HC Deb 01 August 1961 vol 645 cc1145-6
Q5. Mr. Grimond

asked the Prime Minister, if he will now propose to President Kennedy, Mr. Khrushchev, President De Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer that some of the United Nations agencies be moved to Berlin and that the United Nations be associated with the control of the city.

The Prime Minister

The Foreign Ministers of the Western Powers are meeting in Paris at the end of the week to consider their common approach to the present problem of Germany and Berlin. I cannot anticipate the nature of their discussions, but I will bear the hon. Gentleman's suggestion in mind.

Mr. Grimond

I am obliged to the Prime Minister for saying that he will bear this yin mind. Will he recognise that there must be a great deal to be said at this time for associating the United Nations in some way with the Berlin problem, and that possibly this might be a useful method of dealing with the matter of the check points on the roads into the city?

The Prime Minister

Yes, I realise that. I think it comes to this, as in so many things: if there is a will to settle this by negotiation, I believe there are a number of methods, including the one which the hon. Member has suggested, which might help to get a successful agreement. The House debated this matter yesterday. The whole question is: is there a will to make an honest and honourable agreement?

Sir J. Lucas

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Question No. 93, which is in my name and is a similar Question to this, was transferred to the Lord Privy Seal. Could it not be answered as well?

Mr. Speaker

I cannot help about that. The transfer is nothing to do with me.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that President Reuther was convinced that the first step towards showing everybody's good faith was to have free elections in every sector of Berlin, and could that be kept in mind as a suggestion when the Powers meet?

The Prime Minister

Of course, that is the proposal we made as long ago as the very first discussion we had four or five years ago. It would be very agreeable if it could take place.

Mr. A. Henderson

Can we take it that the Prime Minister, when he bears in mind the suggestion contained in the Question, will also bear in mind the desirability of the United Nations being associated with the administration of the city, apart altogether from the possibility of transferring United Nations agencies?

The Prime Minister

All these questions are relevant when real negotiations can be arranged.

Mr. S. Silverman

The right hon. Gentleman has referred, I think with general acceptance, to the view that a great many of these matters might be settled if there were only the will to settle them on both sides. Is it not the case that both sides have declared their willingness to negotiate, that one side has made proposals which are unacceptable to us, and would not the real test of willingness to negotiate now involve our making sonic counter-proposals of our own?

The Prime Minister

We answered fully in the notes from the three Western Powers the proposals made by the Soviet Government. We discussed this at some length yesterday, and I think it would not be wise for me to add to the position that the Government are at present taking.

Mr. Marsh

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that one of the problems with which we are faced is the determination of the West to insist upon free elections in Berlin and in East and West Germany? Does the Prime Minister agree that this may be highly desirable but that it seems almost impossible of achievement?

The Prime Minister

I think that is too pessimistic a view. It is certainly desirable.