European Political Union

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th January 1974.

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Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Walthamstow West 12:00 am, 30th January 1974

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise the issue of political union at the next EEC Council meeting.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I do not think that there is any need for us to raise the issue. The Council meeting on 15th January considered how best to approach the preparation of the report on European union. This is the report which the Community institutions have been asked to draw up before the end of 1975 as a submission to a summit conference. The presidency may arrange a further discussion of these procedures at the next Council meeting, which I think is to fall on 4th and 5th February.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Walthamstow West

When did the British Parliament and people give their full-hearted consent to this proposition about political union?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I assure the hon. Gentleman that, as has already been made clear, Parliament will be able to express its views at every step on the procedure towards European union.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

If the Government and the Common Market are aiming at political union, it goes without saying that Europe will eventually speak with one voice. If that is so, surely we can have one European embassy instead of nine in each country, and the logic of that is that we can cut the Foreign Office staff by at least 60 per cent.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

I have no doubt there would be considerable support within the Foreign Office for a generous golden bowler scheme on the lines which my hon. Friend appears to advocate. But we are a very long way from that just yet.

Photo of Mr Michael Barnes Mr Michael Barnes , Brentford and Chiswick

Will not the Minister agree that the point about political union is that it must be preceded by a much better working relationship at Council of Ministers level than appears presently to exist? Could the Government give an assurance that they will concentrate on that as a first priority? There will be plenty of time later to talk about political union.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

We are trying to work out close relationships and concerted policies in a number of areas—trade, monetary, political and others. It will take some time, and when we achieve—if we do—European union, as I hope we shall, there will still be a great deal of debate within the union as there is in this House of Commons.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , Wolverhampton South West

Why should Parliament not have an opportunity to debate this matter at this stage?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

As I said, Parliament will have every opportunity to express its views at every stage in the process towards union.

Photo of Mr Elystan Morgan Mr Elystan Morgan , Cardiganshire

Does not the Minister agree that there is something grotesque in talking about political union when our partners in the EEC are reneging in the most shameless way on the question of a regional fund, which was much trumpeted by the Conservative Party when Britain entered a year ago?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

No, Sir. It is absurd to talk about our partners reneging. They are making great efforts to arrive at a common point of view. It would be ridiculous to suggest that Britain was a divided country just because we have debates on a number of questions.

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

Does the Minister agree that if the concept of political union is not a dead duck, it is at least a lame duck? Would it not be better if, instead of spending time and energy pursuing this unattractive chimera, more effort were put into dealing with immediate and practical problems, such as re-establishing a free market in oil products in Western Europe and, in addition, renegotiating the ludicrous terms of entry which his right hon. Friend negotiated?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

No, Sir. The right hon. Gentleman's faint-heartedness is of a kind that would never lead to success in any endeavour.