HC Deb 02 April 1968 vol 762 cc176-8
Q7. Mr. Henig

asked the Prime Minister what further initiatives he proposes to take with a view to securing Great Britain's ultimate adhesion to the Euopean Communities.

The Prime Minister

We are in touch with other European Governments about the best way of making progress towards our aim of full membership of the European Communities. I have, however, no statement to make today.

Mr. Henig

As the Government's policy has run into major obstacles, will my right hon. Friend now consider the possibility of looking more closely at some of the intermediate solutions which have been proposed which will in the long term bring about British membership of the Community? Does he not find it odd that we are spending most of our time talking with Governments, such as the Government of the Netherlands, and not with the Government of France which is the main cause of these obstacles?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is right in saying that we have run into a massive obstacle in this matter. However, while we are having discussions with the members of the Six and with individual Governments, I do not think that any further discussions with the French Government at this stage would be particularly helpful towards achieving our objective at an early moment.

Mr. Maxwell

Will my right hon. Friend consider extending an invitation to General de Gaulle to visit this country for discussions about—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member cannot anticipate a Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will do himself a favour and avoid further trouble by ceasing to listen to some of the siren voices on this matter?

The Prime Minister

It is not a question of siren voices. It was a decision of the House, passed by an overwhelming majority, and it remains the policy of the Government, to be implemented when circumstances make it possible.

Sir C. Osborne

Would not it be more dignified for the Prime Minister to forget the problem altogether until General de Gaulle is dead?

The Prime Minister

I think that the hon. Gentleman has made that suggestion before in the House. I shall not comment on either its appropriateness or its taste, but I did say on the last occasion that it did not seem to be a negotiating point for us.

Mr. English

Does my right hon. Friend recollect that in the debate before the decision to which he has referred many members of the Government said that the Government had prepared alternatives, and the then Foreign Secretary referred to a free trade area, for example? Will he now consider those alternatives?

The Prime Minister

A number of Ministers said, and I did, too, that we had examined alternatives, and that they were in every sense second best to the decision that we had made to apply for entry to the Economic Community. I do not feel that it would advance our aim of getting into the Community to look at alternatives of this kind at this stage, still less do I feel that it would be a satisfactory long-term objective to substitute these alternatives for the application on which we decided.

  1. NEW MEMBERS 42 words
Forward to