HL Deb 03 July 1981 vol 422 cc403-4
Lord Brockway

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what response they have made to the communication from the Polish Government indicating their application to the EEC for emergency aid of up to £250 million.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, Her Majesty's Government and some other Western creditors have received a request from the Government of Poland for some additional short-term financial assistance in addition to the debt rescheduling and new commercial credits which we have already provided. We and our partners are giving consideration to this request.

Lord Brockway

My Lords, while thanking the Minister may I ask whether in present circumstances there is not a need to increase the stability of the Polish Government? Has the Minister noted the statement by the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday that Poland is faced with economic catastrophe, and may this not undermine the stability of its Government? May I ask one thing more? While one appreciates the need for delicacy in Western aid, would it not be possible to prevent reaction by allocating any aid specifically to the purpose of paying interest charges on debts to the West? Might that not lead to co-operation rather than confrontation?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, of course the Polish debts go wider than just interest charges on debts already incurred; for example, capital repayments are now due. However, we shall certainly do what we can within the limits of our resources. To follow the earlier supplementary of the noble Lord, we would of course want to stop short of interfering in Poland's internal affairs.

Lord Harmer-Nicholls

My Lords, if I have read the Question aright, how is my noble friend in a position to answer in this Parliament for an application made to the EEC?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the application to which the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, refers was in fact made to individual members of the EEC, including the United Kingdom, and that is why I was able to give the answer I did.

Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe

My Lords, may we thank the noble Lord for his Answer in which he said that this request was being considered? We noticed that there was no reference to it in the Summit communiqué. We fully understand the delicacy of the situation and we are grateful to the Government for considering it.

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