HC Deb 11 April 1963 vol 675 cc1469-71
Q1. Mr. M. Foot

asked the Prime Minister whether the report of his scientific advisers on the adverse effects of high-altitude tests will be made public.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

This report has just been received. I am not yet in a position to make any statement as regards its publication.

Mr. Foot

As the whole world and this House in particular was grossly misled about the effects of the high altitude explosions when they took place, does not the Prime Minister think that it would be highly desirable to have the greatest exchange of scientific information about what these high-altitude tests really achieved? Will he give serious consideration to publishing the whole report?

The Prime Minister

Certainly. The first purpose was to draw the attention of the United States authorities to the report of this very distinguished body, and then, together with the members of that body, to ask whether publication is to be authorised.

Mr. Jeger

Can the Prime Minister say whether the report contains any information from Russian scientists about the effect of their tests, because there is a widespread opinion that the Russian high-altitude tests are beneficial to mankind and conducive to peace?

Q2. Mr. M. Foot

asked the Prime Minister when he proposes to visit Geneva to assist in the talks about a nuclear test ban and other measures of disarmament.

Q6. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the announcement of President Kennedy's visit to Berlin in June, he will propose a meeting between President Kennedy, Mr. Khrushchev and himself in Berlin to discuss the major points of disagreement at the Geneva Disarmament Conference as suggested in the joint message to Mr. Khrushchev, dated 14th February, 1962, and following twelve months of systematic negotiations.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to what I told the House on 21st March and 2nd April.

Mr. Foot

If the Prime Minister is not proposing to take this initiative, can he tell us what initiative he is proposing to take to try to assist in securing an agreement on a nuclear test ban? Does not the Prime Minister agree that it would be an appalling tragedy if, as agreement is so near, something should interfere to prevent it happening? Will he make more energetic efforts to try to secure general agreement?

The Prime Minister

I agree that it would be a great tragedy if these efforts were to fail, and I am in close consultation with President Kennedy as to what would be the best method of trying to achieve success.

Mr. Henderson

Would not the Prime Minister agree that the Pope's Encyclical issued yesterday expressed the widespread concern felt in all countries about the failure to end the present deadlock at the Geneva Disarmament Conference? Would not the Prime Minister agree that it is most unlikely that the present disagreements in Geneva will be resolved at the present level of negotiations and that it is necessary for the three heads of Government to deal with some of the problems, such as the number of on-site inspections, on the basis of practical commonsense and not on the basis of delaying tactics? Will the Prime Minister take the initiative to impress on President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev that the three heads of Government should meet to see whether some advance can be made?

The Prime Minister

Of course, this is one method which is in my mind, but I do not think it is fair to talk about delaying tactics by the Western side. The Russians accepted the principle of free inspections in 1960. They then withdrew it and spent three years before they came back to it. The Americans originally asked for twenty, and after discussions their experts have come down to seven, so I do not think it is fair to say that the delaying tactics have been on the part of the Western Powers.