European Economic Community

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th March 1972.

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Photo of Mr Albert Oram Mr Albert Oram , East Ham South 12:00 am, 27th March 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Her Majesty's Government have been invited to join in discussions on the memorandum about aid to developing countries which the European Economic Communities Commission sent to the Council of Ministers on 3rd February.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

The memorandum has been passed to us under the interim period consultation procedures. The Council of Ministers has not yet discussed it. We expect to be consulted at the appropriate moment in accordance with the agreed procedures.

Photo of Mr Albert Oram Mr Albert Oram , East Ham South

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the memorandum which the E.E.C. Commission produced is a very comprehensive statement of policy towards developing countries? Will he and the Minister for Overseas Development seek any opportunity, perhaps at the U.N.C.T.A.D. conference in Santiago, to discuss the joint application of this policy between the European countries and ourselves?

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what effect the recent agreement between the European Economic Community and Mauritius will have on Great Britain's aid and preferential trading arrangements with that country.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

The accession of Mauritius to the present Yaoundé Convention is not expected to have any effect on the arrangements which govern the flow of development assistance and trade between the United Kingdom and Mauritius. The status quo arrangements on trade between the two countries after United Kingdom accession to the Communities until 1975 would also remain unaffected. These arrangements are set out in Article 109 of the Act annexed to the Treaty of Accession.

Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

Is it not the case that Mauritius is more dependent on sugar exports than any other party to the present Commonwealth Sugar Agreement? Is it not particularly encouraging, therefore, that it should have reached a rapid agreement on close association with the E.E.C? Does not my right hon. and learned Friend also agree that if other developing countries which are parties to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement reach similar arrangements with the E.E.C, most of the fears expressed about their future will prove to have been ill-founded?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

I entirely agree with that assessment.

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , West Derbyshire

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements are being made for trade with Portugal to continue and increase after United Kingdom entry into the European Economic Community and the termination of the European Free Trade Association treaty in 1973.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

Portugal is currently engaged in negotiations for a trading agreement with the European Economic Community which it is hoped will come into force when the Community is enlarged and provide scope for increasing trade on both sides.

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , West Derbyshire

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that Portugal's trade with this country in the kind of products mentioned earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) on Question No. 15—such as tomato purée—is not only important but needs to be maintained? Since recent action taken by Denmark, Holland and Norway in E.E.C. negotiations endangers that trade, will my right hon. and learned Friend do his best to straighten this out as best he can and see that Portuguese trade with us and with the E.E.C. is increased?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

I agree that trade with Portugal is important to us and to Portugal and we understand Portuguese anxieties on a number of matters, particularly in relation to processed food—processed food being regarded as an industrial product in E.F.T.A. and an agricultural product in the E.E.C. These matters are being negotiated and we understand their importance.

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland)

Are we a party to these arrangements? If not, what arrangements are we making to become party to their progress? Do not the best prospects for expanding Portuguese economy in Europe lie in Portugal's giving up its African adventures, which are clearly a violation of human rights?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

The latter matters are nothing to do with the negotiations now going on about tomato purée and canned sardines. They are important matters but do not arise on these negotiations. We are not a party to the negotiations between Portugal and the E.E.C. but, together with the other applicant countries for full membership, we were consulted about the mandate, and we keep in touch both through meetings of the sort held recently with the Portuguese Foreign Minister and through E.F.T.A.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Foreign Ministers of the European Economic Community about the timing of their ratification of the Brussels Treaty relating to British membership of the European Economic Community.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

The entry into force of the Treaty of Accession is dependent on its ratification by all the existing member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements". These constitutional requirements are internal matters for the member States concerned but it is expected that they will be completed before the end of this year.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

Does my right hon. and learned Friend expect that France, Germany and Italy will have completed the ratification process by August and is he aware that Italy has a certain tradition of referenda on constitutional issues? Would my right hon. and learned Friend expect or welcome an Italian referendum on the enlargement of the Community?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

All I expect is that the countries will ratify by the end of the year and that is all that is necessary.

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

As the Government have now declared themselves to be in favour of plebiscites for some part of the British Isles, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider a plebiscite to decide the question of entry into the Common Market? Surely the British nation is entitled to be treated just as well as Northern Ireland?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

West Ham, North can have a plebiscite to join some other country, perhaps, but I think that these circumstances are quite different.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Is there any difference between a plebiscite and a referendum?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

I would have thought there was quite a clear distinction in the circumstances in which these flexible words are used.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

If the French referendum turns out in the way the right hon. and learned Gentleman desires, is there any possibility of Britain thinking again about holding a referendum?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the leaders of all parties in this country have condemned the idea of a referendum as being wholly contrary to our constitutional practices and procedures.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with member countries of the European Economic Community about the fulfilment of the United Nations target that official aid should amount to 0·7 per cent. of gross national product; which such countries have already achieved that target and by what date they did so; which have refused to accept the target; what representations he has made to European Economic Community member countries on the need to reach this target by 1975; and what arrangements the British Government are making to do this.

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

I have had no discussions with the Community but the matter is discussed in the Development Assistance Committee of O.E.C.D. No country in the Community provided official resource flows of 0·7 per cent. of gross national product in 1970. Italy does not accept such a target and France thinks that a lower target should have been fixed. The other Community countries have accepted 0·7 per cent. but some have given no date for attaining it. Her Majesty's Government have made no representations about a separate official target because they do not accept the need for one.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why the British Government do not accept the need for that target when the Pearson Commission recommended that it was essential and now that the Group of 77, containing 95 developing countries, in its recommendations for U.N.C.T.A.D. III, has called for the immediate implementation of aid targets, including that aid target?

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

My right hon. Friend made perfectly clear at the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1970 that we should do our best to continue to attain the 1 per cent. overall target. He did not commit himself to the official target within that target because he felt that private flows and public aid should be complementary and that it was wrong to fix precise percentages for either.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

In any negotiations with the E.E.C. and other countries, will the right hon. Gentleman seek to achieve a standardised method of computation of the percentage both of Government aid and of private aid from other sources? We need a standardised set of figures in order to make a realistic comparison with the Common Market situation.

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

It is the constant objective of the Development Assistance Committee of O.E.C.D. to produce criteria which will be common to each nation and therefore to enable this important comparison to be made.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

Will the right hon. Gentleman raise again with his colleagues the desirability of accepting an official target rather than quoting what his right hon. Friend said 18 months ago? Is it not particularly important that he should do so in view of the total decline in world official development assistance because of the severe cutback in the American aid programme?

Photo of Hon. Richard Wood Hon. Richard Wood , Bridlington

No, Sir. Not only have I quoted what my right hon. Friend said 18 months ago, but I am quoting from a number of things that I have said very much more recently. I have taken the view that it would be wrong to make this target within a target because the private flow of aid and public aid should be complementary to one another.

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

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will request the French Government to consider granting facilities for a delegation of British Members of Parliament to be present and witness the referendum which is to be held in France on the subject of Great Britain's entry into the Common Market.

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

While not thanking the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that expected reply, may I ask him whether he will discuss with President Pompidou the possibility of France having a plebiscite instead of a referendum, in which case perhaps he could change his reply and give me an affirmative answer if I were to table another Question?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

I think that the hon. Gentleman would still find my answer as expected.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Would not a visit such as that proposed in the Question give the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Arthur Lewis) the opportunity of finding out why the Social Democrats in France are strongly in favour of Britain joining the Community and why the Communists are strongly opposed to it—if the hon. Gentleman is capable of drawing the right conclusions?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

There is nothing to stop the hon. Gentleman from making such a visit if he wishes. I have no doubt that he would be very welcome.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the last Labour Party conference came out decisively against a referendum and that it is the commonly accepted view on this side of the House that we should obey party conference decisions?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

Certainly, when they are wise ones.