HC Deb 11 May 1960 vol 623 cc413-5
47. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals he made at the recent meeting of the Council of the Central Treaty Organisation to seek agreement with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and other interested powers, on the limitation of armaments in the Middle East.

area of the National Coal Board separately.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

As the Answer consists of a table of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Pentland

Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that the figures, when published, will show a very marked increase in the number of young miners who have left the coal fields in these years to join Her Majesty's Forces? While, appreciating that miners make first-class Service men and also that they have left the coal fields because of a profound sense of insecurity in their jobs, may I ask him to consult with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Power to see what can be done to halt this drift away to the Armed Forces, otherwise we will have serious manpower problems in the coal fields in the very near future?

Mr. Watkinson

I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that some of the areas do show a considerable increase. Others do not show so much. I should like to echo his words that these fine men are very welcome indeed in Her Majesty's Services, and I will certainly take note of what he says about the coalmining industry itself.

Following is the information:

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ormsby Gore)

None, Sir. The general question of disarmament was, however, discussed and the Council expressed the hope that real progress would be made at the Ten Power Conference.

Mr. Healey

As Her Majesty's Government are already committed to try to limit armaments in the Middle East without Soviet help by the Tripartite Agreement, and as in the Prime Minister's communiqué with Mr. Khrushchev last year he agreed to try to limit armaments in Europe with Soviet agreement, why on earth are the Government so unwilling to try to seek to explore this possibility as regards the Middle East?

Mr. Ormsby Gore

We think it more important to make progress on general disarmament. I think that the hon. Member asked my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister a rather similar Question the other day, and my right hon. Friend said that he was bearing the hon. Member's suggestions in mind.

Mr. Healey

In that case, will the Minister of State ask the Prime Minister to raise the question at the Summit Conference?

Mr. Ormsby Gore

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said on the previous occasion.