HC Deb 20 July 1970 vol 804 cc22-4
25. Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on his recent discussions with M. Maurice Schumann, the French Foreign Minister.

32. Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the question of the French rejoining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was discussed with the French Foreign Minister during his recent visit to Paris; and what was the outcome.

55. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his official talks with members of the French Government.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

My talks with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of France on 15th July were very friendly indeed. They were an encouraging sign of the continuing process of improvement in the close relations that we enjoy with the French Government. The details of our conversation must remain confidential, but we covered, among other matters of common interest, European affairs, including relations between East and West Europe, and the situation in the Middle East.

Mr. Lewis

As the details, which are confidential, seem to have been officially leaked or inspired and have appeared in the Press, will the right hon. Gentleman say what discussions there have been on nuclear weapons?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

No, Sir, not beyond saying that I have said to the French Foreign Minister that if France had anything to say to us on this subject we should be glad to hear it.

Mr. Moyle

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the French have decided to return to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation? If they have not, how will the Prime Minister's concept of an Anglo-French joint nuclear deterrent ever be applied, or is this a policy which will be quietly dropped by the right hon. Gentleman now that the General Election has been held?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The French Government must express their view to the N.A.T.O. Alliance; it is not for me to do so. The French Government have done so. There could be nuclear arrangements complementary to the N.A.T.O. Alliance, if necessary.

Mr. Healey

In view of the great importance of his last statement that there might be nuclear arrangements between Britain and France complementary to N.A.T.O. but outside the context of the Alliance—a statement which will be profoundly disturbing to most of our allies in Europe—will the right hon. Gentleman say whether he has consulted our partners in the Nuclear Planning Group of N.A.T.O. on this matter and, if not, why not?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I did not say what the right hon. Gentleman attributed to me. I said that there could be arrangements. Whether it is practical or desirable that there should be is quite another matter, and whether the French will have anything to propose on this is unsure.

Mr. Healey

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question about consultation with the Nuclear Planning Group?