spectre of European civil war, and let us remember, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, reminded us in a notable speech, that the last two world wars were, in origin, 607 European civil wars. It is also my belief that through a stronger and more united Western Europe—not through a weaker and more fragmented Western Europe—that the pressures and initiatives and the generosity which will be generated can best serve to heal that tragic breach in Europe between its Eastern and its Western wings. This is an article of faith, to a certain extent, but I believe that that is the way to greater unity in the Europe which will one day become again one Europe.
A united and enlarged Western Europe will be better able to pursue generous and co-ordinated policies of trade and aid towards the developing world. It is through the enlargement of the Communities, through a more united and stronger Western Europe, that we shall attain a healthier and more stable relationship and balance between the new world and the old. In sum, I believe profoundly with what my noble friend Lord Harlech said in a speech of remarkable power and force that if either we in Britain, or we in Europe, wish to have some chance of ensuring that all the big decisions which intimately affect us are not taken over our heads, then we should go for British membership of an enlarged Community.
Those, in shorthand, are my fundamental reasons for having felt that it was right for us to join so long as we are wanted and so long as the terms were reasonable. I have not been a"join at any price"man any more than my noble friend Lord Carrington, or the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, and I have had my doubts over the years totally dispelled only within the last few months that the Six—all the Six—wanted us in. I have no doubt at all about that. That, as the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell said, is the decisive difference in the position now compared with the position in 1969 or 1961.
What of the package? It is getting late, and I do not expect noble Lords will wish me to go into the details of the package. Some claim that it is unacceptable; some have doubts about it; some of those doubts portray the fears which I think the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, was intimating, although he did not seem to meet with a great deal of approval. It is difficult to maintain that the package 608 is unacceptable when Minister after Minister in the last Administration, those who were most intimately involved with the negotiations, have testified precisely to the contrary. It is difficult to maintain this when an honest and honourable man, the deputy leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, has so testified. It is difficult to maintain this when the last Foreign Minister in the last Government has so testified, and not only the last Foreign Minister but all three—Mr. Michael Stewart, Lord George-Brown and Mr. Gordon Walker. And it is difficult to maintain this somewhat acrobatic stance when not only the last chief negotiator, Mr. George Thomson, has so testified but also his predecessor, Lord Chalfont. I think the same thing underlay the brave, courageous speech with which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, opened our debate today.
My Lords, I could attempt to score back debating points on some of the issues, be they sovereignty, so brilliantly discussed by the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, or the cost of living, and especially the very important point of how entry will bear upon people with fixed incomes and older people—the point made by the noble Baroness; or regional policies or fisheries or balance of payments. But I think perhaps it would not be the right moment to deal with these. I could also deal with the Commonwealth points.
I should like to go straight on and say in conclusion why I believe this debate has been so justified and so worth while. I would like to make it clear that I do not feel that this debate has been justified for the partisan reason that your Lordships seem willing to enter the ark of the Community in droves, two by two and fifty by fifty. Or that the radical"antis"seem to have been stranded, perhaps momentarily, certainly with dignity and in all sincerity, on a rather lofty but solitary mountain.
I think this debate has been justified by the very large consensus which seems to have formed on a certain number of really fundamental and cardinal points. The first is the importance of this issue. I think we are all agreed, pro or anti, that this is not a mere matter of kangaroo meat or butter or fish fingers. It goes beyond that. Our decision may well change the course of our nation's history. More often than not historians tell 609 us to regard historical developments as a stream in which no single event or any single year is of decisive importance. Perhaps they are right. Be that as it may, I find it hard not to look upon 1971 as a decisive year, not only for Britain but for Europe; as decisive in its way as some other traumatic milestones which many of us have passed, be it 1914, 1939 or 1945, the lowering of the Iron Curtain, or 1958, the Treaty of Rome.
The second reason is that I think the view has come across in this long debate that this is an issue which none of us who cares about our country can doubt—and I know we all care about our country, pro or anti. I know that in politics"now"can prove a very moveable feast and"never"a rather dangerous word. But I believe, and what is more I believe that the majority of your Lordships also believe, that in all probability we are now faced with a"now or never"decision. We have certainly missed marvellous chances of boarding the European boat in the past, and of being the skipper if we had wanted to be. It is my conviction—and I am here only echoing the sound which we have heard time and time again repeated in this debate—that if we forgo the opportunity this time it will not recur; and if perchance it did recur it could not conceivably recur on such favourable terms.
If the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will forgive me, I think that our children and grandchildren, when they learned of that decision, would think that we were just"stark staring bonkers"to have said No, if we could perchance dream of saying No. I believe this, because it is my belief that the damage which could flow from that negative"Never ", could be almost incalculable. We could certainly damage ourselves. As the White Paper so succinctly puts it, in a single generation we should have renounced an Imperial past and rejected a European future. Of course, I would not suggest that we should suddenly as a nation be struck with palsy. But I do think that we should then be faced with a sad rundown to mediocrity—the term of the noble Lord, Lord Robbins. I do not believe that the damage would only be to our national morale. I believe that if we were to take such a light and frivolous decision it would put us into the pillory 610 all around the world. Furthermore, I believe that it would do grave damage to morale in Europe, and could put back the clock of European unity, at a moment of considerable promise, perhaps decisively.
The third conclusion which I believe has emerged from this debate is that while the opponents of our entry have sought to destroy the validity of the arguments with which we advocate entry, most conspicuously they have revealed that their own larder is barer than bare. Quite frankly—and I say this very sincerely—those noble Lords who in their turn very sincerely are opposed to the policy of entry—have not advanced, nor even sought to advance, a convincing alternative strategy for this country to follow in the last one-third of this century.
And the fourth conclusion flows, I suspect, from the last one. It has seemed to me, listening to this debate, that even some of the most ardent opponents of entry are coming to recognise that, right or wrong, this country will almost certainly be a member of the Common Market by January 1, 1973. If this is right, it is my view—and here again I think this is a view fairly widely shared in your Lordships' House—that more and more people should be giving thought, not to whether we should, in an ideal world, enter these communities, but rather to the question as to how, when we enter them we shall be able to make the best possible contribution which is good for us, good for Europe and good for the wider world. That is why I so profoundly agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Annan, when he said on the first day of our debate that we should remember that we are not going into Europe in a static role. There is a tremendous difference in being in and being out. Europe for us these last two decades has been something of a spectator sport, and it is time, in my view, for us to get on court.
My Lords, if, as I am virtually certain, Parliament does in fact vote in principle for the White Paper in October, and if we adhere thereafter to the programme, there will be only a bare 14 months between the October decision and the start of our actual membership; a short time in which very much will need to be done. I am not 611 thinking only, or indeed primarily, of the legislation which will come before Parliament next year in that event, and which will doubtless exercise a great deal of your Lordships' time, although somewhat less, perhaps, than a little Bill which we have just despatched to another place. I am thinking rather of the work of preparation apart from legislation, of the things which we as a nation should be prepared for if we are going to be able to put our best foot forward when we arrive a bit belatedly—15 or so years late—on the Brussels scene. There are great opportunities awaiting us, and I believe, and I believe many of your Lordships believe, that we must prepare now to seize them in partnership with our future partners.
I hope, for example, that industry in this country will now, where it has not already done so, be preparing itself for membership, because membership is bound to have its impact upon the planning and decision-making of companies up and down this country, on their investment planning, on their research and development programmes, on their organisation, market analysis and so on. I know that a great deal of preparatory work has gone on, especially in our larger firms, and I hope that our companies who see larger horizons opening up for them in Europe will now be preparing themselves, and this applies I think particularly to the medium size and smaller companies. What applies to industry applies equally to the City and to other invisible earners, to our service industries and indeed to agriculture.
Much of this preparatory work will affect not industry alone but industry and Government. We have heard a great deal of talk these last three or four years, for example, about the European technological Community. It will soon be time for us to help to graft real flesh and blood on that rather vague concept. There is a tremendous lot that could occupy our minds in this and in other spheres. It is my belief that we should be planning now for better and more coordinated European policies across a very wide spectrum; on research and development, on co-operative projects (some of them fairly near the frontiers of science), on transport, on industrial 612 and management problems, on European company law (the point of vast importance made by the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith), on regional policies, on urbanisation, on pollution, and, not least, on the development of European political institutions. We should be thinking about the encouragement of exchanges between the younger peoples of Europe; young teachers, those with professional skills, trade unionists, and so on. We should be thinking about the contribution in administrative and planning skills which we will be called upon to make to the Commission. As the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, said, we are rather good at this sort of thing. We should be thinking too, as the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, suggested, about the implications of membership of the European Parliament, and about the future of European institutions. We should, in sum, be planning now, not only how best to protect our own interests in Europe (and that is important) but also how best to pull our weight in a growing partnership, to make our common contribution to the pool of positive thinking in Brussels.
This has indeed been a very considerable, indeed a great debate in your Lordships' House, and a great debate on a great national issue. It has, I also believe, been sustained at a level, and with an absence of rancour, which I believe has done credit to your Lordships' House. It had been my hope that when Parliament was asked to come to its decision on this matter that the policy of entry would be endorsed, as it was in 1967, by an overwhelming Parliamentary majority. I should say to noble Lords opposite, and I say it in no Party spirit, that I am certain beyond doubt that, if their Government had negotiated the terms that are now before us, this would have been the position. Despite a decision taken elsewhere today, this remains my hope. It remains my hope because nothing would do more to reinforce our hand in world affairs, and I am speaking here of our national hand and not of some small Party hand. Nothing would do more to reinforce our hand as a nation than for our decision in October to be seen by Europe, and the world, as one commanding widespread support both in Parliament and the country. That is why I was very pleased to hear what the noble 613 Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, said in winding-up, and what the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, said in his speech. I quote the noble Lord's words:If, in spite of all our efforts we go into the E.E.C. we must put aside regret and hesitation, all of us, and go in determined to make it work, determined to strive for success. Failure, my Lords, would mean disaster for ourselves, for Europe, and for the world.I should like to say how entirely I endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, has said, and indeed how very glad I am that he, and the noble Lord, Lord Delacourt-Smith, said what they did in that respect.
Those are the reasons why I am convinced that, as a nation, we should now decide to pull our national weight between the shafts of a generous and constructive European policy. We have been waiting outside the door of Europe for a very long time, and we have been knocking at the door of Europe for a long time, too. Now that those inside the house of Europe have invited us in, it would be folly if at the very last moment we were to spurn that invitation. 614 I feel myself that the material considerations point in favour of entry. But material considerations are not everything, and I trust that all of us, and not only the younger ones among us, will also try to hold a vision of a less material Europe, of a civilised civilising, generous and moderating Europe in front of us. I believe that a great adventure lies ahead of this country, an adventure not unattended with risks; but if we have the wit and the will to embark on it, an adventure of almost certain rewards. That is why I sincerely hope that we shall, as a nation, decide in October to opt not for the rather sad solitary road that leads downhill, but for the more adventurous high road, for membership and for that larger vision.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.