HL Deb 18 February 1976 vol 368 cc467-8

2.42 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 whether they will take the initiative to arrange a conference of Western and Communist representatives under the auspices of the United Nations Commission for European Economic Co-operation to implement co-operation in agriculture, energy, transport, telecommunications, marketing, mining, tourism and anti-pollution as a sequence to the Helsinki Agreement in view of the precedents set by the Conference of Balkan States of both Western and Communist alignment.


My Lords, we are already working closely with our partners and the other Member-Governments of the Economic Commission for Europe to formulate proposals for the future work of this organisation, in implementation of the Helsinki Agreement. The 31st plenary session of the Commission will be held from 30th March to 9th April, and will provide all Member-Governments with the opportunity to examine the work programmes proposed by the Executive Secretary, Mr. Stanovnik. We intend to play a constructive role in this.


My Lords, I greatly appreciate the welcome news in that Answer. May I ask whether there has been a specific response to the proposal by Mr. Brezhnev that there should be discussions between the two sides on the environment, energy and transport?


Yes, indeed, my Lords; we warmly welcome the suggestion by Mr. Brezhnev that there should be substantial discussions in the fields of inquiry which my noble friend has indicated. In terms of page 51 of the Helsinki Agreement, we think that the Economic Commission for Europe as the normal conferential locale for such discussions would commend itself equally to Mr. Brezhnev and the Soviet Union, as it does to us.