§ 32. Mr. Chetwynd
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals for closer association with the European Defence Community have been made to the French Government.
§ 36. Mr. A. Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the direct participation of Her Majesty's Government in the proposed European Defence Community.
§ Mr. Eden
The policy of Her Majesty's Government has always been to establish the closest possible association with the European Defence Community. An agreement on the form of that association is being worked out with the European Defence Community countries. Until the negotiations are concluded I cannot add to the statement I made on 5th November in the debate on the Address.
§ Mr. Wyatt
As M. Bidault told the French Parliament that we had agreed to take part in the Council of Ministers and to vote on matters which affected us, and as these statements revealed much more than the Foreign Secretary has ever told the House, are we not as much entitled as the French Parliament to know what our own Government are doing about committing us to the European Defence Community?
§ Mr. Eden
I think M. Bidault was the soul of discretion. I have the words he used. He said:The text is not yet final. We hope to be able to improve it in many of its dispositions, 755 and negotiations are still in progress, and until they are approaching conclusion it would not be proper for me to anticipate on what has not yet been concluded.What goes for M. Bidault goes for me.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
Are we not entitled, at this stage, to know whether British troops are irrevocably committed to Europe?
§ Mr. Eden
We are engaged in these discussions with the French and other Governments concerned, and the normal constitutional practice will be followed. If and when agreements are reached they will be laid before this House and it will be for the House to pronounce upon them, but I am not prepared to discuss what may or may not be in an agreement, the terms of which have not been concluded.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Is it not a fact that M. Bidault told the French Chamber a lot more than the Foreign Secretary has told us? Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether M. Bidault was right or not?
§ Mr. Foot
Since new proposals, apparently contained in the Foreign Secretary's statement—tentative proposals—have been made to the French Government and to the Belgian Government, and since they have been referred to and debated in the Belgian Parliament and the French Parliament, can the Foreign Secretary give us one good reason why they should not be discussed in the British Parliament?
§ Mr. Eden
I think M. Bidault's answer was perfectly correct, in view of the fact that we are negotiating. I repeat, I hope the House is not yet going to say that the Government have no right to negotiate matters with foreign Powers. If and when conclusions are reached, they will, of course, be reported to this House and it will be for them to pronounce. I am certainly not willing to be the first British Foreign Secretary to say that I am not prepared to discuss these matters with my allies on a free and equal basis.