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Schuman Plan

Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 14 June 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement in the form of a White Paper or otherwise dealing with the whole course of negotiations over the Schuman plan, and showing what positive proposals His Majesty's Government would like to see included in the detailed working out of the scheme so as to make it possible for Great Britain to join in the scheme at a later date.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement concerning the response of His Majesty's Government to the invitation from the French Government to take part in the forthcoming conference about the international control of steel and coal.

I would refer both hon. Members to the statement made yesterday by the Prime Minister.

Will my hon. Friend elucidate a point made in the Prime Minister's speech yesterday, when he said that it would embarrass other Governments concerned if they knew some of the details we would like to see put into the Plan? Does he not feel that rather those other Governments are likely to be embarrassed by not having any idea of what are the positive proposals we would like to see in the Plan?

Is the Minister aware that in the White Paper published yesterday a sentence in a communication by His Majesty's Government to the French Government has been left out, and that that sentence adumbrates that His Majesty's Government would make proposals on the Schuman Plan? Can he say whether a fresh White Paper is to be published in consequence of this mistake?

I am very glad to have the opportunity to explain that matter. I much regret that in the course of collating the original documents for publication in the White Paper, that sentence was inadvertently omitted and I apologise to the House for it. An erratum slip will be contained in the reprint of the White Paper, which, I think, is available today. The sentence which was omitted should, of course, have been contained there and it does represent the existing position that we are studying the whole matter with a view to making a contribution if we can.

Would the hon. Gentleman make that interesting notice available to the Minister of Town and Country Planning?

This is a vital point. Do I understand that the Government intend to make proposals of their own towards a solution of this problem, or do they propose to remain content with what I think the hon. Gentleman would describe as a unilaterally negative position?

I do not think I ought to add to what the Prime Minister said yesterday on this point. I have already made it plain that our own examination of this problem is going on, as stated in the sentence to which the hon. and gallant Member opposite referred.

Could my hon. Friend read us this important sentence, and explain why it was left out?

I have not got the text of the sentence with me. I have already explained why it was left out. It was simply inadvertence in the collation of the material.

Will the hon. Gentleman explain why, when there is a most elaborate and careful organisation for checking all Cabinet papers, a vital sentence was completely omitted, which, so far as I know, is unprecedented?

I have already apologised for that. It was an inadvertent omission. That is the whole explanation.

If my hon. and gallant Friend had not asked his supplementary question today what would have happened? Was the hon. Gentleman proposing to make a statement to the House, and, if not, why not?

I have already explained that an erratum slip is now being put in the White Paper as it will now be available.

Is it proposed at some stage to put forward, in public, positive proposals of what His Majesty's Government want to see in the scheme?

I do not think that I can at present go beyond what the Prime Minister said yesterday.