HC Deb 20 June 1956 vol 554 cc1403-5
7. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, following the publication of the White Paper on the Hazards to Man of Nuclear and other Radiations, Her Majesty's Government would be willing to enter into separate discussions now with the Governments of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to secure the limitation and control of nuclear explosions without waiting for the conclusion of a comprehensive disarmament agreement.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have nothing to add to the reply given yesterday by the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler).

Mr. Henderson

Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister's reply did not touch upon the suggestion contained in the Question? Did not the Prime Minister merely indicate that steps would be taken to discuss the proposal in the Anglo-French Memorandum for limiting tests at the forthcoming discussions? What I am asking the Foreign Secretary is whether he will be prepared to discuss a special agreement to limit tests, in view of the fact that, in the proposals contained in the Anglo-French Memorandum, it is stated that tests could not be limited for anything up to two years after the agreement is signed?

Mr. Lloyd

The position of the Government in regard to limiting nuclear tests was stated by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister last December, and that is the position by which we stand. On the question of a new separate approach on that matter, I think we had better wait and see how the Disarmament Commission progresses. After all, it is meeting on 3rd July, which is quite soon.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

How can the view of Her Majesty's Government, which is widely shared in the country and by certain members on the Front Bench opposite, that the hydrogen weapon is a unique deterrent against war, possibly be consistent with the demand of hon. Gentlemen opposite to secure the limitation of test explosions?

Mr. Lloyd

What my noble Friend has said certainly would go, in so far as the banning of tests is concerned. I do not think it would be inconsistent with our present ideas on the deterrent to have some plans for limitation and control.

Mr. Younger

Would the Foreign Secretary agree that the White Paper referred to in the Question and the corresponding medical reports of a similar nature which have been published in the United States are of a rather alarming nature, indicating, in particular, that scientists have very little idea what the medical effects are likely to be? There is a great lack of precise knowledge. Does not that indicate that some action rather more urgent than that contained in the Anglo-French proposals is now required?

Mr. Lloyd

One must form an individual judgment as to these reports. I should have thought that, on the whole, the reports were rather reassuring.