HC Deb 27 September 1944 vol 403 cc213-5
9. Miss Ward

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any statement on the Conference at Dumbarton Oaks.

14. Mr. Martin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make any statement on the United Nations Conference at Dumbarton Oaks.

17. Mr. Hugh Lawson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he proposes to make any statement to the House on the Conference at Dumbarton Oaks.

Mr. Eden

The conversations at Dumbarton Oaks between officials representing His Majesty's Government and the Governments of the United States, the Soviet Union and China are still in progress. It is expected that the first phase of these conversations between the Delegations of the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union will shortly be concluded. The United Kingdom and American Delegations will then hold discussions with the Chinese Delegation.

The object of these conversations on the official level is to reach agreement on recommendations for consideration by the four Governments. Later, we hope that after such further consultation as may be necessary, it will be possible for the four Governments to lay a set of proposals before the Governments of the other United Nations, to form the basis of discussion at a full Conference of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the reports which I have received from Sir Alexander Cadogan, the Head of our Delegation, show that much useful and indispensable preliminary work has been accomplished at Dumbarton Oaks in a friendly and co-operative atmosphere.

These talks between officials cannot, of course, be expected to find a solution of all the complicated and delicate questions involved in the establishment of a new world organisation. But I believe that the report of the Conference will provide a valuable plan for the structure and machinery of the new body, which it will then be the task of Governments to complete before circulating it as a basis for consideration by all the United Nations.

I hope that it will shortly be possible to issue, in agreement with the other Governments concerned, detailed information about the results of the conversations at Dumbarton Oaks. As the Prime Minister informed the House yesterday, His Majesty's Government intend to give the House full opportunity to consider the draft proposals for the new organisation before anything is finally settled.

Miss Ward

Is Mr. Cordell Hull in informal conversation with certain members of Congress as he was before the Conference started? If so can we have the same privilege in this country?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Lady knows that our constitutional arrangements are not the same. So far as we are concerned, I cannot have consultations with a few Members of this House. What I have just said shows that the House, as a whole, will have an opportunity of expressing its views.

Sir Herbert Williams

Would my right hon. Friend consider the desirability of having a few of these conferences here instead of at strangely-named places like Hot Springs, Bretton Woods and Dumbarton Oaks? What about Purley Downs for a change?

Mr. Eden

If I may say so, I share my hon. Friend's view that the attractions of this country should not be overlooked.

Mr. Vernon Bartlett

In these discussions will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the danger that would arise if there were to be inequality before the law for the four great Powers, however clear it is that, politically, they must have a dominating influence?

Mr. Eden

I would rather not go into those details at this stage.

Mr. Petherick

Is it intended to place draft proposals before the House of Commons before they are submitted to the Governments of the Allied Nations, in order that the House of Commons may have an opportunity of expressing its feelings before we are even in a fair way to being committed?

Mr. Eden

The Government's position is that we, naturally, want to consult the House at each stage, and to carry the House with us. I would rather like to see what has emerged—I have not seen Sir Alexander Cadogan yet—before being committed further. My hon. Friend may be quite sure that the House will be very fully consulted.

Mr. Woodburn

Would it not be an advantage for the House to have an informal discussion on the whole affair so that before the Government go into conference they may have the advice of the House?

Mr. Eden

I think it would. There is no question of going into conference yet. We have not come out of this one yet.