HC Deb 08 July 1968 vol 768 cc21-2
18. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will appoint a study group within his Department to draw up British proposals for revitalising the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

48. Mr. Ridsdale

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals he is putting forward with a view to strengthening the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Mr. M. Stewart

Last year we took an active part in the studies on the Future Tasks of the Alliance, which resulted in a Report approved by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Ministers last December. Copies of this Report are in the Library of the House. A further comprehensive report by the Permanent Council on work accomplished so far in carrying out these tasks was examined and approved by Ministers at Reykjavik on 24th and 25th June. This work still continues. I therefore see no need for a special Study Group or a fresh initiative at this stage.

Mr. Griffiths

While welcoming the achievements at Reykjavik, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he would not agree that the first essential in maintaining the validity of N.A.T.O. over the next decade is to maintain the United States on this side of the Atlantic? Would he also agree that if this is to be achieved it is essential for Europe, including Britain, to assist the Americans in other parts of the world?

Mr. Stewart

No. I do not think I could assent offhand to such a large proposition as that, which seems to go a great deal further than these proposals of the Study Group.

Mr. Ridsdale

As our efforts to enter the E.E.C. are so abortive, surely the Government should do all they can to build up a North Atlantic Authority? Is not one way not to weaken our defence forces for N.A.T.O., and is that not dis- turbing to N.A.T.O.—that we are to reduce our forces still further?

Mr. Stewart

I do not think the hon. Member has noticed that we have recently increased our commitment to N.A.T.O.

Mr. Molloy

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that to work towards the establishment of a European peace and security council and the abolition of both the N.A.T.O. and Warsaw Pacts would be more in the interests of the ordinary people of Europe?

Mr. Stewart

I think that may be at some time in the future, but I believe it is right to maintain the strength of N.A.T.O. at the present time, but N.A.T.O. is not only a defensive organisation. As was made clear in the Report of the Reykjavik Conference, it is concerned with securing détente between East and West.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Pending the politicians firmly making up their minds, and contrary to what the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) said, surely a good deal of effective work is being done by the officials and officers of N.A.T.O.?

Mr. Stewart

I am not quite sure that I follow that question. This is something which happens all the time. It is partly, I think, what we owe to what is called the Harmel Report, and further progress at Reykjavik.

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