On a point of order, Sir Robert. In fact, I wish to raise three separate points of order. Would it be for your convenience and that of the Committee if I went through them one by one?
My first point of order relates to the remaining Amendment to the Clause, No. 202. I apologise for not raising this matter with you yesterday, Sir Robert. It concerns the position of the following Amendments: No. 257, in page 2, line 23, at end add:
(5) This Act shall not come into force until all Commonwealth states have achieved satisfactory trading arrangements with the European Economic Community.
No. 258, in line 23, at end add:
(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in subsection (3) above, the United Kingdom shall not accede to any treaty which contravenes the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, nor shall any such treaty be regarded as one of the Community Treaties.
They were on the Notice Paper yesterday but were not selected. I suspect that they were in order but were not selected since they were in much the same terms as Amendment No. 202, which is the subject of our next debate. Would it be in order to discuss the subject of those Amendments—namely, that the Bill shall not come into force until certain things have happened elsewhere—in the debate on Amendment No. 202? If that were not in order, would it be in order to raise the subject dealt with in Amendment Nos. 257 and 258 in the general discussion on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill?"
On a point of order, Sir Robert. I am also hoping to engage the attention of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on this matter. You will recall that on 15th March we put questions to Ministers as to their intentions in handling the Schedules to the Clauses. These points were put in particular in relation to Clause 1. The right hon. and learned Gentleman gave a preliminary view at the time. I think it was the impression of all of us that his mind was not closed.
We have had the opportunity to reflect on the matter further. For my part, I think now that the case made on 15th March, to the effect that it would be to the convenience of the Committee in considering Clause 1 to be able to take Schedule 1 as soon as possible after reaching the end of Clause 1, appears even stronger than it did on 15th March.
In Clause 1 we are seeking to deal with what has been described as the "treaty complex", because the Clause defines the matters of the treaties to which we are acceding. But in Clause 1 only two of the main treaties are even mentioned. Very heavy reliance is placed upon Schedule 1. Even there, however, not all the treaties are spelt out. Nevertheless, it contains much more information about them than does Clause 1. As we come near to the end of Clause 1 I suggest that it would be artificial to complete our consideration of Clause 1 and then to have to wait for what could be a considerable time before we reached the Schedule. My view is strengthened by the fact that in Clause 2 we shall be dealing at once with rights, obligations and other matters which arise out of the treaties.
It would be of great advantage to have an opportunity of discovering and discussing what those treaties are before one moves on to discuss the rights, obligations, powers and other matters which flow from them. In addition, the elucidation and our understanding of Clause 2 are heavily dependent upon Schedule 2. I have given the right hon. and learned Gentleman some indication of this case, so it will come as no surprise to him. There is no particular advantage to either side in the course I suggest and I hope that he will be able to respond in a way which would be to the convenience of the Committee.
Further to that point of order, Sir Robert. I reinforce the plea made by the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore). I would found it on another ground as well. He is, of course, right in saying that the contents of Part I of Schedule 1 are so intimately bound up with what we have been discussing on Clause 1 that it would be a natural and inevitable transition to go on to consider Part I of the Schedule. But Part II of the Schedule is, in a logical sense, preliminary to the discussion of Clause 2, and the understanding and discussion of Clause 2 will be greatly facilitated if we have understood Part II of Schedule 1, otherwise we shall be in the position, almost, in which we should find ourselves approaching Clause 2 without having dealt with Clause 1, for in some sense Part II of Schedule 1 is in the same way preliminary and necessary to the understanding of Clause 2.
My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) said that it is purely interpretation. I do not think there is any dispute about whether it is interpretation. The question is at what stage in considering the Bill in Committee it would be most convenient to the Committee for this interpretation to be considered. After all Clause 1 consists of interpretation and it has been thought logical that we should consider Clause 1—the interpretation Clause—not at the end of the Bill, as is usual, but at the beginning. I am only exhorting my right hon. and learned Friend to follow in this respect even more closely his own logic in drawing up the Bill, whereby he put the contents of Clause 1 at the outset.
I think that my right hon. and learned Friend will find it just as much in his own interest for his desire to make progress as it would be in the interest of the Committee to table the necessary Motion for Schedule 1 to be taken after Clause 1, because otherwise, after the passage of time in the consideration of the intervening Clauses—if we complete that consideration—these matters, which are now fresh in our minds, and for many of which no long explanation is now required, will require to be exhumed and discussed anew, inevitably at much greater cost of time. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will be able to accede to the right hon. Gentleman's request.
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) for giving me notice that he wished to raise this question again. As the Committee knows, I considered the matter carefully before I made my statement on 15th March, and for the reasons I gave then there seems no overriding case for departing from the normal order by taking Schedule 1 immediately after Clause 1.
For one thing, one of the definitions in Schedule 1 refers in terms to Clause 2, and it could not be discussed except in that context. However, as I said on 15th March, I was willing to listen to the arguments. There are no set rules about this matter. I referred to the fact that in Finance Bills it frequently happens that appropriate Schedules are taken after the appropriate parts of the Bill.
I therefore have a suggestion to make which I hope will be acceptable to the Committee. Schedules 1 and 2 relate closely to Part I of the Bill because, like Part I, they are concerned with general provisions about Community definitions and subordinate legislation. It seems to me, therefore, a reasonable proposition, and, I think, meets the convenience of the Committee and the argument put forward, that we should take Schedules 1 and 2 after Part I. If that were generally acceptable, I should be happy to move the necessary Motion in due course.
I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman because the proposal that he is suggesting is undoubtedly an improvement on what might otherwise have been the case, when we would have gone through the whole of the Clauses before being able to reach the Schedules. But although this is an improvement, it falls rather short of what I still believe would be a better arrangement.
We have to face the fact that Clause 2 is very much the heart of the Bill and, with the best will in the world, it will engage the attention of the Committee for some time. The interval between consideration of Clause 1 and Schedule 1 on the present order will be considerable and, I believe, undesirable. In the end, it would undoubtedly cause us all considerable difficulty in having to refresh our memories and to go over old ground again. I concur in this matter with the right hon. Member for WolverHampton, South-West (Mr. Powell).
I do not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has faced my second point, which was that I find it difficult to envisage a serious discussion on this question of rights, obligations and so on in Clause 2 without having dealt with what are the treaties in which those rights and obligations are founded. We should be greatly helped if we could get the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who is flexible and sensible in these matters, to go a little further to meet the convenience of all of us.
One point which emerged in the small hours of this morning as a very important loose end of this discussion was what precisely are the treaties covered by paragraph 7 of Schedule 1. I do not want to raise this in any tendentious way at the moment. It emerged clearly from the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy that there are serious difficulties, and this was highlighted by the earlier speech of the Solicitor-General. Perhaps in the light of the submissions that have been made the right hon. and learned Gentleman will look again at this point.
We are grateful to him for going some of the way to meet us. If, when we come to the heart of the Bill, namely the discussion on Clause 2, when we are to consider the rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions arising from the treaties, there is still an area of doubt about what are the relevant treaties, that will be a very unsatisfactory way of proceeding.
I will certainly do my best to meet the wishes of the Committee but I think that I have put the matter fairly in the context of what we do with Finance Bills where similar considerations arise. The practice frequently is that to meet the convenience of the House or Committee Schedules are taken after the appropriate Part. The definition of "Enforceable Community right" is:
'Enforceable Community right' and similar expressions shall be construed in accordance with section 2(1) of this Act.
These matters are bound together.
As to the loose ends to which the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) refers, we cleared them up last night so far as they concerned amendments to the Bill. The Amendments were proposed and were not carried. I explained why it had been decided to rely upon the treaties which had already been published and the lists already provided in another form. That is perhaps a separate issue to which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite may wish to return later. I should have thought that the appropriate thing was to consider these matters at the end of our consideration of Part I. I will certainly bear these matters in mind.
I beg to move Amendment No. 202, in page 2, line 23, at end add:
(5) This Act shall not come into force unless Denmark, Norway, and the Republic of Ireland
ratify the Treaty of Accession, nor unless under terms of treaties with the Communities the non-acceding European Free Trade Association countries continue to enjoy free trade in industrial products, with the acceding European Free Trade Association countries'.
This Amendment provides that the Act would not come into force unless Norway, Denmark and Ireland finally decide to join the EEC and until industrial free trade area arrangements are made for the non-applicant countries. This Amendment would achieve one important result, namely that this country would not impair its international reputation by breaking faith with the other EFTA countries. At present the Government do not appear to care very much about this. The Amendment would ensure that Britain did not desert EFTA and join the EEC until Denmark, Norway and Ireland had decided by the democratic process of a referendum whether to join and until it was certain that we in the United Kingdom would not be compelled to raise industrial tariffs against those EFTA countries, notably Sweden, Switzerland, Austria and Finland, who have had the wisdom not to apply to join the EEC. It would also, incidentally, ensure that they would not raise their industrial tariffs against us.
We should remember in all this that it was we, the British, through a Government of which the Present Prime Minister was a member, who started EFTA in the first place. We persuaded the other EFTA nations, now numbering eight, to join in an experiment of industrial free trade which in due course succeeded beyond anyone's expectations. It is sometimes forgotten that we agreed in the London Declaration of June, 1961, not to join the EEC unless all EFTA members acted together. It is worth recalling the essential wording of the London Declaration of 1961 which said:
Ministers agreed that if such a course, negotiations by the EFTA countries for membership or association with the EEC should then appear possible, the members of EFTA should co-ordinate their actions, and remain united throughout the negotiations. Ministers resolved that the European Free Trade Association, the obligations created by the Convention between the members and the momentum towards integration within the Associaion would be maintained at least until satisfactory arrangements had been worked out in negotiations to meet the various legitimate interests of all members of EFTA and thus enable them all to participate from the same date in an integrated European market.
Although the other EFTA members were privately pressurised—I think that is a fair way to put it—by the British Foreign Office in 1967 to water down that undertaking, they did so most unwillingly and contrary to their better judgment. It is not a very creditable record from the British point of view, any more than is the treatment of the Commonwealth countries in these negotiations. Throughout this story, it should be made known, the British Foreign Office, in my opinion through its mistaken tactics and failure to understand the real issues at stake, repeatedly played a part in all of this which was not merely somewhat discreditable to our reputation with EFTA countries but damaging to British interests in the ultimate.
In the years from 1966 onwards Sweden and Switzerland notably, with support from most of the other EFTA countries, wished as a first priority to strengthen EFTA into an effective free trade group which could in due course negotiate from strength with the EEC to achieve a genuine free trading, democratic Western Europe without infringing anyone's national independence. That would have been the wisest course for us. In the event, at one EFTA conference after another we saw the British Foreign Office not merely seeking to stifle these efforts and to substitute on the agenda as a first priority an ill-thought-out unilateral rush into the EEC by the United Kingdom but also doing its best to conceal from the public here and in the other EFTA countries what was happening. It even pressurised Switzerland and Sweden and the rest to withhold information from their people. Indeed, if it had not been for those efforts by the British Foreign Office I believe that a solution which would have been in British interests, the strengthening of EFTA, could easily have gone ahead in those years.
One of the worst pieces of misrepresentation which one heard, and which one still hears today, was the pretence that EFTA would somehow be broken up if the United Kingdom did not apply to join the EEC. That was a straight lie, and a particularly poisonous one in the circumstances. The truth was that, had it not been for the British Foreign Office's mistaken tactics, EFTA would not merely have continued but would have been greatly strengthened, as the Swedish and Swiss Governments and others urged throughout. Norway would never have joined the EEC unless Britain and Denmark did so, and Denmark, the one EFTA country which, for economic reasons we all well know, did wish to join the EEC, always made it clear, when challenged at EFTA conferences, that she would not join unless Britain did so.
It is, therefore, certain that, if the British Government had not gone back on the undertakings in the London Agreement, EFTA would have prospered and would have been strengthened to the benefit of all of us; and in my opinion, though, naturally, this is not so certain, real negotiations between equals would probably have been possible between EEC and EFTA. Indeed, never since the days of Neville Chamberlain has so much damage, and such gratuitous damage, been done to British interests by British foreign policy itself. This story ended in the so called Soames affair when the free trade area offer was made to this country and turned down without even serious consideration. The fact is that the EFTA system as it was developing in 1967 was a system wholly in Britain's economic interest and wholly in accordance with the political sentiments of the British people.
While we are discussing EFTA, it is, I think, worth considering just for the moment the pre-eminent advantages which it had for us, and indeed, could still have for us—for us as a world trading, democratic nation with a standard of living which is dependent on free imports of food and raw materials. EFTA had become in less than 10 years a group of nine nations with a population of 100 million and complete industrial free trade between all the members. Our trade with the other EFTA members had doubled or more than doubled in those 10 years, and our total trade with EFTA and the Commonwealth countries together represented, and still does today, about 45 per cent. of our total trade, both imports and exports, compared with some 20 percent. to 21 per cent. which we do with the EEC. Indeed, it is interesting that in the last year, comparing 1971 with 1970, despite all the talk about joining EEC, our exports to the sterling area in that period rose by 20 per cent. and our exports to the EEC by only 10 per cent. Therefore, in discussing EFTA trade and Commonwealth trade we are talking not merely about a very important but about a growing proportion of our export trade.
These advantages we enjoyed, and could enjoy, without having to suffer any of the horrors of the common agricultural policy of the EEC, which must burden our balance of payments, and, incidentally, redistribute income in this country still further from the poor to the rich, and force us to erect trade barriers against the Commonwealth, with damage to world trade as a whole. All these disadvantages could have been avoided by our remaining a member of EFTA and taking the steps which were offered to us to strengthen it.
I would add, what, I think, hon. Members on this side of the Committee in particular will notice, that one of the consequences of deserting EFTA and joining the EEC, which we could have avoided, is a further transfer of national income within this country back from the poorer section to the richer, which a recent, excellent analysis of this problem, an analysis which hon. Members can find set out in the Financial Times of 13th April, has shown must inevitably follow from the system of food taxation and value-added tax which would be forced on us if we were to join EEC. For that reason, I say in passing, it seems to me that anyone who simultaneously advocates greater social equality in this country and joining EEC is either very disingenuous or singularly ill informed.
Moreover in addition to those economic advantages, membership of EFTA did not require any subjection of the British Parliament to the bureaucratic decrees of the Commission or Council of Ministers in Brussels, and subjecting our sovereignty and independence to an un-elected body over which the British electorate have no control. No such supra national arrangements existed in EFTA. All that, had we decided to follow the alternative course, would have been as totally unnecessary as it is obnoxious to sincere believers in parliamentary government in this country. EFTA gives the enormous advantage of a full and free-industrial market without any infringement of sovereignty or parliamentary rights.
By remaining members of EFTA, not merely could we have retained all those political and economic gains but we could also have avoided paying the annual financial tribute which we shall have to pay to the EEC if we join on the present terms—probably about £500 million a year. No such tribute is payable in EFTA from one member to another. This is yet another huge advantage of the arrangements in EFTA.
It is a remarkable fact that the total EFTA administrative machine, which has achievd 100 per cent. industrial free trade in less than 10 years between nine nations with a population of 100 million people, costs financially only about one-half of the EEC's propaganda budget alone, which has been used, as the Committee knows, in recent years—that is to say, the EEC's propaganda budget—not merely for lavish entertainment in Brussels and elsewhere, for support of innumerable so-called external briefing officers in that city and the dissemination of glossy pamphlets far and wide but also for the payment of what are known as retaining fees to selected top people in Western Europe in business and industry and communications and public life. These heavy burdens and dubious practices we could also have avoided had we remained an active and loyal member of EFTA.
Not merely that, but we should have avoided the breach with the Commonwealth and the interruption to Commonwealth trade which Government policy has forced upon us. The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) frowns in a puzzled fashion, but surely he understands that membership of EFTA does not require us to raise tariffs or levies, as we shall have to do if we join the EEC, against either developed or developing Commonwealth countries. We should not have to destroy the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and we should be allowed to go on trading freely with New Zealand, Australia, India, Pakistan and other Commonwealth countries.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that none of the remarkably valuable opportunities for Commonwealth countries which our entry into the Commonwealth Market will give—and which are so valuable that three Commonwealth countries joined in association even before we became members of the Common Market—would be available to them were we merely to remain within EFTA? Is it not therefore understandable that those Commonwealth countries have enthusiastically supported our efforts to join this great trading Community?
If the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) looks into the matter more carefully he will find that that is complete nonsense. If as the result of joining the EEC on these terms we incur an enormous balance of payments deficit, which is what is now in prospect, our ability to help the developing Commonwealth country, either by aid or by importing their goods, will be heavily reduced. That is likely to be one of the main effects on Commonwealth countries, but I must not be led too far down that path.
In answer to the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer), did not the three Commonwealth countries—the East African Economic Union—enter into an association agreement with the EEC as a matter of self-defence because the Common Market since it first started has operated by erecting tariff barriers against imports from developing countries and then relaxing those tariff barriers as the price of the economic imperialism of giving big opportunities to the exporters of the Common Market countries? These East African countries had no option but to enter into an association agreement as the price of ensuring that they can continue to export what they were exporting before the Common Market started.
What the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) does not understand is that if the Common Market exists, all sorts of countries will make trade agreements with it, as they are making trade agreements with the Soviet Union, China, the United States and every other large trading bloc. That proves nothing more than that those blocs are in existence and that trading arrangements have to be made. The hon. Gentleman surely cannot deny that if we break up EFTA altogether in order to join the EEC, tariffs and levies will go up between Britain and many Commonwealth countries, both developed and undeveloped. I should like to look at what the situation has become between ourselves and our EFTA partners, because the Committee and the public have given too little attention to this. As part of the propaganda which we have experienced there has been a persistent attempt to conceal from the British public the real dilemma which faces us and always has faced us. If we joined the EEC the inescapable dilemma was that either we broke up the EFTA free trading group, which we had ourselves created, and re-erected industrial tariffs against the non-applicant members, which would have been a damaging and deplorable thing to do, or an industrial free trade area would have to be formed between the non-applicant members and the enlarged EEC, in which case it would be proved that the Western European industrial free trade area was a possible project after all—and it is indeed now being created. That is the solution which would have given us all the advantages without the burden of joining the EEC.
We know from the latest reports that this industrial free trade area is to be formed as a result of negotiations between the EEC and the non-applicant countries. Those countries—Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Portugal and Iceland—are to receive all the benefits of an industrial free trade area with the rest of EFTA, EEC and ourselves without the burdens of the common agricultural policy or the sacrifice of parliamentary rights to Brussels institutions.
Had it not been for the extraordinary policy that we have followed, we also could have had all these advantages and avoided the burdens. As it is, if we join on these terms the British public alone of the 15 nations involved will pay the full price. Norway, Denmark and Ireland are not great food importers and might therefore gain rather than lose from the common agricultural policy's financial contribution. The non-applicant countries would neither pay anything into these Brussels funds nor sacrifice any parliamentary control over their own internal affairs. The British public, almost alone, would pay a huge economic price and sacrifice control of their own affairs.
Of all the solutions which we might have found, this is the worst possible for British interests, both in the short and the long term. The latest offer made to the non-applicant countries shows that, if we had played our cards properly and shown a little more wisdom and foresight, we could have had, and still can if we reject these terms, the solution that would have suited us best of all—that is to say, an industrial free trade area without any restrictions in trading with the rest of the world. This is the extraordinary situation into which the policy of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Office in recent years has led this country. It means, in effect, that the ordinary British population—the bulk of which is wage-earning—through food taxes largely and through value-added tax, will, almost alone, have to bear the cost of inefficient agriculture in France and Italy and also, incidentally, the rampant tax evasion in those two countries.
The £500 million which we should have to pay yearly to agricultural funds represents about one-half of the income tax revenue lost in France alone, according to official French estimates, as a result of income tax evasion. This is one of the realities of what joining the EEC on these terms would mean.
Having got into this situation, the least we can do is to keep some residual faith with our EFTA partners by insisting that at least they are granted the industrial free trade area status which we might have had and that new tariffs are not re-erected between us, and at the same time make it perfectly clear, as does the Amendment, that we in the United Kingdom will not ourselves accept this bargain until the other three applicant countries have decided to join by a process of popular consent, which is so much more democratic than any which the Government apparently believe the British electorate deserves.
I shall not follow the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) in his wide-ranging Second Reading speech on the Amendment, but will relate my remarks to the many relevant points which he made on Amendment No. 202.
The first point I wish to make concerns the one matter on which I agree with the right hon. Gentleman; namely, the efficiency of EFTA and the way in which it has worked. It has been a splendid example of co-operation in Europe. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the low cost of the organisation, and I take this opportunity of congratulating the Secretary-General and his staff on their extremely efficient work over the years. They have carried out a splendid task and should be congratulated.
I must point out that there is hardly anything else in the right hon. Gentleman's remarks with which I agree. As the Committee knows, I have the good fortune on occasions to spend some time in attending various meetings in Europe and in meeting colleagues from the EFTA countries at EFTA meetings and at conferences in the Council of Europe.
The right hon. Gentleman and I do not live in the same world or Europe. We obviously do not meet the same people or hear the same views. The right hon. Gentleman's Europe is a Europe of 20 years ago and not a Europe of the 1970s.
I say, with no disrespect to the right hon. Gentleman, that he is perhaps too blinded by his antagonism to the general concept of joining Europe to listen to what is said in Europe both by European politicians and by the people of Europe today. They certainly would not agree with his view about their future in Europe.
This Amendment divides itself into two halves, the first dealing with applicant countries. Here the right hon. Gentleman said that we should not take any action until the three other applicant countries have decided to go in, in other words, he said that we should hang on their decision, we should wait until they had taken a referendum, and we should then decide whether to join. This is a nonsense. We are the most important country outside the Common Market, and the applicant countries are looking to us for a lead. They look to hon. Members in this House and to this country to take a decision as to whether it is in the interests of this country and of EFTA to join the Common Market.
I ask the Committee to remember the reasons for the setting up of EFTA in the first place. It was set up following the break-down of the original attempt to join the Community in the late 1950s. The organisation of EFTA was set up as a temporary measure to tide us over until we came to an arrangement to join the Community. Now, thank goodness, the moment has come when we shall be able to terminate the temporary phase—which in my view has lasted too long—and join the European Economic Community.
Does the hon. Gentleman recall that the passage which I quoted from the London declaration clearly said that, although this was the ultimate objective, it was agreed that all EFTA members would act together and that nobody would join the EEC until a satisfactory arrangement had been made for all—which is precisely what the Amendment would secure?
I am about to come to that point. I am glad it has been reiterated by the right hon. Gentleman. Originally the right hon. Gentleman said that we were breaking faith and that the Foreign Office had been taking action at conferences and meetings in this context over a number of years. This is not the view of the other applicant countries. It is not the view of the Norwegians, the Danes or the Irish—[Interruption.] They are not applicant countries, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and I will come to the Swiss, the Portuguese and the Finns shortly.
I do not believe we have broken faith. The London declaration clearly said that when terms could be negotiated freely we should act in concert, and this is exactly what we are doing. The Committee knows that each country has its own methods of approaching these matters. We have our parliamentary procedures, and other countries adopt different methods. We shall be taking these decisions between now and 1st January, 1973. It has been clearly stated that if any succeeding country fails to ratify the treaty by 1973, the treaty will nevertheless enter into force, and everybody has appreciated that this will be the procedure.
I find nothing which has occurred in the past few months which has either damaged or broken faith with our partners in EFTA. This also goes for the other non-applicant countries of EFTA, and the Swiss and the Swedes are now looking towards the European Economic Community for a much closer association in every possible way.
The right hon. Gentleman made a further contradictory point. He first said that the non-applicant countries—the Swedes, the Swiss, the Portuguese and the Finns, to mention the main countries—were either negotiating for or had succeeded in negotiating a virtual industrial free trade area for most industrial goods with the EEC as it will be when enlarged. Yet in another part of his speech the right hon. Gentleman said that in joining the EEC we would be setting up vast industrial barriers between ourselves and our previous EFTA partners. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. This will not be the case, as he well knows.
With respect, that was the right hon. Gentleman's second point. The first point he made was that when we go into the Community on1st January, 1973, barriers will be erected between us and our former partners in EFTA in respect of trade in industrial goods. But this is not so, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. Those former partners will have completed negotiations for an industrial free trade area between them and the EEC.
I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the perfect solution for this country would be to join in a free trade association and then for us to negotiate with the EEC. However, we would then have no control, no voice, indeed no say whatever in the policies which govern the EEC. We should be sitting outside the EEC, we would have no voice in its councils, we would have no member of the Council of Ministers, nobody in the European Parliament and none of our nationals would be working in the Commission or as commissioners—we would have no say whatever.
It may be that the right hon. Gentleman does not like this situation. I feel that his hatred of the Common Market has blinded him to what is happening in Europe and to what people are saying.
The hon. Gentleman is making a point which was not part of Government or pro-Market propaganda before the vote on 28th October. He is saying now that we are being asked to pay a price of several hundred million pounds for the advantages of membership of the EEC which previously in Government propaganda had been regarded as the price for the economic advantages of a large industrial free trade area. Now it is pointed out that we could have had these advantages without paying the price, and the hon. Gentleman is now saying that we are paying the price to have a political influence. Surely that is a different issue which has not been considered fully in this House.
That was not entirely what I said. I do not believe, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not believe, that joining the EEC is purely an economic concept. In my view it is not and never has been. If we join in an industrial free trade area, we get some of the benefits, but we are at the mercy of those who control and make policies. We are there by courtesy of our agreement with them. The hon. Gentleman appears to be confining membership of the EEC solely to the industrial side. But other advantages will accrue to us. It would be out of order if I were to discuss them now. The Committee has discussed some of them in past days, and undoubtedly they will come up again when we consider Amendments to other Clauses of the Bill.
I turn now to the second part of this Amendment, which concerns the non-applicant countries. As I said to the right hon. Member for Battersea, North, their view has changed. I have been surprised and gratified to find that one's Swedish colleagues at EFTA meetings and at the Council of Europe are coming more and more to see the advantages of working more closely with Europe from the point of view of their own country. I visited Sweden last autumn. I am afraid that I found a rather unhappy state of affairs, and it is only right to express anxiety about it. Although the industrial free trade agreements which may be negotiated with the EEC for the Swedes will cover most of their existing products, one problem which has not been solved yet concerns Swedish timber exports. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will do his best with his colleagues in the Council of Ministers to solve that difficulty.
In the case of the Swiss, we have perhaps made a small error, though not because the Swiss are antagonistic. They are not. However, I hope that our cooperation and collaboration with the Swiss in industrial, political and financial matters will be a little closer than it has been in recent months. A few days ago I had the honour of interviewing Herr Stoppe, the president or the governor of the Federal Bank of Switzerland, and we discussed questions of monetary co-operation in Europe. I was very surprised to learn that he had not been very closely involved in the negotiations between the EEC and ourselves over the narrowing of margins of fluctuation between EEC currencies and other matters concerning monetary co-operation. I hope that this will be put right in the near future.
As for our Portuguese allies, although agreement has been reached on the industrial side I hope that there will be some agreement with the EEC about the access to EEC countries of imports from Portugal's colonial territories and of her tomato exports.
I can find nothing to support in this Amendment. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North, basically was repeating his Second Reading speech, to which we listened with great interest, against the concept of joining the Common Market. He reinforced his argument by allegations of broken faith by the Government and the Foreign Office with our EFTA partners. However, that is not how they see it. They are keen, if not enthusiastic, that this country should take the lead in making the decision to join the EEC. If we do, in my view there is no doubt that the other applicant countries will follow that lead with enthusiasm.
I cannot support the second part of the Amendment either. In the circumstances, what is being done for the non-applicant countries is the best possible, though I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will remember my few cautionary words. Having said that, I find it impossible to support the Amendment.
The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) was a little less than accurate in dealing with the history of the European Free Trade Association. He made the cardinal mistake when he said that the formation of EFTA was necessary for Britain in order that we might pave the pathway to Brussels. That is not my reading of the events at the end of the 1950s or the movement into the 1960s which brought EFTA into being. If the hon. Gentleman reads the speeches of his right hon. Friend who was responsible for the formation of EFTA, he will realise that not only is he inaccurate historically but he is misreading the whole concept of European unity both at that time and in today's context.
In some way in the course of his speech he stumbled on this matter of European unity. That is what makes this Amendment so important in the context of British entry. If we reject the Amendment We shall divide Europe and not unite it. It is no use talking about joining a vast new market in Europe of about 300 million people if we leave out countries like Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and the other members of EFTA. The hon. Gentleman does not agree with me. However he should be consistent about membership of the EEC. Once we are inside those tariffs walls, all the other countries which have not made application to join are outside them. As a result, after 1st January, 1973, we shall have two Europes instead of one.
Has not the hon. Gentleman understood the point made by his right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North? The non-applicant countries are negotiating an industrial free trade area for themselves. For industrial goods there will be no barriers. Those countries will not participate in the other advantages, but they will have that one, which is, after all, the nub of the existing European Free Trade Association Agreement.
That proves my point about the hon. Gentleman's speech. Not only has he misunderstood the EFTA position; he has misunderstood the points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay).
Let us consider first the applicant EFTA countries—Norway, Denmark and Ireland—and the importance that the Prime Minister attaches to them. So concerned was the right hon. Gentleman about the guarantees that Norway was asking for in December last year on agriculture and fisheries that he thought it necessary to chide the Norwegians about the fact that in their negotiations they were asking for more safeguards, more guarantees and better conditions than his own Government were prepared to seek.
If there are differences on the road to Brussels between Norway, an applicant country, and the Prime Minister of Britain, how much greater are the difficulties which will arise in Europe when we find ourselves with a divided EFTA—some inside in the Community and some outside.
The Prime Minister's letter to Trygve Bratteli was described in The Times of 4th December, 1971, under the headline,
Norway suspects Britain of double game".
I am not keen on The Times interpretation of what the Prime Minister said, but, reading his letter to Trygve Bratteli, I cannot but be impressed by what the Prime Minister has to say to his Norwegian counterpart in the concluding paragraph of his letter:
If your negotiators are able to show this limited degree of flexibility and willingness to accommodate the EEC on points today, I believe that an agreement is within reach, which in a satisfactory way accommodates all our important interests. In the contrary case I fear that the pressure of ourselves and the other candidate countries to get an independent agreement without Norway will be very strong. I would very much regret it if such a situation is created.
What were the British Government asking the Norwegians to concede to make our own agreement on conditions look better in this House and in the country? In another brief paragraph—I will not read any more from the Norwegian letter at this stage—the point that the Prime Minister makes to his Norwegian counterpart is stated as follows:
The other point is that your negotiators in Brussels today"—
the Norwegian negotiators—
also should show some willingness to accept a six mile fisheries limit for a small part of Norway's Southern coast
We know what the Chancellor of the Duchy told us about the difficulties of agreement on our own fisheries position regarding the six and twelve mile limits. If we leave the Amendment out of the European Communities Bill we shall not only damage our own interests in Europe but we shall build up barriers in Europe which will make the enlarged European Economic Community a complete negation of the supposed united Europe which the Community set out to produce.
As many of us have argued over a long period the danger of the application to join the EEC, whether it be in the 1961–62 period, in 1967 or in this latest application, is that it stands a greater chance of dividing than of uniting Europe, because the difficulties which will arise for us and the other members of the enlarged Community following 1st January, 1973, will be enormous.
The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West put his finger on the problem. The non-applicant countries of EFTA will not have reached accommodation with the Community by the end of the transitional periods on fisheries and matters of that kind on which arrangements have been made between ourselves and the EEC.
The hon. Gentleman is talking only about Sweden. There is no question of any fisheries matters concerning Portugal, and Switzerland has none at all. Sweden in this particular context is content with the existing setup.
The hon. Gentleman is entitled to present his argument in his own way. The Amendment deals with applicant and non-applicant EFTA countries. If he cites Portugal on fisheries, he must also include Ireland and Finland. The question of fisheries is a matter not only for Norway but for the non-applicant members of EFTA.
I want now to deal with another alliance in Europe which is being broken up as a result of the methods used by our negotiators in applying for entry to the EEC. Prior to the formation of EFTA and all through the long years when EFTA existed, there was within the framework and structure of EFTA a Nordic alliance which kept together the countries of northern Europe. That alliance was based on the old Hansa League of past centuries. The Nordic alliance, which had a very vital part not only in the present day move towards unity in Europe but in past unities, will also be interfered with and be in danger on the day we step inside the EEC, and particularly on the day, if that day comes, when Norway's and Denmark's applications have been ratified.
The hon. Gentlemen is not right. He must not mislead the Committee. The Nordic alliance or the Scandinavia alliance of Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark has, at the request of the Finnish Government, been put into cold storage. I am glad that he has referred to the Icelandic fisheries matter. That has been referred to the International Court at The Hague for settlement. That is why I excluded it from anything that I said.
The hon. Gentleman must not confuse the issue. We are dealing with the strict limits of this Amendment. The hon. Gentleman mentioned that the alliance has been put into cold storage, but the simple facts are that, application having been made and that application having been accepted by the EEC, the enlarged Community becomes a reality on a certain date. On that date, the Community having become enlarged, the question of other European alliances ceases to exist.
I should like to finish this point. I am not refusing to give way, but I want to elaborate this point.
If, in the course of subsequent negotiations between the non-applicant countries of EFTA they decide on some new grouping and arrangement, then possibly all will be well. But it is not correct for the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West to say that on the day that we enter the EEC all the existing European alliances will remain. We have to face this fact. It is tragic to find that our leading figures in the negotiations which have taken place have not really faced this mater at all.
I cannot believe that the hon. Gentleman meant what he said; namely, that as a result of enlarging the Community other European alliances come to an end. Such is not the case at all.
The applicant countries of the Nordic alliance are Norway and Denmark. That leaves Sweden, Iceland and Finland. Let us take a much greater authority than myself on the question of a united Europe. Let us get back to the Prime Minister's letter to Trygve Bratteli. The right hon. Gentleman indicated in his letter the danger of dividing opinions among the applicant countries. He said to his Norwegian counterpart:
However, I am seriously concerned about the effects of drawn-out negotiations in this field. As we both need to obtain a satisfactory agreement, I do know from my own experience that a firm stand on a stiff attitude may give a negative result if it is kept up for too long, particularly if there are principles concerned which the Common Market regards as important.
If we are going to talk about European unity, and if we are going to go in on the basis of the present Bill without the Amendment, the interpretation of the Prime Minister's letter can mean only that so long as we are prepared to give in to the demands of the EEC in the negotiations entry will be a simple matter. Entry as it affects the EFTA partnership needs much more serious examination than this Government or the Governments of any of the other applicant countries have been prepared to give it. We have been led by propaganda to believe that the EEC is identified with Europe and that we are entering Europe and not only the EEC, but the fact is that while we are enlarging the Community we are at the same time dividing Europe.
Yesterday we talked about this Amendment and called it the EFTA Amendment. I notice that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who have talked about the Amendment have all talked about EFTA and nothing else. I tabled Amendments which, unfortunately, the Chair was not able to accept. They questioned the rightness of putting Ireland and the EFTA countries in together, because their positions are entirely different. The Irish Republic is not a member of EFTA, and different considerations apply to it.
If either of the two EFTA applicant countries does not find that the consent of its people is given freely to accession—a choice which the Government last night determined to deny to the British people—certain important considerations will follow, as was so accurately stated by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). After all, the right hon. Gentleman ought to know because when we first applied in 1962 we made it a firm condition that we were not going to desert our EFTA partners, and it was Lord George-Brown who, about five years ago at an EFTA conference, broke all that up and said that we would consult but that we had abandoned the pledge that had been given previously.
I have the quotation here. It was announced in the last week of April, 1967, and the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) made the announcement on 2nd May, 1967. He announced it when he was examined by the present Prime Minister. He said that they had changed the pledge about EFTA.
If one of the referenda were to go wrong, that would place in jeopardy the whole of that policy on trade liberalisation which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary brought to a successful conclusion in 1959 in the Stockholm Treaty. In that treaty we undertook to do all in our power to avoid a new division of Europe.
The position of Ireland is different. The only effect of a referendum going wrong in Ireland would be that the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement would no longer be in existence. That is a possibility which many, certainly in the agriculture industry, would view with a certain amount of equanimity. It has always been felt that certain disadvantages flowed from that treaty. There would also be the possibility of some alteration in the free movement of labour from Ireland to England. Again, certain considerations might make that not unattractive, when unemployment is as high as it is now.
These two subjects should not be joined together in the Amendment. Having said that, I must say that I appreciate the difficulties in which the right hon. Member for Battersea, North was involved. I suggest that what we are looking at in the Amendment is a hypothetical case. As the Bill is drafted, one has to look at this hypothesis, and this covers not merely the question of EFTA and our trade agreement with the Irish Republic but also the whole question of the Accession Treaty, and I should like my right hon. and learned Friend to tell us what the answer is.
Last night we debate the Accession Treaty. If one of these referenda were to go wrong, the whole of the Accession Treaty would have to be looked at again and altered. There are such matters to be considered as the share of the financial contribution and the question of the voting powers. It would be necessary for there to be a complete amendment of the Accession Treaty, and I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will address himself to this hypothesis because, whereas one normally says that something is hypothetical and need not arise, owing to the structure of the Bill and the different methods for enabling the Parliaments and peoples of Britain, Ireland, Norway and Denmark to give their full-hearted consent the question has to be faced.
If one of the applicant countries drops out it will not be the same enlarged Community, but it will also require certain alterations to that part of Clause 1 and the First Schedule that we have dealt with and will be dealing with in future.
What will be the position if either Norway or Denmark fails to give its consent by referendum? Will those countries go back to the position of being non-applicant countries, enjoying the trade liberalisation which has been obtained by Sweden and Switzerland, as my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) suggested, or will there have to be fresh negotiations throwing the whole matter of non-applicant and application-refused countries into the melting pot?
It is clear that the Bill must take cognisance of this possibility. It is not for me to say whether the Amendment is correctly drafted. There must be wording in the Measure to deal with the contingency of one of the applicant countries not ratifying, either because of a referendum result or because it fails to get parliamentary consent.
I had thought that the non-applicant countries would continue to enjoy free trade in industrial products. This led me to believe that the second part of the Amendment was not as important as the first. However, having always been worried not merely about free trade in industrial products but about the whole issue of Community preference, I must now ask whether the non-applicant EFTA countries will be shut out of their old EFTA partners' markets.
I was interested to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West describe the speech of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North as a Second Reading speech. However, my hon. Friend himself went on to make a powerful, broad and wide-ranging speech which, allowing for interventions, was long enough to be called a Second Reading contribution.
It was the vision of a liberalisation of trade throughout Europe that was the object of the British Government and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in the 1959 negotiations. That vision has always seemed to me to represent the right future for Britain. I cannot see how we can adopt an open seas policy along with membership of the EEC. We started the wider liberalisation of trade in EFTA, and, in my view, we should have proceeded with it throughout Europe and later throughout the world. This is why I have always felt that there is a better alternative than that proposed in the Bill.
As I follow the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) in his devotion to the cause of wider international free trade, I ask him to accept that I have always been a prominent supporter of EFTA and an extension of that concept.
In my view EFTA should not have remained primarily concerned with industrial products but should have taken a lead in promoting—the Common Market has conspicuously failed to do this—world commodity agreements, and particularly agreements covering agricultural commodities. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will find much with which to disagree in my remarks.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) pointed out, the Amendment is in two distinct parts. The first relates to Denmark, Norway and the Republic of Ireland, which are co-applicant countries with us, and says that until and unless those countries ratify the Treaty of Accession, we should not finalise our arrangements to join the Common Market.
What will be the position if one or a combination of those three applicant countries decides not to enter with us? If the Republic of Ireland decides in its wisdom, as it is perfectly entitled to do, not to enter, then, as the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton indicated, there will be considerable difficulties over, for example, the present Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement.
This Agreement relates to a number of matters, but principally to agricultural trade between our two countries. We benefit a great deal from it, for I understand from the latest statistics that the Republic of Ireland is the third or fourth best customer for our exports. This is, therefore, not a matter to be taken lightly.
If the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement did not continue, because we decided to join the EEC and the Republic of Ireland did not, what would be the position? I agree that, from the agricultural point of view, some farmers here might be pleased. But the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) will be aware that in the part of the country which he represents—indeed, in the North and East—a number of livestock producers would not be pleased because they would be deprived of Irish store cattle. Alternatively, they would be able to import them only at a considerably higher price, allowing for the substantial Common Market frontier levies which would inevitably apply if we were in the EEC and the Republic of Ireland was not.
If our livestock industry were deprived of these store cattle or if the price made their importation virtually impossible, that would have an adverse effect on our livestock industry. This is the most important part of the agriculture industry, which in turn is, in my view, the most important and valuable industry in Britain, That, in turn, would give the lie to the Government's claim about the expansion opportunities available to our agricultural producers from our joining the Community. One cannot produce livestock without readily available store cattle. It is, therefore, vital for us to ensure that we do not join unless and until the Republic of Ireland comes in with us.
Let us next consider the position if either Denmark or Norway, or both, decided in their wisdom, which they are perfectly entitled to do, not to join the Common Market. This issue will be in the balance until some time in the autumn. In the event of Denmark deciding not to join, one can be certain that Norway would stay out, being the smaller of the Nordic partners in the Nordic economic union.
On the other hand, if Norway turned down the Common Market, that would impose a severe strain on the move towards Scandinavian economic union, which has been proceeding mainly under the shield of EFTA but which is, nevertheless, an independent and worthwhile movement in its own right. In that event the Danes would be severely torn between their loyalty towards Scandinavian co-operation and their economic desire not to be separated from their two major export markets, namely, West Germany and the United Kingdom. I do not know what decision Denmark will take in such circumstances but certainly we should be imposing very great strains on that country in deciding what to do. Here again, if we have any affection and loyalty towards the EFTA countries, we ought to be in a position to say that those of us who are applicants should all go in together or not at all.
If Denmark and Norway did not go in, we should lose—in the opinion of some sections of our agricultural industry, this would be no great loss—the Danish bacon exports, or those would have to come in under the Community tariffs and to bear a very heavy rate of duty at the frontier. There would also be difficulties for Denmark, one of the world's greatest agriculture exporters, in their dairy industry, in particular, butter and cheese. There would be difficulties for Norway in frozen fish exports to Britain.
What is being proposed at present, both in the Amendment and in the negotiations, is that these countries should retain their traditional trading advantages which have grown up in the last 10 years under EFTA with the United Kingdom, but that they should have an industrial free trade area. If Denmark stays out, an industrial free trade area in itself is not sufficient, as about 35 to 40 per cent. of Danish exports are agricultural, Denmark being a very efficient agricultural producer. The loss to the British consumer would also be incalculable, as we should have to replace the meat and dairy products which we had lost from Denmark by much higher cost Community imports.
For the bacon industry in this country—I speak feelingly on this—it is very unlikely in the foreseeable future, either in the transitional period or thereafter, that our pig industry would have sufficient confidence to increase production by the 50 per cent. necessary if we were to replace the volume of pig meat imports coming into Britain in the form of bacon hams and so on. There would be disadvantages to the Danes, to the Norwegians and to this country if we were to enter the Common Market without Denmark or Norway.
It may well be claimed that some of the disadvantages would be overcome if the other three applicant countries decided not to enter but still managed to obtain free trade area arrangements. But these free trade area arrangements would not cover agricultural products. Indeed, EFTA itself was not an agreement for an agricultural free trade area; it was an industrial free trade area. Nevertheless, during the 12years of valuable co-operation between EFTA countries, bilateral agreements between various member States grew up to extend slowly the sphere of free trade to various agricultural products, with appropriate safeguards. Those safeguards would no longer apply if we were inside the Common Market and the applicant countries were outside because we should then be subject to the common agricultural policy, and, as the Government have found to their cost during the course of the negotiations, the common agricultural policy is non-negotiable to any extent whatever. There is no prospect, and never was—I think that both the previous Government and the present Government have recognised this in their heart of hearts, whatever they may have said in public—of ever achieving even minor alteration in the common agricultural policy, other than the adaptations necessary to accommodate a Community of ten rather than six.
Did the hon. Gentleman notice the television broadcast by President Pompidou, when he was speaking to the nation about the referendum? One of the pledges he gave to the French people was that the common agricultural policy would never, never be altered. But we are told that if we go in, one of the things we shall try to do is to alter it.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. One of the arguments I have always used on pro-Marketeers among my hon. Friends is that we have no chance of altering the common agricultural policy once we are in, as we shall be strengthening it by our very entrance. We shall be postponing the evil day when the costs of that policy become so outrageous that the consumers, and the politicians influenced by the consumers, have to rise up and say, "Thus far and no further. We can no longer subsidise inefficient high cost agricultural production to the detriment of agricultural imports from developing countries." But that position will not arise in the next decade.
I take issue with my right hon. and hon. Friends who believe, wrongly in my opinion, that they stand a chance of renegotiating the agricultural terms of entry. We cannot possibly do that. We might attempt to do so but we should be unsuccessful, mainly because of the attitude throughout the negotiations with the Community—to protect and preserve at all costs those precious parts of its common policies which have been built up laboriously over the past decade.
I now address myself to the second part of the Amendment, which relates to a continuation of free trade in industrial products between the remaining members of EFTA and the Common Market. I shall not reiterate the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North on the value of EFTA as an industrial free trade area without being, and having the disadvantage of being, a customs union, without being an organisation which not only creates trade, as the Common Market does, but also diverts trade, which the Common Market does. The one accusation which cannot be levelled against industrial free trade in EFTA is that it is has led to any trade diversion in the world as distinct from trade creation. That is one of the disadvantages of the Common Market.
Furthermore, there is the point alluded to by my right hon. Friend, that we shall not have the social costs if we can maintain our links with the EFTA countries, which we are very unlikely to do. There is also the whole business of the Common Market being geared very much to the harmonisation at a very high level of indirect taxation. Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends would agree, as a matter of principle, that there is a limit, which we seem to have reached under the previous Labour Government, to the extent to which we can extend direct taxation. That is a contentious point among my right hon. and Hon. Friends. But there is no question that the social cost involved in breaking away from our EFTA partners and leaving them in the lurch will be an increasing one. There will be an increasing gap between the rich and poor, let alone the effect on the gap between rich and poor in the rest of the world.
On the subject of social costs, it has never been mentioned in any of our debates on the Common Market that EFTA, unlike the Common Market, is devoted to the principle of full employment. There is no reference in the basic introductory clauses in the Treaty of Rome, which set out its objectives clearly, to promoting full employment, but Article 2(a) of the EFTA Convention of January, 1963, the association agreement, specifically refers to the importance of maintaining and pursuing policies which will promote and retain full employment in all the member countries.
There is also the point that no balance of payments cost will be involved if we could have merely the industrial free trade area association which the Government are hoping that our EFTA partners who are not co-applicants will obtain for themselves. We shall then have the advantage that our consumers will not be subsidising the inefficient high-cost agricultural producers of Western Europe, and indeed, perpetuating their rather antiquated methods.
A further value of EFTA, which has not so far been put to the Committee, is that the approach of EFTA to dealing with problems between its members has been very much more pragmatic than that adopted in the Common Market. It has not been necessary to set up about 250-odd clauses, as in the Treaty of Rome, with many schedules annexes and so on. Admittedly EFTA was not trying to go as far as the Common Market. But the EFTA document was very short and pragmatic by comparison.
The whole EFTA system has been based on a flexible approach to solving problems of international trade between members of the same association. It has not been necessary to set up an EFTA court like the European Court to deal with recalcitrant firms and governments. There have been a number of issues in EFTA on which there have been disputes, but they have been settled in what I am glad to describe as the time-honoured British way—by talking and by compromise, not by introducing the law into them, as is inevitable if and when we join the Common Market.
Finally on the issue of the EFTA applicant countries and those which are not getting an industrial free trade area, it must be pointed out that industrial free trade in itself would not have led to any adverse reaction from the rest of the world and particularly the United States of America, as has been caused by the common agricultural policy of the Euro- pean Economic Community and, what is even more important, by the wide and expanding network of preferential trade agreements between the Common Market and many of the developing and semi-developed countries, nearly all of which break some of the six rules of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to which we and all the Common Market countries were co-signatories in 1948.
Therefore, I believe that the EFTA way was infinitely preferable to the Common Market way. The least we can do in memory and loyalty to our former EFTA partners before going into Europe is to ensure that we do not go in unless they have achieved satisfactory industrial free trade provisions.
Our attitude as a country over the past 10 years to EFTA has been a dreadful story. We started off in good faith with EFTA. We were the dominant partner. This must be borne in mind when people say that the EFTA politicians are going along with us in their applications, and so on. They have had no choice but to go along with us If we as the dominant country in EFTA decide to do something, they may well protest privately, if not publicly. I have no doubt that most of the protests have been made privately and not publicly, because that is the way that EFTA always works.
The British attitude has been getting worse. If the Government decide not to accept this very reasonable Amendment, it will be a case of what one has always suspected since we put in our application in 1967. I am not making a political point; for this would have been the attitude of the Labour Government as well as this Government. That makes it neither more nor less reprehensible. The attitude of the British Government is, "Pull up the ladder. I am aboard. Once we have got in to Europe it will be hard luck on the others. We will do our best for them".
That has been the attitude of this Government throughout the negotiations. That is the changed attitude since EFTA was set up; for when EFTA was set up it was because we in particular did not want to join the Common Market. At that stage Denmark wanted to join the Common Market; Denmark was then in advance of us. However, because we were the big boys Denmark went along with us. Denmark went through a period of heart searching before deciding that the market for her agricultural products in the United Kingdom was more important than the market for her agricultural products in Germany.
We had no co-operation in EFTA at the start in our attitude to the Common Market. Our general attitude to bringing the two areas together was that there should be an expanded co-operation between them—for instance, on things such as European patent rights and company law, all very worth while things, and nobody would object to co-operation in those regards.
A drastic change came over our conduct of affairs in relation to EFTA when, rather than going for enhanced European co-operation, we decided—wrongly, in my opinion—in the time of the last Labour Government to go for European integration and not European co-operation. I do not need to explain to the Committee after all our debates the very great differences between those two attitudes. Of the original EFTA countries only Denmark was for Western European integration. The rest would all have been very happy with some enhanced form of co-operation. Indeed, this is what they are hoping for in these negotiations. Hope by itself is not enough. We must help them.
If the other applicant countries either turn down the chance of entering the Common Market or fail to succeed in getting adequate industrial free trade area arrangements, do the Government intend to leave them in the lurch? I suspect that they do. I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy will make the Government's attitude clear. If that were to be the case, it would not be an honorourable position, nor would it be a desirable position in our national interest.
I remind those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who are pro-marketeers that one of the original Labour conditions for opening negotiations in the time of Hugh Gaitskell was to safeguard the interest of our EFTA partners, and that meant at that time that we would not enter the Common Market unless our EFTA partners did so with us or unless we had ensured in advance adequate trading arrangements for them with an enlarged Community.
Since then there has been a subtle deterioration in and an erosion of that position which took place from 1967 onwards, when it became a question of every man for himself. We said to our EFTA partners, "We will help you, but if you do not succeed or if you decide that you are not going to go in, we shall be very sorry, but we have made up our minds and we intend to go in."
I suspect that this is the Government's attitude. If this is what the Government intend, they will reject the Amendment. If this is not what the Government intend, there is no logical reason why they should not accept this very reasonable Amendment which seems to accord with what the Government have been saying publicly in the last six months under great pressure from politicians on both sides of the House of Commons, not only from anti-Marketeers, to ensure that we do not let down our partners of the past 12 years.
Those who have spoken so far have recognised that the Amendment falls into two distinct parts. The first part proposes that
'the Act shall not come into force unless Denmark, Norway, and the Republic of Ireland ratify the Treaty of Accession".
The second part proposes that under the terms of treaties the non-acceding European Free Trade Association countires should continue to enjoy free trade in industrial products. I shall deal first with the second limb of the Amendment.
The hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) was not alone in suggesting that in some way by adhering to the European Community we were letting down our EFTA partners. The hon. Gentleman twice used the expression, "leaving them in the lurch". The hon. Gentleman rounded up at the end by using the expression, "letting them down". This completely overlooks the fact that the applicant EFTA countries were consulted about the draft Community mandate for the negotiations from the beginning and that that includes provision for free trade in industrial goods with only a few exceptions.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins), I have served for a number of years as a delegate to the Council of Europe. The British delegation has regular meetings with delegates from EFTA countries. There is not a plenary session at which we do not have such a meeting. Like my hon. Friend, I have detected no sign, either at such meetings or at the dinners which invariably succeed them, that any of our EFTA partners feels in the slightest degree let down by our applying to join the Community or by the negotiations that have successfully resulted there from.
That is a personal impression of mine, but it would be remarkable if representatives of our EFTA partners, if they had felt in any way let down or left in the lurch, had not made this clear to their friends and colleagues in the British delegation. No such impression exists. At the very beginning it was implicit in the organisation and setting up of the European Free Trade Association that it would be a step in the direction of greater integration in Europe.
It is quite true that for special reasons—with which I shall deal briefly in a moment—some of our EFTA partners cannot follow us in applying to become members of the EEC. Switzerland and Sweden fear that it would in some way militate against their position as legalised neutrals—and I use the expression in its full international legalsense. Finland cannot follow us because of her special position as neighbour to Soviet Russia. I challenge anyone to say that the interests of these partners, for whom we have obvious friendship and great regard, have not been considered in the negotiations or that their industries are not protected by the arrangements now being negotiated.
My submission to the Committee therefore is that the second limb of this proposed Amendment is otiose and unnecessary. There is no suggestion of anyone being let down, but it is symptomatic of the opponents to entry that they should fasten upon the fact that our joining will make great changes in EFTA and as a result EFTA will be dissolved. In the same way they fastened on the special status of New Zealand and on the products of the sugar-producing countries and their position, even when those countries and New Zealand were satisfied with what had been achieved by negotiation to protect their interest. So it is with the point which has now been made about our membership of EFTA and the changes which will result from our adherence to the Community.
I come to the first limb.
This Act shall not come into force unless Denmark, Norway, and the Republic of Ireland ratify the Treaty of Accession.
But it was provided by Article 2 of the Treaty of Accession that if any country failed to ratify by January, 1973 the treaty should nevertheless enter into force and that is the answer to the query which my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) made in his speech. Why, therefore, should this country's admission be postponed because of the domestic situation in any one of these three countries? They have already decided, by their Governments, as a matter of policy, that they desire to join. They are parties to the Treaty of Accession, and all that remains is ratification.
It is astonishing that right hon. and hon. Members, such as the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), whose whole opposition to our adherence to the Community is founded upon their fear for the derogation which we shall suffer from our sovereignty and our freedom as a sovereign State in the world, should wish now, or should appear to wish by putting forward this Amendment, to postpone our interests which are considered necessary by the Government to those of other partners and other friends.
These partners and these friends negotiated with us in consultation with us, Ireland not as a member of EFTA, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton pointed out. I have no doubt that these countries will see their interests in adhesion to the European Economic Community as well. It was remarkable that the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West, dealing with this aspect of the Amendment, should in every sentence preface his observations with "if". "If Norway and if Denmark and if Ireland do not enter". But what reason do we have, if any, to believe that all three of these countries will not enter the Community with us to the great benefit of all four?
I had no intention of speaking to this Amendment until I heard the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) and the hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve). They both based their arguments on the fact that they have had personal experience of the Council of Europe, meeting all the politicians from the EFTA countries at the Council of Europe.
I was a member of the Council of Europe for four years. I was also a member of the Political Committee and I think that at the time that I was a member we were represented also by the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) and my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman). In the Committee I was a passionate advocate of entry into the EEC. I can well remember the tortuous discussion that went on about Britain's entry into the Common Market and the relationship of EFTA to the EEC. An hon. Member who spoke earlier said that he did not meet many politicians from the EFTA countries who had doubts. Most of the representatives of the EFTA countries that I met had more than doubts; they were positively hostile to the whole question of their country's entry into the EEC.
One of the arguments I certainly advanced in support of what I believe was a much wider European unity was that we should try to seek an agreement between EFTA and the Common Market for a wider European unity embracing the whole of EFTA and the whole of EEC. This would naturally have necessitated a compromise by both organisations. My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) made the valid point that hanging over the whole discussions of the relationship between the EEC and EFTA was the threat that if we could not reach agreement between the two bodies, Britain would have to go it alone, making an approach of our own irrespective of what the rest of the EFTA countries decided. What would be the position of the weaker countries if the biggest country in EFTA, the nub, the central core of the organisation, the country which created or proposed the creation of EFTA, said that it would go it alone if agreement were not reached? They would have to say that if Britain went it alone they would be left in an impossible position and would have to apply to join also. This is the reality of the situation. I have met Danish M.P.s who said that they did not want Britain to go ahead and that they wanted to remain outside the EEC. I can only report what I found and I was then urging them to think differently.
It is only two years since I was on the Council of Europe and I left it just before the last General Election. I had four years there, with an interruption of one year, in the whole period of the Labour Government. I was very much involved in the European arguments then. It is no good hon. Members saying that there is no real opposition among EFTA countries. There was always opposition; they were not happy about it. In a sense, the EFTA parliamentarians were appealing to us, without necessarily wanting to come out in complete opposition to their biggest partner within EFTA.
In the past two years there may well have been a great change, but primarily that is because they can now see no alternative. It is like the unfortunate situation for the mass of the British people, who want to express an opinion about whether we should go into the Common Market but are being denied the opportunity. Many of our people are sinking into apathy. They ask, "What is the point? They are going to force us in, and we can do very little about it". In fact, we can do a lot. In some of the EFTA countries something is being done. There are to be referenda. It will be interesting to see what finally happens. Anyone who believes that there will be great unanimity in those countries, with everyone rushing into the EEC, does not live in the same world as I do, to use the phrase of the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West. There will be a great deal of opposition.
I am not a dedicated EFTA man, but when I carefully studied the differences between EFTA and the EEC I found the contracts very interesting. True, there were one or two rules which had a certain similarity, as on the question of competition, and there may be some difficulties, perhaps, over monopolies in public ownership. But those are matters which can be argued about, and were argued about, within the EFTA framework. But the EEC has the bureaucratic Commission, which is in complete contrast to the organisation in EFTA. It reminded me of the arguments we used to have in the Liverpool Trades Council Labour Party. Some of the youngsters in it used to say, "If only our bureaucracy would not do this, that or the other." I thought one day, "Who is our bureaucracy?" It consisted of a full-time paid secretary and two girls in an office. That was about the set-up in EFTA. It did not have the vast bureaucratic organisation that there is in Brussels.
Anyone who thinks that it does not exist should go there for a weekend and look at the bureaucratic set-up of the Commission, which is a very powerful organisation. Anyone who suggests that there is no limitation on our sovereignty has only to look at the Commission's decisions, which percolate through and become imposed on the countries belonging to the EEC. [Interruption.] I do not want to enter into argument with my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever). Every time he was on the Front Bench I interrupted him, because he always said something with which I totally disagreed. Now we are the same level we can interrupt each other, but in a friendly way.
The Amendment is eminently sensible, and the Committee should support it. If the EFTA set-up is destroyed, it is no good saying that we must continue with the alliances, as one hon. Member suggested. If we enter the Common Market we cannot do so. They will fall apart, because we are establishing an entirely new framework and situation. If we go in we should do so with the other people who have been part and parcel of our free trade area. That is a safeguard both for their interests and ours.
Our association with Ireland is very close, whether we like it or not. I have heard it suggested that a good thing to do with Ireland would be push it out into the Atlantic and forget about it. But that is impossible. We are tied economically and politically to Ireland, and it is tied to us. Therefore, we must be very closely associated with any decisions it takes.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West, who has returned to the Chamber, was not here when I began. I felt that I had to get the record straight by replying to some of his points about the Council of Europe and the EFTA parliamentarians, and saying what my personal experience was compared with his. As he said, we can give only personal impressions, and mine were somewhat different to his. I hope that the Committee will accept this very sensible Amendment.
Rather like the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), I entered the Chamber with no intention of speaking on the Amendment, unless I felt that I should. I came to listen, learn and assimilate the words of wisdom. But my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) incited me, too.
The hon. Member for Walton spoke about the delegates at the Council of Europe and other places in Europe where they meet. They must have changed since he was there. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve), who meets and dines with him, as we heard, doubtless follows a tradition of coffee and cognac. He must realise that those delegates, presumably like our own, are all chosen because they are enthusiastic Europeans, and when they get around the banqueting table with their alcohol and so on naturally they all——
Those who go to all these European affairs probably go because they are keen Europeans. I have met quite a number of them in London, and I have found that that theme runs through them all. We can just picture that dinner party, with the delegates all well-wined, all going down the Common Market motorway, as someone said yesterday.
The hon. Gentleman raised a very good point about the difference in staffing between the Common Market headquarters and the EFTA headquarters. I believe that the staff at EFTA as a whole amounted to 140. We obtained great benefit from EFTA, with the wider home market of its free trade area. All the things that our industrialists want, if only they understood the Common Market, they could obtain through EFTA. But no—they have been sold the pup of the Common Market, they think that they have to go in or they will not have a free trade area, and the price they have to pay is an enormous annual payment plus the staff in Brussels numbering, I believe, over 6,000.
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that EFTA succeeded in creating an industrial free trade area more quickly than the Common Market did, although the Common Market had two years' start on EFTA. Does not that show that the pragmatic approach is much more in our national interest than the bureaucratic legalistic approach which we are likely to have to adopt in the Common Market?
I entirely agree. What will do this country so much damage, if we enter the Common Market, is being bogged down by yet a further stage or tier of civil servants, whose time seems to be spent in harmonising the shape of milk bottles and quite ridiculous time-wasting exercises like that.
Yesterday, I was talking to a Minister who recounted to me how well everybody got on, but then he said—I do not think that he meant it in any peculiar sense—that everything takes so much longer in the Common Market because, if people disagree, one has to go on and on and reach a compromise. We want action in this country, not words. If everything is to be delayed in that way, the business of the nation will be made much more sluggish. As one hon. Member rightly said, EFTA works like a dream because it does not interfere but gets on with the job. This is what our industrialists ought to have, and, if they understood it, is what they want.
What inspired, or incited, me to comment on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West—he and I have debated these matters in Derbyshire—was his slightly nonchalant way of saying, "Well, you know, Sweden, our dear EFTA partner, has a great problem with timber". But timber affects people very much; it is a rural industry in which very many have a direct or indirect interest. Then he said that Switzerland had a problem—I did not quite follow what it was, but I think it had something to do with money. Portugal, he said, had its problems, though he did not list them.
I met the Foreign Minister of Portugal when he was over here recently, and he told me in no uncertain terms of his great anxieties for his country, particularly over textiles, tomato purée and cork, three staple exports from Portugal to this country, and all three fairly simple things the production of which is a highly labour-intensive business. Clearly, if they do not have satisfactory terms, many Portuguese people will be fairly well clobbered.
I mentioned that. [An HON. MEMBER: "And fish."] Yes, fish as well. I did not want to delay the House with too long a list. The point is not the list, whether it includes fish or not, but the tone in which my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West expressed his, "It does not really matter" attitude towards the Portuguese or whoever it may be who does not obtain fair terms. I do not wish to be thought over-critical, and perhaps my hon. Friend did not mean it, but he gave that impression.
What concerns me is that we in Britain are a big country, and, relatively, a very big country in EFTA. It goes against the grain with me to feel that we are letting down any of our smaller allies and partners in EFTA, just because we are a big country. I do not want to sound priggish—I probably am, but I do not want to sound it—but I was brought up in the belief that, if one had any position of privilege above others, the first people one thought of were those below one, before thinking of oneself. My hon. Friend had a gallant record in the army, and he will recall that, when he was an officer and went on exercises or operations, the rule was that one never, as it were, went to bed until one was certain that one's troops, at whatever rank, had had their meal and were, so to speak, tucked up in bed. Only after that did the officer go to bed. I was not in the navy, but I believe that, if a ship is going down, the captain is the last person to leave the bridge.
The hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) put it very well when he said that the attitude which we are asked to adopt is, "Pull up the gangway. I'm all right, Jack". That expresses what I feel, too, and against that background—whatever knee-slapping may go on or however tiresome I may be thought—my attitude is quite simple: I do not want to feel that our country, of which I am enormously proud, will let these others down when, in truth, it need not.
I felt that the same attitude showed in our treatment of the Commonwealth. I must not go out of order here, but New Zealand questions gave one illustration—I felt that at the time—and the same applied to the Lancaster House agreement and the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. Time will tell who was right there.
When Mr. Pompidou made his broadcast, to which I referred earlier, he said in his appeal to the French people that, if they all voted "Oui" in the referendum, the countries of the Common Market would become a privileged group of nations. I can only say that that rather turned my stomach over.
I do not like that sort of attitude. It may be old-fashioned of me, but I still like to feel that there is nothing wrong in being old-fashioned if one is right. Perhaps it has something to do with the way we are now moving towards Europeanism. Perhaps the European "ism", the European way of life, is that one does that sort of thing. That is all I can think of, because there are hon. Friends of mine whom I greatly respect as great English gentlemen of the traditional type who seem to go in for it. It must be the effect of all the dinners and so on at those various councils. I do not quite know what it is, but I know how they have changed in the last ten years. Ten years ago, the Tory Party stood as the great Commonwealth party. I remember it before the war, too, when I was a "junior Imperial". Time will tell what happens to the Commonwealth if we ever join the Common Market.
I come to the second part of the Amendment and the question of our co-applicants. The Norwegians are to have their referendum on 24th September, and they will require three-quarters of their Members of Parliament to vote positively in favour of going in. I think that it was my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) who seemed to think that they would get that vote and their referendum. I do not know how well—apart from the dinner-table—he knows Norway, but I go there quite a lot. [An HON. MEMBER: "Cheap."] In fact, it is pretty expensive. I go to Norway quite a lot, and I meet the people there. I go up the coast and meet the fishermen. I go into the mountains and meet the farmers. I think it quite possible that Norway will not approve, and, as the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West, rightly said, if Norway does not, Denmark, which is to have a referendum two weeks later, in all probability will not, either. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) pointed out, if Norway and Denmark do not go in, we shall have to look again at the Treaty of Accession, because quite a lot of things will have to be altered.
The hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne) referred to the Nordic Agreement as being on ice. If these Scandinavian countries do not go in, it is there to be taken out of the refrigerator. It will be revived, and what worries me is that it might well form part of a neutralist bloc in the North, on the northern flank of NATO. In terms of defence, it could be very serious if we let these two countries go. The Amendment would prohibit that happening because we would not let them go. We would not go into the Common Market if they did not. In terms of defence alone the Amendment would be a valuable safeguard.
Throughout this debate we seem to be talking in a haunted Chamber—a Chamber practically empty, except that since we have been making a few remarks about pro-Marketeers I am glad to see that they are coming in again. One might think, indeed, that we were talking again about a House of Lords reform Bill in a haunted Chamber, a Bill which will never come about.
Next month, the Italian General Election takes place. One can see from the opinion polls what might be the result. The Daily Telegraph, that arch-exponent of Common Marketism, said in a recent leader that if the Communists got back as the majority party—not necessarily with an overall majority—and join with the Left-wing Socialists, forming a united front Left-wing Communist dominated Government, that will be the end of the Common Market. It could happen. That is why we are debating this issue in a haunted Chamber.
If—or, rather, when—we do not go in, what will happen? The Amendment refers to free trade areas. That is what we know we shall get. I do not believe that the people in the Common Market are such narrow, inward-looking people as some of my anti-Market friends say. They do not want to sit behind their tariff barriers; they want to break them down. They want a wider home market, as we do, and we shall therefore have a wider free trade area with the Common Market if we do not go in. We all know this.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton and I went over there to talk to the Commissioners. They, I am sure, do not tell lies or try to mislead us. We asked, "If or when we do not join, what will you do?" The answer clearly came through. They agreed that there would be a slight hiccupping and that some tears would be shed by certain people, but that we would then move towards a free trade area, which is what the non-applicants are getting.
The same thing is happening with the OECD. It is moving towards a study of free trade. The same movement can be detected in the GATT and the United States. In the United States, there has been the Williams Commission Report to the President on trade policy. The whole emphasis is on wider free trade. That is exactly the case of those who oppose the Common Market.
I hope that after this perhaps slightly irrelevant speech the Government will accept the Amendment, which is moderate and sensible. I do not quite agree with the inclusion of the Republic of Ireland but I shall vote for the Amendment on the assumption that if it is accepted we can scrub out the Republic of Ireland. I hope that the Government will accept it and not just turn it down.
Last night, I got a nasty feeling when Amendment No. 200, a good and sensible Amendment for which I voted, was rejected by the Government without good reason. It was a plain and straight forward Amendment. I think that the only reason the Government opposed it was that, if there is an Amendment to the Bill in Committee, there will have to be a Report stage, which they do not want. This begins to worry me. Apparently it is this Bill or nothing at all.
I hope that we shall be able to settle that matter simply when we come to the question of Ireland. We shall have to change the provisions in the Bill which refer to Northern Ireland because there has been a change in the constitutional position in Northern Ireland. I am sure that the Government will be bringing forward an Amendment to deal with it. It is a shocking suggestion to make that the Government are in any way attempting to avoid a Report stage. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be only too eager to repudiate that charge.
We have had a very good debate and it is right that the Committee should take the opportunity, as I wish to do, to reiterate our concern about our EFTA partners and our interest in the success of the negotiations they are carrying on in relation to their own circumstances.
My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) was able to agree on just one matter with the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). I am in the same position. I warmly subscribe, as I am sure do all hon. Members, to the tribute they both paid to the efficiency and effectiveness of EFTA and in particular to the Secretary-General and his staff. I assure the Committee that the spirit of co-operation which has always existed still exists as we continue to work and consult together.
There is no question of our deserting, as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest, our EFTA friends. There is no question that we are letting them down. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) and my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West were able to speak from their experience of their contacts with representatives of the EFTA countries in the Council of Europe and elsewhere. It may be that the experience of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) was, as he said, different. These are personal matters. From my experience, there is and always has been the closest possible understanding though out these negotiations not only at Government level but also on the parliamentary level.
Reference was made by the right hon. Gentleman and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) to the so-called London Declaration. It is important that it should be understood that, before the House of Commons approved the original application to join the Communities in May, 1967, agreement had been reached with the EFTA countries about the basis upon which the negotiations were to proceed. The then Secretary of State for Economic Affairs said:
The EFTA countries accept as fully as we do that the London Declaration is no longer appropriate to the position today".—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 10th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1643.]
All along we have acted in concert.
The right hon. Member for Battersea, North, not only as member of the Cabinet at that time but as President of the Board of Trade, must have been aware of the nature of the negotiations. Sometimes perhaps it can be said that members of a Cabinet may not follow every detail. No one doubts that the right hon. Gentleman always had doubts about this and expressed them at an early stage. I would not have thought that there was any doubt that there had been consultation and that it had been agreed that we would proceed with our negotiations and they would proceed with theirs.
I follow the right hon. Gentleman's point. No doubt he exercised his considerable powers of persuasion upon them to accept that it was in their interests as well as ours that the application for which he voted should proceed. One does not want to debate these matters because the right hon. Gentleman has always spoken with great sincerity and there is no doubt about the position that he holds and the anxieties that he feels.
Before making some general observations about the way in which our negotiations had been proceeding in concert with our EFTA partners, I ought to address some words to the Amendments and to the reasons why in the Government's view the Committee would be wrong to accept them. In my submission it would not be right for our decision to rest on the decision of other States, still to be made under their constitutional processes. Secondly, it would be wrong to prejudge in any way the result of negotiations still in progress.
This Amendment covers two distinct and separate matters. The common denominator is the intention to impose conditions on our ratification of our Treaty of Accession. The first condition is that Denmark, Norway and the Republic of Ireland—not, as has been pointed out, a member of EFTA—should also ratify. The Treaty is based on the principle that all acceding countries will duly ratify so that the enlarged Community of Ten will be constituted as of 1st January, 1973. The Treaty is quite specific that if any acceding country or countries fails to ratify by the deadline, then the Treaty nevertheless enters into force for those which have done so. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull drew attention to the express provision in that respect which will be found in Article 2 of the Treaty.
The objection to the Amendment is fundamental. It seeks to tie our accession in a way in which we would not wish to be tied and in which it would not be right for us to be tied. A decision of this Committee and of the House would be made subject to and dependent upon a decision not yet made by the authorities of the other acceding States. It would introduce a completely new element into the decisions which are to be taken by our acceding partners in accordance with their constitutional processes, and that would be wrong. It would be wrong from their point of view as well as from ours.
It is up to each country to decide its own policy. We have stated ours and other countries have stated theirs, and the Amendment would cut across that. It is therefore quite unacceptable. By complete agreement between all of us, whether we are seeking full membership or associate membership, for the various reasons put forward, we have acted in concert and we have been in close consultation all along. We have agreed that it is up to each country to make its own case in its own way.
The second condition is that industrial free trade between the EFTA acceding and non-acceding countries should be maintained. As the Committee knows, formal negotiations are currently taking place to determine the detailed trading arrangements between the Community and the non-acceding EFTA countries after enlargement. We have had some previous discussions, not very long, about this. We had a discussion on 8th March in Committee when I was able to say:
It is right and proper that hon. Members should be concerned about our relations with EFTA. Right from the outset we have been concerned about these. We have been in close consultation not only with our fellow applicant countries but also with the non-applicant countries which have been seeking various forms, of association. I have answered many questions about this matter in the House, and I recently referred the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins)
—who spoke again this afternoon—
to the communiqué that we issued on 11th November, in which general satisfaction was expressed by all the Ministers present on the progress of the negotiations.
That does not square with the allegation that we are letting our friends down. I went on to say:
The non-applicant countries are reaching a fairly critical stage in their negotiations. We are still in constant touch. These countries are carrying on negotiations in their own way in the light of the mandate issued by the Community which had regard to the views that we expressed as EFTA members."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th March, 1972; Vol. 832, c. 1608.]
I can say that we have discussed this matter to a large extent and can only reiterate what I have already said. I will give the Committee a progress report on the current state of the negotiations. As hon. Members will be aware, the Commission has now completed the first stage of its negotiations with each of the non-candidate members of EFTA and has submitted further proposals to the Council of Ministers to enable the negotiations to proceed. In accordance with the consultative procedure agreed between the Community and the acceding States, we have expressed our views about these proposals to the Community. We did not engage directly in negotiations because we are not full members, but we were consulted about the mandate. We have been closely in touch as observers with the work of the Article 113 Committee and were very much concerned about the sort of matters which my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) raised in connection with the Portuguese negotiations.
While it is our hope that the final agreement will cover all industrial goods it would not be right to make our accession to the European Community conditional upon the outcome of negotiations between the Community and the other countries concerned. They have always understood that. They have their own negotiations, we have ours. We have our reservations about the difficulties whether with regard to timber or whatever. We have continually reiterated the importance we attach to the maintenance of what we have built up in EFTA in terms of industrial free trade.
We have argued that the number of sensitive matters could be reduced to a minimum. In the course of the negotiations the original mandate has been discussed, new suggestions have been made by the Commission and negotiations are following a normal pattern. There are certain technical difficulties about rules of origin, accumulation and certain difficulties of definition as to what constitute industrial or agricultural goods. The Community has a special understanding of the problems which arise with Portugal, for example, with regard to tomato purée which can be regarded as agricultural or industrial produce according to what definition is adopted. Such matters are being sorted out in a sensible way, with complete understanding on our part of what our EFTA partners are seeking.
Hon. Members will be aware that at the last Ministerial EFTA meeting in Geneva on 4th November I reaffirmed that in the United Kingdom there was no change in the position which had been repeatedly stated in various communiqués. We have consistently emphasised, as I have told the Committee, the strong interest we have in safeguarding the free trade which has been established between the EFTA countries. We recognise the need for special arrangements in some sectors and want to keep sensitive items to the minimum.
My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West emphasised how important it was for us to keep the closest touch with the EFTA countries. I entirely agree with him, and since November, quite apart from the frequent exchanges of views at official level between ourselves and all the EFTA non-candidate countries, in London, in the EFTA capitals, in Brussels, in Geneva, I myself have had talks with the Foreign Ministers or Ministers of External Trade of five of the six non-candidate countries. Mr. Wickman, the Swedish Foreign Minister, called on me on 15th December last year; Dr. Kirschläger, the Austrian Foreign Minister, called on 17th December; M. Graber, the Swiss Foreign Minister, called on 23rd February; Dr. Patricio, the Portuguese Foreign Minister, called on 8th March; and, most recently, Mr. Linnamo, the Finnish Minister of Commerce and External Trade, called on 29th March.
I mention this to show how continuous consultation is between us——
—and we have discussed, confidentially, the progress of negotiations. I can say to the hon. Gentleman that they were extremely useful conversations, and I think there is complete understanding between us on the nature of the problems which have to be dealt with. I have undertaken to give United Kingdom support, so far as it is within our power, to our friends.
I am a little anxious at the rather soothing voice in which my right hon. and learned Friend has spoken in the last moment or two—and it is very nice, too; and he has told us how he has been in touch with all those people and how he knows exactly what their problems are. But if they do not achieve what is the basic necessity for them, what is then the position?
Negotiations are progressing satisfactorily and we have no real reason to suppose we shall not achieve what is the objective of all of us, not only in relation to our own ratification procedures but in relation to those of the other candidate countries, and also with satisfactory association agreements for the non-candidate countries. I may say that we shall behaving further discussions about this at the next EFTA Ministerial meeting at the beginning of May. I am not in a position, obviously, to deal with the details of other countries' negotiations. It would be quite improper for me to do that. They keep us informed how things are progressing. I think that that is far as one can go.
I made those points because I wanted to emphasise to my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West that there is no truth in any suggestion that we were not keeping one another properly informed, or not working together. This is the background, a necessary background, to the debate on the Amendment, even if it is not strictly related to the Amendment.
While the right hon. and learned Gentleman paints his idyllic picture, which bears no relation to the things which have actually happened, he has not answered one pertinent question which was put to him. Suppose an applicant country does not ratify the Treaty—Norway, perhaps—is there any assurance that that country would automatically get the benefit of the industrial free trade we have been discussing? We have been told that if there is no such assurance such a country would be left in the lurch, and many would feel it to be let down. Is there no assurance on that?
Obviously the policy of the Governments of the three acceding countries concerned is to obtain entry into the Community. They are going through their ratification procedures. If they should fail to enter the Community for any reason, it will be up to them to consider what their policies will be. They have their own constitutional procedures to determine what they want to do, just as we determine what we want to do. If they fail, they will have to come forward with new policies and ideas, and there is no reason to suppose that we would not deal with these matters as they arose, but they are extremely hypothetical questions at the present time, and it would be out of place for me to suggest what other countries should do in the event of certain difficulties arising in relation either to their negotiations or to the ratification of the agreements.
It is no part of the agreement being made between the Community and the non-applicant countries that if one applicant decides not to ratify they would automatically become part of the agreement. There is no assurance on that?
I think it has to be understood that each country must be allowed to continue its own negotiations in its own way and to determine its own policy in its own way. The House of Commons would not tie its own decisions to actions which might or might not be taken in certain hypothetical circumstances by the Governments and peoples of other countries.
I think: we have had a rather characteristic performance by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I think we have listened to what the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) described as one of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's more soothing speeches, in which we have been told that he has been in touch with everyone, in which he avoided dealing with sub- stantial matters which were raised in the debate, and in which he was talking about the end, as he sees it, of the EFTA which has played a quite considerable part in our trading prosperity during this past decade.
With the peoples of those countries, with whom we have considerable bonds, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has dealt rather as though he, or we as a nation, had no obligation of any kind to them. Then, when at last he was confronted with a specific question, he did his best to dodge it altogether. If I interpreted his words correctly he was saying "Well, this is their problem". That is a very reasonable inference that we can draw from what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said about his attitude towards any EFFA country which is unable to negotiate satisfactorily with the Six.
I have a few things to say in addition to this, but I would begin with a tribute, which I think is deserved, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), for I think he has laid out this matter very helpfully for us. The Committee will agree that he is in many ways uniquely qualified to talk about EFTA. Not only in terms of his own period at the Board of Trade but earlier, he has had a long connection and concern with our trading relations with the countries concerned.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend dealt at the beginning of his speech with one of the myths about EFTA, a myth which has been rather fostered—I do not necessarily say by the Government—by people who are over-keen on joining Europe, the myth that EFTA was, as it were, in a state approaching disillusion, with all its members restlessly concerned to get out and about to begin separate negotiations with the Common Market. Of course that is not true; it is not true at all. With the one possible exception of Austria, which, as we know, has a very special economic, geographical and political relationship with neighbouring Germany, Austria which, probably, of all the countries is the least able to enter into any strong association with the Common Market—with the exception of Austria—no country in EFTA would even have contemplated negotiations if Britain herself had not decided to embark on this course.
Why does EFTA exist? EFTA is a group of European countries which were eligible under the terms of the Rome Treaty in 1956 or 1957 when the original negotiations took place to have become members of the EEC if they had felt that that form of European association served their interests as well as the arrangements of the Six served the interests of the existing member States. They did not take part in the Messina Conference any more than we did.
I wonder what are the underlying attitudes of those countries. I do not pretend to be able to summarise the views of all the EFTA countries, but one point which is fairly obvious is that the EFTA countries, with the exception of Austria and to some extent Switzerland, are, like Britain, on the periphery geographically of the Continent of Europe, and are aware of the danger to them and their economic life of the strong pull of the heart areas of Western Europe. They fear that the magnetism of the great continental industry and population centres will tug at their people and at their trade and industry. They all have, therefore, a built-in regional problem. Because they are peripheral countries they have, like us, worked out trade patterns which are not continental but global. Their trade ranges freely not just with the Six but much more widely, with each other to some extent since EFTA was formed, and also with the United States, Canada and other trading nations.
We are not talking about something which is of only small concern to us. The proportion of Britain's exports—and imports are roughly the same—that go to the EFTA countries is about 15 per cent. compared with exports to the Common Market as a whole of about 21 per cent. If we include Ireland, with which we have had a satisfactory and developing free trade area agreement in recent years, our trade in total with the EFTA countries and Ireland is not far short of our total trade with the Common Market countries.
It is wrong to treat lightly our future relationship with the EFTA countries or the advantage to us of access to their markets. Of course, it works both ways. Their trade with us is an important factor in the economic life of the EFTA countries. It would be damaging to us and to them if, as a result of the Common Market negotiations, the EFTA association was split, with some members continuing to enjoy free trade and others facing the re-emergence of the tariff barriers of the Common Market, the common external tariff which if we join we are pledged to adopt.
It is obviously desirable for us to avoid that situation, and it is, therefore, sensible for us to seek, as we do in the Amendment, to ensure that our entry to the Common Market should not be finally agreed unless and until the other applicant countries have agreed on entry and the non-applicant EFTA countries have achieved satisfactory and alternative trading arrangements.
Whether from the start we should have maintained a stronger pledge to all the EFTA countries such as was contained originally in the London Declaration to which my right hon. Friend referred is more arguable. There is something in the view that to adopt as strong a pledge as that is to surrender a great deal of necessary bargaining flexibility. Having said that, I do not want anyone to think that we should not have expressed great and genuine concern for their interests and their position. I share the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) and the hon. Member for Banbury that we have a special obligation to the EFTA countries. We are the big member country: EFTA could not have been formed without Britain; and for Britain to draw out and pursue her own interests and not at the same time take sufficient care of the economic interests of the other EFTA countries would be behaviour which no hon. Members would support. While it is one thing in advance of negotiations to have made a total commitment not to go in unless all the other members are satisfied, it is another thing to do what the Amendment seeks to do; that is, to give a real assurance to EFTA countries that they will not in the end be ditched.
There have been certain episodes in the last few months which must have been very worrying to EFTA countries. We all recall the negotiations for satisfactory arrangements for the fishing industry, which is particularly important to Norway. It did not help that Britain came to an agreement with the Six which was unsatisfactory for us and also put the Norwegians in a difficult position and forced them to accept terms which they would not otherwise have adopted.
The announcement made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in November, 1971, at the last EFTA Council meeting that Britain was giving notice to quit EFTA was an unnecessarily premature announcement. I cannot imagine what purpose he thought it served other than lo put pressure on the EFTA countries——
The right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) will find that an announcement was made to the House explaining the circumstances. The difficulty is that we cannot be legally and formally at the same time members of both the EEC and the EFTA and that the EFTA treaty requires a year's notice. This is fully understood by everybody concerned. It certainly was not done for the motive that the right hon. Gentleman has suggested.
I am glad to hear that. I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that we were the first to make this announcement, and it would have been much better for everyone concerned for an agreed announcement to have been made by the applicant countries if the year's notice was as important as the right hon. and learned Gentleman has suggested. If notice has to be given, then this must be done.
There is another matter which should be considered. It is dangerous to assume that the results of the negotiations of the EFTA applicants and also of the non-applicant countries will be successfully achieved. We do not yet know that, and, unlike the people of this country—we discussed this matter in Committee yesterday—the people of Denmark, Norway and Ireland will have an opportunity in the autumn to decide the question of entry. In Norway this will be decided by a consultative referendum and in Denmark by a binding referendum. Additionally, in Norway there has to be a two-thirds' or three-quarters' majority, depending on how it is calculated. In Denmark the majority required is still higher—namely, five-sixths.
If we contemplate the majority required in those two countries and, in addition, the requirements of their referenda, it is unwise to assume that either or both of those countries will be in a position to join. They are both seeking this act of assent, and we cannot yet know whether it will be obtained.
I shall not weary the House with quotations from opinion polls, and so on, but in Norway and Denmark there are strong tides of opinion against entry. It is noticeable that the Norwegians and the Danes have been to some extent pacing each other as to who should be the first to submit to a referendum. The Norwegians have been first and the Danes are now to follow them.
I have already said that it is dangerous to assume that the applicant countries will join or will be in a position to join. We must also be careful about assuming that we shall join. I certainly do not make this assumption, and anybody in Europe will be unwise to do so until this Bill has gone through—if it goes through—and certainly not before any ratification of the decision has been obtained from the people of this country. It is important that the candidate countries should maintain the closest touch with each other and should try to ensure that none takes a final step before the others are in a position to do so.
One additional point about the Danes so that there should be no doubt about their position. The Danes have made Britain's membership a formal condition of their own membership, which is a very far-reaching commitment. In a speech on this subject on 15th December the Minister in charge of the Danish negotiations said:
The United Kingdom will also have to ratify the formal accession…".
He went on to say that the Danish accession would not be ratified until the United Kingdom had completed her own act of accession. There is no question that the timetables of the different applicant countries which are negotiating are necessarily related to each other.
As for the non-applicant EFTA countries, negotiations are proceeding. They are asking for free trade arrangements covering industrial goods. We know that there are certain difficulties about paper and timber which have yet to be resolved. The irony of the situation did not elude my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North. If the outcome of the negotiations by the non-applicant EFTA countries is as they hope and they can achieve a satisfactory trading arrangement for themselves, they will have gained precisely the prize that eluded the present Home Secretary when he negotiated with Europe in 1958 and 1959.
What has so long been an aim of Britain's trade and European policy has been the removal of trading barriers as far as possible throughout the Continent of Europe. That has been the single theme of Britain's post-war European economic and trading policy. This is what different Governments have attempted to achieve. We wanted to achieve this aim without all the impositions of the common agricultural policy and the additional burden of Community taxation or the rstrictions of Community law. This is exactly the position taken up by the EFTA countries over the economic development of Europe.
There is a wider point which we must not overlook in thinking of EFTA and
its future. If the Government are successful and enter Europe we shall enjoy a greater area of free trade in the European Economic Community, but the alternative which we may well have to seek involves the demolition of trading barriers between the various countries of Europe and the other trading nations of the world.
The Commission and the Ministers of the Six are already committed to an immense set of negotiations beginning next year with the United States, Canada, Japan and other countries. If we are successful we may be faced with the ultimate irony of ending up as a member of the Common Market with all the impositions and disadvantages we have described and then find ourselves going with them into a system which demolishes tariffs in the rest of the trading world. I am convinced that we should not jump too far ahead in any of these assumptions. Therefore, it is prudent, sensible and desirable, not only for us but for our EFTA partners, for the Committee to accept this Amendment.
|Division No. 134.]||AYES||[7.50 p.m.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Atkinson, Norman||Deakins, Eric||Horam, John|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Dempsey, James||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Doig, Peter||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Baxter, William||Dormand, J. D.||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Hunter, Adam|
|Biffen, John||Duffy, A. E. P.||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Bishop, E. S.||Dunn, James A.||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Body, Richard||Eadie, Alex||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Booth, Albert||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||John, Brynmor|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||English, Michael||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Bradley, Tom||Evans, Fred||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)|
|Buchan, Norman||Ewing, Harry||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Farr, John||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Faulds, Andrew||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Judd, Frank|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingham, Northfield)||Fletcher, Raymond (llkeston)||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Kerr, Russell|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Foot, Michael||Kinnock, Neil|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Gilbert, Dr. John||Lamond, James|
|Cohen, Stanley||Golding, John||Latham, Arthur|
|Coleman, Donald||Gourlay, Harry||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Concannon, J. D.||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Leonard, Dick|
|Conlan, Bernard||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Loughlin, Charles|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hamling, William||McBride, Neil|
|Hardy, Peter||McElhone, Frank|
|Mackenzie, Gregor||Paget, R. T.||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Mackie, John||Palmer, Arthur||Spearing, Nigel|
|Maclennan, Robert||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Spriggs, Leslie|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Pavitt, Laurie||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Maginnis, John E.||Pendry, Tom||Strang, Gavin|
|Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Pentland, Norman||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Marks, Kenneth||Perry, Ernest G.||Swain, Thomas|
|Marsden, F.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Marten, Neil||Prescott, John||Tinn, James|
|Meacher, Michael||Probert, Arthur||Tomney, Frank|
|Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Torney, Tom|
|Mendelson, John||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Mikardo, Ian||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Millan, Bruce||Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n&R'dnor)||Varley, Eric G|
|Miller, Dr. M. S||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Milne, Edward||Roper, John||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Rose, Paul B.||Wallace, George|
|Molyneaux, James||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Watkins, David|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Rowlands, Edward||Wellbeloved, James|
|Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Russell, Sir Ronald||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Moyle, Roland||Sandelson, Neville||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Murray, Ronald King||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Oakes, Gordon||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Ogden, Eric||Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Woof, Robert|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)|
|O'Malley, Brian||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Orbach, Maurice||Skinner, Dennis||Mr. Ernest Armstrong and|
|Orme, Stanley||Small, William||Mr. Joseph Harper.|
|Adley, Robert||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Loveridge, John|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Fookes, Miss Janet||Luce, R. N.|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Fortescue, Tim||MacArthur, Ian|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Foster, Sir John||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fowler, Norman||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Fox, Marcus||Madel, David|
|Balniel, Lord||Fry, Peter||Mather, Carol|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Gardner, Edward||Maude, Angus|
|Batsford, Brian||Gibson-Watt, David||Mawby, Ray|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Goodhart, Philip||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Gray, Hamish||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Benyon, W.||Green, Alan||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Grieve, Percy||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Boscawen, Robert||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)|
|Bowden, Andrew||Grylls, Michael||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Gummer, Selwyn||Money, Ernle|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Gurden, Harold||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Monro, Hector|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Bryan, Paul||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||More, Jasper|
|Buchanan-Smith, Aliok(Angus,N&M)||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Burden, F. A.||Haselhurst, Alan||Morrison, Charles|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Havers, Michael||Murton, Oscar|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hawkins, Paul||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hiley, Joseph||Neave, Airey|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Normanton, Tom|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|Churchill, W. S.||Holt, Miss Mary||Osborn, John|
|Clegg, Walter||Hornby, Richard||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Cooke, Robert||Howell, David (Guildford)||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Pardoe, John|
|Cormack, Patrick||Jessel, Toby||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Costain, A. P.||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Peel, John|
|Critchley, Julian||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Crouch, David||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jopling, Michael||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.Maj.-Gen.James||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Raison, Timothy|
|Dean, Paul||Kimball, Marcus||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Dixon, Piers||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Redmond, Robert|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kinsey, J. R.||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Rees, Peter (Dover)|
|Eden, Sir John||Knox, David||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Lane, David||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Emery, Peter||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)|
|Eyre, Reginald||Le Marchant, Spencer||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Rost, Peter||Stokes, John||Warren, Kenneth|
|Scott, Nicholas||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Wells, John (Maldstone)|
|Sharples, Richard||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Tebbit, Norman||Wilkinson, John|
|Shelton, William (Clapham)||Temple, John M.||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Soref, Harold||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Spence, John||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Sproat, Iain||Tilney, John||Worsley, Marcus|
|Stainton, Keith||Tugendhat Christopher||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Younger, Hn. George|
|Steel, David||Waddington, David|
|Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper||Walder, David (Clitheroe)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||Wall, Patrick||Mr. Victor Goodhew and|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.||Ward, Dame Irene||Mr. Kenneth Clarke.|
The Temporary Chairman:
Before we enter upon this debate, I should draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that there has been a fairly good discussion on much of the Clause. I hope, therefore, that observations as are now addressed to the Committee will be carefully related either to new points or strictly to what is in Clause 1.
May I make a comment on the remarks which you, Mr. Godman Irvine, have made to the Committee on what should be said in this debate. As I am sure you are aware, we made representations to the Chairman of Ways and Means on the subject of what would be in order in this debate. We have cited to him—I am sure that he has taken into account the representations which we have made—the frequent references which were made in earlier debates by spokesmen on the Government Front Bench, and also by the Chair itself, that, since the result of the ruling of the Chair meant that a host of Amendments which we had put down were excluded from the debate and ruled out of order, it was all the more necessary that we should be able to discuss those matters on Clause stand part.
Those references, which apply to this Bill in a way that they do not apply to many others, must be taken as giving an assurance to the Committee that there should be a wide discussion in this debate. Moreover, Amendments have not been accepted by the Chair for the whole of subsection (1) and up to half way through subsection (2). So on the early part of the Clause any attempts at amendment which we made were ruled out of order.
I should think that all those questions are specially open for debate in Committee. I hope that, whilst we will take into account what you have said from the Chair, your remarks were not in any way intended to suggest that the debate should be confined. I might add that, in view of the remarkable vote which has just taken place on a very serious Amendment affecting the relationship between this country and the countries of EFTA, which reduced the Government's majority to a derisory figure, nobody can say, not even the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that full-hearted consent has been given to the Amendment we have just discussed. I should have thought that the Government would be concerned at seeing their majority sink in this way. Therefore, it makes it all the more necessary that the Committee should have the fullest opportunity to debate the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill".
It is not our intention—indeed, we understand that it would not be proper—to repeat the points that arose on the particular Amendments which have been fully discussed. However, there is a wide area open for debate and, as I have said, the Government's majority is vanishing. I do not think that on Clause stand part any of us would be surprised if their majority were to vanish altogether. The new political situation, as well as the facts of the Clause itself, means that we must have a full opportunity to debate the whole question.
In opening the debate on Clause stand part we are dealing with the essential links which have been forged to connect this country to the existing European Communities. We are, as it were, being coupled up. The analogy of a train comes to mind. Four new coaches are to be coupled to an existing train of six coaches. The means of coupling is this bundle of treaties which are defined and, it turns out, ill-defined in the opening Clause of this Bill.
To pursue the analogy a little further, we have tried to unravel these connecting links, the packages, in order to discover the nature of the coupling. We have not been wholly successful. Our probing has met with somewhat of a blank wall. Specific questions have remained unanswered; they have been deftly side-stepped. It is essential, therefore, that we should press the Government on Clause stand part for at least one specific answer to the perfectly plain questions which have been put to them on the details of this linkage or coupling.
A train has to have an engine. I strongly suspect that the engine is nothing less than the power house of Brussels. I think it is the Commission that pulls the train of six coaches, and perhaps the four that are to be added.
I want to refer to one specific question. I am interested in the legal side. From my point of view, it is the most interesting, although it may not be to all members of the Committee. I refer to the perennial question of the status of this amorphous and shapeless bundle of treaties. We can feel the shape in the package—it is tantalising—but we have not been allowed to do more than peep under the cover to see what is contained there. These are the treaties which are to convey self-executing Community law to us.
The question which I want to put has been put several times by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones) put the point very clearly in debate yesterday when he pointed out that the legal status of this bundle of treaties is and remains much in doubt despite the pressure put upon the Government to illuminate this matter.
The treaties are left suspended in a legal limbo, and that will not do. If the treaties are to be legally effectual in this country they must have some competent legal standing, some legal status, and be subsumed under some known legal category. They must belong to some determinate source of the law known to this country. In the end, it comes to this: that the right hon. and learned Gentleman who handles this matter for the Government has denied and disowned with great vehemence in the opening debate of censure on the Chair that there is any attempt in the Bill to introduce the texts of the treaties into our law. He has denied that. What he said about this matter was quite specific—it is on record not once, but several times—that the Bill does not purport to approve the specific texts of the treaty.
If the Bill does not approve of the specific and express texts of the treaties then one has to question their standing and status. It would be well understood and easy to comprehend if the usual practice had been followed as it was with the EFTA Treaty and certain other treaties. We mentioned several of them in previous debates where the texts of the treaties have been annexed to the Act bringing them into effect in this country and, as it were, marrying them to the municipal law of this country.
In the past, the normal process when joining a new international body has been to enact treaty texts as part of the statute law of this country. Sometimes that has not been done, but it has always been done where it has been necessary to ensure that detailed and specific provisions of treaties were effective within the domestic jurisdiction of this country
Statute law is the normal source to which one would look to find the authoritative legal backing of the texts of the treaties, but we are not to get that because of the Amendments that were defeated yesterday. In Amendment No. 40 we asked that the texts of the treaties should be scheduled to the Bill. That is the second best thing to having them embodied in the statutes, but it is at least a well-understood legal mechanism. That suggestion has been rejected, and even the alternative of producing an index of the treaties has been rejected.
If it is not statute law, the only other legal source that could possibly contain these treaties is common law, but surely the Government will not say that the source to which we should look to find the content of this new and Continental system of law, this new legal order from Europe, is in the common law of England, or Scotland, or Northern Ireland for that matter? I am certain that the Government will not suggest that.
That being so, these treaties are left in a legal limbo, and the only way in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman can rescue them from this legal limbo is with this miserable little Bill. But, look as one may in the Bill, one looks in vain to find words which are apt to convey into the legal context of this country the texts of the treaties, and it seems to me that this is a fatal hiatus.
This is something that the Government have to face. They have to explain how it is that these treaties and their specific texts are somehow to be brought into effect in the law of this country, and it will not do for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to tell us to wait until we get to Clause 2(1). I am sure that when we get to that Clause we shall find the same careful deft side-stepping and that we shall get no nearer to the texts of these treaties than we have so far done. I leave that specific challenge with the Government. The Opposition want to know, as I am sure the Committee does, what is the legal status of the texts of these treaties. We want no dodging. We want a straight answer.
I should now like to pursue a little further the analogy of this European train with its six coaches and the four that are sought to be added because in the "Clause stand part" debate we are entitled to consider the nature of the train that we are joining.
That is a task that we have not yet considered. When we considered the principle of joining the Community, by implication we considered broad matters pertaining to the Community, but in the Clause we are dealing specifically with the thing that constitutes the train, the linkage—the treaties, the couplings—and we are entitled to see what is coupled up. We are entitled to stand back for a moment to see what is contained there.
That is what the Clause invites us to do, because it starts with subsection (1) citing the Act, as it will be, as the European Communities Act, 1972, That is what it is to be called. It is a long time since anyone really suggested that the side note correctly describes the Clause when it says "Short title and interpretation", but perhaps we can go back and remember that there is a short title. I should like to say a few words about that, because it is important to look at this train.
Is it really a European train, or is it just a Western European train? Indeed, after the debate that we have just had on EFTA one is entitled to ask whether it is a Western European train. Is it not selective? Is it not leaving out our EFTA partners who ought to come in if it is to be a Western European train, and, therefore, a Western European Community?
I jib at the word "European" for a start. What kind of Europe are we creating in Clause 1? What couplings are we linking up to and what, by implication are we rejecting? One can pursue this a little further because this is a selective Western European grouping, and, therefore, not European. Europe is a much wider continent than simply the Western European peninsula. Although it starts there it stretches at least to the Urals, and one has to consider the whole extent of Europe.
If one is considering that it is desirable to create a European Community one should surely, in principle, have an organisation that can achieve that end result. If when one examines the bones, the structure, of the Community one finds that they are inconsistent with this plendid objective, one begins to doubt whether the Bill is a genuinely European Bill; whether it is connecting us into a Community that can fairly be called a European Community.
This has two aspects. The one on which I want to dwell for a short time is the temptation that is bound to exist to overlook one matter. One sees signs of this not only in the provisions of the articles of the Treaty of Rome but also in the development of the Community in its trading and in its special relationships with tropical countries. It is clear that the Community is already finding that for many purposes the borders of Europe are not finally defined, not clearly described, on its southern aspect. That is where the southern part of Europe is bounded by the Mediterranean, and that area since classical times has in many respects been a unit.
Already there are signs that the true southern border of the Common Market—and that is a better term to use as it describes more accurately what the association is that we are joining—in common sense terms and in terms of existing relationships is beginning to be the North African coast, Asia Minor, Israel, Egypt and Turkey. That is the natural boundary of the trading area which is the Common Market.
One is already encroaching upon Africa. When one looks at the wider trading relationship which Britain is leaving by joining the Common Market, it becomes clear that many of the African States—and these were mentioned in the previous debate—have been brought into the network of the Common Market by dint of special trading relationships under the provisions of the Treaty of Rome. Therefore, not only is the European claim of this Community suspect, but its practical growth is in another direction and is reminiscent of the older spread of European imperialism towards the underdeveloped tropical areas of the world.
I would also point out—and I hope to develop this a little further—that calling this community the Common Market is more accurate in many respects because enshrined in it is the concept of free competition in a free market economy. I do not want to be unfair. It is true that there are provisions in the Treaty of Rome which moderate the stark harshness of a free market economy, but I do not think anyone—and I am sure the Committee will be fair-minded about this—on looking at the Treaty of Rome as a whole, on looking at the Coal and Steel Treaty and the Euratom Treaty as a whole, can doubt that the basic concept of a free market economy within that customs union is clearly enshrined. That is the establishment of the European future which the Community offers us.
I underline this point by drawing attention to the provisions of Article 3, one of the first and one of the most important of the preliminary set of articles which outline the principles in Part One of the Treaty of Rome. The paragraphs of Article 3 to which I particularly refer are (a), (b), (c), (f) and (h). There are six other paragraphs which I shall not mention at this stage. The five to which I refer set the tone. They are the essential principles on which the Market is based, and the others are either ancillary or have the moderating effects to which I referred.
I am not a custodian of party orthodoxy on this or any other matter. However, I am bound to ask my hon. and learned Friend, when he says that he does not want to join, whether he is aware that it is the official policy of the Labour Party, for which he is speaking, to join the Community if the right terms can be obtained? Would he care to comment on that?
I accept that, but the debate is concerned with a different matter. I was seeking to convince my right hon. Friend of this, and I was endeavouring to be fair. We are dealing not with unbridled capitalism in the Community but with a form of constitutional capitalism; the constitutional protections of this Community are not good enough, and that is one of the faults in the terms.
That is a satisfactory complement to the answer I have given to my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever).
Paragraph (a) of Article 3 provides for
the elimination, as between Member States, of customs duties and of quantitative restrictions on the import and export of goods, and of all other measures having equivalent effect".
Paragraph (b) provides for
the establishment of a common customs tariff and of a common commercial policy towards third countries".
Paragraph (c) provides for
the abolition, as between Member States, of obstacles to freedom of movement for persons, services and capital".
Paragraph (f) provides for
the institution of a system ensuring that competition in the common market is not distorted".
Paragraph (h) provides for
the approximation of the laws of Member States to the extent required for the proper functioning of the common market".
That type of orthodox statement of the aims of a constitutionally controlled capitalist economy, that sort of arrangement, is bound sooner or later to come into conflict, economic or otherwise, with the kind of State-planned socialism characteristic of the Eastern bloc.
There is no escape from that, and we must face the fact that one of the tensions which exist—it can be creative but it is dangerous as well—in this sphere is implicit in the fact that one of the protocols of the Treaty of Rome underwrites, by implication or expressly, the status of Berlin as requiring the support and protection of the free world.
These are political and not economic terms, and they have wide implications. Another aspect contained in the protocols is the special arrangements which exist for international German trade, crossing the sensitive boundaries between the Eastern economic bloc and the Community, which I call the Common Market.
This is the first time that we have had a chance of looking at the text of the Treaty of Rome. Up to now we have been given it in a sort of package. It is right, therefore, that we should look at the other Communities because this so far unprobed part of Clause 1(2) deals with the definition of "the Communities", which means the EEC, the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Atomic Energy Community. Correspondingly, the treaties with which we are concerned are the Treaty of Rome, the Coal and Steel Treaty and the Atomic Energy Treaty. We are also concerned with the Treaty of Accession and the ancillary agreements which contrive to take this country into the Common Market.
When one looks at the three original Communities—the European Community, the Coal and Steel Community and Euratom—one finds that they were set up with a common structure; a Commission, or High Authority in respect of Euratom, a Council, an Assembly and a Court of Justice.
It is equally true to say that the Community established by the Treaty of Rome—the "Main Community" is a fair way of putting it—developed out of the experience of the Coal and Steel Community. That was the pilot Community, and it was perhaps in some respects more supranational than the main Community which has come into existence.
When one looks at the Coal and Steel Community—I can refer to it at this stage only in passing; we shall probe it later because many aspects of it need to be probed—it is clear that the economic objective of setting up a free market economy was right at the heart of the matter. Indeed, one can go further and say that the setting in which the Coal and Steel Community was created is now almost outdated. There is a slightly Victorian look about it because the main sources of power in the 'fifties, from the point of view of economic power and defence, were iron, coal and steel.
Much of the motivation that set up the Coal and Steel Community was the cold war and the threat to Western Europe which was thought to be posed by the power of the Soviet Union during that period. Now, however, there is something anomalous about the position in that Western Europe is discovering great new sources of natural gas and oil. In other words, it is surprising to find so much specialised stress being laid on these rather old sources of raw materials for industry.
In the same light, there is a curious over-specialisation, perhaps, about the Euratom Treaty which was born in quite different circumstances, in the euphoria which existed when peaceful uses of atomic power were first discovered. People thought then that this would be a great new source of power, replacing coal and steel, the next step beyond them. That has turned out to be yet another dream, another illusion, and the Community is saddled with this outdated organisation—one can hardly call it "Victorian". We know that integration has been provided for and that the otiose organs of these communities have been combined and that there will be a single Community. On these three aspects no doubt very considerable development would have to take place in future, but we are joining a train which looks already faintly outdated; not a modern, streamlined engine.
Have not we, the four applicant countries which will enlarge the Community by 40 per cent.—we shall add four new members to six to make up 10—lost a great opportunity to try to modernise the Community? Would not the Community have welcomed a bit of initiative to try to get the real sources of power that matter today brought into the forefront of things instead of leaving it a Coal and Steel Community? That criticism or comment can be echoed in many other spheres.
I now mention three other aspects of the common structure of the Community.
We are all greatly interested in my hon. and learned Friend's first-class speech, in which he has quoted treaty after treaty, and discussed how we shall be affected if we enter the EEC. Would he address his mind to another treaty, which I thought he would mention at some time or other; namely, the Treaty of Union? In that treaty between Scotland and England certain obligations were undertaken towards Scotland. It would be interesting to know to what extent some of those obligations will be eliminated and others eroded. For example, we had the text of our law in Scotland. Will that be superseded by Community law?
That is an invitation which I must resist. If my reading of the Amendments to come is correct, we shall have an opportunity to discuss that in detail later. Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to leave it until then. It is a matter of great interest to me.
I have three points which I wish to point out in considering the structure of these three communities. In each case stress was laid on three characteristics of these organs: independent legal personality, independently financed and politically independent. The independent financing was a different kind of financing. The coal and steel community was self-financing. Obviously the main com- munity was not, nor was Euratom, which was, of course, a research body. There is an obligation to provide the finance, but no political control. Perhaps the most important factor in political control is that these communities are politically independent. This pattern has been built in from the coal and steel community, through Euratom, to the main Community that now exists.
That poses the next vital point concerning this European train, which is a bit out of date. What is it like institutionally? When one comes to political control, it is obviously grossly out of date. The ideas that we have been developing in our democratic society over the ages, the idea that we must have political answerability where there is responsible power, is an idea which we have had to fight to achieve. The modern concept, certainly in this country and in the Atlantic democracies, is surely not to create independent business organisations—because that is what they are—great giant, international trusts, crossing national boundaries, beyond the control of parliaments. Surely that is the way not of progress but of retrogression. Surely the way of progress is to recognise that in democracy one must have a delicate balance between political control and economic power. Surely the four applicants have lost a golden opportunity of influencing the Community in achieving the correct balance. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever) has left the Chamber.
It is essential for us to consider this vital and delicate balance. After all, it is the sort of thing which is not without mention in the Treaty of Rome, because there is a provision in Article 138 which is something that would not come as a surprise to the negotiators on the other side of the Channel. Article 138(3) provides that
The Assembly shall draw up proposals for elections by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States.
The European Parliament has very limited powers. It is really a jumped-up version of the Coal and Steel Assembly. The European Parliament is not much better than that. But if members were directly elected it would begin to create a power of its own and perhaps one could
get the organs of democracy growing in an organic way outwards from there, for financial control at the same time. But what a golden opportunity has been lost. All four applicant countries have splendid traditions of parliamentary democracy. What a splendid opportunity was lost here. One or two of the countries in the Community have splendid traditions of parliamentary democracy. I will not be scathing about the others. What an opportunity this was to strengthen the parliamentary democracy in the Six. They do not have long antecedents of parliamentary democracy in the way that the four applicant countries and one or two of the existing Six have. This was a chance for us to have said when negotiating "The economic terms are all right, but what about a bit of democracy?"
I took the opportunity to visit Brussels before the great vote on 28th October. I welcomed that opportunity. I went there prepared to learn and to see what was good in the Community. I was also prepared to see what was bad. When speaking to the civil servants of the Community who were kind enough to speak to us, I put to them one or two of the questions that I had put to the Government previously about the conditions that they could have sought in order to protect Britain's interests. One of the most interesting points was the idea that if the budgetary conditions imposed for our entry were unduly heavy perhaps an arrangement could have been made with the Community for a general review at a later stage. Those who were speaking to us from the Community said "We would have considered that request sympathetically, but your Government never asked for it."
That is true. Time and again essential matters have been let slide in that way and have not been mentioned. An adequate stand was not taken to ensure that democratic interests and British interests were properly safeguarded.
I come, lastly, to a treaty which might be overlooked—the Treaty of Accession. I mention this partly because one of the factors which interested me when the negotiations were taking place—this is a constituency interest which I declare—was the matter of fisheries. It appeared that this was a matter on which the Govern- ment could get terms which at least gave some promise for the future.
I will not make any personal attack on anybody here, but the fact is that we were given answer after answer by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It was his well-known performance of side stepping rather than answering the specific questions that were put to him continually and persistently about the kind of agreement he was negotiating.
I can use the illustration of the Treaty of Accession not only in regard to the fisheries agreement but also in regard to the problem of the status of these treaties. Article 2 provides:
From the date of accession, the provisions of the original Treaties"—
The Committee will be interested to notice that this is yet another definition of the package; we are now being told about original treaties; that is not mentioned in the Bill—
and the acts adopted by the institutions of the Communities shall be binding on the new Member States and shall apply in those States under the conditions laid down in those Treaties and in this Act.
Once again I put the question to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. What is the status of this Article? This is another text to which there is no express reference in the Bill, although there may be references by implication. Yesterday my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South referred to legislation by reference. Perhaps it is not legislation at all. It does not start to have meaning unless what is referred to has some competent and legal status.
That is the question I am putting to the Chancellor of the Duchy, hoping that at least I shall get an answer. What is the status of this? It may be—and some learned academics have actually put this point in articles—that perhaps the object of this treaty—and this is in the context of the existing Six and not of our application—is to create a European common law. That is an exciting idea which, if people were genuinely interested in creating the right kind of Community with Europe with the tradition of the common law behind it, could have been achieved. But if that is the idea and if we are to get a new common law added to the common law of England and Scotland, and a new source of law, not the statute law of this Parliament, but the common law of Europe and the Community—legislation by prerogative was the phrase coined by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolver Hampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)—where is its legal birth certificate? I find it nowhere in the Bill.
For the reasons I have outlined, and I could go on very much longer on this topic, it seems to me that on this side of the Committee we are entirely justified in inviting the Committee to oppose the Clause and to reject it.
As I have the good fortune to follow the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray), I should like to preface my few observations by saying what I am sure the Committee as a whole would echo and reinforce, that the Committee owes him a considerable debt in the course of our proceedings, irrespective of which side of the Chamber we sit, and irrespective of the view we take on the merits of this great controversy. The hon. and learned Gentleman has delved into difficult, complex and technical problems put up by the Bill and has given the Committee the benefit of his knowledge to the advantage of us all and to the advantage of the debates and discussions we have had.
I was minded, in order to show that my good will and encomia have no narrow restrictions, to follow with a genial word of welcome to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever) who was seated on his side of the Committee a few minutes ago. But, alas, I am in a sense too late because he is no longer with us. I hope, to use the language of Burke, that he is not merely a transient and embarrassed phantom—[Interruption.] An hon. Member says he will be back, and I hope that this is so. I said earlier when we were debating this Clause in Committee, when I welcomed the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) on his maiden appearance in the Committee, that I hoped that we should have more pro-Market contributions and attendance from the Opposition side. I hope that we shall have more from that side. I see my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) here anxious to make his contribution, but not even he would claim that there has been a great flood of pro-Market eloquence and ratiocination from that side of the Chamber on the Bill. When it comes to the Division Lobby, the pro-Market cause will have its triumph——
Yes, only just, but no-one could see its triumph in the actual dialectical content. The argument has been nearly all one way and I am bound to say to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham that it will require even more than his return to the Chamber to redress that balance.
I was very interested in everything the hon. and learned Gentleman said, particularly his stimulating observations about what I think he meant to represent as this last chance for expanding and extending the democratic processes within the Community, because there is certainly great need for that.
The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the European Parliament—[Interruption.] Here returns the right hon. Member for Manchester, Cheetham—no transient and embarrassed phantom he—armed with a library of notes, no doubt the record of all the past proceedings of the Committee, in which we have not had the good fortune to have his contributions to date.
The hon. and learned Gentleman could have added that although the European Parliament is unfortunately a shadowy Assembly, it is not altogether its fault. It has been making representations over a long period to play a more ample, more constructive and more dignified part in the proceedings of the Community. But so far its representations have fallen on deaf ears. We have never had a clear statement of what view the Government take about the rôle which the European Parliament should play. My own position is quite clear. I do not think, and have never thought, that it would be beneficial to this country to enter the Community on the terms of the Treaty of Rome. But if unfortunately, in spite of the balance of argument being all our way, the Lobby fodder verdict is the other way, it will be necessary to strengthen the democratic content of the Community if it is to be tolerable to people bred in the British democratic way of life.
There are many in the Community who realise this. The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to a visit to Brussels which he made in October. I visited Brussels somewhat later, and in the conversations I had with some of the Commissioners, they frankly admitted the shortcomings of the European Parliament. I am betraying no confidences, because my discussions with them took place in front of the television cameras, and they are all on the record. I was struck by the frank admission that there was a great deal lacking in the democratic content of the workings of the Community at present. I echo what the hon. and learned Gentleman said about that. If we are in the end members of the Community, that is something on which we should seek to contribute, but it is a condition which it might well have been better for the Government to specify as one of the cardinal aims and requirements of our application for entry rather than being relegated behind those relatively few economic conditions which were prescribed.
We have spent long hours, laborious days and some nights upon the Clause, and it is sad that we are reaching its end—[Interruption.]—not sad that we are reaching its end in that sense, but sad that we are reaching its end without any improvement in it to match the consideration we have collectively, jointly and severally given to the matter.
The Clause, an unhappy Clause, is bad at first glance, and the more it is probed the more unsatisfactory it is seen to be. It contains defects both patent and latent, and none of them has been cured by all the time which we have devoted to its debate. I hope that the reason for that is not any obstinate adherence by Ministers to the text as drafted in order to avoid the necessity for a Report stage, for that would not be the appropriate approach to a Bill of this complexity.
I speak with some experience of legislation in the House, though not, of course, such long experience as that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton), the Father of the House, and, as a result of that experience—I am sure that you, Mr. Mallalieu, with your long and distinguished experience, would confirm what I am saying, if you were not sitting in the neutarility of the Chair—I know it to be most unusual for a Bill to be right as drafted the first time. If that be so as the general rule, so much more unlikely is a Bill as complex as this unique Measure to be right first time.
The odds against it being right the first time, whatever the manifold merits of the draftsman, and whatever the assiduity and ingenuity of my right hon. and learned Friend, which is profound—[Laughter.] I thought that I had better say something which was certain to catch my right hon. and learned Friend's attention.
With respect, Mr. Mallalieu, I am not likely to forget it. You will recall that the unfortunate Queen Mary Tudor, known to historians by the infelicitous and pejorative name of "Bloody Mary", said that, when she died, "Calais" would be written on her heart. The Bill, and this Clause, are written on my heart, and I assure you that I am in no danger of forgetting it or its contents.
It would be most unlikely that the Clause would be right as initially drafted. It is the interpretation Clause. It is unusual to spend so much time and to have to take so much trouble with an interpretation Clause. But this is a most unusual interpretation Clause. Usually, interpretation Clauses wear the guise of innocence. Here that is deceptive. The content and effect of the Clause belie its superficial innocence. It is in effect a legislative wolf in sheep's clothing.
I have three main complaints in regard to Clause 1. I summarise them briefly because we have discussed these matters on the various proceedings so far. My first complaint is as to the specification made in the Clause of existing treaties. Here, the charge against the Clause is one of imprecision. The charge of imprecision is very grave in regard to an interpretation Clause, the whole object of which is clarity and definition. Clause 1 and Schedule 1 catalogue the specific treaties but paragraph 7 of Schedule 1 includes the notorious "portmanteau" provision. Here again I am indebted to the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith for this felicitous description of the provision.
All that is necessary under Clause 1 is for an Order in Council under subsection (3) to specify the treaty and its status as conclusively established and binding upon the courts. Of course a certain imprecision, a sort of portmanteau approach in regard to future treaties, although regrettable, might be inevitable. But Schedule 1(7) is dealing with existing treaties and surely in their case precision should be possible and is essential. We have not got it. Of course the Government had the opportunity to improve the drafting in this respect, to give the missing precision to the Bill. But they rejected it in the small hours of this morning. They rejected Amendment No. 202, moved by the hon. Member for Waltham-stow, West (Mr. Deakins). They rejected even his plea for what one would think was the minimum safeguard of at any rate listing the principal pre-accession treaties in the Bill. I must regretfully say that, in regard to existing treaties, none of the defects of the Clause has been cured, and they are radical indeed.
I pass to my second complaint, which has regard to the treatment by the Clause of future treaties. Here, the complaint is not so much a matter of precision or imprecision as a matter of parliamentary control and the lack of it. Subsection (3) purports to give a measure of Parliamentary control but is wholly insufficient. It should be possible to incorporate new post-accession treaties—that is to say, Community treaties after 22nd January—only by the full statutory process. After all, we have the full statutory process for many less important matters than that. Again, the opportunity was given to incorporate a necessary and welcome improvement in the Bill, and again the opportunity was rejected and the Clause is inevitably the worse for it.
My third complaint is rather different in its nature because it relates to the sin of omission—the omission of matters which should have been specified and written into the Clause for our protection. We had a debate about this a week or two ago when I stressed the desirability of incorporating in the Statute a reference to the Luxembourg Agreement because it is that agreement which has been paraded all along as the universal remedy for all the bureaucratic and supranational ills to which entry to the Community is heir. But it finds no place, and we have no protection against the rigours and rigidity of the treaties specified.
Those are serious defects in an interpretation Clause. They would be serious defects in any interpretation Clause but they are far more serious in this Clause in this Bill because of the connection between Clause 1 and Clause 2. It is, after all, the treaties specified in the Clause which will spawn those regulations and in some cases have already spawned and are continuing to spawn them. Those regulations will be self-executing, as the phrase goes, in Clause 2. That means that they will bind the British people irrespective of Parliament and the courts. It is for that reason that the defects and mischiefs of Clause 1 are not academic, not isolated, not self-contained. They will infect the whole organism created by this Bill and will foster those elements of Clause 2 which are repugnant to the sovereignty of Parliament and the rule of law. I conclude that it is a bad Clause both in form and in content and should be rejected by the Committee.
It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) because this gives a legal basis from both sides of the Committee for my observations and it enables me to make those observations on a more positive note rather than the interrogative one which I was about to adopt. When a layman deals with an interpretation Clause he feels a little safer if the Clause has already been criticised from a legal point of view on both sides of the Committee. He is then able to embark on his doubts feeling that they are not merely those of someone who does not understand but the doubts which have been expressed legally on both sides. I can therefore start with a little more confidence.
One of the problems of this Clause is that it contains a totally inadequate definition in subsection 2(4) which says:
For the purposes of subsections (2) and (3) above, 'treaty' includes any international agreement, and any protocol or annex to a treaty or international agreement.
For reasons which quite properly have never been explained, an Amendment which I sought to move clarifying and expanding this Clause was not selected. No doubt the reasons were quite proper but the Amendment would have removed some of the impression to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred. I feel that it is unfortunate that it was not selected. I shall come to what I believe to be the reason for its non-selection. Though it is not proper for me to ask why it was not selected, I think it is in order for me to say why I think it was not selected.
Although I cannot discuss the Amendment I hope that I shall be allowed to say that it sought to include the General Programmes of the Community, as they are recorded in the official journal, as international agreements for the purposes of interpretation of this Clause. It sought to say that the General Programmes which at the moment are excluded, which are not law under the Bill as it is at present worded, should be included as being international agreements for the purposes of the Bill. As at present drafted the Clause does not include those General Programmes. The Clause as drafted has a lacuna. I must not talk about what is not in the Clause, but only what is in it, but I can talk about a gap which is in the Clause, this lacuna, this hole, for this gap will prove to be a very difficult problem for us.
Let me illustrate the problem. As hon. Members know, all Common Market legislation stems from the Treaty of Rome. That is undoubtedly true. That is law. That is an international agreement. There is no doubt about that. Thus hundreds of Directives which have issued from the Council since 1957 are to become part of British law—like that, overnight—with the process of accession. About this there seems to be no doubt. In some cases of Directives issued by the Council we are given six months after accession to bring the Directives into force. We have ourselves in our own country, to do something, or else such a Directive remains inoperative. It seems that some action has to be taken about that; the mere process of accession is not enough; we are given six months to put our house in order, as it were—although I would say that it is to put our house into disorder, because we are already in order. Under this Bill we are to put our house into disorder, and I think it should be entitled a Bill for worsening the British situation, since it is a Bill to bring our good order down to the disorder which exists in the Common Market countries. As I say, in some cases we are given six months to make ourselves as bad as they are.
An example of these is Directive No. 451 of 29th September, 1970, and another is Directive No. 264 of 1965. These are Directives concerning the obtainment of freedom to establish and freedom to provide services in respect of activities in wholesale trade.
The curious thing, however, is that the Directives do not spring directly from the Treaty of Rome itself. The Treaty of Rome is undoubtedly law, and I believe that the Directives are intended, at any rate, to be law, but those Directives do not spring directly from the Treaty; they spring from the General Programmes which stand between the Directives and the Treaty itself. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy pointed out when I quoted one at an earlier stage, these General Programmes are not themselves legal instruments; they stand between the Treaty and the Directives but are not themselves legal instruments, and under this Clause they do not become British law.
There is the treaty, there are the General Programmes for the abolition of restrictions and then there are the Directives which apply the General Programmes to particular cases. Whereas the treaty and the Directives are law, as the Clause stands the General Programmes which interpret the Treaty and provide authority for application to particular industries are apparently not legal instruments and an Amendment which I sought to introduce which would have given them legal status was not selected.
I am advised that under British law if what is legally enforceable passes through a stage which is not legally enforceable subsequent statements which purport to be enforceable are not enforceable for they stem from a non-enforceable source. I have been advised that if what is said to be enforceable stems from a non-enforceable source, it is not enforceable. If this is so, the question arises whether any of the Directives of the Council are enforceable in British courts. They do not stem directly from the Treaty, which is enforceable, but from the non-enforceable programmes. The lacuna in the Clause means therefore that none of the Directives is enforceable. I do not know for certain whether this is so, and I bow to legal opinion, but it is a point which is at least arguable and worthy of examination. Were I in charge of the Bill I should want to plug up this hole. I should be unhappy at the possibility of the Directives being unenforceable in the British courts.
It may be that the reason why my Amendment was ruled out of order is that the General Programmes, being no more than statements of aspirations, are regarded as unsuitable to be thought of as treaties and thus international agreements. This difficulty may be insuperable.
That surely cannot be so, since a number of the admitted treaties in the ten volumes of treaties that even the Government accept will have the force of law under Clause 1 are vague and seemingly anticipatory expressions of future international friendship. For instance, the Hague Agreement of December, 1969, is full of marvellous phrases about future European political unity. Although it may be meaningless, there is no question but that it is a treaty under Clause 1(4) and would therefore have the force of law in this country.
The Treaty is said to be a treaty not only by the Community but it is written into the Bill as being a Treaty. However much wind there may be in it, it still remains a treaty. But nowhere does the EEC say that the General Programmes are treaties or international agreements. The right hon. and learned Gentleman does not say that they are treaties or international agreements. They are a stage in between the Treaty and the Directive and nobody says that they are international agreements. My Amendments which sought to say that they were international agreements or treaties was not selected.
We have this gap which everybody agrees is not law between two pieces of law. If there is a gap under the British law there must be a gap under the Common Market law. The tertiary situation may not be legally enforceable because there is a non-enforceable secondary between the primary and tertiary situations. This question needs to be answered. It may be that the difficulty is insuperable and it is possible that no directive of the Council can have validity in British law until such time as it is re-cast in a form that is enforceable in the British courts.
If I am right, it means that the Bill can be viewed with less apprehension and alarm than we have viewed it up to the present. It means that even if it becomes law, it will be possible successfully to challenge most of the Council's directives in the British courts and fresh legislation to give effect to the directives may have to be carried through the House by the Government. I feel it doubtful that they would get through the House individual legislation to give effect to directives.
One of the objects of presenting this Bill in such a brief form is so that we shall not be able to discuss individual Directives. We shall not be able to show the various forms of harm which will befall industry by discussing the application of each Directive to each industry. If the Government were forced into a position of having to introduce legislation on each industry to show the effect of a directive upon it, I doubt whether they would get any single piece of legislation through the House. There are people on both sides of the Committee who know what will be the consequences upon each industry. The Government have ended by shoving this legislation through Parliament in a short Bill so that we are unable to discuss details. Indeed this is the only way in which the Government are able to get this wretched Bill enacted.
This is one of the jokes about the Bill. When the Community law comes to be enforced in our courts, it will be seen to be so vaguely drawn that the British courts in interpreting that law will say, "We cannot interpret this and will throw it out". Therefore, whatever we do in this Parliament in our parliamentary games, and even if we pass this legislation, much of it will be ineffective when tested in the courts.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is a big joke—and indeed that applies to much of the Government's legislation, though I do not expect to carry the hon. Gentleman with me on other matters. It remains to be seen whether the consequences of carrying the Bill through Parliament will be that we shall be forced into the bad pattern of Common Market legislation which the Government seem to be determined to thrust us towards. For these reasons I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen opposite will vote against the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill". For if the Clause is agreed to, it is so imprecise that the consequences will unsettle the future, even if they cannot be clearly foreseen tonight.
The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) said that the interpretation Clause was concerned with the linkage between carriages of the European train and highlighted the two kinds of objection to the Clause as it stands. There are those who are worried about the livery and internal fitments of the coach, and there are those who do not want to join the train at all and who wish to stick to the stage coach in which they are travelling at the moment. The image of the train shows the linkage of individual packages to create something greater than the individual parts. The hon. and learned Gentleman is one of these who want to improve the arrangements that we are making with the EEC. He has made it clear that he would like us to have arrangements with the Community, but he would like to improve those outlined in Clause 1.
There are those who do not want such an arrangement. One can understand their view, but it is a different view. It is on this that we find the difficulty in Clause 1. The hon. and learned Member for Leith would have liked to see in Clause 1 references to arrangements which would have improved the EEC itself. He would have liked a great deal more about democratic institutions, and he would have wished them to be written into the Clause. He said that the Clause did not refer to these agreements because, in his mind, the democracy of those agreements was insufficient. However, once the hon. and learned Gentleman says that, he invites us to lay ourselves open to the other group of people who have discussed the Clause and who do not want anything to do with Europe. They do not want any such greater democracy because any greater democracy would demand a greater degree of the giving up of sovereignty, as they would put it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) has often posed the dilemma that we have here an institution which is not as democratic as many of us would like it to be—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I have never made any secret of that. We have an institution of this kind, and those of us who would like to see a stronger and more powerful European Parliament are open to attacks from those who do not wish us to join the train. It is the Charybdis of Stepney rather than the Scylla of Leith who stands firmly, almost greyly, as a rock and tells us not to do anything to improve the democracy of Europe and the treaties to which Clause 1 refers because, if we do so, we shall give up in an increasing way decisions over our national life in this country, and that is unacceptable.
My hon. Friend has rather overshot the point on which I wished to comment. However, for the record, let me get one matter straight. My hon. Friend categorised some of us, I suspect including me, as people who did not want anything to do with Europe. Let us be clear. I love Europe. I have French blood in me. I have been all over Europe. All that I hate is the Treaty of Rome.
There is a kind of lover of whom it can be said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. It is in that category that the love of my hon. Friend always appears to be true. It never reaches the point of action——
No, I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. I prefer to remain in my amorous mood for a while longer in order to continue to keep to the point. I fear that if I give way to the hon. Gentleman I shall be drawn into one of the byways that he has raised before on this point.
We have here an interpretation Clause which has been designated, rightly, as an interpretation Clause which is more important than many. It is more important because it points directly to an element in the European Community which is of great importance. It is that element which gives to the European Community a life of its own. It enables the European Community to be given powers jointly by those of us who are to be members of it which do not necessarily mean that we have afterwards to go through the form of accepting them individually. It gives us a force and power as a Community which is greater than the individual power of each of the members of that Community.
This is a source of great objection to many hon. Members who do not want us to be in a position to give to our association in Europe a life of its own. Many pro-Marketeers have sought sometimes, I think wrongly, to underestimate or to play down this nature of the union. I have never tried to do that, and the Clause does not try to do it. It sets out clearly that there are elements in the union which will enable us to do things together as a Community. That brings upon us certain obligations into which we enter, but those obligations are of the essence of the Community.
At this point I should like to refer to the comments made by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith in reply to his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever). There are two kinds of objection that one may have to the Clause, but the one objection that one may not have is the objection that somehow or other there are obligations within the Clause which are not necessary and would not have been taken upon the shoulders of this country were some other Government in other circumstances to have negotiated this treaty.
I do not believe that it is helpful to quote people's statements in the past and to argue anything through on the basis that Mr. So-and-So said such-and-such a thing on 1st May and something opposite on 19th May. I will do that. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury I keep my promises to continue in the way that I have begun. I am promising not to make any quotations from other people's speeches.
However, it is fair to point out that it is not an acceptable pose to say that one is opposed only to the terms, not to the reality of joining the European Economic Community, and then to discuss Clause 1 in terms which show that there are no possible situations and agreements in or under which accession to the European Economic Community would be possible. That is what the hon. and learned Member for Leith has done. He has suggested that Clause 1 would be acceptable only if it were phrased in such a way that we could not join the Community not only as it stands, but as it could ever be.
That is the gravamen of the objection which many of us have to the arguments which have been made throughout the Committee stage by many hon. Members opposite. They have claimed that they are objecting to the accidents of this Clause, the way that it has been phrased, the words which have been used, and the bits that have been left out. In fact, they have been complaining about the substance of joining the Community. In many ways they are trying in attacking this Clause, to carry out a fraud. They want the best of both worlds. They want to sound like good Europeans.
Indeed, they are such good Europeans that they dislike Western Europe because they feel that is not all of Europe. They wish to turn our minds to Eastern Europe and to the Mediterranean. Israel, Egypt and Turkey were three other countries at which we were advised to look. They want us to look at all those countries and say that because we cannot join the lot we should not make a start. That is the gravamen of the argument of those who wish us all the time to pretend that what we are arguing about is the accident of this Clause, of the way it has been drawn, of the way in which my right hon. Friends have phrased the Clause, when in fact what they are arguing about is the business of joining the Community at all.
I remind the hon. Gentleman that he has given way to someone else with French blood in his veins—and other mixed blood as well—who knows Europe. The hon. Gentleman talked about the life of the new Europe, about a new type of European life, and about a new organism arising in Europe. He has spoken with some enthusiasm. How can that life be institutionalised except in the form of a Federal Europe, with some form of Federal Government? In what sense is it to be anti-European to object to that course of events?
The hon. Gentleman referred to his French blood. Perhaps I might be able to refer to his English parliamentary experience, which is much longer than mine. The hon. Gentleman knows that the genius of the British parliamentary system is that it has evolved in order to accommodate the needs of the nation as they arose. Simon de Montfort, who was referred to in our debates yesterday, did not ride in on his horse with a plan for the bi-cameral legislature that we have today. He tried to make a start on meeting the needs of the nation as they were.
For the hon. Gentleman to ask me what is going to be a suitable system to met the needs of the Europe that we are trying to build is as helpful as if, 250 years ago, I had turned to those who were trying to move one more step towards a Britain which would be more democratic and meet the new needs of that period and asked how they saw that new Britain evolving and what was the end to which they thought it would move. That is not a reasonable thing to ask. Nor is it a reasonable thing to discuss on the Clause. What is reasonable to discuss is how do we make a beginning, how do we start to create the kind of Community in Europe which many of us seek to build?
I suggest that the way we begin is to ally ourselves in the way that the Clause suggests with a Community which will have a life of its own. It is not in any way an extensive one, in many ways a more limited one than some of us would like, and certainly not as yet as democratic as I look forward to having there soon, but if we say that we are not going to support the Clause because it does not write down in fine point all the things that we would like to see in Europe, not only now but in the future; if we say that we cannot possibly join this Community until it has done all the things that we would like it to do and then we shall join, we shall deny the Community the one great thing which under the Bill as a whole and the Clause in particular we can offer to the Community—what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) referred to as the British democratic way of life.
If we agree to the Clause we shall be giving to this country the opportunity so to associate itself with the other countries of the Community—or, in the words of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith, we shall be providing the linkage for our carriage to join the train—to enable us to do those things in the Community which hon. Members have said should be achieved.
If the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) who, more than any hon. Member in the House, speaks from a sitting position, has so little faith in the institutions and ability of this nation that he thinks that they will not be able to communicate to the Community that which we believe to be the greatest part of our democratic and national life, then he has a very poor view indeed of his country.
When the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. J. Selwyn Gummer) thought that some of us were in the stage-coach phase, I was struck by a certain nostalgia, recalling the time when I, too, longed for a stage coach. It was an occasion on the Ml when I saw a group of cars hurtling into a fog without thought of security and concerned only with the speed of their progression. It was not unlike the state of Europe which the hon. Gentleman wants us to join.
The hon. Gentleman said that he would not quote the past. I feel obliged to do that in a personal respect. I was for many years an enthusiastic European. I was joint secretary to the United Kingdom Council for United Europe. My "joint" was the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
However, it was a very different Europe that we then wished to join. We also wished to join it in very different circumstances. They were circumstances in which Britain would have been the leader, but I feel that even in those circumstances I was still wrong.
I recall defying the Labour Government of the time—a position in which I am not unaccustomed to finding myself—when I went to the Hague Conference which started this business. It was that Conference which sired the Strasbourg Parliament of Europe, and an imbecile pup we sired.
I remember being sent for by Ernest Bevin. He advised me against going and said, "It will not fit the history of Europe". Ernest Bevin was not strong in grammar, but he was impressive. I rejected his advice but constantly that phrase has been coming back to me as I have seen this thing develop. It does not fit the history of Europe.
I wish to deal with the aspect of Clause 1 that particularly worries me, something which seems to do great violence to the constitution of this country. This was a proposition which was challenged in a most remarkable speech yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever). I was not convinced by my right hon. Friend. I say that with regret, because he is one of the last people I care to disagree with. I am inclined to think that if one were to have a poll, on both sides of the House of Commons, as to who was our most intelligent Member, he would probably have a majority on both sides. This is a level of reputation and opinion on both sides of the House that I do not remember being enjoyed by any right hon. or hon. Member during the 27 years I have been in Parliament. It is a very remarkable position. It is, therefore, with deep diffidence that I challenge his argument.
What my right hon. Friend said yesterday was, first, that this is not a challenge to our constitution because within our constitution we still remain sovereignly all-powerful. He said that we were able, legally at least, to convert him into Brigitte Bar dot, to make him French, feminine and beautiful.
I remember another commentator on our constitution pointing out that we had the power to decree that all red-heads should be struck off, but he advanced that reason to illustrate something rather different, to illustrate that in considering constitutional power one was not concerned with theoretical legalities. What one is concerned with is what Parliament can actually do. What Parliament can do if we join is vastly less than what it can do if we do not join. That is the important thing.
If we join we accept subjection to a written constitution which we did not write and which we had no part in the writing. We submit ourselves to a whole series of superior laws which we cannot amend, vary or revoke. We submit ourselves to a court at Brussels which is not a court of our country, and every law that we pass must be subject to review and revocation by that court's decision.
Certainly in certain matters, which fall within the jurisdiction of that court; and those matters include taxation.
We are no longer what was our most ancient and fundamental privilege, the arbiters or deciders of taxation. It is not here, but there that the corn laws are reimposed, and reimposed at a higher level than they ever were in the days when Peel repealed them. But now we cannot repeal them. These are the real things.
Of course, it is not everything. We can still have our own law of divorce and our own criminal law. But on an enormous front, the major part of our activities, the control and management of our economy, we cease to be sovereign. This is a very formidable diminution of our constitution.
The next point which my right hon. Friend the Member for Cheetham made was that this is not a constitutional change because what we do is not permanent; it is revocable. Technically it is revocable; we could pass a law. But—I come back not to the legal, theoretical things but the reality of the situation—if we did revoke this we would be breaking the bargain which we had made with all the partnerships we have entered into. We would have entered into this bargain upon the basis that it is irrevocable, and if we attempted to revoke it we should be defrauding every one of our partners.
We have entered into that association by way of a treaty. If we revoke, we break that treaty. Within our domestic law it may be technically available to us to do it, but in international law it would be a revolutionary procedure. Of course permanence is always relative in these things. There is nothing that cannot be turned over by violence or revolution. However, in international terms, once we are in we can leave only by revolution, by the defiance of the laws of the Community which we accept, of the international laws which we accept, of our plighted word. Is that not a formidable variation of our constitution?
Again, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cheetham said that there is no case for a special reference to the people or for any special procedure about this form of constitutional change; that if this be so it applies only where the constitutional change affects the method of election or the way in which powers are exercised.
I know no legal authority for that distinction. Surely it would be an odd distinction if we had to refer to our electors as to how we exercised our power but not as to what powers we exercised. Here is the fundamental thing. The powers which we can exercise are being raped. This is vastly more important than whether the House of Lords keeps us waiting one year or two.
My right hon. Friend said, finally, that this is not a constitutional change because
The sovereignty of Parliament depends on the fact that no one law has a higher rank than another. It is that alone that gives to an incoming Parliament total sovereignty over the country's affairs".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th April, 1972; Vol. 835, c. 377.]
This is precisely what we are doing in practice. We are giving this whole body of laws priority over the other laws. We are pledging ourselves, and we are pledging the country's honour, which a successor Government cannot break. We are doing all these things and the Government say of a referendum "We cannot have that; it is a constitutional innovation."
The Government's attitude reminds me of the story which I heard in the First World War of a little man who was travelling across the plains of India in a railway carriage and there was no corridor in the train. He was suffering from dysentery and was in great pain. The other people in the carriage said "My dear fellow, here is a newspaper—relieve yourself." He was about to do so. Somebody handed round a packet of cigarettes. He looked at the other occupants of the carriage severely and said "Gentlemen, this is not a smoking carriage".
I believe profoundly in the authority of a Member and in Edmund Burke's concept that we are appointed to decide; we are representatives and not delegates. We are here to take the responsibility, and that responsibility involves taking decisions which we know to be unpopular. This is our duty and we do not escape from it by going back to our electors and saying "Exercise for us that responsibility which you have given us".
But upon this our responsibility there is a limitation. That is the constitution under which we acquire that authority. If we wish to change that constitution we must go back to the people for the authority. This is the essential distinction. It is argued that if we have a referendum on this issue we shall have to have it for capital punishment and any other thing that people choose to think up. For all these things we are appointed and we have the authority the duty and the responsibility to decide it, but we have no authority to go outside the constitution under which we were appointed and that is what we are being asked to do and that is where I find it objectionable.
We are being asked to go into a new association with a new constitution under which we have superior laws, and we do not even know what they are. They are undefined. Some of them have not been translated and there is no accepted translation. The Government are not even prepared to tell us what they are, let alone to set them out. We are going into it in order to surrender our sovereignty to an association bound primarily by its mutual distrust created from the fears of the wars which have always divided it, an association in which no distrust could be greater than that felt by France for Germany, by Germany for France and by both for Italy.
We are asked to go into that association because it has proved the capacity to get fat. It has proved no other capacity. It has no will to defend itself. It has failed totally to accept the responsibility for its own defence and it is feckless to the degree that it is shaking and breaking off the American alliance under whose power it alone existed. And there, having dug a power vacuum upon the borders of Russia, it asks us to join that disaster.
In the fine riposte which the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has delivered to the speech yesterday of his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Cheetham (Mr. Harold Lever), I found there was one specially memorable recollection. It was not his Indian story but his recollection of the words of Ernest Bevin, words spoken at a very early stage of the evolution of what we now know as the European Economic Community—that "it does not fit the history of Europe". Perhaps if Ernest Bevin had been a greater master of words and had a wider vocabulary, "history" would not have been the word he would have chosen. But he certainly grasped a great truth. I often think that those are least European, have least understanding of what Europe is and what is great and imperishable about Europe, who have appropriated to the European Community, which in many respects is a caricature and even a denial of what is essentially European, the title of "Europe". If the hon. and learned Member for Northampton has done nothing else he has placed that upon the record, and it is good that it should be there.
The Question which was posed to the Committee at the beginning of this debate was the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill. Very often the form of that Question is, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill; but that was not the formula which it fell to the occupant of the Chair to use on this occasion. I do not think it is for want of reasons for amendment that it is an unamended Clause which we have before us. It is true that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had something to say on this on 6th March:
That is not to say that the Bill cannot be amended in certain respects, in particular—as I have explained on numerous occasions—in regard to the modalities of carrying out our obligations.
I reject entirely the suggestion that the Government had any intention to gag Parliament in the proper performance of its function."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th March, 1972; Vo. 832, c. 1056–7.]
Part of "the proper performance" of the House of Commons in Committee is to find how a Bill might be more accurately expressed, how it might be more explicit about that which needs to be clear, and how difficulties in interpretation and application can be smoothed away and removed. That is certainly part of "the proper performance of its function" in considering a Bill.
I just wonder whether it is more than accident that all our efforts to perform that function in relation to this Clause have failed. I just wonder whether it is in the mind of my right hon. and learned Friend that the progress of the Bill might be expedited if it so happened that no Amendments were made to it throughout the whole of the Committee stage, with the procedural consequence with which we are all familiar.
In that connection, since it is the Clause unamended that we are being asked to allow to stand part, I should like to transmit to my right hon. and learned Friend—I make no complaint about his not being present at the moment—that it is the common experience of Governments that they proceed slowest when they make this sort of haste. It is no way to persuade the House of Commons to accept any legislation, let alone legislation like this, to which there is such strong repugnance, about which such strong doubts are felt, to incur the suspicion of an anxiety not to admit even the most cogent, necessary and minor Amendments for fear that thereby time will be lost. By that means far more time is lost than is gained. It is a curious thing that it is not only those who are opposed to such legislation who find, almost involuntarily, in spite of themselves, that they resent that sort of attitude upon the part of the Government. For though we are ranged on two sides in many more senses than one, one of those senses is that here in this House Parliament not only co-operates and debates with Government but also confronts Gov-