HC Deb 20 April 1953 vol 514 cc649-51
Mr. H. Morrison

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make on Her Majesty's Government's policy regarding the declaration on international affairs made by President Eisenhower on Thursday last.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Winston Churchill)

Sir, I have already welcomed the bold and inspiring initiative by the President of the United States of America, In his declaration he seeks to find means of establishing world peace on a genuine and enduring basis. Her Majesty's Government, and probably all the countries of the free world, will be glad to associate themselves with his sincere expression of those ideals and aims to which we all subscribe.

I was glad to see that the acting Leader of the Labour Party and the former Foreign Secretary, according to the report in the "Daily Herald "of 17th April, seems to share these views. I cannot do better than read the words he is reported to have used—I am quoting from the "Daily Herald": The British people, said the right hon. Gentleman, in common with enlightened people all over the world, will welcome this most important statement. It is exactly the plan that was so enthusiastically endorsed by the Labour Party Conference—the World Plan for Mutual Aid—which I introduced on behalf of the National Executive. What is needed now is a forthcoming response from all governments so that the road will be open to a new era of peace. progress and ultimate world prosperity. They were very well chosen words. I hope, therefore, that at this momentous juncture we shall not be hampered by party controversy. It seems to me that patience is needed rather than haste. In my opinion, no one can measure the extent or purpose of the change which has become apparent in the Soviet mood or even perhaps in their policy. I repeat what I said at Glasgow on Friday; no single hope, however slender, should be cast away. Time may well be needed to enable a sure judgment to be made.

I did not read President Eisenhower's speech as a challenge nor should I expect the Soviet Government to give an immediate categorical reply to the many grave and true points which his remarkable and inspiring declaration contained. It is, of course, as yet too soon to consider any relaxation of our efforts for collective defence.

I trust that nothing will be said here or elsewhere which will check or chill the processes of good will which may be at work and my hope is that they may presently lead to conversations on the highest level, even if informal and private, between some of the principal Powers concerned.

There is, however, one sphere which claims priority because it is both practical and urgent. The establishment of a sincere and honourable truce in Korea, with due regard for other Asiatic countries affected, would not only be of the highest value in itself but it might also open the door to further priceless advances towards that general easement of the world situation from which a real and lasting peace might come. We should, therefore, all rejoice at the steps that are being taken to resume the parleys at Panmunjom.

I do not wish to say more today except to assure the House that the whole subject holds the first place in the thoughts and attention of Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Morrison

On behalf of the Opposition, may I welcome the statement made by the Prime Minister which, I think, commands our general acquiescence and support. In the meantime, let us hope that all the statesmen of all the Western democracies will be equally cooperative and forthcoming, and let us hope that nobody will say anything which is liable to discourage the somewhat improved atmosphere of the international situation. It would be our wish that Her Majesty's Government should be forthcoming on any practicable means of improving the international situation, and we are glad that the Prime Minister has represented that spirit in the answer which he has given this afternoon.

Mr. Younger

While we all welcome President Eisenhower's speech and statement of United States' policy, may I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that some of us feel that the United Kingdom has a slightly different perspective on some of these problems, particularly those of the Far East, and whether he will, therefore, consider making a contribution at a very early date by making a statement of United Kingdom policy which, of course, we should not expect to be in conflict with President Eisenhower's statement but which would at any rate be supplementary to it, perhaps clarifying certain important points?

The Prime Minister

I understand that we shall probably have a debate on foreign affairs on the 29th of this month, but I would rather not endeavour to forecast precisely beforehand the lines which any remarks I might have to make should take.

Mr. Strachey

Would not the Prime Minister consider making a statement now that, if and when an armistice has been successfully concluded in Korea, Her Majesty's Government would favour the seating of the Chinese Government on the Security Council of the United Nations?

The Prime Minister

I think it might even hamper the movement of events in Korea towards an effective truce if I were to try to lay down conditions or make offers at the present time.

Mr. Irvine

Is it not a fact that the President's statement does not make entirely clear how far the liberation of the satellite countries and certain other matters are to be prerequisites of American mutual aid? Will the Prime Minister ask for clarification of that vital point, so that the whole matter may be usefully considered in the House?

The Prime Minister

I am sure it would not be in the interests which we all have at heart for me to attempt to go into details on these matters at the present time.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

I think we are having a debate in a short time. These matters ought to be considered and then discussed in the debate.

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