HC Deb 01 May 1952 vol 499 cc1666-7
The Prime Minister

I desire, Mr. Speaker, with your permission, to make a statement.

The Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe will meet at Strasbourg on 26th May, and I have appointed 18 delegates from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The distribution of the appointments between the parties is the same as in the previous delegation, that is, nine Members of the Conservative Party, eight Members of the Labour Party and a representative of the Liberal Party.

The appointments of the Labour and Liberal representatives have, of course, been made on the basis of nominations by the Leaders of those parties.

The representatives from the Government benches are my hon. Friends the Members for Melton (Mr. Nutting), who is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby), Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir), Belfast, North (Lieut.-Colonel Hyde), Cambridge (Mr. Hamilton Kerr), Pentlands (Lord John Hope), Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe), and the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir.

Mr. Shinwell

One of my right hon. Friends says "husband and wife."

The Prime Minister

I have never heard that that was considered to be a detrimental argument; indeed, precedents exist at this moment on both sides of the House for such an association in political matters. The list continues as follows: From the Labour Party: the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), Blyth (Mr. Robens), Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley), Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon), and the hon. Gentlemen the Members for Hillsborough (Mr. G. Darling), Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), and Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas).

From the Liberal Party: the noble Lord, Lord Layton.

Substitutes are being appointed to act for the delegates when they are absent from Strasbourg.

Sir Herbert Williams

May I ask the Prime Minister whether these delegates will have any instructions, or will merely express their own personal views at Strasbourg?

The Prime Minister

The delegates will attend as they always have done, in a personal capacity. The opinions they express are their own, and not necessarily those of their party or of the Government of the day. Consequently, the recommendations of the Assembly are in no way binding and must be considered later by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Mr. Ernest Davies

May I ask the Prime Minister whether the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he was attending Strasbourg—is also attending the Committee of Ministers, because in that case he will be attending in two capacities, both as a Minister to the Committee of Ministers and as a representative of this House to the Consultative Assembly?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has a ministerial capacity which does not depart from him in this case.

Mr. Frederick Lee

On a question of the statements made there being personal, has the Prime Minister considered the statements made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) on so many occasions, which now contravene Government policy?

The Prime Minister

I always bear these carefully in mind. I am glad to see how much more acceptable they now seem to be to the other side of the House than in the days when the former Government were in power.