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Disarmament Sub-Committee (White Paper)

Oral Answers to Questions — United Nations – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd July 1957.

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Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge 12:00 am, 3rd July 1957

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now make a statement as to the disarmament proposals put forward by Her Majesty's Government at the United Nations Disarmament Sub-Committee.

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

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how far the support of Her Majesty's Government for a suspension of nuclear tests is dependent on an agreement for the cessation of future nuclear weapon production.

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

Her Majesty's Government, in company with the Governments of Canada, France and the United States, tabled a joint statement in the Disarmament Sub-Committee yesterday, announcing their position with respect to the Soviet proposal of 14th June for a moratorium on nuclear tests. I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. This statement is now being discussed at the Sub-Committee.

My right hon. and learned Friend has given further consideration to the question of a statement or a White Paper on the current talks. He has come to the conclusion that the best way for him to try to meet the wishes of the House is to issue a White Paper. He proposes to do this in the course of next week.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

Whilst expressing satisfaction that after all the hesitations and excuses—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—it has been found possible to agree to suspension of the tests, is the Minister aware that most of us will hope that the Soviet Union will find it possible to accept the two qualifications which go with this offer of suspension? May I put two questions to the Minister? Firstly, a period of ten months has been mentioned as the period of suspension. May I ask if this is the fact, and would not the Minister agree that it is somewhat inadequate? Secondly, as regards the proposed cut-off, if this is to mean unlimited inspection for limited results, should there not be some additional agreement, ultimately to go on to the complete banning of nuclear weapons?

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

First, I share the hope of the hon. Gentleman that the Soviet Government will be able to agree with our proposals. As regards his other two questions. I am sure he will agree that this is a most complicated matter to be dealt with by question and answer, and I hope that he will await the White Paper.

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

May I ask the Minister of State a question arising out of the official statement published this morning? In the event of a partial agreement being achieved, is it intended that nuclear test explosions shall be suspended forthwith, while steps are being taken to establish a control organ for the purpose of supervising the cessation of production?

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

I am afraid that I must give the right hon. and learned Gentleman the same answer, and ask him to await the White Paper.

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

Does the Minister not know what is in the statement?

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

Of course I do, but it is very difficult to deal with these points piecemeal, so I shall be grateful if the right hon. and learned Gentleman will leave the matter.

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

Since everything in this proposal turns on the scheme to be drawn up by the suggested Commission of Experts, will the Minister consider whether, in composing that Commission, it should include some representatives of nations not in the Sub-Committee, in view of the fact that a major purpose is to induce so-called "fourth" nations not to start to make nuclear weapons?

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

I am sure that will be considered by both the Sub-Committee and the Disarmament Commission.

Following is the statement: