Oral Answers to Questions — Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1979.

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Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Conservative Party 12:00 am, 14th March 1979

Does the Prime Minister agree with the conclusion of some commentators this morning that it was a disappointing summit, and that that disappointment was reflected both in the communique and in the statement that the right hon. Gentleman made? Does he agree that it would be more to Britain's advantage if he and his colleagues dropped their abrasive and critical attitude towards our Common Market partners and behaved genuinely as partners, in which case we might get some of the problems solved?

May I put three particular points to the Prime Minister? First, on the budget and the common agricultural policy, does he recall that when he renegotiated these matters in 1975 and commended them to the British people as a whole, he did so on the basis that he had largely solved the budget problems and that Britain would in future pay less? What hapened to his estimate then? Was it wrong? What has happened after four years of constant criticism?

Why, after that constant criticism, if he has done well in the Common Market, is Britain still paying more? Would it not be better if, instead of that criticism, he were more co-operative?

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that in the White Paper he indicated that he had gone a long way towards securing a better balance between supply and demand of common agricultural policy products? There is a tremendous gap between what he says and what has happened as a result of our negotiations with the Common Market. What reforms has the right hon. Gentleman brought about, as distinct from the regular statements and communiques that we receive at intervals?

Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman made no statement about the future of fisheries policy, a subject upon which Britain has perhaps the best case of all for most favourable treatment Will he give us some indication about that?

Thirdly, the right hon. Gentleman mentioned that it was mainly an economic summit. As he will know, there are serious problems affecting a close neighbour of the Common Market—namely, Turkey. America and Germany were to give Turkey valuable financial assistance. There seems to be some delay. Was Turkey discussed? Has he anything to say on that? It is a very urgent matter. If anything happens to Turkey, it will be highly damaging to the whole of the Western alliance.