HC Deb 07 November 1973 vol 863 cc991-3
15. Mr. Moate

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held by EEC Foreign Ministers with regard to relations with the United States of America.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

This question has been discussed by the Nine Foreign Ministers at their meetings on 5th June in Luxembourg, on 23rd July in Brussels and on 10th and 11th September in Copenhagen, and we meet again in Copenhagen on the 20th of this month.

Mr. Moate

In view of recent foreign policy differences, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is all the more important that we work closely with the United States for the success of the trade negotiations now taking place? Will he ensure that there is a more positive attitude adopted by the EEC in those talks, particularly in view of the complaint that there was an early set-back in the talks, largely due to EEC rigidity on minor agricultural matters?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The Community paper on the approaches to GATT is probably a satisfactory one and we are in close touch with the United States about it. I agree that it is important that we should define Europe's relations with the United States and redefine the Atlantic Alliance.

Mr. Callaghan

In view of the coolness between the United States and the European Community on many issues like trade, defence and the Middle East, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why, in his statement of yesterday, he said that the Copenhagen meeting could be counted as a success? What was successful about it, apart from getting agreement to disagree with the United States?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Dr. Kissinger takes a view directly opposite to that of the right hon. Gentleman. He remarked on how valuable this paper is.

Mr. Molloy

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that during the course of Questions this afternoon he has constantly referred to the close consultation that goes on with other countries regarding the Middle East problem, particularly with the United States? Is he further aware that it appears to many of us that we would not get this information unless we asked questions in the House? Does he appreciate that some of the replies we get about consultation with the United States are most unsatisfactory? Can he not make a statement about whether there is a rift with the United States? Is he aware that there does not appear to be the tight organisation controlling the passing of information that there ought to be between us and the United States?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Consultations are very close. When one is questioned in the House one gives as much information as one can. But diplomatic consultations must be secret, otherwise they lose half their value.