HC Deb 16 July 1975 vol 895 cc1484-8
11. Mr. Sproat

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the latest progress of the CSCE.

19. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the latest state of the mutual force reduction talks in Vienna; and the conference on European Security and Co-operation in Geneva.

The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Roy Hattersley)

I will, with permission, answer this Question and Question No. 19 together.

As regards the CSCE, I have nothing to add to what I said during yesterday's debate.

It is disappointing, as the Prime Minister told my hon. Friend on 26th June, that there has been little progress in the MBFR talks after nearly two years of negotiation. I hope the conclusion of the CSCE will create the right political climate for progress to be made in Vienna.

Mr. Sproat

May I congratulate Her Majesty's Government on the important part they have played in achieving not only a balance of advantage to the West in the CSCE but also, in my judgment, an overall balance in each basket individually? Will the right hon. Gentleman say something about the timing, the level and the aims of follow-up procedure? Does he agree that a successful CSCE by itself is only a limited step down the road to détente, and that in any case détente in itself can never be a substitute for defence?

Mr. Hattersley

I said all these things yesterday, but the hon. Gentleman and I have ideas which so coincide that I cannot resist repeating my remarks this afternoon. Of course, there has to be a pause between the summit and the follow-up machinery, but the formal follow-up has to be an inventory of the sucess of CSCE, and an opportunity for those countries which have not carried out the promises inherent in the declaration to be accused and told that they have much to do and much to improve upon.

Concerning the other aspects of CSCE, I am grateful that the hon. Gentleman congratulated the Government on what we achieved. I am sure that there has been substantial progress and that the entire conference will result in a better relationship between Eastern and Western Europe in the years that lie ahead.

Mr. Allaun

Will the Minister of State agree that it would be a setback to détente if CSCE were delayed, particularly in view of the progress already made, and will the Government do everything they can to see that the conference takes place this month or next, despite the baying of certain cold warriors?

Mr. Hattersley

The Government are anxious—indeed, I expressed my anxiety yesterday—that the summit should take place towards the end of July or in the first few days of August. I expressed that view because I believed and feared that, were the summit not to be held then, much progress and much achievement would be sacrificed, and many things which are very worthwhile in terms of European peace and security might not be achieved. But I have to tell my hon. Friend that those countries which are preventing a summit, or at least are not prepared at this moment to endorse that proceeding, are not cold warriors. They are neutral countries, in the main, which believe that there are a number of areas where progress has to be made which has not yet been made. We regard it as our duty not to trample their views underfoot by saying that this is a conference for the major Powers. We respect the wishes of the neutral countries and we hope that their wishes can be met by 30th July. If they are, a summit shall be held.

Sir Frederic Bennett

Since one part of the Question and one part of the Minister's earlier reply was to the effect that the MBFR negotiations had not made much progress, will he remind the House—including the wet warriors—whether there has not been a substantial increase in the forces of the Warsaw Pact in the interim?

Mr. Hattersley

Again, I said yesterday during the debate—indeed, the Morning Star took me to task for it this morning—that there has been a substantial increase in the Warsaw Pact forces during the period of the MBFR talks, but I wonder whether it is wise to hark continually on that—perhaps the blame is equally shared by the hon. Gentleman who mentioned it today and I who mentioned it yesterday—and whether we should not concentrate on the object of MBFR in Vienna to obtain considerable force reductions in both pacts. That considerable reduction has to be a mutual common ceiling, and that will be difficult to achieve, but the West has to go on pressing for it.

Mr. Molloy

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, while the CSCE may not be the ultimate and final answer in providing the fullest co-operation and all the ordinary things that ordinary people desire, it is essential that conferences of this nature should be called, and that our country should participate, and will be give an assurance to the House that he will consider making statements to the House from time to time on the progress of developments after the conference has ended and the real hard work begins?

Mr. Hattersley

In some ways it will be more difficult to give progress reports on the achievements of CSCE than on the two years of the second stage of that conference. What I can promise my hon. Friend—and I have no doubt the House would promise me—is that there are a number of aspects of the CSCE agreement which we shall all want to keep under constant review. I am sure that very many right hon. and hon. Members have family cases in their constituencies where they expect the reunification of the family as a result of the CSCE agreement. If they have not obtained that reunification, and if the countries which are parties to the agreement do not adopt that civilised course, the House will want to be made aware and hon. Members will want to remind the Foreign Office of these duties to any person, and to see that they are implemented.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

With regard to the Vienna part of the Question, does the right hon. Gentleman recall the announcement by the United States Defence Secretary at the last NATO summit, when he said that the Soviet Union is currently spending 20 per cent. more than the United States on military research and development, 25 per cent. more on the procurement of arms and ammunition, 20 per cent. more on its general purpose forces, and 60 per cent. more than the United States on its nuclear forces? In view of those facts, and at the risk of his being again attacked by the Morning Star, will the right hon. Gentleman say now that Her Majesty's Government will not support any further reductions unless they are genuinely balanced by reductions on the Soviet side, and also that he will not support any further unilateral arms reductions by the United Kingdom?

Mr. Hattersley

I shall have to face the criticisms of the Morning Star as bravely as I can.

I am well aware of the figures to which the hon. Gentleman drew attention. It was for that reason that I drew attention yesterday to the increasing forces of the Warsaw Pact and said that the CSCE in itself did not justify any reductions of forces or in the preparedness of the Western Alliances. But all, East and West, have a strong vested interest in obtaining mutually agreed reductions in the forces of both the great pacts. I hope that we can ensure that that state of affairs is brought about, if not in the immediate future, at some time between now and the next two or three years.

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