HC Deb 28 June 1971 vol 820 cc2-6
1. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of Wales whether, in any inquiries made to him about investment projects in Wales, British membership of the Common Market has been mentioned as a factor favouring or discouraging the decision to invest.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Thomas)

I have had no specific comments made to me on these lines, but I am confident that investment will be generally encouraged by the increased opportunities that membership of the E.E.C. would present, and that Welsh industry will seize these opportunities to the full.

Sir A. Meyer

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that a major American firm in my constituency has declared that if Britain enters the Common Market it will embark on a substantial programme of expansion within the constituency, which will produce many more jobs?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I was not aware of that, but I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing it to my attention. In my view, there is no doubt that a greatly enlarged and faster growing home market will attract a higher level of investment in British industry and that Wales will benefit.

Mr. Alec Jones

Will the Secretary of State indicate whether, in his opinion, the industrial development certificate policy, which has been of such benefit to Wales, in past years, will be permitted under the Treaty of Rome?

Mr. Peter Thomas

Yes. I understand that the Treaty of Rome in no way precludes the use of the industrial development certificate.

3. Mr. Gwynoro Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with representative bodies in Wales about the proposed entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan) on 3rd May.—[Vol. 816, c. 249.]

Mr. Jones

The right hon. Gentleman has made no attempt whatever to gather the opinion of the people of Wales on whether Britain should enter the Common Market, nor has his Department made any assessment in a White Paper. There has been only a brief Western Mail article last week giving the impression that Wales would benefit——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Is this a Question?

Mr. Jones

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that no attempt has been made to give any breakdown of the effect on Wales of entry into the Common Market, and that his reply to the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Myer) indicates that no attempt has been made?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I am aware of and take into account the views expressed by various bodies from time to time in Wales, and in that respect I follow the example of my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas).

16. Mr. Jeffrey Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Wales on what dates officials of the Welsh Office have visited Brussels; and what are the names of the members of the Commission, of the Council of Ministers, and of the officials of the European Economic Community with whom they held discussions.

26. Mr. McBride

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will now give the status of the Welsh Office officials who visited the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels.

Mr. Peter Thomas

The then Permanent Secretary, the then Under-Secretary in charge of the Planning Group, who is now the Permanent Secretary, and the Senior Economic Adviser visited Brussels between 18th and 20th April, 1971. They met the member of the Commission with special responsibility for regional policies and a number of E.E.C. officials concerned with this and other subjects of interest to Wales.

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas

What assurances were sought by the Welsh Office officials during their visit? What undertaking or assurances were given about regional policies? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman order his officials to prepare and publish a report at the earliest moment?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The discussions that my officials had brought out clearly the importance which the members of the Community attach to issues of regional policy and a lively awareness on the part of the Commission of particular problems that are found in peripheral areas of Britain, including Wales. My officials certainly came to the conclusion that our regional policies are compatible with membership. No report can be issued in detail because their discussions were, obviously, confidential.

Mr. McBride

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has implied that he knows all the answers, will he tell us under what conditions we will enter the European Investment Bank? Realising that Wales must have a continuing high inflow of financial investment, how does he think Wales will fare under this new banking scheme? May we have a clear answer in percentages and figures? Was it not derogatory to the Principality that he was not in Brussels as a negotiator?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The Question relates to the status of the officials who visited the headquarters of the European Commission. The hon. Gentleman's supplementary question should be directed to my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Mr. George Thomas

As we approach the time when we must decide whether or not to enter the Common Market, is it not right that the people of Wales should be given the maximum possible information about the consequences for Wales of our entry? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman provide a White Paper on those consequences and include in it the details of the discussions that took place at Brussels?

Mr. Peter Thomas

When the right hon. Gentleman occupied my position he accepted that it was impossible to have an analysis of particular parts of the United Kingdom and that the issue must be looked at in terms of the United Kingdom as a whole. He was a member of a Government which decided to negotiate to get into the Community on the right terms. We have carried on those negotiations and the terms have recently been agreed. At no time when the right hon. Gentleman was in my position did he suggest that there should be a White Paper setting out the position for Wales.

Mr. George Thomas

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that now that we have reached the crunch in this matter Wales has a right to the maximum information and that if I were in his position I would not hesitate to let the Welsh people know the facts?

Mr. Peter Thomas

Certainly Wales has a right to the maximum information, and it will be given to Wales. In fact, the information is available now. It has been printed and the document is obtainable today in every post office in Wales.

19. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Trade Union Movement in Wales concerning Great Britain's application to join the European Economic Community.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the answef I gave him on 24th May.—[Vol. 818, c. 4.]

Mr. Hughes

Is the Secretary of State for Wales aware that the three principal trade unions in Wales—the Transport and General Workers' Union, the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers and the South Wales miners—have all declared that they are against entry? Will he further bear in mind that it is those members and the families of those members who will have to pay the cost? If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is so convinced of this venture why does he not urge the holding of a General Election in order to give people a chance to decide their own destiny?

Mr. Peter Thomas

All I know is that the previous Administration, which the hon. Gentleman supported, certainly held the same view as this Government, that it would be in the interests of the United Kingdom and also of Wales, if appropriate terms could be negotiated, for Britain to join the European Economic Community. I shall certainly be very pleased to receive representations from the trade union movement in Wales, but so far it has not got in touch with me.

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