HC Deb 30 April 1975 vol 891 cc463-4
23. Mr. Dennis Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from underdeveloped countries about the possible effect on them of the Common Market renegotiations.

Mr. Hattersley

None, Sir. However, my hon. Friend will have noted public statements by representatives of many developing countries welcoming particular aspects of the renegotiation package.

Mr. Canavan

Does my right hon. Friend consider it unworthy of the Marketeers to boast about the Common Market aid schemes to under-developed countries? If we take a close look at that scheme and go through the list of countries which receive preferential treatment and the associated countries, we find that there is no mention of three of the poorest countries in the Commonwealth—India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Mr. Hattersley

I hope that my hon. Friend was in the House when I answered a Question a moment ago. I said that as well as the extraordinary benefits available through the Lomé Convention, agreements of one sort or another had been negotiated and were being negotiated with the countries of Asia. I have no doubt that that process will continue, and more successfully, if Britain remains in the Community.

Mr. John Davies

Will the Minister also extend what he says to cover the field of the generalised preference schemes? Although we have been of considerable help in generating better generalised preference schemes in Europe, there is no doubt that alone we would not by any means be able to offer to those same countries the facilities offered by the Community.

Mr. Hattersley

Not only do I share the views of the right hon. Gentleman: I believe that a Select Committee of the House of Commons said that the most important sort of aid and assistance to developing countries was free access to developing markets. The general preference schemes offer that benefit to the Asian Commonwealth countries as well as those countries involved in the Lomé Convention. That is a considerable boon