Oral Answers to Questions — Common Market

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th June 1964.

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Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury 12:00 am, 18th June 1964

asked the Prime Minister what machinery exists for coordinating the activities of the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development with regard to Great Britain's relations with the Common Market.

Photo of Mr William Blyton Mr William Blyton , Houghton-le-Spring

asked the Prime Minister to what extent the actions of the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development with regard to the Common Market are subject to co-ordination by official machinery.

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

On all matters concerning relations with the six and the European Free Trade Association machinery for coordination exists both at official and ministerial levels.

Photo of Mr William Blyton Mr William Blyton , Houghton-le-Spring

Is the Prime Minister aware that the last official statement of policy was made by the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development? Have pronouncements on Common Market policy been transferred from the Foreign Office to the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development? Is the right hon. Gentle man aware that we were told yesterday that he had said the Common Market was a dead duck and could not quack? Will he quack to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers and tell them that for the next five years their economies will not be placed in jeopardy by any attempt to enter the Common Market?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I think I said that the political issue was a dead duck. So far as policy is concerned—I have made many answers locally on this—the answer to the hon. Gentleman is that there is no political issue before us now. As to the future, if there should be any development, Parliament would be consulted.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

Is the Prime Minister aware that there is a great deal of confusion in Europe about which Minister is speaking on this subject with real authority? Is he aware that in the very important interview which the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development gave to Opera Mundi there was no reference to the guarantees to the Commonwealth which many of us regard as being very important? Does the Prime Minister stand by this repudiation of the Commonwealth by the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

There is no question of the repudiation of the Commonwealth. My right hon. Friend was not talking about negotiations at all. He was talking about the question of European development in general.

Mr. H. Wilson:

Since the terms of entry into Europe will probably be one of the biggest political issues during the lifetime of this Parliament, and since the Prime Minister clearly intends to fight the next General Election without any statement at all of the conditions under which Her Majesty's Government would consider going into Europe, would he at any rate give a pledge that he will not go into Europe without further reference to the electorate?

Photo of Sir Alec Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home , Kinross and West Perthshire

I have told the right hon. Gentleman many times that there is no issue now. I cannot say whether an issue will arise even in the lifetime of the next Parliament. If an issue does arise, the Government of the day will consult Parliament.

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

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that there is also need to co-ordinate the activities of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), which are greatly different?

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

Order. That Question cannot arise in relation to Questions to the Prime Minister.

Mr. H. Wilson:

Since the right hon. Gentleman has said that this may have to be submitted to the next Parliament, will he now answer my question and either state the minimum conditions which he would require before the election, or give a pledge that if it comes up the issue will be resubmitted to the electorate with the terms the Government propose?