HC Deb 15 April 1981 vol 3 cc319-20
35. Sir Anthony Meyer

asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he has for improving consultations between European Economic Community representatives in international organisations.

Sir Ian Gilmour

We are generally satisfied with the current arrangements for consultations between European Community representatives in international organisations and have no proposals for changing them at present.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Since the European Community is now by far the largest element in world trade, accounting for about 35 per cent., as against 11 per cent. for the United States and 6½ per cent. for Japan, is it not clear that that organisation wields considerable clout in international negotiations? Would not still closer cooperation between its members and international organisations enable it better to protect the interests of its members?

Sir Ian Gilmour

I entirely agree. It is an immensely important trading organisation—the most important in the world. As my hon. Friend rightly says, it therefore wields immense clout in negotiations. I am anxious and willing that there should be improved co-ordination, but the present system is working well. If my hon. Friend has suggestions to make, we shall be delighted to hear them.

Mr. Denzil Davies

In view of the recent slanging match between the British Prime Minister, the German Chancellor and the French President, when the German Chancellor accused the British Government of cheating and the French President looked back to the halcyon days when there were only six members of the Common Market, and in view of the Lord Privy Seal's language when he reminded President Giscard what a great man President Pompidou was, is it not a farce and an irrelevancy to talk about consultation between the EEC and other international organisations?

Sir Ian Gilmour

It takes time to discover the reasoning behind the right hon. Gentleman's question. The logic entirely escapes me.

Mr. Marlow

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) and I visited an international organisation—in other words, the European Assembly—last week, we noted markedly that that organisation had no power? The thing that seemed most important in the debate was the number of women who were employed in higher ranks within the Commission. Given that situation, could we not save a lot of money, and also accord with the recommendations of some eminent commentators in the press, if the powers in that organisation were further decreased and we went back to a nominated and cheaper Assembly than the one we have now?

Sir Ian Gilmour

If that organisation has no power it is difficult to understand how its power can be decreased. That is what my hon. Friend is suggesting. It is not fair to pick out one subject that was being discussed in the European Parliament. My hon. Friend must be aware that even this House often discusses matters which do not appear to be of interest to many people, but they are, nevertheless, important matters.

Mr. Ioan Evans

Is not the trouble with the EEC that it is developing a form of inward-looking Western European nationalism? Would it not be better for European countries, through the United Nations Organisation, to implement proposals such as those suggested by the Brandt commission to deal with the arms race and to help overcome world poverty?

Sir Ian Gilmour

The hon. Member should talk to his right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies), who said that there are so many differences between Western European leaders that they cannot operate at all. I not agree with him. Equally I do not agree with the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans), who thinks that European nationalism is a danger to the world. I do not believe that it is a danger.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Is it not significant that the one international organisation of which we are not a member is the International Sugar Agreement? Is not my right hon. Friend ashamed of what we and other EEC members have been doing this week and last week in damaging the poorest countries by dumping subsidised sugar on to the world market at knock-down prices?

Sir Ian Gilmour

Perhaps my hon. Friend did not hear what I said last week. We are anxious to join the International Sugar Agreement, and we have supported it. I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware that the EEC, through the Lomé convention, takes a substantial amount of sugar from ACP countries. My hon. Friend should bear that in mind.