HC Deb 28 April 1958 vol 587 cc26-7
37. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the statement, on 23rd April, of the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, that disengagement in Central Europe was impossible so long as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics possessed nuclear weapons, was made with the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Council and the concurrence of Her Majesty's Government.

Commander Noble

No, Sir. Monsieur Spaak as a senior statesman is entitled to hold and express his own views without committing the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Governments.

Mr. Swingler

Is not that rather an extraordinary state of affairs? Was not M. Spaak attending in Germany at the invitation of Dr. Adenauer as Secretary-General of N.A.T.O.? Was this not a deplorable statement for the Secretary-General of N.A.T.O. to make, because the matter will be the subject of summit talks and it is most important that impossible conditions should not be laid down for the hope of disengagement, about which we want to negotiate? Cannot something be done in the North Atlantic Treaty Council to make it clear to the officers or officials of the Organisation that they should not prejudice international negotiations in this way?

Commander Noble

I think the House will agree that it is not appropriate, even if it were practicable, to suggest the clearance of such speeches in advance by fifteen Governments. I am sure, however, that we all agree that prominent international figures ought to be careful of the views they express while holding official posts.

Mr. Bevan

May I ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to realise that we very much agree with his reply to the supplementary question? The Secretary-General of N.A.T.O., in his position, ought not to make statements beforehand about matters which are to be the subject of international negotiations.