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Orders of the Day — European Communities Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1972.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham 12:00 am, 13th July 1972

Cmnd. 4715 gave estimates of our contribution to the Community budget—net payments rising from £100 million in 1973 to £200 million in 1977 were envisaged—and of the additional cost to our balance of payments on account of foodimports—£50 million per annum at the end of the transitional period.

We did not attempt in the White Paper to make an overall quantitative assessment either of the welfare effects of entry or of the overall balance of payments effect of entry, except to say that the Government believed that the impact on our balance of trade would be positive and substantial. That remains our view.

What has been said from the outset, by the last Government and by this one, is that there can be no exact balance sheet. The size and the shape of the budget will change over the years; there is no doubt about that. What we negotiated was a proper percentage of our contribution to the budget, whatever it might be, leading up—as the Labour Government always said we had to do—to paying our full costs in due course.

The right hon. Member for Stepney and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale talked a great deal about President Pompidou's alleged statement in Bonn. It was not a declaration of Bonn. It was, I understand, something President Pompidou said going down the steps afterwards. Therefore, nobody is quite clear exactly what he said. "Declaration of Bonn" is putting it a little high. What President Pompidou said, according to the hon. Member's account—I think it is basically correct—was that our basic aim remains.

As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made clear repeatedly—I have dealt with it also in Committee—the decision to allow sterling to float temporarily did not imply any going back on our resolve to participate in and contribute to the development of an economic monetary union in the enlarged Community. The previous Government supported that principle. We support it. We believe in what the right hon. Member for Cheetham aptly described as fixed but movable parity.