HC Deb 05 May 1955 vol 540 cc1899-901
53. Mr. M. Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now state what progress has been made towards concluding an Austrian State Treaty.

57. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has been made at the Conference of the four Ambassadors in Vienna with regard to the conclusion of the Austrian State Treaty.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

The Conference of the four Ambassadors which began in Vienna on 2nd May, with the participation of the Austrian Foreign Minister, Dr. Figl, is at present discussing the draft text of the Austrian State Treaty article by article. Certain modifications of the text of an editorial nature are necessary because of the great lapse of time since the present draft was prepared. Other points require discussion in the light of the exchanges of views which took place between the Soviet and the Austrian Governments in their talks in Moscow last month. I hope it will be possible to make good progress.

Mr. Stewart

Could the right hon. Gentleman say that, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, there is no obstacle to an early conclusion of this Treaty?

Mr. Macmillan

We want to make as rapid progress as possible. We have waited a long time.

Mr. E. Fletcher

Can the Minister give any indication when it is likely that the Treaty will be signed?

Mr. Macmillan

From the most recent reports, it would appear that very rapid progress is being made, and I am hopeful that the meeting will be within the near future.

Mr. J. Hynd

When the Minister says that he hopes to make progress, will he bear in mind that this is an entirely new departure in the relations between the Soviet Union, Austria and ourselves? The proposals which have been made have been publicised, and I hope that we shall admit that they are a great advance on anything which has been done previously and which we have been prepared to sign. As there will be no sittings of this House within the next several weeks, will the right hon. Gentleman not make some statement which will give encouragement to the Austrian people who are a little disquieted about the attitude of Her Majesty's Government?

Mr. Macmillan

The news is very good, but some adaptation is necessary in the complicated articles—40 or 50 in number—of the Treaty. Then there are the additional questions which have got to be defined. It is one thing to agree in principle and another to get the right formula. I think good progress is being made and that all the indications are very satisfactory.

Forward to