HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 cc1555-6
41. Mr. Edelman

asked the Prime Minister what communication he has sent to President de Gaulle in connection with the latter's proposal to establish an agency for East-West co-operation in aid to under-developed countries.

The Prime Minister

It is not customary to disclose the contents or existence of confidential messages exchanged with other Heads of Government, but there have been conversations on this subject with the French Government at various levels.

Mr. Edelman

Will the right hon. Gentleman recall that this valuable but neglected proposal was first put forward by the President in March in Paris and was later repeated in Washington? It was also put forward as a suggested item for consideration at the Summit Conference. In view of its significance, will not the Prime Minister consider revising the proposal and making approaches to Mr. Khrushchev about this important matter?

The Prime Minister

I am very much interested in this question, which we are still discussing; but, unfortunately, the best opportunity when I hoped it might have been raised has passed from us. We must now seek how best to take up this and other matters at the most appropriate moment.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that in principle it is desirable that we should find some means of working with the Soviet Government in the provision of economic aid for under-developed countries?

The Prime Minister

At the moment, Western aid is about twenty times as great as the comparable effort of the Sino-Soviet bloc. Do not let us denigrate what we do. If other things had gone as we had hoped, we might have found a valuable field for co-operation between us and the Eastern bloc. That hope for the moment is more difficult, but certainly is not abandoned.