HC Deb 15 November 1979 vol 973 cc1500-1
Q3. Mr. Flannery

asked the Prime Minister if she has any plans to meet Mr. Tugendhat of the EEC in the near future.

The Prime Minister

I met Mr. Tugendhat in September. I have at present no plans for a further meeting.

Mr. Flannery

Does the right hon. Lady remember that her predecessor, the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), as Leader of the Tory Party promised in a White Paper positive and substantial gains on our balance of payments if we went into the Common Market? Will she explain to Mr. Tugendhat that the £4,000 million that the Common Market has cost us and the £1,000 million that it is now costing us every year is driving our people to desperation, and that they want to get out of the Common Market now? Will she take it up with him, because the cost to Britain will grow and grow until we come out?

The Prime Minister

The Common Market gives our manufacturers the same opportunities as other manufacturers in the larger market of the Common Market. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is a great tragedy that we have imported many more manufactured goods from the Common Market than we have been able to sell in other member States of the Common Market. If we can get rid of strikes and increase productivity, we shall do a great deal better.

Mr. Gummer

Will my right hon. Friend please take as many opportunities as possible to point out to the Opposition that they wasted four years in which they could have built up our place in the European Economic Community to enable us to compete with our friends in the Community?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend knows that I have frequently said that had we spent as much time on increasing productivity as we spent on incomes policy we would have done much better.

Mr. Heffer

Will the Prime Minister explain what cash limits she will put on the EEC in the same way as she is putting cash limits on local authorities and public authorities? Will she not go beyond the cash limits that she has already announced?

The Prime Minister

That is hardly the right way to approach that issue, as the hon. Gentleman knows. We need substantially to reduce the net contribution that we make to the Common Market for 1980–81. I am grateful to have the hon. Gentleman's support and the support of the whole House in that objective.