HC Deb 01 August 1961 vol 645 cc1143-5
Q4. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Prime Minister what assurances he has re-received from President de Gaulle since his speech at Metz concerning the concessions needed by the United Kingdom on the European Free Trade Association, agriculture and the Commonwealth.

The Prime Minister

So far as I am aware, President de Gaulle made no reference in any public speech during his recent visit to Metz to the subject of my hon. Friend's Question. In any case, any communication between President de Gaulle and myself on these matters would be confidential.

Sir C. Osborne

Without wishing to add to my right hon. Friend's great burdens in this matter, since it has been publicly stated on more than one occasion that the French President said he would not give any concessions on these three important issues, and since we say that we cannot join unless concessions are made to us, may I ask whether that does not make negotiations impossible?

The Prime Minister

I have no knowledge of any such statement by the Head of the French Government. If and when we make an application, as we hope to do, it will be studied by the six Governments as a whole.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it true that the Prime Minister is planning to have a meeting at an early date with General de Gaulle?

The Prime Minister

I have no arrangement for such a meeting, although I would frankly say that there probably will be a meeting of Heads of Governments, not necessarily in connection with this problem but in connection with the wider European problems which confront us.

Sir J. Lucas

Would the Prime Minister remind the President that 335,000 overseas members of the Commonwealth fell fighting side by side with the French in the two world wars and some are commemorated at the Vimy Ridge Canadian memorial? Will he also remind him that there is nothing like having old friends and keeping them?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. What we hope to achieve—and the problem is whether we can achieve it—is the still greater unity and strengthening of these old friendships.