HC Deb 08 February 1972 vol 830 cc1135-6
Q7. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects officially to meet Monsieur Pompidou.

The Prime Minister

I look forward to welcoming President Pompidou to Chequers on 19th and 20th February.

Mr. William Hamilton

The Prime Minister should take my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) with him.

Mr. Skinner

That might not be a bad idea. After all, I might have something sensible to say to him. Is the Prime Minister aware that when he next cuddles up to President Pompidou he should explain to him how it is in the British national interest to hand over several hundred million pounds to French farmers when he seemingly will not hand over about £120 million to the National Coal Board in the interests of the British coalminers?

The Prime Minister

I was told that the hon. Gentleman made similarly rather ill-informed remarks on the radio this morning. If he takes the trouble to study the White Papers published by the last Administration and by this Government, he will understand the reasons.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Will my right hon. Friend include—[Interruption]—I I am sorry for the enthusiasm of the claque on the other side of the House. Will my right hon. Friend include on the agenda for the discussions between himself and President Pompidou the question of the relationship between the enlarged Community and the United States of America, since it would be a disaster for the free world if a rift opened between them?

The Prime Minister

I agree with the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. It is most unlikely that any meeting will be held between heads of Government in the next year at which that will not be one of the foremost questions on the agenda.

Mr. Raymond Fletcher

In his forthcoming conversations with the President of France, will the Prime Minister attempt to cure that gentleman of some of his more arrogant bad habits, such as continually giving the impression that the Concorde is a French aeroplane sustained by a British sub-contractor?

The Prime Minister

The French President and the French Government are just as proud of Concorde as we are. They have done their utmost to sell the plane, and we shall do the same.

Mr. Tapsell

Following the discussions with the French President, will my right hon. Friend see whether he can publicly elucidate a little further what our policy will be towards the future rôle of sterling, since many of the countries which comprise the Scheduled Territories are studying most carefully what policy they should adopt between now and September, 1973, when the present arrangements expire?

The Prime Minister

That is a matter to be discussed between ourselves and the sterling area countries. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has made the general position plain, but if anyone wants to discuss it further with Her Majesty's Government we are perfectly prepared to do so.