The Irish Presidency is consulting other member states about the formation of an ad hoc committee, as proposed at the Fontainebleau European Council, to look at ways of improving European co-operation. The United Kingdom will be participating in this work.
Notwithstanding the sudden absence of the shadow Foreign Secretary from the Opposition Front Bench—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—does my hon. Friend agree that, at least on the Conservative Benches, there is now a strong spirit of European co-operation? [Interruption.] Does he also agree, remembering that the Community was established in 1957, that to proceed with the rapid implementation of the European passport—as an option which countries may adopt in addition to their national passports—would not be too bold or rash a step?
My hon. Friend will have been encouraged by the unanimous response from the Government Benches to his initial comment. I remind him that there is no proposal for a European passport. The British passport will be retained, as will the passports of all the other member states. There are proposals for a common format of the kind described by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary.
When will the Conservative party drop its hypocrisy about Europe? We hear talk of co-operation and friendliness, but the Foreign Secretary could not negotiate his way out of a paper bag and the Prime Minister thrives on confrontation in all her actions. When will we hear the end of the continual claptrap which the Foreign Secretary brings back, and when will he turn his mind instead to sorting out the basic problems of the European Community?
We need no lectures from the Labour party on co-operation and friendliness. Those qualities are not the characteristics of the Labour party that have most impressed themselves upon the general public.
The Government have always made it clear that we hope to see the United Kingdom's net contribution to the Community reduced, at least in part by additional expenditure within the United Kingdom. In so far as the items to which my hon. Friend refers help to meet this objective, they are to be increasingly welcomed.