House Of Commons
Tuesday 14th November 1978
The House met at half-past Two o'clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
British Railways (Selby) Bill
Order for Third reading read.—[Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified.]
To be read tile Third time upon Tuesday next.
Tyne And Wear Passenger Transport Bill
As amended, considered; to be read the Third time.
Oral Answers To Questions
Oral Answers To Questions
Before we start Question Time may I seek the co-operation of the House? Too many right hon. and hon. Members and Ministers are beginning to think that this is debating time. It is not. It is Question Time, and if hon. Members will be as succinct as possible I shall be grateful.
Education And Science
Comprehensive Education (Costs)
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will publish the extracts of running costs submitted to her by county councils which oppose comprehensive education or which propose alternative unacceptable schemes to her.
Local education authorities have been required to give details of the estimated capital costs of work necessary at each school at each stage of compre- hensive reorganisation when they submit proposals under section 2 of the Education Act 1976. They have not been required to provide comparable information in respect of running costs and I regret, therefore, that it is not possible to meet my hon. Friend's request.
Will my hon. Friend demand information about the running costs? Is she aware that there is a feeling that many Conservative councils are against new schemes simply because they cost too much to run? Is she aware that in my area, for instance, we want a three-tier system, but the Nottingham county council wants a two-tier system and the feeling is that the council wants that system because it means bigger classes and fewer schools and is much cheaper to run?
The information that I have on the scheme submitted for my hon. Friend's area suggests that the county council feels that its proposed system is slightly cheaper to run. Whether my hon. Friend is right in his deduction of the reasons for that, I cannot be sure without studying the proposals with more care.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she is yet in a position to announce changes in the system of qualification for free school transport.
Not yet. there are genuine problems of administration and finance to which solutions will have to be found before we are able to put forward alternative proposals. Since we cannot assume that additional resources will be made available for home to school transport, we also have to find an acceptable balance between a charge for travel that is at present free and the degree of assistance that can be given to parents who at present get none. We are pressing on as quickly as possible with the examination of these problems.
I am grateful for that reply. Is the hon. Lady aware that her Department has been sitting on this matter, although it has, I agree, been trying to find a solution, for three years? In May, she promised me a statement before the recess, but now says that we are to go on for another one, two or three years. Is she aware that hon. Members on both sides of the House want an answer to the problem, especially on behalf of those in rural areas, and a cure for a system which is a mass of abuses?
I agree with everything that the hon. Gentleman has said and much regret that it has not been possible to give him the answer he seeks, but he knows that any suggestion of change has brought opposition to anything different from the existing proposals and it is with this that we are trying to grapple.
Does not my hon. Friend agree that it is unjust that a child living just inside the three-mile limit has to pay for his journeys or travel on foot up to three miles while a child living just outside the area gets free travel? Will she consider the possibility of introducing a standing charge for everybody and at least make sure that something is done quickly?
We are pursuing the question of a standing charge. I agree that it is unjust that children living just outside the boundary should have to pay and that it is wrong that all parents should have to pay, irrespective of their income. My hon. Friend will be aware that it is already possible for local authorities to assist parents with the cost of travel on a discretionary basis and we regret that many are choosing not to do so.
Will the Minister ensure that in any review of the transport arrangements the special needs of those living in rural areas and those who send their children to denominational schools are catered for?
It is trying to cater for such special needs that is causing the hold-up.
Is my hon. Friend aware of the serious financial burden that the present system places upon parents who live just under three miles from the school? Can she not treat the matter with a little more urgency and stop trying to agree with the indifferent local authorities things that they will not agree? Why does she not come out with a scheme and impose it?
Unfortunately, it is not only the indifferent local authorities that disagree. It is precisely the groups to which my hon. Friend referred that are at present benefiting under the scheme and are reluctant to see any change in it.
Teaching And Research Work
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, what further steps she is taking to make teaching and research work in colleges, polytechnics and universities more relevant to industrial and commercial needs.
:Progress is being made towards a greater responsiveness to industrial and commercial needs throughout further and higher education. Industry and commerce are well represented on the Council for National Academic Awards and the technician and business education councils. The research councils are promoting research of industrial relevance in the universities and polytechnics, many of which have strong links with particular firms.
:But does not my hon. Friend accept that, in view of the existing shortage of skill and the need to move into areas of high technology, the progress being made is lamentably slow? Will he discuss with the universities some of their research projects, as the bulk of those projects seem to be of little use to man or beast?
I agree that much more still needs to be done. By the creation of special engineering courses at seven universities, and the industrial scholarship scheme, the Government are trying to ensure that progress is faster in this direction.With regard to the research at universities, at many universities there are strong links with individual firms whereby the university undertakes research for the firm. I should like to see much more of that as well.
:Is the Minister aware that in West Germany, for example, it is often not possible for an applicant to obtain a teaching post in engineering if he or she does not have industrial experience? What steps is he considering along the lines of setting up industrial units, for example, in individual universities or encouraging teaching companies, to increase this healthy trend?
We have set up industrial units and teaching companies in a number of universities.The question of a lecturer's being appointed only if he has industrial experience is a matter for the universities.
:Does the Minister accept that there is great benefit in having lecturers and, for that matter, school teachers—particularly careers masters at schools—who have had industrial experience? Does he agree that there should be a facility to encourage that if not to make it compulsory?
I entirely agree that there is enormous benefit. In many of the schemes that the Government have introduced with regard to science and mathematics teachers, we look particularly to those who have been in industry and who might wish to have a career in teaching, because they prove to be of inestimable value as teachers.
:Does my hon. Friend agree that it is a question not only of making courses more relevant to the country's needs but of preventing ludicrous duplication and overlapping of courses between universities and polytechnics? What steps is he taking to bring the universites into a more publicly accountable system?
:The universities are responsible for their own research, but there is quite a degree of consultation between them and polytechnics on courses. As for links between polytechnics and duplication of courses, if the report of the committee of which I was chairman is implemented, much can be done in that direction as well
Secondary Education (North-East Lancashire)
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what discussion she has had with representatives of Lancashire county council concerning the reorganization of secondary education in the various districts of north-east Lancashire.
:My right hon. Friend and I have twice met representa- tives of Lancashire county council in recent months to discuss issues related to secondary reorganization in the county, and officials are in regular contact with the education authority on this matter.
:Is my hon. Friend aware that there is great concern in Rossendale about the attitude of the Lancashire county council, particularly in the light of what happened in the neighbouring authority of Burnley? Is she aware that many people think that the Lancashire county council is misrepresenting the position to her Department and misrepresenting the DES position to the people of Rossendale and Burnley? In view of that, will my hon. Friend meet a delegation in order that the matter may be put straight?
I share my hon. Friend's impatience to see reorganisation in Rossendale, and I am pleased that the authority has reconvened the working party with which it is having discussions. I saw a number of delegations, which put to me a case with regard to Burnley, and I am more than willing to see delegations from my hon. Friend's constituency to discuss problems in that area.
:May I express my appreciation to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for meeting a delegation from Bolton council and indicating to it that it was high time it went about implementing the scheme that it had submitted to her? Does my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary agree that in future the Department should keep a weather eye open to see that authorities that submit plans also provide the means by which those plans can be carried out, including the appointment of staff in due time?
:We seek not only to do so but to help to provide the resources.
Student Grants (16- Ti 18-Year-Olds)
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action is being taken to assist more young people to stay at school after 16 years.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether it is her intention to introduce a system of mandatory educational maintenance allowances.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a further statement on her plan to introduce grants for 16- to 18-year-olds remaining in full-time education.
:As my hon. Friends know, the Government are committed in principle to introducing a statutory system of awards for students aged 16-18 in full-time education with the aim of encouraging more young people, particularly from less-well-off families, to stay on at school or college. As I told the House on 3rd November in the debate on the Address, it is not a question of whether to do this but of when; and this must be considered in the light of other proposals for major increases in public expenditure. The Government are giving the matter very careful attention.
:Will my right hon. Friend confirm that providing financial help for youngsters, especially working class youngsters, to stay on at school beyond the age of 16 remains one of the highest priorities of her Department? Will she redouble her efforts within the Cabinet to have the scheme introduced at the earliest opportunity, in the knowledge that it has the full support of hon. Members on the Labour Benches?
I thank my hon. Friend for that question. I assure him that I regard the matter as a very high priority for education expenditure. Nearly four in five of the children of professional and managerial families stay on at school past the age of 16 and under one in five of the children of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled mothers and fathers.
I shall call first those hon. Members whose Questions are being answered.
:Is my right hon. Friend assured that her fellow members of the Cabinet are fully aware of just how deplorable the British position is in the provision of education beyond the age of 16? Will she assure us that she recognises that a discretionary scheme could not possibly meet the need at present?
I acknowledge what my hon. Friend says. It is shocking that the participation rate over the age of 16 in this country is lower than that in any other country in Western Europe, except Spain, Portgual and Italy. I do not regard that as a very attractive record.I note what my hon. Friend said about discretionary schemes. The Government have that very much in mind.
What advice would my hon. Friend give to my constituents who read the headlines about her announcement back in June or July of a scheme to start from 1979 and decided to go back to school this year, knowing that it would be financially very difficult for them and their families but expecting to receive some grant for next September? Would she now advise them to leave school, draw supplementary benefit and continue their A-level studies on a part-time basis?
I recognise my hon. Friend's feelings, but I cannot be responsible for the interpretation put on my remarks by the newspapers. I have checked back on every remark I made, and have established that what I said was that the scheme could not possibly start before 1979, because legislation was necessary. In fact, I specifically answered —and have the answer on record—a member of the press who inquired about 1978. I made it quite clear that there was no possibility of a scheme starting then. My hon. Friend will discover that I said the same to him in my reply of 12th May, which he will find in Hansard.
:Will the Secretary of State resist the idea of a scheme that is discretionary to local authorities, in particular because such a scheme would tend not to be implemented by quite a number of Conservative-controlled authorities within whose areas some of the children of greatest need are?
:I recognise what the hon. Gentleman says about that. He will know that I very much regret that the local authority associations have altered their views on the whole question of discretionary awards for young people between the ages of 16 and 18. I am sorry that they have found it necessary to change their attitude.
Is not one of the problems that the scheme which the right hon. Lady has proposed is too broad and that the priority now is not to encourage young people to stay in sixth forms, which might not be best suited for the non-academic child, but to use whatever money is available to offer incentives for these young people to go into skill or craft courses in further education colleges?
I accept what the hon. Member said, but he will know that the scheme which I discussed with local authorities was one which would make awards both to young people going into full-time further education as well as to those who stayed in school. It is interesting that where awards are being offered—for example, by Sheffield, Inner London and Wakefield—there is evidence that some young people are staying in full-time further education who might otherwise have found it impossible to remain in college.
:Is my right hon. Friend aware that many local councils are buying places in independent schools and paying people to go there at an estimated cost of£35 million this year? Should not she take steps to divert this money into the provision of financial support for all pupils between the ages of 16 and 18?
Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that there has been a 40 per cent. decrease this year in the number of places taken up in independent schools financed by local authorities and that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and I have made it clear that the only basis upon which new places can be taken up in independent schools is either where there are inadequate places in the existing maintained system—that is a very small number—or where there are denominational schools which are proposing to reorganise in the next couple of years.
:Although it would not have the effect on reducing unemployment which is clearly part of the aim of the Secretary of State, would it not be better to introduce scholarships for bright but needy children? Would not that not only be less expensive but much more easy to implement?
The scheme that we are discussing is not far removed from that. As the hon. Member will appreciate, first, for reasons of resources it would have to be a means-tested scheme and, secondly, it would be for teachers to advise pupils whether they would benefit from staying on in education, so that on both bases I think that this would be a scheme coming close to what the hon. Member has in mind.
:In view of the lack of job opportunities for 16-year olds, does my right hon. Friend agree that her scheme should be brought forward and linked with the youth opportunities programme? Surely it is better for youngsters to stay in further education than to join the dole queues.
I am sure that that is right and, of course, the purpose of the youth opportunities scheme is to offer young people an opportunity in education or in a work experience scheme or in a short industrial course. I am anxious, along with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, to make sure that every unemployed young person is offered one or other of those alternatives.
:Is the right hon. Lady aware that, although I would never accuse her of wickedness, I think that it is not totally unfair to suggest that she has led sixth-formers up the garden path of disappointment in this respect? But since the path has been barred by the Treasury Cerberus, will she use this pause to rationalise the whole provision for the 16- to 19-year olds about which Opposition Members are deeply concerned, as I know the right hon. Lady is herself?
Let me say to the hon. Member first that, as he knows, the Government have announced their intention to produce a White Paper next spring on the position of the 16- to 19-year olds. However, quite frankly, I have resisted the idea of a major inquiry. I regard this matter as so urgent that I do not believe that we can wait the two or three years which the inquiry would take.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she is satisfied that the teaching force in England and Wales has increased by 1½ per cent. during the current year.
The number of teachers employed in England and Wales in January this year, 464,972, is the highest ever recorded, and is about 2,000 higher than the estimate made in the autumn of 1977. Information about the number of teachers employed at the beginning of the current school year should be available within a few weeks.
I am grateful for that information, and I am sure that Government supporters will welcome the improvement. Is is not the case that the improvement is very varied and that in some areas the position is quite unsatisfactory? Does my hon. Friend consider that it would be helpful and perhaps encouraging if the statistics were available rather more frequently than annually, based on the January position?
:I shall consider my hon. Friend's suggestion. However the difficulty is that there is a vast number of teachers involved, and the statistics take some time to compile.
Although the Opposition welcome the increase in numbers, is the Minister aware that we are also concerned about quality? With the easing of teacher numbers, can we hope that the quality of the intake of teachers will be improved and that, with fewer pupil teachers inside the schools, there will be more student-based training in schools so that we can get away from just theoretical training in the colleges?
I want to see a considerable improvement in induction and in-service training. But it is evident from a recent survey carried out by the Department that authorities are not finding it easy to provide increased opportunities for release for induction and in-service training on the scale envisaged. Nevertheless, in each of the past two years between 60 per cent. and 70 per cent. of the teaching force have engaged in in-service activity of some kind.
Can my hon. Friend assure the House that, where local education authorities such as Liverpool are carrying out a policy of school closures, the teachers will not be affected by such decisions—in other words, that we shall not have further unemployment amongst teachers and that the temporary surplus will be absorbed in general education schemes?
That is a matter for the individual local education authority. In the rate support grant settlement for this year, the Government included provision for the employment of 11,300 teachers over and above those who would have been needed to maintain the previous pupil-teacher ratios.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations she has received in support of the indefinite retention of separate GCE O-level and CSE examinations.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further representations she has received from the GCE examining boards about proposals to introduce anew system of examinations.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement about her proposals for a common examination system at 16-plus.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations she has so far received in connection with her proposals to merge the GCE O-level examination with the CSE examination.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what reaction she has had to the proposed reform of the General Certificate of Education examinations.
The White Paper of 23rd October announced the Government's decision that a single system of examinations leading to the award of a General Certificate of Secondary Education should replace the present GCE O-level and CSE examinations from the mid-1980s. The White Paper was preceded by and generally endorses the findings of the report of Sir James Waddell's steering committee—Cmnd. 7281. Interested parties were invited to comment on that report during the summer and reactions showed there to be widespread support in principle for the introduction of a single system of examining. No major organisation contended then or since that as a matter of principle two separate systems of examining at 16 should be retained indefinitely. Many bodies have expressed their concern about the need to maintain standards in the new system. The Government share this concern and are satisfied that standards can be fully maintained and indeed improved under the new system.
Does not the right hon. Lady regard the Conservative Front Bench as a major organisation, or is she taking account of the fact that after their very sharp initial reaction, they came to the conclusion that it really was not acceptable that these two exams should continue indefinitely to be separate, however much they prevaricated? Does the right hon. Lady accept that the way to proceed is to ensure that clearly recognisable O-level standards are maintained in the new system and that it is clearly accepted that mixed ability teaching does not have to be an accompaniment of this reform?
I have found it impossible to discover what the Conservative Party, which I accept is a major organisation, actually thinks. I know that the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) has supported a seven-graded system, which is implicit, has supported an eventual single examination system, which is implicit, has supported the idea of grades which reflect the standards in O-level and in CSE, which indeed is part of the Government's policy, has supported the idea of a national co-ordinating body, which is the Government's policy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] The Opposition may not like to hear this, but I intend that they shall hear it. Therefore, it is almost impossible to discover to what the hon. Member for Chelmsford objects.In response to the second supplementary question asked by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), I may say that we are satisfied that the level of achievement between different O-level boards, of which there are now 22 together with CSE boards, will be guaranteed by a national co-ordinating body in a way that has not been the case up until now.
I shall call first those whose Questions are being answered. I must remind the House that this is not debating time.
On the specifics of Question No. 14, since the White Paper states that the Department will be entering into discussions with the examining boards about the composition and functioning of the proposed central co-ordinating body, will the right hon. Lady confirm that when the GCE and CSE boards are reconstituted, there will be no attempt by the Department to reduce or interfere in their present autonomy?
The boards will, of course, retain their present autonomous setting of standards, but will be subject to a new national co-ordinating body which has the responsibility of monitoring standards throughout the examination system. Because of this body, we shall for the first time have a national system of monitoring standards which we do not now have.
Will the right hon. Lady admit that there are many in the teaching profession who strongly oppose her proposals because of concern about the maintenance of standards? Could not this step be a forward march to mediocrity? What representations has she received from the Association of British Correspondence Colleges, because there is no mention in the White Paper of the private student?
As the hon. Gentleman appeared rather unwilling to listen to my last answer, I am not sure how anxious he is to have information about the examination. There are now 64,000 boys and girls who are doubly entered for CSE and GCE, who take two syllabuses and undergo two different sets of studies instead of one, and who are harming their own opportunities to achieve high grades by this dual system. I profoundly believe that a single system equated at each point with the standards and grades currently offered—again the hon. Gentleman is indicating dissent without even listening to the reply—will go a long way to maintain standards in our system.With regard to the hon. Gentleman's first point, I must tell him that my broad observation is that the teaching profession is strongly in favour of such a change and that every official representation made to me on its behalf has favoured this alteration.
Does my right hon. Friend accept that there is a great deal of support on the Labour Benches for this report, which will mean that children are no longer faced with unnecessarily rigid categories at such an early stage in their career? Therefore, will she ignore the nit-pickers on the Tory Benches and press ahead with reform as quickly as possible?
I thank my hon. Friend, and I propose to do what he asks. Conservative Members are always talking about parents. One of the greatest concerns to parents lies in their being unsure whether to enter their children for the CSE or GCE. We shall now remove that painful choice from them and let the child achieve what he is capable of achieving.
Does the right hon. Lady agree that the argument between CSE and O-level should not be about examinations but about syllabuses? I believe that the CSE is a very much better syllabus in a number of subjects for intellects in the middle of the range than has been given credit for in talking the whole time about examinations.
The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. I wish to emphasise, because this is a matter of central concern in education, that at a time when we have more than 60 syllabuses in mathematics alone between O-level and CSE, we must, whatever are our views about the single system, do something to clarify and rationalise what is becoming a chaotic situation.
Irrespective of any merits or the form of the future proposed examination, will my right hon. Friend confirm that notionally it is designed for 60 per cent. of school leavers? What effects is it likely to have on the 40 per cent. who are likely not to take the examination, and can she say what studies she has initiated in this respect?
We have at present a system that is supposed to cover the spectrum of 60 per cent. of our school- children at 16, but 86 per cent. take an examination and 84 per cent. get one or more passes in it. Therefore, my concern is especially with the 20 per cent. who do not enter such examinations. We are studying the subject of school profiles and reports to give an assessment of every child in our education system whether or not he or she takes an examination.
Is there not the other side of the coin, which must be emphasised this afternoon? It may be a minority view, but there is a view among secondary modern school teachers that, although the right hon. Lady says that standards can be maintained and even improved, this may be to the disadvantage of those who value the CSE certificate now.
I understand that point. There are many aspects of the CSE syllabus, especially the devotion to practicalities and vocational slants, which we could usefully embrace in the joint common system, Indeed, my hope for the common system is that we can take the best of both worlds and make a better examination system than either of the current bifurcated systems.
Is the right hon. Lady aware that the local education authority associations and the CBI, in common with the Opposition, are in favour of the retention of O-levels or O-level-type examinations? Since that is the point of difference between herself and these organisations and ourselves, would it not be in the best interests of all the children concerned, since we are all agreed on the merits of a common examination system, for the right hon. Lady to call a round table conference of all the parties interested in this subject to see whether we can reach an agreed approach on this vital matter?
I am always happy to engage in consultations; indeed, there have been further consultations recently. However, the hon. Gentleman will see that we are talking essentially about semantics. It has already been made clear that the first three grades in the common system will be equivalent to A, B and C at O-level. Therefore, the question is not a question of whether one wants to retain the wording. The boards will have to be reorganised, because nobody wants to see 22 boards. The serious point to which the hon. Gentleman should address himself is that we should not force children into having to make a choice which, because the syllabuses are all so different, means that, however fast a youngster develops, he or she cannot easily move from CSE to GCE, or vice versa, at any age after the age of 14.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will give the latest figure which indicates what proportion of local education authorities has requested increased financial support currently available from central Government for the provision of nursery education facilities.
The final total of English local education authorities making bids on the 1978–79 nursery education building programme was 53 out of 97. Bids on the 1979–80 programme are still being received, but numbers bidding have already exceeded the previous year's total. My right hon. Friend is considering whether additional resources can be made available.
What further action does the Minister intend to take to make more local Tory councils take advantage of the Government money that is available? Will she respond to the point which has been made by the Avon authority and others that this is a matter not of capital provision, but of lack of revenue resources to appoint the necessary teachers in nursery education.
The only action that it is open to us to take is to remind local education authorities that this year, as last year, we have made available to them through rate support grant an increase in money which we hope will provide for an increased number of children in nursery schools. There is nothing we can do to make local authorities take up this provision. It covers revenue costs. It should be made plain that this money is available.
As an interim measure, have the Government considered making finance available for the rising 5s? If so, can the Minister say how much such a scheme will cost in a full year?
Money is already available through the same process through the rate support grant for the admission of rising 5s. To a large extent it is in the discretion of individual authorities how much money is spent and how it is used.
Although my hon. Friend says that there is nothing she can do about Tory authorities which refuse to use the money that is available, except to remind them of that fact, does she not agree that if the money is available and authorities are not using it, the Government could change the law to compel local authorities throughout the country at least to make minimum provision? If that were the case, the maldistribution of nursery school facilities would not have occurred.
I take my hon. Friend's point. The difficulty, as she will know, is that if we make this provision statutory, even at a minimum level, it will be necessary to provide resources to cope with it and in many authorities, as many of my hon. Friends know—they have raised the matter often in the House—provision is so low at present that this would be very costly.
Schools (Parental Choice)
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what new plans she has to strengthen the rights of parents to choose the school their children will attend.
I hope very soon to be able to introduce a Bill which will include provisions relating to the expression of parental wishes in the admission of children to schools and the duty of local education authorities to take them into account.
I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply, but will she bear in mind the fact that parental choice is a precious right of most parents at the moment? It is enshrined in the Education Act 1944. Will she bear in mind the fact that anything she produces must be seen to be manifestly better?
I have not the slightest doubt that what we are proposing will be a manifest improvement on the 1944 Act in at least two ways. First, it will for the first time require local authorities to provide detailed information about schools in the maintained system, which has never been the case before. Secondly, it will provide for a local system of appeals, which is also not required at present. In my view, both will be a substantial improvement on the present arrangements.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Conservative Opposition have for many years talked a lot of rubbish about parental choice? Is she aware, for example, that my father would dearly have loved me to go to Eton, Harrow, Haileybury College, Winchester or some other great public school but that he was unable to arrange for me to do so for one simple reason—that he did not have any money to send me there? is it not true, even in relation to local authorities, that 90 per cent. of ordinary working people under Conservative local authorities have never had parental choice in the past and that for the first time we are presenting them with that?
On the first part of my hon. Friend s question, I do not believe that he would have been either more articulate or more eloquent if he had gone to Eton, Winchester or any other public school. On the second part, I assure the House that it is our intention that all parents' wishes shall be taken into account, and not only those of the tiny minority whose children went to grammar schools in the past.
Will the Secretary of State stop advising education authorities to close schools in rural areas, since this deprives parents of choice and is also a shattering blow to community life in villages?
The hon. Member perhaps does not fully appreciate that the law says quite clearly that the initiative for a closure shall be taken by the local authority. It is not in my power to initiate any school closures. The suggestion must come from the local education authority. As the Conservative Party controls almost all rural education authorities, the matter seems to lie very much in its hands.
Is it not a fact that the Labour Government have been steadily working for a considerable time for the maximum parental choice for all parents and that a Bill is shortly to be published which will expand parental choice? Is it not also a fact that the Conservative Party has been using the terms "parental choice" and "parents' charter" as demagogic slogans? Is it not true that for countless years the Conservatives have had the chance to democratise education but that they have sent over 80 per cent. of ordinary children to the secondary modern schools and want parental choice for themselves and their children?
For whatever reason, this is the first Government to propose that there should be information, by law, that there should be parent representation on governing boards, by law, that there should be local appeals, by law, and that parents should be able to express their wishes in all situations, by law. Thus, people should look at the fruits and not at the promises.
Is the Secretary of State aware that, although we welcome the publishing of information and the local appeals system—indeed, we on this side pressed for it for years—we are concerned that the new education Bill will contain clauses which will allow local authorities rigidly to control the intake each September—the number going to each school—which means rigid zoning, which in turn means the end of parental choice, whatever appeals system she may set up?
The hon. Gentleman will know that if he has been pressing for it for years it is strange that it has not happened. Second—yes, we have to look at the planning of the future of our education system, but we intend to do that without sweeping away either section 13 or section 68, both of which enshrine the right of local consultation and local objections under the 1944 Act. We are not proposing to repeal either of those provisions.
Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting
asked the Prime Minister when he expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Havant and Waterloo setting out reasons why Her Majesty The Queen should not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Zambia.
I replied to the hon. Member on 3rd November.
Since the Prime Minister in that reply—for which I thank him—said that all relevant factors would be taken into consideration, will he give the House a categorical assurance that Her Majesty will not be advised to visit Zambia unless, first, her personal safety can be completely assured and, second, that if she should visit Zambia that will in no way be taken to imply approval by the British people for the terrorism that that country has so regrettably and hospitably fostered within its boundaries?
On the first question, of course the personal safety of Her Majesty would be the prime consideration of those who advise her. As the hon. Member will understand, that advice would come not only from Her Majesty's Ministers here, who take a principal role in it; it could also come from other members of the Commonwealth where she is Queen. As regards the second part of the question, I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman said about the nature of the Zambian Government. President Kaunda has made his position quite clear on these matters. I do wish sometimes that the hon. Member would try to support his efforts in those directions and not attack them.
The Prime Minister will know that the Commonwealth Secretariat expressed some concern about the findings of the Bingham report. Since this matter may come up at the meeting, whether it is held in Zambia or not, when will the right hon. Gentleman be able to tell the House about the Government's decisions, following the debates in the two Houses last week?
I hope, in the near future. I read the report of the debate in another place, which I found very valuable too, and the Cabinet had a preliminary consideration last Thursday. I trust that we shall have further consideration this coming week, and perhaps we can announce a decision soon after that But if we cannot, it will be only because we still have problems to sort out.
As some members of the Opposition seem to suport the activities of Smith in attacking Zambia, is it not they who endanger the Queen's safety when she visits that country?
There is no prospect yet that Her Majesty is in any personal danger at all and any decision that has to be taken will be taken well before next August, if that is the date, as seems likely, when the Commonwealth conference is to be held. As regards those who are responsible for the present situation in Zambia, that will be a matter of continuing debate, but I have no doubt that if the six principles which have been laid down for bringing Rhodesia to majority rule were accepted by all concerned and elections held, there would be no difficulty about anybody visiting Zambia, whoever they may be.
Prime Minister (Engagements)
asked the Prime Minister if he will list his public engagements for 14th November.
This morning I accompanied Her Majesty The Queen when she greeted President Eanes of Portugal at the beginning of his State visit to this country.In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be holding meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, including one with the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha. Mr. C. M. Stephen, and the former Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Gandhi. This evening I hope to attend a dinner given by The Queen in honour of President Eanes.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend was able to meet the President of Portugal, because Portugal is one of the countries which has a current application to join the Common Market. Perhaps he would make to the President of Portugal the ponts that he made in his Guildhall speech last night about the shortcomings of the financial structure of the Common Market, and particularly its system of agricultural suppor.
Yes, Sir. I dare-say that the President will wish to discuss with me the prospects for his application, which I believe is now proceeding satisfactorily. As I said at the Guildhall last night, it is clear that what is needed is a broad balance between all the interests of the members of the Community if its long-term objectives are to be fulfilled, and not the unbalance that exists today.
Will the Prime Minister today take time to explain to the typical home buyer, who is faced with a bill of£16a month for mortgage rate increases, why the Prime Minister's own Government have a worse record for mortgage rates than any previous British Government?
I think that the increase is£16 before tax deductions, so the figure is lower than that suggested by the right hon. Lady. The Leader of the Opposition is taking the first opportunity that she has had to claim that the mortgage rate today is higher than it was when she left office in 1974. I am not surprised that she has taken that opportunity.The plain truth is that the British people would prefer to see inflation conquered whatever short-term steps are necessary. This is one of the steps that we intend to take in order to achieve that.
Has the Prime Minister forgotten that under one of his own previous rulings the mortgage rate went up to 12½ per cent. in 1976? Therefore, he has held the worst record on two occasions. Will he explain how an increase of nearly£16 a month less tax helps the home buyer in his personal battle against inflation?
It does not help the personal home buyer at all. But, as the right hon. Lady might acknowledge at some time, all of us are part of the national interest. It is in the national interest that these rates are increased so that inflation is kept under control. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition will explain to the country how she would keep inflation under control if she did not adopt these methods.
Will my right hon. Friend agree to consider what he said in the City of London last night with a view to appointing a Minister for Europe, not only to co-ordinate the activities of Ministers and officials in Brussels but to explain to the British people some of the advantages and some of the disadvantages of our membership of the Common Market?
My hon. Friend has always taken an enlightened view of these matters.
There are only six supporters left.
If there are only six left. I am one of them.
The Prime Minister might regret saying that.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) certainly knows about regretting things that are said.As I said in my speech at the Guildhall last night, there is no doubt that there is a balance of advantage to be drawn from membership of the Common Market. This balance is certainly on the plus side in respect of political co-operation and certain of the decisions that have been taken on steel, textiles and other matters. I doubt whether we could have taken them on our own. However—and I do not wish to be used by the antimarketeers on this matter—that does not destroy the need for getting a proper balance in the financial contributions that we are making.
Is it not clear from the answer that the Prime Minister gave to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition that the increase in the mortgage rate is due exclusively to the excessive borrowing by this Government? Should not the Prime Minister admit frankly that his Government's borrowing policies have led to the increase in the mortgage rate?
No. That is certainly untrue. The borrowing requirement of this Government is not out of line with the borrowing requirement of other similar Governments and is, indeed, far lower than that of a number of comparable countries. The borrowing requirement is not doing this. There are a number of factors which the Chancellor of the Exchequer enunciated at great length last week. This was to the satisfaction of the House because we had a majority at the end of the day on the Queen's Speech.
asked the Prime Minister when he last met representatives of the CBI.
I meet representatives of the CBI from time to time, at NEDC and on other occasions. Further meetings will be arranged as necessary.
As it is now clear that the Opposition's statements are designed to encourage employers and industry generally to sabotage the Government's economic policy, can the Prime Minister make it clear what he expects from the CBI, industrialists and employers in order to support the incomes policy?
I certainly agree that the CBI in its public statements on this matter have been much more responsible than some sections of the Opposition. I hope that the CBI will take the White Paper on incomes policy "Winning the Battle Against Inflation" fully into account when advising its members.
When the Prime Minister meets the CBI will he ask exactly how it proposes to increase production with the 12½ per cent. minimum lending rate? Will he say exactly what is the difference between his addiction to the nonsense of monetarism and that of the Leader of the Opposition? Is not the 12½ per cent. the price that we are all having to pay for the failure of successive Conservative and Labour Governments to arrive at a sensible wage bargaining system?
The present Government at least can be exonerated from that charge. We are doing our best to arrive at a sensible wage bargaining system. I trust that the statement that the TUC, in conjunction with the Government, will be issuing later today will demonstrate that.
I accept that the Prime Minister's comments last night on the Common Market enjoyed widespread support, but will he take this opportunity to tell the CBI and others that Britain's involvement with the European monetary system is now a dead duck? Will he also say that, unless there is radical and substantial reform of the Common Market, Britain's departure from the Common Market must be a real possibility?
It is far better that we should try to make the necessary reforms in the European Community than that we should talk about leaving it at this stage. There are substantial disadvantages in leaving.As the House knows, I raised the matter at Bremen on 6th July. As a result of that the paper has been prepared and certain deductions are now being made. It will be considered by the Finance Ministers of the Community on 20th November. I shall, of course, carry the matter forward as far as I can at the next meeting of Heads of Government early in December.
Does the Prime Minister recall that the CBI, among other things, called for the Government to consider legislating on the creation of a system of balloting before strikes? In view of the recent situation at Vauxhall, and as the bread workers' strike is taking place at a time when between 65 per cent. and 70 per cent. of supplies are at a normal level, does he agree that there is a widespread consensus for the view? Is he aware that if he gave serious consideration to that suggestion he would almost certainly have the approval of the House and the grateful thanks of the nation?
I answered questions on this matter last week. I have nothing further to add today.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the only way to achieve genuine reforms in the Common Market is to say that we shall leave it unless we achieve them?
I would not regard my right hon. Friend as the best adviser on that matter. I do not think that he has ever wanted to be a member of the Common Market, at any price.
Prime Minister (Engagements)
asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 14th November.
Irefer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker).
Is the Prime Minister aware that during this year mortgage repayments have risen by a record 37 per cent.? Will he confirm to hard-pressed housebuyers and owners that this is almost entirely due to his Government's incompetent handling of the economy?
I do not think that the country takes that view because, as the hon. Gentleman may know from his own personal experience, more building society loans are being made today than ever before. They are at a record level. That seems to show that many people are still in the field for buying houses.
When my right hon. Friend meets the President of Portugal today, will he inform him that those of us who warned about the Common Market have been proved right, both by the general experience of our people and now by the figures—and I am including among us my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay)? On the analogy of a previous Government, who appointed a Minister for disarmament who later ended up selling armaments, may I recommend to my right hon. Friend that he appoint a Minister for Europe who might end up by getting us out of Europe?
I do not accept what my hon. Friend has said on this matter. The necessity for Europe is a closer combination and not to split up. It would undoubtedly create a tremendous furore among the European nations if a major member were possibly to consider leaving. I do not believe that we should do that. We have had a referendum on the subject with a positive result, and some of my right hon. and hon. Friends would be helping more if they would apply some constructive criticism towards getting a proper balance between payments that are made and the receipts that are given to each individual member country.
Early-Day Motions And Amendments
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Early-day motion No. 46 reads:
This issue was raised in the House last night, and the early-day motion was tabled at 9.45 p.m. Is it in order for that motion to appear with an amendment the first time it appears on the Order Paper, since this clearly means that the hon. Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Morris) went to the Table Office last night after I had been there and submitted an amendment to the motion before it had been published?"That this House deplores the suggestion of the Opposition Front Bench during the Second Reading of the Pensioners Payments Bill that the pensioners' Christmas bonus should be means-tested."
I am much obliged to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) for giving me prior notice of this point of order, which enabled me to inquire into the matter. As soon as a motion is handed in to the Table Office, it becomes the property of the House and is open to inspection by other Members. From that moment, amendments to the motion may be submitted in the ordinary way, and that is what occurred in the case of the hon. Gentleman's motion and the amendment thereto.
Questions To Ministers
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As there has been no opportunity to apply to you for a motion under Standing Order No. 9, may I ask whether it is in order for the Government at a later opportunity to make a statement on the very serious bombings in Northern Ireland? Five towns have been blitzed and there has been considerable loss of life.
The hon. Gentleman's statement will have been heard. If the House desires it, on previous occasions such things have been found possible, but on very rare occasions.
Statutory Instruments, &C
That the draft Hovercraft (Application of Enactments) (Amendment) Order 1978 be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.—[Mr. Foot.]
European Community (Enlargement)
I beg to move
The two documents are the Commission's overview of enlargement—the so-called fresco—and the Commission's opinion on Portugal's application to join the Community. Enlargement, as I think we all recognise, is the most serious single issue facing the Community, and it is also a momentous political and economic issue for the three applicant countries, Greece, Portugal and Spain. As the Prime Minister said in answer to Questions, President Eanes of Portugal arrived on a State visit to this country this morning, and the House will, I know, join me in extending a warm welcome to him, representing as he does both our oldest ally and a future partner in the European Community. This House has demonstrated in a number of debates a strong commitment to enlargement of the Community, and it is one of the areas in the development of the European Community in which the United Kingdom can fairly claim to be amongst the leaders of opinion. Yet there is still insufficient awareness in this country and in the Community of the vitally important adaptation for the Community which enlargement will entail and which we need to discuss more openly. The accession negotiations are being undertaken on the basis that the applicants agree to accept the Community's rules, subject only to the various derogations and transitional arrangements which have to be negotiated. This is a similar pattern to the one which the House approved of in the British application. The Greek negotiations have made considerable progress over the last year. Broad agreement has been reached on Greece's integration into the industrial customs union, the European Coal and Steel Community and Euratom, as well on the principles of Greece's entry into the pattern of the Community's relations with third countries. Recently, the Com- munity agreed on how Greece is to be incorporated into the institutions of the Community. The main outstanding subjects are agriculture, free movement of labour and the length of the transitional period. These are difficult questions since other member States have major interests at stake. However, it remains the hope and the expectation of the Government that the main subjects of the negotiations will be tackled by the end of the year, which has been the objective of both the Community and the Greek Government. Work on certain areas will still no doubt have to be completed in the first half of next year, but the Community should aim to sign an accession treaty with Greece by July. Allowing at least a year for ratification, that would mean probably formal entry on or before 1st January 1981. Member States endorsed the Commission's conclusion in its opinion on Portugal that the political arguments for starting negotiations were overwhelming, and negotiations were opened last month. While we hope that the lessons learned in the Greek negotiations will make it possible to proceed with the Portuguese negotiations fairly briskly, there are difficult economic problems which will have to be dealt with and the negotiations seem likely to take around two years. This would point to Portuguese entry perhaps in 1982. That date may slip, but I hope not. I am glad to say that the Commission's opinion on Spain is now expected before the end of this year—something for which the Government have been pressing hard. Assuming that it is ready in time, we should like a decision on the opening of negotiations with Spain to be taken by the Council of Ministers at its meeting in December. The negotiations will, again, take about two years, but we hope that Spain nevertheless will be ready to join at the same time as Portugal.That this House takes note of Commission Documents Nos. S/763/78 and Addenda 1 and 2, and S/911/78 and Addendum 1 on enlargement of the Community.
What about Albania?
The hon. Gentleman raises an interesting point. It would be the first Communist country to join the EEC. Relations with Albania have been rather low for quite some time, but we welcome any encouragement from the hon. Gentleman to improve relations with any countries, particularly Communist countries.
My right hon. Friend says that we are rather keen to have Portugal, Spain and Greece in the EEC. I am not opposed to that—indeed, I am very much in favour of it. But, in view of the Prime Minister's statement last night and of the reports coming out that these countries are not efficient in their agriculture, so that we should be paying increasing amounts in order to subsidise the inefficiency of their agricultural policies, are these factors being taken into consideration when we talk about these countries joining the EEC? Within two years we are likely to be paying£15 per head of population in this country towards the common agricultural policy, and clearly that amount would increase further if Greece, Portugal and Spain came in with their present agricultural systems.
I shall deal with that later and in some detail, but there is a difference in that a large proportion of the agricultural cost to the Community comes out of northern agricultural products. One of the challenges for the Community is to develop better training in agricultural policy without having additional costs on top of the existing budget, but I will deal with this later.I am glad to say that the Commission's opinion on Spain is now expected before the end of this year, assuming that it is ready in time.
Will the right hon. Gentleman concede that it is a strong point in favour of the admission of Spain that this formerly rigidly centralist, Fascist country has now democratised itself to the extent of allowing the Basque and the Catalan nations their own forms of government?
There is a strong tradition of decentralisation in European countries and in European Socialism, and I happen strongly to support decentralised Socialism. The Proudhonist tradition is very well represented in Spanish Socialist purport. But I think that this is not related to the Spanish application. If we are able to make progress on Spain's application, it will mean that all three applications will be under negotiations.It is clear that a series of three accessions staggered over a long period would be deeply disruptive for the Community, and the delay could also lead to a wobbling in the Community's collective commitment, which still firmly exists, to enlargement. So if the House and the country want a Community of 12 I believe it is extremely important that the momentum to 12 must be maintained. The driving force behind enlargement to 12, as it was indeed with enlargement to nine, is political. I will deal with the economic issues later. The most obvious political imperative, one which we have all supported, is that enlargement should help to consolidate democratic systems in the three applicant countries with the immense political benefit that that would bring of greater stability in Southern Europe. Each of the three applicant countries sees membership of the Community as part of its return to the free, open, democratic European tradition. In Portugal's case in particular, membership of the Community is seen as essential in order to give that country the focus of stability which it needs after the loss of its colonies and the trauma of revolution. The political implications of enlargement of the Community as a whole will, however, be considerable. A Community of 12, provided it maintains cohesion, is bound to have more influence in the world than a Community of nine. Closer links with Latin America are likely to follow because of the close ties between Spain and Portugal and the countries of that continent. The Spanish-speaking world numbers 239 million and the Portuguese-speaking world numbers 136 million. Portugal and Spain both have an African tradition. That applies to Portugal in particular because of her former colonies in Mozambique and Angola. The meeting in June in Guinea-Bissau between President Eanes and President Neto of Angola was an important development greatly easing relations between the two countries, and this has been followed by a marked improvement in relations between Angola, Zaire and Zambia. We now have an ambassador in Luanda and look forward ourselves to greatly improved relations. But there could be less welcome political consequences. Involvement in Mediterranean affairs must not mean that the Community is dragged into the Aegean dispute.
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how it is possible to have the advantages of a closer relationship with the Mediterranean countries while dissociating ourselves from the problems?
I am openly putting before the House one of the problems. It is the danger of becoming involved in the Aegean dispute. I was going on to explain why I thought it may be possible to avoid that.One problem will be to take care to ensure that Turkey does not become alienated from the Community. We have proposed ways in which Turkey can be kept closely in touch with the Community's work in political co-operation, and we shall be working hard for the success of the current efforts to reinvigorate the Community's association agreement with Turkey. We must reassure Turkey, whose democratic system also deserves and requires support. It must not feel threatened by enlargement. I do not believe it will if we handle the issue carefully. It would also be of benefit to all of us if the Cyprus dispute could be resolved before 1981. The economic implications of enlargement will, in general, impact more on the applicants than on the present Community. The applicant countries together will, for example, add only 10 per cent. to the Community's gross domestic product. But, while overall the economic consequences for the Community should be limited and acceptable, there will undoubtedly be problems for particular sectors and for certain Community structures. Perhaps the most obvious consequence for the United Kingdom will be the possibility of increased competition from low-cost industrial exports, especially textiles and steel, which are already sensitive areas for the United Kingdom. Although we intend to negotiate safeguard measures to minimise disruption during the transition period, we must recognise that some of our sensitive industries will inevitably face problems. We must, however, bear in mind that in general our industrial exports stand to benefit from enlargement because of the easier access to the applicants' markets which enlargement will bring. Honourable Members may laugh at that, but we have been able to extend our industrial exports into the European Community, not sufficiently maybe, but there has been a steady growth of exporting into the European countries.
There is a£2,000 million deficit.
Will my right hon. Friend accept that, in so far as we drive a hard bargain in respect of our national economic interests in steel and low-cost textiles, we deprive the applicant countries of the political benefits on which they now base their case? Is there not an inherent contradiction between the so-called political and economic cases? How large a price economically are we prepared to pay for what may be not very substantial political gains?
That is a question of balance. I think my hon. Friend is referring, for example, to the extreme sensitivity in Portugal over textiles, but there is no use balking the fact that one has only to visit Lancashire, where I was at the weekend, to see that its textile industry has lost about 100,000 jobs already. It is an extremely sensitive problem, and the pace of adaptation of older industries facing this kind of competition has to be handled with great care. But it involves not only Portugal. There are many other poorer countries which will inevitably become involved in textile manufacture. They produce the cotton and they will want to be involved as an industrial country. We have to face this problem of the adaptation of our industries if we seriously intend to help the underdeveloped world. So it is a question we face with Portugal as we face it with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many other countries.The question is at what pace our industry can adapt in order to provide alternative jobs. The answer is that we have to find a balance between the perfectly legitimate national interest of safeguarding jobs in one's own country and the difficulties faced by other countries with a much more difficult unemployment problem. These include Portugal and Third world countries. This is an issue which a number of Select Committees have been looking at recently and which the Government have been closely examining. There is no easy answer. It is a question of trying to balance the different claims.
Does not the Foreign Secretary understand that the British people, quite apart from a few anti-Marketeers on these Benches, take the view that what is really happening as a result of our entry into the Common Market—and we have had five years in which to examine it—is that British taxpayers are seen to carry on their backs not only all the underdeveloped countries but also, it seems, the West Germans and all the others as a result of the recent report? Would not it make sense, even political and economic sense, even for Euro-fanatics, to delay direct elections while the other three countries joined the EEC?
I am not certain that great changes would be made in the economic balance between ourselves and the existing Community by delaying elections to the European Assembly. I know my hon. Friend's views on that. He has had ample time to argue his case. He opposed the Act through all its stages, but he was unable to succeed—
We shall win one day.
I do not believe that it will be for the benefit of this House or our country for us to debate the issue of enlargement without facing up to the blunt economic facts. One of them is that the three applicants, especially Greece and Portugal, are likely to receive more from the Community budget than they put in, and this will mean an increase in our contribution.
That is what we were saying two weeks ago.
My hon. Friend must not be too surprised if every now and then a Minister speaking from this Box agrees with him. That is perfectly possible.I hold strongly that the House should not enter blind into this commitment to enlargement. We should not make these decisions on the basis of trying to hood- wink the House of Commons. There was a lot of legitimate complaint in 1972 and before when people felt—rightly or wrongly—that they were not being given the full facts. It is extremely important that we should have these facts now. The question is, how do we make the calculation? It is difficult to make anything more than speculative calculations of the amount, but, on the basis of various arbitrary assumptions, including no change in Community policies or in the levels of agricultural production in the three applicant countries—and that is a fairly major assumption—the extra budgetary cost to the United Kingdom would be of the order of£90 million to£115 million a year at 1977 prices. This cost has to be seen against the net£660 million which is the current estimate of our contribution to this year's budget. Those figures give some idea of the proportions. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear last night at the Guildhall, the United Kingdom has the third lowest per capita gross domestic product in the Community and yet we are the second highest contributor to the Community budget. This cannot be good for the Community any more than it is for the United Kingdom. There are other anomalies, for example in the case of Italy as a net contributor on the one hand and Denmark and the Netherlands as substantial net recipients on the other. Some would argue that the figures we quote of our net contribution leave out of account the monetary compensatory amounts paid on the food we import from Europe. But these are not a resource transfer to the importing countries. It makes more sense to see them as a benefit to the exporting countries since they allow producers there to export at higher prices than would be obtained in an uncontrolled market. But even if all MCAs on our imports were added to our receipts, we should remain among the highest net contributors. For instance, if the calculations were done on the 1976 figures we should fall only from second largest to third largest contributor. We shall be working to achieve a better balance, especially in relation to agricultural expenditure, to curb the excessive United Kingdom net contribution. It is now a serious problem to us, irrespective of enlargement. The budget generally is likely to come under strain after enlargement. More calls will be made on the Regional and Social Funds. The United Kingdom's share of these funds may therefore diminish. The integration into the Community of three economies each with an important agriculture sector will lead to more CAP expenditure, unless by negotiation we have already reduced CAP expenditure. In particular, we are trying to do that by reducing current surpluses.
My right hon. Friend has told us, as did the Prime Minister last night, that our budget contribution is excessive and that it will rise even further if these additional countries join the EEC. Will my right hon. Friend say, therefore, whether the Government will now be putting forward to the EEC concrete proposals for remedying this situation?
We have already done so. We are in almost continuous negotiation over this whole issue. There is, first, the question of the price level, which comes up annually in the negotiations. Second, there is the question of the application of MCAs. Third, there is the whole question of the way in which one examines the budget. The Commission is at present considering the distribution of the budget and the way that it is financed, and it is coming up with some interesting proposals. There is also the question of the size of the Regional Fund, the size of the Social Fund and the value of them to the individual member States. This is being examined as part of the discussions on the European monetary system, with which I shall deal later, as part of the concurrent studies promised in the European Council at Bonn. The Commission is due to put forward proposals at the Brussels meeting in December. We shall then have some idea of whether it is prepared to advocate radical changes in these areas.Since my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister wrote to the general secretary of the Labour Party in September 1977, when he made a commitment to put as one of the Government's highest piorities a fundamental change in the distribution and the effects of some of the financing of the CAP, we have been actively pursuing the matter. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture in particular has had some notable successes on the question of price.
Will my right hon. Friend indicate, if we are not successful—it is a year since my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister wrote that letter—in getting some fundamental change which will benefit the British people, what we are to do? Is it not time that we said to the other EEC countries that, if we are unsuccessful and fail to secure the fundamental changes we seek, we shall renegotiate ourselves out of the Common Market at the earliest possible moment?
I do not think that that is the way to achieve the negotiating objectives that we have set. There are ways of achieving them within the Community. The first way is to make more of the other member States aware of the arithmetic. Until about a year ago, very few of the member States were aware of the disproportionate effect of the existing Community budget. We shall have to try to persuade them. If we find that we cannot, we shall have to use our negotiating strength in the many different forums in which it is possible to exercise it so that we see substantial changes. That is how the Community works. But I do not believe that we shall achieve success by threatening to come out of the Community.
Does not the Foreign Secretary realise that for the past 11 years attempts have been made to reform the CAP and that nothing fundamental has been reformed? We therefore want to know, should that state of affairs continue, as it is likely to because of the vested economic and political interests in the Common Market, what the Government will do. Surely, to state now what they would do would fortify their negotiating position.
I do not agree that it would fortify the negotiating position if we did that. One of the factor emerge is that some of the assumpt that were made it 1972 have been shown to be false. For example, it was said at the time that the proportion of the total budget devoted to agriculture would steadily fall, whereas it has steadily risenThere will also be the stimulus of enlargement to make the Community rethink the consequences of the CAP. The integration into the Community of the three economies of the applicant States, each with an important agricultural sector, will lead to more CAP expenditure unless we make changes, and those changes will have to come by negotiation. We shall also have to try to reduce current surpluses. It is important, too, that surplus production by the applicant States is discouraged now, and it would be unrealistic and wrong to expect the expanded South of the Community to accept indefinitely the predominance in the budget of expenditure on support for northern agricultural products. Even in the existing Community it is noticeable that the Italian Government are becoming much more openly critical of the impact of the current CAP. The House must understand, therefore, that it is not only Britain that is beginning to realise that there will have to be structural and fundamental changes in the impact of the CAP. It would carry very little support in the Community to argue that the CAP has to be scrapped. That is not the Government's position. We are arguing that its impact on the individual member States needs to be changed radically and the balance altered. We must try to ensure that the disproportionate spending on northern agriculture is reduced. We simply cannot afford to increase expenditure on Mediterranean products in addition to the existing percentage devoted to northern agriculture. CAP expenditure already distorts the whole budget. It now accounts for 70 per cent. of spending. It is unacceptable to us for the distortion to be made worse. On the other hand, it is far to make economies, savings and reductions in subsidies to rich, prosperous sections of the agriculture industry. The House must recognise—with respect, some of my hon. Friends must recognise—that the agricultural sector in the Community contains some of the lowest paid workers in the whole of the Community. It is unrealistic and unsocialistic to expect them to make all these changes overnight without any adaptation machinery. It is of fundamental importance that the changes are made in a way that especially protects the poorer peasant farmers. They should be given a period of transition and adaptation. We would expect that for our own agricultural workers were they to need it, but they do not, and our own industry were it to need it. We must enable the peasant farmers in the Community to have a period of adaptation. We must act generally in a Community spirit in the way that we deal with agricultural change, but change there must be.
My right hon. Friend has been extremely patient, but he does not seem to appreciate that what is at issue is not prices or subsidies but the fundamental principle of intervention—the commitment to buy even if there is no market. Until that system is scrapped, my right hon. Friend and all the members of the Community may fiddle with prices and subsidies until they are blue in the face and they will make no difference. It is that fundamental fault that has to be overcome. The applicant countries will be trapped in exactly the same way as we are by that principle.
There is a difference of systems. We used to have the whole deficiency payments system. We preferred it. Very few people, whether on the pro or anti side of the Community argument, have denied that it would have been better to retain the old deficiency payments system. At least, that applies to many of us. I know that I do not take some Opposition Members with me. However, it was a fact of life that we could not get the deficiency payments system.The existing system of agriculture in the Community is not all at fault. The problem is that its application has allowed large surpluses to occur. It is not inherent in the CAP.
I do not believe that to be so. In agricultural production we shall never achieve a perfect match between supply and demand. That is a fact of life. There will always be troughs and peaks. We must direct our attention to flattening them out and achieving a fairly even spread of production that is met by demand. It is unacceptable to any reasonable, rational man, of whatever country or member State, that we should be increasing the prices of commodities that arc already in surplus.
Yes, and production. That is an obvious fault in the existing CAP system, apart from the more fundamental issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley).
Is my right hon. Friend aware that many British people who voted to enter the Community did so on the understanding that the advice they were given on the CAP was correct? We were told that if we were inside we could change it from the inside. The basic economies of Spain and Portugal are based upon agriculture. Is it fair for the rest of the Community to tell Spain and Portugal that before they enter the Community they must change the basis of their economies? What are they to do?
That is a potential problem. That is why the House has devoted much attention to it.The support for Mediterranean products is at present extremely small. In entering the Community, Spain and Portugal will not be adding a very heavy commitment to the existing CAP. However, it is an open secret that they will wish to argue for a more generous support system. The question that we have to face is whether that is necessarily against our interests. Many of the products concerned are products that we import. If they can be produced efficiently and at low cost, that may be in Britain's interest. We should not believe that an efficient Mediterranean agricultural section, as part of a more balanced form of Community agricultural production that would come from the Community of 12, is necessarily against our interests. I do not believe that it should be. What is dangerous is that we shall carry into the Community a commitment greatly to increase expenditure on southern, Mediterranean products and no reform of northern agricultural products. If we do so, before we know where we are 80 per cent. of the Community budget will be devoted to agriculture. That will be in no one's interests.
That is right.
There are ways in which we can use our negotiating strength to prevent that.
Such as withdrawing.
The threat to withdraw is one of the worst negotiating weapons to use. There are many other weapons. There are many aspects of the negotiating procedure where one member State can hold up progress in the Community. I do not advocate adopting a veto system. However, if it becomes of national importance that a change is made, we may have to consider taking that position. Other countries have acted similarly in the past.At present, we hope to be able to make progress by rational debate and discussion on the basis of a Community effort. I believe that we are making some progress. I am not claiming that progress is dramatic. All I am saying is that over the past few years the Government have made more progress on this issue than was made for a decade or more. It we hold to our approach, there is a good prospect of making change. Another problem will be the economic impact of enlargement on the Community's trading partners in the developing countries, especially in the Mediterranean. The latter will inevitably find the relative advantages that they enjoy under the overall Mediterranean approach eroded—for example, Maghreb and Mashraq countries. There is a need for the Community to work out with the countries most affected a strategy to overcome the difficulties that this will cause. It is necessary that the Commission recognises that we cannot continue making commitments all round the world and raising expectations, only to find that we are unable to fulfil them. That creates a serious problem. It is easy to start new policy initiatives, to open up new prospects that carry with them the belief that dramatic Community benefits will come to the countries concerned, only to find that they cannot be delivered. That is a recipe for frustration. It often damages our relationships with other countries. Commitments lightly entered into have a tendency to swing back on those who enter into them. As it is often the Commission that is involved, it is often the member States that feel the backlash. It is difficult to say at this stage what will be the impact of enlargement on the Community's policy towards the developing countries generally. I know that that is a subject of concern to many hon. Members. However, opposition to the Community's generally liberal outlook may grow since the three newcomers have been traditionally more protectionist than the Community. In addition, they may see themselves as having a claim on aid funds. We have seen that in the discussion over textiles. They may see themselves as having a claim at least comparable with that of some present recipients. The new Lome arrangements that are being negotiated and decisions that we are seeking to increase aid to non-associates should ensure that no harm is done to the Community's development policy over the next few years at least, but the picture in the long term is less clear. The institutions of the Community will also need to be examined to improve their efficiency. I do not personally believe that that will be resolved simply by increased use of majority voting, which has often been claimed by some other member States as a magic cure for all the problems of the Community. Effectively, there is already a system of informal majority voting. Member States in a clear minority have to have regard to the interests of others. The Community in fact functions by a complex series of implicit trade-offs. Eroding this by putting issues to the vote on frequent occasions could lead to much more widespread invocation of the Luxembourg compromise. Much more important, it could lead to an erosion of the spirit to seek compromise, which is one of the cements of the existing Community. The real need is for the Community to be able to work out decisions informally, with proper regard to the political realities of the Community. Decisions cannot be forced through mechanically. We shall be sceptical about making any formal changes in the institutions, particularly as regards majority voting.
I do not in any way dissent from what the right hon. Gentleman has just been saying, but will he admit that the Commission has a valuable role to play in initiat- ing a constructive compromise that would take better account of the long-term interests of the Community than a mere process of horse trading? Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise the distinct role of the Community in that area?
Yes, I said that I did not think that we should change the balance of the institutions, and. I am going on to describe this. But I see the role of the Commission as the guardian of the treaties, so to speak. The Commission holds an overall responsibility, and by its very nature it has to be somewhat legalistic in its interpretation of Community obligations and to hold the Community close to the treaties. That is a Commission obligation. But there is satisfaction about the efficiency of the Community, and the French proposal for a committee of three to look at the efficiency of the Community could be valuable, particularly if the people chosen are practical, political realists and not theologians.The institutions need streamlining. We made several suggestions for improvement during our presidency. Most of the Community's problems are already there and need solving anyway, irrespective of enlargement—the budget. which is top-heavy with agricultural spending, the inadequate regional policies, the traditional industries already in difficulties, relations with the Mediterranean countries already under strain, and the decision-making process, which is at times slow and cumbersome.
It might save time if the Foreign Secretary, before he leaves this point, could tell us exactly what is the state of play on the French President's proposal for the "three wise men".
The Council of Foreign Ministers will be discussing it at the next Council meeting, and it will come to the European Council. We had an informal discussion about it at a private weekend at Schloss Gymnich, in. Germany. I think that we shall probably reach agreement, but several different suggestions are being put around. One is that the representation should be from the members of the existing institutions. I do not think that that really meets the objective of the French, which was that they should be people who, although experienced in the Community, could take a more detached look at the workings of the Community, rather than people who are deeply involved in it at the moment. A lot depends on having the right people.One has only to see what happened to the Tindemans report to be a little sceptical about what may happen when suddenly we have the production of a report from three people. Incidentally, I think that women could be included, and therefore I dislike the term "three wise men". The question is whether they will hold the confidence particularly of the Heads of Government of the nine member States. Will there be a response to their suggestions in a way which will lead to some reform? I think, therefore, that the key question is the people who are to be entrusted with this task. I said that I do not think that all these problems will come only with enlargement. Enlargement may exacerbate these problems and make it more urgent to solve them, but it will not of itself have created them. I hope that in practice we may find—as, indeed, to some extent we are already seeing—that enlargement may act as a stimulant. I believe that the Community functions better than most of its critics recognise. I have always held the view—and I hold it ever more strongly —that we endure in the Community a surfeit of apolitical comment, based on an unreal dream, totally devoid of reality, of how member States should act, instead of taking account of how member States are likely to act. The actual performance of the Community, judged by any other international institution which I know or have worked with, is very good. Despite all the problems of economic recession and all the difficulties that we have faced over the last four or five years, the Community has held together and is making effective decisions. I do not hold the belief that it is in collapse, and we would do a lot better if we had a little less Euro-crisis talk coming out of Brussels. The role of the presidency is increasing and will, in my view, inevitably increase. It has a key influence, for better or worse, on the handling of EEC business, both within the Community framework and in political co-operation. The Minister, or the permanent representative in the chair at any given time, has a special responsibility to assess the development of all States' attitudes and to identify the political scope for compromise or for new solutions. That is a slightly different role from the role of the Commission. Some ideas have already been put forward, such as using the preceding and following presidencies to support the current one in a "troika" system. That is encouraging and certainly needs to be looked at carefully. It would probably help most in political co-operation, where some measures of continuity and some buttressing of an incoming presidency could be particularly helpful, because there is not the usual Community institutional framework for support and one has to rely entirely on the support of the member State. The Council Secretariat is at present a body of permanent officials serving the presidency in controlling the administrative machinery of the Council. I believe that we need some additional means of support for the presidency in a much more political way, helping with the formulation of compromises and stimulating initiatives at both Council and at Coreper level. This could be done by a small group, to keep the Council secretariat more closely in touch with the political realities in capitals. The group should be chosen partly from people who have served closely with Ministers. Such a group could make a contribution for which no part of the existing machinery, including the Commission, is precisely fitted at present. We made a start during our presidency on developing the role of the secretariat in working out presidency compromises. Properly developed, such a group could, in my view, be a factor for continuity, and it could also overcome some of the disadvantages which undoubtedly exist with a six-months rotating presidency, without affecting the need for all member States to have a term as president. I do not see any way in which that can be changed. Every member State will want to hold the presidency in its turn. I believe that this would be a natural development and that it could powerfully reinforce the presidency, without challenging the role of the Commission. It would provide an essential element of continuity in the exercise of the presidency. It is extraordinary that in recent months in Community discussions and negotiations, which are still in progress, the implications for the Community of 12—as opposed to the Community of nine—of a European monetary system have been virtually ignored. It would be a great mistake to limit the current consideration of EMS to the present members of the Community. We must look at wider needs and wider concerns, including those of the candidate members. In the EMS discussions, the British Government have throughout insisted on the need to avoid putting the weaker currencies at risk from major speculative attack or of laying the burden of adjustment only on the weaker members. This applies to those EEC countries which are not currently members of the snake. It will apply even more to the three candidate members, of whom the Greek Government have already made clear that they would like to include the drachma in any European monetary system. All that our Government have said about the need to make the EMS truly durable and comprehensive applies with equal force to the new members. We wish to see a scheme which would be capable of accommodating weaker currencies without self-defeating obligations on them and which would be accompanied by a general improvement in the Community's budgetary arrangements, so that they contribute to convergence in the economic performance of all the members. If it does not do that, it cannot be good for the Community. If it contributed to convergence and produced currency stability, we should welcome it. The issue of a European monetary system is not, in my view, an issue of Euro-principle but is one to be judged on practical, technical grounds. There is at present too much politics in its presentation. A scheme does not become viable merely by adding a dressing of Euro-terminology—EMS, EMF and ECU. The most important underlying problem facing any EMS is the fact that the economies of the existing member countries diverge, especially in their inflation and growth rates, and the working of the Community budget does nothing to promote convergence of economic perform- ance. Indeed, it is a factor for divergence in that it transfers resources from some of the poorer to some of the wealthier member States. In the light of existing disparities of economic performance, excessive rigidity of exchange rates, which could have a deflationary impact on the weaker economies, could make it harder to achieve the convergence of performance at the highest possible level of activity which is essential for the long-term future of the Community. There is a requirement for adequate flexibility in exchange rate management within the system to guard against this danger. There is also a requirement for positive resource transfers to contribute to convergence. Currency stability is a desirable objective. Some argue that this can come only from full-scale monetary union, backed by large resource transfers. We have to ensure that a European monetary system does not fall between two stools, on the one hand imposing undue rigidity on exchange rates, with deflationary effects on the weaker economies, while on the other hand failing to grasp the nettle of resource transfers adequate to overcome any such adverse impact. In trying to establish the necessary balance between exchange rate rigidity and action to compensate the weaker economies, we have to look at the actual situation in existing member States and, I believe, look at the three applicant countries. In the past year Portugal has devalued its currency by about 30 per cent., Spain by nearly 25 per cent. and Greece by nearly 10 per cent. against the European unit of account. Germany has revalued by 2·9 per cent. That gives some idea of the market pressure for changes in cross-European exchange rates. The likely need for future changes is indicated by the differing inflation rates: Portugal 8·9 per cent., Spain 21·3 per cent. and Greece 13·4 per cent.—and Germany currently 2·7 per cent. These facts reinforce the conclusion that a narrow, rigid European monetary system modelled on the existing snake will not be in the interests of a Community of 12. The overall effects of all Community policies must increasingly be to promote convergence of economic performance between the member countries in contrast with present policies, such as the CAP, which are not designed to work for convergence.
I am trying to follow the Secretary of State's argument as closely as I can. In so far as differing inflation rates are a major factor working against the convergence, which we all want to see in the European Community, and in so far as many Governments in Europe, including Her Majesty's Government, are now using good old-fashioned deflationary techniques and credit squeezes in an endeavour to combat inflation, why is it not sensible to have a European monetary system which puts some emphasis at least on deflationary mechanisms to bring about that convergence?
I am not saying that it is impossible to bring down inflation within a European monetary system. I do not hold that view. Properly constructed, I think that if we have the flexibility which I have suggested we will need on exchange rates and the resources available, it could add to the ability to bring down inflation. I think that a measure of currency stability is helpful. For instance, when our exchange rate was under considerable pressure we saw that it was not long before the consequences of the pound falling fed through under inflationary pressures. I think that dramatic, rapid falls in the exchange rate can have a very severe impact on inflation.We have tried to approach these negotiations on a strictly practical basis. I think I can claim that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the way that he has negotiated and developed his argument in the Finance Council and elsewhere, has found an increasing amount of sympathy for the factual basis of his argument. I think that is also reflected in the division of opinion which is beginning to be clear amongst economists and bankers in this country. The EMS is a highly complicated, technical and economic issue. I think that from the way the Government have approached it, it is clear that this is how we see the issue. We have strongly resisted judging it in terms of whether one is or is not a believer in the European Community. Within the European Community the seriousness of our negotiating position is becoming more apparent. I think that people must also take account of the fact that very few things would do more harm to the European Community in this country than if Britain were to enter into a badly worked out monetary system which was not viable and did not last and we then had to withdraw, as happened on previous occasions with the snake. In order to go in, in the debates in this House we would indulge in a tremendous amount of oversell. That is always the case when a controversial issue comes in. The resultant feeling of let-down in a failure would work strongly against the European Community and those who support it. I hope that those who look at these issues will do so not from a polarised European view but from an objective evaluation of whether it is in the interests not only of this country—that is obviously very important—but of the Community. I think that one of the factors—I say only one—is whether the construction of a monetary system takes enough account of the three applicant members, all of whom have considerable problems and a wide spread of inflation. I do not wish that to be construed as arguing that it is impossible to bring down inflation within the European monetary system. The Prime Minister for a long time—even before the European monetary system was advocated—argued for currency stability. Britain has always said that currency stability should come in a wider framework. It may be that the European monetary system is a start, but there is also a danger that it could close off a wider arrangement for currency stability. The more we look at the EMS, the more we believe that the arguments of the last decade or more for fundamental reform grow ever stronger. I think it is important that policy changes should be made to contribute to convengency before enlargement takes place. All the requirements which we have argued an EMS must meet in order to be lasting and effective are reinforced when considered in the context of enlargement and the needs of the candidate countries. Lastly I turn to the particular case of Portugal, since one of the two documents before the House is the Commission's opinion on Portugal's application. The Portuguese economy is still fragile. The Community must be careful in negotiating the terms of Portugal's entry not to overstrain the Portuguese political and economic system. Too rapid an opening up of the Portuguese market to Community exports could damage agricultural production, blight developing industries, aggravate the balance of payments problem and give an upward twist to inflation. The member States must, of course, safeguard their own interests. We shall want to be particularly careful not to aggravate our own problems with textiles, which we have already discussed, and fisheries. But in the negotiations with Portugal the Community must at all times bear in mind political factors. Political and economic decision-making must not run on separate tracks. I am confident that the economic problems of integration can be overcome given sufficient awareness of Portugal's needs. One essential will be an appropriate transition period, and we shall have to bear in mind Portugal's financial needs. The members of the Community are already helping Portugal through both the two financial agreements signed since 1974 and the IMF. Portugal will also benefit through the Community budget. With the other member States, however, we shall remain ready to study ways in which the Community might complement Portugal's own efforts to rehabilitate its economy.
My right hon. Friend mentioned Portugal and, earlier, the importance of peasant economies. About 28 per cent. of the working population of Portugal are in agriculture, and there are even more—35 per cent.—in Greece. But in none of the documents before us is there any examination of the differences in agricultural prices of those commodities which are grown both north and south of the EEC. Will my right hon. Friend undertake that there will be a study of the differences in prices so that the transitional period, to which he has just referred and which is of particular importance to Portugal, can be looked at in a realistic way which will not impose social strains on the peasant economies to which he has referred?
I should like to look at that matter. I should like to meet my hon. Friend's point, but I should like to consider whether it is more appropriate that we should argue that it be done by the Commission so that it would be in an overall Community document. However, I am prepared to look at that matter, and I undertake to write to my hon. Friend about it.While we recognise that Portugal's entry will create special problems, our support for Portugal's application is firm. We admire Portugal's courageous efforts to break with the past and her success in sticking to the democratic path, despite some heavy buffeting. I urge hon. Members to remember that that past was not so long ago. The Community must hold out a welcoming and steadying hand. For Britain, that will be merely the continuation, in a new guise, of our historic relationship with Portugal. I look forward very much to discussing the prospects for future cooperation with President Eanes and his advisers. With the opening of negotiations with Portugal and with the crux of the Greek negotiations soon to be reached, the Community is now being obliged to face the practical consequences of its political decision to accept enlargement. There is a danger of having too much rhetoric. That must pass. We now need to look at the detail of the enlargement and its implications for this country and the Community in general. We in this country have examined our stance on enlargement dispassionately and, after the first flush of enthusiasm, we still believe that, despite the cost to us, enlargement is historically inevitable and politically desirable.
To what extent has that consideration taken account of regional problems within the United Kingdom? It seemed inherent in my right hon. Friend's earlier remarks that he felt that the Regional Fund within the Community was inadequate. Therefore, with the addition of the three candidate members, will there not be a far greater need in future for the development of an adequate regional policy?
It is very important to safeguard our existing share of the Regional Fund, which would argue therefore for an expansion of the Regional Fund at the time of the three applicant States joining. Also, we can look at alternative ways of using both the Regional Fund and the Social Fund. Britain has been pretty successful in using these. However, I do not want to overstress the role of the Community in regional policy. Essentially, this will always be a matter primarily for national Governments. If one looks at the overall percentage of the budget that we spend on regional aid, one finds that by far the largest amount comes from the national budget. But this is a factor which we have to take into account.In conclusion, I say that it is important that we should discuss this issue openly. I have given way to a lot of hon. Members because I know that there are genuine concerns about this matter. We should not enter blindly into a commitment on enlargement. We should not take only political factors into account. We should take account of the economic consequences for this country and for the Community as a whole. But behind this matter is a fundamental fact. Is the European Community to be open to any democratic State in Europe which wishes to join? By making the decision to go for a Community of 12, we are saying that the old arguments of a narrow, small, tightly knit Community are over and that we are accepting that there is a historic obligation on the Community to allow the entry of any democratic applicant State which wishes to join the Community. That is a major decision. It will have an impact on the development of the Community. It will change it. I believe that it will not weaken the Community. There are some of my hon. Friends who argue at times that this is one of the advantages of enlargement. I think that it will not weaken the Community and I do not believe that it should weaken it. However, it will be a different Community.
I apologise for missing part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. From his remarks on the European monetary system, the House recognises that the Government are being rightly cautious about the particular course they will take, with the advantages and disadvantages it will have to Britain. However, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether any particular consideration has yet been given to the special situation of the £ sterling in relation to the Irish pound, and what research and what investigations are being conducted now into the consequences, for instance, from 1st January of Britain staying without the EMS and the Republic of Ireland going in?
I am trying to confine this debate to the enlargement and the Commission papers which we have in front of us. The Lord President has already promised the House a debate on the EMS—I know that it is hoped to have that fairly soon—in which an important element obviously would be a discussion of the effects of the EMS on existing member States, rather than on the forward projection to the Community of 12. In that, the impact on Italy and, in particular, Ireland—because of our special relationship in the currency—will be discussed. I know that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be very happy to deal with this subject. However, if the hon. Gentleman will excuse me, perhaps I may say that it is a subject which we are discussing at the moment but it is not something on which I would like to prejudge whatever the Chancellor might wish to say.
Will my right hon. Friend give way?
No. In the interests of the House, I think that I have given way enough. I wish to conclude what I have to say.I think I have said enough to ensure that this debate will concentrate—I hope that it will—on the issues of enlargement. I want to make it clear that I have considered all the factors, and I still remain of the unshakable view, and the Government's view is unwavering, that we should support the enlargement of the Community and that we should plan now to move from a Community of nine to a Community of 12.
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, perhaps I may ask him a question.
It is timely that we should have two major debates on Community matters in this week.The Foreign Secretary ranged very widely this afternoon, although he tried to draw himself in again towards the end of his speech. I make no complaint about that, because much of what he had to say was very interesting. In our view, however, tomorrow will be the occasion, during the debate on the six-monthly report, when it will be more in order to analyse at length the question of the Government's pledge in the Prime Minister's speech last night and the story in The Guardian. When that opportunity arrives tomorrow we shall make full use of it. On enlargement, first, I join the Foreign Secretary, on behalf of the Opposition, in extending the welcome that he gave to the President of Portugal. Thinking of recent history, it is a great thing that a president of a democratic Portugal should be here on a State visit. Before going into the questions posed by enlargement, perhaps I may voice a general question about the present burden of taking and making of decisions inside the Community. For some time there was a cliché, current among critics and, indeed, some friends of the Community, that it spent its time fiddling about with little issues and never concentrated on the big ones. At the moment, however, an enormous number of negotiations and decisions are on the boil, and they are of great consequence. There are the three sets of negotiations which we are discussing today, and the documents show how complicated and difficult they are. There is the EMS proposal; there is the renegotiation of Lome; there are the continuing trade and tariff negotiations in which the Community negotiates: there are also the efforts by the Commission to make sense of the common agricultural policy. There are many other things going on, and they are all major enterprises of the Community. I am just wondering whether something needs to be done to make sure that this all happens in an orderly process. The Commision, contrary to what we are often led to suppose, is not an enormous organisation. It is about the size of a county council, and I cannot think of many county councils which are at the moment exposed to such a burden of decision making. I am certainly not suggesting that the Commission should be expanded, but there is, perhaps, a case for its being more flexible regarding the use of its manpower and resources, and occasionally shifting people into more important sectors and away from some of the fiddly little things that they are obviously continuing to do. On a subject which is, perhaps, more within the purview of the Foreign Secretary, I ask a similar question about the Council of Ministers. Does the Foreign Secretary feel that in the coming weeks and months Ministers will make the best use of the time which they have available? I was a little disturbed by a report of a remark by the present President of the Council of Agricultural Ministers—the German Minister, Herr Ertl—who said that there was no time for his Council to discuss what struck me as a highly important subject, namely, the reduction of dairy surpluses, because there was so much going on. Will the Minister who replies to the debate please comment on that? Will he give an assurance that the Council of Ministers, in examining its work load over the next few months and with all these major enterprises in hand at the same time, is setting about its work in an orderly way and is leaving aside some of the smaller matters that could clearly wait—if, indeed, they are necessary at all—and concentrating on making a success of the massive agenda of big matters which it has before it?
I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman would spell out in a little more detail his remarks about the Commission? My right hon. Friend described it as the custodian of the Treaty of Rome and said that inevitably some of its decisions were legalistic. How does the hon. Gentleman see the future role of the Commission? I think that it ought to be a little more than the description given by my right hon. Friend.
I was on a rather narrower point. I am sorry if I have misled the hon. Gentleman. I just have the impression, from visiting the Commission and listening to Ministers, that it is rather inflexible in its use of the people it has and that it is extraordinarily difficult, even for the Commission as a whole, to switch people to a department which is under pressure and away from something which they have been doing for years.We know of Government Departments in this country which are not famous for flexibility in this respect. However, I believe that this is something which may be for the three wise men. Perhaps it is part of a wider examination such as the hon. Gentleman suggests. My point was rather more limited. It was about the next few months and the importance of the Commission concentrating on what is important. I turn to the question of enlargement. do not intend to make a long speech because, unlike the Foreign Secretary—who I think was away at the time—I took part in the debate which we had last May on this same subject. The principles of our attitude have certainly not changed in the last few months. Therefore, I intend to be very brief indeed. In Madrid the other day my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made it clear that we support strongly and warmly the applications for membership from Greece, Portugal and Spain. We support them because we accept the political arguments which led those three countries to put their applications forward. If anyone had come to this House five or six years ago and told us that those three countries would have thrown off Right-wing dictatorships and at the same time rebuffed the effort to impose Left-wing dictatorships, we would have said that such a person was hopelessly optimistic and that the world was not like that at all. Yet that is what they have done. When, after that achievement, they tell us that in order to maintain their own democracy and achievements they need to join this institution, which they regard as the nucleus of democracy in Europe, I do not think we really can say that they do not know what they are talking about in terms of their own countries' interests or that we are so busy and uncertain about our own affairs inside the Community that we simply cannot take them on. That would be an entirely wrong and cowardly attitude to take. I was, therefore, much encouraged by the news which the Foreign Secretary gave about the pace of negotiations, particularly with regard to Spain, because there was a report that the Commission's opinion might not be ready until next year. That would have been disappointing to the Spaniards. It is, therefore, good news that it is now expected. I hope that the Government will maintain the impetus in securing that opinion and thereafter will ensure that the Council of Ministers takes the decision fairly early.
I am sure that we all join the hon. Gentleman in wishing to encourage the three countries in the development of democratic institutions. I wonder what his views would be should any of the applicant countries subsequently err and fall from democratic grace. Would the hon. Gentleman envisage a system similar to the Council of Europe, where the member country lapsing into dictatorship would subsequently be excluded from membership of the Community?
That is a point that has been discussed in the House. Indeed, we pressed the Foreign Secretary on it during the early part of this year. I think it was in Copenhagen that the European Council adopted a declaration that bore on this point and made it clear that, whether one was talking about existing members or about the new members, it would be inconceivable that a member State which fell into dictatorship, either of the Right or the Left, could in practice continue as a member of the Community. The actual mechanics of what one would do would obviously be difficult, but what has been made clear—it was important to make it clear this year, before the new arrivals—is that one cannot imagine that a State practising either Fascist or Communist policies could be at home, or could remain, in the Community.I should like to follow what the Foreign Secretary said about Turkey. This is a matter that we raised in the May debate. The Minister of State, who opened that debate, talked about his desire that there should be greater and more effective political links between the Community and the Turks. Today the Foreign Secretary spelt that out a little more in terms of political co-operation. This is absolutely crucial, and I hope that when winding up the Minister will say a little more about it. It is really very important that the application of Greece, which we support, should not have the effect of bringing Turco-Greek disputes of various kinds into the Community or alienating and turning the Turks away from Europe and, indeed, from the West. It is not just Cyprus. There is a whole range of problems, which the Foreign Secretary summed up as Aegean problems. There is also the fact that Turkey's association agreement has lost some of its importance, as the Community has gone on making agreements around the Mediterranean with other countries that produce goods that Turkey also produces. I feel that there is a danger that the Community will not pay enough attention to Turkish sensibilities. "Sensibilities" is a weak word, because one is talking about a perfectly reasonable concern by the Turks about their own interests and their place in the world. It is doubtful whether the Community by itself, however wise it is, can really answer the Turkish questions to the satisfaction of the Turks. There is a very strong case for a Western initiative and an attempt to work out with the Turks, across the whole range of the West's dealings with Turkey—economic, military and political—what kind of place Turkey wants in the Western world over the next two or three decades. This is a problem that we may neglect in this country, but it is one that we neglect very much to our own peril if it goes wrong. The economic aspects of enlargement were dealt with fully by the Foreign Secretary and there will be much to chew over in what he said. Obviously, for the applicant countries the adjusting of their economies to life inside the Community will be very complicated and difficult. Likewise for us—this has perhaps become even clearer since May—the call on resources that enlargement brings is again a major problem. I very much hope that the Foreign Secretary is right in saying that in the case of Mediterranean products we shall not repeat some of the follies that are still embarrassing us and making the Community's life extraordinarily difficult with regard to northern products. Although the economic side is difficult both for the applicant countries and for the Community, what is urgently required is not the economic answer but the political gain and assurance. It was, therefore, encouraging to find from the information that the Foreign Secretary gave that fairly early dates now seem in sight for membership of the Community by the three applicant States. I should be grateful if the Minister would confirm that by that the Foreign Secretary means membership with full political rights, in the same way as we and Denmark became members with full political rights at the beginning, and not at the end, of our transitional periods. This is obviously a very important point for the applicant countries. It would then be entirely reasonable and, I suppose, inevitable—although the Foreign Secretary did not spell this out—to have rather long transitional periods to cope with the economic problems. There could, perhaps, be transitional periods without absolutely fixed dates. We had a rigid series of dates by which we moved to A, to B, to C. There may be a case for having a more flexible arrangement by which dates can be altered by agreement if need be. I see the dangers of that, but I should be grateful if the Minister would touch on the matter when he replies. Some of my hon. Friends, some people in the Community and perhaps some in the Commission itself are worried that enlargement to 12 will slow down the impetus of the Community of nine. of course it will. There is no point in being mealy-mouthed about this. But it is encouraging to find that the applicant States are obviously keen to make a go of it. They themselves do not want to slow down the impetus. As the Foreign Secretary said, it is simply that the Community will have to change. To some extent this will mean thinking afresh about problems to which we have not already found satisfactory answers. Therefore, it will not be entirely new thinking. It will be thinking which we would have had to do anyway, because some of the ways in which the Community institutions are at present functioning are not satisfactory.
Since my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary did not give any specific proposals for amending the CAP, will the hon. Gentleman—who speaks on behalf of the Conservative Opposition—say what a Conservative Government would do by way of specific amendments to the CAP?
Not today because it would not be in order for me or the Secretary of State to do so, but I hope to touch on that aspect tomorrow. I was expressing the hope, with which I think the hon. Gentleman will agree, that it could not be sensible to repeat, with Mediterranean products, the full panoply of intervention and relatively high prices, fixed year by year, which has caused so much difficulty for dairy products.Whatever side of the argument we are on, we on the Opposition Benches, and the House as a whole, have pressed throughout these European debates that the Community has to live in a world wider than its own boundaries. From time to time tests present themselves, propositions arise and there are moments when that conviction, which we all express in terms of rhetoric, has to be tested in terms of practice. It is a test of energy and imagination, and it is a little difficult for this country to summon up those virtues in respect of Europe at the moment. The applications and the proposal for enlargement are such a test, and the passing of that test by the Community should be high among the priorities of Europe.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am in some difficulty in relation to a document that we are considering. It is a letter dated 19th May 1978 from the Commission of the European Communities, signed by Mr. Natali. It is document no. S/911/78. I wish to draw your attention to the fact that nearly half the document—about 30 pages—is in French. The section is headed "Liste des tableaux" which, I presume, is a list of tables. The verbiage used in the list is most complex and difficult to understand.I should like you to consider this important point, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I fail to see how the House can properly consider the matter unless the document is translated, as it should be under the terms of an earlier instruction of the House.
I heard what the hon. Gentleman said, but I must tell him that the presentation of the documents to the House was properly moved. The subject matter is no concern of the Chair.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Does your ruling mean that if we are to consider French documents we may speak French in the Chamber? That is the logic of your ruling. Si c'est possible, je vais le faire.
Order. That may appear to be the logic, but making a speech in French is not in order.
It might be a good idea if, before speaking French, some hon. Members spoke English. That would help us considerably.I am not opposing the applications of Portugal, Greece and Spain. We have to look at developments in those countries with gratification. Only a short while ago, they were under Right-wing, Fascist dictatorships with no free trade unions or political parties. I wish that Conservative Members would understand that I am as opposed to the dictatorship of the Soviet Union as I am to Fascist countries. We are talking about three countries which were under Right-wing, Fascist-type dictatorships. That does not mean that one automatically supports the type of anti-democratic dictatorial regime that exists in so-called Left-wing dictatorships in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. If some Conservative Members would express their detestation of Right-wing dictatorships as strongly as some of my hon. Friends express their opposition to so-called Left-wing dictatorships, it would be good for democracy in this country. There can be no double standards on dictatorship versus democracy. It is regrettable that we have to say this so often before it penetrates the minds of certain Conservative Members. It is important that we should recognise the tremendous changes that have taken place in the three countries with which we are concerned, particularly in Spain and Portugal. It is also gratifying that the dictatorships in Spain and Portugal were removed without violent revolution. There was physical violence in the colonial countries of Portugal, but, while the military brought about a fundamental change in Portugal itself, there was little violence other than that which is inevitable when such fundamental changes take place. As a democratic country with a democratic Socialist Government, we have to concern ourselves with the maintenance and development of democracy in those countries in order to sustain them against anti-democratic forces of the Right or the Left. It is important that we should declare our support in principle for the applications of those countries. That does not mean that I am now a Common Marketeer, but I believe in democracy and it is right for us to help those countries in every possible way. The point has been clearly underlined by an old associate of mine from many years back, Antonio Giolitti, who says in his report to the President of the Council of the European Communities:
I welcome that because it is much in line with the concept of the Labour Party conference of a looser type of Common Market rather than the bureaucratic structure which was designed for six countries and was changed only slightly when the Community grew to nine members. Obviously it will have to change much more when it has 12 members and, since that will be in line with the thinking of my party, I welcome that development and favour enlargement for the reasons spelt out by Antonio Giolitti. It is clear that there are major problems to be faced by the Common Market. In the very long document submitted by Mr. Giolitti, the section on agriculture says:"The Community will find itself less homogeneous as a result of the different political, economic and social structures of the new members, and this will make it more difficult to reach joint decisions and apply them properly."
"The Mediterranean area is by no means homogeneous as regards physical characteristics but in addition to its characteristic climate it does have a number of common structural problems. In general, cultivation methods are labour-intensive, productivity per worker is low, average farm size is very small in comparison with the average size of northern European farms and underemployment is widespread. Lack of irrigation is also a problem in many areas.
Let us see precisely where we stand. I might well have reservations about some parts of the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at the Guildhall last night, but the parts dealing with the common agricultural policy were first-class. It is nice to find the Prime Minister and my Front Bench catching up with what some of us have been saying for a long time. I always think that there is room for conversion on the road to Rome and that any sinner that repenteth is worth taking to one's bosom. It is nice to think that my right hon. Friend and others of my right hon. and hon. Friends are coming round to a view that some of us have held very strongly. I should like to make an aside—I almost said "snide comment"—on this matter: what price our renegotiation of the CAP when we were coming up to the referendum? We were told then that the CAP had been renegotiated. Some of us said at the time that it was very difficult for us to see where it had been renegotiated. We know now that the renegotiation of the CAP was in the main a con. I have said that we must welcome the three new countries into the Common Market for the political reasons that I have advanced. But their entry will intensify our agricultural problems. Where will our contribution end unless there is a fundamental change in the renegotiated terms?Enlargement would bring into the Community three countries where agricultural accounts for a very important part of total economic activity. The number of persons engaged in agriculture in an enlarged Community context would, in fact, be more than doubled".
My hon. Friend says that he is arguing the political case for enlargement, which I fully support. Are he and his friends therefore prepared to accept the economic logic of their position?
I was coming to that. I have never argued that I am opposed to European unity. I think that my hon. Friend will grant me that. I have never been opposed to the Common Market on the grounds that we have to associate with Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, Belgians, Dutch, Danes and so on. I have always been in favour of an integrated, Socialist Europe, and I still am. I believe that Europe's future must be along the lines of a Socialist Europe big enough to counteract the unmitigatedly disastrous free market economy in the United States, on the one hand, and the bureaucratically controlled economy in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, on the other.I have always argued that. What I argued when we came to enter the Common Market—for me this was the determining factor—was that the terms of our entry into a market dominated by the Treaty of Rome involved, first, an acceptance of a free market economy based upon that Treaty and, secondly, and I think more important, that the terms were such that our people would suffer tremendous burdens because of entry.
Would not my hon. Friend agree that there is a distinct link between the needs of peasant and subsistence agriculture in the Mediterranean and the policy apparently involved in the CAP? Does he agree that there is not an agricultural policy worthy of the name, because article 64 of the Treaty is really an agricultural produce prices policy, which will do little to sustain the human fabric of those rural areas in the South? Does my hon. Friend accept that unless that policy is changed it could well, instead of aiding their democracy, fuel social discontent if article 64 remains unamended?
I think that my hon. Friend has put the point better than I would have. I do not disagree at all.The CAP is not a genuine agricultural policy. That is the whole point. What are we to do? The Labour Party conference this year and last year, and certainly the Labour Party itself, based on the letter from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to Ron Hayward, have made it clear that there should be a fundamental renegotiation of the CAP. What I am concerned about is that we said that more than a year ago, and it is true. I accept what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said, that a stand has been made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food—up to a point. But what happens is that one is pressurised by Common Market colleagues. One makes a stand up to a point, and then the bargaining begins. One gives way on this in order to gain on that. One gains a little and loses a lot. That is what has been happening. The time has come to stop that kind of bargaining. We must bluntly tell the Common Market countries, our partners, that we shall adopt the type of policy that was adopted by General de Gaulle and the French. We can learn from what some of our Common Market colleagues did in the past. I was on the Council of Europe when the French had what they called the vacant chair policy. I believed that when we were carrying through our renegotiation we should have had a vacant chair policy instead of participating. I hope that I am not giving away official secrets if I say that I sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister at the time urging that policy. My suggestion was not adopted. One does not always win, but a few years later one finds that people think that one's idea might have been good. If we had adopted that suggestion we should not have been in the position that the Prime Minister described last night at the Guildhall. But it is not too late. We can adopt that policy now. We can say to our colleagues in the Common Market "We shall not participate in the work of the market until there are fundamental changes along the lines that we propose." That brings me to my final point. If we do not have those fundamental changes, what shall we do? My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary says that it would be wrong to threaten to leave the Common Market. I remember a trade union official who once told me before going into some wage negotiations "I have both hands tied behind my back. The ground has been cut away from beneath my feet, and I feel like a blindfolded man." I said "Then there is not much point in going in, is there? You do not have much to negotiate on if you are in that condition." To some extent, we have been in that condition in our discussion with the Common Market. In such a case as that and in this present case, one has only one strength. In the case of the trade union, it is to say "If you do not negotiate within reasonable limits for what we want, we shall have to consider withdrawing our labour." In the present case, all that we can say is "If you are not prepared to change the agricultural system fundamentally and in the process help the countries in the Mediterranean area because they need assistance with their agriculture, we shall consider negotiating ourselves out of the Common Market and withdrawing." That is what we have to say quite clearly, and, although I support the applications in principle, I think that we are at the crossroads. It was highlighted last night by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. On that basis, we have to be clear about where we go from now.
If the Foreign Secretary had still been here I would have apologised for missing the beginning of his speech. In any event, I did not intend to speak on this subject today and in view of that I shall not detain the House for very long. However, I wanted to ask the- Foreign Secretary two questions.I am sure that we are all delighted at the stance that the right hon. Gentleman has taken about the enlargement of the Community, not just on political grounds but on much wider ones. We must encourage the growth of democratic societies. The democratic countries are in a small minority in the world. Of 170 nations, about 25 are democratic. This is the Western ideal of good government, and anything that we can do to encourage the growth of democratic, pluralistic, parliamentary Governments should be done. One of the greatest ways to encourage that is to enlarge the Community, bearing in mind especially that although we talk about the European Economic Community, Europe is a much bigger entity than just the Nine, the 12, the 14, or whatever it may be, and that we should look much wider than that to embracing eventually the whole of Europe in it. If the Foreign Secretary had been present, I should have liked to ask him to explain the criteria used in selecting the timetable for the admittance of the various countries. As I understand it, the timetable is that Greece comes in first, Portugal second, and Spain third. I do not know the criteria that have been used to make Spain come last in that admittance. I want also to support what my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) said a moment ago, that in talking about the admittance of those three countries we should never forget the claim of Turkey eventually to be admitted to the Common Market on defence, political and all sorts of other grounds. We should not make a false step by appearing to be pro-Greece and anti-Turkey, or pro-Turkey and anti-Greece. It is very important that we should understand that. I know from talks that I have had with Turks that they do not think that they are yet in a position even to apply for membership. However, they very much want us to extend a hand of friendship to them and to hold out the idea that they will be admitted as soon as their economy can stand the strain of coming in. The much more pertinent question that I wanted to ask the Foreign Secretary is somewhat on the lines of what the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said. The Foreign Secretary made a very constructive speech, which will not have displeased either side of the House. However, he dodged some of the major issues, one of which concerns the position of the European Economic Community after direct elections. I agree with the hon. Member for Walton that the common agricultural policy simply cannot be allowed to continue along the lines which it has followed to date, giving two or three countries enormous aid. I do not blame the constituent Six of the Common Market for it; I blame this country for being slow to get into the Common Market. I cannot conceive that had we joined the talks—
The hon. Member criticises this country for not joining the Common Market at the date of its inception, but is he aware that when Britain made application, to join General de Gaulle vetoed our application until, of course, the French people had obtained a common agricultural policy? Then France gave the word to allow Britain to enter. But that was too late.
I agree with the hon. Member. However, if I may go back a little in history, in.1955 I was one of the signatories to a motion on the Order Paper of this House urging the then Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Macmillan, to join the talks that led to the Treaty of Rome. Had he done so, and had we been present at the formation of the EEC, I think that the common agricultural policy would not have been framed as it has been, which undoubtedly has been to the advantage of French and German agriculture. I do not disagree with the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Spriggs); my point is that having formed it themselves they formed it for their own interests, and it is our fault that we were not there to form it in another way.I hope that we shall soon have another chance. Next year we shall have direct elections. It would have been interesting to hear from the Foreign Secretary whether he felt that the role of the three bodies was likely to change drastically. We have the European Parliament, with very few powers at the moment. We have the Council of Ministers, which makes the final decisions. The initiation of all policies comes from the Commissioners. This is tantamount to saying that in this country the Treasury and the Civil Service get out the policy for the Government, it is discussed without any powers by this House, and then the Ministers have the right of veto or the right to suggest changes. That is exactly the present position in Europe. In my view, we should make it clear that when we hold direct elections, we ourselves have the right to go to the basis of the EEC and question these three institutions and the powers that have been given to them. It may not be popular with the EEC to think that from the word "go" we shall be trying to change some of its institutions and their powers. However, I do not think that the questions that the hon. Member for Walton asked can be raised, because in my view we should never threaten to get out if we do not get what we want. We are just as good at bargaining as is anyone else. Once we have direct elections to the European Parliament, we can make our voice heard and, we hope, get others to see our point of view and in a democratic way progress along these lines. But to threaten to leave the EEC just because it does not do exactly what we tell it is not the right approach. It would be very counter-productive in Europe if we took that stance. We are already accused of beginning to take that stance. I do not think that we should do that in an international organisation of this kind. Those are the two matters about which I should like to hear more. In my view,