HC Deb 27 October 1966 vol 734 cc1299-300
Q6. Mr. Alan Lee Williams

asked the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics with a view to preventing nuclear proliferation.

The Prime Minister

A considerable part of my discussions with Mr. Kosygin in my two visits to Moscow in February and July was concerned with the urgent need for a worldwide non-proliferation agreement and the means of attaining it.

Mr. Williams

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the present problem of proliferation is one of the main reasons why disarmament negotiations are impossible?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I think that in every debate we and hon. Members in all parts have said that this is the most urgent problem facing the world today, and that in the field of disarmament particularly a non-proliferation agreement is more important than any other effort. There have been difficulties, which the whole House knows were fully discussed with Mr. Kosygin on two visits this year, and my right hon. Friend has now carried these talks further with Mr. Gromyko, in New York a fortnight ago.

Mr. Blaker

Did not the Soviet Premier make it clear to the Prime Minister that one of the main obstacles to non-proliferation was the Government's proposal for an A.N.F., and is it not time that the Government made it clear that they dropped this proposal?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. Mr. Kosygin and his colleagues have repeatedly made clear that one of the main obstacles to a non-proliferation agreement was the M.L.F., which was fanatically supported by half the previous Government.

Mr. Sandys

While it is exceedingly important to get agreement between the nuclear Powers not to disseminate their nuclear weapons or knowledge, does not the Prime Minister agree that what is perhaps even more urgent is to devise some means of giving added security to the non-nuclear Powers as an inducement to remain non-nuclear?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is quite right here. And this applies both within the European setting and, indeed, in the very special considerations of the Asian and Middle Eastern settings. The nuclear Powers have spent some time trying to consider this problem. Indeed, Mr. Kosygin's own declaration in February was designed to give some assurance on that, though all of us feel that, whatever the difficulties are about, more is needed, as he said.