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Mandate (Negotiations)

Volume 15: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1981

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asked the Lord Privy Seal when next he intends to meet the President of the European Commission in order to discuss the progress of negotiations over the mandate.

I have no such plans at present. I described the latest progress on the mandate in my reply a few moments ago to the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston).

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if the Commission does not introduce workable proposals for restructuring the finances of the EEC and reforming the common agricultural policy, it will give ammunition to the misguided people who want us to withdraw from the EEC?

Yes, Sir. I know that the Commission is well seized of the difficulties and problems, and we hope and believe that it will introduce proposals that will form the basis of an agreement between all 10 members.

Does the Lord Privy Seal agree that, no matter what the Commission proposes, what happens in the Council of Ministers is of primary importance? Will he therefore tell the House how far up on the list of principal achievements of the British Presidency he rates the fact that we have approaching 1,000 unemployed fishermen in Hull, 5,000 unemployed in ancillary trades, and people who cannot get employment because of the foolishness of a Conservative Government 10 years ago in entering the EEC without a common fisheries policy?

As the hon. Gentleman rightly says, in the Community we are seeking to find a scheme that can be agreed by the Council of Ministers, because it will take the decisions. All countries in Europe are faced with problems of one kind or another. The hon. Gentleman outlined a number of them that we are not alone in facing. No one is more sorry than the Government that we could not proceed with a discussion of fishery matters on Monday of this week, but, as the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, that was due to circumstances that were wholly outside the control of nine out of 10 of the EEC Governments.