HC Deb 20 March 1956 vol 550 cc997-1000
46. Sir I. Fraser

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now announce more detailed arrangements for the visit of Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Krushchev.

47. Mr. Peyton

asked the Prime Minister, if he will make a statement with regard to the detailed arrangements for the forthcoming visit of Marshal Bulganin and Mr. Krushchev.

The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)

Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Krushchev, who will be visiting the United Kingdom from the 18th to the 27th of April at the invitation of Her Majesty's Government, will arrive at Portsmouth in a ship of the Soviet Navy. During their visit the Soviet leaders will be received by Her Majesty The Queen at Windsor. Full provision has been made in their programme for discussions at No. 10 Downing Street and at Chequers.

The Soviet leaders will visit the Houses of Parliament, where they will be entertained by the Lord Chancellor and by you, Sir. There will also be a reception, to which Members of both Houses of Parliament will be invited, in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords. Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Krushchev will be entertained to luncheon at the Mansion House and to dinner at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich. They will attend a reception given by the London County Council, and a special performance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

In addition, the Soviet leaders will go to Birmingham, where they will be present at the opening of the heavy engineering section of the British Industries Fair at Castle Bromwich. They will also see the Royal Air Force station at Marham and the atomic energy establishments at Harwell and Calder Hall. They will pay a visit to Edinburgh and also to Oxford.

A Viscount aircraft of the British European Airways Corporation has been placed at their disposal for travel during their stay in this country.

Sir I. Fraser

Subject to our guests' wishes, could some consideration be given to whether they might be asked to give a Press conference or appear on television so that the largest possible number of people may be able to observe and judge them?

Mr. Peyton

Would my right hon. Friend take the opportunity of this visit to make clear to the Russian leaders that immediate agreement to free elections in Germany, a reversal of their Middle East arms policy, and the restoration of freedom to the satellite countries would be very much more convincing evidence of their change of heart than their new-found dislike of their erstwhile leader, Stalin?

The Prime Minister

The purpose of the visit, as I thought the House was agreed, is to discuss the many issues which today divide the world. That is why, in the programme we have set down, the House will perhaps notice a very large amount of time has been left for discussion. I regard that as the primary object and purpose of the visit.

Mr. Gaitskell

We warmly welcome the statement made by the Prime Minister and are very much of the opinion that these talks with the Russian leaders could be valuable. Whilst also particularly welcoming the fact that they are to visit the Palace of Westminster, may I ask whether, possibly, arrangements could be made for them to attend a debate in the House of Commons or, at any rate, to be present at Question Time?

The Prime Minister

I think that that is a matter for you, Mr. Speaker. I was under the impression that that was arranged and that the intention was that they should attend Question hour, which in my experience has always an educative effect on foreigners, wherever they happen to come from.

Air Commodore Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend say what all this is going to cost? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Why not?

The Prime Minister

Very much less than one-millionth part of one hydrogen bomb.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the Prime Minister aware that a very strong Soviet film team is coming over to cover this visit and that since the Government are refusing financial facilities for an adequate British film version, it is likely that millions of people throughout the world will see the visit from the Soviet point of view rather than the British?

The Prime Minister

I was not aware of such refusal. I am grateful to the hon. Member for raising the matter. A Press conference was mentioned, and I understand that there is to be one, but I ask the House not to press these important but not absolutely essential details. I want the mind of the House and of the country to be concentrated on the fact that this is a serious meeting for political discussion.

Mr. Stokes

Lest they be forgotten, may I ask the Prime Minister whether he will make the most forcible representations to our visitors to do something about letting go the millions of slaves out of the concentration camps who are still there under duress in Russia?

The Prime Minister

I have had the opportunity of seeing the Pastoral Letter which, I think, the right hon. Gentleman has probably in mind. I think that the traditions of this country show two things,—firstly, that we are in favour of religious toleration, and secondly, that we are most strongly opposed to any form of religious persecution.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman understand that there are many hon. and right hon. Members on this side of the House who welcome this visit and have no desire to attach conditions to the visit in any form whatsoever?

Mr. Stokes

That is a gutless point of view.

Mr. G. Jeger

Will the Prime Minister pay attention to the musical programme and note in particular how inappropriate it would be if any band were to play "Poor Old Joe"?

Mr. C. Pannell

Will the Prime Minister look at the programme again? If he does, might he not come to the conclusion that our guests are eating too much and travelling too little?

The Prime Minister

I do not think so. For most of the time they will be taking part in discussion. That will take up much the larger part of the visit and I am not prepared to vary that in any way whatever. This is to be a serious discussion between representatives of two countries at present divided by many issues. That comes first. A little interval for luncheon at the Mansion House is not unknown in this country.