HC Deb 11 November 1948 vol 457 cc1718-20
45. Mr. Austin

asked the Prime Minister if he will approach Mr. Truman and Mr. Stalin with a view to meeting them at an early date for the discussion of present-day problems.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

I do not know what particular problems my hon. Friend has in mind. Generally speaking, I think it is preferable that international problems should be dealt with through the United Nations if they cannot be settled through normal diplomatic channels.

Mr. Austin

Is the Prime Minister aware that his answer, saying that he does not know the problem I have in mind, is most disappointing? May I ask him, therefore, whether he will not agree that if peace transcends all other considerations, the logical step is for him and the leaders of the other great Powers to meet to try to resolve the difficulties which are facing the world today?

The Prime Minister

I was not aware of which particular problem my hon. Friend had in mind. My hon. Friend talks of peace problems. I think these are best discussed, as I say, through the United Nations and through the usual channels. I do not myself think it is an advantage to try and supersede these by some special meeting.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Prime Minister aware that there has recently been an election in the United States of America and that the gentleman—President Truman—who proposed a special mission to Moscow, had the support of an overwhelming majority of the people? Why does not the British Labour Government show the same initiative in trying to formulate these proposals?

The Prime Minister

In regard to the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary, the answer is, "Yes, I was aware of the election." I am not aware of the other parts of the question.

Mr. Tolley

Does not the Prime Minister agree that during the war years meetings of this character between the leaders of the great nations were of great value and rendered very great service to mankind, and that, in view of the world situation, they might easily do the same today?

The Prime Minister

I am quite well aware that these meetings were useful during the war. I am not so sure that they are so useful at the present time to supersede the ordinary methods.

Mr. Wilson Harris

Will the Prime Minister undertake not to enter into personal negotiations until there is some reason to suppose that they may have a favourable outcome?