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Foreign Policy

Volume 986: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1980

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps he will be taking to ensure greater European co-operation in foreign policy now that budget difficulties have been overcome.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier to my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Knox).

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the rest of Europe the reaction is that Britain has secured an extremely good deal on the budgetary question, and that the kind of strong leadership that my hon. Friend shows bodes well for the future? Can we now build on that with some clear and practical propositions for a much closer European foreign policy to make the Community what it should be—much more than a mere trading arrangement?

I am sure that my hon. Friend's comments are generally very much in accordance with the wishes of the House. We are deeply interested in the progress of political co-operation. My hon. Friend referred to the satisfactory nature of our settlement. Since this seems still to be disputed by the Labour Party for what to me are obscure reasons perhaps I should give the figures. In 1980 we shall pay £370 million. In 1981 the figure will be £440 million——

Yes, net. Under the Labour Government in 1978 we paid £840 million, and in 1979 we paid £959 million.

Does the Lord Privy Seal accept that there is nothing to be ashamed of in trying to secure oil supplies? What attitude have he and his European colleagues taken towards the OPEC summit at Algiers, and in particular to the price relationship laid down there and the supply position for the forseeable future?

There has been no consultation. Obviously, it is in the interests of this country and of the whole Community that oil supplies should be kept down——

Does it not make sense for the Community countries to coordinate and concert their action against a regime that has imprisoned 50 Americans? Does it not make even greater sense to try to co-ordinate and to concert action against the bestial regime which is at the moment murdering thousands of Afghans every week?

There has been a great deal of consultation about Afghanistan. A declaration was issued last weekend at the Venice summit. It is extremely important that the Western response to Russian aggression in Afghanistan should be co-ordinated.

Does the Lord Privy Seal consider that existing political cooperation between Britain and France in the New Hebrides is an adequate example of the way in which we should be able to communicate within the Community in future?

The hon. Lady may not have been listening, but her hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has already asked that question.