What I said at Chatham and Devonport is exactly what I have said in this House in successive defence and foreign affairs debates. I hope that in approaching this question the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not be expressing disagreement with the views forcibly put forward from all parts of the House in the late Parliament, and I am sure in this one, in favour of the need for an early comprehensive multilateral nuclear disarmament agreement?
This was a problem which took some deciding. He is in the Foreign Office because all our international negotiations, as right hon. Gentlemen opposite know from experience, take place either under Foreign Office auspices directly with other countries, or under the ægis of the United Nations under the Geneva Committee of 18, and therefore it was thought appropriate that his work should be properly fitted in with any other initiatives the Foreign Office might be taking. I agree about the importance of my right hon. Friend having the very closest link with the Ministry of Defence. This is being done. He is having the fullest consultation with my right hon. Friend, and of course the defence staff, in preparation for any work that he undertakes, and it has been announced that he will have advising him the scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Solly Zuckerman, who was very fully used for this purpose by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, even if some of them do not seem to realise it.
Answers in this House will be the responsibility of Foreign Office Ministers. As regards Socialist policy for disarmament, a very full and detailed list of proposals was sent to the right hon. Gentleman as Foreign Secretary, I think on 10th January last, but we never had any reactions to them, or action taken on them.
The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that a full statement was made by me at Geneva when I was Foreign Secretary on the positive proposals for disarmament put forward by the late Government. We studied with interest the proposals made by the party opposite when it was in Opposition. What we want now is to hear what their constructive proposals are, and the sooner the better.
The comparison of the statement which we sent in and the rather miserable package which emerged in the Geneva statement was, I think, a very notable contrast. We intend to start from the statement which was sent to him, to improve on it, and to take any opportunities which present themselves to us to produce new initiatives in this field.
What the Prime Minister calls a miserable package was a programme of disarmament agreed with the United States and put forward jointly at Geneva. I hope he will not describe it in that way when he has studied the disarmament situation. I am just renewing my request for a foreign affairs debate, in which, no doubt, this issue will feature, between now and Christmas.
The right hon. Gentleman is right to relate this to the general foreign affairs situation, and indeed to the general defence situation. As he knows, we welcome the suggestion that after our return from Washington and before Christmas there should be a debate to go into these questions.