HC Deb 23 May 1966 vol 729 cc15-7
14. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement about the progress of negotiations on the problem of nuclear sharing within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

36. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress he has made in discussions with allied governments on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation reorganisation.

41. Mr. Ridley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet reached a common position among the 14 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, other than France, for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Ministerial meeting in June.

Mr. George Thomson

I have been discussing with a number of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Governments the problems raised by recent French moves in N.A.T.O. Discussions amongst the 14 members of N.A.T.O. concerned are continuing. These matters are due to be considered at the meeting of Ministers of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels at the beginning of June.

Mr. Blaker

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that his noble Friend the Minister of State responsible for disarmament has said very recently that schemes for a joint nuclear force present an almost insuperable obstacle to any agreement for the banning of the proliferation of nuclear weapons? How does the right hon. Gentleman reconcile that statement with the Government's proposal for an Atlantic Nuclear Force?

Mr. Thomson

I do not accept the Hon. Gentleman's paraphrase of my noble Friend's views. The Government's proposal for an Atlantic Nuclear Force still lies on the table, and we are ready to look with an open mind at the problem of dealing with the question of nuclear reorganisation.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Would the Foreign Secretary advise the House on the broad political principles on which he is looking to the reorganisation of N.A.T.O., and specifically would be say what arrangements he is making to ensure the security of the allied forces in Germany in the sad event that the logistic supports coming through France were to cease to be available?

Mr. Thomson

The principles on which we are approaching this matter are, first, that we want to come to satisfactory arrangements with the French, despite their decision, to continue to be associated with the alliance; secondly, we believe that the Organisation itself should remain integrated and be modernised and streamlined; thirdly—and this is a very important principle—we believe that one of the main points of doing this is not simply to look backwards to the kind of rôle which N.A.T.O. played in the past, but to look forward in a search for a political solution with the Communist world.

Mr. Ridley

Can the Chancellor of the Duchy say why he transferred my Question to the Foreign Secretary and did not let me know that he was doing so? Will he in future answer Questions on this subject at No. 35 on Mondays? Is he quite clear that it would be a great mistake in our negotiations for the future of N.A.T.O. to do anything which may make it harder for this country to accede to the Common Market if and when the opportunity arises?

Mr. Thomson

I do not think that the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question arises at the moment. On the first part, I am sorry if he did not receive notice of the transfer. I certainly understood that I had sent him notice personally. The fact is that Questions relating to my responsibilities within the Foreign Office go, in the first instance, to the Secretary of State. Questions relating to my responsibilities as Chancellor of the Duchy go down in the normal place, as the hon. Gentleman has mentioned.