HC Deb 13 June 1966 vol 729 cc1029-31
41. Mr. Freeson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will publish in HANSARD a list of the steps taken by Her Majesty's Government in pursuit of a policy of neutralising central Europe, as proposed in the Foreign Affairs section of the Labour Party's publication, "The New Britain".

Mr. M. Stewart

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State to the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Dickens) on 12th May.

Mr. Freeson

Will my right hon. Friend accept that there has been no initiative whatsoever since we came to power in October, 1964, towards implementing this policy of the Labour Party? Will he accept what many of us believe that the reason for this is that there has been strong pressure put upon him by officials in the Foreign Office counter to the policy laid down by the Labour Party on this matter?

Mr. Stewart

No, I would not accept that. My hon. Friend must understand that in statements of Labour Party policy there are both the matters to which he refers and a statement of firm support for N.A.T.O. Progress on the lines which he wants and which I want has to be made in consultation with our allies. The passage to which he refers in the publication "The New Britain" says: To achieve further progress a heavy responsibility rests on the Soviet Union to assist in providing facilities for effective inspection.

Mr. G. Campbell

As it is stated on page 21 of that document that the Labour Party had already put forward constructive proposals on this subject, will the Foreign Secretary consider publishing those proposals and any action taken on them since October, 1964?

Mr. Stewart

This has been dealt with, as I said in my main Answer, and it has also been dealt with in debate. The essential point at issue is this: I believe that it is good sense to want to uphold firmly the alliance to which we belong. At the same time, it is important to work for the relaxation of tension. It is desirable not to be slow in pursuit of the objective of relaxation of tension, but in pursuit of that we cannot throw away the present reality of the alliance. It is the problem of combining these two things which is difficult.

Mr. Dickens

Will my right hon. Friend pay some attention to the real situation in Europe today and will he take a look at the position of Roumania? We had a remarkable statement from that country over the weekend. Will he not take that as providing a basis for a new initiative in central Europe towards fulfilling Labour's policy in this direction?

Mr. Stewart

I will certainly look at that. I want to make it clear that it is the Government's intention—and this was made clear at the recent meeting in Brussels—to secure relaxation of tension between the two groups which at present divide Europe. But I repeat that this is something which has to be done in consultation with our allies. As was pointed out in "The New Britain", the degree of progress which can be made depends on the actions not only of one side, but of the other, too.