Oral Answers to Questions — Hydrogen Bomb Tests

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th December 1956.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton 12:00 am, 20th December 1956

asked the Prime Minister what proposals he has received from President Eisenhower since 11th December concerning the suspension of all hydrogen bomb tests.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of President Eisenhower's decision to suspend United States hydrogen bomb tests, he will cancel the test of the British hydrogen bomb announced for next spring.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I am not aware of any decision by President Eisenhower to suspend the United States hydrogen bomb tests, nor have I received any proposals from the President on the subject. Certain exchanges have, however, been taking place between our two countries and are continuing on disarmament in general, including all aspects of nuclear disarmament. The point regarding the cancellation of the British test does not, therefore, arise.

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

Does it remain the policy of Her Majesty's Government that they will not be a party to any suspension of hydrogen bomb tests except within the context of a general disarmament agreement?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I think that is right. I should like to check it up. We said, so far as limitation is concerned, that we were prepared for a separate arrangement. As to suspension, I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is right.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these proposals of President Eisenhower have been aired in America in talks between the President's adviser and Press correspondents? Will he give an assurance that when an official offer is made by the American Government to suspend hydrogen bomb tests if the Soviet Union will do the same, this country will not jeopardise the chance of an international agreement by insisting on going on with our own tests next spring?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I do not think that that arises at all now. We are having certain exchanges between the two Governments about the general disarmament position, including the whole nuclear field of disarmament. I am afraid that I cannot say more than that at the present time because they are conversations between two Governments.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

The Prime Minister will recall that some time ago he said that Her Majesty's Government were prepared to put forward proposals for, at any rate, the limitation of hydrogen bomb tests, apart from any other disarmament arrangements which might be put forward. Could he say what measures precisely Her Majesty's Government are taking to carry out that undertaking?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct. We have been at work on drafting these proposals, and it is my hope that within a very few weeks we shall have our proposals ready in that respect. The right hon. Gentleman knows that these are highly technical and not simple matters, but I have not forgotten what we said, and our purpose remains exactly the same.