Oral Answers to Questions — Washington Negotiations (Atomic Energy Agency)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th April 1956.

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Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell 12:00 am, 25th April 1956

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the commitments of the United Kingdom under the Charter for an international agency for atomic energy; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the progress of the Washington conference on the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

Photo of Mr Anthony Nutting Mr Anthony Nutting , Melton

As hon. Members will have seen from the communiqué issued after the final meeting of the Washington Negotiating Group on 18th April, a draft statute for the agency has been adopted by the group. I would ask the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) to await publication of this draft statute, copies of which will be placed in the Library as soon as they are available.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether, at this stage, he can give an undertaking that all these proposals for an international agency for atomic energy are strictly scrutinised from the point of view of Commonwealth interests and the vital importance to Commonwealth development of nuclear power?

Photo of Mr Anthony Nutting Mr Anthony Nutting , Melton

Most certainly I can give that assurance. I am also very happy to say that the Commonwealth will be playing an active part in this agency.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton

Is it not a fact that when President Eisenhower originally proposed the establishment of this international atomic energy agency he assumed that it would be related to an agreement for nuclear disarmament? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he does not agree that the effectiveness of this organisation will very largely depend upon the achievement of some measure of agreement for nuclear disarmament?

Photo of Mr Anthony Nutting Mr Anthony Nutting , Melton

I would certainty say that I think the fully effective operation of a peaceful nuclear agency will depend to some extent upon the fulfilment of some element of nuclear disarmament. I do not know whether that element was in the President's mind when he brought forward his proposal, but the statute of the agency has control machinery built into it to ensure that atomic energy which is purveyed for peaceful purposes is not diverted to military use.