HC Deb 12 December 1963 vol 686 cc564-5
Q4. Mr. Driberg

asked the Prime Minister whether he has now formally renewed his proposal that Soviet, British, and United States scientists should meet to consider various aspects of nuclear disarmament; and what has been the result.

The Prime Minister

We have many times pressed the Russians to agree to talks between Soviet, British and American scientists on the problem of detecting and identifying underground nuclear explosions. The last occasion when we put this suggestion forward was at the beginning of the negotiations at Moscow in July. We shall try again to get the Russians to agree to such scientific talks when the Geneva Disarmament Conference resumes in January.

Mr. Driberg

Did the right hon. Gentleman notice this morning's news that the deposit of strontium 90 is the highest yet recorded in Britain, although it is still below what is called the safety level? Will he agree that this is the sort of subject, in addition to those he has mentioned, which could be usefully included in the agenda for such a meeting?

The Prime Minister

We are talking about underground tests now in which the question of fall-out does not arise, but I should welcome most comprehensive talks with Russian scientists on this matter.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Do we understand that the Prime Minister would be agreeable to talks between scientists about the wider aspects of nuclear disarmament with a view to the preparation of a plan for the abolition of nuclear weapons?

The Prime Minister

We have never laid down any limits to the talks we have suggested between Russian scientists and our own, but I think it would be profitable to begin with this aspect so that we may get a completely comprehensive nuclear test ban instead of only for tests in the atmosphere.

Mr. Lubbock

Can the Prime Minister say why the Government have consistently refused to publish the criteria on which the number of inspections demanded is based? Will he instruct the scientists to prepare for publication a document setting out the basis of the number of inspections and the other criteria involved?

The Prime Minister

I shall consider that suggestion and see what has already been made public. This Question relates to talks with Russian scientists, and it is these which I am anxious to get going.