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European Communities (Departmental Responsibilities)

Volume 884: debated on Thursday 23 January 1975

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asked the Prime Minister if he will publish in the Official Report the respective responsibilities of each Government Department in respect of the European Communities, with particular reference to the responsibility for answering Parliamentary Questions.

The responsibilities of Departments are set out below but I shall be reviewing these arrangements in so far as they concern the referendum in the light of the statement which I made today.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office deals with the following subjects:

Renegotiation—general policy questions.
Community Instruments generally, except those clearly falling into the province of another Department.
General provision of information for Scrutiny Committees—but procedural questions are for the Leader of the House and individual items fall to the Whitehall Department concerned.
Consulting the people on EEC membership, except aspects appropriate to the Home Office.
European Union.
Political Co-operation.
Community relations with non-EEC countries, except on technical matters proper to other Whitehall Departments.
Non-governmental organisations—European Movement, etc.

Other topics are in general dealt with as set out below:

H.M. Treasury:
European Community budget and general and financial questions.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food:
Common agricultural policy and related matters.
Department of Employment:
  • European Social Fund.
  • Free movement of labour.
Department of Energy:
Energy questions, including oil and coal.
Department of the Environment:
  • Environmental matters.
  • Transport, including lorry weights and vehicle permits.
Department of Health and Social Security:
Social policy.
Home Office:
  • Immigration.
  • Identity documents—appropriate aspects of consulting the people on EEC membership.
Department of Industry:
  • Industrial topics.
  • Regional policy.
  • Regional Development Fund, except for discussions in the Council of Ministers, which is FCO.
Ministry of Overseas Development:
Aid questions.
Department of Prices and Consumer Protection:
Prices and consumer protection.
Department of Trade:
Trade and tariff questions, including GATT and Generalised Scheme of Preferences.

There are many areas which require close co-operation between Departments and there is close and constant consultation between Ministers and with the Cabinet Office on the co-ordination of Government policies in these areas.