HC Deb 28 July 1976 vol 916 cc642-4
43. Mr. Crawford

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the EEC Commissioner with responsibility for regional development.

Mr. Hattersley

My right hon. Friend has at present no firm plans for a meeting with Mr. George Thomson but he expects to meet him again soon in the course of Community business. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Scottish Office held discussions with him on 16th July in Edinburgh.

Mr. Crawford

After the establishment of the Scottish Assembly, will the Minister ensure that the regional funds allocated by the EEC for industrial projects in Scotland are paid directly to the Scottish Assembly without any intervention by Westminster whatsoever?

Mr. Hattersley

I think that the hon. Gentleman had better put down Questions about the establishment of the Scottish Assembly to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

Mr. William Hamilton

Does my right hon. Friend recognise, and can he say to the House, that considerable aid is being given to Scotland through the regional fund as a direct result of the activities of Mr. George Thomson, who knows much more than any Member of the Scottish National Party about the problems of Scotland? Will my right hon. Friend therefore say what is the future of George Thomson, because it is important that we have a British Commissioner who is responsible for regional development since it is Britain which has the best regional aid policy in the whole of Europe?

Mr. Hattersley

I certainly note and understand my hon. Friend's point about the necessity for Great Britain to keep a very close and intimate watch on the Community's regional policy. My hon. Friend is right to say that there have been substantial benefits for Scotland in all that Mr. George Thomson has done, and I am happy to join him in the tribute to George Thomson's work in the Community since he went there three years ago.

Mr. Fairbairn

When he next meets the EEC Commissioner, will the Minister undertake to discuss with him the question of the law in regard to mercenary activity? If he has read, as I hope he has, the indictment, evidence and verdict of the Angolan so-called court, he will see that there are citizens of this country, and maybe of Europe, who are in prison for crimes which the civil code under which they were tried does not even recognise?

Mr. Hattersley

I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman knows that that has nothing to do with this Question.

Mr. Dalyell

Could not we just know what the Foreign Office thinks about the cost-effectiveness of the Scottish Office?

Mr. Hattersley

It is about as cost-effective as Harrods.