Mr Jennings (Con) 16th November 1966 Column 495. “I cannot bring myself to assume that there will be no political and constitutional connotations if we sign the Treaty of Rome. It is historically illogical that this should happen, that one step will follow another, and that from economic union there will follow political union. I have no objection to economic arrangements, even a negotiated economic union, provided we get certain safeguards. But I am horrified when I am told that I am as British as ever because I do not want to be a European first. I want to be British first and European after. Is there any shame of disgrace in wanting to be British first? It is therefore the implications and consequences of economic union of which I am frightened”.
“We know quite well that five or six years ago, when we debated the question in this House, the sentiment in most of those who supported going into the Market was eventually for a political alignment and a politically united Europe. They do not deny it. They are quite honest. Even Members who are here tonight are nodding their heads on agreement. They know that this is what they want. That is what frightens me”.
“The question of sovereignty or loss of sovereignty and political union in a political union in a federal United States of Europe has been swept nicely, beautifully and quietly under the carpet”.
“It is almost a sin to talk about it. Apparently we have got to get into the Community, because of the mess we are in, in order to live as a nation. ‘Oh thou of little faith’,. Have we lost faith in our own selves? Have we lost pride in our own ability even to stand alone?”
Page 497. “My Rt. Hon and leaned friend the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir D. Walker-Smith (Con)) who five years ago most expertly, throughout the country and in this House, exposed what the loss of sovereignty would be, has touched upon it and given us the gist of it this afternoon. But the ordinary man in the street has no conception of what he will lose in rights and privileges that he now enjoys, even in a denigrated Britain, which is the attitude that many people tend to adopt. I mean questions of social services, benefits, rates of contributions, the position of the trade unions and all that sort of thing. How much loss of sovereignty of this House will there be”?
“It is easy to talk glibly about going into Europe. That is the way that it is put over to the electorate. “Let us go into Europe”. Is the theme. We never attempt to say what we mean by going into Europe, but just what do we mean? Do we mean trade? Is that all? Do we leave the other sort of things, the unmentionables? Under the carpet or push them under the bed, or where? By going into Europe, do we mean in addition to the trade negotiations a form of federalism in which Britain would become a State in a United States of Europe, or part of Europe—what I have described as the rump of Europe”?
“I am not in favour of a federal United States of Europe or binding ourselves in any direction like that. I would look more kindly on a confederal system, if we had to have something like this. The alternative is what is called federalism.”
“I am not prepared to sign a blank cheque that would denude this House of its powers; nor can I support a central Parliament to which we would contribute electorally, a central Parliament in Europe. I ask the Rt Hon Gentleman who is to reply to this debate, if this question of sovereignty and all it means does not arise, will he tell us quite clearly, and if he does, will he tonight, or his Rt. Hon Friends tomorrow night, tell us how much loss of sovereignty is involved”?
16th November 1966 Column 510. Mrs Renee Short (Lab). “I must add my view that many of those speaking in favour of going into the Common Market are tending to gloss over the problems and difficulties that would face us as a Nation. This is not really being fair to the public outside this place whom we represent and who rely on us for leadership in this matter, and in connection with all the other important problems with which we as Members of Parliament have to deal”.
“My own view on this issue of entering or not entering the Common Market we have been brainwashed for a long time. I do not go along with this emotive phrase, “Going into Europe”. As my Rt. Hon Friend said, we are in Europe; the question is what sort of Europe are we going into? Enormous pressure has been exerted, not only by big business, which has obviously vested interests for going into Europe, but by the Press”. Etc, etc.
Page 518 still Mrs Short. “It is no use saying that if we go into the Common Market we should accept the Treaty of Rome as if it is written, with all the small print—most of which I find extremely alarming, including many articles which were referred to by the Rt. Hon and learned Member for Hertfordshire (Sir D. Walker-Smith), which refer to the power of the Commission to issue directives to Member States as to what they should do about their economy. There are many of these articles (Interruption) Oh yes, there are. There are at least a dozen. The Rt. Hon Gentleman gave some of the numbers. They lay down clearly that the Commission can issue directives to Member States. In the event of economic difficulties the Commission can issue directives about taxation, aid to nationalised industries, and many other matters which affect the economies of nations”.
“It is no good saying, “It is all right. We can accept this and when we get inside we shall be able to change the machinery.” This is barking up the wrong tree. If we go in we shall have precisely the same voting power-no more and no less, as West Germany, France or Italy, based on population. We shall therefore be faced with the possibility of being out-voted if three or four or five, of the existing Members decide to vote together on any issue. We shall be able to speak and raise our voice, but our vote will not be decisive”.
[To be continued tomorrow in Part Four.]