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Australia And New Zealand (Minister's Visit)

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1965

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11.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his recent tour of Australia and New Zealand.

10.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his official visit to New Zealand; and what discussions he held there on the question of Great Britain entering the Common Market.

With permission, I will answer Question Nos. 10 and 11 together. [Interruption.] I recognise that the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) is not here. I was merely being courteous to him.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Peter Mills) on Wednesday, 27th October. I held no discussions on the question of Great Britain entering the Common Market.

I did not ask about the Common Market. Arising out of the Minister's reply, would he place in the Library a copy of the speeches which he made in Australia and New Zealand? Would he now further elaborate on what is meant by "a substantial share"—I gather that those were the words which the right hon. Gentleman used—of the rising demand in this country which he promised to New Zealand and Australian farmers? How much does this mean, and what does he intend?

I will be delighted to put a copy of my speech in the Library. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will read it and not distort it. I have repeated time and again in the House, even in reply to the hon. Gentleman, and I said over and over again in Australia and New Zealand, that the British farmer will make the major contribution to the increase in demand for food in this country by 1970. Before the hon. Member seeks to continue this line of thought, I hope that he will carefully read my speech.

Does the right hon. Gentleman's reply, in which he said that he held no discussion on this important subject, mean that the Government do not intend to discuss the Common Market in any way? Should not he have discussed this extremely important subject when he was in New Zealand?

I did not discuss the Common Market. It is true that from time to time I was asked questions informally, but I had no formal discussions on this subject.

On a point of order. It looks as though we are departing from an established practice. If an hon. Member is not here to ask a Question, he cannot have it answered. In fact, Question No. 11—

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not waste valuable Question time. Two Questions were to be answered together. The hon. Gentleman who tabled the first one was not here. The hon. Gentleman who tabled the second one was here. What happened was in order.

May I pursue my point of order? It is within the recollection of the House that the Answer given by the Minister was the answer to Question No. 10—

Order. I would ask the hon. Gentleman not to waste the time of the House on trivialities. As I have said, two Questions were answered together; and there the matter must remain.

May I come back to the Question and the Minister's charge that my hon. Friends have been distorting? The right hon. Gentleman is grossly unfair. There were Press reports in this country—[HON. MEMBERS: "Question."]

I apologise, Mr. Speaker. May I ask the Minister whether he is aware that there were Press reports while he was in Australia and New Zealand which certainly gave the impression that he had been speaking with two voices? If he says that that is not so, we accept it. I am asking him why he charged my hon. Friends with distorting what he said when they were relying on Press reports.

Last week I asked the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) for a categorical assurance that he would withdraw. He has not withdrawn. I ask him again to do so. I shall be delighted to put a copy of my speech in the Library.