Orders of the Day — European Community Membership)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th April 1975.

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Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley 12:00 am, 8th April 1975

Not at all. I propose to deal a little later with the Lomé Convention and to draw attention to the considered judgment of the Overseas Development Institute in London about the exact force and achievement of that convention.

I want to avoid the narrow protectionist outlook represented by the common agricultural policy and move towards genuine international co-operation in the wider framework of such bodies as the United Nations and all the great organisations and agreements such as GATT which try to provide sensible co-operation throughout the whole world. I do not want a narrow, exclusive club for Western Europe. I want to see genuine co-operation between the countries of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America so that there is a give and take, a genuine exchange and fair dealings between the two sides.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said at the outset of the negotiations that the Government believe that the monetary problems of the European countries could be resolved only in a worldwide framework. I believe that he was absolutely right. If this is so, why bother with Brussels? Why waste our time dealing with the apparatus of the Commission and the Council of Ministers when it is the worldwide framework, as my right hon. Friend has said, which matters?

Many hon. Members try to say that here we are creating a splendid economic super-State which can stand up to America and Russia and which can play a powerful, independent economic role in the world and get its own way. Therefore, they say, we must join in this super-State. What happened when the oil crisis arose and there was the problem of recycling oil revenues? The Common Market was absolutely helpless. It did not even devise a common policy. France, Germany and Italy ran like scared rabbits in all directions to make private deals with countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Libya.

There was no common policy, no agreement, no effective organisation. This great super-economic State, when faced with the most serious and difficult financial crisis in the post-war period, was totally helpless to deal with it. What happened was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer took an important initiative. He began negotiations. He went to the IMF and through that managed to achieve a working arrangement, or the beginnings of one, for the recycling of the petro-dollars.

Through the OECD, and subsequently by bringing in the United States, Japan, Canada and other countries, we have been able to devise arrangements which, for the moment at least, have begun to bring under control this great international problem of recycling the surplus revenues of the oil States. But the European Commission, the Common Market apparatus, this so-called European super-State, this economic giant, has been totally irrelevant to the problem. I fail to see how British interests have been in any way advanced in this crisis by membership of that body.

Our membership of the IMF and of OCED has been of far greater importance than our membership of the EEC.

The energy crisis was likewise beyond the capacity of the Common Market to cope with because it required cooperation between all the major consumer countries in the world and not simply between the nine industrial countries of Western Europe, although these are important consumers of oil and have an important interest. It is the International Energy Authority not the Brussels Commission which is now important in dealing with problems of oil. It is negotiations between Europeans and Americans, the Japanese, Canadians, Swedes and other industrial countries, together with the OPEC countries, which will eventually resolve the problem of how to get a flow of an essential raw material from the producers to the countries which need it, on a reasonable financial basis. But the European Commission is totally irrelevant to the problem.