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European Economic Community

Volume 645: debated on Tuesday 25 July 1961

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asked the Prime Minister whether it is proposed to discuss economic conditions for the association of the United Kingdom with the European Common Market at the Commonwealth Finance Ministers' Conference in September: and whether decisions will be taken on these conditions by Her Majesty's Government before that conference.

Relations with the European Economic Community will no doubt be one of the subjects for discussion at this meeting. As regards the second part of the Question, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to await the statement that I intend to make on Monday.

But as this conference is to be held in September, anyway, and it is now the end of July, might it not be wiser for the Government to await the conference before making further decisions on these issues?

I told the House that I intended to make a statement and I propose to do so.

Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been drawn to a report in The Times today of the warning from the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India that India's export programme will be affected and her loan repayment plans upset if Britain joins the European Economic Community? Would not this have extremely serious consequences for our invisible exports?

I should prefer not to discuss this question. We shall have a statement on Monday and a two-day debate, and it will be better to discuss it then.


asked the Prime Minister whether he will now seek an early personal meeting with President de Gaulle to discuss Great Britain's relations with the Common Market.

I have had several useful meetings in the past with President de Gaulle. I am always glad of an opportunity to meet him.

While accepting that the Prime Minister's remarks are unexceptionable in that respect, may I ask whether he is aware that about three weeks ago, in a speech in Metz, President de Gaulle said that Britain's entry into the Common Market would be welcomed only if it was unconditional? Would the Prime Minister therefore not agree that it would be unforgivable if we were to enter into negotiations with the Common Market, which are bound to impose a dangerous strain on our existing links with the Commonwealth, unless there are real prospects of agreement in the end? In view of that, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he should try to see President de Gaulle as soon as possible to find out whether his speech at Metz represents his final position?

All these matters will be discussed, but I really would prefer not to pursue the point at the moment. I do not think that it would be very wise to do so.

Would the Prime Minister make clear to the House that the Government do not intend to involve themselves in any real commitment, even as to negotiations, until they have consulted the House of Commons and ascertained the views of the House?

I think that all these matters will arise in the course of our discussions next week.


asked the Prime Minister whether he will undertake that, in issuing a White Paper on the measures taken by the parties to the Treaty of Rome in implementation of its articles on common organisation and institution, he will include the declaration on steps towards political unity issued by the Heads of State of the Common Market countries on 18th July.

In reply to Questions on 11 th July, I said, not that I would issue a White Paper, but that I would make available in the Vote Office copies of the Progress Reports issued by the European Commission. This has been done, except for the latest report which is now printing. I am arranging for copies of the Declaration to which the Question refers to be placed in the Library of the House.

While thanking the Prime Minister for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that heads of the Common Market countries have now explicitly stated that they are seeking political unity in order to strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider again whether it would be wise for this country to enter into an organisation whose avowed aim is to perpetuate the division of Europe and to intensify the cold war?

Those are points which no doubt the hon. Member will make in debate. I do not think that they arise out of this Question.