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Nuclear Tests

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th March 1957.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton 12:00 am, 26th March 1957

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance, in view of the widespread concern in Japan at the prospect of hydrogen bombs being exploded in the Pacific, that, after the first explosion, no further hydrogen bombs will be exploded pending the outcome of the present United Nations disarmament discussions.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I have been asked to reply.

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply told the right hon. and learned Member on 18th March.

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

Why is it that the Government are now opposed as announced in the Bermuda communiqué, to any limitation on nuclear tests? Why will not one hydrogen bomb explosion give the Government the basis of parity which they desire with the United States and Russian Governments?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

The Prime Minister has made it quite clear, as he did on 19th March, the day following the Answer to which I referred, that Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to abandon tests in advance of a comprehensive disarmament agreement which affords proper safeguards and effective controls.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that statement goes back on an earlier statement made by Sir Anthony Eden, who promised that the Government would be prepared to try and seek agreement on hydrogen bomb tests independently of any general disarmament agreement? Can he explain the reason for the change?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

There is an Answer to be given to Question No. 50 which brings into line the agreement reached at Bermuda and which deals with the problem of world radiation and the effects of tests on that.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

Is it not more than eighteen months since the Government began to tell us that they were ready for some limitation of tests? When will they make some practical proposal to this end?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

We have just had some very successful and, I think, important conversations with the leaders of the United States Government in this matter. We realise that the security of the free world must continue to depend to a marked degree upon the nuclear deterrent. To maintain this effectively, nuclear testing must continue, certainly for the present.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that there is widespread agreement that the least satisfactory part of the Bermuda communiqué was that relating to H-bomb tests? Why do the Government continue to refrain from putting forward proposals for a conference designed to end H-bomb tests altogether?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

For the reasons I have given, that there are national interests at stake which we are not prepared to abandon.