HEATH GOVERNMENT BETWEEN 1970 TO 1974 ACTED ULTRA VIRES AND ILLEGALLY
HEATH GOVERNMENT BETWEEN 1970 TO 1974 ACTED ULTRA VIRES AND ILLEGALLY
Our original research which took place prior to setting up our website in December 2018 covered the period up to 28/10/71. This was the date of the non-binding Parliamentary vote when through various devious methods and Government misleading and the resulting ignorance of non-Conservative MPs to the real implications of membership of the EEC, the Heath Government managed to gain a majority of 112 votes in favour in principle of joining the EEC.
In the time since our website was launched the People’s Brexit have been researching up to October 1972 and have made even more shocking discoveries. Please see our other two reports, ‘Why Joining the EEC was Illegal, Unconstitutional and Undemocratic’ and ‘How Did We Really Get into Europe?’ Which are available on The People’s Brexit website (www.thepeoplesbrexit.org) for further background information and evidence.
The Doctrine of Ultra Vires
It is important to understand the Doctrine of Ultra Vires in this situation, Ultra Vires is Latin for ‘beyond the powers’ and if an act requires lawful authority to carry out that act and does not have that lawful authority it is considered Ultra Vires and is therefore null and void.
From our research we have established numerous acts that were Ultra Vires by the Heath Government between 1970 and 1974 and also numerous acts by previous Governments all with relation to the desperate attempts to join the EEC. For the purposes of this report we will focus on two; firstly it was Ultra Vires to constantly deny the People a vote by General Election or Referendum on whether or not to join the EEC and technically this counts as multiple counts of Ultra Vires. Secondly, Edward Heath committed the most serious Ultra Vires Act against the Law, Constitution and the Democracy of the UK since the Magna Carta was signed when he signed the Treaty of Accession to the EEC on 22nd January 1972 without the mandate of either the People of the UK or Parliament.
Between the Vote of 28/10/71 and Commons Debate of 20/1/72
The non-binding Parliamentary vote of 28/10/71 was consistent with the usual perfectly planned timing of every element of the forced joining of the EEC. Our research of events since that manipulated vote exposed that the negotiated terms of fisheries policies were deliberately withheld from Parliament until the last possible opportunity of 13th/ 14th December 1971. So poor were the terms given (amounting to a total capitulation) the Government knew it would severely impact on the vote of 28/10/71 were they to be revealed before the vote despite all their manipulation and even before the very last acceptable opportunity of the week before Christmas recess. Similar tactics were also used for the final poor capitulation terms for New Zealand and the Commonwealth Sugar Agreements, both of these issues also being very contentious. They were able to get away with this due to claiming that these three matters had not been concluded in the original negotiations and Parliament had no way of checking whether this was correct as most of these negotiations were conducted in secret and deemed ‘confidential’ and were not reported on by Ministers. However, when they eventually discovered the truth the Opposition were forced to sacrifice the supply day (20/1/72) they had been provided with in order to debate the Fisheries terms. This was after it had been announced on 21/12/71 (the second last sitting day before Christmas recess) that the Treaty of Accession to the EEC was going to be signed on 22/1/72 without prior debate and it was obviously necessary to use this supply day to at least have some form of debate on the Treaty at the expense of the Fisheries terms.
The Prime Minister also revealed in answer to a written question (HC Deb 20 January 1972 vol 829 cc251-2w) that he would be visiting Strasbourg on 21/1/72 in order to receive the European Prize for Statesmanship in the course of a session of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe and he went on to state that whilst he was there he would be the guest of the foundation which had awarded him the prize. This prize would have included a cash sum, the amount of which we have been unable to establish.
House of Commons Debate on the European Economic Community (Treaty of Accession) HC Deb 20 January 1972 vol 829 cc677-809
This debate was based on both a motion to have the Treaty of Accession placed before Parliament for examination (and potential rejection) before being signed and an amendment that the Treaty would be laid before Parliament after being signed. The motion which would have been the more democratic of the two options was dropped in favour of the amendment which the Government was always going to have to do anyway! This represented a disaster and a total waste of time and a missed opportunity and was merely an attempt by the pro-EEC Leader of the Opposition, Harold Wilson to politically point score, show party unity and get the Treaty signed with the intention of trying to get better terms later if he was then back in power. It was also the result of bad judgement on his part due to the lack of time and the rushed nature of this process which was frequently commented upon by Members. The Government was also able to use all of this to their advantage to evade crucial issues. The best and Parliamentary democratic course of action for the Opposition would obviously have been to use this debate to attempt to prevent the signing of the Treaty due to contempt and abuse of Parliament and the fact that Heath had the mandate of neither Parliament nor the People and was acting Ultra Vires.
However, although not at all beneficial to the Parliamentary process at the time, this debate did bring up a number of matters of great interest to us today. This included as well as critical evidence, many facts of a practical nature that we are today unaware of such as signing the Treaty involved adopting into UK law every single rule and regulation etc. ever made by the EEC from the start well over a decade before which amounted to around 2,500 in number presented in 42 large volumes in addition to this there were 10 volumes of Treaties and the Treaty of Accession itself was two volumes long and consisted of 161 terms, numerous protocols and annexes and even annexes to the annexes! Of course all of this was in addition to the enormous amount of secondary legislation described by Mr Fred Peart as “of amazing complexity and intelligibility” which was not even available to Parliament in English at the time of signing. The shocking fact is that the Members did not even receive this immense quantity of documents until just a few days before the debate of 20th January after requesting them for around 12 months. Naturally nobody then had the opportunity to even read them let alone study them prior to the signing of the Treaty. At the Debate the Speaker criticized Members for bringing all these volumes into the Commons and blocking the gangway but they were making a point as to the immense quantity of EEC legislation involved that the UK was having imposed on it.
What was really shocking was that Parliament had not even seen the Treaty of Accession let alone had the opportunity to debate it prior to signature, in fact the previous general EEC debate was 28/10/71. Even more shocking was the fact that even leading Cabinet Ministers had not seen the Treaty, a fact revealed in this debate of 20/1/72. Further Mr Deakins stated in Parliament in this debate that the Government were “treating the House with contempt” by not making the text of the Treaty available to the house. Mr Arthur Lewis confirmed “We have heard it from the Minister, and we know for a fact that no member of the Government has ever seen the Treaty, let alone laid it on the Table. Is it in order for us to debate a non-existent document which no one has seen?”
Mr Fred Peart informed the House in his speech that there was an article in the Guardian under the heading ‘Last minute frenzy before Treaty is signed’ all about the Treaty and he stated “If the Treaty is available to the Press and if Pressmen know its form, should it not be available to hon. Members?” He also further confirmed that much of his information had been obtained from ‘Brussels leaks’ and newspapers and revealed that an article in the Financial Times on the 8/1/72 had described some crucial decisions made in Brussels that had not been revealed to the House not even by the Ministers responsible for the negotiations and he commented on the fact that far more information should have been given to the House throughout the process. He further commented that even Ministers were confused as to the severe impact of EEC regulations on matters such as agriculture. He concluded on the legal aspect of membership “There is, therefore a great variety of complex secondary legislation which has never been debated in the House. Many of our lawyer friends will undoubtedly have a field day on this”.
A small minority of Conservative MPs defied the Government such as Mr. Anthony Fell who stated at this debate “The Prime Minister said, in unequivocal terms which will go on being repeated ad nauseam, that he would not recommend Britain to enter the Common Market without the full-heated support of people and Parliament. We know that, when the Prime Minister goes to sign the treaty on Saturday, he will not have won that full-heated support. By no stretch of the imagination will the Prime Minister be able to say in truth even to himself, or perhaps only to himself, “I have the full-heated support of the British people””. Mr Fell then went on to say, “Not only will he be unable to say on Saturday that he has the full-heated support of the British people, he will not even be able to say that he has the full-hearted support of the British Parliament, which he claimed to have after the vote on the 28th .Whatever majority there will be, it will not be the one-third of the majority that resulted on the 28th. How, therefore, can my right hon. Friend claim to have the full-hearted support of either the British people or the British Parliament.”
He went on further to declare “..I shall be voting tonight with the people and that means voting against the Government. This may cause some mirth on the part of certain occupants of the Government Front Bench, but I assure them it is not a laughing matter when a hon. Member is forced to vote against his own Government. My opinions have been made public throughout the piece, right back to my clash with Harold Macmillan when he lit the damp squib ten years ago.” He went on to state “In my view, too strong an influence is being used on Hon. Members in advising them how to vote in Parliament. It has been going on among Conservative Hon. Members and I have no doubt it has been going on among Hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it has gone well beyond a joke.”
Mr Fell went on to finish his speech with “It is in the strong light of that advice of the great Edmund Burke to his constituents that I feel free to defend my constituents’ interests, and I feel that I can do that best by defending the interests of the British nation by voting against the Government on every occasion when I can do anything to support those millions of people outside this House who are avowed to support, and, have supported us in our battle against Britain going into Europe.”
Mr Peter Shore stated on the subject of the high standards of Parliamentary and public approval demanded by the other applicant countries before joining the EEC “The House will also recall that the Governments of all three applicant countries have to surmount very serious hurdles in the requirements in their constitutions of specially high Parliamentary majorities – five-sixths in the case of Denmark, and three-quarters in the case of Norway – and then follow that up in all cases by a Referendum of their people.” He then went on to further state “It is my belief that Parliament and the People of this Country are in for a profound shock when they are at last privileged to see the full text of the Treaty of Accession, for they will find, in the precise language of a carefully drafted Treaty, the reality of what was agreed during the negotiations and the commitments and obligations which this Country will have to assume.” He also commented that the other applicant countries had made better efforts to protect their own interests than the Heath Government had in the negotiations.
Those opposed to the Treaty highlighted the fact that the North Atlantic Treaty (which was much less important from a constitutional point of view) was published in the agreed text as a White Paper for Parliament 16 days before signing. In countering this the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Geoffrey Rippon, who had carried out most of the negotiations) falsely claimed the Treaty of Accession was a ‘draft’ leading MPs to the mistaken conclusion it could be altered, later the Government confirmed it was not a draft and he had been mistaken in his opinion. He also cited the obscure Ponsonby Rule (which has now been disposed of) which was a mere constitutional convention that a Treaty could be signed before Parliamentary examination but this could be easily dismissed as this convention pre-dated the precedent of the North Atlantic Treaty procedure and as a mere convention could not apply to the Treaty of Accession with its unique status and far reaching constitutional and political implications. The Solicitor-General (Sir Geoffrey Howe) further misled the House in this debate to believe that they could amend the Treaty of Accession during the legislative process but careful analysis of his words reveal all he was actually promising was mere debate and discussion. He also falsely claimed that the Royal Prerogative alone was sufficient authority to sign the Treaty of Accession. This assumption has been discredited many times even for minor matters let alone regarding a Treaty of this importance. In fact Heath did not even have the mandate of his own Government and Cabinet to sign the Treaty due to the fact that even many of his leading Ministers had not seen it let alone the Conservative back benchers.
It is important to briefly cover Fisheries issues as this was a recurrent issue throughout and Mr Douglas Jay stated in this debate that the Government had “falsified the main facts about the Fisheries Agreement in their official statements to Parliament”. Further, Mr Jay informed the House that the Fisheries Agreement had still not been published and he considered that was a very good reason to prevent the signing of the Treaty on this basis. There was constant criticism throughout the debate of the capitulation terms the Government had accepted including the fact that the terms which could never be described as favourable were only guaranteed for 10 years until 1982 and after that it was all at the mercy of the EEC. This amounted to a far inferior deal to the one Norway had negotiated and there was extreme anger that a permanent deal had never even being requested with the severe impact this would have on peoples’ livelihoods. Similar criticism was made of the capitulation terms regarding New Zealand and the Commonwealth Sugar Agreements.
The opinion of the People was totally ignored and we discovered a very relevant fact from this debate which represents the largest poll/ Referendum of UK voters taken at the closest time before the Treaty of Accession was signed consisting of 6 million voters. This was revealed by Mrs Renee Short who stated at the Labour Party conference in the autumn of 1971 a motion opposing entry to the EEC was carried by more than 5 million votes against 1 million in favour, this confirms over 83% voted against joining the EEC, this fully reflected public opinion at the time. Heath was in complete contempt of the public opinion and ignored his promise to the country before he was elected when he vowed that entry to the EEC would be only be with “the full-hearted support of the British People and Parliament” and his mandate to the People of the UK in his 1970 Manifesto regarding the EEC when he stated “our sole commitment is to negotiate; no more no less”. His signature on the Treaty of Accession on 22nd January 1972 was not only Ultra Vires but it was the ultimate betrayal of the British People.
The Present and the Future
On 15th January 2019 The People’s Brexit wrote to the Prime Minister and the Attorney General with our evidence of the facts that the Heath Government acted illegally and Ultra Vires between 1970 and 1974. The most notable occasion of all being when Edward Heath signed the Treaty of Accession on 22nd January 1972 without a mandate from the People or Parliament, gave away our Sovereignty and bound us to the EEC. We have stated that we require the Government to acknowledge and condemn publically in Parliament that this occurred Illegally, Unconstitutionally and Undemocratically to the detriment of the British People back in 1972 and is still affecting the UK today. We feel that we should not be hostages to history and to the actions of a small number of people, notably Edward Heath who had no right to shackle the UK to the EEC against the will of the People and the UK should not be punished further for these actions by the EU. It is the actions of these people that are causing the difficulties we are experiencing today. Other countries have joined the EEC/EU willingly when the People have been given a vote in a Referendum when they could choose whether to join or in the case of Norway not to join.
Another little recognized fact is that the signing of the Treaty of Accession was also Ultra Vires due to it giving the right to tax the British People in perpetuity without their consent to a foreign power which is against the terms of the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.
Further, the scant (a mere 48 pages including the covers) White Paper that was produced by the Government in July 1971 entitled ‘The United Kingdom and the European Communities’ (Cmnd 4715) for the benefit of Parliament and the People (in a censorious edited format on the rare occasions it was available to the People) consisted of numerous deliberate lies and omissions. This was the basis for the decision to vote with the Government for many non-Conservative MPs on 28/10/71 and the official basis for the Government claiming it was in the best interests of the UK to join the EEC. Examples of these lies were at paragraph 29 ‘There is no question of any erosion of essential national Sovereignty’ and at paragraph 31 ‘The English and Scottish legal systems will remain intact’ and ‘In certain cases however they would need to refer points of Community Law to the European Court of Justice.’ In fact the Legal, Constitutional and Sovereignty implication did not even warrant its own section under the contents and was just lumped under ‘the political case’ in paragraphs 26-39.
The biggest of the many omission was obviously since the day the Heath Government took over negotiations from the Labour Government in June 1970 they had accepted the fact the UK would have to take on the burden of Community Law (just the rules and regulations were over 2,500 in number and 42 volumes on their own not even counting the Treaties and mountain of secondary legislation!) and the fact that this Law would take direct effect and will be precedent over UK Law. This document in itself is Ultra Vires (as amongst many other things it falsely claimed that it was the Government’s decision to make to join the EEC), Illegal, Unconstitutional and Undemocratic. It was so bad that even the Heath Government themselves favoured a White Paper produced by the Labour Government in May 1967 instead. However, this cannot mitigate the fact that this White Paper of lies, misleading and omissions is their official legal basis for entry to the EEC. This is backed up in the debate of 20/1/72 when Mr Ronald King Murray commented in his speech “If one looks at the White Paper which the Government presented to Parliament in July 1971 on the central issue of the budgetary contribution of this country, one sees that the matter was dealt with in an extremely cursory way in paragraph 96. Great pressure had been brought on the Government to elucidate the financial obligation which Britain would permanently acquire as a result of signing the Treaty of Accession.” He then went on to say that the answers received from the Government on this important point were evasive and meaningless.
It was also a fatal legal flaw in the application that no further White Papers were produced for the benefit of Parliament and the People between July 1971 and January 1972 when the Treaty was signed with regard to the final position on Fisheries and the Commonwealth and obviously the true implications of membership of the EEC.
Prime Minister Theresa May stated in Parliament on 14th January 2019 that “the Government is a servant of the People” and now the People are demanding that the Government honours this noble statement and condemns the actions of this previous Conservative Government and takes action to resolve the situation with a new type of Brexit under our terms that includes restitution and compensation from the EU as they are at least equally and possibly more culpable for these actions. Edward Heath could not have signed their Treaty without their co-operation and there were many secret negotiations and deals that we will never know about. To sign a nation up to a federal institution such as the EEC and take away our Sovereignty when over 83% of the people were totally against it is unforgivable and is in breach of the very foundations of the Treaty of Rome that the whole EEC was based upon. That People could be oppressed in this way is the act of a totalitarian hierarchy the very opposite of what former enemy occupied countries should have been trying to achieve and it is to their shame that they permitted this situation to happen. It should have been a term of joining demanded by the EEC that the People of the UK should have been consulted by a Referendum and membership should have only be given if it was the will of the People. In addition, the joining terms given were unfair financially costly punishment terms that were only accepted as the politicians with the power were determined to join at all costs and this was exploited by the EEC who were only interested in how much money they could extract from the UK. The People were further integrated into a federal Europe over the years by stealth and further Treaties all without consideration or consultation of the People of the UK.
After years of oppression by the EEC/ EU the majority of the People of the UK who had not been brainwashed decided to vote to leave the EU in the Referendum of 2016 this result has still not been honoured and the EU still want to punish us further with unfair terms. The People’s Brexit are not prepared to accept this. It is now the responsibility of our Government to demand the justice, restitution, compensation and co-operation we are due from the EU. It is also a fact that the Treaty of Accession of 1972 is null and void due to it been signed Ultra Vires, so the EU cannot hold us hostage to it or to any other Treaties signed subsequently. Further the legislation (The European Communities Act 1972) that brought it in to UK Law is also Ultra Vires and was forced through by the abuse and contempt of Parliament by the Heath Government (we will be writing a further report detailing this). Some final important quotes from the speech of Mr Fred Peart at the Debate of 20/1/72 are “It is a fundamental rule of our constitution that no Government must bind their successors in relation to our internal Sovereignty. The Sovereignty of Parliament does not belong to those who are at any given time its members. They hold it in trust for the People and they cannot give it up without the consent of the People.” He went on to add “We should bear in mind that there is no civilised country in the world which allows a basic constitutional change to be made without a Referendum, without the consent of the People or without a special majority of their legislatures. This is true of, for example, Denmark, Norway and Ireland. Thus, the Prime Minister will be signing the Treaty of Accession on behalf of the British Government, but he will be ignoring Parliament and the British People.”
Edward Heath did exactly this and now it is the duty of the May Government on behalf of the British People to now give us justice and take our Sovereignty back from the EU.
It is also time in 2019 for the May Government to tell the truth to the People of the UK about the circumstances of our being part of the EU, it should no longer be the open secret that the people in power know about but are afraid to talk about. The majority of the public who actually thought we joined in a legal and democratic way as they are entitled to think would and should have happened in the 20th Century in a democracy now deserve the truth from the Government.
It is the responsibility of the May Government to now deliver THE PEOPLE’S BREXIT and us and our many supporters will ensure that they do, even if this means using the legal system to achieve this.