HC Deb 01 March 1965 vol 707 cc922-4
25 and 26. Mr. Webster

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) if he will initiate discussions with European countries concerning joint projects, the costs of which are beyond the resources of single European countries;

(2) if he will initiate discussions with European countries in order to facilitate co-operation on joint projects of advanced technical design.

Mr. M. Stewart

We are already engaged in a number of joint military and civil projects with European countries and there are standing arrangements with several of them for discussion of possible co-operation in defence research and development. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister indicated on 2nd February, we are now examining a number of possibilities for joint research and development with our Continental partners in respect of both civil and military aircraft.

Mr. Webster

In the present state of things, both at home and in Europe, is the Foreign Secretary aware that probably this is the best method of co-operation with these countries and that it should also be done on as wide a range as possible, bringing in possibly the Dutch radio industry, the German aircraft industry and, perhaps, Italian industries, in order that they could put pressure on their Governments to purchase the end products, thus bringing us nearer to the break-even point? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that discussions on the air defence projects announced by the Secretary of State for Defence were started by the previous Government and nearly jeopardised by the statement on the Concord in the Government's White Paper last November?

Mr. Stewart

This is certainly one of the most promising fields for co-operation. I indicated in an earlier reply that we would welcome other Governments being able to take part. The number of things that we are told the late Government would have done seems to increase every week that passes.

Mr. George Y. Mackie

Is the Secretary of State aware that the ultimate example of co-operation in Europe is the European Economic Community? Is he further aware that any lesser attempts appear to other European countries to be "fiddling" and that the sooner he makes up his mind that the ultimate objective is to go into Europe the easier these forms of co-operation will be?

Mr. Stewart

Now the hon. Gentleman seems to be at variance with his hon. Friend sitting next to him. I do not regard the examples of practical cooperation with which the question was concerned as "fiddling". As for entry into the Common Market as envisaged, there is no reason to suppose that the circumstances which led to the breakdown of the Brussels negotiations have changed. In these circumstances, it is sensible and useful to find practical cooperation wherever it can be got.

Mr. Maudling

On the civil side, will the Foreign Secretary consider in particular what use can be made of the facilities of the O.E.C.D., which embraces all the European countries?

Mr. Webster

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. With all due courtesey to my neighbour, the hon. Member for Caith-ness and Sutherland (Mr. George Y. Mackie), I do not regard him as my hon. Friend.

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that raises a point of order.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Since many of the subjects coming within the purview of these questions involve very complicated and technical matters, will the Foreign Secretary indicate where he sees his responsibilities lying as compared with those, for example, of the Minister of Technology? Would not he agree that the more technical these subjects the less politics brought into them the better?

Mr. Stewart

The last proposition seems to be rather too general to express an opinion about, but I think it is of the nature of relations with other countries that they are bound to involve both the Foreign Office and other Departments, according to the nature of the work one is engaged upon.