HC Deb 22 February 1972 vol 831 cc1100-2
Q.7. Mr. Blaker

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about his consultations with Monsieur Pompidou, during the latter's recent visit to the United Kingdom.

Q.9. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on his official talks with President Pompidou.

The Prime Minister

To my great regret I had to ask President Pompidou last Friday to postpone his visit to Chequers, because of the likelihood that discussions about the dispute on miners' pay would continue while he was here. I am already in touch with the President about another date for our meeting.

Mr. Blaker

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the House will hope that the President is able to find a date on which to come fairly soon? In view of the close identity of interests on so many matters now existing between France and this country, is not the time auspicious to make a forward move towards a closer alignment of foreign policies, probably in the context of the enlarged Communities?

The Prime Minister

We have been working closely with the French Government, as we have with other members of the Community. In a number of cases, our policies are aligned. In some there are differences. Sometimes they are differences in timing. Sometimes they are differences of tactics. This is understandable. But the members of the Community and the four who have now signed the Treaty of Accession are working together closely at official level. In our case, a senior official from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office took part in the meeting of the political directors of the E.E.C. last week. This was the first time that we had been officially represented at such a meeting. The working arrangements are now becoming very close.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Since this visit, unfortunately, had to be put off because of a little local difficulty—presumably because my right hon. Friend did not want to offer the French President cold food—may I welcome the fact that this fixture is to be restored? Will my right hon. Friend point out to the President that, thanks to successive White Papers, everyone in this House, including the Leader of the Opposition, was aware, or should have been aware, of the constitutional implications of our application to join the Common Market?

The Prime Minister

I know that the President of France follows these matters very closely and that he studies speeches in this House as well. I have no doubt that he will be fully aware of the position of the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Dalyell

Will the subject of an Anglo-French nuclear force be on the agenda?

The Prime Minister

Again, there is no published agenda for a meeting of this kind. As this was to be a meeting at Chequers, it was also to be of a more informal kind than is normal at No. 10. However, as was stated at our last meeting in May, this was not an immediate question.