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Column 201North-East spoke of there being more violence outside certain night clubs than there is at football grounds. The statistics prove him to be right. Why is so much emphasis being placed on football when the national crime aggregate exceeds that of football violence many times over? The reason, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield suggests, is that it creates a diversion.
Although we are not here dealing with Government business, clearly there is a difference of opinion between the Conservative and Opposition Benches. The hon. Member for Banbury spoke of trying to break the link between football and violence but I am convinced that attempting to do so with an identity scheme of the kind proposed is fallacious. I may add, without wishing in any way to be partisan, that until the Government get to grips with law and order generally, the problems within our football stadia and elsewhere will continue. This debate has been interesting and has put the arguments on the table. The Government clearly should get off the back of football and instead get to grips with the problem of violent crime. The Government's law and order policies are failing the country, and for them to use football in the way that they are only damages the game. It is a game of which we are proud. It is our national sport. We on the Opposition Benches stick by our national sport, and we shall back it. Why do not the Government back football by getting off its back and tackling high crime levels? When they do that, we shall be on the way to improving the situation at our football grounds.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hogg) : Perhaps it is fortunate that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Randall) began his speech at 4.42 am, because had he made it at a more respectable time, there would have been more right hon. and hon. Members present in the Chamber to laugh at him. In truth, his speech was complacent, foolish, off the mark, and trivial.
It was trivial because the hon. Gentleman endeavoured to play down the level of football violence ; because he tried to dissociate football from violence, which is not the correct thing to do ; and because he failed to appreciate any of the substantial measures taken by the Government, in terms both of national law and order policies and, in particular, of those to be adopted at sports grounds. Having listened to the debate for nearly one and one half hours, I may say that the only speaker who made any sense was my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry). The Opposition's failure to appreciate the depth of public anxiety is disgraceful. Their failure to recognise the clubs' inability to solve their own problems is regrettable, as is their failure to recognise the burdens imposed upon the police. I was struck most of all by the Opposition's wholly unconstructive and complacent attitude to the problems in question. That cannot be said of the Government, who have already introduced a range of measures. It was clear to anyone who listened to Opposition Members' speeches as carefully as I did that, although it was not expressly stated, they accepted by implication that a number of measures promoted by the Government had been profoundly helpful. It might have been a good idea for them to state that in plain terms, for it would have added a certain credibility to the otherwise incredible.
Column 202Let me remind the House of some of the Government's measures. We begin with the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol Etc.) Act 1985, which established firm controls on the sale and possession of alcohol at grounds and on football special coaches and trains. I remember that the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) and I had an interesting debate about three years ago. There was an unholy alliance between us. I disliked the way in which the measure was carried through late at night and so did he, although my recollection is that he opposed most of its provisions. The difference between us is that I recognised that the Bill was a good thing, and I am delighted to say so. I do not remember the hon. Gentleman acknowledging that.
Mr. Pendry rose --
We must recognise that that legislation was extremely helpful, as was the Public Order Act 1986, which has also had certain important consequences for football. It provided new offences of disorderly conduct and possession of fireworks or smoke bombs at matches, and provided the courts with the power to make exclusion orders prohibiting attendance at certain matches by convicted football hooligans. Exclusion orders have been a useful addition, but they are of only limited effectiveness in enforcing someone's exclusion. Those two important pieces of legislation were carried through by the Government in the face of considerable opposition from the Labour Benches. We all now recognise that they have made a great difference to the effort to reduce violence at football matches. I have a shrewd suspicion that our membership schemes will have the same result. Labour Members will bang away in their normal boring and unconstructive way about how hopeless and useless such measures are, and in about three years' time, with long faces and a considerable lack of self-regard, they will have to admit that our legislation has been rather helpful and say that they are sorry that they said such beastly things about it.
We have also encouraged the police by improving the exchange of information between forces in the planning of policing of matches. Liaison between the police and football authorities has also been improved, and the introduction of closed-circuit television has been of great value.
Inevitably much of our debate has centred on the football membership scheme. The working party's report has recommended the introduction of a national membership scheme which will permit the exclusion from football grounds of known trouble-makers. Let us reflect for a moment on what is involved. The requirement to obtain a membership card is no doubt a slight inconvenience, although I think that the objections to it have been grossly exaggerated, but it strikes me that no Opposition Member has grasped or appreciated the enormous value that football clubs can obtain from such a scheme. Let us start with the obvious one : if we are able by this method to exclude known trouble-makers from the grounds--which is what I think will happen--the grounds will become infinitely more attractive to ordinary people, who will over a period of time attend in ever-increasing numbers.
I am amazed by the Opposition's unconstructive approach to these matters. For the first time ever clubs will
Column 203have a comprehensive list of their members for whom they will be able to provide far more facilities than ever before.
[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West is babbling on but he is incapable of realising that the Government are offering to the football industry a unique opportunity not just to attract more and different people to their grounds but to provide facilities that they have never previously contemplated. An orderly environment, the possession of membership lists and the certainty and confidence that that will give to their members is a new beginning for football--
In accordance with Mr Speaker's-- Ruling --[ Official Report, 31 January 1983 ; Vol. 36, c. 19]-- the debate was concluded.
Mr. Ray Whitney (Wycombe) : I am very grateful to have this opportunity to raise a subject that is crucial to this country and to western Europe as a whole--the future of the European Community. Europe has embarked upon a great enterprise. We embarked upon it somewhat belatedly. In recent years, however, we have made an important contribution to it. Our future is entirely bound up with that great enterprise.
I am, however, concerned about the general management and co-ordination of Her Majesty's Government's policy for the development of the European Community. My concern is encapsulated in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at Bruges on 20 September. I do not quarrel with the major points that my right hon. Friend made, but I am concerned about the impact of her speech. My right hon. Friend's speech contained five principles. Her first principle was willing and active co-operation between independent sovereign states. Who could quarrel with that? Few of us wish to see the creation of a federal state of Europe. We want to maintain our sovereign, independent states. However, we must surely wish to emphasise the need for active co-operation.
My right hon. Friend's second principle--she referred to it as the guiding principle--was that Community policies must tackle the problems in a practical way. I can only say amen to that. My right hon. Friend's third principle was that Community policies should encourage enterprise. This country's experience during the last 10 years demonstrates that that approach generates wealth and promotes the wellbeing of our people. We must therefore continue to promote, by means of the European Community, policies that foster enterprise.
My right hon. Friend's fourth principle was that Europe should not adopt a protectionist policy. There has been growing concern in the rest of the world about the development of a fortress Europe. I am glad that the recent Rhodes comunique suggested that those concerns are fully appreciated by all the member countries of the EEC. We are therefore on the way to avoiding the threat to world trade that a fortress Europe policy would pose.
My right hon. Friend's fifth principle was that Europe must continue to maintain a sure defence through the mechanism of NATO. At a time when we must take very careful account of the pressures that are generated in international politics by the developments in the Soviet Union, that must be right. We all share the great desire for the words of President Gorbachev to be translated into action and reality. Until that is done, the majority of British people well understand the importance of maintaining a sure defence, and that can be achieved only through NATO.
I have no quarrels with the five principles enunciated by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at Bruges. However, I certainly have a strong quarrel with the effect and the impact of that speech and subsequent speeches and actions by Her Majesty's Government in regard to our co- operation with the European Community.
There is no doubt that the Bruges speech was very popular in Britain. That is not entirely a matter for congratulation among my right hon. and hon. Friends.
Column 205Sadly, even today, what I would call an Uncle Matthew spirit remains in the British populace. The House will recall in the novels of Nancy Mitford a splendid character called Uncle Matthew who spent a great deal of his time chanting that "wogs begin at Calais". It is sad and regrettable that, despite the internationalisation that has taken place in the past two or three decades, that sentiment is still all too strong among the electorate in Britain. While there is a fundamental understanding of the need for international co-operation, and, as has been demonstrated on a number of occasions, a fundamental appreciation that we belong to Europe and must continue to co-operate with western Europe, just below the surface remains the Uncle Matthew tendency. There is no doubt that the impact of the Bruges speech was to appeal to the Uncle Matthew vote in Britain. It should have given a lead to the nation and a signal to our European partners that we are determined to make a pre-eminent contribution to the development of the European Community, in particular to the moves which were required to achieve the objectives for 1992. Sadly, the impact and impression, as opposed to the content of the Bruges speech, encouraged those who have never accepted membership of the European Community. Although the overwhelming majority in Britain recognise that our future must lie in a close relationship with Europe while retaining our sovereignty, that small minority has consistently rejected that democratic decision. That anti-European element was given a great boost by the impact of the Bruges speech. We have seen it in the House.
The Bruges speech also dismayed our friends in the European Community, those whose general approach to the affairs of the European Community, and whose objectives, are virtually identical to ours. That does not apply to every member of the Community. That would be impossible to achieve. It would not be sensible to expect it in a Community of 12 nations, perhaps three of which have notionally Socialist Governments, although the term "Socialism" is arguable and has a variety of meanings in different countries. In general, our friends among our Community partners were seriously discomforted by the impact of the Bruges speech and the attitudes which it revealed. It makes it more difficult for them to co-operate with us item by item in the various issues and debates on which we need their support.
Another effect of the new attitude of challenge and, one might say, agnosticism, to some aspects of the move towards closer co-operation with our European partners has been the confusion of British business. I pay tribute to the achievements of the Department of Trade and Industry over the past 12 months in alerting British industry to the demands, opportunities and challenges of 1992. I am advised that our European Community partners regard our achievements as a model of how it should be done. We used to spend our time denigrating ourselves--we still have traces of that tendency--and believing that other countries were ahead of us and doing things better. I am delighted to say that in developing awareness of the significance of 1992, other European countries have recognised the British Government's achievements, particularly the Department of Trade and Industry and that has brought other Europeans to Britain to learn how it should be done.
It is regrettable that British industry is confused. I have experience of that over a wide range of contacts throughout British industry. One Government
Column 206Department is committed and enthusiastic about the principle of developing the single market and our European contacts, but significantly different noises are emerging from No. 10 and No. 11 Downing street. It is not surprising that that has led to the impression of incoherence in Government policy, which is damaging to United Kingdom interests.
Mr. Whitney : It is always embarrassing for me to find support from the Labour party. Its attitude to Europe does not bear a moment's consideration, as it is confused and weak, so it is all the more regrettable that my party appears to be falling into some of the traps in which the Labour party has been wallowing for many years and from which it shows no sign of escaping.
I am far from advocating total acceptance of everything that comes from Brussels or everything put to us by our European Community partners. As a past member of the diplomatic service and a Minister in the Foreign Office, I am aware of the extraordinary difficulties and complexities involved in dealing with the Community. It would be strange were it to be otherwise. There are 12 nations with many historical and cultural differences and many different national economic interests. However, the frustrations and challenges of welding together the European Community must be more than worth while.
It is crucial to Britain's future as well as that of western Europea to maintain the impetus of the Europen Community. Conservative Members understand--I am not sure about Opposition Members--that the broad forces of history mean that if western Europe is to compete with the north American complex, the Japanese and the Pacific rim complex, it must continue to develop a high level of co-operation. The slog of day-to-day negotiation, in which Ministers and Government officials are involved in Brussels and elsewhere, must be continued issue by issue and boring point by boring point, and I should like to claim a deep appreciation of those difficulties. The impression is being given that we are making those difficulties greater than they need be. We should offer a more flexible approach to frontiers and consider extremely positively the possibility of national identity cards, which has many attractions and links with the previous debate about the problems of football hooliganism. Paragraph 6 of the working party's report on football hooliganism specifically excluded examination of the issue of identity cards, as it was outside its terms of reference. I strongly urge the Government to give early and positive consideration to that possibility, which would bring benefits to many sectors, including the reduction of frontier controls, which must surely be one of the major elements of the single European market, to which we are committed and which has such clear advantages for the United Kingdom.
The same positive spirit is required in our approach to the complex issues of the harmonisation of VAT rates and excise duties. The same applies to the long-running question of our participation in the European monetary system. The issue will be given greater impetus as we approach the 1990s and the complete freeing of exchange controls. The Government, with foresight and courage, led the way nine years ago by abolishing exchange controls.
Column 207We are all aware of the opportunities offered to the City of London and the financial services sector, which is so vibrant and dominant. The issue of European monetary co-operation must surely be tackled. For many years the Government have said that it will be considered when the time and exchange rate are right. As hon. Members have said, the pound has been high and low, but at some point we must judge the time to be right ; we cannot postpone a decision for much longer. Given the propensity to inflation, which seems so deep-seated in Britain, it would be a particular benefit to take a positive approach to the greater harmonisation and involvement of Britain's economy and financial institutions with those of Europe. We can avoid the dangers while receiving the benefits.
I am deeply concerned about the lack of coherence in Government policy, some of the negative aspects of which have been revealed on a depressingly personal basis. We may not agree with the contributions of Lord Cockfield or Mr. Delors, but in matters in respect of which there is a broad historical sweep of near-inevitability, we must not miss the bus out of some pique or apprehension about the influence of one individual. The issues at stake are far greater than that. Part of the responsibility for the dangers that I see emerging must rest with this Chamber. Frankly, the House and the country have never seriously become engaged in the basic issues of Europe, as several other European Community partners have done. We saw the manifestation of that in the results of the central Hampshire European parliamentary by-election. I am delighted to say that the Conservative candidate won, but I understand that he won on a vote of 12 per cent. of the electorate. A vote of such derisory proportions is very sad.
I take it that we--even the Labour party--are now somewhat mildly committed to the European concept. Only 12 per cent. of the voters of central Hampshire decided to turn out. We must attach blame to the Chamber as a whole. All hon. Members know that, for many years now, the appearance on the Order Paper of European Community documents X, Y and Z has been the death knell of serious debate. We all know that, at the maximum, 12 hon. Members are regular attenders at such debates. There are perhaps two hon. Members who risk giving the impression that they will accept anything from Brussels, unseen and unsigned, and that they will accept anything that Brussels says. It is a false impression, but it is one that they risk having attributed to them.
There are half a dozen or perhaps 10 hon. Members who are part of the small minority in the country who have simply never accepted the judgment of the electorate of this country that we are part of Europe, that we must make a firm contribution to it and make a leading contribution to the development of co-operation with our European allies. The cause of moderation, of pragmatism, of balance, of criticising some things, of explaining everything and accepting most of what comes from
Column 208Brussels is left to the unfortunate inhabitant of the Government Front Bench at the time. The rest is silence. The mechanisms of the House should be used more effectively.
I fully accept my personal share of the blame. We should no longer abandon European debates to excessive enthusiasts--the excessive anti-Europeans and pro-Europeans. The voice of the solid centre--I claim to be a member of it- -needs to be heard much more. We must not leave the matter to the fanatics on both sides of the House. In particular, it is time for the Government to take another look at their overall position as we move to 1992 and to co- ordinate and cohere more effectively to actions across the spectrum to take account of the fact that we signed the Single European Act. From some Ministers' statements, one might from time to time infer that they have not read the Single European Act. Anyone would think that they had taken the country through it in a fit of oblivion, without understanding majority voting and all that was implied. The fact is that we signed the Single European Act ; we understood it. The Conservative party has a tradition of commitment to the European concept that has lasted for decades. That does not mean that we accept every daft idea--every social harmonisation proposal--that comes out of Europe. If we risk being caricatured as adopting a generally carping and negative attitude to the principles of co- operation, we make it much more difficult to achieve the objectives that we must achieve. We make it much more difficult to defend British interests if we appear to be negative. We also make it more difficult for our friends in Europe to help us to achieve those objectives.
Let us look again at the signature of the Single European Act. It might be thought that some wicked, slippery, devious members of my former service, the diplomatic service, somehow slipped the measure through. I do not think that that is likely ; I have too much respect for my right hon. Friends in the Government to believe that that can possibly have happened.
I pin most of my hopes on a very important memorandum that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister addressed to her colleagues in August 1984. The Government as a whole would do well to take that memorandum out of the archives and dust it down. They should confirm that the principles enunciated in it remain the mainspring of the Government's approach to Europe and to the task of achieving the goals of 1992. My right hon. Friend made it very clear that what was needed was "a series of new policies to promote the economic, social and political growth"
on which the future well-being of the Community depended. She said :
"This means giving greater depth to the Community in both its internal and external activities."
She spoke of the need to create
"a genuine common market in goods and services which is envisaged in the Treaty of Rome"
but said that that could be achieved only by
"a sustained effort to remove the remaining obstacles to intra-Community trade."
Only by that means could we enable
"the citizens of Europe to benefit from the dynamic effects of the fully integrated common market with immense purchasing power."
Column 209My right hon. Friend spoke about the need to co-operate on environmental matters. That was four years ago, which shows that our commitment to green policies is by no means a recent innovation. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that it must be our objective
"to aim beyond the Common Commercial Policy through Political Cooperation towards common approach to external affairs." That, too, tends to be forgotten as we concentrate on economic issues and the benefits that we rightly hope to obtain.
My right hon. Friend pointed out that the Commission was central to the functioning of the Community and that Europe needs to advance its internal development. One of the objectives that she enunciated was to
"heighten the consciousness among our citizens of what unites us." In recent months, too much effort has been made to heighten consciousness of what divides us. We are perfectly well aware of what divides us and we need more emphasis on the positive aspects. Certainly the nation and the British business community needs it. If we are to achieve all that 1992 offers, the country needs a much more positive lead from the Government in all those areas.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : I would not wish to embarrass the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney), by saying that he made a brave and interesting speech--as he did on 3 April 1982 and on several other occasions. In normal circumstances it would not have occurred to me at 5.30 am or at any other hour to protest about the appointment of a British Commissioner in the Community or even to put in for a Consolidated Fund debate on the appointment of British Commissioners.
The right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan) is probably the most academically successful Member of any British Cabinet since 1979 and arguably of any recent Administration. Moreover, as I am reminded in my many questions, alas unreached, to the Prime Minister, he has important experience of the great offices of state as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, which should be invaluable in a vice-president of the European Commission. I hope that I am not being churlish if I wonder sotto voce whether his behaviour as Home Secretary, as indicated in his first speech on capital punishment and the broadcasting authorities, gave certain doubts about his attitude and judgment.
As a member of the indirectly elected European Parliament from 1976-79, I formed the impression that attitude and judgment are extremely important if a Commissioner is to be effective with his colleagues on the Commission. I think of Finn Olav Gundelach and Guido Brunner, both extremely effective Commissioners who were guests in my constituency and whom I knew well, of Pierre Lardinois and Claude Cheysson, with whom I worked, and of my excellent working relationship with Christopher Soames and George Thomson. I say this having had four years' experience in the Parliament.
In one crucial respect circumstances are simply not normal. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has a cloud hanging over him and until such time as that cloud has been lifted--
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker) : Order. I should remind the hon. Gentleman at this point that, to the best of my knowledge, the right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan) is a Member of this House and the hon. Gentleman must not reflect on either his integrity or honour.
Mr. Dalyell : I thought that the right hon. and learned Gentleman might have been here for a debate on the European Community. He has been appointed vice-president of the Commission and it is extremely odd that when the House of Commons debates the future of the Community he should not bother to come.
My point is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should not be going as British vice-president to the Commission, let alone as the Commissioner of financial institutions. This is neither the time nor the place to regurgitate as I did on 28 July 1986, at column 851, or on 22 April 1988, at column 1164, the details of the Westland affair. I simply remind the House that we are required to believe that over 14 days in January 1986 the right hon. and learned Gentleman behaved in such a way--
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman is doing precisely that against which I cautioned him. I hope that he will not make a speech aimed at denigrating the character of the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
Mr. Dalyell : I do not want to denigrate anybody's character. I am sticking very carefully to fact, and the fact of the matter is that the way in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman treated his civil servants, his Cabinet colleagues and his Prime Minister about a Law Officer's letter was not acceptable to the House. If we do not believe that about the right hon. and learned Gentleman, we can only conclude that someone else was to blame for the outrageous treatment of the Solicitor-General's letter. That someone else could only be Mr. Charles Powell, Mr. Bernard Ingham and the Prime Minister herself.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I shall not allow the hon. Gentleman to pursue that line under the debate heading that is before us. The hon. Gentleman must not use this debate to reopen such matters when, on a number of occasions, he has been cautioned about his excesses.
Mr. Dalyell : If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is to go to the Commission, I think we can agree that he should go proud, that he should go clear and that he should go absolved from all blame of misleading his colleagues in Parliament on any occasion, especially during the Westland affair. As matters stand, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is the scapegoat. Nobody else is carrying the can. It is a disgrace to our country and to our Parliament that a colleague should be going to one of the most prestigious jobs in the Community--we shall leave the salary out of it--that Britain can offer any of our countrymen when this affair has not been cleared up. There is another pertinent consideration. No other Minister on any occasion has treated a Select Committee of the House as the right hon. and learned Gentleman treated the Select Commitee on Westland. None of us who witnessed it has in our parliamentary lifetimes seen behaviour to compare with the arrogant stonewalling that the right hon. and learned Member demonstrated when he refused to answer legitimate questions put by parliamentary colleagues. Yet this is the colleague that we send
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman heard me the first time, when I said that he must not seek to make a speech that would reflect adversely on the honour or integrity of the right hon. and learned Member for Richmond, Yorks, but he is persisting in doing precisely that. He must not persist ; he must cease to do that.
Mr. Dalyell : I am just referring to his parliamentary behaviour. Surely it is legitimate to comment on the unprecedented parliamentary behaviour of a right hon. and learned Gentleman when appearing before a Select Committee of the House. We must ask why. Because the appointment is a reward forced on the Prime Minister in recognition of the greatest service that a Cabinet Minister in such circumstances can render the occupant of Downing street, and that is the supreme service--of silence.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman is quite clearly completely disregarding the advice that I have offered to him. If he continues to persist with the line he is pursuing, I shall have no option but to instruct him to resume his seat and terminate his speech.
Mr. Dalyell : I find that absolutely extraordinary, because the words are carefully chosen and the subject is entirely in order. What we are considering--incidentally, this is the last opportunity for consideration before his appointment--is the sending of one of our number as vice-president of the Commission, who was the recipient of a unique resignatory letter from the Prime Minister, which ended by saying :
"I hope it will not be long before you return to high office to continue your ministerial career".
The Prime Minister has never said that to anyone before. She certainly did not say it to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie). This is absolutely unique. I say, as a matter of fact, that it looks to many of us that the vice-presidency of the European Commission is a second-best compromise pay-off for the promised Cabinet job.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I have given sufficient warnings to the hon. Gentleman, but he is persisting in disregarding my advice. I have no option but to tell him to resume his seat and terminate his speech.
Mr. Dalyell rose --
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman must not persist in disregarding a ruling from the Chair. I have given the hon. Gentleman an instruction, and he knows sufficiently well that he must obey it.
Mr. Dalyell rose --
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I am on my feet. I will offer some advice to the hon. Gentleman. It may benefit all of us if we reflect on what the hon. Gentleman has said and if he reflects on what he has said and on what I have ruled. I suspend the sitting for five minutes.