HC Deb 04 May 1970 vol 801 cc20-1
19. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the French Government have attached any conditions to its renewed participation in the Council of Ministers of Western European Union.

Mr. George Thomson

The terms of the understanding reached by all members of Western European Union were made public on 22nd April. I have placed a copy in the Library of the House.

Mr. Digby

While I welcome a return of France to the Council and the fact that the political construction of Europe can be discussed, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can say how the other three applicant States will be kept in touch with any of these discussions or whether there is no provision for that factor?

Mr. Thomson

If the other applicant States wish to be associated with discussions in W.E.U. on European political construction, provision could be made for them to attend as observers for that particular purpose. I think there is still an open question as to what sort of arrangements are proposed by the six countries of the Communities in the discussion of political unification after economic negotiations begin.

Mr. Wood

Is the Minister satisfied that the Six will not take further steps towards political unity in the absence of this country?

Mr. Thomson

This is still an open question. As we understand the matter at the moment, the great majority of the Governments concerned have made it clear to us that they wish to see us play a full part in the work under paragraph 15 of the Hague Communiqué after economic negotiations have begun. But the Six have still to discuss this matter further. They are meeting in Rome shortly, and we must await the results of those discussions.

Mr. Henig

Could my right hon. Friend say what is the status of the British proposal made more than 18 months ago to use W.E.U. as a European forum for discussion about the Middle East, and whether in view of the latest Soviet moves in that area he intends to reactivate that proposal?

Mr. Thomson

The proposal does not need reactivating. It has been active in the last 12 months. We have found the discussions in W.E.U. on various aspects of international affairs most useful, and we hope that they will continue.