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Commons Chamber

Volume 889: debated on Tuesday 8 April 1975

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House Of Commons

Tuesday 8th April 1975

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the chair]

Private Business

British Waterways Bill

Read the Third time and passed

Friends' Provident Lifeoffice Bill

London Transport (Additionalpowers) Bill

As amended, considered; to be read the Third time

Queen's Road Brighton Burialground Bill Lords

Read a Second time and committed

Eastbourne Harbour Bill Lords (By Order)

Order for consideration, as amended, read

Bill to be considered upon Tuesday next

British Railways (No 2) Bill (By Order)

Order for Second Reading read

Bill to be read a Second time on Thursday next

London Transport Bill (By Order)

Order for Second Reading read

Bill to be read a Second time on Tuesday next at Seven o'clock

Oral Answers To Questions

Education And Science

Theatre Museum

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the future of the Theatre Museum.

I have nothing to add at present to my reply to the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Cooke) during the debate on the motion for the Adjournment of the House on Friday 21st March. —[Vol. 888, c. 2182-6.]

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a degree of urgency in this matter? In the debate to which he has referred he gave an assurance that he would give urgent consideration to it. Everyone agrees that the Flower Market would be a suitable place for the Theatre Museum and that it offers far more space. Therefore, will the hon. Gentleman make an early decision about this matter?

As I explained on 21st March, I am in touch with the Greater London Council and with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment about the possible use of the undercroft of the Flower Market at Covent Garden as alternative accommodation for the Theatre Museum and possibly at a later date for a theatre institute. I assure the hon. Gentleman that as soon as I am in a position to make a statement after the consultations have been carried out I shall make one.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the feeling in the art and theatre world that it is desirable to house the Turner Exhibition in Somerset House and the Theatre Museum and theatre institute in the Flower Market is well-night unanimous and exceedingly strong? Will he do his utmost to get the changeover effected as soon as possible?

I am aware of the strength of the views which have been expressed, but perhaps they do not entirely take account of all the difficulties and problems involved. Nevertheless, the future use of the Somerset House Fine Rooms would be a matter for discussion with the national museums and galleries, but only if Somerset House were not to house the Theatre Museum.

May I support the plea of the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss) and ask the Under-Secretary of State to give much higher priority to these important matters? Will he call a conference of all interested parties so that we may have the best of both worlds—a worthy Theatre Museum in Covent Garden and a permanent home for Turner's pictures at Somerset House?

It is a question not of a conference or of priorities but rather of ascertaining the factual situation, which is what we are about at the moment. I am not in a position to authorise any change of plan until it is established that the Theatre Museum could open in Covent Garden at least as early as it could at Somerset House and that the Government could finance any adaptations needed, including any other capital or continuing costs which might be involved. Until the factual situation has been firmly ascertained between all the parties concerned, I shall not be in a position to make a further statement.

National Theatre

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the progress of work on the National Theatre building, indicating the proposed opening date for the auditoria and the proposed scale of operations therein.

The completion of the theatre is the responsibility of the South Bank Board. The scale of operations within the theatre is a matter for consideration between the Arts Council and the National Theatre Board. I shall announce an opening date when the South Bank Board advises me that the theatre will be ready and when agreement has been reached on the scale of operations.

Is the Minister aware that he said only last November that he had a pretty good idea when the date would be? Can he not be more forthcoming now and tell us something about the scale of operations? Is he further aware that he said in November that this was meant greatly to increase our facilities for the performing arts? Would he not look rather stupid if it all went off at half-cock?

I would, and I have no intention of looking stupid in that respect. I readily agree that the principle that the responsibility in this matter is devolved upon the appointed bodies can sometimes be irksome. One thing I have discovered is that when such devolution takes place the Minister concerned must not indulge in premature and public barking.

Is not the blame for the delay to be laid wholly on the builders and those responsible for the construction? Is it not true that in no circumstances can the Minister or the South Bank Board be blamed? Will my hon. Friend tell us whether in his opinion there will now be sufficient money, after all the allocations which the Arts Council has made, to pay for the full performance in the National Theatre, if that theatre opens, as is hoped, some time in the autumn of next year?

I would hope that my right hon. Friend's estimate is on the pessimistic rather than the optimistic side. As he rightly says, the question of money cannot be separated from that of the timing of the opening. It is precisely these monetary questions which are being discussed currently between the Arts Council and the National Theatre Board. I am keeping in close touch with those discussions. Nevertheless, I also agree with my right hon. Friend that the contractors and subcontractors cannot be divorced from responsibility in connection with the delay.

To further the Minister in his desire not to look stupid, will he ensure that the National Theatre Company has adequate funds with which to finance a realistic running-in period of about six months before the actual opening? Second, will the Minister say what assurances he can give that when the National Theatre opens it will be fully financed, so that it will not remain an empty building?

I have already said that it is not the Government's intention to allow the building on the South Bank to remain empty. It is our full intention that the theatre shall be taken into full use. As for the question of timing, and whether one or other of the auditoria should open before others, these are matters currently under discussion. Another meeting on the subject will be taking place tomorrow. As soon as I am in a position to make a statement I shall do so.

Has the Arts Council made any substantial observations on the matters which we have been discussing?

Yes. The Arts Council has made a lot of private observations but it has been wise enough not to make public observations on the subject.

The Arts

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the progress made following his approaches to both sides of industry on the subject of industrial patronage of the arts.

I am still in touch with both sides of industry and I shall report further progress as soon as I can.

We have spent some time talking about the provision of money for the arts today. Does the Minister realise that this is one area in which he might he able to do something if he showed a bit more enthusiasm and drive?

Oddly enough, I believe that I have been the most enthusiastic and driving Minister ever on the question of extracting money from private enterprise. I believe that I have had great success. I am going to a performance tonight which is supported by one of those companies which in my view have received insufficient publicity about their activities in this connection. I have also had a letter this morning from the Chairman of Imperial Tobacco putting forward a suggestion which I am studying with close attention and appreciation. I hope that in due course we shall be able to say something about this. I am also expecting to hear shortly from Mr. Campbell Adamson, of the CBI, concerning some discussions I had with him on the subject recently.

Has the Minister looked at the experience of other countries, for example, Switzerland, where large concerns like Migros allocate 1 per cent. of their turnover for cultural sponsorship of the arts?

That is indeed an interesting point, which I hope to discuss with the leaders of industry in due course.

Educational Welfare (Ralphs Report)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what study he has made of the Ralphs Report; what plans he has for expanding educational welfare and for generally strengthening the relationship between the school and the home; and if he will make a statement.

The recommendations of the report have been broadly endorsed by the Local Government Training Board. Local authorities are well aware of the importance of educational welfare and of home-school links, and I have no doubt that they will do what they can to implement the recommendations, as far as present financial constraints will permit.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that this is an area, like so many others, which cannot be left to local authorities? Does he realise that the educational welfare service has the feeling that it is the Cinderella service? Does he not accept that there is a need for a wider dimension in terms of the responsibility of the service's officers?

I want to make it absolutely clear that in my view the service is certainly not the Cinderella service, and that the 2,400 educational welfare officers do a first-class job of fundamental importance. As for the question whether there should be some degree of national guidance on some aspects, my right hon. Friends and I are considering this issue and hope to produce general guidance before too long.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is some evidence in London that the educational welfare service is so impoverished that the Metropolitan Police is having to be brought more and more into service in an area which it was never intended to serve? Does he realise that since the building up of social service departments in local authorities the educational welfare service, for all that he says, does feel a Cinderella compared with other social services? Will he consult with his right lion. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services to make sure that differentials in salaries and conditions between these two sets of social workers can be ironed out?

Since the Seebohm Report of 1968 there has been a great deal of discussion about the relationship between the two services and whether they should be combined. This is a matter which in the Government's view is best left to local authorities, most of which prefer that the educational welfare service should be part of the education service in the locality.

Direct Grant Schools

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has now made an estimate as to the costs involved in the conversion of direct grant schools into comprehensive schools.

There will be some savings and some additional expenditure. The precise figures cannot be estimated, but the change is not likely to make much difference one way or the other to public expenditure.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how much the taxpayer and ratepayer save as a result of the parental contribution, over and above the direct grant? Will he also confirm that local education authorities will be able to send children in their areas to direct grant schools which are forced to go independent, once they do go independent?

The answer to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question is "Yes, Sir". The answer to the first part is that the present annual figure is £10·.3 million in respect of capitation grants. The fee remission grant, which I think the hon. Member had in mind, is £2·1 million.

Since 90,000 of the 120,000 pupils in direct grant schools are likely to need places in the maintained sector, is not the financial position much more serious than the Secretary of State has allowed for? Would it not cost about £70 million to provide these places in the maintained sector? Could not that money be used to supply about 200,000 nursery places? Surely this kind of educational priority is more worthy of Alice in Wonderland than of the Department of Education.

The hon. Gentleman is a bit wild in his arithmetic. He ignores the fact that places will continue to be available in these schools. No one is talking about the closure of schools. The hon. Gentleman also ignores the fact that many of the schools—I hope a great many—will choose to come into the maintained sector. There is no question of suddenly abolishing a number of schools, as he seems to presuppose, and then paying for places that were previously provided free. As for the reasons for doing this, we put them forward clearly when the matter was under discussion a few weeks ago. We have not heard any constructive counter-arguments from the Opposition.

Comprehensive Education

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local authorities have now submitted plans to him in response to Circular 4/74 issued by his Department;and how many have refused to do so.

Of 96 local education authorities in England, 86 have delivered a substantive reply and a further five an interim one. No authority has refused to respond.

I am delighted by my hon. Friend's reply, but is he not aware that some authorities have said that they will not go comprehensive? Is he also aware that in respect of some authorities which have said that they will go comprehensive there is considerable doubt about the precise time when they will do so? Has not my hon. Friend a good precedent in the Education (Milk) Act 1971, which was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition, to coerce recalcitrant local education authorities?

Yes, I am aware of the situation, and we are making a close analysis of all responses from the local authorities. The Government are determined to have genuine comprehensive reorganisation in every part of the country. We shall not stand aside and allow local authorities to prejudice the best educational interests of children by perpetuating the wasteful arid unfair system of selecting and rejecting children. The Government will take all necessary steps to implement national policy as agreed by the House.

Will the Minister deny recent reports that the Government intend to introduce compulsive legislation in the near future? Would it not be much wiser to act gently to allow for the evolution of public opinion and the greater availability of resources, rather than try to force the pace in the way the Minister indicated, with all the bitterness and distraction that that would involve?

This controversy has been going on for a long time. In going round the country I have found that even local authorities which are in genuine difficulty about going comprehensive are gratified that the Government have indicated firmly that they will implement the national policy. Far from repudiating any statements that have been made, we want to persuade local authorities. We are arranging meetings with local authorities which say that they will defy national policy. We shall talk to them and explore all the possibilities, but in the end, if legislation is necessary it will certainly be brought forward.

Without massive finance, how does the Minister propose to provide comprehensive schools of a viable size out of schools that are viable because they are selective and are of an average size of about 500 or 600 pupils—a size that we are told by the pundits of the comprehensive system is unthinkable for a viable comprehensive school?

We are not prepared to tolerate for a day longer than necessary a situation in which many thousands of children are rejected and sent to schools that are for children who are not clever enough to be selected for grammar school places. I commend to the hon. Gentleman the situation in Birmingham, for instance. I could take him to many other areas where, without the injection of extra resources, many thousands of children are being given a real educational opportunity.

Careers Advice Service

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many staff are employed per 1,000 children in classes of 15-year-olds upwards on careers advice.

There is no regular return of teachers employed within the various subject areas of the school curriculum and this information is, therefore, not available.

I much regret the Minister's answer. In view of the vital importance of extending careers opportunities, does not the Minister think that it is time that we collected the statistics and established specialised careers teaching posts, with exchanges with industry? Might not that help to solve some of the problems of youth unemployment?

I hope that the hon. Lady has not taken my reply as an indication that we minimise the importance of careers guidance in schools. We have an expanding careers guidance service involving a great number of teachers who may also undertake other duties. The Department gives every possible help.

Day Release

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, in view of his acceptance of the need to undertake curriculum development before the extension of day release for young workers, if he will propose establishing an appropriate body to undertake this function and make financial arrangements therefor.

As I stated in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Roberts) on 4th March—[Vol. 887, c. 358.]—I have no plans at present to change the existing arrangements for further education curriculum development, but this matter is being further studied by my Department as part of a wider review of the needs of 16-to-19year-olds.

My right hon. Friend will understand that I find that reply disappointing, in view of the declared policy aim of trying to increase the level of educational resources for those who are particularly disadvantaged. Does not my right hon. Friend realise that although we spend a great deal of money on curriculum development in schools in which children stay on beyond the age of 16, for the 16-to-19-year-olds who leave school there is little in the way of curriculum development?

My hon. Friend should not underestimate the amount of curriculum development work that goes on under the auspices of the Technical Education Council, the Business Education Council, and several of the regional technical examination boards, in technical colleges of education and elsewhere. There may be a gap here, particularly in relation to the 16-to-19-year-olds who are not being directed into further education or released from their jobs for further education, in respect of those whom we wish to receive further education. I referred to that problem in my reply and said that we were studying it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the great need among the 16-to-19-year-old group, in areas that are not highly developed industrially, for much greater facilities to be made available, particularly for the development of skills for industry? There is also a vacuum which needs to be filled in relation to young people—before they become eligible for jobs—who need provision to be made for their education after they leave school?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. One of our great difficulties is that the majority of day release or block release which occurs now is linked specifically to industrial training courses which qualify for grants under the Industrial Training Act. That is unfair between groups of boys and girls and uneven between different parts of the country. Our problem is to find a method of extending further education opportunities to wider groups of boys and girls. This matter is under intense study, and I am consulting a large number of organisations with expertise in this area.

When my right hon. Friend considers the problems of the 16-to 19-year-olds in further education colleges, will he also consider the discretionary grants, which are so abysmally low that young persons cannot continue their studies? The fees charged and the cost of travelling for the purpose of industrial visits are so exorbitant that young people have to discontinue their studies. Will my right hon. Friend please consider that matter?

We have been looking closely at the whole question of student grants. We have made some modest improvements in monetary grants to HND students and to certain others. Progress is limited, for financial reasons, but I am well aware of the problem to which my hon. Friend refers.

Teacher Exchanges (France Andgermany)

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many post-to-post teacher exchanges, expressed in terms, have taken place with France and Germany in the academic years 1972–73 and 1973–74; and what his forecasts are for the future.

In 1972–73 exchanges between French and British teachers totalled 118 terms, those between German and British teachers 38. The corresponding figures for 1973–74 were 105 and 27. In the current year they total 95 and three, and I expect 115 and 21 in 1975–76.

Does the Minister accept that these are disappointing figures when set against the high hopes of a few years ago? I seem to remember that there were hopes that about 1,000 teachers a year would be involved in these exchanges. At a time when the House is actively considering the whole question of Europe, is it not of importance that the education service should play its part? Does the Minister see any way of improving these figures?

I share the hon. Gentleman's disappointment. The scheme started with high hopes, as it was thought that it would be of mutual benefit to teachers and pupils. At the end of this month we shall be discussing with the French authorities how we may stimulate interest in the scheme. I assure the hon. Gentleman of our continuing determination to make the scheme succeed.

Does my hon. Friend recognise the enormous importance of the exchange of teachers between countries in terms of developing world understanding? Does he also recognise the importance of the work of organisations such as the League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers?

Yes. I am glad that my hon. Friend has reminded the House of the important work that is done in that area. We are arranging short-term visits in the hope that they will stimulate teachers to apply for much longer exchanges. We think that they will be of great benefit to all concerned.

Schoolchildren (Concessionary Travel)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is now in a position to announce his decisions following the review of concessionary travel arrangements for schoolchildren.

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will announce his decisions following the review of concessionary travel arrangements for schoolchildren.

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he intends to bring in changes in the regulations governing school transport before 1st September 1975.

My right hon. Friend is now considering the comments of the local authority associations and other interested bodies which were consulted about the report of the Working Party on School Transport. While there is widespread criticism of present arrangements there is no agreement as to the changes that should be made.

Does not the Minister recognise that that answer indicates yet once again that the Government seem to have no idea what to do about this difficult problem? I suggest to the Minister that the real answer is to abolish the out-dated and unfair statutory walking distance and to pass back to the local education authorities total discretion in respect of whatever assistance they can give within the resources available to them.

I share the hon. Gentleman's concern, and I apologise for the great delay. This is a very difficult problem. The real difficulty is to reconcile the reasonable and growing demand of parents for some assistance towards school travelling expenses and our anxiety not to impose extra financial burdens on local authorities. This is a very expensive matter.

Will my hon. Friend consider this matter sympathetically and urgently? Does he realise that parents with two or three schoolchildren are having great difficulty in getting their children to school by school bus, and that some of them are compelled to ask their children to walk to school? Is he aware that such children often have to walk to school in inclement weather and sit in wet clothes in the classroom? Does he agree that that is good neither for their health nor for their education?

I accept entirely what my hon. Friend says. As a matter of fact, local authorities are committed to approximately £50 million on travel expenditure in each year. My officers have been visiting different areas in the country, because no two areas have the same problem. We are trying desperately to come forward with an acceptable solution.

As the Government are finding it difficult to make a decision, will they not, as an interim measure, reduce the three-mile limit to a two-mile limit? Will the Minister please take note of the fact that bus fares have recently increased quite steeply for millions of people and are liable to increase again before the beginning of the next academic year? Bearing in mind that the report has been with the Government since December 1973, must there be any further delay?

I understand and share the hon. Gentleman's impatience. We are trying to arrive at an equable solution. I shall come forward with proposals as quickly as possible.

If experts are examining certain areas where there are difficulties, will my hon. Friend consider sending some of them to the Mile Oak and Fazeley areas, just outside Tamworth, where children are making journeys to school of just under three miles, and where parents are frequently faced with school transport costs of £2 or £3 a week when they have a number of children at school? Does my hon. Friend appreciate that if the children of those parents did what the law at present expects them to do—namely, walk to school—they would be involved in walking down the A5, in the Midlands, in probably one of the busiest parts of that very busy road?

I shall bear in mind what my hon. Friend says. It is another illustration of the great difficulty in coming to the proper answer. If he has any detailed suggestions to make I shall be glad to have them from him.

University Teachers (Pay)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress there has been in the negotiations on university teachers' pay; and whether he will make a statement.

The negotiating committee met at the end of February and will be resuming its discussions later this month.

I accept that the Secretary of State is personally sympathetic, but does he accept that university teachers are upset not only by the delay but by the fact that the universities may soon become the poor relations of the polytechnics? Will the right hon. Gentleman exert all his personal influence to get a speedy and generous settlement and then to maintain a fair relationship between university and polytechnic salaries?

I accept the general principle which was outlined in the Houghton Report, namely, that there should be parity in pay between teachers in universities and teachers undertaking comparable work in other institutions of higher education. I would not wish to comment in any more detail than that while the negotiations are continuing.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the bitterness felt by university teachers since the Government have treated schoolteachers and polytechnic teachers as special cases? Is he aware that university teachers feel that they have not been given the same priority? Will he explain why the Department of Education and Science has been so unwilling to bring in an arbitrator in this case? Is he aware that that provision is laid down in the social contract?

I can understand the feelings of university teachers. However, for many years polytechnic teachers were at a disadvantage compared with university teachers. During that period they had reason to feel discontented with the arrangements. The Houghton Report's general proposition for broad parity is the right answer. I do not think that we are at the point of arbitration and I hope that we shall not reach it. I hope that the negotiations now taking place will result in an agreement.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that quite apart from the basis of comparison with the polytechnic teachers, which is causing increasing concern among many teachers at universities, there is a feeling that university teachers are falling behind generally in relation to those with comparable salaries and that they are particularly concerned that there should be greater speed in reaching an agreement? Will my right hon. Friend bear those points in mind?

I think that all these points will be borne in mind by the negotiating committee which is considering these problems.

Open University

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he proposes to take in order to preserve the "openness" of the Open University, in view of proposals under discussion that the same principles in respect of undergraduate tuition fees at conventional universities should govern future fee increases at the Open University.

The present tuition fee at the Open University has applied since the academic year 1973. The proposed increase now under discussion would take effect from the academic year 1976 and is intended to maintain the value of the university's fee income in relation to grant. I do not think that this would change the character of the Open University.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that reply will be received with very great disappointment? Is he further aware that during the past five years the Open University has been attracting an increasing number of applications from what are termed the "manual occupation" groups? That is a welcome sign of the Open University's reaching out to the educationally underprivileged. Is my right hon. Friend aware that to increase the fees as is suggested— fees which are already high, and unsupported by grant—will be one of the greatest threats that the Open University has yet faced?

I agree completely with the first part of my hon. Friend's question. I believe that the Open University is doing a tremendous job and making a unique contribution to British education. I do not think that its fees can be exempted from the effects of inflation, any more than can anything else in our national life. However, our efforts are being directed towards finding the right answers. My noble Friend discussed this matter with the representatives of the Open University on 25th March. I assure my hon. Friend that no final decision has been made on the figure.

Canada

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will pay an official visit to Canada to study educational developments there.

Will the right hon. Gentleman at least study the Canadian experience in allowing pupils to leave school early? Does he recall the sad case of two young constituents of mine who were forced back to school after an administrative mistake over the precise time of their birth, and after one of them had almost entered employment? Is he aware that that mistake could not be remedied, because of the inflexible law of the school leaving age? Will the right hon. Gentleman's Department think again about this matter?

:Whatever age is laid down by law for school leaving purposes, there is always the possibility of an administrative mistake. I do not think that such a mistake arises from a particular age being fixed by law. As for the Canadian experience, only in the Province of Ontario have they gone in for the new option of leaving at 14. Other provinces have rejected that policy. This House has also rejected it. Both sides of the House are committed to a school leaving age of 16 years. I believe that we were right to come to that conclusion. Since the school leaving age was raised, experience has shown that the raising has been to the benefit of the majority of children concerned.

Sacred Heart School, Redcar

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a further statement about the situation at the Sacred Heart School, Redcar.

As my right hon. Friend stated yesterlay in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe), it is understood that the governors have suspended the headmaster following his unwillingness to integrate the eight teachers who had been on strike.

Does the Minister join me in welcoming the initiative of the Chairman of the Cleveland County Education Committee in calling a meeting of interested parties in an endeavour to reach a solution to this protracted dispute? Will he give some reassurance to the teachers who are in dispute about their future if they accept other posts in the area, since otherwise they might be extremely concerned about their situation?

I understand that the teachers concerned have been offered permanent posts within the authority. In this long and seemingly intractable dispute, it is surely now time for all the parties to consider what they can do in the best interests of the children. If they were to sit down in that spirit, they might be able to resolve the dispute. We are willing at all times to help in any way possible.

Does the Minister accept that there is the gravest disquiet locally because of the fact that just when it appears that the dispute may be coming to an end, the matter is taking another and yet more serious twist? Since the dispute has been going on for so long, will the Minister personally arrange a meeting with the parties concerned—governors, the local education authority, parents and teachers—to see whether a fresh initiative can be taken by a totally disinterested person, so as to lead to a new approach to a solution?

I share the hon. Gentleman's concern and I shall consider his suggestion. I believe that we should make progress if all parties, rather than considering who was right and who was wrong, asked themselves what was in the best interests of the children.

Colleges Of Education

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the effect which his decision to reduce the number of teacher training places will have on the closure and reorganisation of colleges of education.

I have nothing to add, at present, to the reply that I made on 20th March last to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, East (Mr. Clemitson). [Vol 888, c. 471-21

Does the Secretary of State agree that his proposed cut in teacher-training places amounts to a dramatic and damaging reversal of policy pursued by successive Secretaries of State since 1958? Does he realise that few demographers are crazy enough to believe that current demographic trends will continue, yet is it not on that basis that he is abolishing a provision which will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace?

No, Sir. These policies were carefully worked out after full discussion in the advisory committee on the supply and training of teachers. If the hon. Gentleman will study the "Report on Education" which we issued the week before last and which gives details of our demographic studies, he will see that we are assuming that there will be some increase in birth rate in the years ahead. We are working out our figures on that assumption.

Does the Secretary of State not agree that although at one time the view was that large schools and large universities were advisable, the movement is now the other way? When he is considering which training colleges or colleges of education are to close, will he remember that smallness is sometimes a good thing, and will he bear in mind that these matters should not be decided on geographical area only? Does he not agree that if colleges are popular and well-subscribed, those are the institutions which should be allowed to continue and which certainly should not be closed just for administrative convenience?

We shall not take action simply on the basis of administrative convenience. We shall consider the quality of a college among all the relevant factors. There will not be a unilateral decision taken by my Department. There will be discussions in detail with local education authorities, with voluntary bodies concerned and with the colleges themselves. For this reason 1 said in my original answer that I could not go further than my recent reply on this subject. However, I hope that by the summer most of the decisions will have been taken.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people appreciate the thought which he and his Department have given to this important problem? However, does he appreciate that there is great feeling throughout the country over the reduction in the number of teacher training places, since it is thought that this course will not bring about a reduction in the number of pupils per class, which is what we should be aiming at?

The reduction in teacher training places, because of the age profile of the profession, is consistent with an increase in the number of teaching posts. The target figure of between 480,000 and 490,000 in 1981 represents an increase in the number of teaching posts and is an improvement in the staffing position—to such an extent that in the early 1980s we should reach the position in which no class in the country should contain more than 30 pupils.

Blackpool

Q1.

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay a visit to Blackpool before the Whitsun Parliamentary Recess.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Secretary of State for Education said in Blackpool last week that if inflation is not kept under control every aspect of national life will be ruined? Is he also aware that the Government have said that the pay settlements for the Post Office workers and electricity supply workers breach the social contract? Bearing in mind the Prime Minister's own criticisms, during the election campaign, of rogue employers in the private sector, how does the right hon. Gentleman now justify the fact that settlements now being made by the Government in the public sector breach the social contract?

In that supplementary question the hon. Gentleman has come a long way from Blackpool, no doubt to the delight of his constituents. In regard to the statement made in Blackpool by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education, I congratulate the hon. Member for so anticipating that statement that his Question was tabled long before my right hon. Friend visited Blackpool. What my right hon. Friend said then was said on behalf of the Government, and it has been said by myself and by other Ministers. I agree with what my right hon. Friend said in Blackpool.

When my right hon. Friend next goes to Blackpool, to the Labour Party conference, will he recall the resolution which was passed and which called for an equal allocation of opportunity for everybody to take part in the great debate on the Common Market? Will he say why approximately 30 Ministers who are anti-Marketeers will not be allowed to speak in the current debate?

I have not noticed any inability on the part of members of the Parliamentary Labour Party or, indeed, of Labour Party members as a whole, to take part fully in the debate on Ministers speeches in the House, this was a perfectly appropriate decision taken by the Cabinet.

Scotland

02.

asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to pay an official visit to Scotland.

I visited Scotland on 27th and 28th February and again on 22nd March. I have no plans for a further visit before July.

Will the Prime Minister seek an opportunity before July to make clear to the Scottish people—particularly to certain members of his own party and to the Scottish TUC—the disastrous results for Scotland if the United Kingdom leaves the European Community? Will he confirm that 12,000 jobs in Scotland would be put at risk if the United Kingdom were to leave the EEC, and that Scotland would be deprived of about £65 million each year from Community sources?

I am not in a position to check the accuracy of the hon. Gentleman's figure in regard to jobs, or his other figure, but I spoke on the subject of the renegotiations which we have held on the Common Market when I was in his own city of Aberdeen just before Easter.

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that the last time he was in Scotland he promised that there would be an open debate on the Common Market, without rancour? Will he also remember that freedom is indivisible, and that this principle should also apply to Ministers in this House? Does he agree that if that pledge were properly fulfilled, he and the rest of us would gain credit for it?

I do not agree with my hon. Friend. I appealed for a comradely debate, free from rancour, and so far this is what we have had—with one or two significant, or insignificant, exceptions. I trust that this will continue. The agreement to differ, which I announced, referred to a total freedom —within the normal rules of etiquette, friendly behaviour, and gentlemanly courtesy—to campaign in the country on the referendum. The situation governing a parliamentary debate is quite different. and has always been so considered.

European Community

3.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a ministerial broadcast on Europe.

4.

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a ministerial broadcast on Europe.

5.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a ministerial broadcast on British membership of the European Community.

6.

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a ministerial broadcast on British membership of the European Economic Community.

I refer the hon. Members to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) on 20th March — [Vol. 888, c. 469.]

Will not the Prime Minister accept that, since the future credibility of our country in international negotiations now depends upon our remaining a member of the European Community, it is important that he should show greater determination in these matters by means of a ministerial broadcast, not least by virtue of the right of reply which, given to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, would be a helpful way of advancing matters a stage further?

The hon. Member will have noted from the Order Paper that we are currently engaged in a three-day debate on the European situation, during which I managed to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, yesterday afternoon. The hon. Member can make his point in the debate.

With regard to ministerial broadcasts, I think that we must to some extent have regard to the problems of the broadcasting authorities in this campaign. [Interruption] I regard the hon. Gentleman's question as serious, even if his neighbours do not.

The broadcasting authorities are enjoined, and have agreed, to maintain a balance. Ministerial broadcasts made by the three party leaders might appear to be rather on one side of the debate. However, to set the hon. Gentleman's mind at rest, since my statement in the House on 18th March I have made four national television broadcasts—not ministerial broadcasts—in addition to that which I made at the end of the Dublin conference before my statement to the House.

In view of what the Prime Minister said about freedom of debate, is he aware that on 4th May 1932 Sir Herbert Samuel spoke as Home Secretary, from the Treasury Bench, expressing the views of those in the Cabinet who disagreed with the Government's policy?

Yes, Sir. I assure my right hon. Friend that I consulted those precedents and that speech, possibly before my right hon. Friend, and, indeed, before the end of last year. In that situation the only possibility of agreement to differ in a Conservative, Liberal and minuscule Labour coalition was through debate in the House. In the present situation there is a referendum campaign, which is of a totally different order, because all Ministers who have availed themselves of the unprecedented offer of agreement to differ are free to campaign in this referendum. I therefore believe that the 1932 precedent is totally inapplicable in this situation.

Since the Prime Minister will not make a ministerial broadcast on the question of Europe, will he clarify yesterday's Written Answer about the conduct of dissenting Ministers? In saying that dissenting Ministers will be stating the Government's position and not their own, is the Prime Minister asking them to be hypocritical mouthpieces for views which are abhorrent to them? If questions are to be transferred when necessary who is to decide when it is necssary for them to be transferred—the Minister concerned, the Foreign Secretary, or the Prime Minister? Does not that illustrate the dangerous consequences of abandoning the traditional concept of collective ministerial responsibility?

No, Sir. I cannot accept what the hon. Gentleman says. He certainly cannot have it both ways, which he is trying to have in that question, as, indeed, is the Conservative Party—none better than the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher), who has dissociated herself from everything done by her predecessor. We know that the Conservative Party cannot press, as it has tried to press, that answers from the Front Bench should reflect entirely the Government's decision about this recommendation. At the same time, the hon. Gentleman asked that Ministers who have dissociated themselves from the decision should be free to speak in a different sense. With regard to the present situation, I said that all Ministers—not only dissenting Ministers—will speak in accordance with Government policy.

Does the Prime Minister not agree that the prime need now in the debate on the Common Market is not for ministerial broadcasts but for broadcasts by spokesmen for and against our remaining in the Common Market? Those broadcasts will incorporate safeguards which do not otherwise obtain, in view of editorial bias or the more scurrilous advertisements in the Press which recently compared those who believe in remaining in the Common Market with Vidkun Quislings.

I agree with my hon. Friend—and I include advertisements dealing with the other side of the question, of which there was a wholly improper example last week. However, my hon. Friend is right. The broadcasting authorities are trying genuinely to maintain a balance between the pro-and anti-Market sides. It is for them to decide. I have no doubt that the Standing Committee of all parties and the broadcasting authorities themselves are considering how they will conduct themselves during this campaign.

The issue is not between parties, and therefore is not between ministerial and Leader-of-the-Opposition broadcasts—rather, it is between the two sides in the national debate.

Since the Prime Minister is not to make a broadcast, will he say—to fill a strange gap in his speech yesterday—how he sees his personal position if his European policy is repudiated in the referendum?

I do not think that that matter arose out of yesterday's speech. It has arisen on many occasions. The Government will accept the verdict of the British people.

I thought I read a report that the Leader of the Opposition said—this may have been an unfair report, since the Press is occasionally inaccurate, and the right hon. Lady may wish to repudiate it—that if there were an adequate turnout and a clear majority, all parties would accept it.

The Leader of the Opposition says that she did not say that. In that case, I wish that she would repudiate that. [Interruption] I am delighted to hear that she has made her position clear. A Member of Parliament would need to be arrogant to say that whatever the country decided in this ballot could be disregarded by the House.

Will the Prime Minister refrain from taking umbrage if I suggest that he asks the Secretary of State for Scotland to make any ministerial broadcast in Scotland, since the Secretary of State's anti-EEC views will be more in tune with those of the Scottish audience?

Of course I never take umbrage at any proposals made to me by the hon. Lady. The broadcasting authorities in Scotland, which to some extent are separate, will try to preserve a balance between the pro-Market and anti-Market adherents and will give a fair coverage to both.

Since the Prime Minister is not to make a ministerial broadcast, will he take the opportunity now of justifying the exclusion of British subjects living abroad from voting in the referendum when Irish citizens living in this country, who may have already voted, will be given an opportunity of voting yet again?

The question has been put to me before. I did not say that I would not make a ministerial broadcast. I said that I had no present plans to do so. That was my answer. Should there be, within the discretion of the broadcasting authorities and as part of the balance they maintain, the possibility of ministerial broadcasts—suitably balanced, of course—I would consider that.

As regards voting, the House will debate the Referendum Bill on Thursday. That Bill will be taken in Committee on the Floor of the House. These are matters for discussion at that time. We have declared the views of the Government on this matter.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that he has many right hon. and hon. Members behind him who would prefer the Cabinet to take another look at this matter and to allow all Ministers to make statements based upon their own opinions and not those of the Prime Minister?

I should always prefer to have my hon. Friend behind me than some right hon. and hon. Members at whom I have to look from this Dispatch Box. My hon. Friend is my parliamentary neighbour, and I spoke for him when he was a candidate in less hopeful seats.

As for my hon. Friend's question, this unprecedented agreement to differ in an unprecedented situation, namely, the referendum, is unlimited in its effect on all Ministers and others in the campaign in the country. It was never envisaged by any of us that that would be the position in the debate this week.

Will the Prime Minister accept that on this issue he has some friends in front of him, if not behind him? As his dissenting Ministers seem to be having it both ways, would not it be better for the Prime Minister and for everyone else if they resigned, pending the result?

The right hon. Lady's last few words remove from me the obligation to refer to her as "my right hon. Friend" in view of her support. I do not accept what she says. This is a unique situation. It is a situation in which the right hon. Lady's party is divided, as ours is and as the country is. I am proud that my Cabinet is more representative of the two views than the rather crony-dominated Cabinet which preceded ours. That is why the country was taken into the Market without the promised full-hearted consent—and I have never heard whether the right hon. Lady will dissociate herself from that, either.

If the country votes in accordance with the Government's recommendation, there will be no doubt about the position. There has been every doubt since 1971, when the Government of which the right hon. Lady was a member took the establishment, but not the British people, into the Common Market.

Question Of Privilege

I beg to submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister's Written Answer yesterday on European Community membership revealed a contempt of this House and a breach of its privileges.

I am not referring to the last paragraph, which is simply the normal courtesies between Members of the same party. Nor am I referring to the Prime Minister's instructions to members of his Government to act in accordance with Government policy when they are on official business. I am referring to the first sentence of the second paragraph, which reads:
"This freedom does not extend to parliamentary proceedings and official business."— [Official Report, 7th April 1975; Vol. 889, c.351]
Official business is of no concern to us, but restricting the freedom of parliamentary proceedings is a matter for this House and not for the Government. As was pointed out earlier, on a previous occasion in 1931 no restriction was placed on right hon. and hon. Members speaking personally, even if they were Ministers, to express their own views.

It is the law of the country that Members of Parliament have not merely a right but a duty to express in this House their opinions and to be protected in ways in which they would not he outside this House. They are protected, for example, against defamation by absolute privilege.

It is the principle of the procedures of this House that a Member may come here and say what he chooses. Normally, members of the Government do not do that, but in this case they are to be allowed to do so outside this House. I cannot imagine a more complete derogation from the rights of this House than to say that its Members may speak out-side it but not in it.

In so far as the wording of which I complain refers to proceedings in this House and to the personal views of Ministers, I submit contempt of this Ho wording of which proceedings in this personal views of that it reveals a contempt of this House.

Bill Presented

Petroleum And Submarine Pipe-Lines

Mr. Secretary Varley, supported by the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Callaghan, Mr. Secretary Ross, Mr. Secretary John Morris, Mr. Harold Lever, Mr. Edmund Dell and Mr. John Smith, presented a Bill to establish the British National Oil Corporation and make provision with respect to the functions of the Corporation; to make further provision about licences to search for and get petroleum and about submarine pipelines, refineries and the supply and use of petroleum; to authorise loans and guarantees in connection with the development of the petroleum resources of the United Kingdom and payments in respect of certain guarantees and loans by the Bank of England; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid: and the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 127.]

Scottish Affairs

Ordered

That the matter of the Clayson Report on Scottish Licensing Law, being a matter relating exclusively to Scotland, be referred to the Scottish Grand Committee for their consideration.—[ Mr. Thomas Cox]

Orders Of The Day

Supply

[13TH ALLOTTED DAY]— considered

European Community Membership)

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [7th April]

That this House approves the recommendation of Her Majesty's Government to continue Britain's Membership of the Community as set out in the White Paper on the Membership of the European Community (Command No. 5999)—[ The Prime Minister]

Question again proposed

3.36 p.m.

On a point or order, Mr. Speaker. On 19th December last, in a debate on the six-monthly White Paper report on EEC negotiations, the Government put down on the Order Paper certain regulations from the EEC concerning the budget which were to be debated along with it. As a result of representations, those documents were not debated.

Yesterday, the Government put down on the Order Paper two other Commission documents, Nos. R /650/75 and R /1372 / 73, concerning regional aid. As a result of an objection which I made yesterday, those two documents were not moved to be taken note of yesterday, although the debate concerning approval of the recommendation in the White Paper was taken.

Today, the Government have for the second time put these Commission documents on the Order Paper. I submit that, although it is strictly in order in terms of procedure, it is not in the best interests of proper debate or within the democratic traditions of this House.

Therefore, I protest once again. I hope that the Government will not move these documents, so that they may be taken separately, though together, and properly debated on their own merits on another occasion.

The moving of motions dealing with the documents is not a matter for me. As for debating them, they cannot be debated together without the approval of the whole House.

Before I call the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher), may I say a word about the state of my list of speakers. Although the debate yesterday began on time, only 17 back benchers spoke, and some speeches could have been equally effective if they had been shorter. I have more than 50 right hon. and hon. Members who wish to take part in this debate. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will make their speeches shorter.

3.38 p.m.

Yesterday the Prime Minister opened the fourth major debate in 14 years on Britain's membership of the EEC. On each of the first three occasions the Prime Minister began the day as an enthusiastic advocate of the cause that his Government were proposing. This time the Prime Minister chose to open with a very low-key speech leaving out most of the broader issues or dwelling on them only briefly.

We are aware of the right hon. Gentleman's problems. If we were not aware of them yesterday, we have been made aware of them in Question Time today. At present he has to rely more on his political opponents than on his alleged political friends to secure the decision which he considers right for Britain.

It has been suggested in some quarters that my party might find it tempting to withdraw support in order to embarrass the Prime Minister. But we have voted consistently for Britain in Europe by a large majority and would not think of performing W-turns on this issue.

In 1961, when the right hon. Harold Macmillan first came to the House with the idea that we should make an application to the Common Market for membership, the Labour Party was lukewarm in the debate. Indeed, it did not vote upon the main question. On that occasion the Conservative and Liberal Parties voted 313 for the application. There were only five votes against, of which one was Conservative.

In 1967, when the Prime Minister made his application, 488 hon. Members voted for the application, and only 62 against, including 26 Conservatives.

In 1971, on the result of the application, 356 hon. Members voted for it and 244 against, which included some of ours.

Throughout, our record has been consistently that the vast majority of the Conservative Party have voted for the European idea in support of making applications, even when some of the right hon. Gentleman's party did not vote in support of the first application, and again we have supported the idea of Britain in the European Community.

The Prime Minister dealt mainly with the renegotiations and the Labour Party manifesto of 1974. I do not believe that this issue will be decided on those matters. The results set out in the White Paper are difficult to assess and very complicated. I believe that the matter will be decided on the broader issues associated with membership, and it is this argument which I propose to deploy today. I will deal, first, with the case for being in the Common Market, then the case for staying in, and finally the alternatives.

First, the case for being in the Common Market. I believe, with a number of hon. Members who spoke yesterday, that the paramount case for being in is the political case for peace and security. It is taken for granted now that Western Europe, which has been the centre of troubles within our lifetime, will not embark again upon its own destruction. I think that we should not too readily take that for granted but for the tremendous efforts and constructive purpose which have led to those nations working together in the Common Market.

One of the measures of the success of the Community that we now take for granted is essentially security. I think that security is a matter not only of defence but of working together in peacetime on economic issues which concern us and of working closely together on trade, work and other social matters which affect all our peoples. The more closely we work together in that way, the better our security will be from the viewpoint of the future of our children.

I believe that people today recognise two quite different needs. First, there is the need to be part of some smaller group to which we can belong and feel and know we belong. We see that daily in a certain amount of revulsion against size. [Interruption] I hear sounds coming from a certain direction. The country with perhaps the greatest devolution of power—Germany—is one of the most active members of the Common Market. So there is this need which we must all recognise and take into account in our policies and in the institutions which we fashion.

The second need is the knowledge that it is only when we get and work together that we can achieve the larger objectives which we arc seeking to achieve. It seems to me that the prospect of the Common Market fulfils both those needs —the need to identify with one's own nation and country and the need to work together as a community and an alliance of nations for the well-being and betterment of mankind.

May I take it from the right hon. Lady's remarks that she supports the view that powers should be devolved to Scotland equivalent to the powers of the Bavarian Parliament?

The hon. Lady would be unwise to conclude anything of that kind. The Conservative Party has always stood for genuine devolution of decision making. I am sure that the hon. Lady will be interested to know that the letters which I get from some people in her country say that Edinburgh is just as remote as London. The hon. Lady has not been here as long as I have. That sounds rather like the Prime Minister. I must not fall into his ways too soon, but I admire his instinct for self-preservation.

I believe that these two needs are met by countries being in the Common Market and working together for the larger purpose. Therefore, my first reason for believing that we should be in the Common Market is peace and security.

The second reason concerns what I believe to be most important—access to secure sources of food supplies. We had quite a lot of argument and debate yesterday about food in the Common Market. I think that we have to view that against the background of the world's food reserves and the amount of food that this country needs to import. We need to import at least half our food to survive. Taking into account the import of fertilisers and foodstuffs, it comes slightly above the 50 per cent. mark. The figures were given in the Lubbock Memorial Lecture at Oxford recently.

Against the background of that need we must remember that the world's food reserves are now smaller in proportion to its consumption than they have ever been. We now have to live from the products of one harvest to the products of the next. The reserves are not sufficient, or the same, as they used to be in the past. In these circumstances, it is only prudent and sensible for the Government to obtain steady access to the Community, which could be self-sufficient in many agricultural products, and which, because of its combined bargaining power, is in a far better position than any single country to negotiate with the rest of the world.

We are the most vulnerable country with our need for food imports. Therefore, it is vital that we secure access to continuous and good sources of food supply. In some years supplies from the Continent will be more expensive; in other years they will be cheaper. But the great benefit is access and greater stability of supplies.

Obviously we had some debate about prices. I notice that the White Paper is very modest in its claim. But undoubtedly the common agricultural policy has not had the effect upon food prices which many opponents of the Market thought it would have. One has only to look at the latest official Government reply inHansard of 17th March to see that the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection said:
"the overall level of food prices in the United Kingdom is not at present significantly affected one way or the other by our membership of the European Community."—[Official Report, 17th March 1975; Vol. 888, c. 1125.]
The right hon. Lady took the general overall picture. Of course, some commodities are up and others are down in price.

Does the right hon. Lady recognise that there are two points here? First, it is irrelevant to the comparison whether the CAP has put up prices or not, but it has. [Interruption] The right hon. Lady was making the point that the CAP had not put up food prices and she used this answer to prove it. It does not prove it. The CAP did put up our food prices.

Secondly, on the comparison that the right hon. Lady was making, all the major commodities—beef, lamb, butter and cheese and all the grains, including wheat and maize—are dearer than outside the Common Market. The answer and the White Paper are wrong and totally out of date.

As far as 1 can see, what the hon. Gentleman is saying is that the EEC prices did not put up food prices in this country but the CAP did. I should not like to argue that from a public platform. I prefer to take the official Government reply, which I believe is correct—that the overall level of food prices in the United Kingdom is not at present significantly affected one way or the other by our membership of the Community.

The third main reason why we should belong to the Community is that it is the largest trading and aiding unit in the world. It is larger than the United States; larger in the amount of goods which it imports than the United States; larger than the United States in aid. It is a very great advantage for this country to be a part of that very much larger tradingbloc. This has become very obvious to other countries. We can appreciate that by looking at the number of them which wish to negotiate direct with the Community, no longer so much with the separate countries. Country after country wishes to obtain access to the Community itself, to the most powerful market in the world. They are far more interested in the Community than they ever would be in supplying us alone.

Furthermore, as time goes on we are more likely to get access to the raw materials we need to fabricate our exports through bargaining as part of a community than we are ever to achieve by bargaining on our own. It is part of the same economic argument. One needs access to secure supplies of food; one needs access to secure supplies of raw materials—particularly if one has to import them to survive.

At present, on the trading point, half of our trade is with Western Europe as a whole. Through our membership of the Common Market we have preferential access to all those countries, which we should not otherwise have. Those countries comprise our eight EEC partners, the seven remaining EFTA countries, with which we have free trade agreements by virtue of belonging to the Community, and Greece, Turkey and Spain, which have Community preferential agreements. Therefore,. on the broad strategic trade and aid argument we have preferential access to Western Europe, with which we conduct 50 per cent. of our trade. I doubt very much whether we should be able to get that on our own.

Yesterday we had a good deal of argument about the trade deficit. Indeed, the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) had a good deal to say about that, as indeed had the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), substantially answered the question last night, but unfortunately —[Interruption] I said earlier that the Government had more friends on the Opposition side of the House than on their side. I am being proved right with almost every interjection.

On the trade deficit we were challenged. What right hon. and hon. Gentlemen did not say was that about four-fifths of the trade deficit came from the supply of about five different commodities to this country. Had we not bought them from Europe we would have had to buy them at the same or increased prices elsewhere.

First, on food, including dairy products, which we bought from Europe because many of the products were lower in price than they were in our traditional markets, to substitute our traditional markets for Europe would have meant that the adverse balance would have been worse than it was. Secondly, fuel accounted for part of the deficit. Because of the increased oil prices, we bought fuel products from the EEC—we had to buy some of them because of lack of refining capacity—and they went up in price, so that was a neutral factor in relation to the deficit. On plastics and steel we had an adverse balance. Again, we had to have some of these commodities because we could not supply them. We could not supply the plastics partly because of the Flixborough disaster, and we could not supply the steel because the British Steel Corporation was not able to supply enough last year. If we had not got those supplies from Europe we should have had to buy them elsewhere.

On all of these things, membership of the Community did not have an adverse effect on our balance of trade; in fact, it helped us, in so far as some of these things cost us less in Europe than they would have cost elsewhere. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the balance of payments?"] The balance of payments is worse under the present Government than it has ever been under any other. Furthermore, we are borrowing more under the present Government than we have ever borrowed under any other.

The fourth main strategic reason for us being in the Common Market is to provide a world role for Britain. We on the Opposition side of the House have always attached great importance to a world role. On our own, as a nation of 55 million, we would have some voice, but not enough. Traditionally, Britain has always been part of a larger grouping, and was listened to partly because of that grouping as well as because of our own particular attributes. It used to be the Commonwealth, but since then most of the Commonwealth countries have become independent and have set up their own trading preferences and arrangements. That did not happen only after our accession to the Common Market. For years and years the Commonwealth preferences were being eroded, as those of us who tried to sell to many of the Commonwealth countries knew. Naturally, they set up their own industries, and naturally they protected them in the early stages. That meant that steadily our markets were closing down. I watched that process year after year. It became vital that as those markets closed down, so we should be able to open up markets of equivalent or greater capacity elsewhere.

The Community opens windows on the world for us which since the war have been closing. It is already strong and already a major influence in the world.

Those are the four big strategic points for being a member of the Community. They are as strong now as they ever have been.

There are also additional points now for staying in the Community which perhaps did not exist at the beginning. First, the Commonwealth itself now wants us to stay in. I know of no adverse comment on this matter. All the comments that have been made, whether by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Indian Minister of Commerce, or the Jamaican Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, have been to the effect that they wish us to stay in. This is indeed a further powerful reason for staying in.

The second reason is that we can begin to quantify some of the benefits. The document produced by the Britain in Europe Group, which sets out 176 examples of grants and loans made in the last two years by the Community institutions to this country, is most effective. It sets out specific examples of grants and loans totalling some £290 million, which have gone all over the country.

The grant is £89 million and the loans are £200 million. That leaves out of account £176 million paid from the guarantee section of the Community's Agricultural Fund.

One can point to a large number of tangible benefits in the form of grants coming to this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party enumerated a number of separate items yesterday. They vary from very large grants of some £34 million or £35 million to small grants such as grants to the families affected by the Flixborough chemical plant explosion. The EEC gave grants to the planners and grants to agriculture. It gave one grant after another to which one can point; and, of whichever area one is speaking, all this came from the EEC.

Another reason for staying in is that our partners have done everything possible to be both co-operative and constructive. It has been noticeable how they have helped this Government through all their renegotiation difficulties. I believe that on the whole the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary did a good job in the negotiations, and so far as they have obtained improved terms we are delighted and hope that those, too, will help to keep Britain a member of the Common Market. My right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and the Border (Mr. Whitelaw) said yesterday that he believed that renegotiation is a continuous process. It was my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), I believe, who described the Common Market as almost a non-stop negotiating machine. Of course, that is likely to be so in any community which is an organic, living community. It is constantly developing the whole time, constantly responding to the interests of its members.

The right hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) indicated a moment ago a certain amount of scepticism about the total amount of grants and loans, but it is quite clear from the White Paper that our calculations, made two or three years ago, about the effects of the Common Market on our Budget were wrong. It is equally difficult to try to make precise forecasts of the sums involved here when we are looking to the future. All we know is that the figures given in the White Paper show that this year, when we were expecting to pay a net contribution of some £165 million, our net contribution turned out to be only £31 million; so our calculations were wrong. The result has been that we have contributed far less to the Community budget than we had expected to contribute. That is another plus for Britain.

On the common agricultural policy, despite what the hon. Gentleman has said, that has not had as adverse an effect on world food prices as he and some of his hon. Friends, and a number of other people, feared at the time it was negotiated. But, in fact, there are very good reasons for believing that the agricultural policy will gradually become more consumer-oriented than it has been in the past. It is natural that as a country has fewer people working in agriculture and more working in the manufacturing industries, its policies will become more directed towards the consumer than towards the agricultural producer; but I and a number of my hon. Friends would hold very strongly that those who work in agricultural production should get just as good a living as those who work in producing manufactured goods.

Another good reason for staying in is the effect that there would be on investment and jobs if we were to pull out. Again, this is very difficult to quantify. Obviously, quite a number of multinational companies will prefer to invest in Europe rather than here if we are not a member of the Common Market. A number of companies here have already indicated that they feel that if we were to withdraw there would be a loss of jobs. Firms like GKN, Lucas and Vauxhall, and a number of people in the chemical industry, have indicated that if we were to withdraw investment would not be forthcoming here; and in their view it would have an adverse effect on jobs.—[Interruption] I assume that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is interested in getting investment, even overseas, if it helps us to provide jobs in areas where jobs are needed.

Is not the right hon. Lady aware that in 1973 the outward flow of industrial capital, or capital for investment, from this country to the Common Market countries was £400 million while the flow the other way was only £50 million?

I think the hon. Gentleman is trying to accelerate new investment towards the Common Market and away from this country. The position is already difficult. We should not try to make it more difficult still. We want more investment here and are quite happy for multinational companies to come and invest, particularly in areas where we need jobs.

The last reason for staying in is that it would be traumatic—to use the Foreign Secretary's own expression—to come out. When we went in we knew exactly what we were going into. We had had very powerful negotiations, under my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), over a period of two or more years and knew exactly the conditions we were to face when we went in.

If we were now to withdraw, it would be a leap in the dark. We should not have any idea of the trading conditions into which we were coming out, or of the effect on sterling. It is not a genuine alternative. A genuine alternative would be to have two sets of negotiations and choose between them; but that would not be possible. We knew what we were going into because of the careful negotiations. If we withdraw we have no idea of what alternative trading arrangements we shall be able to secure. Quite a number of people have made a different suggestion, that perhaps we could return to EFTA. We are already a member of the free trade area by virtue of being a member of the Common Market; and if we were out every EFTA country would have to secure EEC permission because of the free trade agreements. Secondly, we would be a market of only 40 million, which is hardly comparable to a market of 200 million in the EEC. Thirdly, agreements on EFTA are particularly tough on rules of origin, and those in themselves, in the way they operate, could have an adverse effect on some of our trade, particularly in motorcar components.

Having been through some 60 pages of the rules of origin one understands the difficulties associated with them. As hon. Members will know, there are provisions covering certain sensitive products in EFTA agreements under which tariff barriers have gone down, particularly in textiles, with the EEC. Those barriers would be erected again. So even if we could get into EFTA, that would be no answer to our problems. A second alternative would be to have a free trade agreement with the Community. The first thing that occurs to one on this is that a time when one has just broken a treaty is not, frankly, the best time to ask for another, particularly when one is a country of a similar size to other countries in the Common Market and one's products are such that one competes with many of the others.

Many people may say that Norway did so, but she got agreement before she went in; and Norway is a market of only 4 million people with an economy quite different from ours. Any such arrangement would require protracted negotiations which would probably follow the general lines of those agreed with other EFTA countries, and again there would be sensitive products. Secondly, the clauses and articles dealing with State aid to nationalised industries are, if anything, slightly tougher in the free trade area agreements with the EEC than they are in the initial EEC agreement. That EEC agreement specified certain grants that were compatible with the treaty. The free trade area agreement does not repeat those particular grants; and, as I have said, it is slightly tougher on State aid to nationalised industries than the EEC treaty ever was.

Does not the right hon. Lady realise that if we withdrew in that situation over the broad area of industrial goods this country would really be in a free trade relation with both groups and, therefore, all we would be abrogating—[Interruption] Well, if hon. Members do not understand that they do not understand the basic facts. In that situation the onus would be on any other country to alter the status quoand take the initiative in raising tariffs against us. Does she really think that that is likely to happen?

The right hon. Gentleman is taking a virtually unique view in thinking that he can select certain parts and not others, that he can just opt out of the agricultural part and keep the free trade area part. But if we abrogate a treaty we abrogate all the treaty and then have to start negotiating again. I see absolutely no grounds for believing that one can get exactly those bits one wants while taking none of the others which do not happen to suit one.

Does the right hon. Lady not realise that the EFTA countries are now in exactly that position of industrial free trade without the Common Market obligations?

The EFTA countries negotiated their own particular treaties with the EEC. We have no such treaties. We should have to start the negotiations all over again. We do not have such a treaty and we do not know whether we would get it. The time to ask for a new treaty would not be when we had just broken the old one. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, those EFTA countries which are steel producers had to promise to align their steel prices with those of the Community without consultation. There are also certain other restrictions on fishing which were applied to Norway, although I agree that fishing has not yet been fully resolved in the treaty.

The choice is whether to be outside the Community and yet have to accept everything which it decides on trading provisions, including standards and safety provisions and prices of steel, or whether to stay in the Community and have an influence over all those decisions which will seriously and closely affect the whole of our industrial life.

Is the Leader of the Opposition suggesting that the EEC will prejudice its £2,000 million balance of trade surplus with us simply out of pique and erect trade barriers and become the inward-looking club that many of us feel it is?

What I am suggesting is that the hon. Member has absolutely no grounds for assuming that we should get a free trade area agreement with the EEC when it has made strenuous efforts to meet all our requests and demands to keep us in the Community. I believe that the hon. Gentleman wants to accept those parts of the treaty which suit him and forget about the rest.

I hope that our economy will soon be in better shape and overcome the adverse balance of trade, and I am sure that the Prime Minister shares that view. We cannot assume that we would have an alternative area to go to, and the result may be that we should have to go it alone. There being no certain alternatives, it would seem that we have very carefully to consider keeping the arrangements and agreements we already possess before going completely into the unknown. Being in the EEC will not, of course, solve all our economic problems, or anything like it. Some of them are home grown and have to be dealt with by us. There are the problems of inflation in particular which we have to cope with ourselves, whether we are in or out of the Community.

For Britain to abrogate a treaty is bad for Britain, bad for our relations with the rest of the world and bad for our future trading relationships. I believe that Britain has always played a major role in the world and still has a major role to play. I do not believe it can play that role to best advantage on its own, and if we wish to give our children maximum peace and security in a very uncertain world, our best course of action is to stay in the Common Market.

4.14 p.m.

The Leader of the Opposi- tion began, very properly I am sure, with a tourd'horizonof what we had or had not done in the past and of who had voted for what and who had not. I would be the first to accept that if she is trying to contend that the very heart and core of the anti-Market case lies within the Labour Party, she is right. I am sure, however, that she will not misunderstand me when I say on this issue that we all have to accept some strange bedfellows. I hope she will not feel too disappointed in having to agree with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on this issue, whether he is low key at present, as she alleges, or whether he is enthusiastic, as she claims he was in the past.

The side I support happens to comprise the majority of the Conservative and Liberal Parties in the House of Commons, plus the CBI, the NFU and Sir Oswald Mosley. But, then, my hon. Friends who disagree with me are in no better position. They are supported by the nationalist parties, the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), the Communist Party and the National Front. Which of us is the more motley crew is a moot point, so moot that I think it much better not pursued. It would be wiser of us all on the Labour benches to assume that, for what seem to us as individuals good and sufficient reasons, we have arrived at our views without fear of guilt by association.

On the issue itself, I have never pretended in the past, and I do not pretend now, that I regard this as the most important issue facing the country. I do not. Among a number to which I could give a higher priority I cite just one. Should we or should we not preserve a mixed economy? To my mind that is an unresolved philosophic and practical dilemma for my party and one which will have the most profound significance upon British society. However, even there there is some chance of compromise. After all, one may support a mixed economy but dislike the present mix. On the EEC, as we now stand, all hope of compromise has gone. Time has run out. There are no more expedients left for deferring a decision. This week the House of Commons must say "Yes" or "No", and later the electorate will have to say "Yes" or "No".

Although I am enough of a politician to dislike seeing bridges burning behind me, temperamentally I would far sooner make a decision than postpone one and I am glad that we have reached the point at which we have to decide. I believe that our present uncertainty on EEC membership weakens us in several crucial spheres, particularly financial and economic. We need to decide our future and to get on with it. This country cannot go on being a coy and cool friend of our European partners. We either dissolve the partnership or we make a wholehearted attempt to have a success with it.

Naturally I draw a very clear distinction between entering the EEC in the first place and deciding to leave it now. It means not only that the United Kingdom would unilaterally renounce a treaty that it has so recently signed—and make no mistake about it, our credit in the world stands not upon such a pinnacle that we can lightly do that without regard to the consequences. It also implies that few of us can see no logical distinction between being opposed to entry and wishing to leave after having joined. I would be sorry to believe that that were so. However, listening to yesterday's debate. I noticed that the Leader of the Scottish National Party, the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), several times referred to joining the EEC as though we had not already joined. The profound wish in many hearts that we had never joined cannot undo the fact that we have.

That is the reality of the situation. A die has been cast. A destiny has been determined. We can certainly try to undo it, but let nobody suppose that that is much the same thing as never having joined in the first place. It is supremely different—indeed, so different that a unique constitutional device has had to be contrived to try to circumvent the wishes of Parliament, a Parliament which not only voted to join in the first place, but which everybody knows will vote on Wednesday night even more decisively to stay in the Market.

A constitutional dodge, associated previously only with Professor Dicey, a stone-blind reactionary who wanted to use it against home rule, has had to be devised in order to get us out of a situation that the House wishes us to be in. In that respect, if in no other, coming out is profoundly different from joining in the first place.

I hear it argued that our experiences within the Common Market have been so appalling that any expedient would be justified to get us out. What are these appalling experiences? They are usually related to our trade deficit with Europe. The logic of that case escapes me entirely. Is it suggested that we leave the EEC and then cease to trade with the EEC countries? I assume that the proposition is that we should set up a free trade area, in which case we shall go on trading with EEC countries, and the deficit will stay exactly where it is until we do what we ought to have done long ago, and will in the end have to do, namely, submit ourselves to the disciplines and sacrifices that will put our own house in order.

The problem on the trade deficit side is that we are responsible for the way in which we regulate our economy and produce those situations. I agree completely with the analysis by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister of this matter. I only wish that I could see more will to resist the current madness which at the fiat of over-mighty subjects robs us of any option except inflationary money-printing on the one hand and deflation and unemployment on the other, as the only things that we are allowed to do because of the prison that this movement has allowed itself to be shoved into. When we do something about that, we shall see some impact on our trading deficit with Europe. That is where the shoe pinches. There will be no escape from the hard choices involved. Economic management is a uniquely high priority. I fear that it will become a crisis and that there will be no escape.

I do not deceive myself that the argument in the country will be conducted mainly on economic policy—not a bit of it. There were kind but naive friends of mine who assumed that when we drummed up the seven points for renegotiation, none of which directly mentioned sovereignty, that would mean that everybody would play fair and that the antiMarketeers would not bring up the sovereignty issue, because it was not in the manifesto.

If my hon. Friend looks at the seven points for renegotiation he will see that sovereignty, if mentioned at all is mentioned in the most marginal sense. It will be the keyboard upon which all the high notes in the country are played.

We are told that our sovereignty has been undermined. Let us examine that proposition, because that is the core of the case against my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's proposition. As I believe that the onus lies on those who wish to make the change, let us look at the core of their case, especially in relation to my own party. It surely cannot be national sovereignty that is worrying my hon. Friends. It is perfectly proper that the right hon. Member for Down, South should portray himself as a thoroughgoing nationalist, because that is what he is. I have no doubt that he will stir many hearts with reminiscences of vice-regal splendour, and that he will chill a good deal of blood with talk of the aliens without and the aliens within our society. It is entirely open to him. He has always, or at least in recent years, expressed those views.

Is this supposed to be the traditional posture of the Labour Party? I had assumed that we were an internationalist party. Although it is an important function of internationalists to extend the hand of friendship to those who despise and detest our system of government, there must be just a little tiny corner in our hearts for those who actually approve of it.

Therefore, I take it that the Labour Party is not particularly worried about national sovereignty. So the problem must be, as we have been told, parliamentary sovereignty. I must say that I am much encouraged. Events of recent years had tended to conceal from me the depth of affection in which parliamentary sovereignty was held by the strong antiMarketeers in the Labour Party. I knew that some of them felt it, but I had been misled into believing that that feeling was not entirely universal. I now see my mistake. Parliamentary sovereignty is what they really care for.

Unfortunately, for my sins, I am of a somewhat sceptical turn of mind. Therefore, I ask myself certain questions. First, I wonder whether the reality of the threat to parliamentary democracy does not lie within our bounds rather than in Brussels. If parliamentary sovereignty is a priceless jewel to be preserved unflawed, why are we having a referendum at all? The referendum is the most brazen affront to parliamentary sovereignty in my lifetime.

I will say something else which will not be the least popular but which needs to be said. If we are to be told about the value of parliamentary sovereignty, let me ask some of my hon. Friends this: if the will of Parliament is now so vital to them, if parliamentary sovereignty matters so much to them that they cannot bear to see it abridged by any regulation, why was it that instead of campaigning to change the law, which is proper, so many of our party when in Opposition wished to, and did, defy the law, which was the will of Parliament and therefore the very embodiment of parliamentary sover eignty? Where were the doctrines of parliamentary sovereignty then, and who was having recourse to them then?

Some of us who really believe in parliamentary sovereignty, against all its challenges, have felt lonely people in the Labour Party in recent years. [AN HON. MEMBER: "My hon. Friend is not so lonely now."]—I welcome the change, although I do not need to be told that no man should come here as a delegate from the massed party of the country, that no man should suffer himself to be mandated by the general management committee of his party, that no man should place any outside responsibilities against his parliamentary judgment. I accept all of that. But it seems to me that the right place to exalt parliamentary sovereignty is not in Brussels but in Blackpool during the month of October.

I could be asked "That is all very well but, flagrant though the offences against parliamentary sovereignty have been from within our society, does that change the fact that membership of the EEC has further abridged it?" No, it does not, and there is no point in pretending otherwise. But surely the Foreign Secretary must be right when he points out that the reality of the EEC is that what a member country finds insupportable it is not required to support. Does anyone suppose that the late President de Gaulle—or, for that matter, even the present President, M. Giscard d'Estaing, who is somewhat different both temperamentally and in his opinions—lay awake at night wondering about the portentous threat to French sovereignty posed by membership of the EEC? Of course they did not. I am very fond of the French, and I am especially fond of Paris, in more than one way, and I am not being rude to them when I say that they are stubborn realists. It is a bit more realism that we need on this matter. Realists know that the EEC can, does and must take account of national political situations. If the French and the Germans, or for that matter the British, find some formulation of the Brussels Commission politically unacceptable—

The trouble is that if I give way I shall prolong my remarks, but for the hon. Lady I will give way.

I should like to refer the hon. Gentleman to one of the problem countries of the EEC, Italy, which at this very moment is living in fear and trembling of new regulations being introduced not by the Council of Ministers but by the Commission on Agriculture, against which there is no veto. I wonder how that affects his argument.

I take my hon. Friend's point although I am not at all sure that the regulations will have the impact she supposes. I am bound to say that if I were an Italian it would not be fear and trembling of Brussels from which I should be suffering but fear and trembling of the incompetence of my own Government.

I find it crass to suppose that these regulations are simply imposed without further ado against enormous national protest, that treaties are brandished and people are told to go away, keep quite and simply obey them. The EEC countries are democracies, and democracies are led by democratic politicians who have to placate annual conferences and win elections. It is a very strange idea that these chaps do not understand the problems of other politicians. Of course they do.

The whole history of the EEC is of compromise and accommodation. Where a particular problem is found to require different solutions in different countries, a formulation is always devised which enables that to take place. Of course a text-book formulation of the EEC may well frighten the apprehensive, but a textbook formulation of our system bears very little relation to what is happening at present, to say the least. It does not even wholly identify the true centres of power. We need some new text books, but in the meantime we might make up the deficiency by being a bit more realistic and a bit less apprehensive.

I do not find the case for leaving the EEC to have been made, and I think that the onus lies on those who now wish to take us out to show quite conclusively the benefits that this will confer on the British people. For my part I cannot see those benefits and, although I hope it will not, I think that the anti-Market campaign will in the end, when it gets out into the sticks, degenerate into narrow nationalism, the plea for a siege economy, for Socialism in one country. I was never very enchanted by the rhapsodies of the Eurofanatics but I certainly prefer their version of the future to that grim and barren alternative which it seems to me the anti-Marketeers will end up with.

The rational answer, and certainly the one that would suit me best, is to say that one might as well stay with an established and, when all is said and done, none-too-onerous arrangement, the leaving of which at best would be disruptive and at worst might give our fragile economy that final push over the precipice; and, if it goes, then there goes with it the worthwhile society that it supports.

4.36 p.m.

The trouble about this debate is that as it proceeds one is confronted with the fact that very much of what one has prepared to say has already been said much better by somebody else. I find this is particularly so in the debate on the European Economic Community which, since I have been in this House, has seen a good deal of discussion over the years. One is in some difficulty in trying to reconcile one's own prepared oration with the exigencies expressed from the Chair to observe brevity which I will seek to do, and at the same time not to fall into the hazard of producing a totally dislocated statement. I will try to bridge these various gaps, no doubt with some deficiencies.

I should like to follow the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden), in his scintillating speech, and in the first place on the subject with which he dealt in terms of the various sovereignties which have been under consideration in the country and within this House. I agree with him that a good deal of nonsense is talked about sovereignty, but there is no doubt—and I can have no doubt of it myself, after even so brief a period as I have spent in this House—that the issue of parliamentary sovereignty, the ability that this House commands to have under review all the major issues that affect the future of the country, to express its opinion, to give its guidance and where necessary to impose its discipline, is of fundamental importance in the way this country is run. I accept that I understand it to be the case. In the time I have been in the House, I have always heard it so expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), and I have respected his statements on it.

But I am bound to say that, in the same way, my own brief experience of this House has not led me to suppose that the House itself exercises a remarkable degree of pressure or effect upon the passage of legislation as it emerges through the House of Commons.

I wonder how many hon. Members had the opportunity of reading an article by the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman) inThe Times some time ago on the question "A time to talk and a time to act". He said something which has been my personal experience of the way in which this House is operated in terms of its legislative process. He said,
"…the fact is that, by the time a Bill comes before the House, no matter how unclear its intentions or how badly drafted, any amount of discussion will rarely shift emphasis or intention, for it already embodies hours of consultation with outside interests and Civil Service preparations which no government will willingly see repeated."
I must say that both as a Minister and as a back bencher in this House it has been my experience that the degree to which this House can shape and frame legislation upon which the Government have already spent an immense amount of time is small. Therefore, whether the legislation be of a domestic or Community nature, the House must find a means of scrutinsing it within its own capacity, subject to the sort of restrictions which the hon. Member's article clearly implies.

The means adopted in the House of scrutinising European legislative proposals have proved to be not ineffective. It is interesting to recall the occasions in recent years when the expression of opinion of this House on Community legislation seemed to have a positve effect on the conduct of Ministers. It is curious that that has happened particularly with regard to Community proposals.

We can recall our discussions about juggernauts and the effect which the pressure that the House put on the then Minister of Transport had in the conduct of his affairs in Brussels. We can think of the question—my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South will recall it very well—of the powers of summary arrest in the event of non-compliance with certain vehicle insurance requirements. The pressure exercised through this House undoubtedly had a powerful effect on the Minister concerned. My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) will recall his contribution to a discussion on the system of vehicle driving licences, the way in which they were provided and the age at which they could be granted. He cannot doubt that that discussion had a profound effect on the Ministers dealing with that matter.

The methods which have been used have had precisely the effect which I believe the House most usefully can exercise, namely, of impressing on Ministers before they take action the feelings of the House about the measures contemplated. The methods which we have adopted to deal with European matters have not been ineffective. Indeed, I wonder whether they might be more widely applied to domestic legislation.

A Green Paper embodies a large degree of resolution which is, to all intents and purposes, immutable. Would it not be of interest if a Select Committee or Select Committees were to consider Green Papers and gave the House their opinion on the suitability of the measures proposed or contemplated? Green Papers are the subject of discussion with outside bodies, and if the House and individual Members wish to contribute to those discussions they do so. But normally they are not subject to the sort of scrutiny which is devoted to Community legislation. It would be interesting if that were done.

Therefore, on the issue of sovereignty, there is little that can be said to show that the legislative capacity of the House has been or is being severely undermined by the Community institutions.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, despite the truth of what he has said, when the Government are considering future legislation and advisers are advising Ministers about certain courses of action, it is almost certain that they will not advise courses of action which will conflict with Community policy? Therefore, not only would the direction of the legislature be governed by the direction in which the Community was going, but the House would not be given the option of discussing the merits of the wider options.

I very much doubt whether that is so. The Community proceeds, not solely by a series of proposals, but, as the hon. Gentleman knows very well, by a wide range of consultative documents which, broadly, precede the development of proposals in instrument form. Therefore, the House has the opportunity—and it should exercise it—to discuss these matters when they are in a much more formative stage than is normally the case.

I turn to the question of food and the common agricultural policy. I do not wish to repeat what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition today. However, in the adverse remarks made about the common agricultural policy—and, regretfully, I think there will be a period of dearth rather than of plenty in world supply—little has been said about the real interests of the farming industry. I regret that deeply. The common agricultural policy is not least an instrument whereby the preservation and health of the agriculture industry should be maintained.

This country decided years ago, perhaps without sufficient consideration, that it was wise to make a judgment about the number of people employed in the farming industry solely in relation to the economic criteria of the alternative employment in industry or elsewhere. But the agriculture industry is a vital part of the social structure of this country and of Europe. I am convinced that if we do not take determined steps—we are not taking them now—to protect and preserve our agriculture industry, we shall suffer greatly in terms, not simply of food production or of the means of feeding ourselves, but of the texture of our country, of our society, and, not least, of our environment. Therefore, I see in the CAP a means of ensuring that there is preserved in this Continent something which I believe is of the greatest value to it and the disappearance of which will be a matter for the greatest concern.

I turn to the other principal area of discussion, namely, the economic consequences. The anti-Marketeers apparently blame Community membership for a degree of the deficit in trade which they believe is overwhelming any potential economic advantages which we may draw from the Community. That argument has been repeatedly exposed in the past two days.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that every ministerial statement leading up to our taking the decision to join the Common Market pointed out that capital would flow to this country like water flowing down the mountainside and that our trade would increase tremendously? Does the right hon. Gentleman also agree that none of the rosy pictures which he and his colleagues painted has turned out to be true?

I was always of the opinion, and said so, that the purely technical effects of tariff abatement were bound to operate more favourably in relation to the then Community countries than to us at the outset. No one could have presumed that this country would be in its present parlous economic condition at the time that forecasts of these matters were made. For 18 months at least this country has been grossly over-consuming and grossly under-producing. The effect of those contrasts is to induce an overwhelming propensity to import. Whether those imports come from Community countries or elsewhere, the cause is here and nowhere else and the remedy is here.

I agree entirely with what the hon. Member for Ladywood said. It is absolutely futile to try to pin on to other people the causes of our own weakness, which we must remedy. Therefore, contrary to what the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) would have us believe, we shall not correct an intrinsic internal productive weakness by adopting a siege economy, with drastic import controls. We have to correct this ourselves. I apologise for responding at some length to the intervention of the right hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough).

What I have said so far represents, to a large degree, the defensive side of the argument that must be deployed. There is a major positive side which we must not fail to state. The whole renegotiation procedure is a fantasy which has the one advantage that it gives us cause and time to rethink our convictions. In facing the need to convince people of the dramatic and even tragic effects that might be brought about by withdrawal from the Community at this stage, we are forced to review our thinking and convictions on this matter, which have been generated over many years.

As I look towards the next quarter of this century I realise that all the large issues we have to face cannot be faced alone. For instance, we are facing the end of a century in which the whole problem of access to primary resources, whether they be energy, food or other essential materials, is conditioned not just by a rate of exhaustion higher than the rate of discovery but also by political overtones which have a fundamental importance for our future.

Whether we are thinking in terms of food, energy or essential metals, we cannot for one moment believe that we can necessarily guarantee ourselves either the safeguards or the deals necessary to preserve our position, with Europe, as one of the great transformation areas of the world. The Continent of Europe is not a continent of primary resources. Valuable though finds of oil and gas in the North Sea may be, they do not con- stitute a vital reversal of the resource patern of this Continent. Europe is a Continent of transformation and will remain so. To be such a continent Europe must be able to count with certainty, and on reasonable terms, on continuing access to supplies of a wide variety of materials. Otherwise we could easily find ourselves and for almost negligible values at times held totally to ransom in terms of our performance. Britain, as one country alone, is not equal to dealing with that problem.

A second and no less major issue over the remainder of the century is the management of our technology, not just the ability to stay in the hunt in all the advanced fields of technology in which we have hitherto been high-level performers. From now on we may easily regress in this sphere unless we proceed in concert with others.

There are other things to be borne in mind, for example, the handling of our waste and pollution. I wish to preserve a decent way of life and at the same time to create a more elaborate technology. I see problems ahead in trying to reconcile the preservation of human decency and dignity at work with the electronic control of so much of our activities. If we act alone without the degree of comprehension that goes with the Community, we shall not succeed. There are many other such spheres.

The Lomé Convention is a great step forward. To use such an agreement not just as a means of transferring help to people but as a means of actively ensuring that there is growing capacity for developing countries to look after themselves and to support and aid that operation is a unique break through in terms of relationships between developed and developing countries. However, it is only a beginning. There is an immense amount to do, especially in relation to the problems of the continent of South-East Asia as they are accumulating today. Alone Britain cannot figure in dealing with that problem.

During the next 25 years or so—and it may be longer—the question of the generation of an adequate monetary system will arise. Who can imagine that this almost anarchic floating arrangement between countries is a basis for sound industrial development? It simply is not and will have to be remedied. Who can imagine that the existing arrangements with regard to the law of the sea can be altered to suit our point of view if we are alone as an individual representative? We shall simply be a cipher and an insignificant voice if we so remain.

For all those reasons and for all that lies ahead, I cannot believe that our vote tomorrow night will be anything but a strong affirmative, and I pray that it will be so in the country.

4.56 p.m.

I am an internationalist and for 30 years I have tried, in a modest way, to promote in this country the principles and ideals of the United Nations and an understanding of the great development of the international bodies which have grown up on the framework of the United Nations Charter.

It is primarily because I am an internationalist that I am an anti-Marketeer. I reject completely the narrow concept put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden), that those of us who are opposed to the Treaty of Rome and who are opposed to the arrangements in Western Europe at present have no interest in international co-operation. It is the Europeans who are developing the narrow isolationist attitude, the narrow ethos of protectionism against world food trade, of special arrangements to a privileged small group of countries. That is the ethos of Europe.

Those of us who reject that ethos do so because we want to see this country play a role in the genuine international organisations, the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, UNCTAD, the World Food Council and other bodies. These bodies are of importance to this country and we should be seeking to develop, enhance and strengthen them. It is the European Community concept which is hostile to these bodies and which, over the past few years, has developed an inward-looking approach to the great international problems that face us. The classic example of this is the common agricultural policy, which is the cornerstone of the EEC's economic arrangement.

Let nobody suppose that the French Government would for one moment remain within the Common Market if anyone threatened the CAP. This is why the renegotiation on that point has been no renegotiation at all. The fundamental elements of the CAP are still there. It is a deliberate policy of discrimination against world food suppliers —it is a twentieth-century version of the Corn Laws—and a deliberate policy of dear food, which is contrary to the interests of our own people and to the interests of many consumers on the Continent.

The system works this way. If prices in the world commodities fall as they are now falling—and falling significantly—the system of levies is designed to maintain dear food within the Common Market. If prices within the Common Market show any inclination to decline, the system of intervention buying is deliberately designed to maintain them.

These two principles are totally unchanged by renegotiation. The White Paper does not seriously claim that they have been changed. The consequences for this country have been that whereas in the world market we could have bought beef, lamb, mutton, veal, cheese, butter and today wheat and maize, at a lower cost, we have been compelled by the system to buy dear. A more wicked and reprehensible aspect of the policy has been the deliberate creation of great mounds of stored-away food, deliberately taken from the consumer by the intervention policy. We have had the beef mountain and the butter mountain. We now have a vast surplus of wine and of dried milk. We have had the deliberate denaturing of wheat to make it inedible.

The curious consequences of this policy is that the British taxpayer, about whom Conservative Members are so sensitive and concerned, is paying more under this system to keep food dear than he paid under our own system of deficiency payments to keep it cheap. If there was any condemnation of the policy, that should be it. Those, like me, who wish to see a genuine international trading arrangement, want to see an approach to worldwide food and commodity agreements which will in some respects resemble the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.

There are those who sneer at us and say, "Oh well, all you want to do is exploit the poor peasant in the West Indies, Fiji and Mauritius". Nothing of the kind. The essence of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement was that it was a fair deal between the consumer and the producer. To the producer was given a stable market and reasonably stable prices. The consumer was given a fair price in the shops. It was a system that worked extremely well for 20 years and was welcomed by both sides. It was a system that was destroyed by our entry to the Common Market.

Has the hon. Gentleman heard of the Lome Convention? Is not the purport and effect of that aimed at the far-reaching goals at which the hon. Member worthily aims?

Not at all. I propose to deal a little later with the Lomé Convention and to draw attention to the considered judgment of the Overseas Development Institute in London about the exact force and achievement of that convention.

I want to avoid the narrow protectionist outlook represented by the common agricultural policy and move towards genuine international co-operation in the wider framework of such bodies as the United Nations and all the great organisations and agreements such as GATT which try to provide sensible co-operation throughout the whole world. I do not want a narrow, exclusive club for Western Europe. I want to see genuine co-operation between the countries of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America so that there is a give and take, a genuine exchange and fair dealings between the two sides.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said at the outset of the negotiations that the Government believe that the monetary problems of the European countries could be resolved only in a worldwide framework. I believe that he was absolutely right. If this is so, why bother with Brussels? Why waste our time dealing with the apparatus of the Commission and the Council of Ministers when it is the worldwide framework, as my right hon. Friend has said, which matters?

Many hon. Members try to say that here we are creating a splendid economic super-State which can stand up to America and Russia and which can play a powerful, independent economic role in the world and get its own way. Therefore, they say, we must join in this super-State. What happened when the oil crisis arose and there was the problem of recycling oil revenues? The Common Market was absolutely helpless. It did not even devise a common policy. France, Germany and Italy ran like scared rabbits in all directions to make private deals with countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Libya.

There was no common policy, no agreement, no effective organisation. This great super-economic State, when faced with the most serious and difficult financial crisis in the post-war period, was totally helpless to deal with it. What happened was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer took an important initiative. He began negotiations. He went to the IMF and through that managed to achieve a working arrangement, or the beginnings of one, for the recycling of the petro-dollars.

Through the OECD, and subsequently by bringing in the United States, Japan, Canada and other countries, we have been able to devise arrangements which, for the moment at least, have begun to bring under control this great international problem of recycling the surplus revenues of the oil States. But the European Commission, the Common Market apparatus, this so-called European super-State, this economic giant, has been totally irrelevant to the problem. I fail to see how British interests have been in any way advanced in this crisis by membership of that body.

Our membership of the IMF and of OCED has been of far greater importance than our membership of the EEC.

The energy crisis was likewise beyond the capacity of the Common Market to cope with because it required cooperation between all the major consumer countries in the world and not simply between the nine industrial countries of Western Europe, although these are important consumers of oil and have an important interest. It is the International Energy Authority not the Brussels Commission which is now important in dealing with problems of oil. It is negotiations between Europeans and Americans, the Japanese, Canadians, Swedes and other industrial countries, together with the OPEC countries, which will eventually resolve the problem of how to get a flow of an essential raw material from the producers to the countries which need it, on a reasonable financial basis. But the European Commission is totally irrelevant to the problem.

The past five minutes or so of the hon. Gentleman's speech have been concerned to criticise the Community for lacking a foreign policy. We know this perfectly well. The corollary of his criticism must be that if the Community did have a foreign policy it would be able to exert the kind of pressure which he correctly pointed out it was unable to exert during the oil crisis.

It is not primarily a question of foreign policy. It is a question of monetary and economic policy. There are other major countries, such as America, Japan and Canada, whose interests are so intricately bound up with these problems that it is nonsense to suppose that the Commission or the Western European conglomeration can have a policy and go its own way without the co-operation of and without close consultation with these other major industrial countries. I hold that the Commission and the apparatus of the EEC is basically irrelevent to dealing with these problems. The bodies which matter arc the IMF, the International Energy Authority and the OECD, where all the industrial countries and the oil producers can meet together to solve the problems.

The White Paper dismisses the idea of a European monetary union as something which has been tacitly abandoned. There are differences of opinion whether that is the European view, but if it is true, why stay in? If a European monetary system is not contemplated—and the White Paper says that for practical purposes it is finished—why bother? Surely it would be more sensible to build up the system of special drawing rights through the International Monetary Fund and strengthen the genuine international monetary unions which are of importance to the whole world. I cannot see the point of going forward within this complex of arrangements in Western Europe when we believe that Western Europe is not serious in going ahead with a matter of vital importance if we are to have a genuinely integrated system of economies among the nine countries. If the White Paper is right in saying that this idea has been abandoned--and I am prepared to accept that from my right hon. Friends—I suggest that we should look elsewhere for our international monetary arrangements through the IMF.

If one is to believe what is said in the Community, it has not been abandoned. 'The Heads of Government communiqué of 10th December 1974 affirms that the will of the Nine has not weakened and that their objective has not changed since the Paris Conference. European monetary union is still there. It is only a question of time.

I agree that there is a difference of opinion on this matter. I am debating what the Government claim to have achieved in the renegotiation. The claim which the Government are putting to the British people and which I shall argue with my constituents is that European monetary union is effectively a non-starter and that it is something way out in the future which will not affect us. On that basis, and indeed on the other basis, I am prepared to argue that the International Monetary Fund is a far more important body to this country than is the EMU.

We have already been told by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) and others of the disastrous effects on our balance of payments of membership of the Common Market, and I shall not dwell on that. The figures are established and are irrefutable. As theFinancial Timespointed out, possibly in the next decade the important new markets for British industry may not lie only in Europe, although European markets will be important, and I do not deny that. The important new markets will be in countries which have the great oil revenues, such as Iran, Nigeria, Indonesia, Venezuela and possibly, after a lapse of time, Angola, Zaire and Algeria. Those countries need the industrial equipment and products which we can supply and they will be abundantly able to pay for them. The oil crisis has to some extent widened the scope of international trade and the possibilities for British industry, so long as we take our eyes off this magic Paris-Bonn axis and look around us at the real opportunities in the world.

Beyond that, there is the question of the supply of industrial raw materials which will become more significant in the next 10 years as the Third World demands better prices and a more reasonable deal for its products. The Brussels Commission is helpless in this matter. It has no access to control over bauxite, copper, tin, nickel, manganese and uranium, not to mention oil. Certainly we can have negotiations with European countries and with the producers of these materials, but those negotiations will have to include the United States, Japan and the other great industrial countries. It is nonsense to suppose that we can formulate our own little European policy and go it alone on that basis, because we shall have to come to terms both with the Third World producers and with our world competitors who also need these materials.

I want to say a few words about relations with the Third World. One of the key questions in this debate has been whether the Common Market is outward-looking and generous towards the Third World and believes in a genuine relationship of co-operation with the countries of Asia and Africa. The record of sugar is not encouraging. We had to fight like fury to get the 1·4 million tons of sugar into our own market. We were not asking France, Germany, Italy or Holland to accept sugar from the Caribbean, Fiji or Mauritius. We were simply saying that we wanted to retain an arrangement which had been valuable to our traditional suppliers and to British consumers. After endless debate, obstruction and argument we at last received permission to continue an arrangement which was valuable to us and to our traditional suppliers.

The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris) referred to the Lomé Convention. I draw to his attention a seven-page study of the convention made by the Overseas Development Institute in London. One cannot seriously call in question the expertise of the ODI in matters concerning the Third World and help to the Third World. I do not intend to weary the House by going over the whole document, which is lengthy, but I will quote from it two sections, one on trade and one on aid. Referring to the Lomé Convention, the document states:
"The convention does not, therefore, substantially improve the terms of access for ACP countries over what would have been the case if the Yaoundé Convention had simply been reviewed …. the goal identified by the Select Committee".
—that is a Select Committee of the House—
"as" the most important for associates, associables and the rest of the Third World '—free access to the EEC market—is not brought very much nearer by the terms of the convention."
On aid, the document has this to say:
"the aid provisions of the Lomé Convention represent a worsening en the position under the Second Yaounde agreement…. in purchasing power there will be a decline, given the rapid inflation of recent years: the Lomé per caput level is, in real terms, more than 40 per cent. below the Yaounde II figure."
Those who preach to us about the tremendous historic success of the negotiations which have taken place should ponder on the considered judgment of the ODI.

Is not the hon. Gentleman trying to elevate the judgment of the Overseas Development Institute and his own judgment above that of the 46 ACP countries, which are well satisfied by the arrangement and presumably would be much less satisfied if Britain were to withdraw from the EEC?

I accept that the ACP countries were willing to ratify and accede to the convention as the best arrangement they could get in the circumstances, but they were dissatisfied with certain aspects of the agreement and said so at the time.

More serious in regard to the convention is that left out of the privileged circle of associates are the Commonwealth countries of Asia, including India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the largest and poorest countries in the world. They receive little food aid and no financial aid, but they are major recipients of British aid. The United Kingdom must help the poorest countries and channel its aid through the international agencies of the United Nations over and above its bilateral efforts. I am in no way disparaging or denigrating the generosity of France, Germany and Holland as individual countries which in aid terms has exceeded our own. I am saying that the EEC as an organisation has not shown any particular generosity. Nor has it matched up to the demands of the Third World in terms of this convention.

There is another point that I must cover as it directly affects my constituency although it is not so much related to the overall problem of world relationships between the Common Market and ourselves. The Labour Party fought for 20 years to make the steel industry accountable to Parliament not only through the creation of the British Steel Corporation but by Section 15 of the Iron and Steel Act 1967, which gave the Government control over major investment decisions in the private sector. That was swept away by the European Communities Act 1972. Our own Parliament now has no effective control over steel in the public or private sectors. Prices, mergers and acquisitions are now subject to control by European bodies. To obtain a stake in the special steel industry in Sheffield, following the collapse of the Jessel empire, the British Steel Corporation had to go cap in hand to the European Commission under Article 66 of the Treaty of Paris. The commission gave permission for that acquisition but it laid down conditions which were completely unacceptable and which would have involved unemployment in other cities in the United Kingdom.

If Britain withdraws from the EEC we shall still remain a member of 94 major international organisations. We shall still have a full voice, full rights and full opportunities of discussion, consultation and influence within those organisations. Some of those who oppose our withdrawing talk as though we are about to depart to some other planet, that we are about to be cast into outer darkness and that we shall cease to belong to Europe or the world. That is a totally false picture. I am completely persuaded in my own mind that co-operation with the world at large and co-operation with Europe will be feasible and advantageous to us outside the EEC.

Our future depends on our own hard work, inventiveness and industrial enter- prise, and on the successful development of the genuine international bodies such as the UN, the IMF, GATT, UNCTAD and the rest. It also depends on the vigorous exploitation of our natural wealth, such as coal, oil, gas, farmland, fisheries and the rest. That is where our future lies and not in Brussels or Bonn.

There are 32 right hon. and hon. Members who are eager to take part in today's debate. If all hon. Members take 26 minutes very few are going to get in.

5.24 p.m.

Every time that I am called in a Common Market debate the previous speaker rather exceeds his time and the occupant of the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, always makes that remark. I always take it to heart.

I much enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley). I hope that he did not misinterpret my remarks about economic and monetary union. I was only saying that it is quite clear that it is still an objective of that curious thing called the Common Market. It has not been dropped, although the White Paper gives the impression that it has been pushed back for our children and our children's children to consider.

I agree very much with what the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley said about the wider international organisations through which we should work. We should work through the OECD and the IMF, for example. It is a parochial approach to international problems, such as finance and economics, not to work straight through those organisations.

I also agree with the hon. Gentleman about the European market. I am not sure whether he used the word "decline", but it is not as important as it has been in the past. That is proved by the figures. Before we joined the Market our trade with the European Community was increasing by roughly 2 per cent. a year. In the last year, 1974, it went up by only 1 per cent. Therefore I think it is true to say that, while it is early days for us to draw a firm conclusion, it seems as though our trade with the Community is increasing at a less rapid rate than it was. However, our trade with the Middle East, the petro-dollar States, and the developing countries, which are getting quite a lot of the petrodollars, is increasing and has a great capacity for increasing.

At this stage I shall take up the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden). Obviously, the hon. Gentleman has had to leave the Chamber. I shall want to do the same thing myself before too long. The hon. Gentleman opened up the very subjects about which I wish to speak. I agree very much with his opening remark that we should not smear people by association. I was appalled when I read a letter in The Times from Lord Gladwyn. Well, I was not appalled because he has done so before. And one of my hon. Friends wrote a similarly orchestrated letter—perhaps orchestrated by the European Movement—to theDaily Telegraph. Happily, both papers published my replies.

May I point out to my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) that no one orchestrates my letters. I wrote them myself.

I was not saying that my hon. Friend did not write his letters himself. It was the placing of the letters in the two papers which was obviously orchestrated. I have seen that happen before. I cannot prove it, but the implication is always there. However, I hope that we can drop that kind of silly time wasting and that sort of silly, childish argument.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood raised the question of the breaking of the Treaty. It is a matter that keeps on coming up in the Common Market argument.

I do say, and I am just about to say it. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe) who, at the time represented, Reigate, is present and on the Opposition Front Bench. Throughout the whole of the debates on the European Communities Bill we were assured repeatedly that we could always come out of the Common Market. That has never been disputed. If the assurance, before going in, was that we could always come out, who can complain, if we vote to come out in the referendum, that we are breaking the Treaty? That seems to me to be a highly technical point.

Further, we must remember that when the Government were in Opposition during the European Community debates they said, and particularly during Third Reading of the Bill their official Front Bench spokesman said—I do not have a copy of the speech in front of me; it is normally in my little file that I usually carry around, but I did not bring it with me for this debate—quite clearly that they did not accept the terms of the Treaty of Accession because we were not allowed to debate that Treaty in the House. They made that absolutely clear. The then Opposition also said that if they were returned to power and that has now come about—they would pledge themselves to renegotiate. They have now gone through the motions of renegotiation. They also said that having renegotiated the terms they would put the matter to the people. They said, finally, that the Common Market had better take note of those remarks before we joined, and before the Common Market countries ratified our accession. They made it clear that the Labour Party, if returned to Government, would not feel bound by the Treaty.

I hope that we can now drop that argument about the breaking of the Treaty. It seems that the Labour Party is honouring the things that it pledged itself to do. I do not think that we can complain about that.

The third point that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood made was that of sovereignty. That matter will come out on top in the debate on the referendum. Sovereignty "is a loose word often used by some people as implying the power to throw one's weight about in the world. We are not talking about that kind of sovereignty—not the power to throw our weight about as some great imperialists in the House want us to do.

We can divide the question of sovereignty in two. First, if we lose our so-called sovereignty, what will it involve? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House has already clearly admitted that this House has lost its sovereignty over a wide area, and that is not in doubt. My right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) made a good point about pre-discussion. That is a matter which this House, on its own, after we have come out of the Common Market, can examine and consider in regard to legislation before it reaches the stage of Second Reading.

We have got ourselves into a position where, despite pre-discussion, laws are finalised by wheeling and dealing in secret in Brussels. We go through the motions in this House of scrutinising material and of having stupid debates at 11.30 at night. However that does not stop Ministers going back to Brussels on behalf of the British people, wheeling and dealing behind the scenes, and coming up with something entirely different from what was presented to this House. In that way this House has lost its sovereignty.

I am glad to see my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition present. The official Opposition has lost its power to amend draft European legislation, and so has every back bencher in the Chamber. Not one back bencher in the Chamber can amend legislation that is laid before the House in respect of the European Community. If my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition likes to try to take action on that score one night, I should probably support her.

The present situation means that once legislation in draft form has been finalised, after secret wheeling and dealing in the Community, it is directly applicable and this House cannot change that law without the consent of the other eight members of the Community. To that extent we have certainly lost our so-called sovereignty. Personally, I prefer to call it the power of self-rule.

However, the question of today's sovereignty is only one aspect of this matter. My real anxiety is aimed at the way in which the future will develop. That will be the fundamental issue in the referendum. We must look at what we are really talking about—namely, the setting up of a directly elected European Parliament with legislative powers, a Parliament which will legislate and whose laws will apply to this country. If at a subsequent General Election the British elector by his vote wishes to change the policy of this country, the Government he elects for the United Kingdom will be incapable of altering laws passed by the European so-called Parliament. It is not European: it is only a Common Market Parliament.

I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition did not confuse Common Market with Europe. She used the word "Community" throughout her speech, whereas yesterday my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw), as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, used the word "Europe" many times when he meant Common Market. I agree that it is a good propaganda point for pro-Marketeers, but I believe that we should distinguish one from the other.

The point about the European Parliament and the inability of the British elector, once that Parliament is set up, to change the laws which it makes, is being hidden by the pro-Market case. The pro-Marketeers know that if the British fully understood that, they would he sure to vote to come out of the EEC. My hon. Friends and I, who find ourselves on this side of the argument, will ensure that throughout the referendum campaign the British public will be made aware of that fact. I hope that on that basis they will vote for self-rule and self-government. I hope that finally they will say "Let us in this country rule ourselves and let us not be ruled by Brussels."

Some people say that this will not happen. Let us trace the reasons why it will happen, judging by what one understands to be the decisions of the Community. The Summit communiqué issued in Paris clearly refers to the question of the directly elected European Assembly. It says:
"The Heads of Government note that the election of the European Assembly by universal suffrage, one of the objectives laid down in the Treaty, should be achieved as soon as possible. In this connection, they await with interest the proposals of the European Assembly, on which they wish the Council to act in 1976. On this assumption, elections by direct universal suffrage could take place at any time in or after 1978."
Let us turn to what happened at the European Assembly in Strasbourg when on 16th January a resolution was passed by the European parliament. It said,inter alia
"The European Parliament therefore considers a European Parliament elected by direct universal suffrage as an indispensable element in achieving further progress towards integration…".
Article 3 of that resolution refers to the directly-elected European parliament having a five-year legislative period to begin at the opening of the first session following each election. It is clear it will be a legislative assembly for it will have a five-year life and, if it is legislative, it will, of course, make laws.

The Conservative spokesman on Europe, my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk), in the House on 29th January, asked the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs about a directly-elected European parliament. My hon. Friend said:
"Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the terms of the Treaty are mandatory? As the Government are accepting the treaty and are renegotiating within it, they must have accepted the principle of direct elections and are arguing only about detail?"
In the Summit communiqué we were told that there would be postponement of that decision till after the referendum. The Minister of State replied:
"While the principle is there established, the timing of its implementation is a matter for the individual States."—[Official Report, 29th January 1975; Vol. 885, c. 389.]
Both sides of the House now clearly accept a directly-elected European parliament. If we accept that, we surely accept that such a body will do something. It will not sit there and do nothing. It will legislate.

Let us assume that there is an anti-Socialist majority in that Parliament. The people of this country may want to elect a Socialist Government here because that is their choice. However, there is nothing a newly-elected Socialist Government in this country could do in face of an anti-Socialist majority in Europe. I find it curious that the Conservative Party is prepared to let a Socialist majority in Europe legislate if we are unable to reverse the laws made by the European Parliament.

It equally follows that the hon. Gentleman would prefer to have a Socialist Government in this country and a Conservative Government in Europe.

I want people in this country to use their vote to elect the Government which they want and not to be ruled by legislation passed by a majority of people in Europe—in other words by continental Members of Parliament in a majority. I do not use that term in any bad sense, but I am referring to people who do not belong to this country. They will be able to make laws which will affect this country. That is my objection, and it should be the objection voiced by many more people in this Parliament.

I am worried since it seems to me that the judgment of the pro-Marketeers is faulty. The first case occurs on page 42 of the White Paper where there is a proud quotation of what the Prime Minister said in the House of Commons on 2nd May 1967. He was then in his pro-European mood. He said:
"Together, we can ensure that Europe plays in world affairs the part which the Europe of today is not at present playing."—[Ofcial Report, 2nd May 1967; Vol. 746, c. 314.]
That was his judgment. His judgment was that we should enter the Common Market and play this marvellous role together.

How has it turned out? In January 1975 Mr. Ortoli, the President of the Commission, reporting on the year's work of the Community, used these words:
"Europe's attempt to speak with one voice on critical issues has sadly misfired, and Europe's lack of co-ordination, lack of initiative, to be frank, lack of courage, means that Europe has lost its minor part to become a mere spectator. Europe's role, Europe's influence, is insignificant, ineffective and nonexistence in the forums where major decisions on peace, security and economic and financial affairs are taken."
Those are not my words. Those are the words of the President of the Commission reporting on his own Common Market.

Looking at what the Prime Minister said in 1967, his judgment was that once Britain had entered the Community all would be lovely. His judgment was wrong then, just as it is wrong now.

We were told in paragraph 57 of the 1971 White Paper that there would be a more rapid improvement in our standard of living. In fact our standard of living seriously declined in 1974. Exactly that was forecast by the anti-Marketeers who then opposed entry. Paragraph 45 of the 1971 White Paper said that the effect on the balance of payments would be positive and substantial. We know that the opposite has happened, which was forecast by the anti-Marketeers then campaigning to keep Britain out.

Paragraph 56 of that White Paper said that membership of the Community would lead to much improved productivity. According to Government statistical digests, productivity declined by 3·3 per cent. in 1974. Again, paragraph 56 of the 1971 White Paper said that membership of the Community would lead to a higher rate of investment. That rate is now down by 6·7 per cent. It was also said that membership of the Community would offer the chance of new jobs. Unemployment is rising. Paragraph 57 said that entry would result in a higher rate of growth of the economy. There is no growth in the economy, which is exactly what the anti-Marketeers said.

It was said that entry would not lead to a deficit in our balance of payments. It was said that the opportunities for growth would lead to more jobs and greater prosperity for all in Britain if we entered the Common Market. That statement was contained in an advertisement inThe Times on 26th July 1971. It was signed by 71 leaders of British industry and commerce.

That is my point.

Membership of the EEC is a serious question, which the country must judge. This must come after the catalogue of misjudgment I have mentioned. I am not saying that there was anything other than misjudgment. There was no attempt to mislead the country. It was just that the judgment was wrong. Judgments are again being made in the present White Paper, including what would happen if the United Kingdom left the EEC. The country must recognise that the judgment on this occasion is likely to be just as wrong as the judgment of 1971.

Last time the anti-Marketeers were right. This time the anti-Marketeers are again right.

5.45 p.m.

I shall deal later with what the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) said about sovereignty, which was the central point of his speech. However, I should like to take up what he said about the renegotiations—which, after all, we are supposed to be debating—at the outset of my speech. The hon. Gentleman said that the Government had gone through the motions of renegotiation. The right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) described the renegotiations as a fantasy. I sat through most of the debate yesterday, for my sins, and I heard other speakers describe the renegotiations as a charade and as a farce. That theme has run through this debate. Therefore, I should like to try to put the record straight about the renegotiations.

It is a slightly odd rôle for me to play since I should not have chosen these objectives. If I had drawn up the Labour Party manifesto, the renegotiation objectives would have been different.

I had no great enthusiasm for the seven points put forward in the Labour Party manifesto. I should have liked to see a Labour Government trying to renegotiate in a different way and for different purposes. I should have liked to see them trying to change the Community in a more Socialist, a more internationalist and, in some respects, a more supranational direction.

I was sad that the emphasis and the thrust of the Labour Government's renegotiations exercise should have been concerned primarily with the defence of British interests rather than with changing the nature of the Community to benefit all its members. However, that is not the point.

The point about the renegotiation exercise is this. A British Government came to power a year ago with a manifesto saying that they wanted to achieve certain objectives in the Community. After 12 months of bargaining and give and take, that Government have come back with at least 80 per cent. of what they requested. In doing so, they have demonstrated that the argument of those who said, when we entered the Community in 1973, that the Community was an inflexible monolith which could not be changed was totally without foundation. They have demonstrated that the Community is a genuine community and that its members are prepared to take account of each other's vital interests as each sees its vital interests. In that sense the renegotiations have achieved an important purpose.

Will my hon. Friend say whether, in view of the fact that they achieved certain of their objectives, the Government were helped in the achievement of those objectives by the fact that there was a possibility of a referendum being held in Britain on whether we should stay in or leave the Common Market?

I do not believe so. If we look at the history of the Community of the Six before we entered, we shall find that whenever there were differences between five nations and a sixth, the five have always taken account of the interests of the sixth, whichever the sixth nation happened to be. That is the way in which the Community works. It is a partnership of States which take account of each other's vital interests. It has not become a supranational monolith. Indeed, it has not become as supranational as I hope it will become in due course.

The question which we are debating today, and on which the British people will vote on referendum day, is not whether we should have joined the Community in 1973 but whether we should leave the Common Market in 1975. We must take some account of the costs of withdrawal if we are to arrive at a balanced judgment on that question. I do not wish to commit the sin of exaggerating the likely costs of withdrawal.

My own personal opinion is that if we withdraw from the Common Market. the horrific picture conjured up by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden) is very likely to come true. It is very likely that there will be a catastrophic sterling crisis. But I do not wish to place much emphasis on that argument, because even if that were not so I do not think that there can be any serious doubt that over the long term we should be economically isolated—and isolated in a very much colder world than the one we knew before we went into Common Market in 1973.

It is a total fantasy to believe that somehow or other, because we have now changed our minds yet again, we can summon up the lost legions of the Commonwealth and EFTA and expect them to return to the relationship that we had with them before we went into the Common Market. It is an even bigger fantasy to think that in 1975 we can somehow persuade the EEC to make with us the sort of free trade area agreement which the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) failed to get 20 years ago, when the institution was much less developed than it is today.

What shall we be doing if we withdraw from the Common Market? The hon. Member for Banbury has a valid point when he says that it was stated by the Labour Opposition at the time that there would be a referendum and that there could be a withdrawal. But if we want to estimate the likely reaction of the Common Market to our withdrawal, we must try to look at our behaviour through the eyes of its members and not through our own. How would they judge us if we were now to withdraw?

We spent several years trying to get in. Having got in, we have spent 12 months trying to negotiate different terms from those we agreed upon when we joined. If the British people now vote for withdrawal, a long process not of renegotiation but of re-renegotiation would have to take place to get some new arrangement with the Common Market.

It is inconceivable that if we kick our partners in the teeth in this way they will give us the generous treatment which they would not give us 20 years ago. If we get out of the Common Market, we get out to be on our own, and on our own in a very cold and hostile world.

I remind my hon. Friend that trade not only between Europe and ourselves but throughout the world is now governed by important international agreements under the GATT which are binding on the Common Market countries, on us and on other nations. These will not be abrogated if we withdraw from the Common Market.

But if we withdraw we shall cease to get the benefits of industrial free trade with the Common Market. It is a total fantasy to imagine that we can get an industrial free trade agreement with the Common Market if we withdraw. I agree that we shall still be members of GATT and the IMF, but that advantage we shall not have.

I believe that the political costs of withdrawal are likely to be far more serious than the economic costs. It is the political argument that matters most to me.

The unity of the Western world at the moment is far more fragile than many in this House appreciate and far more fragile than it has been at any time since the early 1950s. We have had a generation of peace and stability such as the human race has never known before, to a considerable extent because of the creation by Ernest Bevin, Acheson, Truman and others in the late 1940s, of the present structure of the Western world.

We have come to take it for granted. But at present there are very strong currents of neo-isolationism in the United States. Not far beneath the surface, similar currents can be detected on the mainland of Europe. Certainly they can be detected in the Common Market debate in this country. If we pull out of the Common Market, we shall strike a terrible blow at an increasingly fragile structure. I do not say that we shall necessarily destroy it—

But two wrongs do not make a right. For us to do as President de Gaulle did a few years ago in what is today an even more dangerous situation would do far greater damage than he did. Isolationism is catching. If this country lurches into isolationism as a result of the referendum, the effects on the Western world could be very serious.

I want now to refer briefly to the argument advanced so persuasively by the hon. Member for Banbury about sovereignty. I agree with him that it is humbug to pretend that there is no loss of sovereignty in membership of the Common Market. I also agree that sovereignty and power are different and should not be confused. There is a loss of sovereignty through membership of the Common Market. But, though I find it consistent and reasonable for the lion. Member for Banbury to use the sovereignty argument, I find it strange that some of my hon. Friends should applaud him when he does so.

For me, one of the fundamental aspects of Socialism is internationalism. We cannot have internationalism unless we are prepared to give up sovereignty to someone. It may be that the Common Market is not the right body to which it should be given, but to say that in no circumstances should we ever give up any sovereignty to anyone is inconsistent with all that I thought that the Labour Party stood for.

The nation State was the creation of nineteenth-century capitalism. I believe that it has had its day. The Common Market came into existence because the nation States of Western Europe found that they could not achieve their purposes—the welfare, happiness and prosperity of their peoples—within the structure of the nineteenth-century nation States. Today, the same applies to us as applied to them.

Let me take some specific, practical examples. Take the problem of regional policy which has concerned a great number of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and which concerns me as well, since I represent an intermediate area. No one who looks at this problem in a European context can doubt that the forces which create regional inequality in this country are part of an international complex of forces. The forces which create disparities between the North and South of England are not confined to this country. They operate all over Western Europe.

I do not believe that it is possible to counteract those forces effectively within the structure of the nineteenth-century nation State. It is not possible to deal with the problem of pollution effectively within the structure of the nineteenth- century nation State. This is a crowded continent with all kinds of interlocking, overlapping problems which cannot be dealt with effectively within the obsolete structure of the nineteenth-century nation State. That is why I believe it is necessary to work in partnership with other countries in Western Europe.

We are part of the continent of Europe whether we like it or not. The hon. Member for Banbury attacked proMarketeers for equating the Common Market with Europe. Of course, he is right The two things should not be equated together. But the fact remains that we are part of the continent of Europe.

Whatever happens on the continent of Europe is bound to affect this country most profoundly. Throughout our history—even in the greatest days of the Empire on which the sun never set—we were always profoundly affected by developments on the continent of Europe. British Governments in the 1920s and 1930s thought that they could stand aside from developments on the continent of Europe. They and the British people learned their lesson in 1940.

British Governments before the First World War thought that they could maintain a policy of glorious isolation and remain unaffected by developments on the continent of Europe. The British people learned their lesson between 1914 and 1918.

Whether we like it or not, we are affected by what happens across the Channel. We are more affected now than ever before in our history because this is a smaller world and because we are a weaker Power.

The question that we must ask ourselves in the referendum campaign and in this debate is this: do we want to remain part of an institution which gives us the capacity to influence the developments which take place on the mainland of Europe, or do we not? We shall be profoundly affected by those developments whether we are in or out of the Common Market. The difference between being in and being out is the difference between being able to influence those developments and being unable to do so. I believe that it would be an act of national folly to give up the opportunity to influence those developments from within.

6.3 p.m.

Three years, three summers with the length of three long winters, have passed since I spoke either to the House or to my constituents on the problem of the EEC. Looking back on the speeches that I made against joining the EEC in 1970 and 1971, I believe that they represented fair and proper arguments. But the question now before the House is of a quite different nature. It is not whether we should go in but whether we should come out and break a whole series of agreements and arrangements which have been made. The whole question now is not of going in but whether we should come out. The considerations now are of a different nature from the considerations which applied on going in or not going in to the Common Market.

In the last three years, as the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Marquand) said, there has been a complete change in the world outside this country and outside Europe itself. We are seeing the West today in a period of grave disorder, if not decline. We face a situation which is as brittle, inflammatory and dangerous to the interests of the West as we have ever seen.

Over the last few months a large number of people in this country and many Labour Party Members have seemed almost to think that we are not in the Common Market at all because of the nature of Labour Party propaganda which has undoubtedly confused the issue. But is is a fact that under two Governments we have been and are members of the European Economic Community.

The issue of economics and various other issues which have been raised can be and have been argued back and forth across the House, but at the end, when the people come to weigh up these matters, they will be no more certain of their balancing of these arguments than they were at the beginning.

I should like to turn to a few of the much wider considerations. First there is the fact that we are in the EEC. It is a sea of troubles and to be glorious in the act, but to stand out against a tide of events and to try to reverse the tide of history leads, as I know, coming from a Jacobite family, to the block or to a position as absurd as that of Canute. Frankly, I think that to try to turn against what has happened would be an error.

My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) spoke feelingly about the letter by Lord Gladwyn which appeared inThe Timesa few days ago. But I must say that a far larger number of Jacobins than Jacobites seem his allies in the political spectrum. I hope that this may give him some pause. His friends seem widely spread with a Left-wing bias. Who rules whom? But this is a Leninist relationship which he must work out for himself.

I come to my conclusions with regret. I am not and never will be a passionate Marketeer. However, looking back, the last 30 years have been a history of regret and retreat from glory. Looking at both Front Benches and at the shadows or ghosts of those who sat on those Front Benches before, nothing emerges more clearly than the lack of national objective since the end of the 1939–45 war. Our leaders glibly talked about the unity of Europe in the 1940s and 1950s. What did they do? They did nothing. They talked about a great and special relationship with the United States of America. When the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) and I and other Members of this House and Senator Javits, and other Americans tried to float a North Atlantic free trade area, what happened? There was not even a pennyworth of Government assistance.

When General de Gaulle came forward in the late 1960s and suggested, through our ambassador, that there should be a free trade area with political direction by the major Powers, which in every way made sense, what did we do? We rejected it.

For more than 15 years British Governments have blown hot and cold on the idea of this country having a purpose and mission in the world at all. Unlike the French, who after all bound their ex-colonial territories with hoops of gold, and with bands of proffered administration and the strength of a mother tongue, we sent missions round the world in the 1960s to our friends, our late dependencies, designating the sterling area and telling them "We can no longer look after you. You must be prepared to paddle your own ships and reach some port or anchorage". As a result, of course, they did. As a result, a treaty like the Lomé Convention is more valuable to them than any connection with Whitehall.

This is a story not of a great people but of a people great but perhaps too much misled by their own politicians. Now, in all these years, whether or not one likes it—I do not like it—there has been one positive, firm act of statesmanship, whether or not it be popular, and that was the action of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) of getting this country joined to the EEC.

I have not been in favour of it. But there it is. It is a fact. Perhaps I may draw a more homely analogy. If one has been against a marriage and it is consummated, does one try to destroy it? If one has been against an operation for some relative, and if one has the power, does one drag the body of the patient out of the operating theatre? Really, withdrawal from the EEC would be to indulge a personal ideological whim against the national interest.

Of course there will be difficulties in this arrangement with Europe. Of course there is the problem of sovereignty, which hon. Members have so rightly and widely spoken about and of which they have made such a proper issue. I have always been one who has been what is called staunch on the question of British national and parliamentary sovereignty. I defied even Sir Winston in his day in voting against the first American loan. I have defied my Whips. Of course, that means nothing today in the House of Commons. It is a badge of honour, like one of those hats which are worn in Africa to show that people are properly independent and have been in prison. I have defied my Whips endlessly on these issues

I have supported my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) in his brilliant attacks on this issue of sovereignty. Even with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup, I went so far as to insist, when I was a member of the Cabinet for a short while on the defence side, that at Nassau we retained the full independence, if needs be, of our nuclear deterrent. Therefore, sovereignty is a matter of considerable importance to me, as it is to every hon. Member.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden) said that the danger to sovereignty is not in these EEC arrangements, imperfect though they may be, but that the danger to sovereignty could well be inside this country if things go wrong. And wrong they are going. My greatest fear is of this growing present derogation to parliamentary sovereignty. Even the absurd idea—with respect to hon. Members on the Government benches—of a referendum is a derogation of parliamentary sovereignty. The giving away of powers to the trade unions is a derogation of parliamentary sovereignty. Day by day we see derogations of parliamentary sovereignty.

With respect to my hon. Friends and various sides of the House and various people in this country, I must say that there is only one party which is absolutely solid in favour of our coming out of Europe. I know that the party of the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing) is totally divided, according to today's edition of theGlasgow HeraldEven the Scottish National Party is no longer solid on the issue. One party is absolutely solid, and that party wishes to do what? It wishes to destroy democracy. It is the Communist Party in Britain. [An hon. Member: "Reds under the bed."] It is not "Reds under the bed" at all. It is a fact of life, and the more that right hon. Members of the Government realise that the better their constituents will be served.

Of course there are difficulties ahead. But I believe that to pull out of Europe now would be a disaster at home for confidence within this country and a disaster for our relationships abroad. Britain could now waste far too much time on the referendum, which could become for far too many people an escapist exercise, away from the realities. The realities for Britain are grim. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed money. The sooner this House and this Government get down to the solutions to these problems, the better it will be.

6.15 p.m.

I share at least one thing with the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Fraser). Like him, in the past I have not always been the best-loved of Members by the Whips. Looking back on those occasions when I was rebellious, I find, like the right hon. Gentleman, that history has proved that I was right.

The House will appreciate that it was not an easy speech which the right hon. Gentleman had to make. It is never easy for anyone who has trodden a certain road for a number of years and advanced a persuasive argument to have to end up by saying "This is the end of the road and as far as I am concerned the chapter is now closed. I accept afait accompli"

I am sorry that I cannot do that, because I am satisfied that if the House, looking at the Common Market as it exists today, were facing the question that it faced three years ago, it certainly would not decide in favour of going in. If I had the powers to compel people to do a penance, I would make those proMarketeers whose speeches were so influential in the days when they were saying that it was desirable for us to go in re-read their speeches. What did those speeches really say? They said that if we went into the Common Market it would act as a blood transfusion. They said that it would revitalise this nation.

We have been in the Common Market. We have had the advice of the Common Market doctor. The truth is that the British patient is weaker and more ill today than when we first went to the doctor. There are other patients of this doctor who have been in the Common Market from the beginning, but they do not hold any hope for us. Italy's years of membership of the Common Market have not solved the great economic and social problems from which she is suffering. One would have thought that after the years that Italy has been a member she would have been in a much stronger economic position today than she is.

The right hon. Gentleman surely recognises that the ills of this country have nothing to do with our membership of the Community but are due to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) said a little while ago—to our producing too little, paying ourselves too much and living beyond our means. That we can remedy ourselves.

If I could persuade the hon. and learned Gentleman to do me the courtesy of reading the speech I made in the three-day debate on entry, he would find that that was precisely the content of my peroration. I said that our ills, aches, pains and economic and social problems could not be solved by looking into the crystal ball of the Common Market. They could not be solved by endless journeyings between here and Brussels. They would be solved by the skill, determination and cooperation of the British people. Our salvation lies here. It does not lie outside. Nobody will save us if we are not prepared to save ourselves.

I am greatly disturbed when I look at the world. On our television screens, week after week in the past few months, we have had pictures of starving people in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and other countries; and here we are saying that it is very desirable for us to tie ourselves, hook, line and sinker as it were, to a system which believes in building up big stocks of meat, butter, cheese and milk and destroying and denaturing wheat. How can we as a so-called civilised, Christian people ever defend the regulations and rules of a system which on the one hand puts into storage millions of tons of food and on the other does nothing at a time when stomachs are empty to marry that food to those empty stomachs?

My hon. Friend will be aware of the food aid programme of the Community which has been specifically directed to the countries to which he is referring, which has been reported on to this House by the Select Committee on European Secondary Legislation.

I am very well aware of that, and I hope my hon. Friend has read the letter which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development has sent out this week in which she makes very clear that the Market will discriminate against the hungry millions in India and Sri Lanka. I had intended to bring that document with me because on its second page there are two paragraphs which are very informative and telling; but obviously it would have meant that my speech would have been a little longer, Mr. Deputy Speaker, than you or the rest of the House would have appreciated, so I did not do so. I recommend my hon. Friend to read that letter and I would then ask him whether he thinks that our proposed entry is as glorious as he tries to make it out to be, because anything which discriminates against hungry men, women and children anywhere cannot be defended at a time when there are the resources to feed them if the will existed.

It is true, of course, that the Lomé Convention applies only to 46 countries, but my right hon. Friend will know that the Community has already agreed a commercial agreement with India and is signing another with Sri Lanka, and that its food aid goes to countries of Asia as well as to the ACP countries.

All I am saying is that in a situation of this kind I prefer the word of the Minister who has responsibility in this field to the word of my hon. Friend. I do not say that in any discourteous way, but it is the Minister who has responsibility in this field and it is she who has passed on this information. I presume she knew that it would be quoted and might be challenged. Therefore, I accept it because it comes from a source which is open to much more challenge than any ordinary Member would be.

Everybody says that we have to be in the Community because of the influence we shall wield. That is an argument that I have never accepted at all. I do not know why some Opposition Members who are so very concerned about what they call the Left wing in this party do not join us to try to influence the party. I do not know why some of my hon. Friends who are so concerned about some of the Right-wing Tory policies do not join the Tory Party so that they can influence it from inside. The truth is, of course, that one has as much influence outside the Tory Party, if one disagrees with it, as one would have within it if one disagreed with it.

We have all seen what happens to members of the Labour or Tory Parties if they fundamentally disagree. They become very isolated, very uninfluential. In this respect one has only to think of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). Nobody could pretend that he has not the ability to influence, but I believe most people would accept that today he carries less influence over those who sit on either side of him and in front of him than he did, say, five or six years ago, quite apart from the time when he was a Minister.

Speaking of sovereignty, the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone gave one or two illustrations. He asked whether if one had had a row with a relative one needed to carry on with it. That would depend upon whether the relative or the right hon. Gentleman was in the wrong. It is not normal for people who feel that they are right to make an abject apology to someone who has done them a wrong.

There are countless thousands of newly-married couples in this country who, if only they would be content to live with their in-laws, could have a higher standard of housing, more money to spend, and live, by and large, a fuller life materially. But many of them choose to live in a squalid slum because it gives them power to make their own decisions and to run their own lives rather than live under the roof of their parents who may be fairly affluent. It is the ability to govern their own lives, to make their own decisions and determine their own way which they cherish and love over and above the affluence that they would enjoy if they would only give up their right not to determine their own destiny. Likewise with countries. There are some things for which too high a price can be paid.

I am not one of those people who wants Britain to be in the position it was years ago. I am not with the former Prime Minister who wants to make Great Britain great again if he is thinking in terms of its greatness at the turn of the century, because I believe that we have qualities far and away above those to offer to the rest of mankind in these very troubled times.