HC Deb 19 April 1955 vol 540 cc31-3

Mr. H. Morrison (by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement as to the attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards the agreement reached between the Soviet Union and Austria.

The Prune Minister

Her Majesty's Government certainly welcome the statement in the communiqué issued in Moscow on 15th April in which the Austrian and Soviet Governments place on record their desire for the early conclusion of a State Treaty. For many years we and our Allies have wanted to conclude a Treaty with Austria which would restore her full freedom and independence. The House will recall that we offered at Berlin to sign the text with all the Soviet amendments. We earnestly hope that a Treaty can now at last be concluded.

We note in particular that the Soviet Government have now agreed that the occupation forces of the four Powers shall be withdrawn from Austria after entry into force of the Treaty, and in any event not later than 31st December this year. The Soviet Government have thus removed one of the main obstacles to the conclusion of a Treaty.

The next step will be for representatives of the four responsible Governments to examine, with Austrian participation, the proposals put forward by the Soviet Government. I hope that this examination will start very soon and that, as a result, it will be possible to proceed to the conclusion and signature of this long-delayed Treaty with our Austrian friends.

Mr. Bellenger

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware whether, as a result of these negotiations in Moscow, anything new has emerged from what was agreed with Russia on the Treaty itself, which can automatically be put into force if Russia so desires?

The Prime Minister

So far as I have information, the text of the Treaty itself is entirely the same as it was at Berlin and could have been signed at that time, but there is a question about international guarantee. That is a matter which the four Powers will want to discuss but, so far as we can judge the document, we see no reason for further serious delay.

Mr. S. Silverman

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government know of, and approve, an understanding which appears to have been reported in connection with these negotiations, that Austria would undertake not to take part in or become a party to any military alliances of any kind without all the signatories to the Treaty consenting to it? Does the right hon. Gentleman regard that as a useful precedent for the consideration of the German question?

The Prime Minister

As regards the Austrian position, the hon. Member knows that there is nothing new in this. At Berlin that was accepted by all the Powers. The words were, Austria does not intend to join any military alliance or allow any military bases on its territory. There is, therefore, nothing whatever new since 18 months ago, when we discussed this matter in Berlin. As regards Germany, the hon. Member will not require me to tell him that the two countries are not in exactly the same position.

Mr. Paget

Would it be fair to describe this Austrian agreement as the first fruits of ratification, and does it tend to indicate that as a result of the ratification of the Paris Agreements it is now much easier to negotiate with the Russians?

The Prime Minister indicated assent.