HC Deb 21 February 1967 vol 741 cc1427-9
Q6. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about his official visit to Bonn.

Q8. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on his visit to Bonn.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member, to the Answer I gave on 16th February to a Question by the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall).—[Vol. 741, c. 800.]

Mr. Marten

In spite of that Answer, does the Prime Minister realise that there is still considerable confusion on both sides of the House about the question of offset costs in Germany? Could he tell the House simply whether the Germans are still willing to contribute £31 million or even more to this problem at this time?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend dealt with this very fully yesterday. As I told the House last Thursday, the discussion between the German Federal Chancellor and myself—and, of course, the two foreign Ministers—referred to offset costs, but we all agreed that this is a matter to be left to the proper machinery, which is the tripartite discussions. No suggestion whatever was made to us that the Germans could not do more than the £31 million, and still less any question of withdrawing the £31 million.

Mr. Thorpe

In view of the fact that the Prime Minister's Bonn talks will be extended to other European capitals, can he tell us if the speech of the President of the Board of Trade assisted, impeded or had no impact whatever on the course of the Common Market talks?

The Prime Minister

The third, Sir.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Could the Prime Minister help to clear up this little mystery? Have the Bonn Government confirmed or repudiated Saturday's Finance Minister's statement? Does the Prime Minister stand by his undertaking that if these costs are not covered he will reduce our forces in West Germany?

The Prime Minister

The answer to the first part of that supplementary question I have already given. We have had no intimation in any shape or form on the lines of the statement that was issued on Saturday. In regard to the second part of the question, the answer is, Yes, Sir. What I said last year is the policy of the Government.

Lord Balniel

With great respect, I do not think the Prime Minister has answered either of the two questions on support costs. When he returned from Bonn he stated clearly that the German Government were in no doubt about our position—[HON. MEMBERS: "Question."] May I ask whether in the discussions in Bonn the Prime Minister sought confirmation from the German Government that they stood by the joint communique they issued undertaking to pay £31½ million.

The Prime Minister

I thought I had answered it, but I will try to make it clear. The Federal Chancellor and I agreed that the purpose of the discussions was about the Common Market. We both agreed that there were serious problems between the two Governments which would not impede then or at any other time our discussions on the Common Market. We further agreed that we would not go into the merits of the argument, and said that this was a matter for the tripartite machinery.

Mr. Peyton

May I ask the Prime Minister if any German Ministers he met called him an "old fruit", or if, when saying goodbye, they told him he had become "part of the German way of life"?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I do not recall that the phrase "old fruit", which was addressed to Mr. Kosygin—I think I am quoting the incident correctly—was made by one of Her Majesty's Ministers. It was made by a young lady at or near a factory. In regard to the second point, certainly this was not said to me. We were there for only a day, and I am not certain that if we had been there a bit longer it would have been said.