Disarmament and Nuclear Tests

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th February 1962.

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Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley 12:00 am, 8th February 1962

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement on the subject of disarmament and nuclear tests.

As the House knows, successive British Governments have, since the last war, devoted major efforts to the attempt to reach disarmament agreements. We have tried broad negotiations, such as those in London from 1954 to 1957, and again in Geneva in 1960; we have tried narrower negotiations on specific points like the negotiations which took place in Geneva from 1958 onwards about nuclear tests and those about surprise attack measures. We have attempted, as regards the narrower negotiations, to begin with technical discussions like the 1958 Conference of Experts on nuclear tests, in the hope that these would clear the ground in advance of what I might describe as political discussions.

In addition to these international conferences, we have also discussed disarmament frequently at private meetings, as during my visit to the Soviet Union in 1959 and in my talks with Mr. Khrushchev in New York in 1960. So far, as the House knows, although there have been ups and downs and even moments of hope, we have as yet achieved nothing. Indeed, since the dramatic failure of the Summit meeting in 1960, the general international climate has deteriorated to such an extent that the prospects of any agreement about disarmament between East and West have seemed more remote than ever.

Last autumn, this situation was reflected in the massive series of Soviet atmospheric nuclear tests. After these had taken place I explained to the House on 31st October last the position of principle as regards further testing which Her Majesty's Government had felt bound to adopt. President Kennedy made a similar statement of the United States' attitude on 1st November. It was against this background that President Kennedy and I met just before Christmas in Bermuda. As the communiqué issued after this meeting explained, we there considered the position both as regards the military situation and as regards the future of disarmament. Since our meeting in Bermuda, the President and I have been in close touch about the situation and about the future of Western policy in these fields.

In my statement I said that the West would conduct further tests only for compelling military or scientific reasons and that, if possible, these would be made underground. The United States has, in line with this principle, for some time been conducting a series of underground tests of nuclear devices. In this connection, we are now satisfied that substantial technical and military benefits can be obtained by testing one particular British nuclear device underground. The United States Government have agreed to make available suitable facilities in Nevada so that this test can be conducted there within the next few weeks.

At Bermuda, we also discussed the question of atmospheric tests about which the House, I think rightly, feels a more lively concern. President Kennedy explained that in accordance with his statement on 1st November he felt it militarily necessary now to make preparations for a limited series of atmospheric tests for specific purposes. In the world of ballistic missiles offensive power remains far ahead of defensive power, and we know that some most formidable practical problems stand in the way of devising a defence against missiles. Yet, while the arms race continues, we dare not fall behind in the struggle between offensive and defensive capabilities, with their increasingly complex systems of countermeasures and counter-counter-measures. We must bear in mind the claims, true or false, made by Russian military leaders at the time of their nuclear test series last autumn that they have solved the problem of destroying ballistic missiles in flight. As I said in the debate on 31st October, I conceive that we have a duty to maintain the balance of power in the world…and to ensure that the security of free men is not overthrown because an aggressor suddenly becomes possessed of an overwhelming advantage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1961; Vol. 648, c. 32.] I felt myself bound to accept, therefore, the military and scientific arguments in favour of preparations for a resumption of tests—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."]—and when President Kennedy asked for the use of facilities at Christmas Island for them, Her Majesty's Government thought it right to agree. Accordingly, an agreement is being discussed in Washington at the moment under which Her Majesty's Government will allow the United States the use of facilities at Christmas Island for a limited period and for a specific programme of tests with which we shall of course be associated. On this point, the following announcement is being issued immediately in London and in Washington. I will quote it textually: It is the joint view of the United States and the United Kingdom Governments that the existing state of nuclear development, in which the recent massive Soviet tests are an important factor, would justify the West in making such further series of nuclear tests as may be necessary for purely military reasons.The United States and the United Kingdom Governments have, therefore, decided that preparations should be made in various places, and as part of these the United Kingdom Government are making available to the United States Government the facilities at Christmas Island. That is the announcement.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I will now resume my statement.

While our two Governments have reluctantly accepted the need to prepare for further tests, both President Kennedy and I were deeply distressed at this necessity and at the future position in the world if a halt cannot be called to the nuclear arms race. When I was in Bermuda I made this point strongly to the President, who was very receptive, and accordingly, on my return after consulting my colleagues, I made a definite proposal to President Kennedy that the Western Powers should make another determined effort to reach some agreement with the Soviet Union on the question of disarmament. We have already agreed to join in the work of the Committee of Eighteen which meets in Geneva on 14th March, and I believe that this will offer an opportunity for renewed serious discussions.

I am glad to say that President Kennedy very much welcomed the idea of trying to give special impetus and effectiveness to this conference. Accordingly, the two Governments have today communicated with the Soviet Government, and have invited them to send their Foreign Minister to a tripartite meeting to assemble before the Geneva meeting and to begin this meeting also at the level of Foreign Ministers. I have addressed a personal letter to Mr. Krushchev appealing to him to agree to this proposal and President Kennedy has done the same. It is our hope that a preliminary meeting of Foreign Ministers may reach broad agreement on the type of work which could be studied in the Committee of Eighteen and that the presence of Foreign Ministers at the start of the meetings of the Committee will give an impetus to its work. In order to record this agreement, the following announcement is being issued at this moment in Washington and London—following on the first part which I have read: The two Governments are, however, deeply concerned for the future of mankind if a halt cannot be called to the nuclear arms race. The two Governments are, therefore, determined to make a new effort to move away from this sterile contest. They believe that a supreme effort should be made at the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee which will begin meetings on the 14th of March at Geneva, and that the Heads of Government of the United Kingdom, United States and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics should take a direct personal interest in these negotiations. The President and Prime Minister have, therefore, addressed a joint communication to Chairman Khrushchev, proposing that this meeting be initiated at the Foreign Minister level and that their Foreign Ministers should meet before the conference starts and also be prepared to return as personal participants in the negotiations at appropriate stages as progress is made. That is the end of the announcement.

I earnestly trust as, I am sure does the whole House, that this new initiative will be fruitful.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

The House will wish to consider carefully the long and important statement made by the Prime Minister. Many questions arise out of it, and I take it that in due course arrangements will be made for a debate on the statement and on the important problems associated with it.

Meanwhile, may I ask a few questions by way of clarification? First, the Prime Minister will recall that in the statements made by the Government at the end of October and the beginning of November both he and the Minister of Defence made it plain that at that stage it was not believed to be necessary from any military or technical angle to resume atmospheric tests. What has happened since then which has led to an apparent change of attitude in this matter?

Secondly, can he give us an assurance that the decision as to whether or not atmospheric tests are resumed will be deferred until after the meetings in Geneva in March?

Thirdly, do we have the right to participate as a Government in the final decision as to whether or not atmospheric tests will be made, or has the Prime Minister agreed carte blanche, so to speak, to allowing the American Government to use Christmas Island and to allowing them alone to make this decision?

Fourthly, can he say what exactly is meant by our being associated with these tests on Christmas Island?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

In reply to the first question, it is clear now, certainly on the assessments which we have agreed, that there is a military need, if we are not to risk being left behind in the field of anti-missile weapons, to make some tests for particular purposes connected therewith. I should like to make it clear that there will be continuous consultation between us. We have the British Scientific Technical Committee and the President's Committee. They are keeping in close and constant touch and they will be charged with the duty of ascertaining that any specific tests fall within the undertakings which the President and I gave last autumn, that they will be carried out only for essential military purposes and not for what I think I called then political or terrorist purposes.

On the second point, concerning the date when atmospheric tests will take place, the first thing we must do is to see the immediate reception of this new initiative. I should not like to go further than that today.

With regard to the association with us, we supply Christmas Island for this purpose and we will be informed under the agreements that we have already negotiated. As the Leader of the Opposition knows, we have the closest interchange of all information that follows.

The right hon. Gentleman's third question was whether we have the right to participate in the final decision. I would put it in this way. There will continue to be, as there is, very close consultation between us both on the scientific and political aspects. I really do not think that we shall disagree, or that there will be any question of veto, but, of course, I am hoping that we will be able to agree that further tests can be postponed. If this initiative led to any really great results, then our political and military situation would be transformed; but I must make it clear to the House that we have reached agreement in principle about the moral justification for making further tests— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and that neither Government would, in the end, in the unlikely event of there being disagreement, stand in the way of the other.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Will the Prime Minister answer two questions arising from that reply? First, would it not be perfectly possible to state that these atmospheric tests will not in any event take place until after the discussions in Geneva? Is there really anything to be lost by making this proposition or, indeed, stating, even if the Prime Minister does not wish to go as far as that, that if Chairman Khrushchev agrees to the proposal of the President and himself then the decision will not take place in any case until after the Geneva talks?

Secondly, can he clarify the position of the British Government? Have we already decided that, for technical, military and political considerations, it is necessary in the interests of the West for these atmospheric tests to take place? Is that really the case? It does not coincide with reports in the newspapers. If there is still a possibility of a different decision being taken, can he make it clear whether or not the British Government have any say in the matter?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The scientists are continually at work together, but we have reached the conclusion that it was necessary to prepare and that, in principle, we have, alas, the duty to make these tests if we are to maintain our position. That is what we think at the moment.

The Leader of the Opposition asked what would happen if, which I think is very unlikely after our close co-operation and working together, we should reach different conclusions. I say now—I must be frank—that neither Government will stand in the way of the other but I do not think that this will arise, for we do not work like that.

My answer to the right hon. Gentleman's first point, which was whether we will postpone this decision until after the negotiations, is that they may be very prolonged. I do not think that I ought to go as far as that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] After all, we carried the other ones on for three years and all the time the Russians were preparing. I think that we must see where we stand after this first initiative, but I would hope that we could put our full weight on them, because if we can make an advance here nobody will be more happy, I am sure, than our people—of all parties—and the American people.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

Is the Prime Minister aware that he has made a profoundly depressing announcement to the House? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If hon. Members opposite do not think that it is depressing, I am astonished. Many of us who support deterrence are terrified in case it develops a sort of competitive momentum of its own and it becomes impossible ever to stop these tests.

Is it now the view that the Russian tests were of some military value, because up to now we have always been told that they were of no military value? If that is the case, can the right hon. Gentleman explain a little more why it is necessary for purely military reasons for us to hold tests in America and for the Americans to hold them on Christmas Island?

Secondly, will the Prime Minister clarify further why he has coupled his announcement of a further approach to Mr. Khrushchev about disarmament, which I am sure the whole House will welcome, because it is the only ray of hope in what he has said, with this announcement of further tests? What would be his own reaction if Mr. Khrushchev had written to him and said, "I am about to explode another bomb in Siberia, but come to conversations about disarmament"? The timing is most extraordinary.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I really think that the right hon. Gentleman has slightly, but, I am sure, unintentionally, misrepresented the situation. Last November, I said that we would not make them except if we were convinced that they were necessary militarily. We have now had the assessment, which I am bound to say has shown us that substantial advances were made in particular fields by the Russian tests. I therefore felt—I do not say happily; nor did the President—that we could not afford not to make, on however small a scale, some tests in this particular scientific field, which is of so much importance.

On the other hand, it was with a very heavy heart. Therefore, we said, "Surely this is an advance. We make the preparations and then we come to you. We have not exploded 40 bombs a few months ago. We come to you and say, 'Cannot we call it off? Cannot we somehow stop this?'" Surely that is the right approach and the right posture for us to adopt.

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

On a point of clarification, are we to understand that these proposed tests by Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government are to be held up pending the achievement of a test ban agreement or, alternatively, pending the achievement of an agreement on general disarmament? There are two separate possibilities.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

It would be very nice to get a test ban agreement. It would be better still to get a movement towards general disarmament. But I could not ask the American Government to hold them up until that was achieved. For three years, under great pressure, the last President held them up. We managed to keep the moratorium from one year to another. I should like to pay tribute to President Eisenhower's personal intervention in that, under great pressure.

I could not—no Prime Minister could—ask the American authorities, after what has happened, after the three years' moratorium, followed by an immediate explosion and tests on an immense scale, to say that they must postpone not only all the preparations, but even the final decision to test until these agreements are reached. However, if this initiative meets with some response, then we have a situation which might transform not only this problem, but many of the other problems which divide East and West.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris , Aberavon

Having regard to the tremendous disappointment and alarm that this announcement will cause to millions of people, and as the Americans keep to themselves many of their own nuclear secrets, how has the Prime Minister been able to satisfy himself of the absolute necessity, on military grounds, of these atmospheric tests? Does he know on what reliance is being placed, and who has made this so-called assessment?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Under the two agreements of 1958 and 1959 we have a complete interchange of information, and there is complete co-operation between us. Our scientists are very distinguished men, and greatly respected in the United States, and they all work closely together. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are working in absolute partnership on both the scientific and the political levels.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

Is it not a fact that since the Russians unilaterally breached the test silence both Her Majesty's Government and the American Government have been placed in a very invidious position indeed; that if they decide to go forward with a series of tests they are themselves jeopardising a future international test agreement, but that if they do not there would be a danger of our falling behind in the quality of our nuclear weapons?

If the Prime Minister had the latter part in mind, and if that is responsible for the statement he has made this afternoon, will he not assure the House that the tests planned by Her Majesty's Government, and those that are to be undertaken by the Americans on our testing station, will be "clean" tests, so that there will be no radioactive poisoning of the atmosphere? The Russians, of course, managed relatively to do this, in spite of the fact that they reported tests of some of the largest of these weapons we have ever known.

Finally, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that he should make the case, and that it should be fully understood, that the tests are militarily necessary?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I quite appreciate that intervention which, I think, is helpful. I can assure the hon. Member that with modern techniques, the kind of atmospheric tests, if they are made, will not add significantly to fall-out. We have had this, at least, rather comforting thought, that even the massive Russian tests have not added as much fall-out as was at one time feared. The British test will, of course, be an underground one, and with our particular mechanism the question of fall-out will not arise.

Photo of Sir Isaac Pitman Sir Isaac Pitman , Bath

In view of the disappointing record of what has been achieved in disarmament during the last seventeen years that the Prime Minister mentioned, and in the period before the war—indeed, really going back to Charlemagne—is it not perfectly evident that the present methods of approach to disarmament are either quite impossible with nations that are sovereign States, or that they cannot give assurance that agreements will be adhered to by such sovereign States, if agreement were to be achieved?

Secondly, would what has been announced in any way preclude the Prime Minister from carrying out, what was his own proposal, the setting up of a security authority so that those who might in future be considering disarmament might then be able to look to a new body to give them the security they so badly need, and the lack of which is the reason for their continued arming?

Thirdly, while we are, though regrettably, on a balance-of-power basis, is it not absolutely clear that we must continue that balance and maintain the equilibrium in the interests of our people, and that it is thus the Government's duty to preserve it?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I think that the first parts of my hon. Friend's supplementary question are valuable contributions to the, perhaps, wider aspects of the problem, but this is an immediate problem. I know that we have failed up to now, and that we may not succeed this time, but there are great forces, it may be, working on both sides, for calling a halt to these tests. If the equilibrium is to be kept, and both sides advance into this new field of very sophisticated anti-missile and other weapons, the expenditure of resources, money and effort will be tremendous, even for the United States and even for Russia.

What could be done if all that expenditure could be diverted into another field might, at this stage, be more attractive to the Russian Government now that there is, an any rate, an equilibrium. It is simply a question of whether or not to advance into the new field over a long period of years at an immense expenditure of money and human resources.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

While we all recognise that it was the Russians who broke the moratorium which held for so long, and not the West, nevertheless any announcement of a possible resumption of tests by the West is obviously of grave concern. Is there any significance in the fact that the Prime Minister used today words different from those he used in October, to which he referred? He then said that we would only resume tests for compelling military or scientific reasons, but today, referring to our own Nevada test, the right hon. Gentleman said that we intended to have the new test there because we were convinced that we could get substantial benefit from it? There is all the world of difference between one side thinking that it is getting substantial benefit, and a clear and inescapable recognition that it faces a compelling need. Did the right hon. Gentleman intend his words to be different and, if so, does he think this is the absolute inescapable need of which he spoke?

Secondly, in view of the extent to which the Prime Minister has spoken today about the defensive countermeasures to make sure that the offensive balance is not disturbed—which I understand very clearly—and in view of the very firm statement made by the Minister of Defence, on 1st November, that, in his view, the future development of nuclear weapons could lie only in the field of this kind of weapon, which he thought, as he then said, could be kept underground, can the Prime Minister assure us that the tests which are to take place in Nevada are for these defensive purposes, and are not an attempt to extend the British offensive capacity?

Finally, will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider what my right hon. Friend has said to him about being willing to defer both our test and that of the Americans on Christmas Island in order to see what response we get to the suggestion that there should be a meeting of the three Foreign Ministers?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I think that I have already dealt with the last point. In fact, the technical preparations in Christmas Island have not even begun.

With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's other point, I think that I made the distinction in November—I certainly meant to—between the underground and the atmospheric test. The underground test is for a purpose about which I know he will not press me; it is connected with the existing weapon system—I will put it that way. There may be some other advantages, and it has none of the disadvantages of the atmospheric test. The Americans have made one or two lately.

There comes the question of doing this only for compelling military reasons, for getting back into this terrible thing—because it is terrible to start again—the atmospheric tests. On the other hand, I put it quite frankly to the House, I do not believe that any British Prime Minister could ask any American President—after the experience of the three years' moratorium, and after the sudden explosion of these tests, prepared all the time when we were not doing them—to call them off. What I do think—and I know that the President feels this deeply—is that we should make another effort, and we have today joined together to do that.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon Lieut-Colonel Stephen Maydon , Wells

Is my right hon. Friend aware that all unprejudiced people will recognise the patience which Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government have shown over a number of years in continuing these negotiations in the face of great duplicity on the part of the Russians? Is he further aware that the Russians' knowledge that we have a determination in the West to protect ourselves against these dangers can be a strong incentive to coming to some agreement over testing?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Yes, Sir. I feel that the British Government have tried to do their duty here. We owe a good deal both to the last American Administration and to the present one for the way in which they have approached this problem. The last Administration, under very great pressure, held off from one year to another, largely under President Eisenhower's own personal direction. I am sure that no one is more anxious to see disarmament and a movement forward than is President Kennedy, as we all know.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

Is the Prime Minister aware that some hon. Members on this side of the House are strongly prejudiced—in favour of human survival? When the right hon. Gentleman speaks of "compelling military and scientific reasons" for this new essay in genocide, will he treat with the utmost reserve any information that emanates from the United States Atomic Energy Commission, which has, in the past, put out to the public information which has subsequently been proved false—though it has been retracted and corrected very reluctantly?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I regard—and I think that the House as a whole does, also—the maintenance of the equilibrium as being essential to the maintenance of our liberty. I do not think that it was fair of the hon. Gentleman to have made the imputation in the second part of his question. I have the utmost faith in the scientists working on both sides and I know from experience—and I believe that the House knows—the immense skill and knowledge of the scientists who represent us and who advise us.

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

While, for my part, I welcome the initiative which the Prime Minister and the President are taking with Mr. Khrushchev and while I regard it as much the most important part of what the right hon. Gentleman has said this afternoon, can he say, regarding the tests, whether he has seen the full and frank statement made by Dr. Bethe, who was the Chairman of President Kennedy's Commission of Inquiry into the Russian tests? In view of the great importance of the conclusions which Dr. Bethe reaches, might the House have the text of that statement available for the use of hon. Members?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

If it was a public statement I will certainly try to see whether it can be made available in the Library. Scientists, of course, like other experts, differ in the emphasis they make, but I have absolute confidence in the advice I have been given today. Our two committees meet the whole-time; we are in close touch. I am quite sure that we are only anxious to reach the right solutions on the advice given to us, both the President and myself.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

I ask leave, Mr. Speaker, to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of calling attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the decision of Her Majesty's Government to initiate discussions to make Christmas Island available for the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by the Government of the United States of America. First, this question is, I submit, definite. The right hon. Gentleman has said that a decision has been reached in principle, that discussions are to be initiated and that Her Majesty's Government will not be able to repudiate a decision by the American Government if they regard these tests as necessary. Secondly, it is urgent. Whenever the testing takes place, the determining decision has been made now. This decision will prejudice the disarmament discussions which are to take place in Geneva and, however unreasonably, they will incite counter-action by the Russian Government. Thirdly, this is a matter of public importance. It will be of paramount influence not only on the course of disarmament, but maybe the occurrence and nature of war. And it is the matter of the gravest concern to large numbers of people in this country.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

The hon. Member asks permission to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance, namely, the decision of Her Majesty's Government to initiate discussions to make Christmas Island available for the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by the Government of the United States of America. My duty in deciding whether or no to leave this to the House clearly depends on the timetable. What I am told is that no one has started making any preparations on Christmas Island yet. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] That was the information given to me by the Prime Minister in the presence of the House a moment ago. If something were to happen tomorrow, or Saturday, or short of the weekend, the situation would be different, but I do not see how I can get this within the Standing Order on that information. Accordingly, I must decline the application of the hon. Member.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

May I respectfully suggest that the Prime Minister stated in the House today that discussions are to be immediately initiated for the preparation of these atmospheric tests? In view of that, is it not important that the House of Commons should have an immediate opportunity to declare its opinion on that decision?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I am following the hon. Member's argument and I had it in mind. The distinction from the point of view of my duty is whether it is a matter which should be discussed today or at some early opportunity. Taking that view, I do not consider it a matter of urgency requiring the House to discuss it today.

Several Hon. Members:

Several Hon. Members rose——

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Is not the urgency indicated not in the discussions which are to follow upon the decision which has been taken, but the decision itself? The Prime Minister made it perfectly clear that a decision has already been taken—an agreement has already been made—to make Christmas Island available for this purpose to the United States. Is that not urgent, Mr. Speaker?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I really do not want to argue on this. I do not accept that view. The decision is a past matter and, therefore, does not assist me in this. If something were to be done effectively under it in the sense of launching a test on Christmas Island before the House could discuss it, I would be dealing with a different position. I am sorry—and I have thought about this; I did so, of course, before I came into the Chamber—but I do not think that this comes under the Standing Order and that I must ask the House to take my Ruling on it.

Photo of Mr Harold Davies Mr Harold Davies , Leek

Further to that point of order. I respectfully submit that there is a matter of human rights because the decision has been made. There are subjects of Her Majesty the Queen who have no representation at all, who have appealed to the United Nations about the growing chances of leukaemia and who have pointed out to the scientific authorities——

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. What is quite clear is that the hon. Gentleman may not make a speech about it. I will hear him if he has a point of order.

Photo of Mr Harold Davies Mr Harold Davies , Leek

The point is that there are subjects of Her Majesty who have no other forum, but who will be immediately affected, namely, the inhabitants of Christmas Island. They have appealed, but the massive Powers have taken no notice whatever. We ought, therefore, to be concerned immediately about their future and their human rights.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

The point raised by the hon. Gentleman does not touch the point of urgency in relation to the Standing Order. I must ask the House to take my decision about it and deal with me if it does not agree.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

May I put this to you, Sir? You said a few moments ago that there was not any urgency about a discussion in the House because the decision has been taken. If we have a proper discussion of the matter, it could mean the Government's downfall. That is the whole object of the exercise.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I receive all propositions of that kind with the greatest neutral enthusiasm in the kind of active neutralism which I practise, but it does not assist me in ruling in relation to urgency under the Standing Order. I do not propose to hear further points about it.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker—a new point of order.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Ashfield

Mr. Warbey rose——

Hon. Members:

Order.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order—on both sides of the House. I do not propose to hear any argument about my Rulings upon points of order. I hear the hon. Lady saying that she has a new point of order. If it relates to my Ruling, I respectfully say that I do not wish to hear it. If it is another point of order, I will, of course, hear it.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

On a new point of order, Mr. Speaker. I ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the decision of Her Majesty's Government to grant facilities for the testing of nuclear weapons at Christmas Island in direct contravention of the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, of which the United Kingdom is a member, of 16th November, 1961, which declared the use of nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons to be contrary to the spirit, letter and aims of the Charter of the United Nations, and in direct violation of the Charter inasmuch as the testing and development of nuclear weapons carries with it an assumption that they may be used. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that this is a matter which ought to be discussed by the House immediately in that it is not the testing of the weapons but the decision to grant facilities which constitutes a violation of the Charter.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

The hon. Lady asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the decision of Her Majesty's Government to grant facilities for the testing of nuclear weapons at Christmas Island in direct contravention of the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, of which the United Kingdom is a member, of 16th November, 1961, which declared the use of nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons to be contrary to the spirit, letter and aims of the Charter of the United Nations, and in direct violation of the Charter inasmuch as the testing and development of nuclear weapons carries with it an assumption that they may be used. I cannot accede to the hon. Lady's application. It does not add to the urgency aspect of the problem within the Standing Order from my point of view. No doubt, it will be an admirable argument when we come to discuss the matter later.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Ashfield

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I want to be sure that the hon. Gentleman is raising another point of order. If not, I am asking the House to take my Ruling.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Ashfield

I am raising a point of order in respect of the submission made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart). Am I allowed to do that, Sir?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I must ask the House to take my Ruling.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Ashfield

With respect, Mr. Speaker, this is the first occasion on which I have been given an opportunity to put a point on a matter of vital public importance.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I cannot argue my Rulings on points of order. If the House wishes to challenge them, it must deal with me in the proper way.