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European Economic Community

Volume 656: debated on Monday 26 March 1962

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what preparations are being made to deal with the situation which will arise if the negotiations with the European Economic Community break down.

I have nothing to add to the replies which my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Lord Privy Seal gave to Questions on this subject on 8th March.

Would my hon. Friend not agree that, as a result of the speeches of the German Chancellor and of the French Minister of Agriculture, the likelihood of these talks breaking down is far greater than when the original reply was given? Will he give the House an assurance that active steps are being taken to study the alternative?

I would not agree that the position is less favourable. I would remind my hon. Friend of the remarks made by the German Foreign Minister, Dr. Schroeder, towards the end of last week, when he said that the Federal Government were of the opinion that Britain's joining must not prejudice the vital interests of the Commonwealth; hence it was with the full consent of the Federal Government that the Commonwealth problem in E.E.C. was being tackled so as to take account of the vital interests of the British federation of States; in the new talks in Brussels about Britain's accession a synthesis between the Commonwealth and the Rome Treaties must be found.

I would think that that represented very well the position.

Is it true, as reported in one of the London newspapers this morning, that the Lord Privy Seal has gone to Ottawa to try to persuade the Canadian Government that they must expect adverse conditions if Britain joins the Common Market? Would it not be much better for him to go there to plead that a representative of the Canadian Government should come over here and join his Australian colleague in Brussels?

Certainly I am not responsible for what appears in the London newspapers. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has gone over for discussions which I am sure will be useful in regard to this whole field. Certainly we would in no way object to a Canadian observer coming as my noble Friend suggests.

Will the Minister of State give an assurance that the Government will do nothing to cause trouble between France and Germany, since the reconciliation of France and Germany was the main purpose for which the Community was created?

Certainly I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the last thing we would wish to do would be to cause trouble between those States.

Would my hon. Friend not agree that unless there is a practical, constructive alternative plan as indicated in the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), there may be a temptation to continue negotiations with the European Economic Community beyond the point at which they may be thought to be rewarding?

No. I would not accept that. These two concepts are not necessarily antagonistic, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear the other day.


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make representations to the members of the European Economic Community to allow Her Majesty's Government to participate in the work of the Fouchet Commission dealing with the political development of the Community.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he has now made to associate Her Majesty's Government with the discussions of the Fouchet Commission.

We do not participate in the work of the Fouchet Commission because we are not members of the European Economic Community. Of course, we are closely concerned with the outcome of the Commission's work; and the six Governments have kept us fully informed of the substance of the drafts being considered by the Commission. They recognise the need to hold consultations with us before they finalise any agreement.

Would not the Government make representations to be directly represented here? Is it not highly unsatisfactory that very far-reaching discussions should be taking place without British participation, and are we not likely to be presented eventually with a fait accompli which we might find it very difficult to resist? Why should not the Government have the opportunity of putting their point of view both to the Six and, for that matter, to the House?

We are being kept informed informally of the procedure with regard to these discussions. I think that in regard to our position on our own negotiations, we have got as far as we can reasonably expect at the present moment.

Would not my hon. Friend agree that if, as most hon. Members think, the economic and political aspects of this matter are very closely intertwined, it would be very dangerous to come to a decision to join the European Economic Community without fuller information about and fuller association with the consultations taking place in Europe in regard to political developments?

My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has made clear on a number of occasions that we realise the political implications in all this, and what I would ask my right hon. and learned Friend also to remember is that there are safeguards in the Treaty with regard to any extension of its powers. I would call attention to Articles 235 and 236 in this context.

Is it not a fact that the implications over the surrender of national sovereignty through economic integration are far more serious in the Treaty of Rome than in the proposals of the Fouchet Commission's Report, and that if we do not wish to have any surrender of national sovereignty we should not consider going into the Community at all?

No, I would not accept that the provisions of the Treaty of Rome go any further than has been expounded from this Box on many occasions. The position is quite clear. Hon. Members have read the Treaty of Rome, and these provisions relate largely to the economic field, and cover social problems as well. As to what will be covered in the Fouchet Report, we have to wait to see what will be covered by the agreed proposals of the Six.


asked the Lord Privy Seal how far Her Majesty's Government are participating in the discussions taking place within the European Economic Community on the arrangements to be made for the associated overseas territories after the expiry of the present Convention at the end of 1962.

These discussions are confined to the present members of the European Economic Community and their associated overseas territories. There is, of course, a close connection between them and the parallel discussions we are holding with the Six on the association of Commonwealth countries and territories. Discussions on this subject are being resumed by the Deputies in Brussels this week.

Again, is that really satisfactory? Is it not a fact that there are differences of opinion within the Six on this question of the participation of overseas territories, and that any agreement which the Six may come to will, therefore, be hammered out with great difficulty? Would it not then be extremely difficult for us to make any changes at all in whatever agreement is arrived at, and, in view of the tremendous importance of this to the Commonwealth, would not the Government ask if we could participate in some way, if only at official level, in the discussions going on just now?

We are having informal discussions. I do not think we can expect more at the present stage of our own negotiations with the E.E.C. When we reach a later stage then we shall be more entitled to seek to have our views considered.

Would not my hon. Friend agree that the sooner we join the European Economic Community the better we shall be able to influence decisions on political and other matters?

That is certainly a point of view which I quite recognise my hon. Friend has. Once we are in we shall be in such a position, and it is because we wish to see the exact terms on which we can go in that we are pressing forward with our proposals.


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement summarising the views on future political and constitutional developments in Western Europe which are to be put forward by Her Majesty's Government in connection with the United Kingdom's application to join the European Economic Community.

The views of Her Majesty's Government were set out in paragraphs one to ten and paragraph 22 of my right honourable Friend the Lord Privy Seal's statement in Paris on 10th October last.

Are those the only views that are to be communicated in due course to the Fouchet Commission—which we were told last week would be done? There are many other aspects of the important political developments that may follow our adherence to the Common Market. Have the Government considered, for instance, the position of the British monarchy in a predominantly republican federal set-up?

I would not have thought that the position of the British monarchy was at stake or at risk in any way in these negotiations. Any such suggestion would seem to me to be almost frivolous. As for the Government's proposals, I have answered a previous question in relation to the Fouchet Commission which sets out the position. I would remind the House of the views officially put forward by the Lord Privy Seal, and I do not think that I can usefully add to them here.

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm what the Lord Privy Seal told the House recently, that there can be no question in relation to the Rome Treaty negotiations of entering into any commitments which involve a federal or supra-national set-up, a unified foreign policy or a unified Parliament, and that such matters would require a separate treaty? If that is the position and it is the view of the Government, as we hope it is, that we shall not accept any such commitments now or hereafter, would not it be more honest for the Government to say that plainly to Europe now so that there can be no accusations of bad faith in three or four years time?

My right hon. Friend set out the latest position in his statement the other day. I have already reminded the House of the safeguards under Article 236 of the Treaty of Rome in regard to extension. I think that that is as far as I can usefully take the matter now.


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether arrangements have now been made for British film experts to attend the meetings of the Common Market Working Party on film policy.

Does that mean that the Brussels delegation from the British Government is not concerned about the matter? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that for several weeks now the British Film Producers' Association has been trying to obtain from either the Board of Trade or the Brussels delegation some information about what discussions on film policy are going on inside the Common Market? Since it is known that there has been a Commission on it for over twelve months, why do not the Government know anything about it and why are not they concerned?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are concerned about this matter. The Question refers to arrangements for our experts to attend meetings of the Working Party. In the work of the Working Party, as in other matters, the Six and the Commission are, not unreasonably, reluctant to admit United Kingdom representatives to discussions while the Brussels negotiations are in progress and before we have joined the Community. The United Kingdom delegation will, however, keep in touch with the Commission, and I hope that arrangements will be made at an appro- priate stage to ensure that our views are fully taken into account by the Working Party.


asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent Common Market policy on films has been studied by the experts negotiating in Brussels; what conclusions they have reached on the effects of the British film industry of Great Britain's proposed entry into the Common Market; and what proposals he will now put forward to safeguard the industry's position.

I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to the hon. Gentleman on 7th December last.

That reply did not contain any answer at all. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Board of Trade has recently replied to the British Film Producers' Association saying that it has no official information whatever about either the subject-matter or the personnel of the Common Market Commission which has been sitting for over twelve months on film policy? Is it the policy of Her Majesty's Government that the whole matter should be decided by the Common Market Commission, that they will then sign on the dotted line, and that the film industry can take the consequences?

No, Sir. Common Market policy on films has yet to be decided by the Community.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that it is being decided now by the Commission?

If the matter is so important and potentially dangerous for this country, would it not be an advantage for us to be inside the Common Market so that we may take part?

If we become members of the Community, we shall, of course, have our say in the decisions on what the policy should be.

Would it not be of advantage if Her Majesty's Government requested the members of the E.E.C. to let them know what is being decided by the Commission in respect of the interests of film industries in Western Europe so that the Government could formulate a policy to safeguard the interests of the British industry? Why does not the hon. Gentleman do that?


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will indicate in the course of the negotiations with the European Economic Community on the proposed association of the United Kingdom that there can be no agreement which calls for the creation of a European Parliament and which curtails the authority of the House of Commons.

In my right hon. Friend's statement to the Six on 10th October, he said that we were ready to accept and play our full part in the institutions established by the Treaty of Rome. These include the European Parliamentary Assembly. That Assembly does not encroach on the authority of national Parliaments. Any proposal to amend or widen the powers of the Assembly would require unanimous agreement.

But what would be the purpose of a European Parliament unless a Parliament of this kind were subordinate to it in some respects? If anything of this sort occurs, will it not be a complete and disgraceful betrayal of British sovereignty and independence?

The reference is to an Assembly, and there are various international assemblies in different parts of the world in which we play our full part which we do not necessarily think derogate from our responsibilities in this Parliament.

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House how far ahead the Government are looking in giving these Answers? While various institutions have already been set up by the Common Market, it is well known that they are but the foundations of something far stronger. How far are the Government looking ahead?

It is difficult to say how far we are looking ahead. In this context how far can one look? We are looking a considerable way. We are trying to see precisely what are the terms on which we can enter the Common Market. In that connection, if we have a satisfactory position established, clearly we shall be in a position to evaluate both the economic and the political links which will be called for. Obviously we shall have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages in that respect.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to give the House some definition of a European Parliament and what its powers are to be—or is it to be like the gentlemen in another place, not vested with any powers at all?

I would not endeavour to forecast the body which the right hon. Gentleman envisages, nor would I comment on his criticism of another place, which I do not support.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has received from members of the European Economic Community regarding their discussions and decisions reached about East-West trade.


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether his negotiations on the European Common Market have included discussions on a common policy towards trade with state trading countries.

My right hon. Friend has not discussed these matters in the negotiations nor has he received any information from the Member Governments of the European Economic Community about them.

Has the Minister received any information? Is it not a fact that the Common Market countries have agreed that a quota shall be fixed on all East-West trade of member countries including, if we join, Britain? Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether that is or is not a fact and what is the Government's attitude towards such a proposal?

I have no knowledge of such proposal. If the right hon. Gentleman has any information about it I shall be glad to look into it.

Is it not the case that the quota is 5 per cent. and that, if it were accepted, it would affect Britain very seriously, because our total trade with the Eastern bloc has been increasing greatly? If such a provision were inserted, would the Minister consider it possible to accept it?

I have just said that I have no information about such a regulation. If the hon. Member has such information I shall be glad to receive it from him.


asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent the negotiations with the European Economic Community have sought a revision and modification of the Regulation-making powers of Article 189 of the Treaty of Rome.

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said in paragraph 13 of his statement of 10th October.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this is a very important matter in the context of the principle of sovereignty of Parliament in that these regulations, under Article 189, will be of general application, will be binding in every respect and will be directly applicable within member States—that is to say, without any opportunity of scrutiny by this House or any control by this House?

This matter was fully discussed last August, and I call my right hon. and learned Friend's attention, in particular, to the speech of the Lord Chancellor in another place. As a layman, I am very reluctant to attempt to put a gloss on what he said on that occasion.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the sovereignty of Parliament referred to will not be worth very much unless it rests on a sound economic foundation?

Is it not a fact that under the inevitable momentum of the Treaty of Rome decisions will increasingly be taken by the Council of Minister on a majority vote and that this means that the sovereignty of the British House of Commons will, under the existing provisions of the Treaty of Rome, increasingly be eroded?

I do not think that it is necessary to make such an assumption. It is an assumption which the hon. Lady is making—a very big assumption—that there will be such an erosion. As I pointed out earlier this afternoon, there are Articles in the Treaty which make it essential that any extension of the Treaty itself require unanimity. As for the provisions in the Treaty, the House will have plenty of opportunity of considering them when we know the terms and conditions under which we could enter the Community.