Since the negotiations have run into some difficulties—through no fault of my right hon. and learned Friend, whose skill and pertinacity are well known—would the Government consider holding a summit meeting between the Prime Minister and the President of France to discuss such matters as defence and sterling, which are not on the agenda of the negotiations but are, I think, relevant to them?
Certainly there are no present plans for a meeting such as my hon. Friend suggests. I think the negotiations must be settled in Brussels. I do not think my hon. Friend is right in saying that they have run into difficulties—in this sense, that there is no reason to be surprised that there are many critical matters now taking some time to resolve. I am sure the whole House will agree that it is much better to get the right solution slowly than the wrong solution quickly.
Well, I understood my hon. Friend to say that, but I will withdraw that, and put the question like this. As the purpose behind going in is very largely political, is it not time that the future political structure of Europe was added to the agenda in the negotiations? At the same time, if the Community is to be enlarged, would my right hon. and learned Friend at some time take steps to see that the official language to be used is English?
Certainly, the political advantages of enlargement are overwhelming, but that is not a subject for discussion in the negotiations. If we became a member of an enlarged community, English would be an official language.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is aware that United Kingdom imports of butter from New Zealand have increased from an annual average of 12,000 tons in 1900 to 1909 to 119,000 tons in 1930 to 1939 and 168,000 tons in 1961 to 1970; and, in view of this, if he will seek permanent arrangements for the continuation of this trade in the event of Great Britain joining the European Economic Community.
During previous negotiations great fears on this score were expressed because of what was then called the "butter mountain"; that is to say, a permanent surplus of butter in the Community. What is now the position of the so-called "butter mountain"?
It is certainly much smaller than it was. There has actually been a shortage of butter in some countries. I imagine that the position will change considerably over the years, and there is a great weight of opinion which believes that as the agricultural structure of the Community changes in years to come there will be a great demand for dairy products from New Zealand.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend recall that during the 1962 negotiations the present Prime Minister negotiated special arrangements covering New Zealand? Is he further aware that negotiations to deal with the New Zealand problem which were confined to the transitional period were regarded in many directions as unacceptably insufficient?
We have made it perfectly clear to the Community that, broadly speaking, the problems that remain to be settled in negotiation are transitional problems, except for New Zealand dairy products and sugar from the developing countries of the Commonwealth, which the Community has already agreed with me are special problems.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend undertake that at the conclusion of negotiations the British people will have the same rights as the Irish people to comment upon and, if necessary, to veto any terms offered?
The precise benefits would depend upon the terms of association when these are negotiated. Associates of the existing Yaoundé Convention enjoy the benefits of a considerable measure of free trade with the Community. They also qualify for aid provisions from the European Economic Community amounting, over the period of the Convention, to 1,000 million United States dollars.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept that his statement is welcome to the House and to our Commonwealth sugar-producing friends and allies in the Caribbean, who stand to benefit substantially from association, as did the former French overseas territories? In the wider sphere of British membership of the European Economic Community, will not the fact that Britain is playing a major rôle in Europe and, through Europe, in the world, as France has done in recent years, give far greater benefit to other Commonwealth countries?
That is certainly my firm belief and the belief of many people in the Commonwealth. We are still pressing the Community for the repetition of the 1963 Declaration of Intent in respect of the independent developing countries of the Caribbean and certain other developing countries in the Pacific. The West Indies Associated States have already been offered associated status under Part IV.
In view of the great concern in the House about the Caribbean, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether the Caribbean Governments have been consulted in the negotiations now taking place, and will he say in detail how we intend to protect the vital interests of the Caribbean?
They are consulted. I have consultations here with representatives of the Caribbean Governments, and many Ministers have visited us here. After every Ministerial meeting I have consultations in Brussels with the High Commissioners. I visited the Caribbean in February. I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is a clear understanding between us of what we are seeking to achieve. I cannot go into details on these complex matters of the way in which we are seeking to protect the interests of the Caribbean countries, Mauritius and Fiji especially in respect of sugar.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend appreciate that sugar is not the only commodity grown in the West Indies? Other commodities will be in real danger unless they are supported by commodity agreements.
It is important that we should get the 1963 Declaration of Intent repeated so that there may be the offer of association, or some other appropriate trading agreement, between the enlarged Community and these countries. I know my hon. Friend is concerned about this. It applies particularly to bananas, where we would seek within association to provide for our traditional suppliers the same treatment as the existing members of the Community accord to their traditional suppliers.
I imagine that within an enlarged Community there would be discussions about how we dealt with association in the years beyond 1974 and how we developed new world commodity agreements on a broader basis within the framework of other international agreements. Certainly we would wish to do that. We would be contributing to the European Development Fund on an appropriate basis. As I have said before, we not only would be able to aid our present clients through that fund but could maintain bilateral aid as well where that was appropriate.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman take this opportunity to make it clear that the exaggerated fears about loss of sovereignty resulting from British membership of E.E.C. have no basis in fact?
I believe that they are false arguments. There is no reason for anxiety about that. We should be pooling sovereignty to no greater degree than we have already shown ourselves willing to do in N.A.T.O., Western European Union, the International Monetary Fund and a host of other international treaties.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend appreciate that, quite apart from any further develop- ments in the political context, it is entirely clear to anyone who reads the Treaty of Rome and has the capacity to understand its provisions that membership will involve a loss of sovereignty unprecedented in the history of this country?
I know that my right hon. and learned Friend has the capacity to understand the Treaty, so I am slightly surprised at his comments. I assure him that if we join the enlarged Community at its present stage we shall at every point have the opportunity to determine how far and how fast we are prepared to go in association with the other States, bearing in mind that on all major issues of sovereignty there would have to be a unanimous decision.
If the Minister is right, why will he not agree to an independent investigation of the facts to see which legal gentleman is right, and publish the report? Secondly, will he give an assurance that we on this side of the House will be able to raise whatever questions we wish to raise as we do now, subject only to Mr. Speaker and to the Orders of the House?
A group consisting of representatives of the applicant countries and the Communities has since September, 1970, been examining the secondary legislation in force in the Community. About 70 per cent. of the instruments in force have been examined, and the technical adaptations to these instruments, which will become necessary in the event of our accession, have been agreed.
There will have to be a discussion in this House in an appropriate form over many of these matters. I cannot say how much time the House will take over it. Much of it may be agreed without difficulty.
The French Government have made no representations of this kind to Her Majesty's Government. From the outset it has been made clear that economic and financial matters such as those referred to would not form part of the formal negotiations but that they would be discussed in an appropriate forum.
The Minister will recall that he and the Prime Minister have at all times informed the House that the question of sterling and the political implications involved in our acceptance of the Treaty of Rome would not be matters for discussion during the present negotiations. Can he assure the House that this is still the case?
I think that on 16th December I said I thought our offer to be fair and reasonable. I also added on that occasion that I thought the Community thought that it was too fair and too reasonable. That of course, is what the negotiations are all about.
As the Government consider that in domestic terms 10 per cent. increases are too high, will not the right hon. and learned Gentleman apply the same criteria to any increases negotiated in our contribution to the European budget?
That is the basis of our argument. It would be a great tragedy if the Community sought to impose upon us such short-term burdens as would deprive us all of the manifest long-term advantages.
These matters are under constant review. I made a statement on this subject on 16th December, and the matter was discussed in the debate on 20th and 21st January. But any attempt to quantify the costs of British membership of the Community must depend upon the outcome of the negotiations.—[Vol. 808, c. 1354–6; Vol. 809, c. 1401–12.]
My Question asks not only about the estimates of Britain's contribution but about the estimates of the revised costs of the Community's expenditure on agriculture. I have in mind the fact that the Six met only two or three weeks ago to review prices for this year. Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman no information on that matter?
Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that we are here dealing with a point of enormous importance and that the costs here have risen from something of the order of £600 million a year C.A.P. as recently as 1966–67 to over £1,200 million last year, and that this further estimate of costs is of crucial importance?
Certainly the Community has made what I think will be found broadly to be a helpful review in the context of the negotiations, particularly its proposals for carrying forward the restructuring of Europe's agriculture. But what we are concerned about is the budget from 1973 to 1978, and much of the discussion about the size of Britain's possible contribution turns to a large extent on the size and shape of the budget in those years ahead and what our likely receipts might be.
If the advantages of going into the Community cannot be quantified until the terms are known, how can all these European-minded people tell us what the economic advantages are before the terms are known?
No one has any doubts about the advantages. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] They are well known and understood in the Community. No one in the Community has doubts about the advantages. I know that there are doubts in this House, and I hope that we shall satisfy them in due course. Certainly we shall do our best. I am afraid that it is impossible to produce estimates of the costs, as distinct from the potential advantages, until we have concluded the negotiations or taken them much further forward.
We are, of course. I referred specifically to 1973 to 1978 because that arose out of the statement on 16th December when we were dealing with the transitional arrangements. But a lot depends on the size and shape of the budget, our receipts from it and what the likely consequences will be. These matters are much better assessed in the later stages of the negotiations.
On the balance of costs, are there not influential voices in the Community which want more of the Community budget spent on non-agricultural purposes? Is there not some benefit to be derived thereby?
The estimates that I have given are based on an estimate of our likely receipts on the basis of the budget as it is today. The Community says that, as it restructures agriculture and as a higher proportion of its budget is devoted to regional and industrial policies, we shall get the higher benefit that we ourselves have suggested.
While I thank the Minister for that reply, may I ask whether he can say briefly how the effort of the Community in this direction compares with our own?
It is very difficult to make a comparison. Apart from the bilateral aid, there is the aid to the Yaoundé countries and to the associated countries, Greece and Turkey. It is very difficult to compare them briefly. However, the hon. Gentleman may be able to make some comparison when he has read the whole answer.
Is not a strong argument for British membership of the E.E.C. the fact that if we became members we would be in a position to have an aid programme on the level, perhaps, of that of France, which is very much higher than our own?
In view of the fact that nearly all the money in the European Development Fund is distributed to countries with very small populations, is not a factor, though a very small one, against our joining the Community that we would be contributing additional sums for distribution to the very small countries which might be balanced by taking funds away from countries like India with large populations?
I do not agree. Our contribution to the E.D.F. will have to be considered when we have discussions at the end of 1973. I see that our programme to India is likely to be maintained in the future.
E.E.C. Aid to its Associated StatesApart from the assistance which member states provide bilaterally, the Community's collective aid to its associated states is of two kinds. First, aid provided under the Yaounde Convention to the African Associated States and Malagasy through the European Development Fund. Most of this is in grant form but it includes both soft loans from E.D.F. and standard loans from the European Investment Bank. Secondly, aid provided to Greece and Turkey, which are associated under Article 238 of the Treaty of Rome and are not entitled to assistance from the Fund, but which are eligible for loans from the European Investment Bank.
2. Details are as follows:
|E.E.C. AID TO ITS ASSOCIATED STATES|
|1. AFRICAN ASSOCIATED STATES AND MALAGASY|
|U.S. $ million|
|Funds available||Grants Commitments||Disbursements|
|(As at 30.6.70)|
|1st European Development Fund||581·2*||483·0||439·3|
|2nd European Development Fund||620·0||597·8||289·0|
|3rd European Development Fund||748·0||—||—|
|U. S. $ million|
|"Soft" loans from European Development Fund managed by European Investment Bank|
|(As at 30.6.70)|
|1st European Development Fund||—||—||—|
|2nd European Development Fund||46·0||44·5||6·1|
|3rd European Development Fund||80·0||—||—|
|Standard loans from European Investment Bank|
|(As at 30.6.70)|
|1st European Development Fund||—||—||—|
|2nd European Development Fund||64·0||46·8||23·0†|
|3rd European Development Fund||90·0||—||—|
|Figures for commitments and disbursements from the 3rd European Development Fund not yet available.|
|* To be shared among all the Overseas Countries and Territories listed in Annex IV of the Treaty of Rome including Dependencies.|
|† Possibly includes small element (maximum $2 million) for Dependencies (which are not associated states).|
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why he will not inform the countries of the Six at the negotiations to be held in Brussels on 11th May that Great Britain can give no definite answer until she has reported the negotiations to be held on 11th May to the European Free Trade Association meetings to be held in Reykjavik on 13th and 14th May.
Decisions on the conduct of our negotiations with the European Economic Community must remain the sole responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. There will no doubt be a full discussion at the E.F.T.A. meeting of the positions reached by the E.F.T.A. members in their negotiations and discussions with the Community.
We are used to getting these evasive replies, but, since the Minister and the Government have said that they mean to keep our E.F.T.A. partners fully consulted on these matters, why cannot he give an assurance—it is only a question of a few days—that he will come to no decisions on these matters until such time as he has at least reported the conversations and negotiations to our E.F.T.A. partners? Subsequently we would obviously take our own decision, but what harm could there be in a few days' delay?
I have made the position clear. We are constantly in touch with E.F.T.A. representatives in Brussels, and as soon as that meeting is over I shall be going to a meeting in Iceland to talk to E.F.T.A. Ministers. We have consultations all the time, sometimes at Ministerial level and sometimes at official level. There is no difference between us. I hope that the hon. Member fully under- stands that it was one purpose of the Stockholm Treaty—which shaped E.F.T.A.—to bring about an end to the economic division of Europe.
Is it not time that this preposterous fiction that negotiations about sterling are not part of the formal negotiations was abandoned? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman not make a statement on this subject—because the negotiations in sterling are so clearly central to the whole negotiations—instead of leaving hon. Members to rely too much on leaks that appear in the Press?
Is it the expectation of my right hon. and learned Friend that the Government will be in a position to recommend to the House a view one way or the other before we rise in August?
As I have indicated to the House, I hope that we shall make substantial progress at the next round of Ministerial meetings in May. I shall report to the House when that has happened. We can then begin to form a judgment as to how matters are proceeding.
In view of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said just now about E.F.T.A., will he at least give an assurance that we shall not reach any settlement with the E.E.C. which would involve the re-erection of tariffs between the present members of E.F.T.A.?