HC Deb 22 May 1974 vol 874 cc372-4
57 . Mr. George Gardiner

asked the Minister of Overseas Development when she expects the Government's review of the European Community's trade and aid policies towards Commonwealth and developing countries will have been completed; and in what form it is intended to publish the results.

59. Mr. Kenneth Clarke

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether she will make a statement on the further discussions she has had following the meeting of the EEC Council of Ministers on 30th April 1974 on Community co-operation in development policy.

The Minister of Overseas Development (Mrs. Judith Hart)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary made it plain in his statement in Luxembourg on 1st April that we would carefully examine Community aid and trade polices in the context of renegotiation. 1 was able to follow this up at the Council of EEC Development Ministers on 30th April when I called for a balanced Community aid framework. We shall examine this and other issues at a further meeting of EEC Development Ministers next month.

Mr. Gardiner

I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply. What representations has she received from any Commonwealth or developing countries that for aid purposes they would prefer association with a United Kingdom outside the Community to one inside it?

Mrs. Hart

I have had no specific representations on the matter, although I have had discussions with both the Nigerian High Commissioner in London and the Indian High Commissioner.

Mr. Cryer

Will my right hon. Friend make representations to India that trade is for India's benefit but that exploding nuclear weapons is not? Will she express our sincere regret that India should find it reasonable to join the nuclear club?

Mrs. Hart

Comment on this question is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. I recognise the strength of feeling that has been expressed within Britain.

Mr. Clarke

Although I am sure that many Members support the Minister in her attempt to broaden the European aid programme and to draw the Community's attention to the Asian Commonwealth in particular, will she rebut the impression that she is contemplating using as a bargaining card the possibility of boycotting, vetoing or obstructing the negotiations with the associated and associable territories? Does she agree that those negotiations should lead to a successful conclusion, so that the undesirable division between African countries and Caribbean and Indian Ocean countries in their dealings with the EEC can be brought to an end?

Mrs. Hart

I stressed to my colleagues in the Council of EEC Development Ministers how anxious we were that Protocol 22 negotiations should go ahead as rapidly as possible. There is a genuine problem, in that the eventual size of the European Development Fund is related both to the Protocol 22 negotiations and to whether there is a worldwide emphasis in the distribution of the EDF. There is an inevitable conjunction there, but we are certainly anxious that the Protocol 22 negotiations should go ahead speedily.