HC Deb 12 November 1962 vol 667 cc13-4
4. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Lord Privy Seal What regulations, conventions and international agreements are now in force governing the giving of notice by any nation intending to explode an experimental thermo-nuclear bomb to the countries concerned, including Great Britain, of such intention and of the intended time and place of any such explosion; and how these regulations and international conventions differ from the similar ones in force at the corresponding time in 1954 and 1955, respectively.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Peter Smithers)

None, Sir.

Mr. Hughes

On receiving any note such as is mentioned in the Question, what ideas will actuate the British Government in any action they may take? Does the answer really mean that such bombs may be dropped without notice, quite regardless of their direct or indirect poisonous effect on the British people? What action will the British Government take to protect the British people in such circumstances?

Mr. Smithers

That is another question.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Are not there long-established rules of customary international law about the freedom of passage on the high seas? Is not it extremely difficult to reconcile the closing of the oceans for nuclear tests with those long-established rules?

Mr. Smithers

It has long been the practice for nations engaged in naval exercises or other activities which might endanger other shipping or aircraft to give appropriate warning of their intention to carry out such activities.

Mr. Hughes

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister said that my supplementary question was "another question." It was not another question and he has deliberately evaded both the questions which I put to him.

Mr. Speaker

Order. None of that involves a point of order of any sort or kind.

Mr. Hughes

In view of the importance of this matter to the British people, I give notice that I shall endeavour to raise it on the Adjournment at the first opportunity.