HC Deb 21 February 1952 vol 496 cc426-7
47. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister what was the nature of the discussions he had with the Governments of the Commonwealth of Australia and the United States of America before announcing the preparations for an explosion of a British atomic weapon in Australia.

The Prime Minister

During the years 1950 and 1951 discussions proceeded on this subject between the late Government and the Governments of Australia and the United States of America. When Her Majesty's present Government assumed office at the end of October last, and learned for the first time what the position was, arrangements were made with Her Majesty's Government in Australia to carry out the test in that country.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of a statement made by the American State Department on 12th February, saying that Britain declined an American offer to make immediate use of United States bomb testing sites? Are we now going to carry out expensive experiments, involving large sums of money and material and labour, duplicating those that are now being made in the United States?

The Prime Minister

This is almost the only part we have had in these affairs—the present Government—we inherited from our predecessors a position which was very far advanced, but we undoubtedly think it better, in all the circumstances, that the discussions which had been proceeding under the late Government for having the test in Australia should be carried to a conclusion, and that is what has been arranged with the Australian Government.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at no time was there a firm offer by the United States Government to conduct British tests in atomic bomb warfare in the United States, and that all along, although we had discussions with them, we did contemplate that, if anything were to be done, it ought to be undertaken in Australia?

The Prime Minister

We are very glad to know that we have the support of the right hon. Gentleman in carrying out a policy of which the late Government had the responsibility and, as many will think, the credit.

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