Below is the text of Mr Major’s statement to the House of Commons on 29th June 1992 on the European Council in Lisbon.
The Prime Minister (Mr. John Major): With permission, Madam Speaker, I shall make a statement about last week's European Council which I attended with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. The conclusions of the European Council have been placed in the Library. The meeting took place on the eve of our presidency of the Community and dealt with a range of issues which the United Kingdom will now carry forward. These include preparations for enlargement, the future financing of the Community, the issue of subsidiarity and the Uruguay round. We also discussed the deteriorating situation in Yugoslavia. We agreed to reappoint the President of the Commission for two years. Thereafter, a new five-
On enlargement, we secured agreement that work should start immediately on the negotiating mandates for the EFTA countries which have applied to join the Community-
All Heads of Government reaffirmed their commitment to the Maastricht treaty. At Maastricht we won agreement to the principle of subsidiarity and its inclusion in the treaty. At this meeting, we have taken that a stage further. Under our presidency work will go ahead on how to turn that general principle into reality in the working practices of the Community. The steps immediately envisaged include : rigorous scrutiny within the Commission on whether new proposals are necessary-
The European Council reaffirmed its commitment to negotiating a successful conclusion of the Uruguay round. The remaining gap between the European Community and the United States on agriculture issues is narrow. The Organisation for Economic Co-
We also discussed the deteriorating situation in Yugoslavia. I proposed that all member states should make an immediate pledge of aircraft and transport personnel for the Sarajevo humanitarian airlift; that, with the help of the Commission, we should start to assemble humanitarian material at a suitable base now; and that we should demonstrate our condemnation of Serbian actions by not allowing Serbia to have part in any international organisations, including the CSCE.
With the Security Council about to meet, we agreed not to rule out the use of military means by the United Nations to achieve our humanitarian objectives. However, the United Nations has rightly been cautious about organising humanitarian operations in the absence of an effective ceasefire, and about trying to interpose itself in a civil war.
During the course of the weekend we have had discussions with the United States, the United Nations secretariat and others. The prospects for a ceasefire and for a humanitarian mission look slightly better than they did 48 hours ago, but the Serbian militia and others are numerous and well-
I also draw the House's attention to the statement on Southern Africa, which calls on all the parties to resume negotiations in CODESA. We continue to be in close touch with the South African Government and the ANC on this.
Many of the conclusions of the Lisbon European Council constitute the agenda for the British Presidency, which starts on Wednesday. They are a huge challenge for the Community and a great responsibility for the United Kingdom.
All the issues on which I have reported to the House-
The plain fact is that the future of Europe is at stake and it needs to be addressed with coolness, commitment, and with careful calculation.
Mr. Neil Kinnock (Islwyn): I begin by commending President Mitterrand's initiative in going to Sarajevo. I hope that the action taken by the French President and the statement made by the Lisbon Council will have the effect, at the very least, of enabling humanitarian aid to be delivered, and maintained when it is delivered, to the wretched people of the area around Sarajevo.
We support the emphasis placed by the Lisbon summit on ensuring that any action taken in relation to the former Yugoslavia must be on the basis of agreed United Nations Security Council resolutions. Will the Prime Minister ensure that our country plays a full part both in providing humanitarian aid and in efforts to ensure the strongest possible United Nations stance against the continuing bloodshed and misery in what was formerly Yugoslavia?
The Lisbon summit made the beginning of formal negotiations about the enlargement of the European Community conditional upon achievement of agreement on the Delors 2 package. Given that precondition, how does the Prime Minister intend to pursue what he described as his highest priority of enlargement when he is opposed to Delors 2 or anything close to it? Remembering that it is not enough now to satisfy the condition of ratification of Maastricht but that he has also to gain agreement on Delors 2, how does the Prime Minister believe that he can go ahead with promotion of enlargement without the satisfaction of both of those preconditions?
We note with satisfaction that the Heads of Government at Lisbon urged member countries, in the words of the communique, to "pursue efforts in the social field as the necessary complement to the realisation of the Internal Market."
The Prime Minister agreed to that section of the communique, but does it faithfully reflect his Government's attitude to the social dimension when they refuse to adopt the social chapter and resist application of the social charter? Is there not an inconsistency between the Prime Minister's words in the communique from Lisbon and his actions in opposing the social dimension?
In view of the decision, made at Lisbon, to increase substantially the resources devoted to actions in the context of common external policy, can the Prime Minister tell us what the substantial increase will be and what will be the basis for its calculation and the mechanism for its use?
On the question of subsidiarity, is the Prime Minister aware that no one can sensibly argue against the democratic principle that relevant and accountable powers should be exercised at national, regional and local levels of government? So, as he takes up the presidency of the European Council this week, can the Prime Minister tell us the main components of his concept of subsidiarity and how he would expect it to work in practice? Can he, for instance, tell us what emphasis he would put on achieving safeguards against some member countries' lowering environmental standards, or following unfair industrial or economic policies, or reducing social and employment conditions and encouraging social dumping? I have no particular country in mind at this juncture, but we should be interested to hear the Prime Minister on the subject.
May I express surprise and disappointment that no time appears to have been given at the Lisbon summit to discussion of rising unemployment in the Community? Since Britain, under the present Government, has by far the fastest rising rate of unemployment in the Community, does not the Prime Minister think that he should have taken the lead in promoting such a discussion and in advancing proposals for co-
Finally, since the Lisbon summit has not really provided any further clarification of the political and legal status of the Maastricht treaty, following the Danish referendum result, is the Secretary of State yet in a position to say what form of report he will put to the House before there is any proposal to return to consideration of the European Communities (Amendment) Bill?
The Prime Minister: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for some of his earlier comments, and I agree with his remarks about the courage and vision of President Mitterrand's visit to Sarajevo. It was an excellent initiative, and I thoroughly commend it. On that subject, I should say that General MacKenzie, the chief officer of UN forces in Sarajevo, has recommended within the last couple of hours that the United Nations should take control of Sarajevo airport on the basis of assurances he has received from the Serbs. We shall need to see if those assurances are matched by others-
On the question of enlargement, the condition to which the right hon. Gentleman referred is one that was set at Maastricht some time earlier. We propose to proceed by preparing the Community mandates, which must be prepared prior to the opening of formal negotiations between now and the Edinburgh summit. The target and the expectation are that we shall be able at that summit to reach agreement on future financing. The way would then be open for us to continue negotiations with the EFTA countries on a more formal basis.
With regard to some of the areas of substantially increased expenditure, one of which relates to the increased expenditure that will undoubtedly be necessary in the Community and beyond to assist countries in eastern Europe to deal with the very difficult problem of their nuclear establishments, the Community has committed a substantial sum-
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we agree with the social dimension, but we do not agree with the social charter itself. [Hon. Members :-
On the point about subsidiarity, we agreed at the summit to examine in detail how we turn the principle into a working, living practice within the Community, with examples during the period of the British presidency. There are areas in the Community where subsidiarity is not appropriate, and we should recognise that.
If we wish to have a single market with a level playing field, as we have frequently said in the House in recent years, there is a need for some action at a Community level. What we are saying about subsidiarity is that, where there is unnecessary intrusion, it must cease. We were no longer alone in our pleas for that at the European Council; we were joined by a number of other member states.
On the question of employment, and as a straight matter of fact, the unemployment rate is rising faster in Spain than it is in Britain. Nevertheless, it is rising faster here than we would wish. The point about GATT, is that the growth in trade would especially help with the problem of unemployment, not just in this country but in a number of other countries. Unemployment was mentioned in that context at the summit, but not as a specific subject.
The right hon. Gentleman's final question related to the political and legal status of Maastricht. It is too soon to decide in what form we will report to the House. We will be having the routine six-
Several Hon. Members rose-
Madam Speaker: Order. Now that we have had the opening statement and questions, may I seek the co-
Mr. Terence L. Higgins (Worthing): Is my right hon. Friend aware that no renegotiation of the Maastricht treaty is likely to produce more favourable terms for the United Kingdom than those that he has already achieved? However, if we are to protect the principle of subsidiarity, some renegotiation of the Single European Act and the treaty of Rome is needed.
Has my right hon. Friend noted the appalling inconsistency of those who are now advocating a referendum? They did not do so when we joined the Community, they voted against one subsequently, and they certainly did not suggest one when they were forcing the Single European Act through the House.
The Prime Minister: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, and I agree with what he has said. It has traditionally been the position of the Conservative party that we do not accept referendums. That was our position when my right hon. and noble Friend led the Conservatives into the Lobby in 1975. I recall that she quoted Lord Attlee's view of referendums as a device of demagogues and dictators.
On the question of subsidiarity and the Single European Act, I cannot do better than echo what my right hon. Friend has said.
Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale): Does the Prime Minister agree with the definition of subsidiarity given by the Danish Foreign Minister-
In view of the near-
The Prime Minister: I am intrigued to hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say, and I substantially agree with him. I am not entirely sure that the leader of his party agrees with him, but I put that to one side. We must examine all the opportunities for subsidiarity. There is no doubt that there will be different views on that matter within the Community. There is equally no doubt that we shall need to define subsidiarity very carefully because there are areas that would ensure that the Community did not function in any way unless they were dealt with at the European level. The whole House has seen illustrations of that.
Mr. John Biffen (Shropshire, North): Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Court of Auditors described the recent MacSharry proposals accepted by the Agriculture Ministers as "a recipe for fraud"? In those circumstances, is it not clear that the mechanics of administering the common agricultural policy are wholly in disarray? Do they not need the application of subsidiarity to bring about better control? Will every effort be made during my right hon. Friend's presidency of the European Community to establish ways in which the CAP can be recast consistent with his ambitions concerning subsidiarity?
The Prime Minister: As my right hon. Friend knows, at Maastricht the Court of Auditors was made a Community institution, so it is now under better control than it was previously. The common agricultural policy has been substantially reformed-
Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney): Having returned yesterday from Copenhagen, in that democratic country of Denmark, I assure the Prime Minister that there is not the slightest prospect of the Danish people changing their minds about Maastricht before the end of this year. That being so, what is the point of writing into the opening paragraphs of the communique the importance of ratifying the treaty so that it can come into force on 1 January 1993? Is that just hot air, or is it something more sinister-
The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman should not see plots where none exists. He makes his own judgment of what may happen in Denmark. We must wait to see what events actually occur there, and what action the Danish Government take-
Mr. Michael Alison (Selby): As my right hon. Friend charts the course ahead for Maastricht, will he recall that the majority of right hon. and hon. Members-
The Prime Minister: I agree with my right hon. Friend that, while we remain a member of the European Community, there is no alternative to our being at its centre and exercising influence. It may be the ambition of some to leave the Community, in which case they should say so and make their position entirely clear. If that is their position, they should also explain what would happen, if we left the Community, to inward investment, jobs, prosperity, and much else. If we are to remain in the Community, it is the overwhelming view of the House-
Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North): The declaration on South Africa rightly drew attention to the dreadful massacre in Boipatong. Does the Prime Minister accept, however, that simply asking the people to back the Conference for a Democratic South Africa is a weak response? Is it not time for a fundamental reappraisal of policy on South Africa, to compel President de Klerk to negotiate in a genuine fashion?
The Prime Minister: My understanding is that President de Klerk is prepared to negotiate, and we want negotiations to start again. In the context of what is now happening in South Africa, it is not helpful for all kinds of miscellaneous advice to appear suddenly and gratuitously, spreading the blame on one side or the other. What we need is a resumption of the talks as soon as possible.
It is all right for some to hawk their consciences around, but the impact of what happens in South Africa affects the people who are poorest. South Africa has 40 per cent. unemployment, 2 per cent. population growth and 0 per cent. growth in gross domestic product. That will not be corrected until the talks are successful, and those who sit here thinking otherwise had better examine the situation with greater care.
Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-
The Prime Minister: As my hon. Friend knows, much in the Maastricht treaty moves in the direction in which he would have the country go. It is perfectly true that both the Maastricht treaty and the Single European Act involved institutional changes; but at Maastricht, for the first time, we also secured language establishing the value of intergovernmental co-
We also secured the formalisation of subsidiarity, on which we are still seeking to put flesh-
Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North): What progress did the Government make at Lisbon in ensuring that the Eurofed would be situated in the United Kingdom?
The Prime Minister: There was a discussion about sites over dinner, but the hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that no agreement was reached.
Sir Peter Hordern (Horsham): One of the good things to come out of the meeting was the failure to accept the European budget proposed by Mr. Delors. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the European Commission will have plenty to do in cleaning up its own house and keeping an eye on the amount of fraud that is now taking place in the Community? Will not the proposals for a new parliamentary commission of the European Parliament, under the provisions of Maastricht, help in that process, and do not those proposals-
The Prime Minister: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, and I entirely agree with him. There was strong opposition, not just from the United Kingdom but from a number of European states, to the Commission's over-
Mr. D. N. Campbell-
The Prime Minister: We shall not be losing it in the House.
Mr. Quentin Davies (Stamford and Spalding): Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be more than a little perverse for anyone concerned with national sovereignty to promote in one Parliament the Single European Act that made no provision for subsidiarity and in the next Parliament to attack the Maastricht treaty, which does include subsidiarity, as "a treaty too far"?
The Prime Minister: I think I am able to agree with my hon. Friend.
Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth): In the context of subsidiarity, did the Prime Minister discuss how to counteract the centralised and bumbling bureaucracy that is the British Board of Trade, which has delayed RECHAR for far too long already? Did the Prime Minister go on to say that he would put that down to local government to implement?
The Prime Minister: Stressing more control over British institutions is hardly subsidiarity.
Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside): With regard to the level playing field that my right hon. Friend mentioned, does he acknowledge that, both at Maastricht and at Lisbon, he managed to move the goal posts in favour of Britain without upsetting our European partners, to the extent that they now believe that it was they who invented subsidiarity? Must that not bode well for Britain's presidency, when we shall be able to set the agenda for future meetings?
The Prime Minister: It is perfectly clear that the principle of devolving-
Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli): Will the Prime Minister assure the House that the concept of subsidiarity that he is particularly fond of will be applied to the heart of the Maastricht treaty-
The Prime Minister: As the right hon. Gentleman knows, that is a decision for this House, and it will be placed before this House. Whether we go into economic and monetary union, a concept well understood in this House, will be determined by this House at an appropriate time.
Mr. George Walden (Buckingham): Is my right hon. Friend aware that, every time the word "subsidiarity" is used in this House, we lose 99 per cent. of the audience outside, who are confused and apprehensive about its meaning? As someone who is confused and apprehensive about its meaning, I would encourage my right hon. Friend to fight for a legally binding clarification of the Maastricht treaty so that we can understand what it means.
In order to dispel the confusion and apprehension about the treaty itself, I would also suggest that my right hon. Friend should keep an open mind to a referendum on any entry into a single currency which may come about, as that is a very clear, specific and momentous issue-
Madam Speaker: Order.
Mr. Walden: I am just finishing, Madam Speaker. Whereas I agree with my right hon. Friend that there is no case for a referendum on the present treaty, should there ever be any question of entry into economic and monetary union, the people must have a say on that very specific and very momentous issue.
The Prime Minister: Subsidiarity is already a legally binding issue under article 3b of the treaty. What we are seeking to do is to set out how in practice that will work, rather than simply waiting for cases to go to the European Court of Justice and for rulings at that stage. The concept of making it legally binding is already there in the Maastricht treaty. I repeat what I said a moment ago about economic and monetary union : I believe that that is a matter for Parliament and for a future Parliament.
Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West): In view of the need for a more considered response to the baronial intervention by his predecessor, who called for a referendum on the treaty of Maastricht, does the Prime Minister not realise that he could probably keep most people happy by agreeing to hold a referendum in return for agreeing to implement the suggestion by the Tory chairman of the European Movement : that he should appoint Baroness Thatcher as Governor of the Falkland islands and dispatch her there forthwith?
The Prime Minister: I believe that we already have a governor.
Mr. Peter Temple-
The Prime Minister: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend on the latter point. That is precisely the remit that we have obtained. Equally, he is correct on his former point.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North): On an issue that is so vital to the sovereignty of our country, why is the Prime Minister so reluctant to allow a free vote on this side of the House? Is the reason because he is fearful of-
The Prime Minister: If the hon. Gentleman wants a free vote on that side of the House, he had better discuss that matter with the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Foster).
Sir Anthony Grant (Cambridgeshire, South-
The Prime Minister: I did not have the privilege of being here on that occasion, but I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing it to my attention.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray): In considering the potential for the enlargement of the Community-
The Prime Minister: No, that point was not discussed in the enlargement discussions. What was discussed was the method of preparing the mandates immediately for the Eftans and the position to be taken in respect of other countries-
Sir Peter Tapsell (East Lindsey): Did my right hon. Friend remind his fellow Heads of Government in Lisbon of the historic fact that, during the 1939-
The Prime Minister: I think that that point was very much in the minds of a number of us in the discussions that we had on Yugoslavia. Although concern predominantly is centreing on getting humanitarian aid into Sarajevo airport, unless there is a ceasefire that is likely to be an extremely hazardous and difficult operation. But even if the humanitarian aid arrives in the airport, that is not the end of the matter ; it will then have to be taken, presumably by the Red Cross, to areas where it is needed, and military escorts may be needed to safeguard the position of the Red Cross. This is an extremely difficult and hazardous undertaking and it is being discussed by the United Nations-
Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill): Notwithstanding the difficulty of putting large numbers of troops on the ground, does the Prime Minister agree that the establishment of a sky shield-
The Prime Minister: I believe that he discussed it with none of the other Heads of Government, as far as I am aware, before he left. I am certainly not aware that he did so.
The idea of air cover is certainly one that has been considered. It is, of course, extremely hazardous. The bombing and mortaring of people in and around Sarajevo is being done from the land, not from the air, so air cover would not necessarily prevent it. However, air cover would be a juicy target for missiles from the ground if anyone were tempted to aim at them. It is an extremely difficult proposition. Of course, we also considered the prospect of an air drop of supplies, but that also has great logistical difficulties, and we were not advised to proceed with that course.
Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-
The Prime Minister: If my hon. Friend believes all that, I can understand why he is so opposed to it. I do not believe all that. As for it being a mere holding operation, it was an agreement that there was no agreement to be had. We and others could not agree the proposals put forward at the weekend, and we must now discuss them to see whether agreement can be reached by the time of Edinburgh. That is the way one normally reaches an agreement-
Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East): Since the Prime Minister now claims to champion the principle of subsidiarity, will he explain to the House why he does so so enthusiastically for the United Kingdom within the European union while ignoring it completely for Scotland within the British Union?
The Prime Minister: We are a single united kingdom.
Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South): Will my right hon. Friend reflect on the fact that it has taken this country about 50 years to be accepted as a leading player in the European Community? Is it not sad that, on the very eve of our taking the presidency, in our best position for years, with the twin themes of subsidiarity and enlargement on our lips as we do so, there are still those among us who wish to hark back to the glorious days of Britain's history which are no longer relevant in the late 1990s?
The Prime Minister: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I think that there are very few Conservative Members and, I suspect, very few-
Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South): Will the Prime Minister explain, if he believes in honest negotiation, on what basis he will negotiate with the four applicants, Switzerland, Finland and so on-
The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman clearly was not listening earlier. The preparation of the mandates is on the basis of Maastricht being agreed. That is the working assumption under which all the negotiations will take place. In due course, when Maastricht is agreed, the official negotiations can start. It is quite possible that not only the mandates but unofficial discussions towards accession to the Community can take place before ratification of the treaty, but the formal accession of any new state could not take place until after the Maastricht treaty is ratified.
Sir Jim Spicer (Dorset, West): Does my right hon. Friend accept that the whole House would wish to thank him and his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary-
The Prime Minister: I will seek to make that clear. As my hon. Friend said, we may not carry the whole House with us, but perhaps we carry the whole of the thinking part of the House with us.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): While, Muggins-
The Prime Minister: Without necessarily accepting the premise on which the hon. Gentleman launched his question, I have seen the letter from Babcock and Wilcox to which he refers. I will take the opportunity to discuss that with the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Amato, when I meet him at Munich in a few days' time.
Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North): Given that the people of this country have no faith or confidence whatever in the pocket Napoleon who has been running the Commission for the past eight years, is it not insensitive, to say the least, for our European colleagues to force him on us for the next two years? Or is Machiavelli at work-
The Prime Minister: There was only one candidate for the presidency of the Commission. There was no other candidate around who was credible and who would have been likely to have the support of any other nation state at the summit. It would have been perfectly possible, if we had thought it desirable, for us to put forward a different candidate. He-
Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough): The House will have noticed the Prime Minister's reply to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in relation to unemployment. Will he not accept that it is hardly any solace for those losing their jobs to learn that the rate of unemployment is rising faster in Spain than it is here, or that the only Government proposal to bring down unemployment is the successful conclusion to the GATT round? As the presidency begins on 1 July, will the Prime Minister give the House a categorical assurance that he will make the fall of unemployment a high priority within the exchange rate mechanism?
The Prime Minister: I am not quite sure what that last point means. I simply corrected the point of fact made by the Leader of the Opposition, and I also made the point, if I remember accurately, that I did not necessarily suggest that we had unemployment rising at the rate we would like. Clearly we would like to see it fall ; I do not deny that for a moment. I was correcting the simple factual point about unemployment. Although it is an important matter, it falls within a wide parameter of policies. It is not necessarily a matter that can be determined by Europe-
Mr. Ray Whitney (Wycombe): Can my right hon. Friend confirm that his exchanges with his colleagues at Lisbon further demonstrated that there is growing support throughout Europe for the concept of a Community which is effective and united, but which is not unnecessarily centralist?
The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend has defined precisely the sense of the meeting at Lisbon on Friday and Saturday. There is a strong feeling, not just among politicians, people in this country and people in Denmark, but in a number of other countries, against excessive centralisation. That was reflected in our debates in Lisbon.
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South): The Prime Minister has told us that he is seeking a definition of subsidiarity. Does he agree that such a definition should be inserted in article 3b? Contrary to popular belief, it is not yet there. Does he agree that, to make it a practical reality and to make it justiciable, as it must be in the end, there must be some suggestion of a separation of powers? However, is not the separation of powers the hallmark of a federal constitution, which the Prime Minister says he wishes to avoid?
The Prime Minister: The definition is there in article 3b, as I said earlier. It is therefore justiciable, and I am happy to confirm that again to the hon. Gentleman. We have the definition. We are seeking to put flesh, in practical working terms, on the definition that already exists and is already justiciable.
Sir Ivan Lawrence (Burton): Is my right hon. Friend aware that the one thing that my constituents are very clear about is that they do not want to see the surrender of any more important powers by the Westminster Parliament to the European Community? If that is what we mean by subsidiarity, is it not time that it was better and more clearly defined, so that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will take the British people with him at the end of his successful presidency?
The Prime Minister: As I said a little earlier, I share my hon. and learned Friend's implicit view that "subsidiarity" is not a very attractive term. We need to find a way of expressing it that will make it readily understood by people up and down the country so that they are aware of what it means and how it will operate. I am open to any helpful proposals on that point, but we shall be considering it further.
Mr. Peter Hain (Neath): When the Prime Minister bullied the Baroness Thatcher into signing the exchange rate mechanism or the European monetary system, did she insist to him then, as she did yesterday, that the pound was set at far too high a level?
The Prime Minister: I can only assume that the hon. Gentleman has not met my noble Friend.
Mr. William Powell (Corby): The emphasis that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister laid upon the successful conclusion of the GATT round is most welcome. Does he agree that nothing would give the world economy a greater boost or boost confidence as well as economic activity than the successful conclusion of the GATT round? Therefore, will my right hon. Friend urge the French President to show the same generosity in solving the GATT problems as he is showing in trying to solve the difficulties in Sarajevo, by reaching a satisfactory compromise over 300,000 tonnes of grain?
The Prime Minister: That is an extremely fair point, which has not been lost upon the European leaders. The point has been made to those holding up the agreement at present. Quite apart from the growth of world trade that would follow and apart from the helpful effect that that would also have on unemployment, it would be an immense help to the developing countries and the less-
Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby): With regard to Yugoslavia, is the European Community sure that, although the sanctions against Milosevic are justified and may bring about a change in Serbia, they will lead to peace in Bosnia-
The Prime Minister: There are two points in relation to the important points raised by the hon. Gentleman. First, we are putting pressure on President Tudjman as well. Secondly, we are seeking to persuade the Serbs to assert control over the Serbs in Bosnia. That is the substantive point.
Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch): Does my right hon. Friend accept that his comments in his opening statement about coolness and commitment are widely shared by a high proportion of his colleagues alongside and behind him? Does he agree that the cacophony of inconsistency from down the Corridor is a sign that very rarely are the best wines made with sour grapes?
The Prime Minister: We need to look very carefully at precisely how we carry the debate forward. It is critical that we get the right conclusions from the debate and that we ratify a treaty which for the first time begins to turn back a centralising trend which was evident in the treaty of Rome and in the Single European Act, and which became more evident as time passed. We are now in a position to begin to turn that tide back. It would be folly if we were to sideline ourselves when we have an opportunity to achieve that.
Mr. Bruce Grocott (The Wrekin): Further to the question by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-
The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman raises his question on a false premise, which is exactly what he said he would not wish to do-
Sir Teddy Taylor (Southend, East): While the Prime Minister and our new friend Mr. Jacques Delors may be entirely confident that this matter is going to go through without difficulty and with the free will of members, does he accept that there is an important democratic issue when a Bill is put through without a free vote, without a referendum, and without the people of the country being told what is involved when there is a major surrender or a major passing over of freedom and liberty? If he doubts that, should we not take a message from the sad countries of eastern Europe about the tragedy of forcing people to go into a single centralised state with common citizenship and without frontiers, without being consulted at all? Surely there is a case for at least looking at telling the people and asking their views.
The Prime Minister: No one fights more fiercely for parliamentary control in this country than my hon. Friend. With my great respect for him, I find it inconsistent that such a firm advocate of the parliamentary system should also be an advocate of referendums. I believe that the parliamentary system is right. It is the way in which we took through legislation in the past on constitutional matters. It is the way in which we took through the treaty of Rome and the Single European Act. This Bill has already been debated, before I went to Maastricht and after I came back, for a longer period than that spent discussing the Single European Act, and that is before we enter the Committee stage.
Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend): In the context of subsidiarity, will the Prime Minister confirm that there is no truth in the rumours that environmental policy is to be repatriated to the nation state and that, instead, in his presidency he will give priority to the creation of a European environmental agency to make sure that important, cross-
The Prime Minister: It is agreed that there should be a European environmental agency, and it has been for some time. What has not been agreed is where the European environmental agency should be sited. That, too, failed to find itself a matter of agreement over the weekend.
Mr. James Paice (Cambridgeshire, South-
The Prime Minister: Yes. They have agreed to apply on the basis of the Maastricht treaty being agreed. That opens, of course, the option of intergovernmental agreement, as I said earlier, rather than simply agreement under the treaty of Rome. No doubt, over time as the Community enlarges, there will be further agreements and, no doubt, further institutional change. We must make sure that we are sufficiently influential in the Community to ensure that the institutional change that takes place and the future agreements that may be necessary are agreements and changes of which we approve.
Mr. Jimmy Boyce (Rotherham): Would the Prime Minister be kind enough to tell us whether, when he refers to workers' rights, he means an end to the practice of employers unilaterally de-
The Prime Minister: None of those matters was discussed over the weekend.
Sir Michael Marshall (Arundel): Would my right hon. Friend confirm that the discussions that have taken place about the parliamentary assize, the group of the 12 Parliaments plus the European Parliament, is a process that will be pursued during our presidency? Does my right hon. Friend accept that that should be an added safeguard in the matter of subsidiarity?
The Prime Minister: Yes, we shall certainly process the prospect of a further meeting of that sort. Agreements between Parliaments, rather than just between members of the European Parliament and individual Governments, is an attractive way to proceed. I do not anticipate a meeting of the assize during the next six months, but we shall do the ground work and preparation for one to take place thereafter.
Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-
The Prime Minister: As the hon. Gentleman will know, we have spent some time in the past hour discussing precisely that point and the necessity of ensuring that a proper definition of subsidiarity is more clear-
Several Hon. Members rose-
Madam Speaker: Order. We must move on.