HC Deb 26 July 1978 vol 954 cc1554-6
47. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the purpose of harmonisation in the European Community.

Mr. Judd

The purpose of harmonisation is to facilitate intra-Community trade by removing technical barriers and by establishing common laws to regulate some aspects of commercial activity.

Mr. Jessel

Why cannot the European Community concentrate on its basic aims of promoting peace and prosperity and stop wasting the time of member countries with useless proposals to harmonise the laws relating to jam, honey, jelly, chestnut purée, correspondence courses, the size of eggs, the length of tape measures, hot-water meters, and the charges for testing gas meters?

Mr. Judd

I am not sure that everyone would be against harmonisation of honey. Concerning the general principle, however, I must say that the view of the Government is that we must resist in the Community any temptation on the part of the Commission or anybody else to achieve harmonisation for harmonisation's sake. We are in favour of harmonisation only where this makes a qualitative improvement to life within the Community. Under the unanimity rule, it is necessary to have the support of all member States for projects for harmonisation; therefore we are in a position to block any proposed harmonisation which we think is nonsense.

Mr. Jay

Is the Minister aware that the proposed EEC lawnmowers make less noise but do not cut the grass?

Mr. Judd

I will pass that information to my wife.