Oral Answers to Questions — United Kingdom and France

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1964.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Robert Maxwell Mr Robert Maxwell , Buckingham 12:00 am, 24th November 1964

asked the Prime Minister whether he will seek to visit Paris at an early date to hold discussions with the President of France on Anglo-French policy differences.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

As the House knows, I shall be visiting Washington in December. I am not able at this stage to make any statement about future foreign visits.

Photo of Mr Robert Maxwell Mr Robert Maxwell , Buckingham

Would my right hon. Friend please bear in mind that the state of our alliance with France is causing a lot of us a great deal of disquiet? Would my right hon. Friend please try to visit France when he returns from the United States, on the same kind of mission as the former Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, undertook in saving N.A.T.O. at the time of the E.D.C. collapse, because our alliance is in that sort of danger now?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

The whole House has been concerned about our relations with France, certainly for a period of some two years or more. Indeed, it seems, though I am told that this is a coincidence, to have dated from the visit of the former Prime Minister to Rambouillet in December, 1962. But the concern which I think the whole House shares is matched by a desire to improve relations by any way we can and, in the matter of personal talks, the Foreign Secretary will be in Paris for the N.A.T.O. Ministerial meetings, and I hope that he will be having talks with French leaders.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Further to Rambouillet and all that, which I have myself criticised, did not the last Government do a great deal to improve British relations with France, particularly through the Concord and other advanced projects? Has not the right hon. Gentleman and his Government in a very few days done great damage to our relations with France, relations with whom are the key to a sound European policy for our country, and would le try to make good some of the damage he has done?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

It must be a matter of opinion exactly how cordial the entente had become in the last year or two. Some of us feel that it was at a very low ebb indeed in March, 1963, when the Government of the day very petulantly interfered with an important Royal visit to Paris and then told the country a complete misstatement of fact as to the reason about it. After that I agree that certain efforts were made to repair the fences in this matter, and I hope that we shall be able to make further progress.