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Foreign Secretary (Speech)

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 8 March 1962

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asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at Newcastle on 3rd March, in which he discussed the political purposes to be served by Great Britain's entry into the Common Market, represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Would not the Prime Minister agree that one of the essential methods of retaining the freedom that he values is to build up the economic conditions within which political freedom can operate? Would he not also agree that a great deal more attention should be given by the Foreign Secretary to our co-operation within the Commonwealth as a means of building up the kind of economic security that guarantees freedom?

The first part of that supplementary question seems to be a proposition of unexceptionable rectitude. With regard to the second part, both I and the Foreign Secretary, and all Ministers, spend a great deal of effort in trying to do work for the underdeveloped countries of the Commonwealth.

In his enthusiasm for the Common Market, the Foreign Secretary made no reference to any conditions which had to be fulfilled before we entered it. Would the Prime Minister confirm that it is still the Government's view that Commonwealth interests, the interests of British agriculture and the interests of our E.F.T.A. friends must be safeguarded before we enter the Common Market?

That has been made clear so many times and on so many occasions, and I think that it was repeated again by the Lord Privy Seal yesterday. It is not necessary to say the same thing over and over again in order to make the purpose clear.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Foreign Secretary said in his speech that the aim was to get Britain into union with Europe, and then for all of us to go into the Atlantic Community? Is it Her Majesty's Government's purpose to aim at associating this country with a permanent bloc based on N.A.T.O.?

I cannot imagine any sentiment expressed by my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary which would be agreeable to the hon. Genleman. It seems to me a very harmless sentiment to express. We all know that there are political advantages as well as economic advantages in strengthening Western Europe and other groups of free nations.