HC Deb 23 April 1958 vol 586 cc945-6
Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals he has made to Allied Governments for a zone of limited armaments in Central Europe.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

We are exchanging views with our Allies on the subjects which are likely to be dealt with at a Summit Conference. This exchange of views must be confidential.

Mr. Healey

Is the Secretary of State aware that the Soviet Government have already published detailed proposals for arms limitation in Central Europe and certain Allied Governments have already tried to prejudice the decision of the possible Summit Conference against those proposals? Is not it highly desirable that if Her Majesty's Government have their own proposals in this field they should be published so that the maximum support of world opinion may be gained for them if they deserve it?

Mr. Lloyd

As to the Soviet Government publishing their proposals, they haw: not quite the same obligations to consult their Allies as we have. So far as we are concerned, I think the first step is to try to get the broadest possible agreement among our Allies before we publish our proposals.

Mr. Bevan

As that is an exceedingly desirable objective, is it not, therefore, obviously undesirable that any of our Allies should publish any comments hostile to those proposals while discussions are continuing? Is not there an obligation to secrecy, not to be hostile, as well as not to publish positive proposals?

Mr. Lloyd

I think I should be wiser to confine—[Interruption.]

I am sure that, in the course of answering the right hon. Gentleman, I may be allowed to say how extremely glad we are in all quarters of the House to see back with us my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), who has just entered the Chamber.

With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I think I should be wiser to confine myself to the proposition that I think it is better to try to secure agreement confidentially and in secret before pronouncements are made.