Oral Answers to Questions — Technical Conference on Measures Against Surprise Attack

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1959.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton 12:00 am, 20th July 1959

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which of the issues formerly before the Technical Conference on Measures against Surprise Attack are not included in the discussions at Geneva between the Foreign Ministers; and, in view of the fact that the Technical Conference is not to be reconvened, what machinery is being devised to deal with these issues.

Photo of Mr William Ormsby-Gore Mr William Ormsby-Gore , Oswestry

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is asking me to compare a technical conference with a political one. As he will have seen from the Western Peace Plan tabled at Geneva on 14th May, measures of inspection and observation against surprise attack were proposed in Stage II of the plan. This was done in the context of comprehensive and inter-related proposals covering political settlements and general security measures in Europe. If the Soviet Union would agree to discuss the Western proposals as a whole, no doubt those matters concerning measures against surprise attack on which no decisions were reached at the purely technical conference last autumn would all have to be considered.

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

Is it not the fact that the report of the Technical Conference presented to the United Nations several months ago contained a unanimous and strong recommendation that discussion of this problem should be resumed as early as possible? Can we take it that Her Majesty's Government would be prepared to agree to a resumption of an examination of this problem by this Technical Conference?

Photo of Mr William Ormsby-Gore Mr William Ormsby-Gore , Oswestry

I do not think it would be much use reconvening the Conference unless we had some agreement on the terms of reference because, after several weeks of negotiation last time, it was quite clear that the Soviet Union was basing its negotiations on an entirely different conception of the terms of reference. Therefore, I do not think that much progress would be made by reconvening this Conference at the moment, but we feel the need to discuss this matter when a suitable forum can be found.