HC Deb 07 May 1956 vol 552 cc823-5
37. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he will propose to implement the nonmilitary potentialities of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Mr. Nutting

The hon. Member will have seen the communiqué issued after the N.A.T.O. Ministerial meeting which has just taken place, to which I have nothing to add

Mr. Healey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this communiqué reveals total bankruptcy on the part of Her Majesty's Government in their inability to conceive any means of taking advantage of the very welcome shift in the direction of American policy? Can the right hon. Gentleman at least assure the House that he will permit N.A.T.O. to help him to break the present deadlock on Cyprus?

Mr. Nutting

Cyprus is a matter for Her Majesty's Government within her own jurisdiction. It is not, in our view, a matter for N.A.T.O. As to the earlier part of the hon. Member's supplementary question, I do not agree for a moment with his charges against Her Majesty's Government. The communiqué sets out that the Atlantic Council is taking steps to promote economic collaboration and a Committee of three Foreign Ministers has been set up by the N.A.T.O. Council to examine this problem and report to Governments. A continuing process has been set in motion

Mr. Grimond

Is it not vital that the Government should give a lead to Europe in this matter? Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that unless they do so there is great danger of N.A.T.O. disintegrating? Has not the time come for extending N.A.T.O. beyond its military to its economic potentialities?

Mr. Nutting

I agree with everything that the hon. Member has said. My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary took the lead in N.A.T.O. on this matter. It was on his instigation that this Committee of Foreign Ministers was set up, but this is not a matter to be settled hastily by an ill-thought-out scheme over a weekend. I prefer to wait a few weeks to see what the Ministers recommend

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that this matter was first raised at the Ottawa Conference in September, 1951, when the first three-man committee was set up? Since then nothing whatever has been done to extend the non-military activities of N.A.T.O. Therefore, it is not a question of having to act in a hurry. Will the right hon. Gentleman say why nothing has been done all this time, and will he give at least some undertaking that the Committee of three now set up will report back urgently on this matter?

Mr. Nutting

I cannot, of course, commit the Foreign Ministers of foreign countries as to when they should report, but I have no doubt that they regard their task as one of extreme urgency. As to the past, I do not agree that nothing has been done since 1951. On the contrary, a great deal has been done under Article II in the way of economic and political collaboration within N.A.T.O

Mr. Warbey

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, as far as economic co-operation is concerned, it is essential to avoid duplicating the work of O.E.E.C., and that aid to the underdeveloped areas can better be channelled through the United Nations than through a military organisation?

Mr. Nutting


Mr. J. Griffiths

Arising out of the right hon. Gentleman's reply to the supplementary question about Cyprus—which was that Her Majesty's Government did not discuss that question with N.A.T.O. on the ground that it was solely a British responsibility—how does he reconcile that reply with the fact that Her Majesty's Government convened a conference with Turkey and Greece in connection with that matter? By that action, did not the Government take the matter outside the sole responsibility of the British Government and in that way make it a N.A.T.O. matter?

Mr. Nutting

In no way. The matter remains a British responsibility, because it is a British Colonial Territory. We called the conference in order to try to secure the co-operation of the Greek and Turkish Governments in the solution which the British Government put forward at that conference.