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United States And Ussr (Discussions)

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

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13.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government will propose to the Governments of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, now about to engage in new talks, that the Government of Peking shall be invited to send a representative to take part in any new negotiations about disarmament which may be begun.

No, Sir. I should point out that the talks to which the right bon. Gentleman refers began on 19th June.

Is it not becoming more and more plain every day that unless the Chinese take part in these negotiations very soon it may be too late, because they may refuse to do so?

I realise the difficulties of this, but I think that my right hon. Friend dealt with it in his supplementary answer on 20th March. We want to see them brought in at the appropriate moment, but we do not want to com- plicate the initial moves, and so hold up the start of these discussions in any way.

14. Mr. A. Henderson asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he has made to the United States Government, in view of the official conversations now taking place in Washington between the United States and Soviet Governments, with regard to the association of a number of Governments who are not identified with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the Warsaw Pact, with the disarmament negotiations, and the appointment of a neutral chairman.

I have at present nothing to add to the answer to a similar Question by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) on 28th June.

Can we not be told whether Her Majesty's Government are actually making proposals along these lines to the United States Government for discussion with the Soviet Government? In view of the fact that during the last six years disarmament negotiations have taken place entirely between Governments representing N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact, is it not time that we invited such neutral countries as India, Yugoslavia and Sweden to take part in the disarmament negotiations?

We are certainly not opposed to it. It is just a question of such arrangements as can be made. We are in discussion in the normal way with the United States, and the arrangements could include the principle the right hon. and learned Gentleman has in mind.

If the Minister accepts the principle, will he say where the difficulty lies? Surely he must recognise the tremendous faith which the non-aligned countries have in disarmament and the great contribution they could make in building bridges between the opposing sides.

I recognise that they can play a useful part. The difficulty would be when it came eventually to fixing the exact numbers concerned, and so on. I think that it is far better to leave this to the informal discussions that are now taking place, and which will embrace this sort of thing. I think that the best means of making progress, which the whole House wants, is to leave it as it stands at the present moment.