Oral Answers to Questions — European Economic Community

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1967.

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Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton 12:00 am, 7th February 1967

asked the Prime Minister to what extent he reached agreement with President de Gaulle at their Paris meeting on Great Britain's eventual entry into the European Economic Community as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, with a special relationship to the United States.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

My hon. Friend appears to have misunderstood the purpose of my meeting with President de Gaulle, Sir. As to this I would refer him to the Answers I gave to Questions on 26th January.—[Vol. 739, c. 1765.]

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

Did not the Prime Minister send President de Gaulle the text of his Strasbourg speech in which he referred to the object of strengthening the Atlantic Alliance and entering the Common Market? Did the President make clear that he has withdrawn his previous objections to Britain entering on that basis?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I answered the second part of that Question on 26th January. These matters played a very small part in the talks with President de Gaulle. Yes, certainly I sent him a copy of the Strasbourg speech, but I do not think that my hon. Friend has quite fairly represented what it said.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Although we recognise the Government's right and responsibility to engage in a probe about this subject, would my right hon. Friend ensure in future that no civil servant or ambassador intervenes in a matter of this sort and indulges in biased statements?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

If my right hon. Friend is referring to the case that I think he is, I have been into it very carefully. The matter has been scandalously misreported. In what the Ambassador said he was perfectly within his rights and factually correct.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

asked the Prime Minister to what extent he reached agreement with the Governments concerned, during his recent discussions on the European Economic Community, on the amendments to the Rome Treaty required to make possible the planning of the economy of the United Kingdom on the lines considered necessary by the Government.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer I gave to a supplementary question by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) on 2nd February. [Vol. 740, c. 771.]

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

Does the Prime Minister recall that on 3rd August, 1961, he told the House that it would not be possible to plan the economy on the lines considered necessary by Labour without substantial amendments to the Treaty of Rome, and that he repeated that statement on 7th June, 1962, and 1st August, 1962? Has he changed his mind on this issue, or have our partners agreed to those conditions?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I can remember the speeches very well. I am sorry that my hon. Friend missed out the one of 13th December, 1962, at the same time. As I explained to the House when we debated these matters, we are now more concerned with the way that the Treaty of Rome is operating than with the exact provision of it. We are satisfied that it does not contain the inhibitions which my right hon. Friend has referred to.

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

We appreciate that the Prime Minister must reserve his negotiating position, but when he is asked a blunt question as to whether or not he accepts the principle of the agricultural levies, does he say "Yes" or "No"?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

That matter is not raised in this Question. We have entered into prolonged discussions. I shall make a report to the House about those. Certainly I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman's own Leader, in a speech which he made recently in Westminster, seeking, I think, to negotiate on behalf of Europe, made it plain, I thought, that he accepted all the financial provisions. We have made it plain that it is our position that there are very serious difficulties raised about this on which we shall need to negotiate. I do not think that it helps when the right hon. Gentleman, who should also be speaking for Britain, gives away the point from this country.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the nationalised steel industry of Italy has made more progress than any other part of the steel industry of Europe under the Common Market?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

It is not for me to compare the progress of a nationalised industry in Italy with a nationalised industry in Austria, which has also made great progress. It has always been agreed by both Front Benches, both in the previous negotiations and now, that there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome which stands in the way of a sovereign decision of a Parliament of any of the countries to take an industry into public ownership.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

The Prime Minister said a moment ago that he was more concerned with the actual operation of the Treaty than with the specific provisions in it. In so far as the two are not the same, does not that reinforce the case for pressing for amendments to the Treaty of Rome in the discussions which he is having?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

That is not the view we have taken. We have made a very close study of the way in which this has been operating, and on this point as on others I have said that we do not feel that the Treaty of Rome as such should be a bar to British entry. There are other problems, including agricultural levies, which we are not treating so lightheartedly as right hon. Gentlemen opposite are, but these will have to be discussed.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

May I ask a plain question? When did the Prime Minister discover that the provisions of the Rome Treaty were acceptable? Was he always of that opinion?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I have already dealt with this question. On a reading of the Treaty of Rome in 1962—and I think that this is true of many hon. Members in the House, on both sides—it seemed that derogations would be necessary. We have now had five years more experience, since 1961, of its operation, and many of the fears that I had—and I think that this is probably true of some hon. Gentlemen opposite—have proved to be unfounded in actual operation, and it is operation that counts.