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Commonwealth And European Economic Community

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 8 March 1962

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Q4.

asked the Prime Minister if he will instruct the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as the Minister in charge of Common Market negotiations, to prepare plans for strengthening the United Kingdom's ties with the Commonwealth in the event of the failure of these negotiations.

I hope that the United Kingdom's ties with other members of the Commonwealth will continue to become stronger whether or not the negotiations with the European Economic Community are successful.

Is it not a fact that Her Majesty's Government have given the impression that we in Britain have to get into the Common Market at any price? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Is not this an absurd way to negotiate? Would not the publication now of an alternative plan for a Commonwealth free trade area help us to get better terms by proving that we were going in as equals and not as suppliants?

No, Sir. The Government have given no such impression, either in the debate when the House authorised the negotiations to begin or at any subsequent time.