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Orders of the Day — European Communities Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1972.

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Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , Wolverhampton South West 12:00 am, 13th July 1972

I am quite prepared to attribute considerable weight not to any single test of opinion but to the concurrence of every sort and kind of test which can be devised month after month. Here again, I am most anxious to gain common ground with my hon. Friend. Let us at least agree upon the minimum, because it is the minimum which was regarded as essential by the present Administration at the time of the General Election, when we presented ourselves to the electorate. He himself did not venture to say, he himself does not believe, that this Measure, this decision, this step carries that full-hearted concurrence which we all believed was necessary when we last met our electors.

From this fact there stems the great hope. A House of Commons which, if it does so, votes tonight for the Third Reading of the Bill will not remain unchanged. Right hon. and hon. Members deceive themselves if they think that, if the Third Reading is passed, they will be able to shrug their shoulders and say "That's that behind us, and now we shall carry on exactly as before". A House of Commons which has passed this legislation, and only by grace of the Liberal Party, as the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) reminded the House, and he was welcome to his triumph—for that is how it is; the hon. Gentleman was right; his claim was correct—a House of Commons which has been found willing to part with its supreme power and to diminish its authority over the Executive will not remain unaltered. Nor will it any longer have it in its own power to retrace those steps and regain the respect and the self-respect which it has thereby endangered or forfeited.