European Community

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:35 pm on 18th December 1980.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Wandsworth Battersea North 5:35 pm, 18th December 1980

If we imported still more food at still higher prices from the EEC rather than from the rest of the world, we should not have to pay so much levy. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman believes that to be a major element.

One still hears ill-informed talk about the vast trade upheavals that would occur if we withdrew from the Common Market. The Lord Privy Seal was inclined to try to make our flesh creep in that way today. But that is not how international trade works. If we removed the barriers against food imports from the non-EEC world and imposed a moderate tariff—it would be sensible to impose our normal GATT tariff on manufactured goods from the EEC as well as from the rest of the world—there would probably be a gradual switch back over, say, five or more years of about 15 per cent. of our total trade to its natural economic channels; and at the same time there would be a marked improvement in our trade balance on manufactured goods.

That is the moral of the last eight years' record. I would argue that that is the objective that we ought to pursue. And it is one necessary way to restore the industry, employment and economic strength of Britain in the contemporary world.