Nuclear Weapons

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th December 1957.

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Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan 12:00 am, 19th December 1957

asked the Prime Minister to what extent this country will continue to receive nuclear weapons from the United States of America, in view of the fact that we are now producing our own.

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

I have been asked to reply.

I have no statement to make on this matter.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Is the Lord Privy Seal telling us that he is not aware that according to the Press it has been decided to establish nuclear weapon bases in this country, four of them in Scotland? if that is the case, can he say whether the control and custody of the warheads of those missiles have to remain in the hands of the United States Government? Does he not regard that as an affront to this country? Are we now to become a Maginot Line for the defence of the United States of America, even assuming that defence is possible?

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

No, Sir; I do not accept all the points made in the hon. Member's supplementary question. It is valuable to work with the United States of America on the principle of pooling resources and that is precisely what we are doing.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

asked the Prime Minister, in view of his declaration on 16th December of willingness to enter into high level discussions with the Soviet Government, whether he will now prohibit the stationing of United States ballistic missiles in this country, put an end to the carrying of nuclear weapons by British-based aeroplanes on patrol, and accept the Polish and Soviet offer of an agreement to keep Germany and Eastern Europe free of nuclear weapons pending the outcome of these talks.

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

I have been asked to reply.

When my right hon. Friend said that he would go to any length in discussion, debate or argument which would prove our sincerity, he said also that he would make no concession to our safety. The Answer to the Question is, therefore, "No, Sir."

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) was very slow in rising.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

I apologise for being slow, Mr. Speaker, but I was so thunderstruck by that Answer that I could not rise quickly.

Does the Lord Privy Seal mean to say that the Government will enter negotiations with a determination to make no change in their position and to make no concessions whatsoever but to remain on a strictly war footing?

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

No, Sir. The Government are always elastic, and always ready.