Previous Section Home Page

Sir Teddy Taylor : As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary referred to citizenship, will he say clearly whether the Government support the proposal on page 15 of the Dutch draft article A? It proposes that

"European union citizenship is hereby established"?

It would help the House if the Government would make it clear whether they support or do not support the establishment of European union citizenship for all member states.

Mr. Hurd : It is in addition to, and support does not in any way detract from, British citizenship. The only proposals are ones on which I gave evidence to the Select Committee the other day and which relate to the right of EC citizens in local and European elections, but not in national elections.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge) : My right hon. Friend will be aware of the views of some members of the European Parliament that Europol and the work of the Trevi group could be scrutinised by that body. Does my right hon. Friend agree, however, that they are adequately scrutinised by the Select Committees of the House and that that is the right place for them to be scrutinised and for their work to be reported to the House?

Mr. Hurd : Yes, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The point I am trying to make in this part of my speech and, indeed, in our negotiations is that it is perfectly possible and often better for that kind of European working together to be based on co-operation between Governments, and therefore based on responsibility to national Parliaments, rather than under the structure of

Column 443

the treaty of Rome. The same principle applies to the strengthening of European foreign policy. We hope that there will be agreement about that at Maastricht.

Already, the practice in the Community goes beyond the co-ordination envisaged and enshrined in the Single European Act. We often commit ourselves--not because of any legal obligation but because of common sense- -to joint action in many matters because it makes sense to put the combined weight of Europe behind our shared objectives. Once we have agreed on that in a particular subject, we honour the commitments that we have decided.

There is great advantage for us in that system and in making sure that our partners do the same. There is positive advantage in securing obligations on our partners in cases where we have decided unanimously--by consensus-- to work together. That is the essence of the proposal on the table.

There are no grand schemes to do away with national initiatives, and there is no attempt to cast aside the national interest in this sphere, in the hope that an undefined European interest can take its place.

No one, for example, is proposing a system that would prevent Britain from liberating the Falklands, or Belgium and France from sending paratroops to Zaire to rescue their fellow citizens. No one is proposing that any substantial decision on common foreign and security policy should be taken except unanimously. Our aim is a common foreign and security policy on issues where we find that we agree unanimously, always allowing for national freedom of action in other matters.

No one is attempting to foist a foreign policy on us. The principle of joint action decided by unanimity is accepted. What is proposed--this was discussed yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley and by the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen)--is that secondary decisions--decisions to implement measures decided unanimously--might be taken by majority voting, to speed things up.

We are not persuaded that the distinction between the original decision, which everyone agrees must be taken unanimously, and the implementing measures can be made to stick. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) criticised a proposal, and I am trying to answer the point that he raised. I endorse the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on that subject yesterday, with which my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley agreed. He said that there was no satisfactory answer to the question of how one distinguishes between the original measure taken by unanimity and the implementing or secondary measure, adding :

"The onus must be on those who want to change the existing arrangements to justify that change. Thus far they have not managed to do so."--[ Official Report, 20 November 1991 ; Vol. 199, c. 276.] That is the Government's position, which I explained to our partners when we were negotiating at the Dutch seaside last week. As to defence, the story is straightforward. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spelled it out yesterday. NATO will remain. Europe will not replace or duplicate NATO's arrangements for the defence of Europe. There

Column 444

are, as my right hon. Friend said, still differences on that, but there is also much common ground, and it has increased as a result of the NATO summit a week ago.

Last month, we put forward with the Italians ideas on European defence, proposing that the Western European Union should be vehicle for a European defence identity. That idea is now accepted by our partners. We proposed also ways in which the WEU could be linked to the alliance and to the common foreign and security policy, in order to strengthen Europe's defence capacity within and outside the alliance.

There is not agreement yet on the nature of that policy, and that will be crucial in reaching a general agreement at Maastricht.

Sir Patrick Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe) : Yesterday, the Prime Minister confirmed in the House that the Franco-German proposal had suffered a serious rebuff at Rome. Is the Foreign Secretary assured, as a result of further bilaterals with the French, that--even within those parameters that the Prime Minister was largely responsible for drawing up in Rome--the French may not yet return at Maastricht with a further attempt to separate Europe's defence responsibilities from NATO?

Mr. Hurd : I cannot answer that question, but if they do, we shall resist it. The defence principles under which we are operating are absolutely clear. They have been set out several times, including at Rome, by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. There are three of them, and I believe that they will serve to reassure the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Sir P. Duffy). First, any common defence policy must be genuinely compatible with NATO. It is not enough simply to say that NATO should be preserved. Any proposals for European forces should not cut across NATO's sole responsibility for the defence of NATO territory.

Secondly, the WEU, which is the instrument of the European defence identity, should be linked in different ways to foreign policy and to the alliance, but be subordinate to neither. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister emphasised that point yesterday.

Thirdly--this is of particular importance to the United States--European defence co-operation should not marginalise our other allies, or present them with decisions simply to take or to leave. Anyone who knows about such matters--such as the hon. Member for Attercliffe, or my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East--knows that those points are crucial, and we intend to hold by them. The third objective of an open and liberal Europe, which I sketched at the beginning of my remarks, is one on which my right hon. and hon. Friends are also wholly at one. To maintain a liberal Europe, we must maintain the free market thrust of existing Community policies--in particular, the preservation of the single market programme, backed by the tough new competition powers, which Sir Leon Brittan is exercising most effectively. If Community competence is to be extended, we must avoid any interventionist tilt.

If we are to maintain an open Europe, we must ensure also that, after Maastricht, the Community maintains and expands a welcoming approach to enlargement. We welcome the prospect of early accession negotiations for Austria and Sweden, which are themselves a powerful

Column 445

reason for concluding the Maastricht conference if we can. I hope that Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslavakia will be in by at least the end of the decade.

Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton) : And Norway?

Mr. Hurd : Norway has not yet made a decision on whether she wants to enter the Community. She held a referendum that went the wrong way, but my hon. Friend is right in thinking that Norway may find an opportunity to reconsider. I do not yet know.

Mr. Michael Grylls (Surrey, North-West) : My right hon. Friend passed rather quickly over the question of the internal market. Will he return to that point for a moment? Many people think that proper enforcement of internal market legislation is of prime importance now. That is what business men want. What concerns me is that the Community appears to be moving on to new programmes before it has successfully completed its existing agenda.

Mr. Hurd : There is a lot of truth in that. That is one reason why I said at the beginning of my remarks that the intergovernmental conference has come too soon. In two or three years, we shall have completed our work on the single market. I agree that the existing presidency, the next, and the British presidency at the very end of 1992 ought not to forget that the overwhelming need is to complete the single market. I hope that the proposal that I outlined concerning enforcement by the European Court on lagging or non-complying states will help to deal with the problem that my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls) mentioned. As to enlargement, Britain benefited after some delay from the fact that the European Community is bound by the treaty of Rome to be open to European newcomers, and we are clear that it is our duty and in our real interest to ensure that the Community's benefits are available to all states qualifying for membership.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster) : Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Hurd : May I move on just a little, and then give way?

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : The point will have gone by then. Earlier, my right hon. Friend dealt comprehensively with what would happen if Governments failed in the European Court of Justice. My hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls) raised the question of the internal market. How does my right hon. Friend propose to stamp out the fraud that disfigures the Common Market?

Mr. Hurd : That is one area in which we should encourage the European Parliament to be more active. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spelled that out yesterday, and I will not follow in his footsteps. However, that issue is one on which the European Parliament could quite properly concentrate its energies. The proposals sketched by my right hon. Friend yesterday are designed to equip the European Parliament in that respect.

Our basic concern in the negotiations is flexibility. We want--this intention is reaffirmed in document after document--to transform relations as a whole among member states into a European union. Peoples grow closer

Column 446

when their Governments remove the barriers between them, not when their Governments try to dissolve into one.

I believe that the House is pretty well at one on that point, which is crucial to the negotiations. Some things are best done by the Community. Others are best done by co-operating between Governments. That distinction is crucial. On 30 September, in the negotiations on political union in which I am involved, there was an important debate on that point. If things turn out right, that debate may turn out to have been a turning point.

At that time, 10 member states, coming to the argument with different ideas, all concluded not to proceed with a draft put forward by the Dutch presidency, based on the proposition that all the changes agreed by the intergovernmental conferences should be agreed under one heading only--the Community, the treaty of Rome, and the institutions of the Community. The Dutch presidency wanted to bring it altogether into one pillar. The Dutch made that proposal in good faith, but a big majority of member states agreed on 30 September that that approach would not lead to a result at Maastricht. That may turn out to have been a crucial meeting. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, we accept that in some areas action is best taken by the Community under the treaty of Rome. Such matters include the environment, international transport policy and external trade, which is already undertaken by the Community. But in others--

Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber) rose--

Mr. Hurd : No, I want to get on.

In other areas, however, such as foreign policy and law and order issues, it makes more sense to strengthen co-operation between individual Governments, who have to keep the last word for themselves and their Parliaments. The latest draft, based on the Luxembourg draft, preserves that distinction. It is based on the concept of separate pillars--the Community within the treaty of Rome, co-operation and joint action in foreign and security policy, co-operation in interior and justice matters, all under the guidance of the European Council.

The last draft, which one could call the draft of the pillars, is far from perfect. Many right hon. and hon. Members yesterday correctly drew attention to its imperfections. We cannot accept it as it stands, for several important reasons which were spelled out yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. However, its basic structure is right--and that basic structure creates sadness among true federalists. We saw that in a speech made last week by the President of the European Parliament.

The draft now on the table is not a draft that provides for federalism. That point was made eloquently, after I had sketched these notes, by the President of the European Commission yesterday when he criticised the present state of the negotiations, precisely because they were based on the principle that Europe could work well by means of co-operation between Governments. From our point of view, that is a considerable advance, but it is a sadness to him. The question for Maastricht is whether those two points can be reconciled.

Sir Russell Johnston rose --

Column 447

Mr. Hurd : I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman, but this must be the last time.

Sir Russell Johnston : As the Foreign Secretary is talking about central Community institutions, does he agree that a big gap in the Government motion is that there is no reference whatsoever to the European Parliament?

Mr. Hurd : The gap was filled by the Prime Minister's speech yesterday, which spelled out in some detail the role that we foresee for the European Parliament in non-legislative areas, such as dealing with fraud, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman), and the possibility of the negative assent procedure and what that should cover.

The remaining reference to a "federal vocation" which the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) criticised yesterday, is an attempt to look forward wistfully to a day when we and others might have changed our minds and be ready to accept federal proposals. We do not ask-- we cannot ask--any of our partners to renounce their hopes, but we are not ready to say that we will share them either now or in the future. In Europe there are many mansions and many ways of working together.

Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney) rose

Mr. Hurd : I shall give way to the right hon. Gentleman because I referred to him.

Mr. Shore : Does that mean that the reference in article W-whatever not only to a federal future, but to a new intergovernmental conference in 1996 for that very purpose, will be expunged?

Mr. Hurd : There are no objections to looking at those matters again -- [Interruption.] No. What would be objectionable would be to prejudge that now. Therefore, the present draft of the review clause attempts to prejudge it in a wistful way, and we cannot accept that prejudgment.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister covered the subject headings of the negotiations in detail yesterday. I should like to finish with my answer to the question that was asked yesterday by several right hon. and hon. Members. Indeed, they answered it themselves. It is the crucial question, "What kind of Europe do we, the British Government, seek?"

I usually see us as the craftsmen rather than the visionaries of Europe. At meeting after meeting, we are usually concerned with the practicalities, with the next step and the next few years, rather than with the larger scene of the indefinite future, but it is right that, from time to time, we should raise our sights and look into that future. Indeed, a debate of this substance should make us all think of the real interests of the constituents whom we are here to serve. I am quite clear that our constituents want to preserve our distinct character as a nation. Whatever the Opposition may now say, we respect and share that view.

Our constituents have other expectations that they expect us to do our best to realise on their behalf. They want a rising standard of living, brought about by investment and through open markets. They might ask, if not tomorrow then the next day, whether that would be compatible with standing aside while others build an economic system without us. This is relevant to the points made yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Prime

Column 448

Minister about economic and monetary union. Our constituents undoubtedly want Britain to have effective influence in the world. I am clear that, in many but not all sectors, that influence is best exerted in concert with our European partners.

As has often been said in such debates--this was expressed well by my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell)--we have to help forward the new democracies of central and eastern Europe. We have to try to rescue the peoples of Yugoslavia--to the extent that we can--from their present chaos and bloodshed. We have to use any influence that is available to us to prevent the peoples of the Soviet Union going down a similar path towards anarchy and bankruptcy. To be honest, we cannot yet be sure how effective we will be in dealing with those problems by acting together, but one thing is absolutely certain--we shall be ineffective or worse if we try to work apart or in rivalry. For heaven's sake, that is one of the lessons of this century, and it has been dinned into me over and over again by the experiences of the past two years.

Our constituents want clean air, clean rivers, forests and seas and they accept--overwhelmingly, I believe--that that means new kinds of work with our neighbours who share that air and that water. Our constituents want better protection against the international criminal. They want order to be introduced into the questions of immigration and asylum. Again, that means more intense work together--not under the treaty or the institutions of the Community, but between Community partners with similar problems.

The question is not whether that European work together is needed for our constituents and their interests, but how it should be organised. That is what the negotiations are or should be about. We are looking for the right way of working together, and that right way will vary from sector to sector and from policy to policy. That is the sensible way of looking at the deepening of the Europe of 12. At the same time, we have to prepare urgently to widen that Europe until it becomes a Europe that welcomes all those in our continent who share our commitment to political democracy and the market economy. Several right hon. and hon. Members have spent more time at Community meetings and at meetings of political co-operation than I have, but I have done enough to have my share of memories of frustration and exasperation as the discussions go on and on, hour after hour, day after day.

I am no blind worshipper of the Community and the way it works, but I recognise that we are trying to do something that is unique in history. There are no precedents in the history of, say, the United States, Germany, the Soviet Union or Canada that can serve us. We are trying, in the interests of our constituents, to bring together ancient and diverse countries. We are trying to find ways of pooling our efforts and our energies without smothering that diversity. That is difficult. It has never been done before and there are no pathfinders. It is not at all surprising that progress sometimes seems unsteady and that much argument accompanies that progress. But the need to find that way is compelling--in all the sectors that I have mentioned and in others. If we neglect that need or pretend that it does not exist ; if we claim that isolation from that common European work is feasible or profitable for us, in my view

Column 449

we are not defending the interests of our constituents, but deserting them. We are not preserving the strength of this country, but weakening it.

I cannot tell the House--no one can--whether we shall succeed at Maastricht. If too much doctrine is pressed upon us, we shall have to say that we cannot accept it, but I am clear that we are right to make the effort, as has been set out in the motion tabled by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. We are right to put forward our arguments with all the persuasive force that we can muster and, with the support of the House tonight, we are right to work strenuously for those arguments to prevail.

4.59 pm

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) : A debate such as this imposes a special obligation on those who take part in it. We must define not simply the position that the Government should take at Maastricht and not simply the outcome that we want. We must define the Europe that we want to see far beyond Maastricht and how we believe that the Maastricht summit can assist in achieving that Europe.

Let us be clear that we should not think merely of the Europe of the Twelve. Twenty years ago, the European Economic Community was the Six. With the adhesion of the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland, it became the Nine. Since then, three further countries have joined. Four more have applied to join, including Sweden and Austria. Their membership, which cannot and should not be long delayed, will surely be followed by that of the remaining European Free Trade Association countries. By the middle of this decade, the European Community may be 18. It could soon afterwards be 20 or more.

The narrow European Economic Community of the 1960s is developing into a wider European Community which could eventually stretch from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the Arctic Circle to the Bosphorus. It will be a wider Europe that is a community of sovereign states not artificially welded into a super-state. It will be a wider Europe that is a social Europe, with the protections of the social charter. It will be a Europe that recognises that transnational commerce and industry, with all their powers, are tolerable only if there are effective mechanisms to safeguard employed people--men and women, their families and retired people--who might otherwise have no defence against the demands and requirements of vast corporations operating on a continental scale. That wider European Community will be a different Community from the one that we know today. Even if it is desirable, it will not be possible to hold it together through the tight control of a bureaucratic Commission.

National sovereignty and popular sovereignty in a Europe so wide will require not only more effective national Parliaments but Europewide instruments to express and administer Europe. Such a Europe will require more deeply entrenched and pervasive democracy at both national and European levels. That is what the participants at Maastricht ought to think about and what the House should direct the Government to think about.

Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Bristol, East) : Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman : I will give way in a moment.

Column 450

How can an unprecedented association of nations which come together voluntarily govern itself effectively, responsibly and responsively?

Mr. Sayeed : The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the agenda of the United Kingdom civil service is set by Ministers of the Crown, whereas the European Commission has the sole right of initiative. In other words, an unelected body decides what it will consider. Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that acceptable or democratic? If not, what would the Opposition do?

Mr. Kaufman : It is neither acceptable nor democratic. In a moment I shall say what the Opposition propose. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for intervening on that point.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North) : I should be grateful for some clarification. I have been looking at the Opposition amendment. I have had a little difficulty with it. It is probably my fault. There are 31 lines in it, which makes it somewhat longer than the Government motion, which the right hon. Gentleman criticised. The Opposition amendment talks about achieving a single currency as an essential foundation. Does that mean that every Opposition Member who supports the amendment tonight is fully in favour of a single currency?

Mr. Kaufman : If the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to read the amendment carefully, he might conceivably understand it. If he does not understand it, I guarantee that if my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) catches the eye of the Chair, even the hon. Gentleman will be fully educated on the matter.

We say that a wider Europe must be a more democratic Europe. It must be more democratic at every level. On agreed and worked-out policies, one country in the ministerial Council should not be able to hold up the progress of the European Community as a whole.

Mr. Tony Favell (Stockport) : Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman : I will proceed for a moment. If I am not held up too much, I will gladly give way to the hon. Gentleman.

On social and environmental matters, the Labour party believes that there should be qualified majority voting in the ministerial Council, which is composed of a group of men and women already democratically accountable to their national Parliaments.

Mr. Favell : The right hon. Gentleman was a Member of the House in 1975 when the Government, under the leadership of Lord Wilson, recommended a referendum to the people. Indeed, he probably even helped to draft the document "Britain's New Deal in Europe". I believe that at one time he was the Prime Minister's press officer and, indeed, worked in his office. In the document under the heading "Will Parliament lose its power?"--

Hon. Members : Reading.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd) : Order. The hon. Gentleman is making an intervention. I hope that he will be speedy with it so that we can make progress and that he will not read from the document before him.

Column 451

Mr. Favell : The document says that no important new policy will be made without the consent of a Minister answerable to the House.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : The hon. Gentleman is misquoting.

Mr. Favell : I am not misquoting. The Labour party now departs from that. Is not it right that that departure should be put to the people? Why does his party object to a referendum now, when the right hon. Gentleman supported it then?

Mr. Kaufman : The hon. Gentleman's memory of history is wrong. At that time I was a Member of Parliament. I was a junior Minister and I took advantage of the dispensation which enabled me to vote no in that referendum. But, unlike the hon. Gentleman, I accepted the outcome of the referendum. I voted and expressed my view. The result went against the way in which I cast my vote. As a democrat, I accepted the outcome of the referendum and I see no reason for another.

Mr. Budgen : Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman : No.

The scope of the ministerial Council should be extended. That is why the Labour party believes that common foreign and security policies should be developed. On an ad hoc basis, the Community is already feeling its way towards such common policies. There has been a common approach to South Africa, the middle east and the Salman Rushdie death sentence. Those are contributions towards a common foreign policy. Admirable, if so far unavailing, efforts have been made to end the conflict in Yugoslavia. That approach is an element in the development of a common security policy. It will take some time to work out comprehensive and coherent common foreign and security policies. At that stage, we can consider qualified majority voting on those matters.

The scope of the ministerial Council should not go beyond what is appropriate to the role of the Community and should not usurp the satisfactory work of organisations which already exist. That is why the Labour party opposes a defence role for the Community. First, Europe's defence needs are already satisfactorily met by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which is inherently more effective than any alternative because it includes the transatlantic nations. Secondly, some members of the Community and some applicants--Ireland and Sweden, for example--would find difficulty in being members of a Community with a defence role. Thirdly, a really effective and comprehensive defence structure for the European Community would be viable outside NATO only if it inevitably involved aspirations for a nuclear capacity. The Labour party is opposed absolutely to the creation of a new nuclear power, especially one with 12 or more fingers on the nuclear trigger.

In response to the intervention by the hon. Member for Bristol, East (Mr. Sayeed), a more democratic Europe cannot continue to accommodate a non- democratic Commission. That is why we want to make the Commission democratically accountable. Since it cannot be accountable to national Parliaments, it ought to be accountable to the European Parliament. It might be appropriate to give the European Parliament rights of

Column 452

confirmation for Commissioners, and it could be worth considering giving the Parliament rights of recall of Commissioners as well. The European Parliament should be given further additional powers : powers to initiate proposals for legislation, which would be considered by the Commission and the Council of Ministers ; powers of second reading on social and environmental decisions by the Council of Ministers.

Mr. David Ashby (Leicestershire, North-West) rose

Mr. Kaufman : I shall not give way, as I have already done so several times. Mr. Speaker has announced how many hon. Members wish to take part in the debate.

The proposals for the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the Parliament should be part of the negotiating brief for United Kingdom Ministers at Maastricht, as should proposals on economic and monetary union, to which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) hopes to refer later in the debate. Not only are the proposals right in themselves, but many of them might win support at Maastricht. A positive United Kingdom approach--good for Britain and good for Europe--could win us partners and allies at Maastricht who could support Britain's positive proposals, could associate themselves with us on proposals by others that we oppose, and could be counterparts in the give and take involved in any negotiation.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford) rose --

Mr. Kaufman : I shall give way because I need a drink of water.

Mr. Cash : The right hon. Gentleman said that, when he went to the European Parliament in 1987, he was, to say the least, a reluctant European. Could he explain how, in the following five or six years, he has made such a massive transformation? Is it because he is hoping that there will be a socialist Europe?

Mr. Kaufman : It is because I accept democratic change. Whether or not I like Acts passed by this Parliament, if it passes them I accept them. The right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher), in her wisdom, guillotined the Single European Act through the House and it became an Act of Parliament. I accept the law. That is the reason why I have accepted the changes that have taken place.

Our charge against the Government is that they have next to no positive proposals for Maastricht on the subjects that I have mentioned or on any other subjects. Yesterday, the Prime Minister started his speech by announcing that he would specify "what we can accept" at Maastricht. That is not what the United Kingdom will propose, with the intention of winning acceptance from others, but what we will accept, as proposed by others. He then went on to provide a long list, not of items that we could accept, but of items that we could not accept. His speech was a litany of "we will not accept" and "we will not agree". He used that phraseology over and over again.

The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) intervened in the Prime Minister's speech and asked him to specify the Government's aims and objectives at Maastricht. The Prime Minister evaded the question and never replied to it. We still do not know what the Government's aims and objectives at Maastricht are.

Column 453

What about the word "federal"? At Luxembourg in June, the Foreign Secretary got upset when that word was mooted. He said :

"We've got real problems with this."

Last month he changed his attitude. In his offhand way he dismissed "federal" as "only a word". Recently it seems to have been bringing him out in anxiety attacks once again. He skirted warily around it today. He should have seen the face of his right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley when he evaded answering a question about the word "federal". After three ministerial speeches, we still do not know whether the Government would veto a treaty at Maastricht that contained the word "federal". I take it that the Foreign Secretary will give me an answer to that question.

Next Section

  Home Page