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Column 576parities, and monetary policy has continued to reflect the anti-inflationary stance of the Bundesbank. The ERM, and with it EMU, is--I fear--back on course.
We cannot imagine, or take it for granted, that the ERM is in a state of total collapse and that we can cease to worry about the imminence of EMU. On the continent, the federalist drive remains powerful and undisguised. The Conservative and Christian Democrat parties--the European People's party, I think they call it--adhere to the Athens declaration of 11 November 1992. On organising the future of Europe, they said :
"the European people's party advocates European unification on the basis of democracy and federalism.
The Maastricht Treaty on Political Union and Economic and Monetary Union provides an appropriate and sturdy framework for European unification . . . but the Treaty on European Union is not enough in itself to achieve the aim of European Union. Starting now we must therefore prepare for the Inter Governmental Conference scheduled for 1996 and draw up a European Constitution.
The Federal Constitution of European Union must be democratic and based on the principle of subsidiarity".
The federal constitution of European Union! What can I say to the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup and his hon. Friends about that ? I understand that the Conservative party has some kind of close relationship with the European People's party. I hope that we shall hear, if not Ministers, then Back-Bench Conservative Members, categorically reject the assertion that that federal aim is shared by the Conservative party of this country. I hope that we shall hear that loud and clear before the end of this debate.
I have not been able to lay my hands on a similar declaration by the Party of European Socialists, of which I find all of a sudden I am a member and which my party has apparently joined. The great majority of continental socialists are federalists. I was pleased, therefore, to receive a communication in my mail this week from my right hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), the shadow Foreign Secretary, in which he nailed what he described as a number of lies, including :
"lie 5 : Labour is Federalist and wants a centralised Europe". I do not know about wanting a centralised Europe, but I am glad to have my right hon. Friend's assertion that it is a lie to suggest that Labour is a federalist party. Let him make that noise again, and let him say it loud and clear.
The Liberal Democrats are openly federalist, but they are not alone in that --so are such influential people as the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup and such influential organisations as the European Movement, which recently published a pamphlet about what Britain's stance should be at the intergovernmental conference in 1996. The pamphlet includes these significant proposals : "the co-operation in the fields of justice and home affairs should be transferred to the competence of the community institutions". So we can say goodbye to that pillar. It continues :
"the common foreign and security policy should be brought by stages into the competence of the community institutions".
If the European Movement had its way, we could say farewell to the other so -called pillar--foreign policy. The document continues : "Britain should renounce its opt-out from the commitment to Economic and Monetary Union . . . The IGC should provide the drawing up of a constitution for the Union".
I believe that hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) is the chairman of the European Movement. He is not in his place today, but that cannot be helped. It is interesting that he should so publicly and openly associate himself with the federalist aim in that document. Its line
Column 577reflects the provision in the Maastricht treaty for the IGC in 1996, which specifically calls for a review to be undertaken of the so-called pillars of which the Foreign Secretary is so proud. Those same federalist views are held by the Institutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, whose recent report was approved by an overwhelming majority of Members of the European Parliament. It is not without significance that, during his recent visit to the European Parliament, Chancellor Kohl gave his support to greatly increased powers for the European Parliament. The federalist goal is the cherished purpose of the European political elite--the classe politique, whose ambitions are so significantly divergent from those of the mass of the populations whom they claim to represent. The 13 May issue of The European contains an interesting MORI survey of European response to the following question :
"on balance do you support or oppose a United States of Europe with a federal government" ?
In four countries--Belgium, Greece, Italy and Spain--those in favour outnumbered opponents, but in the other eight member states, the reverse was true. In the United Kingdom, no fewer than 68 per cent. of the electorate oppose a federal Europe--Liberal Democrats, please note--while only 17 per cent. are in favour.
In 1996, the issue of a federal union will directly confront us in the IGC, but there is an indirect route to the same purpose, which should also deeply concern us--the proposal that we should adopt a single currency and enter the third stage of EMU, which would deny any British Government the effective means of economic
self-government. We must be equally aware of that danger and implacably opposed to that course of action.
I do not agree with the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup that the inevitable consequence of having a single market, a large area of open trade and open movement of capital in Europe is a single currency. I do not believe that the recent formation of the North American Free Trade Agreement will lead to a single currency absorbing the peseta or the Canadian dollar ; nor do I believe that it will lead to a new, wider federal union that is larger than that between those countries.
Mr. Nigel Forman (Carshalton and Wallington) : The right hon. Gentleman gives the instructive example of NAFTA. He is not arguing, is he, that the effective freedom of national authorities, either in Ottawa or in Mexico, is enhanced by the nominal freedom of their currency being allowed to move against the American dollar ?
Mr. Shore : They have considerable freedoms over their economies and their political goals. There is a great difference between claiming that sovereignty is absolute power, which it is not, and that it is self- government, with preferences being made on behalf of a country's people and not at the behest of others. It is an important distinction, which the Canadians understand. After the United States, Britain is the largest English-speaking country in the world, but there are others--Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Are those smaller English-speaking countries about to absorb themselves in a vast political and economic union with either Japan, in the case of Australia and New
Column 578Zealand, or America, in the case of Canada ? Of course not ; they value and are prepared to defend their national self- government and freedom--and so should we.
I have already referred to the Prime Minister's article in The Economist last autumn, which gave considerable encouragement to those of us who do not like the idea of economic and monetary union. Nothing would give me more satisfaction than to hear Ministers say that they have not only temporarily opted out of the commitment to the third stage of EMU, a European central bank and the single currency but have concluded that those goals are not for us, and that on no account will we accept them.
I should like a similar commitment from my party. During the passage of the Maastricht Bill, it was depressing that, after the tabling of amendment after amendment to strike out the commitment to a single European currency, to the goals of convergence, to a European central bank and to the proscription on public borrowing beyond 3 per cent. of GDP, those proposals were voted down by the Government, with the Opposition sitting on their hands and abstaining.
Last September, I was much encouraged by the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the then Leader of the Opposition, who, sadly, is no longer with us. It is important that his words should be noted. He said :
"Today I re-affirm the aim and the goal of full employment remain at the heart of Labour's vision for Britain. Labour's economic strategy will ensure that all instruments of macro economic management, whether it concerns interest rates, the exchange rate or the levels of borrowing will be geared to sustained growth and rising employment".
That speech was an implicit--almost explicit--repudiation of economic and monetary union, a single currency and a European central bank. One cannot deploy all the instruments of interest rate, exchange rate and levels of borrowing without repudiating the doctrine of economic and monetary union in the Maastricht treaty.
I hope that that commitment will be re-affirmed by the Labour Front-Bench spokesman later tonight.
The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup told us that we should urge the British people to vote in the forthcoming European election. My reply to that is, "Yes, but we should be clear-sighted." The one thing that will not arise in the election--to my regret and, probably to that of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup--is a serious judgment on Europe and our future in it. It will not even be mentioned in most of the speeches that are made. The election will be a judgment on the Government's performance in recent years. The right hon. Gentleman knows that as well as I do, so let us be reasonably impartial. We shall urge all our fellow citizens to vote but--whatever his party label--I ask them not to vote for a self-proclaimed European federalist.
Mr. David Howell (Guildford) : I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this rather calm debate on what is undoubtedly a very contentious subject. The House wishes to debate the issue in a mood that is inevitably sombre after the tragedy of last week. In the document that is the subject of our debate, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, whose absence I
Column 579quite understand--he is attending a Council meeting of Community Foreign Ministers--states rather hopefully that he believes that the dust has now settled on the Maastricht debate. I wish that he was right, but I cannot agree with him.
I believe that the issues raised before, during and after the Maastricht treaty process remain important and very much to the fore. I do not believe that the dust has settled ; nor do I believe that the position of the party of which I am a member is quite as it is so joyfully described by the media and by its critics, including the Opposition, although that is a reasonable position for the latter to hold. They claim that my party is wholly divided, like an orange, and sliced between two contrary views on the future of the European Union.
I may already be defying the tone of earlier speeches, but I believe that it is wrong and that, in my party and, I suspect, in the Opposition, there is substantial common ground on the type of Europe of which we want to be part and on how we believe it should develop in the years ahead. Such common ground not only exists but is growing all the time. It not only has supporters in this country but is gaining adherents in all member states. That is certainly my experience, even in the so-called olive states of Spain and Italy, although I do not know so much about Greece.
What is that common ground ? Let me try the patience of the House a little and describe that common ground on which I am convinced that my party and the country can unite and present a powerful front. I believe that we should get away from the various labels. We have been accused of being marginalised and isolated and of standing out against the European process, something which I would not wish to do.
Some colleagues may object to this, but I believe that most of us want to argue from within Europe. We want not to be silent or to accept everything that is rolled out but to argue from within. Our future does not lie in walking away from the right kind of European Union, for which we can and should fight and argue.
Such a Europe is a Europe of nation states, states of diversity which do not seek to have uniform standards imposed on them and which do not wish to be merged into a super-state. Those who argue otherwise and talk about the inevitable destiny of a Europe that is going to be a great political power bloc in a world divided into many such blocs have an old-fashioned and outdated view of how the variegated world will develop.
It should be a Europe of nation states, and that view is increasingly shared by those who vote, speak and act in the Parliaments and legislatures of the member states as they realise that some people really were contemplating the alternative--a Europe not comprised of nation states.
The characteristic of our stance should be that we put to the fore a clear and dynamic view of what we want to achieve at the 1996 intergovernmental conference. I do not accept that that conference will be a tinkering affair, a way of tidying up post-Maastricht, while we roll towards the goals asserted by the high priest of Maastricht. Those who say that there is nothing much to be done in 1996 so we had better squeeze all that we can from it while the process rolls on are adopting a dangerous attitude.
In 1996, there will be a need for Union reform, not tinkering. We shall need institutional change, even constitutional change. Although the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) does not like to talk about the constitution of a future Europe, we shall and
Column 580should be involved. We should not be frightened of talking about constitutional issues in the type of Europe that we want or of setting off on the right road. If we do not proceed, the present constitution--that embodied in the existing treaties--will be the one to roll forward the process, and that is not the type of Europe of which I wish to be a member. I believe that a growing number of people in Europe feel the same.
I do not feel "comfortable"--to use the phrase of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary--with the European constitution, the structure of European treaties or the way in which they are being interpreted today. Many people feel the same.
Nor do I feel happy with the concept of a multi-speed Europe which implies that, although different bands of European countries will move in different collective groups towards various objectives, there is nevertheless an overall sensation of speed and movement towards an integrated whole. Statesmen who want a settled Europe instead of constant upheaval and argument about how we should live in great single market that we have yet to build would be wise to seek equilibrium rather than rush towards this or that objective in this or that collective mood. We need a settled Europe.
I hope that most members of my party will agree that 1996 will provide an opportunity to halt the federalist agenda so accurately described by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney. Unlike him, I believe that it can be halted. He has long held the view that it cannot and that the process is inevitable. If we are strong and confident and hold our position, I believe that we can change the direction and tone of many of the openly federalist commitments of members of the older generation who are influencing the Brussels scene.
For many years, I have followed the words of Jacques Delors, a man of vast ability who has many admirable qualities, but whose recent comments are becoming increasingly bizarre. He seems to be asserting ever more stridently a type of old-fashioned centralism against the wishes of the people of Europe. He was quoted the other day--although I hope that it is nothing more than a mistranslation--as saying that people who did not share his integrationist views were racist. That implies that all those in the member states--but especially those in Britain--who do not agree with the centralising process inherent in his ideas for political and monetary union are to be branded as racists.
There is a strong consensus in my party--perhaps the word "consensus" is unfashionable and "common ground" might be a safer expression nowadays--on the need to formulate a policy about the way in which we want to shape Europe after 1996. What does that mean ? It certainly means that the Commission's monopoly of the power to initiate legislation should be curbed, a notion to which I attach great importance. If this is not too intimate an affair for the Opposition to hear, I notice that intensive discussions at grass-roots level in our party have produced a series of recommendations suggesting precisely that.
Although members want to stay in the European Union and argue from within, they want the Commission's powers to be curbed. We must work out precisely how that can be done. We have to make precise proposals for altering the legal procedures by which it is decided whether a matter belongs to the competencies of the Commission, the central machinery of the Community or to the nation
Column 581states. We must also re-examine the European Court of Justice ; we cannot allow judgments constantly to be made in favour of the Union. I listened in vain to the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat -Amory), waiting to hear his view of how national Parliaments, including ours, are to play a formal part in the procedures of subsidiarity and the government of the Community. The Maastricht treaty contains some fine words about national Parliaments playing their part. However, I have heard nothing since on how that should be brought about.
We know that Chancellor Kohl has sent a letter to the European Parliament inviting it to the party. It has been invited to participate directly in shaping the agenda for 1996. It concerns me that for this Parliament and for other national Parliaments, the high-flown phrases of the Maastricht- makers have not turned into anything. No proposals exist of any kind other than that we are allowed to have debates such as we are having now.
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle) : On the subject of Mr. Jacques Delors and national Parliaments, does my right hon. Friend think that this Parliament should have, for example, more of a role in the appointment of a successor to Mr. Jacques Delors ?
Mr. Howell : That may well be so. We need at least to assert the type of people whom we expect to see as the Commissioners of a future European community. They should, after all, be servants of the people of Europe and not their masters.
I have no criticisms of the skill and importance of some of the great men and women who propose themselves as candidates for the Commission in the future ; I hope that future Commissions will be composed of some of the best and brightest brains in Europe. However, I hope that they will be officials and not people with a high political profile. We are certainly entitled to have that opinion and I believe that we would be served in that way.
"Subsidiarity" is an elastic word. I believe that we are united in believing that it is not just a legal concept which can be solved by legal rulings, let alone by the European Court of Justice. It is political concept and a political judgment, so judgments must be made by politically legitimate bodies. That is why I conclude that we cannot accept that the list drawn up of what should be
subsidiarised--if there is such a word--or devolved from the Community should be drawn up by the Commission or even that Governments should get together, draw up lists and discuss them with the Commission. It is central to the political role of this House and of other national legislatures that we should have a say in what should be unravelled and decentralised from the Community, in terms of future powers and, indeed, of existing powers.
There are people who argue that what one is saying is all very fine, but that the game is lost--the thing has rolled away from us and there is nothing to be said in 1996. That is profoundly wrong. On every side, there is a growing army of people who understand very well that we want a new kind of European Union with new priorities. It will be a wider body which is based much more on the nation states.
Column 582The accession countries tend to have gone along with Maastricht to see the accession business through. However, when one travels to those countries and talks intimately to the business and political leaders, one finds a very different tone, whether in Helsinki, in Stockholm or, to some extent, in Oslo. As I said, if one goes to Madrid, which used to be the ultimate home of federalist enthusiasm, one now hears a totally different view as the people there begin to understand the British arguments. As a senior Minister there told me the other day, "We the Spanish--and our arguments--are converging with you."
While we focus on the wrong objectives, which we must change in 1996, the real objectives for the modern Europe, which some of us thought we were fighting for and building, are slipping away from us. What is the real objective ? It is that the whole of Europe should be democratic and in the democratic community. What is happening while we are having all these arguments ? Recycled communists are slipping back into power in country after country in eastern and central Europe. They are beginning to creep back in Hungary ; they are back in the Ukraine ; they are back in Lithuania ; and they are beginning to have a greater influence in Poland.
Our children and grandchildren would say, "Having fought in the war and then having seen the tragedy of Europe split, you had an opportunity ; then came the wonderful opportunity of these countries coming back to democracy. Yet you argued about the finer points of monetary and political union while these countries slipped away again." They would never forgive us.
This is where the priority lies and this is where the idealism lies, if we are trying to put the idealism back into Europe, as I believe we should. We should concentrate on the real issues of history and get away from the absurdities of trying to impose the political agenda of a single currency, which will, of course, never work. A common currency--a hard ecu--might work, but the goal of a single currency, as George Soros and others regularly point out, is the way in which to make George Soros rich. It has done so already and will do so again.
We do have a positive agenda. We are building the greatest single market the world has ever seen. It stretches from Lapland and the Gulf of Finland to Lisbon in the west, and from Syracuse in the south to the north of Scotland. This is a mighty enterprise which, if we work at it and get the security aspects right, will bring back into the democratic community all the nations of Europe which belong in Europe including, in my book, the Baltic three, which are just as much part of Europe as are the Visegrad four.
That is the agenda that we should now pursue, without apology or hesitation. It commands wide and growing support in Europe, and it is the one on which we should concentrate if we want to see the right kind of Europe after 1996.
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) : I have addressed many audiences and many chambers, but none quite as intimidating as this, with my true friends behind me and my real opponents facing me. I gather that convention demands that one must be polite, so polite one must be. I am very conscious of coming to the House in place of Jimmy Boyce, a man who came from a part of our society about which not enough of us know. He was unemployed
Column 583for many years, a victim of the very cruel policies that have cost so much for some of the great talents of our nation over the past 15 years. I come from a different background, but I will fight for the causes that Jimmy supported. I hope that I can in some way measure up to the service that he provided to Rotherham in the short two years in which he was a Member of this House.
I am also conscious of the fact that I follow in the footsteps of Stan Crowther who is well known to the House and was a great public servant to Rotherham over 50 years of political life. I am also conscious of following in the footsteps of Brian O'Malley, the man who inspired me when I first became involved in politics. He collapsed at the Dispatch Box, another victim of the stress of public life. Like everyone else, I was glad of the tributes paid to John Smith in the press. We speak no ill of the dead ; perhaps from time to time, my old friends in the Gallery may speak some good of the living.
Last week was for me the best of weeks and the worst of weeks. When I came to the House on Tuesday, John Smith greeted me and said that it would be a day that I would remember for the rest of my life. John Smith talked of a dream, but the dream was extinguished when, on Thursday, he left us. He spent a whole day with me in Rotherham, seeing the steel plant and the college, and talking to Asians and to party members. He left a message of hope for a new and better Britain.
I am proud to have been elected by the people of Rotherham to represent their interests in Parliament. They have not always been so happy in their choice. The first Member for Rotherham--a Member for Yorkshire in those days--was Sir Thomas Wentworth, later the Earl of Strafford. Older Members of the House may remember that he was executed on a Bill of Attainder in 1641. He was promised that his life would be saved by none other than King Charles I, but he was, of course, sacrificed.
Alas, the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont) and the right hon. and learned Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) are not with us today. They must know how poor Thomas Wentworth felt as they, too, were given the full support of a Prime Minister--a sure sign that they were about to mount the political scaffold.
"Put not your trust in princes",
were Thomas Wentworth's last words. The spirit of Rotherham and, indeed, of Yorkshire ever since has been one of sturdy self-reliance and a rejection of authoritarianism and the centralising forces that Toryism has represented throughout the ages.
Rotherham was the place where Thomas Paine, that most noble of commoners, who brought democracy to America and the "Rights of Man" to Europe, even as he was forced into exile by the Pitt Government, built his great suspension bridge. I do not know how many hon. Members know that Thomas Paine was a great manufacturer as well as a great democrat. The bridge was a feat of great engineering, as important as in many ways as his enunciation of the rights of man. Paine's bridge was built by the Walker Brothers of Rotherham, whose cannons sunk Napoleon's fleet at Trafalgar.
What would Tom Paine find if he returned to Rotherham today ? The great manufacturies, on which Adam Smith based his "Wealth of Nations", have all but disappeared, 25,000 jobs have gone since 1979 and the coal mines, which once promised Britain its own energy source safe from the perils of foreign disturbances, are now capped. The local council, with the money and the will to
Column 584build homes for the homeless, is prevented from doing so by the most centralised administration since that of Charles I.
Paine would find poverty in Rotherham, I am sad to say, as bad as anywhere in Europe. Indeed, he was dismissed from Government service for arguing for fair wages for public servants. Poorly paid public service, he argued, attracts only the ill-qualified and breeds corruption, collusion and neglect. He went on :
"An augmentation of salary sufficient to enable workers to live honestly and competently would produce more good effect than all the laws of the land can enforce."
I offer that to our low-wage merchants on the Government side of the House. We already knew that Thomas Paine was a great democrat and a friend of Rotherham manufacturing, but it came as news, even to me, that he believed in a statutory minimum wage 200 years before its time.
For all those problems, Paine would find, as would anyone who visits Rotherham, a town and a people whose spirits are unbroken despite all that has been thrown at them in the past 15 years. The pedestrianised town centre, which is one of the nicest in Europe, is spoiled only, alas, by the pressure on shopkeepers arising from the declining purchasing power of the citizens of Rotherham.
One of the world's most advanced engineering steel plants, UES, is at the cutting edge of modern technology. I must to say my hon. Friends, talk not of steel as an old industry. Steel is one of the most modern and advanced sectors of our economy.
There are new partnerships between the chamber of commerce, the training and enterprise council, the local council and the trade unions, which support unity and a common cause to promote Rotherham. Tom Paine would also find a very great sense--Tom Paine was, if nothing else, an internationalist--of feeling that, if Rotherham is to succeed, Britain must play its full part in Europe, because Britain is part of Europe as surely as Yorkshire is part of Britain. I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath), the Father of the House, who, since 1938, has stood for, yes, a Tory vision of internationalism against isolationism and that yellow streak of appeasement and opting out, which has always shamed the Conservative party, as it shames it in so much of its policy today.
We are part of Europe and the Euro-septics on the Government Benches may want their cash-and-carry Europe, in which each state takes what it wants. They decry centralisation, yet they have gone through the Division Lobby voting for measure after measure after measure to transfer power from local authorities--indeed, from the House--to give it to their friends in privatised companies and quangos. I want to see power shared downward to the regions, to communities, horizontally to the sister units of civil society in Europe, but, above all, I want to see power made accountable. If we are to live in an international community in which trade and travel and money and ideas can go through porous frontiers, at least we, as human beings, as subjects of Her Majesty, as citizens of Europe, should have the right to have the human spirit protected through regulation of trans- frontier activity. Yes, Europe is too important to be left to Brussels, but if we are to fight for British interests, we must do so by promoting transparency, democracy and
Column 585accountability in all European institutions. R.H. Tawney described the hereditary disease of the English nation as "the reverence for riches" and went on :
"If men are to respect each other for what they are, they must cease to respect each other for what they own."
I apologise to the hon. Ladies present and to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for the references to the rights of man and quoting men. I see myself, after post-modernism and post-industrialism, as the first "PPC"--post- politically correct--hon. Member.
England is the most money-obsessed country in Europe. Switch on the BBC and every five seconds there is some Brylcreemed spokesperson for the bond markets telling us how the dollar is doing. The BBC and ITV tell us the price of the stock market at any moment, anywhere in the world, but have ceased to report on the values needed to bring cohesion back to our communities. I do not blame them. They take their lead from those who rule our society and until we get public interest hands on the tiller of the state, instead of the sticky fingers of so many of the Conservative Members and their friends in the till, the media can do no more than take a lead from those who put a price on everything, but know the value of nothing. For all our obsession with cash, Britain remains the poor man of Europe. Italy's gross domestic product per capita in 1960 was exactly one half of Great Britain's. Now, it has overtaken us. We have been so busy preaching at Europe and trying to teach Europe the secrets of the United Kingdom's economic record, we have committed, to use James Fenton's phrase--how pleased I was to see my old friend become professor of poetry at Oxford on Saturday
"the fault of thinking small and acting big".
Perhaps we have forgotten that we have some lessons to learn ; lessons about partnership, lessons about the successful countries in Europe. Germany, even after unification, has a lower unemployment record than our own. The Benelux countries and the new entrants are successful, too. Those who proclaim themselves Thatcherites, such as in the Prime Minister's favourite holiday country Spain, have the worst record of job creation and balanced development.
The core answer from Europe--one of vital importance to Rotherham and one to which I intend to commit myself in the House--is that manufacturing is not dead and, despite all the best efforts of the Government, should not die. The rising sun has been coming here continually to try to save a sinking England, but we now find that Japanese investment is going to Germany, to France and is leaving these shores.
If I may refer, as a socialist, to my favourite Sunday reading, The Sunday Telegraph tells us how well Germany is doing, that the Japanese research and development centres are installing themselves there and that the Japanese now prefer to be in Germany because of its high skill base, good labour relations and its position as Europe's engine of growth.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) blamed our balance of trade on Europe. I have to say to him that it is 15 years of anti-manufacturing policies, of the destruction of partnership, of the lack of investment and the money that
Column 586has flowed overseas that has been at fault. In fact, if we would learn from our European partner competitors, Britain would be in a much better shape.
It is not only an economic question. I was privileged to have many conversations with John Smith when he was in Rotherham and he talked of the constitutional changes that Labour would like to introduce, such as the end of the absurd spectacle of hereditary Members in another place making and casting laws, the need for national Governments for Scotland and Wales and regional assemblies, and the need for a referendum--not on electoral reform as I see it, but on re-thinking the way in which we govern ourselves. That is part of the constitutional package that I think is necessary for a new Britain. As with John Smith's commitment to full employment and to trade union rights, we are seeing fleshed out a new programme to reconstruct our lives in Britain as great as that which we saw after the war, but, this time, with us secure in the heart of Europe. A Europe of what ? Is it a "Europe des patries" as General de Gaulle said ? That is difficult for us. We have four nations, but what is our fatherland ? That is not a word that we can use easily as British people. It is not a united states of Europe or a stepping stone to Tennyson's "Parliament of the World", either. After many years working in Europe, I find the Germans more German, the French more French and the Italians more Italian. It is only we in Britain who seem to live in a permanent identity crisis about who we are and what it means to be British. That is because the old Toryism is dying. The new Labourism is not yet born. As a consequence, the morbid symptoms of corruption and xenophobia that lie at the heart of the Cabinet are everywhere to be found where the Government are at work.
Those who are hostile to Europe are to be found in all nations. We have the Euro-sceptics here, there are the French communists and now we have the Italian fascists. I have with me the programme of Philippe de Villiers, the conservative right-winger in France. He wants Europe to be protected against any imports from outside the Community. He wants also a Europe in which national controls stop immigration. Like the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my father came here in the 1930s. He was a refugee from fascist Europe. The Europe that is described by Philippe de Villiers is not one of which I want to be part. Indeed, I am not even sure whether Conservative Members believe in such a Europe.
Closing the door to foreign immigrants and to exports from around the world is not a Europe in which we need to believe. We in Europe should defend our interests, but, at the same time, we in this country should deepen our friendship with countries such as Germany and--I declare an interest because my wife is French--France. In the words of Victor Hugo,
"France is the adversary of England as the better is the enemy of the good."
I am conscious of returning to the country that made me. I have returned from elsewhere in Europe, where I worked for many years. I have learnt much, and some of that learning I might bring to the House. I am not
"A steady patriot of the world alone,
The friend of every country but his own."
I remain British. I am proud of the schools that made me and of the health service that put me together when I cracked my head open in the 1950s. I am hopeful that such
Column 587again could be the kind of United Kingdom in which my children can grow up. It is a country in which we always refer to faith, hope and charity. But greater than any of those concepts is justice. I will argue for justice for the people of Rotherham. I will strive for economic justice for the unemployed and social justice for the weak and disabled people of Rotherham. I so much agree with those who say that the best tribute that we could pay to John Smith would be to pass the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, which was recently talked out. There must be "plain justice"--justice for the criminals who walk free in an England that opts out of Europe. In so many parts of our communities, unfortunately, it seems to opt out of decency and law and order. If I can deliver any part of that message during my time in the House on behalf of the people of Rotherham, I shall be well pleased.