HC Deb 27 March 1975 vol 889 cc691-3
5. Mr. Norman Lamont

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government have yet decided their attitude towards the conclusion of the renegotiation of British membership of the EEC.

8. Mrs. Wise

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government are satisfied with the outcome of the EEC negotiations.

9. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister if the Government are satisfied with the outcome of the renegotiation of the EEC entry terms.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Member and my hon. Friends to the statement which I made to the House on 18th March.

Mr. Lamont

I welcome the Government's recommendation. On the question of ministerial responsibility, is there any truth in Press reports that the Government are considering allowing Ministers to speak from the back benches in the debate on the renegotiated terms after Easter?

The Prime Minister

I do not comment on Press reports. Most of those that I have read this week on the subject have proved to be wide of the mark, particularly the prognostications about the comradely meeting yesterday to which reference has already been made. I do not expect the hon. Gentleman to have to face formidable competition from a regiment of Ministers speaking from the back benches if he should seek to catch the eye of the Chair in the debate.

Mrs. Wise

How can my right hon. Friend possibly be satisfied with the renegotiations, considering that they have signally failed to reassert the authority of Parliament, and in view also of the signal failure to reassert control over our own steel industry?

The Prime Minister

I do not agree with my hon. Friend's diagnosis. I did not say in my statement of 18th March that I was completely satisfied. I said that there were certain things that we had hoped for that we had not obtained in the form we had sought, but that we had broadly achieved the purposes of our renegotiations. I also said that in the light of the improvements we had obtained in the renegotiations and certain changes in the Community during the period of the renegotiations, I believed that continued membership was the best thing for Britain, Europe, the Commonwealth and the wider world.

Mrs. Thatcher

I know that the Prime Minister will not comment on Press comments, but will he make an explicit statement about what arrangements he has made for dissenting Ministers in relation to supplementary answers given from the Dispatch Box and any comments they might make to the House?

The Prime Minister

I have already answered a question on this matter and have set out the position. When the right hon. Lady has studied it, I shall be glad to answer any more questions which she may have on the subject. All Ministers speaking from the Dispatch Box will reflect Government policy in this matter.