HL Deb 26 May 1966 vol 274 cc1463-4

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the reports of the remarks by Lord Chalfont, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, on May 13 in Paris to the Anglo-American Press Association are accurate, and whether they correctly represent the policy of Her Majesty's Government.]


My Lords, at a lunch discussion of the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris on May 13 I made a short statement on the record and answered a number of questions off the record. In most of the Press reports written from Paris, both British and foreign, this discussion was reported objectively and accurately. Taken in their context, the points that I was making were fully in accord with the policy of Her Majesty's Government.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his highly interesting Answer, which seems to me to be a bold step towards an intended Socialist policy for Europe. May I ask the noble Lord if it is really the policy of Her Majesty's Government—and I quote a report from the ObserverThat in future NATO should be seen not as a defensive military alliance but rather as a means of negotiation with the East"? When will Her Majesty's Government begin to implement this policy? Does the United States Government agree with it, and will Her Majesty's Government have the courage to press forward with this policy, even in the face of United States opposition?


My Lords, I think the noble Lord's question goes much wider than his original Question. I did say that, in my view, we should concentrate less in the Alliance on reorganising it as a purely defensive organisation and should look upon it rather as an organisation which could negotiate from a position of strength, but I think a comment on the attitude to this of the United States Government would be invidious at this stage. Indeed, I would say that certain Press reports, not written from Paris and therefore written at second hand, lifted a few of my remarks out of context, so I think it would be wrong to believe that they gave the interpretation that I would have given to them when I was making my remarks in Paris.

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