HC Deb 12 March 1964 vol 691 cc662-3
Q6. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister what scientific advances have been made in the sphere of detecting and verifying underground explosions without the need of on-site inspections; and whether it is now the policy of Her Majesty's Government to seek a complete test-ban agreement without one-site inspection.

The Prime Minister

There have been no scientific advances that would justify us in proposing a comprehensive treaty without adequate provision for effective on-site verification.

Mr. Henderson

Would not the Prime Minister agree that the means of detection and identification are now sufficient nationally to prevent any cheating if there were a complete test-ban agreement? Would not he further agree that it is now time for the United States Government and Her Majesty's Government to consider entering into a complete test-ban agreement relying on these national means and without insisting on a minimum number of on-site inspections?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I do not think that this is the case yet. There have been no new scientific advances to justify a change of attitude. It would be helpful if Russian scientists got together with United States and British scientists and tried to thrash these matters out and come to an agreed formula.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Can the Prime Minister tell us anything about a claim made by a British scientist at Harwell that he has devised a method of distinguishing earthquakes from nuclear explosions, and that, therefore, a ban without on-site inspection should be possible?

The Prime Minister

Like my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord President, I saw that report in the Press, but I am afraid that there is no foundation for it.

Mr. J. T. Price

Whilst we are on this question, may I ask whether the Prime Minister has taken any special action to improve the detection and verification of underground explosions in his own party? [Laughter.]