HC Deb 14 February 1979 vol 962 cc1131-3
43. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what effect he expects the projected enlargement of the EEC to have on the position of the United Kingdom within the Community.

Mr. Judd

Although there will be economic costs, we expect that enlargement will in the long run strengthen the Community and its member States, including the United Kingdom.

Mrs. Short

But is my hon. Friend aware that he is completely misreading the strength of feeling in the House and the country about the economic burdens that we are already facing because we are in the Common Market? Is he aware that the Germans receive £11 per head from the Common Market funds and that Denmark receives £107 per head? Does he not consider that the renegotiation of our membership terms should be carried out before the mediaeval agricultural countries of Greece, Spain and Portugal are accepted into the Common Market? It will be too late afterwards.

Mr. Judd

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture has made it plain that we shall stand resolutely against any further price increases which would lead to still more wasteful surpluses this year. He is making that stand, of course, in the centre of the most expensive element of the common budget—the one that leads to this heavy burden on the British people. I hope that we can have the united support of the House for what he is trying to do.

Mr. Welsh

What consultations has the Minister had with the Minister of Agriculture about Greece's entry into the Common Market? Is he aware of the importance of agriculture to the Greek economy and the increased competition that this will create for limited EEC agricultural funds?

Mr. Judd

Of course we are aware of the importance of agriculture for Greece. I am sure that hon. Members will have taken account of the fact that, if we want cheaper supplies of some of our foodstuffs, some of the new candidate countries may be able to provide them.

45. Mr. Arnold

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further progress has been made towards enlargement of the EEC; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Judd

Negotiations with Spain were formally opened on 5 February. On other aspects of enlargement, I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member on 17 January.

Mr. Arnold

But what specific obstacles does the Minister now see standing in the way of the successful completion of these negotiations? Can he say more about the kind of changes he would like to see in the common agricultural policy in order to assist the process of enlargement?

Mr. Judd

Britain has been in the vanguard of those arguing for Spanish accession. As for reform of the CAP, which we do not see tied to the issue of enlargement, our priorities are to eliminate costly surpluses and the financial burden that they place on the British people, to get fairer access for reasonable competitive foodstuffs from third countries and to ensure, as I have repeatedly told the House and as my right hon. Friend is already achieving, a fairer deal for the consumer as weighed against the interests of the producer in the life of the Community.

Mr. Madden

Is damage to the British textile industry one of the economic factors that the Minister expects to flow from any enlargement of the Common Market?

Mr. Judd

We have to take very seriously the complications presented by enlargement for the textile industry throughout the Community. That will be high on the agenda in the negotiations.