HC Deb 28 February 1966 vol 725 cc879-80
10. Mr. Jackson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the visit of the official Rumanian delegation to Great Britain at the beginning of February.

53. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement regarding the recent visit of the Vice-President of Rumania.

Mr. Padley

This was an official visit, made at our invitation. Mr. Birlandeanu, First Deputy Prime Minister of Rumania, was accompanied by the Rumanian Minister of Foreign Trade, the First Deputy Foreign Minister and a number of senior advisers. The high level of the delegation shows that the Rumanian Government share our view of the importance of developing Anglo-Rumanian relations, and we were able to have useful discussions on many questions of common interest.

The delegation expressed a strong interest in developing trade, and were able to meet many representatives of British industry. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was glad to accept an invitation to visit Rumania and will, I hope, be going there in the autumn. Copies of the Communiqué issued at the end of the visit have been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Jackson

Can my hon. Friend tell me whether we are making any progress with the consular agreement? Secondly, are we likely to get speedy talks about compensation for the claims of British subjects?

Mr. Padley

Of course, we would like a consular agreement. The claims arise from bonds, which have been in default since the beginning of the war and which were held by British pre-war investors in the Rumanian oil industry, and other miscellaneous claims. These will be discussed in future.

Mr. Johnson

If my hon. Friend studies the Stock Exchange quotations, he will find that Rumanian shares have appreciated in value since his official visit. Will he greet this as a happy omen for increased commercial activity, which could do nothing but good to our two nations?

Mr. Padley

As my hon. Friend knows, it is the Government's policy to expand trade with all countries.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Will the hon. Gentleman say what specific assurances were given by the Rumanian delegation to rectify the adverse trade balance which this country suffers with Rumania? Secondly, did any discussions take place about the proposal for a nuclear-free zone in Europe, which was a prominent part of the Labour Party's last election manifesto?

Mr. Padley

As the noble Lady knows, the conversations were confidential, but certainly they ranged over the whole of East-West relations and, of course, dealt with the desirability of expanding trade between Britain and Rumania.

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