HC Deb 26 June 1974 vol 875 cc1533-4
5. Mr. Rifkind

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the French Government following the announcement that nuclear testing in the Pacific is to be resumed.

8. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the French Government regarding its proposed series of further nuclear tests in the atmosphere.

Mr. Ennals

I would refer hon. Members to my right hon. Friend's Written Answer of 13th June on this subject.—[Vol. 874, c. 627.]

Mr. Rifkind

In view of this morning's condemnation of the British protest by the French Prime Minister, will the hon. Gentleman inform the House whether the Secretary of State was aware at the time of the protest that Britain was exploding a similar device in the Nevada desert? Will he say whether any attempt was made to persuade the French Government to consider the virtues of underground as opposed to atmospheric testing?

Mr. Ennals

I am amazed by that question, which shows a complete misunderstanding of the absolute difference between the two tests. The British test was carried out underground, in line with the partial test ban treaty and the non-proliferation treaty. The French test and the Chinese test were carried out above ground, in the atmosphere. Therefore, the situation between the two is entirely different.

Mr. Allaun

Notwithstanding the difference, had the Foreign Secretary been told anything about the British test explosion when he made his representations to the French? If so, was not it hypocrisy? If he had not been informed, why was not he consulted, and what action will he take against those responsible for the test explosion?

Mr. Ennals

There was no question of hypocrisy here. As I said on 24th May, this Government—and I hope, the Opposition—believe that all nuclear explosions, for whatever purposes, should be carried out within the framework of the partial test ban treaty and the non-proliferation treaty, to which a large part of the international community have already subscribed. Therefore, we were dealing with an entirely different situation. The representations which were made to the French and Chinese ambassadors concerned tests which were carried out in the atmosphere. The plea was that both countries should, as Britain has done, sign the partial test ban treaty.