Europe

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th June 1974.

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Photo of Dr Winnie Ewing Dr Winnie Ewing , Moray and Nairn 12:00 am, 11th June 1974

My hon. Friend has been here just as much as many hon. Members who have been called to speak. [Interruption.] Scotland knows, even if this House is so ungallant as not to know. Sometimes the House is less polite than at other times.

My hon. Friend pointed out that the eyes of a fool were on the far ends of the earth. One million of our people have left my country in 50 years. There are slums in my country so bad that anyone who visits some of them becomes very upset. Lord George-Brown visited the Gorbals and said that he did not know it was so bad, but we never heard any more about it from him when he returned to London.

The Government are interested in trade with Holland. Holland does not have slums like the Gorbals and many other places. The Dutch have not lost a million of their best people in 50 years. The problems in Scotland are not being solved. The eyes of my party are very much on the responsibilities all around us, and they will continue to be before we consider entering into another treaty with no known advantages to us.

We know that the matter is all about politics. It is all coming out now. It is not about a customs union. It will become much more centralised, with much more power of decision in Europe and much more loss of sovereignty to us. It seems to be unfashionable to say anything against it, because those who are in favour of it tend to put it on a pedestal, saying, "We are Europeans". I have always been a European, and I always shall be. Scots law is the same kind of law as they have in Europe. It is different from English law. We always looked to Europe in times gone by for allies, for reasons I shall not mention.

There is nothing noble about the sordid Treaty of Rome, but people sometimes talk about it as if it is noble. What is noble about the way in which the Europeans all acted in the fuel crisis? What is noble about the scramble to get out of the commitment to so-called regional aid? What is noble about Germany's attitude to a new kind of slave worker, to the thousands of migrants from Yugoslavia, Italy and elsewhere, living in dreadful conditions? Is that the great, free movement of labour? I do not find anything noble in that or in France's behaviour over nuclear tests. I do not find very much noble in the state of Italy, in the total lack of conservation of fishing grounds for future generations or in the way in which Italy and other countries shoot every kind of bird, with no thought of their own ecology.

I wish to relate this matter to the peculiar circumstances of Scotland, something that has not been done in the debate so far. The people of Scotland have no voice. They have no say, no seat at the table. When I asked in the House "Who speaks for Scotland?" the former right hon. Member for Dundee, East, Mr. George Thomson, said "I do". That turned out to be a very misleading if not dishonest statement. The right hon. Gentleman did not speak for Scotland. Our fishermen, who have not been mentioned today, were sold down the European river. My predecessor for my constituency, the previous Secretary of State for Scotland, said that I was alarming the fishermen. The fishermen are already very alarmed. They know that on 1st January 1983 the trawlers from Europe, which are not conservationists, will trawl everything from the sea bottom from the coast of the Moray Firth all the way round the coast of Scotland.

In view of the difficulties of acquiring boats and of the costs, fathers are for the first time in a generation saying to their sons "Don't go into fishing." They are voting with their feet. It may seem amusing to some hon. Members but not to Scotland, where the fishing communities keep whole towns and villages alive. I am speaking up for the fishermen. Not a word has been said about them in the fundamental renegotiations. The inshore fishermen of Scotland are in the majority.

It is suggested that the National Farmers' Union is wholeheartedly behind the common agricultural policy. It has had a change of heart in my part of the world. It was misled. The plight of the dairy, beef and pig farmers in Scotland is such that these patient, long-suffering men are now becoming militant. The Kincardine and Aberdeen branches of the NFU have formed a committee. It has agreed that the lobbying of Members of Parliament is no good. What can it do next?

Farmers are doing this out of sheer desperation. When will there be a return to a sensible agricultural policy? Scotland could be self-sufficient in the production of food. It could be a food-exporting country. Yet we have the absurdity of mountains of butter and beef, and our people look in the butchers' shops and cannot afford to buy meat. How long can this situation be tolerated?

I have a few awkward questions to ask about energy. I believe that the EEC energy policy has been formulated and I believe that it is this. The EEC will keep the right to decide the rate of oil exploitation leaving the land mass to collect the revenues. It will decide the rate of exploitation and the rate of royalty. If that is not taking away all control of oil, what is? Whatever is said about oil in the Scottish sector of the North Sea it is undeniably of interest to this House, whatever happens to Scotland.

We should not allow the EEC to get its greedy hands on the oil. That is precisely what it is trying to do, because I suggest that it is EEC policy. Will the Minister say whether that is admitted? If it is not, will he tell us when there is to be an EEC policy?

I come now to regional aid. The citizens of Scotland know that on their doorstep there is this liquid gold which by 1980 will be worth about £1,000 million. When we conservatively estimated the figure years ago at £800 million, we were ridiculed by the Labour and Conservative Parties and by the Press. We have never had an apology. It now turns out that our sums were right. How can we expect the people of Scotland to put out the begging bowl to try to persuade Germany to give us a few million for the A9, for a few schools and a few houses?

In the oil areas the locals will not be able to get any houses. The American employees and other key workers will get them. How can we explain to the people of Scotland that we need regional aid? The regional aid part of the EEC has been a fraud. We must vote against the Government tonight because we are not satisfied that there has been fundamental renegotiation in the true meaning of the word.

If an election sneaks up before a stage is reached with the negotiations which would make a referendum sensible or desirable, can we have the assurance that a referendum will be held? I do not believe that the people in all parts of Britain do not have enough intelligence to make up their minds. I do not believe that they do not understand this because it is too complicated. They understand it all too well. Could we have a little information about this? Is there to be a referendum if an election comes sooner than we dream of?