HC Deb 19 October 1954 vol 531 cc1028-9
50. Mr. Swingler

asked the Prime Minister if he will now initiate talks between leading statesmen at the highest level on ways and means of halting the arms race and of reducing tension.

53. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that recent official statements by Mr. Vishinsky on behalf of the Soviet Government improve the prospect of an encouraging advance towards a measure of multilateral disarmament; and what further steps Her Majesty's Government is taking, either by his direct approach to Mr. Malenkov or otherwise, to ensure more effective consideration of this question.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I made it clear in the debate on 5th April that we are prepared to take part in discussions at any level or to employ any other means which may best help us towards agreement on a safe and fair disarmament programme and on other great issues. There must, however, be general agreement upon the time and the method. It would in my view be improper to cut across the negotiations now proceeding in the United Nations, where the Assembly has recently been discussing the important proposals which we and our French friends presented last June together with the proposals recently presented by the Russians, to which the hon. Member for Leyton refers. It has now been suggested that there should be further private talks between the powers principally concerned, including, of course, the Soviet Union. Her Majesty's Government welcome this and will contribute their best endeavours to reaching an acceptable solution.

Mr. Swingler

Does not the Prime Minister recall that 18 months ago he suggested such a high level meeting could make such an important contribution to the relaxation of international tension? In view of the recent speeches of the Soviet Foreign Minister and the Soviet delegate to the United Nations, and in particular the Soviet delegate's changed attitude to these disarmament proposals, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that now is the appropriate time when he could make a contribution in such high level talks towards realising the more hopeful prospects raised at the Geneva Conference?

The Prime Minister

This Question refers specifically to disarmament proposals which are now being considered by the United Nations organisation, and the general question of a top level meeting was referred to in another Question which has not been asked today.

Mr. Sorensen

Does the right hon. Gentleman feel that in the existing circumstances some progress is being made in regard to this matter of disarmament, and that he is still prepared, if necessary, at some time to arrange the meeting to which this Question refers?

The Prime Minister

Yes, certainly. I have not altered in any way my point of view as expressed by the various statements which I have made to the House, but they have always been governed by due consideration for time and circumstances.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the Prime Minister arrange that in the very important discussions which will take place in the United Nations the Government will be represented by a Minister who can speak with authority?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. Certainly.