HC Deb 01 August 1961 vol 645 cc1142-3
Q3. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the failure of negotiations on the ending of nuclear test explosions, if he will now give an undertaking that the United Kingdom will not resume such tests for a period of at least 12 months; and if he will make a personal appeal to Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev to join with him in declaring a continuation of the present voluntary moratorium for that period.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I have nothing to add to my reply to the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) on 4th July.

Mr. Allaun

Does the Prime Minister agree that there are powerful forces pressing for a resumption of the test explosions, and that if on either side they prevail this will lead to the arms race getting completely out of control? Since this may be mankind's last chance, will the Prime Minister take this initiative, for an example by one side would influence the other?

The Prime Minister

This is a matter which needs very careful consideration and I am not sure that anything would be achieved at this stage by a personal approach to Mr. Khrushchev. We are still carrying on the negotiations at Geneva and we have not given up hope that progress may be made.

Mr. M. Foot

Does the Prime Minister's answer mean that in this matter he is not prepared to take any initiative separate from agreements which may be reached with the United States of America? Does he not think it would be much better if this country were to make it absolutely clear that we are opposed to the starting of these tests in any circumstances?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I think we dealt with this before. If one of the countries were to say that it would carry on the voluntary moratorium indefinitely there would be the end of any hope of making an agreement.

Mr. Elwyn Jones

Is it not the case that the vast majority of our population are against the resumption of the poisoning of the atmosphere by nuclear tests? If the Prime Minister gave the suggested undertaking, would it not at least give him an opportunity of saying something with which the majority of the people agree?

The Prime Minister

I think, if I may press the point again, that so long as the negotiations are continuing it would be very unwise to make a unilateral declaration of that kind.

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