HC Deb 17 November 1953 vol 520 cc1570-2
46. Mr. Edelman

asked the Prime Minister if he will consider reviving the proposals put forward by the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission in 1948 as a basis for discussion on the international control of weapons of mass destruction.

47. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government have considered to what extent recent developments have rendered inapplicable the proposals for the abolition of atomic weapons and for the international operation and control of atomic energy plants, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation in 1948; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Edelman

Having been invited by the Prime Minister to put down Question No. 46 to him, I welcome the fact that he has deputed the reply to his specialist.

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)

I have been asked to reply.

Her Majesty's Government continue to support the proposals for the international control of atomic weapons which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 until others at least as effective can be devised. But as the House knows, the Soviet Union have not been willing to give serious consideration to these or to other proposals for disarmamentsupported by overwhelming majority of the United Nations. Until they are, there is of course no prospect of any of these proposals being put into effect. Her Majesty's Government are, however, always ready to discuss in the Disarmament Commission any constructive proposals which have been put forward, or may be put forward in the future.

Mr. Edelman

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask whether he will bear in mind that since 1948 a new Soviet regime has come into power which apparently has at any rate a renewed interest in the control of weapons of mass destruction? Will he, therefore, consider bringing the 1948 proposals up to date and putting them forward again as a new and concrete basis for discussion?

Mr. Eden

I should not like to pledge myself to the course which the hon. Member suggests in the second part of his question, but he may have noticed that in the last few days Her Majesty's Government have asked that the Disarmament Commission should be called together again for further discussion, and this seems to me just the kind of topic that could well and usefully be discussed.

Mr. Noel-Baker

While agreeing that the Government are right to stick to the proposals of 1948 until somebody suggests something better, might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the fact that the scheme of 1948 was drawn up by some of the greatest experts in the world after hundreds of meetings and extremely careful work, there ought not now to be the same kind of study in the United Nations by the same kind of experts?

Mr. Eden

I do not exclude that, but I think that a start might well be made on the basis of our recent suggestion that the Disarmament Commission might study this matter with others.

Mr. Beswick

Is the right hon. Gentleman not exaggerating a little when he says that the Soviet Union did not give serious consideration to proposals put forward by Mr. Baruch? Is it not a fact that concessions were made over succeeding years which brought the point of difference to a very narrow one indeed? Is it not very desirable to look at the whole of this matter again?

Mr. Eden

On my own responsibility I chose the words myself. I think that they express the Soviet attitude to all disarmament matters in recent times.