Oral Answers to Questions — Disarmament

– 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 to what extent the disarmament proposals contained in the recent White Paper relating to the Proceedings of the Foreign Ministers' Conference at Geneva constitute the disarmament policy of Her Majesty's Government; and whether he will make a statement on the present policy of the Government with regard to general disarmament.

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

As I told the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) on 24th June, the Western peace plan, which is set out in Command Paper 797, includes the proposal that the four Powers should in an appropriate forum, initiate discussion of possible staged and controlled comprehensive disarmament measures. I should like to take this opportunity to say that Her Majesty's Government's ultimate aim is to obtain a balanced comprehensive agreement under effective international control. No one would overrate the prospects of attaining this objective in the near future, but we hope to pursue disarmament negotiations to this end. We regard the present conference at Geneva on the discontinuance of nuclear tests as a most important starting point on the road to our final objective but we consider there is an urgent need for an effective forum in which to discuss wider measures of disarmament.

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

In view of the fact that Her Majesty's Government during the past five or six years have put forward various sets of proposals, may I ask the Minister of State whether he will be more specific? Can we take it that Her Majesty's Government now base their policy on the proposals that they put forward in the Anglo-French Plan of 1954–55?

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

No, Sir. Our most recent proposals were put forward in 1957 and, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, they received the overwhelming support of the United Nations. What exact proposals we would put forward when a suitable forum can be found to discuss disarmament I am not in a position to state at the moment.

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

Does that reply mean that Her Majesty's Government have thrown over the proposals which they set out in the Anglo-French Plan of 1954–55?

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

I do not think that we have thrown them over but we have substituted for them proposals which we thought would be more likely to be acceptable to the Soviet Union. They did not prove to be so, and if a new disarmament forum can be set up no doubt we will come forward with some new proposals.