HC Deb 02 March 1965 vol 707 cc1109-10
3. Mr. Eldon Griffiths

asked the Minister of Technology what is his policy on the industrial application of those technological advances derived from research into and development of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Cousins

The Atomic Energy Authority has for some years actively promoted the industrial application of technological advances derived from all its research and development, including that in the nuclear weapons field. My object in seeking, under the Science and Technology Bill to extend the research functions of the Authority, is to increase the opportunities for such application.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there will be pleasure and even relief on this side of the House at his new approach? Will he deal with two matters which arise? [HON. MEMBERS: "Take your hand out of your pocket."] First, as there is no scientific or technological difference between a peaceful atom and a warlike atom, will he get rid of some of the emotional humbug which his party has talked about this subject? Secondly, now that the Labour Party has very wisely accepted the need to rely upon nuclear weapons for the defence of the country, will he use his best offices in his Ministry to assist in making these weapons the most modern and sophisticated kind?

Mr. Cousins

The answer to the second part of the question is that, except in so far as I am a member of the Cabinet, responsibility for the development of weapons is not mine. I shall be prepared to discuss my own views on what ought to be done in that field. On the question, if it was one, about the emotional humbug which has coloured our thinking on this subject, while there may not be any difference between a peaceful atom and a warlike atom, their applications have a substantial difference.

Mr. Webster

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to ensure the safety of the Aldermaston marchers?

Mr. Cousins

There is a Question on this subject and I shall be pleased to answer it.