HC Deb 09 June 1959 vol 606 c801
33. Mr. Grimond

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what negotiations are taking place over the proposed Little Free Trade Group; and if he will make a statement.

The Paymaster-General (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

United Kingdom officials are taking part in discussions in Stockholm on the possibility of establishing free market arrangements among seven countries. Her Majesty's Government believe that if such an association could be created it would not only be valuable in itself but would also make possible a new approach to a multilateral association that would embrace all member countries of O.E.E.C.

Mr. Grimond

May I say that we are all glad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer on dry land, and may I ask the Paymaster-General whether we may take it from the Answer that this is only a preliminary to some attempt by the Government to get back into the Community of Europe from which up to now they seem to have been excluded, and that this does not mean a further split in Europe, not only between the Common Market countries and the Free Trade Area countries but, now that some countries are being left out of the new Free Trade Area, between the Common Market and Free Trade Area countries and this smaller group?

Mr. Maudling

I would not agree that we have been excluded from the Community of Europe. Far from it. However, Her Majesty's Government believe that this development, should it be possible, would provide the best possible foundation of further negotiations that would embrace all European countries.