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Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : I can now ask the right hon. Gentleman a question that I have wanted to ask him for 20 years. He has described his commitment to broad political union. Did he have a mandate for the vote mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner)? Did the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) have a mandate for the Single European Act? Does the Prime Minister have a mandate for going to Maastricht next week and agreeing to what is in that treaty?
Mr. Heath : I can answer only for myself ; I cannot answer for my right hon. Friends. We had a debate in the House over many days in July and over many days when we returned in October, and at the end we had a vote, in which Conservative Members were free to vote as they wished. It was up to the Labour party to decide how it would allow its Members of Parliament to vote. It decided to put on the Whip, but 72 of its Members abandoned it, with the result that there was a majority of 112 in favour.
Every time that the matter was debated, from my opening speech at the first conference in Paris in October 1961, it was made clear that the purpose was to have an ever-closer union to create a European Community. Every single document--I have quoted some already--has made that clear. I believe that we had complete authority from the House to carry on as we did.
Mr. Heath : Yes, because the country elects the House. That is why I want to deal with the referendum. There are those who say that there must be no infringement of sovereignty, but immediately say that we must have a referendum.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) made a dramatic speech in the debate on the referendum in 1975. Most people know that, when the House debated our entry into the Community, the then Mr. Wilson said that he would not tolerate a referendum, and we both agreed about that. At the end of the debate, there was no decision to have a referendum. However, there was a referendum because one of his Cabinet colleagues put pressure on him and he gave way. Even then, it was rightly said to be an exceptional case and not to be followed by any others.
We are now told that it has become part of the constitution, but I am a simple fellow and I was brought up to believe that we do not have a constitution, so I do not see how a referendum can be part of it.
Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch) : If my memory of those days is clear, the noble Lord Jenkins was Home Secretary in the then Labour Government and utterly refused to present to the House the Bill to allow a referendum. Is it not true that the noble Lord Jenkins, who is still a leading member of the Liberal Democrats, has done a U-turn, with the rest of his party, on this issue?
I have here a quote from my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley, who said in the debate on the referendum :
"It would bind and fetter parliamentary sovereignty in practice."--[ Official Report, 11 March 1975 ; Vol 888, c. 315.]
I agree with her entirely. It would, and I see no reason to change my view, or her view, at this moment or in the future. I do not believe in referendums as a means of government.
Mrs. Margaret Thatcher (Finchley) : I know that I inherited that position from my right hon. Friend, and I loyally upheld it. Now, it looks to me as if three parties will be for a single currency and for sacrificing a great deal of the work that it has previously been the right of Parliament to do. How are the people to make their views known in
Column 465this absence of choice? That was the particular point. My right hon. Friend will remember that our right hon. Friend the noble Lord Hailsham, made an interesting speech on elective dictatorship.
Mrs. Thatcher : Therefore, as he has been in the House longer than I have, will my right hon. Friend tell us how people can make their views known when all parties take the same view but each is divided?
Mr. Heath : What a pity some people have such a limited vocabulary. People can make their views known in a variety of ways, as we know, and can judge candidates on other questions. If all three parties are united on the issue of a single currency--
Mr. Heath : I said if they are united. I am talking about the party as a whole, not about those below the Gangway. If the parties are united, it is open for people to judge, on the merits of the candidates, whom they want to return. The Foreign Secretary quoted Lord Attlee saying that referenda are "for demagogues and dictators". As in so many other things, although he has never had the credit for it, Lord Attlee was right. I strongly support the Prime Minister in his mission and I wish him every success.
Mr. Molyneaux : I am glad to follow the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), even if he, too, is below the Gangway. I share his view of the importance of co-operation with the rest of Europe. He and I are therefore in line with the Prime Minister, who yesterday said :
"our responsibility must also be to all the other European countries which are now returning to democracy for the first time in 50 years."
He concluded with the words :
"Our door must be open to them."--[ Official Report, 20 November 1991 ; Vol. 199, c. 281.]
I have faith in the Prime Minister's ability to ensure that at Maastricht the rules will not be drawn so tightly as to treat those eastern European nations as second-class Europeans.
The right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) yesterday referred to the history of what she correctly termed "the conveyor belt". I want briefly to augment her history lesson. There are some present in the Chamber who can remember Britain's first tentative attempt to gain entry. We had an assurance at that time from the Macmillan Government that the Government were merely engaged in a reconnaissance operation to probe, to see what terms might be on offer, but not to make any kind of
Column 466commitment. There was no question of making any decision ; the House of Commons would consider carefully any terms which might be on offer, but there would be no commitment to entry then.
When the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup returned after having done, if I may say so, a good job from his point of view and from the point of view at that time of the majority of his party, we were then asked by the Macmillan Government whether it would be sensible to reject terms which were far better than anything that we had a right to expect.
I am the only surviving Ulster Unionist on this Bench who voted against Second Reading of the European Communities Bill on 17 February 1972. At that time, I was in receipt of the Conservative party Whip. I defied a three-line Whip on that occasion in the Division which gave the Government a majority of eight to take Britain into what was then termed the European Economic Community. I was not disciplined on that occasion. I was not expelled. That came two years later when I opposed the same Government on the Sunningdale Anglo-Irish agreement. But it would be fair to say in defence of the majority of the 309 who voted for that Second Reading that they never intended that the structure should extend beyond its then title- -the European Economic Community. In fairness to most of the 309, it has to be said that, once they became aware of the more sinister designs, they had the courage and integrity to say no, and they still have that courage and integrity. I defend the right of English men and women to say no, even though they occasionally deny the right to Ulster men to say no to the dictation of a foreign Government.
In recent months there has been a parallel awakening throughout the entire United Kingdom electorate. In 1975, in the Wilson referendum, the electorate were prepared to support what was presented at that time as a wider trading bloc, and well we can remember that point being put to us. We were asked whether it would not be a good idea to enter this all-powerful bloc to enable our products to be sold to 250 million customers. That would, for example, benefit the British motor industry which would be able to sell its products to the 250 million customers in Europe, who presumably were thought to be incapable of making their own cars. I do not need to rub in the lesson of what has happened in the interval to the British motor industry.
Whatever the speed of the conveyor belt, we have to accept that the long- term policy was and is one of gradualism. It is a policy which depends on a certain vagueness at all stages during the past 30 years and more and perhaps into the years ahead, but there is a responsibility upon those of us who have no particular vested interest in the outcome of the next general election to probe the intentions of both parties and to bring out the real effects in a way which is difficult for both the Government and the Opposition, for understandable reasons.
Even in the past few months, the electorate have moved from approval in general to opposition in particular. The main cause of that is the way in which the Commission has prematurely shown its hand. The general public may not be greatly motivated by all the technical issues that we have been debating during the past two days which are of
Column 467legitimate concern to Parliament, but they are incensed by the nooks and crannies meddling, much of it unnecessary and all of it plain daft.
The draftsmen of the European directive are unlikely to call a halt or to suspend production in what is for Britain a pre-election period. By the time we come to that general election, answers will be required of every candidate, not so much on the big issues, as on a range of needling, meddlesome demands. Answers of a kind may be given, but they are unlikely to allay suspicion. Election addresses and manifestos may or may not be unambiguous, but the return of what may be a candidate of conviction does not guarantee that he or she will be able to sustain his or her position in the context of a general election.
The supremacy of the ballot box is subject of the greater supremacy of the party Whips office. Only on rare occasions can a three-line Whip be safely defied. Rebellions have to be rationed. That point is relevant to the exchanges between the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup, the right hon. Member for Finchley and the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing).
One example of the breakdown of the supremacy of the ballot box, even of common sense, in the face of the overlordship of the Whips office, is fresh in my memory. It came on the morning of the vote expressing approval of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, when countless right hon. and hon. Members, many of them present in the Chamber this evening, came up to me with words of encouragement which I summarise as follows--"Jim, sorry I couldn't be with you in your Lobby last night, but don't worry, the damn thing won't work anyway." That attitude did not disillusion me as it might disillusion others. I have been here long enough to be proof against disillusionment. I fully understand why right hon. and hon. Members had to say that. But that is why I have to agree with the right hon. Member for Finchley when she said yesterday :
"let the people speak."--[ Official Report, 20 November 1991 ; Vol. 199, c. 298.]
As a constitutionalist, I have had to conclude, somewhat regrettably, that a referendum is desirable. To those who claim that framing a question would be impossible, I say let them try this for a draft : Do you want to govern yourselves or do you want to be governed by others?
Mr. Nigel Lawson (Blaby) : The right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) has been in the House for a long time, and during that time he has earned its affection and respect. I am pleased to be following him in today's debate, although I must add that I cannot agree with his final remarks.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister opened the debate with a particularly well-judged and well-considered speech, and I entirely support what he said. As has been mentioned at least once today, on an earlier occasion my right hon. Friend said that Britain's place was right at the heart of Europe. I endorse that view entirely ; but the question that most of us have been addressing in this debate is, what sort of Europe do we wish to be at the heart of?
That is the key issue--the issue of what is to be the constitution of Europe. Such an important issue should be debated openly. It is useless for some right hon. Members
Column 468to say, "That was decided long ago ; you signed up to this, that and the other." That is not so ; this is a live issue, a difficult issue and an issue which the House must address seriously--as, in my view, it has done in this debate.
Historians of the future may look back on the debate--or, at least, on one aspect of it--almost with a sense of disbelief. The big event of recent years has been the complete change in the European scene--and, indeed, the world scene--following the collapse of communism and the end of the cold war. As some of my hon. Friends have pointed out, that has had a profound effect on the condition of Europe.
Countries--many of them members of the European Free Trade Association-- that had previously felt that their commitment to neutrality prevented them from joining the Community are no longer inhibited, for the ending of the cold war means that the question no longer arises. Now they feel free to join, and wish to do so. As for the countries of central and eastern Europe --the fledgling democracies--they, too, want to join ; but, as we all know, that part of our continent is in crisis. This half, fortunately, is doing reasonably well, but the same cannot be said of the other half. It is experiencing an economic crisis : parts of eastern Europe are on the brink of total economic disintegration. There are also political crises--crises of legitimacy, and the crises involved in accommodating the nationalisms that are emerging in various regions. Those nationalisms could be put to very constructive use, but they could also prove destructive. That is where the problems are ; that is the part of Europe to which we should be paying attention today. Those historians of the future will, I think, be amazed that we are expending so much time, energy and effort on addressing not the half of Europe that is in difficulties, but the half that is not. We are fiddling with western Europe while eastern Europe burns.
Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East) : I entirely agree with what my right hon. Friend has just said. Is it not encouraging, however, that--as far as I know--not a single eastern European leader has said, publicly or privately, that the Community should slow the developments that it is currently achieving, pending the eventual adhesion of eastern European countries? Despite the difficulties that those countries are experiencing, their leaders all say that they are fully prepared to join at the stage of development that currently prevails.
Mr. Lawson : I now have a fair amount to do with the leaders of those countries, and, unfortunately, they are in a very weak position. But I have heard none of them say that they welcome the treaties or consider them helpful. The Community should be devoting much more attention to what it can do to open its markets to the produce of those countries, especially their farm produce. Their manufacturing sectors are in a very poor state, although there is a world market, and a European market in particular, for the agricultural produce that they are able to generate. The record of France--a prime mover in the current developments in western Europe--is nothing short of scandalous.
Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Trade with eastern Europe has normally been centred on the Soviet Union, which still needs that produce, because it is short of food. Surely it would be more logical-- [Interruption.]
Column 469Madam Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Lady has excellent parliamentary manners and knows that she should address the Chair.
Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : Surely it would be more logical to continue the supply of food to the Soviet Union. I have been there recently, and I know that the people there are extremely hungry. If we provided aid, they could consume the food at home rather than putting our farmers out of work.
Mr. Lawson : I am sorry that my hon. Friend takes such a narrow view. The problem with the Soviet Union, or rather the former Soviet Union, relates much more to the distribution of food there than the capacity to produce it. Eastern European countries produce an export surplus, and they desperately need western markets. They want to improve their trading connections with the west, and I think that we should encourage that.
Let me return to the subject of the Maastricht treaties. The Government face a difficult task, which they are handling with considerable skill, but concern is still felt by many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House--including me--about the present position. For 40 years, I have believed that Britain's destiny lies in Europe ; ever since the formation of the European Community, I have believed that we should join, and I am only sorry that we did not do so at the beginning.
One of the reasons why I supported the Community was that it struck me as an inspired creation : it provided a means for the most intimate form of co -operation between the various nation states of Europe, without becoming a federation--a single united states of Europe. It got the balance right between the need for the closest possible co-operation and the retention of nation states. I believe that the latter is not only important historically, but profoundly important to the successful conduct of policy. National loyalty is essential.
We are now being asked to suggest that the careful balance which is the European Community be destroyed--transformed into a federal Europe. There was a time when people said, "There is no such thing ; it is just a bogey in the night. Do not worry about a federal Europe, for that is not what it is about." Now, however, the cat is firmly out of the bag, in the preamble to the treaty--the "federal vocation". We know from the prime movers in the exercise that that is their objective ; I disagree with it, but there is nothing disreputable about it, and equally no point in concealing it.
Some Liberal Members have said, "What is all this about federalism? Federalism merely means decentralisation." Is it really being suggested that what Mr. Delors wants is less power at the centre and more power for the nation states? Is it really being suggested that what Mr. Mitterrand wants is less power for the Community, and more for Germany and other nation states? On the contrary : the desire exists to create a federal united states of Europe. As I have said, that is an entirely legitimate point of view, although I do not happen to share it.
Why am I opposed to it? First, I believe that that is not what the people of Britain want and I suspect strongly that it is not wanted by those living in most of the other countries that comprise the Community. Secondly, history, including recent history, suggests that multi-national federations simply do not work. To try to embark upon them is a road to immense political difficulties and
Column 470troubles and could lead to a nationalist backlash of the ugliest type. As I have said, nationalism can be channelled to positive purposes, but we all know that it can take an ugly form. That is the danger if we go along that route.
Even those who favour a federal Europe--a united states of Europe--should be concerned at what is in the treaties and the way that things are going. The embryo federation is a much more centralist model than anybody, even those in favour of a federation, could be happy with. It gives powers to the centre which the united states does not require and provides protections for states' rights which are wholly inadequate.
The doctrine of subsidiarity is an attempt to meet the problem, but it is wholly inadequate and feeble. Who is to decide and how are they to decide what it is appropriate for the former nations to have within their responsibility? Who is to decide what should be determined centrally? The idea is that issues should be decided at the appropriate level and, presumably, the Commission will make the proposal as to which that level is. That is nothing like the protection contained in the constitution of the United States, where there are clearly defined and written responsibilities for the federal Government and everything that is not clearly written down is the responsibility of the various states. There is no such protection here.
Moreover, with the constitution-mongering of the Community, we have a constitution that is permanently on the move. That troubles me. I believe in a dynamic society, but that society needs a stable framework. A few years ago, we had the change in the constitution brought about by the Single European Act. Now, further constitutional change is proposed with the Maastricht treaties and we are told that there will be a further constitutional change in 1996, and so on. It is not only undesirable to have a constitution permanently on the move, but with each change there is pressure for more and more power to be given to the centre.
Sir Michael Marshall (Arundel) : Does my right hon. Friend agree that for the future we should think seriously about the six-month presidency? Is it not the nature of things that in each country's turn there is inevitably a trend to be different and to drive on in some other direction?
Mr. Lawson : I agree with my hon. Friend. The issues are rather more fundamental than that, but I agree that the six-month presidency is not helpful and that an annual presidency would be preferable. I shall give two examples. First, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pointed out, there are the social issues. Nobody is suggesting that social issues such as employment conditions and so on are not a fit subject for legislation. That is not the point. The point is at what level the legislation should be. Should it be national legislation, or should it be Communitywide legislation? It is striking that in the United States, which is a single nation state of a federal nature, it is largely the individual states that decide their own arrangements. They are not centrally imposed.
If we take the latter route, there will inevitably be pressure to push up the level to that of the highest--the Federal Republic of Germany--and there will be huge costs on the whole European economy, particularly the poorer countries of the Community, which could not
Column 471possibly bear such costs. The countries that benefit will not be in Europe but will be Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere. Secondly, majority voting on the environment also concerns me. It is accepted far too readily because there are aspects of the environment that do indeed cross frontiers. I agree that it is appropriate for those aspects to be decided at Community level. However, there is also a range of environmental issues that are perhaps the most local issues of any that we ever deal with as Members of Parliament. The idea that they too should come under an environmental umbrella to be decided at Community level is absurd and offensive. River pollution has been quoted. Of course the Rhine runs through many countries, but there are not many rivers in this country that cross national borders.
Clearly, the key issues are those of foreign policy, security--both external and internal--and currency and all that flows from that. I was interested to hear--it was one of the few clear things that was said by the Opposition spokesman, the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman)--that the Opposition were in favour of majority voting on foreign policy. I had not heard that before. Without wishing to give offence to a great Department of State, I see a danger of a sort of Foreign Office view gaining ground which holds that foreign policy, defence and security are what really matter and that we should not worry about money. [Interruption.] Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer recognises that view.
Such a suggestion could not be more wrong. As the EMU treaty makes clear, perfectly logically, a single currency requires a single European central bank and, in a democracy, that in turn must lead to a single Finance Minister and a single Government. Once that is established, independent foreign policy and independent defence policy go out of the window.
In a sense, the game was given away by my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) when he said that a single market requires a single currency. That is erroneous. Tell that to the Americans, Canadians and Mexicans--they have joined up in a free trade area. When he was trying to demonstrate the correctness of what he was saying, he said that we should look at the United States of America. Of course, the United States is precisely what I am describing. It is a single country with a single Treasury Secretary and a single Government.
Mr. Lawson : That is my point. They all go together--the single currency, the single central bank, the single finance ministry and the single Government. We must be clear that that is the choice facing us.
The idea that we can have an independent European central bank alone, which would be far and away the most powerful institution in the Community with no accountability to anybody, is absolutely bizarre and democratically unacceptable. One of the extraordinary oddities--I put it no stronger than that--of the Opposition's position is that, with the enthusiasm of the convert, they have embraced the single currency and an
Column 472independent European central bank, but they will not tolerate an independent Bank of England. That is a very strange position for any party, even the Labour party, to adopt.
Mrs. Currie : As my right hon. Friend probably realises, many engineering businesses in Derbyshire which trade in Europe already trade in deutschmarks. How much control and influence does the House have over that?
Mr. Lawson : I have never been engaged in increasing governmental control. I am happy that the Government of whom I was proud to be a member and who were led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) abolished exchange controls. Business men in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) and elsewhere are now free to trade in any currency they choose. However, the advantages of having just a single currency are less than my hon. Friend may think.
Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton) : In an article in the Evening Standard last week, the right hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) concluded by saying that the Prime Minister should sign the economic and monetary union treaty at Maastricht because it was open to the other 11 members to go ahead with the treaty on their own. I put to the right hon. Member for Blaby, who has an intellectual reputation, a question that was put to the Prime Minister yesterday. If the other 11 were to go ahead on their own, what would be the position of sterling in relation to the single European ecu ? Would it be able to float free or would it be forced to shadow the ecu ? The right hon. Member for Blaby knows something about that.
There are budgetary consequences, too, of a single currency and they are spelled out in the Dutch draft treaty. It has been said that we do not need those to be spelled out explicitly and that we can rely on market disciplines. In theory that may be the case, but in practice it is doubtful. Market disciplines depend on a no-bailing-out rule under which the Community as a whole would not bail out a country in difficulties, just as a US federal Government would not bail out a state and we would not bail out a local authority. That may lack market credibility even if it is true. Other important problems such as debt overhang have not yet even been addressed. The various countries that comprise the Community have built up a considerable national debt which they were able to sell and have freely held, because those countries were responsible for their own currencies. Once they cease to be responsible for their own low currencies, the readiness to hold the existing debt, never mind any further debt, would be in doubt in a number of countries, although perhaps not in all.
Several countries would face a critical situation in which they would not be able to borrow any more in the world's markets. Their burden of debt interest would rise considerably and they would have to raise taxes to meet that. There might even be a run on the Government. The market would see it coming and that would begin to affect the financial markets and the markets in that debt well before a single currency came about, if the market thinks that a single currency is on the way.
Column 473It is interesting to consider the other half of Europe. The more perceptive analysts of the political economy of the former Soviet Union are increasingly concluding that the only possible way out is to do away with the single currency, the rouble, and, on economic and political grounds, for the various republics to have their own currencies. Experts as far apart as Mr. George Soros and Professor John Williamson have reached that conclusion.
Let us consider the draft treaties. The political union treaty in its present form, for the reasons that I have given and for those given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, is clearly unacceptable. However, I believe that the EMU treaty is something that the Government can sign, now that the stand-aside clause is written into it, and there is the declaration, which is separate from the treaty, of support in principle for the single currency, which we shall not be signing, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear. That is very important. I am glad that the declaration is there, because our ability to refrain from signing it demonstrates our position on that issue.
Mr. William Cash (Stafford) : At the beginning of the draft treaty on EMU, there is a treaty obligation under clauses 2 and 3(a) which would commit us to a single currency and fixed exchange rates. Will my right hon. Friend clarify that?
"as provided for in this treaty",
and the treaty contains the opt-out clause.
The convergence conditions in fact make it unlikely that eight or even seven countries will be willing and able to qualify in the event. Those conditions are not an optional extra : they are inherent in the very nature of the enterprise. Germany is conscious of the immense problems that arose in relation to currency union with eastern Germany. Germany is aware that such convergence conditions, or something very much like them, are absolutely essential. I could support stage 2, with the independent national central banks co-operating together, as the Germans would like to see, under the Committee of Central Bank Governors, renamed the European Monetary Institute. That would be perfectly acceptable, but as a stopping point. That is a perfectly adequate constitution for the monetary side of Europe.
But the real purpose behind all this is not economic ; it is political. I believe that there is no net economic gain and that the politics is the politics of Europe past, not the politics of Europe future.
Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South) : In the interests of time, and not wanting to abuse Privy Councillors' time, perhaps I should not refer to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) except in one respect. I found his comments about federalism extremely interesting.
A headline in The Times today states :
"Delors gives MEPs mocking account of Britain's stance." I simply say to Mr. Delors that I was in Vichy France in 1944 when the French fought each other. I do not mock it : it happened. That was a problem that France faced. If we have old historical problems and old historical ideas based on an unwritten constitution and the fact that we are averse to federalism, I hope that he will not mock. What
Column 474happened in Vichy France was endemic to France, and our feeling against federalism is something that we have grown up with over the years.
This may be my last speech in a major debate. However, last week I saw a reissue of "The Four Feathers", a colour film which was issued in 1939 and which I paid one and sixpence to see. The film has been reissued, and it is very good. Reissued though the film was, people did not appreciate it in the way in which we younger people would have done in 1939.
I was selected as a parliamentary candidate in 1952, and when I stood in 1955, we were at the beginning of the EEC debate. When I became more active and entered the House after the death of Hugh Gaitskell, it was the greatest problem of the Labour party. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) will remember that he was then a research officer at Transport house. The EEC was also the subject of discussion among the Conservative party. The conflict of views about going into Europe which was led by men whom I respected, such as Ernest Bevin, Attlee and Churchill, was not because they were evil men but because they came from a generation when going into Europe and eschewing the open sea was something that they could not comprehend. Now, with a wider membership and, as the right hon. Member for Blaby said, with what is happening in eastern Europe, with a broadening role in the face of new problems, and with the changes of the war years over, I have come to believe not that we should just be members but that we should play a more positive role not only to influence the future, which is important, but to change the existing system.
I wish to refer to some of the existing institutions of the EC. Beyond Maastricht, we must consider those institutions closely. I look askance at the presidency system. Small countries are initiating discussion and moving forward on matters such as defence and foreign affairs about which they know very little. The Dutch Foreign Minister could draw up a constitution on every subject under the sun every morning before breakfast. Perhaps he could do one for Northern Ireland.