HC Deb 10 February 1964 vol 689 cc1-2
1. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the speech of Mr. Spaak at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Council meeting last December has been classified by the Council as a secret document.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Robert Mathew)

Proceedings in the North Atlantic Council are confidential, and all records of them are thus classified documents.

Mr. Warbey

Is the hon. Gentleman aware—I feel sure that he is—that at the Press conference held following this Council meeting the N.A.T.O. Press officer was very willing to give a full account of the speeches made by the Foreign Secretary and other Foreign Ministers in the Council meeting but this same spokesman refused to make any comment whatever or reference to the speech by Mr. Spaak? Was this because Mr. Spaak expressed concern at the veto placed by the West German Government on an approach towards the Soviet Union to reach a peaceful settlement in Europe?

Mr. Mathew

In reply to the latter part of that supplementary question, I do not propose to be drawn into breaking the rule of confidence to which I referred. The proceedings are confidential. I saw a report in The Times where the word "suppressed" was used, but suppression cannot arise since these proceedings are confidential and the documents are classified.