European Economic Community

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th April 1971.

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Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury 12:00 am, 19th April 1971

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in the Common Market negotiations since March.

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

I have at present nothing to add to the statement by my right hon. and learned Friend, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, on 18th March. The next Ministerial negotiating meeting will be on 11th and 12th May.—[Vol. 813, c. 1659–62.]

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Does this mean that there has been no progress in the negotiations in one month? Now that the Common Market in its latest publication has stressed that the economic and political unions are two sides of the same coin, is it not time that the Government recognised this and brought the question of the direction of political unity into the negotiations? It would be very unwise to take this country in without being absolutely clear where we are going politically.

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

The last Ministerial meeting was held in March. It was always planned to hold the next Ministerial meeting in May. Political matters are not for the negotiations in Brussels.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

Will the Minister give the House a clear undertaking that there will be no nuclear offer to France in exchange for her support for Britain's entry into the Common Market?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

While no subject will or should be taboo between ourselves and the French, we have no present plans to put to the French concerning any joint nuclear force.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flintshire West

Will my hon. Friend accept the assurance that we all recognise that the urgent thing to do is to conclude the Brussels negotiations for membership of the Community? At the same time, will he take note of the helpful suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) and make our partners aware of the importance of promoting political unity as swiftly as may be?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

I do not think that that was the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), but I have noted the comment of my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer).

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

What proposals have been put by the Government to the Common Market negotiators for safeguarding the British inshore fishing industry?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

We have made it quite plain to our partners that the British Government reserve their position regarding the fishing regulation which has been passed by the Governments of the Six.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is some ambiguity about the extent to which the future rôle of sterling is subject to negotiation in the present discussions in Brussels? Will he take this opportunity to make clear to the House the extent to which the future rôle of sterling is a subject for the negotiations and as such is welcomed by the British Government?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

Capital movements are a subject for discussion in Brussels, but the future rôle of sterling is not a subject for discussion in the Brussels negotiations.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

It seems that the terms which Her Majesty's Government have suggested as the price we would be prepared to pay for entry are obviously completely unacceptable to the Six. Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what further concessions, and their costs, we are prepared to make in order to get in?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

I do not know from where the right hon. Gentleman has formed the view that our suggestions are totally unacceptable.

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

The hon. Gentleman should know that we are negotiating with six countries, not just the French. We hope to make significant progress at the meeting to be held next month between my right hon. and learned Friend and Ministers of the Six in Brussels.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

The Minister knows that there are sharp differences in this House concerning the proposal to introduce a value-added tax in this country. Will the Minister tell us what kind of value-added tax we shall have to introduce if we join the Common Market and whether he regards this as a matter for negotiation before entry?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

The proposal for a value-added tax was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech. We have informed the Community that the five-year transitional period for which we had previously asked will not now be necessary for the introduction of a value-added tax. It will be for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to answer any detailed questions of the kind put to me by the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Walthamstow West

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why he will not discuss with the Foreign Ministers of Norway and Denmark the desirability of adopting a common attitude should any of the three Governments be unable to get a parliamentary majority for entry into the European Economic Community.

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

Because the question of obtaining a parliamentary majority for its entry is a matter for each of the countries concerned to resolve.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Walthamstow West

Is there not a serious possibility of Denmark and Norway being unable to secure adequate parliamentary majorities for entry, for a variety of reasons, including entrenched clauses in the constitution of at least one of those countries? Would not this entail the distinct possibility of Britain's entering the community with all her E.F.T.A. partners outside and with a consequential reimposition of trade barriers between Britain and E.F.T.A.?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

The fears expressed in the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary are unlikely to materialise. We in the United Kingdom regularly exchange information with our E.F.T.A. partners about the progress of our and their negotiations with the E.E.C. There is general agreement that these arrangements are working well. There are further opportunities for discussions at the meetings of the E.F.T.A. Council at both official and Ministerial level. The next E.F.T.A. Ministerial Council meeting will be held in May at Reykjavik.

Photo of Mr Roger Moate Mr Roger Moate , Faversham

Does my hon. Friend recall the Prime Minister's pledge that Britain would not sign the Treaty of Rome without the wholehearted consent of the British people? How will such consultation with the British people take place?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

The Government have made it plain on many occasions that the decision will be taken by Parliament.

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

If the Government are to discuss with any foreign Government, will the Minister assure us that the Government will also discuss with the Irish Government who, after all, are one of the four applicants?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

As I indicated in my reply to the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins), we are having discussions with all our E.F.T.A. partners, so the hon. Gentleman is correct.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Although we all recognise that the final decision will have to be taken by Parliament, is it not recognised that it would be absolutely wrong for Britain to enter the Common Market without the full-hearted support of the people? How do the Government intend to test the full-hearted support of the people? Is my hon. Friend aware that Norway, which is a very similar parliamentary democracy to ours, is to have a consultative referendum before the vote in the Norwegian Parliament? Why cannot we do the same?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy has made it clear in the House on many occasions since the negotiations have started, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made it equally clear, that we shall put the terms that we obtain at Brussels before Parliament and await its approval.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Is the Minister saying that the Government would be prepared to enter the Common Market even if Norway and Denmark did not?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

I have said that we are closely consulting our friends in E.F.T.A., and the Irish Republic, and we shall continue to consult them before the final decision is taken regarding the terms that we obtain at Brussels and before they are put before the House.

Photo of Mr Anthony Fell Mr Anthony Fell , Yarmouth

My hon. Friend said that when the Government know the terms they will put them before Parliament. Surely this is not true. Is not the true position that the Government will put the terms before Parliament only if the Government consider that the terms are worth considering as a basis on which to take us in? Is there not a difference?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

It is clear that we should ask the House to approve only terms which we considered were right and suitable for Britain.

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

The Minister has mentioned consultation with our E.F.T.A. partners. Will he give a definite assurance that on 15th May we shall not take any action or give any pledges that can be contrary to the interests of our E.F.T.A. partners? If not, will he give the reasons why he is unable to give such an assurance?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

We hope to make good progress at the meeting in Brussels in May. The achievement of a wider economic integration in Europe is one of the basic objectives of the E.F.T.A. and the E.E.C. It is generally agreed that it is in nobody's interest to erect fresh trade barriers in Europe. We hope that the arrangements which E.F.T.A. members are seeking to make with the Community will reflect this.

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

As my hon. Friend says that the decision is to be made by Parliament, and as the Treaty of Rome is of indefinite duration, what will become of our constitutional principle that no Parliament can bind its successor?

Photo of Mr Anthony Royle Mr Anthony Royle , Richmond (Surrey)

The Government's attitude to the question which my hon. Friend asked was clearly spelled out by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy during the debate in January.