HC Deb 14 March 1955 vol 538 cc935-7
28. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what further steps are being taken to arrange for the exchange of information on thermo-nuclear weapons between this country and the United States of America.

Mr. Nutting

The exchange of information on atomic energy generally between the United States and other countries is governed by the United States Atomic Energy Act of 1954,which gives the United States Government discretion to conclude bilateral agreements in cases which they consider suitable. We are in contact with the United States Government about the possibility of concluding such an agreement.

Mr. Grimond

May we take it that the Government are pressing very strongly on the United States the need for such an agreement? Are they making it clear that at the moment the lack of co-operation over thermo-nuclear and all other forms of weapons in the armament programme is regarded in this country as most unsatisfactory?

Mr. Nutting

We are doing our best to get an agreement about the exchange of information within the limits imposed on the United States by their own legislation.

Mr. Callaghan

Will the Government press for such agreement to include the effects of the use of these weapons so that we can have proper information and get properly assessed what are the consequences of using these weapons upon civilian populations? Then we can perhaps establish the truth or otherwise of some of the very alarming stories which are now being put about.

Mr. Nutting

Separate studies are being conducted on both sides of the Atlantic on this problem. I do not think that would be a very suitable subject for inclusion in an agreement about the exchange of information.

Major Legge-Bourke

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that the idea of the Eisenhower pool plan for peaceful uses of atomic energy makes very little sense if our American allies are not prepared to trust us in exchanging information on war uses, too?

Mr. Nutting

I do not agree with my hon. and gallant Friend's premise, because the Government have always regarded President Eisenhower's initiative on the peaceful uses of atomic energy as yet another genuine effort to try to get at the problem of controlling this vast and devastating new force for the progress of mankind and not for its destruction.

Mr. Beswick

Reverting to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), would the Minister say why he considers that it would not be suitable to have an agreement for the exchange of information about the effects of radioactivity on the human being?

Mr. Nutting

Because, as I informed the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan),separate studies are being conducted on the effects of these weapons and on the effects of the tests, and I do not think it would assist those studies if we were to include similar studies in the negotiation of an agreement about the exchange of information.