– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st August 1962.
Before the interruption, Mr. Speaker, I was recalling the Motion placed upon the Order Paper in 1956, signed by 82 Labour Members, calling on this Government to enter into negotiations with the Six for the purpose of ensuring British entry into the European Economic Community. I had almost completed the list of those whom I particularly wanted to mention as being responsible for it, but, in addition, I should like to mention the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) who, only a few hours ago today, was arguing that there was not much point in resuming early after the Summer Recess because we had no impact on the Government. I would congratulate him and my hon. Friends on having forced the Government, even after this long time, to take the stop they then advised.
We have had even more interesting metamorphoses of opinion in this matter because last year, on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the foundation of Federal Union, a brochure was published with a full page containing a message from Lord Attlee, welcoming
… the opportunity to congratulate Federal Union on its 21st Anniversary.
Internal divisions during the past decades have brought Europe from a position of world leadership almost to the verge of self-destruction.
The real challenge for the future is how far we are prepared to surrender the old concepts of absolute national sovereignty. Some people have compared Britain to a semi-detached house—attached to Europe on one side only. But if this is Britain's position I am convinced she of all countries must be concerned with her neighbours.
The days of seeming European domination have gone. Europe now has to serve the world. And the people of Europe must get together to put their long traditions to the service of humanity as a whole.
The ideal, and a realisable one, is a World Federation. A World Federation has to be built up. The progress made on the economic level in Europe is of great assistance. Now, what matters is the political aspect and in this field I believe that Federal Union will continue to make an important contribution.
I was, therefore, very much surprised when in my post only last week I
received another message from Lord Attlee saying that we
… should not be justified in hastily handing over substantial power now held by the British Parliament and electorate to untried institutions mainly dependent on European countries with unstable political records.
It is all very puzzling, and makes one wonder why these changes in thinking have taken place. It is not because of the Commonwealth Preference problem, because that problem existed when the Motion was on the Order Paper, when Keep Left was published, and when Lord Attlee issued his first declaration of loyalty to Federal Union principles. It is not because of new objections from the Commonwealth, because these are becoming more and more moderate as time goes on. The resignation of the Australian Minister, and the panic of Mr. Menzies himself when he thought that the whole thing would fall down, the protestations by Mr. Fleming who said that our Press was misrepresenting Canada as being opposed to our application—all that has changed for the better. In any case the final outlines of the Commonwealth position are under negotiation, so that until information of the conditions is available one cannot say that there is a new problem.
The same applies to the British agricultural problem. That, too, was there before. There are changing views in the agricultural community. Many of our farmers are very much in favour of joining, and we have the new evidence that the European Economic Community is now, in fact, hammering out a common agricultural policy based on the terms of the Treaty of Rome and on exactly the same principles as expressed in our Acts of Parliament dealing with farming subsidy policy. And the final result will be decided with us, if and when we join.
But even if—and this is the interesting point—these were the main problems facing some of my colleagues recently converted against the Common Market, even if both problems were overcome and we got all that we asked for in regard to the Commonwealth and our farm prices system, there would still be Adenauer and de Gaulle, who were there before, when those of whom I speak were in favour of our joining. There would still be the problem of the pooling of our sovereignty, which my
hon. Friends were apparently prepared to accept a few months ago are not prepared to accept now—and the pooling of sovereignty, in the words of Lord Attlee, with
… untried institutions mainly dependent on European countries with unstable political records.
as contrasted, no doubt with such countries as Ghana, Pakistan and India, within the Commonwealth. We have to face the phenomenon that a change of opinion has taken place, and we have not been told why. The conditions of our joining are certainly no less favourable now than they were before. I prefer the trade union arguments which I consider to be positive and constructive.
I have seen references in some Opposition circulars to the attitude of the Trades Union Congress but I can hardly reconcile the two attitudes, because in all the publications it has issued the Trades Union Congress's position seems to be a reasonably favourable one. In its first publication, issued a few years ago, the T.U.C. pointed out very clearly the dangers of our not joining in a European Community, and said that it considered
… that closer European co-operation has much to contribute in terms of higher and more equal living standards, increased social stability, and the dissolution of national antagonisms…
the desira to end Franco-German antagonism, to give Germany more outlet for her industrial energies and at the same time to exercise some control over the economic and political forces in Germany which instigated the Second World War.
In their latest publication the T.U.C. urges the Government to enter these negotiations and, up to date, the Congress has supported the negotiations, while laying down certain conditions. One such condition, contained in the latest document published by the T.U.C, states:
… the real test of European Economic Unity is whether it will promote full employment….
It will be noted that they do not demand a guarantee because no treaty can guarantee full employment. Only a Government and a Parliament with a policy which will lead to full employment can achieve that. And that, of course, depends on the political complexion of the Government, whether in this country or in the event, that of the European Community.
It is clear that when we talk about the possible difficulties of Socialist planning or full employment within the European Community we are seeming to overlook the fact that our own country does not at present have a Socialist Government. In fact, the problem is not whether, if we join the Common Market, it will be more difficult for the present Prime Minister and his Tory Government to go ahead with their Socialist planning, nationalisation and improving the social standards and so on. That is not the position at all. If we have to win the battle for these things in our own little island we are surely entitled to try to win that battle in the wider sphere of Europe—and I would prefer to have the wider sphere in which to do it.
The Socialist parties of the Six, at their recent Congress in Luxembourg, passed resolutions supporting the Economic Community, urging all Socialist parties to support the implementation of the treaties, to undertake joint Socialist action after entry has come into force and to draw up economic programmes which would enable all these aims to be realised by means of constructive common policies which would lead to the stability of the world.
Despite what might be said about the Treaty of Rome as it stands, how will we be able to improve our standards, or the standards and conditions throughout the Community and, at the same time, achieve a policy of full employment and rising social standards, unless, first of all, we are in a position to influence that policy? The only way we can influence it is by being there, on the spot—in their Parliament with our Ministers present at the Council of Ministers—helping to frame that kind of policy. We cannot do it unless we are present at those discussions and here is where the political argument comes in, and I am sometimes astonished when people say that they would accept our membership of the Community provided our entry can be made on certain conditions, but "For heavens sake," they say, "Do not let us have anything to do with Parliamentary control."
This, to me, is a completely impossible attitude to understand. How British politicians, particularly Labour hon. Members with the experience and the tradition of our own country and holding such principles as they do, can say that they might be prepared to join this great economic Community with all the power it can have over our lives and the way it can affect our standards and influence our international affairs—because trade follows flag and flag follows trade—only on certain conditions sometimes baffles me.
What these critics are suggesting is that we should hand over all these powers to a commission of civil servants in Brussels or, alternatively, to a Council of Ministers, each haggling over their individual national interests, a Council of Ministers, which at one time could be made up of Conservative Ministers— whereby millions of Socialists and Liberals would not be represented at all —or on another occasion might be a Council of Socialist Ministers—with the views of millions of Conservatives, Liberals and others not represented. I would have thought that we, of all people, should have insisted on whatever organisation it is having a proper democratic Parliamentary control so that we would be able to control the executive, just as we do in Britain, and to ensure that the vast minorities would have a proper say in protecting their conditions, just as the majorities would have.
This is the only way it can be done. We cannot avoid the conclusion that the only way to make it an effective reality is to have an effective European Parliament, democratically representing the people. The Six are beginning to develop their political institutions, institutions which will control the Executive —I hope more and more on the lines we adopt in this country.
I remind hon. Members that if we had in 1956 been the members of the European Community, with an effective political authority and common Parliament, there would have been no Suez, because every one except Britain and France would have been against it. I urge my hon. Friends to think back to 1939. Would the war have been possible if Britain, Germany, France and the other countries had been members of a common community and common Parliament? The same might be said of the 1914-18 war. These are important matters—the kind of things I have in mind when discussing the European Community. These important subjects must be fully considered; not just the problems affecting hosiery manufacturers or the question of whether or not one likes the flavour of Italian tomatoes.
I support the Treaty of Rome, and I do not necessarily mean all of it in detail. The Europeans are getting on with the job. They are doing something we have been praying for for generations. They are doing it while Britain stands at the crossroads. Either we join in this great and inspiring adventure in uniting peoples and demonstrating that such unity—which alone can be the basis of ultimate world government—is possible and fruitful. Either we join hands now, with Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway and, glory be, of Southern Ireland, strengthening, as only the great British Labour Movement can strengthen, the Socialist and trade union forces now ranged in unity within this common front—or we can seek to contract out of yet another great objective which the Labour Party was created to achieve.
Like many of my hon. Friends, I have tried to keep a reasonably open mind, giving due weight to the ardent belief of the Prime Minister and other Ministers that we should join the Common Market. We have, rightly, I think, set about that with all the will and skill we have to negotiate terms on which we could enter with safeguards for the Commonwealth, for our own agriculture and horticulture.
I take the Commonwealth first, and I must be brief on what is the immediate political issue. I am sure that our people wall want to know that our entry will not weaken the Commonwealth and. indeed, that the terms are endorsed by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers as being helpful to their countries and economies as well as to Britain. That is a fairly tall order, but that is what the British public will want to hear.
We must rely on the Lord Privy Seal to argue in Brussels vigorously for a trade policy which will allow the Dominions to retain a full share of their markets here and in Europe. If the Commonwealth means anything to us, we must hold ourselves responsible for keeping open markets for their wheat, meat and dairy produce. I am talking particularly about the temperate foodstuffs, because they present an acute issue.
A clear understanding must be reached. It will be an essential consideration when we come to decide whether we shall or shall not enter. Naturally, I welcome the signs in Europe that the Six are thinking about international agreements, maybe on a limited scale at the start, to look after the interests of the Commonwealth countries and then spreading out into wider agreements. That is what President Kennedy is aiming at; he is making moves across the board to get tariff reductions on American goods in Europe for concessions on his side.
I think that we may very well in five years' time, if we work on this, get international agreements to stabilise the markets of the primary products. I am sure that that would be greatly welcomed by Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as well as by America, and, indeed, I believe by an outward-looking European Community. It would be an outward-looking European community if we could get the right terms to join.
I hope that the Government will show its interest in this kind of international effort to stabilise world markets and shift surpluses to where they are needed, and that we shall make a contribution in knowledge and in funds to the pilot scheme which the United Nations is launching next month. It is most important that we should show willing and show our interest. Whether we like it or not, we and the world will be faced with ever-increasing food surpluses, and the sooner wet get down to the job of tackling this problem in a good spirit internationally the sooner we shall find a solution.
Coming back to the Brussels negotiations, some of our farmers, notably the younger men, confidently and rightly think that they can match any competition from the Continent. Our farms are bigger and better equipped, and the skill of our men is at least as good as that of any on the Continent.
We have developed a policy to suit ourselves in this country. It has given us a thriving and highly productive agri- culture, contributing much to the strength of the nation's economy, while, at the same time, our people get their food considerably cheaper than most others abroad. I am not one of those who say that we shall have to scrap the basis of a secure policy for agriculture which is enshrined in the 1947 and 1957 Agriculture Acts.
I believe that we can modify policy and reduce the cost to the Exchequer? But we should not abandon the principle which we have made work satisfactorily for Britain unless we are quite sure that we shall be getting something in a wider community which will serve our farmers and our land equally well.
The trouble about joining the Common Market is that the Six in Europe have not yet begun to evolve a common agricultural policy. Their commodity by commodity approach lacks the safeguards that we apply year by year through the annual review and assess what is happening in agriculture, what we want to happen in agriculture, and we also put into the scales a great many other considerations such as cost, our trading connections, the effect on the Dominions, and so on. I am, therefore, glad that it now seems to be accepted in Europe that they will have an annual farm review and I should like to give full credit not only to my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, but also to the Minister of Agriculture for having educated Europeans to recognise the value of this exercise.
It will be a great task, of course, to marshall all the information about costs and prices, trends of production, and farm incomes from all over Europe. It has not always been an easy task to work out our own farm policy and prices. I find that farmers are asking, "What hope is there really that we shall through the farm review in Europe get an agricultural policy which will suit everyone in Europe as well as ourselves?" There could be grave distortions in the pattern of British agriculture if many farmers were tempted by a high wheat price to go wheat mining and by low prices and big supplies to go out of production in milk, pigs and eggs. We could get our agriculture into a sorry mess.
This uncertainty underlines the importance of another concession which my right hon. Friends have secured in negotiations in Europe. There is the prospect of a system of residual assurances to look after those sections of agriculture where the annual review shows that remedial action is needed to maintain and, indeed, to raise farm incomes in terms of the Treaty of Rome. Some farmers in some countries are accustomed to considerably higher incomes than others. This provision for residual assurances must now be set out clearly for all to understand.
Among my farming friends there is great anxiety about this. They say,"We have heard what the Minister of Agriculture said in a recent speech in the country. Does it mean that we shall put up our case in Brussels to show that a certain section of our farming community is being hard hit and the level of income is dropping", and then the Commission will say, "It is just too bad; you must just wear it"? Or shall we have some reserve right to look after that section of the farming interests which we consider essential to a proper balance and right pattern in our agriculture? Shall we have the right to do that on our own account with, of course, the approval and understanding of the Community?
We need a clear understanding of what these arrangements may be. I feel that our farmers cannot be expected to agree to jettison the system of guarantees on which home production has expanded so successfully in recent years for the chance of higher prices, in some cases considerably higher prices, for a time, in Europe and then a deluge of surpluses. If prices are kept high in Europe, production will soar, and then what will happen? We must bear in mind the need to keep a pattern and a balance in our agriculture as in the agriculture of Europe as a whole. If that comes out of the annual review, well and good. If it does not, I do not think that we should find much joy in the Common Market, or that our partners in Europe would do so either.
On the present showing we are expected to take a good deal on trust both for Commonwealth trade and for British agriculture. I would echo the words of the First Secretary of State this afternoon, that we cannot yet honestly say that we have succeeded in safeguarding the interests of British agriculture and horticulture. I hope that the Lord Privy Seal will have a successful run in Brussels this week, and that the farming community and our Commonwealth partners will feel happier at the end of this week than they did at its beginning.
This debate takes place in very strange circumstances, not only because while it is going on the crux of negotiations is being reached in Brussels, but also because a similar debate is taking place in another place, in which there has been a very important statement of Government policy from the Foreign Secretary, a statement very different in character from the one which we heard from the right hon. Gentleman the First Secretary of State in this House earlier this afternoon.
Once again, we have had an illustration of just how much we have lost the sovereignty of the House of Commons through permitting the Foreign Secretary to be in another place. It is one of the many examples of how the sovereignty of the House of Commons is being gradually reduced by the actions of the present Government.
In another place the Foreign Secretary has said quite frankly and openly why the Government are in favour of going into the Common Market and why they are determined that negotiations shall succeed, and, by implication, what they are prepared to sacrifice so that they shall succeed. He has said—and I paraphrase his words—that Europe is moving towards an economic and political union. He has said that Europe is the new centre of power. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I notice that the Liberals agree with this sentiment that Europe is the new centre of power.
The noble Lord has also said that we cannot stand aside from economic and political associations with that centre of power. He has said that the Commonwealth countries must understand that and must make the necessary adjustments. Well, that is frank.
I am very interested to hear that the Liberal Party approves of this, because it shows that the Liberal Party in this country, like the Liberal Party in most countries, in moments of crisis always turn automatically to what they regard as the centre of power. They never have the courage to stand alone and take an independent line. When we come to the next election we shall find the same result, that the Liberal Party will then gravitate to what they regard as the new centre of power in this House, though if the Government have their way this House will not by then have much power left.
What is at stake in this question of entry into the Common Market is precisely the sacrifice of the independence of this country and also of such strength as the Commonwealth really has towards what is described as a new centre of power in Europe. It is perfectly true that the Western European countries— not Europe as a whole—and especially France and Germany have moved together into an economic and political association which is designed primarily for the defence of capitalist society against Communism. By so doing they have undoubtedly strengthened such power as they might have possessed individually.
We are invited—not by them very strongly, but by the British Government —to gravitate towards this new centre of power because it is thought that if we stood aside from it we would be too weak to stand up against it. In other words, the appeal that is made to us is one of sheer economic and political defeatism. The economic defeatism I can understand, because we have had eleven years of government which have pretty well ruined the economy of this country, and by its inspiration towards a bingo society has completely undermined both the initiative and the spirit of adventure of the British people.
Politically, I find it much more difficult to understand that this Government, a Conservative Government, should be prepared, in effect, to surrender the political sovereignty of Britain to a West European combination and, in so doing, to sacrifice the economic and political strength which has come to us in the past and which can come increasingly in the future from our Commonwealth association. That is the choice which we are invited to face.
Those among my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite who are now saying that there is a danger of the Government sacrificing the Commonwealth for the sake of joining the Common Market are waking up a little late. The decision was taken a year ago, when the Lord Privy Seal went to Brussels and, at the very opening of the negotiations, said that we were prepared to join the European Economic Community on the basis of the Treaty of Rome and without any amendment to that Treaty apart from consequential amendments in the voting provisions.
In so doing, the Lord Privy Seal then and there sold the pass. The provisions of the Treaty of Rome are such as to involve, first, the sacrifice of Commonwealth economic interests for the sake of those of Europe, secondly, the sacrifice of the possibility of socialist economic planning for the sake of so-called capitalist planning, and, thirdly, the sacrifice of democratic popular control of planning and of government to a bureaucratic, autocratic hierarchy. That is what the Treaty of Rome involves.
I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) is not here now. When he, as an enthusiast for federation and world government, talks as though the Common Market, based on the Treaty of Rome, were anything like the conception of a Socialist European and Commonwealth union which some of us had in the early days after the war, he really cannot have looked at one Article of the Treaty of Rome or have bothered about them.
Article 104, I suppose, is the Article about harmonising would trade or something or other—is it not? —one of the pious Articles in the Treaty which has no binding force, an Article about pursuing a
policy to ensure the equilibrium in its overall balance of payments…
I do not propose to make the speeches which hon. Members are, apparently, unable to make. I am saury, but I prefer to make my own.
What we are asked to do in entering the European Economic Community is not to undertake the ordinary sacrifice of a portion of our sovereignty as a nation which is made when we enter into any other treaty or which was made when we subscribed to the United Nations Charter. This is totally different, because the Treaty of Rome is not just a treaty. It is a code of law drawn up by the Governments of other countries—
—including Governments which have some Social Democratic representatives in them—
It is a Treaty which lays down in precise and legal terms not only the constitution of the organisation itself, but also the basic law of its economic policy.
We have not taken any part in shaping that Treaty. We are not in a position to amend it because the Government have given away that possibility. If we go in, we accept every Article of that Treaty, which means that we surrender not only a portion of our sovereignty as a nation but a part of the law-making activities of this House to another body which is not elected by the people of this country and in part to a body not elected by anyone at all.
Under this Treaty, which is binding not merely on every member Government but will be binding on every British citizen if we enter the Common Market, it will be possible for the Commission to issue decisions, to draw up regulations, to make prohibitions and to give binding instructions to British citizens. Those orders and decisions will have legislative and judicial force. If the prohibitions or the decisions are not complied with, British citizens can be fined and can appeal only to the Court of Justice, which merely has to take its decisions within the terms of the Statute itself.
If we enter the European Economic Community on the basis of the Treaty as it stands, this Parliament gives up its legislative powers and British citizens will be placed at the mercy of another legislative body over which we have no control whatsoever. That is the abrogation of sovereignty which we are asked to undertake.
I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe will say, "But we can alter that. There is provision for an elected assembly and we will ensure that this elected assembly acquires democratic legislative powers and control over the executive". But there is none of that in the Articles of the Treaty of Rome, which provide for these subsidiary law-making and regulation-making powers and penalties to be in the hands of a non-elected Commission. It is not possible to alter a single article of the Treaty except by the unanimous consent of every member State.
That is the position in which it is proposed to place the people of this country. In other words, it is proposed completely to alter not merely the British Constitution but the way in which we in this country conduct our Parliamentary democracy. It is a proposal to substitute for our form of Parliamentary democracy a form of legislation, of law-making, of the imposition of penalties on citizens for disobeying the laws which is totally alien to the whole of our tradition.
The Treaty of Rome is closely modelled on the pre-1914 constitution of the German Reichstag. It is certainly pre-Magna Carta in its conception, because it means that under it British citizens will be placed in jeopardy for disregarding or disobeying laws which they have had no part in making. This is a principle which we fought 300 years in this country to sustain, and for 400 years we fought for the principle that the country should turn outwards towards the rest of the world. We are now proposing to abandon both those principles at one and the same time.
We are proposing to turn inwards towards Europe instead of outwards towards the rest of the Commonwealth, and to abandon our democratic system of legislation and control of the Executive and to substitute for it an autocratic system which will not even be in the hands of persons appointed by representatives of this country.
I am sure that the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) will agree that on the Continent at least the Socialists are democratic. I have not heard that they have been complaining about this hell on earth created by the Common Market.
Hon Members say that Socialists are in favour of it, but they are not. A number are opposed to it, a number of Socialists in the countries which have not yet gone into the Common Market, like Norway and Demark, where the Socialists are very worried about the implications of joining the Treaty of Rome and where they have approved an application for entry to join the Community only because they have been forced to do so by the application made by this country. In fact, Denmark, has made it a condition of entry that this country joins. Let us have no more talk about the attitude of the Socialists in Europe. One does not rescue those already in the Community from the mess which they are in. The more those outside learn about it, the less they like it.
We have to decide whether we are prepared to surrender sovereignty to a hierarchy, an autocratic body, over which we have no effective control, in the interests of the British people and the British Commonwealth. If this would lead to genuine Socialist economic planning, which is the aim of my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe as well as myself, then there would be a good deal to be said for it, but here, again, we are barred by the terms of the Treaty itself. The Treaty of Rome is a written constitution to preserve a capitalist order of society. The rules of competition are so devised as to ensure that capitalist free enterprise has full play and is able to engage in all those activities which are capable of being run at a profit while leaving public enterprise to provide a social service.
That is the basis of the Treaty of Rome and it cannot be changed merely by going in. It can be changed only by altering the Statute, and one single country which represents a capitalist Government will be able to prevent any change whatsoever in the Treaty, and therefore any change in the essential character of the society which it is designed to preserve and protect.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) talked about the possibilities for economic planning being preserved within the scope of the Treaty of Rome. What utter nonsense. In Signposts for the Sixties we have talked about the necessity for a Socialist Government to control investment. How can we control investment if we have to ensure free movement of private capital, not only across frontiers, but within the country? How can we do it if we are tied down by laws which forbid any discrimination in favour of public enterprise as against private enterprise?
How can we adjust our balance of payments if we have to follow a common economic policy and are not allowed any control over imports independently of what the other countries agree to? How can we have any effective control of economic policy if we have to give perfect freedom to the big businessmen of other countries to come here and establish their businesses if they want to and move their capital in and out as they please?
This will make complete nonsense of any attempt at Socialist planning, yet in the negotiations the Lord Privy Seal has already agreed that we accept these principles enshrined in the Treaty, and I was astonished to hear my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper suggest that it is even possible to undertake democratic Socialist economic planning so long as we have to allow the free movement of capital, freedom of establishment, and the control of external economic policy by some group in Brussels.
That is the kind of abrogation of sovereignty that we are being asked to undertake. If my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe, or anybody else, can show me that there is an association which is democratically controlled and which is fully open to the possibility of the establishment of a Socialist society on an international basis I shall be the first to say that we should go in, but under the present circumstances everything in this constitution is biased against such a concept, and for that reason I should have thought that not only would no Socialist agree to enter, but that no Conservative who had any respect for the democratic institutions of this country, for our legal system based on common law, and for the sovereign will of the people expressed through Parliament could accept it either.
It is well known that I am fiercely opposed to our entry into the Common Market, but if anything could ever shake my conviction on this matter it would be a speech such as that to which we have just listened. I have no objection whatever to people waving the Union Jack and giving praise to our British traditions and institutions, but I find it nauseating When they do it in the interests of Communism.
On a point of order. I distinctly heard the hon. and learned Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe) suggesting that my speech was made in the interests of Communism. I think that this is to be deplored.
Order. The hon. Member has spoken for a considerable time, and there is little time left. He should let the hon. and learned Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe) continue. There is no point of order in what he has raised.
I have only five minutes in which to say what I have to say. In this country there is an appalling lack of knowledge of the issues involved. I can illustrate this in a number of ways. I have addressed various meetings on this matter. There was one not long ago at which I judge that the audience was divided about fifty-fifty on the issue, and those who opposed the view that I was expressing asked a lot of questions. At the end I said, "Hands up anybody in the room who has read the Treaty of Rome", and not a hand went up.
The oase for our entry into the Common Market has been deployed by the Government with a certain amount of enthusiasm, and a zeal to
conceal from the public exactly what is involved. I am glad to see some Members of Che Liberal Party here. Perhaps at some other time, without interrupting me, they will be able to help me to answer a letter that I received this morning, in which the writer said,
I am disgusted with the Conservative Party going into the Common Market. Next time I shall vote Liberal.
This explains, in one sentence, the obscurities that exist in the public mind about Liberal Party policy.
Who is responsible for this concealment of the facts? [HON. MEMBERS: "The Government."] I agree. It is the Government, especially those Ministers who have been most active in propagating our entry. On the last occasion when we debated the matter the Lord Privy Seal made a very able speech on the economic aspects. He was very clear about them. But when he turned to the political involvement all became vague and obscure. I am sure that this was an attempt to conceal from the people exactly what was involved. I have no doubt that once we step upon this slippery slope of economic unity with Europe we shall have started on Che road to political federation. That is what I object to. I will confine myself entirely to the question of sovereignty, which I think we are on the way to losing if we pursue this policy.
It is quite clear that the inevitable consequence will be a United States of Europe, and I do not want this country to become a province in a United States of Europe. If the people had been told this from the start, and this false name of "Common Market" had not been used, they would have understood the real issues that are involved. But the great majority of people have been led to believe that this is just a commercial tie-up, by which we shall be able to do more trade in Europe. They naturally think that that is a good thing. If at the outset people had been told that this was really the road to a United States of Europe they would have been almost 100 per cent. opposed to our entry. It is for that reason—because the Government are well aware of the emotional content of this matter, that they have been careful never to use any such indication of the road along which we are going.
The First Secretary dealt rather shortly this afternoon with the question of political union with Europe. He said—and these were astounding words to hear from the First Secretary—that when political unity had reached a further stage we should have an opportunity to express our view. Good heavens; I should think we should! But what use will it be at that stage fox us to express our views, when we have already entered into an economic stranglehold which will make it impossible for us to retreat?
The road is undoubtedly towards political unity. It is towards the abandonment of our national sovereignty, and these are matters to which I believe that the Conservative Party should never adhere. Hon. Gentlemen opposite— those in favour of unity—have founded their arguments in the Socialist faith in which they believe and I accept that they do so with sincerity. I hope that they will believe that I equally found my position on what I hold to be the true fundamental belief of Conservatism, which is to maintain the proper independence of this country and to promote the welfare of the Commonwealth. Every step which we take in this direction is derogating from these things.
The right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) said today words which imply that those who are opposed to this are insular. That word "insular" has become a dirty word. Why, I do not know. After all, we axe an island people and we cannot help being insular. We were born an island people and nothing can take that away from us.
I hope that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) will forgive me for going on for a minute over my time. But I will conclude by saying that I believe I speak for the great majority of the people in this country when I say that I do not want to become a European. To be British is good enough for me.
I should like to thank the hon. and learned Member for Hove (Mr. Marlowe) for being so courteous. I think it a matter of regret to us all that this debate has been so truncated. Not only was the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman curtailed—and whatever their point of view hon. Members must have felt that it was one really worth making and listening to—but also many hon. Members have not been able to express a view on this important occasion.
The first thing I want to say is that it was right that we should have this debate. It was the duty of the House to have it, and I do not agree at all with the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) who seemed to think that we should have left the whole thing to the Government negotiators in Brussels. Of course, all hon. Members who have spoken recognise that vital negotiations are going on. But that is no reason why this House should remain silent. I do not believe that this debate has in any sense weakened the hands of the negotiators in Brussels. If there was one speech which will weaken their hands, it was the speech of the right hon. Member for Flint, West, because that happens every time right hon. or hon. Gentlemen say, "We must get in, we must get in—we have no alternative— Commonwealth trade is dying"—and all the rest of it. If reports of what has been said in another place—where the Government spokesmen have been more explicit than the ones we have had here —are true, the same weakness has been shown there—this pathetic anxiety to conclude negotiations almost at any cost. Those of us experienced in negotiating—and some of us have had long experience of negotiations carried out under much more difficult circumstances —know that had we begun these negotiations and carried on with them on the basis that at all costs we have got to get into the Common Market we should have had to pay an intolerable price. We are frightened that that is what is happening in Brussels today.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) rightly reminded the House, we were right to press for this debate, because this is probably the last opportunity which hon. Members will have to express their views and to express the warning, which any one of us may want to give, before—what I think is coming very quickly now, and wrongly so—the Government take a decision which will be a fateful decision one way or the other for this country, for Europe and for the world. I want to lend my support to what the right hon. Gentleman said when he pleaded with the Government not to rush into this thing, but to make sure that the negotiations make crystal clear what we are being asked to assent to, and that full consideration is given before any decision is taken. As the signs multiply that some of the most vital issues are being postponed and deferred for settlement after Britain has got into the Common Market, or are being wrapped in a cocoon of verbiage, for that obviously is what is happening, it is more important that we in this House should spell out these issues clearly now. I regret that the Government have not treated this debate more fairly. Apart from the First Secretary, I believe it falls far short of the importance we should attach to this debate that we are not to have a member of the Cabinet to reply.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whom we all wish well on his new appointment and the important job he has to do, will recognise that we are not getting at him in any personal sense, but on an issue of this importance on the eve of this vital decision we should have had a senior Cabinet Minister to reply on behalf of all his colleagues. There are present on the Government Front Bench the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the President of the Board of Trade. It is utterly wrong that we have not had the Prime Minister and the Chancellor present in this debate. To get the Foreign Secretary as well would be too much to expect, but he is elsewhere.
We have had the speech of the First Secretary. He was courteous, he was urbane, he was ponderous and never has even he managed to get through twenty-five minutes and to say so little. That is strong language, because his span at the Box goes back for a long time and there have been some classic pieces of stonewalling. He told us nothing at all in the whole of his speech except to trumpet forth one triumph—that our negotiators had ensured that we shall retain our freedom of worship. There is nothing in the Treaty of Rome which says we cannot retain that.
He must have been reading the newspapers, even if he has not been reading Cabinet papers, but he never for one moment showed his hand, or the pair of hands he has dealt himself for dealing with this occasion. As he failed to do it, it is incumbent on the rest of us to get down to cases. In the time available one can pick up only one or two of the salient points.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper referred to the problem of planning, whether Socialist planning, Tory planning or planning of any other kind. I am not going to repeat all the arguments used in past debates. Of course we recognise that there is a strong desire in Europe for a form of planning, European planning as opposed to national planning, but let us be clear about this. The aim and objective of that planning is not the same as, for example, the T.U.C. has rightly demanded, planning for full employment. It is planning aimed at holding the ring with conditions for full, free capitalistic competition. That is not what we understand by planning.
I wish there could be a sort of"Hansard"of all the pronouncements of what some of these very skilled, talented but in our view irresponsible public servants have been saying. The Director-General for Competition—what a title! —said that all that happens in the economic field in the E.E.C. is to be the result of free competition and not of dirigisme measures. He went on to say that there would be controls over prices, wages and capital investment, but why should this country not be free to have price control if it is considered desirable? It may well be that that will be an essential concomitant of the National Incomes Council, yet under the Common Market if these gentlemen do not think it right we cannot have it. That is one of our worries.
We have learned by bitter experience in two Governments that planning for full employment and steady industrial expansion in this country is dependent on the avoidance of short-term financial crises. This country, for many reasons, and not least its position in the sterling area, is far more vulnerable to financial crises than most. That is why we must have sufficient planning powers to deal with this problem. It is an elementary national precaution, not a party point.
It may be said that the European Powers will combine to resist an attack on the currency reserves of members. In this respect, it is said that unity is strength, but on what terms will they combine? I do not think I was very fanciful a year ago when I referred to the possibility of a "central bankers' ramp", for these men are narrow-minded on social, and political matters, and it may be that if we had a Government which was, say, nationalising the steel industry, on a mandate from the people, they might find that that policy had to be put into reverse as a condition of the loan which these gentlemen were to give. There might be pronouncements on incomes policy, rents policy or social welfare, and, therefore, this is one of the very serious questions which we should like to see spelled out.
On another aspect, the position of Parliament, I will not go into this in detail, as I did so in the June debate. In the debate in June, I set out, as did the right hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Sir D. Walker-Smith), the very serious implications for Parliament in Article 189, and in the regulations being binding in every respect and directly applicable to each member State. Now, if this is the situation— and I will not repeat all the arguments —what would be the position in regard to Prayers and Statutory Instruments? What would be the position of enabling legisilation? Would Parliament be free to amend that legislation? Would the Sovereign be free to accept a Prayer carded by Parliament? Indeed, would we be free to pray at all? These are very important questions. [An HON. MEMBER: "Freedom of worship."]
The First Secretary said that this was being studied by the Government. He went so far as to promise us a White Paper in the autumn. This really is fantastic, meaning, first of all, that this House will be asked to take a decision about entering the Common Market, and, after that decision, we are to be given a White Paper to tell us what happens to us. We have our responsibilities and trusteeship not only to those who sat in this House for centuries before us but for those who will sit in centuries to come. We shall be given a White Paper when the decision has been taken. This is one of the things of which we are afraid.
I am sure that I shall unite the whole House when I confess my manifest inability to speak with any authority about agriculture, but I wish to say three things. First, we have always been told that, while deficiency payments are ruled out, as they are, production grants in some form or another, will be or may be tolerated, though when I asked the Minister of Agriculture in the last debate, he had not got a clue about it. I mentioned two items costing £40 million. What is more, he still does not know. If the right hon. Gentleman is able to give me an answer now, I shall be delighted. But, of course, he cannot know the answer because the Europeans do not know the answer.
One point is very clear. We cannot even maintain production grants on a national basis in any shape or form. We shall not be able to apply the hill farming subsidies to Wales, Scotland and the Pennines. All we can do is to try to persuade our European partners —one hopes that we shall be successful —to adopt hill farming grants covering the whole area of the Common Market, so that whatever was granted for Wales and Scotland would apply to the Appenines and the Alps, and to Norway. They may not share our keenness for these production grants, and this would be a very serious blow to agriculture.
There is a second point which I want to make about agriculture. I think that it is clear, as my right hon. Friend said, that the statement about the annual agricultural reviews is meaningless. Our own national price reviews are a guide to action, though, to use the unfortunate phrase of the Lord Privy Seal, there is no automaticity about it; we do not proceed automatically from the publication of the price review to some decision about incomes and prices. He is right in that respect, but for all that the purpose of the price review each year is to get a picture of the farming profit and earning situation as a guide to production, income and price policy for the year or years ahead.
The annual reviews promised in Europe are no more than statistical exercises. They do not, and probably could not, lead to any action of themselves. We shall have our price reviews in this country but they will be quite academic.
The right hon. Gentleman said that from these annual price reviews nothing will flow. There is no substance in this assertion at all. It is laid down in the provisional agreement which was reached in Brussels about a week ago that it is following on this review, and as a direct result of it, that all decisions affecting the common agricultural policy, which of course also means pricing policy, will flow. They will follow as a direct result of these reviews, and decisions will be taken by the Council of Ministers.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, and I am glad to have got a Cabinet Minister on his feet. But all he has told is just words, words, words. It is obvious that action can flow from it, but there is no provision that action must flow.
May I put a point to the right hon. Gentleman? Let us suppose that agricultural incomes were falling throughout the Community. Of course, it would have to happen on a Community-wide basis; it would be no good going with a hard luck story that they were falling only in Britain. It may be that action would be taken under the clause which, in very vague terms, refers to agricultural incomes. But, of course, action cannot be taken without raising the question of imports policy and therefore of Commonwealth imports. Let us suppose that costs were rising in the Community, perhaps not because of increasing costs here but because of increasing costs in France and Italy, and that margins and producers' incomes were falling. Have we any guarantee, or even any informal understanding, that action would then be taken? The only instrument which we have is price, and once price is used then everything else is involved, such as the import levy and the tariff, which immediately hits Commonwealth imports.
This brings me to my third point on agriculture. Within the agricultural policy which has been laid down after the 40 days and 40 nights of argument, agricultural security and security for the Commonwealth producers are inevitably, and in my view inescapably, in conflict. I want to ask the House to think about this. On the face of it, the authors of the 1947 Act—principally Tom Williams, Lord Williams as he is now—seemed to have an insoluble problem when they set out to reconcile the problems of the British farmers with those of the suppliers of imported food, especially the Commonwealth producers. I think that my noble Friend achieved a miracle when he provided a reconcila-tion of the problems of imported food and of security for our farmers. But he did it on the basis of guaranteed markets. Even the diluted version of that Act under which we now live, this ramshackle and undependable and costly system of deficiency payments which the right hon. Gentleman defends, provides some reconciliation of the problems of British agriculture and the Commonwealth.
But the task of the Brussels negotiators is to reconcile not two independent variables but three—British agriculture, the Commonwealth and European agriculture; and to begin this superhuman task of trying to solve the whole problem in a few weeks by scrapping the very basis of the 1947 Act, which was guaranteed markets, and which in our case now is deficiency payments. The European system is based on market prices alone— admittedly rigged, manufactured and administered prices at that—but there is no evidence yet of any agreement which can provide security at the same time for the British fanners and for the Commonwealth producers such as we achieved under the 1947 Act.
I turn to the problem of E.F.T.A., which has been raised by a number of hon. Members. There ought to be no difficulty here. There is a clear commitment on the part of Her Majesty's Government. We regard this as unequivocally binding. We are not free morally or in any other way to pursue our own selfish interests, however we may conceive them, through the negotiations, unless at the same time we secure for our E.F.T.A. partners full safeguards for their economic interests. This is a clear binding Treaty commitment. On this the honour of the Government, and particularly the honour of the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, who made the pledge, is fully involved. Not only that, but I believe that the honour of the House is involved.
But the argument is not based purely or even mainly on this commitment to our E.F.T.A. partners, this binding Treaty obligation. After all, the object of the whole exercise, so we are told— we are repeatedly told this whenever we visit Europe—is to promote the unity of Europe. Are we to achieve the unity of Europe by excluding from economic association on the quite specious ground of their neutrality three countries which are so intrinsically European, three countries so bound up in all of Europe's history as Sweden, Austria and Switzerland? Because they are neutrals, all the signs are that they will be told that all they can have is some bilateral trade agreement, thrown to them as a sort of sop, on the same terms as could be granted to Argentina or the Dominican Republic. Is this promoting the unity of Europe?
Our view is that it is totally wrong to base one's attitude in this on the fact of neutrality, because this means applying a military test. Our view is that the right organisation, the right forum, for pursuing the ideas which inspired the Western Alliance is N.A.T.O. and that membership of N.A.T.O. is not and should not be a test of European status for the purposes of association with the Economic Community.
This naturally leads to the problem of the political future, on which the First Secretary touched this afternoon. He did not tell us very much. I will not repeat all the arguments that we and others have used on this point. I must say, not so much because of the First Secretary's speech, but more because of what the Lord Privy Seal has said, that the Government's attitude on this is shrouded in ambivalence. There is nothing in the Treaty of Rome requiring a federal or a supranational political organisation in Europe. Equally, all hon. Members who have met Europe's political leaders know that some at any rate of them, and some of the most influential, entirely reject our conception of an inter-governmental Europe and look forward to an integrated foreign office and an integrated defence community. We know that this is not the position of President de Gaulle. As one of my hon. Friends said, his position is that of Europe à I'Anglaise sans les Anglais. The rest of them, particularly M. Spaak, are determined sooner or later to get this federal solution.
I do not believe—this has been made very clear by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—that public opinion in this country in present and foreseeable circumstances would for one moment agree that we could transfer responsibility for foreign policy, at present under the control of the Government and responsible to Parliament, to a centralised European agency answerable to a European Parliament. This may come, but it is not a political possibility now. I think that the Lord Privy Seal would remove a lot of misunderstanding and avoid many future headaches and heartaches and charges of bad faith if he would state that in Europe as frankly as I have stated it tonight, because I am certain the whole House agrees with What I have said.
I come finally to the Commonwealth. There is time now to deal only with temperate zone foodstuffs. We have heard nothing today from the Government about this. Yet even the Press has been full of detailed reports. Fresh reports were coming in on the ticker-tape from Brussels tonight even before I came into the Chamber.
There are two main issues to be dealt with here. Obviously this is very oversimplified. The first is the ultimate settlement, the position of Commonwealth imports after 1970, what some people have called point X—not how we get to point X, but what point X looks like when we get there. The second issue is the means by which we get there. We have said repeatedly—we must say it again—that no amount of temporary relief will solve the problem. This is not a problem for some kind of European national assistance board. What matters is the position of Commonwealth trade and Commonwealth imports after 1970, and we shall judge the outcome of the negotiations by what those things look like after 1970 and not by the means of temporary relief that might be introduced between now and 1970.
The Government's position on this began in high hopes over a year ago; in the hope that the interests of Europe and of the Commonwealth could be reconciled; that there was no clash between them. The then President of the Board of Trade, now Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that it was not a choice between Europe and the Commonwealth. We said, "We hope that you are right." But that hope soon died.
The Government then introduced the idea of comparable outlets, which inspired the speech of the Lord Privy Seal in Paris. Can any Minister really say that he feels that we have secured comparable outlets for Commonwealth food in Europe? Of course, the whole agricultural apparatus of the E.E.C. is designed to prevent that sort of thing. Last Friday, we had reports of an agreement said to have been reached but, as far as we can tell from that, all preferences, all guarantees, end by 1970 and, from then on, the negative preference, the reverse preference, begins to operate; that, in fact, from that moment, Commonwealth food will be at a fiscal disadvantage, a levy disadvantage, compared with European food, and that, if any food is to come into the Community area at all, there will be a scramble on equal terms for the British or other European markets between the Commonwealth producers, the Argentine, the United States and all other third countries. That seems to be the position that has been reached.
The Government, of course, are rightly pressing for a form of words—and I hope that we shall get more than words— to ensure that the Market will be out-ward-looking; that it will be low-priced; that it will have substantial imports. Here, of course, words are not enough. We must have something more specific in the form of guarantees. We are told that there will be commodity agreements, and it is true that we on this side in debate after debate have for years pressed for commodity agreements.
Those hon. Members opposite who say that we have only discovered the Commonwealth should look at our record on Commonwealth trade based—and I tell this to the right hon. Member for Flint, West—not so much on preference as on physical long-term contracts for Commonwealth foodstuffs. Let those hon. Members look at the debate we had—and here I charge my memory —on 3rd February, 1953, when we devoted a lot of time to this particular problem. I had a lot of experience in drawing up the first International Wheat Agreement after the war, but that does not solve the problem of Commonwealth imports.
Again, let us look at sugar. The Lord Privy Seal said that there was no answer there yet. There is an international sugar agreement, but when the Labour Government negotiated that agreement with other countries we knew that it was not enough to provide security for the West Indies, and we had to superimpose on it the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. Now, that is to go; so if it is believed that such agreements provide the answer will the Minister say why it was that when France, supported by other countries, proposed commodity agreements at the G.A.T.T. Conference in Geneva, the Government opposed them?
As the whole House knows, the Guardian is very strongly in favour of our entry into Europe, but on 27th July it headed its story
British Surrender to the Six".
That is the Guardian—not that branch of the Press referred to by the right hon. Member for Flint, West. It concluded its leader by saying:
If the Government have now decided, for the sake of reaching a speedy agreement, to dispense with the guarantees demanded by the Commonwealth, even those who are most in favour of Britain's entry and most anxious to see the negotiations brought to success may feel some qualms.
One has only to look at what was said yesterday by Mr. Menzies. He said that
The Australian Government's aim throughout was to try to make sure that preferences enjoyed inside the Commonwealth continued. …
And Mr. McEwen said that there must be
… adequate opportunities for developing countries to sell at economic prices and earn foreign exchange for their development.
We find that Mr. Holyoake, of New Zealand, said that
… the 'comparable outlets' that New Zealand wanted for her farm produce if Britain joined the E.E.C. must provide for expansion.
and he suggested that we should, perhaps, postpone the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
I conclude with the issue facing the House. We are not, as an Opposition, in the position of saying clearly and categorically that we can see our way clear either to supporting or rejecting our entry to the Common Market. We are not saying that, and I hope that the Government are not saying it either, because if they are it would be a complete betrayal of the pledges they gave when the negotiations were opened. We were told that when the terms were known we could then decide our attitude. We have said that all along, and we have had some fairly squalid jibes thrown up at us, not least by the Prime Minister to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition last week.
If one is buying a horse one likes to know the terms and also the condition it is in. Here we are faced with an enormously important decision. All I would say, therefore, is that we must have the chance, as a House, of deciding the issue. It may be that although the outlook is not hopeful, satisfactory terms will be obtained. My right hon. Friend has said that the best possible solution would be our being able to get in on good terms. But if the terms are such that we cannot accept them, then in these circumstances it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the issue must be referred to a higher court of appeal.
We reject the idea of a referendum. It is alien to our constitution. But if—and this is, of course, hypothetical—the Government in their rush and hurry to get in declare their willingness to sign on terms which amount to no more than a form of words, and if this means that the Opposition, and I cannot forecast our attitude, as a powerful and, perhaps, preponderant force of public opinion regard the terms as unacceptable, then there would have, I submit, to be an appeal to the country, because it would be utterly repugnant to our constitutional practice and utterly damaging to Britain and Europe alike if a dying Government should seek to lead a divided country into Europe.
I am obliged to the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) for his kind tribute to me, although it was wrapped up with one or two other things which I know were not personally meant. I followed his speech with interest and some anxiety, but I was glad to find that at the end of it he was left, quite properly, firmly sitting on the fence until, if I may say so, he knows the price of the horse. That seems to me to be a vary prudent attitude.
The right hon. Member for Huyton began his speech by saying that he did not want the Government to rush into this matter. We are, of course, sometimes accused of the fact that the negotiations have been unduly prolonged, but that is really a matter of common sense. It is, on the one hand, necessary to ascertain with great precision what the problems are and how they are to be dealt with. On the other hand, we must not delay unduly because great interests in this country and elsewhere are awaiting the outcome and I think that we should push on as quickly as the circumstances permit.
The right hon. Member for Huyton said that vital issues were being postponed until after we were in the Common Market. That is not so. There must be many stages before we are finally in the Common Market—if, indeed, we join it—and ratification is among them. Such vital issues could certainly not be postponed. They are, of course, being dealt with from day to day. I was sorry that the right hon. Member took in a rather light vein the references of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary to freedom of worship. To some people in this country this is a serious worry and my right hon. Friend was right in saying something to reassure those people.
The purpose of the Common Market, said the right hon. Member for Huyton, is, "Planning for a full and free capitalistic economy". I do not think that he can have studied the Treaty of Rome. At any rate, he has certainly arrived at a very different conclusion from his Socialist colleagues on the Continent of Europe, who seem to have supported it with enthusiasm.
The right hon. Member then mentioned the question of Prayers and Statutory Instruments and the position of this House in constitutional matters. He went on to say that my right hon. Friend had promised a White Paper after we entered the Common Market. My right hon. Friend, of course, promised nothing of the kind. He promised a White Paper. I am sure that it will be available long before we are in the Common Market.
The right hon. Member went on to speak of the neutrals, and he gave a little advice as to what the position of the neutrals should be. I would have thought that the neutrals were well able to make up their own minds on this and that they show every sign of knowing what they want. He went on to say that some politicians in Europe hold views different from ourselves on federation. Of course, they do. I do not think that is a very surprising discovery, nor one that need alarm us very much.
The right hon. Gentleman then sought to bury the sugar agreements. This matter, as he knows, is under negotiation at the present time. He asked why, at the G.A.T.T. Conference in February, 1962, Her Majesty's Government voted against international agreements. We did not vote against them. That seems to be the answer to that one.
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us why the Lord Privy Seal, when I asked him at Question Time last week about this, said something different? Did we vote against them or not? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will sort that out with the Lord Privy Seal.
I have already given the right hon. Gentleman the answer as to what we did.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to demand a General Election. I think that he had better wait and see what the position is before he reiterates that demand.
In opening the debate the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said a number of things with which we would very much agree. He also had one or two misconceptions which perhaps I may be able to say something about. He will find that the voting rights concerning agriculture are set out in Article 43 (2) of the Treaty of Rome. There is no mystery about that. He spoke of the deadline against which we are negotiating. We are not negotiating against a deadline. I have explained what the position is.
How can what is set out in Article 43 (2) of the Treaty of Rome, which deals only with the Six, apply to an enlarged Community when we, Denmark and Norway and perhaps others join? I was asking what the weight of voting rights will be in the enlarged Community.
The right hon. Gentleman must know that in the enlarged Community the voting rights will be calculated when one knows precisely who is joining it.
If the Joint Undersecretary does not give way, the hon. Member must resume his seat.
Article 43 (2), which I have before me, has nothing to do with voting rights. Will my hon. Friend give us the right Article?
The Article which deals with voting rights specifies that there is unanimity to the year 1966 and thereafter a qualified majority vote.
I now turn to another point made by the right hon. Member for Belper. He spoke of the ability, or otherwise, to plan national economies within the Common Market. In that respect, I must refer him, in part, to his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), who explained that matter. The fact is that there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome which prevents national planning.
The right hon. Member for Belper also had a number of things to say which, I think, could be included in a category of bogies under the bed. He said that the arrangements were vague and woolly. He knows quite well that these arrangemants are largely under negotiation, and that if he were on this side of the House he would not be able to be precise about matters which are still Jar from settled. The right hon. Member emphasised the need for a great precision and for making sure that everybody understands precisely what the other parties mean by what they say. I am sure my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal is very conscious of that.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Sir A. Hurd) made an impressive speech on the agricultural issues. Her Majesty's Government share his anxieties that the price policies to be settled in the Common Market should be such that there will be a proper balance in production. This will clearly have to be worked out over a long period. I do not think that at the moment I can go beyond the statement of the Lord Privy Seal of 23rd July. I must, however, say to the right hon. Member for Huyton, who referred to the 1947 Agriculture Act, and said that it suited the farmers and the Commonwealth so well, "It did in those days. But we are not now living in 1947, and other and different measures are required".
Her Majesty's Government stand by all the undertakings which have been given to the House, to the Commonwealth and to the European Free Trade Association. These have been affirmed many times by my right hon. Friends. When the present phase of the negotiations has been concluded, and when the outcome has been considered by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, the Government will recommend to the House whatever course seems to them to be in the best interests of this country. The House will then form its own conclusions.
I can, however, assure the House that if these negotiations fail to secure terms which, in the Government's view, provide adequate protection for the interests of Britain, the Commonwealth and our partners in the European Free Trade Association, we shall certainly not sacrifice those interests in order to enter the European Community.
I think that it is generally agreed that one cannot draw a hard and fast line between what is political and what is economic. The E.E.C. is seeking to bring about the reality of a common political purpose by constructing a single and powerful economic framework. Their propose is political, and so is ours. They are going about it in the order always advocated by successive British ministerial speakers at the Council of Europe. We are already interdependent with them in many economic and financial matters. For example, all our currencies are dependent upon the cooperation of others, and none more so than sterling. The establishment of the O.E.E.C.—largely a British initiative— and the great success of its work confirmed and developed this interdependence.
The plain truth now is that in many important respects our sovereignty can only be exercised effectively in conjunction with others. The Treaty of Rome is, therefore, the bold and logical extension of a situation which already exists. In such circumstances, what are we to make of the old maxim that Parliament can do everything but make a woman a man and a man a woman? We must not pretend to ourselves that we in Parliament can exercise unrestricted sovereignty simply by passing resolutions. The resolutions may well be legal, but the point is: can we be sure of giving them effect? Sovereignty is surely concerned with the practical exercise of power rather than with the passing of resolutions on paper.
In return for the pooling of a portion of our sovereignty in certain restricted and carefully defined fields, the Treaty of Rome would give us a share in the exercise of a wider and more effective sovereignty over a far larger area in terms of people and resources. This is a feature of other treaties to which we are a party and is coming to be recognised as the most practical method of exercising sovereignty in a world which is increasingly interdependent.
Coming from Scotland, I am very interested in national sovereignty. I hope that this will be a lesson to the hon. Gentleman. We who come here from Scotland are dependent upon the generosity of English Members as to when we may speak or what we shall get. The same may apply to England if she goes into the Common Market.
I have not noticed that Scotland has any difficulty in asserting its influence in the House or anywhere else.
The fear is sometimes expressed that, if we enter the Common Market, we shall be ruled by others. Of course, hon. Members are right in pressing us to make sure that the rules of the Community are fair and equitable so far as we are concerned. But, given that they are—and, of course, we should not join unless we were satisfied about that—I am astonished to find that there are people who doubt our ability to hold our own with our neighbours in Europe. Contrary to a widely expressed view, I am sure that British labour is well able to hold its own. There is no reason to doubt that in industry our scientists, our designers and our manufacturers can hold their own. Is it not ludicrous to suggest that our farming industry, which is among the most efficient in the world, cannot meet its European counterpart with credit, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury suggested?
Our administrators, who will take part in the Commission, will certainly be inferior to none in Europe. Our lawyers are able to argue with the best of them in the court. I do not doubt that our Ministers, of whatever party, will equit themselves well in the Council. Looking round the House, I do not see any reason whatever why Members of Parliament should not hold their own in the Assembly.
I suggest that we ought to ask ourselves whether our entry into the Community would not in fact, make a substantial difference to it. Would it be more or less acceptable to our friends in the Commonwealth and the world at large if we were in it? Our friends and allies seem to share the confidence of Her Majesty's Government that we can play an important and constructive part within the Community.
It seems a curious misreading of European politics to assume, as some do —my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) pointed this out —that all foreigners are hostile to us, or that they would think it in their interest, or indeed, be able, to unite or gang up against us. The truth is quite the contrary. No country in the world, and certainly none in Europe, has more friends than Britain. Because our policies are moderate and sensible, experience over many years has shown that, so far from our encountering monolithic hostility in Europe, on the great majority of issues most European States tend to agree with the British viewpoint.
We have common interests; they share our outlook in international affairs, and they have worked closely with us in W.E.U., the Council of Europe, the O.E.E.C, N.A.T.O., and the O.E.C.D. To pretend otherwise is to underestimate the strength of our political position in Europe and to do a great injustice to ourselves.
I have already spoken of sovereignty and I want to continue with that theme in connection with political organisation. Here, I shall return to what the right hon. Member for Belper was saying, and I hope that I shall be able to convey to him the meaning of political organisation as we understand it. A new political organisation in Europe is something quite separate, and there could be no question of our accepting any commitment in the field of political union without the authority of Parliament—as there could not in the case of the European Community. In it the problem of sovereignty will not arise to anything like the same extent as under the Treaty of Rome. The plans which the Six have been discussing for European political union do not provide for any sort of majority voting or centralised decisions such as are to be found in the Treaty.
Perhaps the word "union" has misled some people. Policy decisions would all, in fact, be taken unanimously by the member Governments, and there is no question of our being asked to accept any federal system. But if we join the political union we share in directing and exercising the immense influence which a united Europe would have in world affairs. We shall want to play our full part in the creation of a common European point of view on political questions in the widest sense as well as on the economic questions. Therefore, the decision of the Six to try to form a political union is, we think, to be welcomed, not regretted. We share their aims and look forward to being able to join with them in this new task.
It is often said that we have a choice between Europe and the Commonwealth. I thought that this rather hoary old chestnut had long since fallen to the ground. Provided that the outstanding points of controversy can be settled satisfactorily, the Commonwealth has much to gain from a successful outcome of the negotiations. By it Britain can bring Commonwealth countries into a fruitful relationship with the market, the capital resources, the skill and the political strength of Europe. If any hon. Members doubt this, or doubt that membership of the Common Market would strengthen Britain's position in the Commonwealth, I ask them to ponder this single figure. At present, India and Pakistan are receiving for their current development plans from the Common Market about twice as much aid as we are able to give them. Would we prefer to be associated with that effort or to be contrasted with it?
The art, I take it, of foreign policy consists in taking full account of the trend of the times in which we live and in turning it to advantage. The emergence of great centres of power—the United States, the Soviet Union, China and the European Community—is part of a long historical process. The tiny warring kingdoms of England were first united and ruled one thousand years ago from Winchester. Those who ignore this long historical process do so at their peril.
It was to confront this process that the founders of the European movement, among whom my right hon. Friends the Members for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) and Streatham (Mr. Sandys) were prominent, and which included many other hon. Members, set themselves a constructive task of organisation —nothing less than to use the vast resources of Europe in manpower, skill and materials, its cultural and spiritual values, for a co-operative effort for the common good.
I ask the House to consider the significance of the figures involved in this process. The population of the United Kingdom is 53 million; that of other member States of E.F.T.A. and associates is 41 million; that of the European Economic Community and associates is 230 million; and that of the Commonwealth and dependencies 670 million. Those are the populations which it is sought to bring into a har- monious and efficient economic system of interdependence in varying degrees. It is obvious that such a vast enterprise with nearly 1,000 million people within it must, if it succeeds, have profound consequences for the world as a whole.
Not at this hour.
It will provide the British people and the E.F.T.A. Powers with sufficient opportunities in manufacturing and trade in a vast market requiring increasing quantities of the goods they can produce. It will provide them with the means of dealing with a whole range of problems on a wider front in co-operation with others. It will enable us to avoid perpetuating in Africa the economic divisions of Europe, and thus greatly help in the development of that Continent.
In the provision of development assistance, it will associate us with vast resources of capital. In the wider field still, it will be the longest step yet taken to that world-wide freeing of trade channels which has been the established policy of all British and American Governments since the end of the war and without which neither we nor our friends can develop our potentialities to the fullest extent.
For some years the preponderance of power moved steadily from Europe to the United States, but that position is now challenged by the increased might of the Communist world. A successful outcome of these negotiations would reverse both processes. In the first place, it would restore a better balanced structure to the free world. President Kennedy has outlined this new structure in his recent imaginative and welcome proposals for an Atlantic partnership, inking the United States and a united Europe, and serving turn as "a nucleus for the union of all free men".
Secondly, the free world itself would be so fortified by such a reorganisation that there would be a decisive shift in the world balance of wealth and power in favour of the forces of freedom. Those are some of the prizes which can be won from a successful conclusion of the negotiations.
I have long believed that the key to a better structure of world politics lies, perhaps surprisingly, in Europe. These negotiations have revealed that this is the case. I have also long believed that the key to the structure of Europe is British participation in its affairs. Her Majesty's Government ask the House to accept that view.
Though we hardly seem to recognise the fact for what it is, our country is once again offered the key rôle in world politics. So far from the historic destiny of the British people being played out, new and great vistas of opportunity are opening before us. They are of a magnitude sufficient to absorb and expand the creative genius of our people over a century.
This is the challenge before the House and the country in the months immediately ahead of us. The issues transcend party division and I hope that the House will agree that they are of an order of importance rising far above considerations of party advantage. As we approach what may be the most fateful decisions ever to confront our country —and it was the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), who said that in his opinion it was the most important decision since 1066—Her Majesty's Government appeal to the House and the nation to discard present passions and historical prejudices.
I should like, if I may, to pay tribute to the eloquent and moving appeal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West to that effect. I do not see how it is possible to judge a matter of this—
I was saying that I do not see how a decision on this vital matter can be arrived at by the people of this country if they are confused by the passions and prejudices which seem to occupy the Press to such a large extent and which seem to be the motives of many people engaging in this controversy. I therefore join in my right hon. Friend's appeal for a calm estimate of what is here involved.
We can then judge not the aspect of this matter which happens to affect us directly, or to engage our emotions, but the broad general consequences for mankind as we in this House and our people face the greatest decision of our times.
The hon. Member cannot move that the Question be put after it has lapsed.
On a point of order. Is it not absolutely unprecedented in the history of the House of Commons that on a major issue of this character—Britain's negotiations with the Common Market—on which some Members wish to divide the House, that the proposition should be fairly put to you that the Question be put, that you should refuse this proposition on two occasions, and then allow the debate to be talked out by Government action? Surely this is an absolutely unprecedented action by a Speaker.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would respectfully draw your attention to the fact that on a previous occasion I was anxious that the House should have an opportunity of expressing its opinion by collecting the voices and dividing in the Lobbies, and that I was denied that opportunity.
On this occasion I think that one of my hon. Friends drew your attention, or the attention of the occupant of the Chair at the time, to the fact that there were a number of hon. Members who wished at this grave and critical moment to make it quite clear that they were against this whole proposition and wished to divide against it. So that there should be no doubt about our desire on this point, I ventured to claim to move that the Question be put at five minutes to ten, at three minutes to ten, and, in my opinion, just before ten o'clock.
On the first two occasions you declined to accept it. The hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary was clearly moving towards the end of his final peroration and it was perhaps common courtesy to allow him to finish, but courtesy is carried too far if it is carried to the point where the Members of the House of Commons, at a time when the Constitution and sovereignty of this country are about to be betrayed by Her Majesty's Government, without any mandate and without any authority—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]—are denied the opportunity of expressing our opinions in the Lobbies. This is absolutely disgraceful.
—for declining, after due consideration, to accept the Motion for the Closure in the circumstances of the manifestly rather truncated debate that we were able to have today. In refusing to accept the Closure, I am the servant of the House, as in all things, and should the House think it wrong I would desire it to deal with me appropriately, but I cannot permit discussion of the matter now.
I venture, very respectfully, to draw your attention to another fact, Mr. Speaker. I think that I was the first Member of the House to move in the House a ballotted-for Motion about the Common Market. On that occasion we had a very good debate, though I agree that it was limited to three hours. At the end of that three-hour debate, which was a fairly full one, you refused to allow a vote to be taken on the ground that the matter had not been sufficiently discussed.
It has been discussed time and time and time again since then, and on this occasion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] I protest most strongly about this. It is—
The hon. Member is almost always courteous to the Chair. He must be, not only on any personal basis but because it is necessary to do so in the interests of the office of the Chair. I hope that I have made it quite clear beyond any mistake or doubt that I cannot allow discussion on this matter now.
The hon. Member must resume his place. There is an appropriate procedure for dealing with me if I have done wrong. That can be adopted, and the matter can be discussed then, but my authority from the House does not allow me to permit an irregular discussion of the matter now.
Further to that point of order. May I say at once that nothing that I have said was intended to make any personal reflection, or to show any lack of courtesy—
Order. I entirely accept that from the hon. Member, but by persisting against my clear indication that I cannot permit a discussion of the matter now, and that I have no authority to do so, the hon. Member may get into a position of committing some disrespect, which I am sure he does not wish to create.
I think that you are aware, Mr. Speaker—as all of us are aware—that the procedure that you are inviting me to adopt cannot easily or conveniently be adopted at this time in the Session. There is no time for it— and you perfectly well know that there is no time for it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I want to take this opportunity of expressing, on the record of the House, my profound dissent from the decision which you have given. It is one that the House—
Order. I have a personal dislike of, and a slight boredom about, martyrdom.
I do not know what business it is of yours, Mr. Speaker, to talk about martyrdom in such circumstances. My hon. Friend was making a protest because he was denied, as others are being denied, the right to vote on a matter which we believe to be of absolutely major importance for the future of this country. We have been denied the right to vote, and you have said that you would not give your reasons, or explain your reasons, why you had reached this decision— although, in another aside, you did so, when you said that the reason why you had refused to accept by hon. Friend's Motion in these circumstances was that the debate had been truncated. I do not believe that that is a ground on which the House of Commons, departing for three months, should be denied the right to give its view whether these negotiations should go ahead. Therefore, I ask you to withdraw the reference you made to my hon. Friend.
I am getting a little weary of this. The House can deal with me if I am wrong. I desire the House— and I think it is right—to get on.
On a point of order. Lest any reader of these proceedings should be left under any misapprehension, I would like to place on record the fact that although the Government benches are fairly full, the Opposition benches consist of 30 Members, including seven Members of the Liberal Party.