HC Deb 20 October 1966 vol 734 cc395-6
Q4. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the coordination between the Secretaries of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs in pursuance of progress towards an Atlantic Nuclear Force; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Marten

That being so, can the Prime Minister tell the House whether an Atlantic Nuclear Force is still a major policy objective of this Government and, if it is not achieved, have the Government any indication of what they might have as an alternative?

The Prime Minister

As my right hon. Friend and I have made clear a number of times, there is no change in the policy we are advocating here. My right hon. Friend knows the reasons for some delay in this matter and also the prospects for a non-proliferation agreement which we and many hon. Members in this House regard as of paramount importance. There are discussions going on about the future of nuclear planning within the Alliance. This being so, I am sure the hon. Member will agree that it would be right to see what can be done to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Zilliacus

Will the Prime Minister make clear that the Government stick to their view that they will not proceed with an Atlantic Nuclear Force including Western Germany if that means sacrificing the chance of agreement with the Soviet Union on a non-proliferation agreement?

The Prime Minister

An agreement requires people to be forthcoming on both sides. I agree that some of the discussions with the Soviet Union in Moscow this year have helped us to move a little towards an agreement, but I have made clear that, whatever is proposed in N.A.T.O. for an Atlantic Nuclear Force or anything else, there will be no question of handing over control of nuclear weapons to other nations.

Mr. Sandys

Is it not a fact that the proposal for an A.N.F. or a M.L.F. has now been generally dropped and it will now be necessary to concentrate on the alternative of trying to improve the arrangements for inter-allied consultation on nuclear strategy on the lines of the McNamara Committee?

The Prime Minister

Yes. Since the proposals of the McNamara Committee were put forward, we have always expressed very full support for inter-allied consultation and co-operation rather than for any hardware solution proposed in certain quarters. I am glad that the right hon. Member shares my satisfaction that the M.L.F., which I think was supported by the Government of which he was a member, is no longer an active runner.

Forward to