Oral Answers to Questions — President Nixon

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th November 1972.

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Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

We are always glad to welcome the President of the United States to this country, but there are no plans at present for him to pay an official visit.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

In that case, when the Prime Minister next discusses anything with the President of the United States, could he raise the question of the American initiative for an industrial free trade area? As Britain, after 1st January, will lose an independent voice within GATT, where this will be discussed, what view will the British Government take within the Common Market Council of this American initiative before we lose our independent voice?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

If, when he talks of an industrial free trade area, my hon. Friend is referring to the next round of tariff negotiations—whether they be external tariffs or internal barriers against trade—I would only say that we have already done a great deal. We did it at the Summit. It was on our initiative that the Community accepted that it would have its own negotiating position ready by 1st July. Moreover we shall do our utmost to bring the negotiations to an end by December, 1975.

The Community set out in its communiqué the specific ways in which it wants to help these negotiations succeed, both in the field of the external tariffs and on internal barriers to trade. It also set out, of course, its views about the general preferences scheme for the developing world. Thus, the Community as a whole has already taken an initiative in this, which is more precise, more defined and, I think, more far-reaching than that of the United States.

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

In his normal communications with the President of the United States, will the Prime Minister point out that there was widespread relief when the proposed agreement to bring the war in Vietnam to an end was so near, and that there is now bitter disappointment all over the world that the military régime in Saigon is once again being allowed to sabotage the signing of a peace agreement? Will the Prime Minister urge the President of the United States to sign this agreement forthwith, to stop the bombing of Vietnam, and to bring the war to an end?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

President Nixon needs no urging to bring about peace in Vietnam. He has surely been working as hard as any President could to achieve that. I know full well that his efforts are just as determined now as they have ever been.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

Will my right hon. Friend remind the House which Vietnam it is that has been attacking the other, and precisely what sort of régime it is that exists in North Vietnam at present?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

My hon. Friend has emphasised what the House well knows is the source of the aggression, and the nature of the régime it is. But my hon. Friend would also wish to concentrate, like the rest of the House, on the future of this war-scarred country and the genuine endeavours which are being made by President Nixon at this moment to bring the war to a speedy end. I am sure that we would all like to give him support ill doing that.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

Yes, but not any fellow-traveller nonsense.

Mr. J. T. Price:

Returning to the question of our relationship with North America, can the Prime Minister give any information about the steps reported as being taken to organise a conference in the spring in Ankara among the members of the enlarged Community to establish a common stance towards North America on behalf of the European partners in the EEC, of which we are a new one? Is it true that a conference is being organised by the European Movement for this purpose? If so, can the Prime Minister give any information as to its true purpose and why it should be held in Ankara—if that is the locus?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman any specific information about that. But the European Movement is not the responsibility of either the Community or the British Government. The relations of the Community with the United States are very well known and were repeated in the communiqué after the summit; that is, that we want a relationship of close friendship with them as well as an alliance with those countries which are members of NATO.