House Of Commons
Wednesday 25th June 1975
The House met at half-past Two o'clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Fraserburgh Harbour Order Confirmation Bill
Read the Third time and passed.
Oral Answers To Questions
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
European Security And Co-Operation
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest progress on the CSCE.
This matter was considered by the Foreign Ministers at their meeting in Luxembourg yesterday. They issued the following statement:
"The Foreign Ministers of the Nine are willing to complete the work of the conference as soon as possible. Taking into account the substantial progress accomplished on numerous subjects, they think that it is now both desirable and feasible to complete the negotiations in Geneva so that the third phase can take place in Helsinki by the end of July.
The realisation of this hope depends on all delegations as hitherto accelerating their work and their efforts so that general agreement may be reached on all outstanding questions. The Nine, for their part, are ready to make every effort to contribute to this end."
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. Although believing myself that the balance of advantage lies just with the West in these talks, and congratulating the right hon. Gentleman and his Department on the skilful contribution they have made to these talks may I ask him to confirm that any result- ing documents will in no way whatsoever give new approval or recognition in international law to frontiers emerging as a result of the Second World War? Will he also say how confident he is that the principles of non-intervention set out in Basket I will be regarded by the Soviet Union as superior to the Brezhnev doctrine?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he said. The documents will be political and not legal documents, but they will have considerable significance, even though they are political documents.As to non-intervention, there has been a great deal of discussion about the phraseology of these matters, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will find it satisfactory when he sees the final version. I should not like to pronounce on the exact legal status, except in the context of what I have already said.
I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for making what is an important statement about the progress of this conference. Surely he appreciates that the House needs and wants to know——
Order. The hon. Member must ask a question.
I was about to ask: will the right hon. Gentleman take an opportunity, before any final agreement is reached in Helsinki, to provide the House with a good deal more information, so that we may discuss this important matter, which could transform the political and, indeed, the security scene of Europe, if, as we all hope, it is successful?
The documents are in a state of final preparation but are by no means completed. They then have to be officially translated, and the work will take a great deal of time. I shall try to lay them before the House as quickly as possible. They are all bound to be completed before we go to Helsinki.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further progress has been made towards a political settlement based on the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus and towards the further aims outlined in Command Paper No. 6066, paragraphs 10 and 11; and if he will make a statement.
Her Majesty's Government continue to support the inter-communal talks under the good offices of the United Nations Secretary General, a third round of which is due to take place in Vienna on 24th July. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State told the House on 10th June, the Commonwealth Committee has not yet met, but is expected to do so in July.
Does the Foreign Secretary agree that the continuing presence of about 38,000 Turkish troops and the creation of a permanent Turkish State in Cyprus is in direct defiance of the United Nations' decision? Does he further agree that there is now a need for additional initiatives outside the third round of the opening talks in Vienna? Is it not the responsibility of our own Government, as a guarantor nation, now to seek further sanctions, and does my right hon. Friend not agree that when a nation is in defiance of a United Nations' decision, the only sanction available to the world is the imposition of an arms embargo or an economic embargo upon that nation until it conforms to the decision? Will the Foreign Secretary therefore now consider the whole business of imposing an arms embargo or an economic embargo upon Turkey until that nation conforms to the United Nations' decision?
There is no doubt that the terms of the United Nations' resolution have not been carried out. That has been consistently stated. Her Majesty's Government's position on the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus is quite clear. We do not recognise it, nor has it claimed recognition as an independent State.As to how we enforce compliance with the United Nations' resolution, that is a matter of opinion. My hon. Friend seems to think that an arms embargo and a trade embargo would do that. I have no evidence at all that either measure would be successful, except to increase the stubbornness of the Turks.
Will the Foreign Secretary say what he has been able to do to protect Briish residents in Cyprus and their property there? Will he say, further, what he has been able to do about the property there of those normally resident not in Cyprus but in the United Kingdom?
There is a later Question about that matter. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will ask his supplementary question then.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now make a statement on the compensation of British citizens for loss of or damage to their property in Cyprus.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Turkish Government about damage to the property of British subjects in Cyprus, and with what effect.
I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) on 11 th June and my hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) on 18th June.I am now able to inform the House that as the result of the ministerial talks held in Ankara and Brussels last month, further contacts took place earlier this month in London between British and Turkish officials on the claims of British subjects and the counter-claims of the Turkish-Cypriots. There have also been recent discussions in Nicosia between the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot community and the British High Commissioner on the subject of claims. Her Majesty's Government will continue to do all they possibly can to ensure that the interests of British citizens are satisfactorily resolved.
I welcome that answer. As the Turkish Foreign Minister told the Minister of State as long ago as 22nd May that his consideration of this question would be tempered by what he described as a sense of justice, may I ask whether the Minister of State accepts that there will be some disappointment at the fact that there have not yet been practical proposals for the recompense of British citizens? Will the right hon. Gentleman remind the Turkish Foreign Minister that if he is inspired by a sense of justice, justice delayed is justice denied?
I have a good deal of sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says. However, I must tell the hon. Gentleman that when I met the Turkish Foreign Minister in Ankara some weeks ago, there was a first genuine sign of hope that the problems of the British citizens concerned would be resolved. I was impressed by the determination and sincerity with which the Turkish Foreign Minister promised to make some progress in this matter. We can only hope that the progress which I am sure will come about, will come about speedily, because that is an absolute necessity.
Will the right hon. Gentleman remind the Turkish Government that Turkey has many friends in this country but that their friendship is under certain strains due to the delay in settling the legitimate claims of elderly British people in Cyprus—a delay which has now continued for far too long?
I made exactly that point to the Turkish Foreign Minister five weeks ago. I told him not only that Parliamentary pressure was growing irresistible but that it was pressure with which I wholly sympathised. I think that he understood that point very well.
The right hon. Gentleman is impressed by the attitude of the Turkish Foreign Minister, but has any practical progress been made in these talks? Has there been any discussion of practical proposals for compensation?
There has been some practical progress, although certainly not as much as one would wish. However, the fact that early this week and late last week there was discussion as a result of Turkish emissaries being sent to London is in itself a sign of progress. I cannot pretend that there are figures or numbers that I can yet offer to the House as a Turkish offer, but the conversations have begun, and that is progress.
May I, too, ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept my congratulations on the progress achieved and on the terms of his answer to my previous question, to which he referred? May I now ask him whether, in principle, the Turkish Government accept liability, subject to the proof of damage and matters of quantum in each case?
No, Sir, not entirely. The Turkish Government, as represented by its Foreign Secretary when I met him five weeks ago, acknowledged the statement as I described it. The Turkish Foreign Secretary said that he understood that there were problems involved not simply in allocating blame but also in deciding which authority was the legal authority on which responsibility had to lie. But the fact that the Turkish Government sent a representative to Britain is an indication that they want to play a practical part in meeting the needs. When I saw the Turkish Foreign Minister he said that in terms of money he knew that they could not be met by the Government of Cyprus but would have to be provided by another source. I assumed that to mean—and I hope it to mean—the Government of Turkey.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs what consultations are currently taking place between himself and Dr. Kissinger designed to secure a permanent peace settlement in the Middle East.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the United States Secretary of State about the Middle East; and if he will make a statement.
Dr. Kissinger and I are in constant touch through diplomatic channels concerning the Middle East. We last discussed the subject in person when we met on 30th May. We continue to encourage the United States to play a major rôle in the search for a just and lasting settlement.
In these consultations will my right hon. Friend stress that one at least amongst the many major factors in this situation is that the State of Israel should define the borders within which she constantly tells the world she wishes to live in peace but which so far she has refused to delineate?
That is a question of timing. Obviously that moment will come, but I doubt whether this is the right psychological moment to press Israel to take a definitive step of that kind. There is much more prospect of another round of negotiations on a limited basis providing a lessening of further tension.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the State of Israel has already withdrawn some troops from Sinai and stands fully prepared to discuss the future of the Gidi and Mitla Passes, and is willing to engage in further discussions on the political status of the West Bank, possibly as part of a wider confederation? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind also the need to keep the momentum of the present initiative going, and will he stress to Secretary of State Kissinger that he endorses all that he is doing to encourage that momentum?
I agree with the last part of my hon. Friend's question about the need to keep the momentum going. If, as he says, Israel is willing to consider the matters that he has enumerated, there is some prospect of a further step towards peace.
Quite apart from his conversations with Dr. Kissinger, has the Foreign Secretary been able to discuss this matter with his EEC colleagues in Luxembourg, and does he accept that, now that the referendum is over, Middle East countries are expecting Britain and France to take the lead in formulating an independent European policy and perhaps an independent European initiative in the area?
Over the past few weeks I have had discussions with Mr. Rabin, Mr. Allon and Mr. Fahmi, the Foreign Minister of Egypt, and Mr. Khaddam, the foreign Minister of Syria. We touched on these matters in Luxembourg yesterday, but we did not go into them in depth, although I remind the hon. Gentleman that a meeting of experts took place in Cairo on the Euro-Arab dialogue on Monday 15th June. We can all construct further initiatives. There is no difficulty about that. The problem is to ensure that the initiatives now taking place come to sucessful fruition.
In my right hon. Friend's consideration of the Middle East problem will he bear in mind that the stage-by-stage process favoured by Israel and the United States merely serves, both in the passage of time and in Israel's expansionist settlements, to consolidate Israel's occupation of Arab territory? Many of us are becoming increasingly unprepared to accept this and would welcome a speedy move to Geneva, at which both Britain and France should be represented, in response to Arab requests.
That is a partial statement of the situation which I do not wholly accept. There are great merits in a step-by-step approach when there is no complete trust between the two sides and when an intermediary such as the United States is playing its part. I believe that this is still the best way forward. It services the cause of peace rather than any individual State in the area.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, in order to encourage the current Middle East peace negotiations, he will prohibit the proposed arms supply to Egypt and future arms supplies to Israel, and take the initiative for a joint embargo on arms supplied to both sides in the Middle East by Great Britain, the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and France.
No, Sir; an effective agreement on some measures of arms limitation in the Middle East is likely to be possible only with the support of the parties to the dispute and in the context of a general settlement.
I understand that our explanation is that we want to maintain the military balance. Has not the same argument been used as an excuse by arms exporters for a century, with fatal results? Whatever the cost to Britain in lost exports, would not it be far, far less than the cost to Britain and to all mankind of a third world war, resulting from the escalation of the resumption of fighting in the Middle East?
The answer to the last part of my hon. Friend's question is, "Yes, it would". No one wants a third world war. As regards the first part of my hon. Friend's question, arms exporters may send arms only under licence, and the British Government have laid down a clear policy on these matters, to which we adhere. But the situation at the moment is that if Britain did not meet minimum requests from these countries, not only would these countries themselves feel that Britain was unwilling to assist; they would turn elsewhere, and perhaps to quarters to which my hon. Friend would not wish them to turn.
Can the right hon. Gentleman think of any agreement controlling the supply of arms in the Middle East or anywhere else which has not been immediately broken by the Communist countries concerned, almost as soon as it has been signed?
The USSR is playing a restrained rôle in the Middle East at present. In those circumstances, I do not wish to engage in a propaganda battle with her.
Will my right hon. Friend think again about his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) and accept that, if the four countries named in the Question agreed not to supply arms to the nations in the Middle East, at least the attempt might be worth while? If they do not have the means with which to wage war it makes the waging of war unlikely, if not impossible.
That is an ideal situation, but I live in a world of reality, and there is not the faintest chance of that being achieved.
Does my right hon. Friend recognise that the Secretary of State for Defence has been extremely skilful at concealing some of the details of the reported arms deal with Egypt? If the reports of a £450 million arms deal are true, bearing in mind the present initiatives being undertaken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, is not this the wrong moment at which to be selling arms, and is not the amount too large?
The answer to all three questions is "No".
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will seek to pay an official visit to the Middle East.
I have accepted invitations to pay official visits to Egypt and to Syria. No dates have yet been fixed.
Is the Foreign Secretary aware that that is a most welcome reply, but that he has a lot of ground to catch up when he visits the Middle East, because he is the only Foreign Minister from a major Power in the Western World not to have been to the Middle East in either 1974 or 1975—a record which compares unfavourably with the active visits by other Foreign Ministers? When he makes these visits, will the right hon. Gentleman please reassure people that Britain does not want to opt out of peace making in the Middle East?
The hon. Gentleman forgets that, with remarkable prescience, I went to the Middle East in the weeks before I became Foreign Minister in 1974, and returned from there on the day that the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) declared a General Election, having had conversations with President Sadat, Israeli leaders and many others, so that there was no great need to return, quite apart from the fact that we have had two General Elections. I do not complain about this. We are fortunate in being a staging post, which means that leaders of Arab countries as well as leaders of Israel frequently come through London. I imagine that if we were to do an arithmetical totting up, for what it is worth—it would not be worth very much—I probably would be found to have had more contact with Arab leaders than have many other Foreign Ministers.
Does the Foreign Secretary agree that despite all the wheelings and dealings that are taking place—with which I would not necessarily disagree—the crux of the situation in the Middle East is that the Palestinians have been displaced from their homeland? Does he agree that in any future settlement it is their interests and their welfare which must he given the first consideration?
There is no doubt that the future of the Palestinians is one of the very difficult matters that will have to be settled if there is to be an overall peace settlement. That is one reason why there is still much to commend a step-by-step approach, although there is also no doubt that some people want a return to negotiations in Geneva. However, despite public protestations about the desire of a return to Geneva, I am not at all sure that those protestations are matched by private desires.
Does the Foreign Secretary not agree that my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet East (Mr. Aitken), has a point? I appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman has been heavily involved in European negotiations, and I realise also that other Ministers have been to the Middle East. I believe, from personal experience, that a visit by the Foreign Secretary at this time would be opportune and would assist in the development of our trade and diplomatic efforts in the Middle East.
I recognise that. As I said in my original answer, I have accepted invitations to pay official visits to Egypt and Syria, and I have other areas in mind to visit. The hon. Gentleman will also know that there are many other problems also which are engaging our attention from day to day.
Does the Foreign Secretary have any intention of meeting the leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation? It appears that that organisation is the key to the whole situation, and it would be as well to have direct consultations and talks with it.
The leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation have not yet recognised the existence of the State of Israel. In those circumstances, I find it difficult to meet them.
South Africa (Iron And Steel Corporation)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many complaints he has received on behalf of British citizens resident in South Africa about the activities of the Iron and Steel Corporation of South Africa.
Five such cases have come to the notice of our consular posts in South Africa.
Can nothing be done about this corporation placing in the British Press misleading advertisements which depict South Africa as a land flowing with milk and honey and which lure British workers to that country with paid passages and promises of housing for their families? These workers often find themselves stranded in South Africa, and then Members of Parliament are obliged to ask the Foreign Office to assist in bringing them back to Britain, to their families. Can nothing be done to stop the further exploitation of labour by this racialist régime?
British workers going to South Africa should be cautious in their approaches, especially to some of the advertisements, which in some cases could be misleading over matters of overtime and conditions of work. On the practical action that we can take when problems arise in South Africa, the staff of our posts in South Africa keep a close watch on these matters. The recently appointed First Secretary will shortly be visiting the area where a number of our immigrants work and will discuss a number of matters with them.
Has the time not arrived when the Foreign Secretary should remind some of his colleagues that British governmental responsibility for the actions of a State-controlled South African-governed corporation ended in 1909, and that if British citizens have complaints against such a corporation, the proper address to which such complaints should be sent is the Minister for Industry in South Africa?
I do not think that any British Government or consular post in South Africa can wash its hands of the problems which may arise with British citizens.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will now make a statement on the result of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
The most important achievement of the conference was the adoption by consensus of a Final Declara- tion, copies of which have been placed in the Library. I believe that the support shown for this constructive declaration demonstrates the will of the great majority of Governments to increase the effectiveness of this vitally important treaty and will encourage non-parties to join.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for depositing that declaration. Does he agree that it indicates that no real progress has been made towards further restriction of the proliferation of nuclear technology? Will he reconsider the opposition expressed by the British Government at the review conference to the proposal that the sale of nuclear technology should be restricted to parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to the proposal that the reprocessing of nuclear fuel should be placed under international control? What view did the Government express to the Government of West Germany at the recent London talks on the proposed contract with the Government of Brazil, which will give that country a nuclear weapon capability, although it has consistently refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
I cannot accept the desirability of changing the position we took at the conference, nor can I accept that the disappointments at that conference were as great as my hon. Friend supposes. The joint declaration shows some progress, which we should all welcome.The hon. Member will have to give me notice of the second part of his question.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make known to the United States of America Her Majesty's Government's views on the situation in southern Africa.
Full opportunity is always taken of my regular contacts with the United States' Government to explain Her Majesty's Government's views of southern Africa.
Will my right hon. Friend try to ensure that when the issue again comes before the Security Council, South Africa will not be protected from the consequences of its illegal occupation of Namibia by the combined vetoes of the United States and the United Kingdom?
I should never want to use a veto, but, on the other hand, the language that is used in resolutions must also be acceptable to Her Majesty's Government. On this occasion, despite the great work that had gone into securing a constructive resolution, this was overturned at the last minute and I was not prepared to instruct our delegate to vote for it.
Now that Mozambique has become independent, is the Foreign Secretary in a position to give the House more information about his intention regarding aid to that country, in the context of the imposition of sanctions against Rhodesia? Will he confirm that if this is his intention, such aid should be firmly in the context of a United Nations' resolution? How does he envisage that the quantum of such aid should be assessed?
As I have explained on previous occasions, this matter will, first, have to be discussed with the new Mozambique Government, which took office only yesterday or today. Following the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, we should prefer the initiative to be taken through the United Nations, and that is what we shall work for. On the other hand, I should not rule out bilateral aid if that seemed to be the only way of assisting.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have studied with some care the exact text of the resolution which the British Government vetoed? Is he aware that the text was absolutely consonant with Labour Party policy as it has been expressed over many years?
No, Sir, I am not aware of anything of the sort. The resolution proposed was unreasonable and extreme. It sought to make a determination under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which would have paved the way for a whole range of actions that we believe would have been unjustified.
Law Of The Sea Conference
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place, since the end of the Geneva session of the Law of the Sea Conference, with the chairman of the Committee of 77; and whether he will make a statement.
Since the Geneva session ended on 9th May, we have been examining the single negotiating texts produced by the chairmen of the main committees. We shall be having extensive consultations on these with other States, including members of the Group of 77, before the next session of the conference.
Will the Minister discuss with Mr. Evensen the concept of the exclusive economic zone? Will he also discuss the compatibility of this with the concept that the sea-bed should be the common heritage of mankind?
We should be hoping for too much if we believed that much progress could be made at this conference without the acceptance of some of the general principles of the economic zone. I understand that within that concept there have to be understandings about sharing the revenues that might come from it, and free passage among, upon and above it. Therefore, the British representative at the discussions to which the hon. Gentleman referred will bear all these points in mind.
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the impatience felt in many of the fishing areas over the failure to come to some concrete decisions about fishing and economic zones? This is causing great distress. People do not know what investment to put into the industry. When shall we be told something definite for them?
I understand the problem that has been created, not least because of the progress of the Law of the Sea Conference and the need to carry out parallel discussions on the common fisheries policy with the EEC. The combination of those two negotiations is causing a good deal of uncertainty. My hon. Friend will understand that an international negotiation of the sort that has been taking place in Geneva, and before that in Carácas, is bound to take some time. If it is to succeed, it needs to have the support of many nations with many different interests. That can be achieved only over a long period.
Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to tell the House about the recent talks which his right hon. Friend had with the Norwegian Foreign Minister and the Icelandic Prime Minister on the desire of those countries to increase their fishing limits? Is he able to say whether he is putting forward proposals whereby our limits can be increased at the same time, on the basis of mutual co-operation and understanding with them?
Our obligation is to conclude with our partners and friends a successful Law of the Sea Conference and to make sure that the common fisheries policy of the EEC meets the needs of our own fishermen. We are pursuing that end. I do not think that the revelation of negotiations with individual countries would help that.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the growing pressure among fishing industries of many nations towards demanding united action for a 200-mile EEZ? In view of the slowness of the Law of the Sea Conference and with the very difficult questions of international law it has to determine, will the right hon. Gentleman consider an interim decision on this matter?
It is important that no decisions or arbitrary unilateral actions are taken before the outcome of the main considerations. We have made it clear that we would not contemplate taking a decision or making statements which were in conflict with international law. It is important that the entire thing be done as a package rather than individual items being pursued.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations he has had with the Government of Brazil on aid to the new Government of Mozambique.
None, Sir, although my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, when recently in Brazil, took the opportunity to exchange views with the Brazilian Government on recent developments in Africa.
What will be on the agenda when Mr. da Silveira comes here in October?
As my right hon. Friend has just said, the particular need of aid for Mozambique is a question that we wish the independent Government of Mozambique to determine and discuss with all parties. We hope that it will form part of a United Nations programme.
May I press the Minister on the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker)? The Secretary of State told us that there have been preliminary contacts with the Frelimo authorities before independence. What scale of sums was discussed as the possible British contribution? Would this be at the expense of existing foreign aid commitments which might be less purely political in origin?
It is difficult to make an assessment at present. There have been no detailed discussions, either bilaterally or internationally, about the degree of aid to Mozambique at present.
Mr Tindemans (Visit)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects Mr. Leo Tindemans to make a visit to the United Kingdom.
Mr. Tindemans will visit the United Kingdom from 29th June to 2nd July. He will have talks with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, with my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and with other Ministers and will also meet representatives of opinion outside the Government.
How will Mr. Tindemans be going about meeting other elements of opinion in Britain besides Ministers? Are the Government to have formal or informal talks on this matter? Will my right hon. Friend consider having a debate on the subject of political union in Europe while Mr. Tindemans is here?
The subject of a debate must be one for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. As to whether the talks will be formal or informal, I think that the assurance for which my hon. Friend asks is the assurance that the talks in which we take part will not result in commitments by the Government. I certainly give him that assurance without qualification.Regarding Mr. Tindemans' conversations with people outside the Government, the position is that his programme is being determined by and organised by the Belgian Embassy in London. I understand that as part of that programme the Belgian Ambassador has arranged already for Mr. Tindemans to visit Scotland and Wales, and to call on representatives of the major political parties.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Tindemans has already sought discussions with the Leader of the Opposition and has been made very welcome and assured that these discussions will be very full and frank?
Extraordinarily enough, I included the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition among the major political parties.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government concerning the future of Namibia, in the light of the expiration of the deadline set by the Security Council for South African withdrawal from Namibia.
Our policy concerning the future of Namibia remains as I stated it in this House on 4th December last. Our position in the Security Council was explained in answer to my hon. Friend's Question on 18th June and again earlier this afternoon.
Will it continue to be the policy of Her Majesty's Government to give diplomatic aid and comfort to South Africa by vetoing in the Security Council and voting against in the General Assembly of the United Nations, resolutions designed to bring pressure on South Africa to give up Namibia?
That is clearly not the case. As I explained earlier, it depends on the nature of the resolution. We have made it quite clear to South Africa that we regard her occupation of Namibia as unlawful. We have indicated to South Africa that she should withdraw, and we are having very friendly conversations with SWAPO, and, indeed, are giving it aid. None of these matters can give very much comfort to South Africa, to use my hon. Friend's words, but whether we should declare that this is a threat to peace, with all the consequences that that entails under Chapter 7, is a different matter. Another resolution which could have been equally effective could have got past without a veto.
Arising from his meeting with the President of SWAPO on 11th June, will the Foreign Secretary say exactly what is the extent of the educational assistance being given to SWAPO and what is the Government's intention about such assistance in the future?
I should require notice to be able to give a detailed reply, but I am quite certain that we are giving £35,000 to assist young men, and perhaps women, from that country to come here to study. Subject to the approval of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development, I am willing to increase that sum in order that we may have a trained cadre of people available to help in Namibia when the time for the freedom of that country arrives.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements he has made for the supply of information to the public on EEC matters following the referendum result.
The special arrangements made during the referendum campaign have been terminated, but the arrangements which existed previously will of course continue.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that there is now likely to be a growing public demand for information on EEC matters—a demand which cannot be properly met by the Commission's own information offices? Does he accept that there is therefore a responsibility on the Government to provide more authoritative information on the Community's aims and objectives, particularly within the Council of Ministers? To that end, would it not be helpful if Ministers made more frequent statements to the House on what they are doing, have done or are proposing to do, within the Council?
There is a very comprehensive system of statements, debates. White Papers and other matters which has been agreed by the House as a result of a previous report and which the Leader of the House announced some months ago as part of our intention of making sure that the House is informed about Community matters. I shall be making such a statement later this afternoon. I think that the way the country has to be informed on progress in the EEC is through debates, questions and procedures in this House, and I am sure that we have given adequate opportunity for those debates and other procedures to be carried out.
Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to publish a White Paper to explain to the people of Scotland the full implications of EEC membership? Will he refer particularly to the future of the steel, fishing and agriculture industries and of the Scottish Assembly and the Scottish Development Agency? Will he confirm or deny the validity of guarantees given to the people of Scotland on these issues by the pro-European campaign during the referendum?
I think that the hon. Member is making her speech three weeks late. It would be unchivalrous of me to remind her of the votes in Scotland as a result of the previous speeches that she made. I do not commit the Government to producing a specific White Paper on the subjects she referred to, but the Government are obliged to produce periodic White Papers on progress within the EEC and I have no doubt that these subjects will be touched on there.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the EEC draft proposals should be readily available to the public, particularly through Her Majesty's Stationery Office? Is he aware that the Paymaster-General has already given an assurance to the House that steps are in hand to achieve this end? What progress has been made?
I cannot, offhand, give my hon. Friend new information about draft proposals being available to the public through the usual sources, but no doubt he will recall that they are made available as quickly as possible in the House. I can only reiterate my answer to the first question. The real obligations of parliamentary scrutiny are to make sure that this House is aware of what goes on and to give hon. Members the opportunity of publicising their views on these matters. That we have promised to do.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent progress has been made in working out a common foreign policy for the member States of the EEC.
There is a growing wish among member States of the European Community to use the political co-operation machinery to work for common positions on foreign policy. Member States now regularly discuss international events as they occur. There has been continuing close co-operation on the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, on the Euro-Arab dialogue, on the problems of the Middle East and Cyprus, and on developments in Portugal, Latin America and Africa.
I thank the Foreign Secretary for that reply. Does he not feel that the foreign policy differences which exist between members of the Community are now differences of emphasis and not of fundamentals? Would it not be possible to go beyond the machinery for co-operation which the right hon. Gentleman has described and make a strenuous effort now to get a concerted policy across the board?
If we were to try to get a concerted policy across the board we should encounter a lot of difficulties. It is better that we should foresee what is likely to happen in these situations and work out common positions, rather than adopt an abstract group of principles from which, when the strain is applied, we should probably depart.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that further co-ordination of foreign policies of member States might have implications for the overseas aid policies of at least some of those nations? Will he confirm that the proposal to give the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of Overseas Development similar powers in respect of these functions has nothing to do with the proposals for the co-ordination of the foreign policies of member States.
I had never thought of that matter until my hon. Friend suggested it. He is quite right in saying that the discussion of the aid programmes and the fact that Britain is the largest member of the Commonwealth and carries with it about 30 other Commonwealth countries into these discussions, is transforming Community debates on aid to the developing countries. Those factors are giving these debates a greater sense of urgency and relevance, and I hope that they will produce more aid.
Will the right hon. Gentleman lay before the House or otherwise publish the evidently important speech that he made yesterday in the Council of Foreign Ministers, of which what appear to be extracts have appeared in the Press?
If that is the wish of the House I shall be delighted to do so. I shall certainly put a copy of the speech in the Library. I do not rate its importance as being above that.
Treaty Of Rome
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations that Articles 92 and 93 of the Treaty of Rome should be applied with a high degree of flexibility.
Our objectives on the retention of those powers needed to pursue effective regional and industrial policies were satisfactorily achieved in renegotiation, but I can assure my hon. Friend that we would make representations if they seemed necessary.
Does my right hon. Friend accept that it is frequently the task of a Labour Government to distort competition, contrary to the terms of those Articles? Will he attempt to ensure that the Labour Government are free to apply their policies towards industry without interference by the Commissioners, who, as he knows, are not subject to the right of veto in this respect?
It is important to approach Community policy and the policy of the Labour Party not as matters of semantics but as matters of reality. I have no doubt that a Labour Government would be able to do what they wished within the Treaty of Rome and within the Community.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give a categorical assurance that the EEC will have no control over the constitution, financial powers and autonomy of the Scottish Development Agency?
I think that I can give that assurance, but I am reluctant to give an assurance as total as that on any occasion without suitable notice. If I cannot give such an assurance I shall gladly write to the hon. Member about it, and if I am wrong I have no doubt that he will publish my refutation of my own answer.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the policy of the EEC on direct elections to the European Parliament; and what communications he has had with the Council of Ministers on this subject since the referendum.
At their meeting in December 1974 the EEC Heads of Government noted that the objective laid down in the Treaty of Rome of election by universal suffrage should be achieved as soon as possible. We shall now undertake a thorough study of this matter.
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that now that the referendum is over, the time for prevarication over direct elections to the European Parliament is also over? Does he agree that to have direct elections to the European Parliament in 1978 would be the best way to strengthen the democratic control of the institution? Will the Government hasten to make a decision on the matter, in agreement with what the rest of the Community did in 1974?
I disagree with each of the three points of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. There has certainly been no prevarication. If we had not taken time over the matter during the renegotiation, it would have been that we had prevaricated but that we had moved with an urgency and speed which were altogether intolerable while the British people were making up their minds as to where our future lay. The hon. Gentleman must understand that a high level of democracy is preserved within the Community by the existence of a Council of Ministers, each democratically elected and each able to prevent proposals going ahead which, in their view, are not in the national interest. There must now be a careful examination of the desirability and propriety of direct elections. I have no doubt that when that careful examination has been completed, my right hon. Friend will report it to the House.
As the question of direct elections was not one of the items in the renegotiated terms, will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that not only shall we examine the matter in depth but that the views of the Labour Party will be taken into consideration before there is any question of a commitment of any kind by the Government?
That would be such a step forward—some hon. Members might describe it as a step in the other direction—such a step in our constitutional history that it would be essential that all the parties and many interests be consulted before the Government made up their mind.
In the process of whatever consultation the Government feel to be right in the matter, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that there is the fullest debate in the House?
Yes, Sir. I give that assurance at once. Before any system of direct elections was implemented, legislation would need to be passed in this House. But the hon. Gentleman is right in implying that at the earliest stage the House should be notified of the Government's intentions and given any opportunity to express its views. I promise the hon. Gentleman that that will happen.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about his latest meeting with other EEC Foreign Ministers.
At the meeting of the Council of Ministers yesterday I took the opportunity to assure them that following the referendum the United Kingdom would play a full and constructive part in Community policies and activities. In the course of a long agenda we discussed the Community's relations with Canada, Egypt and Portugal; we held an Association Council with Cyprus; we took note of Greece's application to join the Community; we considered the next steps on raw materials and commodities; and among various trade items, I am glad to say, we reached a satisfactory settlement on the question of beef exports to the Community from Botswana.
If the country continues on its present mad economic course, shall we not find it increasingly difficult to exert in the Community the influence we should be capable of exerting? If we can bring inflation under control, however—as other member countries of the Community appear to be doing—does the right hon. Gentleman agree that we shall be able to play a major rôle in influencing the policies of the Community, both internal and external?
I do not necessarily accept the hypothesis with which the hon. Gentleman began his supplementary question, but every one of us on the Government side of the House remembers that on a very early page in the Labour Party manifesto we said that our first and most important task was to overcome inflation, and I believe that the steps now being taken will achieve that end. [HON. MEMBERS: "What are they?"] Those are questions that should be addressed to other Ministers. I have little doubt, having been at least an observer of some of the discussions, that there is more prospect of our overcoming inflation with—[An HON. MEMBER: "Careful."] I shall be very careful—the consent and assent of the trade unions and the people of this country than by any kind of statutory policies or political coalitions.
Is it correct that the right hon. Gentleman finds himself greatly inhibited in initiating any foreign policy moves because of the present rate of inflation? Does he find that rate an in- tolerable hindrance to taking major steps in foreign policy?
I am being tempted on to Tom Tiddler's ground. The answer is a mixed one. Britain's view is taken very seriously by our colleagues in the Community and other nations in the world. At the same time, I cannot depart from what I said on the 8 o'clock news—I do not know whether anybody listened to it—[Interruption.] I am glad that I had an audience. I said that of course the impact of inflation weakened our ability to take initiatives in foreign affairs. It weakens it in many ways. It weakens the respect with which we are listened to if our affairs do not seem to be under proper management, and it limits the assistance we can give when there are a number of desirable ends at stake.For example, we must now consider the question of aid to succour democracy in Portugal. I should like Britain to be in a position in which we could ensure that Portugal followed a democratic path by assistance from outside, if such a thing is possible. But how can I look my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the eye and ask him for large sums at present? I give that as an example. There are many other illustrations of that kind.
Can my right hon. Friend say what was the settlement on beef exports from Botswana that he mentioned?
Yes, Sir. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving me the opportunity of boasting. The Batswana, who are so heavily dependent on cattle, instead of being required to pay a levy of 100 per cent. on their imports into the Community, as under the Community rules, will now pay a levy of 10 per cent. That is the minimum that anybody could be expected to pay. I am glad to say that that levy will make very little difference. They will also charge an export tax which they will be able to use in any way they like, in their own country, to reimburse their people. The Botswana delegation met me at 1 a.m. today in Luxembourg, and thanked me profusely. That only goes to show how much the fears that some people expressed before the referendum have proved to be incorrect.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if EEC energy policy will be discussed at the next Heads of State meeting.
The agenda for the meeting has not been settled, but I expect that energy matters will be discussed.
Have the Government satisfied our European partners that the British National Oil Corporation, as it is proposed to be established under the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-Lines Bill, will in no way contravene the rules on fair trading and unsubsidised competition? If so, how?
Certainly we have satisfied our partners. I assume that we have done so by the force and logic of our argument.
At the meeting will the right hon. Gentleman confirm this country's determination that the oil to be taken from the Scottish sector of the North Sea will be refined in the United Kingdom, and will not be shipped or piped straight to our EEC partners?
Such questions are more appropriate for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy, but I must remind the hon. Gentleman that our policy on the national control of oil—a policy which was shared by the previous Government—has been accepted—[Interruption.] The British national policy on British oil was accepted by our predecessors when they were in Government, and it is in all ways consistent with our membership of the Community.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take an initiative towards the development of an EEC policy for the development of mineral resources among the Group of 77.
The Prime Minister's initiative on commodities at the Heads of Commonwealth Government meeting at Kingston sought to create a broad frame- work within which policies for individual raw materials, including the development of mineral resources, could be worked out. We are now pursuing these ideas with our partners in the EEC, where careful and urgent study is at present being given to these problems.
Has the right hon. Gentleman taken note of the much more aggressive attitude towards commodity stabilisation schemes shown by the Group of 77 than the attitude advanced by the Prime Minister at the Jamaica conference? Is this not a very good area for the EEC to examine, both for financing overseas sources of minerals and for using its collective consumer power in the event of expropriation by the overseas host country?
No, Sir. I think that the remedy the hon. Gentleman suggests is wrong. We have all noticed the aggressive attitude adopted by some developing countries. The object of the Kingston initiative of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was to convince them that in these matters co-operation is better than confrontation. If the hon. Gentleman wants to advance that thesis, he must advance it in a way which does not run side by side with the suggestion that the developed countries—the raw material consumers—should act in an aggressive fashion. That would be altogether inappropriate.
Can the Minister say anything further about the attitude of the Government to the most interesting document produced by the Commission on the supply of raw materials to the Community, and especially to its imaginative ideas for a combination of private and State enterprise in the exploration and development of new mineral resources in the less developed countries?
That document was examined at the political co-operation meeting of the EEC Council of Ministers in Dublin some weeks ago. That was a preliminary examination. The details are now being considered by individual member countries and experts. I welcomed parts of that document when I attended that meeting, not least because they confirmed the suggestions put forward by the Prime Minister in Kingston some days before.
North Sea Oil
The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on progress in the discharge of his responsibilities with regard to oil and energy matters.
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will report progress on his negotiations with the oil industry on State participation.
I should like, Mr. Speaker, the leave of the House to answer Questions Nos. 41 and 42.We are having constructive discussions with a substantial number of companies which now, on any reckoning, represent over half the interests in the North Sea. Of these companies, Burmah, Deminex, Tricentrol and Blackfriars Oil have agreed in principle to 51 per cent. Government participation in their commercial oil fields. In our discussions detailed proposals for giving effect to participation are being considered.
Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that he has obtained the best possible deal for the British people? Is he satisfied that the matters concerning the exploitation of North Sea oil have now been agreed in principle? That having been done, is he now considering transferring his outstanding responsibilities to the Secretary of State for Energy?
I am satisfied that the Government are in the process of securing—and have already to a large extent secured—an excellent deal for the British people. That deal, not unnaturally, is not incompatible with the success of those who are developing the North Sea. Secondly, I am not able to say at this stage how all the deals will conclude. Therefore, I cannot raise my hon. Friend's anticipation about my future removal to areas which will cause him less anxiety than my present responsibilities.
How does the Chancellor reconcile his efforts to nationalise 51 per cent. of the North Sea oil, at an estimated cost of approximately £1 billion of tax- payers' money, with the advice he gave to the Prime Minister on the need to curtail inflation and the public borrowing requirement?
I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's description of my efforts—and even less the broad estimate of the cost which he attributes as likely to result from them. I therefore have no difficulty in reconciling the efforts to secure for the British people a fair share of the control of this vital national resource with our great determination—which was commented on in appropriate parts of Question Time—to deal with the problem of inflation.
Can we have a word from the Minister on the question of the conservation aspects of the development of the oil fields? Is the Minister aware that the EEC thinks that 180 million tons a year are appropriate, that the British Government are on record as saying that the figure of 110 million tons is the maximum, and that the Scottish National Party's view, in the best interests of Scotland's preservation, is 50 million tons a year? Does he understand that the question of preservation is not a joke to those people who live in the communities affected by the extraction of oil? Will the Minister say a word on this important question?
Happily, it is not for me to decide between the EEC Commission's view of the wise rate of exploitation of North Sea oil and the view of the Scottish National Party on the conservation of oil, and the wisdom of the respective positions of the Scottish National Party and the EEC.
My right hon. Friend read out a list of the companies which he said had agreed to the State taking 51 per cent. of their shares. Does that list represent all the companies, or are there still companies with which he has to negotiate, or with which he is still negotiating but which are proving somewhat difficult?
The companies the names of which I read out are those which have so far firmly accepted in principle 51 per cent. State participation. I do not regard those which have not yet seen fit to reach such an agreement as being difficult. But it is a matter of choice. They are considering the Government's proposals and are discussing the various problems, as they see them, which arise. I hope to make substantial further progress steadily in this way.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Rost)? If the Government are going to come forward in a few weeks with a harsh and unpalatable programme of public expenditure cuts, how can it conceivably make sense for them to lay out hundreds of millions, possibly thousands of millions, of pounds in buying out the North Sea oil companies?
The right hon. Gentleman appears not to have followed the clear explanation given by myself and other members of the Government about our purposes. We are not laying out these sums, which are torturing the fantasies of the Conservative Party and the Opposition. We are negotiating on the basis of making a contribution to the future cost of the development of the North Sea as appropriate. We would advance money promptly only where the alternative to doing so would be to hold up the further exploration and exploitation of this vital asset.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that a number of the companies on the list which he read out have had to negotiate from a position of relative weakness rather than strength? Does he expect some of the larger, more efficient and better backed companies to agree as readily as those which he has mentioned? Will he take on board the proposition that if he is successful he might have to live by the present Cabinet maxim, which is that if any Cabinet Minister tends to carry out Labour Party policy too well he is shifted sideways or downwards?
The occupational risk of Labour and Conservative Cabinet Ministers being successful can be regarded as one of the lesser risks in both cases. However, I do not believe that sideways, upwards or downwards movements of Cabinet Ministers are directly relevant to my negotiations about the North Sea.To answer the more serious part of my hon. Friend's question, naturally there is an unevenness in the response to the proposals which I made, which some companies accepted fairly readily, while some were more cautious about the problems which might be involved for them and which needed further examination. The Government formed the view that this was not a nationalisation operation but was a participation operation to give us control of an adequate percentage of North Sea oil and to allow us to develop expertise and to put the further development of the North Sea more readily within the reach of the Government through the BNOC. That being the Government position, we did not feel the need for any compulsory powers. We believed that we could reach a fair basis with those reasonable companies which were willing to deal with us sufficiently to fulfil the Government's purpose of achieving 51 per cent. Government participation in the commercial oil fields of the North Sea. I have no reason to feel pessimistic in any way about accomplishing that purpose in due time.
As the Chancellor of the Duchy indicated in his answer the nature of his wide-ranging powers over North Sea oil, and as we are also aware of the Paymaster-General's extensive responsibilities in the financial and taxation aspects of North Sea oil, will the right hon. Gentleman clarify for us exactly what the Secretary of State for Energy is allowed to do all day long in the matter of North Sea oil?
It is absolutely impossible to create that disunity between members of the Government Front Bench which exists between members of the Opposition Front Bench. I assure the hon. Gentleman that my duties in regard to North Sea oil are limited to being chief negotiator with the oil companies for the Government's purpose of achieving a 51 per cent. participation. My right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General has charge of the fiscal aspects of the North Sea—the petroleum revenue tax and similar fiscal aspects. If the hon. Gentleman will ponder the resulting equation, he will see that the Secretary of State for Energy has a considerable remit.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that Scottish trade unionists will applaud his rejection of the idea put forward by the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing) on behalf of the Scottish National Party? Will he confirm that if we reduce the rate of exploration and output to 50 million tons a year we shall need fewer rigs, fewer platforms, fewer supply ships, and less engineering activity—which will mean fewer jobs for Scottish workers?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out in so forthright a way the consequences that would follow any effort to hamstring the reasonable development and the reasonably speedy exploitation of the North Sea. Every reduction required by the SNP or anyone else would be accompanied by a loss of indirect and direct revenue for the Scottish people and would thereby affect the considerable achievement of improving the standard of life in Scotland which has already taken place and which will continue.
Are the Government fully satisfied that, disregarding all these ideological considerations, they have obtained as good a deal for Britain as the Norwegian Government obtained for Norway?
It is difficult to compare precisely the relevant deals achieved. The Norwegian Government have perhaps exacted greater control and a greater share of the profits in their area than is the position in our area. But there are differences in the exploration position, in the licensing terms and in many other aspects. We are negotiating as firmly and toughly as is compatible with a scrupulous respect for our obligations and the fair reward offered to the companies which matches the needs of the British people—and Scots people are included in that entity—to get their fair share of the proceeds of the North Sea oil.
In view of the totally unsatisfactory nature of that reply I beg to seek leave to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.
Questions To Ministers
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If you could, rightly, find 13 minutes for the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, how about two minutes for the Church Estate Commission?
I would willingly find two minutes, or even more, but I had no request to do so.
European Community (Business)
With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will make a statement about business to be taken in the Council of Ministers of the European Community during July. The monthly forecast for July was deposited yesterday.The Heads of Government of the member States will meet in Brussels on 16th and 17th July. The agenda for this meeting has not been confirmed, but it is likely that there will be discussion on commodity matters in the context of relations with developing countries, and on the prospects for dialogue between oil producers and consumers. We expect the Heads of Government to discuss stage III of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and to exchange views on the general economic situation. At present three meetings of the Council of Ministers are proposed for July. Finance Ministers will meet on 10th, Foreign Ministers on 15th and 16th, and Agriculture Ministers on 21st and 22nd July. Finance Ministers are expected to carry out the second formal examination of the economic situation in the Community provided for in the convergence decision of 18th February 1974. They will also consider the Community exchange régime and work in preparation for the IMF meetings. At the Foreign Affairs Council Ministers will make final preparations for the European Council in Brussels on 16th and 17th July. They are also expected to continue their discussion of raw materials problems in the light of preparations for the seventh special session of the United Nations General Assembly. Ministers will have before them a report on relations with Portugal and possibly the final text for formal approval of the agreement with Mexico. Agriculture Ministers are expected to consider proposals amending the basic wine regulations and the part of the basic sugar regulations dealing with imports from ACP countries, and for the rationalisation of horticultural production under glass.
I am sure that the House is grateful for that full statement. At the meeting of the Heads of Government on 16th and 17th July, is the agenda not to contain a debate on the future evolution of the Community and its institutions? That seems to be a remarkable omission.Secondly, I note that the Finance Ministers are to meet on 10th July. Bearing in mind the debate that took place in the House two weeks ago on the Community's proposals for dealing with economic problems of the member countries, will the British representatives at that meeting have available to them the details of the package which the Prime Minister has promised? If they do not, they will be at a disadvantage. Thirdly, there is to be discussion on relations with Portugal at the Foreign Affairs Council. Can the House be told in advance of the Government's policies towards Portugal in respect of the EEC? Do we favour Portugal's eventual admission to the Community?
The Heads of Government at their meeting may well receive from Mr. Tindemans an interim account of the discussions he has had on European unity and the definition of union. That is very much a matter for him, and if that discussion takes place it will be in a rather informal atmosphere.Even were it not put on the agenda, I do not believe that the Heads of Government could be accused of dereliction by omitting another examination of EEC institutions. The Government's view is that the EEC is much better served if it gets on with the work of the EEC rather than constantly examining its institutions and mechanisms. On the Finance Ministers' meeting, the hon. Gentleman must not tempt me to answer questions which are well outside my province. The Secretary of State refused to do something similar earlier today and I intend to follow the path he set. The Foreign Affairs Ministers' meeting will examine relations between the Community and Portugal. Our attitude to Portugal from within the EEC is clear and has been described many times. We hope that the Community can offer assistance to Portugal, especially assistance that is likely to encourage the development of democracy within Portugal. It is inherent in the Treaty of Rome that Portugal can apply for membership of the Community when the Government of Portugal and the organisation of Portuguese politics are genuinely democratic. When that happens we shall, of course, welcome an application.
Will the Finance Ministers be doing anything to speed up the negotiations which are going on within the Community on the question of the restraint of cheap imports from the Far East?Secondly, does his reply to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) mean that the whole question of direct elections to the European Parliament will not be considered by the Council of Ministers except in the context of Mr. Tindemans's report in the autumn?
I said in my initial statement and again to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) that the agenda for the Prime Minister's meeting is not yet fixed. If there is a predisposition to discuss direct elections I am sure that none of the Ministers present will be reluctant to do so. I cannot assure the hon. Gentleman at this moment that the subject will firmly appear on the agenda.Discussions on textile imports from the Far East are going on within the Commission. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman an assurance that the subject will appear on any ministerial agenda next month.
When the question of glasshouses is discussed, will my right hon. Friend make clear to the EEC that there is enough vandalism in this country without the Government being prepared to pay for vandalism to knock down that which they paid to put up?
It is not my duty to deal with the substance of this matter. As I understand it, the discussions on the rationalisation of horticulture are intended to give an opportunity to those horticultural producers who find the increase in horticultural costs so severe that they doubt their ability to continue as viable units, to go out of business in a way which causes them the minimum amount of hardship. I regard that as a desirable objective, as I am sure does my hon. Friend.
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to re-examine his policy towards horticulturists in refusing to give them the subsidy allowed by the EEC? Will the right hon. Gentleman also confirm that at the Agricultural Ministers' meeting in July, Ministers will deal with the questions of milk and olive oil swindles that have been taking place in the past? Will he also confirm that the Ministers will be looking at the stock taking report of Commissioner Lardinois, and, taking decisions on that very important document concerning the forward development of the agricultural policy of the EEC? Will he also confirm that it is no good the institutions standing still? Although one does not want to take decisions in a hurry, one must move forward in the development of the institutions over the coming months. Can the right hon. Gentleman also tell us which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will be joining us in the European Parliament?
The stock taking report, which I agree is central to the future of agriculture within the Community, is now being discussed in the capitals. I doubt whether the discussions that are going on in the capitals of the Nine will have moved so quickly and made such progress for the report to be discussed fruitfully at the August Ministers' meeting. Questions of the alleged swindles and subsidies withheld are for the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Is the Minister aware that due notice will be taken in Scotland that fishing again is not deemed of sufficient importance to appear on the agenda? Is he also aware that since the destruction of food was one of the most repugnant aspects of EEC policy, the idea of rationalisation of horticultural production under glass is lunatic in a world in which food prices are high and many are starving?
I can only assume—I make this interpretation as much as anything out of charity—that the hon. Gentleman does not know what is the intention of the raionalisation of horticultural production under glass, otherwise I do not think he would describe it in such intemperate language.Turning to the need to discuss fishing problems, I do not deny that there are problems involved in both the Law of the Sea Conference and the EEC fisheries policy. It is important not to confuse talk with action. Our duty is to make sure that a satisfactory fisheries policy emerges from the EEC and from the Law of the Sea Conference. That may be obtained best by bilateral diplomacy rather than by my appearing in the House every month and announcing that we shall soon do something about it.
Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that full consultation will be undertaken with the horticultural industry before any decisions are reached which apply to this country under the rationalisation of horticulture under glass scheme? What representations will be made to extend the arrangements for the ACP countries to non-associate countries? What representations are likely to be made to reduce the skimmed milk mountain?
Neither of the last two subjects that my hon. Friend raised will be discussed next month. On the rationalisation of horticulture, my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Agriculture will discuss any prospects as well as any decisions with the industry. Although the last two subjects are not on the agenda, my hon. Friend knows that a good deal of progress is being made, not least in the provision of assistance to Asian developing countries. Inside or outside the Council of Ministers, we shall pursue that as vigorously as we can.
The Minister of State has informed the House that a meeting of Agricultural Ministers will take place in the latter part of July. Will he give an assurance to the House that the growing crisis in the dairy industry in this country, which could result in rationing this winter, will be on the agenda?
No, I cannot give an assurance of that sort, nor would it be appropriate for me to comment on a question in no way related to the business of the EEC next month.
Can the Minister be more specific about what is to happen to regional policy in the EEC? I am sure he understands that this is very critical to areas such as Scotland and that that is one of the reasons why Scotland voted to stay in the EEC? Will he reassure us that what Mr. George Thomson said in the course of the Referendum campaign was that we had a lot to teach the EEC about regional policy and that that will be translated into facts when we get around the table in Europe?
I certainly share Mr. Thomson's judgment that we have a regional policy in this country which should commend itself to our partners within the Community. Two important things have to be said about the Community and British regional policy. First, during the renegotiations we obtained, without doubt and without any sort of controversy, the certainty that British regional policy could be applied in the way in which the British Government determine and that it would in no way be inhibited by decisions taken outside this country.Secondly, it is now our duty to press as hard as we can and as best we can for an extension of Community-wide regional policies, many of which already benefit Great Britain and all of which, if we can extend them appropriately, will bring increased benefit to the hard-hit areas of this country.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what has happened to the Council of Development Ministers? Is it not a fact that they have not met for three or four months? Are they not faced with an important document proposing large increases in aid to the countries of South-East Asia? Should they not be considering that document?
There are a number of matters which the Development Ministers need to consider, but these raise difficult issues for individual member Governments. Not least is the question of the financing of any project which Development Ministers might rightly want to pursue. Therefore, it was generally agreed two or three months ago that the time was not right for such a meeting. I hope that such a meeting will take place quite soon, but it will not be in July.
Will my right hon Friend be more specific about the subject of sugar in the ACP countries, due to be discussed on 21st July by the Agriculture Ministers? Secondly, does he recall that the debate which we had on the economic guidelines, since the Referendum, was on a motion to take note but that the Minister did not allow the Question to be put? Does he believe that that is a satisfactory state of affairs?
Questions about procedure in this House should be directed not to me but to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. By and large the House has been given the opportunity to debate all issues of substance before they go in front of the Council of Ministers. Indeed, the very issue to which my hon. Friend has referred was one on which we placed a reserve in order to give the House the opportunity to discuss that subject. Because of the tone of the debate and the contributions that were made, the Government felt able to release that reserve after the debate had taken place. Certainly we postponed our agreement until that had happened.
As we are discussing Community business, I should like to take advantage of the right hon. Gentleman's presence—because he is always very helpful—to ask him when it is likely that an announcement will be made about which Members of the Labour Party will be attending the European Parliament?
An announcement will be made very shortly. However, the right hon. Gentleman knows—the decision has already been taken—that they will attend that Parliament. I have no doubt that whichever of my right hon. and hon. Friends are chosen, they will add to the galaxy of talent already there.
Will the right hon. Gentleman translate "very shortly"?
Is the Minister of State saying that there will be no chance of discussing in Brussels the very important problem of the milk industry, bearing in mind that there is a surplus in the Community and a shortage here and that unless something is done there will be very serious problems for the British consumer? Will he think again on that, please?
I take the hon. Gentleman's point. I think that there may well be opportunity to discuss that matter. I merely described what was on the form of the agenda as it stands at present. It is always the situation, on days such as these, that I must anounce the agenda as we understand it. I know that there is some discussion at present about limitations of supplies in the Community and the need to increase supplies in Great Britain. That may be the issue to which the hon. Gentleman is drawing attention. If that is an issue that my right. hon. Friend believes should be discussed, I reply that it may well be discussed. My duty, and my only ability concerning matters such as this, is to tell the hon. Gentleman of the form of items on the agenda.
Members (Access By Constituents)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to raise the circumstances in which a constituent of mine was yesterday unable to obtain entry at the St. Stephen's entrance to see me. The constituent concerned came up specially from my constituency by appointment. She had with her a letter of appointment signed by myself. Despite that, she was refused entry at the St. Stephen's entrance by the police officer at the head of the queue. She was asked to queue, and subsequently got entry to the Central Lobby one and a quarter hours later.I fully appreciate the difficulties facing the police when a mass lobby is going on, but I hope that this matter will be investigated further by the Serjeant at Arms and his staff and clearer guidelines produced so that any constituent who has an appointment with a Member of this House and has written evidence of that appointment is at all times able to get access to the Central Lobby.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to support my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley), because I have encountered this matter in previous mass lobbies. I took the precaution of making appointments for a number of constituents, but restricted the number so that as many constituencies as possible could be represented in the Central Lobby yesterday. Constituents of mine were also halted for between one and one and a half hours when coming for appointments with letters in their hands. I hope that something can be done about this matter for the future.
I am very sorry indeed if hon. Members or, indeed, their constituents have been caused inconvenience. I think that it is very occasionally that a mistake is made. This is one of the consequences of mass lobbies. Certainly we will do our best to see that constituents have access to their Members.On the whole, I think that the authorities of the House do an extremely good job in controlling these lobbies.
Caravan Sites Act 1968 (Amendment)
I beg to move,
Part I of the Caravan Sites Act gave greater security to tenants on fixed sites and Part II dealt with the problems of travelling of gipsy families. My Bill deals only with Part II. Perhaps I may explain my intentions to the House under three heads: first, what the Bill sets out to do; secondly, the reasons why it is needed to protect residents living near illegal camps; and, thirdly, how it protects the campers themselves. First, the Bill aims to remove an anomaly. This arises because Section 10 of the Act makes certain encampments illegal in local authority areas where adequate sites have been provided for families on the move. Section 11 was intended to ensure enforcement. It does not work. The Bill is to enable it to work as intended. It applies only in local authority areas which have been designated by the Secretary of State as providing adeqeuate facilities for travelling families. In these areas only it enables local authorities to obtain summonses to attend court against the owners of caravans alleged to be breaking the law so that they may answer the complaint. If the owner cannot be traced, the court may order that a notice be affixed to the caravan concerned inviting the owner to court. If he then fails to come to offer a defence, and only then, the court may try the alleged offence and, if it is found proved, order that the offending caravan be moved. Secondly, the reason why this amendment is necessary can be demonstrated from a case in my own borough, but it affects many other areas. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) in November last year asked:That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Caravan Sites Act 1968.
These encampments may be filthy, even insanitary, and often give rise to bitter complaints and even actual fear for the health and safety of the children of many residents living nearby. The hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Mahon) had to call in the fire brigade to help clear up the debris from such a camp. In my constituency, an encampment in Moor Lane, Cranham, which moved away in 1973, was back again for months in 1974, breaking the law with impunity because the enforcement section could not be applied. That section was said by the Government in June last year to provide an expeditious means by which a magistrates' court could grant an order of eviction on the offenders and their caravans. It did not and could not do so. Nor could it do so in the neighbouring constituency of the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Williams) into whose area they moved via Romford. The same problems in 1968 caused the hon. Member for Hornchurch to support the then Bill, on which he served as a member of the Committee, and he supports this amending Bill today. There are two main reasons why the Act does not function as intended. The first is that local council officers often cannot find the names of the owners on whom to serve summonses. The London borough of Havering was among the first to provide sites to be designated and has experience of how the Act does not work. The chief executive of that borough wrote to me saying:"Is the Minister aware that the Caravan Sites Act has completely failed to solve the problem of unlawful gipsy camping".—[official Report, 13th November 1974; Vol. 881. c. 398.]
To overcome the difficulty of finding the owners the council tried to bring a case in their absence. This was opposed and went to the High Court. On 18th July 1974 the court determined that a caravanner could not be proceeded against unless he had an opportunity to be heard. At the same time the court recognised the council's difficulty in saying that there were"Our experience is that an illegal gipsy encampment is not a fixed body of persons. Numbers of people and caravans vary from day to day."
and went on,"great practical difficulties for local authorities seeking to operate these provisions",
the court must still ensure that the defendant had the opportunity to dispute the facts. The machinery is, in fact, useless. The Bill seeks to remove some of the difficulties of enforcement for local authorities whilst at the same time preserving the right of the citizen to be heard in his own defence. It would not only protect residents from illegal camps but be helpful to travelling families themselves. Thirdly, until the end of 1974 only 110 sites, providing for 1,635 caravans, had been provided in the kingdom even though the Government estimated that there may be 5,000 such travelling families. That is 1,500 more families than Lord Avebury estimated when he so effectively introduced his Bill as the then Member for Orpington in 1968. I am glad that my hon. Friend the present Member for Orpington supports this measure today. If Section 11 is amended to work, councils will see the benefit that comes from providing proper sites, more sites will become available, and the need for illegal camping will grow less. More facilities and stable conditions should enable gipsy children to have a better education. This problem was raised by the hon. Members for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) and Hornchurch in 1968. The latter reminded the House of the Plowden Report's statement that gipsy children"even if the difficulties render the machinery of this legislation ineffective"
I know that the Government are considering the working of the Act. If they mean to amend it, I hope that they will favourably consider the proposals now put forward in the Bill. I am grateful to hon. Members on both sides of the House who support the Bill."are probably the most seriously severely deprived children in this country. Most of them do not even go to school."
Question put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. John Loveridge, Mr. Alan Lee Williams, Mr. Michael Neubert, Mr. Michael English, Mr. Simon Mahon, Mr. David Mitchell, Mr. Michael Shersby, Mr. Roger Sims and Mr. Ivor Stanbrook.
Caravan Sites Act 1968 (Amendment)
Mr. John Loveridge accordingly presented a Bill to amend the Caravan Sites Act 1968: and the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon 11th July and to be printed [Bill 184].
Scottish Development Agency (No 2) Bill Lords
Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Because of the Government's handling of business such as this, the Bill raises a particular problem in that it completed its stages in another place only yesterday and the Bill, as amended by another place, and certainly with the amendments that were made in the course of yesterday afternoon, coming from another place, was available in the Vote Office only after 12 o'clock today. Hon. Members are put under some difficulty when a Bill as important as this one is to be debated in the House but is made available only some four hours in advance of the debate actually starting. I would be grateful, Mr. Speaker, if you would consider that point and give your opinion on it.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. While I am not supporting the Government, I would point out that it was the Conservatives who held up the Bill in the first place.
I believe an explanation is due. The Bill was printed ten and a half weeks ago and the main amendments were made not yesterday but very much earlier. I am very surprised if the hon. Gentleman was not aware of the few amendments that were made.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. A certain natural curiosity leads me to wonder what on earth the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State would have said had the positions been reversed and a substantially amended Bill come from another place at midday with no opportunity for detailed study, and apart from the substance of the matter there is just the question of courtesy. What I am now complaining about—and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will pass it on to his colleague—is that the House of Commons is constantly treated to a process of discourtesy and disregard which would never have been accepted by the Labour Party had they been in Opposition.
I do not know whether the shadow Leader of the House is aware that the Bill could have been considered in relation to its principle a long time ago and further considered in relation to Second Reading by the Scottish Grand Committee——
Why the Scottish Grand Committee?
It could have been considered there but was blocked by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the hon. Gentleman who shouts is an expert at blocking.
Further to that point, Mr. Speaker. The Opposition are under no obligation whatever to dance to the Government's tune, and the fact that the Opposition find it objectionable that the matter should go to the Scottish Grand Committee is simply no excuse for the Government's disgraceful conduct.
I have listened to these exchanges with great interest but they are nothing to do with the Chair.
The Bill seeks to bring to the whole of Scotland the benefits of a new executive body—the Scottish Development Agency—charged with furthering the development of Scotland's economy and improving its environment. The Bill gives the agency substantial financial resources and wide powers for carrying out these tasks. It is surprising, therefore, that there should be a history of blocking and destruction in respect of this important Bill.It is not in the form in which we intended it to be discussed in this House. I regret any inconvenience due to hon. Members not being up to date on the latest points in relation to some amendments made in another place. Certain vital powers which are fundamental to the entire concept of the agency have been removed as a result of the misguided action of the noble Friends of hon. Members opposite in another place. I would never have thought that the other place was the best example of democracy but the House may be assured that we shall restore these powers in full so that the agency can play the rôle which we designed for it. The Bill is one of historic significance to Scotland. It is the first to confer on a Secretary of State for Scotland substantial powers in relation to Scottish industry. Together with the executive responsibility for selective industrial assistance, which I assume next Tuesday, taking over from the Department of Industry, this means a major direct responsibility for jobs in Scotland, the first time a Secretary of State for Scotland has had this power. There is no doubt that the current economic scene in Scotland is sombre but it is not one of unrelieved gloom. Unemployment has been rising progressively over the years and now 4·7 per cent. of our workers are unemployed, and the figures of short-time working, redundancies and job vacancies are causing concern. Continuing inflation, by eroding the export competitiveness of Scottish industry, could jeopardise future employment. Of course, these difficulties are not peculiar to Scotland. They reflect the difficulties which all Western industrialised nations have faced over the past two years, and especially the problems of the British economy, with which Scotland's prosperity is intimately bound up. The reassuring aspect of the current Scottish situation is that Scotland is proving more resilient to today's economic difficulties than the rest of Britain or countries like France or West Germany. In the past we used to be hit first and hardest in any recession. Today unemployment has risen here more slowly than elsewhere. In the early 1960s Scotland had an unemployment rate which was more than double that of the British average. If that situation still prevailed today we should now be experiencing unemployment figures of over 8 per cent. That is why I am so angry that the Bill has been held up. In the mid-1960s we were losing as many as 45,000 people each year by net emigration. The most recent figures show a net gain of population. That is something to be noted and gives an indication that the people of Scotland have more confidence in Scotland now than they had in the past. The activity associated with North Sea oil development has been a major force underlying the improving trend. It has created directly or indirectly some 40,000 jobs in Scotland. These jobs have all come about in advance of our receiving any oil and result from the massive public and private investment which has been injected into Scotland to get the oil ashore. But much of the credit also lies with the vigorous regional policies which have been pursued by successive United Kingdom Governments over a longer period, extending generous investment inducements to industry throughout Scotland and creating a modern infrastructure. We still have a long way to go, however, before Scotland is able to offer the range and quality of jobs and the living environment needed for all who want to make their homes in Scotland. We need to grasp all the opportunities available to us and to spread their benefits more widely throughout Scotland. There are more opportunities today because of the oil development. There are continuing problems in the rural areas, but, above all, our older towns and cities, especially of Clydeside, lack the jobs and quality of life which nowadays people are entitled to expect. This is why we need the agency with adequate powers and resources to bring to the development of Scotland. The Scottish Development Agency marks the creation of a uniquely Scottish approach to industrial development in Scotland. Policies to create jobs must continue to be based on a strong national policy, because only this can ensure that jobs are diverted from the more prosperous regions to Scotland and other areas in need of employment. Scotland has gained considerable benefits from traditional regional policies. Anyone who knows of the changes that have taken place in Fife and Lanarkshire, with the disappearance from some areas of entire coalmines and the bringing in of modern industries, must give credit to these past traditional policies. We do not intend to dismantle them. We strengthened them last year by doubling the regional employment premium and making the whole of Scotland a development area. Many people in Scotland, however, have felt over the years that we could benefit more from the existing system if we had decision-making machinery which would enable us to identify and seek out the types of industrial development most likely to prosper in Scotland. Also, a more direct approach is needed if we are to transform and modernise the structure of Scotland's older industries and help home-based Scottish industry to develop. After all, only one job in five in Scotland's manufacturing sector is provided by firms which have come into Scotland since the war. The other four-fifths come from Scotland's indigenous industries, many of them small and badly structured. Attention to this sector is just as vital. Transforming an old industrial structure such as that of West Central Scotland is a monumentally difficult task. We must not underestimate it. The owners of Scottish industry—past or present—must bear their share of the responsibility for the weakened state of many of our older industries today. Too often they failed to plough back profits into new plant and machinery at the right time and were unwilling to take the risk of expansion. As a result, Scottish industry has not been in a strong position to resist the pressures of wider market forces. Too frequently individual industrial concerns—British or international—have rationalised out of existence what they call marginal Scottish plants to promote the greater profitability of their organisation as a whole. The overall result has been a substantial loss of jobs and industrial capacity in Scotland. Obviously, the world does not owe Scotland a living. Completely uncompetitive industries cannot be supported indefinitely. But there have certainly been too many missed opportunities. This is where the SDA can come in. What we feel is needed is a body whose main concern is to keep and create as many jobs in Scotland as possible—not just to make the fastest and biggest profits. It will have to take risks. The SDA will have this motivation and the powers needed to step in and attempt to establish a viable and free-standing Scottish concern where jobs might otherwise be lost altogether. This power to involve itself directly in industry is perhaps the most fundamental new element in the entire concept of the SDA, and one which has the enthusiastic support of Scotland's workers—and we believe many people in management. Through the misguided action of the Opposition in another place, the Bill as it stands denies to the agency the full powers needed to perform this rôle. That action shows the extent to which the Opposition are out of touch with the feelings and aspirations of the people of Scotland. I repeat the undertakings I gave earlier that we shall restore to the full the powers which have been removed in another place. The SDA will not have an exclusively industrial remit. It is charged not simply with building factories and creating jobs but also with removing past dereliction and undertaking imaginative schemes to reshape and improve the environment of whole areas, making them attractive and pleasant places in which to live and work. The combination of these two tasks in the remit of a single agency is a novel one. It is also what Scotland needs. We have to tackle quickly and in a coordinated fashion the economic and environmental decay which spoils the whole way of life of too many of Scotland's workers and stands in the way of attracting new work and new life to our older towns and cities. The resources which the agency will spend on improving the environment will pay dividends. It will be able to undertake the whole process of redevelopment from clearing dereliction to providing factories and attracting the jobs to fill them. We have seen from past experience how building new roads, new houses and new towns has done much to attract industry and workpeople to Scotland. The agency will be applying these lessons to our older industrial communities. It will work particularly closely with local authorities to ensure that its projects are fully in accord with the needs of the community. We have already discussed this rôle with the local authorities and they have assured us of their full co-operation in these tasks. The discussions will continue. I turn to the main provisions in the Bill. Clause 1 empowers me to appoint a chairman and between six and 12 other members to the agency from backgrounds which I consider relevant to its functions, and in particular, industry, banking, accounting and finance, trade unions, local government and environmental matters. I am also empowered to appoint the first chief executive of the agency in consultation with the chairman. This will enable this vital appointment to be filled without necessarily waiting for the agency to be fully established. But the chief executive will always be the employee of the agency and all subsequent appointments to this post will be filled by the agency with my approval. When I have appointed the chairman designate of the agency—and I would like to be able to do so within the next few weeks—I shall invite to serve with him a number of members designate to form an organising committee to plan in advance for the establishment of the agency. I do not want to waste any time. The remaining members of the agency I shall appoint at a later date. The formation of an organising committee will ensure the least possible delay in getting the agency into action. It will be the organising committee's task to decide on the structure for the agency. The agency will be absorbing the work of two existing organisations—the Scottish Industrial Estates Corporation and the Small Industries Council for Rural Areas of Scotland. I shall charge the organising committee to pay most particular attention to the interests of all the people at present employed in them. All our consultations so far indicate that the staff of the Estates Corporation and the Small Industries Council take great heart from the fact that they will be joining a new and expanding organisation with a remit—and the resources—to do a bigger and better job than they have been able to do in the past. This is certainly the right approach and I think the staff of the two organisations need have no fear about the change. I shall also ensure that the organising committee fully consults them on the shape of the agency's staff structure. Clause 2, which caused some trouble in another place, specifies the objects, functions and general powers of the agency. The chief functions are providing finance for industrial undertakings, providing and managing industrial estates, developing and improving the environment and bringing derelict land into use. The clause as emasculated by the Opposition in another place now lacks the agency's vital function of establishing and carrying on undertakings by itself and in conjunction with private industry, and the corresponding power to form companies. We shall put that right. Clause 4 enables me to give the agency both general and specific directions as to the discharge of its functions. We have no intention of tying up the agency with unnecessary controls. No doubt we shall get complaints both ways, as we have had in the past. Some will say that we are not giving the agency enough freedom while others will say that we are not controlling it sufficiently. I have been through it all with respect to another Bill dealing with the northern parts of Scotland. I can give all the facts and figures about those who have criticisms to make. One lot balanced out the other. We shall allow it the maximum degree of initiative and independence that is consistent with the nature of its functions. But it is proper that in the last resort I should be able to ensure that its priorities are the right ones and in keeping with the Government's general strategy towards development. Clause 5 enables me to direct the agency to exercise in particular cases the functions of regional selective assistance under Section 7 of the Industry Act. These are the functions for which I become responsible next Tuesday. The agency will not be given the burdensome task of handling applications for selective assistance but I shall be able to use it, with the applicant company's consent, where I think its expertise will be of value in monitoring the Government's stake in a company which has received special help. I attach the greatest importance to developing a close working relationship between SDA and the staff of what will now be my Glasgow office. It will be open to the agency to propose schemes of combined assistance where an element of subsidised help as well as agency finance appears justified. Clause 6 enables the agency to perform the functions of providing and managing industrial sites and premises which it will inherit from the Scottish Industrial Estates Corporation. Here it will be taking over a going concern with a proud record. As a nationalised industry it has a profitable background in financing and building up the stock of modern factories. Its staff and resources will form part of the executive effort of the agency from the outset and will enable a quick start of its work. Clauses 7 and 8 deal with the agency's environmental functions.
Before my right hon. Friend deletes Clause 6, will he deal with the possibility of transferring agency property if a new town has been wound up? Will there be consultations with the local authorities?
I cannot see a new town being wound up by exercise of this Bill, but I look forward to reading any discussion that takes place in Committee on that point.I was dealing with the agency environmental functions. These will be of immense potential benefit both to the economy of Scotland and to a large proportion of our population who currently have to live and work in drab and depressing surroundings. The agency's overall responsibility for the derelict land programme, which it will exercise in the closest consultation with local authorities and in arrangement with me, will enable a single-minded effort to he made in clearing the scars of the last industrial revolution. We intend to have discussions with the regional and district authorities to ensure that we progress speedily to an expanded rate of clearance with no loss of momentum in existing programmes. One of the great advantages of the agency is that it will be able to couple its derelict land clearance responsibilities with the powers under Clause 7 and to devise and implement schemes which go beyond the simple clearance of land, involving the creation of a completely new environment which can transform the appearance of an area while making a positive contribution to the needs of the community for jobs, commercial, recreational and cultural facilities. It will create something which will positively attract people to an area in place of conditions which are too often an eyesore and an obstacle to redevelopment.
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how that will fit in with the powers of the local authorities in those areas?
If the hon. Gentleman had been listening, he would know that we have already discussed that issue. There must be co-operation and agreement with a local authority. There may be occasions when a local authority that is doing a good job will be able to continue as an agent for the SDA. Indeed, the agency and the authorities must work together if we are to achieve the right kind of momentum.Clauses 9, 10 and 11 give the agency the powers in relation to land which it needs to exercise its industrial estates and environmental functions. Clauses 12, 13 and 14, together with Schedule 2, provide for the agency's financial arrangements. It will be given an initial financial allocation of £200 million for the exercise of its functions. The Bill provides for that allocation to be raised to £300 million subject to parliamentary approval. This will save the business of introducing completely new legislation. The matter can be effected by placing the appropriate form of words on the Order Paper and having a debate in the House lasting about an hour and a half. The sums I have mentioned are additional to the existing spending in Scotland on selective assistance, regional development grants and the regional employment premium. It is worth noting that all these matters add up to £150 million per annum. Those who seem to think that Scotland is getting a raw deal should consider what is being provided in this measure and the continuation——
Not in the middle of a sentence. I ask them to consider that the items I have mentioned add up to £150 million a year. I bear in mind the letter that was kindly sent to me by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) which described the SDA as a pigmy.
That hon. Gentleman is a Tory.
I can assure the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire that the SDA more than matches that which he wrote to me in a letter dated 30th January. That letter was written before he knew what the Bill would contain.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way at the end of the paragraph if not in the middle of the sentence. The right hon. Gentleman has said that additional finance might be available to the extent of £200 million, and that it might be increased to £300 million. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what period that additional sum will cover? Is the period intended to be three years, five years, 10 years or 15 years, or will matter be left in a vague fashion with no additional information being provided?Secondly, bearing in mind the massive oil revenue which will start flowing in now that the oil has appeared, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the amount of additional assistance given by means of the Bill will be quite insufficient to match Scotland's serious problem of growing unemployment?
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman has finished his speech. The matters that he has raised will be fully covered. If the hon. Gentleman can read, he will see that there is no time stated. If he is aware of what usually happens in relation to Bills of this nature, he will realise that when the money runs out, or looks like running out, we return to the House for more. If the hon. Gentleman has any knowledge of how moneys are provided for the SSHA and other organisations, he will appreciate the way in which provision is made. The hon. Gentleman cannot make any great point about the money having to last for ever and ever. Those who are interested in the development of Scotland will be glad to see the money used purposefully and profitably and as quickly as possible. The House will be ready to supply further moneys.The hon. Gentleman mentioned oil revenue. We are introducing the Bill before we get a single penny from oil revenues. The hon. Gentleman should appreciate what has been done by British Governments by means of the traditional incentives of the past, amounting to over £150 million in a single year. That is only in relation to the finance that stems from the Industry Act and from REP. If the hon. Gentleman would consider those matters and then tell the people of Scotland what has been done by a British Government, I think he would be a little less mealy-mouthed in his nationalist propaganda.
The Secretary of State has spelt out that £150 million is being provided by way of various forms of assistance because of action that has been taken by previous Governments and by the present Government. Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an estimate of the additional burden of taxation placed on industry by his Government?
Not in this Bill and not in this part of my speech. The moneys are additional to existing spending. As I have said, that spending goes to the industries that need it. This is a commitment to the development of Scotland's economy on a scale which is quite unprecedented.Clause 15 provides for the transfer to the agency of the Scottish Industrial Estates Corporation and the Small Industries Council for the Rural Areas of Scotland. Schedule 3 provides important safeguards for the staff. The transfer of the activities of the Small Industries Council will give an important rural dimension to the agency's work. It will bring the benefits of a broadly-powered development agency to those rural regions of Scotland outside the Highlands and Islands which have long advocated the resources of a body of this kind. The valuable work which SICRAS has done in the rural areas will be combined with a rural factory building programme which the SDA will in due course inherit from the Development Commission. I am glad to say that I have had a discussion with the chairman of the Commission, Mr. Donald Chapman, a former Member of this House. Mr. Chapman wholeheartedly supports our proposals and has agreed to make himself and the services of the commission available to the agency until 1st January 1977 to ensure an orderly hand-over of duties. There is one aspect of the agency to which the Bill does not refer. There is not one mention of it in the Bill, although one would have thought from the debates in another place that it was the Bill's core and centre. I refer to the agency's relationship with the National Enterprise Board. This is naturally a matter of great interest and one on which some odd notions have been flying around. The agency will in no sense be a creature of the NEB. It will be responsible to me as Secretary of State. I am surprised that a body as august as the CBI did not realise that we never mention specifically the Secretary of State for Industry, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The "Secretary of State" is a hydra-headed individual. [An HON. MEMBER: "A hydra-headed monster?"] I do not know whether that is a reference to the present Secretary of State for Scotland. This body will be responsible to me. It will have its own funds and take its own decisions. These will be decisions about Scotland taken in Scotland. We envisage a close and complementary relationship between the SDA and the National Enterprise Board in Scotland. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and I will be working out the details of that relationship and in due course we shall be issuing guidance to both sides. This will be done once the two bodies are established and are able to make their own suggestions about what the relationship should be. But the guidance will deal, among other things, with arrangements for the NEB's own functions in Scotland. This guidance will make clear that the SDA will normally be responsible for schemes concerning companies wholly or predominantly based in Scotland. Where its actions or the actions of the NEB could have an effect on employment in Scotland, the NEB would be expected to exercise its powers in full consultation with the SDA. One point worth stressing is that there will be no rigid demarcation between a class of companies or undertakings in Scotland which are the concern of the agency and others which are to be reserved to the actions of the NEB. There is no question of the agency's activities being limited to small locally-owned companies, as some misguided comment has suggested. On the contrary, the agency will develop contacts with the whole of Scottish industry. It will be able to enter into discussion with any Scottish-based company or the management of any Scottish undertaking to see how that company or undertaking can best contribute to the general good of the Scottish economy. If proposals emerge from such discussions which point to action by the NEB as well as by the SDA—for example, assistance to or acquisition of an interest in holdings in England—the agency may make proposals to the NEB to that effect. The idea of a Scottish Development Agency is not new. The Labour Party in Scotland and the Scottish Trades Union Congress have long argued the case for a Scottish-based body with direct powers to develop industry in Scotland. They have not been alone in this view. A wide range of bodies and organisations—for example, the Scottish Council (Development and Industry), the West Central Scotland Planning Team, and even some of our political parties—have all argued the case for a body with executive responsibilities. The Government have acted to make a reality of this widely shared aspiration of people in Scotland in bringing forward the proposals for the SDA. The response to our proposals, when we published them early this year in our consultation document, confirmed that. Responsible opinion from all quarters in Scotland is virtually unanimous in acknowledging the need for such a body. It ill becomes anybody who professes to have Scotland's interests at heart to seek to stultify these provisions or to delay still further the introduction of the agency. It is just over 10 years ago since I, as Secretary of State for Scotland, introduced the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Bill. I well remember the speeches made at that time. One ex-Secretary of State for Scotland said that the measure came straight from Karl Marx. I remember saying that that right hon. Gentleman's criticisms came straight from Groucho Marx. Suspicions were aroused and there was talk of nationalisation by the back door. Really! I wonder whether those people looking back on those speeches today are very proud of what they said. I am certainly proud of the Highlands and Islands Development Board and its achievement of the Scottish Development Agency. I commend the Bill to the House.