Heads of Government (Downing Street Meeting)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th May 1977.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00 am, 9th May 1977

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the Downing Street Summit, which was attended by the Presidents of France and of the United States, and the Prime Ministers of Canada, France, Italy and Japan and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic, as well as the Finance and Foreign Ministers of the countries represented, and yesterday by the President of the European Commission.

Nearly a year has elapsed since our meeting in Puerto Rico, and there was a general wish among the leaders of the major industrial democracies to consult, to exchange experiences and ideas and to harmonise as far as possible our responses to our shared problems, recognising that our well-being is bound up together. Our discussion had the purpose of agreeing a common analysis, and so a common approach.

We have been able to share our views with the new American Administration and to review the state of the world's economy and examine our present policies as a whole. We have reviewed our policies to combat inflation and unemployment and discussed the policies that will be needed to reach a successful conclusion of the Conference on International Economic Co-operation. We also readily responded to President Carter's call for a close examination both of the need to conserve energy and of the dangers of nuclear proliferation.

Let me briefly restate seven target areas where we pledged ourselves to action. First, we agree that our most urgent task is to create more jobs, including special measures for young people, and that hand in hand with the fight against unemployment is the fight against inflation. Inflation destroys jobs, corrodes democracy and undermines economies strong and weak.

Secondly, Heads of Government committed themselves to maintain their tar- gets for economic growth or for stabilisation policies. We recognised that growth rates must be maintained in the stronger economies, increase in the weaker economies, and inflation tackled successfully in both, if we are to cut unemployment and provide a basis for sustained non-inflationary growth.

If countries concerned seem likely to fall short, they will adopt further policies to achieve their targets. This should give added stability and confidence.

Thirdly, we committed ourselves to seek more resources for the International Monetary Fund and to support the link between its loans and the adoption of appropriate stabilisation policies. Such facilities are essential if countries now in balance of payments deficit are to maintain reasonable levels of internal activity and foreign trade so that the world can avoid the danger of new trade and payment restrictions.

The danger of new trade restrictions also prompted our fourth pledge: that we would work to expand opportunities for world trade by giving a new impetus to the multilateral trade negotiations originally launched at Tokyo in 1973, whilst not removing the right of individual countries to avoid significant market disruption.

In view of the increase in demand for energy and oil imports, which is placing increasing pressure on finite sources of fuel, we pledged ourselves to greater energy conservation and agreed on the need for greater exchanges of technology, joint research and development for the efficient use of energy sources, including the improved production and use of coal.

This brought us face to face with the nuclear dilemma. The present generation has an awesome responsibility for the future of mankind. We agreed to launch an urgent study, the first stage of which we intend will be completed within two months, of how to reconcile the world's demand for nuclear weapons. Our initial studies will be concerned with the terms of reference for evaluating the nuclear fuel cycle internationally.

Our seventh pledge was to the world's poor, for whom the impact of the oil crisis and the world recession has been devastating. The countries attending the Summit agreed to do all in their power by means of trade, aid and finance to help the developing countries towards a just share in the sustained growth of the world economy. We should work for a successful conclusion of the CIEC in Paris at the end of the month. We also invite the COMECON countries to join us in this, the only war worth fighting—the war on want.

We placed on record a welcome for the work being done to achieve international agreement to eliminate irregular practices in international trade, banking and commerce.

The text of the Downing Street Declaration, together with the fuller Appendix issued with it, will be published in the Official Report.

Mr. Speaker, all of us recognised the difficulties of raising standards, or in certain countries even of maintaining them, and the problem of overcoming unemployment. But we shared a common determination to succeed, and we ended our discussions with the confidence that our democratic systems have the resilience and the inner strength to surmount our present difficulties.

It is our perception that the world economy is one and must be managed increasingly as one. This weekend the seven leading industrial democracies pledged themselves to a programme aimed not simply at their own future prosperity but in working for that prosperity to be more fairly shared in a safe and peaceful world.

Mr. Speaker, all of us recognised the difficulties of raising standards, or in certain countries even of maintaining them, and the problem of overcoming unemployment. But we shared a common determination to succeed, and we ended our discussions with the confidence that our democratic systems have the resilience and the inner strength to surmount our present difficulties.

It is our perception that the world economy is one and must be managed increasingly as one. This weekend the seven leading industrial democracies pledged themselves to a programme aimed not simply at their own future prosperity but in working for that prosperity to be more fairly shared in a safe and peaceful world.