HC Deb 15 March 1956 vol 550 cc555-7
48. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his conversations with the Prime Minister of France.

The Prime Minister

I was very glad to have the opportunity to welcome the French Prime Minister here.

The House will have seen the joint statement which was issued after our talks together. I do not wish to repeat it. There are just two comments I should like to make.

The first subject which we discussed was disarmament. We found ourselves in full agreement about the need to make progress in this field and welcomed the opportunity which is provided by the forthcoming meeting of the United Nations Sub-Committee on disarmament. Our ideas on this subject were indeed very close together and we hope for British, French and United States collaboration in a common policy.

The other main subject we discussed was the economic policies of the free world, with special reference to economic action in certain areas which we mentioned in our statement. Here also we found ourselves in agreement on the broad lines of policy, and on the need to develop the economic side of the regional organisations to which either of our countries belongs.

Mr. Hughes

Will the Prime Minister tell us whether he summoned the French Prime Minister here as a result of a speech by the French Foreign Secretary, M. Pineau? Could he also tell us what was wrong with the speech of M. Pineau, and whether it would be possible, in view of general interest in the matter, to invite M. Pineau here to address an all-party meeting of hon. Members?

The Prime Minister

It would be very wrong to suggest that I summoned the French Prime Minister here. That is not remotely accurate nor very helpful to Anglo-French relations. What I did was to invite him to come over here, as I wished to do after the Washington talks, but there has been certain pressure of work and not very much time to do that. I thought everybody was glad that we were in full agreement and thought it would help to see what the views of the two Governments were on the two subjects which seem to interest the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) so much.

Mr. Younger

Is the Prime Minister aware that we on this side of the House very much welcomed the visit of the French Prime Minister, with its promise of improved consultations—a subject which seemed to cause unnecessary difficulty, considering the great common interests of the two countries? Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm what I believe M. Mollet said in Paris, that the initiative on disarmament will be published very shortly and be made available to all of us? As the Prime Minister has confirmed that he would give his support to the French in their great difficulties in Algeria, can we take it that there will be consultation on the policies on which we are to give support in Algeria, as the reputations of both countries are deeply involved?

The Prime Minister

I endorsed the speech which the Ambassador made on our authority—that Algeria is part of the Metropolitan France and that Her Majesty's Government can have nothing but sympathy with the efforts of the French Government to improve conditions and preserve peace in Algeria. I think that, broadly, is the view of this House. In reply to the first part of the supplementary question asked by the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) about making the initiative public, I should be grateful if he would give me notice of that question, as I am not sure what is the position about it.