Political Co-operation

Oral Answers to Questions — European Community – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1980.

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Photo of Mr John Evans Mr John Evans , Newton 12:00 am, 3rd December 1980

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he remains satisfied with the level of European Economic Community co-operation in foreign policy.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flint West

asked the Lord Privy Seal when next he expects to meet the President of the European Commission to discuss more effective machinery for European political co-operation.

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Leek

asked the Lord Privy Seal what further proposals he intends to place before his European Economic Community colleagues for the development of a Community foreign policy.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects to meet the foreign ministers of the European Economic Community to discuss closer political cooperation.

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

The Government believe that the Nine should build on the recent achievements of political co-operation by strengthening its organisation and improving its procedures.

My right hon. and noble Friend has made a number of suggestions — that there should be a greater political commitment to co-operation in foreign policy; some sort of permanent support staff; and an improved procedure for convening meetings in an emergency.

Foreign Ministers have agreed that the organisation of political co-operation should be examined. The political directors will now prepare a report, and that will be considered by Foreign Ministers in due course.

Several Hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I shall call first those hon. Members whose questions are being answered.

Photo of Mr John Evans Mr John Evans , Newton

Will the Lord Privy Seal confirm that despite the suggestions of the Foreign Secretary, no other country in the EEC has taken up any of the suggestions that he put forward regarding co-operation on foreign policy?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

That is implicit. I have already answered that question in my original reply. I said that we have agreed that the organisation of political co-operation should be examined, and that is one of the questions that will be considered.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flint West

Will my right hon. Friend explain to any of my hon. Friends who may have been misled by the subtle charm of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) that the objectives of the so-called European reform group are irreconcilable with the settled policies of this party and this Goverment, and that its activities cause grave damage to effective European political co-operation, at a time when such co-operation is desperately needed to dissuade the Russians from putting any pressure on Poland?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. But the charm of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) must indeed have been very subtle because the prospectus that the group put forward is not only at odds with the policies of this Government but is incompatible with our continued membership of the Community. It is, therefore, a dud prospectus. At present, political co-operation is vitally important.

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Leek

In view of the deepening world economic recession, does my right hon. Friend propose to take any initiatives with his counterparts in Europe in order to obtain a positive response from the EEC to the Brandt Commission report?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

As my hon. Friend said earlier, we are continuing discussions, and a number of conferences are taking place. We do not have an immediate initiative in mind within the EEC, but this is one of the matters that crops up continually.

Photo of Mr David Hunt Mr David Hunt , Wirral

What initiative is my right hon. Friend planning to take to strengthen political co-operation at a time when that is more necessary than it has ever been in view of the serious and dangerous trouble spots throughout the world, and when the Community has an oportunity to show to the new Reagan Administration the strength that it can achieve?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

I agree with my hon. Friend, and I have outlined some of the organisational matters that my right hon. and noble Friend has suggested. As to the immediate situation, which the whole House will agree is serious, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is about to make a statement on the Luxembourg declaration.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Wandsworth Battersea North

Is the continuing sale of subsidised butter to the Soviet Union by the EEC one example of EEC foreign policy?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

No, it is not. That is an unfortunate example of trade policy which, as the right hon. Gentleman will be aware, is opposed by the British Government.

Photo of Mr Harvey Proctor Mr Harvey Proctor , Basildon

Will my right hon. Friend urge his Foreign Minister colleagues in the EEC to urge the Argentine to get its hands off the Falkland Islands?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

That is not a matter that is likely to come up quickly in our discussions on political co-operation.

Photo of Mr Ted Rowlands Mr Ted Rowlands , Merthyr Tydfil

Is it not a fact that political cooperation can sometimes lead to absurd conclusions. Is not one such example the decision of the Government to support the evil Pol Pot regime as the representative of Cambodia in the United Nations? Should not the Government first change their mind, and then try to persuade their EEC partners to do so?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

The hon. Gentleman knows that we do not support the Pol Pot regime. We made that clear a year ago, and we do not wish to see the return of that regime.

Photo of Mr Matthew Parris Mr Matthew Parris , West Derbyshire

With regard to the question of my lion. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer), does not my right hon. Friend accept that there are some of us who feel that radical change is needed within the Community, and that we have not despaired of changing it?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right. In fact, the so-called radical changes that were proposed in that document are incompatible with membership of the EEC.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Waltham Forest Walthamstow

Will the Lord Privy Seal confirm that European political co-operation has nothing to do with the European Commission, as was implied by the rather daft question of the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer)?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Chesham and Amersham

It is true that it has little to do with the European Commission, although the President of the Commission and one or two other commissioners are occasionally present.