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European Community Law

Volume 885: debated on Monday 3 February 1975

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asked the Attorney-General whether he has given consideration to the implications for the United Kingdom of the judgment of the German Federal Constitutional Court in Internationale Handelsgesellschaft mbH v. Einfuhr-und Vorratsstelle fur Getreide and Futtermittel concerning the relationship between European Community Law and the constitutional law of an individual member State, particularly in the context of guarantees of fundamental rights; and if he will make a statement.

I am aware of the judgment to which the right hon. and learned Member refer, but do not think that, having regard to the very different constitutional context in which it was given, any inferences can be drawn for the United Kingdom.

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman observed the suggestion in the judgment that in a national constitution protection is given to the guarantee of fundamental rights, at any rate pending the codified cataloguing of fundamental rights in the Community? Will the Attorney-General say whether he envisages the possibility of affording such protection to a member State such as Great Britain, which, unlike Germany, has no written constitution?

The question of affording those protections as a built-in part of our law—as is the case in the German Federal Republic—would raise far wider issues than that to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred. I am aware that there have been proposals to that end, particularly that of Lord Justice Scarman in the Hamlyn lectures, but a great deal of study would be needed before the Government could commit themselves to that course of action.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that in other decisions—recently there has been a decision in the European Court, on the freedom of establishment—there has been a substantial erosion of the rights of British courts in relation to British citizens? We are considerably worried about this because it arises in such a way that no publicity is given to it and it is only when individual citizens come up against the difficulties that they realise how little protection they have from this Parliament.

I agree with my hon. Friend if she is saying that Parliament should have as much protection as possible against the acts of the Executive in this field, and, indeed, in any other, but the matter to which she refers raises a different question.