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Volume 885: debated on Wednesday 29 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a further statement about his negotiations on continued British membership of the EEC.

We are continuing to make progress. We shall have an intensive period of negotiations in the next two months but I hope that we shall be able to conclude renegotiation by Easter.

Will the Minister say which he thinks is the most stubborn of the outstanding matters? Is it his aim that they should be gathered together and dealt with at the Dublin Heads of Government Meeting?

I do not think it is possible or wise in this situation to evaluate the various items of renegotiation and to say that some present greater difficulties than others. If it is necessary to use the Dublin Heads of Government meeting to give extra impetus to our renegotiation, the meeting will be used for that purpose. My right hon. Friend's hope is that the following meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers in February and March will see through the renegotiation on their own initiative.

What concessions to the British case have so far been agreed in the first 10 months of the negotiations?

My right hon. Friend is inviting me to go through the area of stubborn problems in rather the reverse way. I accept part of that invitation. He will recall that at the Paris Heads of Government meeting there was agreement that our case for an adjustment to the budget contribution was understandable and acceptable. It was, indeed, accepted. He will recall the enormous progress that was made regarding the relationship between the EEC and the developing world. I shall not weary him with every item of success, but there are others.

It is clear that supplementary questions on this Question will take up the whole of the 20 minutes allotted to EEC Questions. I propose to go on to the next Question. Mr. Dykes.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what outstanding policy areas remain to be discussed with the other member countries in the context of Her Majesty's Government's renegotiations of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Economic Community.

We have still to reach agreement on a number of important issues, including the details of the correcting mechanism for the budget, trade with countries outside the Community, particularly the Commonwealth, a new understanding on the Community rules for national regional aids, relations with developing countries and a number of matters relating to the common agricultural policy.

Will the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the prefix "re" to the word "negotiations" was inserted by the printers and not by myself? I am sure we can agree on their ruthless impartiality continuing. In the context of the list which the right hon. Gentleman has just read out, will be guarantee and reaffirm that no other additional items will be entered into the list of potential subjects to be negotiated?

I must confess that I do not understand the semantic point that the hon. Gentleman made at the beginning of his question. I can give him an absolute assurance that my right hon. Friend said in April that our list was complete and total and that no additions can be made to it now.

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that there is already concern in this country about the activities of that European civil servant Sir Christopher Soames, bearing in mind that his first loyalty now is to the Common Market? Does my right hon. Friend realise that there is the additional complication that presumably Sir Christopher Soames is using the resources of the Common Market, let alone those of the Conservative Party? As the Labour Party and this Labour Government gave a pledge that the people would be consulted on this matter, is it not essential to ensure that the referendum is held in a fair manner?

The Government, from the Prime Minister downwards, have expressed their determination to ensure that the referendum is held fairly and impartially. That is a matter on which none of us disagrees. On the rôle of Sir Christopher Soames, I recognise that there is disagreement. Sir Christopher is a British citizen who will be entitled to vote in the referendum. In that capacity he is entitled to take part in the campaign.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he now expects to complete renegotiation of the Treaty of Accession to the EEC.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) on 14th January.—[Vol. 884, c. 184.]

Is it not a fact that the Government have not renegotiated any of the terms of the Treaty of Accession? Will he therefore pay tribute to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) who negotiated it to the complete satisfaction of the Labour Party? Does he agree that the concept of renegotiation has been a dodge to help the Labour Party to stay together in a period of time which is soon running out?

I noticed the hon. Gentleman's reference to the treaty in the Question and I put it down to an error of drafting. He will recall that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made it clear on 1st April that it was not our wish, if it could be avoided, to negotiate changes in the treaty. It is our wish to make substantial and fundamental alterations in the terms in which the treaty is applied. That we are doing with great seriousness and with some success.

I revert to renegotiation. Does my right hon. Friend see some anomaly in the fact that while this Government and the country are still concerned with renegotiation one of the Commissioners, with whom in theory we are renegotiating, is making his views known? Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Questions which I have tabled concerning the terms of employment of the Commissioners have been ruled out of order? Will he tell the House the exact terms of reference, and where they may be found, concerning the terms of appointment and employment of the Commissioners of the European Community?

All the Commissioners are employees, if that is the appropriate word, and are responsible to the Community. Questions about their ability to take time off to take part in the referendum campaign, if hon. Members think such questions are appropriate, which I do not, ought to be addressed to their employers. I base my view that such questions are not altogether appropriate on the fact that so many of us are allowed time off by our benevolent employers to take part in local authority work, for example, and other activities. But on the question of Sir Christopher's participation in this campaign I must reiterate that he is a British citizen and a free man, and I have no wish to curtail his rights in either of these capacities

First, may I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on being appointed to the Privy Council? In a previous anwer he said that there would be no additions to the terms of renegotiation. Can he also give an assurance that there will be no subtraction from the renegotiation terms as set out precisely in the Labour Party manifesto?

I can give the hon. Gentleman that assurance without pause or qualification. He has attended virtually all our debates and must have heard almost all the questions and answers on the subject, so no doubt he will agree that no item in either the February or the October Labour manifestos has been neglected.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that even the pro-Europeans on this side of the House are concerned about the lack of democratic control of the existing institutions? Does he not agree that the only way to solve that problem is to have a democratically-elected European Parliament?

I said earlier that I understand the democratic arguments in favour of democratically-elected membership of the European Parliament, but my hon. Friend will agree on reflection that were we during the next three months, to mount proposals for the setting up of such an electoral system, the seriousness of our renegotiations would be questioned, and since they are serious I do not believe that we want these questions to be raised.