HC Deb 10 February 1971 vol 811 cc523-4
41. Mr. Marten

asked the Lord President of the Council what is the minimum time which will elapse between the announcement of terms for joining the Common Market and the taking of a definitive vote in the House of Commons on the proposals.

Mr. Whitelaw

If the negotiations succeed and Parliament is invited to approve the Instrument of Accession, the Government will ensure that adequate time is allowed for consideration and discussion of the terms of the agreement.

Mr. Marten

I apologise for the slightly hypothetical nature of the Question. Would my right hon. Friend agree that we shall want about three months for discussion in the country and at least six weeks for probing in the House before we have a vote on this issue, if it should ever arise?

Mr. Whitelaw

At this stage, I could not state the exact period of time which may be required. It would, clearly, depend on many factors, but, of course, I will note what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Would my right hon. Friend arrange for the vote to be taken on a day when my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) is detained in his constituency?

Mr. Whitelaw

It would certainly not be proper for me to enter into any such matters.