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European Community

Volume 895: debated on Monday 7 July 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales how his policies for Wales will be affected by the results of the referendum.

I shall continue to do my utmost to ensure that Wales derives maximum benefit from our continued membership of the Community.

In view of the serious economic situation of the country, can the Secretary of State give an assurance that the Welsh Development Agency and the Welsh Assembly proposals will not be shelved until 1980 or later?

Without going into detail at this stage, can my right hon. and learned Friend give the House an assurance that he has officials who are constantly working and studying the position to ensure that Wales derives the maximum benefit by way of grants and loans from all the Community funds? Moreover, against the background of our present economic difficulties does he agree that this is more important than ever before?

Yes. I immediately reassure my right hon. Friend that the other day the Commission made it clear that allegations that we were not getting what was due to us were wholly unfounded. Indeed, my officials are constantly travelling between Britain and Brussels. There is one there today and he will also be there tomorrow. He was also there last Monday and Tuesday. Two senior officials were in Brussels on 18th and 19th June and further visits are being arranged.

Will the Secretary of State urge his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to reject completely Mr. Lardinois' milk policy, which would be especially disastrous for Welsh farmers and would involve a cut-back for winter milk? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman also aware that this would mean that Welsh farmers will have paid a crippling price for continued membership of the Common Market?

I take note of the hon. Gentleman's remarks and I shall certainly convey them to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who I am sure will do his utmost to ensure that Welsh agriculture is fully, properly and adequately protected.

Is the Secretary of State aware that many Welsh farmers market their sheep and lambs in Oswestry Market? Is he further aware of the importance of sheep and lambs in the rural economy of Wales? In the light of that, will he take this opportunity to indicate to the House what are the main desirable characteristics he would like to see written into the Community regime that is promised for sheep?

There is no need for me to tell the hon. Gentleman that I am deeply conscious, for family reasons, of the importance of Oswestry as a marketing centre. I assure him that in due course my right hon. Friend will be making a statement to the House and representations on the very subject about which he has spoken.


asked the Secretary of State for Wales in what ways Wales is to be represented in the institutions of the EEC.

The interests of Wales, which is part of the United Kingdom, are fully safeguarded through our membership of the Community.

Is the Secretary of State aware that his reply is totally unsatisfactory, especially in view of the fact that small countries in Europe, like Denmark, Ireland and even Luxembourg, have permanent representation in the institutions of the EEC, members in the Council of Ministers and the Commission and an adequate quota of members in the important committees, such as the Economic and Social Affairs Committee? Is he aware that Ireland has 10 members in the European Parliament and Luxembourg has six while Wales has none? Does he not accept that this is due to the fact that those countries have full national status, and will he join with us in pressing for full national status for Wales?

My statement may be unacceptable to the hon. Gentleman but I am sure it is not unacceptable to the people of Wales. The hon. Gentleman's remarks amounted to a demand for separation and an independent Wales. The other countries he mentioned are separate and independent. The last time this matter was put to the test in Wales, his party received the votes of only 10ยท7 per cent. of the electorate, and that figure went down marginally in three successive General Elections.

Why has the Welsh Office no officials on the United Kingdom delegation in Brussels when there are officials from other Government Departments?

In the post-referendum period I am anxious to ensure that we improve the contacts which already exist between the whole of the United Kingdom, particularly Wales, and Brussels. This is a matter which I shall consider. I want to emphasise that my officials are in Brussels this week, were there last week and have been there in recent months. There is a constant interchange between my officials and various departments in Brussels.