Orders of the Day — Eec (Energy Policy)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1974.

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Photo of Mr John Pardoe Mr John Pardoe , North Cornwall 12:00 am, 3rd December 1974

If I understand the question aright, that is exactly the opposite of the truth. The words "stop-gap" were in reference to the short and medium term. The proposals I read out referred to the long term and are of far more fundamental importance.

As I have pointed out, we are not being asked to approve the document; we are being asked to take note of it. In any case, the proposals are not in any sufficiently final stage for us to approve them tonight or in the near future. It is an interesting and worthwhile document. Of course it raises the issue of sovereignty, and that is inevitable in any discussion of Community proposals. From the speech of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) one might never have thought that we in the Western economies now face the prospect of total economic collapse, very largely as a result of the energy problem.

The situation is a result of what took place last October and what has happened since. We are in the most dangerous phase I can remember. We are in the phase where a miscalculation, by the West or the producer countries in the Middle East, could leave us with the stark choice between total economic collapse in the West or war in the Middle East.

That is why it is so necessary to have a common energy policy. There never was a time when we needed such a policy more. Such a policy necessitates the pooling of sovereignty and such pooling is a matter of give and take. Page 2 of the document spells out clearly what the give and take is. It is no good hon. Members believing that this country has got everything stacked against it in its negotiations with the Common Market.

It says that different countries face the problem in different ways because of the impact of the previous balance of payments situation, before the oil crisis. We were among those worst placed to face the oil crisis through our balance of payments situation before the crisis arose. But there are many other things in which we shall clearly have the advantage over our Common Market partners.

We ought to look upon our North Sea oil discoveries as a means of giving ourselves a better bargaining hand rather than thinking that our partners will thieve it from us. The idea that we can solve our energy problems on our own is based on a combination of faded nationalism, prejudiced anti-Europeanism, and a hopelessly optimistic view of the importance of the saving grace of North Sea oil.