HC Deb 20 March 1975 vol 888 cc1851-3
Q7. Mr. Marten

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

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so, Sir.

Mr. Marten

Does that mean that the rumour that the Prime Minister will receive the prize for the best European of the year is not true? If he should go to Brussels, will he go to the European Assembly—

Mr. Hastings

It is a long way to go from Brussels.

Mr. Marten

There is no knowing which way the Prime Minister will go. Will he study the resolution at the European Assembly for direct elections to a European Parliament by 1978 and then tell the House and the country before the referendum, as he represents that part of the Labour Party which is in favour of entry into the Community, what the Labour Party thinks about direct elections to the European Parliament?

The Prime Minister

I said "I have at present no plans to do so, Sir "—and if I had I should not like to go to the hon. Gentleman, if he were a travel agent, to book my ticket, because he would probably put me on a Brussels plane, and after travelling a circuitous route I should have to go down by parachute in Strasbourg to attend the European Assembly. Apart from that difficulty, I have no plans to receive any prizes in the matter to which the hon. Gentleman referred. With regard to elections to the Assembly, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave on Tuesday.

Mr. Hooley

If my right hon. Friend goes to Brussels, will he file formal notice that if we stay in the Common Market we may require revision of the Treaty of Rome, which is what appears to have been implied by his statement earlier this week?

The Prime Minister

I do not need to go to Brussels to say that again, because it was made clear in Brussels by my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, in relation to the steel situation, that that is what we may require if we cannot get a satisfactory settlement of these problems on the lines followed by other countries, as I hope we can. I also gave contingent notice in Dublin at the Heads of Government meeting that if we cannot get a satisfactory solution to the New Zealand cheese problem revision may be necessary.

Mrs. Thatcher

May I ask the Prime Minister a question about his new doctrine of ministerial responsibility on European affairs, bearing in mind that it is fundamental to our democratic system that Ministers are responsible to Parliament and that he appears to have given them licence on this occasion to disregard the decisions of Parliament? If Ministers are not responsible to the Prime Minister. by dispensation, nor to the Cabinet, because it is partitioned, nor to Parliament, which they agree is sovereign, to whom are they responsible?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Lady knows perfectly well—[ interruption. ] I hope that the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) got over his operation successfully. The right hon. Lady knows perfectly well that this very special, unique dispensation is available in this very special unique situation, and that Ministers in availing themselves of it are responsible to me. I shall be watching the situation carefully. Ministers are, as always, responsible to Parliament, as the right hon. Lady knows perfectly well. What we shall not have is a situation where Ministers sit there tacitly accepting everything the Government decide and then dissociate themselves from their former Prime Minister when they are no longer in government.

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