§ 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.