European Assembly (Directelections)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1977.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup 12:00 am, 20th April 1977

With great respect, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman listened to my remarks with his usual care. I did not say that there was the obligation of direct elections. I said that I believed the House should give a lead to make the Community more democratic and that other countries in the Community expected us to do so.

Where I differ from the hon. Gentleman and from the right hon. Member for Battersea, North, is that I do not agree that the existence of a directly elected Assembly will create a federal organisation. I do not think that any constitutional lawyer or historian in this country or in Europe would say that to have a directly elected Assembly makes it a federal organisation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I wish to deal later with the other argument—namely, whether this will automatically lead to a federal Assembly.

It is right that legislation is required to bring in direct elections. I do not understand why the right hon. Member for Battersea, North is making such a fuss. He will get his legislation and can express his view. I believe that we should deal with the matter on its merits. Let us not say that this will create federalism, because it will not. Let us deal with the merits of the case. It will create elected Members who will have more democratic control over the Commission and the Council of Ministers.