HC Deb 28 February 1966 vol 725 cc887-8
22. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress he is making in his policy of negotiating British entry to the Common Market as long as British interests are safeguarded.

Mr. M. Stewart

I have nothing to add to the Answer I gave to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Richmond, Surrey (Mr. A. Royle) on 7th February.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that, whenever he or his colleagues come to the Dispatch Box and make encouraging noises about Europe, they are immediately pulled up short by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), and will he say who is making British policy on Europe—the Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party or the Foreign Secretary?

Mr. Stewart

In previous Parliaments I have heard leading members of the party opposite express views about Europe—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—I am answering—which provoked the most bitter and hostile comments from their colleagues. We all know that this is a question on which there are many differences of view in this country. Those differences of view are not always aligned with ordinary party differences. [Interruption.] I have answered the hon. Gentleman's question as to where the Government stand on this matter.

Mr. Shinwell

Does my right hon. Friend really believe that the countries of the Six are concerned about safeguarding British interests? Is not their primary concern to safeguard their own interests? Would my right hon. Friend mind if I ventured to ask him and some of his colleagues to exercise a bit of caution in this matter and recall the decision of the Labour Party?

Hon. Members


Mr. Stewart

My right hon. Friend will remember that Labour Party policy was not that we should never enter the Common Market but that we should enter it subject to certain conditions. I have had this matter very much in mind, and I know that my right hon. Friend's urging of caution on me is something on this subject which we should all urge on each other.

Mr. Hooson

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this country would be safeguarding her own interests if she entered the Common Market?

Mr. Stewart

That is exactly the question at issue. It is a question of the conditions. If I may reply to the second part of the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and in reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman, I believe that a good many people on the other side of the Channel in all nations of the Six believe that their own interests would be served by consideration of the special interests which Britain would have to safeguard if she ever became a member of the Six.

Mr. Snow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who believe that it is inevitable and essential for economic reasons that we should go into the Common Market one day are greatly alarmed at the reckless and impetuous speeches made by some Conservative speakers, which are highly prejudicial and against British agriculture?

Mr. Stewart

I entirely agree with that.