HC Deb 15 June 1964 vol 696 cc915-6
15. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the latest proposals received from the Polish Government for a freeze of nuclear weapons in Central Europe.

Mr. P. Thomas

We examined the proposals very carefully with our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and we all agreed that they were unacceptable as they stand for a number of reasons. The Polish Government have been informed accordingly.

Mr. Henderson

What are the objections of Her Majesty's Government to these proposals, in view of the fact that Mr. Gomulka has made it quite clear that they postulate adequate and effective verification of any agreement that may be reached?

Mr. Thomas

The objections were on political, military and technical grounds. We have told the Polish Government that we shall carefully examine any further proposals that they may care to make, and have indicated our readi- ness to have frank discussions of the problems involved in measures of this kind.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Rather than reject these proposals, would it not have been wiser to have made some suggestions for adaptations of the scheme, such as the extension of the area proposed in the East and the West, and the application of the scheme to missiles as well as warheads? Is it right that this important matter should be rejected in this rather brusque manner?

Mr. Thomas

We did not reject the proposal. We merely rejected it as it stood, and we gave the reasons for our objections. We said that we were quite happy to carry on discussions on this subject. Extension to a wider area might modify some of the military disadvantages of the plan and some elements of discrimination, and we have indicated that fact to the Polish Government. But if the area were wider we would have the added problem of greater verification, and that would be much more difficult. As for the question of applying the proposals to nuclear delivery vehicles instead of warheads, that is a technical matter. It would be easier to identify nuclear delivery vehicles than to identify warheads, but the inclusion of nuclear delivery vehicles in the Polish proposals would not deal with the military and political objections raised.

Mr. Kershaw

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that to the extent that the Gomulka proposals are likely to introduce an air of uncertainty into the mid-European situation, it is likely to be more and not less dangerous than it is at the moment?

Mr. Thomas

There are many objections—which we have put in detail to the Polish Government—to these suggestions.