Wednesday, 25 February 1970

25-Feb-1970 - Don't Say You Were Not Warned! Enoch POWELL WARNED US ALL!

Mr. Powell
My hon. Friend is trying to take me into other and perhaps more distant fields by his intervention.
The fact is—and the Chancellor of the Exchequer settled for this in his argument—that our prospects of growth depend not upon association with one country or the other, but upon our own internal and external environment. Incidentally, I noticed that it was my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition who, almost alone in this debate, made the point that, after all, something does depend upon us and on the way in which we manage our affairs in this country.
The wider argument which is put forward is that of the large market. A very simple piece of sleight-of-hand is performed by those who operate with this argument. They start by saying, "Nowadays, in the important and progressive branches of production, it is necessary to have a large market." In the next sentence, they slip in the word "domestic". They go on to say, "Having agreed, then, that it is necessary to have a large domestic market, it follows that this, that, or the other." There is a gap in the argument, across which there is no real bridge.
Of course, a large market is needed for certain lines of production; but that market does not need to be a domestic market wholly under the control of the producers. The world is littered with examples of firms in some of the countries with the very smallest domestic markets which dominate the world and have got the world market. Firms of this sort in such countries as Switzer- land, Sweden, and Denmark are household names. There is literally no co-relation between the size of the domestic market of an economy and its rate of progress. The whole idea of a specific relationship between the two is mythical. Perhaps the only case in point that one can find is that of the United States, which is at the top of both leagues.
Of course, if we were just talking about free access to that European market to which 20 per cent. of our trade goes already, it would not be necessary to have this debate. But the large market which Britain needs and will need for her most intensive forms of production is not one which we ought to circumscribe even to the market of Western Europe. What this country needs is the utmost freedom to choose and to find, for each commodity and line of production, the market which offers the best opportunities. So I reject the argument from the assumed necessity of a large domestic market, which is really a false deduction from the necessity of a large market for many, though not for all, lines of production.
I come last in this economic section to the blood-curdling argument with which the Foreign Secretary ended his speech. He said, "Ah, yes, but what will it be like for us at the end of the century —for little us, with the giant United States across the Atlantic and the giant unit in Western Europe?" He asked how we shall fare under the shadow of these two great political—and I will come to "political" in a moment—and economic units. I refuse to be frightened by this prospect. In any case, I regard it as an unreal bogey. But, supposing it to be real, and accepting the hypothesis for a moment I refuse to be frightened by it.
Are we at any great disadvantage in our international trade because of the immense size and power and economic strength of the United States? It is one of the very best markets of the United Kingdom, and surely it will continue to be. Is the argument that our trade today would be healthier and more lucrative if the Confederates had won the Civil War, or the plantations had never been united? The existence of that tremendous economic unit in the Western Hemisphere does not damage this country. If I were put to it, I would rather argue the thesis that it assists than that it damages this country.
Similarly, I see no reason why we should be damaged by trading with a large, efficient and economically prosperous unit, if there is to be such, in Western Europe or in Europe. But that brings us from the economic to the political. Let us look at the sort of unit that it would be on the Foreign Secretary's hypothesis. It would be a unit compact "economically, legally, commercially and politically". The right hon. Member for Belper brought the House to the real issue before us when he said that we have to envisage on behalf of our fellow countrymen all that would be implied in the United Kingdom being embodied in a Western European unit, compact "economically, legally, commercially and politically".
Most hon. Members are agreed that the movement of public opinion in the recent past has been unfavourable to entry to the Common Market. Time and again in this debate, hon. Members have asked what has been the reason for this sudden, sharp and indubitably hostile crystallisation. I believe that the reason is that the deeper implications, especially the political implications, have at last been candidly disclosed both from the side of the Common Market and from the side of its advocates in this country. There is no disposition in the White Paper to mince matters. Paragraph 9 refers to the prospect before the Community as being progress towards "economic and monetary unification", towards "a common social policy", and towards "political unification".
We are now told that, whatever be the form—federal, confederal, or whatever—that is what the Common Market is about. Whether or not we are to be compacted with it, it is to be a unit which increasingly has common monetary, economic and social policies. Only today, in a report from Paris, I was reading how the political leaders in the European Economic Community accepted "that there must be meaningful harmonisation of policies". The report goes on: This means that such things as growth targets, rates of inflation, unemployment, budgets and taxation must eventually all conform to a community standard. Are not social policies, growth targets, unemployment, development and taxation the very stuff of politics, about which we in this House argue day and night? Are they not the subjects about which we compare our differing opinions and objects before the electors, seeking to bring them to our point of view? This is what politics is about, what this House is about, what the electoral system of the country is about—how our social services shall be organised, how we shall be taxed, how the development of different parts of the Kingdom shall be managed or not managed, [Interruption.] Yes, and ways and means. I do not go into legal matters: I will rest with these economic and social questions.
The President of the Community has told us that, in his view, there will be a common currency by the end of the 1970s; and think what we have all gone through together in the last few years for the value of the £ sterling. If the Community is to be a community in which these matters increasingly are decided in common, then his other prediction must come true, too, that there will also be a European Parliament elected on universal suffrage by the end of the 1970s. It is the view of Her Majesty's Government that a true Parliament—one like this, one which sustains and criticises a government dealing with the heart and soul of political matters that affect ordinary people—is implicit in the European Common Market. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy said in a Written Answer on 2nd February: I would remind the hon. Member "— my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne)— of the Government's view, set out in the Anglo/Italian Declaration … that 'Europe must be firmly based on democratic institutions and the European Communities should he sustained by an elected Parliament …[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1970; Vol. 795, c. 3.] All pretence is now aside. All the words with which we amused ourselves two or three years ago, eight or 10 years ago—I confess that I also amused myself, along with the rest—that this was really an economic matter, a matter of trade, and that the rest was pure theorising: "a few European theorists, perhaps, but we pragmatic British take no notice of that"—that is all stripped aside. The question we are deciding is whether we can and will enter into a political unit that deals with all the major matters of political life affecting the daily lives of all the people in this country, under a Government sustained by a European elected Parliament. Elected it must be; nothing else would be imaginable or acceptable.
We have to say whether that makes sense or nonsense to us. The British people have to say—I think that they are saying already—whether it is sense or nonsense to them, whether they can imagine it and whether, if they can imagine it, they want it. Now, an electorate which sustains a true Parliament has to be an homogeneous electorate. By that I mean that every part of the electorate has consciously to say, "We are part of the whole; we accept the verdict of the majority as expressed at the polls and then, somewhat curiously, reflected in the composition of this House".
That is why this Parliament works. That is why this Parliament is our pride and our guardian, because it rests on an electorate which, with vanishing exceptions, is in that sense homogeneous in that it is prepared to accept the verdict of the majority, because it feels that it is the majority of themselves.
The question posed to us is: can we now, or in the next 10 years, or in the foreseeable or imaginable future, believe that the people of this country would regard themselves as so much part of an electorate comprising 200 to 250 million other electors—

Mr. George Brown
Three hundred million white people.

Mr. Powell
—that they would accept the majority view on taxation, on social policy, on development, on all the matters which are crucial to our political life? I have to confess that I do not believe such an attitude of mind is foreseeable.
I do not believe that is the outlook of our people. I do not believe that in that sense, which is the necessary sense, they identify themselves, as part of a whole, with the electorate of Western Europe. It may be that they should; but that is not the question. It may be that we should be a different people from what we are; but that is not the question. The question is whether this is sense or nonsense, practicable or impracticable.

Mr. George Brown
If it is a question whether they should or should not, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman what advice we should give them? I repeat the interjection that I rudely made while sitting down, against the rules of the House, that they are all white. Why should not we say to 300 million white people that we should all agree and work it out and accept the majority decision? I ask the right hon. Gentleman: what is so wrong about that?

Mr. Powell
There is nothing right or wrong with it. The question is: what is the present or the foreseeable outlook, feeling and belief of the people of this country? We cannot alter that by saying "Oh, would that it were different! Would that they did regard the people of Western Germany and the people of Sicily as so much a part of the same electorate that they would bow to the general majority decision, as the people of Cornwall and Devon, however reluctantly, today accept the decisions of the United Kingdom Parliament!"
Moving into the third and last of the areas—the military area—I want to put this to the most acid test. We are told that the European Common Market is necessary to us, with all its political implications, for defence. My right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) said yesterday: European unity is equally essential from the standpoint of military security".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th February, 1970, Vol. 796, c. 1053.] I accept that, as has been pointed out many times, the United States is contributing more to the defence of Western Europe than all the Western European countries together. I accept that the probability is that the American contribution will diminish over the years to come. But I, then ask: what is the relevance of that to the question of political unity for military purposes?
We have an alliance in N.A.T.O. with all these countries that links us with them and with Canada and the United States. Is the contention, since our contribution to European defence is deficient and since the continental countries are paying a lesser proportion of their national income for defence than we are, that, if we were amalgamated, if there were a central political authority, a central political will, we would all pay more? Is it the proposition that what the individual countries are not willing to contribute they would be made to contribute by a unitary Government? Is that the argument?

An Hon. Member

Mr. Powell
If that is the argument, I am not sure that I like the idea of a unitary Government with power to impose upon these populations a military effort which apparently they do not at present voluntarily accept.
Of course, there can be a genuine military argument here. If the military capabilities of all the countries concerned were put under one command and one political leadership, in the sense that the American forces are under the President or the British forces are under Her Majesty's Government, then the same forces, I agree, would be more effective; but let us follow this through. Let us imagine that the alliance has been replaced by political unity, and that one of the essential functions of that political unity is military organisation, military preparation and military decision.

Mr. George Brown
And foreign affairs.

Mr. Powell
Yes, and foreign affairs.
I want to put this most solemn question to the House, a question which we have a duty to face; for we are asked to say yea or nay, and the country is asked to say yea or nay, on this issue above all others. The question is this: in 1940 we were members of an alliance. Let us suppose that instead of being members of an alliance, we had been members of a political unit with a military function.

An Hon. Member
There would not have been a war with Germany.

Mr. Powell
Someone says, "there would not have been a war". I proceed, ignoring the foolish optimism of those who think that because there are military preparations there will be no war. [Interruption.] The use of military force to balance other military force is what we are talking about—I go back to 1940; for this is how the people of this country instinctively see it and put it to themselves.
Suppose, I say, there had not been an alliance, but suppose, instead, that we and our forces—I mean the forces raised from this kingdom—had been part of a political and military unit with a single political Government and a single command, a unit much larger in relation to the United Kingdom than the alliance of France and Britain was. I ask: does anyone suppose that the force which saved this country and saved liberty would not have been thrown into the lost battle by that political unit and swallowed up in defeat?
That is what is meant by political unity. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members will not face it. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is not true."] Hon. Members have to come to face the difference between political unity, which means what is says, and alliance. This is the acid test of whether we identify ourselves with the electorate of the rest of Western Europe, so that we regard ourselves as part of that whole just as surely as Coventry and Bristol regarded themselves as part of the United Kingdom in 1940.
Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton) rose

Mr. Powell
I have almost finished. This is my last word.
I do not believe that that is the outlook of the people of the country. I do not believe that they so regard themselves now or will so regard themselves in the foreseeable future. That is why I believe that, whatever we say in this House, whatever White Papers we publish, whatever negotiations we enter into, when the reality is comprehended it will be rejected by the people of Britain.
6.52 p.m.
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