HC Deb 12 April 1960 vol 621 cc1083-5
42. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on his discussions in Washington on European economic problems and on the question of a unified Western Europe.

46. Mr. S. Silverman

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he had during his recent visit to the United States of America with President Eisenhower, Mr. Secretary Herter or any other member of the United States Government concerning the danger to the United Kingdom of certain economic and political developments towards common action in Western Europe.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to what I told the House on Friday, 1st April.

Mr. Henderson

Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister in a reply last week referred to the fact that he deplored the possibility of a split in Europe? May I ask him, therefore, whether, in view of this serious threat of a trade war, he would consider proposing a meeting between President de Gaulle, Dr. Adenauer, Mr. Erlander, the Swedish Prime Minister, and himself with a view to securing a basis of co-operation between the Economic Community and the European Free Trade Association?

The Prime Minister

I should like to take the opportunity of repeating that the United Kingdom welcomes the establishment of the Six as a contribution to the consolidation of Western Europe. It is to our interest that Western Europe should be strong and united, but we do feel that if the unity of the Six can be achieved only at the cost of doing economic harm to other countries of Western Europe, we might have averted one danger only to create another. The exact methods are at present being discussed in the various committees, and the Governments are in touch with each other. Perhaps we had better leave it at that for the moment, because the present situation is that a broad committee representative of the member-Governments of O.E.E.C, the United States, Canada and the European Commission is now considering this matter.

Mr. Silverman

Without wishing to embarrass the right hon. Gentleman in any way, may I ask him if he will bear in mind that if what he was trying to convey was the general anxiety in this country about a limited union in Western Europe dominated by Germany, he will find support in many unexpected quarters? Does he not consider that any such union, desirable though it is, would be much safer if it were more broadly based?

The Prime Minister

The first part of that supplementary question is hardly carried out by the second part. I did not make any reference—I repeat—to any question of domination by this or that country, but to the hope that we would be able to unite Europe on an economic basis as far as possible, without in any way doing anything that might damage the creation of the Six as part of the unity of central Western Europe.

Mr. Wade

In view of the serious consequences which may follow from the exclusion of Britain from the Common Market, and of the growth of two separate economic blocs in Europe, as well as the urgency of the matter, may I ask the Prime Minister whether this subject was discussed during the visit to Britain of President de Gaulle, and whether, as a result, we may expect any modifications in policy on the part of Britain or of France?

The Prime Minister

All these questions are, of course, continually being discussed between the Governments. Machinery exists for trying to deal with them now, and I have every hope that we may find a solution which will be agreeable to all concerned. I think all countries of Europe realise the importance of keeping Western Europe as united as possible and working together in harmony.