HC Deb 14 January 1971 vol 809 cc238-40
12. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of State for Defence what progress has been made towards greater co-ordination by European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; and whether he will make a statement on the Brussels meeting in December.

Lord Balniel

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 17th December to the right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) which gives the Communiquê of the December Euro Group meeting.—[Vol. 808, c. 406–7.]

Mr. Digby

As these communiqués are not always very informative, could my right hon. Friend give an assurance that there was at that meeting closer co-operation between the European defence allies?

Lord Balniel

I agree with my hon. Friend that all too frequently the communiqués are remarkably uninformative. It was a very successful meeting. As hon. Members will know, it resulted in the Euro-Group members agreeing to undertake the European Defence Improvement Programme, which was a major step forward in European defence collaboration.

Dr. David Owen

The Minister has implied in answer to a previous Question that some members of N.A.T.O. agree with the policy of Her Majesty's Government on selling arms to South Africa and accept the so-called threat in the Indian Ocean. Will the hon. Gentleman name the N.A.T.O. members which have accepted this policy?

Lord Balniel

I suggest that if the hon. Gentleman had wished to ask a question about the last Question he should have done so when it was called.

Dr. Owen

On a point of order. Question 12 refers to co-ordination of policy by European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation". Is it in order for the Minister not to answer a question which is directly related to the Question on the Order Paper?

Mr. Speaker

I am not responsible for the way in which Ministers answer Questions.