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European Coal And Steel Community (British Association)

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the proposed closer association of the United Kingdom with the European Coal and Steel Community.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals for closer association with the European Coal and Steel Community have been made to him by the High Authority; and what reply he has made.

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) on 3rd March.

As it is now several months since these proposals were forwarded by M. Monnet, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the House is entitled to know what the proposals were, even if the Government cannot give the text of the reply?

I think it would be for the convenience of the House if the publication of the proposals were made at the same time as Her Majesty's Government's reply. As to the delay, I hope the hon. Lady will appreciate that M. Monnet served notice upon the British delegation at Luxembourg as long ago as June that he would be presenting proposals, and that it took the High Authority until December to formulate and present the proposals. I do not think there has been undue delay on the part of Her Majesty's Government, in view of the many interests concerned, in formulating their reply to M. Monnet.

Am I to understand that we have not sent our reply to the proposals? Is it not a fact that we have sent some reply while awaiting the counter-proposals of the Schuman Authority?

Would it not ease the situation if the proposals of M. Monnet were to be published in order that the matter might be discussed in public by the various interests concerned? Would that not assist the Government and ourselves in making up our minds on the merits of the proposals? Why should these proposals be kept so secret until the Government have made up their minds?

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we are following the normal practice in this matter. What is more, I can assure him that all the interests concerned, industrial, trade union and so on, are being very fully consulted on this matter, at this very moment. It is because all these consultations are necessary that there has perhaps been a rather longer interval than would otherwise have been the case.

May we then presume that the interests concerned have been consulted about M. Monnet's proposals, but that the Government decline to inform the House of Commons?

No, Sir. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is being quite fair. The interests concerned have been informed and consulted, and the House of Commons will be fully and properly informed and consulted when the Government have decided what reply to make.

In the event of E.D.C. for some reason not coming into being, is it not as well that the proposals should not be published?

Is the Minister aware that while this delay is going on decisions are being made within the Schuman Plan to the tremendous disadvantage of our steel industry?

Is that not a very good reason why all the interested parties should be fully and properly consulted?