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Orders Of The Day

Volume 889: debated on Wednesday 9 April 1975

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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.

4.8 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. For the third day running the Government have tabled a motion concerning some Commission documents about regional aid which, if they wished, could be moved with the main motion. I therefore wish formally to give notice that if they did 1 would register an objection.

I have nothing to add to what I said about this yesterday and the day before.

4.9 p.m.

I am sure everyone today, whatever their personal opinions, will agree that a major part of this debate should be devoted to agriculture. It accounts for some three-quarters of Community budget expenditure. The common agricultural policy demonstrates the closest approach ever made towards a common market. And it is the development of agricultural policy, in relation to our own important production potential and to imports, which will determine both the security and cost of our food supplies for the future.

Like most agricultural support systems, the details of the CAP are often technical and complicated. But we have to form a judgment in this crucial sector on the implications for this country of the situation now obtaining within the Community and that likely to apply outside it. First, therefore, I shall seek to set out the fundamental factors, including what we have secured in the process of renegotiation. Later, I propose to say something about my own present views and position.

In the Labour Party manifesto of February 1974 we said that we sought
"Major changes in the Common Agricultural Policy, so that it ceases to be a threat to world trade in food products, and so that low-cost food producers outside Europe can continue to have access to the British food market".
This reflects the real concern felt by many people—myself included—that we should not be forced into a rigid system, designed and operated to suit the requirements of the Six original members but paying scant regard to United Kingdom interests as a major food importer.

However, it is salutary to remind ourselves today that under the system of guaranteed prices and deficiency payments we did not maintain an open market in the United Kingdom. We could not do so—and no country with an important agricultural industry of its own has even done so. We were, for instance, operating quota systems for butter, for certain fruits and for bacon, minimum import prices enforced by levies for cereals and a whole range of tariffs on other foodstuffs. It is true that at that time Community prices were in general far higher than world prices, that its import barriers were more widespread and protective than ours and that we traditionally had been able to obtain the bulk of our imported supplies at relatively low prices from Commonwealth and other third countries.

When we took office, therefore, the key question for me, as the Minister charged with responsibility for agriculture and for safeguarding the nation's food supplies, was how best to translate the manifesto commitment into concrete negotiating points. It was clear enough that the terms of entry negotiated by our predecessors were largely transitional and inadequate to ensure that the CAP could be operated for the future with proper regard for our legitimate interests if this country remained a member of the Community. It was equally clear that developments were taking place in world trade which had a substantial bearing on these issues.

It is not, I think, in dispute that our entry into the Community coincided with the start of a marked increase in the general level of world prices and a serious shortage of some commodities. World grain prices rose fourfold between 1972 and 1974. At the peak last year the world sugar price was as much as 10 times the average of prices paid the previous year under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and for many foodstuffs the prices of our traditional suppliers outside the Community have risen far more than those inside it.

There are those who assert that this is a temporary phenomenon, that prices are already falling in some cases, and that if we were free from the constraints of continued membership, we should soon find sources of relatively cheap food again. I wish I could share their confidence. But there has been something of a revolution in world food supplies and prices comparable to the oil crisis, which itself was responsible for major increases in the costs of food production, processing and distribution, through its effects on fertilisers, fuel, transport and shipping costs.

Moreover, the rising world population with increased expectations, and the growing ability of developing countries to make their demands effective, must increase the pressure on available supplies. Also, world stockpiles have been seriously depleted. In these circumstances it is foolish to suppose, much as they value continued access to our markets, that any of our traditional suppliers would be willing to gear themselves primarily to meeting our needs, especially at the expense of other outlets where they could obtain a higher return.

Of course, world commodity prices will fluctuate, and, of course, certain foodstuffs can be produced more cheaply outside the EEC. But in my judgment the increases in domestic food prices which we have already experienced have in the main been due to world causes rather than to our EEC membership. It would be irresponsible, whatever our views of the Community, to plan for the future other than on the assumption that the general level of world food prices is likely to be higher than in the past—with the strong possibility of sharp fluctuations in both availability and price. [Interruption.] In reply to a seated interjection, I accept that I have to face the reality and I must state what I believe to be the truth.

These considerations lead to two fundamental conclusions. The first is that it makes increasingly good sense to produce as much of our own food as we can efficiently and economically. Very soon I shall be producing a White Paper on this specific matter. Secondly, EEC prices are likely to be much more in line with world prices than in the past, and the CAP system could provide our best assurance of supplies.

For all these reasons, we decided from the start of renegotiation that the sensible course was to seek changes—major changes where necessary—in the operation of the CAP and some of its commodity régimes, but not to try to overthrow the system itself. It was on this basis that our detailed negotiating objectives were formulated and agreed. As the House is well aware, they were set out in some detail in the statement I made to the Council of Ministers on 18th June 1974. It is in the light of the progress which we have since made towards these objectives that the motion before us has my strong support. I must therefore deal with these objectives and that progress at some length.

The White Paper describes these objectives under two main headings—first, trade with third countries and, secondly, the operation of the CAP. Our aim on the first of these was to secure improved access to the Community market for food imports from third countries, and this we have achieved in a number of ways. Two in particular stand out—New Zealand dairy produce and Commonwealth sugar. We made it clear at the time that the arrangements made by the previous Government on both these questions were inadequate.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has stressed this repeatedly. For example, Protocol 18 of the Treaty of Accession provided for access on a degressive basis. It left entirely open the quantities of butter which might be permitted from New Zealand after 1977, it made no provision for continuing imports of cheese after that date, and the price arrangements were unsatisfactory in that they were related to the average price obtained by New Zealand on the United Kingdom market between 1969 and 1972. As a result of renegotiation, the President of the Commission has agreed to submit proposals by this summer under which annual imports of New Zealand butter for the three years after 1977 can be maintained at around the level of 1974–75 deliveries.

This marks the ending of degressivity and access for New Zealand butter should continue indefinitely. It has also been agreed that the problem of cheese imports should be looked at urgently, and the need has been accepted for periodic review and adjustment to the price, this last feature of course being in addition to the 18 per cent. increase which we secured last year. May I say to some of my hon. Friends who may be critical of this aspect that the New Zealand Government have welcomed these developments.

It was also the case that no firm arrangements had been made to ensure continuing imports of Commonwealth sugar to the British market after the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement expired at the end of last year. We asked for adequate and continuing access linked to assurances of supply at prices fairly and realistically related to Community prices. That is exactly what we have secured.

The developing Commonwealth countries were given the opportunity of sending up to the limit of 1·4 million tons, which was the amount then traditionally supplied under the former Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, and they have a guarantee for an indefinite period for the quantities that they have undertaken to supply.

This achievement formed part of the Lomé trade and aid convention recently concluded between the Community and 46 developing countries, including 22 Commonwealth countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. In addition to the provisions on sugar, this guarantees almost completely free entry for their agricultural products. More generally, we have secured reductions in Community tariffs and levies. For example, concessions have been achieved on a range of products such as matured Cheddar cheese, canned fruit and fresh and canned salmon.

We have not yet secured all the arrangements we want to see, but there are good prospects both in relation to the multilateral trade negotiations and in the negotiations now in train with various Mediterranean countries. We shall also be seeking more stable arrangements for beef imports from third countries, con- sistent with safeguarding the position of our own producers. We have made it clear that in our view some tariffs are still higher than they ought to be. In the case of New Zealand lamb, we have given notice to the other member States that we shall be seeking to eliminate or reduce the Community tariff, at least for imports into the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the improvements we have obtained so far are evidence that the Community is not now an economic autarky. It is taking an increasingly outward looking view, and I am confident that our continuing presence in Brussels can help to maintain that trend.

I now turn to the internal operation of the CAP, and begin by referring to the beef regime. This formed a vital part of our renegotiation objectives. We made no secret of our dislike of the extent to which the Community system relied on a high level of intervention. During last year the drawbacks of full-scale intervention became more and more apparent. The Community had to buy up large quantities of surplus beef in order to maintain market prices for producers. As a result, consumers were being denied the benefit of cheaper supplies.

As an interim measure, I persuaded the Community to introduce a special system of premiums last August. And in the course of the negotiations on the CAP prices package earlier this year, it was agreed that there should he a new system of variable premiums within the beef rén to deficiency payments, and that these should be partly financed by the Community. It is these payments, rather than support buying which now provide the major element for the support system for beef now operated in this country. They give producers the assurance of adequate returns without unacceptably high prices for consumers, and they avoid excessive stockpiling of frozen beef.

There are those who have criticised this arrangement, largely on the grounds that it is only for one year. I believe that they underestimate our achievement and its potential significance as regards thinking and practice within the Community. What we have achieved is not just a temporary derogation for the United Kingdom. It is a very real innovation which is open to all member States. I further believe that, as its operation becomes more familiar to them, their doubts—on such questions as cost, and possible distortion of the market—will recede. Of course, we have to undertake new price settlements for every commodity arrangement each year and we set such considerable store on the need for continuing satisfactory arrangements on beef that I will not agree to any future settlements which do not meet this need.

Meantime, the changes we have secured in the beef régime are evidence of a welcome flexibility in the operation of the CAP. We attach great importance to this last point so as to enable special circumstances to be dealt with in different parts of the Community.

In particular, our manifesto stressed the need for a clear emphasis on national aids. This we have achieved in two ways. First, we have retained the national aids which we had before accession, and under the Less Favoured Areas Directive, our hill cow and hill sheep subsidies will attract FEOGA assistance. Secondly, we have demonstrated that the CAP can be flexible in enabling member States to deal with specific problems that arise from time to time. That is stated in the last manifesto on which we fought the election. We listed in it the direct aids that we have achieved. Examples of those aids are the special subsidy on pigs which we introduced last year, the near doubling of the calf subsidy pending the new beef régime and the restoration of the lime subsidy, which the previous Government had abolished.

Of course, there have been other criticisms of the CAP. One of these has been that, with its emphasis on high prices and support buying, it is too oriented towards the needs of producers—and inefficient producers at that. I myself have made this point. That is why I made it clear in my statement to the Council last June that the Community's pricing policy should take account of the needs of efficient producers and the supply-demand situation. Recent pricing decisions have reinforced the tendency for Community prices to be reduced in real terms. Paragraph 21 of Command 6003 gives specific examples of this for various commodities, and points out that, with the exception of beef, world market prices rose substantially in real terms over the last few years. This fact alone bears out the doubts I expressed earlier about the claims of those who see our pursuing a cheap food policy outside the Community.

This trend in world prices also has a bearing on the interests of consumers, this, too, being something on which we set considerable store in the renegotiation. Our consumer subsidies on a range of basic foods are likely to amount to some £550 million over the next year. These have not been questioned, and indeed the Community has itself contributed to the consumer subsidy on butter. Apart from this, and the downward pressure on real prices, the consumer interest has been met in a number of ways. The changes in the beef régime are one example. So, too, are the Community subsidies for sales of beef to pensioners. This is something which our meat trade has welcomed.

Perhaps the best example of all is the obligation which the Community has accepted to maintain supplies of sugar by buying supplies on the world market and selling them to consumers at the lower Community price. This alone has provided a subsidy of nearly £40 million to United Kingdom consumers. The significance of these measures can be seen from the payments made from FEOGA to our own Intervention Board during 1973 and 1974. Of the £175 million we received, over £80 million, or nearly 50 per cent. was for import subsidies, and a further 13 per cent., £22 million, was for direct consumer subsidies. By contrast, only about 5 per cent. of the total was for intervention and storage. This should at least give food for thought to those who maintain that the sole objective of the CAP is to take produce off the market so as to keep up prices.

If the CAP is to work properly it must avoid the creation of surpluses in the first place. This is one of the points which the Commission has recognised in its stocktaking report, which holds out prospects of further improvements of the kind we want to see. We shall be discussing the report in the Council. The discussions are bound to take time, and I do not want to say more at this stage other than that we shall continue to press hard for the changes which we believe to be necessary.

If we succeed in securing them there is nothing that our own highly efficient industry need fear. I stress that last point because, inevitably perhaps in view of the criticisms which have been made, I have given more prominence to the needs of the consumer. However, we must never forget the overriding need to secure economic and efficient production. We must remember that our farmers, who are probably the most efficient in the world, must be given fair prices and reasonable prices to produce the food that we need. This is not just good for the farmer but it is good for the consumer. That must be stressed.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that he will be allowed to have an expansionist policy for agricultural products in this country while there are surpluses in the EEC countries?

Certainly I can give that assurance. I shall issue a White Paper very soon which will aim to achieve that. I hope that the hon.. Member for Banff (Mr. Watt) will realise that what I am saying is good common sense. As a practical farmer he must appreciate that. It is also significant—I respect the judgment of the farming industry on these matters—that all the National Farmers' Unions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland—and I include the unions that I met recently in Belfast—have recently concluded that it will be in the long-term interests of British agriculture for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the Community. That is a view which, following my experience as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, I now endorse.

I should like to say a little more about my personal position and why I hold my present views. I can best illustrate what has always been my approach by quoting two short extracts from a speech I made nearly eight years ago on 9th May 1967, to be exact. We were then debating the implications of joining the Community against a very different background of world food prices and trading conditions. I said:
"… I do not in any way retract my view that our present system of agricultural support is a better system and better adapted to our needs. What I recognise, however, in common with my colleagues, is that the common agricultural policy of the European Economic Community is an integral part of the Community and that, if we are to join the Community, we must come to terms with it."
Later I said:
"… we should enter these negotiations determined to succeed if essential British and Commonwealth interests are safeguarded."— [Official Report, 9th May 1967, Vol. 746, c. 1404–05.]
I have throughout approached the task of renegotiation given me by the Government in exactly the same spirit and with the same objectives.

I believe that in Dublin my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister fulfilled two major objectives for which I have part responsibility. I believe that we have been successful and that these essential interests have been, and can continue to be, safeguarded within the framework of the Community. Therefore, I concluded that I should support our continued membership so that we can play our full part in its future development along the right lines.

In this way, I believe we can do three things which would be much harder on our own. First, we can achieve far greater security of supply, at costs no longer unreasonable in the face of growing world pressure on available resources. Next, we can help to ensure that the Community of Nine, which is by far and away the largest trading bloc in food and agriculture, continues to develop in ways which positively encourage the expansion of world trade. This is crucial not only for the United Kingdom but for the developing countries and for the establishment of an effective contribution from Europe to the war on poverty, want and hunger throughout the world.

It should not be forgotten that practically all the members of the Commonwealth, deciding on the basis of their own interests, want us to stay in the Community. How can I be more New Zealand than are New Zealanders? How can I be more Caribbean than those in the Caribbean? It is amazing how some hon. Members will not face the fact that people in those countries which are in the Lomé Convention—and many of whom belong to the old traditional Commonwealth—believe that we should stay in the Community.

What my right hon. Friend says about Commonwealth leaders wishing the United Kingdom to remain in the EEC has some substance. It is a fact that quite a number of them do so wish. However, would he not agree that they have been compelled to search for alternative markets elsewhere in the world? They have had to turn away from Great Britain and find those markets—and indeed in so doing they were complimented on their efficiency by the Prime Minister. Now they want to add to those markets by having some association with the EEC. Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the valuable relationship which this country has had with nations all over the world within the British Commonwealth might in the end be damaged?

I do not disagree with my hon. Friend. It is true that many of those countries have sought markets elsewhere. Australia is a classic example. Australia recently concluded a sugar agreement with Japan, and I am not critical of that agreement. My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) and I fought an election in which we promised to obtain access for Commonwealth produce to the Community and to our markets. I suggest that the agreement which we achieved in Brussels on sugar was a good agreement for the Caribbean countries and others who send sugar to us. It involved a guarantee of 1·4 million tons. Those countries welcome that agreement. In addition, a protocol to the Treaty of Accession deals specifically with New Zealand dairy products, and that has been welcomed by the New Zealand Prime Minister and his Government. In other words, we have fulfilled our objectives and obligations. For those reasons, among others, we deserve much more support, and I believe that we shall get it.

Finally, may I speak from my own experience—and I have had a great deal of experience in dealing with agricultural matters in this House for a very long time. My experience in the last year—and I say this genuinely and sincerely to my hon. Friends—has convinced me that within the Community we do indeed have the ability to influence events at the European level in all these areas. Of course problems and difficulties remain. Nevertheless, I believe that these have been immensely reduced by what we have achieved in our negotiations and that it would be a folly for us now to turn our backs on those achievements and on what can be achieved in the future.

4.35 p.m.

It is just 17 years since the right hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) called me in this House a political queer because I had put forward the notion that Britain might join the European Economic Community. I was very young and innocent in those days and I was not absolutely certain what was meant—indeed, I have been trying to find out ever since. But now that the right hon. Gentleman has become one himself, perhaps he may be able to tell me. If it is not misinterpreted, perhaps I might say that he and I should get together on the subject.

I congratulate the Minister not only on his conversion, since we all know that there is more joy in Heaven over the one who repents than over 99 just men—and as one of the 99 I welcome him into the club. I also congratulate him on his wide-ranging survey of the agricultural problems of the Community. I thought that today he made one of his best speeches, and certainly it was most comprehensive.

There is little I can add to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, except to take up one or two points. He was right to claim major achievements on both sugar and beef. He should not claim that an achievement has been secured only in respect of Commonwealth sugar. He has also secured his objective in respect of domestic production quotas—a matter which is of great importance to farmers, particularly in my area. The only query I have is whether the British Sugar Corporation has the refining capacity to cope with the increased quotas. However, planting is so late this year that it may turn out that the corporation can cope with the situation.

The other major achievement relates to stock-taking. Based on the document which has been produced we can take a long hard look at CAP and discover the best way in which the situation should develop in future. That is an excellent achievement. There were certain things that had to be done in the short term. Sugar was only one item. It is not just the domestic side which is important, but there are of course Commonwealth considerations. It is interesting that on sugar the right hon. Gentleman arrived at the same figure as did my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hex-ham (Mr. Rippon)—namely a figure of 1·4 million tons. In other words, the bankable assurances have proved bankable all the way to the bank—and that is a good thing, too.

In approaching the CAP in future, after the referendum and when we remain in the Community, it is important that we start from the point that the CAP was not designed for this country at all. That was our fault. If we had joined the Community when we were asked we could have agreed it in a way which would have helped us. The Labour and Conservative Governments are equally to blame. Only the Liberal Party can be exempted from blame. Governments of both parties refused to join the Community at a time when they could have made arrangements which would have benefited this country. The approach of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) of joining the Community and then changing it from the inside was the only rational way in which this problem could be tackled. The Minister has tackled it on that basis. The results which he announced today are clearly of benefit to us.

Although the common agricultural policy was not designed for the United Kingdom, there is a curious similarity between the objectives set out in Article 39 of the Treaty of Rome for an agricultural policy and Section 1 of the Agriculture Act of 1947. They overlap almost exactly. The objectives are the same, although the method is different. Provided that we are agreed on the objectives, I believe that in the next few years it will be possible to change the CAP without changing the fundamentals so as to ensure that it becomes even more tailored for this country than in the past.

Too often the argument is put in terms of efficient British agriculture against inefficient Continental agriculture. I do not accept that Continental agriculture is made up entirely of bovine peasants following oxen across the landscape. I know that parts of it are different.

I ask the House to pause and to remember at what price the efficiency of British agriculture was bought—t he devastation of the countryside during the industrial revolution, the damage done to British social structure during that period. Do we want to force that on our friends within the other eight countries? Is it not better for us to try to help them achieve the objectives of the Treaty of Rome in an orderly, proper fashion without the distress suffered by previous generations in this country? I believe that we must bear that in mind and not be too smug about the fact that we have efficient agriculture. We have that, but, by golly, we paid the price for it.

It is important to remember the point made by the Minister. We are not only concerned with the consumers. We arc also concerned, as is the Minister, primarily with agriculture as a whole. The opportunities contained in the settlement negotiated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup, and the modifications brought about by the Minister, will facilitate the expansion of the domestic industry and make it an unparalleled success throughout the United Kingdom. All of us, especially hon. Members who, like myself, represent agricultural areas, welcome that.

The agricultural settlement has brought about a change in the CAP. That change had already begun before the change of Government last year. The Minister has accelerated that change. I believe that the consequence will be beneficial to producers and consumers in securing a supply of food at stable prices understood by producer and consumer.

The question of agriculture, although perhaps it was the most important, was only one of the seven points put forward by the Foreign Secretary at Luxembourg on 1st April 1974, on which the so-called renegotiation was based. There has been a tendency in this debate to dismiss the renegotiation as if it was hardly relevant to the debate. However, it is mentioned in the motion and I should like to examine what has happened. It is not unreasonable to do that.

The second point raised by the Foreign Secretary concerned the budgetary contribution, which had always been a matter of dispute. We have always borne in mind the statement made at the Paris Summit about the need, if an unacceptable situation arose, for some kind of correcting mechanism. We have fully debated the correcting mechanism, which the Minister laid before us two months ago. The important modifications introduced at the Dublin Summit do not alter the fundamental principle on which the correcting mechanism is based. We can accept it as something which is good not only for this country but for any other country which may find itself in the unfortunate situation which the Government expect us to experience in three years' time when the mechanism becomes effective.

Other budgetary measures have arisen in the course of the past 2½years since we joined the Community. The Government, and the British Liberal, Conservative and independent Members from this House and the House of Lords have made a considerable contribution to the question of the financial control of the Community. We now have a draft treaty. There is the prospect of the setting-up of an audit court. A public accounts committee is in the process of being set up and we are now in a much better position to deal with the budget, small though it is, and the appropriations than we were when we joined the EEC 21 years ago. That is an on-going process which has been effected by the introduction of the correcting mechanism, although it does not depend entirely upon the intentions of the Government when they came to office a year ago.

The third point related to economic and monetary union. In the past the Foreign Secretary said that this matter has been put off until the Greek Kalends. That may be so in terms of an economic and monetary union of the kind which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup had in mind at the Paris Summit of 1972. However, he might agree that that does not alter the necessity to do something about the monetary problem within a Community context, not only because it is a real problem faced by this country but because the effective working of the CAP in the long term demands a solution to the monetary problem—otherwise we shall be left with the green pound, with monetary compensation amounts and the mess which we now tend to find when trying to deal with cross-frontier trade.

While I accept the judgment of the Foreign Secretary that economic and monetary union in the form in which it was foreseen two years ago will probably not come about, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will have something to tell us later today about what he has in mind for the monetary problem within the Community when we get round to it. There are serious problems here which must be dealt with.

The fourth point concerned regional industrial and fiscal policies. The Government have had very few problems. The regional fund exists since the money for it was voted yesterday by the European Parliament. There is one minor point which must be worked out between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. I understand that we shall be meeting in Luxembourg next Tuesday to thrash that out. We can then go ahead. Small though it is, the fund represents a beginning. Nevertheless, it can make a considerable contribution to correcting the imbalances within the British economy and the Community which, up until now, owing to the fact that countries with regional problems tend to be the poorest, we have not been able to tackle.

One point must be brought out in case, by any mischance, the referendum goes the wrong way and we leave the Community. I refer to the question of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland stands to gain more from the regional fund than probably any other area of the United Kingdom. If we leave the EEC there is not the slightest doubt that the Republic of Eire will stay in. Therefore, investment which might go to Northern Ireland, and which could help solve the grave economic problems of that Province, will almost inevitably go to the Republic south of the border. Therefore the difficult and dangerous situation in Northern Ireland can only be exacerbated in economic terms, and possibly in political terms, if we are forced to raise trade barriers along the border between the North and the Republic.

In respect of capital movements, the Government have been happy to rely, as I expected, on Articles 104, 108 and 109 of the treaty. This is straightforward. I do not think that anyone anticipates any enormous problem on it. As this is a Community, it is not in the interests of any of the other eight members to bring in regulations likely to be fundamentally damaging to the economy of this country. Listening to some of the speeches in the debate, I got the impression that we were at war with the other eight and that we were spending all our time fighting them. Yet the basis of the Community was, and the basis of these Articles is, that the Community will go to the assistance of member States in trouble in this way, as it has done in the case of Italy and in the case of this country. The whole capital movements problem and the general economic problem associated with it is one which never was basically a problem at all.

The sixth and perhaps next most important after agriculture is the question of the Commonwealth and aid to developing countries. Like many other hon. Members, the Minister of Agriculture mentioned the Lomé Convention, as a result of which 46 countries are now associated with the Community and associated on terms more generous than any association agreement ever concluded. It is an association agreement which permits all manufactured goods from those countries to enter the Community without hindrance, together with 90 per cent. of their agricultural goods. Anyone who takes objection to that and still maintains that the Community is an inward-looking rich man's club is deceiving himself to the very depths of deception. This agreement can serve as a model throughout the world. The Community is giving more aid per capita than the United States, the Soviet Union and any of the other major countries and economic blocs concerned.

On top of that there is the development fund, 80 per cent. of whose disbursements will be in grants—not loans —which are of major importance to the developing countries.

It is not only the associated countries, because the non-associated countries also arc benefiting as a result of British entry from measures taken both by the previous administration and by this Government to the extent that whereas in 1970 only 13 per cent. of Community aid went to non-associated countries, now 40 per cent. does, and the total is rising. In addition, we have general specialised preference schemes with India in which, again, I am glad to say that the British Members of the European Parliament had some say in bringing about. We have one being negotiated with Sri Lanka, and we hope that that can be extended.

In the light of that, the strictures which the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) passed on the Minister for Overseas Development on Monday seem restrained almost to the point of modesty, especially knowing the right hon. Gentleman. It is difficult to know how the Minister, having negotiated this agreement, can now come out in favour of Britain leaving the Community and placing all this in jeopardy—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) speaks knowledgeably on these matters, but he must remember that there arc only two possibilities. Either they continue in association with the Community without us, which means that the right hon. Lady can leave office because there will be nothing for her to do, and the connection between us and the developing countries will be severed, which may be all right for them but not for us since they are an important source of primary materials, or, in the course of denegotiation, the former British territories will be denegotiated out of the Lomé Agreement. We cannot hope to match the agreement which has been concluded by this Government at Lomé under these conditions. The right hon. Lady both in her heart and in the execution of her office seems to be at best illogical but at worst putting partisan prejudice well ahead of even her own announced convictions.

The seventh and final point raised was the question of VAT. Here again the concern of the Government was that VAT should not be employed in such a way as to place a tax on essentials. We had already ensured that by writing into Community documents the principle of zero rating. The first time that it was produced was again in the European Parliament, again on a motion by one of my hon. Friends, and again I hope, the principle having been accepted, there will be no problem there.

At the end, we have this renegotiation, so-called, and we have to ask ourselves whether it was worth it. Was it necessary for the Foreign Secretary to put on his "bovver" boots and go stamping into the Council Chamber in Luxembourg to throw around his considerable weight and considerable eloquence—

The right hon. Gentleman is taller than the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) and therefore does not need knee pads.

Nearly all this could have been accomplished and probably was accomplished in the normal process of Community business. One matter which many Government supporters seem incapable of understanding is that the Community is not a static instrument. It is essentially dynamic. It changes. It has changed very considerably in the 2½ years during which we have been a member. It will change much more after the referendum when we continue to be a member, when we have the full-hearted consent not only of the British people but of the Labour Party, and when, with any luck, we shall also have Labour Members taking their full part in the Community institutions.

All this could have been done, but, if it was necessary to stage this charade to achieve these results, the charade was worth staging—I put it no higher than that—and in consequence of the results, we have done precisely what my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup said we would do before we joined, which was, once inside, to move to change the Community in directions which we thought were of benefit not just to this country but to the Community as a whole.

We may argue about the problems and about whether we have gained or lost in cash or trade terms. I believe that we have gained in both. The evidence is clear that we have. But I always cling to what the Prime Minister said in Strasbourg in January 1967 when he warned us, in the words of Wordsworth, not to get too hypnotised by the nicely calculated less or more. I hope that we have secured a basis which will enable the Labour Party to join us in building the Community in the future.

It has become apparent in this debate, however, that the precise nature of the renegotiated terms is not what we are talking about in this House today or what we shall argue about in the country over the next two months. This is the fourth such debate since 1961, and they have all trodden the same well-worn ground. We shall argue about sovereignty, about faceless bureaucrats and about the fundamentals. On these matters, I realise that it would be as stupid of me to try to convince some right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House as it would be for them to try to convince me. Nevertheless, it is useful to place on record one or two facts about the Community which may still not be fully appreciated in this House.

I had never thought of the Prime Minister as being naive, but I was alarmed when he said that he and his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary were surprised to find how flexible the Community was. If I might adopt a condescending phrase used by the Prime Minister about my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) on one occasion, those of us who have been around for some time knew that already.

The flexibility of the Community has been one of its most striking features. One of the other striking features about it is brought home to us when we hear hon. Members talking as if there w as some kind of witches' coven meeting and performing mystic rituals in private in Brussels. One of the most striking things is its openness. There is far more open government within the Community in Brussels than there is in this House or in Whitehall.

The Commissioners discuss their plans with Members of Parliament before putting them to the Council of Ministers. They give more information than Ministers, as I know, having been one. They give more information in their answers to the extent that the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing), after visiting the European Parliament, was moved to say that she got more information there than she ever got here. Indeed, not only do the Commissioners do all that, but the structure of the Community makes it inevitable that the legislation and the considerations behind that legislation are known fully from the start. That is clearly something on which we must build. Yes, the Community could be more democratic. I cannot claim that it is the most democratic institution in the world.

The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. If the Community is as flexible as he imagines, why did the Conservative Government rush into it in the first place on the terms that they accepted?

The Government of which I was a member entered the Community on the basis, as I have repeated more than once in my speech, that we were going in on terms which were satisfactory as entrant's terms—terms which were recognised by certain right hon. Gentlemen opposite as being satisfactory as entrant's terms—and to try to improve the situation from within. That was made plain at the time by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup. That is precisely what happened. Once inside a club it is much easier to get the rules changed than when standing outside saying that one wants to join. That is what we have managed to do. The flexibility of the Community has been amply demonstrated in the last 12 months as it was in the year before when the Conservative Party was in Government and changes were made.

We must ask the question which has been asked again and again in the debate: what is the alternative if we come out? Hon. Members on both sides of the House, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), have referred to a free trade area as if it were automatic and would come about just like that. Why should it? Why should the Community grant privileges of that kind to us?

My hon. Friend said that it is in the Community's interests. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) has constantly said that because we have a large deficit the Community will want to give us a free trade area. But, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden) pointed out yesterday, that will not get rid of the large deficit, It will still be there. If we do not get a free trade area, the deficit will be shifted somewhere else. On top of that, if my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury looks at the figures with care, he will discover that whereas 35 per cent. of our exports go to the other eight countries of the Community, less than 10 per cent. of their exports come to this country. Therefore, it is entirely in our interests, not in theirs, to negotiate for a free trade area. We would have to put forward some fairly compulsive arguments, having treated them in the way in which we would treat them, to get that advantage.

Is it not a fact that the French Government, in particular, always made it clear that they would not allow this country to enjoy the benefits of industrial free trade with the Community unless we accepted the obligations of the common agricultural policy? Therefore, it is most unlikely that France would allow us to enjoy the benefit of a free trade area.

The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Luard) is right. This was the problem that my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) ran up against 15 years ago when he was negotiating for a free trade area. It is interesting to note the number of converts on that point. I do not recall any loud cries of enthusiasm coming from the right hon. Member for Battersea, North in 1957 and 1958 when my right hon. Friend was negotiating. Rather the reverse. There was considerable dislike of the situation.

I know that many hon. Members wish to speak and I do not want to keep the House any longer, except to make two points.

First, I believe that the maintenance of British membership of the Community is now more than ever essential for this country and for the Community. I have never held any other view. I came into politics because that was what I wanted to do. I do not claim any virtue for consistency. It merely happens that in my opinion it was necessary for this country to be a member of the Community. I only regret that our membership was so late and that it was not done when we could have shaped the Community perhaps nearer to our heart's desire.

Earlier I said that there had been four such debates as this. Each one—this one will be no exception—has ended with an overwhelming majority of right hon. and hon. Members voting in favour of entry. However, this debate will be an exception in the sense that, whereas in the past that has been the end of the matter, now the Government, having abdicated their responsibilities, are proposing that the House of Commons should abdicate its responsibilities as well and that a referendum must follow in which we shall have to urge the British people also to say "Yes like the House of Commons.

Those who vote for this motion tonight, as I believe an overwhelming number of right hon. and hon. Members from both sides will, are not only voting for a motion, but are, in effect, taking a pledge to campaign to see that the vote that takes place in this House is repeated by the vote that takes place in the country. History will judge very harshly anyone, from the Prime Minister downwards, who, for party or any other reasons, fails to carry out the pledge.

5.6 p.m.

Not for the first time during the last three days I have felt that we should have altered the procedures in this House. For three days we have been listening to a succession of speeches from the Front Benches which have repeated one another like Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Front Bench speakers have been going over the seven elements of the renegotiation and saying what was valuable. It seems to me that that was unnecessary. The two Front Benches could have come to an agreement and one on either side could have spoken. It is intolerable that time should have been taken from back benchers in this way when hon. Members like myself with something rather different to say have already pledged to keep their speeches short.

:My hon. Friend is mistaken in referring to them as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They are, of course, Tweedledum and Tweedledum.

:That must come out of my 15 minutes.

The hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk) made a valuable point in relation to the terms. It is the first time that point has been made from the Front Benches these three days. The terms have been examined and referred to, but the point has not been made that they will be substantial matters for people to consider.

I welcome the fact that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food opened in the way that he did, because there has been a tendency to go over the seven points, not to relate them to the pledges which were given, and then to leave them in order to pursue a series of myths. I want to deal with some of those myths.

My right hon. Friend made four basic points in defence of his present position: first, that world conditions had changed; secondly, that we had not entered renegotiation with intent to "overthrow the system itself" and that what we eventually emerged with as our negotiating position was justified; thirdly, that our achievements should be judged in the light of the objectives of 18th June, not our initial pledges to the British people; and, fourthly, that we fulfilled those objectives.

I want to examine those four basic points in the light of some of the myths that have been put about regarding important matters of principle.

I start with the question of sovereignty. Here I want to pick up what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Lady wood (Mr. Walden). My hon. Friend said that the sovereignty issue would not be brought up
"because it was not in the manifesto."
Having been interrupted by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham. South (Mr. Spearing) that "It was", my hon. Friend said:
"If my hon. Friend looks at the seven points for renegotiation he will sec that sovereignty, if mentioned at all, is mentioned in the most marginal sense."—[Official Report, 8th April 1975;Vol. 889, c. 1036–7.]
That is important, because the emphasis which has been given by both Front Bench speakers to the seven main points of renegotiation has obscured the fact that our pledges and manifestos contained more than these. I will quote from the February manifesto. I happen to believe that party manifestos matter. I for one have been offended by the cavalier attitude to them expressed in the House on both sides—

:I am talking about other speakers. I will let my right hon. Friend know when I am referring to him and he can take the matter up. He need not get so fussy about it.

I am offended by the cavalier manner in which people have treated the concept of party manifestos and pledges. Our February manifesto, after referring to the profound political mistake "of the previous Government in taking us in without the consent of the British people, said:
"This has involved the imposition of food taxes on top of world prices, crippling fresh burdens on our balance of payments, and a draconian curtailment of the power of the British Parliament to settle questions affecting vital British interests. This is why a Labour Government will immediately seek a fundamental renegotiation of the terms of entry."
These words are all in the same paragraph. The concluding sentence refers to the previous sentence, that relating to food taxes, which are still with us, but brings up the "draconian curtailment" of the power of the British Parliament. That is by no means a marginal reference but puts sovereignty into the heart of our manifesto. By no means can we avoid this question.

Therefore, if the seven elements of renegotiation have ignored this factor, they have ignored the one aspect about which the manifesto used the term "draconian". It is to the shame of the Government that that aspect was not also renegotiated. I hoped that it would be. I was encouraged to think that it might be by the speech made in Brussels by the Foreign Secretary and then by the Prime Minister's reference to the need, if necessary, to look at the treaties themselves. That did not happen.

Therefore, we want to consider the question of sovereignty. The fundamental error which has been made on the question of sovereignty is that everyone here has discussed it either in the narrow concept of national sovereignty and the shades of imperialism—that was the joke made in the brilliant and witty but highly superficial speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood in reference to some hon. Members opposite —or on the question of parliamentary sovereignty. I am reminded of James VI sticking his finger in a table cloth in the old Scottish Parliament and saying "This Parliament has ane hole in it". The concept of parliamentary sovereignty held by those who take this view has ane hole in it. They refer without cease to our representative rights, not delegated rights, as if they somehow gave us power to ignore what we said to the people who put us here.

That is what is missing. We are not here without a mandate, without commitments. What is missing is the voice of the British people as soon as we say that we can neglect that which we put in our manifesto. This is what people vote for. They do not vote for my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood or me or anyone on the Front Bench to make up our minds when we come here. They say "This is the policy on which we elect you. It is to fulfil this that you must if you can, be bound." It is not enough to neglect those commitments and to substitute another set.

With respect to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, that is what happened in the case of agriculture. We were pledged to look at the imposition of food taxes and said that one objective was:
"Major changes in the common agricultural policy so that it ceases to be a threat to world trade in food products."
We were pledged to bring about
"New and fairer methods of financing the Community Budget."
This was not just the amount. I will come to that in a moment. We said:
"Neither the taxes which form the so-called 'own resources' of the Communities, nor the purposes, mainly agricultural support, on which the funds are mainly to be spent, are acceptable to us."
These have not been altered.

The one aspect which has been altered is the question of financing the Community Budget. With great pleasure, they have brought this one home as if that was the important part of our earlier debates. It never was. To say that we are now saving £125 million for Britain.

:Indeed, in several years' time, when we will be paying a much greater contribution towards it—does two things. First it presupposes a very large amount to be paid into the budget, but second it means either that we have achieved something in saving that £125 million or we have not. If we have not, clearly there is no gain. If we have achieved something, it means that the Government's assumption is that we shall be earning 85 per cent. of the average earnings of the rest of the EEC. Not till we are 15 per cent. below the average GNP of the Community will this gain come into effect. We have to be poor to benefit from that gain. Some gain.

The other aspect, that of not accepting the purposes for which the funds will be used, has not been taken into question. We talked about "securing continued access"—not "better access", I would remind the Minister of Agriculture and the Foreign Secretary, as one said on 4th June and the other on 18th June, but "continued access"—to the British market. We went further and said that
"… we shall stop further processes of integration, particularly as they affect food taxes."
What happened is that we continued with the process of integration. We did not stop it. We did not have a conference and decide what should be done: we continued discussing the so-called "no empty chair" policy and accepting decisions by the Market involving and enmeshing us more.

It was not easy for me in that situation. I wrote a letter to my right hon. Friend on 23rd April last year—he still has not replied—in which I said that I did not believe that that was acceptable to me or to my party. I then had to resign in October to fight a particular fight over sugar, when we did manage to get access —[Interruption.] If the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of Agriculture both disagree with me and if instead of making comments to each other they would tell me where I am going wrong, I would listen—

:I believe that on 18th June we jettisoned what we had pledged to the British people on food and agriculture and came up with a fresh set of proposals. It is these—I know where they came from—which we were later asked to accept as our negotiating position. They were the proposals of 18th June, albeit none of them was precise. Indeed, the precision disappeared. This is disappointing, because the Foreign Secretary had said that

"…we shall have to reserve the right to propose changes in the treaties, if it should turn out that essential interests cannot be met without them."
So it is wrong for the White Paper, which we are discussing, to say, as the Prime Minister said in his statement, that the Minister of Agriculture "gave precision" to those objectives. On the contrary, he came up with a set of extremely vague objectives, some of which are now repeated in the extremely vague paper on the stocktaking of the common agricultural policy.

The other myth that I want to deal with is the myth that the EEC has protected us against high world prices. This was first said by the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection, but over the last three or four weeks the strength with which it has been said has been dwindling. Now, the White Paper has emerged, saying that it is "even Steven", that we have been no worse off with food prices inside the Market than we would be outside.

That is quite untrue. It ignores several things completely. One is the effect of our entry on world prices. The prime example is sugar. The West Indians were screwing us because they could see that by the end of the year we were likely to move into a beet regime in Europe and they had to get what they could out of the situation. Our entry of Europe affected that. Secondly—[Interruption.] I am seeing a lot of smiles on the Front Bench, but none of its occupants has yet challenged any of the points that I am making. It is not just that there was a technical effect from our entry: our entry itself added to prices.

For example, let us consider what happened to Denmark and Ireland, two countries which entered with us, which were basically food exporters and not, like us, a massive food importer. But exactly the same thing happened to their prices as to ours. What they were doing —the Tory Government started it before we went in—was hike up our consumer prices to fit in with the Common Market. This is what the Danes did with pigmeat, pork and bacon. They were bringing prices into line with German prices because that is what they could do within the Market.

In any case this argument is wrong for another reason—that the situation has changed. Despite the most abnormal year or two years, starting with the Soviet spring and summer failure in the harvest, followed by the soya bean problem and the protein problem with the anchovies in South America and the famous "Russian-capitalist coup" on the Chicago grain market, one of the most abnormal years in agricultural and pricing history—certainly this century and some economists believe including even the last century—the best they can say for it is that it produced an even situation. But even that has gone. All of the main commodities—beef, lamb, and grains such as wheat and maize—are now dearer inside the Market than outside it. The short-lived gloat has gone. If we are to get only an even position once every 75 years in any century, I will take my chance on that.

What has happened to prices? We can see what has happened. I have here The Times "Shopping Basket", which most people quote. It deals with about eight of the main commodities in 14 European capitals. In running down the list of these commodities I find that prices in Britain at present are cheaper than in over half the capitals. That is to say, on the first item, beef, there are nine peoples worse off. On pork chops, 11 are worse off, on butter 13 are worse off, and so on. We are one of the cheapest countries in all commodities in the whole of Europe.

However, even more significant is the fact that if one takes all these basic commodities and averages them out over the six capitals of the original six EEC countries, one finds that our prices are 40 per cent. cheaper than theirs are. What does this mean? It means, first, that our prices have risen nearly 50 per cent. over three years. They have been saved by the consumer subsidies, thank goodness, but they have still risen by nearly 50 per cent. in three years. Despite that, however, we still have not reached the Olympian heights of European pricing. That is why we are not hearing so much about the cushioning of prices. We are only half way up the escalator. We have still got two years to go in the transitional period, being protected by accession compensatory amounts and monetary compensatory amounts. But we are on that treadmill and moving up very fast. Let us hear no more rubbish about the EEC not pushing up food prices. It has done so dramatically, and will continue to do for the next year or two.

The agricultural policy itself has now moved into its surrealist phase, with mountains of butter, mountains of beef and lakes of wine. Only one man—other, I suppose, than M. Lardinois!—could have painted that landscape, and that is Dali—yes, Salvador himself. It is really surrealist. It is ironic that my right hon. Friend, who has fought such a noble fight in the past against the worst lunacies of this policy, should be defending it here today.

Why are the National Farmers' Unions supporting it? I do not know. I did not think that they had time to support it, being too busy blockading ports to prevent Common Market stuff from coming in. In between blockading ports they have made the decision to support the CAP.

What is proposed for us agriculturally? The CAP will provide a gross imbalance between livestock and cereals. The cereal boys are doing well, but it is that kind of policy which when—[Interruption.] If my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, with his farm and his knowledge of Herefords, which I have often discussed with him, wants to interrupt me, I am willing to give way. That which helps the cereal farmer hurts the livestock farmer. This is no policy for Britain. Should we alter it? We could have done so if we had fought for that alteration and were willing to risk challenge in saying that we had to do what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said initially, before my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture or he, or both of them, changed their minds—that if necessary we should challenge the structures.

I do not accept the great word "flexible". The word is "flexible", yet we are told as soon as that word is used—and the hon. Member for Saffron Walden, in telling us about how flexible the policy was, warned us that if we did not accept the CAP we would not get the industrial policy: some flexibility!

:I was picking up the point that you made and which you took up during your speech.

:I knew that there was a good voice missing from the Front Bench, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

It is some flexibility when that threat occurs. It is some flexibility when the Italians are faced with a situation in which they cannot participate in the meat trade because they have insufficient frozen meats to do so under the Lardinois deal. They call this a "double body blow". They say:
"The mechanism put into action by Lardinois cannot be blocked by the veto of our Minister of Agriculture. The measure does not actually fall within the province of the Council of Agriculture Ministers of the Community but of the Agriculture Commission which takes simple majority decisions."
They feel not only the great loss of industrial output but that their livestock industry is in danger as a result. So let us have no more nonsense about flexibility.

Finally, I must say that it has given me no great pleasure—[Interruption.] No, I cannot go on. I have made pledges and I stick to my pledges. I think that manifestos are important. I delivered a pledge to Mr. Deputy Speaker and I hope to keep it. I hope that that is a lesson to the Government Front Bench.

Of course, over the next two months these things will be discussed. I have been disappointed that the Prime Minister, who performed a major stroke in opening up this democratic discussion to all of us and the members of our party, did not see fit to widen it just that little more to allow Ministers also to participate in the debate. I think that this would have helped. We would have had plenty of jeering from hon. Members of the Opposition but, with respect, some of us here would have been rather happy with some of the jeering from them instead of some of the cheering.

All parties are split on this subject— the Tory Party, the Liberal Party, the Labour Party— the Scottish National Party—[Interruption.]. Yes the SNP too, and when the hon. Member for Clack- mannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) comes into my constituency and says that we should be in Europe, I see that the SNP is split. All parties are split, and new and strange bedfellows will be encountered. I hope that during the next two months we shall not get the kind of speech I heard from the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire (Mr. Fairgrieve) yesterday. None of us can choose his bedfellow. I am sure that the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of Agriculture did not particularly choose theirs. Nor can we choose our allies —to alter the course of engagement in the Government Front Bench. But I hope that they will at least not try to convince the British people that we have fulfilled the major objectives. My regret is that I believe that in this field the major objectives were not even attempted

5.27 p.m.

I do not think that the House will be surprised if I seek to intervene in this debate, although I hope that, on account of the number of occasions on which I have previously been able to speak on the question of European policy in the House, my contribution may be comparatively short. For the theme of Europe, peaceful, strong and free, with Britain giving it leadership and using its influence, has been a major theme of my parliamentary and political life.

When I came into the House and made my maiden speech on 26th June 1950, it was a speech on Europe, on the Schuman Plan proposals, when I urged the then Labour Government to accept the invitation extended to them and to take part in the talks, even if not to commit themselves to accepting the results of the discussions which were then about to take place. To my infinite regret, and I think that of perhaps many other hon. Members, that invitation was not accepted by the then Labour Government. It was rejected, I think, looking back, for two reasons. It was rejected, first, because there were many on the Government side of the House who did not like the idea of going into what they thought was a CDU, or a Christian Democratic Europe. It was not apparently going to be an SPD Europe. Now that is to change, Secondly, they believed that it would provide a strong limitation on the policy of nationalisation to which they were committed and which they were still carrying through, and indeed, of course, it has been proved that that was not the case. I greatly regretted the fact that they did not accept that invitation.

Today we are again discussing the subject of our membership of the European Communities and European policies, within two months to the day 25 years afterwards. Should we not ask ourselves whether it is not at least some reflection on British institutions—on parliamentary institutions, on British policy-making, on the general will and determination of this country—that in the 25 years in which others have been developing their resources and making rapid progress and, indeed, extending their political influence, we, 25 years later, are still arguing this out. It is still not the last stage, because we know that the Government are committed to a referendum.

I talked, argued cajoled, campaigned and negotiated on this subject, and it led finally to the House giving me, as Prime Minister, the authority to sign the Treaty of Accession to the European Community. That Treaty is not affected in any way by what the present Government have done, are doing or are proposing to do. As far as I am concerned —unsatisfactory though it may be, I realise, to some Government supporters —that is the hallmark of what is required. The Government are now adhering to the Treaty of Accession for Britain to go into the Community. Therefore I express my satisfaction with that, but the fact that I as Prime Minister was authorised to sign that Treaty of Accession was in my view a proper use of parliamentary authority, a proper use of the parliamentary sovereignty of which the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) has been speaking.

But this has never been accepted by those who oppose our membership of the EEC. It has never been accepted by a small number in my own party, and by a considerable number of Labour Members. The fact that they do not accept this has driven them into every conceivable political contortion, and verbal distortion as well, in order to deny the parliamentary process which was carried through, leading them finally to accept the referendum which we now face.

I do not want in the Prime Minister's absence to say very much about him personally. I do not regard his late conversion to a referendum as being particularly honourable, any more honourable than his twists and changes in European policy from the time he was in opposition, then in Government, back into opposition and now again into Government.

We were told that the renegotiation referendum was necessary to hold the party together, and therefore was justifiable, but that has proved to be exactly the reverse of the case, and we see not only the Labour Party but the Cabinet divided, and the fact that the Prime Minister has lifted collective responsibility from members of the Cabinet has led to the position which we now see. In passing, perhaps one might comment that it seems strange that Ministers should be allowed to say what they like outside the House but have apparently been instructed to deliver words in which they do not believe when they stand at the Dispatch Box. These are troubles which surround the Prime Minister and they are his troubles. They are none of our concern though he may, in looking at them, reflect on the old Chinese saying, "Never lift a stone to drop on your own toe".

Where I differ from the Prime Minister is on his approach in his speech, which was to put the entire emphasis on the question whether what has now been agreed and commended by the Government compares satisfactorily with his party's manifesto, and to put this forward as a criterion on which the country will judge when the referendum comes.

I do not believe that to be justifiable, nor could I be happy with the country taking that approach. Indeed, I should be gravely worried if it did because, while I welcome the changes which have been made, I believe that they have come about in the normal development of the Community and I do not believe that the country will vote on a minute comparison of the extent to which these new arrangements which have been developed in the course of ordinary business meet what was set out in the detailed party manifesto.

I appreciate the Prime Minister's point of view from his own party's discussions —that I fully recognise—but from the point of view of the country that is not the great issue, and I believe that what the country has to face is a very great issue indeed.

For that we have to go back to the primary purpose of the European Community when it was founded. It was founded for a political purpose, not a party purpose, not even a federal purpose, as some would argue. I recall Herr von Brentano, when he was German Foreign Minister, saying, "There are some who say we are bound on a federation. At the beginning at any rate" he said "I believed we could work out a blueprint for a future political Europe"—this was back in 1960 —" but already I recognise, as we all recognise, that you cannot impose a blueprint on ancient nation States which come together in the form in which we have done." It was not a federal but a political purpose, the political purpose was to absorb the new Germany into the structure of the European family, and economic means were adopted for that very political purpose.

I went so far as to point that out in my maiden speech in 1950, and I said then that the German dynamic had already returned. Its economic potential was tremendous, its drive was immense, and somehow Germany had to be contained inside a framework, otherwise all that we had seen in 1914 and 1939, which affected my generation, would happen again.

I debated with myself before I made that speech whether it would give offence to those in Germany whom I knew, and I decided that it would not. Indeed, it was welcomed, but what is important is that that situation still holds good today. The power of Germany is now immense. Its economic and financial power is immense, and so is its military strength, and yet the great majority of German people want desperately to have a framework in which they themselves can work and—I put this without causing offence —be contained. This is the general view of the German people, and the greater their strength becomes the more they want to be in a Community in which to work. But they want it to be a balanced Community.

They have long argued that Britain should be part of that balance. That is why they have been prepared to make their sacrifices to get Britain into the Community. They did so in the original negotiations in 1961 and 1963, and again in 1970–71, and they have done it yet again in the arrangements which they have made in adjustments within the Community.

It was a political purpose, first, to bring about a rapprochement between France and Germany which was finally sanctified in 1963 in Paris by Dr. Adenauer and President de Gaulle. Secondly, it was to see that Germany would have a framework in which her strength could be used for the good of Europe; and thirdly, so that Europe itself could create its own strength. This was for two reasons: first, because it wished to work with its allies, who were much stronger and powerful, in the form of the United States, and, secondly, because it knew that allies also have limitations to what they can do and that Europe would have to do much more for itself. We therefore are today part of this vital political purpose in Western Europe as a member of the Community.

When one looks around Europe today and sees Portugal with its political system changed from one extreme position to another extreme position, one asks oneself what the impact of this will be on Spain, where many of us have been hoping, and many in Europe have been expecting, that when the present regime came to an end, when General Franco ceased to hold power after 40 years, there would be a change, as a result of which the substantial middle class which has developed would have far greater influence on the policies of Spain, on its institutions and on its attitudes, and after a period we should see Spain wanting to get back to the mainstream of European life again and moving towards a position in which she would become acceptable. What will be the impact on Spain of the change in Portugal? Will it undermine the Spanish position, as some fear, or will it drive the Spanish position further to the right, as others fear? Whichever it foes, the danger is there for us in Europe.

To move further along the Mediterranean to Cyprus, we see there the potential dangers not only for Cyprus but for Greece and Turkey. We know full well the dangers in the Middle East. Negotiations have broken down, and either side at any time is in a position to make a strike.

There is another aspect of the Mediterranean situation which has not been discussed in the debate so far. Marshal Tito, the creator of modern Yugoslavia, will one day, to intense personal regret in this country and elsewhere, cease to be the dominant influence in Yugoslavia. Does anyone doubt that that will be the moment when Soviet policy and Soviet power will exert itself in order to regain a position which it lost more than 20 years ago?

With those dangers facing Europe and facing us as a country, is this the moment for Britain to withdraw from the European Community, which is a centre of stability, of activity and of prosperity in Europe?

Looking further afield, what about our relationship with the United States? Over the past 20 years, administrations in the United States have supported British entry into the European Community, and increasingly the United States has been interested in seeing Britain as a member of the Community. But what is in some ways an even more important factor has now developed. We have seen the anguish of the American people in going into Vietnam and becoming involved there to such an extent, and we now see their anguish in seeing the consequences of American withdrawal.

We must not overlook the impact of that on American politics. The American administration is pledged to European support. But the question is, how does an American President muster support for a European policy today? This is now, and will more and more become, a serious question in the United States.

I look back to the period just before 1939, to the time when Americans in America were saying, "Europe has been unable to sort out its own problems. Why should we become involved in Europe's affairs, part of which we do not understand and over part of which we seem to have comparatively little influence?" Had it not been for Roosevelt, with strength, purpose and vision—and, one may add, with cunning—being prepared to take the United States eventually into the conflict, being given, indeed, the opportunity by Japan's attack, where should we in this country have been, and where would Western Europe have been?

Of course, they were proud days when we stood alone—and that thought may be echoed by those who want to stand alone now—but how long can we as a country stand alone, or how long then could we have stood alone?

There is, therefore, this problem in relationships between the United States and Western Europe, that if we pull out of the Community there will be many in the United States who will once again say, "The Europeans cannot sort out their own problems, and they are even quarrelling among themselves".

:I do not believe that NATO can carry out its proper purpose effectively if Europe shows signs of disintegrating and fragmenting within the Community and the United States is unable to maintain its support to the extent which a President desires.

That is the supreme issue facing the House and the country in the debate over our membership of the European Community. Nobody disputes the importance of the agricultural arrangements, the tariff arrangements and the other arrangements. I had to negotiate them for three years, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) did in 1970–71, and all too often I was then accused of dealing in technicalities and arrangements about kangeroo soup.

The truth is quite otherwise. From the time of my speech to the House on 17th May 1961, I said that the first purpose of the negotiations was political, for the reasons which I have explained. Today, the issue is still a great political issue. That is the reason for my regret that the Prime Minister placed the whole of his emphasis on a difference in arrangements and completely avoided any mention of what I believe to be the supreme issue here.

Of course, benefits have been gained in the arrangements, and some of them I welcome. But I remind the House that arrangements had been made for the new budgetary provision to be considered. When I had the discussions with President Pompidou which led to the settlement of the negotiations, he recognised that full well. Although he believed in the monetary arrangements of the snake, he recognised what we were doing when we had to float. In January 1974, I personally discussed with Helmut Schmidt, the present German Chancellor, the rearrangement of the budgetary provisions of the Treaty of Accession because I believed at that time that what was allowed for in the Treaty of Accession would have to take place—not immediately, but certainly that preparation should be made for it.

In any case, what has been arranged now does not come into effect until 1977 or 1978. At this moment, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer is trying to make up his mind what to do next Tuesday— and foreseeing the future and seeing precisely what the position will be in 1978 or 1980 is plainly impossible. However, the new arrangement which will cover the budgetary contribution is to be welcomed.

I welcome in particular the Lomé agreement. Everyone knew that it was bound to come. Those of us who had worked for this to replace the previous association agreement had done it for one reason. The division of Africa was carried out in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by the European Powers. We set up the barriers in Africa. We did a great deal to improve conditions there, and it is for the historians to say whether the French cultural approach, the Belgian social approach or the British parliamentary approach was the most successful. That is a matter for history.

What we wanted to do was to break down the barriers which existed between those countries with a British connection, a French connection or a Belgian connection—or even, some time previously, a German connection. Language was a barrier. Instruments of Government were a barrier. Trade was a barrier.

Now, under the new arrangement, those barriers are being removed, and we can see that the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific have opportunities now which they have never had previously. That is why I welcome what the right hon. Lady the Minister of Overseas Development has been able to achieve in her part in influencing the Lomé negotiations. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about India and Pakistan?"] We negotiated for India, Pakistan and Ceylon in 1961 and 1963, and when we were vetoed, India herself went off, and so did Pakistan, to make their own agreements with the Community. What is more, there was agreement in the Community for a zero tariff on tea, which particularly affected Ceylon, as it was then—Sri Lanka as it is today. But all that happened 10 years or more ago, and the situation was very different in 1971 and for the present Government's negotiations.

I come now to the question of sovereignty. Of course, this is a matter which must be treated with the deepest respect, but, whether one is discussing national sovereignty or parliamentary sovereignty, what matters is the purpose of sovereignty. To me, sovereignty is not something to be hoarded, sterile and barren, carefully protected by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) in a greatcoat with its collar turned up. Nor is sovereignty something which has to be kept in the crypt to be inspected by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury on the eve of the opening of Parliament.

Sovereignty is something for us as custodians to use in the interests of our own country. The question we have to decide, therefore, in carrying through this great political purpose, as I believe it to be, for the peace and freedom of Europe and of our own country, is how we are entitled to use that measure of sovereignty which is required. That, I believe, puts it perfectly fairly. It is a judgment which we have to make, and I answer without hesitation that the sacrific of sovereignty, if it be put in that extreme form, or the sharing of sovereignty, the transfer of sovereignty or the offering of sovereignty is fully justified. Indeed were we not to do so in the modern world, I believe that as a Parliament, as a party and as a Government we should be culpable in the eyes of history. I believe, therefore, that sovereignty is for this House to use in the way it thinks best.

In this debate, those who argue that we should come out of the Community have to show—the onus is upon them—what the alternative is. There are only two alternatives. Indeed, I do not believe that one of them is a true alternative, but two alternatives have been put forward, and the first was put by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), with his usual clarity and eloquence. The right hon. Gentleman, with all his experience in Government and at the Board of Trade, has never recognised that the Community—all of whose members have made certain sacrifices in order to gain benefits—is not prepared, and never has been prepared, to have a free trade area alongside it containing us as a major industrial power, seeking all the advantages of industrial trade but not being prepared to give the Community any of the advantages of agricultural trade. He was never prepared to accept that in the original negotiations, but it was constantly proved that no such arrangement was possible.

I come to the present situation. Why do the other former EFTA countries have an arrangement with the Community? It was not negotiated on their own. They have an arrangement only because we went into the Community and because we did a great deal to negotiate it for them. Why do they want us to stay in the Community? Because they know that we understand their interests and that we are prepared to help look after their interests.

If we come out of the Community, all that disappears. Indeed, we shall not have a free trade arrangement remaining, because the tariffs will automatically go up around the Community. As was pointed out from the Government Front Bench, for particular items of trade the tariffs could be very great.

What is more, even were we to have membership of a free trade area we would have no say in what was done by the Community. That would be a real and pointless sacrifice of sovereignty. Such a course would have no political purpose of any kind in Europe or for us. Therefore, I do not believe that is an alternative, because I do not believe that it would be granted. Even if it were to be granted, it would be thoroughly unsatisfactory for any British Government.

The other alternative is to go into a siege economy. There are some who would like to do that. There arc some who believe that the internal arrangements for industry in this country are more important than our general trading position, our political influence in the world or our capacity to play any major part in securing peace and prosperity in Europe as a whole. Very well. I accept that they are perfectly entitled to say that. However, let them stand up honestly and say it and not argue about the sort of points which we so often hear put. whether on arrangements for agriculture, tariffs, sovereignty, or anything else. Let them say quite clearly that what they want is for Britain to go it alone and to take all the consequences of going it alone.

Going it alone undoubtedly means the loss of our political influence. It means the loss of our trade, the loss of jobs and certainly a massive loss of investment. There can be no doubt about the loss of foreign investment in this country were we to leave the Community.

I come to the conclusion which I have argued so often before, and which I hope will not be described by the Prime Minister as doctrinal—that the supreme issue is political. The only way for us to exercise our influence, for us to influence Europe and for Europe in turn to be able to influence the world—because I believe that Europe should have a much more balanced position with the United Steles in the Western world—and the only way to maintain the proper and effective unity and defence of the West, is by our remaining a member of the European Community.

In doing this we are not looking only at ourselves in our generation. Of course, if we go out the disadvantages are immediately apparent to the whole country and to our generation. As we are a member we may find difficulties with which we have to deal in the Community. It has already been shown that there are many ways in which this can be done.

I say this with regret to the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, recognising their political difficulties and their party difficulties. The fact that they have had to carry out the renegotiation in the way that they have done has used up a large amount of the good will with which we went into the Community. The Community was genuinely looking for us to give leadership in its position in the world, and we have so far not given it. There is disappointment and a loss of good will because of the renegotiations and the way in which they have been carried on.

I come to the future, with which the Foreign Secretary may be able to deal when he winds up the debate. I believe that the most important sentence is at the end of the White Paper, where the Government say that if the referendum keeps Britain in the Community they are prepared to play a full part in it. All too often I have felt from the Prime Minister's speeches that he was saying "Yes, we must belong to this Community, but we must not act as though it is a Community. We must not help it to be one." I hope that I am not misrepresenting him. That last sentence of the White Paper means that, with a referendum which confirms our membership of the Community, whichever Government are in power will play a full part in the development of the Community as a community. I believe that we shall find it infinitely more satisfying than trying to deal with irritating matters here and saying all the time that we must draw back.

I believe that the development of the Community must take place first and foremost in the Foreign Secretary's field, because so many other aspects of the Community's activities flow from foreign policy. The problems about the energy crisis, Herr Brandt's position and the Dutch position at the Copenhagen Summit —the problem there was that the Community had never settled foreign policy in relation to the Middle East. The result was that it could not possibly settle an energy policy. If we face a further crisis in the Middle East in a few months' time, does the Community know what its attitude will be? Does it know how to deal with a further energy crisis? That is the real test of Community activities. It is of vital importance.

Secondly, we have one great advantage in foreign policy in the Community. We can agree on policy, and after we have thrashed through the problems we have nine different people to operate that policy right across the world. That is an advantage which no other country or organisation has, and we should make the utmost use of it.

The institutions of the Community need to be improved. I welcome the quarterly meetings. We started half-yearly meetings. As Prime Minister, I felt on many occasions that so much more could be done not only on the telephone but by actual meetings of Heads of Government as well as Foreign Ministers and the Council of Ministers. This will have to come about. The whole organisation in Brussels must be improved. The Community would welcome it. It expected us to give a lead, but we have not done so.

The parliamentary institutions of the Community can certainly be greatly improved. I do not believe that it is possible for much longer for right hon. and hon. Members to carry out the two tasks of proper representation here and proper representation in Strasbourg and Luxembourg. These are practical ways in which we can help the Community and in which we can develop its other policies.

Therefore, the decision which the country will have to make must be presented to it as one of major political importance for the future peace, prosperity and freedom of this country and Western Europe. That is the issue. We are acting as trustees. This is not a temporary policy affected by fluctuations one way or the other. I have always emphasised that this is a long-term policy in the history of Britain and Europe. It will affect future generations much more than it affects us. We are not only responsible for the present but are the trustees of all those in Britain in the future.

5.59 p.m.

The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) naturally compels attention when he speaks on this subject. [Interruption.]

:Order. Will hon. Members who wish to leave the Chamber please do so quietly.

:The right hon. Gentleman put forward one proposition that I do not think could be disputed. This was that the question which we must decide, and which the nation will have to decide at the referendum, is not the difference between the old terms and the new terms or, despite the ingenious speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), a comparison of the new terms and the Labour Party manifesto. What we are concerned with is a broad general assessment of the results for this country and Europe of our staying in or our going out, a broad assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the general position as it is now and, still more, as it will develop as the years go by.

It should be understood that we are making, at any rate one way, an irrevocable decision. If this country decides to come out now, if we slam the door in our own faces, the door will not open again. That is why I say that we must consider the situation not only as it is but as it will be.

As to the possible advantages of membership, my right hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) suggested yesterday that those of us who had advocated membership of the Community should perform the penance of reading the speeches we made at the time. I have performed part of that penance by reading part of the speech I made on 10th May 1967. It was not a bit as my right hon. Friend said it would be. It was much more careful and qualified.

My right hon. Friend was one of a number of right hon. Members who, supporting the policy of going into Europe, said that trade would grow, that entry would be a revitalisation, a blood transfusion, and that our future economic prospects would be better. If he now says that he did not say that, no one will listen to him.

If my right hon. Friend wants to know what I said then, perhaps he will perform the same penance and read the speech instead of guessing about it. [An HON. MEMBER:" Tell us."] That is what I am about to do, if I am allowed to.

I pointed out in that speech that there were a number of potential advantages of access to a larger market—the probability of attraction of investment, the opportunity to give greater help to the poorest parts of the world, and a growth in political influence. But I was careful to add —and this is the heart of the matter:
"The door to these advantages is opened if we go into the Community. They are not achieved without very considerable effort"—[Official Report, 10th May 1967;Vol. 746, c. 1641.]
That was the point made by every responsible speaker urging our entry. It was not that certain advantages would drop into our lap by the mere fact of entry, but that an opportunity would be opened to us which would not be opened other- wise. We had to make use of that opportunity by our own efforts.

If my right hon. Friend wants a really glowing and less cautious account of the advantages of membership of the Community, I direct him to the speech made in the same debate by our hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) on 8th May.

Any advantages will be secured by our own efforts. The real question is, within what framework must those efforts be made? Can it be maintained that they are more likely to be successful if by our own deliberate decision we make them in a framework which partly excludes us from a large market, which makes it less probable that this country will attract investment, which reduces our opportunity to help the poorer parts of the world, which limits our political influence, and which takes a step which will be unwelcome to our partners in the Commonwealth and to nearly every other country with which we have had cordial relations?

My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy), in an earlier intervention, argued that the Commonwealth countries had developed their trade as a result of our planned entry and subsequent entry in a way that now makes them accept our continued membership.

What I was trying to convey was that, after the good relations and the good trade that the Commonwealth countries had had with this country, the fact that they were savagely let down when we first went in compelled them to break the old links. I am glad that they have managed to obtain alternative markets. I should have preferred them to remain in the British market and to maintain their links.

I think that that was the sentiment that I was attributing to my hon. Friend. I beg him to look, as we all must look, not at what might have happened but what is happening now and will happen in the future. The plain fact is that, whatever the Commonwealth countries might have felt in the past, they want us to stay in, and they will be very much put out if we leave. That adds to the difficulties of the framework within which we shall have to exert ourselves to solve our economic problems.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will forgive me for not giving way. The last two speeches lasted for half an hour each. I do not want to take as long as that, and my right hon. Friend has already intervened once.

Against the points that I have put, we are told that there will be a loss of sovereignty. I make no apology for returning to this theme, because everyone seems to regard it as of such importance, and there is such confusion of words about it. If it means absolute national sovereignty, the statement that we lose our soveregnty by entering the Community is a plain untruth. There is no doubt that we are in the Community. There is not doubt that we can come out if we want to. That is what the debate is about; that is what the referendum is about. If one is in and one can come out, one has not parted with sovereignty.

Communities which joined the Swiss confederation or the United States lost their sovereignty, because they entered something which they could not get out of. They deliberately took that decision. That is not the situation in the European Community. We could get out. I should regard it as a deplorable step, but that it can be taken is undoubted.

Is what is meant by sovereignty, then, a sort of administrative sovereignty of Parliament? The real complaint when the word "sovereignty" has been used is that a number of directives are made in the Community machine over which it is felt that Parliament does not have sufficient power of scrutiny and control. If that is called loss of sovereignty, it is not exactly an untruth, but it is based on a complete misunderstanding of how Parliament exercises its sovereignty. It does not, and cannot, exercise a detailed criticism over all the administrative acts of Ministers or even all the secondary legislation that pours out. It cannot do that here. It could not do it with secondary legislation from abroad. It exercises its sovereignty by a control of the broad general lines of policy and by the ultimate fact that Governments cannot be Governments, or Ministers be Ministers, against the wish of the majority of this House.

The Community makes its major decisions through the Council of Ministers. It cannot take decisions against the vital interests of any one of its members with- out the consent of that member expressed in the Council of Ministers. No Minister from this country could agree to anything of major importance that was against the clear will of this Parliament.

On this administrative concept of sovereignty, again, it cannot seriously be said that there is a loss of sovereignty. Of course, we shall not get all our own way. When many matters are being discussed, in order to obtain an advantage here we shall have to give up something there. But that is true of every conceivable treaty arrangement between States. It is true of every conceivable agreement reached being human beings. To say that this is loss of sovereignty is to produce an argument against making any kind of treaty arrangement altogether.

Let us look, therefore, at another meaning of the word sovereignty", what real sovereignty could mean. Real sovereignty is the state of being in a position where one can make effective decisions about one's affairs. That was why I said at the beginning that we must look at things not only as they are now but as they will be. On the question of real sovereignty, of the power to make effective decisions on our own affairs, how will the situation stand in years to come if we now take a decision to leave the EEC?

The EEC will not cease to exist because we leave it. I am sorry to stress so obvious a point, but a good deal of the argument seems to have been based on that extraordinary assumption. We have to face the future realising that the Community will still be there functioning as a Community, and if its past is any guide to its future it will become, as the years go by, richer, the gap between its standard of life and ours will grow and it will also become more cohesive.

The number of matters on which the Community frames common policy will increase and we shall see it dealing with commercial law, insurance, the law of the sea and professional qualifications, to say nothing of the major political matters to which the right hon. Member for Sid-cup referred. All these decisions will go on being taken. For us, a great trading nation, they will be of profound importance and we shall not have a word to say in the making of them. What kind of sovereignty is that?

Not only will the Community continue to exist. It will continue to be a magnet, economic and political, for the rest of the world. We have already seen how countries which were in EFTA and in the Commonwealth have approached the Community to make their own trading arrangements in their own interests with it. We shall also find that in the future whenever any great political matter affecting Europe is toward, the rest of the world, when it refers to Western Europe, will be thinking primarily of the EEC.

We may imagine that if we go out of the EEC a Foreign Minister of one of the other great groupings, perhaps in Eastern Europe, the United States or the Asian countries, will in a decade's time plan a trip to Western Europe. He will be greatly concerned to be in touch with the leaders of the Community. As he is planning his visit, the time will come when some medium-rank civil servant will say to him "Minister, if you are to visit Western Europe you might as well look in at the United Kingdom if you are there." That is what we shall be—an afterthought in the politics of the world—if we leave the EEC.

This means that those who require us to leave are now saying, to repeat an old catch-phrase, "Stop the world, I want to get off. Modern life is getting too complicated for us to manage, so let us pretend that the real world is not there." But if we get off, what do we get off to? We will have to make some sort of trading arrangement.

I have heard the argument that we are so important as a market that the Community countries cannot ignore us. Two important factors appear to me to have been overlooked when it is considered what position we shall command in trying to make a trading agreement. This country suffers one permanent difficulty in trying to make trading arrangements in any group. We must import the things we import. The food and raw materials we import are essential to our life. There is no nation which must buy the things that we produce. It may often be convenient for them to do so, and if we can do well in price and reliability they will do so, but there is no "must" about it so compelling as the "must" which applies to our need to import.

In the past, when we were well ahead of the industrialisation of our competitors and when cheap food was to be obtained throughout the world, these facts shielded us from this major difficulty. The shield has gone, the difficulty remains. It is one we can surmount only partly by our own industrial skill, partly by coming to terms with our neighbours and not, when they have been at great pains to come to terms with us, throwing the bargain back in their faces.

I do not want us to show the same degree of short-sightedness as General de Gaulle showed when he excluded us from the Community.

If I may take up one part of the argument of the right hon. Member for Sidcup when he spoke about Germany, I believe that one reason at least why General de Gaulle disliked British entry to the Community was that he nursed the illusion that if there were only six countries France could exercise a hegemony over Europe. That was a disastrously short-sighted assumption, because if the Community were to develop in that way by hegemony of one nation anyone could have seen which nation it would have been in time through sheer size of population and industrial resources. One reason why I rejoice to see Britain in the Community is that with the three most powerful nations of Western Europe in, no one of them could hope any longer to realise this stupid illusion of hegemony over Europe.

The idea that one nation could exercise hegemony over Europe has cursed this continent for centuries. We have the chance now of an arrangement in which no one can hope for hegemony, and even if common sense and humanity have not driven the nations of Europe to do it already they now have to work for partnership.

The second objection about a trading agreement in the event that Britain should leave the Community is that we shall have to negotiate with people who are under no obligation to wish us well and quite probably will have no special inclination to wish us well after the way in which we shall have treated them. I am amazed that some of my hon. Friends should not be more seized of this point. Who are the people in nearly all the countries of the Market who have been working with my right hon. Friends, myself and my colleagues in an earlier Labour Government to try to smooth our path to help us to come in on the best possible terms? They are our friends and comrades in the other Socialist Parties of Western Europe, and many of them are personal friends. It is from them that we shall be estranged.

Look at the countries of the Six today. In those six countries, whatever their ups and downs, there is no democratic political party, no democratic trade union that makes as part of its platform the policy of taking its country out of the EEC. That is a measure of the isolation we shall have put ourselves into. We shall have sacrificed friendship, economic power, political influence and the power to help the poorer sections of mankind in exchange for an illusion falsely called sovereignty but which is in fact only the power to choose in exactly what way we shall endure the poverty and the isolation that we shall have brought upon ourselves. We shall have imitated that wretched creature in Aesop's fable which threw away the substance for the shadow.

6.20 p.m.

I listened to the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) when he recalled his maiden speech in 1950 and how, in it, he had advocated acceptance, or steps towards the acceptance, of an invitation to join the Coal and Steel Community, which in a sense was the embryo of the EEC. As he recalled that, a recollection came to me too. It was that on that night, for the first time but by no means for the last time, I had thought it right to dissent from the general sense of my party because the Coal and Steel Community already foreshadowed the supranational character of the EEC and, albeit in embryo, required the same profound constitutional change on the part of this country.

It is always well, if at all possible, to start from a point of agreement. In the past five years there has been one assertion and belief—it is not merely a phrase —in which nearly all have concurred. It is crystallised in the well-worn and well-known phrase "full-hearted consent"; but there is no doubt about the point. It is the assertion that British membership of the European Economic Community is of such a character that it could only be justified, sustained or accepted if it enjoyed the full-hearted consent of Parliament and people. Indeed, the series of debates upon which we are embarked, in the words of the Leader of the House on 11th March, have the object of securing that
"the British people will have their chance to say whether or not they give their full-hearted consent to our membership of the EEC."—[Official Report, 11th March 1975;Vol. 888, c. 304.]
Why should this act of policy be so uniquely distinguished that we all say of it something which we would not say of any other act of policy, of government or of legislation—that it manifestly requires the full-hearted consent of Parliament and people?

It is not because of the importance to this country of the alignment of its policies as far as possible with those of our neighbours in Western Europe. That is an important object for this country; for great disasters have flowed in the past from avoidable misunderstandings and failure of alignment between the United Kingdom and our neighbours in the west of the continent of Europe. But of no such step would we think of making such a requirement.

It is not because the defence of the United Kingdom is bound up almost wholly—fortunately not quite wholly—with that of the adjacent continent of Western Europe. That is a proposition which I have put forward at times when it was rather unpopular to do so. The complaint which was sometimes made of me when I had the honour to speak for the Conservative Party on the subject of defence was that I placed too much emphasis upon NATO and our commitment to the defence of Western Europe. Yet NATO and all that we do under NATO has never been held to be subject to this unique requirement.

Still less can the reason be the large consequences, economically and commercially, which must flow one way or the other from British membership of the Community. Obviously, whatever else can be said of it, it must produce a fundamental difference in what would otherwise be the pattern of the trade and, therefore, of the economy of this country. But when this Government, or any Government, propose policies and put legislation before this House which will make a profound impact upon our future economy—for example, measures for nationalisation and for State control—it does not occur to the most rabid controversialist to say that they should not be doing this without the full-hearted consent of Parliament and people.

:I have never taken the right hon. Gentleman up on this point before, but lest he should say that it has gone by default I want to make it absolutely plain that I have never suggested that whole-hearted consent or full-hearted consent in this country would be done other than through Parliament.

I was not concerned with the question whether the consent of Parliament and people was to be one and indivisible. I was concerned with the unique nature of the necessity for full-hearted consent which has been attached to this step. However, since the right hon. Gentleman raises the point, I will place on record that the full-hearted consent of Parliament has never been given to this measure. [Interruption.]

I am aware that there was a majority of seven to five in favour of the White Paper of October 1971;but I am of the opinion of the Leader of the Conservative Party when she sharply, on 11th March, took up the hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) who was claiming that a decision on a White Paper was a decision of the House. I should like to remind the House of what the right hon. Lady said. She said:
"Parliamentary sovereignty is not changed by declaration of the House, but only after the passage of a Bill through the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and after the giving of the Royal Assent".
In case the "is" were not dotted or the "t's" not crossed, she concluded:
"exactly the same passage as the European Communities Bill followed".—[Official Report, 11th March 1975;Vol. 888, c. 313.]
The Second Reading, the principle of the Bill, was carried by a majority of eight. The Bill itself was passed at all only by reason of a guillotine motion, carried by a majority of 11. So not even Parliament in its legislative capacity, doing its work in its proper way, has yet given its full-hearted consent.

Every hon. Member in this House knew that the vote which was taken on 28th October 1971 was the vote in principle for Britain to go into the European Community and it was carried by a majority of 112, which this House knows to be a substantial majority. Nor does this House have any other means of deciding the majority. As the late Sir Winston Churchill said to me on one occasion, "In our system one is enough." That is perfectly true. Nor can the right hon. Gentleman object to the procedure of a closure motion being used when it is part of our normal procedure.

I can quite understand the right hon. Gentleman's sensitivity on this point. It is significant that in the context of a full-hearted consent, which he claimed to be necessary, he refers to the dictum that a majority of one is sufficient.

I had no intention of tangling with the right hon. Gentleman about the circumstances in which that Bill was passed, but he brings me straight to the answer to my own rhetorical question: why this unique condition attached to this measure only? There is no doubt about the answer. It is because membership of the European Community requires from this House and this country a renunciation of Parliament's sole right to authorise the laws and taxes of this country and requires from this country a renunciation of the right to be judged in the courts of this land—a change which by general confession was completely unprecedented. That is why this is and remains a unique act, and it was when in due course Parliament was presented with these consequences of its decision in principle that a different voting picture appeared in 1972.

The Government in 1972 did not frame the European Communities Bill lightheartedly. The comprehensive renunciation of the exclusive right to legislate and tax, the explicit and unrestricted acceptance of the overriding power of legislation and taxation of the Community, were not written into Section 2 of the Act as a kind of ex abundanti. The Government would not have put such a document before the House if it had not been indispensable as a condition of being part of the Community that that renunciation should be made.

We have now had the opportunity of testing the validity of that proposition. The Labour Party promised in two successive manifestos that it would attempt a fundamental renegotiation—

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how and why he voted in 1967?

In 1967 I voted in favour of the Government of the day ascertaining upon what conditions membership of the Community was available. Since my right hon. Friend—I am sorry, the right hon. Gentleman—the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) —

I did not vote for entry in 1967. I have never voted for entry. The proposition of entry was never, until 1971, placed before this House, and the legislative consequences were never until 1972 placed before the judgment of hon. Members so that they were required to vote "Yea" or "Nay".

I will resume what I was saying when the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney) interrupted for a second time. I recall very well—I am sure the right hon. Member for Sidcup will not begrudge my recalling it—that in 1967 I said to him, in council, that it would be absurd and impossible for the Conservative Party, which had taken part in the negotiation of 1962, to seek to deny to the Government of the opposite party permission to embark upon the same course of action. I have no regrets and no apologies for the vote which I cast in 1967. I regard it as entirely rational. But it has nothing to do with what is before the House now and will not help me or anyone else in considering the matter today.

I hope, Mr. Speaker, that I shall enjoy your protection if I appear to be churlish in not giving way, although I desire as much as possible to be at the service of the House.

Last year the Labour Party promised the electorate on two occasions to attempt a fundamental renegotiation of the terms of our membership of the EEC. No one who perused with care what the items of that renegotiation were could deny that most of them were indeed fundamental. I shall not waste time with most of them but will take only a couple. No one who read that what we wished was to secure the
"access to the British food market"
"low cost producers outside Europe
could doubt that, if that was achieved, it would be inconsistent with the very principle of the common agricultural policy. Nor could anyone doubt, again, that if we succeeded in retaining for Parliament the
"powers over the British economy needed to pursue effective regional, industrial and fiscal policies"
it would be a very different Community indeed from that which we had entered in 1972.

This renegotiation was indeed a test case. It was the means of ascertaining what it was that we had to agree to, what were the ultimate requirements of membership. That policy was a compromise; but compromise is not in itself an insincerity. I believe that it was put forward honourably and that it was carried out to the best of the ability of the Government in their own judgment. But what was the outcome? The outcome was not a single alteration whatsoever in the terms of British membership of the Community.

When we joined in 1972, the outcome of the negotiations of the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) was embodied in a long series of articles and protocols in the Treaty of Brussels. But of every one of the changes and alterations which the Government, rightly or not, claim that they have achieved, not one is to be embodied in the same permanent form as all the elements in the Treaty of Accession. In every case the Government have said either "Well, we think circumstances have changed" or "We do not think this as important as it appeared to be two years ago", or else they say that "this is part of a continuing negotiation". The Community has in effect reaffirmed that the treaties mean what they say, and that the renunciation which was made by the European Communties Act of 1972 was an indispensable condition of membership of the Community.

I believe that this is a great gain. What has happened is that the minimalist spectre which has haunted these debates so long has been laid once and for all. Happily we have now heard the end of the argument which ran "Oh, this is just a matter of details. Do not worry about the small print of the Treaty. All this really does not concern very important matters—only certain trading arrangements—and therefore it need not be taken seriously." After this debate—this was certainly the burden of the speech of the right hon. Member for Sidcup—we are face to face with a straight decision, knowing that it is a political decision, knowing that membership of the Community for this country is an indivisible whole, something which we take or something which we leave.

As the debate has proceeded, one of the things which has become clear is that it is not the economic argumentation, not the estimates of what will be the trends on one hypothesis or another, that have counted. Even those who have set out to argue upon economic grounds have finished by debating politics. Almost every speech in the debate has ended up with the political issue; for a political issue it is.

The question is this: is it right, is it worth while, is it necessary that this House, that Parliament, should renounce what has hitherto been a fundamental principle of our constitution, something by which our very nature has been fashioned—the right of this House exclusively to legislate and to tax and to call to account the Government for all acts or policies which lie within the sphere of Government? It is that question, no less.

That is not a question to which the answer can he derived by a logical argument from a priori assumptions. That is a question the answer to which can only come from the heart and a question to which
"the poorest he that is in England"
has as good a right, as great a justification, to give his answer as anyone else. In answering it, there are two considerations which the House should put from itself.

They have both played a part in this debate.

As I listened to the speeches I found that a paradox which had puzzled and worried me all through these years began to find its explanation. I had never understood why it should be the Conservative Party, the party devoted to the protection of British institutions, the party devoted to nationhood and to national independence, which in these last 20 years—and the Leader of the Opposition clearly demonstrated this—has been the pacesetter in this matter, has been foremost in advocating that we should indeed make the great renunciation. But as these three days of debate have gone by, there has been a note struck more and more insistently. That note has been the word "power". Sometimes it was disguised by the softer appellation "influence";but always the point was the same.

The debate has revealed how for many people membership of the European Community is seen as a compensation for the real or believed loss of Empire. For many people, particularly on the Opposition benches amongst those around me—there is nothing dishonourable in this—the European Economic Community is a surrogate for Empire. It supplies the same sensation as is believed to have been enjoyed in the past, of belonging to a great and powerful show. There is in this both a fallacy and a hallucination.

The fallacy is that the subject of the proposition is changed while the proposition itself is being made. We say that we shall regain our power and influence in the world by being part of the EEC; but the "we" that is part of EEC is not the nation whose power and influence in the world we imagine—in my view wrongly—has been lost in the last 30 or 40 years.

I am sorry. I am in great difficulty, as the hon. Gentleman knows. We are under great pressure to keep our speeches short, and I hope he will forgive me if I do not give way.

It is a different "we" who will enjoy the power which flows, if it does, from being part of the EEC. We shall participate in that not as a nation but as members of something different; for the nation, our independence, our "we-hood", must be traded in as the price of gaining membership of that yew power structure. It is, therefore, a fallacy to suppose that Britain—the Britain we imagine we are talking about—in any real sense regains or renews its power or influence by being in the EEC.

There is not only the fallacy; there is the hallucination. I am, of course, prepared to admit that the EEC, governed by a single government, ruled by a single will, with power to dispose of all the resources which it contains, would indeed be a powerful military empire and a powerful economic empire. As a purchaser it would to some extent be able to impose its will on suppliers in other parts of the world. On that hypothesis, too, it could be put in the same military rank as the United States or the Soviet Union. But it is a mere fantasy, totally removed from either the present or any conceivable reality, to see the EEC as a power structure of that kind, utilising and commanding the resources of all that vast area and subordinating them to the acts of a single policy.

I have listened with great interest to the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman is putting forward, but why did he not put forward those arguments in the pamphlet on Europe which he wrote so skilfully many years ago?

It so happens that I did not write that pamphlet, that my name at no place appears in it and that all I did was to read it and offer suggestions to those who wrote it and those who published it. I am obliged to die hon. Gentleman for allowing me to refute a statement which has too often been repeated.

To go back to the fallacy argument, is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that the French nation lost its nationhood when it joined the EEC? Has it no nationhood now?

The political nationhood of all the States members of the EEC, by the very definition of that structure if it is to be a structure which exercises power and influence, must to that extent be forfeited. That is what we were talking about in legislation when we go back to the Act of 1972. So I believe that we should endeavour to banish from our minds as we face this issue the largely illusory notion that Britain was once great because she had an Empire and is now small and weak because she has one no longer and must seek salvation in being submerged or merged in what is large and, by hypothesis, therefore powerful.

There is a more dangerous line of argument by which this issue has been confused, and it has been heard in this debate. There have been those who have said "Let us make this renunciation, for at least we shall render Europe, including the United Kingdom, safe for Socialism." There have been an equal number of voices which have said "Let us make this renunciation, for at least as the price of this renunciation Europe, including the United Kingdom, will be safe for capitalism". That is the crudest form of what is often urged by those who debate the matter—the belief, if not the fear, that others will take decisions for this country more wisely than we can take them for ourselves. Herein lies the greatest peril of that surrender which is implicit in our membership of the EEC—it is the confession to ourselves and the world that we do not trust ourselves to decide for ourselves upon what principles and by what laws we shall be governed.

In the debate we have heard, and we shall hear again, the voices of those who challenge one side or the other to be ashamed of those who stand with them in the debate. All who use that argument are, in effect, saying that they do not trust the British people and the British Parliament to represent this country or to be the means of governing it. That is a renunciation of self-respect and of pride which is particularly dangerous at this juncture in our affairs.

I am sorry I cannot give way.

The Prime Minister at the outset of the debate reminded the House that our greatest troubles are those we have brought upon ourselves, and that we have to find somehow the will and the wisdom ourselves to deal with the evils by which we are plagued largely as a result of our own fault. At this moment of all moments, it is the most fatal thing to say "We resign, we voluntarily resign, the decision of the key issues over our economy to someone else. We have placed them outside the reach of the electorate and of Parliament."

Many of us have changed our minds on this issue. Why does not the right hon. Member admit that he has changed his mind? In 1963 he was a member of a Government which sought entry into the Community. Surely he knows that the Treaty of Rome has not altered since then.

Even if it were true to the fullest extent that I had totally changed my mind on this subject, as totally as the late Conservative administration changed its mind on half a dozen subjects, it would not excuse any hon. Member from judging the merits of what I offer to the House and whether or not it is sound. That is no justification for thrusting away the issue which is before the country.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Walden), whose speech made such an impression upon the House yesterday afternoon, accused me of revelling in
—" reminiscences of vice-regal splendour".—[Official Report, 8th April 1975;Vol. 889, c. 1037].
I have already indicated that vice-regal splendour is what haunts the minds of those who are looking for a substitute for those imagined glories in an equally imaginary structure in Europe. But the hon. Member for Ladywood also accused me of being a nationalist. If by nationalist is meant that I believe that the habits, the genius, the character and the institutions of one country can be compared upon a sort of scale with those of other countries and that they can be assigned an order of merit on some such scale, in that sense I am not a nationalist and never have been. However, I am a nationalist in the sense that I believe that a nation has a certain genius or character of its own and that its institutions conform themselves to that character or genius. I believe that they cannot be denied or renounced without danger and destruction to that nation itself, and that they cannot, for the same reason, merely be transferred to others whose genius is different.

I believe that the Government of this country under a Parliament which has the sole right to legislate and to tax, with an unwritten constitution which leaves the whole defence of the subject as well as the welfare of the country in the hands of this House, corresponds uniquely to the genius of its people. I do not believe that that is something that they will give up. However long this debate continues, in the end they will insist upon recalling it.

The benefit of this hour is that the nation now has the opportunity to do sooner rather than later what it must, if it is true to itself, do sooner or later. That is the ultimate appeal which I would make to the people of this country —namely, that their full-hearted consent should be reserved for the maintenance of the free Parliament, the democratic Parliament, the sovereign institutions which have been their own special creation in the face of the whole world.

6.55 p.m.

The fundamental point was made by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), when he tore away the veil from those who believe that this nation should remain within the Common Market. He made them face the fact that they have been arguing that there is someone, somewhere other than on these islands, who has better ideas on how to organise society than anyone in the British Isles. I believe that because of that attitude many people have had to look at all forms of arguments and that they have resorted to all forms of distortions. Consequently, they have become enamoured of an argument—I refer to men and women, Members of this House and others outside—which their better judgment, in cool reappraisal, would ask them to reject totally.

It has been said—I think that it is perfectly true—that this is probably the greatest debate that has ever taken place in this House. The right hon. Member for Down, South has said that the ultimate decision when the referendum is held will be about the destiny or the delusion of the nation. I am of the opinion that if the British people vote to remain within the Common Market they will have been the victims of the delusionists. I accept that they sincerely believe their own delusions.

The quintessential of the debate is whether at this time the House should accept the recommendation of the White Paper that we should remain in the Common Market. One of the things that I regret very much is that a Member of this House, sent here not by the Prime Minister, not by the Foreign Secretary, and not by anyone on the Government or Opposition Front Bench, should be gagged from expressing a point of view. That has probably never happened before in this House. We never had anything like that in the House until we started talking about the Common Market. No doubt the Commissioners in Brussels will nod their heads with approval when they know that the British Prime Minister and his Foreign Secretary have seen fit to relegate the status of British Members of Parliament and to spit in the faces of those who elected them to the House of Commons. That must be said because I find that that is one of the more frightening portents of what might well come if we remain within this thing.

If the British people do not see the dangers it may well be—let us consider for one awful moment that they should vote "Aye"—that there will be other occasions when Front Bench Members will be told "Stay away, you have no right to speak today". How long will it be before that practice spreads and back benchers will be told what they are able to say? That is one of the very real and dangerous issues.

Let us examine the practical points which have been submitted to us by those who want Britain to remain in the Common Market. As I understand the situation, the entire Treasury Bench would not favour our remaining in the Common Market if it had to be under the terms negotiated by the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath). That being so, one is now compelled to look at the improvements gained by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary which are said to be superior to those negotiated —if they ever were negotiated—by the right hon. Member for Sidcup.

I have looked very closely at the situation and I acknowledge that there have been marginal improvements. Indeed, on Monday the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) acknowledged those improvements, as did the right hon. Member for Sidcup in his speech today, but the attitude of the official Opposition, particularly in the past six months, appears to be based on the philosophy If you want to get out of a mess, you must first get into it." That is the absurdity behind many of the arguments advanced by the Opposition.

Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea. North (Mr. Jay) demonstrated almost unchallengeably that the ordinary people of this country have benefited in no way at all since we joined the Common Market, particularly in the matter of food prices. My right hon. Friend gave figures to show that in Norway and Sweden, countries which have not joined the Common Market, between 1971 and 1974 prices rose by only 20 per cent. In the United Kingdom in the same period prices increased by 40 per cent. On that issue alone one can judge whether or not it is a good thing for us to remain in the Common Market.

We have been told that the Commonwealth countries now believe that Great Britain should remain in the Common Market. Let us examine that argument. Some four or five years ago Common wealth countries, particularly New Zealand and Australia, and some of the African countries, were extremely apprehensive about our proposed entry into the Common Market. They did not believe that a British administration, particularly a Conservative administration, would stab them in the back and let them down.

A former Prime Minister of New Zealand said that the New Zealand people were very angry when these changes were suggested. The people of New Zealand were pleased to be able to trade with us; they had stood fast by us in time of war. When in time of war they had the opportunity in their own country of consuming, if they wished to do so, a couple of hundredweight of butter and cheese and a hundred eggs a week, they imposed on themselves the same rationing system which we operated in Great Britain during those strenuous times. New Zealanders could hardly believe that a British Government would push their country on one side as a thing of the past.

New Zealand's and other Commonwealth countries' very economies were at stake. They had to look elsewhere, and, indeed, they did look elsewhere, and I am glad that they were able to do so. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture said this afternoon that the Prime Minister had congratulated countries such as New Zealand on extracting themselves from a difficult situation. For the Prime Minister, who, I am sure, has a deep affection for the Commonwealth, that is a remarkable attitude to adopt.

I turn to the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh). He chided Labour Members for not being good internationalists and said that we were not concerned to join with other peoples all over the world. If there is one party in these islands that has played a significant rôle in gaining freedom for former colonies and in giving ordinary people overseas the right of self-determination and self-government it is the British Labour Party—and certainly the Left wing of that party. Those were the ideals of ordinary working men, although later some professors and university types latched on to the idea. But this was our instinctive feeling. We did not have to read books to understand what was going on.

An important point to bear in mind in determining the difference between the British Commonwealth of Nations and the Common Market is that no country was forced into the Commonwealth. The record of some earlier British Governments was abysmal, but eventually, as we got together with other Commonwealth countries, it is true to say, nobody was forced to join in the Commonwealth. Countries were in the Commonwealth on a voluntary basis—a Commonwealth that forms a multiracial community.

There are still a great many hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate. I hope that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) will not give way.

I am sure that the hon. Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Spicer) will understand that I want to finish my remarks as quickly as possible.

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian said that if we came out of the Community Germany would look to the Soviet Union for some form of alliance. He added that there was no one who was more pro-German in the House than he was. I hope that there is no truth in my hon. Friend's argument about an alliance.

I come to my concluding remarks. There are many matters to which I wanted to refer, but I shall adhere to Mr. Speaker's plea about cutting remarks to essentials.

I wish to make clear that those of us who are opposed to Britain remaining in the Common Market are not by any means anti-European. We want to see a closer liaison with the countries of Europe because we understand the problems of earlier years which caused both World Wars. We want to see those disasters put in the dustbin and forgotten, with no threat of their ever returning.

In this ever-shrinking world we cannot remain isolated from one continent. We must contribute to and co-operate with other nations. The United Kingdom has a massive contribution to make not merely in terms of economics, large armies or H-bombs. This country can make a lasting contribution, for which mankind will always be grateful, if we continue to evolve the system of Parliament and freedom. Therefore, the mother of parliaments should be allowed to develop that rôle.

This country will make its contribution to Europe. We shall work with Europeans and with our Commonwealth partners. We shall work with all peoples who support the principle of decency and civilised behaviour. However, we can only do that if we are neither shackled nor prevented from voicing the opinion of the people of these islands, who have done so much to uplift and dignify mankind.

7.11 p.m.

:This long debate has covered a wide range of subjects. However, I wish to confine my contribution to one issue, which is to me the main one—that is, how far Britain can lawfully and with propriety resile from commitments entered into and withdraw from the Community. That is the question which, with the indulgence of the House, I propose to examine for a few minutes.

I say "with the indulgence of the House" because this obviously involves matters of law. I do not think I need apologise for that. It is true that the detail of law may sometimes seem arid, but there is nothing arid about what it stands for—respect for law, regard for obligations entered into and the principle of the sanctity of contract. Those are the necessary bases and the indispensable ingredients of civilised living in individuals and States alike. To me those considerations are fundamental.

I do not underrate the importance of economic considerations, but even in the twentieth century there are some considerations which transcend those of the counting-house. I have been reminded of Wordsworth's
"nicely-calculated less or more'".
But of course Wordsworth told us that high Heaven rejected that concept.

No, it was Wordsworth. We must give an extra hour's tuition to the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud).

I find it surprising that many people tend to treat this debate as a repetition of the long arguments of 1961, 1967 and 1972. It is not that. There has been a fundamental change of circumstances, including the fact of accession. There is a world of difference between then and now—the difference between offer and acceptance, between negotiation and concluded contract, between a proposal of marriage and a decree of divorce. We are concerned now with things as they are in 1975, with treaties signed and ratified, and with obligations and benefits accepted.

In 12 years, through four Parliaments, I have spelt out both inside and outside the House two basic propositions. First, entry to the EEC would entail a material surrender or transfer of sovereignty of Parliament by reason of the supremacy of Community law in defined sectors of the economy and the life of the member States. The second was that membership of the Community once entered into would in principle and in practice be irrevocable. I have never deviated from those two propositions, and I adhere to them today. Within the context of this debate I am primarily concerned with the second of those propositions, but I hope to say a short word on the future implications of the first.

I come to an analysis of the considerations arising from the treaties and international law which lead me to that conclusion. I formulate them in six brief propositions. First, from the date of accession both the Treaty of Accession and the Treaty of Rome bind this country and all other member States. We see that clearly in Article 2 of the Treaty of Accession. Second, Article 6 of the Treaty of Accession says that the provisions of that treaty may not be suspended, amended or repealed other than by means of the procedures for revision laid down in the Treaty of Rome. Third, the Treaty of Rome has no machinery for determination of the treaty and does not contemplate it. On the contrary, Article 240 specifically states that it is for an unlimited period.

Fourth, according to the Treaty of Accession, only by amendment of the Treaty of Rome can procedures for lawful determination be introduced. Fifth, amendment of the Treaty of Rome in accordance with Article 236 requires ratification by all nine member States. Sixth, it follows that without those procedures, consents, amendments and ratifications, there is no right of unilateral determination, and any purported unilateral determination is a unilateral repudiation. That is precisely what nations cannot lawfully or properly do.

The position is summarised in the leading authority, McNair, on the law of treaties in these words:
"There is a general presumption against the existence of any right of unilateral determination of a Treaty."
My propositions are supported not only by the content of these treaties but by the basic considerations of international law and by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which was ratified by the United Kingdom as recently as April 1970, while the Labour Government were in power.

Article 54 of that convention makes the position clear. It states:
"The termination of a Treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place—
(a) in conformity with the provisions of the Treaty"—
we have already looked at that—
"(b) at any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with other contracting States".
By reason of the provisions of the treaties, consent in this case can be effected only by amendment of the Treaty of Rome so as to give machinery for determination. That amendment would require ratification by the national Parliaments of the nine member States. Nobody suggests that that would ever happen, because the whole philosophy of the Community, and the inescapable consequence of its interlocking mechanisms, is the concept of membership in perpetuity.

There is nothing contrary to international law in a treaty being permanent. McNair confirms that in these words:
"There is nothing juridically impossible in the existence of a Treaty creating obligations which are incapable of termination except by the agreement of all parties."
He goes on to say:
"Certain political Treaties are clearly intended by the parties to be permanent and this intention is frequently apparent from the plain object of the Treaty to set up some permanent régime or status."
The EEC is obviously a prime example of this. The permanent régime instituted by the Treaty of Rome is without doubt a most intricate and elaborate mechanism designed on the assumption of a continuing and permanent interdependence of the various elements.

I come next to the question of whether the position is affected by the change of Government or by the fact that at some stages the parliamentary majority was narrow, that the Whips were on, or that the then Government failed to seek or to secure an expression of full-hearted consent by the mechanism of a referendum. The answer in international law clearly is "No". These considerations do not affect one whit the sanctity of treaty obligation.

For myself, I favoured a pre-accession referendum. It would have been exceptional but, provided always that it was consultative only and not purporting to bind Parliament, it would not have been unconstitutional.

The referendum is no part of the required processes of treaty-making in this country, and its absence could not be said to be, in the language of Article 46 of the Vienna Convention, a violation of a provision of our internal law regarding competence to conclude treaties. This being so, the matter is governed by Article 27 of that convention:
"A party may not revoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty."
McNair has put the point succinctly:
"It cannot be insisted too strongly that the parties to treaties are States not Governments, whatever the actual form of the treaty may be."
Later he says:
"treaties remain in force in spite of changes in the form of Governments".
This doctrine which McNair describes applies not only to changes of party government within the same constitutional system. Treaties are binding in succession upon States irrespective even of changes of Government which wholly transform the constitutional basis of the State—from monarchy to republic, from Czardom to Soviet and so on. Thus, treaties concluded by Cromwell were binding on Charles II. Treaties concluded by Napoleon III were binding on the Third Republic. As the British Government informed Mr. Krassin, the agent in London of the infant Soviet Union in 1921,
"although the form of Government may change, the people remain bound."
I come next to how our position in international law, which seems to me clear, relates to our domestic constitutional doctrine that Parliament cannot bind its successors. It is, of course, open to Parliament by that domestic doctrine to repeal if it will the European Communities Act 1972 and thereby destroy the mechanism which enables Britain to perform her treaty obligations.

There is here something of a constitutional dilemma which I identified to the House in the long discussions which preceded entry. We have to ask ourselves how that dilemma is to be resolved and that position reconciled. I gave my view to the House on 13th June 1972. I said then that it might be that the dilemma could be resolved only by successive Parliaments voluntarily accepting a restraint which could not lawfully be imposed upon them, refraining in the interests of international obligation and good faith from exercising any right of repeal. I thought that that was the right approach in the hypothetical situation before entry. I adhere to it in the actualities of accession and membership.

Surely the essence of the matter is simple and clear. We cannot break our treaty obligation without a breach of international law and good faith. Therefore, if we are to be true to ourselves and our tradition, we have no option in that matter.

Conversely, there is no requirement on Parliament to repeal the Act of 1972—only the power to do so if it thinks right in all the circumstances. In deciding whether it is right, Parliament will take into account all material considerations, and no consideration can be more material than the good faith and pledged word of the nation and its respect for the law.

There is, therefore, no derogation from Parliament's high position and no breach of its duty if, while affirming the general constitutional doctrine, it concludes of its own wisdom and by its own decision that repeal in these circumstances is inappropriate and would be detrimental to Britain's good name and standing in the world.

The right hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr Fernyhough) says that it is a good lawyer's case. I have been talking in terms of law, propriety and good faith. If it is said in the last analysis that adherence to treaty obligations and continuity of membership cannot be enforced on a reluctant country, of course that is true. The ultimate enforcement of international law rests on sanctions and force. No one suggests that the other eight member States would force Britain to adherence But to suggest that one may get away with an unlawful act is not to justify it. The Kaiser referred contemptuously to his treaty obligations in regard to Belgium as a scrap of paper because he thought that he could break them, and history condemned him for so doing.

We in this country are surely concerned with keeping our obligations and not with assessing our chances of avoiding them. After all, Britain's good name traditionally rested on the fact that an Englishman's word was his bond. Today, though much diminished in military might and in material resources, in matters of good repute Britain is still far forward in the vanguard of the nations. We know that the loss of that repute and that good name transcends material loss. We have it on the high authority of Shakespeare in his imperishable words:
"Who steals my purse steals trash… But he that filches from me my good name, Robs me of that which not enriches him, And make me poor indeed."
Before concluding my remarks, I want briefly to mention two respects in which, in practice, matters look different now from what they did in the long days of pre-accession debate—one negative, and the other positive. The negative consideration is that the options open to Britain are narrower now than in the late 1950s and early 1960s when these matters first came under consideration. Neither the Commonwealth nor a free trade area holds out the practical premise that they then seemed to have. The Commonwealth countries, both new and old, have come to terms with the Community or seek to do so, and they welcome Britain's membership as a means to wider economic opportunity. Their minds are not now directed to an exclusive or predominantly Commonwealth trading pattern.

The position of a free trade area is similar. There is much to be said for the maximum of freedom of trade with the minimum of institutionalisation. But we cannot convert the Community into a free trade area, because eight of the member States do not want it that way. Of course, we could seek a sort of most-favoured-nation relationship. But can we assume a favourable view from those who inevitably would see us in the rôle of lapsed partners and treaty breakers? It would be at best an uncertain basis for a future relationship.

The positive consideration is that we have now more than two years' experience of the Community from within. We can relate aspirations and apprehensions to actualities. Of course, membership has not had the impact which, in their more apocalyptic moments, enthusiasts hoped for or sceptics apprehended. We have not been brought into some nonagonal Utopia, but nor arc we shackled in every detail of our daily life or ground down by faceless bureaucrats in Brussels. Certainly the Commission and the staff are not the power-hungry bureaucrats and the devotees of red tape of some imaginings. Basically they are conscientious and reasonable men seeking practical solutions and not dedicated to the principle, if the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) will forgive the adaptation, that the gentleman in Brussels knows best.

Two years have seen considerable improvements in the democratic workings of the Community. We have seen a growing acceptance of the undesirability of seeking to regulate and to prescribe in detail, of seeking harmonisation for harmonisation's sake and, on the other hand, of the desirability of maintaining the rich diversity of national characteristics and individual preferences.

Of course, not everyone sees the future of the Community alike. There are those who sigh for a more centralised form of administration, a so-called federal approach, an enthusiasm I neither share nor am likely to share. But we argue over our differences just as we do in this House, each putting forward his own point of view and respecting the views of those who differ. I have come to be wary of dogmatism and cautious of confidence, but I have a quiet confidence that the future pattern of the Community, at any rate for the predictable future, is more likely to reflect a democratic and decentralised approach.

I have stressed in many speeches in the European Parliament and in its Legal Committee how I envisage the evolution of the workings of the Community. The elements are clear. I envisage a strengthened and democratic accountability, the safeguarding of the rights of the citizen and close co-operation between national Parliaments and the Community institutions, each respecting and seeking to profit from the work of the other.

These are things for which we should strive, and I do not believe that we need strive alone. These are certainly the things for which I would wish to strive. I have taken them as my goal in 30 years of membership of this House. Now that events have, in my view, committed us in law, in faith and in fact to membership of the Community, I take them as my goal there also.

When I was elected chairman of the European Parliament's Legal Committee, it was not something which I sought. I certainly had no personal reason to do so and no desire to add at this stage to the heavy workload which I have borne so long. I accepted election in the hope that, in however modest a way. I might, by such guidance as I can give, such exhortation as I can make and such influence as I can wield, do something to promote and strengthen in the Community, of which we are now part, the rule of law and the practice of parliamentary democracy—those principles which I have known so long, loved so well and sought to serve a little.

I shall cast my vote for the motion tonight not because I think that in the circumstances of 1972 Britain could not have survived outside the Community, not because I think that by the Act of Accession Britain did not part with sovereignty to a material extent—something for which many of us felt a profound and proclaimed reluctance—not because of any purported renegotiation, which I believe at most to be a fringe and collateral consideration, but for the clear and basic reason which I have here sought to expound. I believe that Britain is now committed to the Community in law, in good 'faith and in fact. Alea est jacta.

It is not for us now to sigh or to snarl, to evade or to equivocate. It is for us to bear ourselves like men in the Community of which we are members, to seek its growth without our diminution, to infuse into it British thinking, British experience and British tradition, and so to seek for Britain in the Community and in the world outside a future not unworthy of our past.

7.33 p.m.

We are approaching the end of a three-day debate which comes after many months and, indeed, years of discussion about this issue both in this House and in the country as a whole. Therefore, it may seem to many that nearly every argument that could be used on either side has already been deployed. I do not intend to try to tread again on ground which has already been rather heavily trampled over in recent days, weeks, months and years. I should like to confine myself to one argument, which I will not claim is new but which has sadly been neglected in recent discussions in this country and in the debate in this House.

In much of the discussion recently one point has almost totally disappeared. I address this remark as much—or more—to pro-Marketeers, of which I am one, as to anti-Marketeers. Any spark of idealism seems to have left the argument.

On every side we hear that the main arguments to be considered in the debate are the effect on our immediate balance of payments situation, the effect on one particular industry or another, and the effect on the conditions of farmers in one part of the country or another.

What is worse than this devotion to questions of stark and materialistic realism is that on many sides there is a tendency to decry what, in the eyes of many people, have been the main achievements of the Community, particularly the claim that most of the ideals which originally led to its creation are not merely no longer valid, but that there will no longer be any attempt to achieve them. For example, it is claimed that on agriculture, economic policy, energy policy, foreign policy and other matters, the attempt to secure joint policies has already failed and will not be revived in future.

I understand the reasons for this disconcerting shift in argument. I understand the desire to reassure some people against the more alarmist picture being painted in certain quarters of the dramatic loss of independence for this country. I also understand and recognise the reality which has given rise to this shift in argument. It is an undoubted fact that the trend in recent years in the Community has been away from some of the earlier ambitions and ideals towards a greater recognition of national independence and individuality in certain respects.

The Community has shown itself skilful in recent years in allowing for a greater degree of national diversity, and in the process it has to some extent lost sight of its original aims. However, I will not accept what seems to be widely accepted among pro-Marketeers as much as among anti-Marketeers, that we should welcome this trend with open arms and that we should throw our hats in the air and cheer because the Community has taken a different and more modest path from the one on which it originally embarked.

To my mind it is a fact that entry into the Community involves this country in some loss of sovereignty. This is one of the prime reasons why we should wish to join in that endeavour. It seems strange that many who are advocating our continued membership of the Community should continually harp on the theme that this will not involve any significant loss of independence or sovereignty for this country.

I believe that the Labour Party is, above all, an international party. I accept that in the eyes of many people and, indeed, in my own eyes this involves, above everything else, support for the aim of building up institutions at world level —for example, trying to make the United Nations and similar organisations more effective authorities within our international system. I agree that that should be the main aim, the heart, of the foreign policy of any British Government, but there is also an important role within such an international framework for regional organisations. It would be as absurd to suggest that at international level all power and authority should be centralised in the hands of one international authority as to demand that at national level all power should be centred on a national government leaving no scope for local authorities.

It would be ridiculous to imagine that it would be possible for world authorities to institute something like a free trade area at world level. It would also be ridiculous to suggest that any world authority could make any significant progress towards joint policies in agriculture, economic co-ordination, energy policy, and other areas in which the EEC is active. It would be impossible to expect world authorities at present to have any effective influence in inducing joint foreign policies in the way that the EEC is attempting to do.

Therefore, I suppose that for those of us who regard ourselves as internationalists, for those of us who want above everything else the monopoly of power at present centred in the nation State to be merged in wider associations of States, for those of us who believe that the prime task for national governments in the modern age is to join their neighbours in joint arrangements, there is still a reason for supporting regional organisations as well as international institutions. For all these reasons, there is still an important place for idealism in the discussion which is about to open in the country during the coming two months.

Many of us in the Labour Party speak often of the aim of Socialist internationalism. This is an ideal which this country should be proclaiming more widely in the world and one of the main reasons that we should seek to remain in the EEC. The loss of momentum and impetus in the Community is something that we should regret rather than welcome. We have a role to play in trying to reawaken some of the original idealism and spark which lay behind the creation of the EEC. I therefore hope that, during the debate in the country, we shall not allow the argument to be confined to some of the more narrow discussion which we have seen in recent months—related for example entirely to the state of our balance of payments, to whether we shall improve our exports of ball bearings or candy floss to the EEC if we remain in or leave, to whether some section of our community is likely to gain or lose.

Surely the argument is about something far bigger than this—Britain's whole future role in the world today. I hope that we as MPs can do something to induce in the public some sense of the dimension of the choice before them. I believe that it is a choice not simply about British national interests but about European interests. The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said that he did not feel that it would be wise for the people of this country, even if they felt some general objective in wider associations, to believe that the people of other countries could enjoy some greater wisdom than we about how our own affairs should be run. That may be, but it may also be that those of vision in this country should consider against that the desirability that we should have some voice in shaping the destiny and the future economic, social and political policies pursued in Europe as a whole.

I therefore believe that we in this country, and we in the Labour Party in particular, have the historic mission in the debate now beginning in the country to show that this is where the real destiny of our country lies and to help to bring about a change not merely here but in Europe as a whole, so as to help to create a Europe which is more democratic, more equal, more concerned with human rights, and above all more Socialist, than the European Economic Community is today.

7.44 p.m.

When the electors of Hazel Grove sent me to Westminster, they did so in the aftermath of two closely-fought General Elections in the same year. While it is difficult to maintain true perspective in large affairs, in the unwinding of the complex destiny of our nation, I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to address the House for the first time since I was sworn in as their Member of Parliament last October.

Formed out of the urban districts of Bredbury and Romiley, Marple and Hazel Grove and Bramhall, all of which have now been amalgamated within the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport, itself a District of the new Greater Manchester Council, the Hazel Grove constituency came into being as the result of sweeping demographic change, which brought about not only a rapid increase in population but also other fundamental economic upheavals which, escaping by their gradual character the notice of some contemporary observers, played the greater part in bursting the bonds of local convention. This applied not least to the area's representation in this House, where I must pay tribute to the work which my predecessor, Dr. Michael Winstanley performed on behalf of his constituents. Local patriotism, like patriotism itself, can, however, gain in depth and sweetness for being in harmony with newly-discovered, wider loyalties.

If I may expand upon this theme, I would add that the formative years of my upbringing were spent on the European mainland, and an accident of fate similar to that of other hon. Members born in the aftermath of the Second World War, meant that the historical vision of a democratic Western Europe, within the context of the new inescapable great power rivalry of the United States of America and the Soviet Union, determined a large part of my own political thinking and development.

The essential facts of the situation are expressed simply. Europe consists of one of the densest aggregations of population in the history of the world. This population now expects a high standard of living, education and social welfare in which, even in the aftermath of the oil crisis, most sections anticipate improvement rather deterioration. Yet Europe is not self-sufficient. In particular, it does not feed itself. Internally, the population is not evenly distributed, but much of it is crowded into a relatively small number of dense industrial centres, of which Manchester and its surrounding districts and towns can be taken as a prime example. This population secures for itself a livelihood by means of a delicate and immensely complicated organisation, the foundations of which are supported by an unbroken supply of imported food, oil, raw materials and technology from other continents, as well as international credit, research into future developments, transport, coal, iron and steel.

The more serious problems for Europe have been brought to a head by the oil crisis but are in their origins more fundamental. The economic motives and ideals—the very ideas and assumptions —which until recently made post-war Europe's institutions legitimate, authoritative, and confident are fast eroding. They are slipping away in the face of a changing reality and are being replaced by different ideas and assumptions which are as yet contradictory, ill-formed and sometimes shocking.

The transition is neither good nor bad, although there is possibility for plenty of both. The point is that it is taking place. Rights of membership are already overshadowing property rights. A need to satisfy consumer desires is already supplementing competition as a means of controlling the uses of property. The rôle of Government has in consequence inevitably expanded. Reality requires the perception of whole systems and not only the parts, while the dilemma of protest and how to accommodate it within the framework of democracy is once again real and constant.

In the case of our own country the internal inconsistency between what people demand of government and what it can deliver remains unchanged. The appetites of consumption continually demand more than the economy can produce and, as hon. Members opposite will shortly rediscover, the cake has now become so small in proportion that no one, if it were shared all around, would be that much the better off by the cutting of it.

It is a sobering exercise to review the record of the very recent past and to find how badly off the mark almost all predictions of the nature and magnitude of Britain's problems have been. Even those who seemed at the time Cassandras, in retrospect appear as unguarded optimists in the light of the decay which confronts us today. In dizzying succession one crisis had led almost directly to another. As a result, little confidence is left in the stability of the situation, which has already produced internally an impasse which presently affords no politically discernible way out.

A plausible case for rejecting continued British membership of the European Community cannot be made to rest upon the argument that no one would care to deny, that the success of such membership depends upon answers to many questions which we simply cannot have with assurance, not least on the future rôle of the Commission. The evident implication of the argument is that in the absence of these answers we are far better advised to pursue a different but presumably known course. That also has its uncertainties, which perhaps even the most passionate anti-Marketeer would be prepared to admit. At this stage of the development in our nation's affairs we would be extremely unwise not to appreciate how numerous and potentially serious those uncertainties may be.

In these circumstances it is excessive, to say the least, to insist that the many uncertainties attending membership be answered with assurance before that membership can be continued. Equally, it is excessive to insist that before contemplating membership we must exhaust all other remedies, when the exhaustion of all other remedies is little more than the functional equivalent of accepting chaos.

What may be reasonably demanded is a critical weighing, however rough and approximate it must necessarily be, of the dangers, uncertainties and opportunities attending membership, as opposed to the hazards and choices of following a different course. Everyone should make up his own mind in this respect, but those who simply dismiss membership refuse even to make the effort, and the dilemmas of action are thereby overcome by denying their reality.

Such detached wisdom of passivity may express the truth about our present plight as a nation, though if it does, the more practical consequences to be drawn from it arc scarcely those commonly assembled. It is plausible to surmise, however, that the obsession with Britain's vanished greatness and the sudden attraction to events beyond our control, often summed up in the phrase "We shall go it alone", are little more than rationalisations of political incompetence and the failure of will. At the same time, an apparent resignation before the inevitable may, and often does, conceal an optimism that takes for granted that somehow we shall have our way in the end. If membership is ruled out it is in part because we assume, whether consciously or unconsciously, that the French are, after all, still only French and that in the game we are playing with the Germans and the Italians, generations of what we allege to be political supremacy and economic superiority must count for something.

To this assumption is added the belief that we do still hold the trumps when all is said and done. No longer comforted by yesterday's thought that the Commonwealth countries cannot do without us, we have found a serviceable substitute in today's thought that the Common Market countries cannot do without our North Sea oil. We can only hope that this latest argument, designed to reassure us that all will end well, enjoys a better fate than its predecessor.

Of course, I accept that the search for European solutions for their own sake in any examination of our hopes and problems is a discernible attitude and a dangerous one. A European Europe is really a multiform Europe. It is a Europe in which there is joint action and regulation of those matters which can be better dealt with through joint action and regulation, or for which joint action is perhaps the only sensible solution. The aim must be not to bend to the will of others but to combine our interests with theirs. Those who wish to prevent the revival of virulent nationalism would be well advised to pay special attention to the defence of national interests. The crucial issue so far as the Europe of the future is concerned is neither supranational fictions, nor a mere increase in the number of its member States. It is neither the establishment of an entirely new third structure over and above that of its member States, nor the separate existence of the latter. It is neither the renunciation, nor the unchanged exercise of sovereignty. It is the attempt by the nations of Europe to exercise sovereignty in common.

Let me put it more pointedly. If the negotiations for British entry had been concerned with the issues of national sovereignty, joint foreign policy and other political objectives and institutions, the Council of Ministers and the Heads of Government of the European Community could never have brought them to a successful conclusion. They were able to do so because they were concerned with butter and sugar, lamb and fish, parabolically climbing financial percentages and the possibility of transitional periods for agriculture. Supranational illusions can only act as a hindrance rather than a spur to real political co-operation. The most urgent task facing the Community is that of forging policies involving co-operation without dependence. Certainly I believe that this is something which can be done and which we are at present in the process of doing.

It is often said that in top-level politics ideas do not count—only actions taken in response to circumstances. But if there is one connecting thread which links all the stages of my plea for continued British membership of the European Community, it would be this: mercantile and trading practices are harder to change than we think, but the identification of mutual interests can weld together in one day, and perhaps for ever, nations which for years have been mutually antagonistic. That golden rule ought to govern future European politics—in fact, all politics.

I would suggest to the House and, through the House, to my fellow residents in Hazel Grove, and ultimately to other citizens of Greater Manchester, that uncontrolled passions have a disastrous effect on politics, leading to civil or foreign wars, or both. They can paralyse the life of a nation and destroy everything it has built. The real victories are to be won in agriculture, commerce and in industry—victories for civilisation. mankind's benefactor.

Britain is a permanent fact, and Britain must be served by serving Britain's interests. The circumstances of our postwar world, if we are to avoid a future holocaust, dictate that those interests require a compromise with the nations of Europe, expressed through the European Community. Our nation must once again win that most difficult struggle of all—self-mastery. We must learn to dominate our reverses and our humiliations. We must temper our pride with courtesy, what remains of our power with humanity, and our wealth with prudence and foresight. For the sake of survival and the preservation of past achievements, we must meet the demands of the future.

The great question is no longer whether Britain is to become a member. It is whether Britain is to remain or quit. On the first leg of the journey towards that decision, which if hon. Members on the Government benches have their way is likely to be long and hard, I shall cast my vote, Mr. Deputy Speaker, accordingly.

7.58 p.m.

The maiden speech of the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold) was very sincere, honest and fluent. I am sure that the House will welcome further contributions from him. I understand that he comes from a theatrical family. He will find that the House of Commons can sometimes be pure theatre. Today, in a sense, it has a certain theatrical flavour. I think the hon. Member will find over the years that the House of Commons is a very good place to be in because it is here that we decide, by our votes and our speeches, in the interests of the people who elect us, future policies and determine the future of all the countries that make up the United Kingdom.

I want to ask the House, as I have done in the past, for its indulgence this evening. I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the House for giving me the opportunity as the Member for Liverpool, Walton to say a few words on this vital issue of whether we should be in the Common Market.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I waited until the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) had said what he wanted to say about my hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold) before intervening at a moment when I thought that it would be least disruptive of his speech.

I think that it would be wrong for this occasion to pass without asking whether it is in order for a Minister not to comply with what Mr. Speaker, in answering a matter of privilege raised by the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English), called the normal practices of the House. Where do we get to if that—

Order I will tell the hon. Gentleman where we have got to. I called the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) to address the House. Like the rest of us, he is an hon. Member of this House.

Further to that point of order. I am a Member of Parliament, and I am restricted to speaking from the back benches by the normal practices of the House.

Order With every respect to the hon. Member, who has been here for a long time—[HON. MEMBERS:" Too long."]. Order. That thought ought to strike no one. I believe that the House is anxious for the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton to continue with his speech, and there is no advantage to be gained in our pursuing the point of order any further. I am much obliged to the hon. Member.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food felt that he ought to make a personal statement about his conversion to support for entry into the Common Market. My right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) referred to a speech that I made in 1967 and said that at that time I had supported entry into the Common Market. I think we should all refer back to the fact that on the road to Damascus the person who founded what in my view is one of the greatest Churches in the world was converted. He saw the light. We can all see the light in our different ways. I saw the light in 1969 when, on the basis of a study of the Common Market, I concluded that the time had come when I ought to oppose entry into the Common Market.

If I have brought some hilarity into the debate, I have achieved something.

I agree with something that was said by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). He said that even if he had wholeheartedly supported entry into the Common Market at the time when he voted as I did in 1967, that does not detract from the basic arguments that are arising in today's debate.

Although we are debating this matter with great solemnity, at any rate up to now, and with tremendous enthusiasm on the part of some hon. Members, but not so much on the part of others, the facts are that we now have a situation in which the British people themselves will decide whether we stay in the Common Market, on the basis of their vote in the referendum. I believe that is right. I further believe that on this issue above all others the British people must decide by their vote whether we are in or out.

Although the British people will decide the matter by their vote, it is important that we in this House should have the freest possible debate on the issue. It is important that the people of this country —and I think that this is our greatest asset—look to this House for a lead. Despite the fact that we are to have a referendum, it is what is said here by hon. Members on both sides of the House, Ministers and non-Ministers, that determines to a large extent people's attitudes to this issue.

I personally know that everyone in this debate, irrespective of the side of the House on which he sits, is sincere and holds deep feelings about this matter. I shall not indulge in any personal attacks or abuse of anyone on either side of the House. How can I? Many of my friends in this House are pro-Marketeers. I am not ashamed of that fact, and I hope that they are not ashamed of the fact, that they are still my close friends and I am an anti-Marketeer, because if we in the Labour movement in particular cannot discuss these matters without personal abuse, we have not grown up, and I believe that we in the Labour movement have grown up.

One or two hon. Members have said that some of us are deeply concerned about the military junta and its activities in Chile but are apparently not so concerned about our fellow Socialists in in Europe. That is not true. We feel deeply about the military dictatorship in Chile, but it does not follow that we do not have similar feelings of relationship with our colleagues in the European Economic Community and outside it. I have a watch which was given to me by an Italian partisan, a personal friend, a Socialist, whom I knew long before the question of the Common Market was even on the agenda. My contacts with the European and, in particular, the Italian Socialist movement are well known in the House and, I imagine in the country.

We are internationalists in the Labour Party. No one should claim that he is more pure in relation to the Socialist ideal because he is for entry or against. Whether we are for or against, we all believe in the principles of international Socialism. [HON. MEMBERS:" No."] I am speaking now not to hon. Members opposite but to my right hon. and hon. Friends, because this argument is to a large extent an argument within our own party, and that I understand. But our fundamental difference of opinion on this issue does not mean that we must get at cross-purposes over our basic Socialist objectives.

I turn now to the issues involved, because it is on these issues that the people of this country must decide. I take, first, the question of regional policy. It would be wrong to claim that no advances have been made in what have been rightly, I think, referred to by many hon. Members as on-going negotiations rather than fundamental renegotiations. If I may say so, I think that the original mistake made by my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Government was that in April last year, instead of deciding at that stage that we should not participate in the committees and in the work of the Community, we decided in fact to do so, which meant that we became enmeshed in the Common Market and what appeared to be renegotiations were purely normal discussions and negotiations within the context of the Common Market.

I do not believe that there has been any fundamental renegotiation. My right hon. Friends, within the context of ongoing negotiations, have done a remarkable job—an excellent job—and advances have been made, but in my view there has none the less been no fundamental renegotiation.

I do not accept that the terms of the manifesto have really been achieved. We said in that manifesto that one of the objectives of renegotiation was
"the retention by Parliament of those powers over the British economy needed to pursue effective regional, industrial and fiscal policies"
Obviously, to do that effectively, it would be necessary to amend the treaties, and in his statement on 1st April 1974 my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said:
"I must also reserve the right to propose changes in the Treaties, if we find that in practice the existing rules, as they are interpreted, interfere with the powers over the British economy which we need"—
and so on.

What has happened? The truth is that the treaties have not been amended. and the recent communiqué of the EEC Commission—it is referred to in the White Paper and, incidentally, is available in the Vote Office if hon. Members wish to read it—makes absolutely clear that it is the Commission in the last analysis which is responsible for aids to industry.

I turn now to Article 94 of the Treaty of Rome, which said when first drafted and still says, despite the so-called fundamental renegotiation:
"The Council may, acting by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission, make any appropriate regulations for the application of Articles 92 and 93 and may, in particular. determine the conditions in which Article 93(3) shall apply in the categories of aids exempted from the procedure".
We turn then to Article 93(3):
"The Commission shall be informed"
—and so on, and
"If it considers that any such plan is not compatible with the Common Market…it shall without delay initiate the procedure provided for in paragraph 2. The Member State concerned shall not put its proposed measures into effect until the procedure has resulted in a final decision."
This may be regarded by some hon. Members as a theological argument. It may be said that the practice is flexible. I think that the term often used in this connection is "pragmatic". take the view that we as a country must be totally free, without the encumbrance of the EEC Commission, to determine our own aids to industry.

The argument from my right hon. Friends is that the Commission is at present agreeing to our present aids, and I accept that, within the context of the argument as it stands at the moment, that is, with one or two exceptions, a reasonable statement of the position. But the Commission's communiqué as the White Paper admits, runs for only three years, and thereafter new rules will be drawn up.

I put this question to the House: if Britain stayed in the Common Market and there was no referendum on the immediate horizon and no need to placate British parliamentarians as there is now a need to placate us, could we in all honesty say that the rules and policies now apparently so pliable would be as pliable in the future? No one could in all honesty give that guarantee.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture spoke today about the common agricultural policy. One aspect of it is to apply for one year only. In a year's time, the referendum will be out of the way. We all know how remarkably accommodating people can be in an attitude of pliability in order to get over a difficult period. Once we are over that period, the situation can change.

It is true that the regional fund is for a period of three years, but during that period it will be of great benefit to this country, and especially to the county which the hon. Gentleman and I both seek to serve. When the time comes, if we remain in the Market we shall have the power to influence to a large degree the new rules which come forward. I believe that it is vital for our county and for the country as a whole that we stay in.

I am delighted that the hon. Lady makes that intervention, because it takes me precisely to the point that I was about to make. She argues that if we stay in the Market we can influence the Market. I find that argument remarkable, and it is being used in the House the whole time. We have entered the Common Market and we now find that we have to renegotiate in order to get back to something like the position we were in before we entered. What a remarkable situation! That is what is happening on the common agricultural policy. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that we had more or less got back to some of the ideas we used to have. If we had never gone in we would not have been in that position.

I turn to the question of aids for industry. Some say that the present aids for industry are acceptable. Yes, but what will happen in future? We shall have constantly to look over our shoulder to see what the Common Market Commision says. If it does not agree with us, we shall have to modify our ideas on regional aids or conform to the regional aids to which the Commission insists we must conform. It is the most nonsensical situation that this country could find itself in.

We are in the process of introducing the National Enterprise Board, the planning agreements system, the Scottish Development Agency, and the Welsh Development Agency. I know that the Opposition, apart from hon. Members from Scotland and Wales, will be opposed to much of what we are doing. That is fine. That is their right. If they get us out in the next election they can change what we are doing. They can do it on the basis of their support from the British people. They do not have to look over their shoulder to see what the European Commission is doing. They do not have to look over their shoulder to see whether we can have an extension of the steel industry. We can decide the Firth Brown situation in Sheffield ourselves. But if we are in the Common Market the situation changes.

Our present aids to industry, which are useful, may well have to change. We may have to have more selective aids. Shall we have to look over our shoulder the whole time to the European Commission? We are told that we shall not, but Articles 92, 93 and 94 say "Yes". I want the decision to be made in the House on behalf of the British people. I do not want us to have to look all the time to the Commission to decide whether we are within our rights.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that whether we are in or out of the Common Market there is a challenge to us to put our country on its feet by investment and by the right sort of economic policy. We can best meet that challenge, get the investment that we require, and bring down unemployment in the areas where it is too high, such as Merseyside, Scotland, the North-East, Cornwall and South Wales, by making decisions in the House based upon the conviction of the British people as a whole.

I believe that the guidelines of the Common Market are as unacceptable as the guidelines on the question of ministerial discussion in the House. The guidelines that we need are the guidelines of the British people. I am convinced that they will vote "No" in the coming referendum, and they will be right to do so.

8.24 p.m.

I must associate myself with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). I offer congratulations to the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold) on his maiden speech. As the hon. Member for Walton said, he spoke with great fluency, and in English which in my view was reminiscent of Jane Austen. I am sure we shall hear from him many times in the future. I was also grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he said about my former colleague, Dr. Michael Winstanley.

I was very glad that the hon. Member for Walton spoke. I wished that he had spoken on the first day because, regardless of the genuine constitutional problem faced by him and his dissenting Cabinet colleagues, there is no doubt that their absence from the debate has left it rather unbalanced. The debate would have been better if they had been here. It would have been better if we could have got to grips with their arguments. If what we are mainly talking about today is the sovereignty of Parliament, their absence has reduced that sovereignty. Constitutionally it is difficult to see how the hon. Gentleman can make such a speech and remain a Minister. Who knows? Perhaps that was his resignation speech in disguise, or we may wait for that on another occasion.

I look forward to reading those articles later. I always find it difficult to sleep. I am sure that they would help me.

The Leader of the Conservative Party spent quite a bit of time yesterday trying to establish her party's credentials as a consistent supporter of Europe. The one party point that I intend to make is that one thing we can say with justice from this Liberal bench in reply to those who have said during the debate—and there have been a number of them—that it would have been better if we had been in the Community from the beginning is that from the beginning that was what we wanted. The one Division that the right hon. Lady omitted to mention in the list that she gave was that on 25th July 1960, when the Liberal Members, including my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Liberal Party, divided the House on the question of entry into the Community. That followed the 1959 election, when we had been the only party so committed.

A fair amount of nonsense is talked about Europe's having somehow or other raised itself out of the muck of party politics into the rarefied stratosphere of apoliticism. The Liberal Party committed itself after the war to work for a united Europe, for two reasons. First, we believed politically that in a radically altered world the most effective way in which this country could exercise positive influence was in conjunction with our neighbouring countries of a similar size and shared traditions. Secondly, we believed that union in Europe offered the best opportunity for economic advancement and the best opportunity for us to raise the living standards of our own people and of the peoples of the world. They remain the basic reasons which motivate us. Time has underlined their validity.

I should like to look briefly again at those two fundamental arguments and relate them to some of the counter-arguments advanced during the past three days. On the economic argument, let it be clear that our present relative failure as a country has come about outside the Community. It is a fairly obvious thing to say but, judging from what many hon. Members have said, it needs to be repeated. There have been many calls during the debate for fair argument and the avoidance of exaggeration. To attribute our low growth rate and our comparatively falling standard of living to entry into the Community in 1973, as many hon. Members have done, is grossly unfair.

Much play has been made by the right hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) and others with the contrast between the promises, hopes or assertions of 1971 and the realities of 1975. After the two years that we have been in the Community—1973 and 1974 —what else, in all conscience, could one expect? No one in his senses could imagine that two years could change everything. 1973 was a year, as we bitterly remember, of industrial upheaval and confrontation. 1974 was a year of renegotiation, and everything stopped. Coincidentally with entry—it is one of the great tragedies that it has worked out this way—there was the oil crisis and the dramatic rise in world food prices. Even if the first two years had been untrammelled years, I do not think it would have been possible to see anything but a minimal improvement in our performance. The EEC is a course of swimming lessons, not a lifebelt, and there is a world of difference between the two.

There is the linked argument that if we had not entered we would have done better, and that if we now leave we shall do better still. I describe that as an argument, but perhaps a better word would be "assertion". The point has been made that those, like the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), who argue for EFTA-type arrangements in the event of our withdrawal nevertheless obviously accept that it is necessary to participate in a large tariff-free market.

However, the basic fact that the Liberals have long recognised about free trade is that it cannot operate acceptably or effectively unless there are equivalent competitive advantages, the absence of hidden subsidies and protection from unforeseen import and quota controls. That is where I think the hon. Member for Walton was in error in what he was saying about the regional fund and the agreement on a regional fund throughout the Community. A regional fund operated by this country alone will be less effective if regional policies throughout Europe are not conducted on roughly equivalent criteria. That is extremely important.

The EEC has a long-term commitment to a regional fund. I would not dissent from the many critics who have said that the start is small and slow, but the basic decision is highly important. Through the acceptance of the regional fund and the concept of economic convergence, about which the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs spoke the night before last, and through the acceptance of the need for corrective mechanisms, free trade can operate in a fair and reasonable way. This point has been made by a number of hon. Members including the right hon. Member for Battersea, North, who introduced import regulations and controls in 1964 when we were members of EFTA. If one looks at the options to the Community one realises that the real alternatives to the EEC is not the open seas but closed harbours.

But the debate has been dominated by the political argument, arguments about sovereignty and the equally deep, almost atavistic suspicion with which many regard association with the Continent. There are two fundamental illusions which have distorted the argument. The first is the illusion which the hon. Member for Walton fell into a moment ago, the illusion of uniqueness. Many people put it differently. The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) has consistently opposed entry into the Community. He spoke on Monday, as reported, at column 919, of our unique method of government, our unique relationship with Europe and our unique opportunity to be a bridge between the developed and the underdeveloped world.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) spoke of how the European countries were different. He said:
"although certain European countries follow the British pattern they do not have the long-term commitment to democratic control". —[Official Report, 7th April 1975; Vol. 889, c. 903.]
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) used the expression "the we-ness of the nation". It was rather difficult to tell to which nation he was referring. It was not Scotland, so presumably it was either England or Ulster. The right hon. Gentleman, who, though he starts from many false premises, is a man of logic, will recognise that if his argument about the nation holds good as a reason for coming out of the European Community, it equally holds good for the break-up of the United Kingdom, which is an end I do not want to see.

The hon. Gentleman has just mentioned trade and the question of open or closed ports. Does he realise that only one-third of Britain's trade is with Community countries and that the remaining two-thirds is with the rest of the world? That does not involve closing our ports.

I shall not pursue the hon. Gentleman's argument on this because I had moved on to the political considerations and do not wish to delay the House.

If I may revert to the attitude of the right hon. Member for Down, South, the danger of the argument about uniqueness is that under pressure it often retreats into this psueudo-spiritual mysticism as people try to find what exactly they mean. It also has strange echoes of the old "kith and kin" argument, about which we heard a great deal in another context some time ago. It is the argument that continentals are so unlike us that we can never share common democratic institutions. It is the argument that we have nothing to learn.

It is about time that many of us looked in the mirror. We have a great deal to learn from our continental colleagues and friends. We taught the Germans industrial relations, and the pupil can now inform the master. We are the Mother of Parliaments, yet we cling to a grossly unjust electoral system long discarded in Europe. Throughout the debate Ministers have referred again and again to the Labour manifesto and its supposed endorsement at two elections. What was the endorsement in October 1974? It was 39 per cent. of the votes cast or 28 per cent. of the electorate. Is 28 per cent. the Labour definition of "full-hearted consent"?

The other illusion is that entry into the Community does sudden and particular damage to parliamentary sovereignty. If the EEC develops, as I hope and believe it probably will, into some kind of union, whether federal or not, with a directly-elected Parliament, certainly sovereignty will depart from this House. However, I would contend that it will not depart from the country. It would be exercised elsewhere in a different level of organisation. But now, as opposed to the future, the real as opposed to the sham issue is the control that Parliament does or does not exert over the executive here.

It is a false argument to make out that European questions are of a somewhat different nature. The basic problem is that parliamentary control has steadily been eroded over the years and that in this Parliament the executive is massively powerful. We have only to remember the Select Committee on Agriculture and its short life. As soon as that Committee asked to be involved and to inquire into the price review, which was what it was established to do, bingo, that was the end of it. If we wanted to have a say in the CAP and the institutions concerned, it could only be through such a Select Committee which could concentrate at length on the issues and which would have to have available the very information that was refused at domestic level to the previous Select Committee in 1968.

Reality and illusion may have marched together throughout the debate. There is, however, one reality which is inescapable, and that is that the decision we are about to make is of the most profound importance. Those who are for and against the Community are agreed on that. Do we see a shared or an individual rôle for this country, and, if an individual rôle, what kind of rôle?

The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) with whom I have argued about Europe in this Chamber many times—I the moment—was complaining last night about the fact that the pro-Marketeers like my noble Friend Lord Gladwyn were playing foul by mentioning that there were some strange bedfellows in the other camp. The hon. Member said it was a rather unfair argument even to mention the Communist Party in the same breath as himself. Certainly we could hardly accuse him of being a "Red under the bed".

The important and perfectly valid political point which we make is that those of us, in all parties, who support continued Community membership have a common strategy for the country, whereas those who oppose our continued membership are agreed in opposing. They have no common alternative strategy. They have different strategies, each with its own validity and supporters. Those of us who support continued membership do so, as the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) said, within a common framework and they accept such a common framework.

Order. I hope that the hon. Member will not interrupt the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston), who has already been speaking for 19 minutes.

I am very near to finishing. I was brought up in a little village called Carbost, on the Isle of Skye. If anywhere is on the periphery of Europe, it is. Despite that, the one thing I wish to make clear is that I have no fear of the size of the Community or that such size might lead to suppression of any of the rich cultural diversity with which Europe abounds.

I want to see arrangements made and policies pursued which give my country a say in its future and in world affairs as well as a share in prosperity. Only an evolving Community, developing towards a union, working to correct disparities and shaping more sensitive forms of Government, can achieve this and at the same time enable us to contribute to making the world a more safe and stable place.

It is a negative point but nevertheless one of weight that at a time of great world instability to present the European Community and ourselves with a whole new range of problems, which is what would happen if we withdrew, would be folly. If the traditions which produced our people are of value—and I believe that they are—I have no doubt that, like the man in the parable, we must use our talents in a way which brings the greatest return. That means not turning our back on a share of power if that responsibility is thrust upon us, but playing the fullest-hearted part in forging a Europe of great coherence, working progressively for world democracy.

8.45 p.m.

Towards the end of a three-day debate there is not much new that can be said, but I want to make one or two remarks which, if not novel, might be suitably abrasive.

There is no issue of such monumental importance for the future well-being of the United Kingdom that can have been handled in such a disastrous way as this one. Grave and perhaps lasting damage has been done to the British constitution and many of its principles which have long been the envy of the democratic world. I have little sympathy for those who put trumpery party considerations before those of the welfare of the nation as a whole. To have witnessed so much wealth being undermined, if not destroyed, by the manœuvrings of the last year or two with no long-term advan- tage to anyone has caused me, and I guess many other people, more pain and distress than I have had to endure in the past 25 years in this House.

The time has come to speak plainly and bluntly on these matters. Little time is left in the debate to convert anyone to this cause or that. All our minds are made up one way or the other. I have long been a pro-European by instinct and conviction, though big enough and, I hope, wise and humble enough to say that I might be wrong. But I was sent here by my electors to make judgments on these very things.

The sovereignty of the people, as has often been said, is loaned to us. It is loaned to me and to every other hon. Member for the duration of a Parliament. So where does the squalid referendum fit into that set of principles? We talk about the sovereignty of Parliament and then say that we want nothing to do with it. We pass it back to the people who gave it to us for the duration of a Parliament, be it three, four or five years.

The referendum idea started as a cheap, squalid gimmick initiated by Secretary of State for Industry, designed to gain some apparent party political temporary advantage. It was derided at the time by the present Prime Minister but has since been lauded by both of them as a matter of high principle, as the supreme way of letting the people decide, which means in effect the denigration of the basic principle of the sovereignty of the House. To attempt to rationalise this posture by asserting that this is a unique situation involving—admittedly it does—the handing over of something vaguely called our sovereignty or independence to some foreign body or institution defies credibility.

At the beginning of the last war in 1939, in one day in the House every civil right of every individual in the country was taken away by the Government. There was no question then of a referendum. No question of more crucial importance to every individual in the country can be imagined, yet the House passed that Act of Parliament in one day.

Let no one talk about the referendum being the high-minded principle of consulting the people. When we talk about the Labour Party manifesto it is significant that there is no mention in it of the word "referendum". Reference was made to consultation through the ballot box but the word "referendum" was carefully avoided. We are saddled with this monstrous device. It is a constitutional monstrosity which can be used, and which may well be used, at any time, at the whim of any Prime Minister or Government, for whatever noble or nefarious purpose he or they might have in mind.

Then we have the further constitutional nonsense of the ditching of Cabinet collective responsibility. The Government, according to the Prime Minister, seek to make a virtue out of this outrage. If Ministers, senior and junior, feel passionately about this issue they have one clear course open to them—namely, to resign. If they feel strongly about it they should not sit on their backsides, they should do what my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Industry has done. They should get up and do the honourable thing—I believe my hon. Friend will do so—and hand in their resignations. They have no right to stay in the Government and continue to say that they will oppose the Government. That is the most dishonourable course to take. That is the very kind of action that creates public cynicism about this place.

Neither individually nor collectively are Ministers indispensable. Overnight Harold Macmillan got rid of half his Cabinet, and he survived the next election. If my Prime Minister had the guts he would do the same. I gather that I am being asked about other Ministers. I should like a say in the choice. In any event. I believe that it is more noble to fall from power in honour than to survive amid massive contempt and delusion.

It seems that some Ministers want the best of all possible worlds. They want to speak against the most important policy decision of the century yet cling to the trappings of power. If they hold their convictions with such blazing sincerity—and I accept that they do—their course is clear. They should pay the price or shut up. I say that to one of them in particular—namely, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development. She produced that historic document, the Lomé Convention. She came to the House and said that the convention offered marvellous protection for the Commonwealth and the independent territories. Now she says that she will have nothing to do with it, but she does not resign. It seems that she does not feel strongly enough about the issue to resign, but she feels strongly enough about it to say that she does not support the Government's position.

I have dwelt on these issues because the pros and cons of our continued membership of the EEC have been argued ad nauseam not only in this debate but in previous debates. Whatever doubts anyone may have about the advantages and disadvantages of staying in, there can be few doubts about the catastrophic results if we get out. I do not think that the White Paper exaggerates the position in any way. The Chancellor is not exaggerating when he says that if we get out and the Arabs, as a consequence, withdraw all their money from the banks of this country we could be bankrupt in 48 hours. That might be part of the price we shall have to pay if we get out.

I have listened fully to all the most important speeches in this debate and have heard not one single credible argument put forward by anybody—not even by my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay)—as to why we should not stay in. There may be disadvantages. We have heard about the bureaucracy, although on a population basis there is a bigger bureaucracy in the Scottish Office than in Brussels. I believe that we should play our part in democratising the institutions of the EEC. We should be in there fighting, and the majority of the Government recognise that only in that way can we change the face of Europe as it now exists. We shall bring about changes only by being inside the existing institutions. We certainly cannot change anything by being outside. Even outside the Community, we shall be influenced by what happens within it. Our policies are bound to be affected by what Europeans do. We should be inside the Community influencing those institutions, before decisions are taken rather than afterwards.

I may be proved wrong in my arguments, but we are in this place to take decisions and to justify our judgment to the electors. I have made clear to my electors where I stand, and they will judge me at the next election. I believe that this is the only sensible way to behave in a democratic society, and I consider that ours is the best in the world.

8.53 p.m.

I do not often agree with the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) on constitutional matters, but I have always recognised his sincerity. Tonight I very much agreed with his remarks about the referendum. It surprises me to see that the same people who lay such stress on the damage to Parliament's sovereignty from membership of the Community are happy to pass over the sovereignty of Parliament to a referendum on this issue. I share the hon. Gentleman's views about the long-term damage which the referendum may do to the whole status of Parliament. If at an election a Government are rejected, there can be a new Government, but if the will and decision of Parliament is rejected, what can one do about that? I do not think the implications for our democratic institutions have been fully thought out, and I share the hon. Gentleman's apprehensions.

This marathon debate has measured up to the quality of the issue. I wish particularly to refer to the maiden speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold), whose speech was fully worthy of this debate in its thoughtfulness and perspicacity of content. We appreciated the way in which he delivered it.

As for the general deployment of arguments, there has been one slight disadvantage. The "anti" argument has been forcefully put forward by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) with his great attachment to his cause and his patent sincerity, and also by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), with his passionate, if somewhat perverse, oratory on this and indeed on other matters. But in a way the cause of the "antis" has suffered somewhat through the absence from our counsels of some eloquent speakers on the anti-Market side.
"But O for the touch of a vanish'd Foot, And the sound of a Shore that is still!"

I was interested to hear the right hon. Member's rather sarcastic remarks about the fact that some of my right hon. Friends have not spoken in the debate. I thought it might be worth while commenting on the fact that the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) went missing for a much longer period—namely, for a year or two.

That is true. It is nice to be back and to find that things have not improved at all.

We must be clear about certain points. It is important that the country should also be clear about them. The question is not whether we should go into the Community but whether we should come out. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) pointed out earlier, that is an important distinction. The fact that by leaving the Community we should be breaching a treaty is of considerable significance and should not be overlooked.

The practical difficulties of coming out, and the renegotiation or denegotiation involved, will be considerable. That leads to the point that the burden of proof in this great issue must lie on those who want to change our present position and policy. The burden of proof must lie on those who want to change course and to take the initiative in bringing us out of the Community in breach of the agreements made solemnly on behalf of this country.

I come to the argument about terms. The question is not whether the terms obtained in the recent negotiations coincide with the Labour Party manifesto. The question is whether they coincide with the national interest. This may be a different matter. However, it is the sole question now before Parliament. Is it in the national interest, on these terms, to accept the Government recommendation to remain within the Community? I accept that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary tried in their negotiation to obtain all that was set out in their first statement of case. However, no sensible person entering a negotiation expects to obtain everything for which he asks in the first place. That is not negotiation. It is dictation. It would therefore be wrong to vote for the United Kingdom to leave the Community, if that was against the national interest, solely because the negotiations had not fully carried out the terms of the Labour Party manifesto.

There are different strands to the argument of those who arc opposed to membership and who wish to withdraw from the Community. Some oppose the proposition on the ground that the terms obtained are not good enough. Others are root and branch against the whole idea. Then there are the different arguments on the short-term and long-term issues. There are the differing arguments on the economic and political factors. Until this debate I think that the political factors received less stress than they should have received. There is also the feeling that the complaint is not against the Community as it now works but against what the Community must inevitably become as it proceeds. Finally, there are the differing strands in the alternatives offered by those who say that we must leave the Community and must therefore find an alternative.

No member of the Government is entitled to oppose Community membership root and branch. The Government negotiated in good faith on the basis that if the negotiations were successful they would recommend that the United Kingdom remain a member of the Community. Therefore it is not possible for any member of the Government to raise a point about Community membership which was not included in those negotiations, because it was clearly understood by the other members of the Community that what the Government asked for was set out in full in their negotiating position. I do not think that it is right, therefore, ex post facto, for any member of the Government, whatever his feelings, to depart from that position of honour.

Much argument has been devoted to the short-term issues, to the results and to some small details. But this is a fundamental decision—whether to stay in or to leave the Community. I do not think that questions regarding the price of butter or sheep should obtrude into what is a major parliamentary decision.

Secondly, it is not sensible to draw firm deductions from two years' operation of the Community. Certainly it is reasonable to say that what we have found in two years is what we predicted —that the Community is a flexible organisation which is responsive to demands for change and responsive to the views and interests of individual member countries. But it is not very convincing to judge the economic development on the basis of two years alone, especially on two years of exceptional economic upheaval, with the astonishing explosion of commodity prices and the oil crisis.

The case can be argued either way. The opponents of the EEC say that experience has shown that the promise of a great improvement in our trade balance in respect of our exports has not been realised. The supporters can say that the arguments about dearer food within the Community have not been realised. Neither claim carries total conviction. In either case the results have been obscured by wider international and national trade considerations.

The grave trade deficit with the Community which is so much talked about by certain Government supporters does not mirror the effect of membership of the Community. It mirrors our own failure as a nation to export, and it mirrors world conditions. The general decline in our trade balance has been spread not only over the EEC but over the whole world. The sucking in of imports because of our inability to produce or because of our labour disputes, the problems of steel and chemicals affected by industrial disputes in this country and the oil problem are all representative of our own economic position and not of membership of the Community.

The switch to lower-cost Community foodstuffs, which has been valuable to this country, has added to the imbalance between this country bilaterally with the Community. The simple fact is that our exports would not have been any larger outside the Community and our imports would not have been any smaller outside the Community.

The right hon. Member for Battersea, North and others say that outside the Community we would have imported fewer manufactures. That surely rests on the old illusion that we in this country can continue to export manfactures and to import only food and raw materials. That world has passed. People will not be content solely with selling us food and raw materials. They are not content any longer to remain in what they regard as a position of relative economic subjugation simply because it suits us. We must recognise that world imports involve imports of manufactures as well as imports of raw materials and foodstuffs.

On the price of food, again I do not find the arguments about the immediate experience of the past few months very convincing either way. They are based on figures derived from fluctuating markets. We cannot go in and out of the Community like a yo-yo depending on the price of grain in the Chicago market. We must choose, on the one hand, between the benefits of a consistent policy giving priority to domestic producers and, on the other hand, gambling on the spot market hoping to get cheap food in different parts of the world.

Mistakes can be made in either policy, but I believe that the assurance of stability of supply and, where possible, stability of price is best for this country. Sometimes it means paying more for our food than otherwise we would. Sometimes it means paying less. But that is inherent in many international agreements. The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, which lasted so long and served us so well, meant some years ago that we were paying about three times the world price for our sugar. We were paying a very high price for imports of sugar compared with the world price because we thought that this long-term agreement was in our interests and those of our Commonwealth partners. That is the kind of policy which fundamentally is suited to this country. The argument for this is becoming stronger with all the economic developments of the modern world. Free markets, as we used to call them, which we used well with our skill in purchasing, are getting fewer all the time. There are now genuine doubts about the availability of major foodstuffs with the growth of world population.

We also see the growing power and organisation of the producers of food and raw materials following the example of the oil producers. Surely we must see the need to assure producers of stability of price both in their interests and in the interests of the British consumer. It is a short-sighted policy so to depress the price of food that its production is sharply cut back. The net effect will be a higher price a little later.

For all these reasons, it seems to me that a policy of the type which is being pursued is of interest not only to the British farmer—the most efficient farmer in the word—but to the British consumer. We cannot have it both ways. We can either go into the spot market and take our chance or aim for long-term policies of the kind that we are now pursuing. Surely we are more likely to get policies and agreements that suit our national interests within the Community than outside. Frankly, our bargaining power as an independent country and importer is very small compared with that of the Community, now the largest single trading bloc in the whole world.

The long-term economic arguments are very strong. First, there is access to a large market. After all, tariffs are not the only obstacles to trade. There are rules of establishment, company law, patent rights, standards, and so on. Access to a large market in Europe can be assured only by membership of the Community.

The disadvantages of coming out now seem even more clear and serious than the advantages. First, there is the loss of employment which would certainly follow, with the increased difficulties of our business firms in exporting to our now main export market.

Secondly, world-wide competition must not be forgotten. There are no sheltered markets for us. We face the constant pressure of America, the onward march of Japan, and strong competition from the French, the Germans and the Italians in the markets of the Middle and Far East and the Commonwealth. All the time we face this competition. If we try to meet it on the basis of a narrow, restricted home market, we shall be putting ourselves at a grave disadvantage compared with the French, the Italians or the Germans with the benefit that they enjoy from their enormous domestic market.

Thirdly, there is the loss of investment from both our own domestic sources and external sources. Let no one make any mistake about that. Investment, which is lagging in this country, will lag even further and be further discouraged if we decide to come out of the Common Market. Certainly inflowing investment from outside will be very much discouraged.

There is also the question of confidence in sterling. It is not right or proper to exaggerate this matter or to make scarifying prophecies, but it is right to be realistic and to recognise that throughout the world those who hold sterling in large quantities as a medium of reserve and exchange are bound to find our currency less attractive if we come out of the Common Market. The effect on sterling of the failure of the negotiations in 1963 convinces me that this is an important factor which should not be overlooked.

Finally, there is the loss of bargaining power in trade and payments. The world is moving all the time from free to managed markets. Our interests are vitally affected by the form of the world monetary and payments system, by the rules of trade accepted throughout the world, and by the general international framework treaties which dominate these matters.

Surely it is of the greatest importance that we should be in a position to influence the development of world trade and payments systems. Surely also we should be in a far better position to exercise that influence as a leading member of the biggest commercial grouping in the world than we should as a single independent economic island unit. What one has seen of recent economic negotiations by the Chancellor and others about the flow of petro-dollars, about the payments system in the world and about energy policy contains plenty of examples of how Britain's influence, exercised through membership of the Community, can be of great advantage not only to this country but to the world at large.

There are also the political and defence implications of leaving the Community which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) put so forcefully to the House today. There are defence implications. It was part of the basic concept of the Treaty of Rome that it should bring together France and Germany, bring Germany back into the family of European nations and prevent future wars of the kind from which Europe has so often suffered. As so often happens when something succeeds, people fail to realise that it is necessary. There is still this danger. Consider the example of NATO. People say, "Why do we need NATO when we have détente?' But without NATO, we should not have détente.

People say that there is nothing about defence in the Treaty of Rome. That is true, but that comment is surely too naive. The simple fact is that the strength and cohesion and determination of NATO is fundamentally affected by the degree of economic and political co-operation among the European members of NATO. I cannot see how the strength of NATO could fail to be affected by any major diversion among us on matters of trade and economics.

There are other matters relating to defence. After all, defence these days is not just a matter of traditional aggression and invasion. We must never forget subversion, and there is also the removal of causes of international discontent and aid to the developing countries as a means of reducing strain between nations. All these are surely matters—the Lomé Convention, for example—in which we have seen how Europe, working together, can make a contribution which the European nations working separately could never hope to make. The European voice in the councils of the world is bound to be stronger than the individual national voice. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That is bound to be.

The European voice, for example, in the Middle East could be of enormous importance at present. As the Foreign Secretary is well aware, the situation there is one of great danger, affecting the interests of the United States and the Soviet Union, the super-Powers. That has not seemed to work out somehow. I still have a feeling that, somehow, Europe could contribute to the solution of this Middle Eastern problem. I believe that that contribution could best be made through a united European effort, led in this case, I think, by the British Government, because we have a greater tradition in and more knowledge of that area than any other European Power.

The arguments against our membership also rest on sovereignty. People say, "Is the loss of sovereignty involved so great as more than to counterweigh the benefits, political and economic, of continued membership?" It has always seemed to me that sovereignty means nothing more or less than freedom to run our own affairs. We want to have freedom to run our own affairs, but we cannot have total freedom and international agreements, because all international agreements limit our freedom of individual action and, incidentally, the freedom of individual action of our partners as well.

Sometimes, to hear some of the speeches from below the Gangway on the Government side about sovereignty, one would think that all the European countries were involved in some vast conspiracy to stop us doing things while they did what they wanted. I cannot understand why a limitation on freedom of action which is perfectly acceptable to France, Germany or Italy, should be wholly repulsive to this country. That makes no sense to me.

All international agreements involve some limitation on our freedom to manage our own economy or finances. I do not see in the Treaty of Rome, in the Economic Community, any greater limitation on our freedom of economic management than we have already in the GATT and the International Monetary Fund.

The right hon. Member for Down, South, with his eloquent combination of passion and hyperbole, said—if I heard him rightly—that by being in the Community this Parliament was ceding its control over our industrial and economic policies to someone else. If he did say that—and I thought that he did—it is absolute rubbish. Does he think that next week's Budget is being drafted in Brussels? Some people might say that it would be a good idea if it were. In fact, the White Paper makes absolutely clear that the freedom to manage our economy and the freedom of industrial and economic policy which has been retained is virtually total, and any limitations upon our freedom of action are just the sort of limitations which are compatible with membership of an international organisation.

I believe that we gain in freedom of action, because we must live and trade in a world framework and our power to influence the nature of that framework will be greater inside the Community than it will be outside. Therefore, in effect, our freedom of action to control our own affairs would be greater inside than it would be outside.

Of course it is true that the treaty involves the acceptance and enforcement by the British courts of Community law. But there are many examples of treaties which oblige us to enact legislation which is effective in the British courts. I cannot see very great differences in practice between being obliged ourselves to enact the legislation or telling the courts to follow legislation which has been enacted by a body of which we are a member.

We hear a good deal from the right hon. Member for Battersea, North about the vast volume of regulations passed by the bureaucracy in Brussels. I think. frankly, that the bureaucracy in Brussels has not been very clever. Some of the eager beavers there have overdone it a bit. All that stuff about "Euro-beer". "Euro-bread" and the contents of a jar of pickled onions is manifest nonsense. It was nonsense from the start. That sort of thing will not be accepted in this country or any other major country in the Community. However, it sometimes gives an unfortunate impression.

The truth is that the great bulk of these regulations and directives are of tiny significance. Though much has been said of the effect of the bureaucracy of Brussels, I have not heard during the debate any example of a regulation passed by the Commission which is offensive to the people of this country or really damaging to our own standard of living.

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. He is right, of course, to make merry about "Euro-beer" and "Euro-honey" and that nonsense, out when we are surrendering control over a vital national industry such as the steel industry, which is what we have done. I suggest that that is a very different matter.

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman's grasp of the facts is a little lacking if what the Government say is correct.

I undertook to sit down in two minutes' time from now to give the Foreign Secretary plenty of time to reply.

There are many other things that I should like to say. I should like to say to my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) that I see his argument that the future development of the Community could be towards a federal situation. If, for example, a European monetary union meant a common currency, that would be true. I do not think that it means anything of the sort. Certainly it is clear that any development of a federal character and any development of the powers of the European Parliament are subject to the rule that they can take place only with the agreement of all members of the Community. Therefore, any process towards federalism—which personally I would not welcome—could take place only if the Parliament of this country and Ministers responsible to it were prepared to accept that such a process was in the interests of this country.

I should have liked to talk about alternatives, but I cannot because I do not have enough time. However, when people talk of a free trade area I have a great nostalgia for the period of 18 years ago when we tried to accomplish a free trade area without any agricultural policy, and they would not have it. There was no conceivable reason why they would. People complain that our deficit with Europe is a serious matter, but how on earth can a free trade area improve on that? I do not think that in the free trade area idea there is anything but nostalgia for the past which I partly share but which has no relevance to the present.

The recent development of the Community has taken us a long way from the original concept of Jean Monnet and the others who supported it. It has not become the supranational body which many at that time thought it would. It has become a partnership, a concept which is very much part of the law and practice of this country, a concept of the meeting and working together of people who think that there is strength in their working together, a concept of a partnership of individuals, where the individual respects the rules and wishes of the partnership, and the partnership respects the wishes and interests of the individual.

If the partnership tries to override the basic interests of the individual member it will collapse, and it is the recognition of that within the Community which I think disposes of all the fears which we have heard paraded so often of things being imposed upon this country which we should not wish to accept. There are genuine fears, doubts and apprehensions, and they have been expressed fully during this debate, but I conclude still convinced that in current circumstances, on grounds both economic and political, it would be a grave error for this country to break its treaties and to leave the Community.

9.26 p.m.

I begin, as did the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), by congratulating the only maiden speaker in this debate, namely, the hon. Member for Wilmslow—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hazel Grove."] I mean the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold). That was a bad start, and I apologise. If I cannot get any more than that right tonight, I shall get nobody in the Lobby. The hon. Member made his speech without notes and with an enviable competence, and I am certain that the logic that he brought to his speech on this occasion, although I did not wholly agree with all of it, will be heard much more in this House.

I should like to discuss these matters tonight partly from a national point of view and partly from a party point of view, because it is no secret that our party is not wholly united on this issue. I want to discuss the matter from our own point of view and our own internal arrangements as a Labour Government as well as from the viewpoint of our responsibility to the people of this country.

The hon. Gentleman may stay.

During the last 12 months we have been carrying through the manifesto on which we fought and won two elections. In this respect, as in others, our attitude to the manifesto was determined before it was written. It was determined as long ago as 1972 when we put together the document which I have quoted so Often and have lived with continually for the last 12 months. Clearly, therefore, although, as the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk) said this afternoon, it seems to have been set aside in this debate in favour of more exotic discussions on issues that went wider in my judgment than we had in mind when we drafted the manifesto, one of the tests to which hon. Members who fought and won the election for the Labour Party must subject our work is: have we fulfilled the terms of the manifesto?

I recognise that there is more than one view about that. The Prime Minister gave the Government's view when he said that, broadly speaking, he thought we had fulfilled the terms of the manifesto and that we had carried them out as far as we could. My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), in what I thought was one of the best analyses of the terms, reached a different conclusion.

I believe that on another occasion I gave myself five marks out of seven. We can all have our views, but what I have always found in all the trade union negotiations that I have conducted over many years is that one can never expect to get seven marks out of seven. If I get five out of seven, I am doing pretty well. [Interruption.] If I were not a modest chap I should have given myself full marks, but I made a substantial discount.

I join the Prime Minister in saying that, broadly speaking, on a test of what is contained in the manifesto, we can say "Yes, we have broadly succeeded, and where we have not done so the White Paper sets that out".

But that is not the only test that I think the House and the country, and my own party in particular, should apply. The second test, which I now put to see whether I can get agreement on it, is this. To the extent that there have been changed attitudes since 1972 either in world conditions or in the ways in which the Community has modified its own attitudes, ought these issues to have changed our minds?

It is my view and my judgment of the matter that, with all the percipience we had when we wrote the document in 1972, we could not have foreseen what has taken place since. We could not have seen the explosion in world food prices. We could not have seen what has happened in regard to energy. We could not—perhaps we should have done—wholly have seen the political change which has overtaken the developing nations.

What I put, therefore, to my hon. Friends, who are considering these matters, I know, very fairly, as we all are trying to do, is that they should take these factors into account in considering whether we have met the requirements which were laid upon us by the Labour Party conference and by our own decisions on which we fought the General Elections.

Let me give some illustrations of what I mean. First, there is the changed view of the experts about the future pattern of world food consumption and their expectation that world food prices will remain higher in the 1970s than they were in the 1960s. It is an expectation which the Wold Food Conference at Rome certainly thought likely to be achieved. That must have an impact in our assessment of the common agricultural policy, and may indeed even alter our attitude towards some of its more protective provisions. It has certainly altered mine, and I shall explain why later.

There is the changed attitude of the Commonwealth since 1972, among both the developed and the developing countries, towards our membership. They now want us in. They did not in 1972.

Then there is the development in the Community's policy towards the developing world, especially the developing Commonwealth countries, as has been exemplified time after time during the last three days by the references to the Lomé Convention. No one can deny that that convention, whatever its deficiences and faults, has opened up the Community and diverted it from being an inward-looking trading association to being a bloc which recognises, however imperfectly, its world responsibilities. Nobody saw that in 1972.

I turn now to another matter which we did not foresee in 1972, when we were opposed, indeed, to what we did see. I refer to the abandonment of economic and monetary union as a practical issue until—the word "until" is important—the day, whenever it may come, when the economies and wealth of the peoples of the member countries more truly coincide, when the livelihood of the peasant of the Mezzogiorno comes to terms with the remuneration of the skilled Dutch worker in a Philips factory. I do not know when my hon. Friends think that is likely to be achieved. It is part of the objective, they say, of the Community. But what I am pointing out in regard to economic and monetary union is that it cannot possibly happen until those things coincide. That is what the abandonment for the time being means.

Following from that, and consequential upon it, there is the abandonment of the notion of rigid fixed parities in currencies. I always attacked that as a nonsense from the very first day I heard of it. With all respect to the right hon. Member for Sid-cup (Mr. Heath), I do not know how anyone ever managed to cobble it up. It was a folly from the beginning, and, of course, it broke down within six weeks of being introduced. As I say, it has now been abandoned consequential upon abandonment of economic and monetary union as a practical issue.

Another matter influenced me greatly in some of the speeches I made in 1971. There is the abandonment now of the insistence that Britain must turn away from the open seas. That concept, advanced by M. Pompidou and accepted, we understood, by the right hon. Member for Sidcup, was repudiated by us then. I shall illustrate some of these changes in more detail later.

Nobody can deny that when we wrote the manifesto and those terms, we could not have foreseen, and did not foresee, changes in world conditions, changes in the attitude of the Community and changes in some respects in our own relationships with the rest of the world and with the Commonwealth. Those changes have to some extent made it necessary to update the manifesto on which we fought the two elections.

The right hon. Member for Sidcup did us a disservice in his discussions with M. Pompidou in the manner in which he deserted the open seas concept. We have now returned to it. It was a mistake to desert it. I believe that it made unnecessary difficulties.

However, I envied the way in which the right hon. Gentleman made a full speech, without a note, from obviously a very full mind. It was a good speech. The only objection that I took to it was his unnecessary attack upon my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, which I thought was unworthy, especially in my right hon. Friend's absence. When the right hon. Gentleman began by telling us about the old Chinese saying, "Never lift a stone to drop it on your own toe", I believed that he was rather ruefully reflecting on his sterile confrontation with the miners, but apparently he was not. He was talking about the Prime Minister. There is this major difference. As a result of his dropping the stone on his own toe, he is sitting on the Opposition back benches, but my right hon. Friend is Prime Minister. I wonder who it was who really dropped the brick. But after hearing the right hon. Gentleman's speech I must confess that I wonder why his colleagues were so quick to get rid of him.

The changes I have outlined influenced me greatly during the past 12 months. In this country we have a mixed economy, an economy which the overwhelming number of Labour voters believe in and support. That is their definition of democratic Socialism. It is my best and honest judgment that the economics of a mixed economy cannot be effectively challenged by the Commission or anyone else. I firmly believe that we can follow the industrial and economic policies that we believe best. Although I appreciate that that view can be disputed, if I did not believe it I should not recommend these terms

As an illustration, we can promote national measures to overcome structural unemployment in the English regions, in Scotland and in Wales. When I add together my belief that we can follow our own policies in regional and industrial matters, the changes in the world since 1972, the changes in the Community, our practical experience of the working of the Community and the relative success of our renegotiation, I make clear what is already known to the House: that I believe I am right to change my mind to vote "Yes" tonight and to vote "Yes" in the referendum. In doing so, it is a matter of great regret to me and many others that we shall be parting company with a number of our hon. Friends. We have marched a long way down the road with them. Many of the arguments that they have used, I have used. The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) has used the same arguments. [HON. MEMBERS: "Consistency."] Indeed, but the man who never changes his mind in the light of the facts is no more than an unlicked cub.

I do not believe that it is sensible or fair to say that those of my hon. Friends who differ from me are any less internationally minded than I am or that they care less about these problems than I do. I do not say that. I do not use the argument that if one does not believe in belonging to the Common Market one must be a Little Englander. That is absolute rubbish. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and the hon. Member for Banbury have both shown how untrue it is. I do not attack them on either of those grounds.

I say to my hon. Friend whom I have so far been unable to convince, however, that if the people of Britain choose to remain members of the Community, as believe they will, we shall be alongside many like-minded Europeans and like-minded Governments. Let us not neglect that. The Danes have a Labour Government. The Dutch people have elected a Labour Government. The German people have elected the SPD, and their Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, gave an outstanding address at our last party conference. In Luxembourg and the Irish Republic, Labour parties form part of the coalition Governments. Including Britain, that is six out of nine, which is not a bad start.

The hon. Gentleman is not helping me.

What I ask my hon. Friends to consider seriously is that, despite what the treaty says, we can make of the Community what we and the other members will that it should be. It can be as strong as we like. It can be as weak as the member Governments decide. What is more, they must decide unanimously. No major changes can be made in the Community without unanimous agreement. That cuts both ways. They may not make changes which interfere with the social philosophy expressed by the Labour Party here. But, likewise, if we can carry them with us, we can unanimously set Europe on a different road. That is for the future, but nobody can deny that that is how the Community will work.

Nor is the Community a monolith of eight nations, all massively and unitedly lined up to do down the British. There are like-minded Governments with our own. I find that that is so whenever we consider problems. There are countries with interests similar to our own. It is for us to shape the future of the Community. With the other countries, we can decide whether it shall be federalist or not. The right hon. Gentleman does not want that any more than I do. We can help shape it as we want it to be.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food discussed the question of the supply and cost of food this afternoon. First, let me deal with the argument about cheap food. It is a primary duty of a Government to ensure an adequate supply of food at all times to their people. We hardly pause to think about it. But when we raise our eyes to the rest of the world—and in our movement we do—every one of us, on both sides of the House, is shocked by the human tragedies where a Government fail to achieve that. We are shocked by the sights that we see on television of starving children and men and women in Bangladesh and drought-stricken parts of Africa where food is insufficient.

We have a right to base our judgment or our attitude to the Common Market on these policies, and we do so. Hon. Members will notice that I do not refer to the fact that we are living from one harvest to another, nor do I refer to the fact that for some months prices have been lower inside the Community than outside. These are two short-term considerations. I do not doubt, as my right 'hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said this afternoon, that our long-term policy in this country, as throughout other countries of the world, should be the expansion of our domestic agriculture and the creation of greater efficiency in European agriculture. That is the reason for the stocktaking which is happening now.

It cannot happen to us because we happen to have sufficient muscle, because we are sufficiently wealthy and because we run the ships. We do not suffer hunger and starvation because we are wealthy enough to prevent it, but it is incumbent upon us to ensure that a system is created in which we not only develop our resources to the full and in which the Community should be growing as much food as it can—and that should include this country as well but it should develop further what it has begun to develop, namely, a food aid programme to dispose of its surpluses in that way.

I put this point to the House and especially to my hon. Friends because they recognise this fact. What is significant is the changed tone of the poorer nations. Now, unlike a few years ago, there is an insistent demand by them for a better deal, a similar demand that we have heard from the raw material producers and which was started by the oil producers. It is these factors which have led experts at the World Food Conference in Rome to conclude that the demand and supply situation of food is going to change. It is leading to a change in the relationship between the cost of the goods we make in the industrialised world and the cost of the food which is supplied to us.

The change will occur over a number of years, but my view is that cheap food from abroad is no longer a slogan for us, whatever it may be for anyone else. It is the basis on which nineteenth century capitalist Britain built its manufacturing supremacy. It is the basis upon which employers in the nineteenth century were able to pay low wages to their workers, and the basis which resulted in the formation of the trade unions. What the Indian peasant is now doing in the twentieth century is what the British worker did in the nineteenth century. That is the situation we face, a situation we can help to remedy.

On the question of price, discussions with New Zealand Ministers show that they are now as much preoccupied with the price we shall pay as with the markets we can offer. They have already made an agreement with Japan. There is no real difficulty in selling food today. The question is how much one can get for it, and that was the question which New Zealand Ministers raised with us repeatedly when they came to see us. This is something which I believe we must reckon with. The improvements which were outlined by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture which we have secured so far, even though we do not yet have a fundamental change. demonstrate that we can move the Commission and our partners in the Community in a different direction. I am persuaded it is possible to do this in a way which will be most suitable for Britain and most suitable for the developing world.

Another factor has influenced me very much, namely, the changed attitude of the Commonwealth countries. No one has seriously challenged throughout this three-day debate the statement that has been made time and again that the Governments of the Commonwealth countries prefer Britain to be part of the Community. It is not only true of the old Commonwealth of Canada, New Zealand and Australia. It is also true of the new Commonwealth.

At Christmas I travelled through Africa and visited seven different countries. In every one of them the question of future membership was raised with me with apprehension. I did my best to reassure them. I said that if the British people voted against entry, we would do our best to protect their interests, because the Commonwealth still exists. However, the apprehension is there. If my hon. Friends want to know the truth, it is that the Commonwealth would prefer Britain to be inside rather than outside the Community.

The Lomé Convention has opened up new opportunities for African and the Caribbean and Pacific countries in both trade and aid. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Healey (Mr. Hooley) correctly spelt out the effect of inflation on aid. This is a matter we must follow up. However, we shall not be able to do so if we are not in the Community. How then could we help the ACP countries? I regard the question of aid and trade for Asian countries as important. The position of the Asian countries has not been covered by the Lomé Convention for the reasons given earlier in the debate. If we stay in, we can help them to get a different settlement. In addition, we can help them to get a share of the new aid that is being made available by the Community. This will be additional to the bilateral aid which we now give to India and which is the largest sum any individual country gives.

There is also a worthwhile area of Commonwealth co-operation to explore. Commonwealth countries were disappointed when we joined the EEC. It was one of the weaknesses of the negotiation at that time that Commonwealth co-operation sagged. There is now renewed interest, and people know this.

I look forward to a fruitful Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference in Jamaica. I explained in a debate before Easter the discussions that we hope to initiate at this conference on the future treatment of raw materials and commodities. Both sides, as producers and consumers, have a joint interest in ensuring security of supplies for us and adequate earnings for them. The Commonwealth has an important role to play in evolving world thinking if it chooses to do so.

When I go to Dublin this weekend to discuss common problems with Foreign Ministers, I shall raise the problem of how the Prime Minister and I in Jamaica will try to evolve an initiative and how we can marry the interests of the Community with the interests of the Commonwealth in this matter. Is that not worth doing? Is that not real co-operation. where we can use the EEC both for beneficent purposes of our own and to the advantage of the Commonwealth as such?

I have spoken as Commonwealth Secretary. Let me now say a few words as Foreign Secretary, which I was asked to do by the right hon. Member for Sidcup. No one in this debate has claimed that membership of the EEC has made it impossible to improve our bilateral relations with other countries, including the USSR. No one has claimed that it has prevented a return to our familiar intimacy with the United States of America. If these relationships have been jeopardised in the past, it is not because of our membership of the EEC but is because other men willed that it should be so.

Over the past 12 months—I must ask my hon. Friends to accept this—we have added an extra dimension to our influence in all these issues. We have discussed with these countries, although I regret to say that some discussions were not very fruitful, our policies and difficulties over Rhodesia, Cyprus, South Africa, the future of Portugal and the Middle East situation. On some of these matters there is no common policy. I ask my hon. Friends to accept that as a result of regular discussions we have created a greater understanding of what each other is doing. That is another reason why I have changed my mind over the past 12 months. [Interruption.] I say to those who jeer that an ounce of practice, which I have had, is worth a ton of their theory.

Turning to our domestic policies, let me say in the five minutes remaining that we can look after our own regions. We can look after and change our national aids. We can change boundaries if we wish to do so. I ask my hon. Friends to note this. They may not agree with it but let me put the point. Anyone can argue about the fine print of the treaties. They can product Article 92, 93, 94 or Article 99—anything they like. But when we have argued about the fine print, the political reality of life in the Community is that no single member, be it Britain or anyone else, can be compelled to follow a course which will throw large numbers of its people out of work or impoverish its citizens.

If that unacceptable situation should arise, either the Community bends or it breaks. Because everyone knows that. no one there will test it to destruction. That is my experience. This is the reality of sovereignty. This is what it is all about. It is not solely about parliamentary procedures, although I would be untrue to my past if I were to blow upon that. But true sovereignty, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) said, is the power to make effective decisions in our own affairs. It resides in a combination of things—economic strength, military power and social cohesion. I see no signs that France is any the less French after 20 years in the Community. Does anyone else?

Why should it be thought that the British people are less sturdy than the French?

The hon. Gentleman must be fair. The Scottish National Party has had some speakers in the debate.

I ask my hon. Friends to answer this question—and I am addressing myself to the issues as I see them. Will staying in the Community mean that we shall build fewer houses for our people?

If membership is confirmed in the referendum, the Government's intention will be to pursue British interests energetically and effectively, not

Division No. 164.]


[10.00 p.m.

Abse, LeoBoyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Adley, RobertBradley, TomClegg, Walter
Aitken, JonathanBray, Dr JeremyCockcroft, John
Amery, Rt Hon JulianBrittan, LeonCohen, Stanley
Anderson, DonaldBrotherton, MichaelColeman, Donald
Armstrong, ErnestBroughton, Sir AlfredCooke, Robert (Bristol W)
Arnold, TomBrown, Sir Edward (Bath)Cope, John
Ashley, JackBrown, Hugh D. (Provan)Cordle, John H.
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Cormack, Datrick
Awdry, DanielBrown, Ronald (Hackney S)Corrie, John
Bagler, Gordon A. T.Bryan, Sir PaulCostaln, A. P.
Baker, KennethBuchanan, RichardCralgen, J. M. (Maryhill)
Banks, RobertBuchanan-Smith, AlickCrawshaw, Richard
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)Buck, AntonyCritchley, Julian
Beith, A. J.Budgen, NickCronin, John
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)Bulmer, EsmondCrosland, Rt Hon Anthony
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Burden, F. A.Crouch, David
Benyon, W.Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Crowder, F. P.
Berry, Hon AnthonyCallaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)
Biggs-Davison, JohnCant, R. B.Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Bishop, E. S.Carlisle, MarkDavies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)
Blaker, PeterCarr, Rt Hon RobertDean, Paul (N Somerset)
Blenkinsop, ArthurCarter, Rayde Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Boardman, H.Cartwright, JohnDelargy, Hugh
Boscawen. Hon RobertChalker, Mrs LyndaDell, Rt Hon Edmund
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurChannon, PaulDodsworth, Geoffrey
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Churchill, W. S.Doig, Peter
Boyden, James (Bish Auek)Clark, William (Croydon S)Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

to adopt a supine attitude waiting to see what the Community will do to us. It is clear from what I have said that we do not intend to play a negative and a disruptive role in the Community. There are many areas— [Interruption.] I hope that this debate will not dribble out in disorder, because I do not believe that that is what the House wants.

There are many areas, such as the common agricultural policy, New Zealand, fisheries policy and the future of steel, where we have objectives to pursue within the Community on a longer time-scale.

The Government have given their verdict. In our view they are faithfully carrying out the manifesto. Some do not like what was in it—neither the committed pro-Marketers nor the committed anti-Marketeers. But the rest of us, those who are strong neither on one side nor the other, have supported the manifesto. We have attempted to discharge our responsibilities both in our renegotiations and now, as the Government are giving the British people the opportunity to declare themselves. That is why the Government ask for support from every hon. Member in the Lobby tonight.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 396, Noes 170.

Drayson, BurnabyIrving. Charles (Cheltenham)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Duffy, A. E. P.Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Dunn, James A.Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Dunnett, JackJames, DavidMorrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Durant, TonyJanner, GrevilleNeave. Airey
Dykes, HughJenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanat'd & W'dfd) Nelson. Anthonv
Edelman, MauriceJenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford)Neubert, Michael
Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnJohnson, James (Hull West)Newton Tony
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Johnson, Walter (Derby S)Normanton, Tom
Elliott, Sir WilliamJohnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)Nott, John
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)Johnston, Russell (Inverness)Oakes, Gordon
Emery, PeterJones, Arthur (Daventry)Ogden, Eric
Ennals, DavidJones, Barry (East Flint)Onslow, Craniey
Eyre, ReginaldJones, Dan (Burnley)Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Fairbairn, NicholasJopling, MichaelOsborn John
Fairgrieve, RussellJoseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithOwen Dr David
Fell, AnthonyKaberry, Sir DonaldPadley, Walter
Finsberg, GeoffreyKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Page, John (Harrow West)
Fisher, Sir NigelKershaw, AnthonyPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Kimball, MarcusPalmer Arthur
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)King, Evelyn (South Dorset)Pardon John
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles King, Tom (Bridgwater) Parker, John
Ford, BenKirk, PeterParkinson, Cecil
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Kitson, Sir TimothyPattie, Geoffrey
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'I'd) Knight, Mrs Jill Pattie, Geoffrey
Fox, MarcusKnox, DavidPeart, Rt Hon Fred
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)Lamborn, HarryPenhaligon, David
Freud, ClementLamont, NormanPerclval, Ian
Fry, PeterLane, DavidPerry, Ernest
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.Langford-Holt, Sir JohnPeyton, Rt Hon John
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)Latham, Michael (Melton)Phipps, Dr Colin.
Garrett, John (Norwich S)Lawrence, IvanPink, R. Bonner
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)Lawson, NigelPrentice, Rt Hon Reg
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)Le Marchant, SpencerPrice, David (Eastleigh)
Ginsburg, DavidLester, Jim (Beeston)Price, William (Rugby)
Glyn, Dr AlanLever, Rt Hon HaroldPrior, Rt Hon James
Godber, Rt Hon JosephLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Golding, JohnLloyd, IanRadice, Giles
Goodhart, PhilipLomas, KennethRaison, Timothy
Goodhew, VictorLoveridge, JohnRathbone, Tim
Goodlad, AlastairLuard, EvanRawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Gorst, JohnLuce, RichardRees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)Lyon, Alexander (York)Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Rees-Davies, W. R.
Graham, TedMabon, Dr J. DicksonRenton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)McCrindle, RobertRenton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Grant, George (Morpeth)Macfarlane, NeilRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Grant, John (Islington C)MacFarquhar, RoderickRidsdale, Julian
Gray, HamishMacGregor, JohnRifkind, Malcoim
Grieve, PercyMcGuire, Michael (lnce)Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Grieve, EidonMackenzie, GregorRoberts, Micael(Cardiff NW)
Grimond, Rt Hon J.Mackintosh, John P.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Grist, IanMaclennan, RobertRoberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Grylls. MichaelMacmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)Rodgers, Sir john (Sevenoaks)
Hall, Sir JohnMcNair-Willson, M. (Newbury)Rodgers, Sir john (Sevenoaks)
Hall-Davis, A.G.F.McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)Roper, John
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Madel, Devld.Rose, Paul B.
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Magee, BryanRose, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Hampson, Dr KeithMahon, SimonRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Hannam, JohnMallalieu J. P. WRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)Marks, KennethRost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon MissMarks, KennethRowlands, Ted
Hastings, StephenMarquand, DavidRoyle, Sir Anthony
Hattersiey, Rt Hon RoyMason, Rt Hon RoySt. John-Stevas, Norman
Havers, Sir MichaelMates, MichaelSandelson, Neville
Hayhoe, BarneyMather, CarolScott, Nicholas
Hayman, Mrs HeleneMaude, AngusScott-Hopkins, James
Healey, Rt Hon DenisMaudling Rt Hon ReginoldShaw Giles (Pudsey)
Heath, Rt Hon EdwardMawby, Ray.Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Heseltine, MichaelMaxwell-Hyslop, RobinSheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-lyne)
Hicks, RobertMayhew, PatrickShelton, William (Streatham)
Higgins, Terence L.Mellish, Rt Hon RobertShepherd, Colin
Holland, PhilipMeyer, Sir AnthonyShersby, Michael
Hooson, EmlynMillan, BruceShort, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Horam, johnMiller, Hal (Bromsgrove)Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Horderm, PeterMills PeterSilvester, Fred
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyMiscampbell, NormanSims, Roger
Howell, David (Guildford)Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)Sinclair, Sir George
owell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H)itchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)keet, T. H. H.
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Monro, HectorSmall, William
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)Montgomery, Fergusmith, Dudley (Warwick)
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Moonman, EricSmith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Hurd, DouglasMoore, John (Croydon C)Speed, Keith
Irvine, Bryant Ciodman (Rye)Morgan-Giles, Rear-AdmiralSpicer, Jim (W Dorset)

Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)Wells, John
Sproat, lainTinn, JamesWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Stainton, KeithTomlinson, JohnWhite, James (Pollok)
Stanbrook, IvorTomney, FrankWhitehead, Phillip
Stanley, JohnTugendhat, ChristopherWhitelaw, Rt Hon William
Steel, David (Roxburgh)van Straubenzee, W. R.Whitlock, William
Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)Vaughan, Dr GerardWiggin, Jerry
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)Viggers, PeterWilley. Rt Hon Frederick
Stewart, Rt Hon M (Fulham)Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Stokes, JohnWainwright, Richard (Colne V)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Stradling Thomas, JWakeham, JohnWilliams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Strang, GavinWalden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.Walder, David (Clltheroe)Wlnterton, Nicholas
Summersklll, Hon Dr ShirleyWalker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)Wood. Rt Hon Richard
Tapsell, PeterWalker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir DerekWrigglesworth, Ian
aylor, R. (Croydon NW)Wall, PatrickYoung, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Tebbit, NormanWalters, DennisYounger, Hon George
Temple-Morris, PeterWard, Michael
Thatcher, Rt Hon MargaretWatklns, David


Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)Weatherill, BernardMiss Betty Boothroyd and
Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)Wellbeloved, JamesMr. Joseph Harper.
Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)


Ashton, JoeGilbert, Dr JohnO'Malley, Rt Hon Brian
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Gould, BryanOrbach, Maurice
Atkinson, NormanGourlay, HarryOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
Bain, Mrs MargaretHamilton, James (Bothwell)Ovenden, John
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Hardy, PeterPavitt, Laurie
Bates, AlfHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Pendry, Tom
Bell, RonaldHart, Rt Hon JudithPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodHalton, FrankPrescott, John
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Hefler, Eric S.Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Bidwell, SydneyHenderson, DouglasReid, George
Biffen, JohnHooley, FrankRichardson, Miss Jo
Body, RichardHoyle, Doug (Nelson)Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Booth, AlbertHuckfield, LesRobertson, John (Paisley)
Buchan, NormanHughes, Mark (Durham)Roderick, Caerwyn
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Hughes, Roy (Newport)Rooker, J. W.
Campbell, IanHunter, AdamRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Carmichael, NeilHutchison, Michael ClarkRoss, William (Londonderry)
Carson, JohnIrvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)Ryman, John
Carter-Jones, LewisJackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)Sedgemore, Brian
Castle, Rt Hon Barbaraay, Rt Hon Douglaselby, Harry
lark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)enkins, Hugh (Putney)Shaw, Arnold (llford South)
Clemitson, IvorJohn, BrynmorShore, Rt Hon Peter
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Short, Mrs Renee (Wolv NE)
Colquhoun, Mrs MaureenJudd, FrankSilkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Kaufman, GeraldSilverman, Julius
Corbett, RobinKelley, RichardSkinner, Dennis
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Kerr, RussellSnape, Peter
Crawford, DouglasKilroy-Silk, RobertSprlggs, Leslie
Cryer, BobLamble, DavidStallard, A. W.
Cunningham, G. (Islington S)Lamond, JamesStewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)Latham, Arthur (Paddlngton)Stoddart, Davtd
Davies, Denzll (Llanelli)Leadbitter, TedStott, Roger
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Swaln, Thomas
ean, Joseph (Leeds West)ewis Arthur (Newham N)aylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
empsey, Jamesewis, Ron (Carlisle)homas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
ouglas-Mann, Bruceipton, Marcushomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
unlop, Johnitterick, Tomhompson, George
Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethLoyden, EddieThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Eadie, AlexMacCormlck, lainTierney, Sydney
Edge, GeoffMnCusker, H.Torney, Tom
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)McEihone, FrankUrwin, T. W.
English, MichaelMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Varley, Rt Hn Eric G.
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)McNamara, KevinWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)Madden, MaxWatkinson, John
Evans, loan (Aberdare)Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Watt, Hamish
Evans, John (Newton)Marten, NeilWeetch, Ken
Ewing, Harry (Stirling)Maynard, Miss JoanWeitzman, David
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)Meacher, MichaelWelsh, Andrew
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.Mikardo, IanWilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Flannery, MartinMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)Wilson, William (Coventry SF)
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMolloy, WilliamWise, Mrs Audrey Woof, Robert
Forrester, JohnMolyneaux, James
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)


Freeson, ReginaldNewens, Stanley
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Noble, MikeMr. Roger Moate and
George, BruceO'Halloran, MichaelMr. Nigel Spearing

Question accordingly agreed to.


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).


European Community (Referendum)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I beg leave to present a petition supported by more than 10,000 British citizens in Continental Europe. This petition relates to the wholly exceptional circumstances of the proposed referendum on this country's continued membership of the European Economic Community.

Many British subjects now work in the EEC area consequent upon United King- dom accession, but not all the signatories are from the EEC area.

The petition is also supported by Voluntary Service Overseas.

The Government have announced special arrangements for Service voters in the referendum. The petitioners ask the House to make arrangements for them, as residents abroad, similar to those which are made, for example, by the Governments of New Zealand, Sweden and France amongst others. The Opposition have tabled an amendment to the Referendum Bill which will give effect to these proposals.

The petitioners pray that

the House of Commons do amend the Referendum Bill at present before the House so as to enable United Kingdom citizens resident abroad to cast their votes in the forthcoming referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Economic Community.

I beg leave to present the petition.

To lie upon the Table.


Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[ Mr. John Ellis.]

Hospital Service (Dudley)

10.20 p.m.

For one brief moment, I thought that this might be the best attended Adjournment debate for some days. However, I see that the House is resuming its normal state for this time of the evening.

I am grateful for this opportunity to raise on the Adjournment the question of the Dudley District General Hospital. It is now almost 20 years since serious deficiencies in the hospital services in the Dudley area were identified and a positive decision taken to build a new district general hospital. This decision was taken after very careful consideration of the alternative, which was to develop the existing small hospitals, had been rejected on the grounds that the service was too fragmented and required rationalising, and that the two largest hospitals were in such a serious state of dilapidation that they should be abandoned.

In 1958, Professor Sheldon, who conducted a survey of hospitals throughout the Midlands, described one of the units as being like Sing-Sing because of its peculiar construction, with cell-like blocks. He stated that it should be demolished and should not house patients. Plans for major upgrading of the wards were abandoned as the result of this report. Although some upgrading has since taken place, these wards are still in use 15 years later because there has been the promise of a new district general hospital.

The Dudley area has been repeatedly disappointed with the planning of this hospital. It has now been planned for three different sites and, as originally conceived, would, by now, have been completed. Unfortunately, as each scheme was developed, so it was abandoned and the planning aborted. In all this time, capital investment within the Dudley area has been strictly limited on the basis that the majority of the hospitals had only a limited life, and the investment of substantial sums could not, therefore, be justified.

In consequence, patients and staff have endured conditions which would have been unacceptable in other areas. It is to their everlasting credit that the staff of the hospitals have, by their devotion to their work, endeavoured to compensate for the deficiencies that exist in the service. In addition, the public of Dudley have constrained their criticism of the service in the knowledge that a new hospital was imminent and the staff were doing all that was humanly possible for them within the limitations of the existing buildings.

The morale of the staff has been sustained by the relationship they have established with the community and the management authority. After 20 years, however, this is wearing thin, and the latest proposal to defer the commencement of the main portion of the new hospital at Dudley has been the last straw. Physical limitations imposed by the existing buildings not only provide an inadequate environment for the practice of health care but also constrain the authority in the number and grades of staff that can be employed. The strains and tensions created by present conditions have now reached such a point that they place an intolerable burden on the staff, who are being frustrated in their attempts to provide a reasonable service to the Dudley community.

There are more than 300,000 people within this metropolitan conurbation. They reside in six different parliamentary constituencies, of which my own is one. These 300,000 people are inadequately served in virtually every specialty. The investment, in revenue terms, on health within the area is grossly below both the regional and national average. These facts are well known to the Department of Health. The deficiencies have been well documented over the past 10 years, and Dudley is recognised as an area of severe deprivation and fragmentation.

It is no consolation to the people of Dudley that work actually commenced in 1972 for, by mid-1976, all that there will be to show will be a boiler house, stores, laundry and engineering workshops, but not a single bed for patients. In 1968, when the planning on this hospital first commenced, it was anticipated that over 300 beds would be available by now. Even if the existing programme had been adhered to with a commencement of phase III in the current year, there would have been no accommodation for patients until 1978–79. The delay in starting the next phase can only mean a further delay in the completion of the hospital, and this will place the area health authority in an impossible position, because all the planning since 1968 has been on the basis that there would be additional hospital accommodation available from 1976 onwards.

The increasing workload that the hospitals in this area are being called upon to meet year by year as the area develops has inevitably meant that the resources have been more intensely worked as each year has gone by. Now, however, the position has been reached where there is no longer any room for further expansion. Fragmentation and inadequacy of accommodation has meant that it is increasingly difficult to recruit staff. Consultant appointments remain unfilled, and junior medical staff appointments are no longer attractive, and such posts cannot be filled. Medical, nursing, paramedical and technical staff are reluctant to come into the area, and when staff do become available, working facilities are often non-existent. The shortage of speech therapists, physiotherapists and chiropodists delays or prevents the full rehabilitation of patients, for example, for stroke and injury cases. Residential accommodation for both nursing staff and single doctors is now at a premium and, the recent Whitley agreements having increased their off-duty time, makes additional recruitment imperative to maintain even the present level of service. The dilemma now facing the authority is that. even if it could recruit the staff, it would have nowhere to accommodate them.

The fragmentation of the service with the dispersal of the specialities through so many units means that staff are wasting their time in travelling from one hospital to another, expensive equipment is having to be duplicated, and it is impossible to provide a fully co-ordinated service. Even the casualty services are having to be split between two small hospitals of fewer than 200 beds each, now endeavouring to handle over 52,000 new cases a year. This means that the major portion of their work is confined to emergencies, so that routine work is suffering. Unfortunately, as there is only one other hospital with operating facilities, the casualty work load is seriously interfering with the waiting list work, and it is impossible to make optimum use of the resources that are available.

The irony of the situation is that, in 1970, the Department of Health decided to adopt the Dudley District General Hospital as its pilot scheme to test the new Harness concept of hospital design. It is this concept which is the white hope of the future health service, and which is referred to by the Secretary of State in her recent letter on planning. It would seem wrong, therefore, when the Dudley project has been used as the proving ground for the planning of this type of hospital, to abandon it because the Department has now moved on to a more advanced stage of the Harness hospital.

Similarly, in 1970 it had been the view of the authority that phase III should provide approximately 300 beds, and it was at the insistence of the Department of Health that this phase was increased to provide a scheme for over 600 beds at an estimated cost now of £15 million to £18 million. It is ironic that it is this cost which is now the major obstacle to the continuation of the project. It would be the contention of the authority that. whilst it recognises the present pressing economic situation, it should have a prior claim on moneys made available for hospital development in the coming years.

It is clear from the programme, recently released by the Department of Health, that there are substantial sums of money being spent on capital works in the National Health Service. The authority recognises that the present situation calls for a reduction in capital activity, and it would have seemed eminently reasonable to it if the present phase had been cut in half. According to the architects, this is a practical alternative. It is indeed unfortunate that, although the area health authority is a member of a joint project team comprising representatives from the AHA, DHSS and RHA, there has been no meeting of this project team for 12 months, and there were no discussions with the area health authority before the decision to defer the scheme was taken. This I believe, if correct, to be inexcusable.

If this phase does not go ahead in its original or reduced form, the only claim the Department can make is to have fragmented even further the service within the Dudley area, because the area health authority will, within twelve months, have another site for which it will be responsible. This will be detached completely from existing units and, as a result, will increase the fragmentation of the already fragmented service. Hospitals which were scheduled for closure, and which have been deprived of both capital and maintenance moneys in anticipation of their closure, will now have to have considerable sums of money spent upon them, and the authority estimates that, in order to prop up the existing services, between £1½ million and £2 million will have to be spent almost immediately if these are not to break down by mid-1978. Relief cannot be provided from adjoining areas which are already themselves hard pressed. We are therefore faced with the prospect of an investment of £2½, million on the site of the new hospital without any hospital services being provided by that unit. This is clearly unacceptable

Unless a decision is taken quickly to provide some sort of support for the services in Dudley the consequences will be disastrous. In recent years the hospital service in the area has been planned on the assumption that the district general hospital would be available some time between 1976 and 1978. Additional consultant appointments have been made in numerous specialities, even though it was known that the facilities in all these specialities were currently inadequate, as it was the intention that the incoming consultants would commence a nucleus of a service in preparation for the opening of the new hospital.

Many of the consultants have accepted appointments in the area in the expectation that modern facilities would be available in the near future. In many cases the consultants are working single handed, and are having to provide a 24-hour cover seven days a week, because it is impossible to introduce additional consultants without the additional facilities for them to work in. Additional consultants are now needed in many specialities—for instance, gynaecology, ophthalmology, psychiatry, ENT, general surgery and orthopaedics. Such appointments cannot be made because of the absence of adequate operating facilities, outpatient clinic time and general support services. It is currently estimated that there is a deficiency of over 500 beds in this area.

Even this does not paint the full picture. The beds need to be supported by all the other services, and they would be useless without operating theatres, dianostic and remedial services and accommodation for the nursing and medical staff who would have to work in support of the beds. Piecemeal development is out of the question. It was recognised 20 years ago, it was recognised again 10 years ago, and it has been reiterated within recent years, that the only remedy to the hospital problems of the Dudley area is a radical rebuilding. I ask the Minister to accept the revised plans of the authority, and to give the go ahead for a desperately needed facility in an area of extreme hospital deprivation.

10.33 p.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Phipps) on having secured an Adjournment debate. Like him, I at first thought that the Opposition benches were full because hon. Members had come to hear my speech, but I was doomed to the same disappointment.

If I were in any doubt about the difficulties of the Health Service in the Dudley area, those doubts would have been swept away by my hon. Friend's speech and by the presence in the Chamber of his colleague, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert), who has to be silent on these occasions but who has drawn my attention several times to the problems of Dudley.

I am glad that my hon. Friend paid tribute to the staff working in these bad conditions in Dudley. I would say to them, through him, that we are mindful of the difficulties they have today and have had for a long time.

I wish that the shortages and deficiencies in Dudley which my hon. Friend has described were limited to one or two parts of the country, but the tragic fact is that they can be found only too often in many parts of the Health Service. This is the basis of our problem—that it is not just help for one or two areas but a massive injection of capital that the service needs.

Let me say straight away that neither we at the Department nor, I believe, the West Midlands Health Authority, would disagree with much of what my hon. Friend has said about the need for the new hospital. The main problem at Dudley is that existing provision is divided among too many hospitals for the most economical and efficient management, and some of these are in less than satisfactory buildings. That is probably understating the case at present. It is not a case, therefore, of shortages of beds but rather one of fragmentation in uneconomic units. It was to rationalise this situation and to improve facilities that a new district general hospital was planned.

Planning for the new hospital began in 1969. At that time the Department was in the early stages of developing a standard design hospital, known as Harness, and with the agreement of the former Birmingham Regional Hospital Board, Dudley was chosen as the pilot project. Site preparation and the so-called industrial zone for services such as laundry, workshops, engineering and so on, are already well advanced. The major phase, including the bulk of acute provision, is virtually ready to start, but unfortunately at an estimated cost of £15 million spread over several years.

At the time the decision was made to build Dudley as a pilot Harness hospital, and later when the two main phases were combined to produce the present very large phase, the capital building programme was expanding and there was every reason to expect that the scheme could be accommodated in the forward programme. As the House and my hon. Friend and, I trust, the country know only too well, however, economic difficulties led the then Conservative Government to cut public expenditure, including the hospital building programme, in December 1973.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in her statement in the House on 2nd December last about the 1975–76 capital building programme, announced that because of the continuing economic difficulties, we could restore only some of the cuts made by our predecessors, and that very few new schemes, of the very highest priority, would be able to start. We have not yet announced the 1975–76 programme, but I must, unfortunately, tell my hon. Friend quite frankly—for anything other than frankness would be a disservice to him and to his constituents—that there is no possibility of including the £15 million Dudley scheme at present.

As the White Paper on Public Expenditure published in January made clear, there is a continuing need for restraint, in the national economic interest, on the level of expenditure that can be devoted to the health capital development programme. If 1975–76 is ruled out, we must look to somewhat later dates and various possibilities. The fact that the capital programme from 1976–77 onwards is unlikely to be as large as we would wish has general implications, as well as specific implications for individual schemes. Regional health authorities have been asked to review their strategies, knowing that it is likely they will not be able to start as many major schemes as they would wish. They will be deciding how best to use the available resources. A very few major schemes of the highest priority will be able to start, but the replacement of some unsatisfactory buildings will inevitably be deferred. A major element in the review of strategies will be the examination of how these hospitals can best be improved in the medium term, for example, through imaginative upgrading schemes.

The West Midlands Regional Health Authority will thus have to look at regional priorities very critically. I do not wish in any way to anticipate its conclusions, but, as I have already said, the Dudley scheme is essentially to replace existing facilities, seeking to rationalise and certainly to improve them, rather than to provide additional facilities. This is not true of schemes for other districts in the region—for example, the new towns —where there are substantial shortfalls of hospital facilities and where, if there is no new building, the population would have to depend on services in other districts already under pressure and often several miles away. On strict priority grounds it seems unlikely that the Dudley scheme would figure among the very highest priorities in the region.

While there has been a considerable investment in planning and a substantial amount of preliminary construction at Dudley, the resources simply will not be sufficient to allow the scheme to proceed as originally planned, when due regard has to be paid to the competing priorities in other parts of the region. In these circumstances the health authorities need to turn their attention to ways and means of making the best possible use of the work already completed and planning the future development of the hospital in the light of realistic assumptions as to the resources available. I am pleased to be able to say that the Dudley Area Health Authority has been quick to recognise this and is already considering whether it would be possible to trim existing plans to a much smaller scheme. I welcome this initiative, and if it proves possible to produce a much smaller phase it will clearly increase the chances of the scheme finding a place in the future programme.

My hon. Friend has made the point that the involvement of the Department, by adopting the scheme as a pilot project for Harness, has been a major factor in the present difficulty. The Department's aim. in its research and development programme, has been to develop a standard design for hospitals which could be used nationally in a wide variety of situations. Inevitably problems would arise when a pilot project is being developed. But I must point out that the choice of Dudley as the "guinea pig", as it were, was welcomed by the hospital authorities concerned and the implications were fully accepted. Nevertheless, I am conscious that its choice as a pilot project has contributed to the present situation. If, therefore, the regional health authority were to consider Dudley as of sufficient priority to justify a place in its forward programme using the present Harness design, but splitting it into smaller phases, the Department would regard it as a development project possibly attracting special support. In other words, we should look on it with some favour.

To conclude, the present situation for the Dudley scheme is uncertain and will, I regret, be so for some months. Much will depend on the level of capital likely to be available to the West Midlands over the next few years, and the regional health authority's assessment of its priorities. I am anxious for the scheme to proceed if possible, because there is clearly a need for the new hospital, but it must be recognised that the hospital capital situation has changed dramatically while the scheme has been in planning. The initiative of the area health authority in investigating the feasibility of a much smaller scheme is very welcome, and if a smaller scheme is practicable the prospect of including it in the forward programme will certainly be much improved. I assure my hon. Friend that my right hon. Friend and I have made a long and detailed examination of the problem in Dudley and that we shall continue to take the closest personal interest in it in the hope that we can bring some help to his constituents.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at seventeen minutes to Eleven o'clock.