HC Deb 23 October 1961 vol 646 cc551-4
31. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress has been made in the negotiations on the proposed entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market and if he will make a statement.

44. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the negotiations following the application by Britain to join the European Economic Community on the basis of the Treaty of Rome.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)

I have nothing to add to what I told the House on 17th of October in the foreign affairs debate.

Mr. Shinwell

As the right hon. Gentleman has told us that he is contemplating further negotiations, will he take into account the fact—because it is an established fact—that the Rome Treaty does not provide in any provision either for the withdrawal of any Government associated with E.E.C. or the denunciation of the Rome Treaty; and that in the event of an amendment being moved to the Rome Treaty it requires unanimous approval? In those circumstances, does he still propose to go on with these negotiations?

Mr. Heath

It was agreed at the meeting in Paris on 10th October that negotiations would be resumed in Brussels on 8th November. I am aware of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned, and of course we intend to proceed.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Minister aware that there is dismay in Commonwealth countries that they are being kept in the dark about these negotiations? As the Treaty of Rome is not to be amended and, particularly, as the question of Commonwealth trade is to be covered by protocols which are to be negotiated, may I ask the Minister specifically whether Commonwealth countries will be invited to participate in those negotiations before the agreements are reached?

Mr. Heath

We are keeping in the closest touch with Commonwealth countries about these negotiations. As I think was revealed during the debate, I saw the High Commissioners in London directly I returned from Paris after the preliminary talks. Even before that, I saw the Commonwealth Ambassadors in Paris and talked to them very fully about what had occurred.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Would my right hon. Friend, who I know shares the desire of the whole House for clarity in this matter, confirm that the stage at which negotiations have so far reached is, in substance, this: that the Government have indicated a willingness to accept—subject only to the possible addition of protocols—all the 240 articles of the Treaty of Rome, including those involving the secession of sovereignty; a common external tariff which would operate against, among others, our Commonwealth partners, and the political aims expressed and implicit in the Bonn Declaration of 18th July? For the information of hon. Members, would he cause a copy of the Bonn Declaration to be printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

Mr. Heath

A summary of the statement I made in Paris has been circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT and is quite clear and explicit. My right hon. and learned Friend said, "subject only to protocols." Of course, the protocols are of the greatest possible importance and they will embody the results of the negotiation on the three specific measures which we have discussed before in the House and on which we require safeguards in these negotiations. I will consider the point raised by my right hon. and learned Friend concerning the declaration at Bonn.

Mr. Jay

Will the Lord Privy Seal say specifically whether the Government have communicated to the Commonwealth Governments the detailed proposals which Ministers are now making to European Governments in these negotiations and which so far have been entirely withheld from this House?

Mr. Heath

We have not communicated to the Commonwealth Government a verbatim account of my speech at the beginning of the confidential negotiations. What we have communicated to them is a full summary.

Mr. Jay

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that the Government's continued refusal to communicate details of these proposals either to this House or to the Commonwealth does not inspire any confidence in the intentions of the Government?

Mr. Heath

I must dispute this question. The right hon. Gentleman the Deputy Leader of the Opposition kindly said in his speech winding up the foreign affairs debate that he understood, be- cause of the nature of what might be in my preliminary speech in the confidential negotiations, that this could not be made public, and that is the situation. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, as I said, we have, both in writing and in oral discussion between myself and the High Commissioners, given them the fullest possible consultation in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman will realise that a very large number of other Governments are involved in these negotiations and affected in various ways, and each of them has to be dealt with separately.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that what he is saying is that there will be two versions of the truth, one for Europe and one for the Commonwealth? This just is not good enough as these words are going to make a mockery of Commonwealth consultations. What we really want is a full expression from the Government to the Commonwealth High Commissioners of the exact nature and full content of the words he used in Paris.

Mr. Heath

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely unjustified in the malicious accusation he has just made.

Mr. Manuel

Do not lose your temper.

Mr. Heath

The last thing I am likely to do is lose my temper. I completely reject the accusation he has made. There has been the fullest consultation with the Commonwealth, and we shall maintain it.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

No. We must get on to genocide and the next Question.