HC Deb 12 February 1997 vol 290 cc334-6
16. Sir David Knox

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about Britain's relations with the other countries in the European Union. [13969]

Mr. David Davis

Britain enjoys very good relations with all other member states of the European Union.

Sir David Knox

Does my right hon. Friend believe that relations with other European Union countries would be improved if their foreign Ministers came to this country to explain, over the heads of the Government, their view of the future of the European Union?

Mr. Davis

It strikes me that that has already happened. A little while ago, the German Foreign Secretary commented about a British election occurring at some point. However, if one accepts that a European Union exists, there are issues that are important to all the peoples of Europe. The British Government note in our policies that many of the people of Europe support the sorts of things that we stand for—sometimes more than their Governments do. We saw that when the Foreign Secretary went to Stockholm and received an enormously good reception for repeating the ideas that he has expressed from the Dispatch Box.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

What are the consequences of an ever-revaluing pound for our commercial relationships with other European Union companies?

Mr. Davis

The hon. Gentleman asks a somewhat hypothetical question. It is easier to answer the question: what are the causes of an ever-revaluing pound? The answer is enormous economic success in this country.

Mr. Dykes

Is it not worth recalling that, when Klaus Kinkel commented on British politics at Christmas, he was told to mind his own business, but that we then immediately said that we would construct the convergence criteria statistics for all the other countries and tell them what to do with their own figures? Would it not be a good idea to follow the excellent advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, Moorlands (Sir D. Knox)? If foreign statesmen and politicians came over here, they would be able to convey to the long-suffering British public—who, all too often, sad to say, are not given the truth about Europe by governmental sources—their enthusiasm for the new projects, including the plan for at least 10 countries to join economic and monetary union when the time comes.

Mr. Davis

I have not witnessed a reticence on the part of, for example, Jacques Santer in commenting on matters that have relevance in the UK. We have a view—a very distinctive view—on what will make a successful Europe, and that is the point of view that my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary has been communicating, and will continue to communicate, to the people of Europe.

Ms Quin

In view of the criticisms that Jacques Santer has recently addressed to the Government, would the Government continue to describe his appointment as a triumph of British diplomacy?

Mr. Davis

I think that the President of the Commission does a very good job, but his view of Europe is not the same as ours. That is not new: it is not surprising in a man who was the Prime Minister of Luxembourg. His federalist view is shared by several of the leaders of Europe. We must deal with and argue about that, and be determined to win the argument.

Mr. Marlow

Will my right hon. Friend accept the congratulations of the House on standing firm on UK borders and therefore getting our own way on this subject? Is there not a moral in this: if you stand firm, your will has its own way?

Mr. Davis

My hon. Friend is, of course, exactly right. Standing firm is a necessary part of negotiation, as is standing up for the rights of this country. It is very different from what either of the Opposition parties would do. They stand for nothing, and, as I have said before, those who stand for nothing will fall for anything.

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