HC Deb 29 June 1955 vol 543 cc395-6
42. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the attention of Her Majesty's Government has been drawn to the European plan to aid the depressed areas of Southern Europe, recently published by the European League for Economic Co-operation, which was recently referred to the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation: and if he will state the Government's policy in relation to this proposal.

Mr. Turton

Yes, Sir. The Plan published by the European League for Economic Co-operation proposes substantial financial aid in the form of gifts and loans to Southern Europe from the more developed countries of Western and Northern Europe. Her Majesty's Government are not unmindful of the needs of Southern Europe and are actively cooperating with the countries concerned, in the appropriate international organisations of which they are members, to facilitate this development. Her Majesty's Government's resources are, however, limited, and we already have to bear a heavy burden of existing commitments, including those of development in the United Kingdom itself and in the other countries of the Commonwealth.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the Minister aware that, apart from the political and moral case for helping our fellow Europeans, there is a good economic case, in that the supply of goods and services envisaged in this "Marshall Plan," as it were, may well help the unemployment situation in Northern Ireland; and also build up a reservoir of orders behind our engineering industry which, admittedly, is extended in these days?

Mr. Turton

It is a fact that this matter is at present under consideration by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. It is to make recommendations on this matter to the next plenary session which will be held, I think, in March, 1956.

Mr. Smithers

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Economic Committee of the Council of Europe is also carrying out a detailed investigation of this problem, and will he hear its recommendations in mind when they come to hand?

Mr. Turton

Yes. Sir, most certainly.