HC Deb 28 February 1973 vol 851 cc1487-8
17. Mr. Sproat

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on the talks at Helsinki to prepare for the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The preparatory talks in Helsinki resumed on 26th February after a short break to allow for consultations in capitals. A large number of proposals have been tabled on the work which should be undertaken at the conference. They must now be examined in detail.

Mr. Sproat

Are the Russians now showing any more concrete evidence of being receptive about proposals for the greater exchange of persons and information among European countries?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The Russians have been co-operative in trying to frame an agenda which will allow these questions to be raised. The questions now being considered cover security, cooperation in the field of economics and the environment and the development of human contacts abroad, new cultural and educational exchanges and the wider flow of information. Under these headings I think that we will be able to raise at the conference what subjects we wish.

Mr. George Cunningham

Is not this conference an example of something being kept going for no good purpose? Will the right hon. Gentleman say how much money and time has been devoted by officials to the so-called preparations for the conference which is to follow this one?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Not without notice. This conference could be worthwhile. It will, incidentally, be the first time that members of the Warsaw Pact and of NATO, plus non-aligned countries, have met on one platform. That is something. We do not want general declarations of intention to live together in peace—we have got beyond that. We want to develop certain areas where Eastern Europe and Western Europe can identify mutual advantage and perhaps exploit it. I think that it will be worth-while.

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