HC Deb 18 March 1965 vol 708 cc1470-1
Q3. Mr. Longden

asked the Prime Minister if he will now seek to negotiate the United Kingdom's entry, and in collaboration with them, that of the United Kingdom's partners in the European Free Trade Association into the European Economic Community on terms which will not cause this country to discriminate against other Commonwealth countries.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to the answers I have recently given to the House upon this point.

Mr. Longden

Would the Prime Minister agree with the wise dictum of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, when Foreign Secretary, that "Insularity is a luxury which this island can no longer afford"? Secondly, would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that if we were to be within the European Economic Community we would be better able to lead and aid the Commonwealth of Nations than if we were to remain outside it?

The Prime Minister

That statement, like so many by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, is interesting but of rather general application and does not carry us very far. As regards the hon. Member's particular proposal, he will recognise the difficulty here that to propose the accession of E.F.T.A. as such or the E.F.T.A. countries into the Common Market would mean that every one of them accepted the Treaty of Rome, and, of course, as we know from previous negotiations, there were many difficulties, for example, about our E.F.T.A. partners who were neutral even being allowed to have rights of association. What we are doing at the moment is to pursue the possibilities of a closer link between E.F.T.A. as a whole and E.E.C. as a whole. I do not think that the hon. Member's proposal is the way to deal with the problem.

Mr. Bellenger

In the meantime, has my right hon. Friend noted that certain E.F.T.A. countries are seeking to negotiate direct with the Six? If they are successful, can my right hon. Friend say what effect that will have on the present E.F.T.A. arrangements?

The Prime Minister

The second part of my right hon. Friend's supplementary question is a little hypothetical, but it is true that Austria, for example, has been involved in negotiations and it would be wrong for me to express a view on how those negotiations are likely to go. A number of ideas are being considered now—they are being discussed in all parts of the House—about measures which we all agree are urgently needed for breaking down barriers between E.F.T.A. and the E.E.C.