HC Deb 01 April 1968 vol 762 cc24-6
82. Mr. Ridley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further proposals he has received from the French Government for increasing trade between the European Economic Community and the United Kingdom.

Mr. M. Stewart

None, Sir.

Mr. Ridley

Does it not look as though President de Gaulle has now vetoed his own proposal for closer association between the Six and the Seven? In view of the President's intransigent attitude, would not the right hon. Gentleman feel that it would be worth while to go to Paris and really find out what the French do want; and get to the bottom of the matter?

Mr. Stewart

This is not just a matter between us and the French. Our application for membership was made to the Community as a whole. The E.E.C. Council of Ministers is meeting again at the end of this week, and will no doubt continue discussion of a number of proposals, including the terms of the plan put forward after Chancellor Kiesinger's visit to Paris. We have made it clear that we would be prepared to consider any proposal made to us by the Six as a whole.

Mr. Jay

Now that we have a new Foreign Secretary, might we not make still further progress and have some new ideas on this whole issue?

34. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a further statement on his policy regarding the Franco-German plan to link Great Britain with the Common Market.

Mr. M. Stewart

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Franco-German Declaration and the German development of it.

I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) on 19th March.—[Vol. 761, c. 77.]

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Would the foreign Secretary say now whether a policy of association with the Common Market would be acceptable to Her Majesty's Government provided that it contained a clear timetable for eventual full membership?

Mr. Stewart

As has been said before, there are great difficulties about an approach of this kind, but, as I said in answer to an earlier Question, this matter is for discussion among the E.E.C. Ministers. We would certainly consider any proposals which came to us from the Six as a whole.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Would the right hon. Gentleman give the House the benefit of what definition there is in this proposal? He says that it is going to be discussed in the E.E.C., but what is to be discussed in the E.E.C.? Could have it published in the OFFICIAL REPORT some time?

Mr. Stewart

I do not think I could give that straight away in answer to a question. It was not a proposal made to us. I may be able to tell the House more about it at a later stage.

Mr. Michael Foot

Does not my right hon. Friend think, apart from any proposal for association, that the original proposal for entry to the Common Market is one of the Cecil King policies which have collapsed? Does not my right hon. Friend think that Cecil King owes an apology to the country and to the Government?

Mr. Stewart

I remind my hon. Friend that it was one of the policies mentioned in the election manifesto.

41. Mr. Henig

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what communications he has now had with the Governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands on the subject of the Benelux plan; and whether he has indicated Her Majesty's Government's acceptance or rejection of the plan.

Mr. M. Stewart

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply my predecessor gave to the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) on 26th February.—[Vol. 759, c. 932–24.]

Mr. Henig

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that, given that the French are not involved, the Benelux plan must be a non-starter? Does not he think that there is something slightly illogical in the British Government's being prepared to talk about the future of our relations with Europe with friendly Governments like the Government of the Netherlands whilst not apparently being prepared to talk with the Government of France, who are the cause of the main obstacles to our present policy?

Mr. Stewart

No. There is a difference here. The Benelux proposals were definite proposals made to us. The Franco-German statements are not at present in the form of proposals to us.