HC Deb 01 July 1987 vol 118 cc488-9
10. Mr. Gale

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to what extent British objectives were achieved at the Venice summit in June.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

We sought a continuing commitment by all summit countries to the collective pursuit of economic policies designed to produce sustained non-inflationary growth in the world economy. We also sought renewed commitments to the liberalisation of trade and resistance to protectionism, the reform of agricultural policies, and the economic progress of developing countries, including special help for Africa. We endorsed summit statements on terrorism, East-West relations and the Iran-Iraq war. Our objectives for Venice were met in full.

Mr. Gale

Will my right hon. and learned Friend tell the House what progress was made in discussions relating to food surpluses?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

My hon. Friend is entirely right to draw attention to that matter. There has been sustained and encouraging progress in the past year. The communiqués of the Tokyo summit, as well as the meetings held at Punta del Este and the OECD in Paris this summer, preceded the strong requirements of the communiqués from Venice. Moreover, we are seeing worthwhile progress in the European Community in price reductions. For example, there was a 10 per cent. reduction in grain prices last night. The next step will be taken at the GATT, where we shall table comprehensive proposals for the dismantling of agricultural protection. The tide is running for reform. That tide is being sustained by the imperatives of budgetary discipline. We have to keep it moving.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Will the Secretary of State elaborate on the endorsement of the campaign against terrorism, especially as we have yet to have delivered extradition proceedings from the Republic of Ireland—allegedly because of the miscarriage of justice in English courts—and British subjects continue to be murdered in Northern Ireland?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The hon. Gentleman is entirely right to draw attention to the fact that the campaign against terrorism has to be sustained in every quarter in which it is a scourge of the community, as it certainly is in Northern Ireland. He will no doubt welcome the fact that the Prime Minister met the Taoiseach yesterday in Brussels. They agreed on the great importance of continued co-operation in the campaign against terrorism.

Mr. Patrick Thompson

Bearing in mind the genuine concern about the problems of the poorest countries, particularly the debt problems of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and bearing in mind that such matters were discussed by Heads of Government at the recent Venice summit, will my right hon. and learned Friend say a little more about initiatives that are about to be taken or are being taken?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the importance of the matter. The summit recognised in particular the debt problems of the poorest countries, particularly in Africa, where they were identified as uniquely difficult and calling for special treatment. We were encouraged by the support given at the summit for the Chancellor of the Exchequer's three-point plan for special assistance for certain countries.

Mr. Frank Cook

Was the Secretary of State able to make reference at the summit to the British objectives in relation to the situation in the Korean peninsula? Was he able to remind our allies that we have been in a state of armistice there for almost 35 years? Was he able to recall that we have to maintain a garrison in South Korea to uphold what is clearly a subversive and decadent regime?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The hon. Gentleman has linked a number of topics. The House will welcome the announcement that was made in recent days of the changes that are in prospect in the Republic of Korea. He is right to say that there is a small, token detachment of British troops in the Republic of Korea whose function, among other things, is to commemmorate the great heroism of British troops, including in particular the Gloucester Regiment, in the Korean war some years ago. There was some discussion at Venice of the problems of Korea, when we reaffirmed our desire to see progress in the sporadic attempts to achieve some kind of reconciliation between the two countries on the peninsula.

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