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British Minister, Paris (Speech)

Volume 477: debated on Monday 17 July 1950

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the speech of the British Minister at Paris, indicating the possibility of a reduction in British social services, was made with his permission; and what steps he is taking to ensure that pronouncements concerning policy which should be made by Ministers responsible to this House are not made by his permanent civil servants.

In speaking about the international situation at an informal luncheon His Majesty's Minister referred to the defence of the West and denied that the Western Powers could not afford to defend themselves. He stated that once a decision was taken on total expenditure on items other than defence, it then had to be determined what items were essential and what were not. Personal expenditure, capital investment and even social services had to be examined in this context. Mr. Hayter did not indicate that British social services would have to be reduced. Mr. Hayter did not ask my right hon. Friend's permission to make this speech, nor was there any need for him to do so.

Will my hon. Friend make available in the Library a copy of this man's speech, according to which, as the British Press indicates, he suggested that the choice before us is "guns or butter"? Can we know what he did say?

I have made inquiries of Mr. Hayter concerning this speech. He made the speech at very short notice and had only very rough notes, and, therefore, it is not possible to obtain a verbatim report. As to the latter part of the supplementary question, we have made inquiries of Mr. Hayter, and I would much prefer to take the word of a member of His Majesty's Foreign Service to that of the Beaverbrook Press.

Are members of His Majesty's Foreign Service to be subjected to this kind of carping misrepresentation by hon. Members every time they make plain, in an international gathering, the determination of their country to defend itself and Western Europe?