HC Deb 08 June 1961 vol 641 c1358
1. Mr. Holt

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has yet considered the desirability of publishing a White Paper on the advantages and disadvantages of Great Britain joining the European Common Market, in relation to those matters for which he is responsible; and if he will make a statement.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

I do not think that this would be a suitable subject for a White Paper.

Mr. Holt

Will the President of the Board of Trade tell me whether his Department has carried out exhaustive studies of the advantages and disadvantages? If so, does not he think it necessary, in view of the general discussion going on, that the largest number of facts about the situation should be put before Parliament and the country, and does he not agree that a White Paper would be a suitable instrument to do that?

Mr. Maudling

I agree about the need for the maximum information, but I do not think this would be the best procedure. We have made a close study of the consequences of the Treaty of Rome as it stands, but the discussion is often not about that but about the signing of a different document. I think that it would be wrong to take out from the general problem the specific trade questions which are only part of the comprehensive picture.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

Has my right hon. Friend read about the present dispute over agriculture in the Common Market countries, particularly the difficulties raised by the French, and does not he think that we should be better engaged in expanding our Commonwealth trade, and not become too closely hooked up with the squabbling peoples of Europe?

Mr. Maudling

I have never believed that there was any conflict between extending our Commonwealth trade and extending our European trade.