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European Community Trade Ministers

Volume 894: debated on Monday 23 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what plans he has to visit other Ministers for Trade within the EEC.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he next expects to meet the other Trade Ministers of the EEC.

I shall attend tomorrow's meeting of the Council of Ministers in Luxembourg, where I expect to meet some of the Ministers responsible for trade in other EEC countries. I also intend as time permits to have discussions on a bilateral basis with other European Trade Ministers.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear to the other Trade Ministers at the meeting tomorrow that he totally accepts the result of the referendum, and will he therefore make clear also, in expressing the British point of view, that we shall do our best to ensure that the EEC continues to prosper?

The first assurance is in no sense necessary. I shall not go round among my colleagues in the EEC telling them about my views on the result of the referendum—of course not. What I shall say, as they would expect, is that my task will be, as it has been in the past year, to support those efforts which make sense in terms of the EEC and the rest of the world and expanding world trade in a way beneficial to all. Secondly, I shall seek, as I have done in the past, to defend the United Kingdom's interests inside the EEC in a way which, I hope, will not be unacceptable to the others.

Will my right hon. Friend acknowledge that acceptance of the decision of the British people to remain in the Common Market does not mean that Ministers, or Members of Parliament who may go to Strasbourg, have to go on their knees to their colleagues in Europe but that the best interests of Britain and the best interests of the Common Market will be served by Ministers and Members of Parliament fighting for the interests of the British people within the Common Market?

I am certain that that is what most people in this country would wish their Ministers to do in attending meetings of the Community.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that his lukewarm answer to my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Morrison) about his attitude towards the EEC will not help us in our relations with the other member countries, and is it not now incumbent upon him to convince his fellow Trade Ministers that he is at one with the Government in being an enthusiastic supporter of the EEC?

Provocative questions deserve and receive lukewarm answers. I am reasonably well known, I assure the hon. Gentleman, in both Brussels and Luxembourg, and they will know very well what my position is.