HC Deb 21 June 1960 vol 625 cc213-4
39. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of Great Britain's relations with the Six and the Seven in Europe, if he will make a detailed statement of the policy of the British Government designed to maintain and develop British trade with the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Mr. Maudling

It remains our policy to expand Commonwealth trade by all practicable means. This policy has not been affected by our relations with the Six or with our partners in the Seven.

Mr. Hughes

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that doubts and uncertainties are being expressed by industrialists in Europe and various Commonwealth countries as to the limitations of the operation of the Six and Seven in relation to the British Commonwealth? In the interests of trade between the Six, the Seven and the Commonwealth, therefore, will he make a comprehensive statement so that industrialists will know where they are?

Mr. Maudling

The fact that the Commonwealth trading system was not mentioned in the Stockholm Agreement or in the negotiations leading up to it conclusively proves what the Government have always said, namely, that there is no conflict between our trading relations with the Commonwealth and closer trading relations with Europe.

Mr. C. Royle

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any consideration has been given to the possibility of bringing the countries of Western Europe and the British Commonwealth into one great economic union and common market?

Mr. Maudling

That is rather wide of the Question and Answer, but if the hon. Member studies the matter he will appreciate that the difficulties involved are very great.