HC Deb 07 December 1961 vol 650 cc1524-5
Q1. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether he will meet Dr. Adenauer to discuss the Berlin crisis.

Q4. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister if he will now state his arrangements for meeting Dr. Adenauer to discuss the Berlin crisis.

Q6. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement about his forthcoming meeting with Dr. Adenauer.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

I would refer to the reply which I gave to similar Questions on Tuesday.

Mr. Henderson

Would not the Prime Minister agree that it is most important to maintain Western unity in any negotiations with Mr. Khrushchev? Will the right hon. Gentleman at least agree as to the desirability of urging Dr. Adenauer to use his influence with President de Gaulle with a view to securing his agreement to negotiate over Berlin and other matters?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. Regarding the meeting—which is what the Question is about—owing to indisposition Dr. Adenauer had to postpone his visit to Paris until 9th December. There is a four-Power meeting of Foreign Ministers on the 11th and 12th and that is followed by the N.A.T.O. Ministerial Council. I shall be meeting President Kennedy in Bermuda on the 21st and 22nd and, therefore, it has not been possible to fit in this meeting which I should like to have had with Dr. Adenauer.

Mr. Donnelly

Is the Prime Minister aware that the course of any Anglo-German relations is always dependent on the maintenance of British troop commitments in Germany? There is some doubt, to put it mildly, whether this can be done without cutting other overseas commitments or introducing some form of selective National Service. Will the Prime Minister tell the House in which frying pan he proposes to fry the British national interest? In which of the three frying pans will he put party before country?

The Prime Minister

To he drawn into this question would lead me far from the original Question, which concerns a meeting with Dr. Adenauer.

Mr. Gaitskell

While we all recognise that bilateral conversations between the Prime Minister and President de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer—or, indeed, with President Kennedy—are valuable, may I nevertheless ask the Prime Minister whether it would not be simpler to have a meeting of the four Prime Ministers or political leaders concerned and thereby save a great deal of time? If no such meeting is contemplated, can the right hon. Gentleman say when he expects that a definitive agreement will be reached on what the Western point of view on Berlin should be?

The Prime Minister

While I agree that it would always be very convenient if we could all meet together at the same time, there are some difficulties in arranging this. There are also some objections to the great amount of publicity attached to a meeting of that kind at that stage. However, a four-Power Foreign Ministers' meeting takes place in a day of two, and that is the next step.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the Prime Minister say when he expects it will be possible to reach agreement—since it has been hanging about for a long time—so far as the West is concerned?

The Prime Minister

I cannot tell the right hon. Gentleman that until this meeting next week.