§ 1. Mr. Lipton
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will insist, as a condition of Britain's entry into the Common Market, that Commonwealth products shall continue to enjoy their present freedom of access to this country or, alternatively, shall be offered other outlets by lowering Common Market tariffs or other means acceptable to the Commonwealth countries concerned.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)
I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my statement of 10th October in which I suggested how the problem of Commonwealth products might be split up into its different components and how each of these might be treated if the vital interests of the Commonwealth were to be safeguarded. In reply to a Question on 7th March, I explained what progress we had made in dealing with the various groups of Commonwealth problems.
§ Mr. Lipton
That was a long time ago. In view of the fears still being voiced, with good reason, by the Deputy-Prime Minister of Australia in London as recently as last night, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that any attempt to bulldoze, hoodwink or prejudice Canada, Australia or any other Commonwealth country will be regarded as a gross betrayal and will drag the Government's reputation down to an even lower level than it has already reached?
§ Mr. Heath
There is no question of the Commonwealth being treated in the way that the hon. Member has just read out. We have given the fullest assurances to the Commonwealth and to Parliament to which we will adhere. The Deputy-Prime Minister of Australia was pointing out certain consequences that would follow if no special arrangements of the kind which I have described were arrived at. That, of course, is a different situation.
§ Mr. Healey
Can the Lord Privy Seal assure the House that Her Majesty's Government will not accept an arrangement which is of a purely temporary and transitional nature and will insist on comparable outlets being assured for an indefinite period?
§ 6. Mr. Dempsey
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is aware of the damage being done to the export trade as a result of delay arising from discussion on the Common Market application by the United Kingdom; and when he expects to report to Parliament, with a view to facilitating exports.
§ Mr. Heath
I am not aware that our export trade is being damaged in this way, though I realise that the outcome of the Brussels negotiations will affect the plans of all those in the United Kingdom concerned with exports. That is why I am anxious to press on with the negotiations as quickly as possible. I cannot yet say when their outcome will be sufficiently clear to enable me to report to Parliament.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Is the Lord Privy Seal not aware that one of the largest exporting firms in Scotland has had its orders cancelled by a firm in one of the Common Market countries on the ground that entry will obviously affect prices? Does he not realise that the quicker the Government make up their mind and let the House and industry know what the position is the better it will be for Scottish exporters in general?
§ Mr. Heath
I was not aware of the particular case the hon. Gentleman has mentioned. If it affected prices it could only, of course, be to bring prices down because of the lowering of tariff barriers. I hope all firms in this country will continue to use all their efforts in the export trade to Commonwealth countries, to the countries of E.F.T.A. and to third countries of the world, quite apart from any plans which they can make for exports to the European Community.
§ Mr. Bowles
Will the Lord Privy Seal tell us—and take a little longer perhaps than usual—what is the real, overwhelming reason for the desire of the Government to join this Community at all?
§ Sir H. Harrison
Will my right hon. Friend not agree that our export trade depends on our goods being at the right price and of the right quality irrespective of whether we enter the Common Market or not?
§ 8. Mr. Walker
asked the Lord Privy Seal, in view of the recent official statement of Dr. Mansholt, a vice-president of the European Commission, on this matter, if he will give an assurance that he will not recommend the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market upon a basis whereby the major safeguards for Commonwealth interests are limited to a period of five years.
§ Mr. Walker
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it is disturbing 476 to find that Professor Hallstein, Dr. Mansholt and the French Foreign Secretary have all gone on record as saying that permanent safeguards cannot be provided for the Commonwealth? Will my right hon. Friend take note of the words of the Minister of Trade for Australia last night when he said that the Commonwealth would not be satisfied with the tranquillisers of some temporary safeguards?
§ Mr. Heath
I am fully aware of what my hon. Friend has said. I repeat what I said earlier—it is that in this matter we are negotiating both on short-term and long-term. Dr. Mansholt, when he spoke in London, was giving his personal views about certain aspects of agricultural policy. We are concerned with the Commonwealth interest over the whole field.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Does not the recent speech of the Leader of the House, stating that Britain's entry into the Common Market would be the main issue at a General Election, provide a clear indication that the Government have decided to enter the Common Market on any terms? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Is it fair to the Lord Privy Seal that speeches of this kind should be made when he is negotiating with the Six?
§ Mr. Holt
While there would bound to be changes in the pattern of Commonwealth trade with this country as a result of our going into the Common Market, may I ask whether the objects of the negotiations should not be to ensure that the Commonwealth has as great, or possibly a greater, opportunity of trade with Europe as a whole, including Great Britain, as it now has?
§ Mr. Heath
Yes, Sir. The pattern of Commonwealth trade is changing all the time, quite regardless of the negotiations we undertake or whether or not we enter the European Economic Community. That is bound to happen with lively economies and developing countries. Naturally, we should like to see 477 the Commonwealth have greater opportunities in the European countries. If the proposals which I have put forward are acceptable, they will definitely widen the opportunities of Commonwealth countries in Europe.
§ 9. Mrs. Castle
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is yet in a position to place in the Library copies of the final text in French of the agreement reached by the European Economic Community on agricultural policy, together with an English translation of the text.
§ Mr. Heath
The final texts of the fourteen agriculture documents were approved by the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community on 4th April. They will be published in the OFFICIAL JOURNAL of the Communities in due course. Meanwhile, advance copies of the French texts are being made available to us as quickly as the work of reproduction and checking permits. The texts of nine documents have ben received so far (together with two supplementary documents) and copies have been placed in the Library of the House. We expect to place the other five texts in the Library today. An English translation will be placed in the Vote Office as soon as possible.
§ Mrs. Castle
While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask if the words "as soon as possible" in the English translation will not be extended to mean a matter of weeks but will mean merely a matter of days?
§ 16. Mr. Swingler
asked the Lord Privy Seal what examination has been made by his Department of the probable effects of Britain's entry into the Common Market on the film industry; and if he will publish the conclusions reached.
§ Mr. Swingler
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the fact-finding commission set up by the E.E.C. last year on the film industry has now reported to the Governments of the Six and that it has been published that the Governments of the Six have been asked within the next month to make their proposals about a common films policy of the E.E.C.? Would he, therefore, ask whether the Government may have a copy of this fact-finding report on which the policy will be based so that they may be able to put forward proposals in the negotiations?
§ 17. Mr. Swingler
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will add to the delegation in Brussels which is negotiating about Britain's entry into the Common Market representatives of British film producers who are competent to advise on the measures necessary to safeguard the interests of the industry and to foster its growth.
§ Mr. Swingler
In the light of the Answer given by the right hon. Gentleman to the previous Question, may we take it that the Government will now make representations to ensure that when the documents are brought out they are provided to them in order that the experts in the film industry in this country may have an opportunity in the next few weeks of being able to formulate some proposals to put forward?
§ 20. Mr. Shinwell
asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the minimum requirement 479 Her Majesty's Government are seeking in the negotiations with members of the European Economic Community in respect of preferential treatment for the entry of primary products from New Zealand, Australia and Canada, respectively, into the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is not there some indication that the right bon. Gentleman has not made up his mind about the minimum requirements? If he does not know how he stands in this regard, how can he negotiate successfully? May I have an assurance from him that he will allow neither himself nor his colleagues in the Government to be manœuvred by any of the members of the Six into a compromise which operates to the detriment of this country and of the Commonwealth?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is the Minister aware that when I entered into negotiations on behalf of any British Government with which I was associated, I was not prepared to compromise if the compromise meant any detriment to or deterioration of the prestige and power of this country?
§ 32. Mr. Zilliacus
asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent it is a condition of Great Britain's entry into the Common Market that British foreign and defence policy, including North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commitments, shall be co-ordinated with that of the Six.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that if we were to go into the Common Market the Government would be as free as they are today to pursue a foreign policy for a European settlement—for instance, through disengagement on the lines advocated by the Opposition—in spite of the known objections of their partners in the Common Market to any such policy?
§ Mr. Heath
The Treaty of Rome has no effect on foreign policy. At the same time, the members of the three Communities have been discussing together what political arrangements should be set up alongside the Communities. I was dealing with that matter in my speech of 10th April. But the effect on foreign policy depends on the nature of the proposals reached by the Six.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Can the right hon. Gentleman say when his speech became available in the Vote Office, and when it leaked into The Times?
§ Mr. Chataway
Does my right hon. hon. Friend agree that, despite the failure of the talks in Paris, there is a need for closer political association between the countries of Western Europe, and that if we succeed in negotiating our way into the Common Market we should be keen to arrive at such a closer political association?