The truth is that this debate is taking place against an exceedingly sombre background, a background of Manifest Crisis here in Britain and against a background of crisis both inside the Community and in the Community's own relations with the outside world.
I have referred to the Manifest Crisis which is now being experienced by the British economy - a crisis which is directly linked to our membership of the EEC.
Article 58 of the Treaty of Paris reads:if a situation of Manifest Crisis is declared when there is a decline in demand the Community is empowered to order a cutback in production.
1 states thatIn the event of a decline in demand, if the High Authority considers that the Community is confronted with a period of Manifest Crisis" - that is the operative technical phrase - and that the means of action provided for in Article 57 are not sufficient to deal with this, it shall, after consulting the Consultative Committee and with the assent of the Council, establish a system of production quotas, accompanied to the necessary extent by the measures provided for in Article 74.
As this is a short debate I want to concentrate on one subject only, but an important one affecting the whole of the Scottish economy and its ability to prosper, and that is the steel industry, which is in a state of Manifest Crisis.
There is Manifest Crisis in the Community, as the Minister of State says.
As my hon. Friend the Minister of State, who has just returned hot foot from defending our interests in Brussels, was quick to point out, in a state of Manifest Crisis the hon. Member must recognise that there is massive over-capacity in the European Coal and Steel Community.
The first subject is the Commission's proposal to declare a state of Manifest Crisis under article 58 of the Treaty of the European Coal and Steel Community and to impose mandatory production quotas on Community steel producers.
that it is the whole of European industry that is in a state of Manifest Crisis, with a few exceptions?
Knowing the Minister as I do, I am sure that he will be bold and blunt in his talks with the EEC on the Manifest Crisis.
Has he missed the point that This Manifest Crisis - that is not a British phrase, although the words are English - affects the whole European situation; that it is the whole of European industry that is in a state of manifest crisis, with a few exceptions?
The accompanying breakdown of mutual confidence between producers resulted in the declaration of a state of Manifest Crisis by the Commission and the introduction, with the Council's unanimous assent, of mandatory production quotas under article 58 of the ECSC Treaty for most ECSC products.
how many companies have had proceedings taken against them in each quarter since the state of Manifest Crisis was declared; and what fines have been imposed on each company.
In the face of This Manifest Crisis, the unions response has been to press for a substantial wage increase, to oppose any compulsory redundancies and to back up their demands with the threat of industrial action.
We have made it clear that we shall continue to support the shipbuilding industry but equally that, while additional support may be justifiable during a Manifest Crisis, as at present, in the longer term we want to see support for the industry resume a diminishing trend.
That performance is all the more important as the first phase of the Manifest Crisis comes to an end.
I must also say that, as a legal point, prolongation beyond June is dependent upon the Commission's being satisfied that the conditions of the treaty are met - in other words, that a state of Manifest Crisis, to use the terms of the treaty, still exists for hot rolled coil and cold reduced sheet.
The Commission paper recognises that ECSC provisions for the regulation of production and capacity, including interventionist measures to deal with a situation of "Manifest Crisis", have largely outlived their usefulness.
It is possible, of course, under article 58 of the ECSC treaty, to produce measures to manage the industry during the period of so-called Manifest Crisis.
When they are used, as they were in the early 1980s, it is to get rid of the "Manifest Crisis" in the coal and steel industries.
The House will recall that the European steel industry had operated with production quotas administered by the Commission under the Manifest Crisis provisions of the ECSC treaty between 1980 and 1988.
Would it be more in tune with the deal that he tried to do to take out 25 million tonnes of excess capacity and compare that with the British Steel Corporation's and the British steel industry's removal of capacity, particularly with the Manifest Crisis, which was done in the reference period and which mitigated against our own steel industry?
Is it not clear that, unless there is a major reduction in capacity soon across the whole of Europe, the British steel industry and others will be in a state of Manifest Crisis?
My hon. Friend says that the Commission is the biggest rigger of the market and, indeed, the period of Manifest Crisis declared in the provisions of the European Coal and Steel Community - the treaty of Paris - was obviously a rigging of the market.
Before he moves on, will he recognise that it is possible to think in terms of a number of employers in an industry together, and that that sort of example fits well with the concept in the European Community of an industry being in Manifest Crisis?
First, he reminds the House of the concept of a Manifest Crisis as a term of art for an industry that is facing severe problems, probably internationally.