HC Deb 07 March 1960 vol 619 cc8-9
23. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what official discussions he has had with the Governments of the United States of America and France regarding the height at which Western aircraft should fly to Berlin.

33. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if agreement has yet been reached with other Allied Governments about high-altitude flying into Berlin; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have had discussions with the United States and French Governments and I am aware of the reports which have appeared in the Press. As I said in the House on 20th April last year, Her Majesty's Government hold the view that Allied aircraft have the right to fly into Berlin along the air corridors at any altitude. The modern aircraft coming into service everywhere have higher operational altitudes than do the aircraft which have been in use hitherto. The question at issue is primarily a practical one, not a political one. I hope that it will so be regarded by all affected.

Mr. Healey

Can the Foreign Secretary assure us that he is now taking the same position as he took at the time when he answered the Question to which he now refers, namely, that while maintaining our right to fly at any height over Berlin, it would still be desirable for the Western Powers to avoid any provocative physical assertion of that right until the Summit Conference?

Mr. Lloyd

I think it would be desirable for both sides to avoid any physical assertion of any rights. I think it a technical problem and hope it can be dealt with in the spirit of commonsense as a technical problem.

Mr. Grimond

Can the Foreign Secretary say whether or not there is an intention to fly now at over 10,000 feet? I sympathise with the view that if it can be postponed until after the Summit Conference it should be.

Mr. Lloyd

This has all arisen out of some leak somewhere. I hope it will be dealt with as a technical matter to be discussed between the air safety control authorities on both sides.