communautaire--includes reference to all matters relating to Austria, Finland, Sweden and Norway. If I may say so, it would be out of order to rule such matters out of order on the ground that they are irrelevant.
Column 1057However, he is wrong again. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) wishes to challenge the Chair, I shall have to take appropriate action. This is not a Second Reading debate ; it is a Committee stage and we are debating clause 1 stand part. There are four countries involved. If the hon. Member for Stafford thinks that this is a great joke, perhaps he will share it with me afterwards. We are dealing with four countries : we are not dealing with other countries that may wish to join the European Community at some time in the future. I make that point to the hon. Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) and I hope that he will return to relevant matters.
Mr. Dykes : It is a different point of order. May I seek your guidance ? The House will be grateful for your ruling on the previous matter. In a clause 1 stand part debate, it is normal for people to make speeches which are relevant to the clause and which are spontaneous in the sense of an intrinsic debate rather than reading a closely typewritten script somewhat akin to Kim Il-sung's final speeches.
The Chairman : The House recognises that the hon. Member for Colchester, North has done an assiduous amount of research and preparation. Unfortunately, his research has gone beyond the clause under discussion. Perhaps he will amend his notes accordingly.
My speech principally concerns clause 1, which refers to the accession treaty involving the four countries. If we approve the clause, it will take Europe in one direction or another ; I wish to discuss which direction the Community is taking in approving the clause.
In the accession treaty there is no sign of the development of a multi- track Community. The central pillar of the Union remains inviolate. None of the applicant states sought so much as an opt-out from the social chapter or from monetary union or from any other aspect of the European Community. By the accession they become obliged to accept every jot and tittle of the acquis communautaire and to accept its ever-widening reach and scope. The enlargement is likely to strengthen the centralising tendencies of the Community. It gives a wider field of national protagonists for the central institutions of the Community to play off one against the other. Even our vain efforts to achieve a minor concession on the arrangements for qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers was ruthlessly brushed aside and condemned as obstructive.
There are two conclusions to be drawn from this. First, the enlargement will serve to maintain the federalist
Column 1058agenda in the European Community. After all, that is what the applicant Governments want and it can be explained easily. The countries had no need overtly to join western Europe when they were held to us by the iron curtain. Today, particularly as small states, they fear exclusion from a bloc which is no longer defined by super-power politics but which defines itself by its supra-national institutions, its laws, policies and interests. Article B of the Maastricht treaty specifically establishes the objective of the Union
"to assert its identity on the international scene".
Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Cromarty and Skye) : I have been listening with great interest to the hon. Gentleman's remarks and I acknowledge the consistency that he and many of his colleagues sitting around him have adopted on these matters. If the Bill and the proposed accession of the four countries, to use his phrase, serves only to maintain the federalist momentum of the European Union, how can the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues fail to vote against it since they are opposed in principle to any federalist momentum ?
Mr. Jenkin : It does not accelerate the process that is already under way. It reinforces it. It does not reverse it in the way that the Government have declared. I shall deal with the only way to reverse the centralising tendencies of the European Community later in my comments.
With communism no longer the defining threat, with NATO unsure of its ongoing role, with increasing emphasis upon Europe organising its own security--however unrealistic that may be--and against the background of endemic European protectionism towards the east, the applicant states feel safer in the embrace of the Franco-German axis than outside it. That is despite their superior economic performance over the past 20 years. Although I welcome their accession and their net contributions to the burgeoning EC budget, I wonder whether they will find that accession helps them to adapt more quickly to the ever more competitive world in which we live. Do they believe, vainly, that federalism will obviate the need to become competitive ? The second conclusion is that the Government must continue to adapt new policies and a new coherent anti-federalist approach to Europe in time for the intergovernmental conferences in 1996. That is not helped by the present and rather laughable ambiguity on the single currency.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the fresh impetus that he has brought to our thinking with his writings and speeches. He is right to place emphasis on free trade and the wider enlargement needed to stabilise the new democracies in eastern Europe. He is right to labour the need to end the requirement for uniformity across Europe. The nation states of Europe are not regions to be absorbed into a superstate--they are Europe itself. By his Corfu veto, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is right to practise the tactics that he will need to employ to avoid the United Kingdom's absorption into a federal Europe in 1996. I congratulate my right hon. Friend because this is not retrospection or reaction. It is the sort of modernisation of the Conservative party that we must have if we are to remain in government, having already held office for such a long period. Neither Europe nor the world has stood still in the past 15 years, and nor must we.
On Monday the Foreign Secretary said that our task was to understand the need for change. It is because of that comment that I feel it necessary to intervene now. I believe that we must pass the Bill, but if we pass the Bill and do not follow it with other similar developments it will be an example of further unwisdom.
The hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) may remember that when I first came to the House in the 1970s I spoke against entry into the Common Market. I had advanced a similar view for some years before then and I did so because I was convinced that a Common Market built on and almost exclusively concerned with the common agricultural policy was not necessarily in the interests of Britain or of a wider Europe. I spoke against it in the House and I voted against it. When the referendum debates took place I was the most junior and humble member of the Foreign Office team and I campaigned and voted against it. However, as a democrat I had to accept that the referendum decision was significant. When the Government saw the Single European Act through Parliament, that development had a considerable effect on those of us who had taken a different view. The logic now is that the widening of Europe is a process which must be continued. As the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) pointed out on Monday, there are serious implications because, as Europe widens, the pressure upon the common agricultural policy becomes even more acute and I believe that that is a highly desirable end. It might also be desirable if, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Gapes) pointed out, Europe becomes more intelligent in its approach to defence and security. That would be welcome. As you will be aware, Mr. Morris, I have probably served longer on the Council of Europe and the Western European Union than is good for me--certainly longer than any Labour Member or, I think, any Conservative Member. I have been closely involved in the developments there for a long time. In April, a planeload of Russian parliamentarians, led by Mr. Zhirinovsky, came to Strasbourg. He was clearly opposed to the European developments of which hon. Members on both sides of the House approve. In a serious speech, he called for the restoration of the Baltic states as Russian provinces. He also made a number of other serious comments. The worrying thing was that not one of the substantial number of Russian parliamentarians, most of whom were supposed to be strongly opposed to his policy, would publicly dissent from his outrageous comments.
Last week in Austria, Mr. Zhirinovsky paraded his views at the conference on security and co-operation in Europe. He attacked the west for rearming and planning to invade Russia. As history changes rapidly, the House should consider his other comment that there would soon need to be an eastern European economic bloc. He did not say a new eastern European military alliance--even Mr. Zhirinovsky recognises economic weakness when it stares him in the face. He could perceive the possibility of two Europes developing, which would be hostile to each other. Such a development would not in the best interests of our sub-continent. For that reason, the Bill should be passed, but it must be succeeded by further Bills which will widen Europe in an intelligent way or it will be of little value. We should pass the Bill, even at the cost of treading on
Column 1060those countries which value and benefit from the common agricultural policy a great deal more than we do, with only 2 per cent. of our population dependent on agriculture. The political health of Europe in the 21st century requires this measure. I welcome the accession of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Austria because they are more natural allies of the British than some other member states. As Europe widens to the south, it may bring in countries warmer than Britain normally is, but less notable for their political probity than we normally are. They may be more excitable or less efficient than we normally are. We need Sweden, Norway and Finland to be with us.
I am less enthusiastic about Austria. I, and those who study Europe carefully, perceive the possible development of a German hegemony, with Germany, Hungary, the Czechs, the Slovaks and the Slovenians forming a tighter economic accord than may be good for member states, even the more recently amiable French. That development must be balanced by the addition of the Baltic countries at the earliest possible date, which would provide a balance in the European Community. Those countries would inject not merely probity, but a closer attachment to efficient administration than some people have become accustomed to in Brussels in the past 20 or 30 years. For that reason, I welcome the Bill and the clause. The Minister should understand, however, that if the Government do not seek to establish good relationships with those countries and to ensure that the Community's boundaries continue to be changed quickly, we shall not gain any advantage.
There is another anxiety. You may have been present, Mr. Morris, on the historic occasion in Strasbourg when Mr. Gorbachev spoke about the need to build the common house of Europe. I listened with passionate approval to that speech. Unlike some Conservative Members, I was on my feet when Mr. Gorbachev walked in. I was delighted, however, that everyone was on his feet when Mr. Gorbachev walked out at the end of his important speech, which was entirely consistent with the aims of the Bill.
Unfortunately, both the British Government and the American Government issued statements on Mr. Gorbachev's speech earlier than they should have done--even before he had sat down. He started his speech an hour late because his journey from Paris was delayed. The comments of the British Government and the American Government after that important, visionary speech were aimed at pouring cold water on and dampening the implications of Mr. Gorbachev's speech. We treated him badly that day and the summit treated him badly when it left him exposed and vulnerable and allowed him to be overthrown.
The fact remains that Mr. Gorbachev's vision was correct. If we are to achieve the common house of Europe and, therefore, a peaceful Europe, we must ensure that the momentum created by the Bill is maintained. If it is not maintained, the Bill merely causes further difficulty and an internal hotch-potch of bureaucratic incompetence. I remain critical of the administration and the limited vision which still exist in Brussels ; only through the pursuit of a wider vision shall we achieve peace in the sub- continent, which has eluded us for so long.
Column 1061speak briefly, despite the encouragement of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow)--I shall resist that temptation, but, as always, I am grateful for his support. I welcome his heckling because it means that at least one is being listened to.
I did not wish to be unkind and mean to my distinguished colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin), who spoke earlier. It was just that I share the informal, personal view of my other colleagues that it is bad practice--I hope that this will not annoy him--for hon. Members to speak from typescript in the House. Obviously, Ministers have to do it because they make official statements and sometimes one has to have a lot of typescript on an important speech if it involves a complex matter. Some typescripts are read word for word--although that was not the case with my hon. Friends the Members for Colchester, North and for Ruislip- Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson)--and are written by a public relations man or the anti-Europe group, whose well-funded office is located over the road, and which can provide ample material for the young fogeys to make their
The Chairman : I think that the occupant of the Chair deprecates personal remarks in the Chamber and in Committee. I would have hoped that the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) had been here long enough to recognise that courtesy is the basis of good debate.
Mr. Cash : Further to that point of order, Mr. Morris. Madam Speaker has ruled that it is inappropriate for my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) to refer to us as anti-European. It is not true, and I wish him to withdraw his remark.
Mr. Wilkinson rose
The Chairman : Order. I have the Floor at the moment. I hope that the hon. Member would always make genuine points of order. I am asking the hon. Member for Harrow, East to debate clause 1 stand part. Perhaps we can proceed on that basis.
Mr. Wilkinson : On a point of order, Mr. Morris. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) referred to me by name. May I say that no public relations firm has ever written any part of my speeches ?
The Chairman : I am not sure that the hon. Member for Ruislip- Northwood was accused of not having written any of his speeches. I have listened to him many times and I know that he makes very good, short, poignant speeches.
Mr. Dykes : That is exactly what I said. I was paying tribute to my hon. Friend for his wonderfully spontaneous and moving speeches, which he makes without notes. That is the best method of all, but there is always a half-way house that involves a little bit of writing, as my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North may prove if he catches your eye, Mr. Morris.
I think that the House will welcome not only the Bill as a whole but the clause, especially in view of the agreement of one of the new member countries. We had a very thorough Second Reading debate on Monday. We can speak only according to our own suppositions and speculation and the evidence accumulated on our visits if we get a chance to go to those countries or talk to their citizens, but I think that the other three will vote in their referendums to join. I think that I am right in saying
Mr. Dykes : In ecus, or £1,000 perhaps ? I think that I am right in saying that referendums are constitutionally compulsory in all four countries. There is a great campaign in the remaining three to get a significant yes vote. I concede that the biggest question mark is over Norway. Some hon. Members may have agreed with me on Monday when I said that it is not compulsory for those countries to join. They can simply go away--no one is insisting that they join the European Union. However, I think that they would be sad about that on reflection because it would be a great opportunity missed. The European Union will gain in strength with this enlargement, as it did from the recent enlargements which brought in the southern countries. There is a great accretion of collective strength in the south and the north of Europe coming together.
I do not want to alarm my hon. Friends, but they have to accept the reality, which is that we are one member state among 12 at the moment and, I hope, 16 when this constitutional process is completed in the existing and putative member states. I have the impression that the new member states are interested not only in widening but in deepening the process as a result of their accession.
Mr. Dykes : I shall do so, subject to my not irritating the Chair by going on too long because we risk having another general Second Reading debate. I therefore relate my comments to the clause stand part debate.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) made the most open, straightforward and honest speech on Monday in which he outlined what he thought was the future direction of the European Union. I agreed with him, although he, of course, deplores and disagrees with it. However, he was right, and I welcome it. I am delighted to be able to remind the
Column 1063House, with great emphasis but without being pompous--which I hope that I never am-- [Interruption.] I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood is
Colleagues must accept the reality that the European Union wants to proceed in this direction. I know that a small number of parliamentarians-- unfortunately mostly gathered on the Conservative Benches--who want to halt the process and feel that they can perhaps do so in this country. I doubt that they can in view of the inexorable reality, but they cannot halt it in the other countries--not in the existing 11 member countries or in the four new members countries.
On Monday, I cited the definitive and unequivocal adherence to deeper integration evidenced in all four new member states. Mr. Cash rose
Mr. Jenkin rose
Mr. Dykes : I shall give way in a moment, but not for long. What I have to say is relevant to the clause stand part debate, I think. In column 688 of Monday's Hansard , I asked my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary whether he agreed with that proposition and was rather depressed to find that he did not. He did not answer my question directly. The four new members have all expressed a wish for deeper integration, and we should acknowledge that deepening and widening go together.
"the old-fashioned idea that European construction came only by the steady centralisation of power in Brussels."
He had previously said :
"Old certainties are changing ; unthinking centralism is a theme of the past."--[ Official Report , 11 July 1994 ; Vol. 246, c. 685-7.]
My hon. Friend has been a consistent supporter of the European vision for 30-odd years
Mr. Budgen : Perhaps it is 40 years. Will he tell us over what period he has seen any change in what the Foreign Secretary describes as "unthinking centralism" ? Is that just another bland description of Europe to sell to those who wish to accept a particular view ? Is there any objective evidence to prove that the "unthinking centralism" has been abandoned ?
Mr. Dykes : My hon. Friend will have to put that question to the Foreign Secretary--it is up to him to answer it personally. I have never accepted that particular description of the way in which the Community has developed. It has always been decentralised in the sense that sovereign member states work together, with majority voting becoming more frequent as a result of the Maastricht arrangements--something that was long overdue and about which we were enthusiastic in terms of the single market. The only manifestation of centralism is the fact that there is one body in Brussels--the
Column 1064Commission--deploying the new legislation on behalf of the member Governments, more and more at their request. There is no danger of the Commission becoming an overweening, powerful bureaucracy, unaccountable to anyone. That is merely black propaganda--the myths and nonsense that we hear about the development of the European Community.
Mr. Budgen rose
Mr. Dykes : No, I shall not give way. If I did, the debate would become too long. In addition, I am planning to give way briefly to my hon. Friends the Members for Colchester, North and for Stafford if they still wish to intervene.
I was asked what "deepening" means. Simply and straightforwardly, it means following the prescriptions and procedures laid down in the Maastricht treaty. I can think of no greater sublime nonsense than that we work hard-- and far too long, in fact, over a ridiculously attenuated Committee stage dealing with the ratification of Maastricht--and then proceed to denounce it.
The hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) referred to Mr. Gorbachev. I remember his last visit when he came to an Inter-Parliamentary Union reception. He has a delicious sense of humour and said that it was marvellous to revisit the most robust democracy in Europe, but that he recognised the same faces from his previous visit in 1980, despite the intervening elections. That was an interesting reflection on our Parliament. In this mother of Parliaments--apparently the most mature of all Parliaments--we have to bear in mind that we are talking about sovereign countries working together and that they suffer no loss of sovereignty from the collective arrangements. That is the way that they want to go. In a European Union of such strength and collective maturity, which has the wisdom of many years of constitutional and political development, we cannot say that we disagree, without leaving. In the end, the other member states will say that if we disagree so fundamentally and whinge and moan so much, we should pull out. What would our reaction be, then ? I see a wonderful smile on the face of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor).
Mr. Dykes : I was merely referring to that, Mr. Morris, because there are some people in those four countries who were asked, "Do you think Britain should leave ?" They all said, "No, we want Britain to stay."
Mr. Dykes : They are all contributors to the budget. That was the original motive of the founding countries when they pleaded and begged us to join, and that process continues with the arrival of the one plus the three.
Again, it must be said that my hon. Friends have a duty to the public. They mislead the public if they misrepresent and mix up fantasy and propaganda, and pretend that it is reality and fact. Let us look at what the malevolent British newspapers, from the tabloids to the broadsheets, said about the Austrian referendum. Austria was definitely going to vote no--that is what the papers said. If there were
Column 1065time, and if you were patient, Mr. Morris, I could produce the bits and pieces from the newspapers with the relevant quotations. But look what happened in the event. That is why I do not think that Norway will necessarily be such a disappointment. I hope that it will not--but that is the biggest question mark.
In the other two countries there is great enthusiasm for deepening, and for going all the way with the acquis communautaire, which they all accept solemnly. I am sorry that that feeling is not shared by my colleagues here- -that phalanx of distinguished fogeys, young and old. I mean that in the most praiseworthy sense of the word ; it is a colloquial description, now used by the press, of our anti-European colleagues.
My hon. Friends do not want to accept that that all includes the single currency. I have never heard of any more absurd suggestion--it produces real mirth in the four new countries that are about to enter--than the idea that in the single market we shall harmonise every piece of instrumentation, all physical equipment, all the financial instruments of one kind and another, the dimensions of bricks, nuts and bolts, and all measurements and dimensions, but that there is to be one exception--the most important lubricant of all, the currency. Apparently we are to say, "No, no. Sorry, there are 16 of those." A man or woman from Mars would ask, "Have they gone crazy ? Have they gone mad ?" It is an absurd notion.
The four new countries accept all those things. Their opt-outs are non- existent, with the possible exception that the ability of foreigners to buy houses in one of those countries--Austria, I believe--will be limited. The Austrians may be worried about the purchasing power of the citizens of a neighbouring country. But there are no other exceptions. There are no opt- outs or hesitations of any kind. Those countries are joining enthusiastically, despite the fact that there may be geographical and agricultural difficulties in the Nordic countries, and Austria had some hesitation in respect of some of its industrial
Austria had some hesitation in respect of some of its industrial and commercial sectors.
My hon. Friends really must accept all that. The tragedy of the European election campaign for the Conservative party was the fact that fantasy, propaganda and self-induced sublime nonsense of the worst kind took over from reality when we were talking to the public.
Mr. Dykes : I have given way to my hon. Friend once already, and I am just about to give way again, so I hope that my hon. Friend will restrain himself. I hope that he will catch your eye, Dame Janet, and make his own speech in a moment. I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North.