HL Deb 13 December 1979 vol 403 cc1359-60

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 are satisfied that NATO strategy is not being sabotaged by certain dissident elements in the EEC.


Yes, my Lords; the European Community has no role in NATO strategy.


My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for that not very satisfactory answer, may I ask whether he would agree that the decision by the Dutch could become a precedent which might eventually turn out to be the Achilles' heel of NATO? Secondly, is he aware that even in this country we have dissident elements? Only yesterday a group of MPs sent a telegram to NATO demanding that no nuclear missile be put on European soil. Lastly, does he not agree that because of the decision of the Dutch Mr. Brezhnev's insidious propaganda will be increased tenfold?


Not necessarily, my Lords; indeed, I am not entirely certain to what decision my noble friend is referring. At the consultations yesterday all the members of the NATO Alliance agreed to the modernisation of TNF in Europe. I should say that my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal will be making a Statement on that later this afternoon.


My Lords, are we to understand from the Minister's reply to the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, that all the countries associated with the EEC are unanimous in support of NATO and its policy? Is it not true that some of them, if not in opposition, are far from enthusiastic? Is the noble Lord aware that so far as France is concerned it has contracted out of NATO? That does not necessarily mean that they are dissidents, but they are certainly not in support.


My Lords, the membership of the European Community and the membership of the NATO alliance are two different matters. Most of the members of the European Community are members of NATO, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, points out, the French are not participating members of NATO, though they have not in fact withdrawn from the alliance.


My Lords, is France having any of these modernised American weapons deployed on her soil?


Not at present, my Lords; but I would ask the noble Lord to await the Statement to be made by my noble friend Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal a little later this afternoon.


My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that part of the difference between us and the nations on the other side of the Iron Curtain is that people who disagree with Government policy in our countries are perfectly free to express their opinion in any manner they wish? And does he also agree that any implied criticism of honourable Members in another place for expressing those views in a telegram is wholly out of order?


My Lords, I think that the telegram referred to was from Members of the European Parliament, not Members of another place. But the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, is of course quite right in saying that those who live behind the Iron Curtain do not have the opportunity of expressing their views as we do.

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