HC Deb 19 June 1973 vol 858 cc364-7
Q2. Mr. Clinton Davis

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

Q8. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the talks he had with President Pompidou; and if he will make a statement.

Q9. Mr. Ashton

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

Q10. Mr. Molloy

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement regarding his recent visit to President Pompidou.

The Prime Minister

I refer the hon. Gentlemen to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison) on 24th May.—[Vol. 857, c. 129.]

Mr. Clinton Davies

As the Prime Minister has presided over a massive increase of about 35 per cent. in food prices since June 1970, has he mentioned to President Pompidou the desirability of Britain's reverting to a policy of substantial food subsidies? Bearing in mind that that would represent a derogation from the EEC rules, what response to that suggestion does the right hon. Gentleman think that he would get from President Pompidou?

The Prime Minister

All I was able to discuss with President Pompidou was the decision of Ministers of Agriculture to review the whole operation of the common agricultural policy and, in particular to try to increase the food supplies of Europe, because it is basic shortages that lie at the root of the problem.

Mr. Skinner

Does the Prime Minister recall that when he first met President Pompidou after being elected Prime Minister he came back with the so-called Common Market design? Does he recall more recently coming back from a visit to President Pompidou waving the grand regional strategy that would save the peripheral areas of this country, which has been a disaster? Would not it be better for all concerned for him to discuss the weather the next time he meets President Pompidou?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman only reveals his ignorance in not realising that regional policy is not settled in the Community.

Mr. Wyn Roberts

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House whether he discussed the position of the Yaoundé associates of the EEC and the third world generally?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. It is natural that on a matter that concerns particularly France and Britain—because of the number of territories that were formerly associated with both countries—we should have had a discussion about the future of the agreement and how the third world can best be helped.

Mr. Ashton

Did not the Prime Minister and President Pompidou make a deal whereby the Prime Minister agreed to let our food prices reach the level of French food prices and, in return, President Pompidou agreed that he would not push too hard the stabilising of the pound? When will the Prime Minister live up to his promise to stabilise the level of our currency, so that he can stand on his feet when he meets President Pompidou and bring up the question of food subsidies?

The Prime Minister

No such arrangement has ever been made. The present Government followed their predecessors in accepting the common agricultural policy in the negotiations.

Mr. Marten

Now that we have had almost six months' experience of the Common Market, will the Prime Minister say clearly that the Government are not in favour of any move towards federalism?

The Prime Minister

I have already told the House that the argument about federalism is an entirely artificial one. We agreed at the summit to organise our institutions so as best to suit the other members of the Community. Special responsibility rests with members of the European Parliament to put forward proposals to give the European Parliament more power and influence.

Mr. Molloy

Will the Prime Minister be prepared to consider making further representations to the French President about the envisaged nuclear tests, because of the increase in the volume of protest in this House and throughout the country and by the New Zealanders and the Australians? Will the Prime Minister be prepared to go back to President Pompidou and tell him that the House and the nation ally themselves with the Australians and the New Zealanders? Will he tell him that the tests should not take place, because they constitute an affront to humanity and to the peace of the world?

The Prime Minister

As I have always told the House, I found that President Pompidou was well aware of the views of the Government and their predecessors, and fully aware of the views of the Australian and New Zealand Governments.

Mr. Redmond

Did my right hon. Friend discuss with President Pompidou the Fifth Directive of the Common Market? If that was discussed, did President Pompidou give any indication of what the French Government think about that directive and what they propose to do about it when considering industrial relations?

Hon. Members

Give him a job.

The Prime Minister

We did not discuss that directive in particular. We discussed the whole question of social policy for the developing Community, from the point of view not only of social services but of the relationship between management and unions in industry.

Mr. Harold Wilson

In view of the answer that the right hon. Gentleman gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) about regional policy—he said that there had been no decision about it as yet—will be say, on the best information available to him, when he expects regional policy to be settled?

The Prime Minister

The agreement at the summit was that it would be settled and a fund established by the end of this year.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Did not one of the right hon. Gentleman's Ministers indicate yesterday that there will be a final decision by the end of June?

The Prime Minister

I think that the right hon. Gentleman is confusing the position with the interim arrangement, which concerns the three acceding members or the three new members of the Community. The regional policy itself is not bound to be worked out and the fund established—in other words, the permanent policy—until the end of this year.