HC Deb 24 June 1965 vol 714 cc1935-6
Q1. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister what proposals he has for disengagement in Europe.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I have nothing to add to the Answers which I gave to Questions on 11th March and which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs gave on 3rd May.

Mr. Marten

Does that mean that there has been no progress at all over this question of disengagement in Europe? If so, does the Prime Minister recall his election hopes expressed to the electorate about disengagement? Does this not amount to the fact that those hopes were held out without proper consultation and proper consideration?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member may have forgotten the very long exchanges we had on this at Question time on 9th February in which I stated our policy. This was the basis on which I spoke in Germany on my visit, both to the German Government and to the German Press. We hope to make further progress on this matter as part of proposals for arms control in that area. We have not changed our policy at all on this matter, but the hon. Member must realise, as I am sure all hon. Members do, the great difficulties especially before the German election.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Clearly this is a very difficult matter. Can the Prime Minister say whether the Minister for Disarmament is following up the plan for placing observers in the N.A.T.O. and Warsaw Pact areas, which always seemed the most likely preliminary to some thinning out of forces on either side?

The Prime Minister

Yes, indeed, he has and we hope to go further on the matter of arms control and some agreed withdrawal on both sides of the Iron Curtain of conventional troops, quite apart from the nuclear situation. I think the whole House would want to see progress made on this. Equally, the House recognises the enormous difficulties, including that of giving some reassurance to Germany.

Mr. Grimond

In the very cordial atmosphere which followed Her Majesty's visit to West Germany, would it not be possible to approach the West Germans to see if we can agree with them proposals for some modification of the tension on the East-West frontier in Europe which we can then put before our allies?

The Prime Minister

I said in the House once, as I said in Bonn, and I am sure we all agree, that any progress towards German reunification and many of the other things to which the Germans attach so much importance, as we do, must depend on a detente in Europe. This requires the greatest co-operation of all States. Even at some risk, as it may be, to get that detente arms control and disengagement are all part of such a policy.

Mr. Rose

Will my right hon. Friend seeks the views of the East and West German Governments, together with the Polish, Czech and Hungarian Governments, to seek eventually a European conference on the question of disengagement when the political climate is perhaps more appropriate than it is now?

The Prime Minister

The Foreign Secretary has visited Czechoslovakia and had many discussions with the Czechoslovakian and Polish Governments on this question. As far as the East Germans are concerned, this is obviously not going to be done without agreement with the Soviet Government and I think we can assume that the Soviet Government will be—shall I put it this way?—well aware of the views of the East Germans on this matter.

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