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Orders of the Day — European Community (Shipbuilding)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th July 1975.

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Photo of Mr Tom Normanton Mr Tom Normanton , Cheadle 12:00 am, 4th July 1975

I thank the Leader of the House for including this item for debate today, but I express my deep concern, which is widely felt, at the absence of sufficient active interest in the substance of the debate.

The debate is undoubtedly welcome, because the House has, probably for the first time, an opportunity to make its views known to the Government and the Community before decisions are taken by the Council of Ministers. As we heard in the preceding debate, the House invariably deals with what are virtually death certificates rather than birth certificates. This is an opportunity for the House to be in at the beginning of what may well be an extremely valuable contribution to the well-being of a major industry of this country and of the Community.

Before I comment on the contents of the Commission's paper, it might be of assistance to right hon. and hon. Members who may be more familiar with procedures in this House than with those which operate in the Community if, as a Member of the European Parliament, I were to paint the picture which operates in the European Parliament in relation to this proposal.

I stress that the role of the Commission is not to make decisions which are binding but to make proposals for directives which, after having received approval by the Council of Ministers, only then become binding. Coupled with that obligation is the requirement to engage in the most comprehensive consultation which I, in my short service at the European Parliament, have ever seen. The consultation is with Governments, industrial organisations, trade unions and any parties which might be affected by the proposals in so far as those parties are willing to present their views.

The next stage, which is related to the stage of consultation, is to prepare draft proposals. It is appropriate that we are debating a draft proposal, not a proposal which at this stage need necessarily be seen as a binding obligation.