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Brussels

Volume 889: debated on Wednesday 9 April 1975

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17.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will pay an official visit to Brussels.

I hope to visit Brussels for an EEC Council of Ministers meeting in May.

Does the Secretary of State agree that if the referendum is to be meaningful the British people must be presented with some form of positive alternative by the Government? As we have already negotiated ourselves into and out of EFTA and into the EEC and would have to negotiate ourselves out of the EEC again if that were the decision of the referendum, is it not becoming clear that the only European group to which the Government will not have applied to join will soon be Comecon?

I do not know—I had not thought of it, but it is a new idea. I am grateful to the hon. Member, after his experiences of China, for putting the idea into my head. As to the present position, it will I think be in our best interests if at the moment we take the basic decision whether we shall remain in the Community, as in my judgment it is in the best interests of Britain that we should.

If the referendum of the people of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland says that we should remain in the Common Market, what arrangements will the right hon. Gentleman make for the future Scottish legislative assembly to be represented directly in Brussels?

I should like notice of that question. The original Question was a simple one, asking whether I would pay an official visit. I should not like to give an answer which might be offensive to the hon. Gentleman without at least having thought about it first.