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Extended Meaning Of "The Treaties" And "The Community Treaties"

Volume 973: debated on Wednesday 14 November 1979

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5.6 pm

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

I assume that I may address myself, Mr. Weatherill, to the amendment that stands in my name and that of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

The amendment is not selected. The hon. Lady may draw attention to it while debating "clause 1 stand part", but not address herself to it.

I am grateful for that helpful remark, Mr. Weatherill. One of the joys of parliamentary life is that one is eternally having these little disappointments.

It is an important Bill and the Government have drawn it extremely narrowly. I must ask you, Mr. Weatherill, to consider some of the implications. One of the difficulties that we have encountered in the House of Commons since we entered the Community is that there does not seem to be an efficient way of informing ourselves about the details of the many negotiations that take place in Brussels.

The most important plank of Community policy is agriculture. With its subsidiary budget, it takes about 80 per cent. of the money available. The enlargement of the Community by three new largely agriculture-based economies must have a direct effect upon the budget. Since we entered the Community it has become the custom, a good one, for Ministers to come to the House of Commons to report on the negotiations that have taken place in the Council of Ministers, and in many instances directly with the Commission. However, even Conservative hon. Members would not suggest that the machinery is in any way efficient. On many occasions I have taken part in debates, with not only the present Government but previous Governments, about important subjects that were to be decided finally in the Council of Ministers. Governments take note of the opinion of the House of Commons but often take decisions in Brussels without reporting back on subsequent developments.

The amendment, which unfortunately has has not been selected, was aimed at giving the Government the opportunity to come to the House of Commons annually to report on not only the existing budget of the Community but, for example, on the effect of the accession of Greece. It would give them the specific chance to explain in detail what is happening. We are at a stage in the Community's development which some of us believe to be crucial. Will it continue to rush at great speed to the hour when all of the money runs out, or will it begin to discuss in a sensible manner how it may be funded in future? If it is, the accession of the new States must be a great element in the decisions that are taken about future financing.

The Government have been astonishingly modest in the amount of information that they have given the House of Commons about the effect of Greek accession. We have made it plain that we welcome countries such as Greece into the Community. We believe that it is essential for the maintenance of democracy in the battered State of Greece that it be allowed to accede if that is what the Greek people require. However, it is obvious from the papers that have been produced by the Commission that the effect on the budget will be considerable.

It appears from the Commission papers that it is suggested that Greece should have a long period of accession, and that during that period it should be guaranteed a certain amount of financial support. It is obvious that Greece will expect from the guarantee funds, for example, considerable transfers of moneys. It will require assistance with its infrastructure. It will certainly require assistance with irrigation. If it is to modernise its existing farm system, it will expect the same sort of support as farmers in the north have been receiving from the Community.

There has been no indication from the Government that they are even prepared to debate in the Chamber the effect that Greek accession will have on the Community budget and the moneys that will be available for Greece. There is no existing machinery for the transfer of large sums from the so-called richer nations to the poorer nations in the Community. It may be said that the regional fund and the social fund should be used to change any imbalance, but those of us who have spent some years sitting in the European Parliament have learnt to our considerable distress that the machinery for transferring such sums is unwieldy and slow-moving. It has only small sums at its disposal.

Order. I hope that I have not misled the hon. Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody). The Committee is debating "clause 1 stand part". I have not selected amendment No. 1. The hon. Lady's remarks seem to relate rather more to new clause 1, which I have selected. That clause will be taken after we have disposed of the motions that clauses 1 and 2 stand part of the Bill.

I stand corrected, Mr. Weatherill. I shall try to be a better girl in future.

Greek accession must automatically change the entire composition of the Community. The changes that it brings about must perforce affect Great Britain. If I may, I shall address myself to those changes.

The agriculture budget will inevitably be increased. Are we to see in Dublin the Prime Minister's boasts that she is demanding a broad balance carried out, or are we to have a climb-down and discover that the budget will become larger and that Britain's contribution will remain disproportionately large? If that is so, I think that the Minister has a great deal of explaining to do in Committee.

When Greece becomes a member of the Community, it will have a number of changes to make. Are we to see changes that will enable the system of State aids to continue? At present, Greece supports many of its most sensitive State industries. It supports shipbuilding. That is not a State industry, but it receives assistance. The Greek Government also support the textile industry. The British Government have been silent on the implications for British textile workers following Greek accession. These are sensitive subjects. There are not many trade barriers between Britain and Greece, but are the Government convinced that the long-term and even the short-term safeguards for our workers in the textile industry are sufficient to protect them in future? We seek the Government's view on these issues. There has been little indication of what will happen.

5.15 pm

Under the Treaty the effect of Greek accession must inevitably change the institutions of the Community. That will be tremendously important. What is to happen about languages? There has been a clear indication over a number of years that the cacophony of sounds created by instant translation makes life in the Community virtually impossible for those who are trying to communicate. Following Greek accession, it seems that we shall have even more interpreters and translators.

The institutions of the Community are already hardly the epitome of rapid decision-making processes. However, they are to bear an extra burden. Will there be a change in the number of Commissioners? If Britain reduces the number of Commissioners that it sends to Brussels, how is that to be arranged and what will be the effect on the machinery of the Commission? All these issues have been ignored by the Minister.

The Government have not told us what they imagine will come about as a result of the accession of Greece. I am disturbed that there has been no reiteration of the implications of the Copenhagen declaration. We are part of a multination Community. If by some dreadful mischance one member of the Community should cease to support a democratic system and should cease to take care of the human rights of the people inside that country, surely the declaration will apply. Surely it will apply to both old and new members of the Community. The Opposition would like to see it stressed by the House of Commons and by Her Majesty's Government that it is vital that new and old members maintain, adhere to, and understand the need for, human rights for all citizens of the Community.

There have been a number of Amnesty reports about the situation inside Greece. The reports have given rise to fears about some past practices in Greece. We all pray that they have now totally disappeared. However, I have received a number of letters from Greek citizens about human rights in Greece. These letters ask Her Majesty's Government to ensure that the subject is not lost sight of in the negotiations that must take place to allow Greece to enter the Community I give the Government a small but important example. Jehovah's Witnesses in Greece, as the Minister undoubtedly knows, are suffering considerably because they are not prepared to join the Armed Forces. In many instances, they are given extremely long prison sentences. When they leave prison, they are offered their call-up papers at the prison gates. When they refuse to accept them, the process starts all over again. It is important in the countries of the Community that religious freedom and political freedom should remain a part of our heritage. Britain has a special responsibility to draw the attention of all member States, and all new member States, to the essential aspect that those freedoms must play in a democratic organisation.

In terms of the entire agriculture industry, Greece is a tiny country. Many of its farms are small. A disproportionate number of Greeks are involved in agriculture. It produces products that are already sensitive in the Community. It is obvious that those products will add to the surpluses. I am not sure that even the Greeks have understood the extent to which their accession will affect their balance of payments problems. Greece, like Britain, imports certain basic commodities that are part of the common agricultural policy. Greece exports commodities as to which it will not necessarily benefit from the common agricultural policy.

Greece may find the need to renegotiate some points of agricultural policy after entry into the Community. Our long experience shows the inefficacy of such a move. I hope that these matters will be borne in mind in discussions about the agricultural budget and all aspects of the payments. At present the figures in the budget show that the split between north and south in the Community is a real one. In the north, there is support for farmers producing milk, cereals and products of a temperate zone. Although a Mediterranean plan has been started by the Community, the assistance going to sensitive products like wine, olive oil, fruit and early vegetables is minimal in comparison with the amount spent on milk. This inevitably means a long transition period for Greece in those products of her own that are extremely sensitive. It will be a seven-year period, we are told, for commodities such as peaches.

At the same time, Greece will have to accept Community laws in matters such as free movement of capital. This means that multinational companies will be able to go into Greece, set up industrial units and benefit from what they see as a low wage economy and move their capital freely backwards and forwards. The political implications of such arrangements for Greece may be considerable.

The extension of the Community should be welcomed, not least for the fact that it provides an opportunity to examine the existing machinery to see where it has been going wrong and how it needs to be changed. Her Majesty's Opposition have never made any secret of the fact that they regard the existing European agricultural policy as totally inequitable and unacceptable. There have been a great many emotive statements since this Government took office which directly contradict the view they took before the election. Any criticism of the Community's agricultural policy by the previous Labour Government was treated by Conservative Members as proof of the fact that we were bad Europeans. It is interesting that the Conservative Government have changed their view so radically in such a short time. But we welcome their conversion.

We believe that the agricultural policy and the Community budget are the most sensitive and important matters to be decided. Finn Gundelach made clear over 18 months ago that this monster was eating up the substance of the Community and the substance of the agricultural budget, leaving nothing for those aspects of Community policy that many would like to have seen developed.

What will be the effect of the accession of a new nation? Will there be a new transitional fund? Will there be a new mechanism for moving moneys from the Community into those areas most desperately in need? If so, what will be the cost? Whatever the future of the Community, and however great the pressures put on the new member States, a stable EEC can be maintained only if there is a degree of fairness between one country and another. That fairness must not exist simply between north and south. It must exist between those who are rich and those who are less rich. Until that balance is achieved, the Conservative Government will be failing in their duty if they do not spell out the implications of the changes that are to take place.

The size of attendance in the Committee fails to reflect the importance of this matter. I would like to associate myself with many of the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody), although we took a different view on the accession of Britain to the Community. I am glad that the circumstances allow us to talk, not stridently and not vituperatively, but quietly and seriously, to Foreign Office Ministers.

I wonder whether the Community has fully tumbled to what it is trying to chew off, if that is the right expression, in terms of enlargement. At this time last year I attended a lecture by Guido Brunner, the Energy Commissioner, at Heriot-Watt university, just outside my constituency. Talking about the enlargement of the Community to include Greece, Portugal and Spain, he said:
"To me this is an exciting challenge. We owe a duty to the new democracies of southern Europe. There will, of course, be problems. The British are already uneasy about the CAP. I cannot say that its workings will be made easier by the addition of large quantities of Mediterranean produce. There is also the problem of regional imbalances."
This was a speech by a very intelligent and concerned Commissioner. He went on:
"We have to admit that in the 20 years of the existence of the Community, it has made little progress in ironing out regional disparities in terms of employment, productivity and incomes. The man in Hamburg still earns six times more than the man in Palermo and this gap may get worse with enlargement. Just to quote a few figures; income per head in Portugal is only 32 per cent. of the Community average; in Greece, it is 44 per cent.; and in Spain, 54 per cent."
This is the rub. Commissioner Brunner went on:
"Enlargement will increase the Community's GNP by 10 per cent., but the population will grow by 20 per cent., and there will be 50 per cent. more farmers."
Something has to give. I do not object to the endless statements from the Minister of Agriculture and other Ministers—it is proper that they should come to the House to make them—but I wonder how many people, in the build-up to the Dublin summit, have tumbled to the fact that far from solving the CAP problems the number of farmers will be increased by 50 per cent. One cannot, of course, contest the entry of embryo democracies such as Portugal and Spain. I agree with Commissioner Brunner that he was not quoting these figures as an argument against enlargement. He said:
"I give them to reveal the magnitude of the task before us. We must not ignore them, otherwise our efforts may be inadequate. It is a daunting challenge. We must prove equal to it."
I realise that there is no easy answer to a question that I would have put to my own Government I do not pose it, therefore, in any vituperative way. One is, however, entitled to ask Foreign Office Ministers about their thinking on the matter. Do we really understand precisely what we are letting ourselves in for? It may be said that we have to face the fact that income distribution will be no different. If that is the case, the Greek and Portuguese farmers and the Spanish peasants had better be told. That is not their understanding of the position.

I speak with some knowledge, having been a member of the European Parliament Greek Committee that went twice to Greece and held many meetings in Luxembourg and elsewhere. I am not making these remarks off the top of my head. It is an extremely difficult subject. It is not a subject on which I would want to try to score cheap points off any Government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe referred to the question of language, a matter of medium importance, which I raised in the previous debate on 30 October. I hope to be forgiven if I quote the letter that I received from the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 5 November, which referred to my contribution on 30 October. The hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) said:
"The new Member States will expect to have their languages added to the list of official languages of the Community. (As you know there are six at present: French, German, Italian, Dutch, Danish and English.) It is right that Ministers and other represenatives of each State should be able to speak in their native language when they wish to; and authentic texts of Community documents must, for purposes of legal implementation, exist in the administrative language of each Member State."
One can hardly gainsay that.

5.30 pm

The hon. Member went on:
"Within the limits imposed by these principles, we would be happy to see a rationalisation of the use of languages at working level. A good deal of the work of the Community is already carried out in a limited number of languages common to the participants in a particular meeting, without being rendered into all six. This is a question which the Report of the Three Wise Men"—
that is the former right hon. Member for Birkenhead, Mr. Edmund Dell, and his colleagues—
"on the machinery and procedures of the institutions is expected to touch on."
Can we have any interim guidelines from Mr. Dell and his colleagues? If so, can the Minister of State say anything about it? How are they expected to solve the problem? Unless one is firm on the question of language, the machinery that has built up becomes impossible. It is very easy to talk about how many translators there will be from Danish into Portuguese and from Greek into Danish. One could go on like that. Nevertheless, as those of us who have had the privilege of being Members of the European Assembly or Parliament, according to taste, for four years know, this is a factory for documentation. To put it mildly, the Commission is no better now.

Unless the amount of documentation is cut down, it rises at an exponential rate. There must be some understanding at an early stage of what should be done. I do not make too much of the Cyrillic alphabet, but during the discussions the Greeks said "So many of us understand English and French so well that it is really no problem" Did they mean that? Every Minister has a right to insist on speaking in his own language. On the other hand, there are many peripheral documents, and one must ask what we intend to do about this. If everyone insists on his rights, the whole thing will become hopelessly and completely unwieldy.

That is a minor matter. I asked another question during the previous debate, and I repeat it because it was not answered. What will be the institutional effect of entry? One can understand that the Commission and Commissioner setups worked quite well when there were six nations. It became more difficult when there were nine. But just spatchcocking in three extra Commissioners because there are more States does not seem to me to be a sensible way of trying to build an efficient organisation. It might be better to go back to the drawing board.

For example, when people design aircraft they do not exactly add extra weight to an existing machine in order to make it bigger. Equally, it may not be all right to try to build on to the existing administrative machine. [Interruption.] There is no point in asking questions of the Minister when he is engaging in a conversation with one of his hon. Friends. There is no point in trying to build on to the existing administrative machine something that may have been suitable on previous occasions. However, now that circumstances are qualitatively different it simply will not work.

If and when there is a Turkish application, which is not quite so fantastic as it might have seemed even a year ago, what happens then? We can hardly deny the Turks. The truth about the Turks is that they think that they have the worst of all possible worlds in their present association agreement. They want either full membership or Third world status. It is one or the other. They do not want to go on as they are doing at the present time. This has been made clear by the Turkish delegation that came to Luxembourg last year. A problem will arise in that respect. I am asking for the thoughts of the Minister of State on the way in which the Commission and, indeed, the Council of Ministers should operate, given the new circumstances.

I should like to refer briefly to the question of the European Parliament. It is an absurdity that this should be a peripatetic Parliament. I read in the press this morning that there was a debate in Strasbourg yester day to which Mrs. Clwyd and others contributed. Everyone seems to be passing the buck. The Commission says that it cannot comment on the costs of other institutions travelling around like a circus and being peripatetic. The Council of Ministers seems to indicate that it is not exactly its busines to do so. Therefore, I suppose that it comes back to the national Parliaments.

Those of us who had the experience of four years in the European Assembly, whatever our views on membership, are all united in the view that this is an expensive and inefficient way of operating. It drains not only Members but officials, who have to spend much of their time deciding who wants such-and-such a document for a particular committee. This is not a serious way of going about things. I do not think that even anti-Marketeers would wish to bring the Community into disrepute by having a peripatetic parliament or circus.

The entry of new partners gives us an opportunity to rethink the important question of the siting of the institutions, which is far more than a logistic issue. This is related to another matter of efficiency that I also raised last time but which was not commented upon. That is the whole question of the revolving presidency. I can imagine that there will soon be another British presidency. As I understand it, that president will probably work extremely hard and will spend about four months preparing for the presidency. He will work in that capacity for about three months, and the following three months will be spent on the hand-over. That is no way to do a job. It is no way to set about matters at all.

It is not only a question of Ministers changing. As we all know, in a democracy Ministers change as a result of elections or Cabinet shuffles. However, the more serious issue relates to the Civil Service. To have civil servants spending a lot of time preparing for something and spending the last two or three months preparing to hand over to someone else is a lunatic way of operating a serious institution. It is all the more lunatic when the Six expand to the Twelve and even the Thirteen.

I want to raise two technical points relating to the Select Committee on European legislation. First, I asked a question of the staff of that Committee about the complicated issue of the road haulage quota arrangements. Mr. Frank Clark tells me:
"So far as I can find out this has not yet been considered in any detail. It seems likely that what will in fact happen will be that the total quota will be increased to accommodate Greece in the same way as when the UK joined the Community but this has still to be negotiated."
These road haulage quota arrangements have given enough trouble at this end of the Community. Heaven knows what kind of trouble will arise at the other end, because the Greeks seem to operate a very different system. When one actually tackles them about this, there is complete vagueness. When the Greek Government discover that they will have to accede to this kind of regulation, they may have many of the troubles that we have had here.

Let us look, for instance, at the road haulage regulations. I do not know whether there is anyone on the Front Bench who has knowledge of this subject, but if not I would be willing to accept a letter. When I am told that all these matters are still to be negotiated, it seems to me that there are many vital matters that have been left rather vague. I put it in a general sense: are there many outstanding matters that are still vague?

Finally, I asked whether the instrument regarding Commission participation in the United Nations Organisation discussions would be relevant, and Mr. P. D. Brittain, of the staff, went into it on my behalf. He wrote to me:
"In my view, the immediate question whether a Commission competence in a limited field (the Intergovernmental Working Party of Experts in International Standards of Accounting and Reporting) would have a very narrow application to the Greek situation. In the long term, Greece will inherit the Community legislation on Company Law that could be affected by the Commission proposal.
In the meantime, she is, presumably, free to be a candidate in her own right for membership of the Working Group concerned."
On the whole question of company law I ask again, do the Greek companies, not least the Greek shipping companies, really understand and comprehend precisely what they are letting themselves in for? If the Minister tells me that all this has been gone into in great detail in the negotiations, that all the spadework has been done by Mr. Natali and his colleagues, I will accept it. But I think it is worth asking from the Opposition Benches how much outstanding business remains in these negotiations.

. I gather that the Opposition Front Bench will not be voting on this clause. Though the Opposition may reasonably wish to express criticism of the EEC, as the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has done, and invite explanations and point out various difficulties that will arise, I profoundly hope that, having reflected on the matters, they will not press to a vote the new clause to be debated later or vote against clause 1.

I say that because this country is the first to pass legislation to approve the accession of Greece as a new member of the Community. I know full well that His Excellency the Greek Ambassador and Greek Ministers and Members of Parliament recognise that what we are discussing is not intended to be an insult to or an attack upon Greece. It may well be argued that the Greeks are—as, indeed, they are—a highly sophisticated nation with an undoubtedly deep understanding of politics. But in the light of yesterday's debate, which happily ended with the result that the Greek external services of the BBC will continue, the words that we express tonight will be of much greater interest in Greece than they will be here. Every word that we say on this matter tonight will reach the Greeks.

The message that I want to go out from the House of Commons—it undoubtedly goes out from the whole Conservative Party and the Government—is that we are the first country to seek to secure that the accession of Greece meets with the approbation of the British people. I should like to be able to say that for Britain as a whole.

I know there are many on the Opposition Back Benches who share the view that I have expressed—some have served with me in the British-Greek parliamentary group. Many of them have been to Greece and recognise the immeasurably improved diplomatic and economic relations that have developed in recent years between Britain and Greece since Mr. Karamanlis again became Prime Minister. At that time, relations between the two countries were absolutely appalling. It was at the height of our difficulties with Cyprus.

5.45 pm

At that time, there was intense criticism of the approach of the then Labour Government and their policies in relation to Greece and Turkey. All that was overhauled. As a result of the different approach of the leaders of the Labour Party in recent years, we achieved a united approach in our attitude to Greece, both in terms of trade and in diplomacy generally. As a consequence, relations have much improved.

If this matter is carried to a Division and the Labour Opposition vote against the Bill, their action is bound to be misunderstood by the people of Greece. I ask the Labour Party not to do that. I know that there are many on the Opposition Benches who say that there should not be a vote tonight on anything that could in any way reflect upon the accession of Greece.

It is true that there is a general view among many hon. Members of the House, and among many people in the country, that there should not be the burden of additional expenditure for the EEC. An amendment was tabled that has not been called. I would have argued that that amendment was out of order anyway, but it sought to argue that there should be no increase in the total budget of the Community as a result of the accession of the Hellenic Republic. Whether the amendment is out of order or not, it is a fact of life that we, as Members of the House, cannot possibly control the budget of the EEC or influence whether that budget may, for a variety of reasons, be increased.

One thing that is fairly obvious is that if one, two, or, possibly, three other nations join the EEC it is inevitable that the budget must increase to take account of the advantages that those countries may or may not enjoy.

Order. In view of what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, I hope that he will not address himself to an amendment that he thinks is out of order and that I have not selected.

As I pointed out, Mr. Weatherill, it is both out of order and has not been selected. What I am pointing out is that the raison d'être for the present debate is that there are those who do not share my approach, which is pro-Community, and who spend all their time at present attacking the EEC budget on ally pretext. One of the ways to attack the budget is to say that the accession of a new nation to the Community means an inevitable increase in the budget. I was venturing to point out that that is one of the arguments that led to an unselected amendment to which I made reference only en passant.

The reality of the situation is that Greece must understand that there are those who are opposed to the entry of Greece into the EEC. Indeed, Mr. Papandreou is opposed to it. For that reason I am speaking for the benefit of the people of Greece as opposed to those in Great Britain. There are those who are still bitterly opposed to Great Britain's remaining one of the EEC partners. All those people are entitled to criticise and to say "Well, we are paying far too much money to the EEC." Our own Prime Minister has made it plain that that is the view that the Government take, as, indeed, do many Members throughout the House.

That having been said, I do not think that it is either appropriate or fair to try to build on the suggestion that Greece, therefore, should not become a member because that might increase the overall cost.

We should seek to give the maximum possible support to this measure. We should strongly urge those in the Labour Party who do not wish in any way to reduce the opportunities of Greece to join in as one of our partners to give this measure their welcome and to make plain, in anything that they say from now on, that it is not intended to reflect upon Greek entry. We should also make it abundantly clear that the House of Commons has no intention whatever of voting against the Third Reading or expressing a view on something to which neither the Left nor the Right of the Labour Party, nor the whole of the Conservative Benches, has hitherto been opposed. I hope that the measure will pass with our warmest support to our friends and colleagues.

I fully support the substance of the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody) that the accession of Greece and the two Iberian countries to the Community will have the most significant effects for us in Britain and for the Community. However, I follow what the hon. and learned Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) said—that it would be quite wrong if any decision were to be made here to vote against the accession for quite extraneous reasons. I am confident that there will be broad all-party support for the accession of Greece to the Community. Indeed, I could not support new clause 1 or new clause 2, for reasons that I shall outline, although basically I follow the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe.

My guiding principle is that we either accept the fact of Greek accession or we do not. Whatever the arguments for and against that accession—they have been ventilated in previous debates in this Chamber—we have to come to terms with the fact that we are beyond the point of no return and that Greece will become a member of the Community. If we accept that, we must do so, and be seen to do so in Greece and elsewhere, wholeheartedly and without reserve, in no way giving the impression that Greece will be put under greater scrutiny than any existing member of the Community or that she might be regarded in any way as other than a full member of the Community.

I say in passing that my view is that Britain as a whole has not taken on board the full implications of enlargement, including the accession of Greece, and much will be against our own economic interests. Indeed, it could plausibly be argued that the accession of Greece will have a destabilising effect on Greece itself, because of the considerable internal opposition to accession from PASOK, and it could have a destabilising effect on the eastern Mediterranean because of relationships with Turkey.

As my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) said, the accession will probably have major effects which have not yet been fully thought through by this country or the Community on the machinery of the Community. I shall not detail the technical points that my hon. Friend made relating to language, interpretation and the Com missioners. However, it will clearly be important also for the budget. We know that there will be a major crisis in the budget in the near future, in any event. If it is unlikely that, say, the proportion of the budget devoted to regional aids will be increased, that, on any basis of fairness, must mean that less cash will be available for disadvantaged areas in Britain when one compares their economic health with that of disadvantaged areas of Greece.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian also set out the possibility, given this new opening to the south, of the development of olive oil lakes, as we have had with wine lakes, and the effects on United Kingdom industries such as shipbuilding and textiles. All those things, however important, are in this sense things of the past. They have been overridden because of the Government's view—and the Labour Party's view when in Opposition—that the accession of Greece must be accepted and welcomed for political reasons.

We know that a different EEC will emerge from enlargement. The vision of the founding fathers of the EEC, Jean Monet and his colleagues, an ever-closer union of the European peoples, will become that much less attainable as a result of the accession of these countries, whose economies are less powerful than our own. They will add further destabilising factors to Community development. But that development in itself, the fact of cohesion being much less attainable, will be welcomed by many people in Britain as being the sort of view of the Community that they had in any event and that is being brought about now as a result of these developments.

I return to the question whether we should have an audit of the effect on Britain of the accession of Greece, and no doubt similar demands in respect of Spain and Portugal. This would be to treat Greece differently. In any event, the information is available from Community sources. There is no case for treating Greece separately, as if it were an unwelcome addition to the Community. Greece will not be a second-class member; it will be a full member, as we are. To treat Greece in any other way would be seen symbolically by our friends in Greece as a most unfriendly act.

I certainly would not support either of the new clauses. I add my voice to those who, in spite of all the difficulties and the adverse economic consequences that we shall have to face, welcome Greece as a full member of the Community.

I endorse the views expressed so clearly by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) and the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson). I woud not wish to criticise those who have tabled the amendment. It is the business of Parliament to probe and to extract information from the Executive. Of course, we all know—

I was referring to the amendment in passing, Mr. Weatherill, but I take it that I am in order in addressing myself to the Question, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

But not to the amendment. Perhaps the hon. Member was not present at the start of the debate. The debate is on the Question, That the clause stand part of the Bill. Amendment No. 1 was not selected.

But surely, Mr. Weatherill, it is in order for me to say, in regard to the shape of the debate as a whole—whether or not amendments have been selected—that I do not wish in any way to criticise any hon. Members for tabling amendments which seek to extract information from the Executive.

I wanted to say that it would be extremely unfortunate if it were thought anywhere in Europe—and especially in Greece—that the debate reflects opposition to Greece's joining the Community. It would also be untrue.

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There are profound differences on some matters between the two sides of the Committee, but one of the happiest features recently in our relations with Greece has been the tremendous support given by hon. Members of all parties to the British-Greek group since the restoration of democracy in Greece. That group has endeavoured to establish close, cordial and developing relations between the two Parliaments and peoples, and Labour Members as well as Conservative Members have been conspicuous in that work. In earlier times, Mr. Weatherill, you showed deep interest in our work and can testify to what I say. It was no surprise, therefore, that almost 200 hon. Members, drawn from all parties, signed the early-day motion warmly welcoming the decision of the Greek Parliament to apply for membership.

I like to think that it is due to the efforts on both sides of the House of Commons that the Government have had second thoughts about cutting out the Greek language services of the BBC. In Greece there is immense interest in what is happening in this country and great warmth of feeling towards us. It would be a sad day if, as a result of the shape of this debate, the impression were given that there is any body of opinion in the British House of Commons hostile to Greek membership of the Community.

I say at once that I have sympathy with the view that there should be an annual appraisal of the effects of the Community budget, but the hon. Member for Swansea, East put the matter in clear perspective. Why pick on Greece? There is a financial crisis in the European Community, but that is no argument against Greek accession. I venture to think that the sooner we can weld together the democratic countries of Western Europe in close unity of function and purpose, the sooner we shall have institutions that reflect the needs and aspirations of its democratic peoples. The fact that there is an immediate financial crisis has no bearing on Greek accession.

I take the broader view. It was always sad that from the beginning our vision of Europe was limited. All the democratic countries of Western Europe should be together in the modern world, and I warmly welcome the Bill, which sets the seal of final approval by the British Parliament on Greek membership.

I hope that no message will go out from the House of Commons by word or vote which suggests to people in Greece, who are anxiously watching what we may say and decide, that there is any feeling of reservation about Greek membership. I believe that I speak for the vast majority of hon. Members in saying that, despite the budgetary difficulties which concern every member of the Community, the accession of Greece is a step forward. A Europe without Greece is unthinkable. We owe so much to the contribution of Greek culture to Western civilisation. I hope that the message will go out tonight that Parliament warmly welcomes the accession of Greece.

I have strong reservations about the accession of Greece. However, the accession of Greece, Spain and Portugal will have the beneficial effect of bringing the Cornmunity to a point where it will virtually break up, so I shall not express my opposition.

These glowing references to the Community are far from the truth. The economic ideal of the Community is free movement of labour and capital and not of working together, and that enables the evils of competition to decide which countries shall have which industry by driving the weaker ones out of existence.

Greece has a large textile industry. We want to work with countries throughout the world, but, as we constantly emphasise, the world does not end at the boundaries of the Common Market. We should go outside. The Common Market is comprised of nine countries, and there are over 30 in Europe. We want to work with them all.

I have reservations about clause 1 standing part of the Bill—and it forms the main part of it. I am particularly concerned about the effect of Greece's accession on the textile industry. I hope that the Commission will apply the multifibre arrangement and any transitional arrangements with greater vigour than hitherto because it has been singularly inert. The previous Labour Government spent much time and effort renegotiating the MFA in the hope that the EEC would apply it vigorously, as was indicated.

The British Textile Confederation circulated a draft letter to all hon. Members with textile constituencies. It said:
"Imports from the Mediterranean countries continue to be the weakest area of the EEC's textile policy, despite some limitations resulting from industry pressure. Restraint agreements have now been reached with Malta and Cyprus—but at the highest level of penetration yet achieved, and in breach of the global ceilings for the most sensitive products.
Greece and Spain have authorised the export to the UK market of larger quantities than the limits to which they had agreed."
If we approve the Bill, and if the clause stands part, will there be transitional arrangements to protect the United Kingdom textile industry; or will Greece be allowed immediate free movement of goods, to the enormous detriment of the British textile industry?

The British Textile Confederation gives a list of sensitive items. In category 3.2 we find woven pile fabrics, the country of origin of which is Greece. The quota ceiling for 1979 was 259 tonnes. Yet the imports between January and July totalled 512 tonnes—almost double the trigger level agreed by the EEC. That is not good enough.

When we talk in glowing terms of countries working together, we should recognise that a breach of international obligations of that sort puts people on the dole and has catastrophic consequences for industrial relations. We must be clear that arrangements of this sort must be undertaken properly. The EEC Commission must be more vigorous in the application of transitional arrangements.

In a research brief on the European Commission's general guidelines for a textile and clothing industry policy, the National Union of Dyers, Bleachers and Textile Workers points out on page 12:
"We feel that this move shows the lack of sincerity in the Commission's broad statement seeing the textile industry as essential to the Community, unless they intend it (the textile industry) to belong to the anticipated new member states such as Greece, Spain and Portugal. This possibility is not as remote as it may first appear. Only recently Greece has agreed to restrictions on its free movement of labour and agricultural goods on its accession in 1981. It would indeed be strange if it had nothing in exchange, and as its largest manufacturing industry is textiles, transitional provisions should also be agreed. But this does not seem to carry the political weight as does the prospect of Greek workers flooding into West Germany."
Therefore, West Germany has already made provision for the accession of Greece. I suspect that we have not. I suspect that in the usual way we shall obey the rules while every other country bends them to its own advantage.

The significance of this Bill is that it is not only sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which is blind to the problems of industry, and always has been, but is also sponsored by Ministers at the Departments of Trade and Industry, which means that they have set their seal on Greek accession. What else have they done about the products of Greece and the orderly marketing arrangements that they were talking about yesterday?

We do not want to see another Granada Television programme with stories from Greece rather like the one of 13 February 1979, which was entitled "The Shirt off our Backs". Statistics produced in that programme showed why 3,500 European clothing factories have shut in the last few years, throwing half a million people out of work. There must be some sort of parity of competition. That Granada programme talked about a woman called Jean Johnson, who has been a Stockport shirt machinist for 12 years. She is married, has three children, and earns £42 a week. In Hong Kong, 4,000 workers doing the same job get £27 a week each, while in Sri Lanka, Hema Pattirame, a girl working in a clothing factory leaves home at 4 am every day and gets back at 8 pm. She gets £2.50 a week—

Order. The hon. Member must understand that what goes on in Sri Lanka does not have great relevance to a Bill dealing with Greek accession to the European Community.

Then I shall try to point out the relevance, Mr. Weatherill. Having accepted that clause 1 should stand part of the Bill, we do not want to see future comparisons of that sort in a television programme which spotlights the differences in wages and working conditions between Greece and the United Kingdom when Greece has free circulation of textiles within the United Kingdom. Other hon. Members have pointed out that they wish to welcome Greece into the EEC without any inhibitions. I contend that, if that sort of programme is shown, it will cause deep resentment, contrary to the expressions of view that have been heard so far in the debate today. I am only sorry that the two new clauses were not incorporated in the Bill, because I feel that scrutiny of expenditure from the budget is important.

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Another important matter is the question of State aids. As it happens, textiles, footwear and clothing are the industries that have received most of the temporary employment subsidies. The European Commissioners stopped the last Labour Government from carrying on with TES and thus preserving vital jobs in the textile industry. In my constituency of Keighley, 2,000 jobs were supported by TES. Therefore, if State aids are to be warped in any way by Greece becoming a member of the EEC, we should know about it now and get the information from the Minister who is to reply to the debate.

The textile industries are vulnerable. This is causing concern. We have a modern wool and textile industry in this country, brought about by the wool industry reorganisation scheme, which was introduced by the last Conservative Government and developed by the Labour Government. Yet mills are still closing. In the first few months of this year, 6,000 jobs have been lost in Yorkshire and Humberside alone because of the advent of cheap imports. Greece is causing further concern to the British Textile Confederation, the wool textile delegation and the National Union of Dyers, Bleachers and Textile Workers, which deals with the wool and textile side.

In conclusion, I should point out that when the drum was being beaten for the referendum in 1975, when millions of pounds were being poured into a massive propaganda campaign, when the Eurofanatics, who were in a majority in the Cabinet of the then Government, failed deliberately to place any limit on expenditure, because that action benefited their side, the textile employers were saying that they wanted to get into the Common Market. It was a massive market in which they could do wonderfully well They would have a huge domestic market in which to sell their goods. The motor manufacturers and executives, with the exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-West (Mr. Robinson), were the same. Now it has all blown up in our faces. We have a massive balance of payments deficit with the Common Market, and that will continue.

Mr. Tom Hibbert, the chairman of the wool textile delegation, has pointed out that the wool textile employers actually supported the Common Market and inserted advertisements and messages about "jobs for the boys" in the newspapers. That has a rather sour ring about it now. Now that the EEC is being enlarged by Greece's accession, the message from Tom Hibbert is that the effect of the Common Market would appear to be so harmful that we should consider our position within it.

When this Bill is passed, the problems will not go away. We shall continue to hear concern expressed by the textile and other industries, and we shall not be able to exercise control over our own economy, investment, development and imports as long as we remain members of the EEC. By all means let clause 1 stand part of the Bill and let Greece and other countries come into the Community. This will help to erode this arrangement that is called the Common Market. Let us instead develop an arrangement whereby we meet equally as partners together, not only with other EEC countries but with those in the European Free Trade Area. Let us have a common negotiated trading arrangement. That is what the accession of Greece—and of Spain and Portugal—will ultimately mean.

The EEC will change as a result of the accession of Greece; and the supporters of the Bill know it. They are torn between two things. If they vote to keep Greece out of the Common Market, they will be denying what they call democratic rights—although there is not much democracy inside the EEC. Therefore, they are bound to accept the accession of Greece, but they know that the accession of countries with middle-range economies, such as Greece, will mean a radical change in the Common Market.

The accession of Greece will weaken and broaden the Community to a point where it will cease to be able to function as the political unit which the Eurofanatics on the Conservative Benches—and, alas, some Labour Members—would like to develop. We should keep the Common Market as a commercial trading organisation. I should like to see the Commission—with the Government prodding the Commission—make sure that Greece's accession does not bring dissension and grief because of the loss of jobs in the textile and other industries.

By all means, let clause 1 stand part of the Bill, but with the reservations that I have stated.

It is natural that Members from all parts of the Committee should seek an explanation of the Bill and of the whole question of Greek accession in the clause stand part debate. It is also right—I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Thanet, West (Mr. Rees-Davies) and my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) for putting the matter in its essential perspective—to consider the future relationship between Greece, the EEC and this country. Both my hon. Friends are well known in the House, and have been for years, for their work in developing friendship between Britain and Greece. I echo what they said.

If I catch the eye of the Chair on Third Reading, I should like to repeat succinctly the political reasons that led the Government to introduce the Bill. I should like now to concentrate on some of the points on which explanations are required.

It is natural that the hon. Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody) should concentrate on the Community budget. That is a matter on which the whole House of Commons needs to be vigilant. It is a major issue here, in the country and in Europe.

There are two major aspects. The first is that of our own contribution, which has been discussed over and over again in the House. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will carry our case to Dublin. The second related major factor is the total imbalance between what is sensible and what is nonsensical in the present level of spending on agriculture. The proportion is far too high for common sense.

Incidentally, in the interest of historical accuracy, I tell the hon. Lady that she should not say that we on this side of the Committee discovered these absurd and expensive elements only after the election. I could, though it would be tedious, refer her to dozens of speeches made by my right hon. and hon. Friends, and by myself, pointing out these absurdities. We feel that the previous Government were setting about correcting them in the wrong way. History will show which tactics are the most fruitful. That is an unending argument, and the hon. Lady should not distort the record before it is complete.

The imbalance of the CAP as a whole will not drift on. The policy will hit its ceiling—we do not know exactly when—and when that happens it will compel a rethink of the policy.

Greek accession is a minor factor in the budgetary argument. I agree with my hon. Friends and the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) that it would be wrong to give Greece the impression that we are laying the blame for present difficulties on Greek accession, or that we think that they would be aggravated by Greek accession. We estimate that the size of the agricultural budget will be increased by about 5 per cent. as a result of Greek accession. That is not a figure to be wholly ignored, but it is not a figure to be blown up as being responsible for the difficulties.

I should like to give a number of other up-to-date figures in advance of the discussion of new clause 1. They are slightly different from those given by the previous Government early last year. We estimate now that after all the transitional periods are complete Greece will be a net beneficiary of the Common Market to the extent of about £390 million a year. Under existing arrangements, that means that the British net contribution will be increased by about £65 million a year at the end of the transitional period. It is precisely these arrangements that we are seeking to change. We regard our proportion of the total as unfair.

I am giving figures under the existing arrangements. The cost will be less in earlier years, because the figures that I have given are for the years at the end of the transitional period. Obviously, in the earlier years Greece will be receiving less and paying less. For example, in the first year after accession the net cost to Britain will be between £5 million and £10 million.

I turn now to the point made by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) about textiles. The philosophy that he expounded about Europe contained many contradictions. First, we had the familiar cry that the concept of the Community was too small and too narrow with nine countries posing as Europe. He then used that argument against enlarging it to 10, and will no doubt use it in time against enlarging the Community further. The hon. Gentleman might say that even then the Community is too narrow and that the whole world should be in the Community.

Yet the hon. Gentleman went on to make a familiar case—I thought he made his case powerfully—for the protection of the British textile industry against the whole world. We had a thorough debate on that matter yesterday, and I refer him to the robust speech by my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade about the balance which any British Government have to keep between the legitimate interests of the textile industry and the legitimate interests of the British consumer. That is a real balance, and the consumer is becoming more conscious of it.

I do not wish to go back over that ground, except to say that, as regards Greece, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will draw the attention of the bodies whose declarations he read out to article 130 of the Treaty. That article lists action which can be taken by Community countries in the event of their industries being disrupted by imports from Greece during the transitional period. The article contains as reasonable an undertaking as can be given at this stage, short of telling Greece that we are so concerned about our textile industry that we shall slam the door in her face and not let her in.

I welcome the entry of Greece, Portugal and Spain into the EEC. Their membership will make a qualitative change to the Community, because the EEC is no longer just a rich man's club. Does not the hon. Gentleman see a contradiction in what we are doing? We have the possibility of free movement of labour from such countries as Greece and yet we showed earlier today that we are scared to death of allowing in any more workers from the Indian sub-continent.

The hon. Member spoke earlier this afternoon after the statement of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on immigration, and he will no doubt raise the matter again. I do not wish to be drawn into that discussion, though it is pertinent, and the hon. Gentleman has made his point.

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Both the hon. Member for Keighley and the hon. Member for Crewe referred to State aids. Here again, there is some confusion in their philosophy. The main discussion about State aids during the last Parliament resulted from the then Government's clinging to State aids. They said how wrong it was for the Commission to start undermining the marvellous process that we had in this country for sustaining jobs by State aids.

When we came into office, we found a whole series of rather excited arguments going on between the British Government and the Commission on these points. We are gradually and sensibly bringing those arguments to a close. Now we find that when it comes to Greece the hon. Lady is on the other side of the argument. She is now concerned to argue that it is very important that Greece should not be allowed the rights and privileges or the ability to have State aids, which Ministers in the last Government so closely embraced and so insisted on when it was on their side of the argument.

I must apologise if my inability to express myself in clear English is such that I did not make the hon. Gentleman understand. I have absolutely no objection to Greece's supporting those of her industries that are sensitive. Indeed, I wish that we had the same kind of protection. What I am worried about is that the Community is insisting that Greece should get rid of her existing supports. If nothing else, the hon. Gentleman must acquit me of being two-faced on this matter.

Then I must refer solely to the hon. Member for Keighley. I thought that the hon. Lady was on the same point, but I now understand that she was on a contradictory point. The hon. Gentleman was certainly anxious that the Greeks might be able to subsidise their textile industry and create unfair competition for British jobs.

I must enable the hon. Gentleman to grasp this point thoroughly. What I was saying was that the Commission should not expunge State aids from Greece in the same way as it forced us to get rid of temporary employment subsidy. What was valuable for this country should be permitted elsewhere in the Community.

But it is not sensible to have a competition in State aids through the Community. It simply leads to extravagance after extravagance. It is a con tinuing process, as each country feels compelled to match the State aids given by others. This is what has happened in practice. The philosophy of the Treaty in this matter is correct.

I am very interested in the Opposition's statement—I am sorry if I got it wrong originally—that they are now anxious that the Greeks should be able to subsidise their industries, including the textile industry, and that this right should not be impeded. It goes against the drift of the hon. Gentleman's argument.

As regards the provisions under the arrangements that we are now discussing for State aids, the Greeks on entering the Community will be subject to articles 92 and 93, which deal with State aids. Protocol No. 7 attached to the documents, which refers to the Greek Government's general industrial policy, says that their obligations under those articles will have to be weighed against the Community's endorsement of that policy.

That is an attempt in diplomatic language to state a balance, which I think on the whole the Committee would think reasonable, between the interests that the hon. Lady has just been talking about—the reasonable interests of a partly developing country such as Greece—and the Community's general concern not to allow a continuous auction of State aids, which, when exaggerated, could end in beggaring everybody.

The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), who I know must leave shortly, asked a number of important and serious questions, as did the hon. Lady, about the Community's institutions and the effect on them of Greek membership.

The hon. Gentleman dealt first with the problem of the tower of Babel, the problem of the burden on the Community and the confusion inside it created by the proportion of its resources, its time and its business involved simply in translating from one language into another. He quoted a letter that he had received from my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) which represented as much as we can say on the matter at present.

I am sure that all hon. Members grasp the essential points. First, a Minister or a Member of Parliament of a member State must be allowed to express himself in his own language. Secondly, a Greek farmer must have available in Greek the instruments of the Community that affect his livelihood. The hon. Gentleman did not dispute either of those points, but they add substantially to the problem of the tower of Babel.

Within those two clear needs, we should like to see some rationalisation, a commonsense approach to the question of how often there must be full deployment of all the languages. The problem is now being examined. The report of the Three Wise Men, including Mr. Dell, will be before the summit meeting in Dublin, but I doubt whether the Heads of Government will have a great deal of time at that meeting to go into it in detail. That is not because the problems are unimportant. I believe that on the whole they are extremely important, for the reasons given by the hon. Gentleman. But there are other problems that fall into the same category: the number of Commissioners, the whole question of the Commission's structure and the parliamentary consequences of enlargement.

There is the Spierenburg report, which was commissioned by the Commission, in addition to the report of the Three Wise Men. I cannot enlarge on those reports. They are not before us now, and the Government have not received the latter report. Therefore, it is too early to comment on it.

I simply make one personal comment, as someone who has tried to follow these matters for three or four years, as has the hon. Gentleman. I agree with him about the need to go back to the drawing board. We should not assume that we must simply add on what seems to be the mathematically right number of extra people.

The enlargement enables us—it forces us—to look again at the structures and see whether they are sensible. Therefore, I hope and believe, on the basis of what I have read and heard on the subject, that this opportunity will be taken not simply to make purely automatic adjustments upwards but to look again at the underlying concepts and see whether we can streamline these matters and make them better.

Certainly, as the hon. Gentleman said, there is outstanding business. We have the Treaty of Accession before us, but there is continuing business, as there is bound to be. Road haulage quotas are obvious examples. The whole system is being looked at again. It is not sensible to negotiate a quota for Greece when the whole system is being examined.

Another example is the relationship between Greece and the ACP countries. There is a whole series of consequential subjects that will take a considerable time to work out. Nobody needs to apologise for the fact that they are not yet cut and dried.

The hon. Lady referred to a very important point—the Copenhagen declaration and the whole question of human rights. We should be a little chary of telling other people how to run their countries. But it is fair to say that the previous Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, with the agreement of the then Opposition, took the lead in working out the Copenhagen declaration, which was that the existing and future members should be good practitioners of democracy. Article 3, paragraph 3, of the Treaty of Accession says that the new member—Greece in this case—will be bound by declarations adopted by common agreement within the Community.

That matter should not obscure the remarkable achievement of the Greeks in this area. They have extricated themselves, without a great deal of help from anybody else, from one form of totalitarian rule without falling into the other and opposite form. If there were no other factor, that would be a reason why the Committee should give to the Greek application not a sour or crabbed response but a warm and wholehearted response, by approving the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.