Orders of the Day — European Communities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th October 1971.

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Photo of Mr Jasper More Mr Jasper More , Ludlow 12:00 am, 25th October 1971

I should like to tell the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) how much I—and I am sure many other hon. Members—have enjoyed listening to him. I at once relieve his mind on one point when I say that I do not think that I shall be one of the "backwoodsmen" accompanying him on Thursday night. He will have to go into that particular Division Lobby without me.

It is not a very pleasant experience for one who has served his party for seven years as a Whip to find himself at difference with his party on a policy issue. My views have been published, and I do not want to weary the House by expatiating on them, but as I have not for ten years had an opportunity to speak in a Common Market debate, I should like in four sentences to give my reasons.

First, I fear that what is now an economic Community will become a political Community. Secondly, I do not want this country to enter any Community, political or economic, from which the White Commonwealth countries and the United States are excluded. Thirdly, I believe it unwise for us to link ourselves permanently with continental countries which differ totally from us in their constitutions, their political systems, their laws and their national traditions. Fourthly, I am unwilling that we should sign a treaty which, by transferring any degree of law-making or decision-making to a European authority, is bound to derogate from the power and prestige of our Parliament and, in particular, of this House of Commons. You will have noted, Mr. Speaker, from what I have, said that I am not really disputing the terms one way or the other.

Coming rather recently from the Whip's Office, may I make a brief reference to the nature of the vote next Thursday? I was pleased to hear the right hon. Member for Leeds, West say that he at any rate had no intention of being whipped into any Lobby. The country and many people in the House will have regretted that the Labour Party has not been able to follow the lead of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister