HC Deb 04 May 1959 vol 605 cc24-6
36. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what progress has been made at the Geneva Conference on nuclear tests in the light of the declaration made in the Anglo-Soviet Communiqué of 3rd March.

Mr. Profumo

I would refer the hon. Member to the statements made by my right hon. and learned Friend and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State in the foreign affairs debate on 27th April. Since that time there has been some discussion at the Conference of Soviet proposals for an agreed number of annual inspections, but, as negotiation is still at an exploratory stage, I do not wish to go into details. Meanwhile, the Conference has adopted some more draft Articles of a procedural nature.

Mr. Warbey

Is the Minister of State aware that the proposal for the rationing of inspections was first put forward by the Prime Minister at Moscow? Is the British delegation at Geneva now content with putting forward a series of awkward questions about this proposal when it comes from the Soviet side, or will it take a constructive attitude and help in supplying some of the answers?

Mr. Profumo

Her Majesty's Government have maintained a very constructive attitude throughout. I think it would do no service to the cause which we all have at heart if we were to discuss this matter at a moment when my right hon. Friend the Minister of State has just returned to Geneva again.

Mr. A. Henderson

May we take it that the present position at the Geneva Conference will be reviewed at the forthcoming meeting of Foreign Ministers to start in Geneva next Monday?

Mr. Profumo

I do not think we can necessarily take that as being so. The Geneva Conference is out on its own to try to solve the problem. I can certainly go so far as to say that this is one of the matters which will naturally be taken into consideration by the four Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Bevan

Does not the Minister of State realise that it is a little irritating to the Opposition to have tart observations from him about the proceedings at Geneva when, in fact, we know nothing about them except the ex parte statements made from the other side of the House?

Mr. Profumo

I do not think they have been ex parte or tart. I cannot accept that. We have given all the information we possibly can on the matter which, I know the right hon. Gentleman himself recognises, is immensely difficult and complicated. Every effort is being made by Her Majesty's Government to try to solve this difficult problem.