HC Deb 31 March 1976 vol 908 cc1298-300
28. Mr. Crawford

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet his EEC colleagues.

30. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next intends to meet his EEC colleagues.

31. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to meet other EEC Ministers.

Mr. James Callaghan

At the meeting of the European Council tomorrow.

Mr. Crawford

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell his EEC colleagues that after Scottish self-government they will be able to welcome one strong currency from the British Isles—namely, the Scottish pound, which will be the backbone of EEC currencies and at the same time will assist Scottish farmers in respect of the green pound?

Mr. Callaghan

I note the call for independence constantly repeated by the SNP. I have no doubt that it will be rejected by the people of Scotland in due course.

Mr. Dalyell

If the Foreign Secretary speaks to Helmut Schmidt, will he remind him of the interests of 17 million people of Bavaria, which was a kingdom 120 years after Scotland, or of 12 million people of Piedmont, also a kingdom long after Scotland became one?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, Sir, I shall be happy to have a word with him on all these matters. But it does not disguise the basic truth—a truth which I hope even members of the SNP may see—that the influence of the United Kingdom in the Community and our economic strength are greater in an integrated United Kingdom than in separate communities. I hope that the SNP will not go on misleading its supporters on this matter.

Mr. Marten

As our partners in the Common Market have come out firmly in favour of majority rule in Southern Africa and Rhodesia—which I am sure will please my hon. Friends below the Gangway—will they be helping us as partners with aid to Mozambique and also with any aid that might be given, as mentioned by the Minister of State, to people in Rhodesia?

Mr. Callaghan

I think that that is a valuable suggestion which follows up something I raised when I made the original statement. We are now contributing aid to Mozambique through the Commonwealth as well as through the United Nations, and it would be appropriate if the Community were to do the same. I would not hesitate to accept such support, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman would also accept it.

Mr. Roberts

Will my right hon. Friend reconsider the Pyrrhic victory achieved by the Minister of Agriculture at the recent EEC meeting on prices? In whatever capacity he makes the decision, will he ensure that in future the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection, or her representative, is also present?

Mr. Callaghan

The Question asks when I shall meet my colleagues, not when the Minister of Agriculture will do so. Questions on that matter have already been asked. None of us feels that CAP is a totally perfect instrument. I have no doubt in the light of what is happening in the snake at present and before next year's price review that there will have to be some serious discussion among member States.

Mr. Hoyle

Will my right hon, Friend, in his amiable way, tell his EEC colleagues that the people of this country feel disillusioned about the Common Market and are still awaiting the benefits promised them during the referendum campaign?

Mr. Callaghan

I am not always amiable, but it depends—[HON. MEMBERS: "On if you win."] I have a feeling that I cannot change a single vote whatever I say; but I keep trying.

The benefits that the United Kingdom gets from the EEC in financial terms are much greater than were foreseen at the time we entered, because of the change in monetary rates and agricultural policy, but that is adventitious and will not persist for ever. But as regard political policy and co-ordination of foreign policy, I have no doubt that our voice is stronger when we speak with the assent of other Community members—as, for example, on such questions as Southern Africa—than when we speak on our own.