HC Deb 09 April 1957 vol 568 cc960-1
46. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Prime Minister if it has yet been decided whether the United Kingdom will be a member or associate of the Euratom Treaty.

The Prime Minister

The United Kingdom is not party to the Euratom Treaty, which was signed on 25th March, but we have been engaged for some time in a programme of practical co-operation in atomic energy matters with the countries forming Euratom and with other Western European countries.

Mr. Hynd

Could the Prime Minister define a little more closely what kind of association this is? Is it similar, for example, to association with the Coal and Steel Community, or, if it is any other form, may we have it in a White Paper or in some other way so that we may understand exactly what the situation is?

The Prime Minister

These practical methods of co-operation are important. For instance, we have said that we would consider participating in a joint experimental reactor project on a reactor type which did not form a major part of our own development programme. We have said that we are ready to provide advice for the construction of a pilot processing plant for spent reactor fuels, in which, as the hon. Gentleman probably knows, certain Continental countries are particularly interested.

We have reached an agreement in O.E.E.C. on a standstill in regard to any restrictions in trade, and we are pressing ahead with the scheme for the removal of all restrictions in trade, tariffs, etc., in atomic machinery. We are operating a special agreement which the Atomic Energy Authority has with France and the Netherlands, and Her Majesty's Government have also an agreement with the Governments of Belgium and Germany. If it would be of interest and value, I would certainly consider laying a Paper giving all the details of this practical cooperation which we are trying to achieve.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the Prime Minister aware that it would, I am sure, be helpful to the whole House if such a White Paper could be issued? Further, can he tell us whether discussions are still going on as to the exact form of the association? For instance, are we to be represented at meetings of any bodies set up under the Euratom Treaty?

The Prime Minister

The Treaty was signed only on 25th March. We have rather concentrated on what I would call the practical field rather than the formal question of membership or association; but I will certainly consider the next step. We want to do all we can to help in this mutual work of co-operation.

Sir J. Hutchison

Would my right hon. Friend consider, with a view to promoting the European idea and keeping Britain in the lead in these atomic matters, whether it would be an advantage to this country to go into the Euratom organisation if only to the limited extent of the co-operation which he has already indicated this country is prepared to take?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend knows that we want to make all the practical co-operation we can. There are certain difficulties in actually becoming members of the body, difficulties which will, I think, immediately occur to my hon. Friend.