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Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, will the noble Lord give way? As there seems to be considerable disagreement on the exact percentage that we export to Europe, can he inform the House where he gets his figure of over 60 per cent? It might be helpful.
Lord Cockfield: My Lords, it is a matter that the noble Lord may wish to pursue elsewhere. The figure of approximately 60 per cent. has been quoted on many an occasion. During my day the figure was 50 per cent. I could substantiate that figure. However, if the noble Lord has some alternative figure to offer, I shall be interested to hear what it is. I do not think that the noble Lord will disagree with the general proposition that the proportion is very substantial. It will be interesting to know how he would replace that if we lost our complete duty free, quota free access to the European Union.
Lord Cockfield: My Lords, I have already indicated that I am perfectly prepared to give way to the noble Lord, but I wish to give him a second point to deal with before he tries to deal with the first.
I hope that I have down correctly the words of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, and of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington. The noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, criticised the power of the European Court to overrule laws passed by the Parliament here in Westminster. That is the substance of what he said. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, criticised the right of the European Court to overturn an Act of Parliament. I do not think that the noble Lord will contest that summary of his views.
In fact, the overruling of Acts of Parliament rests entirely upon the European Communities Act 1972. That was a statute passed by the other place; it was passed by your Lordships' House, and it was enacted. If anybody deserves to be criticised, it is not the European Court of Justice, it is the Members of another place; it is Members of your Lordships' House. If the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, can find a friend of his to promote a Bill to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, I wish him good luck but I would not put very much money on it.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield, indicated that he was going to give way to me in order to deal with those two specific points. Perhaps I may do so. I am most obliged to him for giving way.
I wished only to help him on the question of the trade percentage figures and to tell him that, according to the CSO figures, exports of visibles and invisibles to the European Union in 1994 were £114 billion and to the rest of the world £143 billion. So the total going to the European Union is 44 per cent., not 60 per cent.
On the second point, I understand perfectly well what the noble Lord said on the European Court of Justice and parliamentary sovereignty. I accept it and have criticised Parliament for giving away those powers. It may well be that one day we shall take up the noble Lord's invitation to promote a Bill to repeal Section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 and I hope that the noble Lord will join us in doing so.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, in the course of the noble Lord's remarks which he normally gives with some authority he said that I commented on the position of the European Court. I should be only too willing to do so at a convenient time, but this afternoon I never referred to the European Court at all. In the interests of his own reputation for accuracy, I advise him to agree that that is the case.
Lord Cockfield: My Lords, I am sorry, I apparently misunderstood the noble Lord. The remarks came from the noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy. I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, for having attributed to him views which he no doubt holds.
Perhaps I may pass from that to the matter which I have been trying to reach: the White Paper which is the subject of the debate. It is difficult to know what to say about it. The first three pages offer an extremely useful and well balanced introduction to the subject. Page 2 is a complete blank. Whether that is a summary of the matters on which the Cabinet themselves are mutually agreed, I do not know.
If we leave page 3 and continue, the document goes steadily downhill. Its analysis of the situation is good: the trouble lies in the conclusions which it draws. I agree entirely with my noble and learned friend Lord Howe of Aberavon that we are concerned with a process of negotiation. We are not concerned with the United Kingdom or any other government laying down the law and telling other people what they must agree to. There is far too much of that tenor in the document, where we say what the position ought to be and we expect the others to fall in line.
The essence of a negotiation is that at the end you do not get everything you set out to get. You have to give away some of the points which you would like to win in return for getting other people's support on what you regard as more important points. You have to judge the results of any conference of that kind in the same way as we had to judge the results of the Single European Act. Although subsequently we criticised many individual provisions, nevertheless our agreement to the single Act was entirely correct. It gave us the enormous advantage of being able to complete the single market. We felt that that advantage outweighed the concessions that we had to make elsewhere. That must eventually be the situation here: we shall need to balance whatever concessions we make against the advantages that we secure. That is a difficult task and it is important that the Government face it with a degree of flexibility.
Finally, the Government plainly expect the Intergovernmental Conference to continue for a year or 18 months. That comes out clearly if we look at the chart on page 7 of the document. The conference may go on for 12 or 18 months and the process of ratification will possibly go on until the year 1999. On that basis it is inevitable that there will be a general election before finally the terms of the Intergovernmental Conference are not only agreed but enshrined in legislation in all member states.
I am quite confident that in the end there will be majority support in this country on behalf of the European Union and in favour of our striking an agreement with it which, while it may involve concessions on some points, will nevertheless be for the advantage of this country, looking at the matter as a whole, in the same way as membership of the European Union has been of enormous advantage to the country, despite the occasional difficulties and disadvantages to which it gives rise.
Lord Taverne: My Lords, I find myself in such close agreement with the remarks made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, and the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield, that I almost wondered whether it was worth contributing to the debate. However, perhaps I may put some points in sympathy with what they said but in a different way.
I find it hard to be optimistic about the Intergovernmental Conference. It could be useful in paving the way for the enlargement and the more effective workings of the European institutions which most of us wish to see. But I fear that the biggest obstacle to the success of the conference is likely to be the Government's apparent refusal, unwisely made explicit in the White Paper, to countenance any extension of qualified majority voting when all or virtually all our partners regard it as an essential precondition for enlargement.
It is true that recently in a rather encouraging way there has been some modification of that rather inflexible stand; but there are still clearly strong objections in principle to qualified majority voting or any substantial concessions. There is still a spirit of what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, described as "defensive absolutism".
As the basis for the Government's opposition to more qualified majority voting is the fear of the loss of sovereignty, it is the issue of the sovereignty that I wish to speak about. "Sovereignty" is an emotive term. As your Lordships' House, or a report of its Select Committee on Economic and Monetary Union and Political Union, pointed out in 1990 in an excellent analysis, there are three different meanings to the word "sovereignty" which are often confused in debate. The meaning on which I wish to concentrate is the practical and political one.
What does "sovereignty" really mean when it is stripped of its rhetorical overtones? It means control over our own affairs. Common sense tells us that in the modern world no nation has absolute sovereignty. That is widely accepted. Every time we sign a treaty, we accept limitations on our freedom to act in return for reciprocal limitations on the freedom of others to act for our mutual benefit. By joining NATO--the most outstanding example--we gave up our unilateral right to declare war in Europe or to stay out of war in Europe because that gave us the only effective security against the real threat that we faced.
Again, by signing the Single European Act we appeared to give up sovereignty. The Act greatly extended the scope of qualified majority voting. We accepted the possibility that we could be out-voted, that we should be restrained from doing what we wanted to do. We did so because it gave us a better chance to get what we wanted most of the time. In fact, we have very rarely been out-voted on issues connected to the single market. We have greatly gained from the single market programme, as most of those who have spoken in this debate recognise, despite the writings of that distinguished ex-Chancellor, Mr. Norman Lamont, whose record will speak for itself.
First, one of the main issues of the Intergovernmental Conference is likely to be the French and German demand to which several speakers referred that a core group of countries which wish to move further towards integration should be allowed to do so within the framework of Community institutions and within the whole framework of the Community. They aim thereby to circumvent the veto of those who are not members of the core group. The result would be a split in the Union for the first time, with two groups operating under different rules.
That would be a direct consequence of the Government's inflexibility. We cannot have it both ways. Clearly we cannot insist on retaining a veto on decisions in which we are involved, and also claim a veto on decisions in which we refuse to be involved. If we are inflexible, others will find a way without us. That will mean not only a fundamental split in the Union, but that decisions will be taken by others that will still have important consequences for our fortunes but over which we have no control. It could be one of the most serious and disadvantageous outcomes of the Intergovernmental Conference.
Secondly, we frustrate our own strategic objectives. As several speakers mentioned, enlargement is unlikely to be achieved, within a reasonable time at any rate, if there is no wider scope for qualified majority voting. If 27 or more nations each pursue their national objectives, each with a veto, it is most likely that the decision-making machinery of the European Union will seize up.
Thirdly, the re-weighting of votes which we rightly seek in the Intergovernmental Conference will not be accepted by the smaller nations unless there is an extension of qualified majority voting. Many of them have made that quite clear. They feel that their minority rights are much better protected within the first pillar within the Community framework as it exists.
The argument advanced by the Government and repeated this afternoon by the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, is that unanimity has not prevented the achievement of major changes. Certainly, on constitutional issues that may be so. At least, it may be so to date; it may be true thus far. But even that may no longer be true in a larger Community which is no longer
However, there are other fields in which unanimity has not worked at all well. We have made no progress in the third pillar, where unanimity applies and where issues are at stake that are of great concern to the ordinary citizen. I refer to the justice and home affairs pillar. A very complicated series of issues arise and some are very sensitive. But we have a very strong interest in seeing that pillar more effective; in seeing that British nationals are not held in foreign gaols for long periods without trial; in a more effective fight against terrorism and crime more generally; and in seeing more effective actions on extradition. That, too, is a field in which we should approach the negotiations flexibly and not dogmatically.
Certainly, the requirement of unanimity has in the past proved a major obstacle to effective legislation. A distinction should be drawn between legislation and constitutional issues. One has only to look at the stagnation of legislation in Europe before the Cockfield White Paper which introduced the internal market programme. That extended qualified majority voting. Countries adopt a very different approach where qualified majority voting applies.
There is still a search for consensus, which should not be confused with unanimity. Under the qualified majority voting procedure, actual voting occurs only in a minority of cases. Mostly, votes are avoided because countries in a minority look for compromise. They have to compromise if they can be out-voted. They have to build alliances.
Indeed, building alliances is the key to getting what you want in the Union, as elsewhere, as several speakers mentioned. It requires a spirit of give and take. The need for alliances could not have been better illustrated than in the present beef crisis. We have failed to build alliances and we have become isolated. If the Prime Minister boasts at party conferences about being the "no man" of Europe, it is not surprising that he does not have many friends in Europe when he needs them.
We have become isolated because the Government have failed to confront the nationalists in their own party, who suffer from a confusion about the difference between real and notional sovereignty and have no idea how the strategic interests of Britain can best be pursued.
There have been some recent signs of flexibility, and perhaps it is not too late for a return to pragmatism and common sense. Waving a banner saying, "No more majority voting", will get us nowhere. In fact, it will mean a loss of control over our own affairs and will thwart our true national interests.
I was very struck by the opening remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, on the speech of my noble friend Lady Chalker. He accused her of drift. If there was any hint of drift before the noble Baroness stood up, there was surely none left by the time she sat down.
In any case, drift has a very distinguished history in British foreign policy. I believe it was the great ancestor of my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal, the Marquess of Salisbury, who described the essence of British foreign policy as,
I was also very struck by the noble Lord's remarks on qualified majority voting. Qualified majority voting about what? We cannot have a sensible discussion about increasing qualified majority voting in the European Community unless we are prepared to be specific. Much has been said about the subject in this House, but very little of a specific nature.
I take the remarks of my noble friend Lady Chalker about qualified majority voting to relate in particular to two areas: first, foreign policy and, secondly, taxation. I should be totally opposed to the introduction of qualified majority voting in either of those areas. I suspect that in saying so I have the support of all Members on my side of the House, and indeed many on the other side. There may be other areas in the economic field where, in the course of negotiations, some concessions may be made. But until we know what they are, we cannot be specific. This subject ought either to be talked about in terms or not at all.
In my view there are two fundamental matters which bear on the Intergovernmental Conference. The first concerns security and the second relates to the rule of law. Recently, in the course of the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, I had the opportunity to speak in some detail on both those issues. Therefore, I shall content myself with re-emphasising their importance in this negotiation. In particular, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said, it is vital that the Atlantic Alliance is viewed by all our European partners as an essential part of the development of European security. Indeed, I believe that our future partners in the European Community--the countries of central and eastern Europe--would wish it thus.
I endorse a great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, said about the crucial importance of sustaining and advancing the strength of the European Court of Justice. I should be very interested to hear my noble friend's reaction to his speech in her summing up. It seems to me that the White Paper points in both directions. On the one hand, it endorses the principle of the Court's role and power and, on the other hand, it seems in certain important points
I now address myself to one or two paragraphs of the White Paper itself. I draw the House's attention first to paragraph 6, which is entitled "The British Approach". It speaks first of the Union developing as nation states co-operating together and goes on to say--which I greatly welcome--toward the end:
One of the reasons why the Maastricht debate in this country went so wrong was that we were not prepared to make those admissions to our country. So I ask the noble Baroness--she may take great exception to this--to urge her colleagues on the Front Bench in another place to start off absolutely clear and accurate about where we are now. Until we do that, we shall not have any sense of direction.
To take perhaps the most talked about policy, which will in fact not be dealt with at all in the conference--economic and monetary union--it seems to me that it is perfectly all right for Britain not to want economic and
My third point refers to a matter which is not touched on in the White Paper; namely, the responsibility of the European Commission to the European Parliament. The European Commission, as we are often reminded, is an unelected body. Under the treaties, it has no responsibilities whatsoever to national parliaments, rightly or wrongly, but it does have a responsibility to the European Parliament. That responsibility is expressed by the power of the European Parliament to censure the European Commission. But the act of censure applies only to the total European Commission. It does not apply to individual European Commissioners.
There is an initiative that the United Kingdom Government could take without in any way undermining the powers of this or any other national parliament. It would not in any way take away powers from ourselves by giving the European Parliament the right to censure individual European Commissioners. We may have largely abandoned the doctrine of individual ministerial responsibility in this country, but there is no reason to believe that it will not work extremely well in the European Community.
I was greatly struck by the endorsement given in the White Paper to the Court of Human Rights. The Court of Human Rights refers largely to civil matters and in the context of the Intergovernmental Conference I should like the Government to take an initiative, together with our European partners, to promote the idea of an international criminal court of justice. We all know that on the territory of Europe there have been the most terrible acts of genocide; and many of the perpetrators are likely not to be apprehended. There is not a great deal that we can do about the past. But there is much that we can do for the future by establishing an international court of criminal justice which has a system of implementation that will ensure that future leaders of nations with evil intent will not get away with their crimes. We ourselves, together with the United States and the other allies at Nuremberg, instituted such a court. Alas, despite the attempts of many jurists, it did not become permanent. The events of Yugoslavia and Rwanda now make the case for establishing an international court of criminal justice clear beyond doubt. I should like our Government to put that issue on the agenda at the European Summit and seek the support
I congratulate my noble friend Lady Chalker not only on an excellent speech but also on producing for us a White Paper which has much to commend it and which will form a good basis for our negotiations in the forthcoming conference.
Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, I have some difficulty in taking part in many of our European debates in this House because it occurs to me, listening to many Members of your Lordships' House, that I seem to live on a different continent and perhaps even in a different country. When I hear my noble friend Lord Tonypandy, with whom I am privileged to share this Bench, espousing what I call the case of British state nationalism with all the strength of the Welsh pulpit oratory--though listening to him is always an edification--I am not sure whether we both live in the same country.
I was a little helped this evening by various noble Lords who spoke. The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, in an engaging maiden speech, made reference to the importance of the fishing industry and brought back happy evocations of the Breton fishing industry. I am reminded that, although there are people in this House who try desperately to defend the existing structure of nation states, regions have always traded with each other and will continue to do so. The nearest European capital from my home in Caernarfon is Dublin, now barely two hours away. We think of ourselves along the Atlantic arc of maritime Europe as an integrated region, and the major capitals of Paris and London are indeed places from which we feel quite remote. That is the reality of geography and it is also the reality of politics.
We were clearly reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, again in an important intervention as a maiden speech, of the importance of the Council of the Regions within the structure of the European Union. He used a telling phrase when he referred to the different levels of government which have nothing to fear from each other, whether at the European level, the level of this House or, indeed, the level of local and regional government in England or anywhere else.
I still detect in many contributors to the European debates in this House a sense of fear; of conjuring up yet again a form of xenophobia. I noted in a number of instances the word "foreigner" being used in this debate. There is a tendency to conjure up images of foreigners and to refer to this House in London as though it were not part of Europe; to distinguish between the mainland of Europe, as I call it, and these offshore islands in a way which implies that, despite the Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel, we can somehow dissociate ourselves from what is going on.
It is in that sense that I welcome the contributions made to the debate most recently by the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, with his discourse on sovereignty. Clearly again so much of our European debate is based
Many of our debates about Europe are about that kind of artificial distinction and difference. As we were reminded, the IGC is a process of negotiation. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, and Lord Cockfield, explained that very clearly. I follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, in his analysis of the opening statements of the White Paper. I too am surprised that the British Prime Minister should refer to the democratic nation state as the "bedrock" of the European Union.
A democratic nation state is a recent European creation invented at best in the 19th century and in terms of the 20th century in relation to most of the members of the United Nations. By any construction it belongs no earlier than the development of the French Revolution. If one were to talk about the bedrock of the European Union, one would have to go back to the Anglo-Germanic culture, the Romanic culture, the Hellenic culture or even the Celtic culture. There are many bedrocks of European civilisation and the unity of that civilisation is not guaranteed by each nation state with its own history and traditions attracting the loyalty, affection and pride of its people. Rather it is that those peoples within Europe feel a sense of identity with various levels of government to the extent that those levels of government deliver for them what they believe is important in the conduct of their regular lives.
In that sense we should be turning our European debate not into a debate as between one centre of power and another, but seeing power in terms of relationships between different centres, between the levels of states which we already have, whether that is the local state in the municipality and the region--again, as the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, reminded us, that is more developed in other parts of Europe than in the UK--or the so-called nation state. By any sensible scrutiny, it is not a nation state at all. I do not know whether there are any Members of this House who can name one nation state which is a state comprising one single nationality.
The nation states of Europe, barring perhaps Iceland--I suppose that these days Iceland, with its small multi-ethnic population may be regarded as a multi-national state--in terms of structure are all multi-national states. The UK is a multi-national state, as is the Belgian state, the French state, the German state and so forth; they are all multi-national states, multi-ethnic states, international states in terms of their construction and development. Therefore to talk of a nation state is anachronistic. I am surprised that we still hear that kind of discourse.
I understand the argument. It concerns an unwillingness to see government in terms of levels and in particular to see the relationship between different levels as a creative conflict--to coin a phrase--rather than as something which is a threat. We have heard from the nationalist tendency, as I would prefer to describe the Euro sceptic tendency in this House and another place. But it is important also that the post-nationalist tendency should be heard clearly.
The kind of developments for which we look in the IGC are developments in the process of constructing ever closer union among the peoples of Europe rather than among the states. The wording of the treaty refers to,
However, we need to look not only in terms of the development of structures, but at ways in which those structures can influence policy more effectively. If I have one major criticism of this White Paper it is the obsession with a particularly UK definition of subsidiarity: that the EC shall do nothing if the UK can prevent it. That is the UK Government's definition of subsidiarity. That definition has clouded any discussion about joint action. For example, the White Paper comes out firmly against any fiscal measures that would be related to the environmental proposals of the European Union because that is seen as back-door centralisation.
Similarly, the White Paper opposes the development of a common tourism policy. For the life of me I cannot imagine anything more harmless than a common tourism policy. As a tourist and a person regularly involved in studying tourism, the essence of tourism is the mobility of persons across borders. It has a substantial environmental and cultural impact. It enables people to learn in an informal atmosphere about the nature of other people's cultures. Therefore, it makes all the sense in the world for the European Union to have limited competence in the field of tourism. Yet the Government solemnly announce in the White Paper that they are opposed to any development on those lines, presumably because they believe that such development would be a threat to their view on subsidiarity.
Similarly, and more seriously, in the White Paper the Government persist in refusing to endorse a common position against racism in the European Union. This is a very strong and emotive issue for the citizens of the European Union who are from ethnic minorities.
This is a disappointing document and one which fails to recognise the importance of appearing to have a positive attitude towards the rest of Europe. The sooner the United Kingdom realises that it is irrevocably tied up with the rest of Europe, and always has been, the sooner the debates in this House will become a positive contribution rather than negative carping.
Lord Beloff: My Lords, the White Paper we are assembled to discuss is in many respects an admirable document. It sets out a vision of Europe with which many of us would find it easy to agree. It has only one weakness: the vision that it sets out is not likely to be attained, at any rate within the compass of the next few years and the IGC. Paragraph 12 of the White Paper says that it is important for us not to press issues of particular concern to this country because that might make other countries press issues on which they are particularly keen. But that suggests that what we are entering into is a negotiation between parties who have a common objective but who may differ on the details. One might think of the amalgamation of two commercial concerns. One side might say that it would like to see some of the branches closed or transferred and the other side might say that it would not wish to continue the present arrangements for bonuses for management, or whatever it might be. It is a bargain and they are common in international affairs and in other spheres of life.
But what we are facing here is not a bargain or a series of bargains. We are facing a profound difference of objective and sentiment which divides this country from many of its current European neighbours. I believe that that was illustrated by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, who said that we seem to lack the European vision. We do. We do not have the feelings which the war in particular engendered in France, Germany and the Low Countries as a result of the calamities which befell them and which, particularly in the case of Germany, meant that they felt that their destiny could now only be fulfilled within some wider supranational organisation. Therefore, one comes to the point which the noble Lord, Lord Richard, made as to why this difference exists.
But one might say that was a temporary phenomenon. If I had to answer the noble Lord, Lord Richard, more seriously--his position as Leader of the Opposition party in this House demands that I answer him seriously--I should use the words of a former leader of his party, Hugh Gaitskell, and say, "It is a thousand years of history". What has been that history? It has been the history of an island. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, believes that nation states are so new. The literature of England in the Middle Ages is sufficient to mark that it was a nation state. There were other nation states in Europe just as there were powerful city states before they were swallowed up in greater units.
We had a different and an oceanic vision from at least the 15th century. The noble Lord, Lord Richard, seemed to think that it was somewhat disparaging of General de Gaulle to say that Britain would always choose the open sea. It only proves what a great statesman General de Gaulle was and the power of his vision, because he took into account, not only in relation to his own country but in relation to others, what had been their experience, their history, and what was likely to be their future.
During the centuries that have elapsed, on many occasions the course of British policy and the feelings, if you like, of the British people, were affected by the building up in central and western Europe of combinations of power which seemed to threaten British independence or British institutions. On the whole we resisted. There were occasions when attempts were made to buy off the putative enemy, as in the secret Treaty of Dover of 1670.
However, I shall not take your Lordships through a catalogue of European wars, alliances and oceanic events. Let us come to what is the most similar and the most parallel experience to that which we now confront. I refer to Napoleon's continental system. Through the superior military power and manpower of France--at that time the dominant country in Europe--Europe was organised to benefit the businesses, manufacturers and agriculture of its continental countries and to eliminate British trade. The continental system was a valid expression of a moment in European commercial history and in European political history. It is one on which we should occasionally reflect, if only because it gave rise, at the moment when Britain's ability to resist the Napoleonic pressure was most evident, to William Pitt's famous phrase:
We all know the course of events in Europe which made successive countries, such as Spain and eventually Germany and Italy, rise up and profess that they were not Frenchmen, did not intend to become Frenchmen and wished to have sovereignty. The noble Lord, Lord Taverne, has a curious and warped notion of sovereignty. "Sovereignty" means something much simpler in legal terms. It means the right of a country's citizens to create their own institutions and to be governed by those institutions. It is neither more nor less than that. It was that feeling in the rest of Europe that brought the Napoleonic continental system to an end.
Therefore, when I look at the current situation in Europe, it is not with the intention of being dog-in-the-mangerish, as the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, suggested, and of trying to prevent what we might now call the "core countries" from establishing their union. I think that they will go ahead. I see no reason to believe that we could stop them even if we wished to do so. I imagine that within the next three or four years--perhaps five years at the most--there will be a continental bloc, which will consist initially, as we know, of Germany, France, the Low Countries and perhaps one or two others. They will have a single currency and virtually a single legislature, together with all the appurtenances of a state--a federal state, if you like, rather than a unitary state, but a state nevertheless.
I am not saying this in order to be a great prophet because I am simply following what has been said repeatedly and recently by Chancellor Kohl and those who speak for him and with him. It started as the Coal and Steel Community; it is now the Coal and Kohl Community. What matters is that Germany is in a position to bring about its dream.
My view is that the price of taking part in that is already worrying other European countries. I do not know what would happen if there were a referendum in France today, but it is difficult to believe that any European country which sees unemployment rising and social tensions mounting because of the imposition of the monetary demands that are necessary to make the European Union work will tolerate such sacrifices for long. However, I do not think that that is to be welcomed, because an upheaval in Europe which would bring that edifice crashing down would present many disadvantages to us, as neighbours still hoping to trade with those countries.
I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Cockfield, is not in his place, because I should have liked to ask him why he thinks that if we are not part of the inner core we shall suddenly cease to be able to trade with those countries that are. There is such a thing as the World Trade Organisation, the successor of GATT. It would be difficult, legally at any rate, to impose discrimination--although what we have seen in regard to beef shows that that might well be attempted.
De Gaulle was right when he said that Britain would cling to the United States. So it does and so, in my view, it should. Therefore, although it is interesting to discuss the White Paper and the IGC, I regard them as of less importance than really trying to understand what is going on in Europe. There is no element of blame in this. Like this country, other countries are looking out for their own interests.
I turn briefly back to the question of a common foreign policy. One element which I should have thought might well unite Europe is a desire to put an end to the sustaining of terror across Europe and the Middle East by the Government of Iran. We and the United States have tried to do that, perhaps in our case stimulated by the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. However, the French and the Germans are quite happy to go on trading with Iran. They object strongly to any idea of isolating that regime. That is their calculation. That is their right. If we had a voting system, they would not stand to be outvoted on that.
Let us take things as they are and as history has told us they are. Let us try to do the best we can for our own country and commend Her Majesty's Government on their apparent determination to follow precisely that course.
Lord Kennet: My Lords, it is becoming a regular pleasure for me to follow the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. We always seem to be put together in the middle of long debates on world affairs. I was planning to give myself the pleasure of praising him this time for what he said about why we are different from all the others in the European Union. In my submission, he got that absolutely right: we were not occupied or invaded during the war. However, when he claimed that there was a great parallel between the situation which faced us in the Napoleonic age and the situation which faces us now, I found myself once again in the more familiar position of not believing a word of it.
I turn from that to talk about the word "federation". There are many ideas of what it means. If we could agree on what the word meant there would still be many ideas about whether or not we ought to have a federation and, if so, what it ought to look like and what ought to be in it. Many Members of this House have great
"Federal" is a word which so terrifies one part of the political spectrum in this country that recently it earned, for a while, the glamorous and sordid status of an f-word. There was a lot of shallow argument about what it meant and to whom. To those not blinded by xenophobia, I believe that federalism can still mean what it always did--that is, favouring federation--and that can still mean what it always did--that is, an association of social entities bound together by a treaty (from the Latin foedus, no more than that), as in the Federation of Women's Institutes, and so on. There are 42 federations in the London telephone book, going from the Federation of Artistic and Creative Therapy to the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland. Confederation means a weaker form of it, as in the Swiss Confederation and the Confederation of Southern States in the American Civil War, except that the underlying foedus is weaker and makes fewer claims. We in Europe can take our place on that scale but we can do so consciously only if we use words in a meaningful manner.
What matters even more than the correct use of words is the rate of progress. To elaborate, the European Union (formerly the Community) came into existence not primarily to create a common coal and steel industry, then a common market, then the harmonisation of regulation in countless fields, then monetary union, then a single currency and then a common foreign and security policy. All of those matters were conceived as the means by which a far greater and more demanding end, even a numinous one, could be achieved: the end of 2000 years of war among the peoples of Europe.
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