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Minister without Portfolio (Speech)

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Service – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North 12:00 am, 23rd April 1970

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech made by the Minister without Portfolio in Manchester on Wednesday, 25th March on Great Britain and the Common Market represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Minister without Portfolio to the Manchester Junior Chamber of Commerce on 25th March on Great Britain and the Common Market represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I would refer to my reply to a Question by the hon. Members for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) and Shrewsbury (Sir J. Langford-Holt) on 7th April. — [Vol. 799, c. 50–51.]

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Was not this an excellent speech? Is the Prime Minister not aware that we should like him, as well as many of us, to be able to congratulate the Minister without Portfolio on that excellent speech? Could he not, therefore, add to it and say that he accepts it?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

All speeches made by Her Majesty's Ministers are excellent speeches, as is becoming increasingly recognised. As to the general policy in relation to the Common Market, I refer my hon. Friend to answers I referred to in my main answer.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

Despite the terms of the original answer, can the Prime Minister dispute that instructions have been sent to British embassies overseas to explain that his right hon. Friend did not mean what the Prime Minister now wishes to mean?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Yes, Sir; I am very ready to dispute that suggestion by the right hon. Gentleman. The position is that certain newspapers overseas, but not so far as I am aware any Governments overseas, of course were in a position to misrepresent my right hon. Friend's speech. I have known over the last five and a half years even British newspapers, with their high standards, occasionally misrepresenting speeches made by Her Majesty's Ministers, but there is no misunderstanding in Europe or anywhere else about the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we applaud the efforts of the Minister without Portfolio and that if he goes on talking as he does we shall be delighted? May I also take the opportunity to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on his success in Scotland with the Trades Union Congress? Has he noted that in spite of his success the congress passed a resolution by a large majority against—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. This question is about Europe.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) ended his question by referring to the position about Europe taken by the Scottish Trades Union Congress. I heard part of the debate, which was unfortunately interrupted because I had to make a short intervention. He will not, I think, draw on what was voted on at Oban yesterday, because what was voted on at Oban yesterday was totally contrary to what my right hon. Friend has said. It was in fact a view expressed that we should not continue with the negotiations. My right hon. Friend has always supported the fact that we should continue with the negotiations.

Photo of Mr David Lane Mr David Lane , Cambridge

To clear up the confusion which still exists, could the Prime Minister now confirm whether he has instructed his right hon. Friend not to make any more speeches about the Common Market which will raise fresh doubts about the Government's good faith on the eve of negotiations?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

No, Sir. No such instructions have been issued by me or by anyone else. The position of Her Majesty's Government was made clear in the statement I made to the House in February and by Government spokesmen in the debate. There is no doubt at all in Europe about where Her Majesty's Government stand.