HC Deb 06 November 1972 vol 845 cc606-8
12. Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many officials will be seconded from his Department to represent Welsh interests in Brussels following the United Kingdom's entry into the European Economic Community.

Mr. Peter Thomas

Staff who go to work in the European Commission will be servants of the Commission and not representatives of any national interest. Welsh Office officials are already in regular contact with Brussels and satisfactory arrangements exist to ensure that the interests of Wales are fully taken into account in the formulation of United Kingdom policy in the European Community. These will be reinforced if it should prove necessary.

Mr. Hughes

Will the Secretary of State confirm that there will be Welsh officials permanently in Brussels? Is he aware that this is of cardinal importance to Wales in view of the need for a strong regional policy? If these arrangements are not agreed already, will he discuss the matter with his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and with his right lion. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who is the new Minister for Europe, because these matters are causing increasing concern in the Principality?

Mr. Thomas

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is referring to Welsh officials in the Commission. As I said, any officials in the Commission would be the servants of the Commission. As for our own delegation, one does not have regional interests, either Scottish or Welsh, represented on it. It is a United Kingdom delegation. As for individuals, I anticipate that many Welsh men and women, including some members of my Department, will respond to the recent advertisements of vacancies within the European Economic Commission. In my own Department, as the House knows, I have set up a new division to co-ordinate the Department's European work. The division is already in regular contact with Brussels. I regard this arrangement as the best one for safeguarding Welsh interests. Two of my Department's senior officials are spending four days in Brussels this week meeting both Commission and Community officials.

Mr. Kinnock

What evidence did the right hon. and learned Gentleman, as Secretary of State for a region of Great Britain, give to the Prime Minister before be went to the recent summit meeting in Paris? The only evidence we have of the kind of representations which were made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the Prime Minister was the very superficial piece of political confidence trickery when the Prime Minister came back and said that he had obtained certain regional safeguards. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman now spell out those safeguards, since otherwise many doubts will remain in the minds of many hon. Members and of their constituents?

Mr. Thomas

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman knows how the Government machine works. I, as Secretary of State for Wales, was on the European Committee of the Cabinet which dealt with all these matters before my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister went to Brussels.

Forward to