European Commission

Oral Answers to Questions — European Community – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th January 1979.

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Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flint West 12:00 am, 17th January 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the President of the European Commission.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flint West

When the Foreign Secretary next meets Mr. Roy Jenkins, will he consult a very distinguished member of the Labour Party on what can be done to prevent the British Labour Party from drifting into an attitude of total non-cooperation and hostility towards the Community, on which the prosperity as well as the security of this country now depend?

Photo of Dr David Owen Dr David Owen , Plymouth, Devonport

Mr. Roy Jenkins is President of the Commission and has a responsibility for all member States. I think that he would be the first to say that he would no longer wish to involve himself, or ought to involve himself, in domestic politics in this country in that way.

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Birmingham Handsworth

Will my right hon. Friend, when he has further consultations with the President of the Commission, ask him whether, possibly as a side wind of the industrial position here, we should be allowed to release stocks of surplus food from intervention, to make up for the shortages existing here, or are we beholden to the Commission as to how those stocks should be disposed of?

Photo of Dr David Owen Dr David Owen , Plymouth, Devonport

How we deal with the substantial food surpluses is a subject of great concern. It has also been a subject of considerable criticism at times that some of the decisions for disposal, which are taken on a Community basis and not on a national basis, have meant that these surpluses have gone, at very reduced and subsidised prices, to countries which have not nearly as strong a claim to them as have some of the member States.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

With regard to the question of non-co-operation raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer), can the Foreign Secretary explain the non-co-operation of France over the European monetary system, why France has done this, and what the British Government's attitude is towards the problem?

Photo of Dr David Owen Dr David Owen , Plymouth, Devonport

It is very difficult to be exactly clear why the French have done it, but one factor is that the French have always recognised, ever since they have been members of the EEC, that it is wholly legitimate to stand up for a national interest. The French see it as a major national interest to remove what they regard as the unfair advantage of German agricultural products because of the existence of the MCA system which works against the interests of the French farmer, as the French Government see them, and so they stand up for French interests. They are supported by the French Assembly and by the French newspapers. Some Conservative Members might do well to remember that it would not be a bad idea if, occasionally, the Official Opposition were to stand up for the British Government when we stand up in Brussels for a national interest.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flint West

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek an early opportunity of raising the matter on the Adjournment.