HC Deb 21 April 1955 vol 540 cc344-6
28. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Prime Minister what progress Her Majesty's Government have made to date towards top-level four-Power talks; and when, and where, he expects that such talks will be held.

The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)

I dealt with the question of four-Power talks in my answer to Questions on Tuesday last, and I have nothing at present to add to that statement. Conversations are now proceeding to arrange a programme for work.

Mr. Hughes

Does not the Prime Minister realise that the answer to which he has referred gave no satisfaction? Does he not think it is time to emulate the example set by the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues last summer, when they had high-level talks with leaders in Russia and China?

The Prime Minister

I believe that my answer did give full satisfaction. I am now saying that I have nothing to add to the full satisfaction which I gave on Tuesday.

Captain Pilkington

To what extent is the Supreme Soviet pressing the Russian Government to take the initiative in this matter?

The Prime Minister

We are ourselves anxious for these conversations. I think that the House as a whole feels that conversations have become more possible as a result of the firm policy that we and our Western Allies have followed.

Mr. Warbey

As the Government's policy, like their future, is veiled in obscurity, would the Prime Minister make it clear that he has thrown overboard the policy of his predecessor of starting negotiations for talks at the top level?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I have not thrown anything overboard. If the hon. Gentleman will look at the White Paper to which I referred on Tuesday, and which lays down the agreed policy of the four allied Governments, he will find that that is being fulfilled. It fortunately began with the need for an Austrian Treaty.

Mr. Dodds

Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor did at one time contemplate meeting the head of the Russian State—just the two of them? Has the Prime Minister thrown that idea overboard and will not agree to it unless it be in accord with the four Powers?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend explained fully the circumstances of that at the time. The hon. Member will find in the White Paper to which I have referred proposals for four-Power conversations. I thought we were all agreed that such four-Power conversations were now desirable. Her Majesty's Government will work for that and will not allow any question of machinery to stand in the way.