European Free Trade Area

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr James Harrison Mr James Harrison , Nottingham North 12:00 am, 12th December 1957

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the inconvenience of arrangements for setting up a free market area for Europe, if he will issue an illustrated booklet, explaining the project and suggesting the possible difficulties that could be overcome by appropriate business reorganisation and changed techniques.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

The proposals for a Free Trade Area in Europe were discussed in a White Paper published in February last and in an official explanatory booklet published in May. As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer I gave on 12th November to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith).

Photo of Mr James Harrison Mr James Harrison , Nottingham North

Is the Minister aware—I am sure he is—that in the Midlands, particularly in the Nottingham and Birmingham area, many of our most important industries are organised in very small units with rather limited and sometimes primitive selling organisations? Could he not use his good offices to try to create some form of co-operative or communal selling organisations among these many small firms, which would help considerably?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

That is an interesting idea which I am prepared to examine.

Photo of Mr James Harrison Mr James Harrison , Nottingham North

asked the President of the Board of Trade what effect the initial workings of the European Common Market will have on our trade with the European mainland, in view of the arrangements whereby the Common Market will operate from 1st January, 1958; and what plans the Government have made to meet this situation.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

The first tariff reductions among the members of the European Economic Community will take place a year after the Treaty of Rome comes into effect. The full implementation of the Treaty will be a gradual process over a period of 12 to 15 years. Her Majesty's Government hope that a wider Free Trade Area will begin to operate at the same time as the European Economic Community.