HC Deb 30 April 1975 vol 891 cc448-50
5. Mr. Sproat

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a further statement on the latest progress of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Roy Hattersley)

Useful progress continues to be made in Geneva. Positive and constructive work is being done on the Declaration of Principles and on confidence-building measures. I hope that this will soon again be the case in Basket III, where progress has recently been rather slow.

Mr. Sproat

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that in spite of the hopes—in which we all concurred—expressed by his right hon. Friend on 9th April about further concessions, since that date no concessions have been made by the Soviet Union on confidence-building measures or on the freer flow of people and information across frontiers? At the NATO summit next month, will the Government seek to get from all members agreement that unless the Soviet Union gives concessions of substance there will not be an early CSCE summit?

Mr. Hattersley

We shall not make much progress on the CSCE if we continue to talk of it in terms of concessions, which are related in people's minds to victories and defeats. I subscribe to the view expressed by the hon. Gentleman that progress has to be made on all the baskets and that we have to have a genuine agreement of substance rather than a bogus one. If that happens, as I think it will, there will be a summit, but a summit is less likely if we talk about concessions.

Mr. MacFarquhar

While avoiding talking about defeats and concessions, will my right hon. Friend say what will be the minimum requirements of the Government on Basket III—the proposals for the free exchange of ideas and information—before Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to think that the security conference will be a success?

Mr. Hattersley

It is not possible to stipulate minimum requirements, because in this last negotiating position, if we are not careful, minimum requirements will become maximum achievements. There fore, we have to continue to make what progress we can, a good deal having been made on the reunification of families and marriages but a good deal still being needed on the freer flow of information. Our first intention is to pursue all these objectives, make what progress we can and then, in a few months' time, decide whether that progress justifies a summit.

Sir Anthony Royle

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that there is close co-operation between members of the EEC in the negotiations now proceeding, as he will remember that in July 1973, at the first stage of the negotiation, co-operation between members of the EEC and the British Government was very close and it is important that that should continue throughout all stages of this conference?

Mr. Hattersley

These matters are invariably discussed in the political cooperation meetings of the EEC, and I expect that they will be discussed at the next political co-operation meeting in Dublin in 10 days' time.

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