HC Deb 07 May 1952 vol 500 cc362-5
11. Mr. Bing

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government will take the initiative in calling a Four-Power Conference to discuss the possibility of organising free elections in Eastern and Western Germany.

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. Eden

I am in consultation with the French and United States Governments and also with the German Federal Government about the reply to be sent to the latest Soviet note about Germany. I hope we shall be sending this reply very shortly, but I cannot now anticipate its contents.

Mr. Bing

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it would be far more suitable from every point of view if we were able to get agreement on Germany than to have two sides of Germany, one armed against the other? Will he taken the utmost steps to secure that conclusion?

Mr. Eden

I have to bear a great number of matters in mind, of which that is one.

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 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?

Mr. Eden

We would prefer that the meeting should be properly prepared and that we should clearly understand its purpose and scope, rather than that we should hold it hurriedly with the kind of results which have occurred on previous occasions.

Mr. Bing

Would the Foreign Secretary say, however, that any proposals for the re-arming of Western Germany should be held up until that conference has been held?

Mr. Eden

I am certainly not prepared to stop the process initiated by the late Government for the incorporation of the free nations of the West in a joint effort unless and until a meeting with Russia has taken place.

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.

Mr. Eden

No, Sir.

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 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?

Mr. Eden

I should have thought that any intelligent observer would have been fully alive to that.

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