HC Deb 29 January 1962 vol 652 cc676-83
2. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a further statement on the negotiations regarding Britain's entry into the Common Market, and the extent to which Her Majesty's Government are now prepared to accept the political integration of Western Europe.

22. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the progress on the negotiations with the Common Market Governments.

30. Mr. A. J. Irvine

asked the Lord Privy Seal why the British negotiations for entry into the European Common Market are being held up until 22nd February.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)

Since my statement on 18th December, I have attended a further meeting of Ministers in Brussels on 18th January. We again reviewed the progress made by officials and agreed that they should continue their work on nil tariffs, Commonwealth exports of manufactures and the problems of the underdeveloped members of the Commonwealth. They will also prepare for the next Ministerial meeting on 22nd February when in addition we shall begin the discussions on agriculture. As regards political integration, I have nothing to add to my answers to Questions on 29th November.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is it not about time the Minister was frank with us? Is he aware that on 17th January in the Bundestag the West German Chancellor said that he hoped that agreement on economic integration would be a powerful impulse towards quick political integration? Can he say whether he agrees with that? Can he say without equivocation whether he supports or opposes political integration with Europe?

Mr. Heath

Our views on political integration were very clearly expressed in paragraph 22 of my speech in Paris on 10th October.

Sir Richard Pilkington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a very great need in the country for far more instruction and information about what is happening, particularly if the Government want to have the nation with them?

Mr. Heath

Yes, Sir. I am indeed anxious that there should be the fullest understanding in the nation of the issues involved. At the same time, I think the House appreciates the difficulty about revealing details of confidential negotiations while they are going on.

Mr. A. J. Irvine

Was the delay till 22nd February longer than was required or was wanted by the British, and how far was the length of that delay due to the wish of the Six to have time to make preparations and co-ordinate their attitude and policies towards anything that the British negotiators might propose?

Mr. Heath

As the agreement about a common agricultural policy was not reached between the Six until 14th January, it was not possible for us to start discussions about agriculture at the meeting on 18th January. It was then felt that, as the texts of the agreements were not available and were not likely to be available for some time, it was better to fix 22nd February as the date of the meeting, which gives time for us to study the texts and also for the Six to have consultations between themselves.

Mr. H. Wilson

Going back to a previous answer, while the House understands the difficulties about giving details while negotiations are in progress, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why the Leader of the House was able to give many of the details in a speech to the Midlands Area Council of the Conservative Party—a lot of things which so far the Lord Privy Seal has refused to give the House?

Mr. Heath

If the right hon. Gentleman reads the speech of the Leader of the House, he will find nothing in it which was not contained in my Paris speech of 10th October. I feel somewhat modest about repeating my own speeches.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

While I appreciate what my right hon. Friend says about the confidential nature of detailed negotiations, might I ask whether it would not help the purpose which my hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Sir Richard Pilkington) has in mind and has just expressed if at least information could be given on some of the more fundamental matters; for example, in the context of Commonwealth safeguards, whether these are to be permanent or merely temporary, and whether they are to take account of growth of trade or are merely related to past and present performances?

Mr. Heath

My right hon. and learned Friend will find both matters dealt with in my Paris speech, and the outcome is, of course, what we are negotiating about.

Mr. H. Wilson

But does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that between the statement by the Prime Minister at the end of July last and the statement which he made in Paris last October there is a very wide gulf, particularly on the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) dealing with political integration? Is he aware that he owes it to the House to explain much more fully than he has done the reason why he moved so far between the time we debated this matter in August and the time he made his statement in Paris?

Mr. Heath

That is an entirely different question from the question which the right hon. Gentleman asked just now, which was about making further information available to the country. We are anxious that everything possible should be done by the Government or hon. Gentlemen opposite, or by publications, of which there have been a considerable number, through the Press and others, to make these issues plain.

3. Mr. Ridley

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will publish each agreement made with the European Economic Community as the negotiations proceed.

Mr. Heath

No, Sir.

Mr. Ridley

In that case, if my right hon. Friend will not publish each detail as it is agreed, will he consult the Leader of the House about allowing at least two months of Parliamentary time for discussing the final result? It is far too big a subject to take in one debate.

Mr. Heath

I am afraid that it is not possible in trying to solve a number of intricate and inter-related problems of the kind we are dealing with in these negotiations to publish any particular item as one reaches a particular stage of the solution. When we reach the conclusion of the negotiations, I will bear in mind my hon. Friend's suggestion about time for the House to debate the matter.

Mr. Bellenger

Is not the right hon. Gentleman of the opinion that the House, having given the Government authority to negotiate, should allow him and his colleagues to carry on these negotiations and not make in the interim statements which will only be used by those opposed to him as propaganda for their own purposes?

Mr. Heath

I said at the beginning of the negotiations that I would do my best to make information available to the House. Naturally, we are grateful for any consideration that we may receive of the kind indicated by the right hon. Gentleman.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Despite what my right hon. Friend has said in answer to this Question and the previous one, would he not agree that what is happening in the Fouchet Committee is of very great importance with regard to political integration? Would he not agree that it is quite possible that if the Fouchet Committee goes on as it is the whole situation will change politically while he himself is negotiating the economic aspect?

Mr. Heath

It is undoubtedly the case that the deliberations of the Fouchet Committee are of great importance. We have indicated that at a suitable time and in an appropriate way we should naturally like to be consulted in the negotiations. We have been given the substance of the documents which have been placed before the Committee, which is still studying them at official level.

5. Mr. Russell

asked the Lord Privy Seal what stage negotiations have now reached regarding conditions under which citizens of Commonwealth countries will be able to obtain jobs in this country in the event of the United Kingdom joining the European Economic Community, and regarding the conditions which will be applicable to citizens of member countries of the Community.

Mr. Heath

I have nothing to add to my Written Replies to Questions on this subject on 29th November and 5th December, 1961.

Mr. Russell

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that, if we join the Common Market and if the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill goes through in its present form, Commonwealth citizens will not be worse off in this respect than citizens of the Six, particularly after the transitional period is over?

Mr. Heath

I told the House a short time ago that I dealt with this matter in my speech in Paris, when I said that we would wish to discuss with the Commission and the Six certain aspects of the Treaty of Rome which were not a matter of direct negotiations, apart from the three matters mentioned in the debate in the House. We have not yet reached that stage in our negotiations.

8. Mr. Manuel

asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps he has now taken during his discussions with the representatives of the Common Market countries to agree an alteration of the provisions of Article 85 of the Rome Treaty which would prohibit British industrial enterprises fixing either directly or indirectly their purchase or selling prices if the United Kingdom were to become a member of the Common Market.

Mr. Heath

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to a supplementary question from the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Oram) on 29th November.

Mr. Manuel

Does not the Lord Privy Seal know that many small industrial concerns in this country are anxious about losing their autonomy and possibly their power to fix buying and selling prices if Article 85 is not drastically altered? Cannot he say something which would allay the anxieties of those firms, some of them in my constituency?

Mr. Heath

I have not met this anxiety, but there may be some misunderstanding in the mind of the hon. Member, and if there is I should like to remove it. Article 85 of the Treaty deals solely with the removal of restrictive practices and is, therefore, designed to deal with price fixing by monopolies and not in any way to prevent small individual firms from fixing their own prices.

Mr. Manuel

Would the Lord Privy Seal look at Article 85 again? It is quite definite and says that industrial concerns in this country would be prohibited from fixing their own buying or selling prices for the commodities which they produce. Can he give the assurance that, within the arrangements he is trying to make, these firms will have such freedom, quite apart from monopoly practices?

Mr. Heath

On each of the two last occasions when the hon. Member mentioned this matter he asked me to look at it again. I have done so, and I am quite clear that Articles 85 and 86 are concerned with monopolistic practices.

29. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Lord Privy Seal if, in the course of his negotiations for United Kingdom entry into the Common Market, he has been given the full text of the discussions taking place between members of the European Economic Community with regard to the agricultural provisons; and to what extent the position taken by the French Government in these discussions has caused British policy regarding the protection of domestic agricultural and temperate zone Commonweath products to be changed.

34 and 35. Mr. Fell

asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) what is the Government's policy in the forthcoming agricultural negotiations with the Rome Treaty Powers, in view of the statement by Dr. Sicco Mansholt, Chairman of the European Economic Community, Agricultural Commission, that Great Britain will have to accept the main provisions of the European Common Market's agricultural policy if she wants to join; and

(2) in view of the terms of agreement reached by the Rome Treaty powers on a common agricultural policy, what proposals he has for future negotiations for Great Britain's entry into the Common Market, bearing in mind the assurances given by Her Majesty's Government to British agriculture and horticulture.

38. Mr. Walker

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will publish a White Paper giving the full details of the agricultural agreement of the European Economic Community together with details as to the estimated effect of this agreement upon Commonwealth trade and British agriculture in the event of the United Kingdom joining the community.

Mr. Heath

The texts of the agreements reached by the members of the European Economic Community on their common agricultural policy are in course of examination by a special Committee of jurists and linguists from the member countries with a view to simultaneous publication in the four Community languages. I will arrange for copies in French to be placed in the Library of the House as soon as they are available. As Her Majesty's Government are not responsible for the publication of this document, it would not be appropriate to publish an English translation as a White Paper, but as soon as a translation is ready I will arrange for it to be made available to Members in an appropriate way. As regards the effect of our membership of the Community on Commonwealth trade and British agriculture, this will depend on the arrangements which we are able to negotiate. The Government's policy remains as set out in my statement in Paris on 10th October.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is it not becoming increasingly clear that pledges which have been made to safeguard British agriculture and Commonwealth trade will have to be withdrawn if agreement is reached on the lines as agreed by the Six? Will the negotiations which take place be on the basis of the negotiations that have now been agreed among the Six or will the right hon. Gentleman want a completely new agreement?

Mr. Heath

The hon. Member has no basis on which to draw his first deduction. It is not true that pledges will have to be withdrawn. As to negotiations, the important thing is that the Six have reached a basis for a common agricultural policy on which we can negotiate.

Mr. Walker

Will my right hon. Friend consider publishing with the text of the agreement at least some of the factual information which can be provided at the moment in connection with the effect on Commonwealth trade, for example, the total levy which would be put on it if the agreement applied to it?

Mr. Heath

I see no point in endeavouring to work out information of this kind about a situation which is not what we are going to end with. We are in the process of negotiating to alter it.

Mrs. Castle

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that he will never agree to an arrangement whereby this country has to put import levies on Commonwealth food?

Mr. Heath

I have given assurances to the House of Commons on a number of occasions and there is no need to repeat them.