HC Deb 20 May 1975 vol 892 cc1196-7
5. Mr. Arnold

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment his Department has made of the consequences of British withdrawal from the European Community in the areas of his responsibility.

Mr. Foot

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) on 15th May 1975.—[Vol. 892, c. 166.]

Mr. Arnold

I accept that this is a complicated matter. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to comment on the recent ORC poll, which appeared to indicate that well over half the firms interviewed were prepared to state categorically that they expected to employ fewer people if Britain left the European Community?

Mr. Foot

I am always a bit cautious about polls. I am even cautious about polls taken among business men, and particularly about prophecies by business men who may have made prophecies a few years ago that have not been fulfilled.

Dr. Bray

Whether we stay in the EEC or leave it, will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the constructive agreement reached yesterday between the British Steel Corporation and the Trades Union Congress Steel Co-ordinating Committee, which will reassure many steelworkers in his constituency and mine about their immediate future?

Mr. Foot

I naturally very much welcome the agreement reached yesterday. We were urging that there should be discussions between the British Steel Corporation and the trade unions, and I am very glad that they have gone so far to reach an agreement.