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Mr Tindemans (Visit)

Volume 894: debated on Wednesday 25 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects Mr. Leo Tindemans to make a visit to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Tindemans will visit the United Kingdom from 29th June to 2nd July. He will have talks with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, with my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and with other Ministers and will also meet representatives of opinion outside the Government.

How will Mr. Tindemans be going about meeting other elements of opinion in Britain besides Ministers? Are the Government to have formal or informal talks on this matter? Will my right hon. Friend consider having a debate on the subject of political union in Europe while Mr. Tindemans is here?

The subject of a debate must be one for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. As to whether the talks will be formal or informal, I think that the assurance for which my hon. Friend asks is the assurance that the talks in which we take part will not result in commitments by the Government. I certainly give him that assurance without qualification.

Regarding Mr. Tindemans' conversations with people outside the Government, the position is that his programme is being determined by and organised by the Belgian Embassy in London. I understand that as part of that programme the Belgian Ambassador has arranged already for Mr. Tindemans to visit Scotland and Wales, and to call on representatives of the major political parties.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Tindemans has already sought discussions with the Leader of the Opposition and has been made very welcome and assured that these discussions will be very full and frank?

Extraordinarily enough, I included the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition among the major political parties.