HC Deb 28 June 1978 vol 952 cc1391-4
52. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what he proposes to put on the agenda at the next EEC Council of Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Judd

The written statement of forthcoming Council business will be deposited tomorrow and I expect to make my oral statement on 3rd July.

Mr. Marten

Does the Minister remember a proposal some time ago that we should have a Euro-passport? Will he raise this matter at the Council of Ministers and then give the House an assurance that he will not agree to do such a thing—using the Royal Prerogative—until he has the permission of this House?

Mr. Judd

As the hon. Member knows very well, this raises the subject of the Royal Prerogative. As he also knows, I have on many occasions, in response to his very genuine and passionate concern about this issue, given an undertaking that we will come to no definitive decision until the House has had a full opportunity to debate and discuss the matter.

Mr. Flannery

Will my hon. Friend put on the agenda of the Council of Foreign Ministers' next meeting an item stating that the Common Market has been an unmitigated disaster for the British people? This should be discussed, because if a referendum were taken again those people who voted "Yes" would vote "No", and we would come out of the EEC.

Mr. Judd

No one would want to gloss over the disappointments of the British people about some aspects of membership of the EEC. I assure my hon. Friend that the priority of this Government is to bring all their persuasive powers to bear in trying to improve life for the ordinary men, women and children who make up the Community. Because of my respect for my hon. Friend's convictions and his passionate views, I sincerely put it to him that it would be more constructive for him to bring his own political force to play in improving what is wrong with the EEC rather than to concentrate on fighting old battles.

53. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he proposes to suggest a joint meeting between the Council of Ministers and the Agriculture Council in the near future.

Mr. Judd

No, Sir.

Mr. Madel

Does the Minister think that such a joint meeting would be the best way of considering whether a rural fund should be created within the EEC—a fund that would comprise the relevant parts of the Agricultural Fund, the Regional Fund and the Social Fund?

Mr. Judd

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. It is highly arguable whether the common agricultural policy is the right way in which to follow socal priorities which may have significance and importance but which would not add to the prices paid by consumers. Our priorities include the objective of ensuring that within that policy consumers get a fairer deal compared with the interests of producers—interests which we believe are all too well represented.

Mr. Ron Thomas

Is it not ludicrous that there are growing supplies of cheap food outside the bureaucratic barriers of the EEC? May I remind the Minister that there is no sense in which one can renegotiate EEC entry, because the present policy is a cornerstone of the Rome Treaty and all we can do is to scrap it or get out?

Mr. Judd

I do not altogether agree with my hon. Friend. On reflection, I am sure that he will accept that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture has made significant progress in getting the Community to adjust to reality in its agricultural policies. We have three priorities in our approach to CAP. One is that we do not wish to see funds being used to build up wasteful surpluses. The second priority is to see the interests of consumers better represented as against the interests of producers. The third is to seek fairer access for the produce of third countries.

Mr. Farr

In any negotiations will the Minister make a serious attempt to staunch the flow of directives and documents which emanate from Brussels? Will he examine the serious situation that faces those who are thinking of going to the Continent in mini-coaches and who might well be stopped from entering Continental countries because of the lack of documents related to the tachograph—a system which we have not yet adopted in this country?

Mr. Judd

I shall bring the hon. Gentleman's last point to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. Such operators can overcome the problem by keeping a log. I agree with the hon. Gentleman's comments in the second part of his supplementary question. Far too much time, effort and money go into producing paper in Europe.

Mr. Michael Stewart

Are not the successes of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture due to the fact that he has dropped the silly and outmoded idea of trying to get this country out of the Community and is doing his best to safeguard British interests inside it?

Mr. Judd

I believe that all Members of this House, whatever their genuine views in the past—and there have been grave differences in this House on the subject of the Community—would do the greatest service to the British people if they now accepted that we are members of the Community and that our task is to improve the lot of the British people within the Community.