HC Deb 06 July 1971 vol 820 cc1123-4
Q3. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister whether he now proposes to have a joint meeting with the Prime Ministers of Norway, Denmark and Eire about joining the Common Market.

The Prime Minister

There are frequent consultations, at both Ministerial and official level, between the United Kingdom and the other applicants for membership of the European Economic Community: but there are no plans for a meeting of the kind proposed by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Marten

As all three countries are to hold a referendum, could the Prime Minister possibly consider consulting the Norwegian Government which are to hold a consultative referendum not binding upon the Parliament and having nothing to do with the Norwegian constitution at all? Is he aware that if we had such a consultative referendum and a free vote in this House I think the public would be far happier about the whole thing and that it would take a lot of the party politics out of this very important national issue?

The Prime Minister

Each of these three countries takes its own decision as to parliamentary and other processes, and has done so, and respects the right of this Parliament to take its own decision.

Mr. Maclennan

In view of the development in Brussels which suggests that Norway may receive a special deal for fisheries, why does not the Prime Minister initiate joint talks with the Norwegian Government and the other applicant States to ensure that we get at least as good a deal on fisheries as they?

The Prime Minister

There have been discussions on this between the three Governments, and each Government have had consultations with the Commission and the Council of Ministers about it. One of the problems over fisheries is that the circumstances of the four countries are different and the existing laws of the four countries are different. I would not accept the hon. Member's conclusion which he has drawn from certain reports in the Press. This matter is due to be discussed further on 12th July.

Mr. Longden

If he should have such a meeting, will my right hon. Friend warn these Prime Ministers that, according to an anti-Marketeer on the other side of the House, one dread result of our entering the Common Market would be that we would have to eradicate from our hedgerows the male hop lest lightly, inadvisedly and wantonly he should impregnate the female hop and so encourage the continued production of British beer, which is said to be anathema to the anti-British bureaucrats in Brussels?

The Prime Minister

It may be the intention of some hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I cannot see that one hop would be very much good without the other.