HC Deb 25 April 1963 vol 676 cc414-6
Q4. Mr. Healey

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the unpublished minutes to the Polaris Sales Agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States of America.

The Prime Minister

There are certain agreed minutes containing information of a technical character which cannot and ought not to be published. These minutes do not affect the rights and obligations contained in the Polaris Sales Agreement and envisaged in the Nassau Communiqué.

In addition there is a letter from Mr. Rusk, the United States Secretary of State, which was handed to the British Ambassador in Washington at the time of the formal signature of the Sales Agreement. This letter, the text of which I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT, gives an assurance about the continuity of supplies of Polaris missiles.

Mr. Healey

I am grateful for that reply. The Prime Minister will appreciate that there is bound to be concern on both sides of the House since the publication of the secret minutes of the Rhodesian Conference in case there is some incompatibility between the secret minutes on this issue and the public pledges made in the Nassau Agreement. Can the Prime Minister assure the House that the secret minutes do not affect the right of either party to seek renegotiation of the Agreement if it desires to do so? Secondly, is there in the secret minutes any obligation resting on the American Government to continue the supply to British Forces of the A.3 Polaris missile even though they do not regard the development of this missile as necessary for their own purpose, or is the A.3 Polaris missile under exactly the same circumstances as was Skybolt?

The Prime Minister

I quite understand the importance attached to these minutes. As I think the hon. Gentleman recognises, since the minutes deal with a weapon system of this character they give certain information which it would not be right to give publicly, either in the interests of the United States or of ourselves.

With regard to the more general question, these minutes, which are of a technical character, do not affect the rights and obligations contained in the Agreement or envisaged in the Nassau Communiqué. They impose no restrictions whatever, military or political, about the use of the Polaris missiles. I think that that covers the matter. Anything which may not be covered, I think, is dealt with in the letter of the Secretary of State which will be published in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The hon. Gentleman will be able to study it.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Will the Prime Minister tell us whether in the secret minutes there is any promise by the United States to make any contribution to the very large sum of £25 million which is to be spent on a Polaris base in Scotland when the people of Scotland are not to be given enough money for education, for roads and for essential social services?

The Prime Minister

Expenditure upon our own weapons and upon our own submarines will fall upon us. On the other hand, very large contributions are made by the various agreements which we have with the United States and very large expenditure across the exchanges results from the American Agreement.

Following is the letter: