HC Deb 07 April 1948 vol 449 cc143-5
13. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action is contemplated by His Majesty's Government as a result of the deadlock which has now occurred in the Atomic Energy Commission of the United Nations.

Mr. Bevin

As my hon. Friend will have seen in the Press, the Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission, which has been engaged since the beginning of the year in a further study of the proposals put forward by the Soviet representative in June last, has completed its task. The Committee has since been considering a statement in the name of the United Kingdom, Canadian, Chinese and French representatives, fully supported by the United States representative, to the effect that the Soviet proposals do not form an adequate basis for an effective system of international control of atomic energy activities, and has now adopted by nine votes to two a resolution in this sense.

The Committee's report on this matter, together with the report of another Committee which has been considering problems of the organisation and staffing of an international Atomic Energy Authority, will shortly come before the Atomic Energy Commission itself. In the meantime it would be premature to make a statement of the views of His Majesty's Government as to the future course which the Commission should pursue.

Mr. Blackburn

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that two and a half years have now elapsed, during which individual member States have proceeded with the development of weapons of mass destruction, including the atomic bomb? Therefore, will His Majesty's Government reconsider this matter, in order that a proper sense of urgency may be given to it?

Mr. Bevin

I do not think we need to reconsider it in order that a proper sense of urgency may be given to it. We have been considering it the whole time. It is of no use to enter into these arrangements, if we are to have international control and inspection, unless the whole world is open freely to that inspection.

Commander Noble

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that when these reports, to which he has referred, are known he will make a further statement?

Mr. Bevin

I should like to consider that.

Mr. Blackburn

While entirely accepting the Foreign Secretary's answer, may I ask him whether he is aware that an increasing number of people feel that these matters cannot be dealt with except at the highest possible level—by the heads of the Governments concerned?

Mr. Bevin

I do not accept that view. It is the heads of Governments in their Cabinet capacity who give instructions, and it must not be assumed that officials and other people who make statements invent them themselves. If there is an international meeting or conference on any matters of this kind the people who attend them are the mouthpieces of the Governments of their countries. The mere meeting of heads does not make any difference.

Mr. Harrison

Will my right hon. Friend continue to do what he has always done up to now—curb the warmongers that exist in this country of ours?

Hon. Members

Who are they?

Mr. Beswick

While I agree with my right hon. Friend's answer to the previous supplementary question, may I ask if he does not also agree that on this Commission the negative—or inspection—side has been emphasised throughout at the expense of the positive international development side which was put forward in the first proposals of David Lilienthal? Does he not feel that there is good ground for getting together at the highest level to consider the positive aspect of the original proposals?

Mr. Bevin

We have been together on the highest level. We have discussed it. We have exchanged views about it. I cannot make other people move. I would remind the House that the first, the initial step towards getting atomic energy control was taken by the Prime Minister of this country, who went to America and got this machine moving. I can assure hon. Members that it is a great disappointment to us that it has not been more successful on both sides.