HC Deb 23 March 1967 vol 743 cc1892-3
11. Mr. Paul B. Rose

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will now seek the guidance of regional economic councils on the effect of entry into the European Economic Community upon regional planning and regional policies.

Mr. M. Stewart

At this stage, No, Sir.

Mr. Rose

Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who wish to secure acceptable terms for entry into the European Economic Community are still concerned about the effect of this on regional policies? Does not my right hon. Friend agree that it is essential to undertake a survey of the effect which entry would have on peripheral areas such as Scotland, Wales and the north of England?

Mr. Stewart

The question of regional policies has been under consideration. A study of the regional policies pursued in countries already in the European Economic Community shows that theirs and ours have much in common.

Dr. David Owen

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the regional policies pursued within the Community have been remarkably effective and that this country has quite a lot to learn from the regonal policies within Europe?

Mr. Stewart

This may well be so.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

Would not my right hon. Friend also agree that areas like Calabria and Sardegna do not give us any great cause to believe that if we enter the Common Market those of our regions which are suffering from lower wage levels will necessarily benefit to the extent that very highly industrialised areas will?

Mr. Stewart

That is a rather different question. I do not think that I can answer questions about Calabria. I simply repeat that regional policies in certain countries of the Community are a matter of considerable interest to us. We may be able to learn from them, and they make it clear that membership of the Community and regional policies are not incompatible.