HC Deb 19 December 1966 vol 738 cc998-1000
38. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what new initiative the Government have taken in international negotiations on disarmament since 16th October, 1964.

Mr. George Brown

The Government have done all in their power to forward progress in disarmament, particularly on the urgent issue of a non-proliferation treaty, and our continuous initiative has contributed largely to the progress that has been made. What is needed is determined negotiation on the proposals already on the table rather than the addition of new ones.

Mr. Campbell

I agree about what is needed, but why has no initiative from the British Government been visible? Why is it that the new drafts which have become public have emanated from the United States, the Soviet Union and else-where?

Mr. Brown

I am sorry, the hon. Gentleman obviously cannot be kept informed of what we are doing all the time, but the drafts owe a very great deal to our work.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Having regard to the very disappointing results of disarmament negotiations over the last 45 years, is it not apparent that sovereign States will not disarm until they are presented with an alternative system of security, and will not Her Majesty's Government now propose a package deal, consisting of phased, general and simultaneous disarmament, coupled with the establishment of such a world authority keeping world peace, through world law?

Mr. Brown

I think that my hon. and learned Friend will recognise that I have done as much as I can, and am still doing so, to increase the authority of the United Nations as a step on the road to what he and I both accept—the need for a world authority with real peace-keeping forces at its disposal. I do not think that should lead us to the depressing view that no measures of disarmament can be obtained in the meantime. That is contrary to the facts.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that Lord Chalfont said 18 months ago that the British Government had a master plan for disarmament which would shake the Russians and Americans out of their complacency? Would he put a copy of it in the Library so that we can study it? [Laughter.]

Mr. Brown

That is the kind of remark that goes down well in this House but leaves the essentials of the situation totally untouched. It is good for the Oxford Union but not too good for real needs. This is the work of my noble Friend Lord Chalfont, the Minister of State with responsibility for this matter, and the proposals that we have put forward would, I expect, receive even grudging commendations from the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Does the Foreign Secretary recall that when the ex-Leader of the Opposition was at the opening meetings of the Committee of Eighteen in Geneva he said that a master plan should be made from the proposals put forward in the United States and Russian plans, but when he became Prime Minister he dropped his master plan and took an interest in an independent nuclear deterrent instead?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would consult the records. Is he aware that they will show a joint United Kingdom-American plan—that is if it has not been lost at the Foreign Office. If it has one can probably be found in the State Department. I am asking for the right hon. Gentleman's plan. We should like to know what it is.

Mr. Brown

The only documents ever lost in the Foreign Office were lost in the days of the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors. Nothing like that happened in our time.