Oral Answers to Questions — MR. Bulganin (Letter)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton 12:00 am, 17th December 1957

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the official letter received from the Soviet Prime Minister on 11th December.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I have been asked to reply.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware that similar letters have been sent to the Heads of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Governments. Many of the issues raised are of common interest. Consultation with these Governments is clearly desirable.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton

May the House take it that the speech of the Prime Minister in Paris yesterday is a definite indication that Her Majesty's Government wish to enter into direct conversations in reply to the proposals made by Marshal Bulganin?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I think that hon. Members must take the Prime Minister's speech as it was delivered. He said this: I would make no concession to our safety, yet I would go to any length in discussion, debate or argument which would prove our sincerity. That, I think, represents the view of my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

While I appreciate the difficulty of sending a final reply to this sort of letter, surely we should not now be taken by surprise every time the Russians sent us a letter of this sort. Should we not be able to make some comment upon it or give some answer to it, without always this endless delay which seems to show that we are thrown on the defensive by these letters every time?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman at all. There was a series of correspondence with the Russian leaders some months ago. Lengthy answers were sent by my right hon. Friend, which seemed to me to be conclusive in their argument and to be very effective replies to the letters sent to us. On this occasion, immediately before the N.A.T.O. gathering, certain communications, varying in form, were received by a variety of Governments from the head of the Russian Government. I think that it is quite natural, when one is meeting one's friends, that one should discuss the correspondence which was sent to them.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton

asked the Prime Minister whether he has now received a further communication from the Soviet Prime Minister proposing a treaty of friendship and peaceful co-existence between the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I have been asked to reply. I am not sure to what proposal the right hon. and learned Gentleman is referring. The letter of 11th December from Mr. Bulganin received by my right hon. Friend did not propose the conclusion of an Anglo-Soviet treaty of friendship. However, a suggestion was recently made at the United Nations by the Soviet Deputy-Foreign Minister for the conclusion of such a treaty between the United States and Soviet Governments.