HC Deb 05 May 1982 vol 23 cc147-8
21. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will report further progess on the preparations for the United Nations special session on disarmament in June.

Mr. Hurd

The final meeting of the preparatory committee for the special session is taking place in New York. The spring session of the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva ended on 21 April and a report of its work will be submitted to the special session. Mr. Frank Judd, the director of Voluntary Service Overseas, and a member of the national executive of the United Nations Association, has agreed to accompany the United Kingdom delegation as an independent adviser in liaison with British non-governmental organisations.

Mr. Chapman

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that information. As he knows that it is the fervent wish of millions of people that the special session should be successful and produce practical measures to bring about multlateral disarmament, will he give an assurance that the Prime Minister will lead the discussions, with a view to obtaining international agreement on banning the manufacture, as well as the stockpiling and use, of all chemical weapons?

Mr. Hurd

As my hon. Friend knows, the Prime Minister has said that she intends to lead our delegation at the beginning of the United Nations special session. We have paid great attention to the possibility of making progress on the chemical weapons question and we have tabled proposals—which we hope will be helpful—for dealing with the main obstacle of verification. We hope that all those concerned will look favourably on our proposals, so that we can make progress.

Mr. James Lamond

What have the Government done as a result of the agreement reached at the last United Nations special session on disarmament in 1978?

Mr. Hurd

Both the last Government and this Government have tried to take every opportunity to help the negotiations between Governments. They are the only possible basis for progress on arms control and disarmament. The first and second special sessions can encourage, stimulate and spur on, but ultimately agreement is reached only by negotiation between Governments.

Mr. Henderson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that progress towards disarmament will be greatly aided if peace-loving nations are freed from the fear of aggression by countries that do not believe in democracy and if the United Nations has the ability to insist on the implementation of resolutions, such as resolution 502?

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend is absolutely right and I entirely agree with him.

Mr. Norman Atkinson

Why do the Government practice dual standards in such matters? Why do they oppose, as a matter of principle, the proliferation of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, but believe in the proliferation of conventional weapons, because they believe in arms sales?

Mr. Hurd

We have answered many questions on conventional arms sales. When friends in the Third world or elsewhere come to us saying that they have established a need for a new piece of equipment, we encourage them to buy British instead of Russian or French. That seems perfectly reasonable. However, we must deal with the tensions and disputes that create the demand for arms.

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