HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 cc1526-7
2. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will particularise his efforts during the last three weeks to bring together the European Economic Community and the European Free Trade Association; what degree of success he has achieved; and what further steps he intends to take to this end.

Mr. Maudling

At the meeting of the Trade Committee in Paris on 10th June it was agreed to establish machinery for examining immediate trade problems which will arise as a result of the formation of the two groups and to continue discussion of the long term at a further meeting.

Mr. Hughes

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what industries were considered? Is he aware that the Scottish paper-making and fishery industries and others are vitally interested in the effect which these complicated organisations and reorganisations will have upon their future? What steps is he taking to ensure that such Scottish industries, particularly those in Aberdeen, are adequately protected?

Mr. Maudling

The hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned one or two industries which may suffer greater competition as a result of the European Free Trade Association. On the other hand, we feel that the gain that will come to Scottish industry as a whole as a result of a widening export market will more than counterbalance the difficulties, and we believe E.F.T.A. to be in the interest of Scotland and, indeed, the whole of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Chetwynd

Has there been any significant change in the attitude of either the Government or the Common Market Powers which will bring about success in this field?

Mr. Maudling

The position is quite simple. We have said on more than one occasion that we and our colleagues in the Seven are anxious to negotiate with the Six a long-term settlement, and we recognise that, in order to reach agreement, big concessions may be needed. But the Six at the moment are not prepared to negotiate in any way at all about a long-term settlement. Therefore, until there are two parties willing to negotiate, it is difficult to make any progress.