HC Deb 12 November 1969 vol 791 cc97-9W
Mr. Hazell

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of the Ministerial Council of the European Free Trade Association in Geneva.

Mr. Mason

The E.F.T.A. Council and the Joint Council of Finland and E.F.T.A. met in Geneva at Ministerial level on 6th and 7th November. The outcome of the meeting is recorded in the following communique:

The E.F.T.A. Council and the Joint Council of E.F.T.A. and Finland met at Ministerial level in Geneva on 6th and 7th November. 1969. The Chairman was Mr. K. Willoch, Norwegian Minister of Commerce and Shipping. In the E.F.T.A. Council, with the Finnish Foreign Minister participating in a personal capacity, Ministers welcomed the recent evidence that progress in European integration might soon become possible. They stressed the deep interest of their Governments in such progress. They reaffirmed the readiness and desire of each of their Governments to take part in early negotiations with a view to arriving at comprehensive solutions of the questions of European integration in which all members of E.F.T.A. would have the possibility of participating. In this connection Ministers recalled the communiqué issued following the meeting of E.F.T.A. Ministers in April, 1967, and reaffirmed their strong interest in safeguarding, as an important part of an enlarged European Community, the free market already established in E.F.T.A. Ministers agreed to continue to consult together closely on the ways and means to attain their objectives and instructed the Council at official level to keep developments under regular review.

Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress achieved in recent months in such specific fields of European economic cooperation as patents and technology. With regard to the latter, all the E.F.T.A. Member Governments would respond positively to the invitations received from the E.E.C. to take part in discussions on European technological collaboration.

On behalf of the Ministers of the Nordic countries the Finnish Minister informed the Council of the latest developments in the negotiations for closer economic co-operation among the Nordic countries.

Ministers reviewed progress in efforts to liberalise world trade. They reaffirmed their belief in the need to maintain liberal trading policies and agreed on the importance of full implementation of the results of the Kennedy Round negotiations. Ministers pledged the support of their Governments for the work now in progress in G.A.T.T. to prepare the ground for negotiations aimed at a further lowering of barriers to international trade, to the benefit of developed as well as developing countries. Such efforts, in order to be successful, should be supported by all major trading countries.

Ministers noted with great satisfaction that in the negotiations with Iceland, all major points had now been settled. They welcomed the prospect of Iceland becoming a Member of the European Free Trade Association and of the Finland-E.F.T.A. Association at an early date. They instructed the Council at official level to complete the formal instruments.

Ministers reviewed the current activities of the Association. They noted that trade within the Free Trade Area continued to grow rapidly and that the Association was functioning smoothly.

One requirement connected with the completion of the transitional period under the E.F.T.A. Convention is the establishment of a new regime, to be applied from 1st January, 1970, for imports of quick-frozen fish fillets into the United Kingdom market from E.F.T.A. suppliers. The Scandinavian and British Ministers informed their colleagues of the agreement reached on this regime. Ministers welcomed this agreement.

Ministers had before them a thorough analysis of the situation which had arisen from the establishment of aluminium smelters in the United Kingdom. Recognising the great importance of the matter to E.F.T.A. co-operation, Ministers agreed that the Council should follow developments in E.F.T.A. trade in aluminium and in particular the development of Norway's exports to the United Kingdom and to other major markets and consider to what extent Norwegian interests are affected by the new British smelters.

The President of the Board of Trade explained the reasons why it had been decided to maintain, at a reduced rate, the deposit scheme for imports introduced a year earlier by the United Kingdom Government. He assured his colleagues that it was the firm intention of the Government to end the scheme as soon as the economic situation made this possible. Other Ministers, while welcoming the recent evidence of improvement in the economic situation of the United Kingdom, expressed concern at the continuance of the import deposit scheme. Ministers instructed the Council at official level, which had already been charged with keeping the situation under review, to re-examine the effects of the scheme before the next Ministerial meeting.

A number of Ministers recommended an early removal of the restrictions on tourist allowances imposed by the United Kingdom.

The next regular Ministerial meeting of the E.F.T.A. Councils will take place in May, 1970, the date and place to be fixed by the Councils at official level.

1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 Total
Total Convictions 2,401 2,061 1,968 1,859 1,944 1,993 12,226
Absence without leave 906 736 786 795 832 958 5,013
Larceny 418 322 306 313 312 338 2,009
Desertion 215 138 161 171 174 145 1,004
Miscellaneous civil offences including: burglary, housebreaking, cheque offences, common assault, false pretences, forgery and uttering, assault causing actual bodily harm and wounding with intent 545 520 445 388 485 486 2,869

Command 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 Total
Eastern 249 173 186 158 258 75 1,099
Northern 127 112 114 105 53 130 641
Scotland 71 53 55 43 28 57 307
Southern 453 280 378 374 428 386 2,299
Western 129 57 58 73 78 75 470
Northern Ireland 75 41 19 40 54 44 273
Strategic 307 307
BAOR 920 958 790 746 833 754 5,001
Malta/Libya 24 34 35 36 26 12 167
Cyprus (Nearelf) 27 50 68 50 38 52 285
FARELF 157 158 163 138 70 82 768
All other Commands convened overseas 169 145 102 96 78 19 609
TOTAL 2,401 2,061 1,968 1,859 1,944 1,993 12,226

Note: The figures represent convictions. It is not possible readily to provide the figures for courts-martial convened nor is the information on costs available.