HC Deb 06 November 1962 vol 666 cc795-6
Q2. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Prime Minister if he will seek a mandate from the electorate before agreeing to Britain's entry into the Common Market.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer which I gave him on 8th February.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Prime Minister aware that that Answer was quite unsatisfactory? Is he not aware that at the last election, the Conservative Party did not support Britain joining the European Economic Community but, quite the reverse, many Conservative candidates who now sit behind the right hon. Gentleman fought the election on a programme which included points against going into the Common Market? Is it not flying in the face of all our democratic traditions for a decision to be made without consulting the electorate and against the mandate that the party in power received at the last election?

The Prime Minister

As I said in February, these negotiations should be brought to a conclusion as rapidly as we can do so. Then it will be the duty of the Government to consider the situation and to recommend to the House what course, in their view, should be pursued. Until that point has been reached, I do not think that other questions arise.

Mr. Gaitskell

While the general question of whether there should be an election before we enter the Common Market can be pursued more satisfactorily in the debate which we are to have this week, there is one question which I should like to put to the Prime Minister on this matter. Would he agree that he has pledged himself and his Government not to repeal or amend the Agriculture Act, 1957, during the lifetime of the present Parliament? I think he will find that that is so. If that is the case, may we take it either that no changes in that Act will be made necessary as a result of the entry of Britain into the Common Market or that, if there are such changes, before they are made-there will first be a General Election?

The Prime Minister

It depends upon what are the transitional arrangements, the time from which they date and, of course, upon the ultimate arrangements which are arrived at.

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