HC Deb 14 February 1967 vol 741 cc337-8
Q3. Mr. Norwood

asked the Prime Minister in view of the fact that since the United States are unable to win the war in Vietnam by conventional means sooner or later pressure will be brought for the use of nuclear weapons, if he will now as a precautionary measure give an assurance that Her Majesty's Government will refuse to acquiesce in any proposal on the part of the United States Government to use these weapons.

The Prime Minister

This is a hypothetical Question. I have no reason to think that either side would ever contemplate the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam.

Mr. Norwood

While acknowledging that it is a hypothetical Question, it is not so hypothetical that it does not deserve an answer. Could my right hon. Friend not give a clear and blunt assurance, whatever may be his doubts about the intentions of the United States Government and whatever may be their intentions, that he will never give his sanction or acquiescence to the use of these weapons in that country?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that the House would deplore the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam. I have said that I think that this is hypothetical. There is no suggestion of using them, and that is why I gave the Answer that I did.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the use of gas for defoliation kills the forests for 50 years——

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is a Question about nuclear weapons.

Mr. Noel-Baker

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, the Question is about both conventional and nuclear weapons. In Vietnam, gas is being regarded as a conventional weapon. Therefore, may I ask the Prime Minister if he can confirm that the use of gas for defoliation kills the forests for 50 years, that the use of gas for destroying crops starves the children but not the fighting Vietcong? Is this a good way of promoting the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness in future Vietnam?

The Prime Minister

Without notice, I could not say whether my right hon. Friend is right about the effect of particular gases on the life of trees and forests. If he will put a Question down to the appropriate Minister, I am sure that we shall do our best to give him an answer.