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Volume 650: debated on Thursday 30 November 1961

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asked the Prime Minister whether his recent diplomatic exchanges with President Kennedy and Dr. Adenauer about the terms of Western proposals for a settlement of the Berlin problem have included fresh proposals for the control of nuclear weapons by the West German authorities.

Communications between myself and other Heads of Government are confidential.

Why is the Prime Minister so insistent that nothing must be said to the British Parliament on this subject when reports are made to the West German Parliament by Dr. Adenauer or his representative? Is the 'Prime Minister aware that the German Parliament has been informed that there have been discussions upon the question of whether N.A.T.O. should have its own nuclear deterrent, which would involve the Germans having some control over these weapons? If the German Parliament can be told about it, why does the Prime Minister not tell the British Parliament what is happening in these matters?

As the House knows, we are engaged in some preliminary negotiations which will lead, I hope, to some success in trying to resolve some of these difficult problems. I have to make decisions, and I do not think it would be a help if every time I have some discussion with or a message from the head of another Government I have to make a full statement about it.

Is the Prime Minister aware that there is bound to be a great deal of confusion here when on one side we have statements by Dr. Adenauer about his talks with President Kennedy and on the other hand the admirable interview of Mr. Kennedy with Mr. Khrushchev's son-in-law? Is it not very desirable that the Western position should be agreed as soon as possible? What precise steps are being taken to arrange such a meeting where such agreement can be reached?

I am conscious that the House shows great consideration, but these are very difficult problems in which we have an important part to play. I still feel that the way we are trying to conduct it is most likely to lead to the results we want. I am hoping that when we have the meeting of the four Foreign Ministers of N.A.T.O. in Paris, we shall arrive at a great advance. I think that is on the 8th or 9th of December.

Can the Prime Minister at least assure the House that he will convey to Dr. Adenauer that he can get no support from this country for the bellicose statements made on his behalf at the present time?

Whether this is exactly the best method of getting what I want I shall have to consider.

Referring to the previous question, will the Prime Minister confirm or deny whether the question of fresh arrangements for the supply of nuclear weapons to the West German authorities has been included at all in these discussions and exchanges?

No, Sir. As I have said, the communications, so far as I am concerned, I regard as confidential.