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European Commission (President's Interview)

Volume 21: debated on Wednesday 31 March 1982

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56.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will obtain a transcript of the interview with M. Gaston Thorn, President of the EEC Commission, during which he made comments upon the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government; and whether he will publish this in the Official Report.

No, Sir. The hon. Member will have noted that the Commission has issued a statement which makes it clear that Mr. Thorn was misreported. I understand that the radio station concerned has since confirmed this.

The original statement contained some rude and offensive remarks about our Prime Minister. That is now supposed to have been withdrawn. Why cannot we be told what the original statement said? If there was a correction, why should we not be told the facts? We have not yet seen the official details. The Minister has them. Why cannot he place them in the Library?

I did not say that the statement had been withdrawn. It could not have been withdrawn, because it was never made. Mr. Thorn's office and the radio station have confirmed that it was misreported. If the hon Gentleman wishes to see precisely what Mr. Thorn did say, I shall arrange for that information to be made available.

As Mr. Thorn is obviously embarrassed about this, will my right hon. Friend seek his. help and advice to establish what I am unable to establish—the view of the Commission and the EEC about our legal rights to keep EEC fishing vessels out of British waters after 31 December this year?

I do not think that matter arises from this question, but I shall pursue my hon. Friend's point.