HC Deb 21 August 1945 vol 413 cc441-4
47. Mr. Quintin Hogg

asked the Prime Minister whether any international discussions have been undertaken to limit the manufacture and control the use of the atomic bomb.

49. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Prime Minister which Governments know the secrets of the manufacture of the atomic bomb.

52. Mr. Sydney Silverman

asked the Prime Minister whether full information as to the manufacture and use of atomic bombs has been, or will be, given to the U.S.S.R. and China; and whether those powers now in possession of these secrets have given undertakings not to use these weapons except under the authority and by the direction of the United Nations.

53. Mr. Warbey

asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government will take the initiative in consultation with the Governments of the U.S.A., the Soviet Union, France and China, in calling an international conference to discuss methods of ensuring effective international control of atomic power, and of the materials and processes associated with its production and use.

58. Mr. Cocks

asked the Prime Minister in view of the calculation by experts that the development of atomic energy for industrial purposes can be achieved in 10 years, whether the Anglo-American organisation which produced the atomic bomb will now be given the task of developing atomic energy for civil and industrial purposes; whether conversations with the U.S.A. Government on the subject are contemplated; and whether, in any case, he can give an assurance that research and development in this direction will not be hampered through lack of financial support.

59. Mr. James Hudson

asked the Prime Minister whether the Government proposes to take any initiative through the United Nations for a mutual agreement to dismantle forthwith industrial plants which have been created for the manufacture and development of atomic bombs; to declare public property, under international control, all stocks and deposits of uranium and other essential components; and not in future to make, use, or to allow to be made, this instrument of human slaughter.

The Prime Minister

The many questions involved in the future of atomic energy, including that of the international handling of the subject and its possible development for industrial purposes, are, of course, already engaging the attention of His Majesty's Government. In my statement published on 13th August, I declared the intention of His Majesty's Government to devote all their efforts to making the new discovery serve the purpose of world peace and to co-operate with others to that end.

In order to assist them in dealing with the many far-reaching questions raised by this new discovery, both as regards its international treatment and its further development in this country, whether for industrial or military purposes, His Majesty s Government have decided to appoint an Advisory Committee. I am happy to say that my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Anderson) has agreed to accept the chairmanship of this Committee. The other members will be as follow:

  • Sir Alexander Cadogan, Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office.
  • Field-Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
  • Sir Alan Barlow, Second Secretary, Treasury.
  • Sir Edward Appleton, Secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
  • Sir Henry Dale, the President of the Royal Society.
  • Professor P. M. S. Blackett.
  • Sir James Chadwick. Sir George Thomson.

Mr. Churchill

This, of course, is on the purely technical side?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. S. Silverman

Has my right hon. Friend in mind the statements that are being made that the United States of America proposes to retain exclusive possession of this secret; and does he realise that the exclusive knowledge and use in the sole discretion of one Power of overwhelming destructive powers of this kind would make nonsense of the whole conception of collective security?

Mr. J. Hudson

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the appointment of the Committee which he has promised will take away from us the opportunity to press for urgent action by the Government in response to the Leader of the Opposition's suggestion that the secret should be locked up with the Americans—a very dangerous suggestion, may I add?

The Prime Minister

The appointment of an Advisory Committee, obviously, puts no bar on Members asking any ques- tions on this subject that they choose, but it is quite clear that, on this very far-reaching weapon, we obviously have to discuss it with our Allies and I would prefer not to make any statement.

Mr. Churchill

May I make it quite clear and ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will make it quite clear that this Committee deals with the technical aspects of the progress of the study of the atomic bomb and other cognate matters and is not concerned with the main policy to be adopted by this or other countries?

The Prime Minister

The policy, of course, has to be decided by the Government, but this Committee will advise us both with regard to the scientific progress and the possibilities and the general background of the whole subject.