asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now make a statement on the proposals for closer association submitted by the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community.
Yes, Sir. On 24th December, 1953, the President of the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community wrote a letter to Her Majesty's Government about the association of the United Kingdom with the Community.
Her Majesty's Government have considered most carefully M. Monnet's letter, and before coming to any conclusions on the suggestions made in it thought it would be helpful to discuss the matter in all its aspects with the High Authority. They have accordingly informed M. Monnet that they would be very pleased if he could find it convenient to visit London to take part in discussions on the form that the future association between the United Kingdom and the Community could take. This invitation has been accepted by the High Authority.
The texts of the High Authority's letter of 24th December, which contains its proposals, of Her Majesty's Government's reply, and of the High Authority's acceptance of the invitation to visit London, are being laid before the House as a White Paper today.
If the hon. Member will study (the White Paper he will see that Her Majesty's Government have not committed themselves to anything at this stage. M. Monnet obviously recognised that it would be impossible for the United Kingdom to enter into a form of association which would involve any surrender of sovereignty to a supranational institution.
As regards the hon. Member's second point, in considering these matters Her Majesty's Government have taken full account of the views of other members of the Commonwealth and the views of both sides of the two industries as expressed through the National Coal Board and the Iron and Steel Board. They have also consulted the principal steel consuming industries, through the Engineering Advisory Council. Consultations will continue during the proposed discussions.
Is the hon. Gentleman saying that we are going into these consultations without any prior conditions? Should the consultations not get very far, would he then consider it proper that much less formal discussions should be held concerning investments, tariffs, ex-ports, and so forth, without the fusion of our industries with those of the Community?