HC Deb 14 March 1967 vol 743 cc224-5
Q1. Mr. Hordern

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the course of his tour of European Economic Community countries, he has maintained his policy that, as a condition of entry, Great Britain must be free to go on buying food and raw materials in the cheapest markets.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

It was not the purpose of our tour to discuss conditions of entry but to explore with the Six the principal problems which would need to be solved before Britain could enter the Community.

Mr. Hordern

Did the right hon. Gentleman not say in his speech at Bristol a year ago that this trade would be wrecked by the levies which the Tories were seeking to impose and would lead to the total disruption of our trade with Commonwealth countries? Is he prepared to accept the principle of the agricultural levy in the Common Market or not?

The Prime Minister

I have said that the Government will announce their decision when we have had time to consider this report, and this question will then be answered in the House and in our discussions with the countries concerned. It must surely be in the interests of everyone in the House to safeguard British interests as regards agriculture and the Commonwealth, as well as everything else.

Mr. Grimond

Is it true that, during his visits to the Continent, the right hon. Gentleman said that he was ready to sign the Treaty of Rome?

The Prime Minister

The words which I used on my visits to the Continent about the Treaty were exactly those which I have used in the House. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the correct phrase is "accede to" and not "sign". I said there, and in greater detail in Strasbourg, that we did not believe that the Treaty of Rome need be necessarily an impediment to our entry: there were other difficulties which had to be overcome.

Mr. Hector Hughes

On the important question of food referred to in this Question, will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that, whatever arrangement is reached, the British fishing industry will be in no way imperilled or threatened?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that this will be one of the very important questions falling for consideration and discussion, but I cannot say that it has played a leading part in our discussions with the heads of Government of the Six so far.