Skip to main content

European Community

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 19 February 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will publish in the Official Report a list of the substantial economic advantages which the United Kingdom receives solely as a result of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Economic Community and the extent to which this offsets the estimated £2·2 billion cost to the British public of the common agricultural policy and the trade deficit of £4·1 billion in manufactures with the European Economic Community Six.

The Government are in no doubt about the value of British membership of the Community and the benefits which it offers. A domestic market of 250 million people, strength in international economic negotiations and primary position in world trade give us an unparalleled opportunity. They complement our efforts to put our house in order, to regenerate British industry and revitalise the British economy. Already some 42 per cent. of our exports go to the Community compared with 30 per cent. before we joined. The political case for membership is all the stronger at the present time.It is not possible to set out all the economic advantages which the United Kingdom has derived solely as a result of membership of the European Community; although the statistics are precise in some fields, in others there is a wide range of estimates. The same considerations apply to figures relating to the resource costs to Britain of the common agricultural policy. It would be wrong to attribute our deficit in trade in manufactures with our Community partners to membership of the European Community as we all know there are other factors. But trade with the Community has increased substantially in both directions.