HC Deb 10 December 1970 vol 808 cc689-706
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and with that of the House, I should like to make a statement on the progress of the negotiations for British membership of the European Communities made at the Ministerial meeting of the conference which I attended in Brussels on 8th December.

At this meeting agreement was reached that the alternatives listed in the Declaration of Intent made by the Community in 1963 would be open to certain African countries, namely Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. I remind the House that these alternatives comprise association under the Yaounde Convention; other association agreements with mutual rights and obligations, particularly in matters of trade; or commercial agreements to facilitate and expand trade between the Community and these countries.

The Community said that it could only state its position with regard to other Commonwealth developing countries in the Indian Ocean and Pacific, and the Caribbean, for which we proposed that the same options be available, in the light of discussions taking place with respect to the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.

The conference also discussed further the basis of Gibraltar's customs arrangements with the Community following the agreement already reached—and reported to the House on the 29th October—that the provisions of the Treaty of Rome would apply to Gibraltar under Article 227 (4). It has been accepted that as Gibraltar is not a part of the United Kingdom's customs territory there would be no reason to include Gibraltar in the customs territory of the enlarged Community.

I again expressed the hope that the Community would shortly be able to make known its views on the arrangements to be made for Hong Kong.

The principles of the United Kingdom admission to the European Investment Bank were agreed.

In the course of a statement I made dealing with the question of transitional measures, I proposed on behalf of Her Majesty's Government a transitional period of five years for adaptation in both the industrial and agricultural fields and for adaptation to the Community's rules regarding capital movements and fiscal harmonisation. I stressed that, in putting this proposal forward, we thought it essential that, within the common period of five years in the four fields, effective provision should be made for arriving at a mutual balance of advantage between the United Kingdom and the existing Community.

In the industrial field, we thought this could be done if we could provide for a suitable accelerated rhythm for tariff rates and adaptations. For agriculture and horticulture, we should require that the adaptations be made with reasonable flexibility over five full years.

I said that the five-year period should not, in our view, apply in the cases of Community finance, New Zealand butter and cheese and sugar from developing Commonwealth countries, nor to the European Coal and Steel Community and Euratom.

The Community noted our proposals upon industry and agriculture with satisfaction and said that they would examine our suggestions on capital movements and fiscal harmonisation in a positive spirit. Deputies were instructed to pursue the discussion of all these questions in preparation for the next Ministerial meeting.

The Community said that it would establish its position on all of these questions within a global framework. This is naturally our own position. The agreements reached hitherto must all be regarded as provisional pending the outcome of the negotiations as a whole.

At the meeting I also outlined certain considerations which we believe the Community should take into account in dealing with the question of the British contribution to Community finance. I pointed out that the United Kingdom would be likely to enjoy only relatively small receipts as a result of Community expenditure in its present form. I recalled also that the existing members of the Community had had an extended transitional period in which to move to the agreed Community system of financing, and that correctives had been provided for governing member countries' contributions during a period of years after the final stage of Community direct income had been started. I noted that the Commission had stated in its observations on our estimates of the effect of Community financing upon the United Kingdom that, should unacceptable situations arise within the present Community or an enlarged Community, the very survival of the Community would demand that the institutions find equitable solutions.

I said that we would be making detailed proposals in this field as soon as possible.

Finally it was agreed that Ministerial meetings should take place next year on 2nd February, 16th March, 11th May and 22nd June, and that the timetable of meetings could be speeded up if necessary.

Mr. Harold Lever

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the House will be disappointed at having so little information about the crucial question of the financial contributions, particularly having regard to the fact that the Commissioners reported and enlarged upon this subject some three weeks ago? When does he expect to be able to give the House this most crucial information?

Is the right hon. and Learned Gentleman also aware that any of our comments or questioning, approving or otherwise, is without prejudice to our right to judge the package as a whole if and when it emerges? With that proviso, will he tell us if he has been able to secure any special treatment for horticulture and hill farms within the agricultural context? Did he consult the N.F.U. before accepting the five-year period? Does that meet with its approval?

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the stand he is taking on behalf of the Commonwealth sugar producers and New Zealand. Will he make the other negotiating parties aware of what is not immediately obvious as a point of the highest importance from the political standpoint for historical and other reasons, but which is regarded in this country as a matter of the utmost importance—the protection of New Zealand and Commonwealth sugar interests?

Mr. Rippon

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his comments. I can give him the assurance he asks for in the final question he asked. I do not think that there is any need for dispute on the subject in our proposals in regard to Community finance. As I said, I will be making these as soon as possible. The Community understands the position. Its document was an important one but technically it has not yet been delivered to us. In the last statement I made to the House, I requested the Community to reserve its position until it had heard our detailed case. This is a crucial matter and I am sure that we shall approach it in that light.

I referred specifically to horticulture in my statement. I have been very much concerned about it, as has my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. We are concerned that there should be full flexibility within the full five years for which I have asked. Of course, particular regard must be paid to horticulture. We have also reserved from the beginning the position of the hill farmers—and I have a personal interest in this. We will be going into that in detail in relation to Community finance and fiscal measures. There is also the question of the contribution we receive from Community funds in relation to matters of that kind. My right hon. Friend has been in close touch with the National Fanners' Union throughout these negotiations.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on the extremely wise and constructive statement he made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government on Tuesday. But in his contacts with member Governments and the Commission in weeks ahead, would he remind them that we are all engaged in an enterprise of common interest to all the countries of Western Europe and that perhaps a more forthcoming attitude on their part than they seem able to have adopted to date would not come amiss?

Mr. Rippon

I appreciate what ray hon. Friend has said. This is certainly the spirit in which the United Kingdom Government have entered the negotiations. I am bound to say that I have so far found the Community doing reasonably well in the circumstances.

Mr. Peart

The Chancellor of the Duchy has said that the Community noted our proposals for agriculture with satisfaction. In view of the fact that he is reported as saying in Brussels on Tuesday that the Community's farmers would gain extensive new markets, I ask him whether they give any indication at whose expense—our home producers or our traditional suppliers?

Mr. Rippon

There will be a change in agricultural trade, and everybody understands that. The significance of the phrase "the Community noted our proposals with satisfaction" is that they were entirely new proposals. It would not have been wholly unreasonable for the Community Ministers to ask for time to consider them. In fact, they have technically reserved their position. But insofar as they have publicly declared that they received them with satisfaction, that is a useful step forward.

They have also agreed that deputations should at once start considering how we move up the transitional period, because this matter is of great importance to us.

Mr. W. H. K. Baker

My right hon. and learned Friend said in his statement that there is to be a five-year transitional period for agriculture. As under the terms of the E.E.C. policy fishing is covered by the common agricultural guidance and guarantee fund, can he, firstly, say whether the five-year period for agriculture will cover fishing? Secondly, would he bear in mind that it was a Conservative Government which imposed the 12-mile limit, which was of immense value to our inshore fishermen, and that our inshore fishermen are confident in the hope that the 12-mile limit will be retained; otherwise they will be up the spout?

Mr. Rippon

The details of what happens within the transitional period are a matter for further negotiation. As far as the fisheries are concerned, as I have told the House on several occasions, we have entirely reserved our position on that matter.

Mr. John Mendelson

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman not accept, given the fact that the mandate to negotiate was given in the last Parliament and when the House last debated the matter there were wide differences of opinion as to the financial contribution, the transitional period, and all the matters he has now reported upon, that in view of the fact that the Werner Committee's proposals are more far-reaching than anything which is subject to current and immediate negotiations, there is now an urgent need for debate? I deliberately put this to the right hon. and learned Gentleman as a political question, and not to the Leader of the House. There is an urgent need for debate so that this Parliament, for the first time, should be able to represent the views of constituents and give their own opinions at a stage when there is a great deal of information available for judgment and not to wait until the very end, when the only thing one can say is "yes" or "no", without any intermediate judgments.

Mr. Rippon

I am sure that there must be a debate at the appropriate time and that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will have taken note of that. In conducting the negotiations, we have all along been proceeding on the basis initiated by the previous Administration.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on his personal success in Brussels. Is he aware that his flexible approach to the Community, making reasonable concessions and at the same time seeking to safeguard essential British interests, will commend itself to everyone in the House who wants a strong and united Europe?

Mr. Rippon

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. It is important in these negotiations that we bear in mind that we are having discussions and there has not been much question of concessions as such on either side. We have deliberated on these matters and we are trying to reach solutions which preserve the mutual advantage of existing members of the Community and new applicants.

Mr. Jay

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman make clear whether he has now accepted not merely the whole of the Rome Treaty but the whole of the common agricultural policy, the Commission's proposals for the transitional period, but, in addition, has abandoned the claim for a maximum limit on Britain's financial contribution to the Community funds?

Mr. Rippon

None of those questions raises any new issues. We have proceeded on entirely the same basis as the previous Government, which implied accepting the provisions of the Treaty of Rome and the general arrangements which the Community has made. We have abandoned nothing of our negotiating position.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

Will my right hon. and learned Friend now answer the question put to him by the right hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart)? If there is more scope for agriculture among the E.E.C. countries in this country, at whose expense is it? Is it at the expense of our farmers or our friends in the Commonwealth?

Mr. Rippon

I think the position of third-country suppliers will be affected over a long period, but one of the results as far as our own farming community is concerned of successful negotiations would be that British home food production would tend to increase.

Mr. Russell Johnston

The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Commission had emphasised that should unacceptable circumstances arise within the present or an enlarged Community its survival would demand equitable solutions. Is it not worth re-emphasising that the Government are not prepared to surrender sovereignty but rather to devise ways by which sovereignty can be productively shared to the benefit of all participants?

Mr. Rippon

That is correct.

Mr. Marten

Why does my right hon. and learned Friend not clearly answer the question from the right hon. Gentleman? When he says that five years was not enough for New Zealand and the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, what period does he think is enough? He must have some idea. Can he tell the House what it is. Also, what are the safeguards he is asking for to ensure that we do not have an intolerable strain on our balance of payments even after eight years?

Mr. Rippon

Regarding New Zealand, we have asked for something in the nature of continuing arrangements subject to review—for nobody's arrangements are absolutely permanent—but we have not specified any period of years. On our contribution to Community finance, perhaps my hon. Friend ought to await the proposals which we shall be putting forward as soon as possible.

Mr. J. T. Price

The right hon. and learned Gentleman made a passing reference, in a few words, to our relationships with Hong Kong. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman make it clear to his opposite numbers in Brussels that we in this country have been at the receiving end for far too long of the cheap imports from Hong Kong, particularly textiles? Two-thirds of our textile industry has been destroyed by unfair competition from Hong Kong and other Eastern countries, and 40 per cent. of our home market is occupied by the exports of that part of the world to this country. Will he make it clear on a suitable occasion when this matter is being ventilated, as it is bound to be, that whilst we have been on the receiving end of these vast imports of cheaply-produced goods, to the destruction of our industry, the Six have been taking only about 5 per cent., against the 45 per cent, absorbed by Britain? When may we have some equity in this matter if we are expected to be partners and not merely slaves?

Mr. Rippon

I regard that as a singularly unhelpful intervention. It shows that the hon. Gentleman is not aware of the problems of Hong Kong. What we are concerned with in these negotiations is to protect the people of Hong Kong, who have a volatile political situation with which to contend. We have asked our colleagues in the Community to keep in mind the needs of Hong Kong in regard to the generalised preference scheme and to ensure that there is no discriminsation against Hong Kong vis-à-vis for example, South Korea or Taiwan.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

May I press the right hon. and learned Gentleman a little further on this fisheries question? Are we to take it that the reason why it has not been included in the five-year period so far is that it has not been discussed? If not, why not?

Mr. Rippon

We have to agree broad terms. The Community has gone as far as it can to indicate the likelihood of agreement on the periods and agrees that we should work on that basis. We then have to determine what happens in the transitional period, and that applies across the board. As for the fishery regulation which rightly worried hon. Members on both sides of the House, we have said that it was introduced at an unfortunate moment. It only applies as of now to the Community itself. We have reserved our position on that, and I am satisfied that we shall have to raise the matter again in some detail.

Mr. Prentice

Apart from New Zealand dairy produce and Commonwealth sugar, is not the right hon. Gentleman negotiating about any other aspect of Commonwealth trade at all? At the end of the five-year period, apart from those Commonwealth countries which become associated with the Community, will other aspects of Commonwealth trade become subject to the common external tariff?

Mr. Rippon

We have been negotiating about the Commonwealth trading position as a whole. As regards the developed Commonwealth countries, with the exception of New Zealand and its special position, adequate arrangements can be made within the transitional periods that we are negotiating. That is a matter of timing. I have indicated already that our dependent territories have been offered association under Part IV, subject to the discussions about Hong Kong. I have indicated the Community's agreement about independent developing countries in Africa. We still have to deal with Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland which, technically have a customs union with South Africa. We also have to deal with the problems of independent developing countries in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and the Caribbean. The Associated States in the Caribbean have already been offered association under Part IV. In one way or another, we are looking after the interests of all the Commonwealth in detail. We shall also be discussing, as we go along, the position of the Asian members of the Commonwealth.

Sir A. Meyer

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that the proposals for monetary union envisaged in the Werner Report, which are always brandished by the right hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Shore) and the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) offer this country a very hopeful prospect in that our currency could be bolstered by the strong reserves of the Common Market countries?

Mr. Rippon

Like the other members of an enlarged Community, we would have a great interest in these developments. The position of Her Majesty's Government is that which was expressed by the present Leader of the Opposition in the last Parliament. We are prepared to go as far and as fast in this matter as the rest of the Community. It must be understood that, during the period of the negotiations, nothing is likely to happen which in any way prejudices our national interests in these matters.

Mr. Shore

At the end of this inadequate and truncated transitional period of five years, will companies be free to move funds for investment purposes anywhere within the area of the Six, and will private persons be able to acquire shares on their stock exchanges and buy land and houses in the countries of the Six? If so, has the right hon. Gentleman made any effort to quantify the effects of this on the British balance of payments?

Mr. Rippon

We have asked for a five-year transitional period in respect of capital movements. We have to accept the position as it is and may subsequently develop in the Community. No completely accurate estimate could be made of the likely effect, say, in 1978.

Mr. Crouch

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of the growing admiration in the country and in this House for the way in which he has handled these negotiations, in a steady and sound fashion—

Mr. Orme

What negotiations?

Mr. Crouch

But, above all, for the way in which he is prepared to look the facts in the face, accepting the truth both where it appears satisfactory and where it appears to hurt. It is this line of approach which is appreciated most in the country.

Mr. Rippon

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. It must be understood that with the transitional periods that we are proposing—the five-year period in these four respects—there is no reason to suppose that they do not represent a satisfactory arrangement for us. I am grateful to my colleagues in the Community for indicating that they are likely to look on these proposals with favour.

Mr. Sheldon

In the five-year transitional period for industrial articles, is it expected that there will be a straight line reduction of tariffs of, say, 20 per cent, every year for five years? Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the period for the harmonisation of fiscal arrangements also remains at five years?

Mr. Rippon

Given the acceptance of the five-year period for industry, there would be an accelerated reduction of tariffs in the early period. The Commission has proposed the possibility of a 40 per cent, cut in the first year. I think that that would be reasonably satisfactory. As for the five-year period for fiscal harmonisation, I think that that is adequate for any matter that one can foresee arising at the moment.

Mr. McMaster

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say whether, in his discussions in Brussels, he has yet discussed the provisions of the Treaty of Rome which relate to the free movement of labour? If not, when these matters come to be discussed, will he bear in mind the considerable apprehension in Northern Ireland, in view of the rising rate of unemployment in the area, and ask himself whether a five-year period is suitable?

Mr. Rippon

That is certainly a matter that we shall be raising.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that no attempt is being made in the negotiations to bring South Africa into the arrangements for maintaining special Commonwealth preference?

Mr. Rippon

Like all the third country suppliers—Commonwealth countries—South Africa is covered by the transitional arrangements. Therefore, South Africa naturally has an interest in that aspect of the negotiations.

Sir F. Bennett

Will my right hon. and learned Friend say a further word about the state of the fishing negotiations? Is it the position at the moment that negotiations are going on? If they are completed before we gain entry, since we shall not have been a party to them, is there any possibility of their being reopened? Can my right hon. Friend also say a word about the Channel Islands, which is a matter that I have asked him about before?

Mr. Rippon

We appreciate the special position of the Channel Islands. We have not gone into this in detail, but we shall, and I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern.

On the matter of the fisheries regulation, at an early stage I said to the Community that it might make things difficult if the situation were to change in a serious way while we were negotiating, and we have subsequently agreed that we shall have close regard to the way in which policies which we have to apply independently while negotiations are going on are affecting the outcome. We made our comments on the fisheries regulation, and we preserved our position about that entirely.

Mr. Michael Stewart

In view of the many questions that have been asked about Commonwealth aspects, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that there are many hon. Members who want to see this country enter the Community, who understand that this country must accept certain costs and difficulties to set off against the great benefits of entry, but who think that it would be intolerable if we had to enter on terms which were destructive of the welfare of Commonwealth countries to which we are under an immense obligation? Is the Minister satisfied that this is fully understood on the other side of the Channel?

Mr. Rippon

I think that over a period of years the Community has fully understood that when we put the Commonwealth case we are putting it as a matter of honour, duty and obligation to our friends in the Commonwealth, and that we are concerned with their interest and not just with our own narrow, national interests in this regard. If as a result of entering the Community this country is stronger and the enlarged Community is stronger, all will benefit, including the Commonwealth.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Should we not be concerned, not only to shield Commonwealth countries transitionally against the effects of departing from the established principles of Commonwealth preference, but also to retain for Britain and, indeed, for our European partners, the great opportunities that there are in these Commonwealth countries, including the old Commonwealth countries? Is not there a danger that in Australia, where we have a favourable balance of payments trade, Britain and the European countries will lose to the Japanese and Americans? Cannot the Europeans understand this? Can my right hon. and learned Friend not explain this?

Mr. Rippon

I think that they understand it very well. In recent years European trade with the Commonwealth has been increasing quite considerably, and I assume that this will continue. There is no reason why it should be affected by our negotiations. I think that the likelihood of greater Commonwealth trade with Europe will be enhanced as the negotiations are carried to success.

Dr. Gilbert

Reverting to the matter of the free employment of labour, is the Minister proposing to have discussions with the Six about modifying the present provisions of the Treaty of Rome in this respect, or is he prepared to accept them as they stand in toto? If the latter is the case, would not the result of the proposals which we expect from his right hon. Friends be that whereas citizens of the Six will be able to come and go in this country without let or hindrance, all Commonwealth citizens will be treated as aliens?

Mr. Rippon

As I have said, we are to have discussions about the effect of this provision, and I shall be reporting to the House on that aspect of the matter. I do not foresee any insuperable obstacles in this regard.

Mr. Moate

Will my right hon. and learned Friend recognise that there will be widespread disappointment in the horticulture industry over the way in which he has retreated to a five-year transitional period, and that this period is inadequate for this important industry? will he also recognise that the transitional arrangements for both agriculture and the Commonwealth do not satisfy the pledges that have been given over and over again about obtaining full safeguards before we would countenance entry into the Common Market?

Mr. Rippon

I do not accept that. What we put forward as an opening bid, indicating what we thought was a reasonable period of adjustment, was three years for industry, six years for agriculture, and one year for Euratom and for coal and steel. The Community replied, "You want to get all the industrial benefits before you come in fully on the agricultural side." We foresaw that that point of view might be expressed. The suggestion which I put forward for five years and five years is designed to protect the position of agriculture and horticulture, and we feel that it is an adequate period. It is a period which, all being well, and assuming the success of the negotiations, will run from 1st January, 1973, to 1978. Any problems of substance that are likely to be thrown up within certain spheres of agriculture or horticulture will have been met and dealt with in that period.

Mr. McBride

I put it to the Minister that the real reason for the delay in telling us of Britain's financial contribution to the E.E.C. is that, as chief negotiator, he has failed to secure a ceiling for future British financial contributions to the Community budget knowing, as does the country, how seriously detrimental these will be to our balance of payments position.

Mr. Rippon

One cannot talk about failure to secure something when one has not even made a proposal. As I told the House, we intend to make proposals as soon as possible on what I regard as a crucial aspect of these negotiations.

Mr. Eadie

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has been talking about the question of negotiations. Does he agree that he accepted a one-year period for coal and steel—

Mr. Rippon


Mr. Eadie

The right hon. and learned Gentleman informed the House that one year had been accepted. Will he tell us how this magical figure of one year arose? Was it negotiation, or was it capitulation? Does he agree that there is talk of tampering with the structure of the steel industry in this country in order to facilitate our entry into the E.E.C.?

Mr. Rippon

I must put the record straight. That was our proposal, but it has not been accepted. We put it forward for negotiation on the basis that, on the best advice that we had received, one year was sufficient for us to adapt to the rules of the Coal and Steel Community, and Euratom.

Mr. Skeet

As the Community has been dumping agricultural surpluses on world markets, and this is its own surplus, does it understand my right hon. Friend's point when he says that New Zealand must be treated as a special case, or is the Community speaking with a dual voice?

Mr. Rippon

I cannot follow exactly what my hon. Friend is saying. We know that there are problems in certain surpluses. The chances are that in the Community for a period of years up to 1978 some things will go out of surplus and new things will go into it. We have been concerned to express the definite dependence of New Zealand on its exports of dairy products, butter and cheese, and we have put forward proposals accordingly. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman asks about lamb. My right hon. Friend who is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his initial statement, as did Lord George-Brown, as he now is, in 1967, emphasised the importance of New Zealand's lamb exports. Provided that there is no sheep meat regulation which might change the position, in which case we would have to reopen the matter, and as things stand we see no difficulty about New Zealand's exports of meat.

Mr. Barnes

On the important question of equitable solutions being found unacceptable if certain situations develop for any member country, is it not the case that this has been very much the pattern in the Community so far? Is the Minister satisfied that the Community appreciates the importance to Britain of this being reaffirmed in the heads of agreement when they are reached?

Mr. Rippon

I think that the Community understands our point of view. It says that we should not be too worried because all the history of the Community shows that it moves cautiously and pragmatically, that it has always had regard to what any member may regard as a vital interest, and it has acted accordingly.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Can my right hon. and learned Friend tell the House whether, in view of his remarkably rapid success in reaching agreement in principle on transitional periods for agriculture and industry, he has real hopes of accelerated progress in negotiations on other important matters? In particular, can he assure those who look forward to getting the benefits of entry at the first possible opportunity that we may expect some agreement on the vital matter of the financial contribution by the summer of next year?

Mr. Rippon

I certainly hope that that will be the timetable, because in these matters uncertainty is helpful neither to existing members nor to new applicants. I cannot precisely forecast the timetable. We still have some difficult issues to resolve. As I said in my statement, we have fixed meetings for next year up to June, but we have also agreed that we can speed up the meetings if we have accelerated progress. I suggested that we might need extra days in June and in April, but the Chairman of the Community suggested that we might need an extra day in March if things are progressing rapidly. I hope that that will be so.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Further to the point of the extremely persuasive part of the question put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), does the Minister recognise that the problem of our trading relations with the poorer Commonwealth countries is the most sensitive of all problems in these negotiations? Is he aware that many of us regard the future of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement as a matter of honour for us which is non-negotiable in Brussels?

Mr. Rippon

We have explained to the Community that we are absolutely bound by the terms of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement as it now stands. It is due for renegotiation at a certain point. Our concern is that the enlarged Community should have good trading relations with all the developing countries of the world, including Commonwealth countries. We are desperately concerned about trade with the small developing Commonwealth countries and the need to protect it, and the best way that we can protect it is to ensure that we are strong enough, within the enlarged Community, to be able to buy what they have to sell.

Mr. John E. B. Hill

Since the enlarged Community will have a decisive influence upon the pattern of world trade, is it not the case that the Community recognises that the very difficult problems of New Zealand and the Commonwealth Sugar producers—about which we feel so strongly—are as much their problems as ours?

Mr. Rippon

I am happy to say that I believe that to be true. It is very much in line with the speech made by Mr. Mansholt in July of this year. I believe that the enlarged Community would pursue liberal and outward-looking trading policies, especially in relation to developing countries.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept my view that he is doing very well? Will he further realise that for every rumble of the economic Luddites who resent any attempt to put national sovereignty in its right place there are at least three in this House and in the country who believe that national sovereignty is an anachronism, and the sooner it is removed to its reluctant death the better?

Mr. Rippon

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for what he had to say in the first part of his question. We must get national sovereignty in the modern world into its right perspective. I agree that in joining an enlarged Community—as would be the case with any other alliance—we enhance our own sovereignty by pooling with that of others. The French have certainly not lost so much sovereignty as to give them any great cause to be concerned.

Mr. Adley

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the suggestion that all our agricultural produce comes either from the Commonwealth or from the home market ignores the fact that a substantial amount comes from other countries? Does he not also agree that the proposition that the choice is between the Community and the Commonwealth is quite incorrect, and will he take the first opportunity, and every opportunity, to emphasise that a strong Commonwealth probably depends for its future upon our own entry into the European Economic Community?

Mr. Rippon

That is certainly my personal belief. Patterns of world trade are changing all the time, whether we are in or out of the Community. In our negotiations we have had regard—as we must have—to the effect that our entry might have upon traditional suppliers, whether members of the Commonwealth or not.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman now answer a question that I put to him on Monday; namely, do Her Majesty's Government favour or disfavour the Werner Committee's proposals for a federal decision centre? Secondly, does not he think that his recent actions in Europe accord with what was said by a British Prime Minister 20 years ago; namely, "If you can't concede, try, try, try again"?

Mr. Rippon

The hon. Member persists in his misunderstanding of the position about the Werner Report. The first stages present no problems for us. The second stages would arise only when we were members of the Community, when we should have a full opportunity of seeing whether any particular step accorded with our views. We would be taking part in Community decisions. As for the third stage, that may be a valuable long-term objective but it is very far in the future. It involves amendment of the Treaty of Rome, and I do not think that it is relevant to these negotiations.

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot move on. I must protect the business of the House.