HC Deb 21 December 1967 vol 756 cc1472-5
Q2. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Prime Minister what new initiative he proposes arising out of the consideration by the European Council of Ministers of the British application for membership of the European Economic Community.

Q9. Mr. Alfred Morris

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the progress of Great Britain's application to enter the European Economic Community.

Q13. Mr. Boston

asked the Prime Minister if he will now make a further statement about the steps to be taken by Her Majesty's Government on Great Britain's application to join the European Economic Community, following the meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Community this week.

Q15. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement on Great Britain's application to join the European Economic Community.

Mr. George Brown

I have been asked to reply.

I would refer hon. Members to the statement: I made to the House yesterday. —[Vol. 756, c. 1267.]

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Instead of making vain attempts to organise the Five against France, would not the Foreign Office be better employed investigating what the French might have in mind when they talk about trading arrangements between this country and the Common Market? What would we have to lose? Secondly, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Briefly.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

—what effect the events of Tuesday will have on our willingness to pay foreign exchange for the Rhine Army?

Mr. Brown

I do not think that that last question arises. No doubt the hon. Gentleman can put it to my right hon. Friend. I entirely refute his quite exaggerated assertion that we are, to use his words, trying to organise the Five against France. I made it perfectly plain yesterday that what we are anxious to achieve is an integrated Europe, which must include France as well as us, and that we have no ambitions to the contrary, either vain or otherwise.

Mr. Morris

Is my right hon. Friend aware that what he said yesterday about contacts with the so-called friendly Five has aroused considerable interest? Can he say anything more about the form which those contacts will have? Will he have similar contacts with countries with whom we could conclude general trading agreements?

Mr. Brown

As my hon. Friend knows, I hope not only to have contacts with the Five but to have contacts with other European countries—I think that was the phrase I used—and contacts with E.F.T A. and the Irish Republic. Therefore, I am covering what he is now asking me to do. I did that yesterday, and I can assure him that in the time since 3 o'clock yesterday and almost noon today I have not had any further thoughts on the subject.

Mr. Bessell

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, during the period of probes prior to the application, the French made their attitude clear? If they did, why was the application made? If they did not, was he deceived by the French President?

Mr. Brown

One was at no time deceived. The questions that would be at issue if negotiations opened emerged during the talks, and emerged quite clearly. That is what enabled us to make our application in a different form from that in which our predecessors made it, and that is what enabled us to limit the issues we would want to deal with before entry. What was at no time discussed in those talks was what the attitude of anyone would be to negotiations starting.

Mr. Molloy

In the light of the events of the past few days, would my right hon. Friend consider acknowledging that as present economic arrangements within the British Commonwealth are not a real alternative, the time is now ripe for us to enter into serious consultations about an alternative to the E.E.C. within the British Commonwealth?

Mr. Brown

I said yesterday, and I repeat it again, that we will be discussing the situation in the light of this decision by one member of the Six not only with all the countries affected in Europe but of course with our Commonwealth partners too.

Mr. Maudling

In answer to a question yesterday from my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) the Foreign Secretary gave the impression that he was contemplating separate or special trading arrangements with the Five. Surely this is impossible in the light of the common commercial policy, which is the foundation of the Community? Could he clear this matter up?

Mr. Brown

There is nothing to clear up. What I said yesterday stands, and there will be talks between us as to what is practicable, possible, desirable and achievable in the period immediately ahead.

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