HC Deb 25 July 1963 vol 681 cc1772-3
Q3. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prune Minister whether he will make a statement on the recent negotiations in Moscow on a nuclear test ban treaty.

The Prime Minister

I am not yet in a position to make any statement.

Mr. Henderson

Can the Prime Minister give any indication when he expects to be in a position to do so?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I am not quite sure. These negotiations are proceeding. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman will realise, they are to some extent made rather difficult by the great spread of time between the countries concerned—two hours and five hours, resulting in a seven or eight hour spread; with summer time, it is only two hours—and with the movement of telegrams backwards and forwards. That, I think, is the chief reason for the delay.

Sir C. Osborne

If agreement is reached in Moscow today would it be possible for my right hon. Friend to make a statement in the House before we rise tonight?

The Prime Minister

I will consider that.

Mr. Wigg

When the Prime Minister comes to make his statement, would he give the House and the country a categorical assurance that in his anxiety, which we all share, to further the cause of peace, he is taking fully into account the long-term defence needs of this country and the Western Alliance?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Stone house

Will the Prime Minister assure hon. Members that he will make no statement elsewhere before he reports to the House?

The Prime Minister

I think that these things are not yet absolutely settled. There will have to be a communiqué issued in Moscow. The timing of that has to be fixed to meet the needs of all three countries. It is a matter for some care, but I hope that it will be such as to suit our convenience as well as that of the other countries.

Mr. H. Wilson

I am sure that the Prime Minister is aware that the whole House—hon. Members of all parties—are hoping for a quick and successful outcome. May I raise one procedural point with him which may be helpful at this stage? Is he aware that under the Ponsonby Rules there might be certain difficulties about the signature and ratification owing to the fact that the House will not be sitting much longer? Would the right hon. Gentleman take it, at any rate from my hon. Friends—and I am sure that this applies to hon. Members of all parties—that we would not want any procedural difficulty to stand in the way of a quick signature and ratification?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said.