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Mr. Redwood: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Anderson: No, I must get on, because I have only 10 minutes.

The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) spoke of repatriating elements within the competence of the European Court of Justice. In effect, part of the original treaty gave the European Court of Justice supervision and jurisdiction over a substantial part of our policy; hence, our laws within those areas will be subject to European laws. If one talks seriously about repatriating parts of the European Courts of Justice, one is only a step away from saying, "Let us withdraw from Europe and from that which our referendum agreed in 1975".

I find it puzzling that many of those who are most vocal in favour of a referendum because they think that it will decide the issue once and for all pay no heed to the

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decision made by our people in 1975. I therefore conclude that another referendum will not decide the issue, because people will go on arguing about it.

When our people made that decision in 1975, they voted not just for a static Europe--the Europe that existed in 1975 on the basis of the treaty of Rome and the common agricultural policy. As the right hon. Member for City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke) said so eloquently, we suffered from that because we were excluded, and we used that as a precedent, quite properly, for taking part in the current discussions on currency union. Our people voted not for a static Europe but for a dynamic Europe. In that treaty there is the ever closer union of the people of Europe, which implies evolution and development. That was starkly clear at the time of the decision in 1975.

Our partners in Europe must be amazed at the nature of the debate that we still have in this country. We still dither about our vocation and whether we are in or out. That is an absurd position. If we are to be a part of our natural region, and if we are to see where our trade flows have gone and how we can punch much harder in the world, we must be part of Europe. Would Scotch whisky manufacturers, for example, prefer to negotiate with the Japanese simply through our Trade Minister on our own as a single economy, or be part of a bloc that can negotiate hard?

Inward investment is another advantage. The Koreans and others come to this country not only because they see many natural advantages here but--the right hon. Member for Wokingham ignores this--because we are part of a wider market and a launching pad or springboard to a wider Europe. If we were outside Europe, it follows as night follows day that we would be less attractive to inward investment.

This is part of the agenda that those who still dither and pretend that little England can stand on its own ignore. Some of them claim that we could form a new European Free Trade Association. I wonder where those countries would come from. Some claim that there is an alternative economic arrangement, whereby perhaps we could talk to our American friends and form a north Atlantic free trade association. I have news for them: although, some 35 or 36 years ago, Senator Javits and others spoke about that, no lobby or serious group in the United States flirts with that idea now. It takes two to tango, and those who talk about a new EFTA or a NAFTA are indulging in the politics of illusion. That is the worst sort of illusion, which does severe damage to our country.

That is part of the burden that this country must bear, and it causes such astonishment to our partners. They are amazed that the debate on Europe in this country, particularly in the media, is so violent. It is astonishing that those with no stake in the United Kingdom--Sir James Goldsmith and Mr. Murdoch--seek, from their foreign vantage points, to influence the decision and to wallow in old illusions of sovereignty, or a populism that sells newspapers, which are irrelevant to our country.

I fully concede that there are major disadvantages, potential and actual, in a single currency. The right hon. Members for South Norfolk (Mr. MacGregor) and for Worthing (Sir T. Higgins) made those points well. As always, a balance must be struck. At the moment we

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see through a glass darkly. We do not know a number of different factors: membership; the convergence criteria; or the degree of fudge. Surely the sensible position, then, is to wait until many of those matters are clarified. Perhaps the nation will say that it makes sense to help in the formation of that currency, but our national interest will ensure that we are not and should not be part of the first wave. Ultimately, however, it would be absurd for us to marginalise ourselves and reduce our influence and punching power. That is an argument for wait and see. Surely that is the sensible position. We do not know so many of the intangibles.

Because of our experience in the City, we can play a major role in pointing out to the enthusiasts the problems that are likely to arise. I heartily accept the view of Chancellor Kohl as an old man in a hurry. Perhaps there is a strong argument for trying to curb some of the enthusiasm.

If there are problems, they may multiply and be exacerbated if the new members queuing to join the EU are admitted. It is odd that, as we dither on the edge, countries queue to join the EU because of the advantages that they see. The current proposition is that those countries would have to join the single currency immediately, which would create great complications.

To dither and to be divided, as the Government are, cannot be in the national interest that the Prime Minister claims to espouse. During Prime Minister's questions today, he was asked whether, if the conditions were right, he would recommend entry. He seemed to have great difficulty in answering that simple question. He had to look over his shoulder to see who was there and whether he was saying the right thing. The Chancellor yesterday was forthright and put forward the honest position. The Prime Minister could not even answer a simple question.

It is dishonest--the current word is "dissembling", which is rather Shakespearean--if one enters into negotiations with one's partners without being able to say plainly that one is negotiating on the assumption that if the conditions were right, one would enter. It is a great pity that there is such a division in the Conservative party. I accept, of course, that there are differing voices in the Labour party, but there is a fundamental difference--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Time is up.

7.41 pm

Sir Norman Fowler (Sutton Coldfield): I take up a point made eloquently yesterday by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). His speech disposed at a stroke of the notion that the Labour party is united on the European issue. We do not need such nonsense in the debate.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the fundamental question of who governs Britain. He cited the single currency and moves towards a common foreign policy as examples of the way in which power is passing. Tactfully, perhaps, he omitted to mention the most glaring example: social policy and, in particular, how the directive on working time--the 48-hour week--is being applied in the United Kingdom.

On other occasions we can debate which party is right on that subject. I was singularly unconvinced by the comments of the right hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook). What concerns me, however, is not the

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argument, but the process. It is common ground that the two major parties are entirely divided on the issue. It is common ground that our opposition to the proposals was the opposition of the elected Government of the UK. It is common ground that at Brussels the Government have put their views forcefully and consistently against the working time proposals. When I was Employment Secretary, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar) may remember, I--and, I think, he--put the case strongly.

It is also common ground that if, God forbid, the Government were defeated at the next election or any other election, it would be open to Labour to introduce its proposals in legislation. There has not, however, been a change of Government. At Maastricht the Prime Minister negotiated an opt-out from the social chapter. As chairman of the Conservative committee on European affairs, I argued strongly for that.

To most people, that might have seemed the end of the matter, but the Commission went on as though nothing had happened. It had argued that working time was a health and safety issue. Did the Commission's position change in the light of the Maastricht opt-out? Not one jot. That was entirely contrary to the spirit of the opt-out agreed by elected Ministers. Appointed officials went smack against the declared policy of the elected Government of the UK. That is unacceptable.

The Commission argued that on a strict interpretation of a European law, its action was justified. Regrettably, the European Court upheld that view. The European Court did not, however, consider the fundamental question of whether it was right for labour law to be determined at national level or at the Brussels level. We have always argued for the national level.

There is a further aspect that I find objectionable. We are supposed to be members of a community--a union--of friendly parties working together, yet the very spirit of the Maastricht opt-out has been avoided. The message that has gone out has not been one of friendly co-operation. The message has been that, if one has discussions, one had better go armed with battalions of lawyers and sign nothing until weeks later, when every conceivable point has been covered. Above all, one should not rely on the spirit of any agreement.

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