HC Deb 21 October 1969 vol 788 cc942-9
Mr. Shinwell

Would not it be preferable and more satisfying to the general public to have an independent analysis, instead of one that I suppose will be provided by the Foreign Office, which has made up its mind about this?

The Prime Minister

Perhaps I should not be far out of order if I began my answer by congratulating my right hon. Friend about the events of last Saturday, that I heard of too late to take up. As for his Question, having heard many questions and speeches, and having read many articles and written some articles and made some speeches, I am not sure what an independent analysis of this question, as indicated by my right hon. Friend, would exactly produce, but in fact all the relevant Departments and not just the Foreign Office are involved in this analysis. It is principally a matter for the economic Departments.

Mr. Heath

Can the Prime Minister say whether the analysis is being done on the basis that Britain alone becomes an additional member of the Community or that two other E.F.T.A. countries and Eire become members, and others become associate members of the Community? This would have a major impact on the price levels of the common agricultural policy.

The Prime Minister

I very much agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The study is being made on a number of alternative assumptions. Certainly the one that he has in mind is one of those assumptions. If Denmark, for instance, were to become a full member it would have a great effect on the supply side. Further, as Britain is a big consumer, this would obviously affect the consumption side.

Mr. Orme

When the figures are available will my right hon. Friend allow a debate in the House on the current situation in regard to the Common Market, particularly following the widespread concern shown at all the party conferences this year and by the public in general, so that we may have a reassessment of the figures that he is so often proud to quote and quoted in the last debate we had in this House on our possible entry into the Common Market?

The Prime Minister

The question of a debate is a matter of discussion through the usual channels. As to what was said at the various conferences on the South Coast recently, my impression of the one that I attended and—if I have been correctly informed by reading Press reports—of the others, is that no one has seriously questioned whether Britain should continue with her application. That was not seriously questioned at our own Conference; indeed, an amendment to that effect was not even pressed to a Division. The real concern expressed at our Conference, and I believe at others, was the terms which the Government might put forward to this House for entry. This is a matter that can be ascertained only by negotiations.

Mr. George Brown

Having considered it and having delivered to the House his view about the cost of going in, will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister also ensure that the House is made fully aware of the cost of staying out and the jobs that may be lost if we stay out?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend will be aware that that was one point that I covered in my speech in Brighton, and it was covered at greater length by my right hon. Friend when dealing with this specific situation at that Conference. He will also recognise the great difficulty of quantifying assumptions of that kind. But certainly there will be a cost to Britain of going in to set against the undoubted gains from going in, and also a cost if Britain is not able to get in.

Sir G. Nabarro

Will the Prime Minister realise that there is widespread apprehension among the general public about the alleged alarming price rise in the cost of food if Britain joins the Common Market? Will he bear in mind that apprehensions cannot be allayed by departmental officials producing a report? Would it not be advisable to allow Members penetratingly to question officials as to how they have arrived at their conclusions about comparative retail food prices, in order to allay anxieties of the housewife?

The Prime Minister

I have no doubt that in any debate that supervened after the publication of these figures the hon. Member would make his usual penetrating comments thereon. Whether he made them at Brighton recently I was not informed. As for the cost of living, this is obviously one thing which must be examined. But he gives his more or less loyal support to a party which is committed to this increase in the cost of living even if we do not get into the Common Market.

  1. Caernarvon Castle (Son et Lumière) 202 words
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  3. Thaumatomia Notata 170 words
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  7. NIGERIA 448 words
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