HC Deb 31 March 1955 vol 539 cc545-6
48. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the deterioration of the situation in the Far East, he will suggest to President Eisenhower that a meeting of the heads of the States of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, France and India be held to seek ways of preventing an extension of hostilities on issues related to the military situation in the Formosa area.

The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)

Her Majesty's Government are prepared to examine any proposals which seem likely to prevent an extension of hostilities in the area of the Formosa Straits. During his recent journey my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed these problems with Mr. Secretary Dulles and the Prime Ministers of India and Burma. As he told the House on 8th March, he came reluctantly to the conclusion, with which I agree, that the necessary conditions have not yet been brought about where progress could be made through a conference.

Mr. Brockway

Whilst greatly appreciating that answer, might I ask the right hon. Gentleman, before the unkind finger of time denies him his long-cherished hope, which many of us respect, to call a conference of the major Powers for the purposes of peace, to urge this policy upon his successors, and particularly in relation to the dangerous situation in the Straits of Formosa?

The Prime Minister

No one has worked harder, indeed I doubt if anyone in the whole world has worked as hard as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, to steer this matter out of the danger area.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Since in this matter the United States, like ourselves, are bound by the undertakings we gave as members of the United Nations, will the Prime Minister ask the American Government to consider whether action by their forces in the coastal islands of Quemoy and Matsu would be regarded as consistent with the obligations of the Charter of the United Nations?

The Prime Minister

I am sure all these facts are very present in the minds of those on both sides of the Atlantic who are so earnestly and anxiously considering the day-to-day progress of this very embarrassing and serious dispute.

Mr. Callaghan

Is the Prime Minister aware that, in the opinion of many of us, it will not be the unkind finger of time that will deprive him of his chance but the chiefs of the Tory Party who want to win an election?

The Prime Minister

I do not see how that arises out of the Question, the supplementary questions or the answers that I have given. It shows what is causing the hon. Member most anxiety.