HC Deb 15 June 1994 vol 244 cc614-5
4. Mr. Streeter

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on United Kingdom relations with Italy.

Mr. Hurd

They are excellent.

Mr. Streeter

I thank my right hon. Friend for his extensive reply. Does he agree that the newly elected right-wing Government in Italy show every sign of being a strong new ally to our country in our crusade to fashion a European Union in accordance with the wishes of its people—not a single superstate but a family of independent sovereign nations trading and working together?

Mr. Hurd

It is early days, but my hon. Friend is right. The new Italian Government have made clear their strong commitment to open markets and their desire to avoid unnecessary regulation from Brussels. I warmly welcome that approach. I look forward to welcoming the Italian Foreign Minister here before the end of the month and to working closely with him.

Mr. Winnick

Why does not the Foreign Secretary understand that what happened recently in Italy makes a mockery of all the efforts by the allied troops to liberate Rome 50 years ago this month? Instead of appeasing those fascists, why does not the Foreign Secretary say that many people in this country—the large majority—view with disgust the fact that such fascist swine are now included in the Italian Cabinet?

Mr. Hurd

The hon. Gentleman is indulging in patronising and offensive nonsense. The Ministers have been democratically elected and properly appointed. [HON. MEMBERS: "So was Hitler."] The Labour party is making a fool of itself. I shall be interested to know whether Labour Members' attitude is endorsed by those on their Front Bench. Having looked at the individuals, the programme on which they were elected and the posts that they occupy, we believe that it is right to co-operate in a friendly way with the new Italian Government—the new democratic Italian Government—as with the last. I am ashamed of the intervention from the Opposition Benches.

Mr. Batiste

Has my right hon. Friend had the opportunity to discuss with his opposite number in Italy their choice for the next President of the European Commission?

Mr. Hurd

Only in very general terms.

Dr. John Cunningham

As the right hon. Gentleman has asked for my response, he shall have it. We want nothing to do with neo-fascists, whether they are in Italy or whether they are the neo-fascists of France who were the only supporters of the right hon. Gentleman's opposition to the social chapter. I hope that he feels comfortable in the company of neo-fascists; we certainly do not. Will he tell the House whether it is his intention to share membership of the European People's party with neo-fascists—yes or no?

Mr. Hurd

That is certainly not a matter for me. On the first point, before the right hon. Gentleman goes any further down the foolish path adopted by his Back Benchers, will he please look at the members and the programme of the Allianza Nazionale, which is now part of the Italian Government? Will he look at what they stand for and how they were elected? If he does that, he will find that it is very foolish to go further down the path that I have already described as patronising nonsense.

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