HC Deb 30 November 1953 vol 521 cc758-60
40. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the Soviet proposal for a Four-Power Conference in Berlin.

41. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the contents of the latest Soviet Note.

Mr. Eden

In this House on 5th November I said, with reference to the Soviet Note of 3rd November, that we were prepared to discuss Germany and Austria with the Russians at any time and place and without prior conditions. As I read the Soviet Note of 26th November, it means that the Soviet Government are prepared to meet us without conditions. I am still in consultation with the other Governments to whom the Soviet Note was also addressed. These exchanges are however, proceeding rapidly and satisfactorily and it is the hope of Her Majesty's Government that it will now be possible to arrange a meeting of the four Foreign Ministers at an early date.

Mr. Wyatt

Will the Foreign Secretary bear in mind that it is very important, in view of the somewhat discouraging reaction in Washington, to emphasise that now that the Soviet Union have at last agreed to meet us, after having been pressed to do so. we should not begin by forecasting no result from a conference for which we have been asking?

Mr. Eden

I have, naturally, been in communication with the United States Government and they do not at all bear out what the hon. Gentleman has just said. I have every reason to believe that the answer which I have given would be endorsed by the United States Government.

Mr. H. Morrison

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the Press reports attributed to the Secretary of State of the United States, which give a contrary impression? Will the Government do all that they can to bring the United States into agreement with us, and will this be among the subjects to be discussed at Bermuda, so that the Western Powers may come to a common agreement which, one would hope, would be on the lines intimated by the right hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Eden

I can only repeat what I have said: that I have already been in communication with the United States Government and am quite confident that the answer which I have just given to the House and to the hon. Gentleman will be endorsed by the Government of the United States.

Mr. Henderson

In view of the reference in the Russian Note to the need for a five-Power Conference, would the Foreign Secretary say whether, at the proposed conference on Korea, it is intended that it should be at Foreign Ministers' level, because, if so, would that not provide an opportunity for the Foreign Ministers of the Western countries to meet the Foreign Ministers of both Russia and China?

Mr. Eden

I should like to think that out. As I understand the right hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition it would mean that we would have to be in two places at once. If the Korean conference and the other conference met at the same time that would clearly be the answer. What we are anxious to do is to make progress with the Korean conference and get that settled, and I should not like to make that dependent upon whatever date is agreed for the four Foreign Ministers to meet.

42. Mr. Beswick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the fact that a meeting between the heads of the four great Powers is still an objective of Her Majesty's Government has been conveyed to the Soviet authorities through the usual diplomatic channels.

Mr. Eden

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave on 25th November to a similar Question by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Beswick

The answer which the right hon. Gentleman then gave was that he hoped to have such a meeting. Cannot he say that he usually gives statements of that kind to the people to whom he intends them to go—to the Powers concerned—and not simply in answer to a Question in this House?

Mr. Eden

I think that the House as a whole is pleased that we hope that we are now to have a conference of the Foreign Ministers of the four Powers at this level. We do not, of course, exclude the other meetings if opportunity arises.