Oral Answers to Questions — Armed Forces – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1949.
asked the Minister of Defence if he will have published together all the documents issued since 1945 dealing with the atomic bomb; what is the present position of this country in regard to the use of atomic bombs; and what further action it is intended to take.
The only such document published by His Majesty's Government is the Report of the British Mission to Japan on "The Effects of the Atomic Bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki," issued in 1946. A number of documents have been published by the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission and are available in the Library of the House. The policy of His Majesty's Government has been in consistent support of the efforts being made in the United Nations to secure, under proper safeguards, the prohibition of the use of the atomic weapon.
Does the Minister accept the statement that agreement was almost reached among the big Powers concerned a few weeks ago, and if so, is it intended to take the initiative and to ensure that every possible step is taken to reach agreement?
I should say that whoever made that statement could not have read very closely the debates which took place. I would ask my hon. Friend to take the opportunity to read the speeches, both of the Soviet delegate and of the Minister of State.
Is the Minister aware that in the document of the Atomic Energy Commission, which is in the Library and to which he has referred, it is stated very definitely that the only defence against the atomic bomb is dispersal? Is he considering plans to defend us by dispersing London and Glasgow?
I am sure that all the necessary steps which can possibly be taken with regard to the defence of the country are being taken.
Arising out of the answer to the first supplementary question, does my right hon. Friend say that the only attempts made to reach agreement between the Powers on this issue are those contained in the speeches to which he has referred?
No, Sir. I referred to the whole of the discussions in the Atomic Energy Commission, which have been going on for several years, and which have been open to the public, and reports of which are in the Library. We have at all times endeavoured to secure the prohibition of the weapon under proper safeguards.
Does that mean that the only attempts to reach agreement are those to which the public had access? Have there been no private attempts to reach agreement?
I think the proper way to deal with this matter is through the organisation set up by all the nations of the world, without whose complete collaboration agreement in the matter would not be secured.
Is it the intention of the Government to consider the advisability of taking the initiative in this matter in order to make another attempt to try to reach agreement?
I do not think that this country has anything for which to apologise in the matter of the initiative it has taken to endeavour to secure the prohibition of this weapon.