HC Deb 27 February 1967 vol 742 cc68-70
4. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will seek to organise a European conference to discuss matters of arms control, security and trade.

Mr. George Brown

I doubt whether a single European conference could usefully deal with questions of trade as well as arms control and security. Trade questions are already discussed in the Economic Commission for Europe. We agreed with Mr. Kosygin when he was here that a conference on European security could be valuable provided it was adequately prepared.

Mr. Winnick

Would not my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary agree that the many changes in Eastern as well as in Western Europe make such a conference a possibility, and could he tell us when the proposed conference on security is likely to take place—in six months, a year or longer?

Mr. Brown

I repeat that I distinguish between what we do about trade and what we do about security in arms control. If we get to the point of having a security conference, arms control will very much play a part in discussions there. As to when we get there, I repeat that I got the impression that the Russians themselves recognise that it is tremendously important that the ground be well prepared, otherwise we could go to such a conference and then come out of it simply with everyone's position more rigidly stated than before. I therefore think that it would be idle for me to speculate on how soon we can get there.

Mr. Walters

In the communiquè issued after Mr. Kosygin's visit the two Governments referred to the desirability of this security conference but no mention was made of the United States. Does this represent Government policy?

Mr. Brown

I think that the hon. Member is quite wrong. I do not have the communiquè with me, but I think that he will find that it says that all European nations or European countries will be among those participating. If they are among those participating then, by definition, some others will participate, so I think his point is not very well taken. In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick), I ought to have said that consultations are taking place with the Russians about the convening of such a conference.