HC Deb 06 April 1965 vol 710 cc233-7
Q1. Mr. Kershaw

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement about his visit to the President of France.

Q2. Mr. Gordon Campbell

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his recent visit to Paris.

Q3. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Prime Minister what consultations he had with President de Gaulle during his recent visit to Paris on Anglo-French co-operation in the field of nuclear weapons.

Q4. Mr. Chataway

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the President of France about Anglo-French co-operation in the provision of a European nuclear deterrent.

Q6. Mr. Jackson

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the talks that he held with President de Gaulle, during his recent visits to Paris.

Q11. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Prime Minister what consultations he had with President de Gaulle during his recent visit to Paris regarding the activation of the general agreement to borrow and the reform of the international liquidity system.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I would refer hon. Members to the communiqué issued after the talks which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I had in Paris. With permission, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. There were no discussions about Anglo-French co-operation in the production of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Kershaw

Is the Prime Minister aware that the House will greatly appreciate his courtesy in coming here in spite of the fact that he appears to have caught a very bad cold in Paris? If he is going to go home to bed and not hear the Budget Speech, he will have the envy as well as the sympathy of a great many hon. Members. About his visit to France: does not he agree that it is important that we should not fritter away, one by one, matters which, if taken all together, could provide a solid basis for an advance towards a united Europe?

The Prime Minister

I much appreciate the hon. Member"s sympathy. He can show it in a practical way by giving me a pair, which I have not been able to get for the last half hour, and since he has made it clear that he does not want to hear the Budget Speech, which I do. I am not sure what he, meant by talking about "frittering away".

Mr. Kershaw

To the extent that a number of bilateral arrangements will be made now and then with different countries, without an overall plan for an approach by this country to Europe and by Europe to this country, it appears that one may sometimes sacrifice that overall approach to individual negotiations from time to time.

The Prime Minister

I do not think that there is any question of that; indeed the negotiations with France were very much related to the negotiations that we are having with other countries.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

The communiqué refers to the possibility of more fruitful relations between the E.F.T.A. countries and the E.E.C. countries. Can the Prime Minister say whether the possibility of direct talks between these two groups was discussed?

The Prime Minister

As in the recent talks in Bonn, I made it clear that until we had had discussions with our E.F.T.A. partners—and since our European partners, whether in Germany or France, would wish to have talks with their E.E.C. partners—it was not possible to speak on behalf of the group of which one is a member. These talks provided an opportunity for trying out one or two ideas, and the next step now lies with each of us talking, in E.F.T.A. and E.E.C., to see if we can come to some working arrangement.

Mr. Jackson

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the reason for the great success of his visit, upon which we congratulate him, was his essentially pragmatic approach to each individual problem of Anglo-French relations, in strong contrast to the policy of sulk and silence of the last two years of Tory Government?

The Prime Minister

In this kind of negotiation, particularly the one we had last week, where, as the whole House knows, there were fundamental differences of approach to a number of vitally important questions, one can get the sort of results one hopes for only by being absolutely frank about the things on which there is disagreement and by not fluffing over them in woolly communiqués, and then concentrating on those issues where we can agree and do something constructive.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

We had better not go into comparisons—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] We should have to take into account the Concord, and other matters. I want to ask the Prime Minister rather a different question, which arises obliquely out of this but which is nevertheless important. The right hon. Gentleman discussed the question of the reunification of Germany. He will know, as we all do today, that a serious situation may possibly arise in Berlin. Will he keep the House informed in the next day or two about that?

The Prime Minister

Yes, certainly. I did not myself enter into any comparison with the past in this matter, though I am bound to say to the right hon. Gentleman that he may or may not be disappointed that his warnings about Anglo-French relations in connection with the Concord story do not seem to have reached General de Gaulle.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Did the right hon. Gentleman refer to Berlin?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I am sorry that my voice is not strong.

Mr. Grimond

From the statement today and the communiqué it appears that there was no discussion on Britain entering the Common Market. May I ask the Prime Minister whether that is correct? Would he make clear that the type of Europe we have in mind is not a Gaullist Europe?

The Prime Minister

So far as the further development of the Community is concerned, I did hear in some detail President de Gaulle's views on how he thought that could develop. I do not think anyone thinks that there is any immediate practical possibility of entering into the Common Market. That is not on in present circumstances, as right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House have made clear. What we did want to do was to minimise the danger of division of Europe and the growth of high tariff walls affecting the movement of goods and trade and to find all practical and technical means of co-operation not only in the military field but the civil field as well.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Did my right hon. Friend find himself impressed in the discussion with the French view of developments in Vietnam and will he consider the possibility of making arrangements for such discussions to continue at another level with the possibility of there emerging a joint Anglo-French view on this difficult subject?

The Prime Minister

It was clear that the views of the two countries on Vietnam were not identical. I did not see any evidence that the view expressed by the French Government was more likely to lead to a peaceful and lasting settlement than the line that we are taking.

Mr. Maudling

Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether he discussed with General de Gaulle the importance of British attendance at any talks about the future political developments in Europe?

The Prime Minister

Yes, we stressed this very strongly indeed, as we had done in Bonn earlier, though I gather there is still some doubt about whether there are to be any immediate talks on this subject even in the Six.

The following communique was issued after meetings in Paris between President de Gaulle and members of the French Government, and Mr. Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of Great Britain, and Mr. Michael Stewart, the Foreign Secretary.— 2nd and 3rd April, 1965. At the invitation of the French Government, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Harold Wilson, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michael Stewart, visited Paris on April 2 and 3. The Prime Minister was received by the President of the French Republic with whom he had a wide-ranging exchange of views in two conversations. There was also a separate meeting between Mr. Wilson and M. Pompidou. Mr. Stewart had separate discussions on questions of foreign policy with the French Foreign Minister, M. Couve de Murville. The President and the Prime Minister also had discussions in a larger circle, which were joined by Mr. Stewart and, on the French side, by this Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Finance Minister, the Minister of Transport and the Secretary of State at the Foreign Ministry. Frank and friendly exchanges covered all problems of common interest to the two countries. The President and the Prime Minister discussed their respective points of view about the maintenance of the security of the West within the framework of the Alliance which unites their countries. Among the subjects discussed was relations with the East. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that, in view of the evolution of the situation, their Governments should continue to work for a steady improvement in their relations with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Eastern Europe. Other questions were also discussed from the respective viewpoints of the two Governments. The situation in other parts of the world was also reviewed. The two Governments considered the problems of Africa and the Middle East in the light of their common desire to contribute to the stability and the economic development of these regions with full respect for the independence of the countries concerned. They agreed to remain in close contact on these problems. The situation in South East Asia was the subject of careful study. Despite the differences between the views of the two Governments both sides recognised the dangers of the situation and the need for lasting and peaceful settlement in Viet-Nam. The questions of economic and monetary policy were discussed. Mr. Wilson stated the determination of the U.K. Government to strengthen the British economy, to maintain the present exchange value of sterling and to remove as soon as possible the import surcharge. The Prime Minister described the measures taken for these purposes. The President welcomed this statement. There was a detailed discussion of the urgent and complex problems which arise in relation to international payments and the expansion of world trade. There was a full exchange of views on various means of dealing with the problems. It was agreed that the Ministers responsible should meet to discuss this question. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that a successful conclusion of the Geneva tariff negotiations would contribute to more fruitful relations between the E.E.C. and E.F.T.A. countries. The President and the Prime Minister agreed on the need for developing closer practical co-operation between France and Britain in the field of aviation and other advanced technologies. They agreed that the Ministers concerned should meet and examine in greater detail the scope for joint projects of this type, which might then, as appropriate, be opened to the co-operation of other interested Governments. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that their talks had been of great value and had provided a basis for the development of Anglo-French relations in a spirit of cordiality. They agreed that they and their Governments would remain in close contact and that further Ministerial talks would take place as appropriate.

Paris, 3rd April, 1965.