HC Deb 05 February 1963 vol 671 cc239-40
Q11. Sir D. Walker-Smith

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the circumstances of the breakdown of the Common Market negotiations, he will now put forward proposals for a Commonwealth initiative on the lines communicated to him by the right hon. and learned Member for East Hertfordshire in June, 1962; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

I read with interest the recommendations which my right hon. and learned Friend was good enough to send me. Some of them are in line with what we and other Commonwealth Governments have been and intend to go on doing. Others perhaps are less likely to find general support among Commonwealth Governments.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that Answer, or at least for the greater part of it. Does he recall that when answering on his behalf on 20th December the Chief Secretary said that the time was not really opportune for such an initiative because the Government were then concentrating on the Common Market negotiations? In the new circumstances, will the right hon. Gentleman take the initiative with the Commonwealth in the hope of convincing the Commonwealth countries that constructive action on these lines is indeed desirable from all our points of view?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. and learned Friend was good enough to send me a pamphlet which covered a very wide field. I do not think that I ought to be asked to deal with that in Question and Answer. We are to have a debate over two days, and I hope to make some reference to this very important aspect of the problem.

Mr. K. Lewis

I wonder whether the Prime Minister has noted—as I am sure that he has—that the continued disunity in Europe has been caused by a large Power and that most of our friends in Europe are in fact the small Powers, one of which is very small indeed? Is not there a lesson to be learned here, that whatever fragmentation may take place in Europe, we should at any rate keep England intact—and keep Rutland as a county?

The Prime Minister

I must say, after quite a long experience in this House, that I offer my congratulations to the hon. Gentleman. He has done very well.