HC Deb 09 April 1970 vol 799 cc746-9
Q2. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the visit of the Swedish Prime Minister.

Q8. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the visit of the Prime Minister of Sweden.

Q10. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Prime Minister whether he will discuss with the visiting Prime Minister of Sweden the fact that Swedish funds are being paid to terrorist movements in Southern Africa directed against British subjects in Rhodesia; and whether he will make a statement about this official visit.

The Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of Sweden left London this morning after an official visit in the course of which we had a full and wide-ranging discussion on a number of subjects of common interest to our two countries. Our talks, which were, of course, confidential, covered the future of Europe in all its aspects and other matters of international interest including South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle East. We were also able to review the whole field of Anglo-Swedish technological co-operation.

On Question Q10, if the "fact" alleged by the hon. Gentleman is that Swedish Government funds are being used for these purposes, this is not a fact and the rest of his Question does not therefore arise.

Mr. Marten

During the talks, did the Prime Minister give the Swedish Prime Minister an assurance that nothing would be done during the negotiations on the Common Market to rupture the extremely successful E.F.T.A., because that organisation might be very useful to this country if our application fails for the third time?

The Prime Minister

All our discussions were within the context of the agreement made at the E.F.T.A. Ministerial Council in 1967 in relation to negotiations with the E.E.C. No change was considered in respect of that announcement, which was made to the House at the time. We agreed to maintain the very closest contact in their negotiations and ours.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Can the Prime Minister confirm that the Government have now accepted the principle of parallel negotiations between Britain and the E.E.C. and those E.F.T.A. countries which wish to join the E.E.C.? If that is so, what machinery does he intend to provide to co-ordinate those negotiations?

The Prime Minister

The position about negotiations is not clear because, as I told the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) on 3rd February, we have not yet heard from the E.E.C. how it wants to conduct the negotiations, but, as I said to the right hon. Gentleman, we shall be negotiating for Britain's entry into the Communities ourselves, and not as a member of a general team. It will not be a collective discussion. As to keeping in touch with our E.F.T.A. partners, there will be bilateral discussions throughout, and this was further cemented this week. There will be regular E.F.T.A. Ministerial meetings, and if other special meetings are needed, such as the Prime Ministerial meeting that I called in December, 1966, of course we shall hold them.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Did the Swedish Prime Minister assure the right hon. Gentleman that funds being sent to the so-called liberation movements of Southern Africa would not be transferred to movements acting against Rhodesia? On the larger question of Europe and the importance of wider European unity, were any of the differences between the two Governments on such important questions as Southern Africa and Vietnam reconciled, because if European unity is to mean anything European nations should take a common approach to such problems?

The Prime Minister

On the first point, I am not, of course, responsible for the Swedish Government, but any funds going from the Swedish Government not only to Rhodesia or in respect of Rhodesia but also to the wider area of Southern Africa covered by the hon. Member's question go for humanitarian purposes, as do any funds from us—for example, for education and welfare. Most of the funds are channelled through the United Nations or other international agencies, but some go direct to Southern Africa but they are specifically limited to humanitarian purposes.

On the second question, of course we did discuss Vietnam, as I made clear, with other questions. There is something of a difference between the Swedish position and ours, but I do not think the unity of Europe can be interpreted as meaning that the British Government should seek to impose its will on a sovereign Government in Scandinavia. We were able to sort out some difficulties and differences between us on the position of the Swedish Government, which recognise Hanoi and have a Hanoi Mission in Sweden. Their position is different from ours and we discussed the differences as well as those items on which we agree.

Mr. Orme

Did my right hon. Friend congratulate the Swedish Prime Minister on his courageous public stand against the war in Vietnam? Was he able to reconcile the British and Swedish Government's views to bring them closer into line and to bring pressure on the American Government to bring the Vietnam war to an end?

The Prime Minister

No, there was no question of congratulations in this matter. As to the courageous opposition of the Swedish Government to the war in Vietnam, the Government of this country and all other Governments are opposed to the war in Vietnam, and we have lent our full aid to try to get that ghastly war ended. As to talks in Paris, where alone there seems to be the immediate hope of ending the war, of course it is for us all to bring pressure on all concerned to reach an agreement. My detailed impression of what is happening in Paris is that pressure needs to be brought on the representatives of Hanoi, who have it in their power almost immediately to reach a situation where peace—a very honourable peace for North Vietnam as well as for everyone else—can be secured.

Mr. Shinwell

In his conversations with the Swedish Prime Minister, did my right hon. Friend explain, as reported in an interview with the Daily Express, that if Sweden associated itself with the E.E.C. it would be on the clear understanding that on no account would it allow itself to be deprived of full control of foreign affairs and defence? Am I to understand that that is the position of the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister

I do not know about the report in the particular newspaper quoted by my right hon. Friend, but the position of the Swedish Government in relation to the E.E.C. has, I think, always been clear. I have ascertained that it is exactly the same as was stated by the Swedish Government at the end of July, 1967; namely, that they seek the closest association with the Common Market, not necessarily under Article 238 but by whatever is the most appropriate means, and very much welcome the economic consequences of such an arrangement. But in deciding what the arrangement should be, the Swedish Government will be concerned to maintain their traditional and historical posture of neutrality. That will be their decision. It will be their job to establish with the Commission or the Common Market Ministers how closely the economic arrangements can be fully consistent with their posture on political neutrality.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. Heath. Business Question.

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