HC Deb 25 October 1954 vol 531 cc1599-601
53. Mr. Beswick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has now had time to consider the most recent Union of Soviet Socialist Republics proposals for a disarmament convention; and if he will make a statement with regard to the position of Her Majesty's Government in relation to those proposals.

54. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the progress made in the United Nations towards an agreed plan of general disarmament and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

56. Mr. Elwyn Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the progress of the discussions on disarmament which have been taking place within the United Nations.

Sir Anthony Eden

On 11th June an Anglo-French Memorandum was submitted, which dealt with a suggested programme for setting up a Control Organ and for carrying out any prohibitions and reductions that might be agreed regarding weapons. This Memorandum was warmly supported by the United States and Canada. The Soviet Government, however, refused to discuss these proposals unless there was acceptance of an immediate and unconditional ban on nuclear weapons.

There the position rested until 30th September, when it was announced at the United Nations on behalf of the Soviet Government that they accepted the Anglo-French Memorandum as the basis for a draft international convention, and tabled a resolution to that effect, also including certain Soviet proposals for a programme of disarmament. This was a welcome reply to the Anglo-French initiative of 11th June, and I consider that, notwithstanding the difficulties that have still to be surmounted, it provides hope of progress in further discussions.

I should like to add that the progress in these matters has, in a large part, been due to the initiative and hard work of my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Supply.

Mr. Beswick

While paying tribute to the work of the former Minister of State at the Lancaster House meetings, and regretting the fact that he is not now in a position to pursue this work, may I ask the Foreign Secretary if he will give us an assurance that the hopeful prospect to which he referred will be pursued with all the vigour possible, and that he will not allow himself to be deflected into the pursuit of the rearming of the German population when it is still possible to secure the disarming of all?

Sir A. Eden

I do not quite follow the whole of the last part of that supplementary question, but the hon. Gentleman may be certain that we shall do all we can to make a success of this effort.

Mr. Warbey

As the great powers are now agreed on the essential principles of a plan for universal disarmament, will the Government make a contribution towards the reaching of a final agreement by calling upon all powers to suspend the further building of one-sided military alliances?

Mr. Elwyn Jones

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the next stage in this vital matter?

Sir A. Eden

Yes, I can. The debate in the Political Committee has to be concluded. I understand that it will be very shortly. Then the matter has to be considered in the plenary session of the General Assembly. We, for our part, will do all we can to see that there is no dilatoriness in the proceedings. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that this was due to an Anglo-French initiative and that we are not going lightly to let it slip if we can make use of it.

Mr. J. T. Price

Has the Foreign Secretary seen a report in which Lord Montgomery is reported to have said that in any future war it is not a question of whether atomic weapons may be used but that they will be used? Does that represent the policy of Her Majesty's Government?

Sir A. Eden

I do not think that that question is closely related to the Question on the Order Paper.