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European Economic Community

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what conditions have been proposed to Her Majesty's Government by the West German Federal Republic, on behalf of the Common Market countries, under which Her Majesty's Government could gain entry into the European Economic Community.

Why is the Lord Privy Seal so cagey about this? Is it not the fact that the Foreign Minister of the German Federal Republic has made it quite clear in London, on behalf of the Common Market countries, that before Britain would be allowed to negotiate a special settlement she must sign the Rome Treaty, with all its political consequences? Would he not now therefore tell the House the true nature of the special settlement we wish to negotiate, and in what way he would define the political consequences in the event of this country becoming a full member of the European Economic Community?

There was some complaint from hon. Members opposite when I devoted forty minutes of my speech in the recent foreign affairs debate to the situation in relation to the Common Market and the Treaty of Rome, and I do not need to go through that again now. These talks have been carried out between officials and Ministers. They have been bilateral talks, not on behalf either of the European Economic Community or of E.F.T.A. They have been exploratory discussions of a confidential nature, and I do not think that it would be appropriate for me to divulge what took place in them.

But cannot the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that we have not sunk to a condition in which we allow the West German Government to dictate conditions to us?

Nobody is dictating conditions to anybody on either side. If there is to be progress, it must be by negotiation.