HC Deb 22 March 1955 vol 538 cc1871-3
45. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps to appoint a Minister of Cabinet rank whose sole duty will be to study and implement ways and means of bringing about total world disarmament.

The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)

No, Sir. I do not think that it would be a good plan in this country. Policy in such matters is decided by the Cabinet and carried out by the Foreign Secretary. I am satisfied with the present arrangement whereby a Minister of State in the Foreign Office, whose responsibilities include all United Nations affairs, represents Her Majesty's Government on the United Nations Disarmament Sub-Committee.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Prime Minister aware that the President of the United States has made an analogous appointment for a somewhat similar purpose, and that in making it he said that he did so on the ground that the London talks on disarmament resulted in no progress and no clear crystalisation of thinking? Is not this a pungent and terrible criticism of the present Government anda reason why an appointment of this kind should be made?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I do not think it is meant to be a serious criticism of the present Government. In any case, we consider that the methods that we are pursuing are suitable to our conditions and our Constitution.

Mr. Shinwell

In any event, will the right hon. Gentleman have any further opportunities of appointing Ministers of Cabinet rank, or any other kind of Minister? May I ask him whether the report in the "Manchester Guardian" that he is being pushed out by his Tory colleagues is true?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman really must not be led away by all the chatter in the Press. He makes a mistake to indicate that he is one of those most prominently misled.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am delighted with his reply?

Mr. A. Henderson

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he would consider setting up in the Foreign Office a special department under the Minister of State which would be responsible for making this study of the disarmament problem—apart altogether from the disarmament conference which is at present sitting—on the analogy of the appointment in 1936 of the present Foreign Secretary as Minister for League of Nations Affairs?

The Prime Minister

I think that Question might be put upon the Paper.

Mr. Strachey

While appreciating that the Prime Minister may be satisfied with the work of the Minister of State in this matter, may I ask whether he is aware that the House is far from satisfied with the statement of the Minister of State yesterday that even the first step in nuclear disarmament by banning nuclear tests cannot be taken because it would give a sense of false security in this country?

The Prime Minister

We had better wait until the Sub-Committee has finished its labours, and then undoubtedly a situation will arise if a complete deadlock is reached.

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