HC Deb 30 April 1969 vol 782 cc1414-5
8. Mr. Marten

asked the President of the Board of Trade his latest estimate of the effect on the United Kingdom balance of trade of joining the Common Market on terms acceptable to Her Majesty's Government both immediately on joining and at the end of the transitional period.

Mr. Crosland

Any estimate under present circumstances would be highly speculative.

Mr. Marten

If it is impossible to make an estimate of our balance of trade on entering the Common Market, why is it thought to be a good thing to join? Might not the estimate be extremely bad, as the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor has pointed out?

Mr. Crosland

My predecessor, like the hon. Member, holds strong and well-known views on this topic, which do not command universal assent on either side of the House. I do not think that there is substance in the hon. Member's contention, partly because he ignores the political arguments—they may be held to be for or against, but there are clearly strong political arguments in this connection—and partly because it is possible to make a judgment that entry is in the long-term economic interests of the country without being able to quantify all the possible gains and losses in terms of an exact figure.

Sir R. Russell


Mr. Arthur Lewis

The Minister must have, or can surely get, at least some evidence on which to make an estimate. It would be helpful if he could give us an idea. Surely, he is not telling us that we are going into the Common Market without any idea of what is involved.

Mr. Crosland

No, Sir. This matter was discussed at great length during our debates a year and a half ago, when one figure—and only one figure—was given for the likely effect on us of the common agricultural policy. It is impossible to give even an analogous figure to that at present because the financial regulations governing the common agricultural policy have to be renegotiated by the Six before the end of 1969.