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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 Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone 12:00 am, 13th July 1972

I very much hope that I shall outlive the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) rather than that he should perform at my memorial service. Apart from that, I wish him well.

I wish to draw the attention of the Government Front Bench to the events which have taken place in Europe and in this country since the White Paper was published in July, 1971. It has been a momentous year for Europe and also for us. Many things have changed in Europe since the publication of that White Paper. We heard about the growth of the economy which would take place when we join the Community, and it was said that this would allow us to pay for all the burdens which we would have to assume.

But what in the event do we see? Apart from France, it is an economy of "lame ducks". It is not even a canard enchainé, but an economy consisting of flapping, dreary companies which cannot even pay profits and which have a lower rate of investment than we have in this country. Therefore, apart from the French economy, the economy of Europe is not an economy of growth at all. This must be put against the claim by the Prime Minister that we shall see an immense upsurge in our exports which will more than offset the costs of entry.

The second point that is worth making is that politically we have seen wave after wave of growing conflict between Community members. This is to be seen in matters of finance and regional policy, and there has even been conflict between the Queen of the Netherlands and the President of France on foreign policy matters. We are joining not a great area of harmony but an area which now faces grave problems.

I believe it is vitally important that the Prime Minister should press for a summit with President Pompidou because there are certain things which must be decided before we go in. First, there is the question of common agricultural policy; secondly, there is the question of sterling. We are told by the Prime Minister that all these things can be settled by gentle conversations with President Pompidou over a cup of coffee or a glass of cognac. But we are seeing precisely what was predicted by some of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

One challenge which has been put to the Government repeatedly and has not been answered is the question: where will power lie? Will there, or will there not, be central, absolute rule from Europe? This question has always been ridden off. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said that 10 or 20 years will see us slowly moving towards this sort of system. But the point is that since 26th June this year, when we floated the pound, the vital issue to be faced is whether we shall have control of our own money. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that the Government put full employment and the happiness of our people above the value of the rate of exchange. That has been challenged, and it is a challenge that is being made to the whole power and establishment of the House of Commons. This is the question my right hon. and learned Friend must answer when he winds up tonight.

The issue of federalism may be a long way away, and indeed may break down. There may be endless difficulties ahead. The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) said that if we believe in a Mark II Europe we should believe in a federal Europe. But this is not the issue that is being put to this country. We are told that this is to be a Europe of nations. However, that entity looks like breaking down smartly over the issue of control of money supply in each of the individual States.

We have heard a lot of technical talk about snakes in tunnels and movement in terms of fluctuation by 2 or 2½ per cent. or whatever the figure may be. But if we accept what the French are asking for, what we see at the end of the tunnel is a boa-constrictor which will completely destroy of freedom of action. That is the snake of which we should be frightened.

On the road to stronger central European powers there may be a defeat on the issue of federation. Following the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley), it may be necessary to have only one finger on the trigger, one defence force and so on. On this road, the half-way house about which we have heard this Europ de patrie involving nations getting together, will be shown to be an edifice built on rubble on heaps of sand. What will happen in the process? The great danger is that something will happen to this Parliament which will be to the great detriment of our people.

The history of Parliament over a thousand years has been the way in which the people of this country have been able to participate in the exercise of power. This has taken a thousand years to bring about. There has been slowly built up in this country a unique establishment and a Parliament of which not only this country but many other countries are proud. It may be that our machinery of Parliament is not as good as it should be. It may be that the aspirations of the people are not being expressed properly and that participation has broken down in some way. But I believe that it is certain that by going into Europe we shall see not just something which is alien but a true alienation of the British people from the Government and the control of their own interests. That worries me greatly.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) spoke about what he believed to be the true Conservative attitude. I am proud to be a Conservative. I believe that this has been a great national party. Its objective has been to serve and to develop what God and history have given the people of this island. I believe, too, that if the Conservative Party is to be anything at all it must be a pragmatic party, a constitutional party, a nationalist party and a populous party. We are now asked to join a system which is weakly international, undemocratic, élitist and not in the interests of our people. That is why I say that the only answer that we can give to the question of joining the European Community at this stage is the answer of General de Gaulle, which is "No.".