Schuman Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th June 1950.

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Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe 12:00 am, 26th June 1950

I do not know if the noble Lord was here during the whole of the speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. My right hon. and learned Friend went through the document in detail and I do not want to have to repeat it. It is already on record and I do not want to extend my time by repeating what has already been said. It is laid down in the French communiqué that the plan, in so far as it has been developed, regards the institution of a new high authority whose decision will be binding as an essential part of it, and later on it says categorically that unless there is acceptance of that conception from the beginning there can be no hope whatsoever of the success of the discussions. That is a sufficient reply to the noble Lord.

The Schuman Plan has been welcomed with a reservation by the Prime Minister and by the Labour Party in the opening paragraph of the pamphlet which has been referred to so often and which was read out by the Chancellor. It was warmly welcomed at the recent meeting of the Socialist Parties held in London. The Resolution which was issued to the Press began with the words: The conference welcomes the Schuman proposals as a bold example of European initiative —and laid down conditions which should be observed—conditions which, it should be borne in mind, would not permit us to enter into the discussions at this stage according to the correspondence with the French authorities.

Whatever may be said on the Opposition benches today and tomorrow, it has been made very clear in the Press of this country and by the omission from what is being said by leaders of the Opposition, that the Government were entirely right and had no alternative, bearing in mind their responsibility to the people of this country and to Europe, but to lay down the conditions which they did before entering into these discussions. They wanted to know what this higher authority was going to be before they accepted. They wanted to know what its powers were to be. Nobody yet knows into what the Schuman Plan might develop. I hope that it will go very far and much further than many hon. Members opposite are prepared to accept. But there have already been modifications which, in my opinion, would render the plan completely useless.

The first of the two chief modifications is that, presumably, it is intended only to control production, in which case it is useless as an instrument of full employment, and is outside the control of democratic parliaments, which is a danger to this country and every individual country which participates. The second modification is that pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). M. Schuman has already indicated very clearly that it is not intended in any way to enable Germany to develop her production of steel but the development will only take place in the other countries with Germany, an equal member, being the only one which is restricted. I do not think that that is a practicable proposition.

The Socialist Party attitude is pretty clear, in spite of all that has been said by the Opposition. The Socialist Party is pre-eminently the international party. The Socialist Party is pre-eminently the party which, throughout its whole history, has sought the extension of international arrangements and the abolition of international frontiers. I think I speak for the whole of my colleagues on this side of the Committee and in the Party when I say that we are prepared to go into a political union, federal or otherwise, not only covering Western Europe but covering the whole of Europe and the whole of the world—that was declared by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary from the Front Bench only a few months ago—but not on any condition, not unconditionally. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but I should like to hear whether they are prepared to enter into any such arrangements unconditionally.