HC Deb 24 February 1966 vol 725 cc621-2
Q3. Mrs. Shirley Williams

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of Mr. Kosygin's message to the Geneva Disarmament Conference concerning guarantees to non-nuclear countries, he will initiate discussions at Geneva with the Governments of India, the Soviet Union and the United States of America to obtain a nuclear guarantee for India, thus averting further proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Mr. George Brown

I have been asked to reply.

We expect that the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee at Geneva will discuss the question of assurances to non-nuclear States against nuclear threats and blackmail. This is not merely a question of a nuclear guarantee for India, but concerns all non-nuclear States.

Mrs. Williams

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that Answer, may I ask him whether he will agree that the solution of this problem depends on the willingness of nuclear Powers like Britain to accept some reduction in their stocks of nuclear weapons in order to get non-nuclear powers to agree?

Mr. Brown

That is a consideration, but there are many others. We hope very much, as my hon. Friend knows, that we shall be able to ensure that much greater importance is attached to the question of non-proliferation, and the terms on which one can persuade non-nuclear States that they are adequately guaranteed is a great part of that consideration.

Mr. Heath

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he appears to be using the term "nuclear guarantee" in two different senses? When Mr. Kosygin used it, it was in connection with the proposal that nuclear Powers should never undertake to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear States, whereas the sense in which the right hon. Gentleman has been using it is that defence of a nuclear kind would be provided for non-nuclear Powers against attack. Could the right hon. Gentleman clarify which position he is taking up?

Mr. Brown

The latter point in the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, which I well understand, was not what I had in mind. But there is more to this question than appears on the surface of Mr. Kosygin's message, although we welcome very much the change in that from his previous position and we are studying it with interest. As the right hon. Gentleman well knows, there are many considerations to be taken into account.