HC Deb 17 November 1969 vol 791 cc828-9
10. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultations he has had with the French Government about French participation in the Council of Ministers of the Western European Union; and with what result.

Mr. George Thomson

Western European Union was one of the subjects which my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary discussed with M. Schumann in New York on 20th September. He made clear to M. Schumann our hope that France would return to the Western European Union Council and take part in its work of political consultation.

Mr. Digby

As the Council has now been deferred to January, when it should be held in France under French presidency, will this not be a good opportunity to try to persuade France to come back to the Council of Ministers?

Mr. Thomson

We would very much like to see France playing her proper part in the work of the W.E.U. Council. No date has yet been fixed for the next meeting of the Council. That is a matter for the permanent representatives, and they will be discussing it very shortly.

Mr. Anderson

Was it made clear in the discussions that the French are no longer insisting on the completion of the agreement on agricultural financing before their willingness to discuss enlargement of the Community?

Mr. Thomson

That is a different point. The W.E.U. Council is not concerned with that.

Mr. Wood

Can the right hon. Gentleman say that without the return of France the package of the budget of the next financial year would be impeded?

Mr. Thomson

I should not like to speculate about a hypothetical situation like that. We hope that France will come back and play her proper part in the deliberations of the Council.