HC Deb 07 May 1968 vol 764 cc210-2
Q4. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister if he proposes a further series of visits to the countries of the Common Market.

The Prime Minister

I have no plans for this at present, Sir.

Mr. Marten

Does the Prime Minister recall telling the House that if the present application to join the Common Market were to plough into the sands he would not discount the examination of a wider economic grouping? As it clearly has ploughed into the sands, and the decision of the Prime Minister is an indication of his lack of determination to pursue this, is not this the moment to start examining the alternative of a wider economic grouping?

The Prime Minister

I have dealt with that question in answer to supplementary questions by the hon. Member and other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen. I think that a more correct description of the present situation is not so much a ploughing into the sands as running into a road block. I think we all know where that road block comes from, but it does not affect what is the right policy for this country.

Mr. Heath

Can the Prime Minister say what is the position about the Benelux proposals at the moment?

The Prime Minister.

Yes. We fully support the Benelux proposals. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that at the last two meetings of the Council of Ministers of the Six they were on the agenda, but other issues came up and now we have to wait for the next meeting in June. However, we have made it clear that we support those proposals.

Also, we would be prepared to respond to any move by the Six as a whole, not by one or two countries of the Six, for discussions on interim solutions. They must come with the authority of the Six as a whole.

Mr. Turton

The Prime Minister made it clear in his earlier reply about the A.F.T.A. project that his examination preceded his change of mind on applications for entry. Since then the Atlantic Trade Study has published a number of research reports. Will he now reconsider the matter in the light of those documents?

The Prime Minister

I think that some valuable work is being done in a number of directions on these alternatives. I have said on a number of occasions that we examined this before the announcement on 2nd May last year. We see no reason to change the decision of Her Majesty's Government about what is right for Britain.

Mr. Moyle

Does my right hon. Friend think that we will ever join the Common Market if the countries of the Common Market feel that we have no alternative but to join?

The Prime Minister

That is a rather involved question, but a good one. I have on previous occasions referred to the possible weakness of posture of those who seem too anxious to get in at any price. We stated last year what we felt had to be overcome before we could get into the Common Market. The attitude of most of our colleagues in most of the Common Market countries depends on what they think is right for themselves and for Europe as well as for Britain. We are not there in the attitude of suppliants. We are there in the attitude of those who feel they know what is right, as many of the others do, for Europe as a whole.

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