HC Deb 13 March 1957 vol 566 cc1132-4
47. Sir J. Hutchison

asked the Paymaster-General, as representing the Lord President of the Council, on what terms, and in respect of what plants or activities, this country is going to give advice and help to Euratom.

49. Mr. J. Hynd

asked the Paymaster-General, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government as regards British association with Euratom.

Mr. Maudling

Her Majesty's Government favour co-operation in atomic energy matters between the United Kingdom and Western Europe, including the countries who are forming Euratom. The United Kingdom and the Euratom countries have, with other Western European countries, been working out practical measures for some time in the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation.

The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority recently held technical discussion with representatives of the Euratom countries on the part which gas-cooled reactors, of the type ordered by the national electricity undertakings for installation in the United Kingdom, might play in the proposed Euratom nuclear power programme and, as announced in a joint communiqué on 1st March, have offered to facilitate contacts between United Kingdom and European firms and to assist in training scientists and engineers from the countries concerned. United Kingdom experts will continue their examination of the proposed Euratom power programme.

Sir J. Hutchison

While welcoming the aid which this country is giving to Euratom in the matter of training and advice, which will pay considerable dividends in the long run, will not my right hon. Friend reconsider the question of this country joining Euratom as a full member, but limited to the activities for which this country is already prepared to co-operate with O.E.E.C.—a membership of Euratom which would be greatly welcomed by the nations of the continent?

Mr. Maudling

I understand that the Euratom Treaty has not yet been signed. In the meantime, both the United Kingdom Government and the Euratom countries are members of the O.E.E.C. body which is working on this. This is getting ahead very well, and I think we should concentrate all our activities on it.

Mr. Hynd

Can the right hon. Gentleman reassure the House that his statement does not mean that the Government's attitude towards the Euratom Treaty, as and when it is published, will be limited to consultation through O.E.E.C.; and, secondly, can he tell us what steps are being taken by the Government in pursuance of the assurance given by the Prime Minister to the House the other day that, as soon as possible after the Euratom Treaty has been published, an English version will be made available to hon. Members of this House?

Mr. Maudling

I think both these questions will have to wait for answers until the Euratom Treaty has been signed. Nothing that I have said really limits what may develop when the Treaty is signed, and we see what shape it takes.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Will my right hon. Friend agree that there is a very strong case on technological grounds alone for the United Kingdom to be associated with Euratom in a far more advanced position than we are associated with the European Coal and Steel Community?

Mr. Maudling

If it comes to a question of discussing any form of association with Euratom, certainly those considerations will be borne in mind.

Mr. Gaitskell

Could the right hon. Gentleman clarify the attitude of the Government to Euratom a little further? Are we to understand that the Government have definitely made up their minds not to join Euratom? If that is not the case, when are we to expect a statement from the Government, for surely they know what the contents of the Euratom Treaty are? Are they still making up their minds, and when shall we get the outcome of their deliberations?

Mr. Maudling

I do not think we can give the answers until Euratom has been formed and some association by this country with it has been proposed by it.

Mr. Gaitskell

It is not a question of some association with it. I was asking if it was definitely the view of the Government that we should not join Euratom. May we have an answer to that? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the great importance for our export trade of this whole position, either of membership of or association with Euratom?

Mr. Maudling

My answer is that we are working at the present moment very hard in O.E.E.C., which we think is the practical means of working on this problem at present. When Euratom has been formed, we shall know more about it and be able to state more clearly what our attitude will be towards it.