Orders of the Day — Supply

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:34 pm on 21st July 1982.

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Photo of Mr David Stoddart Mr David Stoddart , Swindon 8:34 pm, 21st July 1982

The hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Normnanton) said that the debate was a re-run of the "in-out" argument. I have news for him. There will be many more re-runs of that argument, not only in the House but in the country. That is because many hon. Members and people in the country know perfectly well that we should never have gone into Europe and that we should not stay in Europe because our membership is inimical to Britain's best interests. Many people who voted to remain in Europe in the referendum have now come to the conclusion that they made the wrong decision. If they were given the opportunity, they would make a different decision now.

Before we entered the EEC Britain was misled on every count by people who should have known better and who should have told the truth. We were told that going into Europe would enable is to take a great economic leap forward. We were told that we would sustain the cold wind of competition that would make our industries blossom and make us more competitive in the huge market of 265 million people. The reverse has happened. Far from thriving in Europe, our membership of the Community has caused economic devastation, higher prices and many other ills that we could have avoided.

There are few hon. Members in the House tonight to discuss this matter. There has grown up about the EEC a cynicism, a dislike and a feeling that the whole matter is irrelevant. However, people are mistaken. It is necessary to discuss the affairs of the EEC in detail on every possible occasion to see how Britains' influence and interests are being undermined by our memebrship of the Community.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) said that hopes of a federal European State were dead. I assure my hon. Friend that they are not. Many hon. Members, particularly in the Social Democratic Party, would be delighted to see Britain merged into a federal European State.

We must always be on our guard against that proposition. There is no doubt that some hon. Members have little regard for our present constitution or for the history of our people and little regard for, or at least understanding of, the future benefit of Britain. Therefore, they would be quite happy to see us merge into a federal European State, which is supposed to be the be-all and end-all. We must be ever-watchful that such people do not gain an influence in the House and the country that would enable them to undermine the British consitution that has lasted, developed and thrived over a thousand years.

The document before the House is entitled "Developments in the European Community July-December 1981". It is worthless. There have been no developments during that period. There have been no developments in the CAP. We have been saying ever since we became members of the Community that the common agricultural policy upon which the whole Community is based must be reformed. Every six months a document comes before the House which says exactly the same. No reform has taken place. I assure the House that no reform will ever take place.

The whole Community is based on the common agricultural policy. If the policy is undermined in any way, the Community will fall apart. Yet if the common agricultural policy is not reformed, this country will continue to get the neck of the chicken and the wrong end of the stick and will continue to be a big payer into Community finances. There have been no developments in the last six months or in any previous period of six months on the major and vital issue of the Common Market.

We were assured before we entered the Community that, once we were a member, we would be able to reform the common agricultural policy. Is that not what we were told in 1975 during the referendum? It was argued that if only we could get into the Common Market we would be able to reform its institutions and change the Treaty of Rome. We have done nothing of the sort. We shall never be able to do anything of the sort. The sooner hon. Members realise that, the better it will be.

There has been no real reform of our contribution to the budget, nor do I believe that there will be any. It is not in the interests of other powerful countries in the Community to bring that about.

Events have also gathered about us that show this country where its interests lie and those who are its friends. We saw during the Falklands crisis exactly those who would stand by us in a period of great trial. The first to come to our aid and comfort were the people we sold out in 1973—New Zealand and Australia. We almost crippled New Zealand's economy then. If some people had their way, its economy would be crippled even further.

We saw how the EEC, at a crucial point in the negotiations at the United Nations, stabbed us in the back by refusing to continue sanctions for a reasonable period. We saw two members of the Community, one just across the water, withdraw sanctions completely and give comfort to an enemy that had invaded British territory and taken British people under its Fascist wing. We saw exactly who our friends were. They were not in Europe.

Many of the countries of Europe stabbed us in the back one day and then, on the issue of the veto, held us to ransom the next. They were thinking of their own pockets and their own interests. They were prepared to take advantage of our trial and tribulation to line their pockets at the expense of the British consumer through higher prices in the shops.

There were no real developments in the European Community in the six months to which the document relates. There were signs to show us who were our friends. I warn the House that even now suggestions and plans are being made further to injure those friends who supported us over the Falkland Islands dispute. There are plans to reduce the amount of New Zealand butter that can come into the country. If Eire, one of the countries which was least helpful to us, has its way, the amount of New Zealand butter entering the country will be reduced from 92,000 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes a year. That would be a devastating blow to New Zealand—to our people, who have been prepared to stand by us through thick and thin on many occasions. I hope that hon. Members will take note of what happened during those perilous times and of the people who stood by us and gave us not only moral support but material aid. I believe that hon. Members will eventually understand what they have to do.

I want to refer to the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Moate).