HC Deb 18 November 1987 vol 122 cc1059-60
12. Mr. David Shaw

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met the French Foreign Minister; and what subjects were discussed.

Mrs. Chalker

My right hon. and learned Friend last met the French Foreign Minister at the Western European Union ministerial meeting on 26–27 October in The Hague. Their most recent bilateral talks were on 9 September in London, when they discussed the Gulf, East-West and Community matters.

Mr. Shaw

Will the Minister convey to the French Minister the support and congratulation of this House on the recent way in which the French customs services and secret services managed to impound a ship carrying IRA weapons? Will my hon. Friend confirm that there are people on this side of the English Channel who will continue to co-operate with the French to ensure that terrorists are stopped? Will she also confirm to the French Minister that there are no Conservative Members who, in any way, shape or form, support the murderous IRA terrorists?

Mrs. Chalker

I am glad to join my hon. Friend in congratulating the French authorities on their successful seizure of a large shipment of arms from the Eksund. They have undoubtedly saved lives in Northern Ireland and elsewhere by seizing those arms. I assure my hon. Friend that the British and French Governments are united, in co-operation with their partners, against terrorism, and we will co-operate with them in all ways necessary to combat terrorism.

Mr. Cryer

Will the Minister confirm that neither her Department nor any other is discussing Anglo-French arrangements on nuclear weapons and that if, following the agreement between the Soviet Union and America in the INF talks, Britain were left isolated as a nuclear power, it would not reach out and come to any agreement with France on an Anglo-French nuclear bomb?

Mrs. Chalker

The United Kingdom and France have had contact on a variety of defence subjects, including nuclear issues, for a long time, and we shall continue to do so. It is natural for two neighbouring European nuclear powers, who are partners and work closely together in all areas to do so on the subjects mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.

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