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Lord Clinton-Davis: There was no official whip in the House of Commons, so at that time I voted against the entry into the Common Market because that was my view. I was wrong. The House of Commons considered the matter in the light of numerous
Lord Bruce of Donington: I am obliged to my noble friend for his intervention. However, the existence of an undertaking by the then Prime Minister, the right honourable gentleman the Member for Bexley, was not disclosed to the House of Commons. A letter that gave substantial fisheries concessions that Parliament never had an opportunity to consider was not disclosed to Parliament and was not, as far as I am aware, disclosed to the Government.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: The point made by the noble friend of the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, was not whether the House of Commons was kept in the dark--I agree that it was not--but whether the British people were kept in the dark. From what was said at Second Reading on 17th March and the letter that the Prime Minister of the day sent through every letterbox in the land, it must be absolutely clear now that the British people were not fully kept in the picture and were misled when we voted to stay in the Common Market--not to join it.
Lord Bruce of Donington: I am obliged to the noble Lord. I did not intend to enlarge on that point but just to mention it. That happens to be factual. In any case, it was unfortunate. Over the years there has been a tendency to relegate these European matters. Both Houses of Parliament have rated them as some kind of second-class discussion that can take place only after other presumably much more important business has been dealt with. The Government would have assisted the position by treating these important European matters with due parliamentary priority, which, with hindsight, should have been given by both Houses of Parliament. There is still plenty of time to correct these matters.
The amendment that I propose to your Lordships is non-controversial. On the assumption that the exponents are those who believe most profoundly in the further development of the European Community, as long as the facts are revealed, which is all that the clause amounts to, they will be fully in support. It is in their interests. In connection with their future conduct in relation to the European Community, people can be fortified only by the facts being revealed. After all, everyone who supports these schemes, as they indeed are at the moment, should be fortified by the facts. This amendment simply extends further the clause in the Bill by which the facts can be examined and evaluated. It should be to the benefit of all, whatever view they may hold on the future of the Community, to have the facts revealed. That is because if they resist the facts being disclosed and resist a proper and impartial evaluation being made, that does not say much for the validity of their strongly held convictions. For that reason, I sincerely hope that this amendment will be agreed to.
In particular I refer to the extremely large establishment of unofficial task forces, which are quite costly. For example, at the European level there are over 300 committees the members of which are not known, whose terms of remuneration are not known, whose terms of reference are not known, whose contracts are not known and whose business connections are not known. The committee members are performing functions on behalf of our government.
Similarly, in the UK there are now numerous task forces composed of individuals, including many businessmen and so forth, who are presuming to examine and to act on behalf of the Government in many spheres. This may be inevitable and I am not necessarily criticising the results, but they should be known and out in the open. All that I am seeking in my amendment--
All I ask is that the facts, in so far as they are ascertainable and capable of yielding to rational judgment, should be become known and available for discussion. Those who would resist making further information known to the public and to Parliament betray an uncertainty in their own minds as to the validity of their case. I beg to move.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I rise briefly to support the amendment of the noble Lord. I had thought when the Bill was drafted that the impact costs and other public expenditure might be included within "economy", but I see that the noble Lord has a point.
There is endless detail into which one could now enter. There are endless examples of the colossal expenditure which this country has incurred over the years as a result of our membership of the European Union, but I shall not now trouble noble Lords with most of it.
However, matters like the water directives come to mind. It must be extremely doubtful that we would have spent, or have committed to spend, some £40,000 million over the past 10 years on water purification, in accordance with the diktats of Brussels. I believe that we are committed to spending only some £14,000 million on infrastructure and supply. One mentions water in particular against the background that our
Only last week in your Lordships' House the Government had to admit that they had "failed to persuade the others"--to use the jargon (in other words, they had been outvoted)--in their attempt to save our small farmers and other people obliged to use incinerators, in particular small incinerators, for waste disposal.
I could go on: our slaughterhouses, working week, herbal medicines, bridges, lorries, dairy farmers, whisky distillers, pheasant shooting, market gardeners, Civil Service, condoms, taxis, cheesemakers, paper rounds, hedgerows, boatbuilders, hallmarks, oak trees, duty-free shopping, ponies, the roast beef of old England, the London bus and the excellent lavatory designed by Thomas Crapper are all among the British interests which have been damaged by our good partners' in Brussels mad rush for harmonisation.
I imagine that the noble Lord's amendment would force the Government to examine the fact that at the moment the United Kingdom would be some £2,000 million a year better off if we exported to the single market from outside the European Union because our contributions to the European Union outweigh our tariff advantages by that amount. I shall not trouble your Lordships with the common agricultural policy, which costs us some £8,600 million per annum--£250 per capita in extra food costs every year; the well-known scandal of the common fisheries policy or, indeed, the amount of taxpayers' money which goes in European fraud.
Perhaps the committee of inquiry might care to look at the fact that there really is no such thing as EU aid, because we pay £11 billion annually to the European Union of which it is graciously pleased to give back only some £5.5 billion on projects designed always to improve its own image. Of course, we could spend the £11 billion much better ourselves on other matters, as we could spend our contribution to the European aid budget, which is corrupt and misdirected and to which we contribute £700 million per annum. Noble Lords may be amused by that statement, but it is the Foreign Minister who said that the foreign aid budget is corrupt and misdirected; it is not a figment of the imagination of some crazy Euro-sceptic.
Our contributions to European pension funds loom--£20,000 per person in the United Kingdom over the next 40 years or so. And so the list goes on. Those are some of the issues which I had thought would be included under the consideration of the economic effects of our being outside the European Union. But I am happy to see the noble Lord's amendment on the face of the Bill to make it absolutely clear. I support the amendment.
Lord Clinton-Davis: I have not made a speech in this place since I had a stroke on 3rd December, and I reserve anything I have to say to matters which are serious. This is no exception. This is a silly Bill.
First, this Bill has no application at all. We heard from the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, and from my noble friend Lord Bruce, who said that he has been interested in this issue since 1963. Well, my noble friend is listened to with great respect on this side of the Chamber. But I do not suggest for one moment that he is ever capable of persuading a single Member of this Chamber to his point of view, nor is the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch.
This Bill is designed to exclude the United Kingdom from the European adventure. It is still an adventure because there are many things that we cannot foresee in relation to enlargement. But, in reality, the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, will have nothing to do with enlargement. He will have nothing to do with the success of the European Union. As I say, he will have nothing to do with reality because the EU exists. It does not enjoy all the features that we would like it to have and it does not entertain all the policies that we would like it to pursue but, nevertheless, it exists. Indeed, it will continue to exist because I do not think that the Conservative Party has the remotest chance of success in the next election. The British people will endorse the principles of the European Union when they are put to them.