HC Deb 24 February 1972 vol 831 cc1491-3
Q4. Mr. Duffy

asked the Prime Minister what steps he intends to take to ensure that all Ministers are prepared for Great Britain's proposed rôle in Europe.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. and hon. Friends are fully aware of the implications of entry into Europe for the policies of their Departments, and are developing contacts with their opposite numbers in the Governments of the Six and of the acceding countries, as well as in the institutions of the Community.

Mr. Duffy

Would the Prime Minister accept that the most crucial factor may yet turn on the readiness and adaptability that we all display in exploiting the opportunities that entry brings about? Will he assure the House that all Ministers will be alive both to the opportunities as well as the responsibilities within the addiitional dimension of departmental conspectus that entry will provide, and that he will continue to discourage them from either relying on his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster or on any other link services that may have to be devised as an interim measure?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I agree wholeheartedly with what the hon Gentleman has said. It is absolutely right that Government should give a lead in this way and not just accept entry and expect that industry and the services should adapt themselves rapidly while the Government do not do so. On the last part of the question, this is one of the reasons why I have explained in the past to the German Chancellor as well as to the President of France that I did not favour a European Minister as such who would have wide-ranging responsibilities. I prefer a system under which departmental Ministers themselves are in touch with their colleagues in the Community and with the Community institutions at Brussels about their own affairs.

Sir F. Bennett

In view of the Leader of the Opposition's ardent advocacy of our entry in the past, would my right hon. Friend consider, when it comes to employment, whether we could not find some useful rôle for him in that context?

The Prime Minister

I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will keep in touch with the Community.