HC Deb 06 April 1955 vol 539 cc1166-7
42. Mr. Usborne

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will negotiate with other countries with a view Lo defining the areas where thermonuclear explosives may, or may not, be tested.

Mr. Nutting

Besides ourselves there are only two other countries at present concerned with thermo-nuclear explosions, the U.S.S.R. and the United States. Up to now, the U.S.S.R. has conducted all its tests within its own territories. After their last tests in the Pacific the United States representative in the United Nations said that the United States authorities were doing everything possible to prevent any recurrence of possible danger. In these circumstances I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by negotiations on this subject.

Mr. Usborne

Is the Minister of State aware that Sir William Penney was reported the other day as having said that 150,000 tons of water could be lifted by an atom bomb if it were exploded under water? Presumably a hydrogen bomb would raise very much more than that.

It is now apparently legal for a nation to explode such a bomb in the North Sea. Is it not, therefore, very important that some international arrangement should be reached to decide where bombs may be so exploded, if they have to be exploded? Would it not be even better if an agreement could be reached not to explode them at all?

Mr. Nutting

The question whether to explode them or not is not the Question upon the Order Paper. That was gone into very carefully at Question Time the other day, and also in the debate which took place upon the following day. As to where these explosions should take place, I can assure the hon. Member that they will not take place in the North Sea. I am satisfied, from the evidence available in relation to explosions that have taken place. that maximum precautions are taken by countries to ensure that the minimum of danger is caused.

Mr. M. Stewart

The Minister gave us an assurance that these explosions will not take place in the North Sea. Has he received assurances from the Soviet Government to that effect?

Mr. Nutting

I was, of course, speaking for, and indeed am only answerable for, Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom.