HC Deb 11 April 1956 vol 551 cc205-6
42. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of the discussions in the Disarmament Sub-Committee.

43. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest developments in the negotiations for an international agreement on disarmament.

Mr. Nutting

My right hon. and learned Friend hopes to make a statement on the disarmament discussions early next week.

Mr. Warbey

Yes, but in view of the fact that there is now a very large measure of agreement between the various members of the Disarmament Sub-Committee, can the right hon. Gentleman say now whether he accepts M. Moch's principle of having as much disarmament as can be effectively controlled? If so, why cannot the British, French and Russian proposals already made form the basis of an agreed disarmament convention?

Mr. Nutting

The hon. Gentleman should not exaggerate the area of common ground between us. I am always very ready to search for common ground, but he must not exaggerate that which exists. As to M. Moch's proposals, I have not only accepted his principle: I am happy and proud to co-sponsor his plan.

Mr. Swingler

Will the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the majority of the proposals that were recently put forward by the Soviet delegate were proposals which have at one time or another been put forward by the Western Powers in the last few years?

Mr. Nutting

Of course, I am not saying there is not an area of common ground between us. I was asking the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend not to exaggerate the area.

Mr. Wigg

Would the right hon. Gentleman not assist the education of public opinion in this country by making quite sure that Foreign Office spokesmen who are deputed to comment on proposals which are put forward by Governments with whom he is negotiating do so in a competent fashion and not in the irresponsible, rather wicked way in which M. Gromyko's proposals were handled the weekend before last?

Mr. Nutting

I certainly agree with the premise of the hon. Gentleman's question. As to handling disarmament in a competent way, he will, I am sure, understand that it is one of the most difficult and technical subjects for anybody to handle in dealings with the Press or with the public.