HC Deb 13 February 1980 vol 978 cc1519-20
40. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects Spain and Portugal to become full members of the EEC.

Sir Ian Gilmour

The negotiations with Portugal and Spain are proceeding as planned. It is too early to forecast precisely when they might enter the Community, but it is the hope of the Government that this will not be delayed.

Mr. Mitchell

Does the Lord Privy Seal agree that, before Spain becomes a full member of the EEC, there ought to be a settlement of the dispute between Spain and Gibraltar, and a reopening of the boundary between those two countries?

Sir I. Gilmour

I have made my view and that of the Government plain to the House. There should be an end to the restrictions as soon as possible, straight away. They should have been ended already. I have also made clear that it is not feasible that, if Spain becomes a member of the Community, there should be two frontiers between two members of the Commity both of which are clsed.

Mr. Farr

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that in the negotiations careful consideration will be given to the possible effect of the Spanish and Portuguese textile and footwear industries on Britain's home domestic industries which are already suffering from a flood of cheap foreign imports?

Sir I. Gilmour

I can confirm that. As my hon. Friend knows, there is a provision dealing with this in the Greek accession treaty. The same will occur in the other treaties.

Mrs. Dunwoody

What is the Lord Privy Seal's calculation of the effect that the accession of Spain and Portugal will have on our own resources system? Will it not be that these agricultural-based countries will speed the decline in the funds of the Common Market? What effect will that have on Britain?

Sir I. Gilmour

I do not see how they can reduce Common Market funds. They are bound to increase the funds of the Common Market. However, if nothing is done about our budget contribution—the hon. Lady is quite right—it would make our problem even more acute than it is now.