Mr. Hopkins: My hon. Friend has elided enlargement and the single currency, but they are different issues. Europe could go in various directions.
David Cairns: My hon. Friend will forgive me if I say that he was the first person to bring up the single currency, so I am following his precedent. However, I am grateful to him, as I want to finish by talking about the single currency.
Although it gives is no timetable, the report contains several paragraphs that confirm the negotiators' clear intention to stress to countries lining up to join the EU
Column Number: 30that they will be expected to join the single currency at some undefined stage. My hon. Friend may not like that, but I do. There are implications for the United Kingdom. The document, and intense negotiations over the next six months to close chapters and realise accession, will raise significant questions about the UK's approach to the single currency. The time has come to end speculation and to make our intentions clear. It would simply be unsustainable to have an ever-closer union and the myriad different currencies that will follow EU enlargement in two or three years' time.
I will draw an historic parallel. That other great unionthe United States of Americahad the greater moral dilemma of slavery as it grew. However, Lincoln expressed a principle that still applies today: a house divided against itself cannot stand. The EU cannot endure if it is half united and half diverse. Either the single currency will fail and we shall have to revert to our national currencies, or it will succeed, in which case those who are not part of it will have to join the single currency or leave the EU. As I said, secession from the EU would be a disaster for the UK and for Scotland. More than a third of Scotland's manufacturing is based in my area. Three quarters of our manufacturing goes to the EU. To put that at risk by dithering on the single currency would be a great failure of leadership and a missed opportunity of genuinely historic proportions.
Peter Hain: I am grateful to all hon. Members who have contributed to the debate. I thank the hon. Member for West Suffolk for the affection that he displays towards me. I will happily do this job for as long as the Prime Minister wants me to, and I hope that he does as well. The hon. Gentleman referred to greasy poles, and I am not sure whether I should report that to the Polish ambassador. I am sure that he was not referring to our Polish friends. I sympathise with his predicament of having to face 6 in of documents without my expert officials to advise him, but that is a privilege of opposition and long may he enjoy that privilege.
The hon. Gentleman asked a question about a document that he received only on Friday afternoon, and I appreciate his difficulty. I understand that, at its meeting on Wednesday, the European Scrutiny Committee asked for the document to be provided by Friday and that it reached the House mid-morning. I am sorry that it did not reach the hon. Gentleman earlier, but that was not deliberate.
I welcomed the hon. Gentleman's statement on Cyprus, in which he was absolutely in line with Government policy. I agreed with everything that he said. The right hon. Member for Wells, however, is wrong. It would be disastrous to give the impression that we were not willing to admit Cyprus through the negotiations carried out by the Republic of Cyprus Government, because that could affect the peace process that is under way, albeit with uncertain prospects.
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My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (David Cairns) rightly asked what the hon. Member for West Suffolk proposed should be left out of the acquis. If the hon. Gentleman could copy me into that correspondence, I am sure that I would find it fascinating. If he does not, perhaps my hon. Friend will copy it to me.
Mr. Spring: As we are in the correspondence phase, I remind the right hon. Gentleman that, some weeks ago, my right hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State invited him to reinforce his assertion that Conservative Members were calling weekly or daily for our withdrawal from the European Union. The right hon. Gentleman has not had the courtesy to reply to that letter, and it was a serious accusation. I will certainly have the courtesy to act quickly and I urge the right hon. Gentleman to try to provide support for that accusation as soon as possible in a reply to my right hon. Friend.
Peter Hain: I wrote to the shadow Secretary of State this morning and I guess that he would have received the letter in the early afternoon.
I welcomed the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North, which was a breath of fresh socialist air. I am grateful for his support for Welsh hill farmers, including those in my constituency. I agree that we do not want a neo-liberal agenda imposed on the European Union. One of the EU's great virtues is that it has high social standards and high levels of public services, unlike the United States of America, for example. We do not intend to import low public service standards in line with the American model and the neo-liberal agenda that has too often been prosecuted there.
The Government fully endorse my hon. Friend's points about a Europe of full employment, social justice and high standards in public services. Europe has brought much higher standards in the workplace and in social policy elsewhere, better health and safety standards, the social chapter and better environmental standards. Indeed, he was not as charitable as he could have been in pointing that out.
There is no danger of our living standards being dragged down to the level of those in the candidate countries. On the contrary, every time a country has entered the EU, its social, economic and living standards have gone up. Ireland is a classic example. Although Ireland has, to its credit, used structural funds extremely efficiently, those funds have really created circumstances, especially with regard to the infrastructure improvements, in which Ireland has been able to transform its economy to a point, as the hon. Member for Caernarfon would confirm, where Ireland has rapidly overtaken Wales and we have remained behind. That was not the case 10 years ago. We can learn from the Irish economy about the effect of highly competitive policies and measures.
The right hon. Member for Wells tried to create mischief about what I said in Committee about the Nice treaty. For the sake of clarification, let me say
Column Number: 32that the Nice treaty is essential to achieving enlargement on the current timetable and in any practicable fashion for the foreseeable future. Without it, we would be going down a road of highly complex accession treaties with individual countries with no prospect of completing negotiations by the end of this year. It is theoretically and legally possible to find another route, as I confirmed on the Floor of the House during the stages of the European Communities (Amendment) Bill on the Nice treaty, but this is the only show in town. The Conservative party professes to believe in, and has supported, enlargement, so it should be rowing in behind us rather than trying to sabotage it. I shall have to disappoint the right hon. Gentleman on the hypothetical speculation that he invites me to make on what plan B might be. I hope that we shall not reach a position where it is necessary.
The right hon. Gentleman also asked about the free movement of labour. The evidence is against him. When Spain and Portugal entered the European Union, we saw Spanish and Portuguese citizens returning to their countries, particularly from France, because of the higher standards and better opportunities there than in their home countries. I am sure that exactly the same will happen in the current candidate countries, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Paul Farrelly) effectively pointed out.
The right hon. Member for Wells also asked about costs. These documents are extremely full and detailed, but they were placed before the Committee and before the House. I refer the right hon. Gentleman to page 10 of Commission document SEC 2002, No. 102, which contains an annexe setting out the full costs. Those documents are available to him, as they were to other Members attending the Committee.
I welcome the eloquent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Inverclyde, who set out a model case for enlargement. As he said, the process of enlargement will bring enormous benefits for us, and one of the principal benefits should be put on record. When I visit countries such as Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, their Ministers often ask me to encourage more British companies to come and see what opportunities are available. They realise that we have been honest champions of enlargementon a cross-party basisand they view Britain as their best friend. They would prefer British companies to those of other countriesI shall not name themtaking commercial advantage of the opportunities there. I urge British companies to go over there and take advantage of the circumstances.
My hon. Friend asked about twinning possibilities through the private sector. British businesses are active in eastern Europefor example, I seem to encounter Tesco stores wherever I go in candidate countriesand British consultants are advising the Governments on utilities, liberalisation and so forth. Yet more could be done and we should be doing it.
We are losing jobs now to many of these countries. I mentioned a company from my constituency that transferred to Poland because that country does not have the same levels of pay, conditions of service and
Column Number: 33social standards as those in the European Union. Levering up those standards will make that competitive drain less likely and drive up our quality.
My hon. Friend also asked about the Euro-barometer, which is a regular European Commission-funded survey of public opinion. He referred to last night's ''Panorama'' programme, and I was interested to note that the vote on the question of the single currency was extremely close. David Dimbleby assured us that the polling organisation ICM had selected the audience randomly to fulfil all the different criteria in the population. It was interesting, as the ''Noes'' won, but by a margin much narrower than past opinion polls have shown. I echo my hon. Friend's point that the candidate countries will join the single currency as part of their accession arrangements after a period of convergence. If we followed the official Opposition's policy of ruling out British membership of the single currency for ever, even if it were self-evidently in our economic interests to join, that would leave us as the only country out of 25 member states that was outside it.
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