HC Deb 22 February 1961 vol 635 cc489-91
6. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress has been made with Her Majesty's Government's proposal to set up an international committtee of experts to examine disarmament control.

Mr. Heath

Discussions on disarmament are due to be resumed at the United Nations General Assembly which will reconvene on 7th March.

Mr. Thomson

Would the Lord Privy Seal be kind enough to answer the Question on the Order Paper? What has happened about the Government's proposal for this committee of experts? Is he aware that the American Administration are taking the matter seriously, and should not a country in Britain's position give a real lead in studying the problems of disarmament?

Mr. Heath

It was our own original proposal that this committee of experts should be set up, but the point of my Answer is that when the Assembly adjourned no decision had been reached on the resolution. We are immensely keen that this should be put into action, but must await the next meeting of the Assembly before further action can be taken on the resolution.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

When the Assembly comes together again, will the Minister consider adding to our proposal the further proposal that the experts should study, not only control and inspection, but disarmament as well? Will he also consider whether Her Majesty's Government cannot prepare a detailed disarmament plan to lay before the United Nations negotiating organ when it is set up?

Mr. Heath

I will, of course, consider the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion, but it widens the whole field. The object of the Prime Minister's proposal was to focus on the 'problem of control, which seemed the main difference between the Western and the Soviet positions.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

We really must get on. We are already getting behind.

21. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement on the latest Western proposals for submission to the Ten-Power Disarmament Committee; and if he will now state the date of its next meeting.

Mr. Heath

The Ten-Power Disarmament Committee has not met since 27th June last year when its Communist members walked out. The Soviet Union have stated that they will not take part in the work of the Committee and therefore no date for a meeting of this body can be arranged.

Mr. Henderson

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the first part of the Question?

Mr. Heath

There are no latest proposals for submission to the Ten-Power Disarmament Committee, because the Disarmament Committee is not meeting. The proposals rest on those which were placed on the day on which the Soviet Powers walked out.

Mr. Henderson

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at my Question? I asked what were the latest proposals for submission to the Committee. I am asking whether we are to assume that the proposals of 27th June last year which were put forward by the United States Government with the consent of Her Majesty's Government are the final disarmament offer to be put forward by the West. May we take it that consultations are taking place between Her Majesty's Government, the French Government and the United States Government with a view to putting forward fresh proposals when the Committee again meets?

Mr. Heath

Since the ending of the disarmament conference in the summer as the result of this walk-out there were the further developments and disarmament resolutions at the United Nations Assembly in the autumn. We are in the closest consultation with our allies about the disarmament position and we are hopeful that we shall be able to make more progress when the Assembly resumes.