HC Deb 14 December 1964 vol 704 cc12-4
14. Mr. Campbell

asked the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals Her Majesty's Government have for disengagement in Europe; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Padley

Her Majesty's Government are in favour of any measure which would help to reduce tension and increase security in Europe, provided that it would not weaken the Western Alliance or make more difficult the solution of the German problem. Any controlled reduction of forces in Europe would have to meet these criteria, and Her Majesty's Government at all times would have to act in close consultation and unity with her allies.

Mr. Campbell

Does this mean that the Government have abandoned past Labour Party proposals of this kind? Will the Government none the less give their support to the sensible idea of an exchange of observers against surprise attack?

Mr. Padley

The answer to the latter part of that supplementary question is, "Yes, certainly". As to the first part, the hon. Member would do well to await the debate in this House on Wednesday and Thursday and in another place on Thursday, when he will see the unfolding of Her Majesty's Government's policy. The importance we attach to this issue is shown by the appointment of a Minister of State responsible for disarmament negotiations.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that disarmament without inspection would be quite intolerable?

Mr. Padley

Any satisfactory scheme for international disarmament will inevitably involve control and inspection.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Are the Government engaged in any conversations with our allies on these matters? While I approve the general lines of the hon. Member's statement, I should like to know the answer to that.

Mr. Padley

I simply confirm what I said in my reply. Her Majesty's Government will at all times act in close consultation and unity with her allies.

Mr. Ennals

Is my hon. Friend giving further consideration to the Gomulka Plan for a freeze of nuclear weapons in Central Europe? Can we hope that there will be some indication of the Government attitude in this respect in the debate later this week?

Mr. Padley

As my hon. Friend knows, our N.A.T.O. allies see a number of objections to these proposals on political, military and technical grounds, but we shall he prepared carefully to examine any further proposals which the Polish Government might care to make with a view to improving East-West relations and bringing about further progress towards disarmament.

Mr. Peter Thomas

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his last answer is similar in every word to an answer which I gave to the House a few months ago?

Mr. Padley

As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, there is at least a difference of emphasis between the approach of the present Government and that of the Government defeated at the General Election.