HC Deb 20 April 1972 vol 835 cc744-5
Mr. St John-Stevas

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement of Government policy on the placing in London of the offices of European institutions.

Mr. Maudling

I have been asked to reply.

The siting of the offices of European institutions is a matter for agreement between the participating States, but in appropriate cases we should be glad to consider locations in London or elsewhere in this country.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. As the only European institution which has a secretariat in London is the WEU, could not we invite a European institution to come here and would it not be appropriate to offer London as the permanent home for the European Parliament, England being the mother of Parliaments?

Mr. Maudling

There is a lot in what my hon. Friend says. These are, of course, matters for mutual decision by all members of the organisation. However, we are very happy indeed to see European organisations established here and I assure my hon. Friend that we miss no opportunity of putting the suggestion forward.

Mr. David Steel

Will the Deputy Prime Minister bear in mind that while we welcome the basing of European institutions in this country, the last place in which they should be established is London, in accordance with the Government's regional policies? Will he consider Edinburgh and points thereabouts as a suitable area?

Mr. Maudling

I rather anticipated that supplementary question, as my main answer showed. I agree that it would be fine if they wished to establish themselves in Scotland or other parts of the country. However, there are certain institutions which can come only to London and which, for technical reasons, must be alongside certain London institutions.

Mr. Kinnock

If the worst should happen and we go into Europe, will the right hon. Gentleman consider using his influence to ensure that if institutions come to Britain they will go to South Wales—[Interruption.]—they will find there the best in Western civilisation—because of the regional policies which we shall be forced to accommodate if we become members of the EEC? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, in other words, that this will be the only chance we shall have of bringing further jobs to South Wales?

Mr. Maudling

I cannot accept the premise on which the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question was based, but if people like to establish themselves in South Wales, with all the charms and attractions of that area, I shall be delighted.