HC Deb 15 June 1955 vol 542 cc591-2
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I should like to make a statement on the Agreements between Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government which have been signed in Washington today, first, for co-operation on the civil uses of atomic energy, and secondly, for cooperation regarding atomic information for mutual defence purposes.

These Agreements are required by an Act of the United States Legislature passed in 1954 to lie before Congress for a period of 30 working days. They should, therefore, come into force about one month hence.

The United States Act made provision for co-operation with regard to atomic energy between the United States and other countries, subject to the conclusion of bilateral agreements between the United States and such countries. I am confident that the House will welcome the fact of Her Majesty's Government having become a party to such agreements, thus establishing a basis for cooperation with the United States Government on matters relating both to the economic and defence uses of atomic energy.

The text of the two Agreements will be published in the next few days and laid before Parliament as White Papers.

Mr. H. Morrison

The House will be glad to have the information which has been given by the Foreign Secretary, and in principle we welcome it. Naturally, we must defer final judgment until we see the details which are to be available to hon. Members, but it is desirable that there should be this exchange of information for which the Government have pressed and for which, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Labour Government pressed as well but were prevented by legislation which then existed. In principle, we welcome the statement, and we hope that when we have examined the details they will prove to be useful and satisfactory.

Mr. Bellenger

Is the House to understand that atomic energy information includes information about nuclear energy, if that is the correct expression? The right hon. Gentleman will know that many of the weapons of defence or offence now seem to be more nuclear than atomic, as far as we lay people can understand.

Mr. Macmillan

This terminology, as the right hon. Gentleman says, is somewhat obscure, and perhaps it would be best to wait for the text of the Agreements which will be laid in a few days' time.