Skip to main content

Germany (Re-Armament)

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 20 July 1954

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Prime Minister what communication he has received from the French Prime Minister regarding the joint Anglo-United States statement on West German sovereignty.

No communication has been received from the French Prime Minister. In public, however, Monsieur Mendès-France has indicated his satisfaction, and stated that the French Government would be greatly helped in their consideration of the E.D.C. problem by this re-statement of their allies' views.

In view of the successful demonstration at the Geneva Conference of Anglo-French unity on a policy of peaceful negotiation with the Communist countries, will the Prime Minister now propose to M. Mendès-France the holding of a new four-Power meeting on Germany before any irrevocable step is taken towards German sovereignty and rearmament?

The hon. Member takes a surprising view of the way in which the process of Government is conducted if he supposes that I could give an answer to a question like that on the spur of the moment.


asked the Prime Minister the detailed proposals of the Government for bringing the Bonn Convention into force separately from the European Defence Community Treaty while deferring the rearmament of Germany.

In my speech in the Foreign Affairs debate on the 14th July, I explained the general approach of Her Majesty's Government to this problem, should it arise. It would be premature to go into the matter in greater detail unless and until it does arise.

As the Bonn Convention leaves the door wide open for the creation of German national armed forces, without limit or control, and as Mr. Dulles has stated that M. MendèsFrance has been given only until the 15th August to ratify the E.D.C. Treaty, by which time this House will be in Recess, is it not important that this House should be fully acquainted with the detailed proposals of H.M. Government before we rise for the Summer Recess?

I am afraid I cannot add to the answer which I have already given.


asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that before Her Majesty's Government reaches agreement with other interested powers on the question of the accession of German sovereignty, Parliament will have an opportunity of debating any proposed agreement, and that, in the event of the House of Commons being on Summer Recess when these proposed agreements are made, he will take steps for the recall of Parliament so that this may be debated.

The hon. Member can rest assured that Her Majesty's Government will act with propriety as circumstances require.

That is not the usual forthcoming answer that we expect from the Prime Minister. If the Leader of the Official Opposition—[Laughter.] Mr. Speaker. I was going on to ask for an assurance when I was rudely interrupted by the shouting of hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches, and I would therefore repeat my question. Can we have an assurance that if an approach is made by the Leader of the Official Opposition—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] Yes, or the Leader of the Liberal opposition, or the Tory opposition of the 1922 Committee—the Prime Minister will give favourable consideration with a view to recalling Parliament?

We shall be guided by precedents in this matter, although it may be a little difficult to see how things stand, in view of some of the suggestions made by the hon. Member about conditions prevailing on the Opposition side of the House.

Does the Prime Minister realise that this is an extremely serious matter, and that there will be profound opposition to any opening of the door to unlimited German re-armament? Is he also aware that it is no way to treat this House to suggest that this matter should be settled in the absence of hon. Members? Will he not look at the matter again, and perhaps undertake to tell us next week what his intentions are?

I do not think there is any need for further definition. The precedents are well known and can be studied. Naturally, any request by the Leader of the Opposition—I had not appreciated the distinction, as I thought that the right hon. Member for Waltham-stow, West (Mr. Attlee) on the Front Bench opposite was the Leader of the Opposition; at any rate he is, for all purposes, connected with the usual channels, and any representation made by him will receive most careful consideration.