HC Deb 20 January 1970 vol 794 cc249-53
Q2. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now invite the Dutch and French Prime Ministers to visit him to discuss matters of mutual interest.

Q4. Mr. Winnick

asked the Prime Minister what further talks he is having with the heads of the European Economic Community Governments regarding Great Britain's application to join the Community.

Q5. Sir G. de Freitas

asked the Prime Minister when he now expects to discuss European affairs with the Prime Minister of France.

The Prime Minister

It was announced from 10 Downing Street on 2nd January that the Federal German Chancellor would he visiting this country on 3rd and 4th March.

There are no firm plans at present for meetings with other Heads of Government of the Six.

Mr. Marten

In the meantime and in view of the remarks of the Dutch and the French Foreign Ministers on the question of supranationality, can the Prime Minister reaffirm to Parliament what he said in this House on 6th February, that we do not support any federal or supranational structure in our relations with Europe? Would he clarify this point once and for all?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that it needs clarification. On the question of federation, which is not contained within the Treaty of Rome and about which there is no obligation so far as the Treaty is concerned, I had something to say about this in a broadcast last week, a copy of which is in the Library. I hope that I was quite clear about that and reaffirmed what I have said in the past.

Mr. Winnick

Is my right hon. Friend confident that negotiations will actually start by July on our application to join the Community? Can he now give any indication to the House when the estimate of costs of joining, and perhaps not joining, will be laid before the House?

The Prime Minister

I have no reason at all to doubt the decision of the Common Market Ministers at their meeting in Brussels, following the meeting at the Hague, which laid down the timetable; namely, the first half of this year. I have heard nothing to suggest that their thinking is in any way at variance there. With regard to the White Paper, I hope that this will be available to the House pretty early in February. As I have explained to the House, there has been one problem on top of all the others, and that is that certain decisions were taken in Brussels, and we have had to take account of those decisions in making calculations. I can also tell my hon. Friend, who referred to the calculations on the cost of not joining, that they will not be in the White Paper. That is even more difficult to quantify.

Sir G. de Freitas

When there are discussions with the French Prime Minister, will my right hon. Friend encourage more Anglo-French technological collaboration and do so expressly as a foundation for wider industrial collaboration between the Six and the four applicant countries?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the French Foreign Minister is visiting London this week and that my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and I will be having talks with him. We have made it clear to the French that we are only too anxious, as I know they are, to strengthen and improve Anglo-French relations, which have been at a pretty low ebb for a period of years, following particularly the two vetoes in 1963 and 1967. We are certainly anxious, as I made known to General de Gaulle on all occasions that I met him, to cooperate in technological projects, particularly those between our business firms, from which I think both sides would gain a great deal of mutual advantage.

Mrs. Ewing

Would the Prime Minister be very frank in his discussion with the Federal Chancellor and tell him of the opposition of the Scottish Nationalist Party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—which is the largest party in Scotland, to the application in its present form in which Scotland will have no voice, no votes, no seat at the table and no one specifically bargaining for Scotland?

The Prime Minister

I think that the French Foreign Minister will be as well aware of the history of the old alliance as the hon. Lady, and will know that it finally passed out in the sixteenth centtury. He will also, unlike the hon. Lady, be aware of the advantages to Scotland, as well as to the rest of the United Kingdom—

Mrs. Ewing

What are they?

The Prime Minister

—and all of Europe, including France, of the trade and employment facilities which will result from a larger grouping in Europe.

Mr. Shinwell

Is my right hon. Friend aware that ever since the E.E.C. was initiated, the members have been doing nothing more than squabbling among themselves, on agriculture and financial policy and the like? Have we not got enough trouble on our plate without associating with these quarrelsome people?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that right hon and hon. Members in all parts of the House will have a full contribution to make in any further squabbling that may be necessary. That is the essence of parliamentary institutions and intergovernmental organisations. If the squabbles lead to the right answer, there is a lot to be said for them. It is far better than any dictatorship methods. My right hon. Friend will also be aware that during this period in which there has been very intense argument within E.E.C., which is still continuing, there has also been a very big increase in production, internal trade within E.E.C. and the standard of living within the Community. We have to learn the lessons from that.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

In his original reply to my hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred to his broadcast, a copy of which was in the Library of the House. Is he aware that Foreign Office Ministers are refusing to place in the Library of the House transcripts of the speeches made by them in foreign capitals, thereby increasing the widely held suspicion that the Government are speaking with two voices on the matter of federation—one for home consumption and one for foreign consumption?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that all of my right hon. Friends are very happy, as I am, to place in the Library of the House any statements that have been made in public and on the record. It the right hon. and learned Gentleman has any such cases in mind where they have not been made available when they have been on the record and in public, would be happy to go into them myself. He would not, however, expect from this Government, any more than from the Government of which he was a member, that they should place in the Library or put on record things which are said confidentially in intergovernmental organisations, whatever accounts may have appeared in the Press, correct or incorrect, of such confidential statements.