HC Deb 05 April 1955 vol 539 cc998-9
50. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Prime Minister if he will consult with the Prime Minister of Canada, the President of the United States of America. and the Prime Ministers of the member States of the Council of Europe with a view to setting up, as an experiment, an Atlantic Assembly modelled on the present European Assembly so that Canadian and American Parliamentarians could meet with European Parliamentarians and debate common problems.

Mr. Crookshank

As my right hon. Friend said on 31st March, it is not the policy of Her Majesty's Government to set up an Atlantic Parliamentary Assembly as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The possibility of associating the United States and Canada more closely with the Council of Europe might well be examined, and he understands that the hon. Member has himself tabled proposals to this effect in the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe. He would prefer to await the results of this study before considering discussions at the Governmental level.

Mr. de Freitas

I am extremely flattered that the Prime Minister is "passing the buck" to me. But surely he realises that in this Question I ask whether the Government would do it, because on Thursday the Prime Minister said, "Certainly"?

Mr. Crookshank

As the hon. Gentleman has done it first, he must get on with it.

Mr. Smithers

Does my right hon. Friend agree that rather than set up another international Parliamentary assembly without real powers, it would be better to concentrate on the Council of Europe, of which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is the political father, and the Western European Assembly, of which he is the political grandfather?

Mr. Wade

Is there not a risk of being over-cautious in this matter? Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the European Assembly has achieved considerable success in bringing about better mutual understanding between the representatives of member States? Might not it be worth while to try to extend that experiment to include Parliamentarians from the United States and Canada?

Mr. Crookshank

That may be, but I understand that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) is that it should be discussed.

Mr. de Freitas

It is flattering to have my poor efforts referred to in this way, but I am asking a Question of the Leader of the Government, as I am entitled to. If the Prime Minister, in answer to a supplementary question from me, says that certainly he will consider this, what is the next step to be? I have put down a Question. Has he been by-passed already?