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European Economic Community

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 8 March 1962

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now make available an English translation of the regulations, decisions and resolutions adopted by the Council of the European Economic Community on 14th January, 1962.

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, said in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram) on 26th February.

Is not the Minister aware that, despite statements by himself earlier and also by the Lord Privy Seal, there is still a feeling that hon. Members are not supplied with proper information about the agreement in Brussels? Hon. Members on both sides of the House believe that more information should be given and that there should be available to every hon. Member at least the English translation of the recent Brussels agreement.

I think the hon. Member knows full well that this is a matter over which we have no control inasmuch as this is a document which has been prepared by the European Economic Community and it has not yet been made available. As soon as it is made available the French version will be placed in the Library of the House and a translation will be made available to hon. Members.

In view of the promise made on 29th January that very soon something would be put in the Library, is there not an obligation on my right hon. Friend to put information in the Library for the use of hon. Members studying this subject? Surely he must have some information in the Department?

The important thing is that my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal spoke of information "which is reliable." Reliable information will be the final text which comes from Brussels, from the Community. We do not think that it would be useful to place in the Library any document which is not a final document emanating from Brussels, the timing of which is not within our control.

The right hon. Gentleman and his Department must have some official documents. They must know what they are negotiating about. Surely it is not unreasonable to ask that hon. Members should be informed? At present hon. Members have to rely on second-hand information from other organisations. Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this matter?

We have a lot of provisional information. So has the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) and others. We find it possible to get a lot of information which is provisional, but when the Government officially have to make a document available to hon. Members, it must be a full and final text.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Lord Privy Seal stated in a recent reply that the Government could proceed in the negotiations upon the information that has so far been received? Why, therefore, cannot hon. Members have the information so far received?

The negotiations have not been in any way held up in the very broad field which they cover by lack of a final document, but when Her Majesty's Government are concerned officially in giving information to hon. Members it must be the final version which they make available.

As this information must be in the Department, cannot the Minister put in the Library what is known so far? We shall understand that it is provisional and not official, but at present we have to rely on information from the National Farmers' Union.

The hon. Member is very understanding, but he would agree that it should be the final text which should be published by the Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and it might well be misleading—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—if a text were published which in the event did not coincide exactly with the final text.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the fact that this matter is of considerable importance to the House of Commons and that yesterday the Lord Privy Seal on a larger aspect made an interim statement, surely it would be in order for the Government to make an interim statement on this position?

The hon. Member rose to a point of order. What is the point that he desires to make?

It is to request the Government to make an interim statement on this subject.

Every day I have to appeal to hon. Members to abandon the practice of rising to bogus points of order.