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

I agree that there is a difference of opinion on this matter. I am debating what the Government claim to have achieved in the renegotiation. The claim which the Government are putting to the British people and which I shall argue with my constituents is that European monetary union is effectively a non-starter and that it is something way out in the future which will not affect us. On that basis, and indeed on the other basis, I am prepared to argue that the International Monetary Fund is a far more important body to this country than is the EMU.

We have already been told by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) and others of the disastrous effects on our balance of payments of membership of the Common Market, and I shall not dwell on that. The figures are established and are irrefutable. As theFinancial Timespointed out, possibly in the next decade the important new markets for British industry may not lie only in Europe, although European markets will be important, and I do not deny that. The important new markets will be in countries which have the great oil revenues, such as Iran, Nigeria, Indonesia, Venezuela and possibly, after a lapse of time, Angola, Zaire and Algeria. Those countries need the industrial equipment and products which we can supply and they will be abundantly able to pay for them. The oil crisis has to some extent widened the scope of international trade and the possibilities for British industry, so long as we take our eyes off this magic Paris-Bonn axis and look around us at the real opportunities in the world.

Beyond that, there is the question of the supply of industrial raw materials which will become more significant in the next 10 years as the Third World demands better prices and a more reasonable deal for its products. The Brussels Commission is helpless in this matter. It has no access to control over bauxite, copper, tin, nickel, manganese and uranium, not to mention oil. Certainly we can have negotiations with European countries and with the producers of these materials, but those negotiations will have to include the United States, Japan and the other great industrial countries. It is nonsense to suppose that we can formulate our own little European policy and go it alone on that basis, because we shall have to come to terms both with the Third World producers and with our world competitors who also need these materials.

I want to say a few words about relations with the Third World. One of the key questions in this debate has been whether the Common Market is outward-looking and generous towards the Third World and believes in a genuine relationship of co-operation with the countries of Asia and Africa. The record of sugar is not encouraging. We had to fight like fury to get the 1·4 million tons of sugar into our own market. We were not asking France, Germany, Italy or Holland to accept sugar from the Caribbean, Fiji or Mauritius. We were simply saying that we wanted to retain an arrangement which had been valuable to our traditional suppliers and to British consumers. After endless debate, obstruction and argument we at last received permission to continue an arrangement which was valuable to us and to our traditional suppliers.

The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris) referred to the Lomé Convention. I draw to his attention a seven-page study of the convention made by the Overseas Development Institute in London. One cannot seriously call in question the expertise of the ODI in matters concerning the Third World and help to the Third World. I do not intend to weary the House by going over the whole document, which is lengthy, but I will quote from it two sections, one on trade and one on aid. Referring to the Lomé Convention, the document states: The convention does not, therefore, substantially improve the terms of access for ACP countries over what would have been the case if the Yaoundé Convention had simply been reviewed …. the goal identified by the Select Committee". —that is a Select Committee of the House— as" the most important for associates, associables and the rest of the Third World '—free access to the EEC market—is not brought very much nearer by the terms of the convention. On aid, the document has this to say: the aid provisions of the Lomé Convention represent a worsening en the position under the Second Yaounde agreement…. in purchasing power there will be a decline, given the rapid inflation of recent years: the Lomé per caput level is, in real terms, more than 40 per cent. below the Yaounde II figure. Those who preach to us about the tremendous historic success of the negotiations which have taken place should ponder on the considered judgment of the ODI.