Oral Answers to Questions — European Economic Community

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1966.

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Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham 12:00 am, 24th November 1966

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the question of Great Britain's entry into the Common Market.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Kettering

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now make a statement on United Kingdom relations with the European Economic Community and with the other countries of the European Free Trade Association.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I would refer the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend to my statement of 10th November [Vol. 735, c. 1539] and to my speech in the debate on 17th November [Vol. 736, c. 759].

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

If I may strike a less controversial note, may I ask the Prime Minister whether he realises that, although it perhaps was not as positive as some would have liked, nevertheless his statement last week has been well received on the Continent, and there is a general readiness to accept his statement that he means business?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Yes, Sir. I should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he said and how he said it, as I did for his first off-the-cuff reaction, which was very similar, when I made the original statement. On my usual principle of answering every question that is put to me in the spirit in which it is put, I should very much like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he said.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Kettering

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Standing Committee of the Assembly of the Council of Europe is very pleased indeed that he will be speaking to it in January? Is he aware further that he will be the first British Prime Minister who has done so?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Since my hon. Friend is the second Member of the House who has been President of the Assembly, I am grateful for his invitation. I hope that he will be satisfied with what I say when I get there. I hope that, in order to keep up the momentum to which the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) referred a fortnight ago, we shall have made some progress with our consultations, in addition to the E.F.T.A. talks, before I reach Strasbourg.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

While welcoming all business the Prime Minister means to do in the interests of Britain, may I ask him whether it is not his personal view, and whether he has not expressed this view in the House, that the Nassau Agreement had something to do with the failure of the Brussels negotiations? Will he therefore reconsider what he has said about not wishing to bring the question of the future defence of Europe into his discussions with France and with other members of the European Economic Community?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I explained at least three times in the debate last week —I think that the hon. Gentleman misunderstood what I said in answer to a question; it might have been my fault just as much as his—that joining the European Economic Community does not carry with it the implication that we should join a defence community. I did not say that we should not be talking about defence. In the bilateral talks this question will come up.

With regard to the re-negotiation of Nassau, I thought that it was implicit in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition last week, since he now recognises the effect Nassau had on the previous negotiations, that it is his policy now to de-negotiate Nassau, which I seem to remember was one of the big issues in the 1964 election.