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Lord Richard: My Lords, I am afraid I cannot give the noble Lord any answer other than the one I just gave to the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition. I heard what he said, and I hear what the noble Lord says. I will consult with the usual channels, having listened very carefully to comments made this afternoon.
Lord Kirkhill: My Lords, perhaps I may press my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal on one point regarding the Western European Union. I quite understand that the Prime Minister has returned from the conference with the question of NATO confined within a legal framework which previously did not exist. I am confused, however, as to whether the Western European Union will continue to be the European defence arm. If the Western European Union is to begin to merge with the European Union, and the European Union is to be its own defence body, then I should like to know what is the Government's position regarding membership of the Brussels Modified Treaty. One thing is certain: the signatories to that treaty could not be brought together today and agree to sign. It seems to me that it would be a step back, were we to move from the modified Brussels treaty.
Lord Richard: My Lords, I obviously did not make myself clear. There were moves at the conference for a closer relationship between the European Union and the Western European Union. Those moves we resisted and they therefore did not take place. We see the role of the WEU in the future as it has been in the past. We do not see a defence role for the European Union.
Lord Harmar-Nicholls: My Lords, as regards Europe and the fishing industry, the Statement seems to claim that decisions have been made which would improve the situation in relation to the dangers of quota-hopping. Can the noble Lord tell me what new arrangements were agreed that are different from the regulations which already existed before the meeting took place?
Lord Richard: My Lords, we now have the right to make further regulations. However, before the noble Lord comes back at me, immediately I sit down my noble friend Lord Donoughue will repeat in this place the Statement on quota-hopping and fish which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, there will be considerable satisfaction at what my noble friend said, particularly about retaining national control over our frontiers, immigration and asylum policy. There will also be satisfaction that the European Union's ambitions to take over defence have at least been temporarily checked.
Apart from that, is the Minister aware that there is still a major contradiction between what we are saying about giving priority to the creation of employment and the continued pressing ahead with the restrictive and deflationary policies of economic and monetary union? Nowhere is that contradiction more evident than in the unfortunate position of the French Prime Minister. He was elected in the hope that he would reverse the policies previously pursued of squeezing the French economy and maintaining the high levels of unemployment. Yet once he was elected, he found himself pursuing exactly the same policy of going ahead and giving the same priority to the single currency as his predecessor. Is there not by now a recognition of the fundamental contradiction between pressing ahead with deflation and a single currency and at the same time saying, "We are going to give top priority to the creation of jobs"?
Lord Richard: My Lords, I am grateful for what my noble friend said at the beginning of his question. I can only tell him that the contradiction he perceives between the moves towards a common European currency and the creation of employment does not seem to exist in the minds of most of our partners inside the European Union. Nor does it exist in mine.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, I am not sure whether the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal is a tiger shark or a basking shark; I leave him to make that judgment. It is reasonable that we should all congratulate the Prime Minister on his views on employment in Europe. He makes himself sound like a cross between Lord Tebbit and John Bright, and that can only be cause for congratulation.
We all believe that expansion of the eastern European countries into Europe is vital for Europe's prosperity. A committee of your Lordships' House found that that would be totally impossible without there being a complete reform of the common agricultural policy. There is no sign, except wishful thinking, that that will happen. Yes, we want to change the common agricultural policy. It is easy to stop new clauses being inserted into a new treaty, but it is totally impossible to extract clauses from an old treaty. We all agree with what the Government want to do: to make Europe's jobs freer and to reform the common agricultural policy. What expectation do they have that the common agricultural policy can be changed, bearing in mind all the vested interests in keeping that ridiculous and, if I may say so, evil policy in existence?
Lord Richard: My Lords, again I did not make myself clear earlier on. The position is that the Commission is producing detailed reports on the expansion of the Community by including some of the applicant countries in July. One of the issues which the Commission is charged with examining is the effect of enlargement on the common agricultural policy. So it is a live issue and will no doubt get livelier as the time for enlargement approaches.
Lord Ezra: My Lords, in connection with employment, will the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal confirm that it will be an important part of the Government's policy to ensure that the single market is completed? It was effectively introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield. I was in Copenhagen yesterday to witness the start of the construction of a unique enterprise to build a tunnel and a bridge between that part of Denmark and Sweden. I am glad to say that British firms are playing a large part in it. There should be many more such opportunities in the single market. Would it be part of the Government's policy to encourage that?
Lord Richard: My Lords, not only is it part of the Government's policy to encourage that, but it was one of the specific issues raised at Amsterdam. It found its way into the eventual conclusions: that the completion of the single market is one of our priorities and a priority of the European Union as a whole.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, I wish to pursue the point raised by my noble friend Lord Shore of Stepney. Is the Minister aware that in the draft treaty provisions relating to unemployment, the whole section which was to be put after Title VI in the original treaty is made specifically subservient to Article 103 of the original treaty? The article laid down the strict macro-economic conditions which are being complied with at the moment.
If the noble Lord regards the provisions on unemployment as now being satisfactory, were those sections in the draft treaty repealed or rather taken out of the treaty in the course of negotiations? If not, it still means that any policies to cure or ameliorate unemployment are still conditioned to the rigid conditions laid down by Maastricht on macro-economic policy, as set out in Article 102. Those conditions apply today and are largely responsible for the grossly excessive unemployment throughout Europe, now amounting to 18 million, and unemployment here which is nearer 3.5 million than the phoney figure that has been put forward so far.
Lord Richard: My Lords, with his usual vigour my noble friend makes a powerful debating point. However, with respect, it is no more than that. A large number of the countries of the European Union seem to be bent upon moving to European monetary union by 1999. In those circumstances, of course the relevant provisions of the treaty were not repealed at the Amsterdam Summit, and I am sure that my noble friend would have been staggered if they had been.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I think I heard the noble Lord say that the Government had agreed to qualified majority voting extending to areas where it is in our national interest and that they had agreed to that extension in the case of research and development. Can the noble Lord tell us why it is in our national interest that qualified majority voting should apply to research and development, which is an important part of our economy, so that we can be outvoted as a country by a group of countries where it is perhaps less important?
Lord Richard: My Lords, it is because we perceive that more countries in Europe are in tune with our views on the increase of research and development than are opposed to it. Therefore, the extension of qualified majority voting in that area would be directly to Britain's benefit.
Lord Monson: My Lords, can the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal say whether any action was taken behind the scenes to put Spain in the dock, so to speak, over its disgraceful bullying--which is not too strong a word--of the people of Gibraltar, who are, of course, fellow members of the Community?