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Mineral Resources

Volume 894: debated on Wednesday 25 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take an initiative towards the development of an EEC policy for the development of mineral resources among the Group of 77.

The Prime Minister's initiative on commodities at the Heads of Commonwealth Government meeting at Kingston sought to create a broad frame- work within which policies for individual raw materials, including the development of mineral resources, could be worked out. We are now pursuing these ideas with our partners in the EEC, where careful and urgent study is at present being given to these problems.

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken note of the much more aggressive attitude towards commodity stabilisation schemes shown by the Group of 77 than the attitude advanced by the Prime Minister at the Jamaica conference? Is this not a very good area for the EEC to examine, both for financing overseas sources of minerals and for using its collective consumer power in the event of expropriation by the overseas host country?

No, Sir. I think that the remedy the hon. Gentleman suggests is wrong. We have all noticed the aggressive attitude adopted by some developing countries. The object of the Kingston initiative of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was to convince them that in these matters co-operation is better than confrontation. If the hon. Gentleman wants to advance that thesis, he must advance it in a way which does not run side by side with the suggestion that the developed countries—the raw material consumers—should act in an aggressive fashion. That would be altogether inappropriate.

Can the Minister say anything further about the attitude of the Government to the most interesting document produced by the Commission on the supply of raw materials to the Community, and especially to its imaginative ideas for a combination of private and State enterprise in the exploration and development of new mineral resources in the less developed countries?

That document was examined at the political co-operation meeting of the EEC Council of Ministers in Dublin some weeks ago. That was a preliminary examination. The details are now being considered by individual member countries and experts. I welcomed parts of that document when I attended that meeting, not least because they confirmed the suggestions put forward by the Prime Minister in Kingston some days before.