asked the Lord Privy Seal what official knowledge, in the course of negotiations concerning Great Britain's entry into the European Economic Community, he has received of the draft proposals presented to the Fouchet Commission concerning political and military co-operation in the frame work of the Common Market.
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in the course of negotiations regarding the entry into the Common Market, Her Majesty's Government has been kept informed of the proceedings in the Committee of Diplomats of the Member Countries of the European Economic Community, presided over by M. Fouchet in Paris, which is seeking to formulate terms for a political treaty parallel with the Treaty of Rome.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has received, in the course of his negotiations with the countries of the European Economic Community, regarding the proposals that the French Government have made to the Fouchet Committee; and, in the light of this information, what is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government in these negotiations regarding the political integration of Europe.
The work of the Fouchet Commission is distinct from the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Economic Community. We have, however, been kept informed of developments by the Governments concerned. We do not intend to ask that their work should be suspended, but we have indicated to these Governments our desire to express our views at an appropriate stage.
Will not the right hon. Gentleman express his views in this House so that the British public may know what his attitude is towards political integration in Europe? Is he aware that we want to get away from the double-talk and to know exactly in which direction we are going?
In view of the fact that we have been able to read the right hon. Gentleman's famous speech, we understand quite clearly why the Government wanted to keep it dark. As the right hon. Gentleman stated clearly that we were willing to accept the political consequences of joining the European Economic Community, does not he think that it is most unfair and unjust that this country should be committed in advance to accepting some sort of political layout in Europe in which we have had no say?
We are not committed to accepting matters in which we have no say whatever. What I said in my speech, which was released at the time, was that we shared the objectives of those who had drawn up the Bonn Declaration for greater unity in Europe.
Is it not the case that the right hon. Gentleman said that we would be prepared to accept any progress which had been made towards that end by the time we entered the Common Market? If that is the case, is it not a gross derogation of the sovereignty of the House of Commons that the Government should be prepared to allow Continental States to make new proposals and, maybe, new agreements on political co-operation, except in association with us? Will he insist that, if there are to be discussions on political co-operation in Europe—agreement on which, according to his statement in Brussels, would be binding once reached—we should be a party to those discussions from the beginning?
If the hon. Gentleman will read the full text of my speech, he will see that it referred to the stage reached when I made my speech in Paris. That is quite clear. When it was summarised and put into the farm in which it was handed to the Press it was naturally changed over to oratio obliqua. That is how the hon. Gentleman read it. If he reads the full text he will see that it is quite clear on this point.
There are various ways in which unity can be discussed. At the moment the Fouchet Committee is in the stage of discussion by officials of various proposals and amendments and so on. It has not reached governmental level.
In view of the ambiguity of the right hon. Gentleman's statement—which may, as he suggests, be due to its reporting in what he called oratio obliqua—would it not be wise for him to tell the House and Europe quite clearly that, at the moment, we do not recognise any obligation to accept agreements on the implementation of the Bonn Declaration to which we ourselves are not a party during the discussions in which they are reached?
Since my statement in the debate on the Address on 2nd November, there has been a further meeting of Ministers in Brussels on 8th and 9th November, at which the members of the European Economic Community and the Commission commented on my statement of 10th October and asked questions based on it. After I had replied to these, the meeting agreed on a programme of work for the immediate future covering the common external tariff and possible solutions to Commonwealth problems. Officials have continued the discussions in preparation for a further Ministerial meeting on 8th and 9th December. We are still only in the preliminary stages and it is too early to forecast when the negotiations will be completed. It would be premature to publish a White Paper reporting progress at this stage, but I hope to make a statement to the House after the Ministerial meeting on 8th December and before the House rises for the Christmas Recess.
Is the Minister aware that since he started the negotiations the tide of informed opinion in Britain has been flowing against Britain's joining the E.E.C., because our people are now becoming more aware of the consequences, both political and economic, that would follow? What assurances has he already given as to the date on which the tariff reduction already agreed by the Six will be applied in the United Kingdom, and also at what stage he is prepared to accept the rule of the majority vote?
I cannot accept the view of the hon. Member about a change in public opinion in this country, because it does not correspond to the facts. As for his other questions, he will see that they are fully dealt with in my Paris statement of 10th October.
The right hon. Gentleman did not seem to refer to a timetable in his statement, although he said that he would reply to Question No. 17. Is he aware of the reports, emanating from Brussels, which have appeared in some sections of the British Press, to the effect that he has already made a pledge that this Parliament will ratify the Rome Treaty next year and that Britain will join the Common Market on 1st January, 1963? Is he prepared categorically to repudiate this rumour, which has constantly been circulating?
On a point of order. The fact that these rumours have appeared in some sections of the British Press is the basis of my Question. I am asking the Minister whether he will repudiate the view which has been expressed in the Press, namely, that this pledge has been given. Surely that is in order.
I understand that these are views expressed in some newspapers or articles. It is out of order to ask a Minister to confirm or deny views so expressed.
I was going to answer the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. I said in my substantive Answer that it is too early to forecast when negotiations will be completed. I have had no discussions with the members of the Six about a timetable nor about the conclusion of the negotiations, and I have given no pledge whatever.
In making his further statement on the Common Market, will the Lord Privy Seal pay due regard to the fact that a number of firms have already set up in the area of the European Economic Community, and that other firms are considering moving in in the future? Will he consider the effect of this on the economy of this country, and also take note of the fact that many of these firms could be of great assistance if they went to the North-East of England, or to other areas in Britain where there is under-employment?
On the question of political implications, is it not a fact that the Lord Privy Seal has already made it clear, in his statement in Paris on 10th October, that the United Kingdom is now ready fully to subscribe to the aims and objectives of the Rome Treaty, political and otherwise? Surely he is put in a position to explain to the House fully what the political implications will be. Will not he tell us exactly what those implications will be?
Is the Lord Privy Seal going to make it a condition that Commonwealth food and raw materials will continue to enter Britain duty-free? Is he aware that many women will share the view of my wife, who, after watching the apologists for the Common Market on television, said, "If these gentlemen say that it will cost the housewives 2s. a week extra on their food bills you can be sure that it is more likely to be an extra 10s. a week"?
The hon. Member will find that this matter was dealt with in the section of my speech dealing with temperate foodstuffs. I suggest that he might advise his wife that any figures should be treated with a considerable amount of reserve when they are discussed in public.
Arising from Question No. 72, may I ask whether the Lord Privy Seal during his discussions on Britain's proposed entry to the European Economic Community has accepted in full the implications of the Rome Treaty, and particularly the implications of Article 85, which would completely debar British industrial firms from fixing their own selling and purchase prices on the commodities produced?
Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that by a Motion of this House on 3rd August last—the Government's own Motion—what he was authorised to do was to initiate negotiations in order to see if satisfactory arrangements could be made to meet the special interests of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and E.F.T.A.? What he actually said in his speech of 10th October, as we now know, was, "We have made a great decision, which is a turning point in our history." Was not that clearly going far beyond anything that he was authorised by this House to say?
May we have an assurance that if my right hon. Friend's statement before Christmas is definitive, in the sense that it records a definite further stage in the negotiations and registers the beginnings of an agreement, a statement will be made in such a way that it can be followed by a debate?
The question of a debate is for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, but I will certainly give the House as much information as I can in the statement that I will make before Christmas. But I should not like the House to be under any misapprehension; in negotiations of this kind there is bound to be a limit to the detailed information that one can give at any particular moment.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that if he goes far beyond what he was authorised to do by this House he cannot count upon the support of the House in respect of what emerges from his negotiations?
I have not in any way gone beyond the authority given me by the House in August. The right hon. Gentleman is entirely opposed to this policy of negotiation, and I therefore expect him to use every means he can to try to discredit and undermine it—but we have not exceeded our authority in any way.
(2) what steps he is taking to ensure that in the event of Britain joining the Common Market the ordinance which is being prepared to implement Articles 85 and 86 of the Treaty of Rome will not be less effective than British legislation on monopolies and restrictive practices.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what safeguards he is seeking for the free entry of Ghanaian and Nigerian exports of raw materials to Great Britain, and for those of other Commonwealth countries in Africa, if Great Britain's entry into the Common Market is negotiated as a result of the talks in which he is now engaged.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what action he is taking during the negotiations on Great Britain's entry into the European Economic Community to secure the continued entry into this country of Commonwealth raw materials and food without tariffs, in view of the importance of tariff-free entry to the United Kingdom economy.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what financial estimate he has made of the effect on British industry of the increase in the cost of imports of raw materials, which now enter this country tariff-free, if Britain joins the Common Market, and accepts the common European tariff; and whether he has drawn attention to these economic facts in the negotiations.
The statement which I made on 10th October, and which has been published in the Press and which will be available as a White Paper in the Vote Office at 3.30 p.m., sets out our general approach to the negotiations, outlines our objectives and proposes solutions to our particular problems. I cannot give fuller details of the Government's proposals on specific items nor indicate their effect on particular interests.
Would my right hon. Friend agree that there is a danger of a decline in Commonwealth trade during the period of the negotiations unless Commonwealth Governments are confident that Her Majesty's Government will join the Common Market only on condition that there are permanent safeguards for Commonwealth trade? Will he agree that it will be intolerable for us to have a permanent trading relationship with Europe and a temporary trading relationship with the Commonwealth?
We have given undertakings to the Commonwealth, and the proposals that we put forward to the Community, which my hon. Friend has mentioned, are very fully described in the Paris speech.
With regard to Question No. 26, is my right hon. Friend aware that the arrangements in respect of the production and marketing of milk are likely to be very hard for the agricultural community, and will he give an assurance not to bargain this aspect away in exchange for any other condition which may suit some other of our interests?
Is it not true that the right hon. Gentleman is negotiating in this matter to lower tariff barriers and not to raise them, and will he, therefore, give an assurance that he will reject any proposals having the effect of raising tariffs on Commonwealth food products coming to this country?
With regard to Question No. 32, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that not only Commonwealth interests are involved in this matter, but those of British housewives, whose standards very much depend upon the free entry of food and raw materials from Commonwealth countries?
On Question No. 33, are we to take it that the Government are merely adopting a "wait and see" attitude on this? Are they making any representations about anti-monopoly legislation? Is not our legislation, weak though it is, stronger than that throughout most of the Common Market territories, and ought not we to insist that our anti-monopoly legislation shall not be weakened in any way as a result of these negotiations?
I accept the point made in the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, but, of course, these matters must be weighed in the national interest as a whole. With regard to restrictive practices, the objectives of the Community and ourselves are the same, but the methods by which we reach them in our legislation are different. We, therefore, proposed in my Paris statement that we should have technical discussions with the Community at a later stage in the negotiations about these matters.
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the very life of many of our Commonwealth countries in Africa is dependent on exports of food and raw materials which will be seriously affected by our entry into the Common Market? Will he give an assurance that there will be the fullest discussions with the Governments of those territories before decisions are reached which are prejudicial to the life of their people?
Yes, Sir; I can certainly give that undertaking because I realise the importance of these arrangements. In my Paris speech I said that we should want the territories of the type which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned to have the same opportunities as those which are associated with the Community at present, and that for those who did not want to take advantage of them, there should be other opportunities to make commodity arrangements.
In connection with these permanent safeguards, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the trade arrangements not only with existing Commonwealth countries but with Territories newly reaching independence, where the economy is expanding and where perhaps entirely new safeguards for new commodities might need to be instituted? Further, will he consult with the organised consumers of this country about the way in which these safeguards can protect the housewives, and if the Housewives League becomes resurrected, will he address a meeting of it?
I accept the importance of the hon. Gentlemen's first point—it was a very important one—about the expanding nature of the economies of the countries which are just becoming independent. As to his second point, there are certain difficulties about consulting the consumers as a whole.