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Germany And Berlin

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1961

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asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent the peace plan presented by the Western Foreign Ministers at the Geneva Conference on 14th May, 1959, represents the present policy of Her Majesty's Government on the German problem and European security; and whether it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to resume the Foreign Ministers' Conference at Geneva which adjourned on 5th August, 1959.

It is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to solve the problem of Germany and Berlin by peaceful means and in accordance with the obligations that we have assumed there. On that basis, we are always ready to discuss the matter with those concerned. We still believe that the Western Peace Plan fulfils those conditions, and would provide a just and equitable solution for all the parties.

Would it not be a good thing if representatives of East and West Germany met for exploratory talks on the issues involved in reunification? Might not such talks help to prepare the ground for the Four-Power negotiations which will undoubtedly have to take place later?

Whatever other talks there may be, the responsibilities rest with the four Powers.

May I ask two questions? First, in view of the danger of war by miscalculation over Berlin, a danger which was recognised in the recent Vienna meeting by both Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Kennedy, have the Government any intention of separating from the general Western peace plan the proposal which the Prime Minister yesterday endorsed once more for arms control in Central Europe on both sides of the Iron Curtain? Secondly, to what extent is it Government policy that the negotiations, if resumed, should take up where they left off in 1958? Or is it intended that the whole negotiations should start again from scratch?

It is not in our mind at the moment to put forward proposals of a separate nature of the kind the hon. Member mentioned. The question where any further conference, if there be one, should start, is very much a matter for the future.


asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) whether, in reply to Premier Khrushchev's recent aidemémoire to Her Majesty's Government on Germany and Berlin, he will propose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Warsaw Treaty Powers should enter into an agreement to settle any differences arising between them on these matters only by the peaceful means prescribed in the United Nations Charter and should in no circumstances resort to force or the threat of force as a means of settlement;

(2) whether, in response to the proposals in Mr. Khrushchev's recent official declaration on Germany and Berlin, he will now propose negotiations on the basis of recognition of the Polish-German frontier and of the existence of two German States, acceptance of some form of disengagement such as that proposed in the Rapacki plan, and making West Berlin a free city under United Nations or other international guarantee of its status and of access to it from the west.

Ls the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Charter of the United Nations prohibits resort to force without the authorisation of the Security Council except where there is an armed attack? Will he give an undertaking that the Government will in no circumstances take part in contingency planning or associate themselves with any proposal to resort to force when there is not an armed attack?

It is because our obligations are clearly laid down in the Charter that it is unnecessary to adopt the suggestion made in the Question. As for contingency planning, as I told the House the other day it is necessary that the Western Powers should look at all possible eventualities.


asked the Lord Privy Seal what new proposals Her Majesty's Government have now received from Mr. Khrushchev or President Kennedy regarding the future of Berlin; and, in the absence of other definite and acceptable proposals, if he will propose that some of the United Nations agencies be moved to the city.

Her Majesty's Government have received no new proposals from Mr. Khrushchev regarding the future of Berlin. The whole question is being fully discussed with the United States Government, but I cannot add to the replies given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 6th June and yesterday. I have taken note of the suggestion in the last part of the hon. Gentleman's Question.

While it is generally agreed that we have a clear obligation to defend the freedom of West Berlin, as the Prime Minister has stated that he is willing to enter into negotiations again, does not the Lord Privy Seal agree that this might be a suggestion worth considering in any such negotiations and that possibly at some future date it might be worth considering associating with the United Nations in the control of the check points?

I have stated this afternoon the arrangements under which we are prepared to discuss negotiations. The suggestion made by the hon. Member has been put forward from time to time in a variety of ways. We will take note of it.

While fully agreeing that it is both morally right and in our own interests that the people of West Berlin should not have a decision imposed upon them, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would also be in the best interests of the United Kingdom to broaden the negotiations when they start and to discuss the German problem as a whole, and possibly the question of a European security pact, rather than to leave the initiative to others? In the past Her Majesty's Government have often been more helpful than other Powers in initiating such proposals.

A fundamental fact about the Western peace plan was that the problem can be dealt with only in the context of Germany and Berlin as a whole.