European Parliament

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8 February 1974.

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11.7 a.m.

Photo of Mr John Davies Mr John Davies , Knutsford

I beg to move, That the Orders relative to membership of the European Parliament, made on 19th December and 3rd April in the last Session of Parliament, be Standing Orders of the House. The Government felt that it was right to table the motion so that the position of the members of the British delegation to the European Parliament during the Dissolution period should be clarified. Perhaps it would be of use to the House if I were to quote from the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, under Chapter II, Rule 4: 1. A Representative's term of office shall end on expiry of the appointment conferred on him by his national parliament, on death, on resignation notified by him to the President of the European Parliament, on unseating by the European Parliament or on loss of his seat in his national parliament.2. Should he lose his seat in his national parliament, a Representative may continue to sit until the appointment of his successor has been notified to the European Parliament; subject, however, to a maximum period of six months and to the appointment conferred on him by his national parliament not having expired. There is no intention whatever to make full use of the six-months period provided. This would cover the period until such time as the House appoints a new delegation. I hope that the House will be prepared to agree to this Motion so that the situation of the delegation can be regularised.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I have not selected either of the amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English).

11.8 a.m.

Photo of Mr Michael English Mr Michael English , Nottingham West

The Government have immense concern for their unrepresentative delegation to the so-called European Parliament. It is not the European Parliament. The title "European Parliament" is one that it assumed for itself—illegally—contrary to the Treaties of Rome and of Luxembourg. Its correct title is the European Assembly.

So great is the Government's concern for retiring Members of the House, as I understand it, and as I have learned this morning, that retiring Members of the House will be unable to collect their pension for a month. The Fees Office was taken by surprise. Retiring Members are not allowed to collect their pensions until they have received their insurance cards, and they are not going to receive their insurance cards for a while. Something could be done about that by the Government. I hope that it will soon be done.

Meanwhile, it is essential in the Government's eye that this wholly unrepresentative delegation to the European Assembly goes on collecting more expenses than it has.

Would the right hon. Gentleman please answer one or two simple questions which have been raised in the Press lately, for example, by the Sunday Telegraph? Is it the case, for example, that when this delegation goes to Luxembourg or to Strasbourg or wherever the European Assembly decides to meet—it has never been able to make up its mind where it does meet—it goes in a charter plane? Is it the case that the charter plane is run directly by the British Airways Authority? If it is, is it a fact that the charter plane is charged for at a rate lower than the rate permitted by the British Airways Authority to other charter operators, so that it is subsidised, as it were?

These are questions which deserve a proper answer, which has not been given. Assuming that those hon. Members who go there go by ordinary means, it has become clear from all the statistics recently published that they are collecting travel expenses greater than their travel costs. Hon. Members have said in the past that one of the reasons for going into the EEC was so that Britain could influence Europe. It is absolutely clear that we could have influenced Europe. We—our delegation, Members of this House and of another place—on the very first day could have said, "We are collecting our travel expenses but we are not going to collect more than our travel costs".

That would have made a headline in the newspapers in every country in Europe, and it would have been a good headline. Every headline would have said, "At long last, the British Members of Parliament have arrived and they are not corrupt in the way that other European Members of Parliament are." This is sheer corruption. [Interruption.] To collect a travel allowance which is double one's travel costs is nothing more nor less than corrupt,

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

It is £150 a day tax free. What about the miners?

Photo of Mr Michael English Mr Michael English , Nottingham West

The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy says that under the Standing Orders of the European Assembly, which he calls a Parliament and which calls itself a Parliament illegally, these Members should remain for six months if they should lose their seats. The motion which we are debating seeks to make that a Standing Order of this House. The intention is that those Members will remain our representatives until somebody puts down another motion—which I hope will be put down by a member of my party when we are sitting on the opposite side of the House—on the first day that the next Parliament meets.

There can be no doubt that in claiming that one is not receiving a salary, which is what European Assembly members do, but that one is collecting one's travel expenses, which are based on distance to one's constituency or wherever it may be, and which have no relation to the actual travel costs, the sole object is to try to persuade the people of Europe that one is not getting something for nothing. That is the sole object, and in that sense it is, I am certain, corrupt.

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman realises how sad it is to many of us who believe in this assembly which we attend that this point was not made to the European Assembly. The leader of our delegation, when he went to the European Assembly, tried to convert the French Assembly type of procedure to a procedure more akin to that which we know at Question Time, for example. In no way did anybody say until after the event that there was something wrong in this system.

After the Sunday Telegraph revealed all this, the Earl of Bessborough said that he would do something about it and would make suggestions to the appropriate committee of the Assembly. It is rather like the attitude of the man caught going away with stolen goods saying, "I intended to give them back." If his Lordship had not blabbed so much from a loud mouth to his friends all over the place, reporters might not have discovered that he was getting more money than he was entitled to. At the time he was quite pleased, although now, I understand, he is upset that anybody noticed. I think a certain share of responsibility for their noticing comes from the noble Lord himself.

I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman—I appreciate that Mr. Speaker has not selected my amendments—that he should say to our Members that at least while they are not representing a Parliament in being, and before a contrary motion is put down after a new Parliament is summoned, when they are literally unrepresentative of the new Parliament, they should not go and collect more money than that to which in morality they are entitled.

11.15 a.m.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

The speech of the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) was extraordinarily petty, and bordered on the ridiculous. The most extraordinary thing he said was that our delegation to the European Parliament was not representative. For Heavens sake, why is that? Because the Labour Party is sulking on the sidelines.

I should like to present one or two very simple facts in answer to the hon. Gentle man's very petty speech. This House, by a majority of more than 100, decided that we should send a delegation to the European Parliament. I do not care whether the hon. Gentleman calls it an Assembly or a Parliament; he can call it anything he likes. The Assembly rules, as my right hon. Friend made absolutely clear—I have with me a copy of the rules of procedure dated January 1974—make it clear in Rule 4, paragraphs (1) and (2), that should a member of a national Parliament lose his seat he may continue his mandate for the European Parliament for up to six months so long as this rule does not conflict with any national rules. We are doing exactly the right thing. It is a sensible move to make, and it provides for some essential continuity.

Next, I should like to draw attention to the importance of the work which we are doing there. Next week we are discussing regional policy, which is of immense interest to this country, so that we can get more aid for the developing parts of the country in the North-East, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Merseyside. That is important. We ought to use our influence to make sure that the regional policy is sensible and is one from which we can genuinely benefit.

We shall be discussing the reform of the common agricultural policy, and this stands high on the list——

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

It is all very well for the hon. Member for West Ham, North to say "Oh.". Opposition Members want the common agricultural policy reformed and we are going there to use our influence to do that.

We are also having a meeting to discuss the foreign policy of the Community, our relations with the United States, the possibility of guaranteeing peace in the Middle East and the conference which is now going on in Geneva on security and co-operation in Europe. These are only a few of the subjects which we shall be discussing.

I have a question on the subject of sugar. I want to draw attention to the promise by the Community that it will buy 1·4 million tons from Commonwealth countries which are heavily dependent upon the production of cane sugar. All these things are important, and it is extraordinarily petty of the hon. Member to oppose this motion.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

I shall not give way. the last thing I want to say is simple, and it must be said. I want to put clearly on the record what is the financial situation of Members of this House and of Peers who go to the European Parliament and attend its committees. We are paid by the European Parliament allowances for our travelling expenses and for our daily maintenance. We are required by the Inland Revenue to make a return of all expenses necessarily and wholly incurred in carrying out our duties. We are required to pay tax on any surplus. It is as simple as that. I deplore the fact that some Opposition Members and some people who have been writing in the newspapers have deliberately set out to misrepresent the situation. I feel sure that the House will pass this order.

11.20 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

In the absence of my right hon. Friends who would have taken part in the debate and who are engaged in matters concerned with the General Election, it is for me to tell the Government that we shall not oppose this measure. I can give them that assurance.

I believe that what the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has said and all that he stands for is now irrelevant. I am certain that when the General Election comes and goes we shall find the party, which I have the honour to represent as Chief Whip, returned with an overwhelming majority. The British people will take into account that the Government have scuttled at a time of great emergency. Their last official act was to put this country into a state of emergency.

We shall deal with this matter when we return. We shall see to it that it is revoked. The right hon. Gentleman and others like him who now sit on the Government Front Bench, and who following the General Election will be sitting on this side of the House, if they are personally returned, will see what they have done, overcome and destroyed. We shall see to it that the right hon. Gentleman is not allowed again to talk such frivolous nonsense as he has done for so long.

11.22 a.m.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

It should be put on record that officially the Labour Party, my party, has agreed in principle to stay in Europe. What my party objects to has not always been made clear from the Opposition Front Bench. In principle the Labour Party is in favour of Europe. It objects to the terms and it will seek to renegotiate them. On that issue I take a diametrically opposite view from some of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

I have always believed that the Labour Party should have been represented and should have sent its representatives to Strasbourg. It is only possible to fight an organisation from within. Whenever I hear critics outside the Labour Party or the Tory Party, I say to them that the best place to fight for reform is from within. I advise them to get inside and fight. That is the view which I have always taken of the European Assembly. It is not, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, a parliament.

It is indefensible that people who are no longer Members of Parliament for the next three weeks will be sent to Strasbourg to represent no one. For the next three weeks until 28th February they will spend taxpayers' money and represent not one person in this country. That is undeniable. As from tonight every Member who is not a Minister will be an ordinary person. Conservatives, Liberals and the hon. and learned Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taverne)—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where are they?"] They are probably at Strasbourg. They will represent no one yet they will receive substantial sums from the taxpayers of this country and of Europe. Eventually the bill will land here. That is indefensible.

It is all very well for the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) to say that my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) put forward a petty argument. It is not petty. The revelations which appeared in the Press were outrageous. It was clear that every hon. Member going to Europe was making money. The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the Inland Revenue. We all know how relevant that is. The Press know as well. The loophole through expenses wholly and necessarily incurred is so wide that it is possible to drive a train through it.

The leader of the delegation has said that hon. Members must take their wives with them and engage in all kinds of entertainment. All kinds of alibis were produced. I want the next Government, whether it be Labour or Tory, to produce a White Paper to show exactly how much has been taken from the taxpayers' money. I want the right hon. Gentleman to tell us what he estimates to be the cost of this provision. How often will hon. Members be going to Strasbourg in the next three weeks? The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the delegation will be debating important matters such as regional policy and the common agricultural policy. I wonder what the electors in Lewes will be saying when he goes there.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

I am not standing.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

That makes it even worse. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is going to Strasbourg on taxpayers' money without representing anyone and without intending to represent anyone. For whom does he think he is speaking in Strasbourg? He is speaking for no one. How many of the hon. Members who will be going to Strasbourg have decided not to stand at the General Election? Those hon. Members who have decided to stand must realise that their electors are entitled to expect them to be speaking in their constituencies and not in Strasbourg.

For the next three weeks we, as ex-Members of Parliament, will be fighting the General Election, and hon. Members who have been and who will go to Strasbourg will have to justify their position to their electors.

Photo of Mr Clinton Davis Mr Clinton Davis , Hackney Central

Is it not monumentally obscene that the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) makes an admission that hon. Members going to Strasbourg may be making a surplus? What right have they to make a surplus even if they pay tax on it?

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Exactly. That is why I want a White Paper. This matter has been swept under the carpet. If the boot had been on the other foot and if Labour hon. Members had been doing what has been done by the Tory hon. Members—namely, engaging in an incredibly squalid exercise—I can imagine what they would have been saying about my party. That goes without saying. Tory hon. Members have been doing a mini-Carrington and it is time that they were exposed. The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg) looks puzzled. Lord Carrington recently made a profit of £10 million.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead

I looked puzzled because I did not hear the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

I should be interested to know what profit is being made by those who are going to Strasbourg and what has been made since their visits began. It has all ben spelt out in the Press, and there has not been a convincing reply. I wonder what the train drivers, the nurses and the old-age pensioners will think when they learn that this matter was brought up on the last day of this Parliament.

The Government thought that few hon. Members would be here to make any kind of row. Well, we shall make a row. I shall make an issue of this matter during the General Election. I shall declare my views on the Common Market. I have never tried to hide them. That is not the principle which is involved. It may be a small principle but it is one of importance. We have no right to ask the taxpayer to foot the bill so as to allow private persons to jaunt off to Strasbourg when they cannot claim to represent anyone in this country. Whatever the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes says about the regional policy, the common agricultural policy, Commonwealth sugar or anything else, he speaks for no one but himself. He must not do that. It is an obscene exercise.

11.30 a.m.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

I do not accept the philosophy put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) that if you cannot beat a particular organisation you should join it. There are organisations, political and otherwise, which I would not touch with a barge pole and which I have campaigned against all my life. I shall oppose them wherever they exist. I refer to all forms of political parties and organisations which adhere to and accept the totalitarian principle. I have no intention of joining them and I shall fight them all my life. Irrespective of whether my party feels that it wants to join the Common Market, it will have a tremendous amount to explain to me before I accept that part of its policy.

In their death throes the Government are still constant in their philosophy of bashing their heads against a wall because it is so nice when they stop. Social tensions have been building up in Britain over the last few years and creating a situation in which men have, with great reluctance, nodded their agreement to extreme forms of militance which in the past they have always opposed. That is due to the Government's myopic attitude in not trying to understand the ordinary people's feelings.

It has been said by hon. Members and by commentators outside the House that the people feel they can no longer respect the House of Commons. They see their money being used to send hon. Members to the EEC which I believe is surreptitiously sapping the powers of the House. Many people actually believed the Prime Minister's promise that we would not join the Common Market without the wholehearted consent of the British people. Is it any wonder therefore, that the House of Commons is being attacked by those who want to drag it down, by those who do not believe in our democracy? There are those who honour, revere and respect our democracy, yet, seeing the antics of the Government, find that they, too, have to criticise this House.

I have the greatest respect for the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) as a great parliamentarian and a great democrat. Surely if he were to search his soul he would see how offensive is the idea of hon. Members representing Great Britain in an organisation which can influence the way we live when some of them will not be endeavouring to return to the House of Commons to report on their activities on behalf of their constituents and the nation.

When the Conservative Government have been quietly put to rest and Labour are returned to sort out the incredible mess, we shall endeavour to restore public confidence in the House and its great traditions. We shall look very carefully at whether the Treaty of Rome and the Common Market will impinge more and more upon the rights of the House of Commons. If the next Labour Government decide to retain membership of the Common Market, we shall satisfy ourselves about the protection needed for this House.

At this time there are sharp social tensions throughout Britain and we should do anything we can to ease them. We are facing a situation which has never faced our country before—a General Election has been called during a state of emergency. The people feel that they have been cheated because they have been told it is wrong for them to fight to maintain their standards of life. How can we ask them and the many millions who have accepted phase 3 to stand by that policy when others are avoiding it to make a few pounds. That is one of the things to which the Labour Government will give urgent attention.

11.38 a.m.

Photo of Mr John Peel Mr John Peel , Leicester South East

I was somewhat surprised by the intervention by the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) who has admitted that he is a keen supporter of European unity. He is keen on Britain being a member of the EEC and I am surprised that he should attack those who will be going to maintain some continuity of the British voice in the European Assembly in the next three weeks. It is suggested that we do not represent anybody, but we do not overnight cease to be aware of the problems of our constituents or of the needs of Great Britain.

Surely the European Assembly has not been dissolved. Whether the Opposition like it or not, we are members of that Assembly and I should have thought it was important to keep continuity as long as that Assembly is in being. Therefore, it is a good thing, particularly when the Assembly is debating important matters for this country, that our voice should be heard. The Opposition are putting forward the most phoney lot of baloney.

On the question of allowances, I understand that the Opposition may disapprove and that they feel the arrangements should be changed. That is not the only thing they disapprove of in connection with the EEC, but all these things could be sorted out in due course and that would include the common agricultural policy. However, the right approach is to work towards these matters. I feel that a lot of this froth and bubble from the Opposition is largely because they have refused to send delegates to the Assembly. If they had sent delegates they might be singing a different song now.

I have been a member of the Assembly of the Council of Europe. I have also been a member of the Western European Union for many years, and allowances have been paid there. I have never heard anybody complain about that.

Photo of Mr Michael English Mr Michael English , Nottingham West

The allowances there are lower.

Photo of Mr John Peel Mr John Peel , Leicester South East

Of course, no one agrees on all these matters but they are matters which could be debated and sorted out in due course. I appreciate that much is often heard from outside the House about the right and wrong ways of dealing with hon. Members' expenses. It is sad, on the last day of this Parliament, to hear such utter poppycock from the Opposition.

11.41 a.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

The last few words in the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester, South-East (Sir J. Peel)—about today being the last day of this Parliament—represent the crucial point of the debate. The Minister and the Government knew, or should have known, that one day there would be a General Election and that a motion such as this might be necessary. They have had all the time since they took us into the Common Market—without the full-hearted consent of Parliament or the people—to put the motion down. It is a thundering disgrace that the Minister and the Government should have tried to slip this on to the Order Paper at the last moment in the hope that the Press, the radio, the public and Members of Parliament would not be here to discuss it. The Government could have put the motion down months ago, but they did not do so in case attention was drawn to it.

We now see a number of strange faces in the Chamber—hon. Members who rarely attend the House of Commons, because they are always in Europe. Why are they always in Europe? It is because they are making a very profitable venture out of it. They are doing very well out of it. No one has yet denied an accusation in the Sunday Telegraph that it is possible—I speak from memory, and I think it was also in the "Peterborough" column—that £100 or £120 a day tax free can be manoeuvred by hon. Members who go to Europe, if they so wish.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

It is not tax free.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) tried to explain that they declare it, but the profit being made is tax free.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Will the hon. Gentleman deny or confirm that he gets £28·50, I think it is, per day for going to Europe and that he may so arrange it to go to one committee one night and come back the following morning. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) is right; it is £28·50 a day expenses. I remind the country that that is almost exactly the gross pay of the lowest-paid miner who works very hard for weeks at the pit. Hon. Members who go to Europe are opposing the miners getting a reasonable wage

I pay tribute to the Library. I asked the Library a couple of minutes ago for facts and figures and it has supplied, written out by hand, some illuminating information. I asked for information on the business background of hon. Members who go to the Council of Europe and who are never here because they are doing better by going to Europe. They make money out of it. That is why we do not often see here the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), who is not standing at the next election. Some of the newer Liberal Members—those who were elected at by-elections, and who are never here themselves—have asked "Who is the Member for Streatham? We never see him. Why is he never here?" I told them that he is always in Europe.

The same applies to the Liberal hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston). He turns up here only occasionally, and puts on a kilt to celebrate the fact. He is always in Europe. I hope that the electors in his constituency bear this in mind. He goes to Europe only because he gets money out of it, more money than he gets here.

The Library has given me a list of these poor, hard-working hon. Members who, incidentally are not seconded or forced to go to Europe. They go voluntarily. They go kowtowing to the Whips, saying: "Please can you put me on the European Assembly?" They have a bit of a fight and eventually, after much squabbling they get on to it——

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

It is rather strange that the first name on this list which I have from the Library is that of the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes. It would take too long to read the whole list, but it shows him as being a company director of a company called the Greyhound Racing Association, as well as a director of Southdown Radio. There is a whole list relating to him.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

There is no such company as Southdown Radio, so I am not a director of it.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

The Greyhound Racing Association Property Trust Limited—perhaps I have got it right now. Is that right?

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

The hon. Gentleman had a big interest in greyhound racing until quite recently, as he knows.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. and gallant Member has made a declaration which he knows is not true. I have never had any interest is greyhound racing. The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that to be true.

Photo of Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris , Nantwich

What is the point of order which the hon. Gentleman wishes me to answer?

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Is it not wrong for an hon. Member to make a statement impugning the honour and integrity of another hon. Member, if that statement is not true and if the hon. Member making the statement knows it is not true and has no evidence to substantiate it or prove it?

Photo of Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris , Nantwich

To be a valid point of order the matter must fulfil the requirements of Standing Orders in this respect and I cannot see that anything which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said is contrary to that.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

The hon. and gallant Member tried a twist, because I left out "Property Trust Limited" when I first mentioned the organisation—but it helps me. Over the years I have fought against wrongdoings in greyhound racing. I have never been a director of any company nor been associated with or had any interest in greyhound racing.

But to get back to the details I have from the Library, they show that the hon. and gallant Member is an ex-director of A. C. Cossor, an ex-director of English Channel Broadcasting Ltd., an ex-director of Mafia Island Development Corporation, a private company. This information is from an entry in the Business Backgrounds of MPs. The reference to the Mafia Island Development Corporation fascinated me. It is a private company—a big game and fishing club. That is very appropriate.

The hon. and gallant Member is not hard up for a few bob. I do not think he is as hard pressed as the miners. I do not know about his personal income or savings. I am not interested in that. But I say without fear of contradiction that he has enough money in the bank—he probably has enough in his pocket—and certainly enough assets to keep him going for three weeks, whether he is standing at the election or not.

I am sure he could have a few trips to the Council of Europe, to Strasbourg, to the European Parliament, or even to the Bahamas—to that Mafia company—if he wished, without having to worry that his banker would foreclose on him.

It is interesting to see other names on the list, which is in alphabetical order. There is half a page for Sir Tufton Beamish. I wish you could see the list, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The next name on the list is Alan Beaney, Labour Member for Hemsworth from 1959. He is shown as an ex-miner in Durham and Yorkshire, with 40 years underground. That hon. Member will not be going. Why? Because the chap is very sick. He has not been able to speak in the House, though he has attended regularly. The poor devil cannot even open his mouth now, because he is dying a living death through the illness he contracted in the pits. He cannot talk. He has to gesticulate and express himself by writing, because of the dreaded disease on his lungs. He was 40 years in the pits, and has relatives in the pits today, some of whom are not allowed to have more than £28·50 a week. The hon. Members whom we are talking about never come here, but they deny miners a reasonable living wage.

I opposed the Labour Party's application to join the EEC. I wanted nothing to do with the Common Market. I have declared myself violently against it throughout. I have also opposed those who have been jockeying themselves into positions on the European Assembly.

The next on the list is the Earl of Bessborough. We are to have an election shortly on the question of who governs. Who elected the Earl of Bessborough?

The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes has confessed that he himself does not even intend to stand again. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Saffron Waiden (Mr. Kirk) here. He is rarely in the House. I believe that he is standing again. Why does he need expenses to travel to wherever it may be in Europe? Should it not be his job, as it is the job of everyone else contesting an election, to be in his potential constituency and explain why he should spend more time in Europe than in the House, that if he is elected he will again spend more time in Europe than in his constituency or in the House. and that he will get expenses to go to Strasbourg rather than do his work in his constituency?

I continue with the list. The next is John Brewis, the hon. Member for Galloway. He, too, has outside interests. It would take me too long to read the list. Nearly everyone on it is a Tory. Every one has other sources of income. One exception is the Liberal. I have not had a chance to look him up, but no doubt he has other interests. There is one unique character who calls himself an Independent Democratic Socialist. We never see him here. I am referring to the hon. and learned Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taverne), who has a practice at the Bar. Most of the time he is earning money at the Bar or is in Europe. I hope that his constituents will bear that in mind.

There is a smattering of Lords on the list. Who elected them? The Government challenged the miners to have a ballot. When shall we have a ballot to see whether some of those on the list should be made responsible to the people? We are to have an election to see who governs whom.

Those on the list can make a profit out of the taxpayer. I should not object if it were done honestly, decently and openly, if those concerned did not attack the poor, the sick and the under-privileged when they ask for increases, people who have smaller incomes than they have. Those on the list support the incomes policy, provided it does not affect them. They agree that the nurses, the dustmen, the engineers, the bricklayers and the carpenters should all have their incomes controlled, but not that their own incomes should be controlled. Indeed, they have their incomes plus this extra money.

Some of them have no intention even of coming back here. They are not standing at the election. That is disgraceful. They have never been elected to the European Assembly, and our entry into the EEC was against the will and desire of the people.

I should be out of order if I accused any hon. Member of being crooked or dishonest, and I would not do that. But the Government in themselves have been very crooked over the whole affair—crooked in approach and in outlook. I hope that the electors will ask the hon. Members concerned to divulge what happens. The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes said that he would divulge it, but he never told me whether it is true that £100 or £150 can be manipulated, as the "Peterborough" column said. He never told me whether he could get £28·50 a day. He never explained whether Members are chartering planes and making a profit on the journey. I read a report which said that they had had unfortunately to return by a scheduled flight one Friday and had had to pay the fare for which they received the money.

Have the Government thought about solving the miners' strike on the basis of similar expenses? I am not joking. The hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Laurance Reed), who is grinning all over his face, has probably never been down a pit, and has certainly not dug any coal.

Why should an hon. Member with dozens of directorships receive thousands of pounds a year plus his parliamentary salary when he is never in attendance here? Why should he have expenses of £28·50 a day and miners earn £28·50 a week? Why not solve the miners' dispute by giving them an expense allowance? They are entitled to one for the expense of their clothing and for the fact that they have to eat their food in grimy, gritty, dirty conditions. If the Government cannot do that within phase 3, why can they do it for the hon. Members we are talking about?

This is typical of the Tory Government, typical of how they will help the rich, the property speculator, the company director——

Photo of Mr Michael English Mr Michael English , Nottingham West

Feathering their own nests.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

My hon. Friend is right. I raised with the Prime Minister the question of company directors getting a £300-a-week increase in salary. That is 172 per cent. It was done on the very day that he again refused the miners their increase.

These are matters about which the electorate will be told. I shall tell my own electorate that these Tories who claim to be the champions of the ordinary people and in favour of democracy are not only feathering their nests but are going against every democratic tradition of our people.

I am totally against the principle of this motion and, if any of my hon. Friends will support me, I am willing to divide the House against it.

12 noon.

Photo of Mr John Davies Mr John Davies , Knutsford

The last day of this Parliament has unfortunately been characterised by a not uncharacteristic speech by the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis). But surely my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Sir J. Peel) was right to say that no good could be attained by not being present at the European Parliament and representing the reasonable and useful views of the country on matters of substantial importance.

In relation to the matters raised by the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) and the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton), perhaps it would be useful if I were to make it clear that all hon. Members, including those retiring from Parliament, are paid their salaries up to and including polling day and that pension contributions continue during that period. Pension payments will be made from the day following polling day, and there is no reason why there should be any delay.

A number of matters have been raised in the debate. However, the purpose of the Government in introducing this proposal is to ensure a measure of continuity in what seem to us to be matters which are of value and importance to the country. I hope therefore that the House will be pleased to approve it.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, will he tell us what expenses Members of the European Assembly are getting? They have been declared in the Press. Will the right hon. Gentleman put on record their secretarial allowance, their travelling allowance and their day-to-day subsistence allowance? He must know. If he does not, he should know. Will he give the House the information?

Question accordingly agreed to.


That the Orders relative to membership of the European Parliament, made on 19th December and 3rd April in the last Session of Parliament, be Standing Orders of the House.

Photo of Mr John Davies Mr John Davies , Knutsford

These are matters for the European Parliament and not for this Parliament.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

The hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) always complains that he is never sent on enough free trips.

Question put:

The House proceeded to a Division——

Photo of Mr Michael English Mr Michael English , Nottingham West

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will it be in order for hon. Members who are receiving these payments to vote in this Division?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I am advised that it will be. It is a matter of policy. Therefore, they are entitled to vote.

The House having divided: Ayes 63, Noes 19.