HC Deb 16 July 1980 vol 988 cc1490-3
53. Mr. Renton

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects Spain to become a member of the EEC.

Sir Ian Gilmour

It should be possible for Spain to join the Community in 1983, as the Spaniards wish.

Mr. Renton

Does my right hon. Friend expect France to drag her feet about Spain's entry to the Community because she will expect Spain's demands on the common agricultural policy to be pitched at an intolerable level? Conversely, should not we be pressing strongly for the entry of Spain, both because she is now a European democracy and because her accession to the Community will make a fundamental reform of the CAP inevitable?

Sir I. Gilmour

It is not for me to speculate about the actions of the French Government. I agree with what my hon. Friend said about Spanish democracy. What he said about the CAP implies that the restructuring that we have envisaged as taking place in 1981–82 will not by that stage have taken place. If it has not, the point that he put will apply strongly.

Mr. McNamara

Will not the restructing of the CAP and the entry of Spain make a fundamental reappraisal of the CAP vital? We are already seeing rather distressing scenes on the Franco-Spanish border. Can the right hon. Gentleman say how he envisages this anomalous position being rectified?

Sir I. Gilmour

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party in this House have both long been in favour of reform of the CAP, but this is not the occasion for me to put forward comprehensive proposals for its reform.

Mr. Amery

I support the accession of Spain to the European Community and share my right hon. Friend's hopes that the blockade of Gibraltar will have been lifted long before 1983, the date to which he referred, but does he agree that British opinion could not accept the accession of Spain to the EEC if coercive measures were still in force against Gibraltar? Will he make that plain to the Spanish Government?

Sir I. Gilmour

My right hon. Friend may be aware that I said last year when I was in Gibraltar—and also subsequently to a Spanish Minister—that I thought that a closed frontier between two members of the Community was unthinkable.

Mr. Foulkes

Will the Lord Privy Seal confirm that it is the Government's policy to welcome the accession not just of Spain but of Greece and Portugal? Will he without anticipating what the French might do, tell us what the British Government will do if there is any backsliding in the French or German attitude to the accession of those three countries?

Sir I. Gilmour

We have made our attitude plain. In welcoming the proposed accession of Spain I did not mean to imply that we were not equally in favour of the accession of Greece and Portugal. We most certainly are.

Mr. Murphy

In the light of early-day motion 756, does my right hon. Friend agree that such accessions may well be politically a good thing, but economically a bad thing?

Sir I. Gilmour

I think that it is generally agreed in the House that, as my hon. Friend says, politically they are undoubtedly a good thing. If my hon. Friend is thinking of the budgetary cost to this country, I should point out that the accesion of Greece was taken into account in the new budgetary arrangements for the United Kingdom.

The accession of Spain and Portugal will obviously mean a larger Community budget and therefore higher gross contributions by all the existing members, but at this stage it is not possible to say whether that will result in a higher net contribution by the United Kingdom, since this will depend on several factors, including the 1981 review of the Community budget.

Mr. Shore

Clearly, the Gibraltar question must be settled, but will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether the timetable for negotiations for opening up communications between Gibraltar and Spain has been delayed as from the time when he made his statement in the House? If so, can he tell us the reasons for it?

Sir I. Gilmour

It has been delayed in the sense that, as the right hon. Gentleman will remember, we had hoped that the preliminary negotiations would be completed by the beginning of June. We had hoped, therefore, that the frontiers would be open by now. There has been delay. We are still in discussion with the Spanish Government, and I hope that the restrictions will be lifted before long.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

My right hon. Friend gave an assurance to my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) about the textile and footwear industries. Is he aware that the accession of Greece, Spain and perhaps of Portugal could sound the death knell for one of our most important and strategic industries? What will he do about that?

Sir I. Gilmour

My hon. Friend will be aware that there is a safeguard clause in the arrangements for the accession of Greece, and we envisage similar arrangements for Portugal and Spain.

Mr. Maclennan

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that the Spanish fishing fleet is interested in gaining access to European Community waters? What consideration is being given to the protection of British interests during the current discussions on the common fisheries policy?

Sir I. Gilmour

There will be a Fisheries Council meeting next week, and we are engaged in discussions with our partners over the common Fisheries policy. We hope that an agreement will be reached by the end of the year. Therefore, the question of Spanish interests has not arisen.