HL Deb 05 February 1974 vol 349 cc705-6

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government which Ministers and which Departments are responsible for explaining the advantages of membership of the E.E.C. to the British people.


My Lords, all Ministers and all Departments with European responsibilities and interests are concerned to initiate and stimulate publicity regarding particular aspects of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Communities. Machinery also exists for interdepartmental consultation.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord the Leader of the House for that reply. May I ask him whether he accepts that the efforts of the various Departments and of Ministers have not yet proved wholly successful? Furthermore, since our position inside the E.E.C. may be weakened by its unpopularity in this country, will he give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government are now making a strenuous effort to improve communication about our membership of the E.E.C. and its consequences?


My Lords, in my experience of publicity matters, I have learned that it is seldom that any endeavours are "wholly successful"—to quote the noble Lord's words. But I can assure him that every opportunity is taken to explain to the British people the economic and political advantages, in both the short term and the long term, of membership of the European Community.


My Lords, can the noble Lord tell the House of any Department which can tell of the advantages of joining the Common. Market, in view of the fact that we have a deficiency of over £1,000 million in our balance of payments—apart from what we shall have to pay in V.A.T. over the next year—and that we have to meet the Common Market food prices in March? Can the noble Lord tell us what are the advantages?


My Lords, I came prepared with a list of benefits and advantages, but I also came with a resolve not to use it because questions of this sort can so easily lead to a general debate. I have answered the point about publicity which the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, put to me.


My Lords, will the noble Lord therefore confine himself just to explaining the deep spirit of intimate fraternity which has been cultivated in the Common Market between Britain and France?


That is another question, my Lords.

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