HC Deb 10 December 1963 vol 686 cc215-7
Q6. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his discussion with President Johnson; and what arrangements have been made for a further meeting in the New Year

Q7. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether he discussed with President Lyndon Johnson at their recent meeting the need to take a new initiative with a view to ending the present deadlock at the Geneva Disarmament Conference

Q12. Mr. Rankin

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his recent meeting with the President of the United States of America

The Prime Minister

The purpose of my recent visit to Washington was to join in the tributes to President Kennedy paid by Governments and peoples from all over the world. While I was in Washington I had a brief talk with President Johnson but there was not the opportunity nor was this the occasion for detailed discussion. As the House knows, I shall be visiting the UnitedStates for more detailed talks in February.

Mr. Stonehouse

When the right hon. Gentleman goes to the United States again, will be put two questions? First, will he ask the Americans not to be deflected from their wish for a reduction in tariffs during the G.A.T.T. negotiations next year, despite the trade war which is being forecast as a result of the Common Market countries increasing their tariffs? Secondly, will he tell the Americans that this country wants no part in a mixed-manned force, as was confirmed by a vote at the Western European Union Assembly last week?

The Prime Minister

The answer to the first of those questions is "Yes" and the answer to the second "No".

Mr. Henderson

In view of the resumption of the Geneva disarmament conference on 21st January, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government intend to negotiate new proposals for making a start on the physical processes of disarmament, such as a reduction of the numbers of nuclear vehicles and missiles? Does he propose to attend the conference, or will it be at Foreign Ministers' level?

The Prime Minister

I understand that the conference will be at Foreign Ministers' level, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will, of course, be attending.

We are consulting the Americans about disarmament proposals and whether there is any fresh initiative we can take. I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have read my speech to the United Nations Assembly in which I expressed the hope that we might perhaps include the destruction of some nuclear delivery vehicles in stage one.

Mr. Rankin

When the right hon. Gentleman meets President Johnson, will be consider putting forward the idea of appointing neutral observers at appropriate points on each side of the East-West border in Europe in order to try to build up further confidence between both sides?

The Prime Minister

I have myself felt that this ought to be done, but the need is to press it on the Soviet Union rather than on the United States.

Sir C. Osborne

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind what Mr. John McCloy said last night at the Pilgrims'Dinner—that whether we like it or not the Americans are the best friends we have in the world?

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman instruct our delegates to the Committee of Eighteen to put forward compromise proposals, drawing on what is best in both the Russian and the American draft treaties, as he himself urged should be done in the Committee 18 months ago?

The Prime Minister

The United States draft treaty is the treaty which we support but, of course, there are certain suggestions in the Russian draft treaty which are well worthy of consideration and possible importation into the final agreement that might be made.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Since the Conference has been meeting for nearly two years, is it not time we began to accept some of the Russian proposals?

The Prime Minister

It depends on what the Russian proposals are. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, this is a very complicated question. I am as keen as he is to make progress in this. There is the question, of course, which we cannot answer ourselves yet, as to how far the Russians themselves, in view of the Chinese position, feel it safe to disarm.

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