HC Deb 15 February 1956 vol 548 cc2351-2
38. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will submit to the forthcoming meeting of the Disarmament Sub-Committee a draft disarmament convention.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have never ruled this out as a useful initiative at some stage, but I do not think that stage has yet been reached.

Mr. Warbey

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that those who have studied the proceedings of the Disarmament Sub-Committee, especially during May and June last year, are surprised at the large measure of agreement between the two sides, even extending to the topic of control? Could not the whole thing now be brought to a point of decision by putting forward a draft convention at the next meeting?

Mr. Lloyd

That is not my view. The time may come when it will be useful to draw up a draft convention, but there are still substantial differences about control. Until those have been cleared up, I do not think that that is the right thing to do.

Mr. Younger

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman not think, even though he may well be right about the disagreement on control, that there is need in the near future for some clear, co-ordinated statement of our position on disarmament for the benefit of the world? It may be that the Sub-Committee is not the right place, but would he not agree that there is a danger of falling behind in the propaganda race, even though our proposals are not entirely received?

Mr. Lloyd

I certainly think that the point which the right hon. Gentleman has made should be borne in mind. Of course one of the difficulties—and we have to face it—is the fact that the hopes which some of us had earlier about the control of nuclear armaments have been found by both sides to be more difficult to realise, and that is the practical problem which we are at present trying to tackle. I certainly do not dispute the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that at the appropriate time we should make a clear statement of our position.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is not the very difficulty to which the Foreign Secretary referred, namely, the difficulty of controlling stocks of nuclear weapons, one of the things which ought to be made clear in any public statement made and the emphasis which I imagine the right hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to put on at any rate the control of conventional weapons?

Mr. Lloyd

I would have thought it was becoming fairly widely known that the control of nuclear weapons is extremely difficult. That being so, what we have to try to do is to get a measure of agreement on some partial disarmament plan in the conventional field so that we can make some progress and, in the meantime, continue to examine the problems of the control of nuclear arms.

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