HC Deb 23 November 1970 vol 807 cc29-30
40. Mr. Golding

asked the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications why the British delegation refused to support Austria, Italy, West Germany, France, Belgium and Sweden in their declaration of support at the European Conference of Posts and Telecommunications in August for the principle of granting to the Postal, Telegraph and Telephone International observer status at the European Conference of Posts and Telecommunications Assemblies.

Mr. Chataway

The United Kingdom's position was set out fully by our spokesman at the conference, and I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a translation of his remarks as they will appear in the record of the Conference.

Mr. Golding

Is the Minister aware that the British delegation's refusal to go along with most of the other major countries has brought the British Post Office into disrepute with many Administrations and that this decision was received with great anger by trade unionists in Britain?

Mr. Chataway

As the view we took was supported by 14 voting countries present, whereas only eight voted against, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's analysis of the position is correct.

Following is the translation:



Statement by United Kingdom spokesman (translation from French)

In the United Kingdom's view adoption of the Austrian proposal would create a precedent which would embarrass other international organisations in which participation of trade union representatives was not customary. If Austria's proposal were accepted it would be difficult not only to identify the problems that directly concerned the staff but also to deny observer status to other international bodies which represented the interests of users, carriers, etc. Furthermore, there was a danger that if the present scope of C.E.P.T. were enlarged its effectiveness would be impaired and its operation as an administrative conference would be hampered by the introduction into the debates of an element of political controversy, which would be contrary to Article 2 of the Arrangement The fundamentals of the problem ought to be examined by the Plenary Assembly, which would have to reach a clear decision. At the present the United Kingdom was opposed to the adoption of the Austrian proposal.