HC Deb 30 November 1988 vol 142 cc700-1
8. Mr. Rowe

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last visited the United States of America; and what matters were discussed.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I last visited the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly in September. A range of issues were discussed with those I saw there.

Mr. Rowe

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is enormously important, at the start of a new presidency, that relations between western Europe and the United States should be as warm as possible? If it is true that there is a 1:3 imbalance between the conventional forces of the Warsaw pact and those of NATO, should not the contributions of the Americans to NATO be recognised? Should not that prove something of a spur to western European countries to make greater contributions themselves?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

My hon. Friend is entirely right to say that, in the context of our continued maintenance of the Atlantic Alliance for our effective defence, burden-sharing is the most important item on the agenda. I have no doubt that the new President of the United States will address himself to the American aspect of that. It is important that the European partners should be ready to play their full part to sustain the strength of the Alliance.

Mr. Grocott

Does the Foreign Secretary share my relief at the fact that the deeply embarrassing client relationship between the Prime Minister and President Reagan is coming to an end? Does he share my hope that under the new President—I hope that he will use his influence to ensure this—we shall start again to pursue an independent foreign policy of our own and cease to be a satellite state of the United States?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The hon. Gentleman lives in a land of illusion. One of the most important features of British foreign policy in the past decade has been the growing influence of Her Majesty's Government under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the United States as well as in the European Community. I hope very much that that effective relationship will continue with the new President.

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