HC Deb 04 July 1995 vol 263 cc135-6
13. Mr. Luff

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for developing procedures as alternatives to nuclear weapons testing; and if he will make a statement. [30567]

Mr. Freeman

In the absence of underground nuclear weapon testing, we intend to develop further a range of experimental techniques and facilities for the stewardship of our nuclear weapon stockpile, including above-ground, non-nuclear experiments, lasers and computer simulation.

Mr. Luff

Following that welcome confirmation that the Government do not intend to return to nuclear testing, will my right hon. Friend nevertheless assure me that it is our absolute priority to maintain the effectiveness of the Trident nuclear defence? Does he understand that this is a matter on which Conservatives are entirely united, in contrast to the Labour party, whose members have always accorded a shamefully low priority to the protection of this country?

Mr. Freeman

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and can assure him that the safety of our nuclear weapons will be paramount in our programme. He is right: not only did 58 Labour Members sign the early-day motion to scrap Trident, but in May 1986 the shadow defence spokesman, the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark), and the leader of the Labour party were both members of parliamentary CND and both put their name to a statement supporting the removal of all nuclear weapons from British territory. That is the policy of the shadow defence spokesman.

Mr. Dalyell

From previous answers this afternoon, is the House to take it that the Government approve of French nuclear testing?

Mr. Freeman

The Government have not expressed an opinion; it is a matter for the French. My right hon. and learned Friend—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am answering the question. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence indicated our support, the United States' support and the French Government's support for full implementation of the comprehensive test ban treaty at the end of 1996.

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