HC Deb 10 February 1955 vol 536 cc2058-60
47. Mr. Warbey

asked the Prime Minister whether he will invite Premier Bulganin to participate in joint discussions on the solution of outstanding international problems.

49. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether, following the resignation of Mr. Malenkov, he will maintain his policy of high level talks at the appropriate time with the new Soviet Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister

As I have said before, the policy of Her Majesty's Government is to seek a Four-Power Conference at a time when it seems likely to yield genuine results. That occasion is not likely to occur till after the ratification of the London and Paris Agreements.

Mr. Warbey

Is the Prime Minister aware that by dithering for nearly two years he has lost his opportunity of talking with Mr. Malenkov? [Laughter.] Is he going to sit dithering for another two years until it is too late to talk to Marshal Bulganin? [Laughter.] As the international situation is becoming increasingly tense, and as the matter is of the greatest seriousness and not a matter for flippancy, will he say what urgent action he proposes to take to relieve international tension?

The Prime Minister

I was not aware that I had been guilty of any flippancy. I could not fully hear the hon. Member's supplementary question on account of the extreme hilarity and levity which was shown on the benches opposite.

Mr. Attlee

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether any conversations or inquiries are taking place through diplomatic channels to try to elucidate the statements which have been made on behalf of the Soviet Government, and which appear to suggest a possibility of fair dealings with Germany in the event of any negotiations? It appears that there is talk of elections and so on. Does he not agree there is scope through diplomatic channels to try to find out what is the real intention? Many people are being led away by favourable statements which really deceive, although there is no content in them.

The Prime Minister

I think I should like notice of that question, and indeed it might be addressed to the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Henderson

Would the Prime Minister be prepared to associate himself with the statement made yesterday by President Eisenhower and reaffirm that the statement of international policy, based on prevention of war, recently issued by the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference will not in any way be affected by the mere change in Government in Russia?

The Prime Minister

I think that I should not hesitate to confirm the suggestion which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just made.

Mr. Bevan

As the recent statement of the Soviet Union about the future of Germany had very great publicity in Germany itself, and as it had a very considerable impact on German public opinion, would it not have been the normal use of diplomacy long ago to have tried to probe to find out what was in the Russian mind? Is it necessary to ask Questions in the House of Commons in order to get ambassadors to do their normal job?

The Prime Minister

No. I think it is certainly not necessary to ask questions for that purpose. No opportunity is being neglected to discharge fully our duties of a diplomatic character.

Mr. Bevan

Why has the Prime Minister not done it?

Mr. Strachey

Would not the Prime Minister agree that the recent trend of events in both Germany and France suggests that his blank refusal to take any notice of the earlier Russian statement may well lead, not to the ratification of the Paris Agreements, but to profound division of opinion in Germany and France?

The Prime Minister

All these matters are brought before the people very frequently and from many quarters, and they all receive earnest and continuous consideration on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers.

Mr. Rankin

What happens?