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European Community (Enlargement)

Volume 949: debated on Tuesday 2 May 1978

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

[ Commission documents: Nos. S/227/76, Com. (78) 120 Final and the Explanatory Memorandum 7th March 1978.]

7.6 p.m.

The Government welcome this opportunity, provided by the Opposition, to debate the question of the enlargement of the European Community. We are convinced that the issue is of immense political significance and that it is right that the House should be able to monitor progress and to put its views on record. This evening's debate, although somewhat truncated, will prove to be part of an ongoing process of evaluation and comment by the House and its Committees.

In our view Ministers must be at least as accountable on this far-reaching issue as they are on Community affairs of considerably less importance. The timing of the debate has two or three snags. First, the so-called fresco prepared by the Commission was issued only in the past few days and there has not been much time to absorb it. To facilitate the debate I have taken exceptional steps to make available to the House the only text of this fresco that the Government have received, although it is an advance copy and not the definitive text.

Secondly, the Commission's case on Portugal, which will be highly relevant, is expected very soon. It is not yet available. Thirdly, the Secretary of State deeply regrets that his presence at the Council of Foreign Ministers in Brussels today—where Ministers will have had their first look, as a Council, at the scenarios set out in the fresco proposed by the Commission—makes it impossible for him to be present in the House, although I believe that he is trying to do everything possible to get back before the debate concludes.

It was because the Government had been anxious that the House should have at its disposal as much information as possible on this key topic that we provided, in March, a lengthy memorandum covering the various aspects of enlargement. It seemed to us that this would be a better basis for debate than the only other document so far available directly related to the subject, namely, document S/227/76, on Greek accession. We are determined to go on making available as much background information as possible on this and on all other EEC matters.

At the start of our debate there is one point that I should like to make as clear as possible. Although the Government's general approach to enlargement is on record—I shall restate it this evening—in following this through the Government wish to take fully into account the views of Parliament. Therefore, from the Government's stand point, the most valuable part of the debate will be the opportunity it gives us to listen to Parliament. But it will also have considerable value, in my view, if it serves to stimulate at least some public awareness of the issue and of the importance as undoubtedly the biggest single issue now facing the Community.

The Government unequivocally support the concept of enlargement. This stand is based first and foremost on our strong political commitment to the support of democracy in Greece, Portugal and Spain. We believe that Community membership would, for these countries, be an important factor in stabilising and protecting their democracy. By encouraging their European vocation we would be stimulating the still fairly early growth of democratic tendencies. At the very least, we would be denying the weapon of having been rejected to those who might want to exploit it.

What is more, political and economic factors cannot be separated. The relation between the commitment to democracy and a sound economic base is extremely close. In helping the applicant countries to enjoy a share of the economic benefits of membership of the Common Market, the Community will be helping stability, which will be essential soil for democracy to grow in.

The Government believe it an overriding consideration to assist the consolidation of democracy in Southern Europe, for its advent in such a short space of time is surely one of the most encouraging developments in world politics of recent years. Even if it were not already expressly provided in the Treaty of Rome that each European country has the right to seek membership of the Community, there can be no question about the need to bring the applicant countries back into the main stream of Western democratic development.

The political imperative is most clear when we consider the alternative. A rebuff to these tender democracies could cause incalculable harm not only domestically and for bilateral relations but to Western interests generally.

Linked with this view of the political imperative is the Government's attitude towards the timetable for negotiations, and the need for enlargement to 12 and not to 10 or to 11. The political imperative is urgent and applies equally to all three countries. Greece is first in the queue. Therefore it is only natural that Greece should be ahead in the negotiations. The Government are glad that substantive negotiations with the Greeks began in February and are committed to working with our partners towards breaking the back of the negotiations by the end of this year. But the urgency applies to all three, and all must be given equal priority. Delays could lead to frustration and to harming the very thing that the Community wishes to foster. The Government have therefore pressed consistently hard for greater urgency in preparation of the Commission's opinion on Portugal which, as I have reminded the House, is now imminent, and the opinion on Spain, which is due early next year.

It is particularly important to proceed swiftly with the Portuguese and Spanish applications so that there can be no question of pulling up the drawbridge after Greece enters. It is a cardinal point of the Government's thinking that enlargement must be to 12 and not to 10 or to 11. It would be disastrous for the applicants and for the Community itself were the Portuguese or Spanish negotiations to be delayed or stopped because the Community has begun to have doubts about the enlargement as the wider implications became apparent. While all the Nine have expressed general support for enlargement, it is for this reason that the Government consider that there must be a clear understanding in the Community that we are all aiming for a Community of 12.

It is clear that political arguments and pressures are the main driving force behind the wish to enlarge to 12, but we must not allow this political commitment to obscure other considerations. There must be no shirking the fact that there will be a price to pay. The Community in general, and Britain in particular, must face up to some very thorny problems to which solutions will simply have to be found.

Permit me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, at this point to give a word of background about the three applicants. Greece was the first country to enter into an association agreement with the Community. This was signed in 1961. Although the agreement was in a sense put into cold storage during the period when the colonels were in power in Athens, it has, none the less, meant that Greece is already well on the way to harmonising her trade and other arrangements with those of the Community. This will mean that the adjustment which Greece will have to undergo on joining will be less extensive that it would otherwise have been.

Portugal has an economy whose industry is traditionally based on steel and textiles. Her future plans for diversification, based, as they are, on petrochemicals, motor vehicles and shipbuilding, will not diminish some of the current problems faced by the Community as a whole. As an EFTA country, she has a free trade agreement with the Community. There is already free trade between Portugal and the EEC for much of our own trade, although restraint arrangements are still maintained in certain particularly sensitive sectors, such as textiles.

Spain has had a trade agreement with the Community since 1970. Negotiations are at present under way to broaden the scope of that agreement. If agreement can be reached, this should serve as a useful stepping stone for Spain's entry to the EEC.

Details of the likely implications of enlargement are set out in the Government's memorandum and in the Commission fresco to which I have referred. There is no need for me to go over all this ground again, but I should like to draw attention to particular points that Britain and the Community will have to face up to.

Budgetary costs have been very much present in the Government's mind. As I fear is perhaps too often overlooked. Britain is already a net contributor to the Community budget in no modest sense—£377 million last year—and we obviously have to look very carefully at expenditure which will increase the United Kingdom's net contribution.

In so far as the Government have been able to estimate budgetary costs to the United Kingdom, it would seem that the total would be between £90 million and £115 million a year on the basis of present policies. This is certainly not a meagre amount, but it has to be weighed in the political balance. I must stress that the estimate is extremely tentative and that in any case present policies are bound to change under the impact of enlargement.

Would it not also be proper to say that in addition to that budgetary cost there would be additional capital cost in respect of Portugal, so that the total bill for this country would be substantially higher?

I was hoping to deal with that point, if I might, in a moment.

In addition, it is impossible to estimate the amount of special financial aid that the Community may give. The Government note that in the fresco the Commission seems to envisage special assistance for Portugal alone of the three, in the form of expenditure through the International Monetary Fund and the European Investment Bank. We think that the emphasis here should be on using existing institutions and that, particularly in the short term, member States of the Community should continue to play their part in supporting Portugal's balance of payments through the IMF, and that development of investment should be facilitated particularly by loans from the EIB.

Why does the Minister say that? Am I not right that all the IMF is prepared to do is to give a loan of up to $50 million, with disciplines attached? If that is successful, there will be a European line of credit, but there is no question of the IMF backing it up to the extent that Portugal requires.

That is a very important point. There can always be discussion about the extent to which we should be supporting Portugal, and there can be a debate among IMF members on this point, but our view remains unchanged that support should go through the IMF.

This is a very important point. It is all very well for the Minister to say what he would like the IMF to do. My point is that the IMF is prepared only to extend a line of credit to the tune of $50 million, plus certain disciplines about cutting back public expenditure, bank rate and so forth, so that it is no good the Minister saying that he would like to see it. We must deal with reality. What he has said, therefore, is unwittingly misleading the House, because the IMF is not prepared to go beyond a very limited amount of loan. Therefore we have to consider that the rest of the Community will have to chip in with very much more.

I note what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and he can no doubt pursue it in his contribution. I remain committed to the point that we believe that, while there can be a real debate about the level of support that should be available through the IMF, and indeed the conditions on which it should be available, basically that support should go through wider international institutions of that kind, rather than through the Community.

We should also bear in mind the obligation that we would anyway feel to help the democratic Government in Portugal, whether or not that country was a candidate for membership of the Community. The Community has already since 1974 decided to extend EIB loans to Portugal worth about £275 million. Bilaterally, we in Britain have allocated aid to Portugal worth over £5 million, as well as contributing $20 million to the multilateral balance of payments facility organised by the IMF. In addition, of course, we help Portugal considerably through the World Bank.

As to the implications for industry, we must face up to the fact that the applicants are low-cost producers in areas of industry which are currently acutely sensitive within the Community—for example, textiles, steel and shipbuilding.

Negotiations will be very difficult in these areas and special arrangements will need to be made for the transitional periods. These periods will, of course, take us up to the mid-1980's and beyond. It is impossible to foresee what will be the state of the world economy by then.

The Government have noted with interest the suggestion in the fresco that common disciplines in these sensitive areas of industry should be concerted with the applicants. We see advantage in some concertation, but we shall obviously want to look very carefully at any suggestions for establishing new Community-wide policies for industry or in other sectors to take account of enlargement. A plus point to bear in mind in our case is that the United Kingdom has a favourable trade balance with all three applicants, and most United Kingdom exports are industrial products.

As for agriculture, there is a danger that the inclusion of three new countries growing Mediterranean produce may lead to surpluses in Mediterranean products to add to the already existing surpluses in northern products. The Government are watching this and trying to see that in current discussions on Mediterranean agriculture within the existing Community the disturbing mistakes made over northern products are not repeated. Other northern States share, of course, our interest in holding down the costs of Mediterranean agriculture. Fishing will also present complications to be overcome, although a lot will depend upon what emerges as the common fisheries policy of the Nine.

A point I wish to stress in relation to regional policy is that enlargement will inevitably add another layer to the already existing problem of increasing divergence within the Community. The Community must in any case face up to the fact that much more must be done on regional and social policy to remedy this. Enlargement makes it all the more vital for the Community to get to grips with this problem.

It is difficult to predict the effects of enlargement on free movement of labour Much will depend on levels of demand and economic activity in the existing member States and the applicant countries. The Government welcome the reference in the fresco to the likelihood of transitional arrangements. However, there was no flood of workers from the poor Italian South to this country when the United Kingdom joined the Community. There was, and will quite likely still be, a greater tendency for these workers to travel to Germany and France.

Is my hon. Friend aware that in recent times the TUC has asked the Department of Employment—and it has agreed—to cut back on work vouchers as they apply to workers from these States? That does not lead me on to saying that during a long transitional period we cannot accommodate them. But it does lead me to ask whether the CBI and TUC are being fully consulted about the whole question of the movement of unskilled labour from these other countries into Britain in future.

I can assure my hon. Friend that just as we shall want to listen attentively to the views expressed in the House, so we shall also want to take into account the views of other important sectors in social, industrial and economic life.

Some of the implications of enlargement for external economic relations will need close attention, particularly relations with developing countries not least in the Mediterranean. This was brought home forcibly to me during a recent visit to Algeria and Tunisia. It certainly came across to me that there already, without enlargement, there is a good deal of anxiety about the consequences of the Community's present consideration of proposals for Mediterranean agriculture. The Community's partners in the overall Mediterranean approach are likely to feel quite a draught from enlargement, and the Community must work hard to find a solution to the problem.

Time is short and I think I should proceed. I am sure that my hon. Friend will have an opportunity of contributing during the debate.

Trade relations are not likely to be greatly affected, but we cannot rule out that aid generally may be. As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, enlargement should make little difference because aid funds are allocated quite separately from EEC funds. Other countries, however, who do not attribute EEC aid to the national aid programme may find that there is a smaller share of funds left for EEC aid after the new commitments arising from enlargement have been met. We must not be complacent about this danger of possible diversion of resources from the Third World to Southern Europe. But we must all recognise that in rejecting—in my view rightly—the selfish goal of being an exclusive "rich man's club", the Community may face a greater dichotomy between the calls for internal and external expenditure.

What is now recognised by us all as beyond doubt is that the gigantic economic problems facing all of us are far, far bigger than the Community itself. An enlarged Community—although undoubtedly still more significant—will be no more able to overcome these problems on its own than is the present Community of Nine. What will matter is the line which the Community as a whole will collectively take in wider economic negotiations within the industrialised world and between the industrialised world and the developing world. I fervently hope that Britain will play its part in keeping an indispensable outward-looking perspective of the policies of the Community.

Enlargement will clearly add to the political strength of the Community, but here, too, there are important problems to be solved. One that particularly concerns the United Kingdom, of course, is the problem with Spain over Gibraltar. The Government are firmly opposed to setting conditions on Spanish membership. Nevertheless, as I have already emphasised to the House, it would be unthinkable for the present restrictions to continue after Spanish entry We believe that it must prove possible to resolve this question of restrictions as between partners and friends.

A second problem concerns Greece and Turkey. As I know from my own visit last autumn to Turkey, the Turks are deeply concerned about the possibility that the Community will take Greece's side in Eastern Mediterranean questions. Some way must be found of reassuring Turkey. Effective political links between the Community and Turkey will be more important than ever after Greek accession.

A third more general problem concerns the political relationship between the Community and all those Western European democratic countries which are not part of the EEC. The level of political co-operation within the EEC is impressive. We shall want to strengthen it in the context of enlargement. But this must not be at the expense of political co-operation between the EEC collectively, or individual member States of the EEC, on the one hand, and their other friends in Western Europe on the other.

In an interesting ministerial discussion at the Council of Europe last week, it became clear that with the advent of enlargement the role of the Council of Europe—bringing, as it does, the whole of democratic Western Europe together—would become more significant than it has perhaps been for some time. As for the institutional implications of enlargement, I believe two main elements can be distinguished. First, the Treaties will need to be amended to give the new member States fair and proportionate representation in the various Community institutions. Secondly, there is the general problem of ensuring that the Community machinery can work effectively, without undue bureaucracy or expense, once the number of its members is increased.

The first aspect is fairly straightforward, although it would be realistic to reckon with some pretty lengthy discussions on the numbers game. It will also provide us all with an opportunity to review the size of the Commission. There are strong arguments which need to be carefully weighed for suggesting that that body should, after enlargement, be confined to 12 members with only one commissioner from each member State. There will also be other practical problems such as how to avoid the danger of hung judgments in the Court of Justice if, after enlargement, it has an equal number of judges with one from each member State; or simply, how delegations will physically be fitted into the space available together with all the necessary extra facilities for interpretation.

On the second aspect, the British Government cannot agree with those who see the answer in rigid application of procedural devices such as the increased use of majority voting. The Government are absolutely committed to the present principle of consensus, with retention of the right of veto.

It cannot be underlined too heavily that the Community's institutions must not be seen as an end in themselves. They are merely the vehicle of European development and collaboration at any given time, and development and collaboration are not ends in themselves either. Their real worth can be measured only by the degree to which they improve the lives of ordinary men, women and children in all the member countries, not least our own.

Improvements in development and collaboration will be pursued after enlargement, but I suggest that we shall all have to be more selective than in the past. The institutions will have to work flexibly to assist this process, responding to political pressures and possibilities. It would be getting the whole thing the wrong way round to imagine that they could ever produce the desired results on their own.

There are plenty of means open to us for keeping the machinery efficient and flexible, provided we steer our course by realities rather than abstract principles. It is already the Council's practice to seek to solve problems by consensus, with States who find themselves in the clear minority informally deferring to the majority view on less important questions.

During the time of the British presidency last year steps were taken to improve the efficiency of the work of the Council. These have proved successful with the Council of Permanent Representatives playing a key role in preparing the ground for full Council meetings in such a way that Ministers can concentrate on what really matters—as in the CAP.

The Commission—which, as I have just suggested, might be reconstituted on a more compact basis after enlargement—already carries a considerable share of the Community's routine management tasks within the lines already agreed by Ministers, and we can look at proposals for setting up similar arrangements in further specific areas.

But in saying this I should stress the basic point—to which we are deeply committed—that political decisions and policy making must be seen as the responsibility of Ministers—Ministers who must remain firmly accountable to their own domestic Parliaments. Any arrangements will be most useful if used flexibly and with sensitivity to differing circumstances. The opposite approach of tailoring a procedural straitjacket, within which even the Nine would feel themselves cramped, seems to us frankly on practical grounds to be a non-starter.

I now come to the question of transition periods. The Government welcome the Commission's recognition that there may be a need for flexibility here, and a case for not necessarily following the classical pattern. The Government agree with the suggested minimum and maximum recommended in the fresco of five years and 10 years respectively. As to the Commission's idea of two stages, we shall have to study this carefully, at least as far as Greece and Spain are concerned.

As far as the fresco as a whole is concerned, the Government welcome the tabling of a document which will facilitate consideration in the round of the implications of enlargement. It should help the Community avoid the pitfalls of, on the one hand, a piecemeal approach, and on the other hand, trying to bunch the negotiations into one. I hope that the fresco will lead to decisions that will facilitate and speed up the individual negotiations, especially a decision of principle that all concerned are aiming at a Community of Twelve.

Having said this, I hasten to add that the Government have various reservations on the suggested approach. The sections on economic and monetary union in particular appear to be putting the cart before the horse. I have already mentioned our reservations about more majority voting. There are others. Various points also need clarifying—for example, the suggestion for pre-accession sectoral measures, and the question of languages.

The Secretary of State has registered these points in Brussels today, I believe, and he has stressed that these are our preliminary views. The Government views on the fresco are frankly still crystallising and that is why we shall take particular note of the views of hon. Members in this debate. In the meantime, I have noted the strength of feeling in the House that we should have constructive interim policies towards the applicant States.

Before closing, I must deal with the view expressed by some that the United Kingdom is supporting enlargement out of a wish to weaken the Community because it sees widening as a way of avoiding deepening. The Government reject that criticism. But it will plainly be impossible to deepen across the whole range of Community activity after increasing to twelve. The Community must be prepared to be more selective about areas in which it seeks harmonisation. Of course, enlargement from nine to 12 will change the Community, just as enlargement from six to nine changed it. The Community enlarged to nine because of its limitations, especially political limitations. It must have been recognised then that the future shape of the Community would be affected. Similarly now, political arguments and pressures are the stimulus for a further adjustment of horizons.

What is clear is that the question of enlargement is about far more than the narrowly defined economic and financial niceties of the Treaty of Rome. It is about the political future of Western Europe and, as the Declaration on Democracy adopted at the most recent European Council re-emphasised, it is about the cause of democracy itself. It is closely related to the Government's objective of a Community of sovereign nations co-operating together for the common good. There will be costs. But costs will be worth paying. Freedom is indivisible. History will judge the Community not so much by its wealth or administrative structure as by whether it enhanced the dignity and self-respect of individual men and women within it and beyond it. That is every bit as much the test by which to assess the value of the chapter on enlargement which we are about to write as any other aspects of Community life.

7.36 p.m.

The House is grateful to the Minister for covering the ground so succinctly. He was right to be apologetic about the nature of the debate this evening. After all, we are debating the most important project before the Community. It affects millions of people. It affects the future shape and prospects of democracy in Europe. It affects three countries with which for centuries we have been concerned in the closest possible way. Our trade, military strategy and political emotions have all been deeply involved in Greece, Spain and Portugal from time to time, and the future of these countries is still clearly vital to us. Therefore, it is not satisfactory to have a tiny mouse of a debate squeezed between 7 o'clock and 10 o'clock this evening. Frankly, that is not what we had in mind when we made available a Supply Day for this purpose. I hope that when the Minister winds up the debate he can give a clear undertaking that this debate, on a vital matter, will be resumed within Government time, with proper space available, before we rise for the Summer Recess.

I should like to give an immediate assurance on that matter. I well understand the sense of disappointment in the House, and I shall personally bring that disappointment to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, in the hope that more time will be found before too long.

We should like to push for a slightly more forthcoming phrase. I am sure that the Minister will do his best, but we shall press the Leader of the House, on the right occasion, for a definite undertaking that he will provide time for a further and proper debate.

The Opposition strongly support the enlargement of the Community to include Greece, Spain and Portugal. Five years ago all three countries were under authoritarian regimes of the Right and there was a clear risk, when those regimes collapsed, that a Left-wing authoritarian regime in each case might be the natural heir, because of the way in which the countries had been governed. If anyone had said in this House five years ago that all three of these countries would dispose of their authoritarian regimes almost without bloodshed, and then fend off in free elections the inevitable Communist threat and elect of their own free will moderate Governments, any such Member would have been dismissed as a hopeless optimist. Yet that is what has happened.

There are major economic problems remaining. In the case of Portugal, as the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) has already emphasised, those problems are frightening. Nevertheless, the achievement of all three countries has been remarkable, and it is very much in the interests of Britain that they should continue to succeed. Now they have applied to us to join the Community to buttress their achievements.

That is a complication, but it is also a compliment. They want to join. It is sometimes useful for us in the House to see the Community as others see it from outside. They want to join the Community because they see it as the partnership of European democracies on which the future of Europe essentially depends. They regard it as imperfect, but a great deal better than anything that has gone before it. They want to be a part of it. That seems to be a powerful political reason.

In economic terms they see—perhaps more clearly than we in the House—the growing power and importance of the Community in establishing trading relations with the outside world. Rather than national Governments, it is now the Community that uses its influence to negotiate conditions in which our industries trade. The applicant countries recognise that power and prefer to see it used on their behalf once they are in the Community than to feel the brunt of it as outsiders. Anyone who has heard the leaders of the applicant countries press their case for full membership as soon as possible cannot fail to be impressed by that case.

Many hon. Members will have arguments, causes or interests with which they are especially concerned. Some are con cerned with the increased budgetary cost, with which the Minister dealt. Some are concerned with greater access being given into the hands of willing British consumers of such things as Portuguese textiles. Others will be more impressed by better prospects for our exports, especially into the large and still rather highly protected Spanish market.

These are all complicated and legitimate considerations that have to be balanced. It seems to me that they must take their place behind the main argument. No one can guarantee that membership of the European Communities will secure for ever the political stability of Greece, Spain and Portugal. However, we can be sure that if we deny them their applications it will be a cruel and perhaps mortal blow to their hopes and to what they have been trying to do.

Some support enlargement—the Minister was rightly sensitive about this—for reasons that I consider to be misguided. They believe that enlargement will throw up so many problems and complications that it will check, perhaps for ever, the progress of the Community and perhaps force it back into a simpler and much more primitive form. They believe that the whole house of cards is so flimsy that three more cards could bring it down.

My hon. Friend is naturally attracted by that argument. There was a hint of it, of course, in the Prime Minister's famous letter to Mr. Hayward, which caused so much trouble and damage. According to the argument, we would be left with a simple political alliance of sovereign States and there would be no attempt to arrive at common policies in trade, commerce and economics. That is a possible outcome, but I am sure that it would be much against Britain's interests.

If we were to abandon efforts to arrive at common policies where there are clearly common needs, we would go back into bad old ways. I do not doubt that there would be much more protectionism and much more unemployment. If we took that course we could so easily become engaged in, or fall through inadvertence and incident by incident into, little farm wars, fish wars, steel wars and then energy wars with our partners. It is impossible to imagine that the over-arching political alliance could continue for long if that happened.

It is essential that we preserve what we have achieved in the Community and make further progress. The Minister is right to say that we cannot progress everywhere all the time, but we should continue to make progress where we can and where it is sensible to do so. That is the wish of those who are applying to join. We may find before long that they are pressing us to make speed. The idea that we are proposing to admit slow and reluctant partners is the opposite of the truth. In surmounting the complications that exist the Community and the British Government will need to show a good deal more energy and imagination than has been shown hitherto.

I turn now to the specifics. The whole question of enlargement raises questions in relation to the institutions. The only one to which I shall refer—I mention it briefly—is that of majority voting. The Community is sluggish. The Council of Ministers is sluggish in taking decisions. It is slow, for example, in approving mandates for important negotiations with other countries. Other countries become, reasonably, exasperated. It is slow, as we have seen this month, in fixing farm prices year by year. Farmers are understandably exasperated. That is the price that we pay for insisting on the veto. It has to be accepted that that is the price we pay. I doubt whether it is possible or wise to attack head on the existence of the veto, or even to try to whittle it away by fixing in advance formal categories of decision to which it does not apply.

The document that we are discussing may be nudging us into a cul-de-sac on that point. If the Community is to work, it seems essential that there should be a greater readiness to accept a consensus, which means in effect, accepting the President's summing up at the end of a full discussion. I think that the Minister has not served in a British Cabinet—certainly I have not done so. I believe that this is how, essentially, the British Cabinet works. There is discussion, and at a certain time the Prime Minister, with his eye on the clock, sums up. There is then a short silence, in which members of the Cabinet may object, although they usually do not do so.

A recent President of the Council of Ministers—not the Foreign Secretary—told me that in his experience that system was beginning to evolve inside the Council of Ministers. I notice that the Foreign Secretary made a similar point in his evidence to the House of Lords' Scrutiny Committee. It is happening very slowly, but it is a desirable development. It will be essential as a habit of working once we get to a Community of Twelve.

We are talking about the discipline of working together and the discipline which that imposes upon national Governments trying to argue a case which for them is relatively secondary.

Am I to understand from what the hon. Gentleman is trying to say in a roundabout way that he would forgo the right of veto? Is he asking the Government more or less to give an undertaking that there are no circumstances in which it would be operated, bearing in mind that ominously enough it has never formally been used?

The hon. Gentleman completely misunderstands what I have said. I have said that we cannot attack the power of veto head-on, or whittle it away by formal changes, and that member States should pay more attention to the need for agreement. The veto is like a pistol that a man carries in his holster. Everyone knows that it is there and no one will succeed in taking it away from him. What matters is how often that man draws his gun, or threatens to draw it. It is in that sense that I think that the Council of Ministers has gone astray. There is a need to look again at the discipline of working together.

I turn next to agriculture. It should be emphasised, as some discussion seems to go astray on the matter, that we cannot have special provision for the new members after the transitional arrangements are over. Any agricultural arrangements for Mediterranean products must apply to the French and Italian farmers as well as to the farmers of Spain, Greece and Portugal when the transition is over.

It is natural that Mediterranean States, whether they are in the Community now or applying to join, should feel that the CAP is biased at present towards Northern products, and mainly dairy products. However, it would be a great mistake for them to try to push the Community into repeating the mistakes which it made over dairy products and to produce again the combination of surpluses and high prices that does so much damage to the Community and from which the Commission is trying to rescue us, with scant recognition in some parts of the House.

That is what the Commission's proposals in the current price review mean. The Commission is trying to rescue us from the damage that has been done by the initial setting up of that policy. Fortunately many of the Mediterranean products are unsuitable for intervention. We cannot store them, and that is a blessing.

It is a much better use of the Community's resources to concentrate on guidance rather than guarantee. That is an argument which is often advanced by my hon. Friends in the European Parliament. It makes more sense to improve a port, to improve a railhead and to better a marketing co-operative than to finance or dump the surpluses created through artificially high prices.

I should like to mention two specific countries and hope that the Minister, in reply, will tell us more about them. The right hon. Member for Devon, North rightly lost no time in introducing the problem of Portugal, with an economy that is so fragile that it is obviously on the brink, and has been for some time.

Portugal is engaged in tense and difficult negotiations with the IMF. I think that we need more clarity about this matter. If the IMF facility, whatever it is, is agreed that is, as it were, a key that should, and the Portuguese understand will, unlock further help, particularly from European sources. It is not enough for the Minister of State to rehearse what has been done by the EIB and other institutions in the past. In view of the crucial importance of Portugal, we need to know more about the plans that the Community or Her Majesty's Government have for moving into this room, once the IMF has unlocked the door.

Mention was made of Turkey. I think that it would be wrong not to include some discussion of Turkey in a debate on the enlargement of the Community as at present envisaged. Turkey, like Greece, has an association agreement with the Community which looks forward to full membership. The situation here should not be allowed to drift. The future of Turkey is of great importance to the West. The problems facing Turkey are so serious that they would not be solved by full membership of the EEC if she were to decide that was what she wanted. The GDP per head of the Turkish people is only 60 per cent. of that of Portugal—and we are worried about Portugal—and Turkey's population is four times the size. I fear that membership of the EEC by Turkey might overburden the EEC without solving the problems with which the Turks are wrestling.

It seems that a wider approach is needed—an approach that must include the Americans as well as ourselves. It is fortunate that both Greece and Turkey now have wise and experienced leaders. Perhaps there is a chance here—I should like the Minister to say something about this matter in winding up—a chance that may not last very long, for the Community and the Americans to show a bit of imagination and to work out a joint political and economic approach, including an updated agreement between the EEC and Turkey. That would show the Turks that the West regards them, in practice, as well as in words, as essential and valued friends and allies. We should consider the problem and future of Turkey in a more energetic and sympathetic way than we have up to now in the Community.

Finally, enlargement is a mixture of problems and opportunities. It is easy to harp on the problems, and it is right to do so as long as we remember that in the end the opportunities are the more important. It is a test of statesmanship, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) said in a speech at Strasbourg not long ago. It is not really open to us to say "We are sorry, but we are so fussed and bothered with our own problems in the Community that we have to slam the door in your faces, and damn the consequences for yourselves." We have to be a little brave and imaginative over this matter and show some of the courage and imagination that these countries have shown in tackling their own problems. With that courage and imagination there is a good chance that in, say, 10 years we shall find ourselves with three new members who will add substantial strength to our Community.

7.55 p.m.

A Back Bencher is able to take a somewhat less "responsible" attitude to the question of enlargement than the two Front Benchers who have spoken.

I shall try to deal with two essential issues—the effect of enlargement on the nature of the EEC and on the policies of Her Majesty's Government towards the EEC.

In my view, the starting point is that, unless fundamental changes are made within the decision-making process the EEC, the cohesion of the Community will inevitably be weakened by enlargement. We should not delude ourselves the Community of Twelve will be fundamentally different from the Community of Nine. It will be qualitatively different. In the enlargement from Six to Nine the additional three countries were roughly similar in economic progress. However, there is a fundamental difference between the Nine and the proposed additional three because of the geographic, economic and political divergences which will be imported into the EEC. An already cumbersome decision-making process, such as we have seen of late in the debates about farm prices and fisheries policy, will be made even more cumbersome because of the new divergences in the attempt to find some degree of cohesion within the new Community of Twelve. It is clear beyond doubt that the energies of the Community over the next three or four years will be almost totally absorbed in the attempt to enlarge the Community to twelve.

Economic and Monetary Union and the vision of the founding fathers of an "ever-closer union" will be forced to an ever-distant future. That will be highly acceptable and welcome to many hon. Members and will come to pass unless there is a major feat of imagination on the part of existing members and a major transfer of resources towards the poor applicant States. That will require a measure of political will which I doubt whether anyone in the House seriously expects from existing members over the next few years, particularly in respect of the Regional Fund and the Social Fund.

It will be even more difficult to obtain decisions from the Community which will come into being than from the existing Community unless there are changes, such as those adumbrated within the Commission document, of majority voting and agreement possibly to change the Luxembourg compromise. The habit of consensus, mentioned by the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd), is a habit of consensus on relatively secondary matters. It is straining credulity to imagine that this will extend to the fundamental decisions which will face the Community in respect of enlargement.

Another possible change in the structure of the Community is some plan of an inner council on the lines of the Tindemans' report. But that equally, given the present view of the member States, is unrealistic in the situation today—This new change in the structure was, it appears from the weekend Press, discussed in a recent Community report.

Save on secondary issues, can anyone see the political will in the current EEC to make such changes? If there is no such will power, must we resign ourselves to an even more tardy decision-making process within the EEC so that anti-federalists can rejoin, rejoice at the prospect of enlargement?

It is said that the benefits will be political. As the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon said, who would have imagined five years ago that these fledgling democracies would have emerged from their long travail of Right-wing dictatorship to the position that we see today, having survived for some time after free elections? It is put as an investment in democracy.

We must accept that the treaty says that the Community is open to new members. To deny entry to the three applicant States at this late stage would be seen as a snub. There is no going back. We must accept the inevitable political process. One cannot help feeling that to some extent the members of the existing Community have sleep-walked into the present position to the point of no return and that a political decision has been made before the economic bill has been calculated.

Perhaps some of the existing members, having viewed the economic cost to themselves, are now considering that it is better to travel than to arrive. To them the current process of negotiation is, perhaps, preferable to the end of the road—1980 for Greece and 1983 or thereabouts for Spain and Portugal.

The case based on political advantages can be put in question because on the other side of the coin are many likely political disadvantages. I shall instance one or two of them. One is the attitude of the West Germans who are still the paymasters of the Community and who are willing to make sacrifices because of their vision of a European Union. There is a constant tension in the policies of the Federal Republic caused by the pull of their traditional partners in central Europe and the pull to the West.

As the ideal of European Union becomes increasingly incapable of realisation this might lead to a fundamental rethink among West German policy makers of their attitude to the Community. One might envisage, towards the end of the process of enlargement, a new uncertainty in West German policy towards the Community.

The position of Turkey has already been mentioned by both Front-Bench speakers, particularly in relation to Cyprus. It is a particularly sensitive area because of the Turkish position in NATO. One hopes that the Community will accept that the new initiatives are needed to allay the fears of Turkey following enlargement.

Apart from the danger of Turkey and other areas losing markets, one sees the possibility of a new protectionism arising against the existing suppliers to the Community of Mediterranean produce—Morocco, Cyprus, Maghreb, the Mashraq countries and Israel. I concede that this is a point of detail but it is important and must be dealt with in negotiations.

I turn to the effect on United Kingdom policy towards the Community. Clear economic disadvantages are likely for us, particularly since by 1980 the transition phase for the budgetary arrangement comes to an end. Our contribution to the budget will then be higher than it is now. We are already second in the order of net contributors towards the Community and yet we are towards the bottom in the Community in terms of GDP per head.

A further substantial net increase in the amount spent by the EEC budget on agriculture is likely, to our detriment. As regimes are established for Mediterranean produce there is a real danger that the excesses of the common agricultural produce will be repeated—those of high guarantee prices, surpluses and protectionism. Given the higher proportion of the work forces in the applicant countries engaged in agriculture, one can see serious social dislocation in those countries if there were an attempt by the EEC structurally to drive people from agriculture. There will be a rise of 55 per cent. in the number of people employed on EEC farms as a result of enlargement.

My hon. Friend suggests that he is not too sure whether it would be good for the EEC for Greece to join. If the EEC is the great international organisation to the benefit of all that he and others believe, why cannot it assimilate and deal with the problems that he is outlining?

I am outlining the problems. My hon. Friend must wait with expectancy for my conclusions when I shall deal with the matter, having first outlined the difficulties. If my hon. Friend will contain his impatience I shall deal with that problem in my peroration.

Clearly, France and Italy will be on the side of the applicant countries in seeking to have guarantees and preferences for Mediterranean produce, on the lines of those for the temperate foodstuffs which currently benefit the northern members of the EEC. But even the new States will bring a greater element of temperate foodstuffs into the EEC.

Our job is to see that, as far as possible, the EEC realises that excesses of the CAP and takes them into consideration when dealing with any new régime for Mediterranean produce. But this alone might lead to the dashing of the expectations of the applicant countries which have had the EEC sold to them by their Governments as a means of solving their own gross economic problems.

One fears that there could be disillusion within the applicant countries because the present lack of political willpower creates an unwillingness among the present member States to transfer resources to the new countries. The fear is that they will not gain that which they have been led to expect. This disillusion can lead only to a period of increased tension within the EEC and further retard the decision-making process. This disillusion will affect Portugal in particular because it might reject proudly any attempt to impose conditions upon economic aid which might be funnelled to them through the EEC.

As a result of enlargement, instead of being the bottom of the poverty league in the EEC the United Kingdom will be somewhere in the middle. We shall therefore have to reassess our attitudes. We shall need to think again about our present posture, for example, of pressing for increased expenditure on social and regional policies—that is, unless we can envisage altruistic policies on behalf of this Government and a willingness to transfer substantial resources to the new and weaker countries. How realistic is it to expect such altruistic policies? There is also a danger of a diversion of investment from institutions external to the EEC to the low-labour-most manufacturers in the applicant countries.

I imagine that the Ford decision to invest substantially in Spain in the last few years might have been influenced in part by Spain's access to the wider EEC market. If that were not so, that investment might have gone elsewhere in the EEC. I shall not deal with the particular United Kingdom industries—steel, textiles and footwear—which could be affected by the entry of Portugal. But few of our domestic industries stand to gain much from access to the three countries. I concede that the Spanish market is where the likely gains are greatest yet there is no great demand by United Kingdom industry for enlargement.

I have asked many questions and not given many answers. The conventional wisdom is that enlargement is justified for political reasons and that there are certain economic disadvantages. The budgetary cost to the EEC has been estimated at between £90 million and £115 million, in addition to any further sums which we shall have to pay to Portugal.

Unless we face the need for political decisions on the transfer of resources, and the need for a serious appraisal of changes in the institutional structure of the EEC, there is a real danger that there could be a major weakening of the Community as a result of enlargement. I concede—and I say this in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South—that enlargement is a fact of life. But we must accept it with our eyes open to the real dangers as well as to the possible advantages. A Back Bencher can say certain things about those dangers that Front Benchers dare not say.

I am reminded of the advice given to me once by a wise old counsellor who stated that if one has to do something one should do it as enthusiastically as possible. My hon. Friend the Minister has attempted perhaps for that reason to speak as enthusiastically as possible on the subject of enlargement.

8.11 p.m.

I welcome the debate. The Minister, as a good parliamentarian, assured us, with the modesty that we always expect from the Front Benches, that the sole object of the exercise, with the exception of a few introductory and explanatory remarks from himself, was to enable the Government to listen to the spirit of the House of Commons on this issue. If that is the Government's object they could hardly have chosen a worse time than to coincide the debate with the very moment when the Council of Ministers is meeting, when it would be impossible to speak to the Foreign Secretary. The Minister is most unlikely to pick up the telephone to tell him that he must get back to the House of Commons because it had taken a very firm view, and that thereafter the Council members should get back round the table to discuss the matter.

There was a case for having the debate before the Council of Ministers met so that the Council could hear what the House said. There was also a case for having the debate afterwards, when we would then have had a full analysis and a proper translation of the proceedings.

The Government were at some pains to try to arrange an alternative timetable, but pressure from elsewhere in the House, which we were most anxious to accommodate, led us to pick this time today.

I thank the Minister for that explanation, but many of us would have been much happier to have met yesterday. That might have made a greater impact on the Government. That would have been better than sitting in the rain, declaring solidarity with other countries with which some of us do not feel quite so solid.

I welcome the fact that three friendly West European countries have returned to democratic forms of Government—two of them after roughly 40 years of dictatorship—and have applied to join as full members. I hope that the House will bear with me if I quote again a short passage which puts into perspective the view of the Commission. These are the remarks of Mr. Ortoli in January 1976 on the Commission's feelings towards the application for membership by Greece. He said
"the Commission has been deeply conscious of the obligation that lies on the Community to find a fitting and appropriate response to the Greek request for membership. This request, coming a few months only after the restoration of democracy in Greece and enjoying the support of almost every shade of Greek political opinion, represents a remarkable affirmation by the Greek people and their leaders of the overriding importance they attach to their country being committed to the cause of European integration. It is clear that the consolidation of Greece's democracy which is a fundamental concern not only of the Greek people but also of the Community and its Member States, is intimately related to the evolution of Greece's relationship with the Community. It is in the light of these considerations that the Commission recommends that a clear affirmative reply be given to the Greek request and that negotiations for Greek accession be opened."
During the Easter Recess I had the privilege of visiting Portugal and Spain—from one of which I had previously been banned and in the other of which I was not particularly popular at an earlier stage. There I was privileged to meet the Minister of State and the Foreign Minister, respectively, who are in charge of their countries' negotiations to join. I say unequivocally that both those countries regard it as no less important than do the Government of Greece that they should join as full members of the Community, and join what they regard as the mainstream of Western Europe.

I am glad that the opinion in regard to Greece, which by implication obtains also in regard to the applications by Spain and Portugal, has ruled out the idea of a pre-accession period. If they are to be full members they should sign the Treaty, ratify it in their Parliaments and become full members subject to derogations of between five and 10 years. This is a political decision by them, just as it is a political decision for the Nine. Mr. Natali said that it was a political "yes" with an economic and institutional "but". But whatever the difficulties, we should remember that they will be greater for the applicants than for us.

The political will for enlargement is there, however, and there is, fortunately, on this occasion no de Gaulle waiting in the wings with a veto to use at the last moment. The Commission was right to point out the impact on the institution—on the European Assembly which will be greatly enlarged, on the Council of Ministers which will likewise grow, on the Commission itself where there is the suggestion that there might be a reduction with each country having only one Commissioner, on the Court of Justice, and on the question of majority voting.

We have gone much further with majority voting. In the fresco of the three applicants there is reference, on page 18, to the Paris Summit of 1974, at which the opinion was expressed that it was necessary, in order to improve the functioning of the Council,
"to renounce the practice which consists of making agreement on all questions conditional on the unanimous consent of the Member States".
There is no doubt that this has been pragmatically extended to a political code in which there is far more flexibility. I see nothing wrong in that concept and I hope that it will be extended.

I agree with the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) that one cannot meet the veto head-on. But I believe that as the Community evolves we must hope for greater flexibility and a greater readiness by members to reach a consensus without necessarily exercising the veto.

The Commission is right to point out that there will be adaptations to the European Investment Bank, the European Coal and Steel Communities, and the Monetary Committee, and to energy, social, regional, agricultural, trade and financial policies.

There is a new development of some significance which is that the applicants have been told in advance to reduce their national aid to those industries which are already in surplus in the Nine. Basically, these will be steel and shipbuilding in Spain, textiles in Greece, and new investment in all three in Portugal. There will, of course, be the problem of Mediterranean agricultural products. The planning of new industry and the phasing out of old industries that are in surplus in both the Nine and, subsequently, the Twelve will produce a formidable task given the background of unemployment of 7½ million people.

In Portugal the unemployment rate is already 14 per cent. The per capita income is $1,650 per annum, compared with Denmark, where it is $7,600. The credit lines from the rest of Europe—I gather that our Government, like the West Germans, have already committed themselves, to a figure—are dependent on the $50 million loan from the IMF and the disciplines which the IMF placed upon the Portuguese economy in terms of bank rate and public expenditure. Those are disciplines with which Her Majesty's Government are familiar.

If these IMF disciplines are too harsh and if Europe refuses to give any help unless Portgual agrees to abide by them we may put at risk the very fragile plant of democracy in that country. There was a perceptive article in the New York Herald Tribune over Easter which was widely read by the Portuguese Government, which asked how many democracies had been destroyed by the IMF. If the terms are too stringent, the next 25th April-type revolution will not lead to social democratic Government. If one wants to assess the refined, but perhaps fragile nature of Government in Portugal at the moment, it is pertinent to consider that it is based on a Labour-Conservative agreement, a permutation that has not yet been evolved in this country.

I believe that whether Portugal joins or not—I hope it does—we should take a close interest in the terms that the IMF is putting forward. These are the key so far to European credit, but they should not be such as to turn the key too far and break the lock itself.

The cost of joining was put forward in a helpful document by the Government in their evidence to the Select Committee. Basically, on a budget of 10,200 MEUAs, it would be about an additional 1,000 MEUAs, or under 10 per cent. of the cost, or £650 million.

When one talks of the cost one should compare it with the aid which we are giving to the Lomé countries, which is about 3,000 MUAs in aid and 400 MUAs in EIB loans. For a lesser investment we are enlarging the Community and underpinning democracy in Greece, Spain and Portugal.

The cost to the United Kingdom is about £90 million at the lowest estimate or about £115 million at the top end of the scale. This investment is well worth making in democracy in Europe. I hope that after 10 years it will have transformed the economies of the three joining countries and possibly of the 12 EEC Member States collectively.

There will be long, hard-headed negotiations and many all-night sittings. I hope that if this happens there will not be a tendency on the part of the three applicants to believe that this reflects any diminution of the genuineness of the wish, of the Nine for the three to join, and of the welcome there will be for them as full members. I am not as pessimistic as the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) I believe that this will lead to the necessity for greater co-operation in economic and monetary union, and I shall welcome that.

The fact that the Council of Ministers will number 12—and there is a suggestion that the Commission should be strengthened—is another reason why the European Assembly itself will ask for greater control over the Executive. That, too, I welcome.

Although this is not the first time that European countries have come together in economic and political union—there was the Holy Roman Empire and the Napoleonic Empire—it is the first time that 12 countries which can claim in different ways to have contributed uniquely to Western culture and civilisation over the centuries have voluntarily tried to achieve co-operation politically and economically through peaceful negotiation and agreement. In all the previous examples, co-operation came as a result of war or conquest. This is an exciting concept and a dramatic political evolution, whether one is for or against the Common Market. It is of immense value to the future of Western civilisation. For me, it is a very exciting prospect. It poses immense difficulties, but provided the political will is there, the outcome is not in doubt.

8.25 p.m.

I welcome and support the positive views expressed throughout the Community in sup port of the applications by Greece, Portugal and Spain for membership.

As has been pointed out by the Minister of State and my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) it is quite clear that there will be major economic stresses placed on the present Community as a result of these three countries joining us. We know that it will also add considerably to our financial burden. However, I do not trust all the financial forecasts for the future. One can toss around figures of £300 million or £400 million and add or subtract a million here or there. But undoubtedly there will be a major financial burden.

We should remind ourselves that exactly the same debate took place when the Community of Six was being enlarged to a Community of Nine. But far more than that, we face the political aspect of enlargement of the Community which is of overriding importance in relation to the three applicant countries. Almost every speaker in the debate has stressed that unless we give our full support to the applicants there is a distinct possibility that they could move away from the West and from their new-found democracy.

I was very fortunate in that I spent some time in both Spain and Portugal watching the evolution of their political parties. Greece has also moved wholeheartedly into democracy. The EEC gave these countries a firm assurance that once they were firmly established as democracies, the Community would live up to its pledge to invite them and welcome them into membership. The time has come for us to redeem that pledge that we gave so freely when those countries were not democratic. In so doing, however, we should not underestimate the effects on the whole Mediterranean policy of the Community in both economic and political terms.

I am certain that the Minister of State and my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon will not be surprised if I turn my attention to one aspect of Mediterranean policy which is at risk as a result of the accession of Greece. We must all deplore the present very poor state of the unhappy relations between Greece and Turkey.

Although Greece became a member of the Community through association as far back as 1962, it was only 18 months later in 1964 that Turkey also became a close partner through association. That link gave Turkey undoubted trade and other advantages which at the time were substantial. Obviously in the case of migrant workers—and preferential treatment was given for textile workers—Turkey was helped by its privileged position.

Over the years since the association agreement was signed we have seen the erosion of this privilege as the Community has entered into other agreements with other countries around the Mediterranean. The mere fact of these agreements being signed with other countries has eroded the privileges and caused a great deal of resentment in Turkey. To the initial resentment is added the fear of the accession of Greece to the Community. The Turks will see a country with whom they have strained relations being within the Community and in a position to bring unfair pressure to bear upon them.

The Prime Minister of Turkey said a few weeks ago:
"At the moment there is no hope for the resuscitation of the relations between Turkey and the EEC which have stagnated for nearly 2 years. What is more, the fact that Greece has declared that she will join the EEC at the latest within two years shows that time is running out to the detriment of Turkey. The Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Karamanlis, has just paid two visits to the countries of the EEC, and he seemed pleased with the outcome. The complaints which we have made up to now because of the few concessions accorded so far to our exports will lose all their significance after Greece has joined the Community. In economic and political spheres Greece will come into conflict with Turkey, since both have the support of the Western powers. Turkey has made it known that she will not ask to join the Community before the year 2000. According to certain observers the best thing Turkey could do, should Greece's application to join be approved, is to ask to benefit from the right of being able to speak on certain issues."
I can assure the House that there is a strong body of opinion within Turkey, the pro-Western opinion, which believes that the only hope for Turkey in relation to the Community is to move more quickly towards membership and to ask for that right to be represented more fully in our councils.

However, I hope that the fears expressed in that quotation by the Prime Minister of Turkey will be unfounded. That they are unfounded can be proved only by a complete reassessment of Turkey's association with the Community, combined with positive help and pledges to Turkey for the future.

June will see the first meeting for nearly two years of the joint EEC-Turkish Parliamentary Association Committee. We had a very happy and friendly relationship with our Turkish colleagues on that committee before this long gap. It is our intention to re-establish that close working relationship as quickly as possible. However, doing this will have no effect on the Community's relationship with Turkey unless, at the same time, the Council and the Commission make clear, as has been made clear in many speeches tonight, that we understand the desperate state of Turkey's economy and her vital relationship to the Community and to the United Kingdom in defence terms. We should then take positive action in the months ahead to make certain that Turkey is aware that we shall do everything possible to help her in her time of need.

8.31 p.m.

I think that the whole House is in agreement in welcoming the three applicant nations into the family of democratic nations in Europe. That is central to the considerations before us. We all want to see these fledgling democracies sustained as much as possible.

I was struck by the remarks of the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) about the pressures of the IMF. What he said may, alas, be partly true—that fledgling governments facing all the economic and social problems of a modern State may have pressure put upon them from outside. However, if they become members of the EEC, it will not be only the IMF which is putting pressures upon the internal economies and the social structures of the applicant States. It wil also be the EEC itself.

I am not confident that the present structure of the EEC and the assumptions on which it is based will avoid making those pressures apparent. Therefore, though I wish to see these countries remain democratic, I am not convinced that the EEC as an instiution will help them to do so.

Part of the problem of the accession of these new members, and the doubts that have overcome some of my hon. Friends who are otherwise enthusiasts for the EEC, is that the objects, purposes and modus operandi of the EEC operate on two levels or more. On the surface, theer is an attractive landscape with many details painted of luxuriant vegetation and plenty of pleasant places on which to rest one's weary head. That is the public presentation of the EEC. It is presented as a great international organisation. Phrases such as "peace in our time" and "peace for our grand children" roll out over the debates and in the propaganda. We have heard some of it today.

I suggest that the operation of the EEC does not depend on these more publicly advertised virtues. It is as though the EEC is constructed on piles which go deep down not into the subsoil but into the substructure. The bedrock is deep beneath and partly, if not entirely, hidden. It has entirely different contours and is of a different nature from the surface which is so clearly painted by those who advocate the EEC and by the literature which the EEC sends to us frequently.

That is the central fact which creates the problems of possible enlargement. We have been through the enlargement process and had our problems about fish and the milk marketing boards. Even now, there is the problem of the so-called veto to which the Minister referred. That has not been resolved and will not necessarily be resolved by enlargement.

The EEC is essentially Procrustean in its operation. Those who say that we must come to agreements, maybe not by the veto but by common consent, as the Cabinet does, will say that it all comes out in the wash because in the end everyone will benefit. But that assumes that we agree that the assumptions underlying the EEC and the way in which it works are correct. Many of us do not believe that they are correct. We believe that the economic assumptions that underly the idea of a better life for all do not necessarily work in the way that the rather crude economics of the Treaty of Rome imply.

I wish to put this test to the accession of Greece. Document S/227/76, the Commission's opinion on the Greek application for membership, deals only with Greece, but many of that country's characteristics are shared by Spain and Portugal.

We know that Greece is not an industrial country, but it has a small and active industrial sector. The Commission's assessment says that Greek industry has:
"an extensive system of aids."
Clearly that system will have to be dismantled or modified over the period of the accession treaty.

It appears that the Procrustean table is at work and the structure of Greek industry will be in for some shocks. No longer will the Greek Parliament or Cabinet be able to decide what is appropriate for Greek industry. This is one of the examples of the sub-structure and its operations.

I do not believe that this is essentially democratic. It may be that, through international negotiations, the Greeks may agree to do certain things on their own volition about their own industry, but that is another matter. That is not how the EEC works. Greek agriculture is paramount in the economy of the country, maybe not in terms of figures—though it is a much higher proportion of GNP than in the rest of the EEC States—but certainly in terms of people.

The Foreign Office document and the Commission document describe agriculture almost entirely in terms of units of account and abstract figures. One figure stands out. The Commission's document points out that 35·7 per cent. of the Greek population is engaged in agriculture. That compares with an average of 9·6 per cent. of the populations in the rest of the EEC. Clearly that figure of 35·7 per cent. means that between 40 per cent. and 50 per cent. of the population works in agriculture or agriculture-based industries in villages or in jobs related closely to the land. That is a very big proportion.

The document spells out clearly that these agriculture holdings, which are, on average, only 20 acres, are very fragmented—no doubt through inheritance—and there is a great deal of what is called hidden unemployment. That is true of Southern Italy as well though not of Northern Italy, and it is true of parts of Spain and parts of Portugal.

What is the EEC policy for agriculture? We turn to Article 39 of the Treaty of Rome where the objectives of the common agriculture policy are spelt out. The first objective is set out in paragraph (a) as follows:
"to increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress and by ensuring the rational development of agricultural production".
We know something of the effects of the common agricultural policy in this country, but if that is the policy to be pursued as a first objective, what will happen to the 35·7 per cent. of people on the land? If one is to increase productivity in terms of output per person, theoretically the food in production or land in cultivation remains the same and the ends can be achieved with fewer people.

That may be possible, but we have heard that there is already a good deal of hidden unemployment, as though that is a bad thing. It may be a bad thing purely from the point of view of the economy, but I suggest that in certain countries, particularly Greece, if there is to be unemployment it will be much better related to land, where leisure and work can take their proper part in a socially coherent community, based on land ownership and perhaps in a reasonably stable rural environment. If one shakes out that system and sends people to the towns where they cannot find work and become unemployed, large numbers of people who notionally in economist terms would be available for industrial production would be kicking their heels, as indeed they are in many countries of the West today. Therefore, I suspect that the objectives of the CAP, including productivity, would not help in that respect either, nor would it necessarily help if it means productivity in terms of increased agricultural production. We know of the surpluses that already exist, and there will be problems of surpluses, including tobacco, because Greece grows some tobacco. Additional support will be necessary.

I believe, as do many of my hon. Friends, that the real objectives of CAP are other than those spelt out in Article 39 of the Treaty of Rome. There is no mention in that article of intervention buying, or of dumping surplus food on world markets, yet these are the hallmarks of the CAP. All that Article 39 1(c) refers to is the stabilisation of markets. I do not think that the EEC has benefited a great many people in the EEC as it is, and I suggest that it would not necessarily be of very much help to the Greek people.

I wish to make some quotations from the document on the Greek application for membership. Page 8 of the document reads:
"Greek agricultural prices to the producer are in many cases (in particular for fruit and vegetables …) considerably lower than in the Community."
Therefore, if Greece is now producing fruit and vegetables at a much lower price than in the rest of the Community, does that mean that Greek fruit and vegetables will come on to our market? That may be a good thing, but it also provides something of a problem.

On that same page, we see the following statement:
"Given the considerable difference between the structure of agriculture in Greece and the EEC, abrupt modifications of the prices paid to Greek producers which are not accompanied by changes in the structure of Greek agriculture could create imbalance as regards incomes of different categories of agricultural producers."
What a way of putting it! That is typical EEC-ese. It is saying that if Greece joins and there is not a reasonable—indeed, a fairly lengthy—period of accession, there can be sudden changes in the incomes of Greek farmers. Clearly, if there are those sudden changes there will be structural and social tensions in society. We know that sudden changes lead to difficulties, grievances, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, people perhaps pocketing large sums suddenly, as though they had experienced a windfall.

I do not think that the EEC as it is will therefore be of the benefit that some of my hon. Friends would like to think that it will be. I asked my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) what was the answer to the dilemma, and he said that it would be in his peroration. His peroration was "enthusiasm". Enthusiasm would apparently drive away the sort of problems that we have.

I should like to put to the House another possible solution. I hope that the negotiations for the accession of Greece, Portugal and Spain will throw new light on the actual operation of the EEC. We have already had a lecture about the possibilities of a new-style Cabinet Government, the problems that there will be for the Council. I have suggested some of the problems that there will be for the agricultural policy and the internal anomalies that exist and have not been analysed as much they might.

I hope that in the negotiations for the accession of these three countries the EEC will begin to sort itself out, that it will see that its only future is not as a supranational organisation heading towards economic and monetary union, or political union, but that in truth it will become a community of nations co-operating for a common purpose. It is only by that means that the real aims and purposes of democracy can be established. I believe that that is the only way in which the EEC, reformed, can properly assist the democracy of these three applicant States.

8.48 p.m.

Hon. Members will not be too surprised if I tell them that as a member of the Scottish National Party I find that the word "enlargement" has a slightly different connotation from that which it perhaps has for any other hon. Member present.

It appears to my party that we are on the road to self-government for Scotland. I should like to mention another of the West Lothian questions, not the one that has bogged down this House but one that we have in the European Parliament. The West Lothian question there, from time to time, is "What would the Commission and the Council do if part of a member State simply hived off?" The member State part is thinly disguised as Scotland, so thinly that immediately on the West Lothian question's being asked the whole Parliament looks round at me to see my response.

My response there, as here, on possible enlargement to include a self-governing Scotland is simply this: if we can achieve self-government through the democratic process, which is our aim, the question is not whether we have any worry or fear that the EEC would woo an independent Scotland; rather, it is whether an independent Scotland, with the richest fishpond in the world, with our stocks of energy and oil, with our other wealth, and our growth rate of 10 per cent. projected this year, compared with 4½ per cent. for the United Kingdom, would graciously allow the suit of courtship towards us. That would depend on the view of the people of Scotland. There would be a number of rocks on which that idea would perish, one of two of which I hope to tell the Minister about.

My party welcomes the enlargement of the EEC, for reasons rather along the lines of what the hon. Member for New- ham, South (Mr. Spearing) has just said. I shall refrain from making some of his points, which I had noted.

We are opposed to the CAP in its rigid and non-flexible form. We do not think that it can work. We hope that it will break down. I would rather see whatever moneys are contributed by member States to an organisation of co-operation spent on a much more generous dollop of funds to the regional policy and the social policy. Under the word "social" there are the broadest implications for the cultural and educational aspects. That is what I hope will happen with the accession of these applicant States. I echo all that has been said about the greatest event, perhaps, of the last decade being the achievement of democratic forms of Government in these States. That is a most exciting event.

We indulge in these self-congratulatory epithets suggesting that everything in the garden of Europe is lovely. We are told that we are so democratic. Perhaps the applicant States ought to consider whether the EEC is sufficiently democratic. It appears to me that it is singularly undemocratic. That is another of the reservations that my party has always had about our entry to and our remaining in the Community.

For instance, the European Parliament is a democratic institution. I am a Member of that Parliament and I wish it to work as well as possible. That is why I welcome direct elections—in the hope that they will give the Parliament more direct control over the two-headed monster which is the Commission. This is a well-entrenched Executive, different from any national Parliament. It initiates legislation. It decides what the legislative programme will be. One wonders whether, even if the Parliament is directly elected, the Commission will give up any of its powers.

The Council of Ministers has also behaved badly and will not allow any of its deliberations, even its legislative ones, to be open, even to members of the appropriate Committees of the Parliament, let alone to public scrutiny. I have a letter here from the Minister of State sympathising with the view that I have frequently expressed in the European Parliament, saying that the United Kingdom is hoping to persuade the Council to become more open. There are many other examples that I could give.

As a woman Member of the European Parliament I cannot take very much satisfaction in the status of women in the Parliament and within the set of institutions. There is hardly one woman in a senior post. All the women representing the various countries and parties have expressed this viewpoint. It does not augur too well for an organisation claiming to be democratic and representing a community in which half the population is female.

Is the EEC as highly motivated as we are told? I reiterate the remarks of the hon. Member for Newham, South. I remember, when the debates about entry to the Community took place in this House, that the reasons for entry narrowed down to two. The two Front Benches at that time were putting forward the same arguments. One argument was that by entering the Community we would acquire a better growth rate, in some way never quite explained. The other concerned a political motivation. It was said that Britain would be great again. I remember hearing both sides of the House saying that in my earlier term as a Member of Parliament.

It is perhaps understandable that Britain is mourning its lost empire and would like to be in a big pond again. I have a reservation about the essential motivation of the EEC because so often one hears expression being given to the idea that it is some kind of supranational power bloc with a military purpose, to a great extent, perhaps, built on fear.

On the other hand, as a Member of the European Parliament, I am aware that many Members of that institution are genuinely idealistic about it. Many of them, elderly men who are the products of a war-torn Europe, see in it the hope that there will never be another European war. There are two ways of looking at the set of institutions. As we are in the EEC the best thing to do is to hope that we can make it more democratic and lead it away from undesirable tendencies such as economic and monetary union.

I hope that the enlargement, to include the three new States, will make economic and monetary union less likely. I have never been successful in getting a satisfactory answer from the Government Front Bench about their policy towards economic and monetary union. The answers that I have had have shown that the Government's policy is not in favour of such a union. Perhaps the Minister will comment on what effect, if any, he thinks enlargement would have on the attitude towards economic and monetary union adopted by so many Members of this House and other member States.

My last point is really a series of worries about certain industries, and I ask the Minister to comment on at least some of them. We have had a good discussion on the common agricultural policy, so I will say little about it. I have already said that I do not think that, basically, it can work. I hope that it will go away and that we can get back to some degree of rationality.

For example, there is the attitude towards our milk deliveries. It is an example of the absurd. If we interfered with our excellent form of milk distribution, we should be interfering with something that works. Indeed, we would actually be putting at risk the health of our citizens, because, I have no doubt, after considerable study, that the consumption of milk has played a part in improving the health of our children. What the other member States should be aiming at is emulating our milk distribution system and drinking more of the stuff than they do at present. That would be to their advantage.

Again, we are told that one of the applicant countries has considerable interests in textiles. Our textile industry is very important to the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland. It takes a sizeable share of the economy. In terms of population, it employs in the United Kingdom about 800,000 people. Thus, it is one of our most important industries. A huge amount of money goes into the Exchequer from its balance of payments earnings. Will there be protection in this case? Will there be further risk that the industry will suffer by the accession of these new member States?

What about our steel industry, which is being further decimated by Community requirements? What effect will the accession of these three countries have on that industry?

In considering regional policy, one can hope, on the periphery, as Scotland is that the accession of other countries on the periphery will make for a better understanding of pressure for better regional policies. There seems to me to be often a failure on the part of some of the member States—for example, Germany—to understand what, for example, rural roads and rural haulage entail. They do not understand what it is like in the North and in rural parts of Scotland. Hence, we had the difficulty over drivers' hours regulations, which, if they had been immediately enforceable, would have put most small hauliers in such areas out of business.

Perhaps, therefore, the accession of periphery countries with remote areas and definite regional problems will mean a better understanding all round of the very grave regional imbalances of a country like Scotland. A more enlightened view must be taken of regional policy.

No one will be surprised if I express my considerable fears about the effect of the accession of these three countries on the fishpond and the fish stocks. The Minister of State wrote to me on 24th April saying that he agreed about the serious state of a number of the fish stocks. He did not rule out, at the end of his letter, non-discriminatory measures to conserve stocks around our coasts. This is a matter of grave concern, because the fishing industry covers many areas where there is no alternative employment.

In the EEC, I find that often Britain is lectured for being very nationalistic—just as this House lectures me for being nationalistic. It is rather the same, but carried a step further forward. In the fishing debate a compromise solution was nearly reached—it came from the rapporteur of the time, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott). It was at least acceptable to the United Kingdom, across the spectrum of parties. It was also acceptable to quite a number of other member States.

In the event, the proposal was beaten by two votes, with the Germans coming in and lecturing us about how we could fish to their beaches and they could fish to ours. They said that we were being nationalistic. It made me wonder where the sense of it was, as the Germans have no beaches with fish at them.

This is the kind of thing that is happening in the EEC. There is a great deal there which one can admire, but Rome was not built in a day. The Parliament has existed for only 20 years, and it could be improved. I think that the best improvement would be to make it looser than it would be under the proposed economic and monetary union. If these three countries—Greece, Spain and Portugal—accede, I hope that they will not find themselves and their industries worse off. I certainly see advantages for the present member States by the accession of those three States, for the reasons that I have given.

9.0 p.m.

The Minister was very courteous in his opening when he said that there were some who wanted enlargement so that this would dilute the Common Market. He recognised that argument, and it is one that I have always supported, purely on the ground that, being a very European-minded person, as the Minister knows, my objection is just to the Treaty of Rome. If the Treaty of Rome can be broken down by the entry of these three countries, I think that at last Europe will be moving along on the right road, which is one of co-operation between countries in Europe and not just co-operation between a limited number of countries in Europe.

I say that although I am, as the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing) said, a product of war-torn Europe. I think that is the right way in which we should all approach unity in Europe and that we should drop the idea of economic, monetary and political union in Europe. I think it does great damage to the cause of European unity.

I was very glad to hear the Minister say that the Government would stick firm and maintain the veto. I was not absolutely certain that my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) was quite as firm. I hope that I was wrong. I will read Hansard tomorrow. I think it is very necessary that the Opposition should take exactly the same view as the Government on their firmness about the veto.

In The Times of 29th April there is an article about majority voting which I think is rather disturbing. It states:
"Britain and the other three big EEC countries—France, West Germany and Italy—will have to accept a greater use of majority voting in the Council of Ministers if unacceptably long delays in reaching decisions are to be avoided in an enlarged Community of 12 States. This is one of the most sensitive of the recommendations recently unveiled by the European Commission for coping with Spanish, Greek and Portuguese membership in the 1980s. More details of what Mr. Roy Jenkins and his fellow commissioners have in mind have now been released."
Later in the article it is stated:
"But the Commission argues that majority voting should be used not only where the treaty provides but also where there is 'no imperious reason' for insisting on unanimity."
I think that that goes much too far. I am not sure who is to judge whether there is an imperious reason. I think that each side of the House should be absolutely clear that the veto will remain, as described earlier, as the pistol in the holster which is not used but which can be used and which is the deterrent against majority voting.

I believe that the entry of these three countries will illustrate the classic nonsense of the common agricultural policy. Therefore, I think it will encourage the Common Market to accept at last that the countries of the Common Market should move over to a national agricultural policy. The percentage of the work force in agriculture in Spain is 22. In Portugal the figure is 28 per cent., in Greece 35 per cent., and in the EEC as a whole 8·7 per cent. In the United Kingdom it is less than 3 per cent.

We seem to be taking into the Community countries which have a great number of small farmers, and the one thing that the Community has been trying to do over the past years is to get rid of small farmers. Now it will be having once again the same problem, and it will be very costly. Resources will have to be drained off if these countries are to achieve their aims.

The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) referred to prices and so on. I believe that the entry of these countries, and putting them under the common agricultural policy, will increase enormously the surpluses in Europe. For example, cereal prices in the three countries are much lower than they are in the Common Market. The same can be said of wine and olive oil. If those commodities go up to Common Market prices there will be enormous extra production. That, I believe, will encourage enormous surpluses as well as a diversion of trade from the other Mediterranean countries. That is something which the Commission ought to watch.

We had that experience when we entered. For example, Australia was told that it could diversify. It tried to, but what happened? Where Australia tries to sell its produce now, it is met by competition from heavily subsidised EEC exports. I do not think we would want the same situation to occur when these three countries join, because as Mr. Fraser said,
"The Common Market has now become a narrow, self-interested trading group trying to make the world dance to its tune."
I do not think anyone would like that to occur.

In addition, if food prices rise to the current Common Market prices I believe that there will be political trouble with the peoples of those countries. They will not like the rise in the price of food. Under the terms of the Treaty of Rome, the Common Market must ensure a fair standard of living for poor farmers and farm workers. This will all take a great amount of money. It will fall back on to the British taxpayer. That is something we have to consider very carefully. If we want these countries in, the solution would be to abandon the CAP. This may be the very moment to choose to abandon this ridiculous and wasteful agricultural policy.

I should also like to support what was said about Turkey. We must pay great attention in that regard.

I hope, too, that the Spanish people will open the frontier with Gibraltar as a condition of negotiating their way in. They should not wait until they have finally joined. They ought to open the frontier with Gibraltar before the negotiations actually start. I hope that the Government will make that absolutely clear.

With regard to immigration, we should also recognise that the addition of these three countries will allow in quite a number of people who at the moment the Conservative Party would be trying to keep out. Available to come into this country will be the Arabs from Spain and the Angolans who fled from Angola and are now in Portugal. It will not be open to this country to stop those people coming in should we wish to do so.

I am terrified of the increase in the languages that will be used. For example, in the Commission itself there are 1,050 interpreter-translators. An additional three more languages will mean increasing the number of interpreters and translators not only in the Commission but also in the European Assembly.

I am in favour of the entry of these three countries because I believe it will break down the Common Market into something which is far more sensible and which is along the road which we should have gone in the beginning. I am sure that these countries will not want to surrender their sovereignty or take part in any form of federal organisation. I hope that when they come in they will make that absolutely clear. In that case they will have my full support.

9.8 p.m.

For the first time in any of these debates on the European Community—debates that go back over a number of years—I find myself in total agreement with the conclusion of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), but not necessarily with the supporting argument that he used in coming to it. I also support the enlargement of the Community by adding these three further members, because I believe that it will provide a full basis for developing a European economic and political union.

The most exciting thing to me over the past year—in talking to Portuguese and Spanish Socialists who have come and joined in the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe—is that they have said "We want to come into the Community as soon as possible. This is something that we wish to be a member of". That is one of the best advertisements for the European Community that I know of. Countries which have escaped from a period of totalitarian rule now want to join in our Community, not to dilute it or water it down but in order to build it up and to achieve the objectives which they and I wish to see achieved in a European Community which is able to move forward to the Social Democratic objectives which they and I share.

That is why this debate is of such importance. I think that it is important that the Government prepared for us the useful memorandum to which my hon. Friend the Minister of State has referred. I am also glad that at rather short notice they have also made available to us the fresco document from the Commission, although unfortunately that is incomplete, as the detailed analyses on the economic and institutional aspects of enlargement which are referred to in its preface were not available in the Vote Office when I went to seek them. That is yet another argument why we should have a further debate when those further documents are available.

I want to refer to two or three specific items. First, reference has been made to the problem of the textile industry—by, among others, the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing). Coming from Lancashire, I must point out, as was made clear by the CBI when it gave evidence to the House of Lords Committee on this matter, that the Portuguese textile industry is this country's third largest source of low-cost textiles. Quite clearly, considerable care would have to be devoted to watching the position of that textile industry and its impact upon the rest of Europe's textiles.

This is not just a plea for Lancashire's textiles. I am convinced that all the members of Comitextil, representing the whole of the Community, would want to see proper arrangements made for the place of Portuguese textiles in any process of enlargement. That is where the fresco document's proposal for a two-stage process, perhaps extending over 10 years, would be appropriate.

The question of languages was referred to by the hon. Member for Banbury, among others. I think that we have to accept that inevitably all of the languages of the new members will have to be official languages of the Community. Given that Community regulations become immediately applicable in member States, it is impossible for the law not to be available in the language of each of those countries. I also believe that in the European Parliament it is imperative that Members should be able to speak in their own languages and should not be restricted or inhibited by having to speak in some other language, and that it should not be a qualification for membership that one should be able to speak in another language.

However, having said that, I believe that in the working practices of the Commission and the European Parliament there ought to be a restricted number of working languages. I very much hope that the Government will, in the discussions that will take place from now on, be able to work out very clearly what those working languages can be. I very much hope that they can be as few as possible.

I come to the point which is perhaps one of the major arguments that have run through the debate—the question whether, on the one hand, widening of the Community equals loosening of the Community, leading to the dilute organisation that the hon. Member for Banbury supports, or whether, on the other hand, as is argued in some parts of the Commission's fresco document—perhaps overenthusiastically—one cannot have widening without a turn of the screw, an increase in central decision-making. It seems to me that one has to try to strike a balance between these and say that at present, as is put forward in the Government's memorandum, we should attempt to follow the sort of pattern that has occurred before.

It is worth quoting the paragraph in the memorandum that my hon. Friend submitted to the House on 7th March dealing with the question of the veto, Paragraph 3, dealing with institutions, says that
"In dealing with routine business the Council already operates by establishing where the majority view lies, in the expectation that a Member State will not block a decision which commands general support; this is in effect an informal majority decision-taking system."
I think that it is a system which in other terms was described by the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd).

There is already at work a process which goes quite a long way towards an informal majority decision-taking process. I believe that it would be a great mistake to reopen all the theological arguments about the Luxembourg compromise at this stage. I believe that we should enable that process, which has developed very happily, particularly under the British presidency, to continue. As the Commission suggests in its own paper, this might evolve in other direc- tions, as people begin to have confidence in it. It is not something than can be rushed; it is something that will come as people gain confidence in the Community as an institution.

I promised to speak briefly, and I come to a close now. I conclude by saying that I believe that that which is before us is a step forward. It is a step not towards a dilution, to a form of inter-governmental co-operation, but a step towards creating a wider and fuller base on which the economic and political union of Europe may be built.

9.16 p.m.

I welcome the opportunity to speak for a short time in the debate. I welcome the enlargement of the Community to 12 member countries. I must make it clear that I am no expert on foreign affairs or on defence. I wish to make a few remarks on agriculture.

I do not think that those who have spoken so far have exaggerated the problems of agriculture and the CAP. However, what I deplore about some of the interventions and speeches is the defeatist attitude that is shown towards the CAP and agriculture in Europe. I believe that it is a challenge. It is a matter that we should seek to do something about and to change in the light of experience. Therefore, I wish to bring to the attention of the House some of my fears about enlargement and the effect on agriculture within the Community as a whole.

My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) talked about the CAP being "a classic nonsense". I think that that was the phrase.

I do not think that that is so. In the light of experience we have seen that some mistakes have been made and that some changes are necessary. That is why I am keen to see the enlargement of the Community.

What will enlargement do? It will give the Community as a whole the opportunity of making the fundamental radical changes that are necessary. From my short experience of politics—a great deal less than many who are present tonight—I believe that it is necessary for politicians to get off the hook. Certainly that is true of the politicians of the Community. Enlargement offers the chance. That is why I welcome the opportunity of enlargement. However, before we have enlargement we must make the necessary changes in the CAP that I consider essential. That is my main point.

For goodness sake let us get things right now. Let us start pressing within the Community to ensure that we make the fundamental changes that are necessary in the light of experience of agriculture in Europe.

Let us consider the problems of enlargement. Paragraph 10 of the consultative document clearly states that:
"Agriculture plays a far less important role in the Community than in the applicant countries."
That is true. That suggests to me that there will be greater needs in the three new member countries. They will be applying for more help and more aid for amalgamations, more help and more aid for support and more help and more aid for farm improvements. That is a very good thing.

Although it is important that we move into this area slowly and carefully, learning from the mistakes that we have made in the CAP, I welcome enlargement. I do not agree with those who say that we should literally keep the peoples of the three applicant countries in peasant conditions. I want to see an improvement in agriculture in Greece, Portugal and Spain.

I believe it is right that we should help them to improve their position to take advantage of modern methods and generally to assist them in the production of food in their countries.

I shall not give way, as others want to speak.

It is important that we should watch that point carefully. I do not believe that we should deny these three countries the improvement and advantages which are so necessary.

There is another point that is made in document—the whole problem of surpluses. It is important to be fair about this matter. It would be a very serious matter if Spain were producing a surplus of dairy products, but she is not. It would be very serious if Spain were producing a surplus of meat and adding to the so-called mountain—I do not agree that there is a mountain—but she is not. I look on this matter from a positive point of view. Spain is a country to which a certain amount of our surpluses can be diverted. I know that farmers in the South-West of England are looking forward to the opportunity of sending some of their beef and mutton on a deadweight basis to these countries. It may be of great advantage to the Community as a whole to divert some of the surpluses of dairy products and of meat to these three applicant countries.

Let us look at these matters from a more positive point of view rather than constantly to seek to make the worst of them all. Basically, we believe in the Community and what it does from a defence and, indeed, political point of view. Let us try to seize the opportunities that these three applicant countries will give us to make the changes and to deal with the problems that we have.

9.22 p.m.

I suppose that all who take part in these debates should start by declaring their prejudices. I declare my prejudices as having been in favour of going into and of remaining within the EEC. But, unlike some of those who fought those battles with me, I do not believe that the EEC is here for ever. I do not believe in a federal Europe. I do not believe in economic and monetary union. I see the EEC as only a temporary alliance of nation States. I hoped, most of all, that the EEC would be a method by which France and Germany would at least be temporarily locked together in an alliance which would prevent them from causing a Third World War in this century.

Therefore, I believed that it was vital that the EEC should concentrate not on peripheral things, such as bureaucratic proposals for regulating the operations of self-employed commercial agents, but on foreign affairs and perhaps ultimately on defence, particularly in the event of America moving towards a more isolationist posture.

I also hoped—this was a secondary but important aim—that perhaps the EEC might become a free trade area, even a free market area, and that it might perhaps become an alliance of rich men who would be able to become richer by their alliance.

As I said, I saw it as a temporary alliance. I did not see it as lasting for ever, any more than other alliances do. But tonight perhaps we are taking one further step towards its death. I believe that the EEC, if we allow Greece, Portugal and Spain to enter, will die just that little bit more quickly than perhaps it would otherwise, for they will add to the multiplicity of objectives which have been foisted upon the EEC ideal—more and more contrasting and impossible objectives. In the end, the whole bureaucracy of the EEC will be so grossly overladen that it will break up.

It is strange that the Tory Party, which I understand is said to be the party of Europe—which I suppose means that none of us has any doubts about any of the objectives of those who now support the European ideal—should be allied to those whose avowed intention is to smash up the EEC. Surely we should look with scepticism at some of the arguments that are being advanced for allowing Greece to come in.

I turn to the arguments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd). The most important of his arguments was that the EEC should progress. I do not know what he means by progress. He sounded rather like the chairman of a large conglomerate company explaining how advantageous it would be to take in a few more companies and how much more profit there would be as a result. I do not believe that progress in an alliance can be judged by the number of people who join it, nor can it be judged by the multiplicity of the objectives of the alliance. My hon. Friend went on to say that we have to allow Greece, Portugal and Spain in—he was also nodding in the direction of Turkey—because if we denied them their application it would be a cruel blow to their stability.

That is a wholly fallacious argument. The idea that an external country can give to the internal events of another nation State any element of stability is entirely wrong. I shall give the House a crude example. I refer to the interesting argument by Lord Paget in relation to Rhodesia. He said that he hoped that the internal settlement would stick and that the best way to ensure that was by having to defend Rhodesia and its settlement against external forces. The single most cohesive thing that can be appied to the internal events of a nation is not external interference with a desire to help. It is probably external aggression. The same argument is being used today.

Could my hon. Friend develop that argument? Does he feel that Marshall Aid had a stabilising effect on Western Europe? Does he think that Russian intervention in 1947–48 would have made for stability in Europe?

I say that every now and then temporary intervention by another State is helpful for a limited aim. I say that where a country wishes to give itself economic or constitutional stability it does so by its own efforts. Those who are for ever looking for a cure for our economic and social ills to countries abroad are crying for something which is impossible.

Just as our salvation will be created by ourselves so, if there be a salvation for the people of Greece, it will be achieved by the Greeks themselves. I do not know what are their objectives. It should not be assumed, for instance, that because we have 200-acre farms they will want 200-acre farms. It should not be assumed that because we are a highly materialistic society they will wish to make the same mistake. They wish to achieve their own salvation. We shall not assist their stability by taking them into the EEC.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon also said that we must accept them because they have not gone Communist. Here I take up the argument put forward by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover and Deal (Mr. Rees). In desperation we have often allied ourselves to countries with internal regimes which we have wholly deplored. We were most grateful for the alliance with Russia in the last war, and perhaps in the next war we would be most grateful for an alliance with China. That does not mean that we would approve of China's internal arrangements. Nor does it mean that its internal arrangements would be in any way a condition precedent to the alliance. If we were to say that we must accept the applicant countries because they had not gone Communist, would that mean in the event of the Italians or the French going Communist they must be expelled from the EEC?

I conclude by saying that the proposals being put forward tonight are making sure that this temporary alliance of the EEC will die sooner rather than later.

9.32 p.m.

I very much welcome, as I am sure most hon. Members will have done, the speech of the Minister of State in opening this short and stimulating debate. I understand that the Government are to provide another day before the Summer Recess for this topic. I am sure that that is right because, as the Minister of State said, this is the most important subject before the European Community.

It has been said that the duty of a politician is not just to be partisan. We need to have a mission, a sense of purpose, and I think that the goal of a truly united Europe, as we have found so often before in the past, transcends our traditional party divisions. In Britain the concept of a united Europe has always gone beyond the idea of a Europe of the Six, the Nine or even the Twelve. When the Community was established and we unfortunately failed to join, we assisted in the foundation of EFTA. EFTA was created not as a barrier but as a bridge until such time as we could succeed in building the wider Europe that we wanted.

We all know that the Treaty of Rome provides that any European State may apply to become a member of the Community. Our purpose, as I see it, has always been that it should ultimately embrace all the members of the Western European family. Wherever possible these members should be full members of the Community, or associated as closely as possible where traditional neutrality, in the case of Switzerland or Sweden, or treaty-imposed neutrality, in the case of Austria or Finland, makes full membership not desired or impossible. Against that background we should welcome and facilitate in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Treaty of Rome the accession to the EEC of Greece, Spain and Portugal. I share entirely the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Mr. Spicer) in trusting that in due course Turkey, whose association agreement, like that of Greece, expressly provided for the possibility of full membership, will join too.

I have always shared the view that was expressed by the late Mr. Anthony Crosland who as Foreign Secretary said on 12th January last year:
"The political benefits of enlargement outweigh all the practical difficulties".
I also share his view that enlargement will give a new strength to European democracy.

I agree with the Minister of State about the timing. We should not delay enlargement, because delay can serve no useful purpose and much might be lost. If we keep the applicants waiting in the wings for too long they may well leave the stage altogether. For years we have been assuring the peoples of Greece, Spain and Portugal that if only they became democracies they would have the opportunity to join the European Community. Here again I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West.

The new generation of political leaders in these countries have relied firmly upon these assurances and we have now the clear obligation in the Community to give effect to them. If we were to betray the hopes that we ourselves have aroused we would reap a terrible harvest of disillusion in those countries—a harvest which might well destroy the new democracies that have turned to us for the support they need and deserve. If we were to do that we would undermine our own prosperity and security.

Of course there are problems, just as there were when we joined. These problems will require special transitional and other measures. But these problems should not be exaggerated. I think that the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) was right in saying that there should be no question whatever of pre-accession transitional arrangements. These countries must be full members from the outset, whatever transitional arrangements may be made.

There is already a considerable volume of trade between the existing Community and the new applicants. A great quantity of Greek wine already goes to France even though there might be some difficulty in finding a bottle there.

My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) was gloomy about olive oil. Are we to believe that the future of Western Europe turns on controlling the future supply of olive oil? My hon. Friend the Member for Devon, West (Mr. Mills) was much more constructive. No one has to defend every aspect of the CAP, and we never have done so. But the object must be to improve it in the interests of existing and new members.

Spain is already largely dependent upon its trade with the Community. About one-third of Spain's imports come from the Community, which takes almost half of Spanish exports. The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) was wrong when he said that industry is not concerned about these matters. I chaired a conference on business in Spain which was organised by the Financial Times and I can assure him that there was great interest in expanding trade with Spain.

Again, almost half of Portugal's external trade is already with the Community. This is a measure of the EEC's existing importance to the Portuguese economy. We in the United Kingdom always have been particularly concerned about this because we take 50 per cent. of Portuguese exports and we had a great deal to do with the association agreement which Portgual negotiated when we joined the EEC. We had then to deal with the provision of tomato puree, which is so essential to the can of British baked beans.

Apart from these matters, which can be dealt with at an official level—they do not raise very great political issues—the main anxieties about enlargement have centred on cost. The Commission has estimated that if the three applicants had been members of the Community this year the net extra budgetary cost to the Nine would have been about £650 million.

We already give some aid to these countries. We are rightly proud about the aid we give to the developing world as a whole. Surely we can give some priority to those who dwell in our continent and who wish to continue to be our friends and allies.

In or out of the Community, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Turkey will continue to need aid if they are to succeed in bridging the development gap separating them from us. Here again I agree with what the right hon. Member for Devon, North said about the IMF initiative being totally inadequate in present circumstances. At the most it is a key which opens opportunities for further aid from the Community as a whole.

We must face the fact that in our own interests, as much as in theirs, sweeping measures, as the Commission have indicated, should be taken to lay down new guidelines for their development and at the same time to ensure markets for their products. On the one hand, we have the Europe of the Nine with an over-capacity in production and a loss of confidence that the wheels will ever start turning again. On the other hand, there are these new applicant States plus Turkey, all with a large trade deficit with the Community and with an urgent and enormous need for industrial equipment and development which we can supply.

To take up the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dover and Deal (Mr. Rees) in his intervention, I suggest that only an action on the scale of the Marshall Plan can give the necessary injection of demand which the industries of the Nine require, restore a general confidence in the future and, at the same time, match the needs of developing the economies of the applicant countries so that they can accept the treaty obligations and participate fully in inter-European and world trade.

President Truman and General Marshall rescued Europe in 1948. They believed in the values of our European society, in our capacity and in our future. We in the Nine, the richer countries of Europe, have obligations to the poorer ones and we must show the same faith and determination in saving ourselves as the Marshall Plan did for Europe.

9.42 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. John Tomlinson)

Hon. Members have today shown that there is an encouragingly wide recognition, common to both sides of the House, of the significance of enlargement. As a number of speakers have said, in this useful and well-informed debate this is one of the most important issues facing the Community today.

Hon. Members—perhaps with the exception of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen), with his idiosyncratic views—have shown that there is overwhelming agreement that we must respond positively to the desire of Greece, Portugal and Spain to join the Community. The debate has demonstrated, however, that there is a legitimate concern about the consequences of enlargement for Britain, the Community and the applicants. It is particularly valuable to air this concern at a moment when the Community is at last settling down to serious thinking about the way in which it is to cope with enlargement and when substantive negotiations with the first applicant are beginning. The Government will bear in mind all that has been said by hon. Members as they frame their policy and as the individual negotiations and discussions unfold.

I should like to reply to some of the questions raised in the debate. I reiterate the words of my hon. Friend the Minister of State in his apologies and regrets about the circumstances of the curtailment of the debate. I am sure that hon. Members will be satisfied that further consideration will be given to this important subject.

I say one thing to the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd). I cannot agree that the Prime Minister's letter to Mr. Hayward, the General Secretary of the Labour Party, could be described as a letter which caused much comment and trouble. It might have caused comment, but "trouble" is a wrong description. It has achieved an understanding which we should not denigrate, not only in the Labour Party but amongst a number of other people in the country, of precisely where the Government stand on a number of important issues. It is churlish to denigrate that letter as having caused trouble. It has been of fundamental significance and is welcomed by the majority of Members on both sides of the House because of its clarity of purpose.

A question that has figured prominently in the debate is whether efficiency can be improved by greater use of majority voting. It was referred to by the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon, my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). We cannot see that greater use of formal majority voting will speed up the work of the Council either before or after enlargement. An informal system already exists and is working all the time to resolve routine matters by establishing where the majority preference lies.

On all routine matters, States that find themselves in a minority are under a certain degree of pressure to fall in with the consensus and allow a decision to be taken. This system has worked and has preserved Community solidarity through some very difficult times, precisely because it is informal and is not based on dogmatic rules.

All countries, even those that demonstrate a fetish for majority voting, have some issues that are so important to them that they would not, in practice, want to be outvoted. That is why the practice of the Council since the Luxembourg compromise is to allow any State to ask for discussion to be continued without a vote where it feels that very important interests are at stake. But this is not something that can be rigidly defined. What a State perceives to be important interests at any particular time depends on all sorts of factors, especially political views at home.

Another matter that was raised by a number of hon. Members, including the hon. Members for Dorset, West (Mr. Spicer), Mid-Oxon and Banbury, is the implications of enlargement for Turkey. Obviously the Turks are concerned about the economic and political advantages that Greece may gain vis-à-vis Turkey.

On the economic side, the Turks have said that they wish to revise their association agreement with the EEC. There is no reason for the Greek accession to affect consideration of this end, on the political side, Greek accession need not and should not have any negative impact on the Community's relations with Turkey. Ways will have to be found of ensuring that a mutually satisfactory relationship is maintained after enlargement, and that is already under substantial consideration with our partners.

My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East explained what he perceived as the political disadvantages in enlargement and raised some of the problems that undoubtedly exist. The nine member States have expressed themselves in favour of enlargement. Our partners accept, as we do, the overriding political argument in favour of accepting the applications of the three applicant countries.

There is, of course, concern about the problems and potential costs that will be caused by enlargement. These anxieties vary in emphasis from country to country. For example, some member States are worried that expansion from nine to 12 will lead to a further weakening of the Community. I shall have something to say about that later. Others are concerned about the competition that their agriculture will have to face from the new members.

These are points that will obviously have to be thrashed out in individual negotiations. The overriding consideraation is that this thrashing out will occur against a background belief that enlargement is crucially important in order to buttress the newly established democracies in Southern Europe.

As has been said time and again in the debate, that political consideration is one which the vast majority of hon. Members and, I believe, people outside will accept as being of overriding importance and fundamental significance.

No. I shall not give way at this stage because a number of important questions were asked by hon. Members to which I wish to reply.

My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East also asked about the sensitive points that he thinks will emerge during the negotiations with the three applicant countries. It is clear that the negotiations will be between the Community as a whole and the individual applicant States.

As the Community position is formulated on various aspects of the negotiations, we shall ensure that full regard is taken of British interests. We shall want to examine closely the implications of the terms offered to the applicant States in all areas. The transitional arrangements, which will cover a period of several years, will need to strike a balance between obligations and benefits for existing member States and applicants.

My hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Roper) and the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing) asked about textiles. A voluntary undertaking has been given by the Greek textile industry to respect certain levels for EEC member States in 1978. Although no agreement has been reached with Spain and Portugal on voluntary restraint, their Governments have been informed of levels that should not be exceeded. At the Council of Ministers' meeting last December the EEC Commission undertook to ensure that these limits are observed, and the level of imports is being closely monitored and details of categories which are causing concern are reported to the Commission.

The important subject of Portugal was raised by the right hon. Member for Devon, North, the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon and my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South. They all asked whether the IMF was doing enough on Portugal. I understand that negotiations with the IMF are well advanced, and I hope that they will be brought to a successful conclusion soon. The conclusion of the negotiations will not unlock more Community aid funds, but it will release funds which some Community countries have said they are ready to provide. The United Kingdom has already released its funds under this multilateral facility in advance of agreement, and I believe that our position should be abundantly clear from that action.

The Community, as such, has already provided about £275 million worth of loans since 1974, and it may provide more in the future. This remains to be decided. It is clearly one of the matters raised in the fresco, and no doubt proposals will come forward in due course.

As for the United Kingdom, we have already provided, or undertaken to provide, over £5 million since 1974, as well as putting up $20 million as our share of the multilateral facility. In addition, there is a considerable United Kingdom input via the World Bank, and we are keeping the situation under review in terms of further aid.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South mentioned the subject of institutional development. There are always choices to be made in that respect, and the need to maintain efficiency and cohesion, limit bureaucracy, and ensure democratic debate and a full hearing for national interests is very much with us today in a Community of Nine. We are already exploring ways of speeding up the machinery by trimming Council agendas, by giving Coreper a greater role in preparing decisions and many of the matters referred to by my hon. Friend the Minister of State in his opening remarks.

Our objectives will not change in a Community of Twelve. I accept that new problems may arise, but since institutions are not an end in themselves but must reflect the actual needs of the Community, these problems will very much depend on the general terms for enlargement. Put crudely, where States are content with policies, I do not believe that they will be particularly obstructive on procedures.

The hon. Member for Moray and Nairn mentioned the implications of enlargement for economic and monetary union. Economic and monetary union is a long-term ideal which will not of itself solve our present problems in the Community. The most immediate and pressing task confronting all member States is to decide on common action on growth, currency stability, energy, trade and flows of capital. Considerable headway was made at the European Council meeting in Copenhagen on 7th and 8th April in identifying the problems and establishing guidelines for a joint assessment of action needed.

We are actively following up these discussions in the Community so that decisions on practical measures can be taken within a common strategy at the July meeting of the European Council which will be followed by the Bonn summit. We must concentrate our efforts on these practical tasks, and a successful solution of those problems will in turn facilitate consideration of the possibilities of economic and monetary union.

The hon. Lady also mentioned the subject of fisheries. The Government's firm line on the basic requirements for a common fisheries policy is well known, as are our views on the conservation of fish stocks. The Spanish fishing industry is the largest in Western Europe. The accession of Spain to the Community would place an immense new strain on fish stocks, which are already overexploited, unless the present common fisheries policy were amended along the lines consistently pursued by Her Majesty's Government. These are the lines that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will be taking in Brussels, as he already has been.

The hon. Member for Banbury seemed impatient that I should turn to the question of Gibraltar. I say to him that, as my hon. Friend the Minister of State said in opening the debate, the British Government have welcomed the Spanish application to join the EEC but have expressly not linked this to progress over Gibraltar. However, we have made it clear that we look to Spain for a readiness to co-operate in the search for solutions to the Gibraltar problem. As Spain moves closer to the rest of Europe, exemplified by her accession to the Council of Europe in 1977, it should be possible as between partners and friends to resolve these questions.

Should not the Spanish show a bit of good intention right now? The Government might even suggest to them that before they open negotiations they should open the frontier as a gesture of good will and sincerity, to show that they really mean that joining the Community is important to them.

I welcome gestures of good will and good intention, from whatever source they come. I am sure that such a gesture would be welcome.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State has made it quite clear that we believe that as Spain moves closer to the rest of Europe it should be possible to resolve these questions.

In the last few minutes I want to turn to an important theme that has run through this debate. A number of hon. Members have referred to the philosophy behind enlargement. Some clearly see enlargement as a chance to water down the Community. The Government's position should be quite clear by now. Britain is not and never has been committed to federalist goals or to rigid models for economic and monetary union, in the absence of genuine economic convergence. But we do not see the Community as static. Indeed, we have many ideas for developing it. It may be that after enlargement, development will have to be worked at more selectively, and our energies concentrated on deepening Community co-operation in particular areas. But to see this approach as a devious attempt to undermine the Community, using enlargement as a front, is a patent and unreasonable distortion.

We have said that after enlargement we should be able to guard against an over-bureaucratised Community. This is an aim to which we have been committed ever since we acceded. We want methods of decision-taking which will be effective, as economic of time as possible at the highest levels, representative, and based on proper standards of openness and information. We shall pursue these aims in the context of enlargement as we pursue them in all other contexts.

This approach is far more likely to give us the flexibility and sensitivity needed for a healthy Community than is the doctrinaire application of purely procedural rules. The Twelve will be different from the Nine, and anyone who tries to force the Twelve into the mould of the Six will fail.

We have had a very useful debate. Perhaps the curtailment of time has assisted it, in the sense that every hon. Member has been more concise in making his or her observations.

There are clearly economic difficulties for the applicant countries, for the individual States of the Nine and for the Nine as a body, but I join the many other hon. Members who have expressed a firm belief that we must go ahead to enlargement to a Community of Twelve as a demonstration of our political faith in the future of a wider democratic Europe and as our gesture of solidarity in buttressing the important fledgling or re-emerging democracies of Southern Europe.

In that task, we shall be failing not only ourselves but the future of European democracy unless we proceed with all due speed to make sure that as quickly as possible we have a Community of 12 member States.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.