HC Deb 20 March 1985 vol 75 c856
6. Mr. Brandon-Bravo

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what role the United Kingdom has played in the disarmament talks which commenced in Geneva on 12 March.

Mr. Luce

The United Kingdom is not a party to the bilateral talks between the United States and Soviet Union which began on 12 March. We have, however, played a full part in consultations within NATO on the subject of nuclear and space weapons. We remain in contact at the highest level with the United States and Soviet Union.

Mr. Brandon-Bravo

I welcome that reply and especially the expressions of solidarity with NATO. Will my hon. Friend comment on those areas where we are perhaps directly involved and can take a positive lead?

Mr. Luce

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. As he heard a little earlier, my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary stressed that only last week, on behalf of the British Government, I tabled a fresh set of proposals designed to improve the system of verification in a comprehensive agreement on chemical weapons. The House should be aware that Britain abandoned its chemical weapons over a quarter of a century ago, that the United States has not produced additional chemical weapons since 1969 and that the Soviet Union has acquired more than 300,000 tonnes of nerve agents. This is a serious situation, which makes it all the more urgent that we should progress towards a comprehensive agreement.

Mr. Cartwright

Has the Minister noted the appeal made earlier this week by the Federal German Foreign Minister, Mr. Genscher, that there should be a direct European voice in the Geneva discussions? Do the Government support that approach? If so, what steps will they take to try to secure that direct European involvement?

Mr. Luce

My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers proposed that there should be greater co-operation, possibly through the Western European Union, on security matters within Europe. There is already a great deal of consultation within the NATO Alliance, which includes the European contributors to the Alliance. The range of consultation is extensive.