HC Deb 19 December 1962 vol 669 cc178-80W
33 and 34. Mr. Ronald Bell

asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) what decisions concerning the application of Article 119 of the Treaty of Rome have been reached by institutions of the European Economic Community in the past two years; and what the position in respect of it will be on 1st January, 1964;

(2) what negotiations he has had to secure modification of the Article of the Treaty of Rome requiring equal pay for men and women doing the same job, regardless of the value of the work done.

Mr. Smithers

We have not asked for any modification of Article 119 of the Treaty of Rome, but we shall be discussing with the Community the timing of its implementation. On 1st January, 1964, there will remain a differential in the European Economic Community of 10 per cent.

37. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has been given in the course of his Common Market negotiations of the total number of coal mines closed for economic reasons in each of the European Economic Community countries, of where they are situated, and of the estimated reserves of coal in the Community Area; and what study has been made of the effect such reserves would have upon the British coal industry if Great Britain joined the Common Market.

Mr. P. Thomas

These matters have not arisen in the negotiations. Information on mine closures in the European Coal and Steel Community is contained in the 10th General Report of the Community, and I have arranged for copies of this to be placed in the Library of the House. Estimates of Community coal reserves are published by the World Power Conference.

38. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will now give an assurance that, in the event of Her Majesty's Government failing to obtain in the Common Market negotiations suitable safeguards for British agriculture and for the countries in the European Free Trade Area, he will call a Commonwealth Trade Conference with the object of developing Great Britain's trade agreements.

Mr. P. Thomas

Our task at the moment is to bring the Brussels negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion. I do not think that it would be helpful to go into the measures which would he necessary if the negotiations fail.

41. Mr. Millan

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that there is apprehension that British accession to the European Economic Community would mean a further drift of employment and population to the South; and what discussions he has had during the Brussels negotiations on the question of how the Government's regional employment policy under the Local Employment Act or other measures would be affected by the United Kingdom's accession to the Community.

43. Mr. Ross

asked the Lord Privy Seal what discussions have been held, during the negotiations on British accession to the European Economic Community, on the compatibility of the Local Employment Act, 1960, with the Treaty of Rome; what conclusions have been reached; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. P. Thomas

The principles of the Treaty of Rome include the promotion throughout the Community of a harmonious development of economic activities and of a steady and balanced economic expansion. Discussions earlier this year between our delegation in Brussels and the Commission gave no reason to suppose that our distribution of industry policy would be incompatible with the Treaty of Rome.

51. Mr. H. Wilson

asked the Lord Privy Seal if the official statements made in the House of Commons on behalf of Her Majesty's Government by the Prime Minister on 26th November, 1956, and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 28th March, 1958, and 12th February, 1959, stating that the Government would continue preferences in favour of Commonwealth products against those of other countries, and would maintain free entry into the United Kingdom market for Commonwealth foodstuffs, drink and tobacco, still represent the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. P. Thomas

The Government's policy in the European Economic Community negotiations is to see if satisfactory arrangements can be made to meet the special interests of the Commonwealth.

53. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will propose that the discussions with the European Economic Community planned for January should take place in private, and that a communiqué should be issued on their conclusion.

Mr. P. Thomas

The negotiations are confidential and therefore take place in private. It has not been the practice to issue a communiqué after each meeting but the press has been informed of the general outcome.

Mr. H. Wilson

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the text of the assurances he gave in his negotiations with the European Economic Community about his intentions, if Britain enters the Community, concerning the use of Article 234 of the Treaty of Rome.

Mr. P. Thomas

The assurances which my right hon. Friend gave were set out in his statement to the House on 13th December.