HC Deb 24 January 1972 vol 829 cc959-60
23. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about his recent talks with Mr. William Rogers, the United States Secretary of State, particularly as regards the convening of an East-West security conference.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Mr. Rogers and I discussed questions of common interest among which were those relating to European security. The details of our discussions are confidential.

Mr. Allaun

Is the Foreign Secretary aware that the partnership of Rogers and Hammerstein produced far more enjoyable results than that of Rogers and Home? Is it not a fact that Mr. Rogers reported agreement between himself and the Foreign Secretary that discussions about holding a security conference should await the signing of the protocol in May by the four Powers? Why cannot discussion start now? East Germany and West Germany have already agreed. Is not this just another excuse for prolonging until 1973 the holding of such a conference?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I do not think the hon. Gentleman is justified in coming to that conclusion. The whole of the N.A.T.O. Alliance felt that we could proceed to a multilateral prepara- tion directly the Berlin Agreement was through. We hoped that we would be able to do this at the last N.A.T.O. meeting but the Russians said that the treaties between Germany and Poland and Germany and the Soviet Union must be ratified, and the Germans wanted to wait until that was done.

Mr. Wilkinson

In any initiatives which may be taken, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the recent State of the Union Message by the President of the United States in which, for very good reasons—principally the state of virtual parity in nuclear armaments and the preponderance of conventional fire-power in Europe of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries—he said that he was having to increase armaments expenditure this year? Will my right hon. Friend bear these realities very much in mind?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes, Sir.

Mr. John Mendelson

Will the right hon. Gentleman go a little further? Is it not clear that the West German Federal Government have gone further than our Government in agreeing to the calling and holding of an early European security conference although they are most directly involved? If the Foreign Ministers of the Warsaw Pact Powers later this week make a further proposal about holding a conference, will the right hon. Gentleman make a more positive response and agree to the proposal of the Finnish Government to start preliminary discussions on holding a conference?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The Alliance decided that multilateral preparation should not begin until the Berlin settlement was finished, and then the Russians said that they wanted the German treaties to be ratified. Therefore, the Germans wished to wait until the treaties had been ratified before multilateral preparations began. I hope that ratification will follow very soon so that we can begin the multilateral preparations.