HC Deb 05 December 1967 vol 755 cc1109-11
2. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the latest discussions between Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of developed and developing countries within the Commonwealth on the present position of Great Britain in relationship to the European Economic Community.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. William Whitlock)

Since we formally presented our application for membership of the European Economic Community on 11th May, consultations have been held in London at ministerial or official level with representatives of New Zealand; Australia; India; Commonwealth coun- tries in the Caribbean; Commonwealth sugar-producing countries; Canada; and Hong Kong. We have also held consultations through our High Commissioners in Rawalpindi and Singapore with Pakistan and Singapore officials.

Mr. Judd

Would not my hon. Friend agree that, whether it is justified or not, the image is increasingly one of Britain wanting to enter the Common Market at any price and this is giving ground for widespread concern in the Commonwealth, particularly in developing countries? Is there not an urgent need for round-table consultations, particularly on problems of the newer Commonwealth countries?

Mr. Whitlock

I do not agree with my hon. Friend. We have said that we will safeguard essential Commonwealth interests in our negotiations with the Six, and that we intend to do.

Sir C. Osborne

How can the Govern-men safeguard the interests of developing countries when in the last three years the terms of trade have turned 6 per cent. in our favour and given us £300 million a year at the expense of those developing countries? Is not this the sort of aid they want? Why not give it to them?

Mr. Whitlock

We are giving a great deal of aid to developing countries and this is a matter on which there is a great deal of consultation internationally at the moment.

Mr. Rose

Will my hon. Friend say how many Commonwealth countries have already applied for association with the E.E.C. under the Treaty of Yaounde and how many have indicated that they will do so if Britain enters the Common Market?

Mr. Whitlock

Those which have not already done so will think of doing so in the light of discussions we may have with the Six.

10. Mr. Macdonald

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs if he will now give an assurance that consultation with the sugar-producing countries of the Commonwealth will take place before negotiations to enter the European communities reach a conclusion on the matter of sugar imports to this country.

Mr. Whitlock

Yes Sir. We intend to maintain the fullest measure of consultation with all Commonwealth Governments, including those of sugar-producing countries, both before and during negotiations.

Mr. Macdonald

If I may assume for the purposes of this question that meaningful negotiations are still possible, may we infer from that reply that a permanent solution satisfactory to the sugar-producing countries is an essential pre-condition to be reached before entering?

Mr. Whitlock

We have said that we will attempt to negotiate such an agreement, and in the negotiations which will take place round this we shall maintain full consultation with the sugar-producing countries.

Mr. Allason

Have not the Government indicated that they accept the terms of the Treaty of Rome in full, even if it breaches the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement?

Mr. Whitlock

No, Sir. We have made it quite clear to the Six that we intend to try to safeguard essential Commonwealth interests, and that quite clearly includes the interests of the countries which produce sugar within the Commonwealth.

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