§ 28. Mr. Norman Dodds
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action Her Majesty's Government propose to take, or are taking, to ensure that a Four-Power Conference is held as soon as practicable to discuss the proposal to hold free elections in Eastern and Western Germany.
§ 29. Mr. R. H. S. Crossman
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government will consult with the United States and French Governments with a view to immediately inviting the Government of the Union of Soviet Republics to take part in a conference for the sole purpose of agreeing the necessary arrangements for genuinely free all-German elections.
§ 42. Mr. John Baird
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when it is proposed to send to the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics an answer to their Note of 9th April, 1952.
§ Mr. Dodds
What harm can be done by holding a Four-Power Conference to find out the extent of the sincerity of the Russian proposals? Could not much good be done, and is it not now obvious that unless this vital step is taken, there is little chance of getting any agreement with the West Germans about unity or defence?
§ Mr. Eden
The hon. Gentleman is asking me to reveal the reply to a Note 364 which cannot yet be made public. I can only say that we certainly do not exclude the possibility of a Four-Power meeting—[HON. MEMBERS: "Good."]—at the appropriate moment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] Certainly. What is the "Ah" about? Is not that the right way to do it? Have we not the lesson about Four-Power meetings and adequate preparation? What I am not prepared to do is to go into a Four-Power meeting without a proper definition of its objects and a proper preparation for its work.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd
Will the right hon. Gentleman take what steps are open to him, however, to see that the conference is held almost immediately before any irrevocable step is taken?
§ 43. Mrs. Barbara Castle
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government will take the initiative in securing the postponement of consideration of a German contribution to western defence until Four-Power talks have been held to consider the possibility of holding free all-German elections.
§ Mrs. Castle
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have no hope of obtaining the whole-hearted co-operation of the West German people with the West if he insists on rushing through a treaty in accordance with a rigid timetable which excludes all possibility of examining seriously the Soviet note before irrevocable decisions are taken, and if he genuinely desires the integration of Germany with the West, is it not 365 more important to meet German desires on this, than merely to get mechanical arrangements with them?
§ Mr. Eden
I do not know what authority the hon. Lady has to express the German desires. So far as I judge the situation, there is no reason whatever for us to halt in the arrangements we are making. I think that if we do, the result for the future peace of Europe might be disastrous. Continuing the work which the late Government rightly started in this respect does not peclude a constructive reply to the Soviet note. I asked the hon. Lady to await that reply before she judges its character unsatisfactorily.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker
Is it not a fact that it was the policy of Western Defence carried through at Lisbon which induced the Russian Government to put in their Note about German unity?