HC Deb 12 June 1961 vol 642 cc31-3
43. Mrs. Butler

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statment with regard to the progress of the discussions at Geneva on nuclear tests.

62. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a further statement on the Geneva Tests Conference; and whether he will publish a White Paper containing the Draft Treaty offered to the Soviet Government.

Mr. Godber

Since I informed the House about progress in the Nuclear Tests Conference on 18th May, the United States and United Kingdom Delegations have put forward further new proposals intended to bridge the gap between the Soviet and Western positions on the number of on-site inspections to be conducted annually. These proposals, like the other constructive proposals made in recent months by the Western Delegations, have evoked no favourable response from the Soviet Union.

The Western draft Treaty tabled on 18th April is contained in the records of the Conference for April, which are now available in the Library of the House. This text will also be available, in more convenient form, as a White Paper, which I hope will be laid in a few days' time.

Mrs. Butler

Does the Minister realise what an unforgivable crime it would be to the ordinary people who suffer the effects of fall-out and to whom we are responsible if any of the three Powers concerned used the excuse of a breakdown at Geneva to resume tests? Would the hon. Gentleman urge Her Majesty's Government to give an unqualified pledge that they wil regard themselves as morally bound by the moratorium, whatever happens at Geneva, and use all their influence to persuade the Americans and the Russians to do the same?

Mr. Godber

It is because of the great seriousness of these matters that we have pressed and are pressing in every way we can to get an agreement on this matter. I think Her Majesty's Government and the Americans have done all they possibly can and will continue to do so to get that agreement. We share the feelings of the hon. Lady and will certainly endeavour to get an agreement.

Mr. Henderson

Can the hon. Gentleman comment on the statement in the recent Soviet memorandum published this morning, in which it was proposed that the question of a test Treaty should be deferred until it can be merged into the general disarmament negotiations in the autumn? Can we take it from the Minister that it is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government to continue their efforts at Geneva in this conference to secure the agreement that is contained in the draft Treaty?

Mr. Godber

Yes, I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that we are prepared and, indeed, anxious to continue in every way possible with the present negotiations. We have made it abundantly clear in the House on a number of occasions—and I think it has been made clear from the Opposition Front Bench, too—that we feel strongly that it would provide the best climate possible for satisfactory disarmament negotiations if we could get success at this Conference.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is not the real stumbling block the question of the Russian preference for a three-man control instead of a single control? While one appreciates the difficulties involved in that proposal, do the Government really think that these difficulties are of such a nature that they would justify a breaking off of the negotiations and the failure to reach an agreement rather than trying to reach any accommodation on this point?

Mr. Godber

That is a very important matter, but I would remind the House that this is a new point brought in by the Russians at a very recent moment. They have sought to bring this in for the Administrator, not for the Control Commission. In the Control Commission there is provision for the Russians, the West and the independent nations to be represented, which we believe is the right way. But we also believe that it is right to have a single Administrator as we do in the United Nations.

Mr. Healey

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many of us on this side of the House feel that there would be no chance of stopping nuclear tests for good unless we could get international agreement in which all countries take part, and that for this reason we deeply deplore the fact that the Soviet Government at the eleventh hour have raised an entirely new point which threatens to wreck the whole negotiations?

Mr. Godber

I am glad to have that assurance.