HL Deb 22 February 1971 vol 315 cc806-7

2.38 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what Governments have signed the Seabed Arms Control Treaty and what weapons the Treaty bans.]


My Lords, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States, and representatives of 62 other Governments, signed the Treaty on February 11 in one or more of the capitals of the Depositary Governments, London, Moscow and Washington. Since the list is long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The Treaty bans the emplacement of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction on the seabed outside a twelve mile coastal zone.

Following is the list referred to:

According to information received up to February 17, 1971, the following countries have signed the Treaty in one or more of the depositary capitals:

Afghanistan Iceland
Australia Iran
Austria Ireland
Belgium Italy
Bolivia Japan
Botswana Jordan
Bulgaria Korea
Burma Laos
Burundi Lebanon
Cambodia Liberia
Canada Luxembourg
Central African Republic Mali
Colombia Mongolia
Costa Rica Mauritius
Cyprus Morocco
Czechoslovakia Nepal
Denmark Netherlands
Dominican Republic New Zealand
Ethiopia Nicaragua
Finland Niger
Ghana Norway
Greece Panama
Guatemala Poland
Guinea Romania
Honduras Rwanda
Hungary Sierra Leone
South Africa Tunisia
Sudan U.S.S.R.
Swaziland United Kingdom
Sweden United States
Switzerland Uruguay
Tanzania Vietnam

In addition, signatures have been appended in Washington on behalf of the Nationalist Chinese authorities, and in Moscow on behalf of the East German authorities.


My Lords, I thank the noble Earl the Minister for that reply. Perhaps I should have asked which Governments did not sign. May I ask him whether it is not the case that two nuclear Powers, France and China, have not signed this agreement? Further, in view of the better relations which exist with France since these negotiations began two years ago, would it be possible to approach France to reconsider its decision, because it might also influence China?


My Lords, the noble Lord is perfectly correct in saying that both France and China have not signed. It is of course Her Majesty's Government's desire that as many countries as possible will sign this document, and it is hoped that France and China will still do so.


My Lords, may I ask a further supplementary question? While we congratulate the Maltese Government on having initiated these discussions, is it not the case that Malta proposed that all war implements should be excluded from the seabed; and will Her Majesty's Government seek to extend this agreement to all warlike implements?


My Lords, as the noble Lord will appreciate, in matters such as this it is important to get agreement on a mutually common ground, and this is as far as this Treaty has gone. But Article 5 of the Treaty commits other Governments to continue to have discussions with a view to seeing whether further progress can be made in banning other weapons.