HC Deb 29 July 1975 vol 896 cc1494-5
Q2. Mr. Ridley

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to pay an official visit to Brussels.

Mr. Edward Short

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so, Sir.

Mr. Ridley

In view of the Labour Party's quite understandable feeling that the Common Market Commission is bureaucracy which has not been subject to full democratic control, will the Leader of the House assure us that when his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister next goes to Brussels he will make an unequivocal declaration of support for arranging direct elections to the European Parliament?

Mr. Short

As my right hon. Friend has said, this is a matter which we are studying at present. An official study is being carried out on this matter.

Mr. Cryer

Will the Leader of the House explain why, after the referendum and the decision that has been made about the Common Market, unemployment in this country is rising and investment is stagnant? Will he assure the House that representations are being made to the Common Market countries to reflate and to use this new-found unity to assist this country instead of working against it?

Mr. Short

I do not accept the statement in the latter part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. Unemployment has risen in this country for two reasons, first because there is a considerable world depression and secondly because of the rate of inflation in this country. Those two factors have caused considerable uncertainty which has resulted in unemployment. The best contribution we can make to reducing unemployment is to tackle inflation. If we can do that and make a success of our policy, the prospects of employment for next year will be very good.

Mr. Jopling

Will the Leader of the House encourage his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to go to Brussels soon, and before he goes to consult the leaders of the farming industry so that they can explain to him the total inadequacy, from the point of view of both the producer and the consumer, of the deal which the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food made in Brussels last week, which will not stem the decline in food production in this country but will cost us a considerable amount in terms of the balance of payments over the next few months?

Mr. Short

No, Sir, The deal announced by my right hon. Friend increases the support to the farmers by 5 per cent., and that is a great deal of money. It increases the support to, for example, milk producers by£50 million.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the vast amount of public expenditure involved in the retraining of examiners and redundant steel workers in this country is financed directly from Brussels?

Mr. Short

Brussels makes a considerable contribution but it does not finance this entirely.

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