HC Deb 02 December 1958 vol 596 cc1020-2
46. Mr. Beswick

asked the Prime Minister if he will publish in HANSARD the official communication received from the Soviet Government in which it is stated that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will not accept an agreement to end nuclear tests parallel with an agreement on the international control system, based on the proposals and recommendations of the conference of experts at Geneva.

The Prime Minister

No such communication has been received. But the Soviet Government had made it clear at the Geneva Conference that their position was as stated in the answers I gave to the hon. Member on 11th November. Since then the Soviet Government appear to have modified their position somewhat. As the discussions at Geneva are being held in private, I am not prepared to go into further detail at this stage.

Mr. Beswick

Has the Prime Minister also considered that, far from the Russian position being as stated by him on 11th November, their draft treaty presented to the Geneva Conference on 31st October provided both for the ending of tests and for their effective control and that, moreover, the chief Russian delegate there, in the speech now published, made it quite clear that the Soviet Union is ready to conclude immediately an agreement on the terms of nuclear tests parallel with the system of control proposed by the experts"? In these circumstances, will the Prime Minister suggest to the Foreign Office that it is not helpful to continue its propaganda and to say that the only obstacle to any progress in this matter is the reluctance of the Russians to agree to control?

The Prime Minister

I am sorry that the hon. Member has been a victim of propaganda to the extent that he appears to have been. The position was exactly as I stated before. The discussions are by way of being private, although it is true that their general purpose is communicated. I am happy to say, however, that in the last few days there is a sign of getting a little nearer to progress and I would be reluctant to say or do anything which would prevent that process continuing.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it not the case that the Soviet Government have at any rate now made it plain that they are prepared to discuss both the principle of the suspension of tests and also controls, on the basis that an agreement should be signed only after agreement is reached on both? Could the Prime Minister assure us that Her Majesty's Government accept that point of view?

The Prime Minister

As I say, we have struggled hard to get this position somewhat nearer to what I think is satisfactory and what I think the right hon. Gentleman regards as sensible. I understand that we are still, in principle, discussing the agenda, but, in practice, we have passed to something like a discussion on the lines which are more acceptable to us. I think it would be wrong of me to say anything which might stop that happy process, and I hope that it will continue.

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