§ 2.28 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion of the Lord Chancellor; namely, That this House approves Her Majesty's Government's decision of principle to join the European Communities on the basis of the arrangements which have been negotiated.
§ THE PAYMASTER GENERAL (VISCOUNT ECCLES)
My Lords, we had a serious, restrained debate yesterday with many excellent speeches, among which the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, greatly impressed the House. I imagine that most of us have made up our minds how we are going to vote. But there may still be a few who are doubtful, and others who would welcome some reinforcement to their opinion that on balance we had better go into the European Community. It is to the latter group that I shall principally address my remarks.
Throughout the summer both sides have made tremendous efforts to explain their case. There is, however, a question which must be worrying anyone with an open mind—a question which we have every right to say has not been adequately answered. Surely we should demand from the anti-marketeers a more convincing description of how Britain would fare if we stayed out of the Market? We have heard a vast amount of criticism of this or that condition of entry and much fearful speculation of what might happen to us once we were in. But we have had no description capable of inspiring the most reactionary schoolboy of how, not just during the transition period to full membership, but over the coming generations, Britain on her own could be either more prosperous or more influential.
I wish we knew what the special advantages were that would he ours outside the Common Market. No one has told us how we could hope for more influence in world affairs. No one has told us where with any confidence we could look for alternative and equally attractive markets for our goods. No 665 one has suggested that the opportunities would be as great for our invisible exports about which my noble friends Lord Seldsdon and Lord Cullen of Ashbourne spoke so well yesterday. All this was true in July, but since then several things have happened which add to the risks and uncertainties of the world in which the anti-marketeers want us to go it alone. Three new factors bear directly on the decision we shall take to-morrow: the devaluation of the dollar, to which my noble and learned friend made reference yesterday; the rise in the number of unemployed in this country; and, related to the last, the growing recognition of the need to embark on policies for improving the environment on a scale that would be severely limited if we were acting as one country on our own.
My Lords, after the disruption caused by the action of the United States in August international finance and trade will never be quite the same again. Ever since the war the whole world has made its calculations and got on with its business protected by two very large assumptions: first, that the dollar exchange rate would always remain the same; and, second, that, while the rest of the world was constantly worrying about balance of payments problems, the United States' economy could be managed without regard to the United States' own balance of payments. These two assumptions were valid so long as the financial leadership of the United States was based on overwhelming economic power, and was accepted as a political necessity by the non-Communist world.
Both assumptions have gone out of the window. The internal problems of the United States have become so great that their leadership is less easily accepted. Of course their space programme is something no other country can touch. But leaving that aside, other countries, or at least the E. E. C. and Japan, have improved their relative strength so fast that although the American economy may still be bigger than theirs it is not now seen to be in a class by itself. One result is this: the changing pattern of trade has led the rest of the world to accumulate vast balances of more or less inconvertible dollars. It is this embarrassing flood 666 which has increased the political resentment against a monetary system no longer anchored on an invulnerable currency and an unchallengeable economic superiority.
What happens now that the American yardstick, which was so convenient for all of us, proves to have no special magic? Europe has dethroned the dollar; but it would not be enough to put a paper prince in its place. Nor can we go back to the dollar hegemony of the past 25 years, if only because the United States is not ready to co-ordinate its internal policies, which of course include tariffs, with ours. In these circumstances, as the Economist put it so well last week, Britain is neither big enough nor small enough to go it alone. Therefore we have to join with those countries with whom co-operation will give us the best available prospect of growth with stability. It happens—it is something of an accident that it happens at this moment—that the opportunity is to-day substantially more important to us than it was before the events of last August.
As your Lordships know, in cutting the link between gold and the dollar the United States Government also took action in the field of tariffs. A 10 per cent. surcharge was put on almost all imports, no doubt primarily as a bargaining weapon to force us and others to revalue our currencies against the dollar. This action will not be forgotten. It is a confession that the internal problems of the United States can lead to policies which damage and diminish international trade. We must never forget that the Americans have helped the rest of the world ever since Marshall Aid to an extent not before known in history. But now we face a new situation: that whenever a long-accepted responsibility for the good conduct of affairs is withdrawn, a price has to be paid, and usually the bill turns out to be larger than was foreseen at the time.
In this new situation I cannot see what comfort the anti-marketeers can offer us, so obvious is it that the recent action of the United States has changed for the worse the prospects of a country of our medium size and our exceptional dependence on exports. I know that some who are against the 667 Common Market believe that membership would restrict our freedom to manage our economy as we wish. Entry, they say, would curb our power to plan the level of demand in this country. I take the opposite view. If we stayed out we should go on being crippled by the vulnerability of sterling. We should be driven to deplorable devices to ward off the stresses and strains imposed on us by the great Powers and the E. E. C. On the other hand, if we go in we shall have considerable influence on the maintenance of the external conditions necessary to pursue our own growth policies, along with those in Europe.
My Lords, it follows that the new uncertainties surrounding world trade and finance have increased the seriousness of the unemployment in this country. The recent American policies are aimed at reducing the volume of international trade and increasing their share of what is left. That must make it harder to find jobs for our people in the traditional export industries. The solution to the unemployment problem is in any event more difficult than in the past, for a new factor has emerged, to which the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, referred with great emphasis yesterday. Your Lordships will see its relevance to the Common Market. Technological advance in all manufacturing industries is forcing a shift in employment towards the service industries. This movement is worldwide, it hurts many people, and as yet no country has given it sufficient thought. I will not dwell upon the folly of our own S. E. T. which was invented by Mr. Kaldor at a time when the underlying trend demanded an impulse in the opposite direction. We are now seeing a spate of inflationary wage-settlements causing hundreds of thousands of workers to leave productive industry.
§ LORD BALOGH
My Lords, the Minister made some references to my friend Mr. Kaldor and also to the imposition of S. E. T. Is he not aware of the Reddaway Report? Probably not. He ought to speak to his economic colleagues before he makes these rash statements about a person who cannot defend himself in this House. S. E. T. was not shifted to the consumer.
§ VISCOUNT ECCLES
My Lords, the noble Lord was not invited to the dinner of the Political Economy Club on the night of the Budget at which Mr. Kaldor claimed the authorship of this text.
Many of those now unemployed, and many of the school-leavers looking for jobs, will not easily find work in manufacturing industry. Technology will see to that. The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, was right when he said that demand for manufacturing; 'especially engineering products, will have to improve very much indeed before existing capacity is fully employed. This has a wide implication. It means that as a long-term policy we must make the service industries more attractive and more efficient. This will not be easy. The first step to putting these industries where they should be is to accept and proclaim that serving people is in no way an inferior career to making things. One benefit which I see coming from entering the Common Market is that we could then do this in a more imaginative way and without the same fears of damaging our balance of payments.
I can illustrate what I have in mind by coming to my third point, which is the case for European policies for improving the environment; the case, that is, for saying that by ourselves we shall not have the capital or the courage to do what all the thoughtful people in the country would like to see done for the environment. By "environment" I do not mean simply the physical envelope in which we live in cities and rural areas. I include as essential all those activities which minister to the spirit as well as to bodily health and comfort.
My Lords, at the same time as we have given such complete freedom to morals, permitting any kind of licence, we have interned the human spirit in an ever uglier, dirtier, noisier environment. Therefore, I am arguing for a great expansion in everything which we mean by adult education, the Arts, sport and other leisure activities. Imaginative policies to improve the environment defined in this broad way would provide many new jobs both in the construction and other traditional industries and in a whole range of service industries, but could only be undertaken if the rest of the economy were in good shape.
669 Of course, whether we went into the Common Market or not, we should explore such policies in this country, but if we stayed out I am quite sure that two factors would make it very difficult to act on the scale that is needed to deal with our own social and employment problems. In the first place, we should constantly be warned not to invest too much in non-economic policies for fear of damaging the balance of payments. We should have to pay attention to these warnings because, as I ventured to suggest to your Lordships, with the United States turning inwards to deal with their own troubles, our isolated economy is bound to become increasingly precarious. But if we were in a European grouping, with common ideas about the environment, we could all afford to be much more adventurous.
Secondly, the environment is a comparatively new field for Government action. We have hardly begun to tackle it. My noble friend Lord Zuckerman told us yesterday that in electronics, communication systems and nuclear energy the resources of Britain alone are not equal to the competence of our scientists and technologists. This is a plain fact, and it is equally and devastatingly true when we think about what has to be done to clean up the environment. I believe our experts are equal to any in the world. But the money required for even quite modest experiments is daunting. For example, in the small area for which I am responsible, if we could build up Regional Arts Associations to become miniature Arts Councils in their own right, and give them capital to create a network of arts centres as well as giving them generous operating grants, we should have an instrument that would influence the quality of life from one end of the country to the other, and one which would give employment and enjoyment to a great many people. If we cannot do that sort of thing it is because we have not confidence in our own economic growth.
The problems in this and related areas are common to all the members of the Six. I study as best I can what they are thinking and doing, and I know how deeply they are engaged on the physical and cutural aspects of new policies for the environment. In France, in particular, very interesting proposals are now under consideration. Speaking for my own 670 responsibilities (and I have little doubt that my colleagues would feel the same) we should greatly benefit from an exchange of ideas with the Six leading to joint projects in an area where the younger generation passionately wish to become involved.
My Lords, the advanced countries are leaving behind the notion that progress is Ito be made only in directions that are quantifiable. The quality of life is coming to be seen as equally important. Here I am a convinced European. Western Europe has a long tradition of concern for the humanity of every man and woman; I do not say we have always lived up to the tradition, but we have tried and we are trying, and so are the members of the Community. I do not think we should forget the way in which Germany, after the appalling experience of Hitlerism, has practised democracy and good neighbourliness since the war.
Our problem—it is the problem of all the members of the Community—is to reconcile the creative qualities, the ambitions and the freedom of each individual with a fresh enthusiasm for cooperation with others on behalf of society as a whole. The Communist attempt to do this is now an evident failure. The old-fashioned capitalist system is equally incapable of carrying us much further. We are coming to a turning point in politics and the immediate future will be uncertain and difficult. I would much rather work my way through this period of radical change with strong partners than alone. Therefore, I am for the Common Market, which over a period of time has had, and is likely to have, a high enough growth rate to give scope for developing new policies for a fuller life for everyone. The growth of wealth per head in an enlarged Community is not a question of simple arithmetic, of six plus one equals seven. When our manpower, our skill and our capital are at work with theirs the whole will be seen to be more dynamic than we can now picture by adding together our present separate statistics. Why did the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, who spoke so movingly yesterday, amalgamate Leylands with the British Motor Corporation? Not because he thought two anti two would make four, but because he wanted the base from which to go far beyond that simple addition. It is exactly our problem to 671 make two and two into something much more than four.
My Lords, of course going into Europe is an undeniable risk. On the other hand, to stay out would be to settle for a much duller life and a life in which there were fewer opportunities for the young and a dwindling prospect for a safe and comfortable old age for the rest of us. When I vote to-morrow I shall remember an old chauffeur's advice of forty or fifty years ago. He said that when driving a car one should always look as far down the road as one can see. If one looks down the road of the European Community, it is clear we should go in, and I hope that in looking far ahead this House gives a resounding acceptance to the Government's Motion.
§ 2.52 p.m.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, started his remarks by saying that he would address them primarily to those who might not have made up their mind. I know that, at least theoretically, debates in this House, as in another place, are supposed to be on the basis that those who come along are going to listen and then decide how they will vote. I am afraid that the facts show that this happens in only a few cases, and I should imagine that on this occasion there are fewer than ever who have come along prepared to vote in the House to-morrow night on the basis that they had not yet made up their mind. I believe that the real value of these three days of speaking in your Lordships' House is not to attempt last-minute conversions of other people but to give each of us the opportunity of saying where he stands and the reasons which have led him to cast the vote which will be cast to-morrow night.
The firm position of those who are for entry, and the firm position of those who have always been against entry, has with a few exceptions been an easy one. On one side, those who are for entry (and I am speaking now principally about those in another place) have their difficulties when they decide to cast that vote for entry to-morrow night. And on the other side of the House are those who are against entry and who are perhaps in a similar difficulty, notwithstanding the last-minute announcement of a free Vote in another place. But their difficulties are no 672 greater than the difficulties of those who have tried to make up their minds, both on the principle and on the details, to decide how best to act on this occasion.
The noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack stated yesterday that most of those who spoke against entry in the debate in July were against entry in almost any circumstances. I did not speak in the debate in July for the simple reason that as recently as July I had not made up my mind whether I should vote for or against entry on the terms which were available, and I wanted still more time to make up my mind; and I do not apologise if I say that in making up my mind I have been influenced principally by the fact that I am a Scot and that I have looked at this question primarily from the standpoint of the effect which I believe it will have in Scotland. My disposition was to wish to vote for entry if I possibly could, and it is with real reluctance that I have come to the conclusion that I cannot do so. It was only a few days ago that I decided I must put a Scottish point of view in this debate against entry. I have said that I remain theoretically in favour of entry, but I cannot bring myself to support it on practical grounds.
I had, and still have, three main fields of doubt—and I emphasise that I am speaking purely from a Scottish point of view. These three fields are: agriculture, fisheries and regional policies. On the first of these, agriculture, I propose to say nothing further. The Scottish National Farmers' Union, after discussion with their members, have decided, on balance, to support entry, and I am prepared to let the matter rest there on that particular subject, although I still have my own doubts as to the position of agriculture in the crofting counties if we enter the Common Market. But the Scottish N. F. U. are satisfied, and there I shall leave it.
The second point is the question of fisheries. This is not a matter that has yet been resolved. It may be that in the discussions which have still to take place the Government will be able to secure conditions that will satisfy fishermen that their present position will be protected. I certainly hope so. What I cannot go along with is that those same people who in 1963 (I think it was) said what a wonderful thing it was when the limit was 673 extended to twelve miles should now be saying, "Well, if the limit does have to go back to six miles it does not really matter. The six-to-twelve mile limit was not all that important."One or other of these attitudes is not true. I hope for the sake of the Scottish fishermen that the 1963 statement was incorrect.
My third and main point, and the one about which I am very unhappy, is on the question of regional policy. In his speech yesterday the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack said that the regions stood to gain most from entry. He used words something like these: It is those areas where employment is lowest that are most sensitive to improvements in trade and demand and most vulnerable to periods of stagnation and decline. With the second part of that statement I have no quarrel. It has been demonstrated time and time again every year since the war that when there was stagnation and decline the regions—Scotland, Wales, the North of England—felt the effects first. But I do not agree with him, and I do not know the experience to which he refers, when he says that it is these areas which are the most sensitive to general improvements in trade and demand. All the experience in Scotland—the experience of Scottish Ministers, whichever Government have been in power, and the experience of the Scottish Council, which has been expressed time and time again—is that when there has been a decline it is the regions that are the last to experience the benefits from recovery, and that the effects of depression are felt longest in the areas with highest unemployment.
It is because this is my experience that place importance above all on an effective regional policy. To have an effective regional policy that policy must be in the hands of a Government willing and able to enforce it. Will that be the position if we go into the Common Market on the terms which are negotiated? I think not. it was the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, who some years ago, when he was Chairman of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry), emphasised the importance to Scotland of a Government policy which he termed "the carrot and the stick". The "carrot" consisted of the inducements offered to industrialists to come to the areas of high unemployment; the "stick" was the 674 method used to prevent them from settling in areas of high employment. The "stick" was the industrial development certificate.
My Lords, there is no doubt that there are in Scotland, in Wales and in Northern England at the present time many successful enterprises providing much employment, even in these days of high unemployment, who were unwilling to go to these areas and who were in fact persuaded to go either by high tax allowances or by high grants, and because they were prevented from setting up their establishments in the areas in which they wished to set them up. It is perhaps the best tribute to the success of that policy that most, if not all, of these companies who were unwilling venturers into our territories are now perfectly happy there, and very happy indeed that they did settle in the development areas. But the success of that policy depended even more on the use of the "stick" than on the use of grants. It was shown conclusively that there were many companies who, no matter how high the grant or tax allowance offered, would have preferred, say. to set up in Birmingham or in the South-East of England, rather than go to Scotland or to the North of England or Wales. It was the fact that they were refused permission to set up in these areas that was the primary weapon in getting them to go where the best interests of the country determined that they should go.
Many people have said in the course of discussion on regional policy that each of the Six has its own regional policies and that there is nothing in what has been negotiated that will prevent this country from having its own regional policies. In so far as that means the giving of grants, I accept that this is the position. I listened last week to a debate on Scottish Television in the course of which a former Minister, Mr. Teddy Taylor, referred to this subject, although he went on to say that he was doubtful whether the policy of tax allowances would be permitted. But, one way or another, the "carrot" may well be permissible, and it may well be that what we do may become the policy of the others. But, my Lords, I cannot for one moment see the policy of the "stick" being successfully applied. Suppose that somebody wants to expand a factory in 675 Birmingham by 100,000 square feet and the Government, after we are in the Common Market, say, "No; we are not going to give you an industrial development certificate. There are 150,000 people out of work in Scotland: go to Livingston or Cumbernauld or Glenrothes. "At the present time that use of the" stick "works. But what happens if that firm say, "No, we are not going there. We will go to Belgium. or to France "? Does the Minister wish to make a comment?
§ LORD HUGHES
Except for restrictions on the movement of capital. I was once on a deputation from Dundee, at the time the noble Viscount was President of the Board of Trade, when we were trying to prevent him from dismantling the protection of the jute industry. I well remember that the sort of comment he has just made was the sort of thing which he then said, and I remember the reply of a jute manufacturer. The noble Viscount will remember this because the man was a prominent member of the Conservative Party in Scotland, and he said to the Minister, in reply, "Is the advice, therefore, that you give us that we should go back to Scotland and 'flog' our machinery for the best price we can get?" The Minister had then said that if it had not been that all the industry was in one place he would have had nothing at all to do with helping it. So that comment is not helpful in the slightest.
Now my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe—
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt, because I had my "whack" yesterday and it is always a nuisance to be interrupted—
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
Nevertheless, my Lords, if my noble friend Lord Hughes will forgive me, I think his answer is at least as misdirected as he may think t he question was. It is most unlikely that a jute manufacturer will want to open his factory in Birmingham. It is much more likely that an American company may be deciding where to go, and then the question of limitations on the movement of 676 capital simply does not apply. He is the chap who might go to Belgium or Rotterdam, even now.
§ LORD HUGHES
No, my Lords; I am grateful for the interruption, because the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, is the first to admit that he is not always correct. He was never more "off his eggs" than he is at the moment. One of the most recent announcements by a Dundee jute manufacturer about setting up a new factory concerned a factory to be set up by the Low and Bonar complex, the biggest jute manufacturers in Dundee. They are setting it up in England because they say it is nearer to the markets, and they have regretted their inability to set it up in Dundee.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, wants to have it pinpointed, during the afternoon I can telephone to Sir Herbert Bonar and find out where it is going; but what I do know is that it is not going to Scotland.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, the noble Lord's point was that jute manufacturers were not going elsewhere.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I used Birmingham as an example. The noble Lord knows perfectly well that what we are referring to are the normal areas of heavy employment in the Midlands of England and in the South-East. I said Birmingham and the South-East not because I thought the Midlands was only Birmingham.
My Lords, before this useful interjection I had started to refer to my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe. He is the chairman of a committee which the Government had set up, and on which a number of my friends serve, whose primary purpose is to try to get German industry 677 to consider the prospects of investing in Scotland. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, spoke about the higher growth rate on the Continent. I presume that Germany has been chosen by the Government for this exercise as being the country from which investment is most likely to come. I am not at all heartened, and I am quite certain it does not make my noble friend's task any easier, when I read in yesterday's Financial Times that the growth rate in Germany in the first half of 1972 is expected to be a period of negative growth. I see the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, nodding his head at that. I could not understand exactly what "negative growth" meant; it seemed to he a contradiction in terms. At best, presumably, it means no growth at all; at worst, it probably means a cut-back. But the article then went on to say that if certain assumptions, which were perhaps a little optimistic, came about, the second half of 1972 might result in a growth rate in Germany in that year of 1 per cent. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is talking about a growth rate of 4½ per cent. in this country in 1972. It does not look, therefore, as if my noble friend has taken on an easy task and I am not at all certain that he will have a great measure of success. But I hasten to say this: I hope I am wrong. Every time he proves me wrong by getting an industry from Germany to Scotland I shall feel grateful and shall be delighted to say that I was wrong.
But, my Lord, it would be wrong to leave the impression that the Europeans are not looking at Scotland. There was a visit to Scotland—I do not know the exact date, but it was some time after August 26. We had a visit from a gentleman from Belgium. He is president of a development body; its initials are S. I. D. E. H. O. He came from Tournay. He is the organising director of this body and also General Secretary of the Belgian and French Chambers of Commerce in this area. He came over to Dundee and saw a number of people there. This might look like a very interesting start of this programme of investment of the Continent of Europe if we go in. But it was not. He was coming across to Dundee to try to get the names of Dundee manufacturers who might be interested in investing in Belgium. He brought no jobs 678 to us; and he did this at a time when one man in ten in the city to which he came is unemployed.
The noble Lord, Lord Harvey of Prestbury, was another noble Lord who yesterday referred to regional policies, and he spoke of his visits to Sicily and the great improvements he had seen there. He referred to the state of Sicily now as being one of semi-prosperity. I am not prepared to settle for that in Scotland. Six years of Labour Government took us in Scotland from semi-prosperity to 75 per cent. prosperity, if we take as a gauge the figure of unemployment. We went from a figure normally twice that of the United Kingdom to a figure one and a half times that of the United Kingdom. I was looking forward to the time when that gap would have been narrowed still further. Fifteen months of this Government have taken us back to the position in 1963. We are once again approaching the position where unemployment in Scotland is running at twice the United Kingdom rate. If what can be offered to us as an outlying region of the Common Market is semi-prosperity, that is no good.
It would be wrong, now that my noble friend Lord George-Brown has taken sufficient interest in my remarks to interrupt me, to go on without a reference to what he said yesterday. I must admit that, like most of your Lordships, I was fascinated by his aerial metaphors. I do not propose to follow him in the flights of high rhetoric, if only for the fact that I am well aware that I am not sufficiently pressurised for this task, but I do follow him at ground level. May I suggest that he was wrong in saying that when the plane for Europe took off he would leave behind some of his friends in the Labour Party and that he would wave "Ta-ta" to them? Surely the true position is that if there is such a plane we are all in it, but the majority are being hi-jacked to a destination to which they do not wish to go. My noble friend went on to express some high and worthy sentiments about the need for a changed attitude in industry if we go into the Common Market. I am in complete agreement with him, but I want to go further and say this: if we had at the present time the attitude which he says will be so essential if we go into the Common Market, there would be no need to go into the Common Market. I cannot see for one moment that there is 679 any greater chance of getting that attitude if we are in, if we cannot get it while we are out.
I conclude. The vast majority of the people of Scotland are against entry. I believe that only a minority of Scottish Members of Parliament will be shown to be in favour when the vote is taken in another place to-morrow night. No one person can truthfully claim to speak for Scotland on any subject; certainly no one person can speak for them on this. I believe, however, that the views which I have expressed are held by more people in Scotland than hold the other type of view. Although I would claim to be a patriotic Scot, I have never been a believer in the opinion that the saying "For Queen and Country" covered any sort of policy you liked to put forward. But I must say that I would much rather have that than to substitute "Mort pour Pompidou et la patrie".
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ LORD AVEBURY
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has raised a number of issues in which I am tempted to follow him, and particularly the question of regional policy, which I agree is very important in any consideration of this subject. I should like to be able to discuss at some length the points he has raised about the Scottish economy, because I believe that this is a matter that causes the greatest anxiety in Scotland, needlessly in my opinion. Nevertheless, it is felt in Scotland and ought to be taken into account when we come to vote. I think it is not only a question of attitude, as the noble Lord said. There is much more to it than that. There is the question of how the terms of entry are going to benefit the people of Scotland, as I believe they will benefit the people of the United Kingdom as a whole.
I disagree with him fundamentally, with great respect, in his analysis, which is largely subjective, of the effect of entry on the economy of Scotland, and therefore with the opinion which has been expressed, he says, by the majority of the people of that country. I think that looking at the situation of Scotland now and seeing the appalling tragedy of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, National Cash Register, Plessey, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the Common Market, 680 one may legitimately ask the noble Lord whether he cannot see in these symptoms of the disabilities of the Scottish economy something which has nothing whatsoever to do with entry or the decision about it which we have to take to-morrow.
It is indeed, as the noble Lord said, a question of regional policies that have been adopted by previous Governments which have only been partially successful, on which he put forward a figure of 75 per cent. so far as the Labour Government of 1964– 70 was concerned. I believe that that Government did too little so far as Scotland was concerned, and we are paying the price at the moment in the redundancies we see taking place in important Scottish industries. I know nothing about the jute industry, which the noble Lord discussed; but when one looks at shipbuilding and electronics in Scotland one cannot, I think, attribute to the negotiations to enter the Common Market so far as those industries are concerned, any blame for the human tragedy of redundancy and unemployment at present afflicting the people of Scotland. The noble Lord did not mention, although he touched briefly on the discretion which member countries have in the Six at the moment, the case of the Mezzogiorno, where very substantial regional incentives are given; these have had some effect in revitalising the economy of Southern Italy and I think to a lesser extent of Sicily, although the noble Lord did not think much of what has been accomplished there. These things are relative. Sicily and South Italy were very depressed areas years ago, and much has been accomplished under the Casa del Mezzogiorno, to which I think the noble Lord has not given sufficient importance.
I would agree with one thing, that there will be no last-minute conversions as a result of anything said in this debate or in another place.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, if the noble Lord would allow me—and I will not interrupt him again—I must admit that I know nothing at all about Sicily; I have never been there. I was accepting what the noble Lord, Lord Harvey of Prestbury, said as a fact. He said that he had been there on more than one occasion, and that it had accomplished 681 semi-prosperity. I said that was not good enough for Scotland.
§ LORD AVEBURY
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will not tempt me to make a much longer speech than I otherwise would. I was simply saying that the regional incentives offered by the Casa del Mezzogiorno are really quite extensive in their nature and compare well with anything done in this country, including regional incentives provided by the previous Administration. If one is to make a comparison between the two one is bound to say that our entry into the Common Market is not going to inhibit our freedom to grant the sort of incentives which were thought appropriate under the previous Administration, and indeed to add to them and to increase the amount of incentives which are going to be given to industrialists to expand in Scotland. the North East of England, Wales, and so on. If I may say so, this really is a red herring. If people are going to pretend that, as a result of our entry, there is going to be any inhibition on the United Kingdom Government granting fresh incentives to all regional development and to the employment of people in places such as Scotland and the North-West and, if you like, Ulster, where the unemployment rate is higher than the national average, I think that we could learn from studying the experience of the Casa del Mezzogiorno though, as the noble Lord said (and I am not going to disagree with this; he was quoting someone else), it has not been so successful as people might have hoped in the initial stages.
Whatever arguments are introduced in this place or the other place, I do not think they are going to change people's minds. I think most of us have come to a conclusion one way or the other. We either came to the conclusion a long time ago that we were opposed to entry on any terms whatsoever, or we had an opportunity of examining these terms and we made our decision on an intuitive assessment of the costs and benefits of entry. I think the case is intrinsically unprovable one way or the other. It is not a question of pointing out the arithmetic of entry and of setting an equation which puts the costs on one side and the benefits on the other and then deciding whether the net figure is positive or negative. It is a question of producing arguments of a qualitative nature. As the 682 noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, said, one has an undeniable risk in taking the decision. I would not dispute that at all. When one has examined these undeniable risks (deplore them, if you like), then I think one has to come to the conclusion, looking at these arguments of a qualitative nature, that entry will benefit both this country and Europe as a whole.
If one looks at the arguments—and I am giving just two examples on the free movement of labour and on the more difficult question of whether the Community will become a protectionist rich man's club—I think the picture becomes clearer. The free movement of labour was a matter of some discussion in the early stages of the question whether to enter or not. Now we have some indications of the type of thing that is likely to happen. There is a very interesting article in the first issue of a journal called New Community which appeared only this morning, where Dr. W. R. Bohing is talking about the potential flow of labour between this country and West Germany. Some of the opponents of entry have always argued that we shall have a flood of labour from the Community coming into Great Britain to take advantage of some supposed benefits which are existent in this country and which do not apply in the rest of Europe. It seems that the contrary is true. On the best figures available to us at the moment it appears that migration of Britons to work in the Federal Republic of Germany may rise to 10,000 in the mid-'70s, and even be equal to 20,000 in a peak year. This spectre which has been conjured up, of enormous numbers of Europeans coming into Great Britain and taking the jobs away from people in this country is, according to the best estimates that have been made by experts, quite incorrect; the flow will be the other way. Unemployment is likely to be alleviated in this country. To noble Lords on this side of the House in particular, who must be concerned by the high rates of unemployment we are experiencing at the moment under this Government, I would point out that those are likely to be alleviated as people note the large salaries that are available to them in countries like West Germany. If they go over there to take up jobs in the German shipbuilding industry, on German machine tools, and so on, until we get the benefits of entry they are likely 683 to do much better than their counterparts in the United Kingdom. Therefore we shall have a bonus of entry in terms of the alleviation of unemployment in this country.
The other example I wish to give is, I agree, much more difficult to determine. It arose out of yesterday's debate, when the more difficult question of whether the enlarged Community is going to be a protectionist rich man's club was examined. I think that this is very much more a matter of opinion than the previous subject I mentioned. The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, touched on this in yesterday's debate, when he said that he emphatically believed that anyone who thought the Common Market would benefit the Third World is being either hypocritical or self-deceiving. That is very strong language indeed. He thought that the object of the Common Market in the hard business terms on which it is based is to buy cheap and sell dear.
Once again, may I refer to this excellent journal, New Community, to an article by Mr. Arnold Smith, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, in which he comes to the opposite conclusion. He thinks that the enlargement of the Six and the facilities that that affords to Commonwealth nations to become Associate Members is going to be very much to their benefit. although he does, I agree, make the point that, so far as non-associated members of the Commonwealth are concerned, very much will depend on the negotiations after our entry for the terms of trade that can be achieved on their behalf. I think that this is a point we ought to take note of in this debate. I ask the Government for some comment on this—that they will very vigorously defend the needs of the non-associated members, and notably, as Mr. Smith says, those of Asia, in determining what terms of trade are available to them in the enlarged Community. If we set out on the right path here then this is something which we can contribute to the Commonwealth, and which we can say to the Commonwealth demonstrates, as Mr. Arnold Smith says, that there is nothing incompatible between our membership of the Community and the interest that we take in securing the advancement of the developing countries of the Commonwealth. I will return to this point again, if I may.
684 In the meanwhile, I would refer to some remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, in yesterday's debate, so far as industry in this country is concerned. He was referring to the C. B. I. survey which was undertaken, and he commented on the fact that in the Financial Times it was pointed out that only a very small proportion of those approached by the C. B. I. in fact responded to their survey; and so he tended to discount the figure of 90 per cent. of the respondents who favoured entry into the E. E. C. I would respectfully suggest to the noble Lord that when people are asked to reply to questionnaires of this sort their first inclination is to throw them into the waste paper basket; but their second inclination, having looked at the subject of the inquiry, if they are against whatever is suggested, is to reply; but if they are in favour of it they will again tend to throw it into the waste paper basket. Therefore, the fact that 90 per cent. of the 1,000 answers to the C. B. I. 's inquiry were in favour, to my mind indicates not the conclusion that the noble Lord drew but that the advantages of entry were apparent to very nearly 100 per cent. of the companies that were approached by the C. B. I.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me, would it not be more economical, if that method of analysing opinion is carried out, not to have a survey at all, and intuitively think that everyone is in favour of one's own course of action?
§ LORD AVEBURY
Obviously, my Lords, one does not do that. One has to try to make some tests of opinion, not only of opinion as a whole but of expert opinion, as the C. B. I. have done. But in doing this one must analyse the differences between those who have answered the questionnaire and those who have not answered it. What I was saying to the noble Lord was simply that people who are against something are more likely to express their opinion than those who are in favour of it. It does not matter whether it is the Common Market or fluoridation or any important issue. People like to oppose. But they do not very much like to stand up and be counted, as the noble Lord put it in his speech, in favour of a certain proposition.
The noble Lord went on to discuss a survey which I understand was conducted 685 by the Daily Telegraph, in which two questions were addressed to senior executives of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds. If that survey is as he described it, the senior executives of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds are a highly illogical bunch, because in answer to the first question they apparently said that they were personally against entry, but at the same time they believed that it was in the interests both of their company and of the United Kingdom as a whole that we should go in. What conclusions can one possibly draw from that?—that they think that something which is advantageous to their company and to the country as a whole is not to be tolerated from their own personal point of view? There must have been something wrong with the questions. I do not know whether the noble Lord took the text directly from the survey or whether he was merely quoting from the Daily Telegraph, but I should want to look into this a good deal more carefully before I accepted the conclusions that he drew.
Fortunately, we do not have to depend on this survey of one company, or even on the more comprehensive analysis undertaken by the Confederation of British Industry. We have a great many other expressions of opinion by industrialists. One example is a survey published in the Engineer, last week and I declare an interest in that I have the honour to he editorial consultant of the Engineer They sought the views on entry of 254 British engineering companies and 465 American manufacturing and service companies operating in Europe. They found, for example—I am quoting only some of the conclusions—that three-quarters of the British companies in manufacturing engineering expected to benefit from entry into the Common Market: that seven out of 10 American companies with headquarters already in the existing Community thought that they would gain; and that only 3 per cent. of the British and 6 per cent. of the American firms thought that they would actually he worse off—the balancing figures being those who felt there would be no change at all.
Additionally, they found that more than 70 per cent. of both British and American companies expected to increase their sales volume by proportions varying between 6 and 20 per cent. It is interest 686 ing that the larger companies thought that the benefits would be greater than the smaller ones expected—and I should like to come back to that point in a moment; 59 per cent. of the American companies located in Europe as a whole believed that their expansion would take place in Britain; and 79 per cent. of the British companies thought that expansion would take place in Britain. So if one sets this alongside the single survey of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds which the noble Lord quoted, one must agree that so far as the engineering industry is concerned the advantages seen are overwhelmingly on the side of entry.
I want to mention the fact that larger firms expect to gain most, as shown by the survey in the Engineer, because that is connected with a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, in his interesting speech in yesterday's debate. In a passage that was referred to by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, he was talking about the difficulty of covering the whole of the scientific and technological waterfront. He mentioned particular industries—electronics, telecommunications, aeronautics and nuclear power—which he said were immensely costly. They were so costly that we had to reduce our national effort in these fields, in spite of the fact that we undoubtedly had the technical competence to do far more than had been achieved so far. The reason for that is that only very large companies can afford to get involved in these sectors and, as technologies continue to develop, the minimum stake is getting higher all the time. I remember that when I was on the Select Committee on Science and Technology and we were looking at Defence research, we were told by the chairman of Plessey that 10 per cent. of his company's turnover had to be spent on research and development, whereas his competitors in the United States were spending only 5 per cent. of their turnover on R. and D.; yet the 5 per cent. of the American competitors was larger in absolute terms than the 10 per cent. that Plessey was spending. That was because of the enormous size of the American market.
The noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, mentioned civil nuclear power as an outstanding example of intra-European competition having led to waste in the past. I suggest that we in this country 687 cannot afford research and development on the scale of recent years, if our industry has to depend only on the scale of ordering that the Central Electricity Generating Board and the S. S. E. B., to a lesser extent, have been able to sustain in the last few years. The rate of increase in electricity consumption having gone down, there is less work for the contracting industry to do and therefore less of a base on which to sustain our R. and D.
Therefore it is very important to see that we have already made a start in collaborative agreements with partners in Western Europe, such as that between the Nuclear Power Group and Kraftwerkunion in Western Germany on joint tenders in third countries, which are going to open up a market outside even the enlarged Community. Agreement between this country, West Germany and Holland on centrifuge enrichment plant is equally important, but we have to learn here that if industry is to gain from this type of collaborative agreement it has to be brought in at an early stage. I am somewhat concerned that in this technology, whereas the Germans and the Dutch have brought in their industries so that when the time comes they will be able to tender for the very large contracts that will then be left for the manufacture of the centrifuge rotors or high-speed motors and drives, these contracts will tend to be scooped by German and Dutch companies which have been brought in by their national participants and closely involved in the programmes hitherto, whereas we have very largely left it to the British Nuclear Fuel Company—our own designated company—to participate in these collaborative agreements. We have thereby excluded companies with technical knowledge of high-speed rotating machines and of carbon fibre technology, which was originally developed in this country and is going to be instrumental in seeing that centrifuge enrichment of uranium is a success in the 'seventies.
On the same subject of development of a European nuclear industry. I think that the idea mentioned by Sir Stanley Brown, the Chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board, of a European high-temperature reactor club, is very worth 688 while pursuing. He said that he discussed this with the heads of European utilities on his recent visit and suggested that, for example, we should take a stake in the German pebble-bed reactor which is now under construction and where there is an opening, since Krupp has dropped out of the original consortium formed between themselves and Brown Boveri. At the same time, we might put forward proposals for collaboration with Europe on the construction of a parallel high-temperature reactor, based on prismatic fuel elements which have been developed by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. There is a possibility, also, of collaboration on the sodium cooled fast reactor which, in the opinion of experts in this country, will be the principal source of new generating capacity from the early 1980's onwards. There is an agreement between the Nuclear Power Group and Kraftwerkunion, as I have mentioned, which could make it possible for the Germans to avoid the intermediate stage of constructing a 300 megawatt prototype reactor and to go straight from the experience we have of the P. F. R. at Dounreay to a 1,000 megawatt commercial type reactor, thereby saving themselves an enormous amount of capital expenditure; and for this, I have no doubt, they will be prepared to pay royalties to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and to British Nuclear Fuels Limited.
The other main area of collaboration which is of importance and which was mentioned by the noble Lord. Lord Zuckerman, is computers. I think that the unexpected fall-off in orders which has occurred during the last year has very much exposed the vulnerability of the British-owned companies. I remember hearing Mr. Herb Grosch (who has the distinction of being the only man to be sacked twice by I. B. M.) talking about the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but in this particular story Snow White represented I. B. M. and, as to the seven dwarfs, I cannot remember all their names but Happy was Honeywell. Dopey was General Electric and so on. The story went that in the end Snow White ate all the seven dwarfs and thus remained the only one on the scene. If this is so as far as large companies like Honeywell and G. E. C. are concerned, then what 689 chance do our own indigenous manufacturers in Europe have against that kind of competition? Is it not very doubtful whether International Computers Limited or Siemens Telefunken in Germany or C. I. I. in France can survive against the sort of competition which is coming from I. B. M. unless they get together, and do so in a hurry? I think the agreement between International Computers, C. I. I. and Control Data is a small step in the right direction, but it is a wholly inadequate response to the formidable challenge which we are facing from the other side of the Atlantic.
So there is no doubt in my mind—although, as I said at the beginning, one cannot prove it—that entry into Europe and the consequential impetus to collaboration in these advanced fields of technology is going to generate increased wealth for the United Kingdom and for the enlarged Community as a whole. If I thought that we were going to use this wealth selfishly, purely to increase the material consumption of the people of this country, then I should be against the idea in principle. But I believe that this idea of an inward-looking club of rich white nations erecting barriers to keep out the Third World is absolute nonsense. This is not the idea which is present in anybody's mind in wanting to join the European Economic Community. We have the prospect of using the resources that are generated by entry and the stumulus given to the economies, not only of our own country but of our allies in Europe, to live up to our obligations and to eliminate, or at least to reduce, the disparities of wealth between nations as well as between individuals; and it is because of this that I believe that we should take a decision in favour of entering Europe.
§ 3.44 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF BLACKBURN
My Lords, I have listened with great interest and great profit to this debate, both yesterday and to-day, and to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, because he has dealt with two matters to which I was going to make reference, and so I can now speak more briefly. It is increasingly obvious that most points which could be made have been made; that arguments both for and against entry have been cogently and honestly put forward. But basically these arguments 690 have been concerned with political and economic issues, and on these I would not myself claim to be able to speak with proper authority. But, my Lords, behind these factors lie certain social and moral implications, in that the decision to be taken to-morrow evening will affect the lives not only of British citizens and their children but of so many other peoples in different parts of the world; and it is about some of these moral and social implications and attitudes that I should like to speak, as briefly as possible.
It has been stated that the European Economic Community can be depicted as a hard-headed commercial union of States, still rich and resolved to grow richer. If Great Britain decides to join the so-called rich man's club, what are the implications for those who are already less well off within our own society and in the countries of the Third World? It cannot be denied—indeed, it is openly acknowledged—that food prices will be increased, although the estimates of such increases vary very greatly. But herein lie the fears of many people, and account in no small part for the opposition of many and the opinions expressed in the various polls, although I do not really believe that some of these polls are truly representative. But the fact must be faced, and answered, that many members of the British population, particularly the lower-paid workers, the old age pensioners and the unemployed, will suffer hardship unless appropriate action is taken. Now we are glad to have the assurance of the review and the adjustment of old age pensions, and we hope that the enlarged markets and increased production will raise the wages and relieve the present tragic unemployment situation.
My next concern is with the Third World, about which the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, spoke so eloquently yesterday. There are already within the existing Community some special associations with underdeveloped countries, and we were reassured last night by the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, that special arrangements will be made relating to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. For example, I have in mind particularly Mauritius, which I happen to know, where 92 per cent. of its exports are in sugar. At the present time—and let us acknowledge this fact—far too 691 little of our gross national product is made available to underdeveloped countries. The latest figure that I have is 0. 61 per cent. France gives slightly over 1 per cent., Belgium just under 1 per cent. If you take the private funds, you will find that Britain is increased above the 1 per cent., but France and Belgium are nearly 2 per cent. Now the question to be asked—and I am asking it—is whether we, through entry to the European Economic Community, can secure a larger and fairer distribution of assistance to developing countries. I have not found that answer yet, and I hope I may find it. I am told that, outside the European Communities, Britain will be of diminishing importance in this respect, but within it, if she chooses, she can be their most persuasive advocate.
My Lords, in these issues as in so many others, as we have been reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, it is obvious that there is an element of the incalculable. We must certainly use all our skills, all our abilities, to make judgments on the evidence which is available, but by and large, as I see it, our entry into the European Economic Community would be an act of faith—and I would prefer those words act of faith "to those of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, who said there was "an undeniable risk", for one reason, and that is because there is one essential element of faith to which I would draw attention. As I understand faith—in the fullest, general sense of the word, as well—it actually means an act of commitment. When we talk about our entry as an act of faith we recognise that, while there is this element of incalculability, we should regard the venture in the light of what we can make of it. I do not myself believe that it is a castle in the air; rather is it a response to a geographical and historical situation in which we are a part of Europe, and it rests upon our estimate of our common interest in planning and working together in community and for the reconciliation of all nations. Therefore, for my part, having listened to such evidence as is available and having weighed these factors, I find myself among those who believe that the right course for Great Britain to follow is to join the E. E. C. If this is accepted by the majority as the ultimate decision, we must then deliber 692 ately, conscientiously and wholeheartedly commit ourselves to this course of action; and faith must be translated into deeds. There are immense challenges; let us face them. There are great opportunities; let them be seized. I believe that these far outweigh the threatened disadvantages if we have the courage and faith to go forward—and it demands both.
My Lords, the question is sometimes asked, "What are we going to get out of the E. E. C.?" It is an inevitable question but not necessarily the right one to ask in the first place; because the answer to it depends on how much we are prepared to put into the Community. Here is a great truth running all the way through life. It applies to the land; it applies to finance; it applies to personal relationships. The more we put in, provided it is in the right way, at the proper time, with wise judgment and full commitment, the more we get out. Of course, there is a price to be paid but there is a harvest to be gathered by an act of commitment to Europe. If some say that we cannot afford to go into Europe, I would reply that we cannot afford to stay out.
This brings me to my last point. No man lives unto himself—or, in those immortal words which I apologise for quoting if they have been quoted already in this debate: "No man is an island entire of himself." Those words remind me in this connection of a Press heading some time ago: "Fog in the Channel. Continent isolated." That is only too true of a common attitude; true also of the attitude of some clergy, an attitude of which I have been guilty when I have said, "Let us pray for the Church overseas "—when the Church overseas is far greater than the Church here. Life is designed to be lived in community. Self-interest in the end, I believe, leads to self-destruction. It is self-interest in one form or another which is bedevilling the life of the world and the lives and activities of far too many people. Now, after all these years, is an opportunity for us to take our rightful place in the continued development of an already impressive European Community, a Community which will continue to exist and flourish whether Great Britain is in it or not; but which offers us new opportunities for the investment of money and also the investment of our many skills and which can 693 pay rich dividends and increasing prospects if we are prepared to pay our full part in it. All that I have seen and heard on the Continent encourages me in the belief that the Community greatly and genuinely desires Great Britain to come in and share in the wider and fuller development of its life.
I find the attitude of the Trades Union Congress most perplexing when so many of their colleagues are pleading with them to come and join them; and I share in the anxieties expressed by the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, yesterday. One asks: what are the true motives behind this? Let us not delude ourselves that we can stay as we are or that we can influence what exists without committing ourselves fully to it. We need one another. We have much to give one another; and it is in giving that we shall receive. We should lay aside timidity and insularity and have the faith to take the step and, having taken it, learn to work together—which is the actual meaning of the word "community" and the only true basis on which it can be built. After some hesitation therefore, it is my firm intention to support the Government in their Motion.
§ 3.57 p.m.
§ LORD ASTOR OF HEVER
My Lords, I am very conscious of the fact that the first occasion when I have the honour of addressing your Lordships concerns an issue which is probably as important to the history of this country and of Europe as was the Marshall Plan for American Aid some 25 years ago. That imaginative and generous Plan provided Western Europe with the opportunity not only to recover and reconstruct itself after six years of major hostilities but also to achieve greater productivity and an earlier affluence than would otherwise have been possible. We now have the opportunity to take another great leap forward; and the decision taken to-morrow, whichever way it goes, will have a profound effect upon all of us, but even more upon the lives of our children and grandchildren.
For nearly 2,000 years Europe has remained disunited, but in the last couple of decades one half of it has had unity imposed upon it by Communist totalitarianism, supported by the strong hand of Russian armoury. The other half has entered into a voluntary association of 694 major West European States. This has started as an Economic Community but it recognises that under modern conditions effective economic unification requires also some degree of political unification. Britain has always been part of Europe, geographically, ethnically, culturally and politically. For nearly 2,000 years it has been inspired by the Christian faith. We now have the advantage not only of having seen the European Economic Community in action for a decade, to the mutual benefit of each member, but also of seeing what has happened to once proud, free and independent countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain. I do not believe that it is realistic to expect that Britain can remain in isolation outside one or other of the two European groupings. With so many internal and external forces in play, the choice of lining up now with the voluntary form of United Europe seems infinitely preferable to the possible consequences of attempting to go it alone.
My Lords, we British are among the least suspect and the least suspecting people in the world. That is why we are so vulnerable to the forces which are working against us, day and night. The struggle has been going on for fifty years and more—not a war of bombs and bayonets but a war of minds and economics. Many politically motivated forces are about who, while preaching the doctrine of peaceful coexistence, are exploiting every situation to bring about the elimination of our Western democratic and capitalistic society. We do not have to look far to see evidence of the basic principles of revolution and subversion emerging, the infusion of outside help and intensive propaganda campaigns. The aim, surely, is that the existing established orders should destroy themselves, either by demoralisation and attrition or by civil war. It has been the experience of the Six that public opinion has grown in favour of the European Community to the extent that it is now generally taken for granted. The only people who do not take it for granted are the Communists. So, while I respect the genuine sincerity and the agonising heart-searching of noble Lords who are still wavering (if any of them are still wavering) about the correct decision for Britain to take, my own conviction is that there is no secure alternative for Britain's freedom 695 and sovereignty if she does not join the Community of free European nations.
I am also convinced, my Lords, that it is only in association with the 10 countries of Western Europe that Britain can help to influence vital decisions being taken by other entities in the world who wield comparable economic power. This influence which Britain can bring to bear is tremendous, for she is unique in the number and variety of her international connections and in the extent of their geographical range. She is still the centre of an extraordinary social complex of people—of races, religions and backgrounds drawn from all parts of the world—and can thus offer a counterweight to continental and regional isolationism which is one of the great dangers facing the world to-day. I do not share the views of those who believe that Britain's entry into the European Community would inevitably result in a weakening of the Commonwealth. On the contrary; I believe that British entry could make the Commonwealth more, not less, important to all her 31 member nations, as well as to the Community, and provide opportunities of mutual advantage to each.
I am persuaded that the terms which have been secured for Britain's entry are as fair as can be expected, both for Britain and also for the Commonwealth, and that none of the changes in trading patterns with any member of the Commonwealth will be either abrupt or significantly disrupted. These satisfactory terms were achieved not only because of the close identity of view held by this country and by the Six about the future role of Europe in the world, but also because of the continuing processes of close consultation, understanding and cooperation which were followed at every stage with our Commonwealth partners. My Lords, the days have passed when Britain can be accused of deserting the Commonwealth in favour of Europe. It has come to be realised and accepted that Britain is, and always has been, a part of Europe, and that British membership of the Common Market and her membership of the Commonwealth are entirely compatible.
There is no doubt that many aspects of British life will be affected and that that will affect our Commonwealth rela 696 tionships. But over the centuries British institutions have had a remarkable capacity to bend and adapt themselves to changing conditions. One effect of Britain's Europeanisation upon the changes in British institutions will be the discovery of the Commonwealth by Europe and a new approach to Europe by the Commonwealth. We may expect to see a penetration of Europe by Commonwealth interests and, simultaneously, a widening out of European contacts into most Commonwealth countries. Britain's entry will provide the Ten European countries with improved availability and accessibility to the experience and opportunities of our long and well-tried Commonwealth association. People often do not realise that there are 250 or more unofficial Commonwealth organisations, institutions and societies, ranging across the whole spectrum of law, medicine, accountancy, arts, Press, politics and the rest, each designed to give information, help or advice wherever needed; and much of their value lies in the fact that they are run by people and not by Governments. Their shared experiences and cooperation have done much to keep the Commonwealth together and alive.
Then, at a time when the Commonwealth was supposed to be almost a "has-been" it was given a new vitality by the formation of the Commonwealth Secretariat and of the Commonwealth Foundation. No doubt there is much more still to be done, and I feel sure that the enthusiasm and sense of purpose of all these agencies will not slacken but will be strengthened as new horizons open up within the European Community. Indeed, already, only a fortnight ago, a meeting of Commonwealth information specialists met in London and finalised a plan to make the Commonwealth better known and better understood. They considered that many judgments about the Commonwealth and its future were being made in ignorance of the facts, and that every endeavour should be made to increase Commonwealth coverage in the mass media.
Unfortunately, it is a true criticism that the attitude of the British Press towards Commonwealth newsworthiness has resulted in a steady decline in the coverage and publication of serious Commonwealth matters. This is despite the fact 697 that, thanks to preferential Commonwealth rates, there is a continuous inter-flow, day and night, of news, views, and background messages between news agencies and newspaper offices all over the Commonwealth. So if the bulk of this material is not used or published, it must be the editors' choice, or what the editors think is their readers' choice. Even so, wherever Commonwealth news happens to be breaking I believe that it is still better reported in the national Press of Britain than it is in the Press of any other country of the world. And we must remember that it is British newspapers which provide the main, if not the only, source of Commonwealth information which Europeans ever see. So, my Lords, as Britain takes its place in Europe, and as a new design for the Commonwealth emerges, one may hope that editors in this country will rise to the occasion and will use their influence to project the one to the other.
The prizes and rewards of entry will not be earned on the first afternoon. But what your Lordships are asked to decide now should pave the way for bountiful benefits in the years to come for our children and for our grandchildren. So, my Lords, it is my firm belief that Britain's great step into Europe will mean a stronger Britain, a stronger Europe, a more satisfied Commonwealth and a more peaceful world.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, it is my pleasure to be the first to offer a welcome to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever. We are indebted to him for the clarity and forthrightness of what he had to say, and we shall look forward, I am certain, to the championship which he has already entertained for the Commonwealth, which is near to his heart and mind. I am in no way inhibited from saying these things because of the fact that what I shall now further have to say will probably be in strict disagreement with what has just been said.
My Lords, it is perfectly true that at this stage of this long debate our affairs are much more likely to be testimonial than evangelical. Indeed, I doubt whether there are many who are likely to be persuaded by much speaking. But the actual flux of events has not congealed since last this matter was before your Lordships,
698 and what has emerged in the interim, among other things—some of which I may refer to later—is the sense of urgency and absoluteness which surrounds this issue. It has been said that there is nothing comparable with this issue, unless we look back to a certain sombre Sunday, June 16,1940, when Mr. Winston Churchill made the offer of union between this country and France, in its day of great decrepitude and sorrow and suffering, and indeed on the eve of its armistice appeal. There is one startling difference—there may be many—between that particular revolutionary step, or evolutionary leap, and the one to which so many of your Lordships are committed in this debate and in the forthcoming vote. I have no doubt at all that the great majority of the British people would have applauded vigorously and supported fervently had it been possible for Winston Churchill's words to have been heard by the French, for de Gaulle tells us that practically none of them heard the suggestion at all until it was too late.
We are confronted to-day with the fact that the majority of the people in this country are opposed to the change which the Government. are intending to push through, if they can, by proper constitutional procedure, and I think it is imperative that somewhere in this debate some kind of analysis should be made, if possible, of what lies behind this implacable opposition, which shows no tendency to diminish, on the part of people who can be regarded as soft-headed and, in some measure, as those who prefer a short-time benefit to a longterm prospect. If it is not cynical it might well be that the attitude of many of the people of this country to-day has something in common with that sordid set of advertisements, humorous no doubt, in which participants are invited to say why they are here and the answer is, "We wouldn't be here but for the beer. "This has even invaded the television screen on which we see a wedding ceremony at which, while the vicar himself does not say so (the advertisement doffing its hat, I suppose to the Church), it is said on his behalf, and he does not contradict it, that he is only there for the beer.
If it be argued that entrance or non-entrance to the Common Market has been determined in the minds of many of our 699 citizens to-day by such squalid and sordid comments, let us also reflect, because I believe it to be true, that probably the fault for this lies with those of us who have propagated the idea of the Common Market at a level which has been trivial rather than profound, and in terms which have not in any way commended themselves to that elementary horse sense of the average citizen who wants a sufficient reason for such a revolutionary step. He has not had sufficient reason. The matter has been trivialised and, largely speaking, the argument to-day has followed the traditional pattern of advocating the benefits that are to accrue from the Common Market enterprise rather than asking the much more profound questions to which we have been invited to listen as to what is the predominant, fundamental and profound significance of this tremendous step which we are being invited to take.
I believe that the ordinary man in the street has not been moved primarily by self-interest, by the price of butter. I think that he has been largely moved to a negative position because he does not see a sufficiently substantial and profound reason for the kind of change which is advocated with such enthusiasm and which is marked, at any rate in those who advocate it, by what they assume to be the evidence of the vast and good changes that will follow. I do not believe, therefore, that it is right that a referendum should be taken on this matter. It is unsuitable and it is out of character and it would be largely ineffective. But I am vastly impressed by the argument that until and unless some kind of new relation can be established between those of us who sit in these places and the vast majority of people of this country, it is wrong for us to go forward under such conditions of disparity and contradiction. It is for that reason and in no Party political sense that it seems to me that a General Election is required as the kind of fulcrum upon which can be argued out those issues which in large measure have hitherto been neglected.
This is far too serious a matter to be decided by a Government which knows, or thinks it knows, what it wants. This is far too serious a matter to lay upon the knees of chance. Though I have heard this afternoon many enthusiastic 700 references to the future, many of them are promise rather than performance. I do not know whether they are accurate or not; but what I do believe is that such an important and impressive change of our whole affairs, for such it will be, should only take place after most careful, forthright and thoroughgoing examination, not only of the immediate consequences or even economic consequences of Common Market entrance, but of those issues which lie far beyond and which I think will either convulse or confirm our hopes and our fears and may indeed produce an entirely different set of affairs in which our children have to live.
The noble and learned Lord who sits upon the Woolsack characterised some of us as being implacable in our hostility on these very terms. We are not interested in the variation in terms. I accept that fully. I find the argument developed by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, curiously and ethically open to considerable dispute. It is not a matter of saying that we must vote for the Common Market unless we can tell the House of some different and better course that we can take. This reminds me of the man who saw somebody on the edge of a cliff about to walk over and felt himself inhibited from trying to stop him because he had no other propositions to make to him about his promenade. I believe that in the strictest of terms falling over a cliff is an end in itself, and I would briefly give my reasons for so saying. I am sick to death of the nation's state. I believe it is predatory, nasty, violent and probably spawns most of the evils from which to-day we suffer. What I intend to do about it is to see to it, so far as I can, that we do not transform the nation's state as it now stands, and, paradoxically enough, it has been proliferating since the emergence of the United Nations from something like 60 to 150 nation States.
I do not want to see the nation's state coagulated into a series of super-States. This seems to me a very real and definite prospect. I do not know what might be the reactions of it. No one is going to tell me that economic unity is not the bell-wether of political unity. If the E. E. C. is to survive, the E. E. C. must continuously and progressively develop political institutions in order to safeguard those very economic institutions which it 701 is now proliferating. There is ample evidence at the moment that far from there being greater unity in the economic desires of the Six, there is increasing disparity between what some of them want and others are determined they shall not have. I cannot see any sound argument by which it could be demonstrated that the E. E. C. will not progressively become more and more a political unity, either federal or unitary, and that at the very moment at which there is a prospect of the adhesion of Mainland China to the United Nations, at which supra-nationalism has another breath of prospective air.
If we are now to embark on a programme which tends to set in blocs super-States, I believe it will be a great hindrance to the prospect entertained, in which some of us rejoice, of China's becoming a member of the United Nations. I do not believe in the super-State. I fear that this is what the programme to which we are now committed will inevitably lead. I am not encouraged by what Mr. Healey said in another place about the sharing of nuclear power secrets—the independent nuclear deterrent. I fear that, though this does not command the headlines at the moment, it is still the pre-eminent enemy of any prospects of peace and justice for our children. I share entirely the hopes that were engendered in this House by the speech of my noble and ecclesiastical colleague and it ill befits any of us to parade our dog collars and flog our consciences.
What I have to ask myself, and what I would venture therefore to make public as I speak to your Lordships now, is this. Will the enlarged Common Market serve the general interests of peace. I believe that this is highly dubious, and I have heard no evidence whatsoever to suggest that it will. On the other hand, it seems to me that it might well be the precursor of a new balance of power, which shattered the serenity of the 18th century and is not something new, as Mr. Heath and others have invited us to believe, but simply the shuffling of an existing and, I think, discredited pack.
Will adherence to the Common Market increase the prospects of wellbeing among those who are now dispossessed or disadvantaged? I see no evidence to suggest that that is likely, though there 702 are many portentary messages to which we have listened bidding us believe that the future is bright with hope. I do not believe that things will stand still. So long as the nation State in its isolationism and violence continues, there is I think little hope of a regeneration of those more temperate and decent habits for which we all long.
Finally, my Lords, at the very moment at which I believe there is the prospect of some new spirit beginning to become envisaged among the nations, it seems to me a great pity that we should shackle ourselves, as I believe we shall so do, to an institution which has nothing of the new life of tomorrow, but in fact represents the failures of the past, and an attempt, by reshuffling the elements in the pack, to create new opportunities rather than to set forth upon new paths, however difficult those paths may be. It would be, to me, a great pity at this moment, when the old order does seem to represent the fin de siè cle This, I know, is a long cast, but I think it should be included in this particular debate. I want this country to be free to ally itself with new movements which will once and for all by-pass or super-pass the old habits of the nation State. It is for that reason that I am implacably hostile to a programme which seems to me to move in the opposite direction. I hope that, even at this last scale, having said that this is largely a matter of comment, there may be some who will feel that to free ourselves from such a burden is yet the hope of a future bright not only with hope but with the greatest traditions that belong to our past.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ LORD OAKSHOTT
My Lords, one thing on which I can agree with the noble Lord, Lord Soper, without any reservation is in his congratulations to my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever on his maiden speech. I must say that I envied my noble friend's fluency. His speech was wide in scope, and I think I speak for all your Lordships in saying that we really cannot wait to hear him again.
I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, is not in his place to-day, because it was something that he said in our debate last July which prompted me to take part in the debate to-day.
703 The noble Lord indicated (I am paraphrasing his words) that for those of us who believe in a united Europe it was time to stand up and testify to our beliefs. That, my Lords, in the short speech which I shall inflict upon your Lordships to-day, is what I intend to do. It must be 18 or 19 years ago now that as a Member of another place I was first a delegate from this Parliament to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Then, and later in the 1950s, the question of the Common Market absorbed a great deal of our thoughts and discussions. I think the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, was a delegate at the same time, and he will bear me out in that. Of course, it was visualised originally as an economic movement.
I became then, and have remained ever since, except for a short period which I shall recount in a moment, an ardent supporter of the idea of a united Europe. But already there were political undertones. It could be seen that it might, and probably would, extend quite far beyond the concept of economic union. At that time I remember that the Federalists were making a lot of the running: but I think we managed to hold them off. I myself have never—and this refers to something said by the noble Lord, Lord Soper—favoured Federalism as a political aim. I thought that the noble, but at times difficult, man General de Gaulle came near to the right answer with his idea of a Europe des patries. I believed then that we ought to have been participants in the talks at Messina, which led to the Treaty of Rome: I was sorry that we failed to join the European Coal and Steel Community, and I deeply regretted that the European Defence Community, which, though not an economic concept, was yet one of the intended European Communities, failed to get off the ground. If one thinks back all those years, there were still the scars of war in Europe to be healed, and I felt strongly that one of the ways of advancing that healing process was to blend the armed forces of the former adversaries. These things, Messina, the Coal and Steel Community and E. D. C. were all disappointments to me. I only mention them now, as it were, as part of my testimony.
704 Then came the two French vetoes. Then—and this was the only time that I suffered a period of disillusionment—came M. Pompidou's joke about the British sense of humour, and I began to wonder whether Europe really wanted us. However, I am glad to say that my moment of petulance did not last long. And it is a wonderful thing, my Lords, that, in spite of all these setbacks, those of us who really believe in a united Europe have still managed to remain steadfast in our belief.
Other noble Lords have spoken of the various problems associated with our accession to the Treaty of Rome: the value added tax; the Commonwealth; our share of the Community Budget; the effects on our balance of payments; the Common Agricultural Policy and so on. I do not intend to deal with these problems now. There is, however, one thing I should like to say a few words about, and that is the question of sovereignty, about which we have heard so much. In my book, a signature on any treaty—and treaties, after all, bind nations to do something or not to do something—involves some surrender of political sovereignty. The classic example, of course, is our membership of the United Nations. If and when we sign the Treaty of Rome, we shall of course accept—though they may become negotiable later on, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, mentioned yesterday—the protocols, the Statutory Instruments, or whatever they are called, which are annexed to the Treaty at the time of our signature—and I emphasise the qualification, "at the time of our signature". But after that our voice will be heard. We shall be represented in the Council of Ministers; and we have it on the authority of M. Pompidou himself, at his famous Press Conference, that wherever a nation's vital interests are involved the unanimity rule will have to apply. In addition to that, we will be represented on the Commission in Brussels, too. Perhaps as significant as this, if less tangible, is that I have yet to hear of an example of the Government of the French Republic, the Government of West Germany or, for that matter, the Government of any of the Members of the Six, surrendering any part of what they consider to be their vital national sovereignty.
705 Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord WellsPestall, and again to-day the noble Lord, Lord Soper, had something to say about the possibility of federation. I have already said that I find that unacceptable as a solution. The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, went on to express doubts about a European Government. I cannot see Her Majesty's present Ministers or those of a future Government or, for that matter, of a Government of the French Republic either, agreeing to that. But my impression initially is—and I hope that my noble friends on the Front Bench will correct me if I am wrong—that if the question of a European Government were to arise such as was floated, for example, by Herr Scheel of West Germany a few months ago, there would need to be a new Treaty: we should have to be participants in the negotiations, and our signature would be required. So really, my Lords, taking it all round, I can see no real threat in the European Community institutions to the supremacy of the Queen in Parliament. If I did, I think I should view the matter differently.
I have given my testimony. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, spoke of this being "a testimonial debate", and I think he is right. I have given my testimony and that is all I have to say. I am not so starry-eyed as to expect quick results—as my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever said, "results in one afternoon"—but I think that over the years the benefits to this country from joining the Community will be very substantial indeed. I do not care to contemplate the alternative. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn spoke of a supposed news headline, and perhaps I might develop that and say that it is not the Continent that is in danger of being isolated; it is we who incur that danger if we turn our backs on Europe. Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, spoke of this as a challenge and said that he welcomed that challenge. So do I. I hope very much, my Lords, that in the vote tomorrow evening, both here and in another place, we shall make unmistakably clear our readiness and willingness to accept that challenge.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ Loan CHALFONT
My Lords, I should like to begin by joining with other 706 noble Lords who have offered their congratulations on the maiden speech yesterday of the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, and the equally remarkable maiden speech to-day of the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, which was indeed, as has already been said, a model of clarity and lucidity and gave us all (unusual in debates of this length) information that many of us have not been aware of before. I hope that we shall hear more from these noble Lords in our debates in the future. I hope that I may also be allowed to say briefly what a great pleasure it is to see the noble Lord, Lord Soper, here in such fine voice again in your Lordships' House. I did not agree with everything he said—he would not expect me to—but I think that noble Lords will agree that his very presence here to-day is a measure of the courage with which he has faced an operation which would have laid low a man of lesser spirit. I am delighted to see him with us again.
My views on the entry of this country into the Common Market are, I think, fairly well known in your Lordships' House; indeed, some of my colleagues have asked me why I should feel it necessary to repeat them to-day. The answer is, quite simply, that I regard the Motion before your Lordships' House as one of the most important and historic issues that has faced Britain, certainly in this century. On this question it seems to me it is possible quite honestly to be "for" or "against". It is even possible, though I suppose at this stage difficult, to be still undecided. But as one who has spent the last seven years, either from the Government or the Opposition Front Bench, as a spokesman on foreign affairs, I should find it quite intolerable to be silent on a decision of this magnitude. I need hardly say that to-day I speak for nobody but myself.
I shall be as brief as I can be. There is, I fear, nothing new to say on this subject, but I hope that your Lordships will bear with me if I say briefly how I personally have reached my decision on how to vote when a decision is taken. On the matter of the terms which have been negotiated by the Government it is possible to have two views. Certainly those who are in principle against entry into the Common Market will find them unacceptable; but then presumably they 707 would find any terms unacceptable. For my own part, I believe that although they are not perfect they are as good as anyone who has been closely connected with the negotiations ever expected to get; and those who believe that they can get substantially better terms than the present Government have negotiated are, in my opinion, deluding themselves. I do not propose to-day to argue the economic case for entry into the Common Market. I am almost totally ignorant of economic theory—almost. There are, as an American Senator once said in another context of President Eisenhower,"gaps in my ignorance". My own view, based on purely empirical considerations, is that entry into the Common Market will probably, but not certainly, have an adverse short-term effect on the British economy and it will probably, but not certainly, have an advantageous effect in the long term.
But I go further and suggest that this, in any case, is to put the whole argument at the wrong level. Of course economic factors are important: we ignore them at our peril. It seems to me, my Lords, foolish and irresponsible to become so obsessed with the cost of living to-day that we lose sight of the quality of life to-morrow. My proposition is that there is an overwhelming political case for going into the European Economic Community and that even if we have to pay an economic price for entry in the short term—and that is by no means conclusively proved—it is a price worth paying. I should like to take up a few minutes of your Lordships' time to explain why.
It is impossible to draw a clear line between domestic and foreign policy. In the long run the prosperity of this country and of its people depends upon the security of this country. I do not mean security in the narrow, defence sense of the word, but security in a wider sense—the capacity of this country indeed to exist in a stable political environment, safe as far as possible from the convulsions of war and subversion. I 'am convinced that that kind of security depends, and will depend, in a very large measure upon the role that this country plays in the world, upon the capacity that we have and shall have to influence great political decisions. This is, as I have suggested, 708 in my view not simply a matter of pursuing material prosperity; it is fundamentally a matter of the quality of our lives. We could, I suppose, choose to live lives of splendid isolation. We could eat delicious food and wear elegant clothes, watch our colour television sets, wash our cars every weekend and let the rest of the world look after its own affairs. Even if that were what the people of this country wanted, I hope that no one would be too confident or complacent that we could even get it.
One often hears brave references to Britain "going it alone" and becoming another Switzerland, Sweden or Norway. I doubt very much, in the first place, whether that is an option that is open to us. We are a maritime trading nation with problems very different from those of the smaller Continental democracies. But, in any case, is that really what the people of this country want? I am not so contemptuous of the British people as to believe that they are interested only in bread and circuses. Their spirit, temperament and traditions are not of that kind. Most people in this country, I think, and particularly the young people, who have not figured very largely in our debate, want to make not only in Britain but the rest of the world a safer, more compassionate and more civilised place for themselves, for the present generation and for the generations to come, and if political leaders have any function at all it is to show them the way in which they might do it.
It is worth while asking ourselves, briefly, how the world is likely to develop in the rest of this century—what kind of problems we and our children are likely to be called upon to face. By far the greatest and most urgent is the need to ensure that the resources of the world are more intelligently and humanely distributed than they are at present. No civilised man or woman can accept for much longer a state of affairs in which three-quarters of the world's goods are in the hands of a quarter of its people, while the rest have to make do wretchedly with what is left.
This is no time to develop the theme at length, but I think it worth remembering—although it has been said many times before—that while the great debate about the Common Market in this 709 country tends too often to be concentrated around the price of a pound of butter, children are starving to death every day somewhere in the world. It is a problem which should be an outrage to the conscience of any civilised person; but even those who say, with brutal realism, "We have enough problems of our own" should realise that this is a problem of our own and may become a more immediate problem very easily: for, unless we do something about the hungry and hopeless people of the Third World, they will one day do something about it themselves, and we shall find our comfortable and prosperous society torn violently apart. And this is not without relevance to 'another pressing problem—the problem of racial conflict. It is blindingly obvious to all of us that while for the most part the rich and prosperous countries of the world are white, the underfed and the underprivileged are coloured. Already the racial issue has brought appalling violence to one great country of the West. We should not believe that any of us is necessarily immune from it.
Then there is the problem of the arms race, especially in the weapons of mass destruction, between the United States and the Soviet Union—a dangerous confrontation into which China, inevitably, is beginning to move. And if the fear of nuclear annihilation has lost the power to impress us any longer—as my noble friend Lord Soper mentioned—what about the sheer, inspired lunacy of a world in which £ 8,000 million a year is spent on armaments, while 15,000 million people live in poverty—a poverty that could be swept away if even only a small part of military budgets were spent on other things.
I have not time—and this is not the opportunity—to talk about all the other problems: the need to break down the barriers between East and West; the need to control the growth of population; the need to do something urgent to stop technological man poisoning the air that he breathes and the water that he drinks. All this has led me at least to one inescapable conclusion about the foreign policy of this country. We already live in the world which my noble friend Lord Soper fears—the world of the super-States. It is with us now; to say that we do not believe in it is not good enough; we have to live in it. For some time now we in 710 this country have for the most part had to stand by while the great political decisions about poverty, disarmament and about the environment, are made elsewhere in the world, usually in Washingtion, or Moscow, or in collaboration between the two. Soon they may be made in Peking and Tokyo as well. In this kind of world there is no place of power or influence for the small nation State. I share my noble friend Lord Soper's distaste for the nation State idea, and the misery and privation it has brought upon the world. But we live in a nation State world in which the super-Powers are gradually, inexorably, taking over. The countries of Western Europe have recognised and realised this.
Europe is growing into a great Power based on the Common Market of the Six. It will continue to grow, and it will continue to develop with us or without us. With us it can grow faster economically and politically. With us perhaps we can influence the way in which it grows; we may even be able to steer Europe away from the fears that have been eloquently expressed about a Europe that is too committed to its own prosperity, or too preoccupied with power politics; we certainly shall not be able to influence the way it goes from outside. Without us it will grow, and if we choose to remain outside we shall have no power to influence any of the great decisions that will be taken in Europe if we are to take a sane and civilised world into the 21st century.
If we lack the courage and vision to do this, if we are too tired and unimaginative to do this for our own sake, let us think of doing it for the generation that will come after us, because this is what young people really want. I do not suggest that the youth of the country are taking to the streets in the European cause. The prevailing mood of Britain on European issues at the moment is not enthusiasm, nor is it hostility; it is plain apathy. But even if it could be demonstrated by some straw poll or other that there is a majority of opinion in this country against entry into the Common Market, if that could be proved, must that really be so decisive? History is littered with illustrations of how wrong, or how slow to change, the majority can be.
It seems to me that in a real and living democracy it is the duty of political 711 leaders to lead and not just to follow. Public opinion is a complex amalgam of emotion and instinct, played upon by mass communications, sometimes manipulated for devious ends or private gain. No one should ignore such opinion, but, surely, the task of the political leader is to deploy the powers of intellect and judgment that have brought him to leadership; to choose what he believes is the right course and, when he is convinced that he is right, to stand by his convictions. Civilisation has never advanced an inch without the kind of leaders who have been able to judge what people really want, to identify their real aspirations and interests against the background noise of political propaganda, public relations and the omniscient Press.
I believe, my Lords, that the people of this country want more than material prosperity; they want to play a part in the development of civilisation, a part worthy of the role that Great Britain has played, in different ways, for centuries of history. I believe passionately that this can be done by uniting economically and politically the great Continent of which we are a part. The enlargement of the Common Market is in my view an essential step in that process. That is why, when the vote is taken to-morrow, I shall go into the Lobby to support this Motion.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I should like to join with other noble Lords in congratulating my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever on his maiden speech, and I am sure that your Lordships look forward to hearing further contributions from him at a not too long distant date. I should also like to mention the most formidable maiden speech made by my noble friend Lord Zuckerman yesterday, which must have impressed all noble Lords who heard it, in every quarter of the House.
Some noble Lords have spoken about public opinion being against the Common Market; the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, yesterday actually mentioned something opposite and said that in one particular poll there was a majority in favour. I do not believe that there has been any great debate in the country since our debate in July. I would call it a great flop in the country, because little interest has been displayed. There have been 712 some public polls, very small in numbers, the results of which are largely meaningless because they have been stimulated by the enthusiasms on one side or the other.
There are several reasons, some of which have been mentioned this afternoon, why there has been so little public interest. The first reason is that the public arc certainly bemused by reading and listening to entirely opposite views by erudite experts. We have had them in this House; we have had them in the columns of the newspapers. How can the public be expected to judge what is right when they are faced by these learned 100 per cent. contradictions? The second reason, I think, why there has been so little interest is ignorance. My Lords, I believe that many who have been asked for, and have given, their views on whether they are supporting or opposing Britain's entry could not face an examination on what entry means. I would hazard a guess that many of those who voted at the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party meeting against entry to the Common Market could not pass an examination as to what the Six countries are in the Common Market. I am certainly sure that many of them could not give any clear analysis of the Commonwealth Agricultural Policy, or of what has been arrived at in the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement or the problem of New Zealand dairy products. Therefore. I think there is very little value in this statement that the country is for or the country is against entry.
Finally, I believe that there is prejudice, a dislike of the jolt to our deep-seated prejudice in favour of our insular position and outlook. For those reasons I would discount the view that the public is either for or against. That is why I think it entirely right that in your Lordships' House and in another place the forum of Parliament should debate and be fully entitled to come to a conclusion on this great matter. That is why I believe that Her Majesty's Government are quite right, while having a free vote, to ask those in this House and in another place to endorse the Government's lead in taking us into Europe.
My Lords, when all is said and done, as my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft said, in a most powerful speech in our earlier debate, when all the contradictions 713 have been listened to, and all the advocacy has been advanced, our decision will be based very largely on an act of faith. I think the canvas must be viewed broadly, and if one gets into too much detail one will get bogged down and never come to a conclusion. One must listen to the main points and say, "This is an act of faith which I believe is right ". In another place a three-line Whip has been issued to Government supporters.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
I believe that on the principle of "every dog being allowed one bite" those who wish to support Her Majesty's Government in another place are not to have any disciplinary measures taken against them, but that they must be expected to oppose every piece of legislation consequent on the decision they themselves have helped to bring about. My Lords. that seems to me very peculiar—very peculiar indeed. It is rather like a parent who sanctions the services and ritual of the marriage but then takes all the steps he can to forbid the subsequent interesting and more detailed consummation. How can one really expect Members, in either House, to vote in favour of going into Europe and then swallow the vote they have made in favour of the principle and vote against its implementation? That seems to me both inconsistent and illogical and not really worthy of our Parliamentary system.
My Lords, I speak as a convert. Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, gave us a little homily on conversion. He approved of conversion, and I shelter under the umbrella of his approval. Twelve years ago I spoke and wrote, and used such powers as I have, in opposing Britain's entry into the Common Market. At that time many of us had a vision of an alternative—the development of the Commonwealth preferential system, coupled with EFTA. That was our hope, our belief. Let us look for a moment at what has happened since. South Africa has left the Commonwealth; Australia looks to the Pacific for her defence, and more and more to the Pacific for her economic outlet. Canada looks to the South the emerging countries of Africa govern their economic policy according to their political considerations. So what 714 we hoped for twelve years ago is no longer practicable, and I believe that there is nothing for us in this technological age except to join the Common Market rather than have the economic isolation which the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, warned us about in such trenchant phrases yesterday.
I believe that a number of my friends who felt as I did twelve years ago feel as I do to-day. Some do not. And there are some of your Lordships, in all parts of the House, who refuse to accept the changes which this must bring about—as, for instance, the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. Proudly he says that for 25 years he has resisted any change. Yesterday in your Lordships' House we talked about Ancient Britons. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, is held in respect and affection in all parts of your Lordships' House, but I would call him the senior Arch Druid of the Ancient Britons. I see him wrapped in his political woad of red, but it is always tinged with a good deal of blue as well, and I would label him as one who will never change his view and feels that anything built after Stonehenge is a modern architectural monstrosity.
My Lords, to those who shared my view ten or twelve years ago I would urge support to-day for our entry into Europe. More than this, I would urge that, once committed, we share a determination to see that this shall not be the end of the Commonwealth but the start of a new phase of Commonwealth relationships. Some of us are accused of what is called "selling the Commonwealth down the river". This is not so, and I hope Her Majesty's Government, by their actions, will show the Commonwealth peoples that this is not so. I should like to see, after our entry into Europe, a Commonwealth Conference of independent and dependent countries called to review the full effects of our entry and to hear their views. Of course I know, as all your Lordships know, that agreements on various economic subjects have been reached with Commonwealth territories. We know that in official circles studies of these problems are being made all the time. But in respect of the political field of the Commonwealth, do not we have Commonwealth Conferences, and do not those cover also matters which are in constant study and which are constantly decided on and debated? If we 715 have such a conference for political matters, I believe that we ought to have such a conference for economic and political matters consequent upon our entry into Europe.
My Lords, if we could have such a conference, I believe that it would bind the countries of the Commonwealth, the peoples of the Commonwealth, and ourselves together and would show the true situation to the ordinary citizens of the Commonwealth who are not cognisant of the detailed studies and detailed decisions which have been made. It would be, if you like, a tremendous exercise in public relations, as our Commonwealth political conferences are at the present time. I leave this thought with Her Majesty's Government, together with my good wishes for our entry and the future events which will follow thereon.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I am sure he will not mind, and your Lordships will agree, if, for the Record, I point out that through a slip of the tongue he said the Government had issued a three-line Whip in another place, whereas of course he meant the Opposition.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ LORD BERNSTEIN
My Lords, the noble Lord opposite has at least saved me from correcting one of Lord Balfour's facts. Believe it or not, I think it is possible to get an agreement on several matters in your Lordships' House—agreement from all Benches. We can agree, for instance, with one wavering exception, that the entire British Press is in favour of the Common Market. I think we can agree that all our economic experts, whether from our oldest universities or our newest universities, have chosen to end up with a typically bewildering photo finish, more or less equally divided for and against. So once again we cannot take the easy way out and seek refuge in expert opinion. I think we can also get agreement that nothing now being said by either side, to-day or yesterday, will set in motion any new and original lines of thought on this subject. As the noble Lord, Lord Soper, said in an admirable speech, it is a reshuffling of the old pack. 716 Nothing that has been said or will be said in another place is likely to change the views of the Members there; they have made up their minds. Equally, nothing that has been said or will be said in your Lordships' House is likely to change the views of those who will be voting to-morrow.
I think we can also get agreement at this very moment that the Government supporters in your Lordships' House who will be going to vote on the Motion tomorrow will heavily outnumber those who will vote against it. Finally, we can agree that, whatever the result of the vote in your Lordships' House, it will have no influence on the vote in the other place, even though that vote, whichever way it goes, will announce one of the most decisive steps in modern British history. My Lords, I have tried to demonstrate that all of us, surprisingly, could agree on a lot of matters which touch upon this Motion. There remains, however, the crucial problem. We cannot agree upon the Motion itself.
Despite sustained propaganda from almost every newspaper; despite the White Papers, two of them; despite the endless euphoria of the pro-Marketeers, it still remains that the majority of people in this country (I am not going to quote polls because I do not necessarily believe in them, but they make tests up and down the country) are against entry. Can this Government, or any Government, ignore this fact? Can Mr. Heath ignore it after his own stated opinion that we should not go in without the full-hearted consent of Parliament and people? Those of us who are sceptical are constantly being asked: What is your alternative? The issue is seen as narrowly as that. And that narrowness has had its sure effect upon the public. Even those deeply against the whole notion have accepted that the Government will take Britain into Europe, whatever their own wishes. Could there be a more depressing situation? Would there be any situation more likely to make the public apathetic or bring our democratic system into further disrepute?
I do not accept the theory put forward here to-day and yesterday, and elsewhere, that the future can hold no other way for us. I reject the fatalistic assumption that "It's Europe or now't". Indeed. I reject the very idea that we should 717 be forced to consider our position in terms of this stark and drastic choice. Life is not always a question of breaking the bank or jumping out of the window: certainly not for the people of this island. Nor is it a question, as Lord Soper said, of jumping over a cliff. I think that my evaluation of the views of the people of this country is as good as that of any Member of your Lordships' House. I think the people of this country have always done best when they have found their own way through problems and difficulties. The style of evolution which suits us best, the one which works for both our gifts and our temperaments, is a natural process of organic growth. And that, surely, is what should be the true alternative to Europe—to grow in our own way, developing our confidence in ourselves and our belief in our own future.
My noble friend Lord Hughes to-day referred to what my noble friend Lord George-Brown said yesterday, that new moods were required in this country, and Lord George-Brown suggested that we could get these new moods only if we went into Europe. Why cannot we get them now? It is beyond me. What he said was nonsense—I wish he were here to listen. If we had been in Europe, would Rolls-Royce have been saved from their bitter humiliation? If we had been in Europe, would the Upper Clyde Shipbuilding companies have proved themselves to be more competent? I doubt it. The suggestion is being made that when we are in the Common Market every British car will magically become better. Foreign cars, as my noble friend Lord Beswick said yesterday, have taken over 20 per cent. of our domestic market. That is not because of the E. E. C. Is it because they are better cars? Why should we assume that entry into the Common Market will transform the ways of British car makers any more than it will transform the manufacturers of any other product?
The noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, said yesterday, in a remarkable maiden speech, on which I am glad to compliment him to-day, that the U. S. A. was the greatest industrial Power in the world. Well, it may be. The U. S. A. has certainly been the most generous of nations in the last 25 years. But great affluence has not brought about the "great society" in the United States. Industrial wealth has 718 failed to solve their social problems—problems of race, of housing, of crime and poverty. Certainly it has not dealt with environmental problems, which were so passionately put forward to-day by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, as something the Common Market was going to put right for us all. In the U. S. A. the industrialists are now trying to get the non-industrialists to pay for cleaning the mess they have created. Is it seriously suggested that entry into Europe will turn us into a great industrial Power again capable of solving all the problems America has failed to do? I have my doubts.
My own views on the E. E. C. have changed and I am not ashamed of saying so. People who say they never change their views have my respect, but it is a very rigid mind that does not allow other people that privilege. It seems very strange to read and listen to-day to the same arguments that persuaded me that we should go into the Common Market ten years ago. But things arc different. The whole idiom of that time has changed irrevocably. Between the countries of Europe the dialogue is different and the nations inside the European Community have changed their policies, just as they have changed their political outlook. To-day there is starting to grow up a new school of thinking—my noble friend Lord Chalfont may have noticed this among young people—beginning to think about the balance between real social benefit and industrial development. A lot of people, I repeat especially among the young, are beginning to have misgivings about the economic goals of the recent past. Rates of growth, the size of the G. N. P., the scale and ramification of the huge conglomerates and corporations do not seem to confer quite so readily the benefits we once expected. The big battalions in business or industry have not always brought with them automatic panaceas. To those who view economic fashions with scepticism, the idiom of ten years ago has begun to ring hollow.
As I have indicated, from all that we read and hear (and some people have better radar than others, because they have the facilities to use radar), the country remains deeply divided. A great number of British people are naturally suspicious of a step which they see only 719 as one which will bring inevitably higher prices and new and binding commitments to European countries. It could be argued that not all these people fully understand either the economic or political implications of Britain's joining Europe. But you can hardly blame the public. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, I am sure unintentionally, sneered at the talents of people at the T. U. C. He said they did not know even the names of the Six countries. I know people in higher social positions in this country who never knew the difference between the Colonies and the Dominions until I pointed it out to them. I am sure there are many Members of your Lordships' House voting here to-morrow who cannot truthfully say they are wiser than the people who were at the T. U. C. If our economists are divided, our industrialists and our businessmen are divided; and if we in this House and the other place are divided, need we wonder that the nation itself is split in two? It seems to me there is no argument on that. And, that being so, surely, as the noble Lord, Lord Soper, said, even at this late hour, we ought not to say that Britain should make this leap in the dark without the full backing and support of a united Parliament and people.
I will not waste your Lordships' time in answering the gibes of those who try to score points on the views and thoughts some of us had years ago. Gibes about "backwoodsmen" do not affect me, and I do not think they affect anybody else in your Lordships' House. I shall vote against the Motion tomorrow, not because of any political ties but because of my conviction that going into Europe is not the solution to our problems. One last thought, my Lords. When the Prime Minister arrived at Downing Street on June 19 of last year he said:Our purpose is not to divide but to unite and, where there are differences, to bring reconciliation.Where, I ask, is that unity now? Where, I ask, is that reconciliation? The Prime Minister has divided this nation on many issues. He has certainly not succeeded in uniting the nation for his Government's European adventure. On this issue he has created perhaps the greatest national division of all. The idea of Britain as one nation seems to have been 720 suspended for the life of this Government, and I regret it.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ LORD CROWTHER
My Lords, I must begin by expressing an apology that circumstances beyond my control prevented me from hearing, some of the opening speeches to-day in this debate. If, therefore, I commit the discourtesy of failing to refer to any points that have been made, I hope I shall be forgiven. I was, however, able to be in my place yesterday and to hear the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, and I certainly did not hear him express any such argument as has just been put into his mouth by the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, to the effect that entering the Common Market would automatically make his cars any better. I think the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, is far too intelligent to believe that that was what the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, was saying; he was of course saying that entry into the Common Market would enable his cars to sell more freely on their existing merits. I would certainly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Bernstein, on one thing, and that is that none of the arguments being advanced in this debate is in any way new, but it is surely wrong to seek novelty by distorting.
I took up some of your Lordships' time in the debate that we held in July, and my first thought therefore was not to intervene in this debate. But on reflection it seems to me that testimony should be given both by voice and by vote, and the more so perhaps by those of us who are not in the position of either obeying or resisting the commands of any political Party. In July I concentrated my remarks entirely on the argument which seemed to me to be by no means the most important one in favour of the Common Market but one that perhaps would have the greatest immediate impact on public opinion. That was the dangers and the difficulties, very great as they seemed to me, of being left out. So to-day I propose briefly, without developing the positive arguments, to identify the arguments that seem to me to be the most convincing for the step that we are about to take.
By far the greatest of those is to my mind the historical argument. A great part of my spare time (which has not been plentiful recently) is devoted to the 721 study of history, and as one looks down those great vistas one has no doubt at all of the direction in which the tide of human history is flowing. Was it wrong for Wessex and Mercia and Northumbria to join together to form the Kingdom of England? I have no doubt that the majority of public opinion in all three Kingdoms was against it. Was it wrong for the 13 American colonies to come together in their union, though it is on record that the majority opinion in at least some of the larger States took a great deal of convincing at that time? Or, if differences of religion and language are thought to be more important, was it wrong for the various communities of Switzerland, divided as they are by religion and language, to come together to form their remarkable confederation? In the light of all these examples, can it possibly be wrong for us now to take the step of joining a wider community with which we are joined by so much in common?
The second argument that convinces me is what I call the opportunity for projection. Of all the nations that the world has known, save only the Romans, the British are those who have projected themselves across the world. To those who have watched rugger being played in Fiji, or cricket in Barbados, or who have listened to debates in the Indian Parliament being conducted in English, or the precedents of the common law being cited in the desert of Arizona, or who have watched British bloodstock race in Brazil—anybody who has done these things cannot doubt that we have left our stamp upon the world as no other nation in the world has ever done. Now we shall have a greater opportunity of doing that in a wider field, and I do not doubt that we shall rise to that opportunity.
Next to the opportunity for projection, I would cite the opportunity for injection. We badly need an injection. In our economic life at least we have gone far in forming bad habits and in running to seed. We need a stimulus, we need a tonic, and I am sure that we are going to get that from membership of the European institutions. In putting together my thoughts for this debate, I tried to find words of my own to express what it is 722 that we need that injection for, but I have come to the conclusion that I cannot do better—indeed I cannot do as well—than to repeat the impressive and lucid words in which the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, made exactly the same point yesterday, when he said at col.568 of the OFFICIAL REPORT:We must have a new mood… We need new attitudes to the relationship of rewards to efforts and of costs to prices. Above all, this new mood must lead us to a genuine and constant concentration on quality performance by management and the whole work force alike.That we shall get from our neighbours and our competitors in the Common Market: neighbours and competitors who have been through furnaces from which we have been spared, and who have learned by methods that we do not know, that the world does not owe them a living.
The next argument that convinces me is that of the opportunity for construction. It is obvious, as has been said many times, that the European institutions are only at their start; that nobody knows what will be built upon them, any more than those who attended the first Parliament in the reign of King Edward I had the faintest idea of what they were starting. Yet it seems overwhelmingly probable that whatever is built in Europe will be built upon these foundations, and I am glad that we are not contracting out of the architectural team.
That leads me to make a few remarks on one aspect of the political argument, and one aspect I think of the whole case against the Common Market which leaves me with a feeling of impatience since it seems to me to be so wrong-headed. This is the argument about sovereignty. The Crown in Parliament, which is where sovereignty is said to reside, has been ceding its sovereignty in little pieces ever since we signed our first international treaty. For myself, I do not regret this constant trickling away of sovereignty. I hope it will continue—in agreement and in harmony. The only thing that we should reasonably be frightened of is being compelled against our will to give up any of our sovereignty. But whatever the actual words written down on paper in the Treaty of Rome may be, those who observe the institution operating cannot, I think, come to any other 723 conclusion than that the chances of our sovereignty being eroded to any significant extent against our will are very small. Not even Luxembourg has yet been coerced about anything. It will be a very long time indeed before we are put in a position of being compelled to cede any of our sovereignty against our will. I believe it will not be until public opinion has developed, on the Continent and here, to the point at which such cessions of the decisions of international bodies come to be regarded as the most natural thing in the world.
There is another political argument on which perhaps I might say a word, and that is the argument that has come into the debates, both here and in another place, about the regions of this country, and in particular about Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland. This is a subject, as some of your Lordships know, to which I have been giving a great deal of attention for some time, and shall, I fear, have to continue to do for some little time longer, and it would be quite improper for me to say anything to-day which either was or appeared to be a foretaste or forecast of conclusions not yet reached. But I have had the opportunity of very deep study of this question, and this at least I can say without any impropriety. It is a great mistake to believe that there is only one level upon which sovereignty and decision-taking can operate. We would never have slipped into this mistake if we did not live in such a compact island and if we were not served by such an efficient Civil Service; we would never have slipped into the delusion that it is possible to take all important decisions in the one place, here.
As government gets more complex it is quite natural for some subjects to move for discussion and decision to the higher international European level. It is just as reasonable that other subjects should move for discussion and decision to the lower (if that is the right word)—the more outward-looking level of regionalism within this country. Once again may I make my disclaimer? I am not advocating devolution or nationalism in this country. The time for that, if at all, is not yet. The point I make is that it is entirely consistent to be at one and the same time a believer in the growth of 724 European institutions, and our membership of them, and to be a Scottish devolutionist, a Welsh nationalist or, as would appeal to me more, a Yorkshire particularist. There is no inconsistency whatever in believing that in the modern world problems of government need settling at different levels.
I do not know whether, after all the years, I can still lay claim to the title of economist, but I do not advance to your Lordships any economic argument for entering the Common Market, for the reason that I do not believe anybody knows how to calculate the economic effects. I do not believe either the sums that are for entry or those against entry. There are too many indefinable elements; there are too many unknowns. And in any case I would go further: even if the economists could get their sums exactly right about the effect on this country in the next two to three years, I should still say that it does not matter because the figures at which they arrive are only the shillings and pence, and a sum which will go on multiplying with compound interest down the decades until it amounts to thousands of billions of pounds. It is not "a nicely calculated less or more" of these sums about butter that should decide the matter; it is again great historical perspective; and, unless all the economics I was taught are completely wrong, we cannot go wrong by becoming members of a wider community in which the division of labour and development of scientific knowledge can proceed.
The European institutions as they exist at the moment have many defects. I detest the C. A. P. and am the more glad that we shall be there to help to revise it. I distrust the V. A. T., and again am glad that we shall be there to help to lick it into shape. There is much that is academic and doctrinaire in what comes out of Brussels, and I look forward to the injection of that pragmatic common sense that is said to be our national trade mark into what goes on in that capital. There is no doubt that this tide in human affairs carries with it a certain amount of flotsam and jetsam we would rather be without. But it is a "tide in the affairs of men", and we must take the current when it serves or lose our ventures.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ LORD BALOGH
My Lords, before I launch into my speech I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Soper for a speech in this House which to my mind was quite unique, because he brought us back on to the level which is beyond the economic calculus. I firmly believe in the thesis he put forward, but inasmuch as I am not a student either of politics or of theology I think I had better concentrate and speak on more mundane things.
In introducing his Motion, the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack appealed to authority rather than argument; and indeed the Establishment in this country is in one of its rare fits of romantic enthusiasm when the best people are unanimous. On past experience it behoves the ordinary chap in these circumstances to be very careful. As President Roosevelt once said, the best people are usually the worst advised. I think it would be useful for the purpose of my speech, which represents an attempt to analyse a number of arguments used in this debate, to state my final conclusions briefly so that there can be no doubt about my reasons for those conclusions.
I have never been what one might call an out and out anti-Marketeer, nor was I a pro-Marketeer. The question whether we should or should not join the Market is not one of principle. It is not a question of ends; it is a question of means. The ends are the creation of conditions in which the people of this country can live in satisfaction without ruining their environment to the detriment of their children and in which the voice of this country will be heard and respected at any rate so long as it speaks for equality, equity and tolerance. If I look at the issues before us from this point of view, I cannot agree with some of my best friends that the intrinsic cost, the basic cost, the once-for-all cost to this country of entry is per seso prohibitive, all other circumstances being favourable, that the possibility of entry can be excluded on that score alone. If indeed one could at all be certain that entry into the Common Market, our absorption into the Community, would, so to say—and so the White Paper asserts—at one stroke create jobs, help the underprivileged regions, restore prosperity, as some of the Minis 726 ters are so eloquently asserting (but they in the last Election asserted other things with the same eloquence), and would above all secure to this country, as members past and present of the Foreign Service fervently believe, a far greater weight and hearing in the Community of nations—if all these favourable surmises were well founded, then surely the fact that our national income would be one to 5 per cent. lower for a time—probably not even absolutely but only relatively to what it might have been—should not in my opinion count for much.
The problem really reduces itself to a consensus of opinion in this country about the political and long-term advantages secured by entry and an equitable distribution of the intermediate burdens. For if that consensus were not available, the shock of joining (a shock which, as I shall show, is inevitable and might be severe) would certainly ruin any possible advantages and enormously and permanently increase the disadvantages of our absorption into the Common Market. We might easily become, as I said some years ago, the Ulster of Europe. It is quite obvious that consensus on these matters does not exist, that such consensus as there was when Labour was in power and made their application—none too solid even then—has been shattered by the divisive policy pursued by this Government ever since the day of their accession and the intransigence of the Six. It is therefore my view that under the present circumstances the proposal to join would further exacerbate the internal disunity, and because of the ensuing class struggle the country could not possibly reap any advantages which might accrue to the strong partner on joining a wide market. I shall return to this theme.
Before doing so, I must reflect on some statements made in this House and elsewhere about the motives and conduct of those in the Labour Party who now oppose entry on the available terms. I have given anxious thought to the question of whether I should participate in this debate at all, and intentionally I did not participate in the debate in July. As economic adviser to the Cabinet and subsequently consultant to the Prime Minister, I have taken some part in the discussions which led up to the exploratory journeys and, subsequently, to the 727 double application of the previous Government. As the current so-called great debate developed—a great misnomer—the Cabinet Office seems to have become something of a Piccadilly Circus, with ex-Ministers streaming in and out to refresh their memories. It is a Piccadilly Circus, however, in which the Eros is noticeably missing.
As an ex-temporary civil servant, albeit a political appointment, I have no access to secret papers. Nor, I must confess, do I feel the need for them. These transactions have graven themselves on our memories. On the other hand, some of those secret papers, like so many minutes of meetings at Oxford University, reflect more the ingenuity of the secretariat and their mostly conventional inclinations than reproduce the often garbled and incoherent remarks produced by Ministers at Cabinet and subsidiary meetings. In their impersonal excellence they do not reflect the atmosphere and relationships of Ministers to one another—their ambitions, their fears, the degree to which they understand their briefs and the quality of the briefs made by their respective Departments. As a record of decisions they may be interesting. As a means by which those decisions could be explained they give us remarkably few clues. I am very sorry indeed for the historians who look down, as Lord Crowther did, the great vistas of historical experience, because I think that the experience and its image are two different things.
However that may be, it has been asserted that the Government of 1967 would have been prepared to accept the present terms and that in 1970 they reaffirmed this willingness. For reasons which will be clear presently, it was especially the ex-Ministerial mouthpieces of the Foreign Office who spoke loudest in this respect. Lord George-Brown in his memoirs (page 206) admits, however, that the Cabinet was very much divided on this issue: what Common Market "demands" should be regarded in his words as "clearly impossible". And Ministers in another place made it clear that the previous Government never made any final negotiating decisions. What seems far stranger, in these interchanges, is that from ex-members of the public 728 service we learn of events and opinions which are supposed to be unmentionable by them forever and by everybody else for 30 years. Among other things, they confidently assert that there would have been a consensus for acceptance. No such consensus existed even among the Government's advisers, whether Permanent Secretaries or economic experts. Indeed, apart from the Foreign Office there was no official of the first rank who regarded the consequences of entry under the circumstances then obtaining on conditions not adapted by negotiation to our needs, as anything but unfavourable. Ministers were made amply aware of this. This was the background against which the decision was taken for the then Prime Minister and the then Foreign Secretary to visit the capitals of the Six. Certainly there was not the slightest chance for agreement by the Cabinet except on the basis of exploration without commitment.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, I beg the noble Lord's pardon for intervening. I listened with interest to what he said, and with great respect I think that on reflection he might not wish to go on with this assertion. The Cabinet of that day, after my right honourable friend—to whom the noble Lord was a great consultant, as he says—and I came back from Europe, authorised us to apply for membership in good faith, accepting that acceptance of the C. A. P. among other things was inevitable.
§ LORD BALOGH
My Lords, I fear that the recollection of the noble Lord, so far as I can make out, is perhaps different from that of others. I am sorry about that, but he has refreshed his memory perhaps a little insufficiently. I personally regretted even such a strongly hedged step, because I feared (and with the advantage of hindsight I can now say quite rightly) that any such decision would take on a life of its own, would take off and lead by cumulative steps, each non-committal by itself, to what would be regarded as firm commitment. Obviously that is exactly what happened. It should be emphasised that at that time the conditions of entry were much more favourable, that a ceiling existed for every participant and that the finalisation of the financial arrangements had yet to take place. Since then, the conditions of entry have worsened and 729 the social willingness here to bear them has diminished. I would have been surprised had a Labour Cabinet accepted them.
I know that in attacking whichever one of our powerful institutions or vested interests in your Lordships' House one puts oneself instantly into grave jeopardy. All important institutions happen to have their representative heads or more important members in this House, ready and capable to defend them like tigresses their cubs. However, if retired public servants voice opinions they must expect replies in the same friendly and constructive spirit in which they make their contributions. I consider the arrogation by the Foreign Office of power to sit in judgment on economic or economic-dependent issues as ludicrous. As Lord George-Brown explains in his book, they never had any economic department consisting of experts, and when I persuaded Mrs. Hart and the then Mr. Brown to have at least one economic adviser he was put into a niche where his usefulness was minimised. There is ample proof of this incapacity from the Bonn Treaty establishing the West German Government without obtaining pledges about the support costs, the negotiations with Egypt after Suez, in their blunders over the big EFTA effort, and finally, not least, the fantastic reasons given a public airing by civil servants for opposition to the Rome Treaty in 1958.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, would the noble Lord give way for one moment? I do not propose to be drawn by the noble Lord into any expansion of what I said before, but I would suggest in an equally friendly way to the noble Lord that he may be allowing himself to be led into what seems to be an institutional feud rather than a discussion of the question on its merits.
§ LORD BALOGH
My Lords, the institutional view, of course, is important because institutions form judgment on policies. This brings me to the second point. The main argument of the Foreign Office centred on the increase in our prestige and influence through our membership. This is only superficially a political argument. The implicit assumption is that our economic strength would increase. No one in his right mind could possibly maintain that our prestige and 730 influence could increase if we are dependent on recurring aid—especially if the Werner Plan of money integration were implemented.
I do not wish in this context to discuss the supremely important problem of whether or not we want greater growth, irrespective of whether the price that has to be paid would be in terms of increased social tension and a less equal distribution of consuming power. The present Prime Minister, of course, has done miracles. He has succeeded in spoiling the social ambiance without gaining much in material output—or, rather, he lost a little. But even if he had not achieved this seemingly impossible combination, I wonder whether a clear gain in material standards would have justified this heavy cost of disunity and division. When all these complicated statistical comparisons are made, I ask myself: are the Americans, with their per cent. capita production capacity three times ours, so much happier than ourselves? Is it worth striving for that? I wonder. Still, all right: let us accept this silly and crude criteria of success. Is it likely that we shall gain even on that basis? The statistical demonstrations attempted by the Common Marketeers have, to a very large extent, been very foolish. The fact that Italy or France has been able to maintain her previous rate of expansion—or almost do so—does not mean that we also shall be able to do so, or, far less, that we could painlessly better our performance. Indeed, I must warn my friends and the friends of noble Lords opposite that the likelihood is in the reverse. This is because our starting point is very different, and in some social matters essentially much better than that of the countries which form the Community.
When the example of Belgium is cited as a demonstration of success from low to high growth rates, ought we not to look at the disastrous political divisions that have been exacerbated in the social situation of that country in the last decade, and created a sort of Northern Ireland in the middle of the country? The political consequences there—and, of course, in Northern Ireland—of unemployment and hopelessness which necessarily lead to discrimination as the hunger for jobs increases are quite patent. Nor 731 must we forget that the C. A. P. and tax harmonisation represented an imaginative and constructive reform for most of those countries. In our country they will result in a regressive distribution of income combined with a cut in material standards, or at best a further slowing down of an already slow increase.
It is this combination of adapting ourselves to a distribution of income more favourable to profits and rentier incomes needed to increase the rate of investment which is formidably lower than in Europe, partly because of the constant export of capital from this country combined with the relative restraint in real wages needed for maintaining competitiveness that makes the probable dynamic effects which are all important, to say the very least, ominous. No doubt if social consensus obtained; if a large part of the readjustment could be accomplished by an increase in public rather than private savings; if the noses of the militants would not be rubbed in the ostentatious and flamboyant extravagance of the upper classes, one might feel more confident that this transition could be happily accomplished. But is this likely after three mini-Budgets have remitted some £ 1,200 million of taxes, of which only £ 300 million are expected to swell demand, the rest the savings of the rich? In this background, with these clear signs of douceurs to the rich when the poor are asked to observe restraint and pay higher rents, rates, prices and charges (not forgetting school meals), and if a small section is benefiting by almost £ 1,000 million when the rest are maintaining—if they are—their standards, and when the trade unions feel resentful and the housewives angry, how can we ever expect the needed consensus?
I shall return to this problem. Before I do so, however, I must say that I resent and repudiate the insinuations against the Leader of the Labour Party, couched in terms which suggest that the proponents of entry are men of superior steadfastness and principle. I must confess to extreme irritation at seeing some of my friends cut saintly postures of uniqueness of virtue, decorated by mutually bestowed haloes of self-righteous consistency. There they are, a composite figure of St. George fighting 732 the dragon of opportunism, and St. Sebastian transfigured by arrows allegedly discharged from the back. They have, as I shall show, no right to pass such judgments. In any case, in these matters, and in the face of tremendous changes, consistency, as Bismark said once, is appropriate for the oxen only. If the total effect of the entry was questionable in 1967, those who were then in favour and then learnt better should be congratulated, not excoriated. Moreover, saintliness should demand candour. If those "holier than thou" had frankly explained to the world, and especially to their constituents, the possible—indeed probable—sacrifices needed for eventual success (because I agree there could be success) I should take a less sceptical view of them. In point of fact, the possible unfavourable aspects had to be extracted from them with the ease of removing a healthy molar.
This lack of candour is demonstrated by the arguments which have been widely used. There is, first of all and foremost, the alleged advantage vouchsafed by the vastness of the Market. The picture obviously is painted of a frisky bull being allowed into a large, wide, empty and ripe barley field, where he will refresh and strengthen himself to his heart's delight, undisturbed by other bulls. Surely this is a complete illusion. The truth is that our industry, owing to lack of investment, might better be compared with a rather oldish and weakish bull, and in those lusty fields there are a number of well-fed and fierce animals. The fact is that the size of the Market is only one of the determinants of the advantages of mass production. Others are the numbers of firms, and thus the rate at which the giants absorb the rest. If the giants and all co-exist peaceably—and there are great political advantages for not invoking the monopoly legislation in all countries—the enlargement of the Market means nothing from this viewpoint. What will happen depends, therefore, on the ruthlessness of competition, the rate of growth of efficiency, the pressure on profit margins and the relative strength of the unions.
Now there can be no doubt whatsoever that, from this point of view, Britain has not been in a particularly favourable position. It is evident that even our giants 733 —and we have a few—are not as profitable, and do not expand as rapidly, as other people's. The problem before this country is whether the bankruptcy takeover of our firms will not provide the larger market for those of the Community rather than the other way round. In any case, most of these giants are American and already in Europe. We have heard these anti-American statements in this House, and many more in the other place, saying that we have to mobilise against the Americans. But the Americans are here. Most of the big, so-called advanced industries to which reference has been made in this debate are American. They are going to thrive, not us. Even the Conservative Member for Westminster City writes about the importance of having some control.
The shock of joining a more dynamic economy will be intensified by the fact that we shall lose both more protection than the Market (roughly 11 to 12 per cent. across the board, against 7 to 7½ per cent.) and our preferences in the Commonwealth and EFTA. It should be noted that the share of "home" sales in the narrow sense in the total has not diminished in the Community. What happened is that "foreign" imports were displaced by imports from the "Community". But the "home" market, after 12 years, for the home industry, narrowly speaking, of the Community, is as important as it ever was. Obviously, this is a very difficult question, but if we talk about these matters we ought to know the facts.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, if what the noble Lord said about the position of industry is true, how does he explain the enormous number of heads of industries who have signed all these advertisements in The Times stating that they are strongly in favour?
§ LORD BALOGH
Indeed, my Lords, who can explain it? I absolutely agree with the noble Lord. But so were they all in favour of going back on to the gold standard in 1925, which turned out to be a catastrophic decision. The noble Lord knows many more industrialists than I do, so he ought to make a sociological investigation. It is a very interesting question indeed.
734 By all means, let us have joint ventures; but need they be completely unified? I am told that we already have joint ventures with Europe, and we also have them with America. Are we now to cease having joint ventures with America because we have to follow only the Community? This whole attitude of saying that the Community is something that is more truly international in its arrangements and understanding is as much of a mystery as the opinions of the industrialists to whom reference has been made. If a map is drawn of the enlarged Community, this country is on the periphery. We know from our own experience what the extra burden of sea transport can mean to a peripheral region. We have the example of Northern Ireland. The superb advantage of British industry in being only a limited distance away from the seashore benefits us—relative to the Continent—only in relation to the Commonwealth preference area, and even that benefit is now disappearing.
The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, who I am sorry to see is not here, made some animadversions to the Mezzagiorno. I had something to do with the Mezzagiorno, and the noble Lord has forgotten that a special protocol had to be negotiated at the time of concluding the Rome Treaty in order to enable the Italian to do the things which the noble Lord boasted that anybody can do. Certainly, agreements can be re-negotiated if we have a waiver from the Community. But where is the waiver, where is the Community, and where are the Government?
§ LORD BALOGH
My Lords, I am referring to the protocol about the Mezzagiorno, which is a special protocol annexed to the Treaty.
§ LORD BALOGH
No, at the beginning.
All the indications are that export prices here are rather higher than in Europe and that on entry it would be necessary to undergo further adjustments. This leads me to the second argument 735 which is heard and read in costly advertisements; that is, that wages, social set vices and other benefits are higher on the Continent than they are here and that somehow or other this boom will be conferred upon us on entry. I do not wish to enter a complicated statistical argument, because I am rather sceptical. The figures produced by both the pro and the anti Marketeers seem exaggerated, partial and inconclusive. But I must say that social benefits in the Community are purchased much more by those who use them than is the case in this country. There is much less general taxation contribution to health benefits, pensions et cetera.
But even if wages abroad are higher, does this mean that they will automatically accrue to our workers? That is a complete non sequitur. Higher wages—if they are higher, and I do not know 0that they are—depend on superior productivity, and this, in turn, depends on superior investment. I have yet to see the pro-Marketeer among my friends who openly told the unions and their constituents that they will have to acquiesce in a cut in real standards, or at least in a further significant slowing down of their increase, in order to boost profits and savings. Public savings are a different matter. Until my friends are candid about these matters, I am unwilling to be lectured by them on consistency and character. It is the mechanism of adjustment which we, as the smaller partners, have to undertake that worries me. It is obvious that it does not worry the Government, consisting as they do of old imperialists who can no longer hope for exceptional profits from the Empire and who have lost control over their labour. These are the men who yearn for a new miracle, a new vehicle to bliss which will restore their authority without consensus. For my part, I think it is odious to hear people in the universities and elsewhere who have never suffered a moment of uncertainty about their future demand adventurousness on the part of those who have faced, and will face, unemployment.
To overcome the shock, intensive investment and industrial reorganisation would be needed. Unfortunately, Government policies at present are the opposite of what is required. They have forsworn price control, which puts effective pressure 736 on firms in imperfect markets—and there are very few perfect markets; they have abolished the I. R. C. and have cut S. E. T. by half. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, has not really studied the problem; otherwise he could not maintain that we do not need a shift from services to industry if we want to have the sort of growth rates of which he is dreaming. There is no possibility of achieving what is wanted with the existing supply and demand for services. Fortunately, there is always the V. A. T.—that is the one matter about which I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Crowther—but of course it will squeeze services almost as much, or even more, than S. E. T. Some people will be very surprised.
A successful further devaluation coupled with a successful incomes policy might, at the cost of restraining consumption by something like 6 per cent. over five or six years, get us over these difficulties. In other words, if we consider that the political advantages of joining are great, then the forgoing of, say, two to three years' advance in living standards might not be considered an intolerably high price in the case of a very well-to-do country such as Britain. But the sacrifice has to be explained and the social atmosphere in which people will accept that sacrifice has to be created. Nothing of the sort has happened. This analysis does not necessarily imply a rejection of the proposals for British entry; it tries only to spell out honestly the consequences of that entry.
Much of the grand debate struck me like an advertisement for a South Sea Bubble company—"Come and enter. We cannot tell you what it is all about, but fabulous gains will be had by everybody. "My opposition to the present proposals rests on my suspicion that our low dynamism will be further impaired by entry and that the cost of joining, in terms of accepting relatively lower wages, has never been explained to the people of Britain. What we have witnessed is one of the most brazen attempts to sell a pig in a poke.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ LORD GLENDEVON
My Lords, the noble Lord has, I am sure, deployed his arguments with all his usual skill. I doubt whether I shall be convinced by them, but I shall read carefully what he 737 said, including the reference which I thought I caught to St. George—not, I gather, my Lords, a friendly allusion to Lord George-Brown.
Now whatever opinions we may hold there is, I suppose, no doubt that we stand this evening within hours of one of the decisive moments in British history, for good or ill. I am glad to be able to take part briefly in this vital stage of events, particularly because nearly 20 years ago it fell to me as a Minister and as leader of the British delegation to the Council of Europe (my noble friend Lord Oakshott referred to those early days in his speech) to outline the original plan for a European Free Trade Area. This was shortly after the noble Earl, Lord Avon, in whose Government I had the honour to serve, had carried out his rescue operation in Europe after the collapse of the European Defence Community. It was he who then, for the first time, committed ground troops and the Air Force to the soil of Europe, and gave heart to a continent which had begun to lose faith in us. My Lords, we had certainly taken our time to identify ourselves with the Europe of which so many of us always felt we were a part. Ever since then I have looked forward to this day. I cannot exaggerate the sadness I feel that the decision will not now be taken by a united Parliament. The chances had looked so good, but for unhappy reasons on which I need not dwell—we all know them—it is not to be. I hope time will heal the wounds so recklessly inflicted.
My Lords, I do not intend, for reasons of brevity, to go into the economic arguments in favour of our membership of the Common Market. I simply say that I agree with them; and I particularly agree with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, when he stressed that there is no reason why the Community should in any way be an inward-looking Community. If I thought there was a risk of that I think I should feel differently about it, but I do not. On the argument about the Commonwealth, your Lordships may have noticed that we are not hearing nearly so much of this part of the argument from the anti-Marketeers as we did, and I think the reason is clear. New Zealand, Australia and the West Indies have, by their favour- 738 able reaction, destroyed this part of the case against entry with all its emotive undertones. The Commonwealth is a splendid company of independent nations with a common thread running through their history, and like many others I have tried to help through the years to foster its ideals of special friendship—a friendship which I believe will be all the stronger for our own greater strength. That point was made by my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever in his model maiden speech, which I much enjoyed. But the Commonwealth is not, and never could be, an alternative to Europe. I think that point was also made by my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye. There are those who have declared—several noble Lords opposite, I think, did so in the July debate—that if they had to choose between Europe and the open sea they would choose the open sea. The lemmings do that: they choose the open sea, and I am not myself inclined to share their self-inflicted fate. I think Europe is the better bet.
On sovereignty, I was greatly impressed by the admirable comments on the situation in that context by the noble Lord, Lord Crowther. I am satisfied with the assurances given. Surrender of sovereignty in certain areas is not new to us, and, so far as the future is concerned, I am not afraid of the closer ties that the years ahead may bring. The essence of any union, federal or otherwise, is compromise and States' rights. The fears expressed about the Commonwealth and about sovereignty, sincere though they may be and are, spring basically—or many of them do—from nostalgia for a past that can never return. Nostalgia is the darkest of counsellors. There is no place for it in this great matter of the future. With my thoughts dwelling upon those who feel it, before I sit down I would commend some lines written by a poetess who loved England. They appear in a poem called The White Cliffs by Alice Duer Miller, and although they were written 30 years ago they fit so well the case I am trying to make:O, sad people, buy not your past too dearly, Live not in dreams of the past, for understand, If you remember too much, too long, too clearly, If you grasp memory with too heavy a hand, You will destroy memory in all it's glory For the sake of the dreams of your head upon your bed. You will be left with only the worn dead story You told yourself of the dead.739 Those are strong words, my Lords, but they are wise words, I believe. I hope that the blend of emotion and experience which is perhaps the hallmark of your Lordships' House will result in an overwhelming decision to face our future in Europe.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ LORD SHINWELL
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, who has left the assembly, in an interesting and lively speech sought to endorse the view expressed by my noble friend Lord George-Brown that what our country was most in need of was a new mood. Other noble Lords have varied the theme and have suggested that what is required is a stimulant. With those sentiments, my Lords, I am in full accord. But the question might rightly be posed: why have we failed to provide this stimulant? My Lords, consider the spectacle. During yesterday's debate and part of to-day's we have listened to eminent industrialists, eminent economists, entrepreneurs, ex-Ministers of State—a great and miscellaneous variety. We have also had the benefit of what was perhaps the most agonising appraisal of our conditions, our plight, from the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, who even suggested that if we failed to enter the Common Market Britain would be crippled. Nothing could be more agonising than that. The question, I suggest, might be posed: who, then, are to blame for this situation—the entrepreneurs, the eminent economists, the ex-Statesmen? Can it he said of them, noble Lords I see before me on the opposite Benches, that they have proved to be miserable failures and that all their activities, instead of serving the State, have led to the present depressing situation? If there is any other to blame, if the workers, why not say so? High wages have been said to be the cause of inflation. Yet one of the arguments so forcibly used by those who suggest that we must enter the Common Market "or else", is that wages will be much higher when we enter and that there is no question of inflation; that there will be no deleterious effect on competition—none whatever!
Some queer speeches have been made and among them—although I hesitate here to use the word "queer"—was one 740 from the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack and who, at the beginning of his address yesterday, informed your Lordships that the decision to enter the Common Market—a decision which will be accepted almost unanimously by noble Lords (by a majority on that side and by some on this side of the House)—emerged naturally and inevitably from representative opinion. He spoke of representatives of the nationalised industries; of representatives from the National Farmers' Union. I presume that he had in mind a speech made in a previous debate by the ex-chairman of the National Coal Board, Lord Robens of Woldingham, who is in favour of pushing Britain into the Common Market, willy-nilly. But, my Lords, there are others associated with the nationalised industry over which Lord Robens presided: there are the miners. What did they decide? They were almost unanimously against going into the Common Market. And what of the farm workers? At the recent Labour Party Conference the Agricultural Workers' Union representative, on behalf of his delegation and presumably of his membership, decided to vote against entering the Common Market. What, then, is meant by "representative opinion"?
And what about your Lordships' House? I speak without wishing to give offence; I give that assurance. I merely recognise the facts, the inescapable facts. This House is non-elected and therefore can hardly be described as democratic; it could even be described as almost totalitarian, as authoritarian. We speak solely for ourselves. Then what authority has this House in a matter of this kind?—a primary, vital, fundamental, constitutional issue. Why, this House has no authority over finance, a matter of minor consideration, and yet it has authority over a constitutional issue which would determine the fate of the United Kingdom for centuries to come! One noble Lord, I think it was Lord Balfour of Inchrye, expressed the view that those who were engaged in the public opinion polls and who expressed their opinion one way or the other could hardly be subjected to an examination on the issues involved. What did they know about currency questions or the balance of payments or the effects of inflation 741 and the rest of it? I wonder whether every noble Lord in this Assembly could emerge unscathed from a meticulous examination on those issues.
Indeed, it does not matter, because they have made up their minds—as the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack observed in the course of his speech. It is a foregone conclusion—totalitarian, in fact. Does it matter? What is the need for controversy? The issue is settled. Nevertheless a few observations might be permitted—not that one expects to convert anybody. That is not the intention, nor is it anticipated—not at all. It is merely a debate. But when the Press reports are read we shall learn that this noble House has by an overwhelming majority decided in favour of Britain's entering the Common Market; and it will lend encouragement to the representatives of the Six. Exactly; and that is the intention. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, ventured on a personal note to which I offer no exception. He undertook the task with a complete absence of severity or malice. He described me as an ancient Druid—
§ LORD SHINWELL
My Lords, Druids I know nothing about; it is not a set to which I belong. Briton "I accept, wholeheartedly, delightedly, with a loving embrace. "Ancient" I reject. Let us therefore consider the history of this affair in which we are controversially and dialectically engaged. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of lnchrye, suggested that I had been consistent for 25 years and had never changed my mind. He was wrong; he was mistaken. I forgive him for being mistaken. I know more of this history then apparently he knew. I can recall as Secretary of State for War (but simultaneously chairman of the Labour Party) being asked by the then Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, to receive Mr. Winston Churchill; and Mr. Churchill's purpose was to persuade me, to persuade my colleagues on the Executive of the Labour Party and, presumably, the members of the Party, to accept his proposition, his project, and to encourage him in his vision of the future.
742 What was it? I shall tell noble Lords. It was nothing to do with the countries of the Six—that never entered his mind. It was a much wider, far-ranging project. At a time when there was a prospect of German reunification, when Czechoslovakia retained some of the aspects of democracy and when it was considered—I would not say by a majority of people in this country, for they probably never understood the purpose of the project and had no vision of the future—the idea was to embrace not the countries of the Six but many of the countries now associated with what is called the Iron Curtain; even Soviet Russia. So much so—and this refutes the charge of consistency—that I actually signed a Parliamentary Motion calling for a wider Europe.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I must help to defend the noble Lord from his condemning of himself. If he looks at column 232 of July 27 he will see that he said:In this controversy about whether or not we enter the Common Market, leave out personalities … I have stood up for the last 25 years and been counted on this contraversy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT,27/7/71; col.232.]He need not be ashamed of it. He ought to be really proud of it.
§ LORD SHINWELL
My Lords, that bears out precisely my contention—I am in favour of a wider Europe. Of course I would not object to a proposition that Britain enter into a European Community which was not limited in character—
§ LORD SHINWELL
—and it was precisely because the project was transformed from one of a wide-ranging character into one of a limited character that I oppose it. I want to make this assertion and I challenge contradiction. Never at any time did Mr. Winston Churchill make an assertion asking for support for Britain's entry into the countries of the Six. There is no such record. He always stood by his original proposal, which was supported by Mr. Duncan Sandys, then his son-in-law, and by many others. But he never at any time made a declaration in favour of entering the countries of the Six. If anyone can produce evidence to the contrary, I am open to correction and I will apologise; but I know of none. My Lords, that is the history of the matter.
743 There has been a vast change. It is because here is something so limited in character, with all its uncertainties. Almost everything that has been said about it is based on speculation. For example, we had the speech this afternoon of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles. It was as full of assumptions as an egg is alleged to be full of meat. He could not offer any guarantees—none whatever. He was refuted, over and over again, by the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, who said that there is nothing indefinable about this, and by other noble Lords who said, "We can give no assurances", and in particular by the two right reverend Prelates from London and Blackburn—the only logical people who have spoken in this debate in support of entering the Common Market. They founded their case on faith. Very well, my Lords, faith is one thing, but guarantees are another. I would be the last person in the world to deprive the right reverend Prelates of their faith, because I have a suspicion that they might have nothing left. So I leave it at that. Faith, yes; but to offer the people of this country faith, assumptions, speculations, conjectures, is not good enough.
In the course of our debate in July last I ventured to speak of the noble Lord, Lord Robens, as an astrologer. Incidentally, if he is associated with the Common Market he will do what he did with the mining industry—practically close it down; but that is merely in parenthesis. Astrology, my Lords, is not an exact science. That brings me to the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, to whose speech yesterday I listened with intense interest, but I am bound to say that I thought it very illogical. Let me explain. One of the arguments adduced for entering the Common Market is the possibility, indeed the probability, of technological advance, and I accept it. I mean that it would be desirable. But note what the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, said. He said, "We have the know-how, we have much to teach, much to instruct, much to co-operate about "—all very fine and large—"but we lack the resources." Immediately after he said that, he pointed to the situation in the United States where they are faced with a great deal of trouble about technological 744 affairs; yet they have all the resources. It has nothing to do with resources at all.
My Lords, it is difficult to understand what some of our people are driving at. I venture the opinion that what is actually wrong and what is behind this demand for entering the Common Market, based on speculation and assumption, is a feeling of despair; that this country is finished; that there is no hope. Indeed, some noble Lords have expressed themselves in that fashion quite candidly. They said, "If we do not enter the Common Market, it is all up." My Lords, I have heard this sort of thing over the last 60-odd years. I heard it, as it happens, as a very young man after the Boer War—that we were finished; it was a stupid war anyhow. I heard it when there was vast unemployment, even with a Liberal Government of all the talents in Office. I heard it after the First World War, when our resources had been dissipated, when we had lost millions of men. We were told then that the country was in a condition of bankruptcy, that there was no hope and that we should never recover. But we did recover. We heard the same story after the last war. Those who were my erstwhile colleagues in the other place will recall, after the last war, speeches by Sir John Anderson, who became Lord Waverley, and by Winston Churchill himself and by others, who prophesied that things would go harshly with us for a long time to come. So they did; there was vast unemployment and so on.
That brings me to the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles. He actually dared to say that if we entered the Common Market we should solve the problem of unemployment. He was not aware that the Italians had a million unemployed and are even worse off than we are. And, by the way, my Lords, it reminds me that while we are debating this question whether we should enter the Common Market or stay out, representatives of the E. E. C. countries are engaged in a controversy on the subject of the modification of their farm policy; and, as everyone knows, they are at loggerheads about the currency and financial policy. And we are expected to join them! When I heard the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, speaking to-day, and when he used the term "integration", I could not help thinking that his 745 efforts at integration have not proved an unqualified success. What are we asked do to? I make a prophecy—I deplore having to do it and hope that I am wrong, but I think that we are emerging into a recession which will not only affect this country but also affect the countries of the Six and the world at large. So what do we propose to do?—to merge our recession with the recession of the Six? Far better stand on our own feet, and fight it out. That is what I feel about it.
All right! I am a Briton, and have pride in this country—as indeed we all should have. There is no question of malice about it. Those who want us to enter the Common Market have got the wrong ideas. They are not actuated by malice—I recognise that—and hold the most sincere convictions. All I ask is that they understand that we also have sincere convictions. We want this country put on its feet again. I want to see the noble Lords, Lord Crowther and Lord Stokes, and the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman; the exMinisters—and the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, who was responsible for the National Plan under the Labour Party, which was going to put everything right, and was responsible for foreign policy, and who yesterday trounced the trade union leaders because of their wrong-doings and misdemeanours, thereby demonstrating that if it had been left to him everything would have been lovely in the garden, speaking with feverish oratory, tearing a passion to tatters. Why cannot my noble friend (I call him a friend, and he knows that I am a friend, who often advised him—and if he had only taken my advice, he never would have been in trouble) help the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, the entrepreneurs, and all the rest of them—and even the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles—come together and say: "We are going to put this country on its feet; we have the scientific knowledge; we have the know-how; we have the courage; we have the quality; we have the fortitude to endure, if necessary. Why cannot we tackle the job?"
Further, just this comment: let it be clearly understood, that I want to be on good terms with the people in the countries of the Six. I admit this: I do not trust the French very much: I have had to negotiate with them in bygone 746 years; I am still a little suspicious about the Germans; I hope for the best. The Dutch are all right. I accept what has been said of them in the past; the fault with the Dutch is that they give little and ask too much. As for the Belgians, they have their differences—the Walloons on the one side and the Flemings on the other, with almost an Ulster situation. If you want to trade with them, to confer with them, have technological co-operation with them, to co-operate in every aspect of life—in industry even in art; even on the question of whether we should pay for entering museums—I am all in favour of it. But I am not in favour of leaving our political and defence destinies in the hands of people who, in my judgment, are not to be trusted. Many years ago, we formed NATO. Along with Mr. Ernest Bevin I had something to do with it. The one thing we were doubtful about was whether it should become political in character. Defence, yes; but not political, because there is something provocative when a military organisation becomes political in character. It might be that the Soviet Union would not like it: and we must recognise an inescapable fact: that the Soviet Union could create a great deal of trouble for us and we must avoid it. I leave it there.
Of course, liberalisation of trade—free trade, if you like; protection sometimes, if you like, in order to safeguard our industries and provide employment—all that I accept. But when it comes to abandoning what is called our sovereignty, I reject it. The noble Lord, Lord Crowther, said: "There is no such thing as sovereignty; we abandoned sovereignty when we joined the United Nations and NATO, or other international organisations."But he forgot something. We can be in the United Nations and we can leave: we can be in NATO and we can do as the French have done—we can leave; contract out. But if we go into the Common Market, our destiny is fixed; it is irrevocable. That is implicit in the Treaty of Rome. Make no mistake about that! Therefore it means an abandonment of our sovereignty, and that I would not accept.
Finally, before I sit down, may I put this point to your Lordships' House? I am sorry about this. I like the place very much: I think it is interesting, and 747 everybody is so friendly, even embarrassingly friendly—quite unlike the people at the other end of the corridor, who are constantly indulging in dispute. They are a quarrelsome lot—I hope that that remark will not be regarded as a breach of privilege. But it seems to me that if we enter the Common Market—make no mistake about it!—those in Brussels, Bonn or Luxembourg may say, "Abolish this anachronism. It costs money. Shut it down ". Does anybody challenge what I have just said? They have the power to do it. Of course, this is nothing to do with regionalism. They may say: "These are encumbrances ". It will be the end of the House of Lords. I object to that. For that reason, among many others, I am not going to ask noble Lords to flout the Government by voting against entering into the Common Market, because that would be foolish of me and would lead to no useful results. What I say is that I am going to vote against it.
May I mention one constitutional matter which affects some of my colleagues on the Front Bench? I noticed to-day that, according to the Press, Douglas Houghton, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, has decided to vote with the Government but not to resign. on the ground that a member of the Party has a right, because of his strong convictions and his conscience, to take a line of his own. That always applied to Back Benchers, but never to Front Benchers. Douglas Houghton. like myself, framed the Standing Orders of the Labour Party. We know what they provide. When a decision is reached by the Parliamentary Labour Party—never mind about the Party Conference; you can disregard the Conference, that is a constitutional matter—but when a decision is reached by the Parliamentary Labour Party, Back Benchers may flout the decision, but those who are associated with the Parliamentary Committee, and speak for the Party from the Front Bench, are expected to support the decision of the Parliamentary Party, or abstain, or to resign. That is the constitutional position. I mention that in passing; and with that I conclude.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ LORD WOOLLEY
My Lords, I feel that I must be just in the nick of time 748 before the dreadful catastrophe foreshadowed by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, falls upon us, so I had better hurry and get my speech in before we are blown down. I am sure no noble Lord will envy me in following the noble Lord. Lord Shinwell, because it has been a most enjoyable experience to listen to his vigour and his logic; and all the more for me, because I happen to agree with him. And what better sage and experienced man could I agree with than the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell?
When Mr. Macmillan's Government commenced discussions with a view to joining the E. E. C. in 1961, I was President of the National Farmers' Union, and in that capacity I was concerned with the implications for agriculture and horticulture. The view I formed was that the Common Agricultural Policy, as it was then taking shape, would prove impracticable for the European members, and that it would be so impossible for Britain that no British Government would ever accept it. My view on those points has not changed, except that, to my surprise, a British Government has swallowed what I think will be regarded across the years of history as one of the most remarkable decisions that any British Government was prepared to accept: because if anything is inimical to the basic interests of this country, it is the Common Agricultural Policy. I no longer have any official responsibility within the National Farmers' Union, but I do have the honour of being a life member of its National Council and in that capacity I hear and read what is going on. I was most surprised to read the statement made yesterday at the beginning of the debate by the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack. If I may, I would quote from column 259 of the OFFICIAL REPORT:… I ask your Lordships to reflect for a moment upon the immense weight and range of authority, in your Lordships' recollection, standing on the side for which I now speak.The nationalised industries, so far as they arc represented in this House; the agricultural industry, represented by the National Farmers' Union; …This surprised me because I know that the National Farmers' Union has steadfastly and, in my opinion, rightly refused to come down pro or anti the Common Market. They have taken the view—and this has been the case during the 749 whole of the past ten years, whatever might be the views of individual members about the merits or demerits of Britain joining the Common Market—that it was the job of the N. F. U. to address itself to the agricultural aspect of the matter and to get the best possible terms whatever might be decided.
I feel some sympathy with the noble and learned Lord, because I think he could easily have been led astray by a statement which appeared in the Green Book, which the N. F. U. published, which reads:Our judgment is that for the agricultural industry taken as a whole the arrangements made and the assurances given should provide producers over the years immediately ahead with the means of increasing their production and improving their incomes in the context of the conditions of an enlarged Community.But I would point out, having heard all the debates about this, that there they are referring, to the years immediately ahead. Indeed, I can subscribe to that view as the likely out-turn, because we know that prices for a range of their commodities are high and if over a transitional period our prices are going to be harmonized with their prices, this holds out the prospect of high prices for a range of commodities that are of interest to us. Therefore, this is just a statement of fact. But, however, it should not he inferred from this that the N. F. U. as a body is in favour of Britain joining. It is prepared to accept the challenge.
We have heard a great deal about the challenge inside the Common Market. There is a challenge inside and outside the Common Market. Life is a challenge. It is quite fatuous to suppose or infer that only those who want to join the Common Market have within them the potential to meet a challenge. I think that this is a rather arrogant assumption, though quite unintentional, I am sure. Certainly farming could look forward to that challenge. But this is a short-term and narrow sort of view. One does not look at joining an inextricable arrangement—because the Treaty of Rome is itself inextricable—on the basis of what is going to happen in the next few years, or of what is going to happen to one particular section of the community. It has always been my view that no section of our community, be it agriculture or any other, is an island of privilege in itself. It is part of the whole. There 750 fore, we have to look at the whole picture. Indeed, had I been convinced over the past ten years, as many Members of your Lordships' House have become convinced, or have perhaps always been convinced, that this was clearly in the interests of Britain and the world, I would be as enthusiastic as many Members of the House for us joining. I have not been so convinced.
Whether that makes me a Druid or a vice-Druid, I do not know. Whether it merely indicates that I am not susceptible to being brainwashed, I do not know. But, at any rate, this is the view I hold and I do not regard myself as a Little Englander or as living in any groove, and as having no capacity to meet a challenge, because I hold that view. We have had rather too much intellectual arrogance and superiority complex about this whole matter. Forgive me, my Lords, for that little heat. I would simply say that I have not been so persuaded.
I do not believe that anything approaching the satisfactory system we have in British agriculture can be seriously attempted, let alone achieved, on the basis of a large group of countries. There is certainly no evidence to lead us to think that this is possible within the existing group of the Six, let alone a possible group of Ten. I have no doubt that the E. E. C. could be put under serious strain again, because of the impracticability of the Common Agricultural Policy and particularly the explosive nature of the issue as between France and Germany. I think that it might well be that both these countries see some light in the sky over Britain—on the one hand, as a valuable enlargement of France's future market, and for Germany a very large and no doubt welcome new contribution to financing the guarantee and guidance fund, to which Germany is the main contributor and of which France is the main beneficiary.
It is not difficult to see that the access of Britain has considerable attractions for present Members of the Six. I wish I could see such sound basic ingredients to the benefit of the people of Britain. On the contrary, I see a distinct possibility of a capital outflow towards the centre of the grouping of this great new captive home market, about which we hear so much. The whole evidence of experience is that capital and activity flow to the centre. We have been beset with this 751 problem of over-congestion in London and the South-East and the starvation of the outer regions even in this country. Why should we suppose that what hap, pens within our own national boundaries is not likely to happen in this great enlarged home market into which we are going to be integrated? That makes sense, particularly when one realises that we should be at a heavy geographical disadvantage in relation to supplying, to servicing and to selling, because we are undoubtedly on the rim, on the boundary of that market, and all the advantages which we have had as a sea-faring and sea-trading nation, trading throughout the world, are going to be reversed if we opt for the confined, limited Continental market, in which I believe we shall be operating at a very great disadvantage.
I am not an economist and I am not presumptuous enough to comment on the views of the industrialists about what they see to be the advantages to their own particular affairs. I have no objection to them propagating these advantages and propounding them; we have had evidence that this is being skilfully done. But this does not in itself constitute a picture for the whole of the British community, which is what we are concerned about. We are not concerned here about the interests of this firm or that, of this section or that of British industry, but about the good of the whole nation. Therefore, I cannot share in this picture. I see the outflow of capital as the years go by, inevitably followed by an emigration of population. I see the rundown of Britain. It may be a pleasanter country, with fewer cars on the roads, less pollution—more like Southern Ireland in some respects. If that is the sort of Britain that we want, all right. But I have never heard that argument put forward as a reason for joining the Common Market. Nothing is going to happen overnight; but I can see the rundown of Britain if we join. I do not know of many undertakings in this country who have the centre of their activities based on the Isle of Man.
I see also the potential break-up of the British Commonwealth. I think that great damage has been done to the British Commonwealth during the past ten years. Even though it is not overtly expressed, 752 I can sense it and feel it. I was in Canada for three weeks recently and, quite frankly, Canadians do not have the same interest in us now that they had a few years ago. And why should they? We have turned away from them. Why should they be concerned about us? But this is a most important country. And for someone to say that Australia has given her commendation to the arrangement is indeed news to my ears. You may have pulled the wool over the eyes of the New Zealanders, but you certainly have not pulled it over the eyes of the Aussies. I think that this will be a great potential loss to the world, because I believe that the British Commonwealth of Nations is an association that will come to be regarded as one of the most remarkable free international associations that the world has ever seen. I think it still has great potential for good: and we are still at the centre of that association.
I see, too, the danger, almost the inevitability, of a chain reaction of world grouping. I believe that like begets like; that we are going to see one group after another group, and a confrontation between these groups. This is not the harmonisation and integration; this is not the grand concept, the grand vision that those who are advocating the Common Market to us in such glowing terms, as though those of us who do not accept it are in some way rather primitive and disgraceful, would have us believe. We perhaps have a wider vision—not merely a European vision, by air or any other route, but a world vision. I do not believe that this is a role for this great country to follow. I believe, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, has just said, that basic in this attitude, perhaps unconsciously, is an element of defeatism, an element of fear, an element of running for shelter. Quite honestly, I am completely lost and baffled as to why there should be this enormous backing for this venture, look at it as openly as one may.
So there is no justification, in my view, for the lack of faith in our nation that, as I say, seems to be implicit in this. I certainly do not think the idea that we are going to escape disaster and find a Utopia by being built into the European bloc really holds any credence. Of course there are challenges, in or out. But I believe that the people of this country 753 are more fitted, by circumstance, nature and history, to mount and sustain our challenge throughout the world from our basis as a free and sovereign nation, and as the centre of a great Commonwealth of nations, than ever we are likely to be as an off-shore part of a European entity curbed and controlled by Community decisions and harnessed to the cause of Europeanism at all costs.
Finally, there is a consideration that been much spoken about which, in my view, transcends all others, and which has been stressed often, both here and in the other place. I have heard it said in this House that one of the valuable functions of your Lordships' House is that it can, and on occasions does, stand guardian of the will of the people when that will is otherwise in danger of being ignored. If ever there was a time and an issue when this House should seriously consider that important role, it is now. All the evidence is that the people have not been persuaded, and still less convinced, that the right policy for Britain is to approve the Government's decision to join Europe. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said that it was the duty of political leaders to lead; and I think we should all applaud that. Of course it is their duty to lead. But it is not their duty to try to drive people into an inextricable position against their will. That is an entirely different concept of the role of leadership.
§ LORD GLADWYN
If I may interrupt the noble Lord, when he is talking about the will of the people would he not admit that if the polls are any guide, a considerable majority of the people think, irrespective of their own interests, that it is in the interests of their country to join the Community?
§ LORD WOOLLEY
I do not believe that the great majority of people are so selfish that they simply say they are against joining Europe, but at the same time think that it is in the national interest. What a great many people have said is that they think we are going to join even though they are against it. That is a very different thing. If there is doubt about it, I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, that he should use his skill and advocacy to persuade the Government to take steps to put the matter beyond all doubt. Those means 754 exist. Let the voice of the people be collected, and if that voice is in favour of joining, then let this country go forward united. I fear that, looking to the future of democratic Government in this country, and to the relationship between Parliament and people in this country, it would be dangerously wrong for Parliament to take so serious a step without the fullhearted support of the people—and I claim no authorship for that phrase. I believe that this House would render a great service if, as a result of the view expressed in your Lordships' House, the nation was led, whichever road it takes, along a road on which we can be united and not acrimoniously divided.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, painted a most alarming and plangent picture of all the wealth in our country draining away to the South if we join the Market, in much the same way as we have had some difficulty about the wealth in the regions of our country draining towards London. I imagine he would consider the economic gravity of the E. E. C. to be perhaps in the Ruhr, the Rhineland, the Belgian coalfields, North-East France and that part of the world. I am sure he knows that Southern Italy and Sicily are a great deal further from that centre of gravity than even the extremes of our country. I do not know whether he has bothered to go there, or if he had, whether he would have been able to talk to the people and understand the fabulous increase in wealth which has been achieved in that most remote extremity of the Common Market countries; and, if so, whether he believes that we, with a position of civil government and of economic expertise some two or three hundred years ahead of that of Italy, are unlikely to do better. I cannot believe that.
We have an unabated appetite for redebating and redebating issues. I do not propose to go on doing that for very long. In any case, I think it is time that we washed off the woad, took down the mistletoe from the oak trees and came into the world where we stand now. For myself, the arguments which I accept were put with a force and vigour that I could never match by a great Europeanist, Lord George-Brown, yesterday and by an eminent but not-yet-famous-in-Parliament Europeanist, the 755 noble Lord. Lord Zuckerman, in a remarkable maiden speech. I accept also the Lord Chancellor's formulation that while there are in England some who wish to further free enterprise and others who wish to further, as he put it,"something called Socialism", both can do better in the Common Market. I would myself put the phrase "something called" the other way round and say that those who wish to further something called free enterprise and those who wish to further Socialism can both do it better if we join. Let us fight about it in the larger unit. This is an argument which has been made especially his own by another great Europeanist, Mr. Michael Stewart, who puts it thus:Whatever you want to do with Britain, whatever sort of society you want to make, you can do it better in the Common Market than outside.There is one other argument I could mention and that is one which I put myself, twice, to the nationalists in this House—once in the debate on international companies and once in our last debate on the Common Market in July. It is the argument concerning jobs which remain to be done. I asked whether various things could be done better outside the Common Market, and specifically challenged the nationalists to answer how they could be done, if not in the Common Market. I received no answer either time and I have not seen any answer, either outside Parliament or in the House of Commons; so I do not propose to reopen that part of the argument now.
My Lords, as to the public opinion, the nationalists repeat and take for granted that public opinion in this country is against entry into the Common Market. I myself have seen only one public opinion poll which put the matter to the people in an intelligent way, and that was a poll published in the Financial Times of October 18 (of which the Daily Mirror incidentally made very intelligent use yesterday). The Financial Times put the ordinary question, "Are you personally in favour of joining the Common Market? ", and over the months it found that there was indeed a majority of people who answered "No" So much is familiar. It then put the real question—the interesting and important question to all those who seek to rise above the 756 froth of Party polemics—and it was this: "In the national interest do you think that Britain ought to join the Common Market?". It got the following results: "Yes"> over the months,49 per cent..49 per cent.,49 per cent., quite steadily throughout last year; and "No" over the months,40 per cent.,37 per cent.,39 per cent.—always a clear majority for the proposition that in the national interest this country should join the Common Market.
Let us compare those two questions for a moment. If I say to people."Do you want to get out of bed to-morrow morning?", what answer do I expect?—"No". If I say to people."Do you consider it to be in your interests to get out of bed to-morrow morning?", what answer do I expect? Is not this poll parallel to that? Are not the nationalists who go round asserting that there is a majority of public opinion against entry into the Common Market simply asserting that people do not like to get out of bed? If this is wrong I should like to see it controverted by some argument later on in this debate.
Now we are the Parliament of a country in which the belief is established in favour of entry to the Common Market—not against but in favour, in the national interest. Let us then go further and look round the world a little. Who wants us in beyond these shores? Who is inviting us in? The Governments of the Six and the Governments of the three other applicants; all the Socialist Parties of the Six countries and the Socialist Parties of Norway and Denmark; all the trade unions of the Six countries and I think the trade unions of the other applicants; the United States—all these want us in. I believe it is also the unofficial opinion of a great majority of people in Eastern Europe, excluding the Soviet Union, and it is an opinion which you can hear privately voiced by people in authority in the Governments of Poland and Hungary, that we should join. Their reason is clear: anything which strengthens the countries of Western Europe in a dialogue with the United States strengthens them, by extension, in a dialogue with the Soviet Union; and that is their vital interest.
Who is neutral, if we look around the world—who is neutral and understands 757 our wish to get in? Most of the Commonwealth—of course their positions vary from a fairly cordial approval of the proposal to expressed reservations. No Commonwealth country, I believe, has requested the British Government not to adhere to the Treaty of Rome. Count them as benevolent neutrals. Far more interesting than that, China is a benevolent neutral in this matter. Soviet propaganda never ceases, day after day, to say that we must not go in and to malign our motives in seeking to do so, but Chinese propaganda never ceases, day after day, to say that they consider it is a wise and comprehensible move on the part of Western European countries to strengthen themselves between the two great power poles of the United States and the Soviet Union.
Now, my Lords, who beyond these shores is against our going in? There is one country, and one only: it is the Soviet Union. I make no further observations about that, but I would ask noble Lords to bear that in mind, too, when they come to vote. Perhaps I may, even though he is not here, say a word to my noble friend Lord Beswick. I believe he did himself less than justice yesterday when he said that he had written to all of us on these Benches and had asked those who support the Labour Party and all that it stands for to go into the Lobby on Thursday night against the Motion. If he had done that, he and I would have had a long talk indeed about what it is that the Labour Party stands for. I could not have accepted that. What he did say was that he hoped all Labour Peers "who are prepared to support the Labour Party's opposition to the Motion will come along and do so." My Lords, that is a different thing,: and I think there are many of us who feel that that was not addressed to us. That was skilful wording. It is the kind of wording within which freedom grows between the words. I said that my noble friend did himself less than justice. He is a master of the wording of freedom; and I was sorry that he did not let the whole House know how skilfully he had displayed his mastery on this particular occasion. My Lords, it is as one who supports all that the Labour Party stands for that I shall vote to-morrow for this Motion. I want the Government out. Almost everything they do is terrible. From unemployment 758 and "lame duckery", through school milk and back to museum charges, it is a record of dull, mean provocation. Nevertheless, the Government have done something right: their application for entry to the Common Market, and this Motion to-night. I do not think one may use one's opposition to something which is right as a stick to beat a Government for all the wrong things they have done. It is clear that if a Party were to do that there might be little progress indeed. I will go no further into this, but the argument is probably clear to those to whom I wish it to be clear. I am grieved that 87 of my elected comrades in the other place should have been asked to vote against their convictions, and I am grieved that this request should have been made when 111 of those same comrades thought that it should not. I will not further criticise the other place, nor the way that my own Party takes its decisions there; I shall simply hold in honour those who vote according to their convictions, since Parliament is nothing if the single voices in it are untrue.
In this place we are free, though we have little power—perhaps the two go together. Nobody has asked me to vote against entry into the Common Market, and no conference, union, Party, committee or group in which I have a voice and vote, and by whose decision I might therefore be bound, has voted against entry. As a thinking being, as an international Socialist, as a member of the British Parliament and as a member of the British Labour Party, I shall vote to-morrow, not for the Government (far from it!), but for entry into the Common Market because I believe that action, almost alone among the actions taken by this Government, to be in the interests of the British people and the peoples of Europe as a whole.
§ 7.13 p.m.
My Lords, I have always had the greatest respect for the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and my respect has been redoubled by the speech to which I have just listened. I have always been greatly impressed by my noble friend Lord Eccles, and I found him echoing many of the sentiments which I personally feel. We have had spates of oratory, snowstorms of paper, deluges of propaganda and statistics, but I agree with 759 the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury: we can ignore a great many of these things because they cancel each other out. In my case it has taken me a long time to make up my mind, and it is only very recently that I have done so. My reasons are mainly based on factors that have not been unduly emphasised. The first is a military one; the second is a question of trade. We are living in a very dangerous world indeed. We, situated as we are, are the strategic key to Europe; Britain holds Europe in thrall; and Moscow knows this well enough. Every effort is being made to overthrow the life and traditions of Britain. I have no doubt that every effort will be made to turn Northern Ireland into our Vietnam, where the American forces have lost their morale. Also we have to remember that the Russians are coming up very quickly towards a command of the seas. I should feel much safer if we went into a Europe in which we could encourage a much stronger European defence contribution.
Coming to trade, we must remember that there are not a great many people in this country to-day who held positions of any responsibility in the 'twenties or 'thirties. Most of those who did are either dead or retired. I remember those days. I was in the East, and we saw the emergence of Japan as a great exporter. Based on low wages and devaluation of the yen, Japanese goods swept the bazaars of Asia. There were such things as bicycles at £ 1, plimsolls at 5d., a pair. artificial silk at 3d. a yard. and so on. Those goods were not of high quality, but they were quite adequate and just what the poor consumers of the world wanted. To-day the position is very different. Japanese wages are no longer very low, but such is the docility of their labour, and the enterprise of their management, that they are sweeping Western goods, one by one, out of the more sophisticated markets in the world with their tankers, cameras, transistors, motor bicycles, and perhaps, before long, their cars. To-day it is not only Japan, for coming up fast are the other countries of the Far East: China, where industry knows no discipline of cost; Hong Kong, Singapore, Formosa—all the other countries that have a plentiful and docile labour force with comparatively low wages, and where the accumulation of capital is encouraged rather than dis 760 couraged as in this country. In my belief it will not be possible to maintain employment at anything like our present standard of living unless we get into a large free trade area such as the area of Europe, comprising nations of similar standards of living and costs. We shall then be in a strong enough position to decide how much of this flood of Asiatic goods we can admit without seeing our industries closed down, one by one. In America they are having to do that today. The prosperity of America was built up on a large free trade area—the largest in the world. I believe that the European Community can do the same for us.
There are doubts in some Church circles as to whether we shall be in a position from within Europe to help those poorer countries that we have been helping, and whom we should like to help more than we are. The answer lies in the lesson of America. Who has been the most open-handed and largest giver of aid over the years? America, the most prosperous country. They have done this even to the extent that they have strained their balance of payments. The more prosperous Europe becomes, the more Europe can afford to help these other countries, and we shall be in a position to urge their case at the "inner circle ".
I believe that the prosperity of the poorer countries will lie in the formation of similar free trade areas based on the association of like countries. I hope that it will be possible for an enlarged Europe to give these people, as a free gift, the equipment to provide the infrastructure and equipment for manufacturing goods out of their own raw materials for exchange within their free trade area to increase the prosperity of them all. We must try to make a break with the past, with the system of loans which can never be repaid and interest which crippled the recipients. Gifts, wisely directed, and technical training, freely given, are surely the best way and must satisfy the conscience of anybody in this country.
What is the alternative to entry? Commonwealth free trade is dead as the dodo. I wish I could share the euphoria of the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, about the Commonwealth. I feel sure that ten or 12 years ago my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye would have spoken in the same way, but he said that the force 761 of circumstances has made him change his mind. To become the 52nd State (if that is right) of the United States is not a course that I would choose. To "go it alone ", with our goods facing tariffs into Europe and being increasingly frozen out of the rest of the world by Asiatic competition, would lead, in my judgment, to greater and greater unemployment in this country, until finally we have to become a closed economy, a State socialism, bartering our goods for what they would fetch with anybody prepared to take them, with everything rationed and controlled, and with suitable courses of correction for the enemies of the people and all the paraphernalia that we miscall Communism. This would be welcome to the extreme Left-Wingers, and this fact may explain the frenzy with which they greet the idea of entry into Europe. But it is the British people who would have to pay with the loss of their liberty and a great decline in their standards of living. Having lost our Empire, we have been searching in vain for a new purpose which can capture the imagination of our young people. I believe that in Europe we can find that purpose. But the ultimate goal must be the unity of Christendom which has been sought, over the ages, so often in torrents of blood, and generally in vain. I shall vote for entry.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ LORD GARNER
My Lords, I hope not to detain the House for long because I spoke on a previous occasion and I must pay heed to the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who interested me with an observation on television the other day that Life Peers tended to take their duties far too seriously and to speak far too much.
As has frequently been said, things will not happen overnight if we join the Common Market. No one can make a precise mathematical calculation of what the effect will be in the short or the long term. No doubt there will be many difficulties and disappointments, but put at the very simplest, my own hopes on the matter would be as follows. I would hope that our entry into the Market would provide a catalyst, something that will force us to live and to think in a new dimension, and something, therefore, that might blow away some of the sluggishness, smugness perhaps, and 762 smallmindedness that exists—and in saying that I should like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, that I am not in the slightest being critical or attempting to be superior. I also hope that the new edge that might be provided by competition in the Market would do away with some of the obsolete and restrictive practices that one is aware of in the industrial field.
Flowing from that, I would hope for two broad results: the first, more vigour in our economy and an increase in the quality of living in this country, not only materially but, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London so rightly emphasised in his speech yesterday, on the spiritual side, too. Secondly, I would hope that Britain would find an appropriate place from which to exert her new influence. Surely, my Lords, that influence must be on the side of more effective international collaboration, and perhaps particularly aiming for a detente between East and West, between the Communist powers and the Free World and, most importantly, trying to solve the North/South struggle and bringing greater aid to the underdeveloped countries throughout the world. It is my belief that these broad objectives could be achieved without any real damage to our national genius and all those things that all of us on both sides of this argument hold dear, without any lessening of the natural association that we have with the United States and without any prejudice to our Commonwealth ties.
I would make two observations about the Commonwealth. The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Mr. Arnold Smith, has observed publicly that Britain's association with Europe and with the Commonwealth is not incompatible. I agree with that, and I would reinforce very warmly what the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, had to say this afternoon in his maiden speech, a speech to which all of us listened with great attention for its penetration and broadmindedness. I think the Commonwealth experience is something that Britain can bring to Europe which could be helpful. If we can manage to bring to bear our long expertise in informal consultation, diplomacy in depth—family 763 atmosphere if you like to call it—which we have managed to create, they might be helpful in softening any rigidities in the Brussels bureaucracy; and I have no doubt that the Commonwealth countries themselves can benefit from closer contacts with and access to the Western European countries.
My second point about the Commonwealth is that we have heard a good deal about Gallup Polls in one form or another. I have conducted a small private Gallup Poll of my own and I will tell your Lordships the result. It may interest you to know that in your midst you have men who have served as British High Commissioner in Canada, in Australia, in South Africa when it was still in the Commonwealth, in India and in Rhodesia—and in mentioning those names I am not including myself. All of those men, I think I am right in saying, are likely to vote in favour of this Motion tomorrow night. While I do not pretend that they have a monopoly of wisdom, it is a fact that here is a group of people who know about and who care about Commonwealth relations and have reached the conclusion that they are not likely to be damaged by our association with Europe.
Therefore, my Lords, I would hope that we can take our decision decisively, with courage, with confidence, and with conviction and, I would hope, without undue Party rancour. Certainly I would hope that once the decision in principle has been taken and accepted, the consequentials of that action would not give rise to any bitterness and frustration, because it is a major cause behind which all of us can stand—a cause which, in my view, ought to lead to a greater exchange not only of goods but of men and, perhaps above all, of ideas, and it is something that could be for the great benefit of this country, of Europe and of the Commonwealth.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ LORD ALPORT
My Lords. I am sure that the House is greatly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Garner, for having put the Commonwealth point of view during the course of this debate. After all, during this long debate we have heard relatively little about the Commonwealth. We 764 have been concerned not so much with that institution as with the new institution about which to-morrow we make our decision. If this debate had no other purpose and no other justification, it surely could find justification in its enabling your Lordships to have the pleasure of hearing the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, advance as an argument against entering Europe the possibility that that might result in the abolition of your Lordships' House. But I am sure that the artistic temperaments of those with whom we shall be associated in the future would not allow the abolition of a platform for the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, and therefore deprive us of the pleasure of listening to him as long as he is spared to be among us.
However, it is quite clear from all we have heard that practically everyone in this House has already made up his mind how he is to vote to-morrow. I certainly intend to vote to enter Europe. If I had not already made up my mind, there is one thing that would have convinced me that I should be right in voting that way. It derives from a very simple test of political judgment, and it is this. If my views on any public matter coincide with those of the Tribune group of the Labour Party I hastily re-examine my position since the presumption is that I may be wrong. Again, if I find myself in political agreement with the Daily Express, then I immediately re-examine my position on the assumption that the probability is that I will be wrong. But when my views coincide equally with the Tribune group, on the one hand, and the Daily Express, on the other, I immediately change my opinion, because it is quite certain that I am wrong. I only wish that I could persuade the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and some of his colleagues to put that infallible test to their opinions as expressed in this debate.
I am sorry to see Lord Beswick, in particular, clinging forlornly to error, and I regret especially that he should share with the Daily Express, and continue to propagate, the wrong interpretation of the public attitude in Britain to this problem. Public opinion in Britain as represented in the public opinion polls is on the whole expressing a general allergy to foreign connections. The noble Lord, Lord 765 Shinwell, in his speech expressed the position absolutely clearly. He said that he was not very happy with being too closely associated with the French; that he did not particularly like the Germans; that he was not absolutely sure of the future of the Italians. The Dutch, I think he said, gave too little and demanded too much, or something of that kind. The Walloons and the Flemings he was not sure about, and so far as the Luxembourgers were concerned he, and no doubt the majority of other people in this country, were not absolutely certain where they came from and who they were. Now that may be a very isolated and insular point of view, but it is in fact the point of view of a very large number of people in this country—indeed, the majority.
We do not like, we never have liked over a long period of time, foreign entanglements, and if I were asked to-day whether I wanted to join the Common Market by somebody who came up to me in the streets of London and put that question to me on behalf of some public opinion poll I probably would say, "No, I don't want to join the Common Market ". But, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, quite rightly pointed out, if the question were put to me in a different way my answer would be different.
I remember very well in, T think it was, July or August of 1940, when after the fall of France we were left alone to fight on, reading a poem of Sir Alan Herbert in Punch, I cannot remember the exact terms of the poem—it was a very good one—but I remember its sentiments exactly because it represented precisely the public attitude at that particular moment. What it said was roughly this: "Thank God we have got rid of all our allies now! We don't have to bother with any more foreigners. We can go on and fight the war on our own ". But, my Lords, we were very grateful when the time came to find that we had allies. We were very glad when we knew that the United States was coming into the war on our side. We were very glad when the Free French started to build up strength again to our assistance. We were very glad when changes of fortune brought the Italians out of the German side and on to our own. We were very happy to be a member, and not the most 766 important or the most powerful member, of the Grand Alliance.
This is the situation to some extent at the present time. We should like, as the noble Lord, Lord Woolley, said—and he expressed the view of many people in this country—to "go it alone". We should like to rely on our own resources, not to be worried by the commitments and anxieties of being associated with people about whom we know very little, despite all the travel and ail the experiences of these last years—people whose political systems we do not entirely trust. But if, as Lord Kennet pointed out, you asked the people of this country as a whole whether they regarded it as in the national interests to join the Common Market, you would get, I am quite certain, a substantial majority in favour.
Indeed, I draw upon the evidence of the Daily Express of to-day in their public opinion poll. The Daily Express, having described the numbers now—For, it says.30 per cent.; Against.49 per cent.; Don't know,21 per cent.—goes on to say:Yet, curiously, people expect him "—that is the Prime Minister-—`` to do just that.That is, to go into Europe.Despite personal opposition,84 per cert. of voters still think Britain will join the Market.This is not because they believe that Mr.
Heath is overriding public opinion. They believe that his judgment, despite the prejudices or the personal feelings we may have about foreigners or Europeans or whoever it may be, and the judgment of the Government and the judgment of people of all Parties that they respect, is that we should, in the national interest, go into the Common Market.
This well-known political commentator goes on further and says:Another odd finding of the pollsters is that a majority feels that if to-morrow's vote favours the Government, opposition to entry should be dropped.That is the real feeling of the people. They do not particularly want to take on, as I say, the commitments involved in some difficult and complicated political conception such as the Treaty of Rome. but they realise, because of that extraordinary political instinct the British 767 people have, that this is the right thing to do and this is the right time to do it.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, will the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting for a moment? As his argument went, it seemed to me that he was saying that the British people were betting on the result of a football game, and that on the other hand they had their own opinions which were different. Would he not feel that the statement that 84 per cent. think that the result is going a certain way simply means that they have weighed up the odds in Parliament?
§ LORD ALPORT
My Lords, I do not think so, because it is quite clear that the Press have done their best to ensure that the Parliamentary position is obscure. They have blown up all the differences, all the problems within the Parliamentary Parties, the oppositions and so on, quite out of proportion. The fact of the matter is that, although the British people have their prejudices with regard to this form of association with Europe, they expect to go in; they realise that the right course is to go in; and, what is most important from the point of view of the countries with which we shall be associated is that when we do go in. we shall be reliable allies, despite any background of prejudice or reservation that we may have at the present moment. I am sure in my own heart that that is the position.
But I have one thing more to say and it is this. To-morrow's vote, if it goes as I think most of us expect it to go, not only in this House but also in the other place, will not be a Party decision; it will he a decision based upon a consensus. Respected members of each Party will join together in favour of it. I believe that will cast a responsibility upon the Government during the period that lies ahead immediately after that vote is taken. I believe that if we are to have in this Parliament a consensus on a major topic of public importance of this sort one must realise that consensus politics is something which must continue beyond that and into other matters on which there are divided opinions and strong feelings on both sides from different political points of view, particularly in relation to social policy in this country.
768 I think Mr. Stewart was right in the courageous speech that he made, in saying yesterday that this was not merely a question of dealing with one issue in isolation, but that it had to apply to the political situation generally in Britain during the years immediately ahead. I have never had any doubt about that. I believe very strongly that this decision should not have had to be made upon a Party basis; it should have been made by a Coalition. But Coalitions are not popular in this country, and certainly they are not a practical proposition at the present time. When this decision is made, I believe that it should be regarded as a decision of Parliament as a whole and the country as a whole and not a Party decision. There flows from that the logical necessity of having to turn to something which is much frowned upon at the present moment, but I believe it is the only way in which this country can possibly be governed, and that is on a basis of consensus politics covering not only international affairs but our own home affairs as well.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF GLASGOW
My Lords, as a sailor I rise with considerable diffidence to contribute to a debate which has such vital importance to this country, to Europe, and indeed to the world. I have listened with great interest to the arguments of noble Lords of both persuasions, far better qualified than I am to speak on this great issue. I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, on an outstanding maiden speech, and I was also extremely moved by the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn, and I hope that, if he reads my speech, he will agree with at least some of what I have to say.
It is getting late, my Lords, and I want to deal with only two aspects of this problem at the moment. First, I am prepared to stand up and be counted as one of those in favour of our entry into Europe; but, like other noble Lords who have spoken of their doubts and difficulties, I might also consider myself a convert. Between 1955 and 1957 I was serving in the NATO Defence College in Paris, where we conducted courses, not only for senior officers of the armed 769 forces but for diplomats and civil servants of the 15 NATO nations, and as we talked extremely freely among ourselves on all subjects this proved to be an extremely useful sounding board.
At that time I was convinced that every country of the Western Union was looking to us to take the initiative in the formation of some sort of political or economic union of Western Europe. We could then have had the Common Market virtually on our own terms, and I was bitterly disappointed that we failed to grasp what seemed to me to be a unique opportunity. A few years later the Six got on with it without us, and when, later, and rather. I thought, cap in hand, we applied for entry. only to be snubbed repeatedly by the French. I was dead against it. I found it humiliating and unbecoming to a country which in 1941 stood alone for the freedom of Europe. In the last two years, however, I feel that the atmosphere has totally changed. The countries of Europe want us as much as we want them, and they are prepared to say so. We have much to give Europe and, at the same time, we cannot now stand alone. I think the terms are as good as we could possibly hope for. I do not believe that this decision will weaken our links with the Commonwealth; in the long run. I believe, it will strengthen them. Finally, as many other noble Lords have said, if we miss this opportunity T do not believe that our children or our grandchildren will ever forgive us. We have a last chance of going into Europe with honour and with our heads held high.
My second point is historical, and has already been ably deployed in a previous debate by my noble friends Lord Polwarth and Lord Belhaven and Stenton. My own deductions are somewhat different from theirs. At the beginning of the 18th century, for reasons with which I will not weary your Lordships, pressure was put on Scotland to enter into an Act of Union with England. The two main issues for Scotland at that time were the same as those which face us now. They were economic and they were the problems of sovereignty. After the disaster of the Darien adventure Scotland was at this time nearly bankrupt, and so the economic argument for Union was strong; but the loss of sovereignty was 770 likely to be almost total. A Commission set up in 1702 failed to give the Scots terms they could accept, but a second Commission in 1706 finally produced a draft treaty.
At this point, my Lords, I ought perhaps to declare an interest, in that my ancestor, the first Lord Glasgow, who sat on both Commissions, was one of the very few Scotsmen of that day who had the vision to see that, despite all the disadvantages, Scotland could no longer remain in isolation in an increasingly competitive world. The Union was widely unpopular in Scotland, and the arguments divided all classes, political Parties and religious beliefs. Scotland had always been much closer to the Continent than England had been, and this was regarded as a surrender to the old enemy. The Highlands were restive; there were riots in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumfries, and English regiments were dispatched to the Border. It was a very rough wooing. But in January,1770, the Act of Union was passed by the Scottish Parliament, and two months later Great Britain was born.
Your Lordships may draw your conculsions from this analogy, but the point I want to make is that we can now look back from the distance and see what happened. Two-hundred and sixty-four years later the Scots are no less Scots; they have retained their established religion, their own Scottish law, their own system of education and a number of other purely Scottish institutions. When I was a small boy at a Scottish private school my address was St. Ninian's, Moffat, N. B. In those days "N. B."stood for" North Britain ". We do not even hear any of that nonsense now. What happened in the years between? Scotland and Clydeside were in the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. From Scotland came men of genius: statesmen, lawyers, scientists and writers, who greatly enriched the life and furthered the progress of the two kingdoms. In the building, administration and defence of the Empire, Scotsmen played a part out of all proportion to their relative population and to the size of their country. In all humility, my advice to this still great country of ours is to have faith, take its courage in its own hands, go into Europe and do likewise.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF MANSFIELD
My Lords, on Sunday last the Sunday Times, commenting on the debate about the Common Market, said that during the past ten years, despite intermissions clue to French vetoes, millions of words have been spoken and gallons of ink have flowed, and that months of television time have been allocated to this great debate. It is the case that, for a decade, the argument has proceeded in the country, in the Party political organisations, and in Parliament itself. But the debate this week in both Houses of Parliament is different not in the sense that the differences of opinions are less, or have subsided, but in the sense that, at the end of this debate, there will be a Division on the Government's Motion. In that sense the debate this week is certainly unique. The Sunday Times also commented that it cannot truthfully be said that this matter of to enter or not to enter the Common Market has been swept under the carpet. Whatever differences of opinion there might be on this controversial subject, there certainly must be unanimity on that particular point.
I listened yesterday to the very interesting speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stokes. Among other things, he said that it would be a good industrial bargain for Britain to enter into the Common Market. The thread running through the whole of his speech was that the virtue of going into the Common Market would be the disappearance of the tariff walls that exist at this moment. We should be entering a Community of 250 million people. which would he a free trade area. As the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, indicated that he was pleased about the possibility of the area of the Six with no tariff walls for Britain, and that there would be an opportunity to expand our trade, I began to wonder whether it was not also the case that people of like mind in the Community of the Six would be pleased too that an additional 50 million people were to come into the Community with no tariff walls. If, as the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, hoped and believed, that with the removal of these tariff barriers trade, (at any rate trade so far as the motor industry was concerned), would be increased by this percentage or that percentage. the counterparts in the Community of the 772 British Leyland Company in Britain might increase their trade here in Britain, and if the percentage of the increase in trade was the equivalent of what was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Stokes, then we should be where we were before we started.
Another point that the noble Lord made was that entry would be a disadvantage to Britain so far as the Common Agricultural Policy was concerned, and with that I entirely agree. He also said that the old-age pensioners and people on low fixed incomes had a fear that the impact of entry into the Common Market would affect the cost of living. It is the case that old-age pensioners and people on low fixed incomes spend most of their money on food. If, as I believe, and as the noble Lord himself intimated, the Common Agricultural Policy would be a disadvantage, those who would be hit hardest would be those sections of the community to which I have just referred.
There is no doubt that there is a keen division of opinion on this great question. This has been so for a long time, but it seems to have come more to the surface this year, since the negotiations began, than we have perceived before. For instance, there have been four conferences: three conferences of the political Parties, and one representing the trade unions. Two of those representative gatherings were in favour of entering; two were not in favour of entry. That is an indication of the division of opinion that exists in the collective organisations. in Parliament itself and, as I believe, in the country as well. Even the Liberal Party, which for a long time—and in fair play this must be said—advocated entry into the Common Market, are not even 100 per cent. about it. In the other place at the end of the corridor they have six Members, and one-sixth of them, as described in The Guardian last Saturday, was the lone Liberal voice against entry into the E. E. C., believing it to be a rich man's protectionist society. I merely mention that to indicate the sincere division of opinion about entry.
In view of the long list of speakers and the late hour, there is much that I do not now propose to say. but I should like to put this to the Government. I have read and reread the statement by 773 the Chairman of the European Commission, M. Arnaud, at the opening of the negotiations in June,1970. He said then that there must be an acceptance of the Treaty of Rome, and he indicated the line which the negotiations would take. Neither the Treaty of Rome, nor the regulations that have flowed from that Treaty during the transitional period of twelve years since the Community came into existence, would be altered. I have come to the conclusion that last June the British negotiators were faced with a fait accompli, or, to put it in a way that we can better understand, they were told, "Here it is. Take it or leave it." During the past few months, I have wondered whether even the conditions stated by M. Arnaud were enough to satisfy France, because we know that when the negotiations were suspended arrangements were made for the Prime Minister to meet President Pompidou, and assurances were asked for at that meeting. If that is the case, will a representative of the Government indicate what answers, if any, were given by the Prime Minister.
There are four questions which I want to ask the Government. First, was ail assurance asked for that, as a member. we would not seek to reverse the great agricultural and financial gains which France now derives from existing Community policies? Secondly, was the Prime Minister asked for an assurance that this country would accept the veto, as expressed in the 1965 Luxembourg Accord? Thirdly, were we asked to consider, in principle, phasing out the use of sterling as a reserve currency and running down sterling balances in advance of any agreement or undertaking to assist in so doing? Fourthly, as evidence of our wholehearted commitment to Europe, and to a "European Europe" in the French sense, must we agree that preference should be given to the interests of the Six in all matters where a conflict of interests may arise with other outside nations?
Since the publication of the Government's White Paper, the terms of entry have certainly been a talking point. So much has been said by so many for and against entry on the terms accepted, that I do not intend to reiterate the arguments. But the conclusion to which I have come is that the terms accepted by the Govern 774 meat would not be advantageous to the British people. After exhaustive inquiry and study, the Trades Union Congress have said that the economic aspects of the terms are such that they would be onerous to the British people, and they see no reason why Britain should not develop her economic potential to the full outside the E. E. C. That is not being anti-European. I am no more anti-European than I am anti-any other group of nations. I was brought up on the philosophy of John Wesley—"The world is my parish." To put it in another way, I believe it was Torn Paine, who had a different ideological outlook, who said, "The world is my parish, mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion ". I am only anti-Common Market, not anti-European, on the terms negotiated by the Government.
In the light of all the sincere opinions held by both sides, how should this important matter be resolved? It is a serious constitutional matter and the Government have no mandate to take Britain into the E. E. C. The only mandate which they obtained at last year's Election was to negotiate. This they have done, and they have brought forward the terms. During the 1970 Election, the Prima Minister himself said that no British Government could take this country into the Common Market against the wish of the British people. What evidence of opinion have we? There have been direct polls, there have been opinion polls, there have been straw polls in a number of areas, and they all appear to indicate that it is not the wish of the British people to accept entry into the E. E. C. on the terms accepted by the Government. May I quote one example? A poll was taken in Wellingborough in which 51 per cent. of the electorate voted, of whom 75 per cent. voted against entry. The only satisfactory way of resolving this matter is by appealing to the country; and the best way of doing that is by a General Election or, second best, by a referendum. We are a democracy and this important controversial question should be settled by an appeal to the people.
THE LORD BIsHoP OF SOUTHWARK
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he be so kind as to tell us whether he would be prepared for a referendum or an appeal to the country with 775 regard to the reintroduction of capital punishment?
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
My Lords, would the noble Lord think that the application for entry into the Common Market is less terminal than capital punishment?
§ LORD TAYLOR OF MANSFIELD
No, my Lords, it is not less serious than that. I think they are both important questions. Speaking for myself, I am prepared to express my opinion on capital punishment. I am against it.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
My Lords, my contribution this evening will be the shortest one in this debate. I should like to report to your Lordships just one incident. A fortnight ago to-day, the Parliamentary delegation I was leading at the time were entertained in the fabulous Foreign Office in Brasilia, and we were given an interview by the Foreign Secretary, himself of British descent. One of my colleagues from another place asked him what his opinion was of Britain joining the E. E. C. There then followed an "off-the-cuff" and the most brilliant exposition of the case that I have ever heard. It would be impossible for me to repeat his words, except to say that he put forward what was to my mind conclusive proof that we should enter the Common Market, not only from our own point of view, not only from the point of view of Europe, but from the point of view of Britain's friends in the rest of the world, among whom he considered himself and his country. As we left this interview, my Lords, one of my colleagues turned to the other—they were of different Parties and from another place—and said, "We only need a speech like that in the Commons, and any opposition would have to melt", and my other colleague concurred. Certainly that meeting, and the fact that, shall we say, Communists are the biggest opponents to our entering, persuaded me, and I thought that I should report the circumstances to your Lordships' House because I am also a great believer in 776 the old adage that the onlooker sees most of the game. This particular onlooker certainly convinced me that we in this country have no future outside the Community.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ LORD MAcLEOD OF FUINARY
My Lords, this 'is a realist debate, and at this paint in the proceedings I think it just worth saying that. The issue is not all over bar the shouting. Despite the extraordinary importance of what will happen in the next 36 hours, here and in another place, it is as well to remember that the Treaty of Accession has not yet been drafted, far less signed. There are hours of intricate debate still to take place before Parliament, and we are only at a stage in this process. Therefore we are not dealing with something which is almost tied up, but with something which is before us. Furthermore, there is still a Petition to Her Majesty the Queen from the National Common Market Petition Council; and I hope very much that the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, after his marvellous speech to-day, will be on the Council. Not enough people know that half a million signatures have been received, and that more signatures are being added day by day. The Petition is about the cost of food, about the balance of payments, about Commonwealth countries and about limitations of sovereignty, and it craves Her Majesty to exercise her Royal prerogative and allow the people to express their wishes. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Mansfield, will agree that that is one of the ways in which we can express ourselves; and names are constantly being added to those of the half million who have already signed.
All I wish to do in this debate is to express three grave apprehensions which I find in myself as one who is opposed to entering the Common Market. One apprehension is that, unless we do something more serious about it, belief in democracy is being blunted among our people. Your Lordships may remember that at the Nuremberg trial, years ago, Herman Goering was speaking about how to manipulate people, and he said, speaking of one issue of war, "If there is a war coming up, why worry about the slobs? "He went on," It is the leaders of the country who determine policy, 777 and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether under a democracy or under a dictatorship. Just tell them they are threatened, denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It is the same in any country ". My Lords, I am not suggesting that we are dealing with slobs, but may I suggest, rather, that there is evidence that we speak as if there is a sort of simpleton attitude among the people of our country.
It was way back in 1947 that a book came out called, Design for Europe, Its principal author addressed us in the July debate. He is a noble Lord here, and was present earlier to-day—Lord Thorneycroft, then Peter Thorneycroft. He wrote in this book, Design for Europe:No Government (dependent on a democratic vote) could possibly agree in advance to the sacrifices which any adequate plan must involve. The people must be led slowly and unconsciously into the abandonment of their traditional economic defences."Slowly and unconsciously", my Lords! Well, he said it. Are we not rather more inclined to look upon our people as simpletons than we are entitled to? Let us remember that before the war there were 12 universities in Britain, and there are now over 40. If things go wrong, I have a funny sort of feeling that people will not appeal again to democracy; that is to say, they will wonder whether it is worth while dealing in democratic terms, or whether there should not be tumults in the street.
Take, for instance, the polls, which have just been mentioned. The Gallup Poll itself shows 35 per cent. as being in favour,47 per cent. against—and all this since September. The National Opinion Poll shows 34 per cent. in favour,44 per cent. against; the Harris Poll shows 36 per cent. in favour,39 per cent. against; and the British Market Research shows only 49 per cent. in favour. I know, of course, that whenever one talks about polls nowadays people say,"Look what happened at the General Election. See how wrong the polls were then ". But I have a peculiar idea that if in any one of these polls the vote had been at all in favour of the Common Market—not in large favour, but in favour at all—we should not have heard that sort of talk so much; we should have heard it said 778 at once that even the people are now coming round to this situation. The people, constantly and continuously are not coming round to this situation, and there is no majority, let alone a large number of people, in favour.
Where is all this consent coming from Parliament and the people? Is there really any sign of it at all? Are we sure that we are paying attention to the people in any country? Let us remember the position in the United States of America just before the war—because this is a world phenomenon. In the United States just before the war there were 6 per cent. going to universities, whereas 40 per cent. of the young people of the Uniied States are now going to universities. Just before the last war there were 12 per cent. going to high school; there are now 50 per cent. of the young people of America going to high school. It is reckoned that by 1980 every young person in the United Kingdom will be going to some form of college or group of people or school up to the age of 18.
Or, again, take those who are at pains laboriously to find out really what it is all about. In October of last year the Association of British People addressed a letter to the Foreign Office, which I propose to read to your Lordships—it is quite a short letter. I am going to ask your Lordships, at the end: are we being quite fair? I suggest that when your Lordships hear this letter you will agree that it is both cogent and courteous. It was dated October 9 and addressed to the Foreign Secretary, and it read:
§ "Dear Sir,
§ "You are reported as saying that there is no essential difference between the commitments under the Treaty of Rome and existing defence and other existing treaty commitments so far as British sovereignty, the supremacy of Parliament and the Monarchy are concerned.
§ "In order that we can clarify the position to our members we should be glad if you would give a categorical reply to the following questions:
§ "(1) If Britain enters the European Economic Community and subsequently finds that there are serious disadvantages is the British Government able to withdraw from membership if it so wishes?
§ "(2) Will you confirm that no British citizen will be brought before a court of law outside Britain in connection with any matter that took place in Britain?779
§ "(4) That no British citizen will be imprisoned outside of Britain for an offence committed in Britain?
§ "Yours faithfully,
§ "Russell Hickmott."
§ I think that noble Lords present will agree that that is a letter of cogency and courtesy. It took three weeks for the Foreign Office to reply; and this is the reply:
§ "Dear Mr. Hickmott,
§ "Thank you for your letter of 9th October about the Treaty of Rome and Britain's negotiations for entry into the European Common Market. Your views on the matter have been noted."
§ If the request was one of cogency and of courtesy, I would say that that answer was one of calculated contempt. Why should people go on asking about it and why should all this pressure be put on people that they should know about it when that is the sort of thing that happens when they try in a courteous way to get to know about it? In the light of this, and of the kind of thing I touched on, I am apprehensive that if things go wrong democratic methods will not be resorted to, and we may find ourselves dealing with a tumult in the streets.
§ But my second point is not on the question of courtesy and understanding. My second apprehension is in terms of the economic sphere, and I leave it to those more qualified to deal with the details of it, as they have been rightly dealt with by a great many speakers since this debate began. I look in vain for much enthusiasm among the Six; and not much reference is made to that. Just as an ordinary member of society I pick up yesterday's Scotsman, and find a brilliant article by a young German giving reasons why the young people of Germany are absolutely disillusioned with the Common Market; or to-day's Daily Telegraph which had the information that there were riots in the German motor factories; or to-day's Guardian, with a heading,"Gloom in Bonn". All these are referring to the Common Market. Whence our enthusiasm if this is daily being told us in this situation?
§ Last July I outlined the corruption that bedevils some of the arrangements that are being made. I referred to the 140 loopholes in the instructions regarding price mechanisms that have been dis- 780 covered by the "Get-Rich-Quickers."I am not repeating those; here I confine myself to a new one because of its brevity. It concerns Vatican City. I am not talking about the Vatican in the religious sense, but about that tiny artificial sovereign State, which has a perfect right to exist and which I understand has about one thousand souls. It may interest you to know that in 1969 the quantity of sugar imported into Vatican City State. with its 1,000 people, amounted to 7½ lb. per inhabitant per day, and 180,000 dollars had to be provided by European taxpayers to square off the depredations of the "Get-Rich-Quickers." Whence our enthusiasm at that secondary point?
Will the noble Lord explain the mechanism of this swindle? Why is it so wicked for the people in Vatican City to import so much sugar?
§ LORD MACLEOD OF FUINARY
I do not object to the intervention by the noble Lord; but I think it is rather ridiculous that when we go in we shall have to pay amounts comparable to 180,000 dollars because of these people who are bringing in sugar simply, in terms of a bit of finesse, to take it out at a different price. This is happening all over the place. I should be delighted to send the noble Lord facts and figures far more terrible than those I quoted last July.
On the same subject—and we are dealing with the economic sphere—what about these mountains of butter about which we heard so much? Everyone is pleased that the mountain has now disappeared; but the fundamental malaise that the mountain of butter represented has not disappeared. What is the situation regarding cows? An article in The Times datelined "Brussels, August 4" says:More than 235.000 cows have been slaughtered in the European Economic Community since 1969. according to a report by the Brussels Commission, published to-day. They were slaughtered as part of the attempt to reduce the E. E. C. 's surplus of dairy products the farmers received about £ 80 per cow.Some 65 per cent. of the slaughtered cows were in West Germany.There are about twenty million milk cows in the E. E. C. Another way of reducing the supply of milk is to pay the subsidy for every cow whose milk is not put up for sale. According to the Commission's Report 271,600 cows have qualified for this".781 Since 1969,500,000 cows have been killed or put out of commission while two-thirds of the world are starving. There is the nub of the problem, my Lords. If I read my Old Testament correctly, that is a sin compared with which adultery is a bagatelle. It is a sin to deal with the situation in this way, by destroying and destroying.
People say that this is happening not just in the Common Market but in our own country in another way. Of course it is happening in other countries. It is happening throughout the world. This is the world malaise. Here is the nub of the problem. And here I re-quote, without apology, from my speech of July. Here is the nub of the problem from the pen of Sir Winston Churchill. He wrote:Who would have thought that it would be easier to produce the most necessary commodities than it is to find consumers for them?Who would have thought that cheap and abundant supplies of all the basic commodities should find "the science and civilisation of the world unable to utilise them"? Have all our triumphs of research and organisation bequeathed us only a new punishment, the curse of plenty?To solve that ",he went on,many attempts have been made, from the extremes of capitalism to the extremes of Communism. All have failed. It is upon this crack and fissure that the keenest minds should be concentrated.He ended by saying that,"Parliament itself is on trial."
Here is the enormity of the problem. Here it is working out in the United States of America. If I may say so, in all charity and good will, I hope that people do not laugh at this quotation from America:What we deal with here is a glaring immorality in our whole capitalistic system. America has suffered it for years.Having to burn the crops is a symbol of it. Here is just one instance:In the U. S. A. the failure to share stems from the stranglehold grip of agricultural and conservative interests over Congressional committees and the bureaucrats in the Department of Agriculture. It doles out 4.000 million dollars a year to American farmers not to grow crops. Its priority is the farmer, not the poor. Senator Easton. a powerful Mississippi 782 cotton farmer with a senior seat on the Senate Agricultural Committee "—I hope that he has declared his interest, when you hear what I am going to say—gets around 168,000 dollars a year as compensation for the crops he does not grow in order to support the price of those he does grow. In Sunflower County, where he lives, the 6,000 poor families share food aid of 446,000 dollars. For Mr. Eason 168,000 dollars; for each poor family in the same county an average of some 75 dollars a year ".This is the state of the world with which the kind of figure I gave about cows in the E. E. C. is concerned. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Soper, that it is the repercussion of all this on underdeveloped countries that is the danger in the situation. It is not true that the E. E. C. trade with underdeveloped countries is increasing; it is decreasing. It is not true that in the United States counterpart things are getting better and better in terms of the kind of thing I have just said. What is true is that in 1969 800 Roman priests, mostly brought up as poor peasants,800 Roman priests in South America, mainly Brazil, have risen up to say that they are going to have a war against the United States of America. They have said, "To blazes with Martin Luther King and all his poppycock about non-violence! There are 300 million of us down here in South America and we are going to get ready to attack North America by reason of the constancy of the increase of the debt which we are paying back, and we still get poorer and poorer relatively while they get richer and richer. "No wonder they feel like that when in Brazil, in Sao Paulo, with a population of 8 million persons 44 per cent. of all men and women of working age are unemployed, partly due to the influx from the rural areas.
In the north-east, which is the rural part, a daily occurrence now is that towns and market places are invaded by crowds of up to a thousand persons looking for food. Remember Tolstoy:I sit on a man's hack choking him and making him carry me, yet I assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by every possible means—except by getting off his back.That is our situation over against the world situation. That is the position of the West over against two-thirds of the world which is getting poorer and poorer. It was Abraham Lincoln who, over 100 783 years ago, got up and said, just before the war about slaves,There is a storm coming up and God is in the storm on the other side. If there is a place for me I am ready.President Kennedy, shortly before his assassination, used the same phrase, but applied it to the whole world situation.
Unless we deal with this situation as a world situation and not as an economic bloc anywhere, either an American economic bloc or our economic bloc, it is certain that the great grandchildren of the youngest people present here will be piteously asking their parents why they had the misfortune to be white, when, at last, two-thirds of the world rise up and say, "We are not going to have it any longer". It cannot be dealt with by power blocs, Darwin is the man we have to remember. He talked about the survival of the fittest. So many people still seem to think that the survival of the fittest is the survival of the beefiest, but, as everyone who has read a page of Darwin knows, it is the opposite to the survival of the beefiest. He meant that there is only that form of life which is capable of dealing with a new environment and capable of surviving. Down goes the plesiosaurus and up come ever more sensitive forms of life. That is the paradox and that is the situation.
Romaine Rolande says that the world has become a unity and for this high destiny mankind is not yet fit. Here is a situation with which we have to deal, and the only people who are fit to survive in this situation are not the competitive but the co-operative. What we have somehow to find, and quickly, is what is the measure of world co-operation which will not be frozen by capitalistic blocs placing themselves one against the other. I am apprehensive of a tumult in the streets—not just in Brazil, but in this country—if things go wrong in the Common Market. If we go in and it does not come off, where do we go from there? I believe, by reason of what I have just been saying, that it is impossible for it to succeed because it is in terms of a competitive world and competitive blocs.
Lastly I am apprehensive because it seems to me to be the end of patriotism, in the sense of fighting for one's country; 784 and, of course, modern war in its own right is getting less and less viable as a moral proposition. Someone has worked out that in the First World War the fatal casualties were 90 per cent. of the armed forces and 10 per cent. civilians. In the Second World War 55 per cent. were armed forces and 45 per cent, were civilians—Hambourg and Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the rest. In the Korean war, 80 per cent. were civilians and 20 per cent. armed forces. Even if the Vietnam war were to stop to-morrow it is alleged that there are a million civilians killed, men, women and babies. Why we get hoity-toity about Lieutenant Calley I cannot imagine. It is said of Vietnam that 90 per cent. casualties are civilian and 10 per cent. soldiers. Indeed, a cynic has been heard to say that if you want to save your life in the next war the best thing to do is to join the Army.
Simpletons begin to know what war is about, with all this education that I have touched upon, and they are not having any more of it. They know that God is on the other side. Major-General Smedley Butler of the United States Marine Corps—no lunatic fringe man he, and this is a short quotation taken from his book written in 1930 after he had left the Army—said:I spent 33 years and four months active military service…. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just a part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. I made Tampico safe for oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped at the raping of half-a-dozen central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped to purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. In China, in 1927, I helped see to it that the Standard Oil went its way unmolested.All I am saying is that the simpletons from the high schools and colleges begin to know what power blocs are all about. If you say that that is way back in 1930, let us go—still not to a lunatic fringe man—to the Treasurer of the Standard Oil Company and what he said in 1946:Our foreign policy will be more concerned with the safety and stability of our foreign investments than ever before. The proper785respect for our capital abroad is just as important as respect for our political principles, and as much care and skill must be demonstrated in obtaining the one as the other.If you say that that is 1940, well, let us go to 1950. Here is none other than the Secretary of the Navy, Francis P. Matthews, and this is what he had to say about America's destiny:To have peace we should be willing and declare our intention to pay any price, even the price of instituting a war, to compel cooperation for peace. … This peace-seeking policy, though it casts us in a character new to true democracy—an initiator of a war of aggression—would earn for us a proud and popular title. We would become the first aggressors for peace!This is the Secretary of the Navy who is speaking.
If you say that these are all quotations from the American scene, well, let us go back to Britain and let us finish. In 1970, at the annual meeting of Barclays Bank, when there was a commotion by students about Cabora Bassa, no "lunatic Left" man spoke to them afterwards, but the vice-chairman of Barclays Bank, who is chairman of Barclays Bank D. C. O. which deals with the situation in Africa and other places. This is what he said to these young men who were protesting about Cabora Bassa:It is time people realised that the trade of this world is so intertwined that if you cut yourselves off for matters of principle there would be no world trade ".Complete ethical shambles, my Lords, is our condition; that is our situation. We are never again going to be able to turn out people for God, Queen and country, if, in all these issues that rise up in a war situation, we have got to realise that trade is so intertwined that principle has gone out of the back door. If things go wrong, people are not going to die for Royal Dutch Shell whose profits last year were £ 318 million; nor are they going to die for I. C. I. who last year spent more on retooling for the sake of the efficiency of their work outside Britain than they spent on retooling their work to get employment inside Britain. And if, in light of all this, we try conscription, believe me, there will be tumult in the streets. If I am fit and am courageous enough, I hope to have the grace to be with the tumult in the streets. This is why the Common Market will simply lead us into further pressures. What we have got to find is the technique of 786 the economy of the brotherhood of man, which will not be assisted pro tent by entry into the Common Market.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I intend to keep to the point. I have not spoken in any previous debate on the Common Market, and I shall be brief. The Motion before us to-day is one that I have long anticipated. The debate we are now having in both Houses is one which I have always looked forward to with great pleasure. The vote at the end of the debate will mean a new era for our country; it will mean the acceptance of a challenge and of an opportunity that I have always wanted to accept.
So why, given this, should I feel unhappy and disappointed? I believe that we should join the E. E. C. I have always believed this and I shall vote for it at the end of our debate. So why not leave it at that? My Lords, I cannot. As we know, there are Members on all sides of both Houses who disagree, who have disagreed always and who would disagree at the end of our current debates whatever the political complexion of the Government of the day. My remarks are not directed towards them. This must be part of our democratic Parliamentary system. I hope and believe that those who have been unalterably opposed throughout and we who have been in favour throughout will accept the sincerity each of the other.
My unhappiness, and, much more important, my disquiet, comes from something else: first of all, from the three-line Whip imposed by the Opposition in another place and the reasons for it; and secondly, from the campaign which has been conducted. What I am going to say gives me no pleasure, and I only hope that I shall not lose too many friends whose opinion I respect. None of us likes saying disagreeable things about our own Party and in public. It is one of those things that just is not done. But on occasion we have to, although we would all prefer to voice these opinions privately and leave the matter there. But if one feels as strongly as I do on this matter, and as ashamed, then one cannot leave it there. In the long run I do not believe that any Party benefits from spineless supporters.
787 I could never belong to any other Party, but I feel very unhappy at the moment. And I am unhappy because I believe that those responsible for our application to join the Common Market when the Labour Government were in power have now come out in opposition not because of the terms but because these were negotiated by a Conservative Government. I may be right, I may be wrong; but that is what I believe. And I have always refused to accept that we would do such a thing. We, the Opposition, have turned this into a Party issue. "No entry on Tory terms" is a good slogan. It is emotive. It rouses everyone who feels dismayed and antagonised by what is happening to unemployment figures and prices. And the resultant surge of anger, frustration, even of despair, against this Government conveniently fans the anti-Common Market flames. It fans them to such an extent that Labour supporters of entry into Europe are shouted down and jeered at as traitors to the Socialist cause, with the likelihood, as your Lordships well know, that they will be hounded from positions of responsibility. This is not a pretty picture. In the end, in the very end, I believe it will be seen for what it is; in the meantime, it renders a disservice to British politics.
We would all agree that facts and figures can be selected to support or decry most campaigns. To-day, I want to resist such a temptation. I think many people who feel as I do on this matter are taking their stand on belief and on principle. Like most of us here, I am not in a position to state what people have or have not said in Cabinet. But what I do remember ever since 1967 is the support that the Labour Government received from Socialist leaders in the E. E. C. and from unions in the Community. We all recall the determined opposition when General de Gaulle was President of France. Similarly we all recall, particularly the present Opposition, the continuous support given us in those difficult days by Josef Luns and Willy Brandt, to mention only two names. Unions in all six countries support the Common Market because they believe that it helps to secure full employment. improves working conditions and helps to exclude unfair working practices. They 788 in turn have done what they could to help us in our European journey ever since 1967. a journey which lasted through 1970 until the previous Government lost office. We had support and encouragement from them in the dark days of our application. What we have done to our European friends in return is, I think, unforgivable.
My Lords, we all realise that leaders have many conflicting loyalties to face. Back Benchers have problems too, and those of us who have sat in another place realise how heavy those problems can be. I assure your Lordships that I certainly do. I want to put to my noble friends, why was it not possible for our leadership to declare that they remained in favour of entry into the E. E. C.; that the terms, while not as good as those a Labour Government would have obtained, were acceptable, and that in view of our attitude when in power the Opposition would either allow a free vote or support the application?
Recently, I have talked to many reasonable, thinking, worried people, people whom I would describe as apolitical. I found them despondent. They were despondent about the good faith of politicians, about unemployment and high prices, and about the future; in fact, some of them had even come to wonder whether the country had any future at all. Goodness knows! I hold no brief for this Conservative Government, but I believe that had we been in power, had we negotiated these terms. they would have supported entry, and what is more. that we would have expected them to do so, rightly. This issue, whether the views we hold on it, transcends Party politics. The decision reached by Parliament this week will probably be the most momentous one that we here to-day shall ever be called upon to decide.
Why is the attitude of the Opposition so defeatist? Nobody would think that we had anything to offer, much less that from inside the Community we could do so much to develop policies or help change those unacceptable to this country. We certainly cannot do so from outside. I think of the entire difference in public opinion if Opposition and Government together had supported entry, however guarded the support of the Opposition. I believe that the country 789 would then have seen this as a challenge and an opportunity. I believe that they would have faced all these discussions and arguments with courage and optimism, and hope. I believe in our entry. I believe that we have much to offer not only to Europe but to our own people and to the world. T trust and hope that entry will have a large majority, and I am glad that my one vote can help to make it so.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
My Lords, like the noble Baroness whose speech we have so enjoyed, I shall be short. Although I began my working life at the Bar, I have spent more than forty years in business and I have some experience of banking, of investment, of industry and of industrial relations. Also, during the five years of the war I was in the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Supply and the Treasury, all of which were concerned with industrial matters, among other things. I served under very good masters, including Mr. Ernest Bevin, from whom I learned a great deal. After the war I went back to business and I have been in business ever since and have done business all over the world. In my private capacity I have an interest in agriculture, which it is my duty to declare.
Your Lordships will realise, I know, that it is with great embarrassment and some distress that I feel it is my duty to-day to speak in opposition to the views of the leaders of my own Party, many of whom are my friends and for all of whom I have great respect. I do not propose to speak at length. This is an issue which overrides Party politics and I should be failing in my duty if I did not explain to your Lordships why I cannot support the Government in the Lobby to-morrow. I was taught by my first political chief, who was the father of my noble friend Lord Harlech, whom I served at the Colonial Office, that one should support one's Party always on minor matters but on matters of major consequence one should always vote according to one's conscience and judgment.
This is a major decision, if ever there was one, for this country. I need hardly say that I have been under no pressure from the Whips and indeed have been urged to record my vote either for or against the Motion. I should like to make 790 clear that the majority of my friends in the industrial world believe that it would be for the economic advantage of Britain to enter the Community. I should like to make that clear, though by no means all take that view, and even those in responsible positions in different industries and even in the same businesses have divergent views. There are some among them who may be even optimistic in their views, as my noble friend who was challenged last night for being so by a noble Lord on the other side.
I believe myself that the economic advantages and disadvantages of entry arc incalculable. It was interesting to see in Friday's Times the great division of economic opinion in those two long columns of names, and also that my noble friend Lord Crowther shares my view that the economic advantages and disadvantages are incalculable. I agree with him on that but not with everything he said. He referred to the union of the Heptarchy and also to the union of the United States of America as precedents. He did not refer to other political merger:; which have been less successful. He did not refer to the Anschliiss of Austria—which was not all that successful to my mind—or to the Federation of the West Indies, which did not come off very well. These parts of history were concealed from us and we were only told of the favourable parts.
I am not basing my argument on the terms of entry which have been negotiated, and in fact I should like to congratulate my right honourable friend Mr. Rippon very much indeed on having negotiated the best terms which I think with any realism could have been hoped for. I am against the principle of entry, as I believe are the majority of people in this country; and though, as Mr. Churchill once said:Democracy may not be an ideal form of Government, we have so far not discovered anything better",I would quote some other words of Mr. Churchill:My idea of democracy is that the plain, humble, common man, just the ordinary man who keeps a wife and family, who goes off to fight for his country when it is in trouble, goes to the poll at the appropriate time, and puts his cross on the ballot-paper showing the candidate he wishes to be elected to Parliainont—that he is the foundation of democracy.791 That is the man who at the present time, I suggest, does not support our entry into the Common Market.
When the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, was Lord Chancellor, he said with regard to the Treaty of Rome—and I hope that all noble Lords who are going to vote on this important Motion have studied and read what he said:The Rome Treaty, while leaving intact the separate existence of the Member States and their constitutional organs. creates a Community. a new international person, with its own organs of Assembly, Council, Commission and Court of Justice. These organs, on which we as a member should have representation, have in the spheres in which they operate, and in those spheres only, certain supra-national powers, which override those of the national constitutional bodies, and which are also incapable of challenge in the national courts of the Member States. The Commission and the Council are given powers under the various articles of the Treaty to make regulations, to issue directives and to make decisions.Of course we shall represent a small minority of votes on those bodies and it would be presumptuous to think, as some people appear to think, that we shall be able to control them.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, we are not able to do anything about it, nor anybody else. The others are a minority, too.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
My Lords, I am perfectly aware of that. I am seeking to maintain the independence of this Parliament in Westminster. And I think that the implications of this are very far-reaching for our independence, because the spheres in which these powers can be used cover such a great part of the economic and social life of the nation. That is the point. I do not disagree with Professor Maurice Peston, who, in an essay in a book published the other day, points out that the real incalculables are the pains of economic and social change which have to be borne, if we are to get any benefits at all. I believe, as Mr. Peter Shore said in another place,… that our people do not wish to be so closely and tightly within the Western half of Europe, rather than be more loosely associated. as we have been for so long, with many other continents and countries".I want to stress that I am in no way anti-European. I am pro-European. I 792 have at least once a month every year for many years visited Europe on business. I have many good friends in most of the Western European countries. But I am also pro-Commonwealth and pro-American, and I do not want to do anything which will diminish our trade and association with the English-speaking world and our old friends—old friends who have come to our aid in the past, which is something that we must not forget, some of whom are in trouble now, which also we must not forget. There was a letter in The Times the other day from a very old servant of the State, Sir Harry Batterbee. He said:The Commonwealth and the E. E. C. are based on two different ideas of international government. The Commonwealth is based on the conception of independent governments—independent in all their affairs, but bound together by the voluntary obligation to consult in all matters of importance and to co-operate and help one another in all practical ways…. The conception of the E. E. C. is entirely different. It is the conception of the associated governments surrendering their independence in certain matters to central institutions, some of a parliamentary and some of a bureaucratic character…. The first conception is British in origin with its British belief in liberty and debate as the foundation of good government and good international relations: the second is authoritarian in character and owes its origin to continental ideas of law and order.I should like to say just a word or two on agriculture. It is admitted by the Government that the cost of entry into the Community would increase the price of food. There has been a dispute as to how much that will be—and in fact nobody can possibly say—but it will be considerable over the coming years: and the price of food is that which affects the poorest people in the country most. So far as farmers go, it was most interesting to hear the noble Lord, Lord Woolley. Some farmers in arable districts will gain, but others, such as grassland farmers on limestone rock, as I am, are bound to lose. The consumer will lose by the loss of cheap food from our Commonwealth, from North America, South America and the Caribbean. There is also the problem, so far as agriculture is concerned, of animal health and the protection of our flocks and herds from foot-and-mouth disease, and other diseases like rabies and so on, a matter which I am sure the Government take most seriously and which is of great concern to many people. I believe, also, that entry into the E. E. C. 793 will increase the pull of industry towards the South-East of Britain, and that is something which to me, as a Northerner, does not appeal at all.
I have not spoken of the actual cost to Britain of the contribution that we shall ultimately have to make if we join the Community. but it is admitted by the Government that when that time comes it will be several hundred million pounds a year. Moreover, the revenue from the value-added tax and from the food levies will, I understand, go not into the Treasury, but to the Commission in Brussels, to be disposed of as is thought right by the Commission and the Council of Ministers. That is an important question to which there is no question of the veto applying.
I come now in one minute to the last, and perhaps the most important, question of all, that of monetary union. I say unhesitatingly and without fear of challenge from anybody, that if we are to have a common currency, however that may be contrived, it must involve a common sovereignty over a very wide field. My final conclusion is that this loss of sovereignty of Parliament in Westminster is over so wide a field, and so permanent, as to be unacceptable Ito the majority of the British people. It is our constitutional duty in this House to protect them, and I feel bound therefore to vote against the Motion.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ LORD NATHAN
My Lords, I go along with the noble Lord, Lord Crowther, in believing that the movement of ideas and events—of history—lead us towards joining the Community. I was going to touch upon the economic factors but I hesitate to follow Lord Balogh's bull into those fields of barley for fear that indigestion must follow, from which I believe some of our economists have been suffering. But I should like to mention briefly one point. While I believe that the broad, long-term economic case for entry is firmly made out, the present fluctuating exchange rates make confusion as to an assessment of the short-term effects worse confounded. The cost, indeed the maintenance, of the C. A. P. is put in doubt. The uncertainty, on the other hand, within the E. E. C., and the state of flux, would, I believe, make our own position on entry more, not less, 794 tolerable, for in this situation we can influence events.
Problems exist within the Community beyond those attracting publicity now. The working out of rules to deal with monopolies and mergers has still to be done. The harmonisation of value-added tax will take years to achieve. Even the harmonisation of the application of external tariffs, though commonly thought to be complete, is not, and completion will take some time. I refer here only to those matters with which I have been particularly concerned. Therefore, we would not join an organisation whose rules were fixed and rigid, but one in process of development, even at these levels, in which we could participate and which we could help to mould.
But it is of our national interest in a broader sense that I should like to speak, quite briefly, because I believe that these matters have not perhaps been fully touched upon. I believe it is in our national interest that the Six and those who join them now should constitute a strong, stable and prosperous group, established, as it is, in such manner as to eliminate the possibility of war between themselves and as a bastion against encroachment from the East, whether military, political or economic.
I think this can best be ensured by our joining the Community, provided that we join with wholehearted enthusiasm; and to this end I hope that our representatives, not only at ministerial and ambassadorial level, but also those who serve in the Commission, will be the best we can possibly provide and that the civil servants who will serve the Commission itself and the Council of Ministers will likewise be from the "first eleven". Secondly, I am certain that it is in our national interest that we should have and be able to maintain economic, political and military power sufficient to secure our proper interests—and perhaps in a moment I could refer to what I mean by "our proper interests". Military and political power depend on economic power; and as the noble Lords, Lord Zuckerman, Lord Stokes and many others have said, economic power depends on technological innovation and the manufacture and marketing of goods so produced, which we alone cannot sustain.
The Community in practice is the only partner which could provide the required 795 resources in money and technology and the requisite secure market. The noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack has already referred to the impact of the July measures in the United States. It is not to be forgotten that over the threshold is the likelihood of the export from Russia of goods to all parts of the world. Nor can it be forgotten that were we outside the Community the Community itself might conceivably impose additional tariffs against us.
I must say that in this long debate, among the arguments against those which I am putting forward I found the most convincing to be those of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, when he asked whether we were going forward in a spirit of fear and desperation. I believe that I am not, and I believe that those who think like me are not; but we have to face the facts as we find them, and I do not think it is wrong or a question of despair that we should move in accordance with the facts as we see them. Indeed, I think it is the failure to recognise these fundamental elements of our highest self-interest that has led to the luck of direction from which we have suffered these last 20 years, and which is perhaps in part responsible for the malaise from which we have been suffering. Most importantly, perhaps this accounts for the political disorientation of the young. One need think only of the withdrawal—and this is no word of criticism but of praise—from the Commonwealth and Empire which has gone on since the War: a constant withdrawal and a most difficult manoeuvre in peace as in war. One need only think of the failure to obtain entry into the Common Market on two previous occasions. The causes for which the Community was founded were good causes: the elimination of ancient enmities and the creation of a common prosperity. Of course, it is possible for evil men to adapt the institutions created for these high purposes to selfishness and greed and to the promotion of economic conflict with those outside. This has indeed not happened. The best way for us to ensure that it does not happen is to be at the table where the decisions are taken and the ideas developed. Likewise, that is where we should be in order to foster and promote the objects for which they were created.
796 There 'has been a tendency and a temptation to which British Governments have, to their honour, not succumbed, to opt out of responsibility for the great world problems about us—the disparity of wealth between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, populations and areas of actual or potential conflict—and to confine thoughts to problems at home, which is a matter to which the noble Lord who spoke previously referred at length. This view exists, and it exists among quite a wide body of people. It could grow in importance and influence. It may be possible for some smaller countries to opt out in this way but for us, exporting as I believe we do, more per head of population than any other country and with investments and interests in very many parts of the world, this is impossible: nor does it accord with our great traditions and the aspirations expressed by so many in your Lordships' House during this debate. Yet if we dismiss the opportunity now open to us I believe that we shall, for lack of power, have to do just that and hope that we are carried along on a tide of prosperity within a framework of peace created and maintained by others. That, my Lords, is a fragile hope indeed. We belittle ourselves if we believe this is possible. The self-interest to which I have made reference is not merely selfish. Without the power to which I have also referred we shall not have the ability, let alone the will, to give a lead in the directions that we think right to fulfil the aspirations so often mentioned in this debate, not only for the benefit of our children, but for the world. We are still a great and potent force for good which will be increased, not diminished, by joining the Community now.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, I hope that I may be permitted first to make a comment about the speech of my noble friend Lady Burton of Coventry. In her speech she emphasised her right, which obviously all of us acknowledge, to speak clearly about her views of the position of the Party to which she belongs. I would not for one moment nor, I think, would anyone on these Benches—deny her right to do this; and I would reassure her that so far as I am concerned, and so far as any 797 that I know are concerned, we should not dream of allowing our vote for the election of officers within our Party to be influenced by an issue of conscience, if it is regarded by people as an issue of conscience. This has always been a fundamental policy within the Labour Party. I would merely say that I personally—I cannot speak definitely for others—despite the smile of the noble and learned Lord, would always vote in favour of people whom I regarded as most suitable for holding a position. I hope that that will reassure my noble friend, at least with regard to my position in this matter.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I am sorry, I do not like to interrupt, but I was referring to the positions of responsibility in another place.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, I am not immediately concerned with another place; I am not voting for leadership in another place; I can speak only for myself.
With regard to the problem of the entry into the Common Market, I hesitated whether I would weary your Lordships once more by intervening, because I intervened in July. I felt that there were still some things that one ought to do, and as I knew that there would be a small minority speaking in support of not going into the Market I felt it right that I should say what I feel is important on this matter. May I say, to begin with, that the remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Clitheroe, about the pull to the South-East influences me considerably. Like him, I live in the North of the country. In that part of the country the economy has suffered for a long time from being essentially out on a limb. If the centre of gravity of industry is round the Rhur we shall be still further out on a limb, and there is no doubt at all that there will be a pull to the South-East. One notices this type of situation already in Europe.
In the summer I was in Belgium and Holland. I had not been to Holland for several years, and when I went there previously I went to visit their coal industry. I happen to have been for a number of years in charge of a coke research laboratory, and so I went over to their Limberg Province in order to look at their coking 798 industry; and it was an extremely flourishing one. Their coal industry was active and they were doing a great deal of work. In Belgium, around Liege, they also had an active coal industry which has all completely gone because the dictates of the Economic Community require that there should be a concentration in those parts which are most highly economical.
§ LORD GLADWYN
Was this not simply because the coal had run out of the Borinage? The seams were no good; they were out of date and they had to be closed down.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
No, my Lords. The noble Lord will forgive me but I happen to know something about coal, and it is not true to say that the seams had run out in the Limberg Province. Perhaps he means Liege.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
In the Limberg Province they have not run out of coal. In this part they have found that the pull over to the Rhur, where coal can be produced more cheaply, is inevitable, and it will be inevitable for us, also. We shall find the same pull. One finds to-day that a country like Belgium is to a certain extent prosperous: it is becoming the main dockyard for Germany. It would be quite possible that we could subsist in a subsidiary role but I believe that particularly the provincial parts of this country, the remote parts like the North-East, like Wales and Scotland and the South-West, will suffer considerably because of the pull down to the South-East: because that is so much nearer to the centre of economic force which will lie in Europe.
I do not propose to go over the argument put forward on the economic side, because I think it is now generally admitted that the economic arguments almost exactly cancel out and one cannot prove anything from them. But it is interesting to note one thing. When people talk about this country having 799 failed to make economic progress over the last ten years or so, and when it is suggested that the increase in productivity in this country has been much lower than in the Six, the fact is that this applies only to the private sector of our industry. It is in the private manufacturing industry that we stand extremely low. We find that we are below Poland, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, France, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Italy and Japan in productivity increase over ten years in the private sector of industry. But when we look at the public sector—for instance, at railways—we find that we stand third after Sweden and Germany; we are almost identical with Germany. In airlines we stand after Lufthansa, K. L. M., and Alitalia, whereas all the others in the world lie below us. When it comes to electricity production, we are second to Belgium in productivity increase over ten years, and in coal we are second to Germany over ten years. It is rather surprising that in the public sector of industry, which is so much maligned in this country, our productivity increase has stood up extremely well compared with all the other countries of the world. It is only in the private sector that we have failed. In other words, we are being asked to go into the Common Market in order to cover up the defects of the private sector of industry. It is because our businessmen have failed in this country that they hope to make a killing in Europe—an extraordinary point of view, because one would have thought that if they have failed here they would fail more disastrously in Europe.
But when one looks at the wider field one finds to-day that the real argument is regarded as a political one: that we are asked to go into this European Community for political reasons. If we arc supposed to join a political organisation, we surely have to ask what is this political organisation that we are joining. Is it a democratic one'? Is it one with an elected Parliament? Is it one in which the peoples of the different countries have any control at all'? The answer is, No. There is no control by an elected Parliament. All we have is a Council of Ministers, and the Council of Ministers is advised by a Commission which sits in Brussels. The Commission draws up 800 plans which the Council of Ministers approves or disapproves. This is democracy at a very remote stage. It is not a democracy in which the people can exert any financial control at all over what is happening. I am amazed that people who consider themselves democratic should consider for a moment supporting such a system. It seems to me that we are asked to support a system which is bureaucratic and not democratic. I have no objection to a bureaucracy provided that it is under control, but this is a bureaucracy out of control, a bureaucracy without proper Parliamentary control.
We are also told, or it is hinted, that in some way the defence of Europe depends upon this Community. In the White Paper that was issued there is some brief reference to this. Paragraph 35 says:Because of the weakness of Europe after two world wars the defence of Europe, including the United Kingdom, has greatly depended since 1945 as it did not before upon the strongest member of the North Atlantic Alliance. The United States have played, and are playing, a great and generous role, but it is a burdensome one and they feel it is now time for Europe to play a larger part in maintaining her own security.But, my Lords, the defence of Europe does not depend upon the European Economic Community at all—this is pure fantasy; it depends upon NATO. It depends upon the North Atlantic Treaty. And why for one moment we should mix these two up. I cannot understand. It seems incredible to me that anyone should seriously come forward now and say that it is E. E. C. which determines the defence of Europe. It contributes nothing directly to the defence of Europe, nothing at all. It is done entirely through NATO. I hope that the Government will pay some attention to this point because it is a serious matter that in the whole of this discussion no mention is made of NATO at all.
NATO consists of 15 countries, not of the Six that belong to the E. E. C., and of these 15 there are 5 which are outside the consideration of even the enlarged Community. Is one going to say that we cut those five out? Is one going to say that in future the defence of Europe is not going to involve America and Canada, it is not going to involve Iceland and Turkey, it is not going to involve 801 Greece, as to a certain extent it does at the present time? Is one going to rule all these out because they are not—
§ LORD BETHELL
My Lords, is the noble Lord satisfied that this happy situation in NATO will continue? Is he satisfied that the United States will continue to play a major role in the defence of Western Europe in the future?
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, it is very interesting to me that people who support with astonishing starry-eyed optimism going into something quite new, proceed to challenge what we are already in and say that that will not work. I am asked: Will the United States continue? There is not the slightest evidence that the United States will not continue.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, a Government Whip challenges me. Would he like to challenge me? Why not?
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, has not challenged the noble Lord at all. The evidence is that over the years to come the United States will probably reduce considerably their forces in Europe and, furthermore, that the Americans think it better for the Europeans to get together in order to contribute collectively to the NATO defence.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, I find arguments of this kind astonishing. The suggestion is that Europeans will contribute only if they are part of the E. E. C. But the Europeans are part of NATO. We are contributing to-day.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
We have already signed the Treaty and this Treaty is operating, yet all of a sudden people say, "The Treaty may be abrogated. Let us sign a far better treaty."
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, I find this whole argument about the European Economic Community more fantastic than anything I have ever come across. Most of the time we are arguing about those things of which we know nothing at all, like the economic consequences. When we argue about those things which we do know, the most absurd argument is put forward—that suddenly the whole thing is going to collapse. I can only say that if the country is going (to be led into this European Community on the sort of arguments that have been put forward it is the most bogus prospectus and the most utter swindle that has ever been perpetrated. I am quite serious about this. I maintain that this country is not prepared (and the people show this quite clearly) to go into something which is so ill-defined and which has no clear consequences of benefit to the country.
When we come to other points it may be argued—and I have no doubt that those who have far more experience than I have of foreign policy will argue legitimately—that I am not an expert in this and that I do not know a great deal about it. Therefore, may I turn to two things about which I know a little? One is education. If we go into the European Community there will be some discussion—in fact the discussion has already started—about the qualifications which can be recognised throughout Europe. My noble friend Lord Bowden, who I am sorry is not here to-day. made a comment on this point in July. Interviewed in the New Scientist he said:It seems that the Government is trying to push this one "—that is the question of higher education—under the mat with the view of fixing it once we are in. That is no way to treat it. At the moment a group of civil servants in Brussels is working out precise definitions of syllabuses and courses that will be acceptable as leading to professional qualifications in Europe. There is a risk that our type of degree will not be acceptable to them. For instance, they have four-or five-year courses as against our three-year courses.If this were carried out it would be a very serious thing, and it would mean that whereas people with European qualifications could come into this country, people with British qualifications would not be able to practise their profession in Europe 803 if what the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, fears comes to pass.
May I now refer to the question of technology and science? Here there is something about which I feel extremely deeply. There are probably four major fields of advanced scientific technology which the modern world pursues. We have aircraft, we have the so-called aerospace, we have computers and we have nuclear energy. There is not the slightest evidence that in any one of these there will be any help at all from the Common Market. If there were, we should already have found that the Common Market would have shown some interest within itself in the aeronautical field. It. has not done so. What the Common Market will itself admit—in fact I have a quotation here—is that the most advanced aeronautical development in the Western World at the present time is Concorde, whether one approves of Concorde or not: and Concorde has been developed entirely between Britain and France independent of the Common Market. The Common Market has played no part in it at all. They were asked, not so long ago. by Mr. Glinne. who is a Belgian member of the European Parliament, if they would give their opinion about the Concorde development. This was the reply from the Commission:At the same time the Commission considers, as it emphasised in the note which it sent to the Council on the 11 th November.1970, concerning 'a joint Community project on scientific and technological research and development' that it would be desirable for projects of advanced technology such as the Concorde not to be launched in the future except in the context of an overall Community policy for technology.I do not know how many noble Lords sitting on the opposite Benches want to have our industry under the control of the Brussels Commission, but that is exactly what is stated here: that Concorde would not have been allowed to go ahead because the Commission would have wanted to consider it, and would probably have turned it down because they thought that something else was more important. I have no objection to an international Socialist approach, but this is not an international Socialist approach at all; this is a narrow, bureaucratic approach in the interests of certain private manufacturers. This is a totally different thing. In other words, we are 804 being sold something which might be of use if we had an international Socialist organisation, and which will be utterly destructive of all progress in this country if it remains under the present bureau. cratic control in Brussels.
When one moves on to the various other things which we have in our scientific field we find that the M. R. C. A. (Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) has been developed. This was developed not by the E. E. C. It started as a development based on NATO—the despised Nivro—and it was to be originally a joint enterprise between this country, Germany, Belgium, Italy and France. France has withdrawn, and the others go ahead. In other words, these so-called Community enterprises do not occur, and the same thing. is true when one turns to space. The space policy of the Community just does not exist. There is a policy which concerns European countries, but not the Economic Community.
When it comes to nuclear energy, the position is even more disastrous because we in this country could have had a splendid opportunity for building up a nuclear energy industry based partly upon the expertise of this country and partly upon Canada. The combination would have been superb, because we were developing in this country the advanced gas-cooled reactor, whereas the Canadians were developing the much smaller heavy water reactor, and the two make an excellent combination. If we had worked together properly, I believe that between the two we should have got markets all over the world. The Europeans do not want this, and Canada will be out of it.
If we go into the European Community we shall find ourselves cut off from this sort of development; Canada will be thrown into the arms of America, and we shall find that the developments in Europe are developments which are not being carried out at all in our interest. It may be said. "Why should they be?" I agree. But if we go into this we are fools, and I can only say that we in this House have, I believe, maintained that we are trustees of the national interest, and that we are responsible for seeing that the national view, the national feelings, are not overridden. If ever there was a case where the national view. the views of people throughout the whole 805 country, were being grossly overridden it is on this question of the Common Market, and I maintain that it is an obligation on us to see that tomorrow there is a majority in this House against entry.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, one of the disadvantages of these long debates is that so often the most interesting speeches are delivered at the end of the day to a small House. I think that applies particularly to the speech we have just heard from my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones. It was knowledgeable and it was challengeable. It aroused certain opposition both from the opposite side of the House and from the Liberal Benches on this side. I began to wonder what would have happened had that speech been delivered, as it deserved to be delivered, to a full House.
During this debate there has been concentration, quite naturally, on the effect of entry into the Common Market upon the United Kingdom and our people. There has been concern, rightly, for the future of Europe, because whatever our views we feel our historical, our cultural, our geographical relationship to Europe. But this issue of entering the Common Market does not affect only the United Kingdom and Europe. It affects the whole of the world, our relations to it and what will happen in other parts of the world if this step is taken. I want in my remarks to-night to concentrate upon the majority in the world to-day; that is, the population of the Third World, of the Continents of Southern America, of Africa and of Asia, and I shall argue that entering the Common Market will be disadvantageous to the nations of the Third World and to its citizens.
I begin with the Commonwealth. I should like to remind my friends who belong to the Labour Party of a sentence which was included in our Election Manifesto in 1964. It was:Though we shall seek to achieve closer links with our European neighbours, the Labour Party is convinced that the first responsibility of a British Government is still to the Commonwealth.We have recently had long debates in this House on the Immigration Bill. Is there any Member of this House who can say that when we enter the Common 806 Market, the citizens of Commonwealth countries will not be placed in a disadvantageous position in comparison with the citizens of Europe? They are to be allowed here in very restricted numbers on a voucher system, being tied to a particular employer for one year. I have described that as indentured labour, because that is its principle. Those are our fellow Commonwealth citizens. For Europeans, free entry into this country: for our nationals, free entry into Europe. Are we to place the Commonwealth or Europe as a priority?
My Lords, when some of us argue that entering the European Community will be disadvantageous to the Commonwealth and the Third World we are met by the statement that 18 developing countries have already become Associated States of the European Community. This is significant when we think of the Commonwealth. They are all French, Belgian and Italian ex-Colonies. It is true that Nigeria, West African ex-British Colonies, and it may even be the Association of East and Central African nations in Africa, may decide to enter into arrangements with the European Community.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
No, my Lords. I was discussing this matter with representatives of East and Central Africa last night, and they have not yet so decided. My Lords, first I think it should be recognised that even if they seek associated status, or arrangements outside associated status, which I think is more likely, they will still be in second-class and third-class categories so far as the European Community is concerned. Already among the Associated States there is objection and disagreement as to their relations with the European Community. I have in my hand three statements from Niger, from the Cameroons and from Senegal, all of which are Associated States. President Diori Hamani of Nigeria, at a meeting of the Common Market Commission in Brussels in December,1966, expressed the basic issue. He described the "catastrophic effect" of the price drop of raw materials combined with a simultaneous rise in the prices of manufactured goods that African countries have to buy. I 807 shall be returning to that matter because I regard it as fundamental.
These African States are required by the great industrial consortiums to sell their goods at low prices to the industrialised nations and, at the same time, to pay more for the manufactured goods which they receive. President Hamani instanced the Cameroons. The Exchange value of a ton of cocoa exported in 1960 enabled the import into the Cameroons of 2,700 metres of unbleached cloth and 1,200 kilos of cement. By 1965 the same quantity of exported cocoa was sufficient for only 800 metres of cloth and 450 kilos of cement.
The fact that has to be faced is that when you get a consortium of industrial multi-national combines, their attitude towards the developing countries will be to buy from them foodstuffs and raw materials as cheaply as they can get them and to demand from them prices for their manufactured goods as high as can be. One's main criticism of the European Community is that it is such a consortium of industrial combines which will exploit the developing countries of the world. A similar criticism has been expressed by the Associated State of Senegal, a country with very close associations with France. President Léopold Senghor said in 1967 that African countries were being slowly strangled, and he pointed out that Senegal had increased the volume of its exports to Europe by 30 per cent. to receive in hard cash an increase of only 3 per cent. This is the basic issue between the capitalist combines of Europe and the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Colin Legum, the well-informed correspondent of the Observer said on June 6,1971:So far the experience of the French speaking African countries that have become Associate Members of the E. E. C. has been so disagreeable that, having begun as enthusiasts, they are now vociferously critical.I turn from the Associated States of the European Community to the non-Associates. They are Asia, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Malaysia and Singapore. The African and Caribbean Associates may probably number 100 million. The South-East Asian non-Associates number 700 million. I am not going to delay the House with the details of the way in which these people are going to suffer, but I will say just this. India, the greatest 808 democracy in the world, with her terrible problems of to-day, with her appalling poverty and her disastrous housing conditions, having now to receive 9 million refugees from another country, with her Prime Minister coming to this country within two days, should have the sympathy of this House at this moment. And no one can begin to look at the relationship of the European Community with India, a non-Associated State, without realising that India, particularly in her export of manufactured goods, is going to suffer deeply if this country enters—
§ VISCOUNT ECCLES
My Lords, earlier to-day I was attacked by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for trying to keep food from coming into this country from India and about the trouble I have had in Dundee. But surely the noble Lord knows that it is we in this country who have given a better treatment to Pakistan textiles than any other, and we are now trying to make Europe do the same. So why should he think that our influence will be absolutely negative in doing exactly what he wants?
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I did not say that our influence would be negative. What I do say is this: that if we enter the European Common Market we become responsible, with European countries, for conditions which will almost shut out manufactured Indian goods from Europe. That conclusion is the result of my efforts to study this question. Noble Lords have had the opportunity of putting other views to this House.
I do not want to speak for too long, and therefore I will summarise almost telegraphically the other points that I want to make. I think it is generally recognised now that if we enter the Common Market our present balance-of-payments position may be prejudiced. There is a difference of view as to the degree and how long it will last; but I say to noble Lords that all experience shows that if the balance-of-payments situation deteriorates the first casualties are the developing countries of the world. The first casualites result from the decrease in aid; and what is happening in the United States at the present time, with its difficulties about balance of payments and the cutting down of aid in the world, illustrates that.
The next point I want to make, not so telegraphically, relates to New 809 Zealand and Australia and the sugar-producing countries. I put it very briefly in relation to New Zealand and Australia. The Government are making much of the fact that the New Zealand and Australian Governments have accepted the arrangements into which our Government have entered. But both in New Zealand and in Australia the present Opposition, which may so easily become the Government, have denounced these arrangements. I think it quite likely that, as in this country, where the Opposition express criticism about entering the Common Market and where the public are undoubtedly behind us in that view, the Governments in New Zealand and Australia may similarly be unrepresentative.
My Lords, I wish to speak in greater detail about the sugar-producing countries, Barbados and the other Caribbean countries, Mauritius and Fiji in the British Commonwealth, and Surinam, Malagasy, Brazzaville Congo and others outside. The Government have made much of the fact that representatives of those countries have accepted what the Government have gained in their discussions at Brussels. But the facts are these. On May 13 Mr. Rippon accepted a formula little different from the formula which he had rejected only 24 hours earlier. The formula expressed the purpose to safeguard the interests of sugar-producing countries but did not make any commitment. At the subsequent Lancaster House meeting with representatives of the 14 Commonwealth Sugar Agreement countries Mr. Rippon interpreted this to mean that exports would be maintained after the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement was reviewed in 1974. But, my Lords, when the Council of Ministers of the European Community met 'they did not endorse this; they merely referred to it, in a cornmunique, as the statement of Mr. Rippon. And the Press has subsequently reported that a Commission spokesman said that the Lancaster House statement by Mr. Rippon bound only Britain. That has never been denied. The sugar-producing countries, therefore, are left in a very precarious position indeed.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, this is an interesting point. I myself have not heard it before. I wonder whether the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, when she replies this evening, could give 810 an answer to this particular point. I think it is very relevant.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELIIELvIE)
My Lords, perhaps I should make it clear that I shall not be replying this evening. My name is put on the list of speakers but only to move formally the Adjournment. I am to speak to-morrow.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Then I think the noble Baroness could respond to that request when she speaks to-morrow, answering the very important point made by my noble friend Lord Brockway.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, may I just say to the noble Baroness that if she does wish to reply to this point she will find both sides stated, first in a letter to The Times yesterday and then an answer in The Times to-day. I always want to help. I think she will find that the letter of yesterday was far more convincing than the reply which was published to-day.
My Lords, may I conclude by saying this? I revert to the point which I was seeking to make when I said that the Associated States of the European Community still suffer from the fact that the great industrial combines in the world obtain from them their foodstuffs and raw materials at the lowest prices and sell to them their manufactured goods at the highest prices; and that is the basic issue between the developing countries and the European Common Market, which will be a consortium of great industrial multi-national companies which not only will be a danger to industrial democracy in this country but will be exploiting the Third World about which I have spoken. I hope that not for one moment will it be thought that, in urging that we do not join the European Community, I am not international in attitude. I am international in attitude. I was one of the founders of the movement for a united socialist States of Europe. I do not want to be a member of a united capitalist States of Europe. I want to belong in association with socialist societies in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, the world and so begin to build a new world and a new society, which would be free from the exploitation of to-day.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, how many times have we heard the question: is there anything new which can be said in debates either in your Lordships' House or in another place or on television or indeed in the village hall? I suppose that most people would probably reply in the negative. Yet I think it is important that this debate should take place both in your Lordships' House and in another place, because though there may be little or nothing new to say, there is considerable anxiety among people in all walks of life as to what is likely to happen if we join the E. E. C., as 1 believe we shall.
I believe that one of the reasons why there is mounting cynicism on the part of the electorate is that this is rather like going into hospital for an operation for a rather rare condition, and as the time draws near, while one is more and more anxious about the outcome, yet the operation itself is inevitable. I have followed the negotiations ever since they first started well over ten years ago, although it is only recently that I have spoken in debates on the subject. Apart from visiting Brussels, Scandinavia and New Zealand, I have not travelled either in the Commonwealth or in Europe. As my noble friend Lord De L'Isle said, in ten years of Parliamentary debate we have had the prelude to the historic deci sion which will have to be made tomorrow night. Many will argue that we should have entered Europe when the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1958 or in 1962, or even at the inception of the Schumann Plan in 1949. I am not sufficiently politically experienced to know the answer to that, but in any case it is no good crying over spilt milk. For reasons better known to those far more expert than I, we did not go in at any of those times.
The question is: should we go in now? I have never been an ardent pro-European or an ardent supporter of entry into the E. E. C. I am more enthusiastic over an E. E. C./EFTA partnership, which I hope will in due course be the result but, of course, this can only be a hope at this stage. When I was in Denmark last year it was made clear by the, Folketing to the Parliamentary Delegation, of which I had the honour to be a member, that they would only join if we 812 joined. For my part, I should like to see an association of countries such as Denmark, Austria, and even Finland, if she is able to become a full member, because hey are countries which have stood by us and been friendly with us for many years. Obviously the wider the partnership, the better chance of success.
I have come to the conclusion, as I think have many others, that by staying cut of the Community we may well proliferate even more problems than if we enter. During my visit to New Zealand earlier this year, I was made even more aware of this, talking to New Zealand businessmen, and to many others in New Zealand, including farmers, many of whom, for obvious and understandable reasons, are hostile to our entry into the European Community. But I was particularly interested to see in the New Zealand shops quite a number of Italian-made shoes and other floods made by countries of the European Economic Community. I believe that if we join Europe, countries such as New Zealand will be able to indulge in more and more trade with the Community to mutual advantage.
Of course there will be problems. There was an article on New Zealand in the Financial Times supplement on October 19 by the Foreign Editor, Mr. J. D. F. Jones, which set out very fairly the problems for New Zealand if we enter the Common Market, but it also set out how New Zealand could well benefit. He said that there is no country nearer to New Zealand than Great Britain; and he set out various reasons why New Zealand are anxious about loss of trade if we join. But I think my noble friend Lord Lothian gave some interesting figures last night which to some extent counteract this. Indeed, Mr. Muldoon, the Finance Minister of New Zealand. whom I met several times when I was out there, said recently that he believed that Britain should go into the Common Market, because, he said:I believe it will be in the best interests of the British people and of the British economy that they should join the Common Market, because they will be strengthened. Come what may, our trade ties will remain, so that a stronger Britain means a stronger New Zealand.I think it is more and more clear that if we were to stay on our own and outside the European Community we should not have the wherewithal, at least in the 813 long term, to help our friends in the Commonwealth. I have always been, and still am, a fervent supporter of the Commonwealth. Nothing would have pleased me more than to see a Commonwealth Common Market. But, alas! for reasons which I think are known to all your Lordships, and indeed to all thinking people in this country, this has not come about.
I should like to say a few words about industry. Anyone who has had experience of working on the Continent or in conjunction with Continental countries will, I think, recognise that by going into Europe we shall have a greater association with these countries. One cannot forget, whether one wants to or not, the might of Western Germany and such big concerns as Volkswagen; and one must remember the opportunities we shall have of doing more trade with companies like that if we go into Europe.
My Lords, time presses and I conclude by saying that I think there is a real danger that the country is going to be split down the middle between two sides: those who are irrevocably against the Common Market and those who are irrevocably for the Common Market. One has only to read in certain sections of the Press the kind of story which is being built up as to what could happen in certain sections of our Parliament. believe this to be extremely dangerous, because any thinking person can find a dozen or more reasons for not wishing to go into Europe—certain aspects of sovereignty or loss of trade with the Commonwealth. Equally, one can think of powerful reasons for going in such as have been instanced in many parts of this House—for example, a wider trading relationship with the major European countries.
The important thing for the future of this country as a whole is to think of the youth of this country—its future leaders, who will have a larger entity in which to operate. The greatest disservice will be done if there is any exploitation of any cleavage which may take place, because I think that our democracy will remain whole. There are worries as to how much limitation will be put on the workings of our Parliament. This I believe to be a genuine worry, and I hope that perhaps in the final speeches the Government will amplify just how much 814 flexibility there will still be for the British Parliament when we enter Europe. I believe that this is a major worry among people in this country, and it is one which so far has not been entirely answered in either House of Parliament. But whatever the final outcome, both those who want to go into Europe and those who do not have one important thing in mind; that is, to keep this country great.
§ 10.18 p.m.
TIIE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, I base my right to speak to-night on the fact that I believe I represent the vast majority of the British people in understanding little or nothing about the issue involved. Frankly, I am not clever enough. We have been cajoled, persuaded and counter-persuaded by both sides. Never in our history has there been a more massive propaganda operation, and never one more unsuccessful. I am reminded of the issue on which the General Election of 1923 was fought: Free Trade versus Protection. If so much as 5 per cent. of the electorate of that time understood what was involved I should be vastly surprised. If ! O per cent. of our far more educated electorate to-day know what this is about, I will eat my hat. How many voters have read the Treaty of Rome? Dare I ask how many of the Members of this House. or of the other place, have read it?
As some of you may know, I write for newspapers and I get quite a few letters. In ten years I have received only one letter about the Common Market, and that was a letter from a lady living in Bexhill-on-Sea who asked me to vote against entry on the ground that it would mean the importation of a vast number of cheap French prostitutes—an aspect that had not occurred to me. I am not being frivolous: I mention this only to show the indifference of the British people in these momentous affairs. It is the indifference of ignorance. It is not that they do not care—indeed their future is a stake—but ! hey do not know. Who does know'? What we are going to have to do to-morrow is vote in the dark on their behalf. If we get the right answer, well and good. If we do not, bad luck on us! One thing is certain: I think we all agree that our decision will decide the future of this country for the next 815 hundred years. But if it comes to a vote, I shall not abstain; that is the coward's way out. The country demands that we, as members of the Legislature, take the responsibility with which we are entrusted. Not to do so will be to admit 816 that we are not fit to carry out our task; it will be to pass the buck. Let us prove that if we do not know our own minds for certain, at least we think we do. Let us vote either way massively, and not funk it. It is up to us. That is what this little speech is about.
§ 10.22 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I agree wholeheartedly with what the noble Earl, Lord Arran, has just said. Whatever we do to-morrow, we must vote; we must make up our minds and decide what it is that we want in this issue. Many have said (and they are right to say this) and this is an historic decision which has to be taken. The making of history is not as easy matter, and when it is being made there is difficulty, hardship, even anguish, for many of those who are concerned, and we must not shrink from that. For some the decision is simple. Those who sit on the opposite Benches, and have always believed that the European Community is good for this country, have a straightforward and easy decision to take. Those on the Labour Benches who have always believed that entry into Europe is bad for this country, also have an easy decision to make. But for the minority of noble Lords on the other Benches, and in the other place, who feel that Europe is bad, that we should keep out of it, it is a very hard decision to make. For those of my friends here, and in another place, who have always felt that Europe is the right place for us to he in. the decision for to-morrow is a difficult one.
I have a great deal of sympathy for those of my colleagues who have to make up their minds on this matter. There are some who say that if we in the Labour Party vote against entry into Europe—not so much in this place, because what happens here is in one sense unimportant, though in another sense, to which I will come, is of considerable importance—the Government will be brought down: they will resign and there will be a General Election. That, of course, is a great temptation to any member of an Opposition, not simply on what one can call the popular opinion grounds of gaining office, getting influence and power, but because we here—all of us on this side—believe that noble Lords opposite and their colleagues in another place are a bad Government. They are doing bad things; they are—I will not go so far as to say ruining the country, but they are impeding the progress of this country, and the sooner they can be dismissed from office and replaced by a Govern 818 ment which in our view is a better Government, not from our doctrinaire Socialist point of view but from a national point of view, the better it will be for the country. So there is, of course, a great temptation to say that any weapon we can use to get rid of the Government is a good weapon and should be used.
I personally do not believe, whatever the result of the vote to-morrow in another place turns out to be, that it will make any difference whatsoever to what Government we have for the next three years. I believe that we have a Conservative Government, for better or for worse—for worse, in my view—for the next three years. But even if it were a question of getting rid of the present Government or not, I say quite frankly and quite openly that I would rather have the present Tory Government, with all their manifold faults, for the next three years and enter into Europe for keeps to-morrow than get rid of the Tories and have them replaced by a Labour Government and be out of Europe for keeps.
It is a hard decision, I know, particularly for my friends in another place. But I believe that we have to look not simply in terms of the next few months, or even of the next few years: we in this place, if we have any claims to being statesmen, as opposed to politicians, must look at what is going to happen between now and the end of the century and beyond; and for that the disadvantages (and I am using mild words) of having a Tory Government for three years are far outweighed by the overriding importance of getting into Europe at the present time. It is only because I believe in Socialism that I am a member of the Labour Party. The Labour Party, as such, is of no importance; it is only important in so far as it can promote Socialism. I believe that the cause of Socialism, and of international Socialism, will be infinitely advanced by the accession of the United Kingdom to the European Economic Community, and that is what we who believe in the ideals of Socialism must try for and cast our votes for to-morrow.
But, my Lords, there is more to it than that. It is not simply a question of what happens in this Chamber and in another place to-morrow. It is what is going to happen in Europe over the next 819 few years—the next ten years, the next twenty years. As realists we know, even before the votes are counted, that by this time to-morrow night we shall have taken the decision to go into Europe. We must now look forward; and as members of the Labour Party, as members of Her Majesty's Opposition, we must ask ourselves how, once this country is a member of the Community, we can best set about promoting our own ideals of international Socialism and improving the manifest and acknowledged weaknesses and shortcomings of the present regulations and organisations of the Six as they are now.
My Lords, I do not think that I am being over-optimistic in saying that within three or three and a half years there will be a change of Government and that many of those who are to-day opposing our entry into Europe will then be Ministers who will have to continue the negotiations, working with their European colleagues to improve the European Community. If they attempt to do that job with colleagues in Europe who have been led to believe, as a result of tomorrow's vote, as a result of the arguments that have gone on over past months, that the Labour Party is anti-European, that task will be infinitely harder and their chances of success will be infinitely less. The way in which we can achieve the advances we wish for is by making it abundantly clear to our European friends—and there are many of them—that we are as European as they are, as European as any member of Her Majesty's Government is at the present time; and that we can do by our votes to-morrow.
I am not at one with some of my noble friends who have spoken to-day in condemning wholeheartedly all that is being done in Europe. I do not believe, for instance, that the Six are backward in their help for the developing countries, or that they are inward-looking and a "rich men's club" as so many people have often said. I will not weary your Lordships by repeating what I said in our debate in July other than to remind you that between the years 1957 and 1969 we in this country increased our aid to the developing countries by 9½ per cent. while the Six increased their aid by 95 per cent.; that Germany to-day gives 1. 33 820 per cent. of her gross national product in overseas aid, compared with ours of 1.04 per cent., and that if you compare imports from developing countries between the years 1958 and 1970 you find that our imports rose by a mere 25 per cent. while those of the Community rose by over 100 per cent. Those are sufficient figures, surely, to prove that the Community, even as it is today, is not inward-looking and a "rich men's club". I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Brockway is not here because he feels strongly on this matter; but he does not seem to take in figures of that kind, and many others far more important, in order to look at actual performance, rather than to look at the theory of what it might be or what it might have been.
However, for all that, there are many things which must be changed. The Common Agricultural Policy has been mentioned. We must change that when we enter. The Community know that they must change it, and we must be there to help them change it, and to change it in the directions that we believe to be right. I believe that that job will not be completed within the next three years, however hard and effectively and efficiently noble Lords opposite and their colleagues in another place work. This is a long job: it needs a great deal of thought, of negotiation and of time. At the end of that period, in three years' time, we shall be there; we shall be carrying on with those negotiations, and it is for us to be in a position then to show that we are Europeans, that we believe in the concept of Europe, and that we are wholeheartedly in favour of all that it stands for. That is the only way in which our voice can be heard. If we go in reluctantly, tagging on behind the coattails of the Tory Government, saying,"We do not want to be there but we cannot quite bring ourselves to get out of it because now we are there ", our influence will be very slight indeed.
It is for that reason, just as much as for the importance of the concept of Europe in the future historical management of the whole of the world, that we must, with no further delay, willingly show that we want to be in Europe, that we are Europeans; and we can only do that by an overwhelming vote tomorrow, to show that we on this side of the House, 821 just as much as noble Lords opposite, are in fact Europeans.
§ 10.36 p.m.
§ LORD BETHELL
My Lords, the marathon of our entry into the E. E. C. is approaching its end. Most of us I think know what this end is going to be; almost all of us have made up our minds which way we are going to vote tomorrow. Few of us are going to be swayed by the arguments of this week. These are not going to be many last-minute conversions. For almost all of us this issue has become by now something like a matter of faith.1 use this expression advisedly, my Lords. I have observed how this idea of Europe has gone through a gamut of Parliamentary time and discussion: through the initial interest, the emotional interest which it aroused at the beginning; through the reasoned argument, which of course reached its climax in the summer, when we had some idea of the terms under which it was possible we were going to be able to enter, until now, when we have reached a final stage, a position of faith where we are determined, perhaps emotionally as well as reasonably, that we must go in or that we must not go in.
This is the way in which people make up their minds on such important issues, and one cannot criticise too harshly anyone with whom one does not happen to agree. But there is one thing that worries me. The eyes of the world are upon this assembly and another place this week more than in most weeks. I think this is the most important vote which I shall have cast. I know that I have not been a Member of this House for very long, but I can think of few votes which could have been more important than the one which I shall cast here tomorrow, and it is worrying to think that some people may be casting this vote on wrong premises.
Why is it that people will make up their minds tomorrow to vote one way or another? Will they make their decision on the basis of advice from Party leadership? In another place I think some may; in this House I believe very few will. In this House almost all Members will vote according to their sincere beliefs in the rights and wrongs of the European idea. But what does worry me is what the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, 822 referred to yesterday in his speech as "the gut reaction against entry into the E. E. C." He referred, quite correctly, to the fact that there is a grass roots objection to our entry in the country.
It is a shame that an issue as important as this should be subject to "gut reaction". One may talk, if one wishes, of the grass roots as a positve will of the people movement; but, where does it become a "gut reaction" and where does it move from a grass roots opinion into a prejudice? On an issue such as this it is not a very good reason to base one's vote on xenophobia, on dislike of foreigners, on fear of change. Are there any, I wonder, who will be influenced by such motives when they vote tomorrow? I sincerely hope not, but I fear there may be, because how natural such feelings are, how widespread in this and every country, and how careful a member of any legislature has to be to purge his mind of such thoughts before he casts his vote, especially when he knows that such thoughts are shared by many of those he represents!
§ LORD GARNSWORTHY
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that point, may I say that he has expressed his views pretty clearly in so far as the opinion of the man in the street is concerned. Would he mind telling the House how he justifies the massive expenditure, and the massive publicity, that has been undertaken in an attempt to win the support of the majority of the people of this country?
§ LORD BETHELL
My Lords, I can only speak for myself, not for the Government. My personal view is that the Government have made up their mind on this matter and have felt justified in making their opinion known to the country in the best and most efficient way possible. After tomorrow I think it is fairly clear that the decision will have been made, and we know which way it is going to be. How will the people who are going to vote the other way feel? In every case they are going to be in an unenviable position, whatever happens in the next few years. They may perhaps in a few years be in a position to say, "I told you so". Do they wish this? Probably not. Or, if we are right, they will be proved wrong. This was the way, 823 for example, M. Mendes-France felt in 1956, when he said:I have the very gravest misgivings about France's entry into the European Economic Community, to its signature to the Treaty of Rome.What does he say now? He cannot say, "I told you so". He must feel very sad, and I do not think that he would now support the withdrawal of France from the E. E. C.
So many of the arguments that we have heard in this House, and during debates in general in Parliament in recent months, have been heard before. They were heard when I was at school in 1955,1956, and 1957. Who was it who declared that the entry of his country into the E. E. C. would strip her of her personality, deprive her of her rightful place, and would mean the end of a way of life which, as the country would see when it returned to its senses, was being sacrificed for a mirage? Was it the Daily Express? No, it was not the Daily Express. It was M. Leo Ramon, the Secretary of State to the present French President. How embarrassed he must feel when he remembers what he said fifteen years ago and when such words are quoted at him, or even when he looks at himself in the mirror in the morning! I will give another quotation:No amount of arguments to the contrary can alter the fact that we are to be incorporated into a protectionist Continental bloc to which we do not belong by reason of our traditions. our mentality. or our geographical position.Who said that? Was it Mr. Enoch Powell? No, it was not he. It was M. Van Leeuwen, a Dutch Member of Parliament, in 1965, and I very much doubt whether there are many Dutch Members of Parliament to-day who would advocate the withdrawal of the Netherlands from the E. E. C.
I will quote from another speech delivered in 1956, and this time by a Socialist. This Member of Parliament said:The working classes will find themselves in a weaker position … The countries which enjoy the greatest social benefits, and therefore bear the highest costs, will be in a worse competitive position than those which are less progressive. Our country is in precisely this position, with high wages and excellent social benefits. It is a position we do not wish to relinquish.824 Who said that? It was M. Major, a Socialist, and he is now the Minister of Labour of Belgium. How deeply he must regret his outburst of 15 years ago! Does he wish his country to withdraw from the E. E. C.? Of course he does not.
That brings me to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. I am sorry to mention the noble Lord in his absence. I warned him that I was going to refer to him, but he had to leave early in the debate. He very charmingly said to me that when he was a Member of another place and he was called upon to stay after half-past ten in the evening, he always insisted on being paid time-and-a-half. I was never a Member of another place, so I do not know whether he ever succeeded in obtaining his overtime. But the noble Lord referred to the irrevocability of our decision. He was challenged by some mumblings but he was not seriously challenged. I think he should be challenged, because I see our commitment to the Treaty of Rome, when it is signed, as being no more strong, no more unbreakable than a marriage or the religious vows of a priest or a nun. It is unthinkable that we should enter into this commitment believing that we want to get out. No one goes into a marriage or into a deep commitment of faith believing that if it does not work out very well one can get out.
But if the worst came to the worst, if we were faced with national disaster, we could; and it has been made clear by more than one Leader of an E. E. C. country that he would, if he really felt that it was in his country's interest. Of course this is to take a very gloomy view of the affair, and I hope we shall not have to refer to such possibilities very much in the years that are to come. I very much doubt whether they will arise. The opponents of our entry have accused us of being gloomy. They have called our desire to join with other countries a disparagement of this country's independence and ability to stand on its own feet. It is here that I think they confuse gloom with realism. Are we gloomy in wishing to get allies around us? I do not think so. It is surely a question of realism. Does any Member of this House really believe that, on our own, we can defend this island, militarily or 825 economically, in the foreseeable future? I do not think so. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, went on to make certain remarks about the French. One never knows whether to take him seriously. Noble Lords laugh when he says these things, but I am never certain whether I ought to laugh. I feel that if I laugh I am not taking him seriously, and if I do not laugh he has said something very terrible. But he said that he does not like the French very much, and in the previous debate he said that he does not want anything to do with the French. He occasionally makes these remarks. I never quite know how to react, but it disturbs me. It reminds me very much of what the noble Lord. Lord Beswick, said in his opening speech yesterday about the "gut" reaction to this whole issue. For most noble Lords, the vote to-morrow will be based partly on emotions. I would not presume to judge anyone else's emotions. I can only express the hope that the position of faith, which has been reached by everyone who will vote to-morrow, is one which is based on all the stages through which one has to go in order to reach such a position; that is, the initial interest, the argument, the reason and, only then, the faith. If it is based simply on the gut reaction, then this House will have made a wrong decision.
Finally, I am not what the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, would call an astrologer, but I will make a promise and a prediction. I will promise that to-morrow evening I shall be in the "Contents" Lobby, and I will predict that in a few years' time there will be noble Lords, Members of your Lordships' House, who, in Shakespeare's words, will think themselves accursed they were not there.
§ 10.50 p.m.
My Lords, this is the first occasion on which I have spoken in one of the debates on this very important subject, and I conceive myself highly privileged to be able to take part. I am also particularly happy to follow my noble friend, with his extremely wise and cogent reminders. But from the very first—that is to say, ten or more years ago—I have been deeply interested in this subject, and I thought it an obligation on me to try to get as informed as I possibly could on the many and complex 826 issues that were at stake. So, as time has gone on I have become convinced that it is right for us to enter into the Community, bearing in mind, first, our very slow rate of growth, and, second, provided that we could achieve acceptable terms for entry. How else, my Lords, are we going to find a means to improve our rate of growth and going forward? Surely we have been long enough trying other means without any visible and lasting success. I should mention that by "the right terms" I mean terms which, in the early years, will give rise to the least possible cost to our balance of payments, so that in the longer term we can have the maximum industrial benefits that are available.
So it is on the effect on industry and the attitude of our leaders of industry that I want to say a few words this evening. I say that not because I wish in the slightest degree to minimise the importance of the political and social aspects, which I readily grant are probably paramount, but because it so happens that my experience lies in the industrial field, and I feel that for the few moments that I want to speak I should stick to that side. I think it would be generally agreed that from the start the leaders of British industry have on balance been more in favour of our entry than some other sections of the community. There seems little doubt that as the Six have been seen to find their feet; as industry itself has gone to very considerable trouble by way of research and inquiry as to the effect of their going into Europe, whether they have done that as individual firms or collectively (and they have expended a tremendous amount of effort in doing that); as the possibilities open to industry have become clearer; and, as, indeed, the negotiations so skilfully handled by Mr. Rippon have developed, so the proportion of the leaders of firms who are anxious and willing to go into Europe—and here I am referring not merely to the leaders of our great firms, but to the leaders of smaller firms, too; and this is tremendously important—has steadily increased.
That leads me to refer to a point which has been mentioned by two noble Lords during this debate, both yesterday and to-day: the very important statement made by the Confederation of British Industries and put out on September 16. 827 That statement makes it perfectly clear that the leaders of industry unmistakably want Parliament to vote decisively in favour of membership on the terms which have been negotiated. In the Press—and the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, right at the beginning of the debate yesterday, drew attention to this—there has been some critical comment questioning the validity of that expression of opinion as really representing the leaders of industry. The noble Lord, Lord Ave-bury, took the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, up on that point; but I should like to take it a bit further still and consider for a moment how in fact this expression of opinion by the C. B. I. was arrived at.
The criticism was that, letters having been sent out to every member, of which there are some 11,000 or 12,000. only 1,000 or so members replied. But it will be remembered that there have been some very important reports produced over the last few years by the C. B. I. and that they were prepared by very expert committees. There is also a very eminent central Council, numbering some 400 people (of which I have the honour to be a member). There was consultation within that council. I have attended a number of its discussions and I can assure your Lordships that there were most eminent and well-informed debates. There has also been consultation with the regional councils which cover the whole of the country; there have been long and full consultations with the Confederation's Smaller Firms Council; and there have been discussions with trade associations and employer organisations. So it is not merely on the result of this letter which went out to all members that the Confederation's views were finally expressed.
One would have liked to see more than a thousand replies; but when one considers that many of those replies will have been on behalf not merely of parent companies but of a great number of subsidiary companies; when one thinks that many of those firms will not have replied for the reason that they knew their views were expressed in the central council or the regional councils and other committee meetings; when one recognises that the letter was sent out in August when many would have been on holiday, the real significance of the situation 828 becomes rather clearer. The significant thing is that of every nineteen members who replied only one replied against it. This was the point. I would very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, when he said that if you have a proposition put to you in the terms: "Do you agree or do you not agree?" you are much more likely to put pen to paper if you do not agree than if you do. Yet this was the result: nineteen in favour and one against.
I must apologise to your Lordships for having spelled that out in detail; but I thought it really important. We are an industrial country; industry is our life blood. The C. B. I. is the one focal point of industry, conceived and set up only a few years ago by industry and manned by members who are constitutionally appointed. If there should be any doubt about the credibility of a body of that importance on an issue of this considerable significance, it would be a pity. All that I want to make absolutely certain is that this statement by the leaders of industry through the mouthpiece of the C. B. I. is recognised as a really genuine and representative expression of the views of industry.
From there I wanted to go on briefly to ask: what does that mean to the ordinary citizen? I think that the population can be divided into two groups: those who feel they have no direct interest in industry at all, and those who obviously are directly interested in the success of industry. Taking the first group, those who have doubts that industry means anything to them at all, I have heard, as perhaps have others, the critciism that the leaders of industry are thinking only about themselves; that they are thinking only about their own industries, and are taking that view quite oblivious of the effect that our entry may have, shall we say, on pensioners and others with fixed incomes, and others who think that they have nothing to gain or lose from industry. The point I am obviously making is so elementary that I almost apologise for making it to your Lordships, because, whether we are directly concerned with industry or not, our livelihood is dependent on the success of industry.
This is a point which I think may not have been adequately represented outside by the Press. But it is a point which is 829 very important in the context of our present discussion and should be on record in Parliamentary discussion. Of course, the prime concern of all leaders of industry must be the success of their undertaking. They have a heavy repsonsibility for those who work for them and for the dependants of their workers. They arc responsible to those who provide, and must continue to provide, the finance of the company in one form or another. They are responsible to those for whom the company has made contracts to buy or sell. So they must each do what they can to support policies which they think will benefit their companies and uphold the credibility of their goodwill.
But, my Lords, the leaders of industry are not acting selfishly by acting in this way. They know well enough that their collective successes are the very foundation on which the standard of living of everyone in this country depends—not only the standard of living but also this country's political and economic influence in the world. The man who fails to pay his way and can ill afford to defend himself—or the firm or the country—will carry little influence with his neighbours. So if the leaders of industry support entry it is not to be regarded, in my view, as a policy coming from a group of selfish tycoons, but as a thoroughly responsible, informed and patriotic attitude.
In this context I find it hard quite to understand the official attitude of our great trade union movement. On that I would merely make this one point. I am absolutely certain that once we are in. members of the trade unions, along with everyone else, will do their utmost to make a go of it. Of that I am absolutely convinced, and it cheers me up. But one cannot quite leave it there. Why is it that the leaders of industry take this view? An enormous amount has been written and spoken about the opportunities that our entry would offer to industry and I must avoid repetition. But among those opportunities there is something of which we have not got an adequate measure. It is, of course, an essentially free and, above all, secure access to a large home market which would be second to none in size, and with a potential for very rapid growth. Surely, my Lords, it has been the limitation of our present home market in 830 relation to our productive capacity—a point referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, in his marvellous maiden speech—that must so often, just when we seemed to be moving into periods of real expansion, have contributed to the disastrous effects of stop-go.
So much for the home market. But, of course, it is not a home market alone that will adequately meet our needs, however large it may be. In this country our traditions and interests depend on a buoyant world trade and we must satisfy ourselves that the policies of an enlarged Community will be not, as I gathered the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, suspected, inward-looking, but outward-looking and progressive. Very naturally, in the earlier days we all were fearful lest the Community would prove to be an inward-looking and highly protected Community. But I would have thought that today there surely is evidence that there are very definite growing liberal tendencies, more outward-looking, and a greater awareness of the need for a liberal and increasingly integrated world economy.
I say that because I think one can point to definite examples where that is so, quite apart from the Six's very impressive export performance, or indeed, in a rather different strain, the Six's impressive aid to developing countries: the fact that there has been willingness by the Six to consider very wide-ranging agreements with EFTA countries not applying for membership; the fact that they have offered facilities for trade to developing countries of the Commonwealth; even the New Zealand and Sugar Agreements indicate a liberal outlook; the fact that they have made provision for access for sources of some very important raw materials from outside the E. E. C. One could go on and quote quite a number of other examples where there is clear evidence of liberal outlook. These are important points that have emerged from the negotiations, and all point, in my view, to the fact that the thinking within the Community has a great deal in common with our thinking as regards a liberal approach to world trading.
That is all on the positive side. But what are we likely to be losing? Of course, people say that we shall lose Commonwealth preferences. Of course we 831 shall lose Commonwealth preferences, and of course there will be increasing competition in Commonwealth countries. But enormously valuable in times past as these preferences have been, when in effect I would say they gave us what almost amounted to a very much bigger home market, they have been eroded away for some years now, and have already gone to a great extent, not merely for what might be regarded in a few instances as political reasons, but as a result of multilateral tariff agreements to which we in the United Kingdom have been party, as a result of the growth of domestic industries which we have very often to a large extent financed, and also by changing requirements in this country itself. So that we shall not really be losing anything quite so dramatic as sometimes we are led to believe.
This trend of erosion of preferences will go on, but for my part I do not think that it need necessarily in any way affect our many other special ties of Commonwealth which we all cherish so deeply. But the erosion of preferences will go on whether we are in or out, just as the Community will go on and develop whether we are in or out. The only difference will be that if we are out, then, in the longer term, we shall find that we have foregone an alternative market which could more than have taken the place of such trade as we may lose in the Commonwealth. I say "such trade as we may lose", because, of course, we shall not lose all trade with the Commonwealth. I look for the continuation of a very high level of Commonwealth trade, even though relatively smaller than it may have been recently.
So I do not regard our entry as turning our backs either on the outside world or, least of all, on our Commonwealth friends. Rather would I look to it as making it possible for us increasingly to use our influence, as the White Paper itself says, for determining conditions of world trade and investment. I say that not least because so many aspects of the negotiations are not final settlements, but are subject to review later on, when we will be in and able to make our contributions.
832 In conclusion, there is one point I must make. It has been made before, but in the context of industry I do not think it can be made too often, and I hope that it will not be taken as in any way qualifying or mitigating what I have been saying about the possibilities. Any benefit to be gained by industry from our membership of the Community can on no account be regarded as automatic. That would be altogether too easy. Any benefit we may gain will depend on our attitude, on the reaction of industry to the challenge presented and on industry's determination to exploit the opportunity. It is only the opportunity that will be automatic. Whether we take advantage of it will depend on us and others in industry. But it is an opportunity that most of industry definitely seems to welcome. Obviously, some industries will gain by going in and some will suffer. Most industries will need a considerable amount of rethinking and probably restructuring, but on balance the challenge is one that industry seems anxious to accept.
Obviously there are some grounds for regret, for nostalgic regret, at our entry. It will be the end of a long and distinguished era for this country. But it could also be the beginning of an even longer and more exciting era in the future. There are bound to be uncertainties. So, in coming to a decision as to how one votes, one can only do so by making a judgment on the case as it is presented. But I would put to you Lordships this point. What question involving a decision, whether large or small, does not invariably involve a judgment? This one certainly does, and my judgment is to vote with the Government to-morrow.
§ 11.13 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF HEADFORT
My Lords, I feel sure that your Lordships have all read and heard enough on economics, so I will say little—indeed, practically nothing—on that, except to say that I support the economic advantages of joining the E. E. C. and fear the economic loss of staying out. However, to my mind there is another matter equally as important as economics. Twice in the lifetimes of many Members of your Lordships' House two world wars have started in Europe. It is a very sobering 833 thought. Personally, I have been a convinced European since the early 'fifties. I supported the idea of a European Defence Community in 1953 and was very sad indeed when it came to nothing, owing to the lack of interest of this country in the project. Quite apart from the obvious advantages of a combined military force, it would make war impossible between members of a European Defence Community. I should welcome an affirmative vote to-morrow, both here and in another place, as a first step towards our full participation in a federal United States of Europe with a directly elected European Parliament.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ LORD ARWYN
My Lords, I intend to be brief. We have heard enough of the benefits which we may receive, if we become members of the E. E. C., and of the prophecies of disaster if we do not join. I should like to point out the greater disasters which could happen to the Six if we did not join, not in the immediate future, of course, but certainly well before the end of the century, when the children of today will be much younger than the average age of Members of your Lordships' House. I start with coal. Britain possesses the largest reserves of accessible coal seams in the whole Western World, and we have not yet begun to develop our submarine coalfields. In Germany it will soon be cheaper to import coking coals than to struggle to maintain their own collieries. Competition for coke has become a crucial factor in the survival of the traditional steel empires throughout the world. This need to ensure supplies of coking coal is of vital importance to Japanese steelworks, as they rely almost entirely on imported coal. This is a fact not vet fully realised. By contrast, our steel industry can maintain its present output for the long foreseeable future and have a surplus of at least 30 million tons per annum for other industrial purposes and for export.
When the Treaty of Rome was signed Federal Germany possessed the manpower and the industrial organisation to provide a commercial core for the Common Market. France held the potential for iron ore and coal, and used this to win special subsidies for French agriculture. Within the Market, France was also given special tariffs for the sale of petro 834 chemicals; but, despite this, the chemical industry has grown larger in Britain than anywhere else on the Continent. France's output of iron ores has been falling since 1963. German production has also fallen. The needs of the French steel industry will make it difficult to contribute much longer to the needs of the Ruhr. It is even more serious for Luxembourg. Their output of 61-million tons of iron ore per annum means that the source will be exhausted in 25 years—a short space of time—and serious financial and unemployment problems will follow. It takes roughly two tons of coal to produce one ton of steel. From this rule of thumb formula one can calculate each country's future needs in terms of metallugical coal. France has not enough to spare. The same applies to Belgium and Holland.
I now turn to nuclear energy and the rapidly developing reserves of natural gas and oil possessed by Britain. Around these Islands there are substantial sources of petroleum and natural gas, and sight should not be lost of the fact that only Holland outside the EFTA countries has any substantial claim on the gas reserves of the Continental Shelf of Europe. The discovery of this sort of power could be as significant as the use of coal for smelting iron ore in the past. It aligns itself with future concepts in the use of metals, and whether iron and steel may become of lesser importance than non-ferrous alloys in the future—for instance, the recent discoveries that the use of zinc as an alloy with iron makes steel into a malleable metal. The strategic importance of cheap resources of thermal and chemical energy has not been sufficiently realised. To quote another example, cheap sources of energy can translate into commercial processes the large-scale production of metallic silicon. I am sorry to use technical words here, but this is my work.
If we sign the Treaty of Rome, I maintain that we shall give more than we receive. One of the surviving features of the old British Empire is the maintaining of investments and contacts with the sources of non-ferrous metals throughout the world, such as tin in the Far East and potentially in our own country—and not only tin in Cornwall, of which I have spoken at length many times in your Lordships' House, but 835 other base metals once a really thorough geological survey is made. We are specialists in smelting: the processing of ores is another of our specialities. We take them from all over the world. These things could be termed an extra invisible asset, like the close link we have with the Diamond Corporation—but I do not need to enlarge on that. These assets are greatly desired by the Six, and this is something that I should like to emphasise. This access to power will fulfil all the dreams of the bureaucrats in Brussels.
During this debate we anti-Marketeers have been asked to state an alternative. I suggest that we should strengthen EFTA. We can still dispose of our valuable assets to the E. E. C. countries and help to keep them going. They will need it. We have no shortage of strategic raw materials: they have. We have far more to offer to them than we can receive. If the Government persist in pitching us into the eager arms of this new international bureaucracy, let them first make a far more thorough appraisal of our own assets and insist on a re-examination of the terms, or else within a few years we may find ourselves cut off from the Commonwealth, learning French as a mother language, if the French insist—
§ LORD ARWYN
That would be a good thing. We have assets which the Six need much more than we need what they have—or any investment in the European Investment Bank, backed by gold. Let us use that money to establish the new industries which cheap energy can give us, and thus solve our own unemployment problem. This bogey of missing the last opportunity has been over-played. It makes me laugh. The Treaty of Rome is alien to the British character. If, by chance, we should die, let us die on our feet and not on our knees in front of the super-bureaucrats. The British have never flinched under strain or evaded a challenge. We know what it means to stand alone and conquer.
§ 11.24 p.m.
§ LORD ARDWICK
My Lords, first I must say a word or two about the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever. He and I are old Fleet Street friends, and we have laboured together 836 for many years in the Commonwealth Press Union. I was delighted to see this afternoon that his enthusiasm for Europe is not reduced by his Commonwealth preoccupations. In this interminable debate, I think I have heard nothing more poignant than the confrontation this afternoon between two of my noble friends, Lord Soper and Lord Chalfont. Both of them spoke with deep sincerity and Christian conviction. Both have the same priorities about peace and the plight of the people in the undeveloped countries, yet they come down on opposite sides. That is the characteristic of this curious debate.
I am an old European. I was present at the Congress of the Hague which laid the foundation stone of the Western Europe of to-day, and I was also present at the first meeting at Strasbourg of the European Assembly. Those gatherings confirmed my faith in the need for European unity; but they aroused some doubts, too. There were too many impetuous federalists whose Utopian zeal threatened, by its extremisms, to impede the march towards functional unity. I had a good deal of sympathy with Randolph Churchill, who went around the town describing them as the "federasts". There are still federalists to-day, and it is right that they should keep their torch held high. They have the right ideals. They want Europe to become a perfect union, in effect one nation though of several tongues. It is rather like the Socialist Utopia, a beautiful aspiration. And the point in time in which it can be achieved is just about as near or far; but we may make constant progress towards it. For though few of us can face the idea of a total loss of sovereignty in theory, all of us may be able in practice to accept the loss of some aspect of sovereignty that will confer real benefits which we urgently need. But to-day the federalists present no danger. The practical men of Europe who make the Community decisions know that they cannot advance towards solutions which damage the vital interests of one of the constituent nations. The danger in Europe to-day is not of revolutionary federalist solutions, but of the opposite: of stagnation, of inertia before problems which cannot be solved because the solution cannot command unanimity.
837 There was another danger that has now receded. In those early days of the European Movement, some nations of Western Europe appeared to have only a tenuous political stability, and many people went to bed each night fearing that they might be wakened by Russian tanks on their way to the European coast. For such people, Europeanism is not so much a positive thing in itself as an anti-Communist front, and European institutions were therefore devices to wage the cold war. It was this aspect which turned many of my Socialist friends against the European idea. Not that they were Communists, or even fellow travellers. They simply thought that the chances of dé tente with Eastern Europe would be slighter and the risk of war greater if Western Europe formed itself into a tight economic, political and military bloc. And then, a little later, they would ask: "Do you want to join the Europe of Adenauer and de Gaulle? "And this attitude is still dominant in many of my friends to-day, in spite of the effort which General de Gaulle made five years ago to produce, as he said,"dé tente, entente and cooperation with the Soviet Union ".
Why, at this very moment Mr. Brezhnev is in Paris pursuing with success his aim of closer co-operation with Western Europe and taking one more step on the road to the European Security conference. But France is no longer alone in the search for dé tente. There is the Ostpolitik of Willy Brandt. Surely it is glaringly obvious that only a strong and united Western Europe can dare to risk a real dé tente and all the practical measures that must go with it if it is to be a reality. When I have discussed the problem with my Russian colleagues, Russian newspapermen, I have found them split-minded about it. They see the profound dangers of a disintegrated, de-established Europe which offers no legitimate goal for West Germany. But they see, too, the opposite danger of a Western European power, building up nuclear military strength and with revanchist ambitions. I believe that some of the people in the Eastern bloc who share these fears have seized the wrong handle of this pot, and in time they will come to see it. So I shall be one of those who walk through the Government lobbies tomorrow night—though with less joy in my heart than I had hoped to have on this occasion.
838 I hoped that when that day came the majority of my Party would be with me and that the European cause would command the assent, if not the enthusiasm, of the people of this country. Both those hopes have been belied. Why? Largely because the magnificent question of Britain's future place in the world has become mixed up with the temporary and local problem of getting rid of a Government which is felt by many people to be lacking in both competence and compassion, a Government now so eager for consensus on Europe which has from the start deliberately aimed at conflict on domestic affairs, and a Government which has sought to distinguish themselves not only from their Labour predecessors in office but also from the more amiable variety of Toryism practised over 13 years, which won them three successive Election victories and, but for a run of ill-luck, might have kept them in power in 1964.
The shortcomings of those policies now stand revealed to the public, and even to the Government, so there has been a change of heart. There has been a reflation, but it has come too late to achieve the consensus which is needed. The policy of letting lame duck industries perish in the ditch is being abandoned; prices of nationalised industries have been brought under control, and the policy of hiving off has been attenuated. If my colleagues in the Press are to be believed, some of the hard men in Government are going in fear for their portfolios. But these acts of reflation and repentance have been carried out too smoothly and too softly to make any impact on the public, or on my Party. The repentance has not yet borne fruit. There is still this terrible problem of unemployment and the problem of the rise in prices. And it is this Government which has tried and, alas! failed, to persuade people to acquiesce in this supreme act of policy to join the Economic Community.
Is it to be wondered at if people cannot separate the question of Europe, difficult and full of anxieties as it must be, from the question of the Government's aims and competence? What people see in the European proposal is a venture which will put up prices still further, under a Government which they believe are trying to emasculate the trade unions. which alone can protect their standard 839 of living. Nor has there been any promise from the Government that the people in this country will enjoy those comprehensive schemes of social security which protect most of the people of Europe from the rigours of the Market economy. Our present benefits, we are told, will be preserved and adjusted. But that is not enough. We shall need family allowances and pension schemes on a European scale if people are to be happy in the new European Community.
Some people have found the opinion polls mystifying. There was one eight or ten days ago in the Financial Times and it said that only 35 per cent. of the people interviewed were personally in favour of joining the Community and 52 per cent. were against. But when it came to the question of whether it was in Britain's interests to join,49 per cent. said "Yes" and only 40 per cent. said "No". Is this a contradiction? I do not think so. What can be read into these answers is that a number of people are convinced that they would not participate in the benefits which would accrue to the nation. What is good for Britain may not be good for them. That I think is a perfectly logical deduction for a lower-paid worker or for a pensioner to make.
There was a remarkable article in the Guardian on Monday by John Robinson, the former Bishop of Woolwich, and it contained one devastating sentence:During the past year the rich have been getting richer and the poor have been getting poorer, even in Britain".This was not true only of the last year; this was a reproach which the Tories were able to make against the Labour Government. So I am not attempting to put the whole of the blame on the Government for this sad state of affairs. It is one of the products of inflation and our unredeemed wages structure. As David Lang, the cartoonist, put it the other day in Punch:On to the classless society, provided the differentials are right.But the charge against this Government is that they have made it worse by their social and taxation policies, and have done so deliberately. No wonder that the opinion polls show that people at the lower end of the incomes scale are 840 those most reluctant to see this country enter the Community!
Let nobody say that this is an attitude arising out of ignorance, out of misunderstanding. It is not so. It comes, rather, from their belief that in a harsher, if more buoyant, economic climate they would be even worse losers than they are to-day. So I understand many of my friends who would have been for joining, who would have supported the present terms had they been presented by a Labour Government, but who feel they cannot give their consent on the proposition of this Government.
Yet I am convinced that they are wrong. If this Government could be brought to an end now, and if a Labour Government could be elected eager to go into Europe on the best terms they could get, then it would make sense for us all to oppose the Government on this issue. But there is no possibility, none whatsoever, of such a happy outcome. But there is to-day a real danger. The danger is that in another place the Government might get too small a majority to go ahead with confidence. Thus, Britain would lose a chance that may not recur for many years. What those of us who go inescapably through the Government Lobbies want to see from our side of the House is a Labour Government of a Britain in Europe, a Government which will take advantage of all the opportunities Europe may offer, and will give the people the protection they would need in this new climate—the protection which most of the peoples of Europe enjoy.
I believe that a Labour Government of a Britain in Europe would be able to avoid the frustrations, economic and political, which beset the last Labour Administration. I believe that the European solution offers more prospect of advance to Socialism for a commercial exporting economy such as we have in the modern world to-day than we should have if we remained outside this group. I believe, too, that the Government have not only a right but also a duty to look to this side of the House for support.
If the Government to-day had a majority of 150 and only 30 dissidents on this great issue, and if they could take us into Europe with a majority of 841 100 based on their Party alone, I think it would be wrong to do so. I think that this is a decision which would be valid, and represent the nation, only if it were supported by all sides of Parliament. But if it became a purely Party matter, then I believe that, no matter how great the majority, the decision would not be a really valid one. This is a question high above the daily Party strife. Each of the four Prime Ministers who has wanted to join the Community has always contemplated that he would have the support of all the Parties in Parliament.
The Labour vote to-morrow is going to be given in difficult circumstances; perhaps for some people in another place, in sacrificial circumstances. But that 842 vote will be given because men and women have an unassailable belief that it is right in the interests of Britain and of all her people that we should seize the opportunity which is now offered.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE)
My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned until to-morrow.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned until to-morrow—(Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.
§ House adjourned at nineteen minutes before twelve o'clock.