HC Deb 19 November 1959 vol 613 cc1346-7
49. Mr. Harold Davies

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of all the bilateral talks now arranged before a Summit Conference, he will invite Mr. Chou En-lai, the Prime Minister of the Chinese People's Republic, to Great Britain for exploratory talks on Far-Eastern problems.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply.

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend does not think that such a proposal is timely.

Mr. Davies

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that this might be an opportunity for Britain to take some initiative in view of our de facto recognition of China? This might be an opportunity to discuss the problems of the Indian frontier and Indo-China and be a help towards settlement in the Far East and a contribution to world peace and understanding. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the initiative is worth taking?

Mr. Butler

My right hon. Friend deliberately used the word "timely". The impression is that matters should be taken step by step, and the first step should be a meeting between the three Western Powers and the Soviet Union, As regards the problems on the border of China and India, the talks proposed by Mr. Chou En-lai and Mr. Nehru are a matter essentially for the Chinese and Indian Governments. As regards Laos, the general view is that our contact with the Soviet Union is at present preferable to any widening of the discussion.

Mr. Gaitskell

Would not the simplest way of dealing with these problems be for China to take her proper seat in the United Nations?

Mr. Butler

That raises an issue which has been frequently discussed, to which I at present have nothing to add.