Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th January 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has yet studied the report of the Committee of Nine presented to the 19th Session of the North Atlantic Assembly held in Ankara last October; and if he will make a statement.
Yes, Sir. The Committee of Nine's report is a valuable contribution to public discussion of current issues in the transatlantic relationship. I welcome its publication, and in particular the stress that it lays on the continuing importance of the alliance to all its members.
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Can he confirm that any action has been taken on any of the recommendations made by these distinguished people?
I agree about the distinction of the group of people who made the recommendations. Taking action will be discussed within the alliance, as it is a matter for all the members of the alliance.
In view of the military and political problems in NATO today, will the Government consider carefully the references in that report to NATO providing greater opportunities for Members of Parliament of Europe and Canada, as well as United States Congressmen, to debate those problems?
In view of the great importance which I know Her Majesty's Government attach to improving relations between both sides of the North Atlantic alliance, will the Government give serious consideration to the recommendation that the North Atlantic Assembly, which is the only parliamentary body in which both North American and European parliamentarians meet together, should be given some kind of official recognition in this country? Will he urge the Government to press this recommendation on other European countries too? Is he aware that this is one of the matters that annoy our American allies, as they themselves recognise the North Atlantic Assembly officially in Congress?
Yes, Sir. I have noted that important recommendation. Her Majesty's Government have no objection in principle to a change in the status of the assembly. As my hon. Friend will know, however, any change that amounted to official recognition would require a decision by all 15 allied Governments.
Will the Under-Secretary give us an assurance that the Foreign Secretary's study of this very important report included a particular study of the notes of reservation as presented by individual members of the committee? If not, will a further study do so, particularly on the reservations on the subject of nuclear strategy?
Yes, Sir. We are studying all the reservations, as well as the main body of the report.
On the subject of nuclear strategy, I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is referring to the remarks about flexible response. It is worth making the point here in that connection that the growth in Soviet nuclear strategic capabilities was one of the factors that led the alliance to develop the doctrine of flexible response.