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Oral Answers to Questions — North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Meeting)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th November 1957.

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Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton 12:00 am, 27th November 1957

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the latest developments in the field of intercontinental and medium range ballistic missiles, he will lay before the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Conference in December plans to wind up the rival military alliances and replace them by an all-European treaty based on the Charter, within which Germany could be re-unified, armaments controlled and Anglo-American and Soviet forces withdrawn from the Continent.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

is it not a fact that the development of ballistic missiles by the Soviet Union has made the land forces and bomber bases of N.A.T.O. an out-of-date and useless anachronism? Is is not a further fact that the more we pile up nuclear weapons on both sides the greater is the danger of war? Would not a settlement on the lines proposed in the Question make us all safer? It is in substance that advocated by the Opposition and by responsible American opinion as expressed by such people as George F. Kennan and Walter Lippmann, and as it is close enough to the proposals of the Soviet Union, would it not be worth while attempting to reach agreement by negotiation?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I disagree with almost everything the hon. Member has said. I think the way to preserve the peace is to maintain our alliances and not to wind them up. I think the way to achieve the reunification of Germany is to seek to keep the Soviet Union to their word given in the high-level talks in 1955. As for the question of armaments, I think we should press on with the proposals which were endorsed by 57 countries of the United Nations.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Leaving aside for a moment the question of treaties and alliances, does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman think the time has come for a new diplomatic initiative to be taken? Are we to drift along towards what may be irretrievable disaster? Is no new diplomatic initiative contemplated by the Government?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I think the question of the timing of any new initiative is one which must rest with the Government, and I should not have thought the present moment was one for putting forward the suggestion on the lines of the hon. Member, which is almost identical with the suggestion of the Soviet Union, and which do not think would lead to security or peace.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say why the time is not opportune for taking a diplomatic initiative? Are we now to wait until we have some new technical achievement to set against the Sputniks? Are we to go on having this ridiculous race, each trying to get his nose ahead of the other? At what point will it be timely to take a new diplomatic initiative?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

The right hon. Gentleman has not followed my supplementary answer. I said I did not think it was time to take a diplomatic initiative on the lines suggested by the hon. Member because I did not think it would lead to peace. I think one of the essences of this matter is some agreement with regard to disarmament. We have put forward certain proposals for a partial agreement, which have been endorsed by 57 countries. I should have thought that the Opposition would have at least given some support to that position, because I think if we can get a partial agreement on those lines we shall have done something to produce an atmosphere in which further negotiations may be appropriate.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I apologise for following this up, but it is a very, very serious matter indeed. We on this side of the House have said on more than one occasion—in a recent debate we said it again—that in our opinion a political settlement should be pursued independently of discussions about disarmament. While I do not dissent from some of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said, may I ask him why should we have to wait for agreement about disarmament before putting forward proposals about a political settlement, because it seems to us that both can be pursued separately, one from the other?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I do not contest that position. What I think does not help is this: immediately we have put forward a serious proposition and the Soviet says "No," at once pressure is put on us to put forward something new and to abandon the position we have taken up. As to the German question, I made a speech at the United Nations in which I set down certain conditions in which, we believe, there might be a settlement of the German question. Just because the Soviet Union says "No", I do not think it right or that it adds to security for us at once to abandon our position.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the announcements of the Polish. Czechoslovak and East German Governments that they will not introduce nuclear weapons into their forces or allow the stationing of nuclear bases on their territory, unless such weapons and bases were established in West Germany, he will propose to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Conference in December that no nuclear bases should be stationed on German territory and the prohibition against German forces possessing nuclear weapons should be maintained.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

The answer to the first part of the Question is, "No, Sir." The answer to the second part is that there is no such prohibition.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

Is it not a fact that Germany was admitted to N.A.T.O. on condition that she did not manufacture or possess nuclear weapons? Is it not further the fact that the Polish, Czechoslovak and East German Governments have offered not to have nuclear weapons on their territories if we refrain from introducing them into Germany? Cannot the right hon. and learned Gentleman see that we shall all be much worse off if there are more nuclear weapons closer to each other on both sides than if we follow the course suggested in the Question? Does the Foreign Secretary really believe that by this means he can ever accumulate enough military power in the West to induce the Soviet Union to accept the inclusion of Germany in N.A.T.O.? Does he not see that this is a hopeless policy and should be abandoned?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I do not agree with a great deal of what the hon. Member has said. I still believe in the power of the deterrent. I think that the deterrent has prevented war in the last ten years, and the fact that it is a deterrent to both sides does not affect us, because we have no intention of committing an act of aggression. [HON. MEMBERS: "Suez."] As to the question of its prohibition to German forces, the hon. Member introduced the word "manufacture" in his supplementary question, which is not, of course, in the original Question. I quite agree with the hon. Member that, under the Paris Agreements, Germany is forbidden to manufacture nuclear weapons. She is not forbidden to possess them in any circumstances. It is not forbidden for any countries of W.E.U. to possess them.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what proposals he has received from the United States Government for the inclusion on the agenda of the forthcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Conference of proposals to establish a high degree of military unity under United States command, even without agreement on foreign policy; and if he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will insist that commitments to go to war must be related to policies jointly controlled and consistent with the restrictions on the use of force imposed by the Charter of the United Nations.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

None, Sir. As far as the second part of the Question is concerned, I have nothing to add to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) on 28th June, 1955. The same point was made by the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew), then Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the hon. Member on 4th May. 1949.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

Without delving so far into the past, may I ask whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman can give an assurance that we will not be committed by the United States to go to war, except in so far as we agree on foreign policy, because otherwise we shall be shot into a war without having any say in the matter?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

The circumstances in which this country would go to war must be a matter of decision by Her Majesty's Government.