HC Deb 25 January 1978 vol 942 cc1380-2
52. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when last he met the President of the EEC Commission.

53. Mr. Crawford

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

58. Mr. Madden

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

Mr. Judd

The President of the Commission and my right hon. Friend attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 17th January and my right hon. Friend expects that they will both be at the Foreign Affairs Council on 7th February.

Mr. Renton

What support does the President of the Commission now have from the Government in his restating the objective of economic and monetary union within the Community? Do the Government now think this a realistic objective in the long term?

Mr. Judd

Mr. Jenkins himself has compared the idea of the approach and what he describes as an eventual leap to monetary union with the notion of a long-jumper who lengthens his stride as he approaches the take-off point. We shall want to see how the small steps go and to be absolutely certain about where we are being asked to land before we take off.

Mr. Crawford

Now that unemployment in Scotland has reached 200,000, will the Minister give a categorical assurance that the Commission will do nothing to dismantle the temporary employment subsidy? We were told at referendum time that there would not be jobs for the boys in Europe. That is a very odd slogan now.

Mr. Judd

The Government are well aware of the deep commitment of the House to the temporary employment subsidy. We take the feelings of the House very seriously in our negotiations with the Commission.

Mr. Madden

When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary meets Mr. Jenkins, will he remind him that he was a member of the Government who introduced the temporary employment subsidy, and in the interests of thousands of workers who have been saved from the dole by the TES and the thousands who will be saved from the dole if TES continues, and in the interests of flexibility, will he tell Mr. Jenkins that the British Government will not tolerate interference from the Commission on this vitally important matter?

Mr. Judd

I certainly hope that the Commission is well aware that if it were, by its action, to aggravate the serious problems of unemployment in any member country, that would not be furthering the cause of the EEC.

Mr. Higgins

As Mr. Jenkins clearly needs instruction in the technique of long jumping, may we be told the Government's view in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton)?

Mr. Judd

We see economic and monetary union as a very distant prospect. We would need to know a lot more about how it would work out before giving a commitment in detail.

Mr. Spearing

Will the Foreign Secretary ask Mr. Jenkins about the statement that he made to the EEC Assembly just before Christmas, when he said that he would not wish the Commission to place before the Assembly anything with which the Assembly did not agree? That was in the Official Journal of the EEC. Does that not mean that the EEC Assembly is exercising a very powerful influence on the proposals of the Commission and, therefore, that the Assembly has much greater power than my right hon. Friend and the Government are now claiming?

Mr. Judd

Mr. Jenkins is responsible for his own analysis and observations on this matter. But, as we have repeatedly made plain in stating our views on the future of the Community, the real political strength will lie in the Council of Ministers, the Ministers of which are accountable to their domestic Parliaments, such as this Parliament here at Westminster.