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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 656: debated on Monday 26 March 1962

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European Economic Community

1.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what preparations are being made to deal with the situation which will arise if the negotiations with the European Economic Community break down.

I have nothing to add to the replies which my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Lord Privy Seal gave to Questions on this subject on 8th March.

Would my hon. Friend not agree that, as a result of the speeches of the German Chancellor and of the French Minister of Agriculture, the likelihood of these talks breaking down is far greater than when the original reply was given? Will he give the House an assurance that active steps are being taken to study the alternative?

I would not agree that the position is less favourable. I would remind my hon. Friend of the remarks made by the German Foreign Minister, Dr. Schroeder, towards the end of last week, when he said that the Federal Government were of the opinion that Britain's joining must not prejudice the vital interests of the Commonwealth; hence it was with the full consent of the Federal Government that the Commonwealth problem in E.E.C. was being tackled so as to take account of the vital interests of the British federation of States; in the new talks in Brussels about Britain's accession a synthesis between the Commonwealth and the Rome Treaties must be found.

I would think that that represented very well the position.

Is it true, as reported in one of the London newspapers this morning, that the Lord Privy Seal has gone to Ottawa to try to persuade the Canadian Government that they must expect adverse conditions if Britain joins the Common Market? Would it not be much better for him to go there to plead that a representative of the Canadian Government should come over here and join his Australian colleague in Brussels?

Certainly I am not responsible for what appears in the London newspapers. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has gone over for discussions which I am sure will be useful in regard to this whole field. Certainly we would in no way object to a Canadian observer coming as my noble Friend suggests.

Will the Minister of State give an assurance that the Government will do nothing to cause trouble between France and Germany, since the reconciliation of France and Germany was the main purpose for which the Community was created?

Certainly I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the last thing we would wish to do would be to cause trouble between those States.

Would my hon. Friend not agree that unless there is a practical, constructive alternative plan as indicated in the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), there may be a temptation to continue negotiations with the European Economic Community beyond the point at which they may be thought to be rewarding?

No. I would not accept that. These two concepts are not necessarily antagonistic, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear the other day.

2.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make representations to the members of the European Economic Community to allow Her Majesty's Government to participate in the work of the Fouchet Commission dealing with the political development of the Community.

40.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what proposals he has now made to associate Her Majesty's Government with the discussions of the Fouchet Commission.

We do not participate in the work of the Fouchet Commission because we are not members of the European Economic Community. Of course, we are closely concerned with the outcome of the Commission's work; and the six Governments have kept us fully informed of the substance of the drafts being considered by the Commission. They recognise the need to hold consultations with us before they finalise any agreement.

Would not the Government make representations to be directly represented here? Is it not highly unsatisfactory that very far-reaching discussions should be taking place without British participation, and are we not likely to be presented eventually with a fait accompli which we might find it very difficult to resist? Why should not the Government have the opportunity of putting their point of view both to the Six and, for that matter, to the House?

We are being kept informed informally of the procedure with regard to these discussions. I think that in regard to our position on our own negotiations, we have got as far as we can reasonably expect at the present moment.

Would not my hon. Friend agree that if, as most hon. Members think, the economic and political aspects of this matter are very closely intertwined, it would be very dangerous to come to a decision to join the European Economic Community without fuller information about and fuller association with the consultations taking place in Europe in regard to political developments?

My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal has made clear on a number of occasions that we realise the political implications in all this, and what I would ask my right hon. and learned Friend also to remember is that there are safeguards in the Treaty with regard to any extension of its powers. I would call attention to Articles 235 and 236 in this context.

Is it not a fact that the implications over the surrender of national sovereignty through economic integration are far more serious in the Treaty of Rome than in the proposals of the Fouchet Commission's Report, and that if we do not wish to have any surrender of national sovereignty we should not consider going into the Community at all?

No, I would not accept that the provisions of the Treaty of Rome go any further than has been expounded from this Box on many occasions. The position is quite clear. Hon. Members have read the Treaty of Rome, and these provisions relate largely to the economic field, and cover social problems as well. As to what will be covered in the Fouchet Report, we have to wait to see what will be covered by the agreed proposals of the Six.

3.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how far Her Majesty's Government are participating in the discussions taking place within the European Economic Community on the arrangements to be made for the associated overseas territories after the expiry of the present Convention at the end of 1962.

These discussions are confined to the present members of the European Economic Community and their associated overseas territories. There is, of course, a close connection between them and the parallel discussions we are holding with the Six on the association of Commonwealth countries and territories. Discussions on this subject are being resumed by the Deputies in Brussels this week.

Again, is that really satisfactory? Is it not a fact that there are differences of opinion within the Six on this question of the participation of overseas territories, and that any agreement which the Six may come to will, therefore, be hammered out with great difficulty? Would it not then be extremely difficult for us to make any changes at all in whatever agreement is arrived at, and, in view of the tremendous importance of this to the Commonwealth, would not the Government ask if we could participate in some way, if only at official level, in the discussions going on just now?

We are having informal discussions. I do not think we can expect more at the present stage of our own negotiations with the E.E.C. When we reach a later stage then we shall be more entitled to seek to have our views considered.

Would not my hon. Friend agree that the sooner we join the European Economic Community the better we shall be able to influence decisions on political and other matters?

That is certainly a point of view which I quite recognise my hon. Friend has. Once we are in we shall be in such a position, and it is because we wish to see the exact terms on which we can go in that we are pressing forward with our proposals.

14.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement summarising the views on future political and constitutional developments in Western Europe which are to be put forward by Her Majesty's Government in connection with the United Kingdom's application to join the European Economic Community.

The views of Her Majesty's Government were set out in paragraphs one to ten and paragraph 22 of my right honourable Friend the Lord Privy Seal's statement in Paris on 10th October last.

Are those the only views that are to be communicated in due course to the Fouchet Commission—which we were told last week would be done? There are many other aspects of the important political developments that may follow our adherence to the Common Market. Have the Government considered, for instance, the position of the British monarchy in a predominantly republican federal set-up?

I would not have thought that the position of the British monarchy was at stake or at risk in any way in these negotiations. Any such suggestion would seem to me to be almost frivolous. As for the Government's proposals, I have answered a previous question in relation to the Fouchet Commission which sets out the position. I would remind the House of the views officially put forward by the Lord Privy Seal, and I do not think that I can usefully add to them here.

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm what the Lord Privy Seal told the House recently, that there can be no question in relation to the Rome Treaty negotiations of entering into any commitments which involve a federal or supra-national set-up, a unified foreign policy or a unified Parliament, and that such matters would require a separate treaty? If that is the position and it is the view of the Government, as we hope it is, that we shall not accept any such commitments now or hereafter, would not it be more honest for the Government to say that plainly to Europe now so that there can be no accusations of bad faith in three or four years time?

My right hon. Friend set out the latest position in his statement the other day. I have already reminded the House of the safeguards under Article 236 of the Treaty of Rome in regard to extension. I think that that is as far as I can usefully take the matter now.

17.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether arrangements have now been made for British film experts to attend the meetings of the Common Market Working Party on film policy.

Does that mean that the Brussels delegation from the British Government is not concerned about the matter? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that for several weeks now the British Film Producers' Association has been trying to obtain from either the Board of Trade or the Brussels delegation some information about what discussions on film policy are going on inside the Common Market? Since it is known that there has been a Commission on it for over twelve months, why do not the Government know anything about it and why are not they concerned?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are concerned about this matter. The Question refers to arrangements for our experts to attend meetings of the Working Party. In the work of the Working Party, as in other matters, the Six and the Commission are, not unreasonably, reluctant to admit United Kingdom representatives to discussions while the Brussels negotiations are in progress and before we have joined the Community. The United Kingdom delegation will, however, keep in touch with the Commission, and I hope that arrangements will be made at an appro- priate stage to ensure that our views are fully taken into account by the Working Party.

18.

asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent Common Market policy on films has been studied by the experts negotiating in Brussels; what conclusions they have reached on the effects of the British film industry of Great Britain's proposed entry into the Common Market; and what proposals he will now put forward to safeguard the industry's position.

I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to the hon. Gentleman on 7th December last.

That reply did not contain any answer at all. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Board of Trade has recently replied to the British Film Producers' Association saying that it has no official information whatever about either the subject-matter or the personnel of the Common Market Commission which has been sitting for over twelve months on film policy? Is it the policy of Her Majesty's Government that the whole matter should be decided by the Common Market Commission, that they will then sign on the dotted line, and that the film industry can take the consequences?

No, Sir. Common Market policy on films has yet to be decided by the Community.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that it is being decided now by the Commission?

If the matter is so important and potentially dangerous for this country, would it not be an advantage for us to be inside the Common Market so that we may take part?

If we become members of the Community, we shall, of course, have our say in the decisions on what the policy should be.

Would it not be of advantage if Her Majesty's Government requested the members of the E.E.C. to let them know what is being decided by the Commission in respect of the interests of film industries in Western Europe so that the Government could formulate a policy to safeguard the interests of the British industry? Why does not the hon. Gentleman do that?

25.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will indicate in the course of the negotiations with the European Economic Community on the proposed association of the United Kingdom that there can be no agreement which calls for the creation of a European Parliament and which curtails the authority of the House of Commons.

In my right hon. Friend's statement to the Six on 10th October, he said that we were ready to accept and play our full part in the institutions established by the Treaty of Rome. These include the European Parliamentary Assembly. That Assembly does not encroach on the authority of national Parliaments. Any proposal to amend or widen the powers of the Assembly would require unanimous agreement.

But what would be the purpose of a European Parliament unless a Parliament of this kind were subordinate to it in some respects? If anything of this sort occurs, will it not be a complete and disgraceful betrayal of British sovereignty and independence?

The reference is to an Assembly, and there are various international assemblies in different parts of the world in which we play our full part which we do not necessarily think derogate from our responsibilities in this Parliament.

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House how far ahead the Government are looking in giving these Answers? While various institutions have already been set up by the Common Market, it is well known that they are but the foundations of something far stronger. How far are the Government looking ahead?

It is difficult to say how far we are looking ahead. In this context how far can one look? We are looking a considerable way. We are trying to see precisely what are the terms on which we can enter the Common Market. In that connection, if we have a satisfactory position established, clearly we shall be in a position to evaluate both the economic and the political links which will be called for. Obviously we shall have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages in that respect.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to give the House some definition of a European Parliament and what its powers are to be—or is it to be like the gentlemen in another place, not vested with any powers at all?

I would not endeavour to forecast the body which the right hon. Gentleman envisages, nor would I comment on his criticism of another place, which I do not support.

27.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what information he has received from members of the European Economic Community regarding their discussions and decisions reached about East-West trade.

41.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether his negotiations on the European Common Market have included discussions on a common policy towards trade with state trading countries.

My right hon. Friend has not discussed these matters in the negotiations nor has he received any information from the Member Governments of the European Economic Community about them.

Has the Minister received any information? Is it not a fact that the Common Market countries have agreed that a quota shall be fixed on all East-West trade of member countries including, if we join, Britain? Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether that is or is not a fact and what is the Government's attitude towards such a proposal?

I have no knowledge of such proposal. If the right hon. Gentleman has any information about it I shall be glad to look into it.

Is it not the case that the quota is 5 per cent. and that, if it were accepted, it would affect Britain very seriously, because our total trade with the Eastern bloc has been increasing greatly? If such a provision were inserted, would the Minister consider it possible to accept it?

I have just said that I have no information about such a regulation. If the hon. Member has such information I shall be glad to receive it from him.

39.

asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent the negotiations with the European Economic Community have sought a revision and modification of the Regulation-making powers of Article 189 of the Treaty of Rome.

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said in paragraph 13 of his statement of 10th October.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this is a very important matter in the context of the principle of sovereignty of Parliament in that these regulations, under Article 189, will be of general application, will be binding in every respect and will be directly applicable within member States—that is to say, without any opportunity of scrutiny by this House or any control by this House?

This matter was fully discussed last August, and I call my right hon. and learned Friend's attention, in particular, to the speech of the Lord Chancellor in another place. As a layman, I am very reluctant to attempt to put a gloss on what he said on that occasion.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the sovereignty of Parliament referred to will not be worth very much unless it rests on a sound economic foundation?

Is it not a fact that under the inevitable momentum of the Treaty of Rome decisions will increasingly be taken by the Council of Minister on a majority vote and that this means that the sovereignty of the British House of Commons will, under the existing provisions of the Treaty of Rome, increasingly be eroded?

I do not think that it is necessary to make such an assumption. It is an assumption which the hon. Lady is making—a very big assumption—that there will be such an erosion. As I pointed out earlier this afternoon, there are Articles in the Treaty which make it essential that any extension of the Treaty itself require unanimity. As for the provisions in the Treaty, the House will have plenty of opportunity of considering them when we know the terms and conditions under which we could enter the Community.

Laos

4.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement about the present situation in Laos, and about the conference on Laos now sitting in Geneva.

Since my right hon. Friend's replies on 21st February, the military situation has remained generally quiet, although there have been occasional minor outbreaks of fighting. Negotiations for the formation of a Government of National Union are continuing and the Geneva Conference is awaiting their outcome.

Does the Minister of State recall that it was the C.I.A. which most disastrously brought about the downfall of Prince Souvanna Phouma's Government, and is he satisfied that the C.I.A. are not now reinforcing and supporting the Right-wing Government of Vientiane and thus preventing us from bringing Souvanna Phouma back into power, as we desire?

I think the right hon. Gentleman will have seen the statement made by Mr. Harriman over the weekend, which is extremely helpful, and I would recommend him to study it further.

Can my hon. Friend say whether the weekend news was confirmed with the British Government, because we welcome this new approach to the problem and the agreement that Prince Boun Oum will not be supported in establishing an opposite Government.

We have not received the official version of Mr. Harriman's Statement, but the hon. Gentleman will have seen in The Times today a reference to it.

As the hon. Gentleman a little earlier warned us not to be taken in too quickly by what we see in the Press, can he guarantee accuracy this time?

I said that I was not responsible for all that appears in the Press. That is the position now, but I should be very surprised if this report were wildly inaccurate.

Egypt (British Property)

6.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has now received information from the Egyptian Government as to their intentions with regard to the seizure of the property of over 30 British citizens; and if he will make a statement.

I can add nothing yet to the reply my right hon. Friend gave my hon. Friend on 29th January.

Is it not outrageous that after nearly six months these people do not know whether their property is sequestrated or frozen and whether they are to get compensation? Is he not aware that there is a growing feeling that the way in which the Ango-Egyptian Financial Agreement is being implemented is far from satisfactory?

I certainly agree that we would like to have received a substantive reply from the U.A.R. Government sooner. We are continuing our efforts to get one, and we have left them in no doubt of the seriousness with which we view these matters.

Western European Union (Recommendations)

7.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has studied Recommendation 69 passed by the Assembly of Western European Union concerning the state of European security; and whether he will make a statement.

I have read the recommendation with interest. Since it is very detailed and covers a large variety of different subjects, I do not feel that it would be useful or indeed possible to make a general statement about it.

Would my hon. Friend agree that point 3 of the recommendation, dealing with the pooling of technical and industrial resources with a view to general standardisation, would be of great advantage to this country within the N.A.T.O. Alliance?

I agree that this article to which may hon. Friend refers, as well as certain other of the articles, is indeed important. We should like to give it further study.

8.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has studied Resolution 19 passed by the Assembly of Western European Union concerning the situation in Berlin; and whether he will make a statement.

I have noted this resolution, which is encouraging evidence of the solidarity of the Western European Union Assembly on the issue of Berlin.

Can my hon. Friend assure us that we are taking full advantage of this resolution with the member countries of the N.A.T.O. Alliance, and is he convinced that they are pulling together at the moment?

Yes, I think I can say that we are satisfied. Of course, there are difficulties and problems in regard to the different nuances of this matter, but this sort of resolution is indeed very helpful.

Germany (Anti-Nazi Reprisals)

9.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many young men, who were sentenced as boys by the Allied Military and Central Commission Courts in Germany, after the surrender of the German forces in 1945, to long terms of imprisonment, for reprisals taken after their release from concentration camps against S.S. guards or members of the Gestapo, are still in prison; and when it is intended that they shall be released.

May I ask my hon. Friend whether his attention has been drawn to a report by the Forgotten Allies Trust to the effect that 133 of these young men are still in prison, and can he definitely confirm that none of these were sentenced by British military courts?

I have see that report and I have made inquiries about the facts alleged in that report. We know of no case where a person sentenced for such a crime is still in prison.

The Minister's original reply referred to the former British Zone of occupation, and his answer was limited to that, but as that zone is now part of Western Germany, which we have recognised and with which we have treaties, would it not be worth while finding out whether in Western Germany as a whole there are any such cases now?

I referred to the British Zone since zones other than the British would not be the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. I can only repeat what I said. We know of no case where a person sentenced for such a crime is still in prison.

Nuclear Tests

10.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will initiate proposals at the disarmament talks for a ban on all nuclear tests than can be detected by means of existing instruments on the territories of the Powers involved.

20.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if, following improvements in detection methods, Her Majesty's Government will support proposals for banning all nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere which can be detected by existing means.

This is not simply a problem of detection. It is necessary also to locate and to identify. The number of natural seismic events occurring annually in the Soviet Union alone may run into hundreds. We need, therefore, to have a capability to distinguish between natural events and nuclear tests, and to verify what has occurred in cases of doubt. Our present state of scientific development does not by itself provide this but we are continuing intensive research. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) on 13th March, we are seeking to reach agreement on the whole problem and not just part of it.

Is it not a fact that national stations are sufficient to identify the overwhelming majority of tests and that the Soviet Union has offered to conclude a treaty banning all those tests which are identifiable by national stations? Would it not be a good thing for us to take up this offer as a starting point, particularly as President Kennedy said at his Press conference the other day that a test ban treaty would do more for the security of the West than any resumption of nuclear tests?

We are very anxious to conclude a treaty, and I have been engaged in these discussions in Geneva only last week. I know the great difficulties, but unless the Russians are prepared to agree to some kind of verification we cannot agree to a treaty which would provide no safeguards.

Would not the common sense approach be to agree first on the easier issue of detectable tests and use that as a basis fox a wider agreement? What is stopping that?

There is no agreement between the two sides on what is detectable. My noble Friend only last week appealed to the Russians if they had any knowledge of what was detectable to come forward. We have asked them again and again to let us have scientific information and they have always refused.

In view of the bad faith shown by the Russians in the recent moratorium, would not my hon. Friend agree that we cannot jeopardise our national security by agreeing to something which we cannot verify ourselves?

Yes, Sir. This is one of the real problems which has forced us to insist on verification.

Were there not proposals for verification by neutrals, and what was the reply?

We put forward proposals ourselves at the end of last August, and we have repeated them now, that there shall be a considerable proportion of neutral representation in any inspecting team. The Russians have replied that they will not accept any inspection team on Soviet territory on any conditions whatever. My noble Friend pressed them only last Friday.

It has been suggested that it could be done by neutrals alone. Has that been put forward? If so, what was the reply?

The offer put forward was that half the team should be neutrals. We have had no counter-offer. My noble Friend has pressed the point in Geneva, but we have had no indication that inspection teams of any kind would be acceptable to the Soviet Union.

Christmas Island (Nuclear Tests)

11.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what assurances were given to the Japanese Ambassador on 9th February regarding the danger to Japanese citizens in the event of a nuclear test on Christmas Island.

The Ambassador was assured that all possible precautions would be taken in regard to any nuclear tests to be conducted in the atmosphere in the Christmas Island area.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable concern in Japan about this Christmas Island test? Is he aware that there has been an increase in Strontium 90 in animals and vegetation since the Russian tests? Is not this a splendid opportunity for the Western Powers to show that they are more Christian and civilised than the Russians by announcing that they will abandon these tests?

I saw the reference which the hon. Member made to this point last week. I have made inquiries. We have received no representation from the Japanese Government based on these facts.

Would the Government now be prepared to issue a White Paper showing the effects on plankton and marine animal and vegetable life? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is well known that after tests fish have been found with two, three and more heads in the ocean currents off the coast of Japan? [Laughter.]

On a point of order. Is it in order for some hon. Members opposite to consider that a scientific fact is just a matter for jocularity in the House? This is a matter for civilisation and its future. It is a fact which has been shown to the world by the staff of a ship engaged on scientific research.

We should be in grave difficulty if what hon. Members considered became a point of order.

I have no knowledge of this. I shall be happy to receive any information which the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) can give us.

Nato (Nuclear Warheads)

12.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will request the United States Government to circulate to their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies details of the steps taken to ensure security of nuclear warheads where custody pending use remains with the United States Government.

No, Sir. The North Atlantic Alliance is aware that the security of such nuclear warheads is rigidly enforced and that they remain in the constant physical custody of United States military detachments. Detailed security arrangements are concluded bilaterally between the United States and each North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country concerned. I see no reason to recommend any change.

But has not the Mace already been supplied to Germany? Did not the Minister of Defence on 20th December admit that nuclear warheads are allocated to Germans in N.A.T.O. as they are to the British? Since the warheads in time of emergency must be stored near the missiles, would this not mean that they could be seized and used by German officers?

I am advised that this is definitely not so. There is no question of this happening. The security arrangements are strict and are stringently enforced, and I am sure that they would cover all eventualities.

Is it not the case that the Americans have agreed to hand over custody of nuclear warheads in an emergency?

Central Europe And Africa (Nuclear-Free Zone)

13.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether it is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government to propose the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe and Africa, respectively, as part of an agreement on disarmament.

37.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if Her Majesty's Government's representatives in Geneva will support proposals for nuclear-free zones in Central Europe and in Africa.

What is the Government's objection to this proposal? Would not the creation of a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe not only ease the tension that exists there, but also provide a system of control and inspection which might well be the first step to an agreement on general and comprehensive disarmament?

No, Sir. I do not think that this is really the way to proceed. The Government do not think that it is readily feasible to eliminate any particular area from the effects of nuclear war. We believe that this can be done effectively only by eliminating these weapons altogether through general and complete disarmament, and that is what we are seeking at the moment.

Whilst we all agree with the objective of general and complete disarmament, may I ask whether it would not be useful to put forward at Geneva a pilot scheme in Central Europe and elsewhere with a view to proceeding to general disarmament later?

All sorts of proposals are being put forward at Geneva, but I do not think that this is one to be put forward for immediate discussion.

Since it is clear from the hon. Gentleman's answer that we are running into great difficulties on the nuclear test ban which raises the whole question of inspection, may I ask, without going into a general disarmament agreement, which we all want to see, whether the hon. Gentleman would not agree that at any rate the Government should encourage the development of agreement on any issues which will lead in the long run to a general disarmament agreement? Does he not feel that this question of a non-nuclear zone might be a very valuable advance while we are trying to create the confidence necessary for wider agreement?

The right hon. Gentleman has a Question on the Order Paper later on the disarmament conference generally. Perhaps replies on this point might come up more readily there. My immediate reaction on this narrow point is that it is not one of the most fruitful avenues of approach.

Vietnam

15.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what action has been taken by the representative of Her Majesty's Government, as co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference on Vietnam, following the recent worsening of the situation in South Vietnam.

16.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what action he will now take, as co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference on Vietnam, in view of the recent developments in Vietnam and the deterioration in the situation there.

As the House is aware, we have had exchanges of Notes with the Soviet Government. These rest with a Soviet aide mémoire of 17th March, which again urges that the United States should be called upon to cease interfering in South Vietnam. This ignores the United Kingdom proposal that the Soviet Government should deal with the root cause of the trouble by exercising restraint upon the North Vietnamese. As there is clearly no agreement between the two co-Chairmen on the facts of the situation, we must now await a report from the International Control Commission.

Is not this a very serious situation for the whole of South-East Asia, particularly in relation to Laos nearby? Will the hon. Gentleman answer these questions? First, what are British commitments in Vietnam at present? Second, in addition to communications with Russia, has there been any communication sent to America regarding the military aid which America is offering to South Vietnam? Third, will the Government consider recalling the Geneva Conference so that this very grave situation can be discussed in the spirit of the earlier conference at Geneva?

As I said when the matter was last discussed in the House, it is, obviously, a serious situation. I gave the reasons why Her Majesty's Government think that it is serious. In answer to the questions which the hon. Member has put: first, there is no British commitment in South Vietnam. Second, we have had no communication with America in our position as co-Chairman, although, of course, we are in communication with America on these and all matters which affect us. Third, it would hardly be possible to agree on a policy when there is no agreement at all as to the nature of the situation. Therefore, I think that we should await the report from the I.C.C. before any question of recalling the Geneva Conference arises.

Since the Minisster has said that there is no commitment by the British Government in South Vietnam, can he go further and say that that implies that there is no commitment under the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation in Vietnam, and will he assure the House that we shall not interfere in the internal affairs of Vietnam? I endorse the supplementary questions put by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway). Will the Minister please approach the American Government to see whether we can, at least in the transition period, bring about a standstill in the movement of troops and military equipment into South Vietnam?

When I said that there was no British commitment in South Vietnam, I was not talking about our obligations under Article 4 of the Manila Treaty.

Whether or not Britain would be required to give assistance under that Article would depend upon the situation at the time. Clearly, I cannot give a categorical assurance at the moment. On the other matter which the hon. Gentleman has raised, the United States has said that if the North Vietnamese will stop their campaign to destroy the Republic of Vietnam the steps which the United States is taking to assist the South Vietnamese in their defence efforts will no longer be necessary.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this country has serious commitments and responsibilities in South Vietnam, and is he aware that, although, no doubt, the interference of North Vietnam is contrary to all principles of co-existence and is a main cause of the crisis there, it is nevertheless the fact that the Americans are being provoked, it seems, beyond the brink of what is sensible in their aid to South Vietnam now, and will he urge on the Americans that they should not go beyond operational military training of troops at the most and should not in any circumstances take part in operations themselves as service men?

I think that the Americans are fully aware of what their responsibilities in that area are. They are there assisting at the moment by reason of a call which came from the South Vietnam Government. If the campaign which is being conducted by the North Vietnamese were to cease, the American intervention would no longer be required.

Is my hon. Friend aware that some of us think that the Americans are doing a great deal to help against very serious Communist penetration in South-East Asia in what they are doing in South Vietnam?

It is quite clear that what is taking place in South Vietnam now is a calculated Communist take-over bid.

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House what, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the oppressed and impoverished people of this country are to do while great Powers thousands of miles away play with their fortunes and their future for ideological considerations of their own?

As I have said, I cannot agree with the view frequently expressed in some quarters of the House that what is happening in South Vietnam is the action of an oppressed rebel minority. In fact, it is quite clearly directed and assisted from North Vietnam.

23.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of the participation of United States pilots and ground staff in military operations conducted by South Vietnam Government forces against South Vietnam guerrillas, he will, as co-chairman, reconvene the Geneva Conference on Vietnam and propose bringing the situation before the Security Council as a threat to peace.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that American armed intervention in Southern Vietnam, whatever may be the allegations concerning North Vietnam help or otherwise to Southern Vietnam, is contrary to the Charter and might involve us in war? Will not the hon. Gentleman at least give the same warning that Mr. Eden, as he then was, gave to Mr. Dulles over Dienbien-phu, that, if American military action in Vietnam results in war with China, we will dissociate ourselves from such a war and will refuse to be involved in it?

As I have said before, there is no agreement between the two co-Chairmen as to what is the cause of the conflict which is taking place in South Vietnam. In our view, the next step is for the International Control Commission to report to the co-Chairmen.

Non-Nuclear Countries

19.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what reply he has given to the official request of U Thant for information on the policy of the British Government towards the General Assembly resolution of 4th December, 1961, calling upon the non-nuclear countries to agree not to produce, acquire or station nuclear weapons on their territories.

21.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what reply has been sent by Her Majesty's Government to the letters from the Secretary-General of the United Nations asking Her Majesty's Government to state their response to the Swedish resolution, passed by the United Nations on 4th December, 1961, proposing that non-nuclear countries should not manufacture nuclear weapons or acquire them from the nuclear powers.

I am placing copies of the Secretary-General's letter and of Her Majesty's Government's reply to it in the Library.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this resolution for a non-nuclear club was passed by 58 votes to 10 with the support of four N.A.T.O. members, including Canada? Since the Soviet Union has indicated its readiness to sign a treaty preventing it from passing on nuclear weapons and nuclear "know-how" to its allies, including China, will the British Government seize the magnificent opportunity which this presents to prevent a further spread of nuclear weapons?

I have already explained Her Majesty's Government's attitude on this matter in reply to previous Questions. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman studies the reply, which he will find in the Library.

Does not Her Majesty's Government's insistence on retaining the British independent nuclear deterrent act as a serious obstacle to the creation of a non-nuclear club? Is it not clear that the United States Government are increasingly opposed to Her Majesty's defence policy, as was made clear recently in an article in the semi-official magazine "N.A.T.O.'s Fifteen Nations"?

Whatever is the American Government's attitude to this resolution and whatever is our reply to it, Britain's possession of the nuclear deterrent plays no part in it because it is related to countries which are not at present nuclear Powers. Therefore, I do not think that the question is relevant.

Why was the reply placed in the Library in the first place? Should not it have been published in HANSARD or as a White Paper so that the whole country could see what attitude the Government take? Is not this another case of the kind to which I referred a few minutes ago? If there are grave difficulties about reaching agreement on the major issues, we should do all we can to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh countries. Has the hon. Gentleman and the United States' Government considered what would be involved if countries such as Egypt, Israel, China or even Cuba get nuclear weapons?

First, I should have thought that the way in which we have circulated the reply was adequate. Secondly, Her Majesty's Government supported the Irish resolution, which was opposed to the dissemination of nuclear weapons to additional Powers. That seems to me to meet the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman. This is a matter to which my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary referred in his speech at Geneva only last week as one which we fully support.

Thailand

22.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what consultations he had, within the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation arrangements, with the United States Secretary of State before the joint statement of Mr. Dean Rusk and Mr. Thamat Khoman was issued affirming that the United States of America would come, if necessary, to the assistance of Siam even if there were no South-East Asia Treaty Organisation unanimity.

5.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what consultations took place between Her Majesty's Government and the United States authorities in the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation before the declaration by the United States Secretary of State that the United States of America would take immediate military action to assist the Thai Government to resist Communist aggression or subversion without consulting the cosignatories to that treaty.

There is constant consultation between South-East Asia Treaty Organisation members, but these discussions are confidential. The hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) has not represented the United States Secretary of State correctly.

Is not this treaty with Thailand one way whereby the United States can circumvent the unanimity provision of the South-East Asia Treaty? Will the hon. Gentleman assure us that, despite any bilateral pacts into which the United States may enter, we will stand by the unanimity provision in the S.E.A.T.O. Treaty?

Article 4 (1) of the Manila Treaty lays an obligation on each signatory, in certain circumstances, to take action in accordance with its constitutional processes. This is an individual as well as a collective responsibility. But if these circumstances should arise S.E.A.T.O. members would presumably act in concert.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the official text issued by the State Department of the assurance given by the United States Secretary of State to the Thailand Foreign Minister contains the following passage:

"The Secretary of State … expressed the firm intention of the United States to aid Thailand, its ally and historic friend, in resisting Communist aggression and subversion. … The Secretary of State reaffirmed that this obligation of the United States does not depend upon the prior agreement of all other parties to the treaty, since this treaty obligation is individual as well as collective."
Does not that mean exactly what my Question states, that the United States reserves to itself military action which might involve us in war without consulting us and without our agreement?

No, Sir. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the words in his Question, he will see that they are quite different from the words which he has just read out. As we see it, there is no conflict between the joint United States-Thailand communiqué and the provisions of the Manila Treaty. Her Majesty's Government welcome the statement and the bilateral discussions which led to it. They will help to strengthen the fabric of collective defence in South-East Asia.

Will my hon. Friend make it clear that this country's support of Thailand's opposition to Communism is no less strong than that of the United States?

While it is understandable, in view of events in Thailand and Laos, that the Thais should be worried about their security, and while I understand that this bilateral agreement has been welcomed by other countries in the area, including Australia, is it not a rather strange procedure that a bilateral agreement of this kind should be made on the main purpose of this Treaty without proper discussion and consultation with the members of the organisation?

If the hon. Gentleman reads what Mr. Rusk said, he will see that he did not say that there would be no consultation with other S.E.A.T.O. members. Nor did he say that the United States would take immediate military action to resist Communist subversion in Thailand, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus). He said that, in the event of Communist armed attack on Thailand, the United States' obligation to take action under the Manila Treaty does not depend on the prior agreement of other parties to the Treaty.

Foreign Policy In Second World War (Publication)

24.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the complete edition of the recent official publication, "British Foreign Policy in the Second World War" by Sir Llewellyn Woodward, will be available at the Foreign Office or other suitable premises for the use of authorised students of history.

Since the United States Government have published their documents, why should we allow the British case to go by default? If we can allow the publication of an abridged edition, why cannot students of history have access to all of the documents, like people in the United States? Is it not ridiculous to issue an abridged edition and then to deprive people of the opportunity to look at the proper edition?

The larger work was compiled for official purposes. One of the reasons why it is considered that it should not be made available to students is that the larger work contains references and quotations from Cabinet discussions which, by custom, are not made available to students until the documents are fifty years old.

Geneva Disarmament Conference

26.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the present state of the negotiations at the Geneva Disarmament Conference.

36.

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the position reached at the disarmament conference in Geneva.

Since my right honourable Friend the Lord Privy Seal answered a similar Question last Monday, there have been five plenary meetings of the conference, and also four informal meetings, besides meetings of a sub-committee consisting of the delegates of the United Kingdom, United States and the Soviet Union to discuss nuclear tests.

It has been agreed that the conference should pursue in plenary sessions its primary objective of reaching agreement on general and complete disarmament and for this purpose should consider the United States programme of September, 1961, and the Soviet draft treaty of 16th March, 1962, together with any other documents submitted. It has also been agreed that concurrently and without prejudice to this work, a committee of the whole shall consider various proposals of a more limited nature.

The sub-committee on nuclear tests has unfortunately made no progress, because of the Soviet refusal to consider any system based on international verification. That sub-committee is due to meet again today, possibly with the addition of representatives of other States.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether, in the light of the experience of the last ten days or fortnight, he feels that we are getting near a point at which urgent consideration should be given to Heads of Government attending the conference? Will he take it that both sides of the House would support him in an all-out effort to get a general agreement on disarmament? There is some reason for feeling that going all-out on the question of a test ban, which involves getting over the difficulties of the inspection hurdle for only a limited objective, may possibly not be the most rewarding line on which we should be pressing ahead. Will he give an assurance that the Government are making an all-out effort to get a general disarmament convention?

Yes. On the first part of the question, it would perhaps be most appropriate to await the answer which the Prime Minister will be giving tomorrow. On the second part of the question, I gladly give an assurance that we are doing all we possibly can both in the field of general and complete disarmament and in that of the narrower measures to which the right hon. Gentleman referred earlier this afternoon. We think that these two things can go ahead concurrently.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about the problem of nuclear tests. This is proving a real difficulty at the present time. But this surely need not impair our efforts in the general field where we are seeking in every possible way to find areas of agreement at least as a start.

Does the Minister's reference just now to narrower issues raised earlier this afternoon, including a nuclear-free zone and a non-nuclear club, mean that the Government have not closed their mind to these questions as part of what might be a very useful disarmament convention?

Those suggestions to which the right hon. Gentleman refers have been put forward and will undoubtedly come up for discussion. There are a number of other similar measures which I think have hopeful overtones in them. This is the way in which we are seeking to press forward.

What proposals, if any, are the British representatives making on the question of inspection and the gap between the Soviet and American positions about the scope of inspection? Are the British Government supporting the idea for splitting up the areas of inspection into zones, as has been suggested in some quarters?

We are very willing to look at this question of sampling inspection, which was put forward originally at the Pugwash Conference. I have discussed this with certain Russians at the Conference, and I am still hoping to get more of a glimmer of response than I have so far achieved. This is one of the avenues which we are exploring. We are exploring every avenue which will get over the difficulty of the inspection problem.

28.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will publish a White Paper containing the latest disarmament proposals of the United States and Soviet Governments and the official speech of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the Geneva Disarmament Conference.

A White Paper is in preparation covering the basic documents published before the conference met. In addition, I am placing in the Library copies of the speech delivered on 15th March by the United States Secretary of State, containing proposals for immediate action on disarmament, the draft treaty tabled by the Soviet Delegate on the same day and the speech of my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary on 20th March. These papers have also already been made widely available through the Press.

What is the difficulty about adding to the White Paper, which apparently is in preparation, the information asked for in the Question?

It is the practical difficulty that the White Paper is already in hand and that if one seeks to keep holding it up to add additional documents, it will take a considerable time. The question of a subsequent White Paper could well be considered, but I have tried to cover these points in the way in which I have indicated in my reply.

This point was raised in the defence debate about the publication of the daily transactions. Will the Minister consider this again? We welcome the White Paper. Will the Minister consider whether we could not have a daily statement in the Library at any rate of all the important transactions of the conference? They are given by member Governments to the Press. Could not hon. Members have that on a day-to-day basis with the authority of the Government?

The right hon. Gentleman presumably refers to the verbatim daily reports. There is a Question to arise in a moment about that, and I should like to wait for it.

At the end of Questions

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

30.

To ask the Lord Privy Seal what proposals were made by the British delegate concerning the publication of the verbatim record of the United Nations Disarmament Committee now meeting in Geneva; and what arrangements have been made.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of what the Minister said when we were dealing with Question No. 26, may I ask, through you, whether he will now be willing to answer Question No. 30?

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman was frustrated, but I am afraid Chat there is no mechanism whereby Question No. 30 can now be answered unless application is made to me.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since the Minister of State rather cut out obvious supplementary questions by saying, when dealing with Question No. 26, that this Question appeared later on the Order Paper, and as it then looked as if we should reach Question No. 30, would it not be in order for the Minister of State now to apply to you for permission to answer the Question?

It is not right to involve the Chair in those matters, although I am afraid that it is from time to time.

Might I have your permission, Mr. Speaker, to reply to Question No. 30, because I feel that I gave rather an indication that I would answer it and by so doing somewhat limited the discussion? The Reply to Question No. 30 is as follows:

It has been agreed at Geneva that the verbatim records of the Conference will be made available for public use as soon as they have been checked, unless otherwise decided. Checking will take about ten days.

I should like to express my gratitude to the Minister of State for his Answer and for all that he is doing about this matter. Might I put it to him that we had the Foreign Secretary's speech the next day in The Times, we had Mr. Dean Rusk's speech three days later from the Embassy and Mr. Gromyko's speech three days later from Soviet News, but we have not had Mr. Unden's speech or the speech of the Indian delegate or other very important speeches? Would it not be more satisfactory to get the secretariat to issue these speeches next day, as it could easily do if it so desired?

There is a difficulty here. At the start of the conference—I wild be quite frank with the House about this—no procedural arrangements were agreed on. Indeed, they could not have been. There were informal discussions in advance. We tried to get agreement on certain matters, and we got the best we could. That resulted in the present form. I would point out that 17 nations were concerned, and we could go only so far as we have gone in this regard. We shall seek to give the maximum information that we can and will try to circulate additional papers in the form I suggested, through the Library.

I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman, but will he consider whether the secretariat could not do for this vitally important committee what it does for the General Assembly, a much larger body, and get the record ready for the next day? Time is very important in this matter.

There is a distinction here. The Assembly is held in public, but these committee meetings are not, and it was agreed that delegations should have the opportunity to correct speeches before they were finalised for publication. That was the agreement which was reached, and on that I must rest.