HC Deb 17 November 1960 vol 630 cc551-2
41. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister to what extent it is his policy that experts from neutral countries should be included in the body of experts which he proposed at the United Nations General Assembly should be established to examine the technical aspects of control, inspection and general disarmament.

The Prime Minister

I do not exclude the appointment of experts from neutral countries. The resolution which the United Kingdom Delegation has tabled at the General Assembly on this subject leaves this matter open. We hope that in discussion of our proposal at the General Assembly suggestions will be made as to the basis of appointment of the experts. Our resolution says that the experts should be scientific, military and administrative. Clearly they must include those from countries having the most advanced weapons systems.

Mr. Henderson

In view of the great importance of ending the present disarmament deadlock, can the Prime Minister say whether his proposal is being discussed through diplomatic channels with the Soviet Union as a matter of urgency in view of the importance of carrying them with him on this problem?

The Prime Minister

At present this is before the United Nations. I put forward my proposal and I tried both publicly and in private conversations with Mr. Khrushchev to give him reasons why I thought it would be helpful, based on the analogy of the Geneva test system which we had done by the scientific test experts as well as the political experts. I think that we must just leave it there for the moment. We do all we can to press what I think is a useful suggestion, and I hope that the Russians will in due course accept it.

Mr. Healey

Quite apart from the question of neutral representation in any future disarmament negotiations that may take place, will the Prime Minister assure the House that he will support Canadian initiative in proposing that a small group of neutral countries should try to break the existing deadlock between the great Powers?

The Prime Minister

That is quite another question. This Question has regard to the proposal I made about the appointment of experts, on the analogy of the Geneva experts. The question which the hon. Gentleman has raised is another matter. If he puts it down I will try to answer it.

Mr. Gaitskell

Was not the question either of a body of neutrals to try to break the deadlock, or of neutral representatives on a future disarmament committee discussed by the Prime Minister with Mr. Khrushchev?

The Prime Minister

As I understand it, this question is limited to a proposal, which I thought it might be helpful to make, that apart from whatever was the forum in which the broad principles of disarmament were discussed on a political basis, we should try to get the practical advice of experts not only as to what it was desirable to do but how in fact it could be done. As I understand it, it is to that proposal that the right hon. Gentleman has called my attention and asked whether I wished to limit that to representatives of the great Powers or the highly-armed Powers. I said, no, there was no limit, although I must point out that there must be representatives of those most expert in these matters.