HC Deb 29 October 1980 vol 991 cc483-4
33. Mr. Dormand

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will now make proposals to amend the Treaty of Rome.

Sir Ian Gilmour

No, Sir.

Mr. Dormand

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is now widespread disenchantment with our membership of the EEC, and that the basic problem is related to the iron corset of the Treaty of Rome—in particular, some of us think, more from a political than an economic point of view? Is it not now clear that such a treaty, drawn up so many years ago, must be ready for fundamental change?

Sir I. Gilmour

I do not agree that there is great disenchantment. One of the interesting things that happened after the goings-on at Blackpool was that people who had not previously been all that keen on membership suddenly realised how disastrous withdrawal would be. There may well be improvements that could and should be made to the Treaty, but I do not think that that is the fundamental question at present. The fundamental matter is to get on with the restructuring to which the Community was committed by the agreement of 30 May last year.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the decision of the Labour Party at its conference to seek withdrawal from the EEC has caused great difficulty for the Conservatives in the European Parliament in forwarding British interests there? It is very difficult to convince our European partners of the essential levity of the Labour Party, which in opposition invariably preaches that it will withdraw and in government is forced to recognise the realities of the situation.

Sir I. Gilmour

I agree with my hon. Friend, but in speaking to our partners in Europe I have found no great difficulty in convincing them about the levity of the Labour Party.

Mr. Jay

If the Government are opposed to import controls, why do they operate the common agricultural policy?

Sir I. Gilmour

Because, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, we have protected our agriculture in one way or another for many years. That was done very successfully after the war by the Labour Government of whom the right hon. Gentleman was a member and to whom he continually looks back. The CAP is just one other way of protecting our agriculture.

Mr. Alan Clark

My right hon. Friend makes rather terse denials to hon. Members on both sides of the House, but surely he cannot maintain that the terms of our membership are set in concrete for all time. Reciprocal advantages and obligations evolve with the passage of time, do they not?

Sir I. Gilmour

I think that the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend are absolutely impeccable.

Back to