HL Deb 18 April 1967 vol 282 cc99-101

2.36 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have in mind for marking the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of the Marshall Plan in the summer of this year.]


My Lords, a ceremony is being arranged at the Paris Headquarters of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (O.E.C.D.) on June 5, the 20th Anniversary of General Marshall's Harvard speech. As the noble Lord will no doubt be aware, O.E.C.D. is the successor to the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (O.E.E.C.) the body set up to administer Marshall Aid. Several eminent people from this country who were closely concerned with the foundation of O.E.E.C. and the early operation of the Marshall Plan have been invited to participate in the ceremony. I cannot for the moment disclose their names as they may not yet have had the opportunity of replying to their invitations.

There will also be a short celebration of the Marshall Plan anniversary in the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe on April 27. Members of the United Kingdom Delegation to the Consultative Assembly will be present.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for that reply, I would ask him: does it mean that there is no special celebration planned to take place in this country? In view of the rather emotional outbursts of anti-American feeling which are taking place here and there, does he not think it desirable that some rather special reminder should be given this year of what we and other European countries owe to a far-sighted American policy?


My Lords, we do not in fact plan any special celebration in this country. Since the Marshall Plan was intended to speed the post-war economic reconstruction of Europe as a whole, Her Majesty's Government feel that it would be more appropriate for there to be one or two ceremonies organised by international organisations, rather than many separate ceremonies in the capitals of the individual countries which benefited from Marshall Aid.

So far as the noble Lord's comment on the United States is concerned, part of the reason for this is that we should want to see the United States strongly represented at whatever ceremonies are arranged. So there is an obvious reason for keeping the number as restricted as possible.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the former Foreign Secretary, the late Mr. Ernest Bevin, played an important part in putting forward the Marshall Plan; and as we played an important part in those difficult years, does he not think that some small celebration here would be fitting?


My Lords, of course I take note of, and sympathise with, what the noble Lord has said. Her Majesty's Government are second to none in their recognition of the vital role which the Marshall Plan had in re-building the shattered economies of Western Europe. But we feel that the O.E.C.D., the successor to the O.E.E.C, is a particularly appropriate forum for this ceremony, because it includes among its members all the former recipients of Marshall Aid, plus the United States. For the reasons I have given, we feel it better that these ceremonies should be conducted in this forum rather than that we should dissipate effort by having ceremonies in each of the individual countries concerned.


My Lords, will the noble Lord ensure that the fullest publicity is given in this country to what takes place in Paris? Is he not aware that many of the younger generation were only in arms when the Marshall Plan was launched, and therefore there is not the knowledge of what is involved among the younger people which would be desirable?


My Lords, I sympathise with what the noble Lord has said, and we shall ensure that the appropriate publicity is given to the ceremonies that are taking place in Paris.

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