Previous Section Home Page

The Prime Minister : I am not sure where the hon. Gentleman heard that, but it did not occur in any discussion to which I was party.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset) : Following directly from the question asked by the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon) about job creation, did not the G7--now G8--countries discuss the introduction of an information super-highway ? Did not they have before them the European Commission's White Paper on growth, competitiveness and trade ? If so, were not they surprised that it is full of the British solution to introducing an information super-highway, which is competition, deregulation and privatisation ?

The Prime Minister : That White Paper was referred to in the discussions, although the super-highway was not mentioned other than in the general sense of greater liberalisation of telecommunications.

Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate) : Will the Prime Minister tell the House why the G7 nations cannot bring pressure to bear on the International Monetary Fund and the World bank on the issue of accountability ? Will pressure be brought to bear on the IMF and the World bank to ensure that in future developing nations will be genuinely treated as equal partners and not as beggars ?

The Prime Minister : I do not think that the IMF views indebted countries in that fashion. It tries to assist them and to help them out of their difficulties. That is one of its purposes. Certainly those IMF officials whom I have met would not in any way characterise the countries in the way that the hon. Lady described them. There is no doubt that there is a need for assistance for those countries. I believe that the IMF provides it. However, as we examine the future of the IMF and other institutions, we need to consider whether that can be done better in the future than it has been done in the past.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South) : Although the whole House welcomes the trade and aid policies being

Column 679

pursued by the European Union towards Gaza and Jericho, does my right hon. Friend agree that the responsibility for helping those parts of the world goes much wider than just Europe ? Was any estimate made of the contribution that the oil-rich Arab states could make to the regeneration process ?

The Prime Minister : My hon. Friend touches upon an important point. There is no doubt that the Arab states--many, although not all, of which are oil-rich--should make a significant contribution to the future development of Gaza. That point is relevant-- [Interruption.] I hear an Opposition Member whispering that some of them have already committed

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : Some of the money has gone.

The Prime Minister : The hon. Gentleman interrupts me. An Opposition Member whispered that some of the Arab states have already contributed. Others have indicated that they will do so.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow) : Was there any discussion of the urgent need to provide continuing financial assistance to those countries most heavily affected by the imposition of United Nations sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro ? The Prime Minister will surely agree that Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Macedonia deserve continuing assistance.

The Prime Minister : There was no specific discussion of that matter, for the simple reason that the international financial institutions take that into account in the assistance that they provide at present.

Mr. Michael Bates (Langbaurgh) : Is my right hon. Friend aware that news that the considerable needs of the poorest nations of the world featured so high on the agenda of a meeting of the richest seven nations will be deeply refreshing to many people throughout the country ? Will he ensure that the review of international institutions, which is long overdue in the eyes of many, will specifically examine

Column 680

the costs of bureaucracy and duplication so that the maximum amount of money can go to those who need it most ?

The Prime Minister : My hon. Friend is entirely right about that. In providing further assistance to many of the poorest countries, there is a need not only for cash assistance--and I do not resile from the fact that much of that is necessary--but to do whatever can be done to ensure that the money is used for the purposes for which it was intended.

Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East) : Did I hear the Prime Minister make a fleeting reference to unemployment and employment creation ? If I did, does the right hon. Gentleman accept Library statistics that show that, in Britain today, only 25 million people are in employment when the peak figure in 1990 was 26 million ? We are 1 million jobs short. Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that, when the G7 nations discussed that matter, they did not settle on the part-time, low-wage, poverty-making employment that the right hon. Gentleman's Government have created ? What will they do to provide real jobs at decent wages for people in G7 countries ?

The Prime Minister : I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that he is completely wrong. Perhaps he would like to tell me how many countries have a higher proportion of their adult population in work than does this country. There is only one in the European Union, and the hon. Gentleman would go a long way outside to find another that is better. The drivel talked by his hon. Friends can safely be ignored.

Mr. Mike O'Brien (Warwickshire, North) : Will the Prime Minister confirm that, either at the summit or in his bilateral discussions with President Clinton, he raised concerns about the fall in the US dollar and the impact that that would have on constituents such as mine who work at Jaguar who need to export to the US market ?

The Prime Minister : No. I am not going to make any comments in the House on currency values.

Column 681

Points of Order

4.16 pm

Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Over the past two years, you have been vigilant on behalf of the legislature in holding the Executive to account in the House. Last week, the Department of Trade and Industry modified its policy in relation to naming an individual who is subject to investigation for insider trading. We are advised that there will be a further statement on the same subject this week by the Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs, the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Hamilton). Would not it be right and appropriate for such a statement to be made on the Floor of the House so that the Executive can be held accountable to us all ?

Madam Speaker : The whole House knows my views on how, why and by what methods the Executive should be held to account on behalf of the people of this country through the House--but I have not been told whether a statement is to be made this week or at any other time.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will have heard of the stories that appeared in The Sunday Times about a confidence trickster who came to the Palace of Westminster. I would describe him as an agent provocateur. Would the correct procedure for any hon. Member

Madam Speaker : Order. I think that I can deal with this matter--I believe that I know the point that the hon. Gentleman wants to raise. I make it clear to the House that anyone who alleges that a breach of privilege has occurred should write to me without delay. I assure the House that I already have that matter under urgent and active consideration. I shall report to the House as soon as I can. The House will be the first to hear my statement. We must proceed. Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley) rose

Madam Speaker : I will take no further points of order on that matter. Is it a totally different point of order ?

Mr. Riddick : On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker : Order. Is it a different point of order ?

Mr. Riddick : Yes, Madam Speaker. May I voice my strong support for the suggestion that an inquiry is set up into the

Madam Speaker : Order. I have heard quite enough. I made my views known to the House. I repeat that I have the matter under urgent and active consideration. The House will know my views as soon as I have reached a decision.

Mr. Riddick rose

Madam Speaker : Order. I will accept no further points of order on that matter.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) rose

Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East) rose

Madam Speaker : Order. I am on my feet. I call Mr. Connarty.

Mr. Connarty : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. During Scottish Question Time last Wednesday, 6 July, as

Column 682

reported in column 304 of Hansard , the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) asked a question about power. I noticed that in the Register of Members' Interests that Member is paid a consultancy fee by Scottish Power and has a car from that company. My point of order is that Members should enter in the register the amount of money that they get

Madam Speaker : Order. At Question Time hon. Members do not have to divulge their interests. I thought that that was known by the entire House.

Mr. Connarty : They should.

Madam Speaker : In that case, the hon. Gentleman must raise the matter with the Select Committee on Procedure.

Mr. Campbell-Savours rose

Madam Speaker : Is it a different point of order ?

Mr. Campbell-Savours : It is, Madam Speaker. Will you rule on a contradiction between two resolutions--a contradiction that will not be dealt with in any announcement that you might make to the House at any stage on the issue of privilege ? One resolution was carried in 1695 and states that the House of Commons resolved that

"the offer of money, or other advantage, to any Member of Parliament for the promoting of any matter whatsoever, depending or to be transacted In Parliament is a high crime and misdemeanour"

Madam Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman has been in the House long enough to know that Speakers do not give procedural advice across the Floor of the House. If the hon. Gentleman writes to me, I shall be happy to give him the best possible advice, but I shall not proceed with the matter now. I have made my decision and that is final.

Mr. Campbell-Savours rose

Madam Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman must resume his seat.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : On what basis does

Madam Speaker : Order. It appears that the hon. Gentleman is concerned about a procedural matter--a matter that he alone is concerned about. He does not know what my eventual ruling will be. If he writes to me, I will give him procedural advice.

Mr. Connarty rose

Madam Speaker : I have already heard a point of order from the hon. Gentleman.

Ms Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate) : The chief executive of the Royal Free hospital trust in my constituency issued a statement on Friday, saying that residents of my constituency in the NW5 postal district would be excluded from that hospital's catchment area due to lack of central Government funding. As that flies in the face of the statement by the Secretary of State for Health

Madam Speaker : Order. That is a totally bogus point of order. That is a matter not for me but for the Executive. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Speaker of this House.

Mr. Connarty : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. During Scottish Question Time, the hon. Member for

Column 683

Colne Valley (Mr. Riddick) used the terms "corruption" and "dubious practice". In the light of the recent revelations, can you rule

Madam Speaker : Order. Will the hon. Gentleman resume his seat ? I have had enough bogus points of order for today. The House must wait for my ruling.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : On a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker : Is it a different point of order ?

Mr. Campbell-Savours : You ruled, Madam Speaker, that matters of procedure should be dealt with in writing to you. I have never heard such a ruling from the Chair before in all my 14 years here. I have heard the ruling that matters of privilege should be dealt with in correspondence to the Speaker. Can I protect the rights of Back-Benchers by exercising my right to ask a question on an issue of procedure, not of privilege, and return to the subject of the two resolutions of the House in 1695 and 1974 ? One is on page

Madam Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman is raising a point of order that is allied to a matter that I have dealt with. I am the first to protect the rights of all Back Benchers and that is what I have done by my decision today. The hon. Gentleman must not pursue that matter.

Let me make one point clear : matters of procedure are not dealt with across the Floor of the House. My predecessors never gave advice across the Floor about the way to proceed. If the hon. Gentleman writes to me, I shall do my utmost to give him the right advice.

Column 684


Unfair Dismissal (Insolvency of Employer)

-- Mr. Harry Cohen, supported by Mr. Harry Barnes, Mrs. Ann Clwyd, Mr. John Cummings, Mr. John Fraser, Mr. John Garrett, Mr. Bruce Grocott, Mr. Norman Hogg, Ms Tessa Jowell, Mr. Chris Mullin, Mr. Dennis Skinner and Mr. David Winnick, presented a Bill to amend section 122 of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 so as to extend the awards of compensation for unfair dismissal which may be paid from the Redundancy Fund in the event of insolvency of the employer ; and for connected purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 15 July, and to be printed. [Bill 145.]

Road Traffic Reduction


Mr. Cynog Dafis, supported by Mr. Jeremy Corbyn, Mr. Paul Flynn, Mr. Dafydd Wigley, Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones, Mr. Elfyn Llwyd, Mr. David Jamieson and Mr. Simon Hughes, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to draw up plans in order to achieve certain stated road traffic reduction targets and the discussion of those plans in Parliament ; to require local authorities to draw up local traffic reduction plans ; and for related purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 21 October 1994, and to be printed. [Bill 146.]


That the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill [ Lords ] be referred to a Second Reading Committee.-- [Mr. Wood.]

Column 685

Orders of the Day

European Union (Accessions) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

4.24 pm

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Bill introduces a treaty whose provisions concern four applicant members joining the European Community. The provisions of the treaty are consequent on all four members' joining. If one of those members, or more--as a result of referendums--were not then to join the Community, what impact would that then have on this legislation and what consequent procedures would we need ?

Madam Speaker : That is a very good question, which the Foreign Secretary may attempt to answer during the debate.

4.25 pm

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Douglas Hurd) : I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

It is quite neat for the Second Reading debate to follow the Prime Minister's account of the summit in Naples. One of the themes of that summit was the need for international institutions to adapt to changed circumstances. For the world has changed. Economies that were recently impoverished are now competing successfully with ours ; we have a world without communism in which the socialist model of development is largely discredited, and a Europe without the Berlin wall in which the words "peace, freedom and democracy" have one meaning and not two.

Those are new thoughts. Have we really understood the implications of such changes for our institutions ? We know how earthquakes happen : when the tectonic plates of the earth shift, earthquakes are followed by aftershocks, and it takes time for the terrain to stabilise and become familiar again. The international terrain is not stable now ; it is not yet familiar again ; the aftershocks are still with us.

We have already made important changes in our institutions. The Bretton Woods institutions mentioned by the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel)-- the IMF and the World bank, which are 50 years old this week--are changing their role and their membership. The GATT is about to become the World Trade Organisation. NATO is adjusting to a new security landscape, reaching eastward through "Partnership for Peace". There is discussion about reforming the United Nations Security Council. The G7 is becoming the G8, and, I hope, is returning to its traditional format of the "fireside chat".

We have made all those changes, but we shall certainly need more. That applies--particularly this afternoon--to the European Union. Old certainties are changing ; unthinking centralism is a theme of the past. Ideas and structures that made sense--good sense, perhaps--for the six original members will make no sense for the European Union of 20 members, or probably more, for which we are heading. That is why subsidiarity, respect for national traditions and diversity are growing themes for the future.

Column 686

One such theme that is influencing the future of the European Union powerfully is the theme of enlargement. That will apply first to the four European Free Trade Association countries-- Austria, Finland, Norway and Sweden--and then, I hope, will apply further east. That is why the Bill is important : it shows that the European Union recognises the need for change in its external as well as its internal affairs.

The Bill follows from the treaty of accession between the European Union and Norway, Austria, Finland and Sweden, which was signed two weeks ago in Corfu. It will ensure that Britain is able to honour the obligations laid down in that treaty ; its passage is essential if we are to ratify the accession treaty and allow those four countries to accede to the Union. The Bill gives effect to the treaty in United Kingdom law by adding it to the list of Community treaties in section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, and clause 2 also approves the treaty for the purposes of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1978.

Let me now deal with the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow). Article 2 of the treaty allows for technical adjustments to be made if an acceding state fails to ratify. My hon. Friend made the reasonable point that each of the four applicants would need referendums in their own countries under their own constitutional procedures ; one referendum has been conducted successfully, and three are awaited. But the people who drafted the treaty were aware of that point. That is why they provided in the treaty for technical adjustments to be made by the Council of the European Union if an acceding state failed to ratify.

Mr. Marlow : I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that helpful information. But the technical adjustments could affect the balance in qualified majority voting. Is there a formula that my right hon. Friend could introduce to the House ? Or could the balance be changed during the technical adjustments--in which case what instrument would be introduced to ratify those adjustments ?

Mr. Hurd : We shall certainly follow up that point. My hon.. Friend the Minister of State can deal with it at greater length in his winding-up speech. There is provision in the treaty to deal with that matter. If such action were needed, the Council of Ministers would make a decision, which would be followed by our own parliamentary procedure. Details of that procedure may be given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State. However, my hon. Friend's point has been covered in the treaty.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary for giving way, but it might be better to deal with this matter now. The Bill refers to the treaty on accession to the European Union, whereas the Act that joined us to what is commonly known as the Maastricht treaty referred only to titles II, III and IV of that treaty. Will the Secretary of State tell us why that formula was not repeated here, with reference only to titles II, III and IV--which of course have the legislative effect, as distinct from those under the prerogative of the Crown ?

Mr. Hurd : We are advised that there is no need to do otherwise than is provided for in the Bill because there would be no effect in United Kingdom law. The Bill covers the points that it needs to cover and not others.

This is a short but significant Bill. I shall try to explain briefly why enlargement to cover the four countries will

Column 687

substantially benefit Britain, our consumers and our businesses. The Bill and the treaty point the European Union in the right direction. We are showing by enlargement that we realise that half of Europe is not the whole of Europe--that the European Union is not an exclusive club but an extended family of nations. No family can shut out its members and stay at ease with itself. We should not treat our success in the European Union as a commodity that we hoard to ourselves. It is a model to emulate and a prize to be shared. We have held that view in this country for a long time. No other Government have argued as forcefully as ours that the European Union should open its doors. No other leaders have argued as strongly as the Prime Minister and Baroness Thatcher that Europe is not an exclusive club.

Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North) : Will the right hon. Gentleman give way ?

Mr. Hurd : No. I should like to continue for a little while. When we began the argument, it was very controversial. At first, it met stiff resistance. The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) knows that because he has followed these matters and held more consistent opinions on them than most Opposition Members. He knows perfectly well that the idea of widening the Community jarred harshly with the old-fashioned idea that European construction came only by the steady centralisation of power in Brussels. The cry was, "We must deepen, we must not widen." Opponents of enlargement, who were strong at one time, saw it as an unwelcome distraction from the gradual centralisation of power. We had to argue at Maastricht--and we prevailed in the argument--that the treaty should include the right signal that any member state could apply to become a member of the Union.

Mr. Radice : It is true that the Government have been in favour of enlargement and I congratulate them on that, but it is a bit much not to acknowledge that the united Germany has always been in favour of enlargement as well. It was Mr. Kohl who said that the borders of the European Union should not end on the Oder-Neisse line, and he was right.

Mr. Hurd : Indeed, Mr. Kohl and the unified Germany have made that point ; we were making it substantially in advance of that.

Mr. Radice : No.

Mr. Hurd : History shows that clearly.

We kept up the impetus on behalf of enlargement during the British presidency and at the European Council in Edinburgh in December 1992. That was when the decision was taken to open negotiations promptly with Austria, Finland, Norway and Sweden. At the same time, we held out the prospect of membership for the new democracies of eastern Europe. It was really no accident that it was our presidency that marked the decisive point in the history of enlargement.

Those four countries are, of course, all members of the European Free Trade Association. We in Britain thought for a time that the European free trade area would provide an alternative to membership of the European Economic Community--a way of having our cake and eating it. We saw it as a means of increasing trade and co-operation with Europe without having to give up any power to

Column 688

supranational institutions. After a year or so--I am talking of 30 years ago--we realised that that was an error and that a free trade area alone would not provide the European prosperity that we desired. We also realised that the European Community, with the powerful economies of Germany and France at its heart, was destined to be a major player in Europe and that it would not be to our benefit to remain outside. That is why, with the Danes, we left EFTA in 1972 and joined the European Community.

A number of European countries could not do that. The Norwegian Government wanted to join the EC, but the Norwegian people voted against membership in 1972. Finland's long border with Russia made it very cautious about provoking the Soviet Union by moving towards closer integration with western Europe. Then the plates shifted ; the world changed. The cold war ended and the collapse of the Soviet threat allowed Finland and the other neutral countries--Austria, Sweden and Switzerland--to look again at their policies towards western European institutions. They no longer felt that they had to remain outside for security reasons and they began to weigh up the benefits of EC membership.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West) : Can my right hon. Friend give us some explanation of what he understands by the word "deepening" in a European context ? We want to know whether we are to welcome those four countries so that the European Union may be loosened up or whether we shall be told continuously that it is possible to have further deepening as well as enlargement and even that it may become necessary to have a single currency because we have more members in the European Union.

Mr. Hurd : I can think of several arguments for a single currency, but not that one. The two processes--deepening and widening--have to be considered separately on their merits. What we rejected in the early days was the idea that we could not enlarge because we had to spend all our time deepening. The two things are entirely separate. What we are dealing with here is enlargement. The treaty of Maastricht is the basis on which the Community will rest for the next few years. What we are discussing now is the extent to which the Community should be enlarged on that basis.

Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East) : May I none the less coax my right hon. Friend into agreeing that the striking feature about the four countries now joining, subject to the referendums, is that they have all strongly reiterated their adherence to deeper integration as the only way in which to take the Community forward ? They have all said that with great emphasis in all their official statements.

Mr. Hurd : Before I close, I shall analyse rather more clearly what the role of the four countries is likely to be. I shall spend a little time on that before I conclude.

I was talking about what happened when the cold war ended and how that altered the view of the four countries. Something else happened. Around the same time, or a year or two earlier, the member states of the European Community decided to form a single market. The Single European Act in 1986 marked a new stage in the development of the Community. Its businesses were gradually able to operate on a truly European scale for Europe-wide growth and prosperity. The EFTA countries rightly feared that they would be sidelined as business and

Column 689

investment were drawn to the greater opportunities then offered by the Community. That is why the EFTA countries joined the Community to form the European Economic Area which covered all the EFTA countries except Switzerland and virtually all the single market legislation of the Community.

So the four countries with which we are concerned today are already members of the single market. They have already taken on most of the European Community legislation in that area. The point that I am making, however, is that they are not satisfied with that. They have no real say in the drafting of new legislation which affects them. They have no seat at the table where it is decided and they are excluded from other areas of European policy--the common commercial policy, financial and fiscal policies, the intergovernmental pillars of the treaty of Maastricht, the work-together on foreign policy, and the work-together on Home Office matters such as the drive against crime and the drug trade.

Rather than settle for that second-class status in Europe, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Austria all elected to go the whole way for what they saw as the big prize : to take their place in shaping the future of Europe rather than allowing others to shape their future without them. They recognise that only by joining the European Union can they have a say in the decisions that affect the whole of Europe, and that only by taking their seats at the European table can they truly play a part in Europe's future.

Next Section

  Home Page