Gatt

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 23rd November 1992.

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Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade 3:30 pm, 23rd November 1992

We anticipate that the multi-fibre arrangement will, in some way, be the subject of a carry-over arrangement until the new GATT arrangement is in place. At present, the Community is negotiating with suppliers of textiles to the Community to ensure that satisfactory arrangements are in place in any interregnum. For example, agreement has been reached with Hong Kong.

The hon. Member asked about the use of the word "broadly". One must use that word because, for example, the CAP reforms have not yet embraced wine or sugar. There is not a finalised agreement that can be set alongside the Friday arrangement, so we must use words that show that there are still matters of uncertainty but that within the broad view there will still be compatibility.

I fully understand the position of the French Government. They entered into a negotiation which gave authority to the Commission to negotiate on a certain basis. The Commission must satisfy all members of the Community that it has discharged that authority within the remits that it was given. It believes that it has done so. The Commission must continue any further discussions on the matter.

I do not disagree with the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that there are many ramifications ahead. That is certainly the case, but the Commission must now make progress. It is not for individual countries within the Community to frustrate that position. The ability of individual countries in the Community to make a judgment will depend on a successful outcome of the entire GATT round, when it will be put to the Council of Ministers for qualified majority approval.