HC Deb 20 May 1953 vol 515 cc2069-70
45. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the conversations he held with the Prime Minister of France when he was in London, concerning British association with the European Defence Community; and whether he will now also publish the subsequent interchange of correspondence on this topic.

The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)

No, Sir. I have nothing to add to the answer which my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs gave to the hon. Member on 20th April, nor to what I said in the foreign affairs debate on 11th May.

Mr. Wyatt

But as the Prime Minister has been giving me that sort of answer since last February, is it not time that he brought this secret diplomacy to an end? Is he aware that the French have a very strong feeling that he himself has badly let them down, because he made a great many promises before he became Prime Minister about the co-operation which we would have with the European Army, all of which he has broken? Does he not realise that the European Defence Community will founder completely unless we make a better gesture than we have so far made to the French?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that questions, including supplementary questions, should be asked primarily for the purpose of gaining information and not for self-advertisement.

Mr. Wyatt

Is the Prime Minister not aware that as he never gives us any information it is sometimes necessary to give him some information in order to jolt him out of his apathy?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Since the Prime Minister is presumably proposing to the French that we should undertake obligations towards the E.D.C., and since that is a matter on which this House must ultimately decide, would it not be an advantage that we should now have the information about what the Government propose?

The Prime Minister

I said in my speech on Monday week all that I think it necessary or desirable to say at the present moment.

Mr. H. Morrison

Does the Prime Minister remember the occasion in Strasbourg—I remember it, as I was there—when he made his great speech about a European Army? Does he think the spirit and text of that speech is consistent with the policy being followed by him as Prime Minister? Does he not remember also that when he was in opposition he used Question time for his own advertisement as much as anybody else?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question which gave him the opportunity of indulging in the art of tu quoque was the only part to which he really attached importance.