HC Deb 17 February 1960 vol 617 cc1270-2
22. Mr. P. Noel-Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now propose to the Government of Spain, following the recent Agreement, that the design of any nuclear reactors to be built in Spain by British firms shall be submitted for approval to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and that this Agency shall be invited to control the operation of the reactors to ensure that no fissile material is produced for military use.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Our Agreement with Spain provides for the contracting parties to consult in order to determine in what respects and to what extent controls and safeguards should be administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Agency has not yet worked out its detailed arrangements for safeguarding the use of fissile material.

Mr. Noel-Baker

In view of the dangers, as I think them, of supplying the Franco Government with fissile material, would it not be desirable to ask the Agency to undertake this task at the earliest moment, and if not, why was the Agency set up?

Mr. Lloyd

According to my information, no British firm is at present building nuclear reactors in Spain, and, so far as I am aware, no agreement for erecting them is being negotiated. I think it is rather a hypothetical question.

Mr. Woodburn

Is it not the case that the most up-to-date and most efficient reactors are bound automatically and incidentally to produce plutonium and fissile material? Is there not a great danger that, unless we get some world control of these nuclear fissile materials, little countries might be used by bigger countries as a means of producing these materials, thus enabling them to defy the agreement which we hope will be reached?

Mr. Lloyd

Without precisely identifying myself with the proposition which the right hon. Gentleman has put forward, I am, broadly speaking, in agreement with him. The question is how to work out the necessary safeguards. The body known as I.A.E.A. has not yet worked out these safeguards, but it is engaged in that task. There is another body, the European Nuclear Energy Agency, which is also working out safeguards. I very much hope that these further safeguards will be worked out.