Oral Answers to Questions — Quebec Agreement (Hydrogen Bomb)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th April 1954.

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Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East 12:00 am, 8th April 1954

asked the Prime Minister whether the consultation arrangements provided by the Quebec Agreement covered the future use of the hydrogen bomb.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Woodford

The Quebec Agreement of 1943 dealt with the atomic bomb. The United States Government's decision to proceed with work on a hydrogen bomb was not taken until 1950. When the agreement was made we did not, of course, know whether the hydrogen bomb would ever become a reality.

Had the Quebec Agreement remained in force until the hydrogen bomb became a practical reality with the explosion of November, 1952, I should have regarded its provisions as applying to the hydrogen bomb also.

Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East

Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to statements issued both from the White House and by Mr. Truman to the effect that the Quebec Agreement did not cover the hydrogen bomb? In these circumstances, would it not be fairer to withdraw his charge that the Labour Government gambled with Britain's vital interests in this matter in view of the fact that there was never an agreement for consultation on the hydrogen bomb? May I further ask whether, in view of the importance he attaches to the hydrogen bomb, the right hon. Gentleman himself has made any approach to the American Government to negotiate an agreement, or for consultation?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Woodford

I think that all those serious, complicated, questions had better be set out separately on the Order Paper.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

As in the debate last Monday we were concerned not so much with the atom bomb but with the hydrogen bomb tests and the future use of the hydrogen bomb, was it really necessary for the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the Quebec Agreement, which referred exclusively—as he has just said—to the atom bomb, to introduce extraneous matters?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Woodford

I certainly thought over my action before I took it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I certainly considered that the hydrogen bomb was, in a certain sense, the child and successor of the atom bomb.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Since the right hon. Gentleman gave serious thought to the subject before he made his statement last Monday, can he tell the House whether he has given any thought to what he did since?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Woodford

I endeavour to allow my thoughts to play in retrospect, as well as in prospect, over all my actions.

Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.