HC Deb 13 December 1965 vol 722 cc886-7
6. Mr. Alison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards nuclear-sharing in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, in the light of the recent meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Defence Ministers.

50. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will state his policy on nuclear-sharing within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Mr. Padley

Her Majesty's Government's policy is to strengthen the cohesion and security of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation by associating the non-nuclear members more closely with the arrangements for the Western deterrent while precluding any dissemination of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Alison

I thank the lion. Gentleman for that general Answer, but can he tell us in particular whether the Government's proposals for an A.N.F. were raised in Paris at the Ministerial meeting which I have mentioned, or, if not, why not?

Mr. Padley

Yes. The British proposals for an A.N.F. are still on the table in all the discussions in N.A.T.O. No doubt they will be discussed next week. But we do not regard Mr. McNamara's proposal for a special committee and the British proposal for an A.N.F. as being in any way contradictory. They are alternative methods—perhaps complementary methods—of solving the same problem.

Mr. Griffiths

As the Government's proposals for an A.N.F. are likely to stay on the table, would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the time is ripe to press ahead with the proposals for nuclear sharing recently put forward by Mr. McNamara and endorsed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames) in his speech at Western European Union?

Mr. Padley

It has been made quite clear that Her Majesty's Government fully support Mr. McNamara's proposal, but this does not mean that other proposals cannot be discussed this week and in the coming months. We want a successful conclusion to this problem of achieving both nuclear sharing on the one hand and non-proliferation on the other. I should have thought that the whole House would have been agreed on that.

Mr. Freeson

Will my hon. Friend explain how negotiations on nuclear snaring, as it is now described, are compatible with the Labour Party policy of trying to establish a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe?

Mr. Padley

That question has been asked and answered in the House many times. Of course, we support a nuclear-free zone in Europe, providing that there are taken into account not only the missiles which are located in particular areas, but also the warheads which are targeted on particulars areas. In that sense, as a long-term objective, the policy of a nuclear-free zone remains, but nothing in our A.N.F. proposals and nothing in Mr. McNamara's proposals stands in the way of that ultimate objective.

Mr. Soames

In view of the number of meetings which are to take place in Paris and Washington, can the hon. Gentleman say whether the Government at this point of time favour a solution to the nuclear-sharing problem in Europe along the lines of a committee, as advocated by Mr. McNamara, or along the lines of the forces of an A.N.F. or M.L.F.?

Mr. Padley

We do not regard Mr. McNamara's proposals as being in conflict with the British A.N.F. proposals. We hope by democratic discussion to reach an agreed conclusion.