HC Deb 30 November 1955 vol 546 cc2296-300
21. Mr. Parkin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the present policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding the plan for a partial demilitarisation of areas each side of a partition line in Germany originally known as the Eden Plan.

25. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what discussions took place on Her Majesty's Government's proposal of a demilitarised zone on either side of the frontier dividing West and East Germany at the Geneva Conference of Foreign Ministers; and with what result.

39. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent it is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government to create a demilitarised zone between East and West Germany.

Mr. H. Macmillan

At the July Conference of Heads of Government my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made two quite separate proposals at different stages of the discussions.

The first of these proposals was in the field of disarmament and was for a pilot scheme of joint inspection on either side of the line between East and West—not necessarily in Germany. This was one of the proposals mentioned at the Foreign Ministers' Conference during the discussion on disarmament. It will now be pursued in the United Nations Disarmament Sub-Committee.

The second proposal, in the field of European security, was for measures for the limitation, inspection and control, of forces and armaments, including the possibility of a demilitarised area. Like all other proposals in this field, the proposal was linked with, and dependent upon, the reunification of Germany. This second proposal of the Prime Minister is the origin of the proposals made in points 3 and 4 of the "Outline of Terms of Treaty of Assurance" tabled by the Western Powers at the Foreign Ministers' meeting and to be found on page 100 of the White Paper. Her Majesty's Government continue to regard such measures as potentially useful elements in any new security arrangements with the Soviet Union.

At the Foreign Ministers' Conference, the Soviet Delegation refused to discuss the reunification of Germany and consequently there was no discussion of any of the detailed Western proposals for security.

Mr. Parkin

Does the Foreign Secretary realise that if his answer means, quite bluntly, that these proposals are not shunted to some sub-committee, are not modified and are not being withdrawn but are still open for discussion as part of a general solution, it will give great satisfaction?

Mr. Macmillan

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman. My reply meant just that. We still hope that, sooner or later, there will soon be some Russian acceptance in the spirit in which these proposals have been put forward.

Mr. Swingler

Did not the Foreign Secretary put forward a different proposal for demilitarisation at the Geneva Conference—a proposal for demilitarisation in a different area—and are we now to understand from his reply that the Government still adhere to the proposal made by the Prime Minister in July? In view of his latest answer, is the Foreign Secretary prepared to revise his proposal for demilitarisation of the partitioning frontier in Germany?

Mr. Macmillan

Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the hon. Gentleman has quite twisted the purport of my reply. If he will read it carefully, he will see that his suggestions are not correct.

Mr. Rankin

Will the right hon. Gentleman say specifically whether or not, in effect, the proposal which he made meant the creation of a demilitarised area between Russia and West Germany? If that is the case, would it not result in widening the existing gap between East and West Germany and, therefore, not harmonise with the stated view of Mr. Dulles, as expressed in today's Press, that we should continue to press for the reunification of East and West Germany?

Mr. Macmillan

No, Sir. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will read carefully my reply. There were two quite separate proposals. One was for an experiment, a pilot scheme, as one might say, in the limitation, inspection and control of forces that might take place anywhere. It did not matter where it was, but simply that if we were to work these things we should get the teams practising, get to know each other and the kind of thing that they do. The other was a quite separate proposal, that if and when Russia agrees to the reunification of Germany, then along what is then the dividing line between a reunified Germany and the East there might be, among other methods of increasing security, a demilitarised zone or a special zone, in which specially reduced forces would exist or certain kinds of weapons would be ruled out. Both these schemes were put forward and one remains—the disarmament one—before the Disarmament Sub-Committee of the United Nations. The other never came to fruition because the Russians, on quite different grounds—on political and not on military grounds, because they were determined to hold on to the part of Germany which they had seized—refused seriously to consider the proposals that we made.

Mr. Mayhew

Is it not a fact that the first proposal was, in fact, mentioned at the summit Conference and not at the Geneva Conference? I am not quite clear what the reason for that is. Perhaps the Minister will explain that.

Mr. Macmillan

Yes, Sir. It was mentioned and we were prepared to discuss it, but we never discussed it in detail because the whole of the discussion on that item broke down so rapidly owing to the refusal of the Russians to deal with the question of control.

23. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why Her Majesty's Government proposed at Geneva that the ratification of any European security pact should be made conditional upon the entry of a reunified Germany into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

26. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the entry into force of the security pact which he proposed at the Geneva Conference was made conditional upon the admission of a united Germany into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Mr. H. Macmillan

The "Outline of Terms of Treaty of Assurance" put forward by the Western Powers at Geneva sets out the proposals by which the Western Powers sought to give the Soviet Union additional security in the event that a united Germany's free choice should be to join N.A.T.O. or the Western European Union. Clearly, if united Germany made a different choice, different arrangements would be needed.

Mr. Swingler

Is it not a fact that in the original proposals supported by the Foreign Secretary, the conclusion of a security pact was made conditional on the agreement of a unified central Government to join N.A.T.O., and was this not a prejudging of the issue which was likely to provoke Soviet hostility?

Mr. Macmillan

No, Sir. The hon. Gentleman has really twisted this matter in a most dangerous way, and I must refute what he says. What we said was, "We want a reunited Germany. You say that a reunited Germany might join N.A.T.O. All right then, we give you every possible military reassurance that we can think of. If, on the other hand, a reunited Germany joins the Warsaw Pact, it will not be we who have to guarantee Russia, but Russia who has to guarantee us."

Mr. Warbey

Will the Minister explain the meaning of the statement in the draft proposals submitted by the Western Powers that the final stage would only enter into effect when a reunified Germany entered N.A.T.O. and Western European Union?

Mr. Macmillan

For the reason that I have said, we have offered them a treaty, some part of which would be applicable whatever might be the decision of Germany, and some part of which would only have any point in it if the reunited Germany joined the Western group and, therefore, perhaps, in the Russian eyes, made some additional security necessary. Therefore, it was very reasonable that some clauses should come into operation anyhow, and that the final clauses of security should only come into operation if needed.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Manchester Guardian, which is by no means unsympathetic to the Government's general policy in international relations, described this proposal as patently insincere? If the proposal seemed to the Manchester Guardian patently insincere might there not be some reason for it being regarded as suspect by the Soviet Union? Would the right hon. Gentleman explain why a demilitarised area dividing the frontiers in this way as a protection for one side or another would not be equally useful whichever side it eventually joined?

Mr. Macmillan

I think that the quotation from the Manchester Guardian is one I remember well. This matter was misunderstood by some of the Press. If the hon. Gentleman will read the later editions of the Manchester Guardian in the later days—the hon. Gentleman has only chosen to make the quotation which suited him, and I have many quotations which suit me—he will find that it was always perfectly well understood as the Conference proceeded. Here is the position: if the Germans wish to join the West we make special provision to protect Russia. If they do not, different provisions will be required. It is really not right that our Western position should be so misrepresented.

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