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European Common Market

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

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asked the Prime Minister what communications he has received from Chancellor Adenauer concerning the possible entry of Great Britain into the Common Market; and what reply he has made.

I have had no communication on this subject from Chancellor Adenauer since our last talks. The Chancellor was then very helpful and that spirit has animated our subsequent talks with the Germans at the official level.

As Herr Adenauer has publicly stated that he would very much like Britain to join the European Common Market, and as the Government evidently wish to do the same thing, would it not be a good idea for the Prime Minister to get into communication with him and make use of his aid and support? Does he not agree with Lord Gladwyn that since the Government have decided to do this, every day that we delay means that the terms on which we join become progressively worse?

No, Sir. As I have said before, it is not a question of joining. If the hon. Member means that we should sign the Treaty of Rome and that is all, then that is quite impossible and we have never even considered it with our allies. What we have to decide is whether it would be possible to associate ourselves with membership of such an organisation, subject to a protocol or agreement reserving those important matters mentioned a moment ago.


asked the Prime Minister what communications he has received from President Kennedy about exploratory talks between the President and President de Gaulle, with a view to preparing the ground for negotiations between the United Kingdom and French Governments on the political and economic implication of merging the European Free Trade Area and the European Economic Community.

Any communications of this nature which I might have would be confidential. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have observed in the agreed communiqué isued after my discussions with President Kennedy, we said that we recognised both the urgency and the importance of further steps towards the economic and political unity of Europe.

No doubt President Kennedy will speak in the same spirit in his talks with President de Gaulle.

Would the Prime Minister assure the House that, so far as he is concerned, he would understand that any intervention by President Kennedy with General de Gaulle on this problem would be based on Britain's entering the Common Market in agreement with her E.F.T.A. partners and having regard to her Commonwealth committments?

Yes, Sir, and the interests of British agriculture. All those have always been regarded as preconditions. The problem remains. It is a very difficult and technical problem, as those who have studied the details are aware, of whether this can be done. I have always thought that it could be done if there was a will on all sides to do it, but I recognise the difficulty and complication in any such negotiation.