HC Deb 07 March 1960 vol 619 cc9-10
8. Mr. Elwyn Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why no official reply, other than an acknowledgement, has been sent to the memorandum of the International Committee of the Red Cross, received in May 1958, asking for Her Majesty's Government's views on the Draft Rules for the Limitation of the Dangers incurred by the Civilian Population in Times of War, designed to restrict the use of nuclear weapons, in view of the fact that the preparation and furtherance of the Draft Rules received the approval of the Government during the 19th International Red Cross Conference held at New Delhi in October 1957.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

These Rules were transmitted for consideration, and we are considering them. As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, we believe that the banning of the use of nuclear weapons should be discussed in the context of general disarmament.

Mr. Jones

As two years have elapsed since a Government representative supported these Rules in the International Red Cross Conference, is it not at the very least discourteous not to have given an answer to the memorandum in the meantime? Is the trouble due to the fact that the adoption of the proposed Article 14 would, in conditions of a European conflict, be tantamount to the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons, because of the inevitable injury to civilians that the use of such weapons would cause?

Mr. Lloyd

The point made in the second part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's question is precisely the purport of the second part of my original Answer. As for the first part of his question, as was pointed out at the time, there are many complicated legal matters to be examined. These Rules were sent to Governments in draft, not necessarily with the idea of getting a reply but for consideration. If the hon. and learned Member will read again the speech made by the United Kingdom representative at the time, he will see the accuracy of what I am saying.