§ Mr. Frank Allaun
On a point of order. I wish to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 to discuss a specific matter of importance, namely,the statement by the Dutch Foreign Minister that Britain is proposing the setting-up of a joint nuclear force with France in exchange for French support for Britain's entry into the European Economic Community.I submit first that the matter is specific. Today I checked with the Dutch Embassy in London, which kindly telephoned Holland and confirmed that the report on the front page of the Sunday Times is roughly accurate. Under the headlineBritain to offer nuclear pact to the Frenchthe report read:Mr. Heath is considering proposing to President Pompidou that Britain and France should set up a joint nuclear force. Dr. Joseph Luns, the Dutch Foreign Minister, says his Government is aware of the plan which Mr. Heath is expected to put to the French President at a meeting likely to be held in Paris shortly".Secondly, I submit that the matter is urgent because this meeting would take place shortly and it is on this occasion that the proposal would be discussed, unless Parliament and good sense have the necessary effect and induce the Prime Minister to jettison the scheme in advance.
May I ask for a little less noise, Mr. Speaker? The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) 246 has such a loud voice that it is sometimes difficult for us to make ourselves heard.
Lastly, the matter is of the utmost importance because—
§ Mr. Russell Kerr
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is impossible for some of us, even those sitting as close as I am to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun), to hear what he is saying. Would you kindly ask hon. Members opposite to listen or to leave the Chamber?
§ Mr. Allaun
The matter is of the utmost importance, because to trade our nuclear secrets would mean the spreading H-bomb capability and thereby increase the danger of war by accident, and anything more important than that it is difficult to imagine. That would be a monstrous price to pay.
It is also important because it is well known that German technicians are engaged on the French nuclear project, which is in difficulty, and hence the know-how would also spread to Germany. This would so alarm the Russian Government as to destroy hopes of an East-West settlement and mutual arms reduction. Finally, it is important as it would breach both the spirit and the letter of the non-proliferation agreement.
For these reasons, I urge that Parliament should have the opportunity to discuss the matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing a specific matter of importance which he thinks should have urgent consideration, namelythe statement by the Dutch Foreign Minister that Britain is proposing the setting-up of a joint nuclear force with France in exchange for French support for Britain's entry into the European Economic Community".As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9, Mr. Speaker is required to take account of the various factors set out in that Standing Order but to give no reason for his decision. The hon. Gentleman was courteous enough to give me notice that he would raise this matter, and I have given careful consideration to it, and I have also listened to his submission today. I know the sincerity with which he holds his views and what a serious matter it is 247 for many hon. and right hon. Members, but I have to decide, and I have decided, that I cannot submit his application to the House.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
Further to that point of order. I do not wish in any way to question your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, but, as you know, the House will shortly go into recess for Easter and no hon. Member will be able to raise this subject in debate during that time. May I ask whether, without prejudice to what may be said, in view of the special circumstances you will consider an application by my hon. Friend tomorrow to ask a Private Notice Question so that we may have a statement from the Government on this subject? Will you say that you would not preclude his right to ask a Private Notice Question because he has raised the matter today?
§ Mr. Speaker
I cannot preclude the hon. Member's right to ask permission to put a Private Notice Question, but I would not announce in advance what my decision on it would be.