HC Deb 17 May 1960 vol 623 cc1083-4
24. Mr. Grimond

asked the President of the Board of Trade what reply he has sent to the new proposals now put forward by the European Economic Community regarding economic developments in Europe.

Mr. Maudling

Ministers of the E.F.T.A. this week in Lisibon will be considering their attitude towards these proposals, which we expect to receive shortly. So far as the United Kingdom is concerned, I can assure the House that there will be a positive and forthcoming response to any constructive attempt to resolve the present difficulties.

Mr. Grimond

Could the right hon. Gentleman be more specific about "a positive and forthcoming response"? We have heard a great deal about that but have never got down to concrete terms.

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir, certainly. The point is that the Seven still regard the Free Trade Area as the best solution for the problems of European economic relations but we know that the Six do not as a whole accept that point of view. We are anxious to know what are the difficulties that they see. Once we know that we can find ways of meeting them, but in present circumstances it is rather like firing into the blue to take initiatives when one does not know what the other people want.

Mr. Rankin

Is it not also the case that the economic and trade difficulties created in Europe have led to the suspension of trade negotiations with Poland and have hindered those with Japan?

Mr. Maudling

No, I do not think that there is any relation whatsoever between these various negotiations.