HC Deb 13 June 1979 vol 968 cc427-8
31. Sir Anthony Meyer

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects next to meet the President of the EEC Commission.

Sir Ian Gilmour

I met Mr. Jenkins yesterday at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg and hope to pay a visit to the Commission soon.

Sir A. Meyer

In view of the collapse of the Labour Party in the Euro elections, particularly the humiliating defeat of the most fanatically anti-European of its candidates in Liverpool, will my right hon. Friend encourage Mr. Roy Jenkins to continue his efforts to explain patiently to the Labour Party that the way to further British interests in Europe is by the constructive, co-operative approach on which he and his right hon. and noble Friends have made such an excellent start? That is particularly relevant in the light of reports that Mr. Roy Jenkins is strongly tipped as the next Leader of the Labour Party.

Sir I. Gilmour

I should not like to judge which of the Labour Party candidates at the European election was the most fanatically anti-European, nor would I seek to advise Mr. Roy Jenkins how to do his job. As President of the Commission, he has important duties in preserving the cohesion of the Community and making progress towards a united Europe. I am sure that he needs no advice from me.

Mr. Heffer

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the candidate for Liverpoool argued for a united Socialist State of Europe? Perhaps that was one reason why there was not a massive turnout.

Sir I. Gilmour

If by that the hon. Gentleman means that there is a considerable difference still between Western and Eastern Europe, I am sure that the House will agree. Otherwise I do not see that his question has much relevance.

Sir Brandon Rhys Williams

In dealing with the Commission over the improvement in the balance of Britain's contribution to the Community budget, will British Ministers bear in mind that we could improve the balance at a low level by cutting our contribution, or at a high level by taking better advantage of the facilities that the Community offers, such as the ability of the European Investment Bank to finance major development schemes in this country?

Sir I. Gilmour

I agree that there is the receipt as well as the payment side, and there are opportunities that we shall certainly seek to take.

Dr. Owen

Was the initial refusal of the French President even to accept the British contribution to the agenda for the European Council an example of the constructive and co-operative approach that the Prime Minister's visit to France has made possible? Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that we congratulate him on managing eventually to get it on the agenda?

Sir I. Gilmour

Obviously that is an important matter that should be discussed early on in the summit meeting. There was some discussion of it yesterday, but the final order will be for the decision of the Heads of Government themselves.