HC Deb 04 December 1957 vol 579 cc361-3
14. Mr. E. Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the proposal to supply Western German forces with nuclear equipment.

30. Mr. Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will oppose at the forthcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organisation conference the giving of nuclear weapons to Germany or any other Power and the allowing of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commanders to use tactical atomic weapons on their own immediate decision.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I do not think it wise to make a new general statement about proposals for the supply of nuclear weapons to Germany until I have seen the precise nature of any such proposals as may be made.

With regard to the second part of the Question asked by the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun), North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commanders have no authority to order the use of tactical atomic weapons on their own immediate decision. Her Majesty's Government are not aware of any proposal to alter this state of affairs; the question does not therefore arise.

Mr. Fletcher

Will the Foreign Secretary remember that there is a very considerable body of opinion which feels that to establish missile bases in Western Germany, or to construct arsenals for nuclear weapons there, would very seriously jeopardise the prospects of peace without in any way adding to our security?

Mr. Lloyd

I am certainly aware of that point of view, but, as I have said, I should like to see what specific proposals are made. There are as yet no specific proposals.

Mr. Bevan

Are we to understand that no undertaking will be given by Her Majesty's Government permitting this to be done without first informing the House?

Mr. Lloyd

No, certainly not. This is a matter which must remain within the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]Certainly it must. Our position in this matter is stated quite definitely in the Paris Treaties. We stand by the Paris Treaties, and there is a certain procedure—

Mr. Nabarro

On a point of order. I have just listened to the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) describing a number of my hon. Friends sitting below me, and myself, as "a bunch of Tory clots." May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to cause this grossly un-Parliamentary remark to be withdrawn?

Mr. Speaker

I did not hear the remark—and I am rather glad that I did not.

Mr. Bevan

I understand that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was in the middle of giving his reply.

Mr. Lloyd

I said that our position with regard to the matter remained as defined in the Paris Treaties.

Mr. Bevan

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that very considerable apprehension exists in this country about a decision of that sort; that tactical atomic weapons are to be stationed in Western Germany—and no one yet knows what is meant by a tactical atomic weapon; as far as I know, it has not been defined without the repercussions of the position first being discussed by the House of Commons? Surely there is a difference between this sort of weapon and other weapons that we have been putting into the hands of the Germans?

Mr. Lloyd

I certainly understand that different views are held of this matter, and they are repeatedly put forward. The Government's position is still governed by the Paris Treaties, that is to say, there is an obligation on the part of the German Government not to seek to manufacture these weapons; but, as regards their possession of these weapons, that is a matter for a majority vote in W.E.U.

Mr. Allaun

Would not the prospects of peace be dramatically improved if the right hon. and learned Gentleman accepted the offer of Poland and East Germany to forbid nuclear weapons on their own territory in exchange for a similar ban in connection with West Germany? Will not the existence of these weapons immediately upon both sides of the demarcation line increase rather than reduce the tension in Europe?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not accept what the hon. Member has said. We have to maintain the defensive strength of our alliance.