HC Deb 17 December 1975 vol 902 cc1372-3
5. Mr. Robin F. Cook

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in London.

Mr. Hattersley

As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) on 7th November, officials from a number of countries have met in London to discuss common problems in the field of nuclear energy. The discussions were multilateral and confidential.—[Vol. 899, c. 370.]

Mr. Cook

Many hon. Members warmly welcome these discussions and appreciate the initiatives which appear to have been taken by the Government. I appreciate that the discussions are at a delicate stage, but will my right hon. Friend say whether the Government have considered the possibility of regional control for fuel processing—an idea that was much supported at the Geneva Conference, though not then supported by the nuclear weapon States, including ourselves?

Mr. Hattersley

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his first remarks. In principle, I see a great deal of attraction in my hon. Friend's suggestion about regional control, but there are a number of technical problems which must be examined with care. Nevertheless, we agree on the principle.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will my right hon. Friend reconsider the dangers of exporting plutonium from Windscale to Japan and four other countries? Will he bear in mind that officials at Windscale say that this is not essential to the carrying on of normal activities there?

Mr. Hattersley

There is a substantial case to be made out for ensuring that those countries with nuclear capabilities enable those capabilities to be used for wholly peaceful purposes, as long as there is a satisfactory system of safeguards to make sure that they are limited to those purposes. That must be the policy of those countries which already have nuclear capabilities.