HC Deb 03 February 1982 vol 17 c299
41. Mr. Skinner

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects to meet the new President of the Assembly of the European Economic Community; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hurd

My right hon. Friend has no plans at present for a meeting with the new President of the European Parliament, though a meeting at some future date is possible, but I expect he will meet him on some occasion before long.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that the Common Market and/or its Assembly cannot declare itself to be in favour of human rights in the Third world for as long as it refuses to concern itself with American interference in El Salvador? Will he call upon the President to condemn the recent allocation of $100 million by President Reagan to buy guns to stoke up the war atrocities in El Salvador—a war that has already resulted in over 30,000 casualties?

Mr. Hurd

The hon. Gentleman has not studied the statement on El Salvador, put out by the Foreign Ministers of the Ten last year. If he had, he would not draw such violent conclusions about our policy.

Mr. Dykes

Will my right hon. Friend suggest that the Belgian President of the Council of Ministers and the new President of the European Parliament should have a formal meeting to discuss how the Community can be taken forward with concerted policies, as it has become clear and self-evident that it cannot be left in the unreliable hands of the European Council?

Mr. Hurd

I am sure the the new President, who is a lively and energetic person, will find an opportunity before long to make his views known on these subjects. However, we are not likely, in the foreseeable future, to have a fundamental change in the treaties. It will remain true that the basic decisions of the Community will be taken by the Council of Ministers.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Given that Mr. Dankert is lively and vigorous, as the Minister said, will he ask him to use his good offices, as a Dutch Socialist, with the British Labour Party and perhaps lead it to a more reasonable approach to the European Community?

Mr. Hurd

I have the impression that, increasingly, members of the European Socialist parties despair of the Labour Party in that respect.

Mr. Squire

Will my right hon. Friend also ask the President to advise the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and his constituents of the real benefits that the mining industry has received from a whole range of EEC grants?

Mr. Hurd

I notice that there is increasing confusion in the Labour Party on the subject and that it is now looking for some compromise formula to get it out of an impossible position.