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Foreign Affairs

Part of Orders of the Day — Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st July 1961.

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Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley 12:00 am, 31st July 1961

I understand that M. Spaak, the Foreign Minister, has been co-operating fully with the United Nations in this matter and that a great deal has been done.

I will now turn to what the House may regard as the major problem facing us today prior to the recess of Parliament, that is the crisis aver Berlin. This has arisen in its present acute form since our last debate. I think it necessary again to say that it is a crisis which has been created by the Soviet Union. West Berlin is a free city. Its people are free and its institutions have been freely chosen by them. There has been peace and quiet there for the last twelve years and so from that point of view there is no problem. But even though we see no problem, it is of course perfectly legitimate for the fourth Power involved, the Soviet Union, to raise these matters with us if it wishes to do so.

There have been negotiations about Germany and about Berlin in the past and there could be negotiations again in the future. The three Western Powers have made this perfectly plain and Dr. Adenauer has only recently expressed his agreement with it. What is not legitimate, I suggest to the House, is for Mr. Khrushchev to put forward proposals and then to say that if he does not get what he wants, he will sign a separate peace treaty which will unilaterally bring to an end the rights of the other Powers in Berlin. That is not legitimate and that we cannot, and will not, accept.

These rights in Berlin are a part—only a part, but an essential part—of the rights which we assumed in Germany as a whole at the end of the war. They are sovereign and absolute rights resulting from the German surrender, and not granted by the Soviet Union. Since then we have done nothing to erase or to erode those rights. Nothing that the Soviet Union has done or may do can destroy them either. We and our Allies retain, with the Soviet Union, the right and the responsibility to conclude a peace treaty with Germany as a whole.

It is perfectly true that we cannot prevent the signature of a separate peace treaty with East Germany. But on the other hand neither can our rights in Berlin be affected by the signature of a peace treaty of that kind which has been made unilaterally.