Select Committee on Liaison Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 460-461)


4 JULY 2006

  Q460  Mr McFall: Just to maintain that theme, Prime Minister, in terms of relations with US and Europe. The Treasury Committee is presently undertaking an inquiry into globalisation and we have visited both China and India. I think one of the main impressions that has been given to us is that the sheer scale, scope and spread of the changes is enormous. Whilst the rise of China and India is positive to the world economy as a whole, the benefits will be unevenly spread. We have seen the drift of manufacturing jobs in 2005, over one million to China from Europe, America and Japan and the competitive strength of China in manufacturing I think is unbeatable on that. Now the way we react in Europe and America will be most important in determining the future shape of both the US and the European economy. Some would say though that we are on the brink of a very distressing period both economically and environmentally and, indeed, socially. If we are to avoid the rise of protectionism, which we have seen in both the US and in Europe, and avoid negative international and foreign policy relations, what do we do about it? This is a prime for the next one.

  Mr Blair: In a nutshell what we do is realise that whatever differences there are between America and Europe from time to time, what joins them together is infinitely more important. Whether it is on the world economy or on how we deal with extremism or how we defend values of democracy and tolerance, in the end America and Europe in my view should stick and stand together. If we do that, particularly with the rise of China that I believe, incidentally, is a benign development, do not misunderstand me but I think it is particularly important given the big change that will happen in geopolitics in the next few years, which is about the rise of China and then you have got India as well, of course, and other countries too, and Russia, it is just axiomatic to me that the Americans and the Europeans stick together. That is why I think this transatlantic alliance is so important. That is why I am absolutely sure really that it will always be of importance to this country. The reason why foreign policy has dominated so much of our discussion is that in today's world it is another consequence of globalisation, it is going to dominate policy. Domestic and foreign policy, the distinction between the two, in my view, has never been more blurred than it is today.

  Q461  Chairman: Prime Minister, you initiated these series of meetings, and we have found them very valuable, whatever anyone else may think. The press are always cynical about what we do as parliamentarians. Would you recommend to a successor—since this is the first time a prime minister has been accountable to a committee of this House—that he should continue with these hearings in the light of your own experience?

  Mr Blair: I think for my successor you can make them weekly!

  Chairman: In that case long may you continue! Thank you, Prime Minister.

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Prepared 25 July 2006