HC Deb 15 June 1977 vol 933 cc361-2
2. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is aware that President Carter is willing to co-operate in the closure of United States nuclear bases in the United Kingdom; and what is holding up this policy.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Frank Judd)

I am not aware that President Carter has expressed himself in the sense suggested by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Jenkins

Is my hon. Friend aware that the policy advocated here is in accordance with the Labour Party's programme and, furthermore, in accordance with the general philosophy expounded by President Carter? If the Foreign Secretary points out to President Carter that it is part of the Labour Party's election programme and in accordance with the President's policy, is he aware that the President's response is likely to be to agree to a negotiated agreement? Will my hon. Friend press this matter?

Mr. Judd

We welcome President Carter's initiative. As our manifesto stated, starting from the basis of multilateral disarmament we shall seek the removal of the United States bases. It is our intention to establish conditions in which we can all have permanent confidence in our security. We are pursuing several practical measures on arms control and disarmament, but we are still some way from establishing such conditions.

Mrs. Bain

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that all those of us who are members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament find it strange that the Government are taking so long to strike up a new initiative in this area? If talks are initiated with President Carter, will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that this is already party policy for the Scottish National Party, and that we intend to carry out this commitment much more quickly than does the Labour Party?

Mr. Judd

It is not for me to comment on the policy of the Scottish National Party. I assure the hon. Lady that we have positively welcomed the President's initiative and that we are determined, together with our other allies, to do everything possible to support what he seeks.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Is it not correct that the President has concurred with the recent surprising Soviet proposal that Britain should join the super-Powers in talks to end all nuclear test explosions? Will we join those talks, and in any case should not Britain therefore cancel its tests in Nevada?

Mr. Judd

Of course, if we can achieve international agreement on the cessation of nuclear tests, so long as we can be sure that peaceful tests are not disguised for military purposes, we shall do everything possible to co-operate. We are determined to do that.

Mr. John Davies

Will the Minister, however, confirm clearly that his understanding is as mine—that is, that President Carter has in no way suggested that there should be a unilateral state of disarmament of any kind, in the face of the existing state of Soviet armament?

Mr. Judd

What the President is clearly committed to and what we are committed to support to the hilt is a genuine and full commitment to effective and genuine multilateral disarmament. However, as I have said before, succeeding generations will not thank us for cosmetics in this sphere.

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