I thank my right hon. Friend for that straight answer to a straight question. Does he expect any representations from the Austrian Government concerning the effects on their economy of any possible British membership of the European Economic Community, bearing in mind our mutual membership of E.F.T.A.?
The Austrian Government made it clear last December that they joined in the welcome accorded by other E.F.T.A. Governments to Her Majesty's Government's initiative in starting talks with the six countries. Austria, as a member of E.F.T.A., will, of course, participate in any future consultations we have, but I cannot anticipate what decision Her Majesty's Government will in fact take.
Since there are no intentions to hold more such talks, are the Government satisfied that there is no possibility of France raising objections in principle at least to Britain negotiating for entry to the E.E.C.?
At the meeting of the European Free Trade Association (E.F.T.A.) Council in Stockholm at the beginning of March, it was agreed that there would be further talks after Her Majesty s Government had reviewed their own discussions in the capitals of the Community and before any final conclusions were drawn from them.
When considering whether to go forward with an application, would my right hon. Friend consider whether it would be profitable for some kind of joint application to be made with our E.F.T.A. partners?
I think that our E.F.T.A. partners—this certainly applies to us, and I believe that it applies to all of them—would much prefer to keep in close contact with each other, but that we should each be responsible for our own national actions.
I repeat that the decision taken at the London meeting of the Heads of E.F.T.A. Governments a few months ago was that we should keep in the closest contact and consultation with each other—this was reaffirmed at Stockholm—but that each country thereafter would be responsible for what it wanted to do.