HC Deb 09 March 1959 vol 601 cc864-6
14. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what form the study of the possibilities of increasing security by the limitation of arms in an agreed area, referred to in the Anglo-Soviet Prime Ministers' Communiqué, will take.

17. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent, in studying the possibilities of increasing security by some method of limitation of forces and weapons, both conventional and nuclear, in an agreed area of Europe, he will have regard to the need to ensure a balance of security by including areas both to the west and to the east of the present dividing line in Europe.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I would refer the hon. Members to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in answer to a question about this part of the Communiqué after his statement in the House on 4th March. In studying the possibilities we should naturally take account of the security interests of both sides.

Mr. Swingler

That Answer does not add anything to what has been said. Does this now mean that the Foreign Office is giving serious consideration to the Rapacki Plan? On previous occasions spokesmen of the Foreign Office have always evaded this question. Does the passage in the Communiqué mean that the right hon. Gentleman's Department is now converted to the idea of giving serious consideration to a nuclear-free zone in Europe?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

If the hon. Member will study HANSARD, he will see that we have given numerous replies to the effect that we were studying the Rapacki Plan. If he also refers to the debate in this House on 4th December, he will see the report of a long and detailed examination of the plan by my right hon. and learned Friend.

Mr. Warbey

As the Government now appear to agree that any agreement can be possible only if it is based on mutual concessions, will the Minister of State now say that the Government have departed from the old Eden Plan idea—which was based on demilitarisation only in Eastern Germany—and that they are now prepared to accept that such a zone must include West Germany as well as East Germany, and, possibly, Poland and Czechoslovakia?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

We are prepared to consider quite a lot of possibilities.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the Foreign Secretary's speech on 4th December. Is one right in saying that that was wholly negative in its reference to the Rapacki Plan? If so, has there been a change of view?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The right hon. Gentleman would not be right in thinking that, and if he were to read the speech again he would see that he was incorrect.

18. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs by what means, following the recent discussions in Moscow, it is proposed to make progress towards a solution of the problem of disarmament.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

We believe that the best way to make progress is to arrive at an early agreement on stopping nuclear weapons tests under effective international control.

Mr. Warbey

While that is an encouraging and valuable approach, may I ask whether—the Communiqué having spoken of proceeding towards discussions on general disarmament—the Government, in any new approach to this question, are to take as a starting point the proposals that the Russians accepted in May 1955 and from which the Western Powers then ran away?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's statement, but we are anxious to have further discussions on general disarmament at an early date.

Mr. Pitman

As the official policy of Her Majesty's Government in respect of this problem is that the machinery for control should precede disarmament, would not my right hon. Friend accelerate, and activate, the United Nations into considering the proposal for a permanent—not merely a standby—force which might be the controlling unit for such precedence of disarmament?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

I do not think that a permanent United Nations force is at all the right body for controlling disarmament.

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