HC Deb 24 November 1958 vol 596 cc29-31
56. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which proposals in the Soviet draft treaty submitted to the Geneva conference on the discontinuance of nuclear tests are unacceptable to Her Majesty's Government.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

It was agreed that the negotiations on nuclear tests at Geneva should be conducted in private. The Soviet Government, however, published their proposed draft treaty, and it is not possible to abstain from public comment. Among the unacceptable features is the failure to define the machinery required to set up the control system recommended by the previous Geneva Conference of Experts. Nor does the draft treaty deal with any of the practical and political aspects of the control organisation.

Mrs. Castle

Is not the Foreign Secretary aware that the Prime Minister gave a most misleading impression in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) on 11th November, when he suggested that the Soviet proposals did not contain proposals for control? Will not the Foreign Secretary agree that the draft treaty makes it quite clear that the Soviet Union visualises a control machinery being set up on the lines agreed by the Geneva Conference of Experts at the same time as an agreement to end tests comes into operation? In view of this, what is the British Government's objection to accepting the treaty and then dotting the i's and crossing the t's of the control proposals?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not accept what the hon. Lady says about my right hon. Friend, but I will tell the hon. Lady that we have no intention of entering into an agreement until the control system is defined with some precision. I will tell her the kind of matters which we want defined with precision: the structure of the control organisation; the international machinery that is required for the accession of other States; the rules for action by the control organisation; the enforcement of decisions; the recruitment and allocation of control system personnel; the facilities for the control system organisation and personnel; and communications and transport matters. These are the matters which to our minds must be included in the treaty before we shall know whether control is to be a reality.

Mr. Bevan

Do not the two answers that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has now given prove the entirely unsatisfactory nature of the present situation in which we get only snippets of information, some from the right hon. and learned Gentleman, some from the Prime Minister and some from the newspapers? Have not these proceedings, therefore, gone far enough to enable us to he told in a White Paper what all the proposals are? There would be no objection afterwards to those proposals being considered in private session, but surely we ought now to be told fully what all the proposals are so that public opinion can be informed about them and not be misled in this halfhearted way?

Mr. Lloyd

Of course, the right hon. Gentleman knows that he is on a point of some difficulty. Either one starts by saying that negotiations shall be in public, in which case there is a series of propaganda speeches, or else one attempts to have a private negotiation. We have tried to have a private negotiation. The conference of experts was a private one, and it reached success largely, to my mind, for that reason. Unfortunately, there have been certain leakages or certain background guidance has been given. I will certainly consider the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that the time may have come when we should give limited publicity to what has been taking place.

Back to