HL Deb 12 July 1954 vol 188 cc654-5

2.41 p.m.

VISCOUNT STANSGATE rose to ask Her Majesty's Government

Whether they can make a statement in amplification of the communiqué on the American conversations, which was published on June 29; and whether in particular further information can be given as to the rearmament of Germany in default of the ratification of the E.D.C. Treaty; the plan for collective defence in South-East Asia, and the Anglo-American interchange of information in the development of atomic energy.

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I put this Question on the Order Paper because it is a rule, very much valued, that statements made in another place should be repeated in this House, and undoubtedly the statement that is to be made to-day in another place is the most important for many years. I realise that on this occasion there are personal elements of great importance in the statement that is to be made, and that it may therefore be necessary to break the rule, but I hope that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, in his reply, will make it clear that it is not intended in any way to infringe what is a great privilege for unofficial Members of this House.


My Lords, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister is giving this afternoon in another place a personal account of the Washington conversations in a form which is not capable of being repeated as a statement in this House. I am sure that the noble Viscount will study the contents of that account. If, after having done so, he desires further information on any specific points, it is of course open to him to put down a Question or Questions. But the noble Viscount will no doubt bear in mind that it is the intention to have a debate on Foreign Affairs in this House, probably on July 27, when it will be possible to deal with these important and complex matters more satisfactorily than could be done within the necessarily narrow limits of a statement. The noble Viscount, in asking his Question, sought an assurance. Of course it is always the desire of all members of Her Majesty's Government to give this House the fullest information parallel with the information being given in another place; but there must occasionally be exceptions, and this, I think your Lordships' House in general will recognise, is inevitably one of them.


I am grateful to the noble Marquess for what he has said. Of course, I fully appreciate the weight of the argument he has advanced.


Arising out of the Question, may I ask the noble Viscount whether he will bear in mind the mischievous character of his Question, together with that made this day week, the purport of which is to imply that Her Majesty's Government were responsible for the stubborn evasion of France from ratifying the European Defence Treaty.




Oh, yes. May I refresh the noble Viscount's memory—


On a point of order. I understand that it is customary that questions should be addressed to members of Her Majesty's Government. The noble Lord's question appears to be what is called proleptic.