HC Deb 05 May 1952 vol 500 cc18-20
30. Mr. Eric Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply Her Majesty's Government is making to the request received from the United States Government that the present negotiations with the Federal Government of Bonn for a new treaty should be completed by the middle of May.

Mr. Eden

There is general agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the other three Governments directly concerned that the Conventions establishing a new relationship with the German Federal Republic, together with the treaty setting up the European Defence Community, should be signed as soon as the negotiations to draft them can be completed. It is clearly impossible to set an exact term to any negotiations, but good progress has been made and I hope that they will be concluded this month.

Mr. Fletcher

In view of the increasing opposition to rushing these negotiations, not only in this country but also in Germany and France, is it not very desirable that we should now co-operate in trying to arrange for the four-Power talks that even the Americans are now suggesting?

Mr. Eden

There is no question of rushing their conclusion. They have been under negotiation since they were started, long before Her Majesty's present advisers took office, and it is still our intention to do everything in our power to bring them to a successful conclusion, because we think they will contribute to the peace of Europe.

Mr. Frank Bowles

May I ask if the right hon. Gentleman agrees with the statement issued last week by the National Executive of the Labour Party on this matter?

Mr. Eden

That may be an interesting matter for debate, but I think I should like notice of that question.

Mr. Geoffrey Bing

Will the Foreign Secretary say whether it is proposed to sign this agreement before the text is available to hon. Members of this House, or is it only to be communicated to Members of the German Parliament and not to hon. Members of this House?

Mr. Eden

Constitutionally, of course, the position is quite clear. The responsibility for any signature is the responsibility of the Government of the day. But as I have told the House many times, and I am glad of the opportunity to repeat it now, all these texts will be submitted in full and in public to the House before there can be any question of ratification by the Government.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the statement of the National Executive of the Labour Party referred to reveals that the Labour Party is showing a more progressive and enlightened attitude to the new foreign policy, and does he not think it would be useful if he tried to keep up with the National Executive of the Labour Party?

Mr. Eden

If I am to understand that the result of this pronouncement is a move nearer to the views of the hon. Gentleman, I must say I would regard that with some apprehension.