HL Deb 14 July 1969 vol 304 cc2-4

2.37 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what decisions were reached at the talks at Harpsund, Sweden, between the Prime Minister and representatives from six nations on the proposal of the President of Finland that an all-European Security Conference should be held at Helsinki.]


None, my Lords. Given the nature of the meeting at Harpsund, there was no question of reaching any decisions on Government policy.


My Lords, while I appreciate that this was a meeting of Socialist representatives, were not quite a number of Governmental Ministers present? And will Her Majesty's Government take the opportunity of the presence of the President of Finland in this country to pursue this matter in a constructive way?


My Lords, per haps I can best answer that supplementary question by referring my noble friend to what my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said in answer to a Question in another place on July 10. He said: I was able to discuss the question of a security conference with the Prime Minister of Finland last weekend in the light of the Finnish initiative, and we shall have an opportunity of discussing it further with the President of Finland during his State visit next week "—[Official Report, Commons; 10/7/69, col. 1567.] I hope that that will put my noble friend's mind at rest.


My Lords, while thanking my noble friend very appreciatively for that answer, may I ask him whether it is not the case that Finland may act as a mediating body in this matter between Soviet Russia and the Communist countries and the West, and is it not very desirable that the opportunity of this visit should be taken to press the hopeful proposal of a European security pact?


My Lords, I think it would be quite inappropriate for me to comment on the role that the Government of Finland may wish to play in these affairs. All we know is that the Government of Finland have proposed Helsinki as a possible meeting place for a European Security Conference. We welcome the spirit in which that proposal was made, and, as I have said, we shall discuss it further with the President when he is here later this week.