HC Deb 18 February 1959 vol 600 cc339-40
1. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if in view of the progress made by the French Government in the production of a hydrogen bomb and the preparations for testing it, Her Majesty's Government will propose to the Governments of the United States of America and of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that France be invited to participate in the negotiations at Geneva for the termination of nuclear tests.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ormsby-Gore)

No, Sir. I do not think it practicable to enlarge the composition of this conference.

Mr. Brockway

Is not it rather farcical that whilst America, Russia and Britain are considering the termination of these tests the French Government should be producing this hydrogen bomb and should be planning their first test? Is not there some way in which the Government can bring France into association with these negotiations?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is really addressed to the French Government. In regard to the second part, of course it is our wish that as soon as we have an agreement at Geneva we should persuade as many other countries in the world as we can, including France, to undertake the same obligation.

Mr. J. Hynd

Is not this proof of the fears of many of us that this weapon would now be developed in more and more countries? Would it not be better, therefore, to open consultations with France to see whether she will agree with us that the production of this weapon should be restricted to America and the Soviet Union?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The best method of proceeding is, I think, to continue our negotiations with America and Russia to get agreement to suspend nuclear-weapon tests and then to persuade other countries in the world to undertake the same obligation.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

If the Minister of State does not succeed in getting agreement within measurable time, would not it be wiser to call in more nations, since this is a matter of interest not only to France but to all the nations of the world?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

That consideration is certainly to be borne in mind.

2. Mr. Brockway

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make representations to the French Government regarding its intention to establish a nuclear weapons testing station at Kerguelen Island, in view of the danger of radioactive fall-out over British Protectorates in South Africa because Kerguelen is in a cyclone belt where winds reach 140 miles an hour.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Robert Allan)

I understand that a Press report about French plans to test a nuclear device at Kerguelen Island was officially denied in Paris at the time of its publication.

Mr. Brockway

Is not the Joint Under-Secretary of State aware that this report has aroused considerable disquiet throughout South Africa and among the populations of our Protectorates? Is he aware that I hope the denial which he has now made will receive wide publicity there, so that that disquiet may be eased?

Mr. Allan

I quite agree, but I have not made a denial on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. I said that the French Government denied it.

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