HC Deb 20 June 1968 vol 766 cc1301-2
Ql. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the present state of Great Britain's negotiations over the Common Market, he will now set up a study group to consider alternatives.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answers I gave to Questions on 18th June, just two days ago.—[Vol. 766, c. 906–8.]

Mr. Marten

As the study which the Government made well over a year ago showed that there were considerable economic advantages in the proposition of the Atlantic Free Trade Area over joining the Common Market, will the Government publish that study, particularly because of the rising interest of many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the rising interest and the importance of the subject. It would not be appropriate to publish internal documents of that kind, not least because I gave to the House, and so did my right hon. Friends, the fullest arguments which emerged from our study of the subject.

Mr. Richard

Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to reiterate clearly and unmistakably, first, that we believe in the concept of a united Europe; secondly, that that concept is meaningless without Great Britain; and, thirdly, that the first step towards attaining it is the early accession of Britain to the European Economic Community?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I reiterated that very clearly last Tuesday, and several times in the last month. On Tuesday I also emphasised the need for a truly united Europe looking outwards and uniting, as far as possible, the whole of Europe, not just a part of it.

Mr. Jennings

Has the Prime Minister entirely closed his mind to a consideration of any other alternative, or is he prepared to examine, in a much more flexible attitude than has been shown hitherto, the whole question of alternatives to entering the Common Market?

The Prime Minister

I have said that there are possible advantages, but that this particular proposal is not a current reality. After very deep consideration, our view was that membership of the E.E.C. and of the other communities was by far the best thing for Britain and for Europe.