§ 35. Mr. Wyatt
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now take the initiative with the Governments concerned to suggest that the Treaty for the European Defence Community should be re-negotiated and that Britain should join the European Defence Community, provided a suitable method of identifying Britain with the European Defence Community can be found.
§ 57. Mr. Ian Harvey
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is now proposed that Britain should join the European Defence Community.
§ Mr. Eden
No, Sir. The six Governments concerned are well aware of the reasons which preclude this country from becoming a member of the European Defence Community. I am, however, glad to have this opportunity to reaffirm that Her Majesty's Government regard the early entry into force of the European Defence Treaty, signed last May, as an essential factor in strengthening the European defence effort through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
In addition to their contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Her Majesty's Government have further demonstrated their practical support of the European Defence Community by signing a Treaty of Mutual Assistance with its members, by subscribing to the Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty and in the Tripartite Declaration of May last year.
It is also their intention to arrange for the closest possible political liaison with the institutions of the European Defence Community and military association with the European defence forces.
§ Mr. Wyatt
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that unless the British do now join E.D.C. it is highly unlikely that the French will ratify the agreement and the whole scheme for a European army will collapse? Even Lord Montgomery now says there is no possible military objection to the British joining this scheme, and the whole of Europe is waiting for us to give a lead in this matter. Is he aware that if we do not the scheme will collapse and that we shall have a 1004 German national army formed in a few years' time with no possible hope of controlling it within the framework of the European army?
§ Mr. Eden
We do want this scheme to succeed. I do not share the views of the hon. Gentleman. I think it is still possible that it will be ratified by France and Germany. But it would be wrong for the House to suggest that it would go into the European Defence Community as at present constituted, unless at the same time we accept the object of its endeavour which is political federation in Europe. Unless this House is willing to join in political federation—which I believe it is not—we should be quite wrong to lead anybody to have false hopes in this matter.
§ Mr. Shinwell
While appreciating the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman and Her Majesty's Government on this matter of associating the United Kingdom with the European Defence Community, is the right hon. Gentleman not now aware of the position taken up by the French Government in a statement recently made by M. Rene Mayer on this subject? Is it not becoming increasingly obvious that the French Government have no intention of associating themselves directly with E.D.C. until the United Kingdom decides to associate itself with E.D.C., and in view of the delay—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] This is a most important matter. In view of the delay we have experienced, will the right hon. Gentleman do two things: one, place a time limit so that we should know before very long what the situation is; and, two, if there is no progress made in this direction, will he review the whole position?
§ Mr. Eden
It is only fair to recall that the conception of E.D.C., as the right hon. Gentleman will remember, was entirely the French Government's own proposal. There was never at that time a condition that Her Majesty's Government should belong to it, nor is there, so far as I am aware, any such condition now. If there were such a condition I do not think that it would be just or reasonable to tell Her Majesty's Government that she must acquiesce in certain arrangements when in fact we have, so far, apart from joining E.D.C., undertaken all the obligations which our Western Allies have asked us to shoulder.
§ Captain Duncan
Does not my right hon. Friend welcome the news on the tape that the French Cabinet have decided to proceed with this matter at once?
§ Mr. Wyatt
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that M. Mayer and other leaders of French opinion have made it perfectly clear that if Britain will signify her willingness to join, they will be quite happy to re-negotiate the Treaty in such a way as to remove British objections to the federal element?
§ Mr. Eden
No, Sir, the statements I have seen are not that. They are that the French Government require certain additional protocols to the existing arrangements. I have not seen the suggestion that either a part or the whole arrangement should be re-negotiated. If that were suggested, obviously there would be other considerations, including Germany's position, to be taken into account, and I should deplore that.