Government Policy (Prime Minister's Speech)

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th June 1974.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Duffy Mr Patrick Duffy , Sheffield, Attercliffe 12:00 am, 25th June 1974

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library of the House of Commons a copy of the public speech he delivered at a rally of Labour women in Swansea on 9th June on the EEC.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

asked the Prime Minister whether he will place a copy of his public speech at Swansea on Sunday 9th June on the Common Market in the Library.

Photo of Mr Harry Ewing Mr Harry Ewing , Stirling Falkirk and Grangemouth

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on Government policy to the National Conference of Labour Women at Swansea on 9th June.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend did so on 10th June, Sir.

Photo of Mr Patrick Duffy Mr Patrick Duffy , Sheffield, Attercliffe

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in that speech the Prime Minister described European negotiators as tough fighters for the interests of their own countries? Does he not think that this must be the overriding objective of the Foreign Secretary in his conduct of renegotiations, whatever the advice and pressures on him, and that it is also urgent to see the renegotiations in the perspective of Western Europe's will and ability to survive if it is to make a concerted and meaningful contribution to world peace and welfare?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in making his comments was referring to a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition in which he said that we were endangering their lives. I do not know what he meant by that. The Prime Minister was right to say that they are tough negotiators and we intend to be equally tough in renegotiating the terms.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Although we are always pleased to see the Leader of the House at the Dispatch Box, could the House be given an explanation of why the Prime Minister is absent today? If he is in Brussels, could he be reminded that this is the place where he should be? Perhaps he could arrange to be in Brussels on a Wednesday or a Friday.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

We all understand the hon. Gentleman's feelings about the EEC, but he must not get pathological about it. The House has always been courteous to Prime Ministers when attending meetings of this kind.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner , Bolsover

Will the Leader of the House convey to the Prime Minister the fact that he should closely study the activities of the newly-formed European Group of Labour Members of Parliament on the question of the Common Market? Will he remind him that two important motions were carried last night, by rather more than a two-thirds majority, suggesting that we should have a special Labour Party conference on the Common Market regarding the referendum after renegotiations have been completed, and that we also propose that no Labour Members of Parliament should go to the European Assembly at Strasbourg? Will he also tell the Prime Minister that one of the next motions may well relate to the stopping of the payment of £20,000 to the European Movement?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

On the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I can assure him that the Prime Minister carefully scrutinises all groups, subgroups and individuals in the Labour Party. On the question of putting the results of the negotiations to the British people, I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. It certainly will be through the ballot box.

Photo of Mr Robert Redmond Mr Robert Redmond , Bolton West

Will the Leader of the House answer the question which I put to the Prime Minister last week? Is not the Common Market the best hope we have, in the light of the failure of Sunningdale, to get the North and the South of Ireland together and to enable them to work together?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

It is an interesting point of view. No doubt my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will bear it in mind.

Photo of Mr Harry Ewing Mr Harry Ewing , Stirling Falkirk and Grangemouth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Prime Minister in his speech referred to the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, who appears to be deeply concerned that our partners in Europe should not be injured in any way by our attempts to renegotiate the terms of entry? Will he take steps to convey to the people of this country that the Opposition's concern is more for people of other countries than it is for people in our country?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I have already referred to the Leader of the Opposition's speech to the 17 delegates from Europe. The right hon. Gentleman said some amazing things. For example, he said that we were endangering their lives; he also said that a minority Government were not entitled to renegotiate the terms. May I remind him that we intend to renegotiate the terms and to put the results of that renegotiation before the British people? They will make the decision—[Interruption.] It may be an election, it may be a referendum.

Photo of Mr John Peyton Mr John Peyton , Yeovil

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the news that the Prime Minister scrutinises all groups in the Labour Party leaves us uncertain whether to sympathise most with the Prime Minister or with the groups?