§ Mr. Russell
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on what date Her Majesty's Government were first informed of the French proposal to include 159W French, Belgian, and Dutch overseas territories in the plan for a common market.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
The question of the relationship to the Common Market of those overseas territories which have constitutional or economic links with the metropolitan Powers involved was first raised by the French Delegation at the Venice Conference of the six Messina Powers which met on 30th-31st May, 1956, to discuss future action on the Report of the Brussels Inter-governmental Committee (the Spaak Report). No proposals were put forward and the whole question was referred to experts for further study.160W
Towards the end of November, Her Majesty's Government became aware that Franco-Belgian proposals on the association of overseas territories with the proposed Messina Customs Union had just been submitted for consideration to the four other member countries, although it was not known whether these proposals or any others would be acceptable to the other member countries. Indeed, until the Press communiqué issued on 20th February following the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the six Messina Powers, Her Majesty's Government had no reason to believe that any detailed provisions for the association of overseas territories would be included in the Customs Union Treaty.