HC Deb 29 June 1961 vol 643 cc655-6
40. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now invite the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth countries to discuss with him in a joint conference the future relationship between Great Britain and the Common Market.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement which I made on 13th June.

Mr. Wyatt

Does the Prime Minister realise that if these discussions with the Commonwealth are too prolonged there is a danger that the delay caused may lead eventually to our getting much worse terms when we do apply to enter the Common Market, particularly as in this interim period part of his own propaganda to his own supporters must be to point out those dangers to us if we do not join? Will he also give an assurance that no Commonwealth country will be allowed to apply a veto against our joining the Common Market?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the very many quite explicit statements which I have made on the subject in recent weeks.

Mr. Holt

Will the Prime Minister clear up a point relative to this question which was raised in the debate last night by a number of hon. Members? What is the purpose of the visits of these Ministers? Is it purely to obtain information about the interests of the countries concerned, or is it to act as salesmen for the idea of Britain going into the Common Market?

The Prime Minister

The visit is to have all the necessary consultations. I think that the idea that we should use this method has been welcomed by all the Commonwealth Governments. I know it was suggested that we might try to organise a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, but that is a very difficult thing to do at short notice. It has been generally agreed in the Commonwealth that this method is a wise and sensible procedure.

Mr. S. Silverman

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that there may be a very deep difference between joint consultations and several consultations? If the Prime Minister is content only with sending Ministers to discuss the matter separately, with each Dominion or Colony in turn, he avoids the advantage which he might derive from a consensus of opinion arrived at by joint discussion in one place at one time. Does he not attach any importance to that at all?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, but one method does not exclude another.

Mr. Gaitskell

Has the Prime Minister come to any decision on the question which a number of hon. Members and I put to him—whether he will publish a White Paper giving a great deal more factual information about what is involved in joining or not joining the Common Market?

The Prime Minister

There is a later Question about that. I am considering whether it is possible to produce some document in a valuable form.


Mr. Dugdale

Did not the Prime Minister say that there was a Question down for him about the publication of a White Paper or some information about joining the Common Market? Is he going to make a statement afterwards?

The Prime Minister

I saw the Question on the Order Paper. I think that it was for one day next week or the week after.