We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Orders of the Day — European Communities Bill

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone 12:00 am, 13th July 1972

If that is the limited but totally different sense in which my right hon. Friend was speaking, I shall say no more about it and I will move on to the guts of the debate.

What we have to consider at this late stage—not of the argument, which is only just beginning, as everyone has been saying, but at the end of the Third Reading debate—is the precise legislation which the Goverenment have put before us. This is where I find fault with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh). He discussed a number of large issues totally unrelated to the legislation we are debating, spoke about the future Europe he would like to see, and then left the Chamber. That is not a very real or concrete contribution to the debate on Third Reading. We have to consider the actual position we are facing and where we must assume responsibilities if we pass the Bill.

In this respect I am very glad to be the second hon. Member on this side of the House who is prepared to put forward the policy of the Labour Party on this matter. It seems a long time since my right hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) took the floor at the beginning of the debate, and we have had all manner of contributions since, but I am only the second hon. Member to put forward the party's policy. I do not think it irrevelant in this debate as the Opposi- tion has called on its members to vote against this legislation on Third Reading.

We are objecting, first, to the constitutional form of the legislation. No sweet talk by the Solicitor-General, who was more genial today than ever he was in Committee and the other proceedings and showed less arrogance without being trite, can evade the issue that it was an original plan of this Government, announced to leading political correspondents, to have two major Bills. The Government have not been able to deny it and I challenge the Chancellor of the Duchy to deny it tonight. For more than nine months the whole British Press published the opinion that there were to be two Bills, one dealing with the constitutional principle of accession and another dealing with the details so that this House could discuss the issues properly.

In Committee we had to invent reasons for debating some of the issues. That is what the historian will say. We had to bring them in through a back door so that we could move at least a number of limited Amendments. The Government deserve the severest condemnation for the constitutional chicanery in which they have engaged in this matter. That is one of the decisive reasons why parliamentarians and those who feel a responsibility to Parliament should vote against this Bill tonight.