After having been a member for forty-seven years, the United kingdom began – in January 2021 - its new life outside the European Community. In this special feature, we look back to 1960, some thirteen years BEFORE the UK joined, to discover Martins Bank’s comprehensive leaflet “Common Market”. Produced by Head Office Editorial and Information Department, the leaflet sets out plainly the pros and cons of Britain Joining what was then a group of six countries, who under the 1957 Treaty of Rome began the process of European economic integration. Later in this feature we will look at the full text of the Common Market Leaflet, and the types of customer it was aimed at as it weighs up the idea of a closer union with Europe. First, we will look at the Bank’s involvement with Europe through the services it offers to customers…
In 1950, by acquiring the British Mutual Bank, Martins had netted itself not only two new London Offices but also the use of a SHIP – the TSS Halladale. Shortly before the merger of the two banks, the British Mutual had established a branch on board the Halladale, a Townsend Channel Ferry which transported travellers and their vehicles to and from the Continent. Banking transactions were only allowed AFTER the ship had left port, and BEFORE it arrived at its destination. Travellers were able to buy and sell foreign currency and buy or encash travellers’ cheques, so that on arrival they were ready to spend the relevant cash in the relevant country! You can read more about this, including the memories of those who worked for Martins aboard the TSS Halladale on our CROSS CHANNEL BANKING SERVICE page.
From the mid-1950s, when air travel to Europe became increasingly affordable to the British holidaymaker, Martins Bank saw an opportunity to promote many of its travel services such as foreign currency and travellers’ cheques, which had hitherto been used mostly by businessmen and professional travellers. The Bank began to provide complementary “pocket guides” to many European and Scandinavian destinations – these popular little booklets were packed with useful information ranging from up-to-date exchange rates, to local postal charges and customs such as special shop opening hours and public or religious holidays. By the mid 1960s, Martins were Bankers to British Eagle Airways, and special editions of the pocket guides were issued in flight packs to everyone on board as they flew to Europe. You can read more about some of Martins Bank’s larger corporate customers on our CORPORATE BANKING page.
The Archive has three different examples of the guide issued for travellers to Switzerland, Austria and Italy, which begins as a folded piece of paper in the 1950s, being replaced by two much more sophisticated editions produced on strong card. The version shown below is from June 1966. Note the sheer amount of information packed into something that measures only eight by thirteen centimetres. Whilst Saturday banking was still the norm throughout most of the UK in 1966, we can see from this leaflet that of the three countries represented here, only the Austrian banks have a Saturday service, but even then, only in the smaller towns and villages. To us in our 21st Century world of 24-hour TV news channels, and any number of personal electronic devices that can talk to us and provide instant and accurate information, it seems quite parochial that the 24-hour clock has to be explained to customers of Bank – hour by hour; and as for those “strange” European weights and measures, we are glad to have such a useful set of conversion tables, and if we get stuck with anything else, we have the reassurance of having printed in the leaflet for us, the address the British Embassy in each of the three countries…
Martins Bank divided Europe into region of up to four countries, and then produced a Pocket Guide that was tailored to each of these regions. By 1969 the leaflets had the same unform “in house” style of presentation as other product and services leaflets published by Martins’ Advertising department.
So what then of the coming together of Europe, and should Britain be part of it? The late 1950s might have been a prosperous time for the British, but the Cold War was beginning to be felt across the continent of Europe with the nuclear arms ace a particular worry. Certainly Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech made in March 1946 had led to some serious thinking about some kind of “United States of Europe”, but how easy would this be to achieve, and what might countries gain or have to sacrifice as a result? Martins Bank’s “Common Market” leaflet is publish shortly after the 1957 Treaty of Rome which had brought about the European Economic Community – EEC, and the European Atomic Energy Community – EAEC. The Bank gives a fairly balanced view of the situation for the benefit of its customers, as follows:
How the Common Market started
In 1946, when much of Europe was in ruins and people were still bitter after years of war. Sir Winston Churchill made a speech calling for “an act of oblivion against all the follies and crimes of the past”, and advocating some form of union in Europe. The idea caught on. In 1948 eighteen countries formed the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (O.E.E.C.). This was so successful that in 1951 six of these countries agreed to further co-operation by co-ordinating their basic industries—coal and steel—and formed the European Coal and Steel Community (E.C.S.C.). The experience they gained from this was so encouraging that an association with much wider implications was proposed, and as a result the European Common Market—officially called the European Economic Community (E.E.C.)—was set up by the signing of the Treaty of Rome in March, 1957.
What is the Common Market ?
It is the group formed by Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg and West Germany (sometimes known as “the Six”) who have agreed to abolish, by stages over several years, all Customs duties and restrictions on trade between each other. Duties will still be charged on imports from outside the area: these will be co-ordinated into a single Customs structure common to all the six countries. To strengthen the association there are to be common policies for agriculture, transport, labour, social services, capital and finance.
What will be the effect of this ?
The provisions of the Treaty will create complete freedom for trade and commerce throughout the area. Eventually there will be one huge market, enjoying economies of large-scale production and sales. The co-ordination of economic and social policies within the Common Market will create uniformity of business conditions in each country. Anyone in the Common Market will be free to set up and carry-on business in any part of the area, while within the Community any person will be free to seek employment anywhere, he wishes. Co-operation amongst the Common Market countries will be far-reaching. Joint industrial enterprises are already being planned; other joint ventures—in education and research, public works, taxation, currency reform—are already under discussion. Many people foresee an inevitable movement towards political union in Europe.
What are the advantages of the Common Market ?
Already living standards in the six countries arc rising rapidly. A dynamic spirit is apparent, industrial output is expanding, and trade is increasing. A rich and powerful community is being created, whose industries arc highly competitive both at home and in world markets. Although Europe has always been split up into a number of states, the influence of its civilisation dominates the whole modern world. Unified, Europe could assume the economic and political leadership which is now vital for the survival of civilisation.
How would the Common Market affect Britain if we did not join ?
A large proportion of Britain’s exports go to Europe, but when tariffs between the countries of the Six disappear the huge market will enable their own industries to produce more efficiently and cheaply and to develop along new lines. British industry would then be at a great disadvantage, not just in Europe but in competition with Common Market goods all over the world. Overseas business and investment would tend to be attracted to the progressive Common Market in preference to the United Kingdom. Indeed, some people believe that unless she joins the Common Market Britain will become a relatively backward country in a few years.
What would happen if Britain joined the Common Market ?
Provided British industry met the challenge by successful competition in Continental markets and in the British home market, this country could enjoy a full share of the prosperity of the Community if she were to join.
Why did Britain not join in the first place ?
For three important reasons Britain has until now felt unable to join the Common Market. First, there is the effect on the Commonwealth countries, many of whom are dependent on the preferential market which Britain provides for their trade, and on the whole financial and commercial structure of the Commonwealth. These seem to be incompatible with Britain’s unconditional membership of the Common Market. In the second place, Britain’s system of agricultural subsidies cannot be reconciled with the Continental system, which will presumably form the basis of the Common Market’s proposed agricultural policy. In the third place, Britain is a member of the European Free Trade Association (E.F.T.A.)—known as “the Seven”.
The rules of this organisation arc not altogether compatible with those of the Common Market. In addition, Britain's reluctance to join the Common Market has undoubtedly been reinforced by the traditionally insular outlook of the British people.
What is the present position ?
After lengthy controversy, Britain has now officially started negotiating to join the Common Market. The difficulties over the Commonwealth, E.F.T.A., and agriculture, will be discussed during these negotiations.
How will membership of the Common Market affect Britain ?
Many industries in Britain are highly efficient and will be well-placed to compete in the new market; some others will have to overcome severe competition from Continental producers; while some may well have to meet serious difficulties through competition from Continental manufacturers.
Our balance of payments may initially come under pressure, as restrictions on imports of goods from the Continent are removed. All sections of the community must become conscious of the necessity to eliminate inefficiency and high costs, which will tend to divert business to the Continent. In time, it may become necessary to accept nationals of European countries into employment in British industry. Among many other changes which will take place will be the universal adoption of the principle of equal pay for men and women. Nevertheless, all these changes will be made gradually, so that the country will have time to adapt itself to the new conditions. How Britain fares in the Common Market will depend on how effectively this adaptation takes place.
Countries of the European Common Market (“The Six”)
In addition, Greece has been granted a form of associate membership.
Countries of the European Free Trade Association (“The Seven”)
Finland is also a member on special terms.
The population of the Common Market countries, together with those countries now considering joining, is 231 millions.
National Incomes (total values of all goods and services produced).
For the Common Market together with countries now considering joining, the figure is 112.
Index of the volume of industrial production (1952=100).
This leaflet has been prepared for your information by the Information Department of Martins Bank, at Head Office, 4 Water Street, Liverpool 2. The Department will be pleased to receive, through the manager of any branch of the Bank, enquiries of an economic, industrial, or commercial nature concerning the United Kingdom, the Common Market, or other countries overseas. The Department provides information and advice about exporting, including reports on potential markets and the procedures involved, and about establishing a business in this country or abroad.
The items shown below are not part of the Common market Leaflet but they do illustrate some of the services and advertisments offered or produced by the Bank for the traveller…
18 June 1920
Bank of Liverpool and Martins Ltd
Manchester Foreign Branch opens
1920s – Leather Wallet,
Bank of Liverpool and Martins Ltd.
For letters of credit, currency and personal papers
1930 – Martins Bank Ltd
Advertisement for Foreign Services
1939 – Martins Bank Ltd
Pre-War Advertisement: Foreign Trade
1945 – Martins Bank Ltd
Post War Advertisement: for Foreign Trade
1960s – Martins Bank Ltd
Leaflet: Money for Travel
1968 – Martins Bank Ltd
Martinplanning Means a Gorgeous Holiday
Ultimately, on 1 January 1973, Britain DID join the European Economic Community. This came too late for Martins Bank, whose merger with Barclays had been over and done at least four years before that. At least we can say that Martins was discussing Europe as early as 1960, and that with its dedicated Foreign branches offering every kind of assistance to those who traded with Europe, as well as those who went there on holiday, the Bank certainly played its part…