HC Deb 16 November 1971 vol 826 cc208-9
Q3. Mr. Spearing

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on arrangements for entering the European Economic Community; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. The Minister and his officials are closely concerned with all issues arising from entry which relate to agriculture, fisheries and food.

Mr. Spearing

In view of the difficulties which his colleagues are finding over fisheries and the fact that the Prime Minister is dedicated to honest and open government, would he not think it right to postpone signing the Treaty until the full social and economic implications are known and can be debated in the House?

The Prime Minister

All the issues have been fully debated in this House in 10 days of debate. As for the fisheries regulations, when my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy reported to the House on his most recent negotiations with the Six, he said that meetings of officials had been agreed upon. The first was held yesterday. There is to be a special meeting of Ministers on 29th November and there will be a further meeting of Ministers, if necessary, early in December.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are hundreds of orders, edicts and regulations, of which one cannot get copies, affecting both these Departments?

Mr. Lipton

There are thousands.

Mr. Lewis

My hon. Friend is right: there are thousands. We cannot get them from the Library and we cannot get any authenticated translation. No matter how one tries to raise this in the House, one is blocked from doing so. Does the right hon. Gentleman not believe that it is up to him to see that hon. Members are able to get these orders, which we are entitled to know about if we are to form a judgment on this question? Would the Prime Minister not put himself out to get us the orders which we ought to have?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has just succeeded in raising the question in the House. As for the translations, both Administrations have done their best to ensure that the Treaty and other regulations were placed in the Vote Office in English. It is not possible for there to be an authorised translation from the Community so long as its membership is six and English is not one of the authorised languages. But, meantime, the regulations are being translated into English.