HL Deb 19 March 1986 vol 472 c1039WA
Lord Chalfont

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What the implications of our bilateral relations with New Zealand will be if the New Zealand Government's Nuclear-Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Bill is enacted in its present form.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)

We very much value our close relationship with New Zealand and will make every effort to maintain it, but the New Zealand Nuclear-Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Bill would, if passed in its present form, conflict with our policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear weapons on our ships. It is a global policy the purpose of which is to ensure that any potentially hostile power should have no help in identifying which of our ships should be selected as priority targets. Accordingly we could not submit our ships to a formal assessment by any other government to determine whether or not they are carrying nuclear weapons. As presently drafted, the New Zealand Bill would make it impossible for RN ships to continue visiting New Zealand.

This would be a mattter of great regret. Defence co-operation is an important part of our bilateral relationship and Royal Navy visits have traditionally formed an integral part of this. If they could not be resumed the relationship would be diminished.

The legislation is of course a matter for New Zealand. But we very much hope that anything which may eventually pass into law will take into account our concerns. We have taken steps to ensure that the New Zealand Government are aware of our views about certain aspects of the Bill and the effect it would have on visits by ships of the Royal Navy.

We do not seek to impose nuclear weapons on New Zealand or on anyone else. But we do look to our allies and friends to help us to maintain the policies which assure effective defence and deterrence. These policies have to apply globally if they are to have any meaning. What happens in New Zealand is thus relevant to the security of the free world.