Oral Answers to Questions — European Economic Community

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th November 1961.

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Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury 12:00 am, 29th November 1961

asked the Lord Privy Seal what official approaches have been made to Great Britain by the French Government concerning that Government's proposals for closer political association in Europe.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make representations to the European Economic Community that the current negotiations in the Fouchet Committee on political integration should be suspended pending a decision on Britain's entry.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

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.

Photo of Mr Denys Bullard Mr Denys Bullard , King's Lynn

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.

Photo of Sir Leslie Plummer Sir Leslie Plummer , Deptford

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.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

This matter has been discussed on a number of occasions when we have debated European affairs, and no doubt it will be in the future.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr Denys Bullard Mr Denys Bullard , King's Lynn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us find the political implications even of the Rome Treaty quite enough to accept? Will he therefore avoid landing us with another ready-made treaty which may be difficult for us to swallow?

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I have made our position quite plain. We have indicated to these Governments our desire to express our views, and that is our situation.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a further statement on the negotiations which he is conducting for Great Britain's entry into the European Economic Community, and the steps he is taking to keep Commonwealth countries informed of the progress of the talks.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Newcastle-under-Lyme

asked the Lord Privy Seal what is now the time-table for the negotiations on Her Majesty's Government's application to join the Common Market.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the present position with regard to Britain's application to join the European Economic Community.

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress is being made in the discussions with the six members of the Common Market following Britain's application to join.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the present stage of the negotiations which he is conducting with the member countries of the European Economic Community following Britain's application to join.

Photo of Mr Walter Monslow Mr Walter Monslow , Barrow-in-Furness

asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress has been made in the negotiations for Britain's entry into the Common Market.

Photo of Mr Thomas Jones Mr Thomas Jones , Merionethshire

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the progress achieved in the negotiations for Great Britain's entry into the Common Market; and whether he has been able to obtain safeguards for British agriculture.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress has been made in the negotiations on Great Britain's entry to the European Economic Community.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the present stage reached in his discussions on the United Kingdom's application to join the European Economic Community.

Photo of Mr William Whitlock Mr William Whitlock , Nottingham North

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will now issue a White Paper on the progress so far made in his negotiations on Great Britain's application for membership of the European Economic Community.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Newcastle-under-Lyme

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?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

The Minister cannot be asked to confirm or repudiate rumours for which he is not responsible.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Newcastle-under-Lyme

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.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

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.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

In making my further statement I will consider that point, because I am anxious to keep the House as informed as I can.

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The question of the political implications of the Rome Treaty was discussed both by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and myself in our speeches in the debate in the House at the beginning of August.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

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"?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The hon. Member must be under some misapprehension about Article 85.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The hon. Member will see that in my Paris speech I set out our approach to the Treaty as a whole.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Not in the least. I think that those very words were used by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister when he introduced the debate in which the House gave the Government authority to enter into negotiations.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

On a point of order. In his reply the Minister referred to his speech on 10th October. As the official text of this is not to be published until 3.30 p.m., is the right hon. Gentleman in order in referring us to it in answers today?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I do not think that there is anything out of order in that. I hope that the hon. Member will find himself fully informed in due course.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent in the negotiations with the European Economic Community it is his policy to obtain permanent safeguards for the Commonwealth; and to what extent he is willing to accept safeguards of a temporary nature.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in the course of his recent discussions about the United Kingdom's entry into the Common Market, he had consultations with the Foreign Ministers about the production and marketing of milk.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Newcastle-under-Lyme

asked the Lord Privy Seal what safeguards he is seeking to obtain for the trade of New Zealand and Australia in temperate zone products, in the event of Great Britain joining the Common Market.

Photo of Mr Albert Oram Mr Albert Oram , East Ham South

asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) what safeguards he is seeking for the free entry of Commonwealth food and raw materials to Britain in the event of Britain joining the Common Market;

(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.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

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.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent it is his policy to secure safeguards for Commonwealth trade of a permanent nature in his present negotiations with the European Economic Community.

Photo of Mr Robert Woof Mr Robert Woof , Blaydon

asked the Lord Privy Seal what consultations he had, in the course of his negotiations concerning the United Kingdom's entry into the Common Market, with the Foreign Ministers of the European Economic Community concerning quotas for the coal industries involved.

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

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.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government will press for safeguards for United Kingdom domestic economic planning in the current negotiations with the members of the Common Market; and what safeguards he has so far obtained.

Photo of Mr Harry Gourlay Mr Harry Gourlay , Kirkcaldy District of Burghs

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.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I realise the importance of this matter, but the negotiations about the agricultural aspects of the matter will not begin until the New Year.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

Will the Lord Privy Seal give the people of this country an undertaking that they will have a General Election on this matter before the Treaty becomes operative?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

That is a much wider question.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Newcastle-under-Lyme

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The hon. Gentleman will see that quite early on in my Paris speech I explained that our desire was to see a lowering of tariffs and to make specific proposals to that end.

Photo of Mr Albert Oram Mr Albert Oram , East Ham South

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

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?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

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.