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European Coal And Steel Community (British Association)

Volume 526: debated on Monday 12 April 1954

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28.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now completed the study and consultations made necessary by the Schuman Plan Assembly's invitation to negotiate a form of association; and whether he will make a statement.

Why do the Government take so many months to reply to questions put to them by Europeans when they react almost instantaneously to the American Government's questions?

I do not accept the implication of the hon. Member's supplementary. Apart from that, as I explained to the House at some length last week—and I do not want to repeat it all now—these proposals raise very important implications, and consultation is necessary with a very large section of the basic industries of this country, on both sides— both the employers and the unions. I do not think it is unreasonable or wrong that the Government should take some time in giving the fullest consideration to these very important matters. It took M. Monnet six months to put the proposals to us.

I accept the fact that it takes months to study these proposals, but the invitation has been before the Government for many months. Does the Minister not realise that our procrastination is handing the leadership of Europe to the Germans?

I do not know what the hon. Member means by "many months." The matter has been before us for three-and-a-half months.

Could the House be informed of these proposals when the hon. Member makes a statement to the House about the military proposals, before the Easter Recess?

No, Sir, but I hope we may be able to report some progress, at least, after Easter.