HC Deb 19 June 1961 vol 642 cc946-7
39. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a further statement on the progress at the Geneva conference on nuclear tests.

Mr. Godber

Since the publication of the Soviet aide-memoire, which had been given to President Kennedy in Vienna, discussions have continued on the points covered in it. There has, I regret to say, been no progress. The United States Government have now published its reply to the Soviet aide-memoire. Her Majesty's Government agree with the views expressed by the United States Government.

Mr. Spriggs

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a situation now exists in which Great Britain can give a moral lead to the rest of the world and particularly to the nuclear Powers? Is he aware that it is in the interests of mankind that Britain should advocate the complete cessation of nuclear tests?

Mr. Godber

Britain has been working very hard to try to achieve success in these negotiations and we are extremely disappointed that recent months have not shown any response from the Soviet side. We will continue gladly to do anything we can if there is any prospect of a successful outcome of these negotiations, but I must admit that present prospects are not by any means good.

Mr. Bossom

Can by hon. Friend say whether it is true that the Americans are contemplating the resumption of nuclear tests?

Mr. Godber

I have nothing to indicate definitely. There have been certain comments in the Press about this, but I understand that any such suggestions have been related to underground tests which of course would have nothing whatever to do with the pollution of the atmosphere.

Mr. Healey

Whilst expressing the strong hope that the Americans will not resume testing, may I ask whether the hon. Gentleman can say whether Mr. Khrushchev intends to carry out his threats to hold atomic tests, which he would not say would be underground or otherwise, if there is no agreement in Geneva?

Mr. Godber

I have no information about that obviously, but that does exemplify the dangers if we cannot get a solution. That is why we were extremely disappointed that the last few weeks have been so negative.

Mr. A. Henderson

Is there any intention of adjourning the conference, or are we to take it that the discussions will continue indefinitely?

Mr. Godber

The discussions are still continuing, and as long as we see hope of success we will certainly not wish to terminate them.