HC Deb 16 July 1956 vol 556 cc837-8
20. Mr. Pitman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the terms of the agreement under which guided missiles of the United States Government will have the right of innocent passage through the territorial air of British Commonwealth Territories in the West Indies; and what degree of certainty there is that all such passages will be innocent and their fall harmless.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

There are four separate Agreements embodying the terms under which the United States Government may operate the Long Range Proving Ground for Guided Missiles over. British territories in this area. Two Agreements, signed in 1950 and 1952, respectively, have already been published as Command 8109 and Command 8485, and the other two, which were signed on 25th June, 1956, will be published very shortly. The course of the missiles is carefully observed throughout their whole flight and, in the event of any deviation which could endanger life or property, the United States authorities destroy the missile in mid-air.

Mr. Pitman

If they are innocent passages, is there any reason to discriminate between such a missile going over any part of the British Commonwealth? Should we make a corresponding agreement with, say, France to send them from France over Britain? Is it really feasible to stop such missiles? Is it not very similar to the passage of an aircraft carrier three miles out to sea?

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I find it difficult to answer those questions without notice. Of course, it is not necessary for the missiles to go over any territory. What has been negotiated with some other nations are tracking stations to guide and track the missile.