§ 35. Mr. Mayhew
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the standard of living in Great Britain has fallen since 1958 in relation to living standards in Common Market countries, details of which are available to him from international sources; and to what extent he estimates that this loss of wealth to British families will be recovered on 1288 Great Britain joining the Common Market.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins
Between 1958 and 1967—the latest date for which figures are available—G.N.P. per head rose by roughly 4 per cent. per annum in the Six, and by roughly 2½ per cent. per annum in the United Kingdom.
The Government believe that membership of a large and growing market would help to promote a more rapid improvement in the standard of living.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Does this not confirm the estimate that if Britain had joined the Common Market when it was started and shared in the growth of living standards of the members of the Common Market, the average family in this country would now be £5 a week better off? Will the Chancellor draw the attention of the British people to the threat to their living standards contained in the anti-market propaganda?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I believe that I was an even more premature European—if that is the word—than my hon. Friend. Before drawing that deduction he should bear in mind that the rate of growth in the countries of the Six varies considerably between one and another.
§ Mr. Biffen
Why is the right hon. Gentleman unable or unwilling to answer the second part of this Question? Is it that he knows these figures are not yet available, and if they are not, does he expect them to be published in the statement which the Prime Minister has promised us on the consequences of joining the Common Market?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I would have thought that the second half of the Question was highly hypothetical and bound to be the subject of argument, one on which we can all take up different positions, rather than one which can be answered simply on the basis of fact.