HC Deb 25 October 1954 vol 531 cc1601-7
Mr. Attlee (by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make on the outcome of the recent international discussions in Paris.

Sir Anthony Eden

Yes, Sir. I gave the House on 19th October an account of the Agreements reached at the London Conference. We have now completed a most important series of meetings in Paris. The London Agreements of principle are now formal instruments signed by all the Governments concerned.

The Four-Power, Seven-Power and Fourteen-Power documents signed in Paris have been 'published and they will be laid before the House in a White Paper as soon as possible.

The Four-Power Agreements provide for the termination of the occupation regime in the German Federal Republic. The Bonn Conventions of 1952 have been amended and brought up to date. Until Germany enters N.A.T.O. allied controls on demilitarisation and disarmament will be retained. We have, however, agreed that if Germany is not a member of N.A.T.O. by the end of the year, we will reconsider how these controls should be exercised.

I undertook on 19th October to give the House further information about the financial implications of these arrangements. The Financial Schedules signed on Saturday in Paris will also be published in the White Paper and hon. Members will no doubt wish to study them.

The next batch of documents deals with the Brussels Treaty. These provide for the accession of Germany and Italy to that Treaty and for the control which the Brussels Treaty Council will in future exercise over the level of forces and the armaments of the member states on the mainland of Europe. The undertaking which Her Majesty's Government have given about the maintenance of United Kingdom forces on the Continent is recorded in Brussels Treaty Protocol No. 2. in order to mark these changes in the Brussels Treaty and its increased political significance it is agreed that the Organisation shall be known as the Western European Union. Its headquarters will remain as at present in London. The Armaments Agency, which will have to work in close contact the civilian and military authorities of N.A.T.O., will be in Paris.

All these Agreements were reviewed and warmly approved by the North Atlantic Council in a formal resolution on 22nd October. The Council adopted a resolution giving effect to the measures agreed in London for strengthening the N.A.T.O. machinery and increasing the authority of the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. It recorded the association of the other members of N.A.T.O. with the tripartite declaration of 3rd October on German reunification and Berlin. The text of this appears in Section V of the London Final Act. Finally the North Atlantic Council adopted a protocol providing for the admission of the German Federal Republic to N.A.T.O.

These are the results of the Paris meeting. They have now to be endorsed by the various Parliaments as they have been by all the N.A.T.O. Powers.

This settlement will put an end to the occupation regime in Germany. It will assure the full association of the Federal Republic as a free and equal member of the Western Community. It will provide for a German defence contribution which, since December, 1950, has been recognised by all the N.A.T.O. Governments as essential to Western defence. It includes an effective system of controls which will operate both through the Brussels Treaty and through N.A.T.O. The forces of all the member countries will be closely knit together in a common defence. No single one of them will be in a position to act contrary to the defensive strategy of N.A.T.O.

Such is the purpose of the texts signed in Paris. We must now look beyond these immediate aims towards the settlement of broader problems. I believe that such a settlement will never be achieved so long as Western Europe remains perplexed and divided.

The work of the last seven weeks has resulted in agreements so wide in scope and so significant for the future of Europe that it is not easy to measure them. This at least is certain. Western unity has been massively reinforced. Two flash-points of danger which have caused us much concern in Europe ever since the war, Trieste and the Saar, are now the subjects of agreement. The terms of the Trieste settlement will be available as a White Paper this afternoon. The Franco-German agreement on the Saar will, I understand, be published tomorrow and will also be made available in a White Paper as soon as possible. Since the terms of the Saar settlement must meanwhile remain confidential, I will only make these two comments upon them. First, that this agreement is a tribute to brave and patient statesmanship by the Chancellor of the German Federal Republic, Dr. Adenauer, and by the Prime Minister of France, M. Mendès Frances. Secondly, it will be found when the terms are published that the new and enlarged Brussels Treaty has already proved its value to the cause of peace in Europe.

If we can bring about stability and a common purpose in the West, we shall have established the essential basis on which we can seek an understanding with the East.

Mr. Attlee

I am sure that the House will have heard with satisfaction the statement by the Foreign Secretary, particularly in regard to the Agreement between France and Germany and especially on that vexed question of the Saar. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is proposed to submit these Agreements for ratification by this House in the immediate future?

Sir A. Eden

I am in a little difficulty about how soon it will be possible to make all these documents available. The House will understand that the Saar Agreement is a Franco-German Agreement, the publication of which rests with them. I understand that it will be published tomorrow. I do not know how many days it will take us to put those documents into print, and also the other documents which, I am afraid, are extremely lengthy. The Government would, in due course, ask the House to approve these documents and agreements at a date convenient to the House.

Mr. Attlee

We were looking forward to an early discussion of these matters. It would be an advantage to have the whole documents before us and to deal with the matter before the House as soon as possible.

Sir A. Eden

I entirely agree. I would hope by tomorrow to know when all these Agreements will be published in the form of White Papers. It may be that we can do it by the end of the week, but it may take a day or two longer. If there could be consultations through the usual channels, perhaps that matter could be discussed with the Leader of the House.

Mr. J. Hynd

There is one matter in the London Agreement which is not very clear. While the British Government have given certain definite undertakings with regard to the new defence arrangement, it is recorded in the White Paper that the representative of the United States of America merely undertakes, given two hypothetical sets of circumstances that might arise, that he will be disposed to recommend to the President that certain undertakings be accepted. Has there been any further clarification of that point?

Sir A. Eden

I do not know that I ought to reply for the United States Government. However, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the United States procedure is in certain respects different from ours; no assurance can be given by the United States Secretary of State except subject to the subsequent approval of the Senate. Representatives of the British Government have executive power for Parliament to approve or disapprove. In their case, it cannot be given without the approval of the Senate. That is the position.

Mr. Crossman

Can the Foreign Secretary tell us whether the White Paper will include an estimate of the final financial burden falling on this country when the present occupation costs arrangement comes to an end? If not, is it suggested that we are to ratify the agreement without knowing what the full financial burden is?

Sir A. Eden

The White Paper will give the figures with the contributions which will be made by the German Federal Republic in the immediate future and during other stages. What it cannot give is the final outcome of negotiations respecting a future period; as to that, all estimates are possible.

Mr. Gaitskell

Are we to understand from that reply that the right hon. Gentleman contemplates further negotiations with the other democracies about the sharing of the burden implied by the ending of German contributions to occupation costs?

Sir A. Eden

Yes, Sir. I have a note of this, and I am sure the House will forgive me for reading it, because it is rather a delicate matter. The position is fully set out in the White Paper. It broadly follows the lines of the E.D.C. arrangement. That is to say, we continue to receive support at the present level until Germany enters N.A.T.O. Thereafter, in the same way as under the E.D.C. arrangement, support is guaranteed at a diminishing rate for a 12-month period. Then there will have to be negotiations for support in the subsequent period after that, and it is about that that I cannot give any information.

Captain Duncan

I take it that this House will not have to ratify the Saar Agreement, but will the French Parliament have to ratify it?

Sir A. Eden

That is a matter for the French Parliament, and it would not be proper for me to say anything on that, especially as the Agreement has not been published.

Mr. Silverman

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any consideration was given during the negotiations which led to the Nine-Power Treaty—and whether the White Paper will deal with it—to the question of how far the Nine-Power Treaty would be binding upon the Government of a united Germany elected by free elections?

Sir A. Eden

The hon. Gentleman will find that point dealt with in the White Paper.

Mr. Wyatt

Could the Foreign Secretary in the White Paper when he deals with the question of costs of defence also set out how much the continuing cost of the four British divisions in Germany would have been if agreement had been reached with the Russians and all occupation troops had been withdrawn and the four divisions then kept in England, as they would have had to be, instead of in Germany?

Sir A. Eden

That would be rather an exercise.

Mr. Brooman-White

Will there be an opportunity for discussion of the Trieste Agreement? Is not this Agreement both a very full justification of the policy of Her Majesty's Government and a very successful outcome of the long and difficult task which British troops have had to carry out in that area?

Sir A. Eden

I am very glad to have this opportunity, as I am sure the House would wish me to do, to pay tribute to the attitude of Her Majesty's Forces in Trieste throughout this very difficult period. They have had a very thankless task at times and have discharged it with very great patience and credit.

Mr. Woodburn

There have been reports in the Press suggesting that an incipient European Parliament will develop as part of Western European Union. Will the right hon. Gentleman in the White Paper, or when he makes his statement to the House, enlarge upon this prospect and say exactly what it means?

Sir A. Eden

What is contemplated is nothing new, but that the Strasbourg organisation should be used in respect of those countries which are parties to the Brussels Treaty for the special matters which concern the Brussels Treaty. We thought that that would be a better arrangement than trying to start something new.