§ 2.45 p.m.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware that NATO representatives are alleged to be delaying serious negotiations in Stockholm by refusing to discuss any proposals other than those submitted by them which exclude consideration of naval and air forces and confine discussion to ground forces and ground-launched weapon systems; and whether they will seek to remove any such barriers to a free exchange of views.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)
My Lords, the mandate for the Stockholm Conference was adopted by consensus at the Madrid CSCE review meeting in 1983. It includes a provision that only those air and sea activities which form part of a notifiable land activity will be subject to measures to be agreed at Stockholm.
We and our allies have made it clear that we are prepared to consider any proposals which conform to the conference mandate. Moreover, Western and neutral participants have taken the lead in making procedural proposals to move the conference towards detailed negotiations. These are now under discussion.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, is it not the case that the difficulty in the matter is that the conference is not making the progress which was expected, due to the mutual decision by each side not to discuss the proposals put forward by the other side? Would not progress be made if NATO representatives were to agree to discuss one Warsaw Pact proposal in return 6 for the Warsaw Pact countries agreeing to discuss one NATO proposal?
§ Baroness Young
My Lords, we should like to make progress at this conference, and the United Kingdom and the NATO powers have made proposals which are designed to reduce tension and the danger of surprise attack through increased openness about normal patterns of military behaviour. The Soviet Union proposals, which were formally tabled on 8th May, include a treaty on the no first use of force, a declaration on the no first use of nuclear weapons, a reduction in military budgets, a ban on chemical weapons in Europe, nuclear weapon-free zones, and some suggestions for building on measures in the Helsinki Final Act.
However, we believe that the measures that we have proposed are designed to reduce tension and the danger of surprise attack, and that this is the first step in this conference.