§ 36. Mr. McMaster
asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will initiate a separate inquiry into the effect which Great Britain's entry into the Common Market would have in less properous parts of Great Britain and Northern 735 Ireland, particularly the effects of the increased food prices anticipated by Her Majesty's Government where this represents the main element in the cost of living for families and others on small fixed incomes.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. Peter Shore)
No, Sir. A separate inquiry, directed particularly at the effects of increased food prices on these areas would not be fruitful since it would not be possible to disentangle the effects from the overall consequences of Great Britain's entry into the European Economic Community In any case, the economic circumstances of the development areas should improve substantially during the next few years as a result of the Government's measures and particularly the regional employment premium announced by my right hon. Friend on 5th June.
§ Mr. McMaster
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are many people on small fixed incomes, including pensioners, who will not be affected by the regional employment premium, except perhaps adversely, in those areas, and that an increase in the price of food of 12 per cent. will represent a very much higher increase in the cost of living for these people than the 1–2 per cent. forecast for the rest of the population?
§ Mr. Shore
As the hon. Gentleman will recall, my right hon. Friend addressed himself to this problem during the recent debate on our application for entry to the European Economic Community, and said then that, should there be a disproportionate burden falling on sections of the community, there would have to be community action in this country to assist them.
§ 37. Mr. McMaster
asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that the British Government will be free, should Great Britain join the Common Market, to continue present steps or to adopt additional measures, as necessary, to protect existing, and to create new employment and otherwise economically to assist development areas in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. McMaster
Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the investment allowances, the special factory programme and particularly the regional employment premium will be allowed under the Treaty of Rome?
§ Mr. Shore
Our studies of the Rome Treaty certainly do not suggest that there is anything there that precludes measures which are specifically designed to help regions with special problems. Our studies of the actual practices of the Six since the formation of the Common Market also suggest that there has been a fairly liberal interpretation of what is permissible under the general heading of regional policy.