HC Deb 04 May 1970 vol 801 cc24-6
28. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to what extent the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation policy of mutual force reductions involves equal or larger reductions for Warsaw Pact Powers than for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Powers; if it is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's policy that these matters should be discussed in a European security conference; and what progress is being made towards the convening of such a conference.

39. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress is being made towards convening a European security conference.

Mr. George Thomson

I have nothing to add to the replies which I and my right hon. Friend gave my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) on 2nd March and 6th April.—[Vol. 797, c. 23–4; Vol. 799, c. 30–32.]

Mr. Jenkins

Is it not the case that my right hon. Friend's policy in this matter appears to be more enthusiastic for a European conference when he speaks in this House than his utterances abroad lead one to believe? Are not the British Government dragging their feet in this matter and not being so enthusiastic in pressing for a European conference?

Mr. Thomson

No, I do not accept that. I follow the only sensible path of saying the same in Europe as I say here.

Mr. Allaun

Has not the question of a European conference been discussed in N.A.T.O. since December, 1967? Is it not time that we were putting forward specific proposals to the Warsaw Pact Powers, particularly as America is proposing unilateral reduction of her troops in Europe next year?

Mr. Thomson

My hon. Friend is right about the time that this matter has been on the table, but the conclusion one draws is that it is time for the Warsaw Pact Powers to make some response to the proposals we have constantly offered them in this respect.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

In considering any agenda, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the recent increases in strength of Warsaw Pact Powers' forces?

Mr. Thomson

Yes, Sir. There is a significant matter here which was referred to in the Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) that it is a duty in dis armament arrangements to seek to work towards a reduction of forces in a manner which will leave neither side better or worse off than it was before the negotiations began. In a phrase, we seek equality of security in these arrangements.

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