HC Deb 23 November 1965 vol 721 cc238-9
Q2 Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Prime Minister (1) why Her Majesty's Government did not table the draft of a treaty on non-dissemination of nuclear weapons at Geneva during the Recess as he foreshadowed in a statement in the House of Commons on 27th July;

(2) why Her Majesty's Government did not join the United States Government in sponsoring the draft treaty on non-dissemination of nuclear weapons tabled at Geneva by the United States of America on 17th August.

The Prime Minister

We did not table the United Kingdom draft non-dissemination treaty at Geneva because it went further than the views of some of our allies on the question of the control of nuclear weapons. Much of the United States draft treaty was based on the text prepared by the United Kingdom, and while giving it our general support, we made it clear that we would like to see it amended in certain respects. For this reason, we could not join in sponsoring it.

Mr. Campbell

Why was the disagreement with the Americans discovered only at the last moment when the Geneva Conference was reassembling, and what were the Government and the Minister for Disarmament doing in the months beforehand? Can the Prime Minister say whether the new initiative in disarmament described in the Labour Party's manifesto as coming first and foremost has yet taken place?

The Prime Minister

What we were doing all these months was to try to reach agreement with the Americans. Again there were difficulties because of the German elections. The position is that we do not support the idea of a separate independent European nuclear deterrent. This was the point at issue both between ourselves and the United States and between ourselves and the Germans.

Mr. Mendelson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the kind of proposals put forward by the Minister for Disarmament have received widespread support and are regarded as by far the most practicable proposals on this subject which have recently been put forward by any one of the major Powers? Will my right hon. Friend give further support to this policy so that we see that we get a wider East-West agreement before we create any barriers to that agreement by internal arrangements?

The Prime Minister

I believe that as time goes on we shall find more and more support for the propositions put forward by my noble Friend. I hope that as a result of discussions within the alliance we may get widespread support for it within the alliance itself.