HC Deb 16 November 1970 vol 806 cc853-4
29. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about his recent discussions with the Soviet Foreign Minister.

54. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his talks with Mr. Gromyko.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I had about six hours' talks with Mr. Gromyko. The main subjects we discussed were Anglo-Soviet relations, European matters, the Middle East and Indochina. It was useful to hear a full explanation of Soviet views and to have these contacts with the Soviet Foreign Minister at an active time in East-West relations.

Mr. Blaker

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in recent years our balance of trade with the Soviet Union has been continuously adverse, and has tended to get worse, and that the remedy for this situation, in view of Soviet trading methods, lies entirely in the hands of the Soviet Government? Did my right hon. Friend raise this matter with Mr. Gromyko?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

We had quite a long discussion about how this situation might be remedied.

Mr. Allaun

Was the question of a European security conference discussed? Why is it that although 24 European Governments are supporting the proposal the Foreign Secretary, from the indications in his public speeches—and from what he said today—seems to be dragging his feet? Surely considerable preparation should not be used as an argument for postponement, delay or even frustration altogether?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The position is that the Warsaw Pact countries have made certain proposals. These are being considered by the N.A.T.O. allies, and at the next N.A.T.O. meeting we shall look at the question of a security conference. Nevertheless, if this is to be useful, and not to be simply a propaganda exercise, it will need the most meticulous preparation.