Prime Minister of Canada (Talks)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1972.

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Photo of Mr Gilbert Longden Mr Gilbert Longden , South West Hertfordshire 12:00 am, 14th December 1972

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his official meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Bristol North East

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement following his official meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Mr. Trudeau took up a long-standing invitation that I had extended to him to visit this country.

We held talks at Chequers on 3rd and 4th December and he was my guest at dinner at 10 Downing Street. The object of our meeting was to continue our discussions of matters of common interest which we have both found valuable.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Longden Mr Gilbert Longden , South West Hertfordshire

Did my right hon. Friend happen to read an article in The Times last week, by the right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Cross-man), in which he alleged that there had been great neglect, on the part of all Governments since the war, of our Canadian interests and friends, and that no British Minister has visited Canada except as a stopping-off place for Washington? If that is so, can my right hon. Friend do something to remedy that position?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I have been to Ottawa twice since becoming Prime Minister. It is perfectly natural that one pays a visit to the United States and to Canada when one is in North America. There have been individual visits by Ministers to Canada without their going on to the United States, when required, and the Minister for Trade carried out such a visit in May 1971. I think that we have made more visits to Canada than the Prime Minister of Canada has made to this country. But surely what is important is that we should make visits when justifiable, in whichever sphere they are concerned.

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick

Did the right hon. Gentleman explain to the Prime Minister of Canada the logic behind the situation in which, from 1st January, citizens of Canada will be admitted to this country only if they pass the most restrictive tests, whereas people from Réunion, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Martinique can come with parents, grandparents, parents-in-law, grandparents-in-law and children and will be admitted here to look for work without any restriction whatsoever?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The Prime Minister of Canada told me that he had no complaint of any kind about the procedures exercised in this country, nor would he have any complaints about the new procedures being introduced. Indeed, he recognised that the procedures for entry into Canada for citizens of this country were in some ways more severe than those we are introducing.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Bristol North East

Contrary to the racialist view expressed by the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman), is it not a fact that the Canadian Government, in already agreeing to take 6,300 Ugandan Asians, have more than played their part in helping this country and the Ugandan Asians out of a particular difficulty?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Yes, Sir. Canada has undoubtedly played a major part, together with India, in helping us to deal with that situation. I thought it right to thank the Prime Minister of Canada and, through him, the people of Canada, for the very generous action they have taken.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

In view of suggestions that there was disagreement between the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister of Canada about how long the Ottawa conference should be, and that the Canadian Prime Minister wanted a conference approaching normal length and the right hon. Gentleman a short one, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether agreement has been reached between them and with other Commonwealth Prime Ministers on how long the Ottawa conference will last?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

It is not a matter for the Prime Minister of Canada and myself to settle the length of the conference. This is a matter for all Prime Ministers to decide. But the right hon. Gentleman will recall that it was the Prime Minister of Canada who, at Singapore, nut forward various proposals for improving the way in which the Commonwealth conference is handled. These have been discussed with officials, and one of the matters discussed was the form of making speeches, hand-cuts to the Press, individual contributions and the length of the conference. There was no major disagreement about this. My view is that if a conference is being held at a time when Prime Ministers have to be away from their parliaments, in modern times something much less than 12 days is a long time for a Prime Minister to be away from a parliament. I am not the only one who holds that view.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

Is the Prime Minister aware that when I was in Canada it was humorously suggested to me that the difficulty with all British Prime Ministers is that they go to Washington first and go to Ottawa to tell them what Washington said, and always take Ottawa second. The suggestion was that it would be a good idea to go to Ottawa first and tell Washington what Ottawa said.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that suggestion, but on the two occasions on which I have visited North America since becoming Prime Minister I have visited Ottawa first.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

It did not make any difference, did it?