§ 55. Mrs. Renée Short
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultation with Her Majesty's Government took place before the publication by the London office of the European Commission of the document "Why have a party" on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Community.
§ Mrs. Renée Short
Assuming that the Minister saw such a shoddy piece of propaganda, does he not think that the paucity of information that it contains about the alleged benefits that Britain is supposed to have received during the past 10 years of membership illustrates the poverty of the benefit that we have received?
§ Mr. Hurd
I have seen the publication. It contains many pretty pictures. I am not responsible for its editorial content. The Government have circulated their own material in recent months on this subject. If the hon. Lady studies that material, I am sure she will agree that it is balanced and constructive.
§ Mr. Teddy Taylor
Does it not worry my right hon. Friend that so much taxpayers' money—several million pounds—is being spent on putting forward debatable arguments on an important political issue? Might there not be a case for getting the European assembly, the Commission and Governments together to try to reach some sensible arrangement, such as we have in Britain, whereby taxpayers' money is used only to put forward the facts, not political opinions?
§ Mr. Ginsburg
In connection with this publication, will the Minister reconfirm that Europe is now Britain's largest trading partner? Will he stress that withdrawal from the EC would constitute an economic disaster for this country?
§ Mr. Cryer
Are not the Government backing such shoddy documents as "Why have a party" by failing to tell the truth about the Common Market, which is that it has cost us more than £6 billion—the majority of which has been paid during this Government's period of office? Is it not also the case that our membership has led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country, and that we shall regenerate the economy only by gaining control over our economy, which we cannot do while we are still in the Common Market?
§ Mr. Hurd
We take every opportunity to point out the truth, without exaggeration, which is that we are now beginning to make a success of British membership of the Community and that employment and investment prospects, quite apart from our political influence in the world, would suffer irreparable damage if we were to put that process into reverse.