HC Deb 09 May 1967 vol 746 cc1276-9
Q7. Sir D. Walker-Smith

asked the Prime Minister whether he has yet concluded his consideration of the case for the publication of a Command Paper setting out the changes required in the Statute law on Great Britain adhering to the Treaty of Rome.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to the speech of my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor in another place yesterday, and to my speech to this House.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Does not the Prime Minister recall that it is almost exactly a year since I originally asked for such a White Paper? Would not it have been much better to have had this White Paper well in advance of this debate, particularly having regard to the observation of the Master of the Rolls, made some years ago, that signing the Treaty of Rome would have a profound effect on our law and would cause our Statute law to be rewritten in the context that our sovereignty was now shared?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that, in addition to all the references that I made on this subject yesterday, my noble Friend dealt with this issue at greater length in another place and said yesterday that we hoped to include further information on this subject among the material which we propose to make available to Parliament in the near future.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Prime Minister aware that we have had a Common Market in this country for about 250 years and that the Scots still have their own laws which are very good indeed?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I am well aware of the coexistence of these legal systems, though I have never tried to understand the one north of the Border.

Q8. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Prime Minister whether he will produce a White Paper, specifically dealing with increased food prices consequent on the United Kingdom entering the Common Market; and indicating how the position of those living on small fixed incomes and unable to increase them through Government or private sources. will be safeguarded.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Lady to the speech I made to the House yesterday. [Vol. 746, c. 1061.]

Dame Irene Ward

In view of the pledge which the right hon. Gentleman gave on the "Panorama" programme last night, what is he going to do about those who are living on small fixed incomes, who do not or cannot get Government support but who will be vitally affected upon our entry into the E.E.C. because of the increased price of food? Will he give a pledge about them, because they have just as much right to consideration via this House as have other sections of the community?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Lady will be aware of what I said in the House yesterday——

Dame Irene Ward


The Prime Minister

I took a lot of the time of the House yesterday in saying what the hon. Lady considers to be nothing. She may, if she scratches through it, find that what I suggested related to those who are recipients of State pensions. I agree that there is a wider problem and that it will have to form part of any review which is made about the consequencies of our entering the E.E.C.

Mr. Henig

If Britain adopts the system of the European Economic Community and thereby does not have to give so much in subsidy to British farmers, will the money saved, rather than being used for reducing taxation, be used to help those people, like the old-age pensioners, who will be most affected by the rise in food prices?

The Prime Minister

That is a point on which I touched yesterday when dealing with the problem of the cost of living. My hon. Friend will recall also that I had something to say about the, on the whole, higher standards of social security to be found in the E.E.C. as compared with those in this country.

Mr. Tilney

Would the Prime Minister consider issuing a paper, preferably in pictorial form, for the British housewife, showing how prices have risen in each of the Common Market countries, and also whether wages and incomes have risen more in comparison?

The Prime Minister

I would certainly be prepared to give consideration to that suggestion. There will be a publication very shortly on the working of the Common Market, but I think that this is a matter worth consideration.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Will the Prime Minister tell us why in his prospectus for the Common Market yesterday he forgot the theological case of the Archbishop of Canterbury?

Mr. Speaker

I think that the connection between the Archbishop of Canterbury and food prices is a little remote.

Sir C. Osborne

How soon will prices start to rise after we get into the Common Market, if ever we do get in?

The Prime Minister

This is clearly, as I said yesterday, a matter for the negotiations. It is a question, first, of the time taken for negotiation, and the time taken for ratification, and legislative changes here, and for the period of transition before the Common Market agricultural policies, with whatever changes might be made, were adopted in this country.

Mr. Kelley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members on this side of the House have regarded the agricultural price support system as a means of providing cheap food for the people and not a subsidy for the farmers?

The Prime Minister

I think that many of us in all parts of the House have regarded this country's system of price support as an extremely well-devised one over the years. I said yesterday what I think some of us have felt about the Common Market agricultural programme but, as I said, it would be unrealistic to feel that that will be changed as a result of negotiations for British entry.