HC Deb 15 June 1961 vol 642 cc635-7
41. Mr. Swingler

asked the Prime Minister if, following his talks with President Kennedy, he will now put forward proposals for a limited arms, and/or nuclear-free, zone in Central Europe.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal to the hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. C. Johnson) on 1st May.

Mr. Swingler

But will the Prime Minister put this proposal forward again? Is it not extremely relevant to the question of reducing tension in Germany? Might it not be a method, at any rate in a small way, of constructively beginning some disarmament? As the right hon. Gentleman was associated a couple of years ago with this idea, could he not take the initiative at least in this respect?

The Prime Minister

The Government stand by the proposal for the control of arms and forces in an agreed zone in Europe, as it was put forward in the Western peace plan at the Geneva Foreign Ministers' Conference in May, 1959. As the hon. Member rightly says, it was part of the communiqué issued in Moscow but it was there made clear that it was part of a political settlement and not isolated. Moreover, I am sorry to say that since then we have had the invention of the new dogma of the troika. The troika is the power of veto of any person over any agreement, which makes any form of control over tests or disarmament extremely difficult to operate.

Mr. Gaitskell

If indeed the troika doctrine were applied to all forms of arms control, this would be a very serious development. Is there any evidence that Mr. Khrushchev has committed himself to its application in such a wide form? Would it not be worth while to raise again with our allies the question of the proposed zone of controlled disarmament in Central Europe?

The Prime Minister

If we had discussions on the whole German problem we should stand on this decision which we took then and which all our allies, I am happy to say, now share with us. But I thought it only right to remind the House that there has been, to my mind, a tragic deterioration in the last six months that even on agreements which I had hoped we were going to get in Geneva there is this new dogma which says really that one can only control oneself and one will not let anybody else control one. If that is to stand, we are facing a very difficult position.

Mr. Mendelson

Whilst agreeing with the Prime Minister that these are extremly difficult negotiations and that they include many difficulties which are not of our own making, may I ask him whether he would not agree that it would improve our position in the discussions on the German problem if we were to take a new initiative in favour of such a zone free of nuclear weapons?

The Prime Minister

I think that we should stand by the principles we set out. We have always linked this question with a political settlement of the German problem.

Back to
Forward to