HC Deb 05 November 1993 vol 231 cc626-7

The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to receive the State Visits of His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei and Her Majesty the Raja Isteri in November 1992 and His Excellency the President of the Portuguese Republic and Senhora Soares in April 1993. We look forward to receiving the State Visit of His Majesty the Agong of Malaysia and Her Majesty the Raja Permaisuri this month. We were saddened by the death in July of Baudouin, King of the Belgians, after a reign of 42 years. The Duke of Edinburgh and 1 remember with pleasure our State Visits to Malta in May, France in June and Germany in October 1992. I was also pleased to visit the European Parliament and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in May, and I remember with satisfaction my Visit to Canada in June 1992. We were pleased to pay a State Visit to Hungary in May of this year; and to be present on the occasion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Cyprus, and to visit the Republic of Cyprus, in October. My Government have continued to make provision for the defence of the United Kingdom, including a substantial contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and to United Nations operations. They contributed to the successful outcome of the negotiations on the Chemical Weapons Convention. They began implementation of a programme to assist the safe and secure transport of nuclear weapons due for dismantling in the former Soviet Union. My Government welcomed the Presidents of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Turkmenistan and Lithuania on official visits. My Government contributed to international action to assist the countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, in particular their efforts to improve the safety of their civil nuclear plants. My Government worked for a peaceful solution to the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, and gave full support to the efforts of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, under Lord Owen and Mr. Stoltenberg. They made a substantial contribution to international efforts to provide humanitarian relief to all those in need, particularly through the deployment of troops with the United Nations protection force. My Government ratified the Treaty of Maastricht in August. My Government ran a successful Presidency of the European Community in the second half of 1992. My Government brought the mid-term review of the Common Fisheries Policy to a satisfactory conclusion. At the European Council at Our Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, My Government successfully concluded the Single Market in all essential respects and reached agreements on future financing arrangements for the Community, on practical procedures for implementing the principle of subsidiarity, on a decision on Denmark which cleared the way for their second referendum and for Danish ratification of the Maastricht Treaty; and on the opening of accession negotiations with Austria, Finland, Norway and Sweden. My Government have continued to work within the community to ensure the effective operation of the Single Market and to promote budgetary discipline. My Government have helped to secure important changes in the Common Agricultural Policy. In June, the European Council at Copenhagen agreed that Central European Associate countries would, if they wished, become members of the Community as soon as they were ready. In Northern Ireland My Government have maintained their efforts to combat terrorism and to address social and economic issues. They have worked constructively with the government of the Republic of Ireland under the Anglo-Irish Agreement. They have also continued to encourage political progress and to promote talks involving the two Governments and the main Northern Ireland parties. My Government have continued to fight terrorism elsewhere.