HC Deb 09 May 1960 vol 623 cc29-31
42. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent the Western European Union Armaments Control Agency is checking, in West Germany, the undertakings contained in the modified Brussels Treaty of 1954 not to manufacture nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Ormsby Gore

The Arms Control Agency makes frequent inspections of German military depots and industrial installations and collects other relevant information. It has reported that there is no production, on the territory of the Federal Republic, of any categories of armaments which that Government undertook not to produce.

Mr. Henderson

Is the Minister of State satisfied that the Agency is an efficient and effective body for controlling the production of weapons of mass destruction? If so, has the benefit of its experience been submitted to the Ten-Power Conference in connection with its discussions on a control organisation.

Mr. Ormsby Gore

I have no doubt that it is an efficient and capable body. With regard to the manufacture of atomic weapons, as the Agency has confirmed that no manufacture is taking place, machinery for carrying out that particular form of inspection is a little difficult to devise. As regards its relevance to the Ten-Power Committee on disarmament, there is some considerable difference between the control arrangements required in the country of a friend and ally as compared with control arrangements in countries which up till now have been our political opponents.

Mr. Healey

Would not the Minister of State agree that no control arrangement has any point, whether it is in the country of a friend or an enemy, unless it is 100 per cent. effective? Is he really suggesting that the Western European Union Armaments Control Agency is not seeking the power to be as effective in relation to Germany as any agency would seek to be in relation to a universal agreement?

Mr. Ormsby Gore

What I have said is that the Agency as at present constituted is highly efficient for carrying out this particular task. It is considering the possibility of improving its facilities in certain matters, and we shall give it every encouragement in so doing.

Mr. Gaitskell

In view of the supplementary question of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving us a little more information about how the Agency is operating? Would he, perhaps, consider circulating information in the OFFICIAL REPORT or making a further statement in the House telling us how the Agency operates and how successful it is?

Mr. Ormsby Gore

I can say that a very considerable amount of information is contained in the Agency's annual reports, and I understand that its fifth annual report is in the Library of the House.

Mr. Warbey

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the German Federal Government have yet ratified the Convention, drawn up over two years ago, which would enable the Agency to make surprise visits to private armament factories? If the Convention has not yet been ratified by that Government, is not the whole business just a farce?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

No, the business is certainly not a farce. I must check on ratification, but my impression is that the Federal Government have not yet ratified the Convention.