Orders of the Day — Disarmament

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd July 1962.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to direct your attention to the fact that it was arranged that part of this day should be devoted by Members from the North-East to a consideration of the economic position in that area and that the Members concerned have decided to impose restraint upon themselves to the extent that to enable as many as possible to take part in that debate they would speak for no longer than ten minutes each.

Is it possible. Mr. Speaker, to impose a similar restraint upon those who are to address the House in previous debates, otherwise there is no saying when the debate on the North-East will come on?

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

In other places and other legislatures, appropriate powers are conferred upon the Chair; but that is not so here.

4.2 p.m.

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

It is a considerable time since the House debated the subject of disarmament and I do not feel able to agree with the proposal which my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) has just made. I hope that he will forgive me.

On 7th February this year, the Prime Minister joined with President Kennedy in writing a letter to Mr. Khrushchev about the Committee of Eighteen, which was then about to meet. They said that in that Committee a supreme effort must be made and that at this time in our history, disarmament is the most urgent issue we face. They said that We must view the forthcoming disarmament meetings as an opportunity and a challenge which time and history may not once again allow us. If the Government had acted on those admirable admonitions, the Minister of State would have been a member of the Cabinet long ago. He would have been given the help of an adequate staff of scientists and experts and, perhaps, as has been widely urged, an advisory committee of the highest standing. We much regret that none of that has yet been done. We much regret a good deal of what has happened in the Committee of Eighteen. I have a long note about its methods of procedure and about its records, but in view of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington has said, in view of the hour and of the shortness of our debate, I will send the Minister of State a blistering letter instead.

I turn at once to the substantive work of the Committee, and, first, to tests. Like all others, I have always demanded that a test ban should be made; but I have sometimes asked myself this question: if all the agitation about tests had been about general disarmament instead, if we had had the same worldwide movement of opinion, might it not have been the case that we should have stopped more tests than have actually been stopped and would we not now be nearer to the general treaty which alone will stop all tests throughout the world?

My doubts recurred when I read the early records of the Committee. Of the first 831 pages which I have received, 332 were about a test ban and 396 about a general disarmament treaty. That sum excludes eight long meetings of the sub-committee of the three nuclear Powers on tests. For weeks, these test debates seemed to lead to nothing but ill temper and frustration. But since the eight non-aligned nations began to take a hand there seems to have been a fairly rapid evolution of general thought.

I understand—I checked this with a high authority on Saturday last—that everyone is now agreed that the instruments and the scientific techniques have so improved that all tests in the atmosphere, all tests on the surface of the earth and all tests under water could now be detected by stations outside Russia. I take Russia as the example of which we all naturally think.

I understand that it is also agreed that if there were a violent disturbance underground, that could likewise be detected from outside Russia. It is not agreed, however, that it could be with certainty determined whether that disturbance was an earthquake or a nuclear explosion. That can only be definitely established— this, I think, is the attitude of the Minister of State—by an on-site inspection undertaken by independent experts without delay; without this independent verification on the spot, a test ban treaty would be a sham.

We may all agree that the Russian reasons for rejecting on-site verification are, as we think, without foundation; taut I (believe that no one could read the letter from Mr. Khrushchev to the Prime Minister of 16th April without concluding that the Kremlin genuinely and passionately believes that on-site verification might be used to uncover the secrets of the Russian missile launching sites. That being so, it is certain, and a fact we must accept, that we shall not persuade the Russians to make a test ban on our present terms.

Are the proposals of the eight non-aligned nations really useless? Would their treaty be worse than none at all? They propose that teams of impartial experts stationed outside Russia should interpret all the seismic signals from Russia, and other countries, too, and if they thought that a given disturbance was suspicious and that it might be a nuclear test, they would so inform the Soviet Government and the Soviet Government could invite them to come and verify what had actually occurred. That means that the Soviet Government would decide whether or not verification should happen.

I believe it to be the attitude of the Minister of State that that makes the proposal worthless. But does it? What would happen if the Western plan were adopted, if international inspectors went into Russia and decided that there had been a treaty-breaking nuclear weapon test? What would be the sanction? Should we go to war? Evidently, the only rational sanction is that the treaty would lapse and other nations would regain their freedom themselves to make tests.

That, however, can be the sanction of the eight-nation plan. If the impartial experts asked Russia to let them come and verify that no weapon tests had been made and if Russia refused to give them the invitation they desired, the rest of the world would naturally assume that Russia was self-condemned; and it could be laid down in the treaty that, after consultation, other parties would be entitled to make tests, preferably only similar tests—that is, underground.

Such a treaty would be imperfect, but it would abolish tests in the atmosphere, on the surface of the earth and underwater—that is, the tests that do harm to human health. It would be a great restraint upon those who might seek disloyally to make secret tests underground. It would be a safeguard for other nations against such action. It is the only kind of test ban we have a hope of getting before the general disarmament treaty comes into force; and I personally believe that for that interval of time, before the general treaty, such a test ban would be well worth while, and that its signature might well release strong forces in favour of rapid progress on disarmament itself.

Of course, I know that the Minister of State is puzzled and alarmed, as are so many people in the West, by the morbid, profound suspicion about our motives which the Russians feel. How could anyone suspect the West of wanting to commit aggression against them? I have lived through a lot of history which the Minister of State and other hon. Members have fortunately escaped. I remember the Kaiser's onslaught on Russia in 1914. I remember the massive Western intervention in the Russian civil war—750,000 allied troops still fighting the Bolsheviks in March, 1919; I remember the Polish invasion in 1920 in the Ukraine. I remember Munich and Hitler's terrible onslaught.

All that history and a great deal besides, and many other events which I could recite if I had the time, have given the Russian Government and people what an American psychologist who speaks Russian like a native, and who recently has paid many visits to the Soviet Union, called a little while ago "a pervasive fear of treachery and aggression from the West". That, again, we all regret, and we think it groundless, but it is a fact which we must accept, and, if we are to get a general disarmament treaty, the treaty must seem safe both to them and to us.

How can we get a treaty? The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary told us how, I think four months ago, in his second speech to the Committee of Eighteen. He used these words and I quote him at length: The United States plan would move towards total disarmament in nine years by a continuous programme. The Soviet plan proposes total disarmament in four years. Here we have our main problem. The goal is the same … We should now work by going through both the plans before us, chapter by chapter, looking for the greatest amount of agreement in each measure, and, above all, not finding difficulties in principle where none exists. We on the British side intend to keep open minds … What we must find is a master agreement drawing on what is best in all the proposals before us. In other words, we shall not get a treaty if we stick rigidly in every detail to the present Western line. There must be compromise, each side making concessions, because we recognise that an imperfect treaty is incomparably safer than no treaty at all.

Let me take four points on which, I believe, compromise must and can be made. First, four years or nine for the execution of the treaty. The arguments for acting quickly are very strong. Ambassador Wadsworth, who did this work for many years for the United States, said when he retired that he believed disarmament could be carried through in five or six years' time. Certainly, there are no technical difficulties in carrying out disarmament in six years or even less, and no economic difficulties. All the special studies—and there have been many—of the economic problems show that this is true. And the political advantages of a shorter period would be very real. I hope the Minister of State will bear that constantly in mind, especially when he is dealing with the subject of inspection and control.

Secondly, there is manpower. The United States proposes a total strength for the army, navy and air force together for themselves and for Russia of 21 million men at the end of the first stage, that is, after three years. That would mean a reduction from present levels of 16 per cent. for the United States and 44 per cent.—if we have the figures right—for the Soviet Union. The Soviet propose a total strength of 1·7 million. That would be for the United States about the 30 per cent. which the American draft proposes for armament reduction. It would mean for the Russians a reduction of their forces by about 55 per cent.

It would be easy, or at least one would think so, to have a compromise on a middle figure between the two proposals —1·9 million; but I cannot help feeling that what we have argued for many years—I mean, the West—ds valid still, and that is that it is our major interest to secure the largest possible reduction in the conventional forces of the Russians.

Ten years ago Lord Gladwyn proposed in the United Nations Disarmament Commission a level of 1 million for Russia and for the United States, or at most of 1·5 million. Mr. Khrushchev accepted that in 1955. He told me when I saw him that he was prepared to cut in the first stage to 1 million if we so desired. For my part, I can imagine nothing that would so improve the relative strength of the West. I hope that the Minister of State will remember that, if we are to have some of the Foreign Secretary's compromises, the United States figure of 2·1 million is by no means sacrosanct, and that nothing could so stimulate hopes for real disarmament as agreement on a lower manpower limit at an early stage.

Thirdly, there is the means of delivery—or the vehicles, as Jules Moch calls them—by which nuclear weapons can be used. In my belief, this is the most important single issue with which the Committee has to deal, an issue on which, again, a compromise is definitely required. Both sides propose their abolition, the United States by gradual stages over a period of nine years, the Soviet by a drastic operation, abolishing 100 per cent. of the aircraft and missiles which can carry bombs, of the submarines, surface vessels, launching pads and cannon within a period of twenty-one months.

I have argued with the Russians in recent weeks in several contexts that the abolition of two-thirds of these vehicles in six years would be a very notable result. But all the same I believe that it would be much safer from our own point of view to agree on a more ambitious programme.

Where did Mr. Khrushchev get this idea about the means of delivery and about their abolition in the first stage of the disarmament treaty? It was invented in this country as a safeguard against the danger of a secret nuclear stock. It was put forward as a first stage measure by the Labour Party Annual Conference in 1958. It was taken up by M. Jules Moch, and expounded to the General Assembly of the United Nations in September, 1959. It was endorsed in general principle by the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he was Foreign Secretary, in January, 1960. It was proposed with more emphasis and detail by M. Moch in the Committee of Ten, in March, 1960, when M. Moch said that the vehicles must be rapidly destroyed "while there is still time".

President de Gaulle gave that proposal his full support in speeches to our Parliament and to the Congress of the United States. It was only after all that had happened that Mr. Khrushchev put forward, in his paper for the abortive Summit of May, 1960, the proposal that the vehicles should be destroyed during the first stage. In one speech I read the Minister of State said that that was unrealistic. M. Moch, who knows something of these matters, still believes it could be done, though the stage might be longer than twenty-one months.

There are two other points that I want to put to the Minister of State. Giant strides are being made in the means of delivery—missiles, aircraft and others. Existing types are obsolete very soon. The United States' proposals would permit the manufacture of new weapons and delivery systems for the first three years. Might that not mean that a Government destroying 30 per cent. of its obsolescent aircraft and missiles might nevertheless be more powerfully equipped when the first stage had been completed? That is why I think that a compromise is needed. If we really want to reduce the danger of surprise attack, I believe that the first-stage cut in the means of delivery might well be about 50 per cent. of what now exists, and there should be the (prohibition of the manufacture of new and more powerful types.

Fourthly, let me speak of inspection and contral—most inadequatedy. Because of the restrictions on time, I will go straight to the problem of "the armaments that remain" Why have the Russians taken up what we consider to be their perverse position? A few weeks ago, in a Committee room upstairs, Sir John Cockcroft said: A probable reason for this attitude of the U.S.S.R. is their understandable reluctance to disclose their inter-continental ballistic missile sites, since their deterrent of offensive capability depends very largely on secrecy of locations. The United States, on the other hand, depend on a very large number of variegated weapons distributed over a large number of sites and bases. I cannot trace—I may be wrong—that the Russians showed any reluctance to allow inspection of the armaments that remain until after 1960; that is to say, until they had absorbed the fact that the United States was then proposing to keep a large deterrent force of nuclear missiles for a period of years. Let no one think that in their present draft treaty the Russians are rejecting the principle of international inspection and control. On the contrary, if their first-stage proposals were carried out there would be such a massive disarmament in Russia, all of it under international control, that the whole country would be full of United Nations inspectors. They might still succeed in hiding missile bases, but I think that they would be hiding little else.

But suppose there was much less disarmament than the Soviet Union propose. Suppose it was only the United States' 30 per cent. in the first stage. Should we be taking a great risk if we did not inspect the armaments that remain? Sir John Cockcroft, in the speech I have quoted, suggested that we should not. We know fairly accurately, of course, what armaments the Soviet Union possesses. I am sure that the Minister of State is familiar with the publication of the Institute of Strategic Studies which sets it all out. If we followed Sir John's suggestion, we should accept the Russian proposal for the first stage of 30 per cent. reduction and then persuade the Russians to accept some system of Sohn zones for the remaining two stages.

I do not put forward that plan as my own, still less have I any authority to endorse it from the Labour Party. I put it forward as Sir John's. But I confess that I think the risk of Russia successfully cheating under that plan might be relatively small. As I have said, we know fairly well what forces and armaments she has now. Our intelligence services would still be at work. In any case, it is clear that if we are to have a treaty at all we must find some accommodation with the Russians. In that accommodation Russia must certainly make big concessions from her present line for the later stages. Perhaps also, for the first, she must accept some system of Sohn zone. There are many variants. I hope that the Minister of State will discuss them in great detail, and with what the Foreign Secretary calls "an open mind", with his colleagues from the Soviet bloc when he returns to Geneva. We know that without adequate inspection there will not be a treaty, and the Russians recognise it, too. But I add: the greater the disarmament carried out, and the more swifitly it (is done, the less the risk that anyone can cheat.

I conclude by making some modest suggestions to the Minister of State. First, he has been trying in the Committee of Eighteen to make progress by appointing sub-committees to draw up detailed technical plans about such matters as the cut-off, the abolition of nuclear stocks, biological and chemical warfare and other matters. The Russians have resisted his proposals, perhaps because they are afraid of giving things away before the main objectives have been finally agreed. But there are two ways in which such expert studies could be made without the Russian Government giving anything away or being committed to anything before they so desire.

First, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, on the instructions of the General Assembly, could set up committees of independent experts, like the Committee on the Economic and Social Consequences of Disarmament, which reported so successfully a few months ago. Secondly, and simpler, the Minister of State could ask British experts to draw up detailed plans and could lay them before the Committee of Eighteen as our contribution to its work. There is nothing to prevent him doing that. I am certain that our experts could fulfil the task. It would be a service of the highest importance at the present time.

I would respectfully suggest that it would be helpful if the Minister of State sometimes took a more definitely British line. Many of his speeches in Geneva could fairly be summed up in words which he himself used on 3rd April: I do not propose to take the time of the Conference by going into detail on the Western case. I would simply say that I agree in general with everything that Mr. Dean said. People often complain about the boredom of listening to the same speeches constantly repeated by the Eastern bloc. Reading the minutes of the Committee, I have sometimes wondered whether, except for Canada, the West is much less monolithic than the East. No one wants the Minister of State to quarrel with the United States, but if the Foreign Secretary's principle is to be observed it must be right for Britain to try to get the United States delegate sometimes to change his line.

Lastly, I hope that the Minister of State will remember the vast importance of time. The arms race is gaining now while the Committee sits a fierce momentum which it has never had before. In pursuance of election pledges, President Kennedy increased by 25 per cent. the United States defence budget in 1961. Congress has voted 800 Minute-men—inter-iconitinental missiles in invulnerable concrete sites. They will add another 500 megatons to America's striking power; that is to say, an explosive force equal to 25,000 of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima.

Mr. Khrushchev replies by stalling on the test ban in March of last year, by starting tests, by much greater increases in men and money than the United States has made. This arms race is itself the greatest danger to the Committee of Eighteen. When Mr. McNamara talks, as he must, about different kinds of nuclear war which would cost the West 25 million or 200 million dead, that is not the random talk of an uninformed civilian. He is the Secretary of Defence. He is speaking of the plans which his general staffs, furnished with the nuclear stockpiles, have been obliged to make.

That is the task on which the Committee of Eighteen is now engaged. Some hon. Members still believe that disarmament is unpractical, a Utopian dream. I prefer the considered verdict of the twelve Commonwealth Prime Ministers who, with staff advice, declared a year ago that general and complete disarmament is the best, last, hope of man.

4.31 p.m.

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I think that it would probably be appropriate if I were to intervene at this stage. We have a very short debate and I shall seek not to take up too much time. As it is my duty to give a progress report, it would perhaps be more helpful to hon. Members if I spoke now. If there are any particular points to which hon. Members require urgent answer, I will ask permission at the end of the debate for two or three minutes in which to reply, but I hope that what I say now will deal with the position from the Government's point of view.

I have listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), as I always do when he speaks on matters relating to disarmament because we all know the authority with which he speaks and this deserves respect. I shall touch on some of the points which the right hon. Gentleman raised, some of which are extremely interesting. I would, however, refute straight away the comment which he made at the end of his speech and which, I think, was unfair in relation to the part played by Britain in the present negotiations.

To suggest that we have been merely tailing behind the United States is a travesty of the facts. The British delegation, whether led by my noble Friend, by myself, or by Sir Michael Wright, has played an important part in these talks and given a lead on a number of subjects, including one or two on which I shall touch before I finish my speech. To pretend otherwise is to misread the reports which, I know, the right hon. Gentleman so carefully studies.

I want to try to give a progress report on the position at which we have now arrived. We started in March and went on continuously until mid-June, when we had a short recess, and are now fully engaged again in discussions both on general disarmament and on nuclear tests. This conference takes place against the background of two important innovations in disarmament conferences.

The first is that we have as a guide the agreed principles. These principles were hammered out between the United States and the Soviet Government between the time that Mr. Kennedy's Administration came into office and last September. These agreed principles have proved already of invaluable help in guiding discussions in the right direction. We have also had the presence of eight neutral countries, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, and there is no doubt that they have been extremely helpful to the negotiations as a whole. As their members have become increasingly absorbed in the topic and have come to learn the intricacies of it, they have given more and more valuable advice. I very warmly welcome their presence in Geneva.

In our discussions we have had two plans in front of us. First, the Soviet plan, put forward at the beginning of the conference, which is based very largely on the Soviet proposals on disarmament which were first brought forward in 1960. They have put what they call "Treaty language" on to the proposals and they very largely reflect their thinking in that regard. Secondly, we have the United States plan, brought forward a few weeks later, but which is, of course, based on later considerations. It is based on the Agreed Principles published last September.

As I shall seek to show, it follows much more closely those Agreed Principles than does the Soviet plan. Those are the two plans which we have been discussing. They both provide for general and complete disarmament to take place in three stages. The differences lie mainly in the stages at which certain key reductions of armaments should take place. There is also the major difficulty of verification to which I shall come later.

First, let me explain clearly what are the major differences. The United States plan provides for a 30 per cent. reduction across the board of all conventional weapons and nuclear delivery vehicles, which is the jargon that we use for the means of transporting nuclear warheads to their target, whether bombers, rockets or any other means.

We must recognise that this means 30 per cent. of all conventional and nuclear delivery vehicles in the first stage and the remainder split up evenly between the second and third stages. They have certain refinements on smaller conventional arms and on the nuclear weapons themselves, but this is the broad approach. The Soviet plan proposes a far more complete reduction in the first stage. It proposes a 100 per cent. destruction of nuclear delivery vehicles in the first stage. The right hon. Gentleman traced the history of that proposal. Although it may have had the parentage to which he referred and although it is now the Soviet Union's policy, it is not one which I would commend to the House. I shall seek to explain why.

I would bracket that with another of the Soviet proposals, which is the elimination of all foreign bases in the first stage. These two proposals taken together affront the Agreed Principles in a very important particular. The fifth of the Agreed Principles states That all measures of general and complete disarmament should be balanced so that at no stage in the implementation of the Treaty could any state or group of states gain military advantage and that security is ensured equally for all. If these two proposals were taken together it must mean that N.A.T.O. would be dissolved straight away in the very first stage and the ability of the West would be inhibited completely to come to the aid of our European allies, while, at the same time, the Soviet Union would retain large mobile convential forces within easy reach of possible targets. This has to be faced frankly. That is why I say that these proposals are unrealistic.

Only last week in the conference the claim was made both by the Russian and the Polish delegates that at the very beginning of the disarmament process all defence associations of States would be eliminated. I retorted straight away that I could not accept that concept. I do not believe that human nature could be expected to accept that immediately a disarmament treaty were signed that there then would be no more risks. These things have to be brought about gradually. Of course, all defence associations will go by the end of the last stage, but to suggest that right at the beginning of the first stage this will happen is completely unrealistic and appears to us to be an attitude which does not seem either to be realistic or really concerned in making progress in general disarmament. These proposals are not acceptable because they are quite incompatible with the Agreed Principles.

There is a third Soviet proposal which I find also unacceptable. That refers to the complete elimination of the nuclear warheads themselves in the second stage, the sequence being delivery vehicles in the first stage and warheads in the second. Here, we come up against the problem of verification. This is the core of so many of our problems.

Verification is of particular importance in relation to the warheads. By reason of their smallness relative to their destrictive capability, it is very easy to hide away only a few which could materially affect the balance of power. Thus, to propose the elimination of them in the second stage, before the verification procedures had reached anywhere near the position of being able to look over all countries, is unrealistic.

This is something we have to do by degrees, and I believe that the whole process of the elimination of these nuclear warheads calls for special procedures. In this connection, I have already proposed a special expert study, but so far the Soviet Union has declined to agree to such studies. That is a pity, but I hope that the Russians will agree in due course. We propose the setting up of a special study group to look into the problems of verification in relation to nuclear weapons.

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

Will the hon. Gentleman consider my proposal that British experts should prepare such plans and lay them before the Committee?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I was about to deal with that point. It is a proposal Which attracts me, and we have, in fact, already given it some thought.

We are considering the laying of certain papers on some of these subjects before the Committee. We have the idea in band. Whether it will be possible to operate in relation to this particular problem in the near future, I do not know, but I do accept the principle that we should lay such papers. I hope that we will encourage other countries, notably the Soviet Union, to join in such studies.

The whole question of verification is at the core of the problem. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the question of Sohn zones is something that we should press more fully, but he talked of the many variants of it. As the House knows, this is a proposal for an inspection system. The idea is that one should split up countries into zones and that opposing sides should have the opportunity to pick a particular zone which could then be fully inspected at a particular period.

The United States plan is that the percentage of zonal inspection shall correspond to the percentage of disarmament at a particular time so that if, at the end of the first stage, there had been a 30 per cent. reduction in armaments it would then be logical to call for zonal inspection of 30 per cent. of the territory.

The right hon. Gentleman made the point that possibly in the first stage this would be unnecessary and could be brought in at later stages. I see the force of his argument, but one has to remember in connection with this aspect, that verification procedures will be difficult to carry out and will require a great deal of skill. It will not be an easy process, and it will take time to get the machinery working properly and the verification inspectors on the job. Therefore, one has to set the system going before one can expect results. It will take time to get results, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear that in mind.

But I do not exclude the idea that, possibly in the earliest part of the first stage, there might be less need for full verification of remainders. I accept that as a general principle. This is something which we want to discuss and which I shall be only too willing to discuss with our Soviet colleagues in detail to see how best we can get on.

What saddens me is that in this matter the Soviet Union has not only taken no notice of this imaginative new proposal for zonal inspection but has, apparently, rejected it out of hand. In doing so, it has brought forward no proposals of its own to match this plan in order to have some way of checking that countries have not got more of a particular kind of armaments left than they say. There must be some way of doing this.

We believe that the Sohn zones plan is an imaginative one, which should be used. If the Soviet Union will not accept it, it is its duty to propose alternatives, as I have said bluntly at Geneva. So far it has proposed none, but I hope that it will before long. I have deliberately stressed this matter because it is of tremendous importance.

In our present discussions at Geneva, having concluded a full exposition of the two plans, I have been seeking to propose to the conference ways in which we can do future business at an increased speed. Last week I proposed, on behalf of the United Kingdom, 11 subjects which we believe deserve discussion in detail and in depth. I pointed out that we were willing for these subjects to be discussed either in plenary session, or in sub-committees, or at informal meetings—in any way the conference thought fit. I tried to draw together in this list what we think are the matters of greatest importance.

The list covers: (1) reduction of conventional armaments; (2) reduction of nuclear delivery vehicles; (3) setting up some means of verification for remainders; (4) cut-off of production and transfer of fissile material; (5) nuclear warheads; (6) bases: (7) verification of production of warheads; (8) disarmament machinery and the United Nations peace force (which the right hon. Gentleman did not touch on because of time, but which is of great importance); (9) force levels in relation to verification; (10) outer space; (11) the International Disarmament Organisation. If we could get discussion on all these measures I believe that this would help us forward a great deal.

I would like to go on longer about the work in the main committee, but I am endeavouring to cover many aspects. Having just sketched that position briefly, I should mention something about the Committee of the Whole which was set up to deal with the measures which would be preliminary to general and complete disarmament. We had great hopes when this Committee was set up, that we could get some measures on which we could record early agreement. This would have helped to improve the atmosphere for the wider discussion of general and complete disarmament.

Our first subject, chosen by the Soviet Union, was a declaration on the stopping of war propaganda. After lengthy discussion, we drew up an agreed text. At the last moment, having agreed the text, the Russians suddenly repudiated their own agreement and only last week sought to delete from the official record all reference to their undertaking to agree. This was a very regrettable occasion and did great harm in the conference besides having taken up valuable time.

We have now started new discussions on the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons and the avoidance of war by miscalculation. These are both vital matters on which agreement, if we could reach it—or at least make some effort towards it—would be very valuable.

The question of the avoidance of war by miscalculation includes a means of direct communication between the Kremlin and the White House, for special teams of observers at particular points, for advance notification of military movements, and for a number of other items. There is a lot of opportunity here if there is a genuine desire on both sides to reduce tension—and there certainly is a genuine desire on our side. Other topics on the agenda of the Committee of the Whole include nuclear-free zones, safeguards against surprise attack, a N.A.T.O.-Warsaw non-aggression pact, and a variety of other matters which I hope we shall come to soon.

At the moment my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary is in Geneva. He hopes to participate in the Disarmament Conference after the Conference on Laos before he returns home to London this week. I know Chat he is very keen to highlight one or two of the issues at the Disarmament Conference.

I turn now to nuclear tests, to which the right horn. Gentleman devoted quite rightly, a considerable part of his speech. Undoubtedly, the Russian announcement over the weekend underlines the need to reach agreement. The statement, of course, is merely a formal confirmation of what we have been told on various occasions by Mr. Khrushchev and others. Therefore, of course, we have recognised this factor in our negotiations for some time. We can only deplore the fact that the Russians are to have another series of tests, and we must obviously redouble our efforts to reach a treaty.

In this respect, it is very important with the whole matter of nuclear tests, to keep in mind the facts as they have emerged over the last few years since we started trying to get agreement on a test ban treaty, as long ago as 1958, because we have worked forward from that stage. All the discussions up to 28th November, last year, were based on the agreed experts' report, so that we had clear scientific agreement between the two sides about what we were talking about.

But from 28th November last year, when the Russians repudiated the agreed experts' report, we have been in the difficulty chat there has been a difference of view about this matter, because, after carrying out their massive series of tests last autumn, the Russians put forward their proposal on 28th November which paid no regard whatever to the agreed experts' report.

It is important to remember that prior to that date the Russians had been willing to contemplate some degree—I say some degree—of on-site inspection. This is the matter to which the right hon. Gentleman did not pay sufficient attention, because if they were willing to accept on-site inspection up to 28th November, last year, how has it become so much more a matter of espionage now? They were not prepared to accept many inspections—they wanted a quota of only three a year—but they were willing to accept some on-site inspection. They have since refused, and I have been bound to conclude at times that they were not anxious at that time to conclude a treaty. That may have been related to the fact that they wanted to have another series of tests, but I very much hope that now they have made their statement they will be more ready to negotiate with us.

Since 16th April, this year, we have had the advantage of the memorandum which was prepared by the eight neutral countries who participate in our discussions. They presented their memorandum which I described in the House on the last occasion when we discussed this matter. We have been trying to continue negotiations ever since then with the Russians, using the eight-Power memorandum as a basis. For their part, the Russians have continued to pay lip-service to the memorandum but have continuously refused to start any serious discussion of it.

I emphasise that in particular because of the statement, issued by the Soviet Union over the weekend in relation to their resumption of tests, in which they say: … the United States and Britain in effect refused in the 18-nation disarmament committee to accept as the basis for the talks—as the Soviet Union had done—the proposal "— of the neutral states— providing for control over the test ban agreement with the help of national means of detection. That is completely untrue. The Western Powers had accepted this as a basis of negotiation, and we have tried to negotiate on it repeatedly.

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

Is it not a fact that the two Western Governments agreed to the neutrals' proposals as one of the bases for discussion and not as the basis? Is there not a difference between having it as a basis and having it as the basis?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

That would be a perfectly fair point. But we have accepted it as one of the bases and the Russians have said the basis and having said that they accept it as the basis, they have refused to use it as the basis. They have refused to negotiate on it. They keep repeating, parrot-like, that they are ready to negotiate on it. But when I or my United States colleague have tried to get them into negotiation on it, they have refused. I have tried on the three major proposals in it—relating to the detection of tests, the international system and on-site inspection. On each and every one of those I have tried to get them into detailed discussion, thinking that by so doing we might narrow the differences between us. I tried initially in reflation to the international commission, because I thought that that would be the subject of the least difference of opinion. I then tried on the detection system, and finally on on-site inspection. But every urns the Russians refused to negotiate.

When the right hon. Gentleman was dealing with on-site inspection, he asked what was the sanction if one side broke the agreement. He said that under the eight-nation proposals, if the Russians refused, the others would be perfectly free to abrogate the treaty. I asked Mr. Tsarapkin whether he would tell us, so that we might know, whether the Russians would invite us and in any case tell us how many times a year they expected to do so because they know roughly how many seismic events a year there might be which could be suspicious. But he refused to give us any indication that they would invite us at all.

One could set up the whole of the elaborate paraphernalia under the system envisaged in the eight-Power memorandum and then, on the first occasion when there was a seismic disturbance and the Russians did not invite inspection, the whole elaborate arrangement would fall to the ground. That is not the basis on which we can set it up. We must have some indication in advance of their good faith as regards on-site inspection. While we are still anxious for detailed discussion of this subject, it is impossible for one side to discuss it on its own, and I still hope that the Russians will be willing to enter detailed discussions about it.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Parkin Mr Benjamin Parkin , Paddington North

Does the hon. Gentleman associate in his own mind any hardening of the Russian view about on-site inspection and the early conclusion of a test ban treaty with the United States counter-proposals for a longer period for disarmament, a period during which there would be more opportunity for a fresh look at things and an escape clause from the treaty?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

That could apply in relation only to disarmament and not in relation to nuclear tests. One has to take the two separately. They had rejected this before the new United States disarmament proposals came out. I can see the validity of the point about length of time when we are talking about disarmament, but it does not apply in this case because there is no length of time and the treaty would come into effect as soon as the initial procedures had been set up. I do not think that there is a very good tie-up.

While we have tried, and will continue to try, to get agreement and are only too glad to make use of the good offices of the eight neutral nations, we must have some help from the Russians as well if we are to make progress. When in November, 1961, they rejected the previous agreed scientific position, we asked them to let us have their latest scientific evidence on which their claim was based, and since then we have repeatedly asked them to let their scientists join ours and neutral scientists in order to secure a fresh agreed scientific assessment. In this connection, I looked up how many times we had asked the Russians to join with our scientists so that we could get an agreed scientific evaluation again since they rejected the experts' report of 1958. I found that on no fewer than 23 occasions before 25th April, this year, had we made formal requests to them, and since then I have done so many times myself. It is only if we can get an agreement on what the scientific position is that we can make progress.

I should like to refer to the recent announcement of the American Department of Defense on the Vela project. There is new experimental evidence relating to the detection and identification of underground tests. This evidence, which has only just come to light, is being evaluated urgently, but I am not yet in a position to state what effect it will have on the requirements of an effectively controlled nuclear test ban treaty. What is clear is that in the present state of knowledge the need for both detection posts and on-site inspection will remain. It may be possible substantially to reduce the number of detection posts, but there will still have to be a network of posts sited with due regard to their technical capability. Nor have I seen any evidence to suggest that on-site inspection will not continue to be an essential requirement.

These scientific advances which have been announced may enable us to identify as earthquakes or as nuclear tests a larger number of seismic events than we could so identify in 1958, but so long as a certain number—or, indeed, any number—of unexplained events are registered by detection posts, on-site inspection must be needed, because without this provision an alleged but unproven violation might be used as a pretext for abrogating the treaty. This is an important aspect which should not be forgotten. A country which wished to abrogate the treaty could accuse another of having carried out a test, saying that its own detection post indicated it. If there is some means of proving yes or no, this is not possible.

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

I intervene only for the purpose of clarification. As I understand, before the latest scientific reports were received, which the right hon. Gentleman says are now being studied, it had already been established that the area in which doubt might remain, doubt which on-the-spot inspection might clear up, was already a very small area of the whole field, and that if dispensing with on-site inspection involved a risk such as the right hon. Gentleman has just described, it was only a small risk.

I understand that what he is now saying is that the latest scientific reports have reduced that small risk to yet smaller proportions. Therefore, it must be little more than an infinitesimal risk that remains. Is the right hon. Gentleman really saying that supposing his examination of these latest scientific investigations shows that the area of risk has been reduced to a minute proportion in relation to the whole range, it would still make on-the-spot inspection a breaking point in the negotiations?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

No. The hon. Gentleman's premise is wrong, and, therefore, his argument falls. In fact, the area was not very small before these latest evaluations appeared. The area was substantial. There was a considerable number of seismic events which one could not detect, or, having detected, could not identify. That is the important thing.

While I hope very much that this latest development will narrow the field, it is still a substantial one. We would not wish to keep them on if they were not necessary. The position at the moment is that until now the latest information is that there have been some hundreds of seismic events annually, of which one could not be certain. We must, therefore, wait until we have this clarification of the latest evaluation, and, obviously, we shall give such information as we can in relation to it just as soon as we can. I repeat that we must continue on the present basis until we have a clear picture from the new scientific evidence.

I remind the House that if the Soviet Union feels otherwise we are only too happy to have its scientists meet ours and thrash this out so that we get an agreed basis. If we do that, then I think that that will give us the best possible opportunity in which to go forward to the formulation of a treaty. As soon as we are in a position to bring forward any new proposal if we are ever able to, this will be presented at Geneva.

Meanwhile, our offer to the Russians for these scientific talks stands. That is where the position must rest until we are clearer in this regard. Our present talks took place against a background of two series of tests, one Russian and one Western, and against the declared intention, now confirmed, of the Russians to hold yet another series.

In these circumstances, the Mexican suggestion made at Geneva that a treaty should be negotiated now, to come into effect from the beginning of next year, has very considerable promise. In the Light of the Soviet statement this weekend it could have special significance, and this is something to which I attach considerable importance. I hope that in spite of Russian intentions for the immediate future we can still negotiate a treaty, having this Mexican proposal in mind. Agreement on the cessation of tests would not only be a major achievement of itself; it would also give a fresh stimulus to the much wider and more complicated negotiations on disarmament itself.

The right hon. Member for Derby, South made the point that had we put more of the energy and effort spent on nuclear tests talks into general and complete disarmament negotiations we might have got further. But they are much more complicated, and if we can get agreement in this narrower field it can lead us forward into the broader one of general and complete disarmament.

I have tried as shortly as I can to sketch the present position on the wider issues as well as on nuclear tests. I would not pretend to the House that the outlook for general and complete disarmament is encouraging, but Her Majesty's Government will continue to do all that they can to bring agreement near. Our discussions up to now have in the main been less acrimonious than other recent disarmament talks. We have had general talks on the proposals and both plans before the conference.

I am returning to Geneva tonight to continue the discussions. I hope that I shall find agreement there to the procedural proposals that I put forward last week, and to which I have referred, and, if so, we can go into more detailed discussion of the major issues. I believe that such detailed confrontation should serve to show which proposals are the more sound, the more workmanlike and fair, and conform most closely to the agreed principles to which I have referred. We in the West are prepared to look at our proposals again if they are shown to fail before this test. If the Russians approach the matter in the same way and in the same spirit progress will be possible, and if we all remember our duty to mankind progress must be possible.

5.7 p.m.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomeryshire

May I ask the House for an exercise of the traditional indulgence which I believe is shown to Members who are making their first contribution to a debate in this Chamber; more especially as the subject upon which I am speaking is not one on which I claim to have either the expert knowledge or the great experience which so characterised the contribution of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker).

My very distinguished and much beloved predecessor, the late Mr. Clement Davies, represented the constituency of Montgomery for thirty-three years, and during the whole of that time two of the causes to which he was most devoted were those for the movement for world government and internationally controlled disarmament. This was, I believe, in many ways brought about by the fact that he had been born and nurtured in the peaceful, beautiful County of Montgomeryshire, and in taking up the movements he was following in the footsteps of his own illustrious predecessor the late Lord Davies, who as David Davies was a Member of this House and devoted a lifetime of advocacy and writing to the cause of an international police force, which at that time was certainly a pioneer idea.

I am therefore conscious of the fact that I follow in a proud tradition, though I am also very conscious of the fact that I must do so very inadequately. I know that my predecessors would have approved my choice of this subject for my maiden contribution in this House, and I can only hope that I shall be able to make some worthwhile contribution to the thoughts of the House on the matter.

It seems to me that the first impression gained by a student of disarmament, and it is a lasting one, is that the path to progress lies through a jungle of despairing disagreement. In that jungle, as I imagine in every other jungle, the chief forces actuating behaviour are fear and suspicion. Therefore, every proposal for progress, or every step suggested, is greeted on all sides by grave scepticism. But at the same time—and this is the tragedy of the situation—this great scepticism is matched by a profound yearning on all sides that we should reach some measure of agreement on disarmament and that we should have some guarantee of freedom from war. There is now so much disillusion engendered by the lack of progress on disarmament that some people have come to regard any proposal for disarmament, however modest, as being in itself fantastic, unrealistic and dangerous. The answer to that surely must be that no proposal for disarmament, however ambitious, can be as fantastic, as unrealistic and as dangerous as the uncontrolled nuclear arms race of today.

It seems to me that three assumptions can be made with reasonable safety in approaching this problem. The first assumption is that there is both in the Western bloc and in the Soviet bloc a very definite and profound yearning for peace, that is among the Governments and the peoples. There is, therefore, the will to peace. The second assumption is that the complete lack of progress— and it is almost complete—is due to lack of confidence on both sides. The truth is that not one side trusts the other an inch. There is an absence of belief in a common sincerity of purpose.

The third assumption which I make— and I do not claim to be an expert on the technical considerations involved in disarmament—is that the technical problems of disarmament can be solved if the politcal problems can be solved. I think that is the view of most informed scientists and represents the view expressed by Sir John Cockcroft a few weeks ago at a meeting in the Palace of Westminster. One can, therefore, put it this way—that if there was the political will to disarmament the technical way could be achieved. Coming with an almost virgin mind to the problem, although I have been greatly interested in it for many years, it seems to me, (therefore, that what one needs to do more than anything else is to create some groundwork of trust and confidence between the Russian bloc and our own.

The basic problem, therefore, is a political one and not a technical one and I think that it is a reasonable criticism of the West that it has been rather preoccupied with the technical problem of disarmament as opposed to the political problem involved. I believe that it was Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Slessor who in a recent book What Price Co-Existence? who put it that we have been rather too concerned with how disarmament could be achieved and too little concerned with why it should be achieved.

There is great danger in the defensive attitude of the West. It is understandable, but not excusable. I do not minimise for a moment the difficulties of the Western negotiators faced with the cold hostility of the Soviet Union and I bear in mind Mr. Khrushchev's own defined interpretation of peaceful co-existence as an intense struggle virtually by every means short of war. It has not been easy, therefore, to be other than on the defensive in the face of that declaration of attitude by the other side. Nevertheless, the West has been on the defensive for so long that one almost feels at times that we have been frozen into a kind of political immobility of attitude. I think that Mr. Khrushchev once said that there are no neutral individuals; he said this in relation to the late Mr. Hammarskjoeld. The same attitude was characterised in the West by the late Mr. John Foster Dulles' statement that neutrality was immoral.

I should like to make the very modest suggestion that the West is certainly right in maintaining that there ought to be on-site inspection. At the same time, it is impossible to expect Russia to agree to on-site inspection in the present circumstances, within Russia itself. But what the West surely needs is a change of political attitude and a political offensive not against the Soviet Union but a political offensive in the cause of peace and disarmament.

There are two suggestions which I should like to make. Firstly, that it is impossible to build this trust and confidence unless we build it up in one place first. The Russians will not learn to trust us around the conference table but only by practice, and we will learn to trust them only by proof in practice. I see the merit of the Sohn zones or regional zones of disarmament within Russia and the United States, but surely we must take an even more elemental step than that, and I suggest that the West might propose one experimental area in which the Western and Soviet Blocks can try out inspection, arms control and eventually a measure of military disengagement.

Secondly, and at the same time, we should show that we are prepared to accept the supra-national kind of organisation necessary to supervise such a zone. I should like to see an immediate proposal for a United Nations peace force, so that we might now set up facilities for recruiting and training such a peace force. Surely our experiences in the Congo have shown the need for an adequately trained and equipped United Nations force of this kind.

I do not suggest that these modest proposals of mine should take the place of any present disarmament proposals but what I have in mind is that I should judge we are about due for a recurrence of the Berlin crisis. Mr. Khrushchev must be under considerable pressure from his side to turn the heat on once more in Berlin. Again it is an indictment of Western political policy that he is in the position to raise the question of Berlin again in isolation from the other great problems of Europe and of the world.

Nevertheless, I believe that on both sides of the Iron Curtain there would be considerable support for the view that an experimental zone for military control and a measure of disarmament should be proposed in Europe itself along the partition line of the Iron Curtain. I bear in mind the proposal some years ago in the Rapacki Plan and the variations which have followed it including the recent variation by Sir John Slessor in the book which I mentioned earlier.

I believe that if advocate, firstly, a zone in Europe, which after all is the most dangerous point in the world today, which should be an experimental zone where the Powers could try out in practice measures of arms control and disengagement. This would mean that there would have to be on-site inspection and of course the area would have to be selected to include possibly parts of West and East Germany, Berlin, and parts of Poland. We have got to start somewhere on armaments control, and disengagement somewhere.

Secondly, and parallel to this, one would like to see not only United Nations agencies set up in Berlin but a staff college to train the nucleus of a United Nations peace force. Let us recruit young people from all over the world dedicated to the cause of peace and perhaps to be the first United Nations citizens. Certainly at some stage of disarmament, whether under the very limited kind of scheme I have suggested or under some major scheme, international supervision inspection will be required and we should prepare for it now. Thirdly, in the second phase of this plan for disengagement in Europe, this United Nations peace force should be brought in to play its part, and in conjunction with inspectors from our side and the Russian side there should be supervision and control also by United Nations inspectors.

If this plan, or a variation of it, worked, surely it would contribute more towards building up a true groundwork of confidence and trust than anything else. Talking round a conference table will not in itself do it, as I am sure everybody appreciates. It is only by having a practical experiment somewhere that we can test each others good faith, and if this kind of experiment succeeded, we would be immeasureably nearer achieving agreement on major disarmament and total disarmament, which we all seek. What one hopes to see from the West is some imaginative and realistic political proposal, as well as continuing the discussions on the technical problems involved in disarmament.

May I conclude with this saying in my native Welsh: Bid ben, bid bont. I hasten to translate it as "To be a leader, you have to be a bridge". There are three ways of building a bridge. One can build it from both banks simultaneously and meet somewhere in the middle. One can build it from the left bank until it reaches over to the right bank. One can build it from the right bank until it reaches the left. However one builds the bridge, its purpose in the end is to join the two sides together and to be a means of communication Surely, the circumstances of our world today demand that however little the other side are prepared to help towards the building of a bridge, we must not flag in our efforts to see that the bridge is built.

5.22 p.m.

Photo of Sir Isaac Pitman Sir Isaac Pitman , Bath

I am sure that everyone in the House will wish me to congratulate the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) very sincerely indeed on his speech and on the lovely constituency which he has the honour to represent. We also welcome him to that fortunately very considerable group of people in this House to whom we all listen with very great attention, because what they say is always delivered in a good manner, with charm, is always well thought out and is always backed up by the right sentiments. The hon. and learned Gentleman has brought from the courts the head, hands and heart of a really good orator. His manner, his gesticulation and his ability to make himself heard were all that we would desire in this House. He has clearly thought out his points extremely well, and his heart, too, is in the right place. May I take the opportunity of saying how much the House appreciated his reference to his predecessor, Mr. Clement Davies, who stood for exactly what the hon. Member has been saying today? Personally, I found myself in agreement with everything he said, and I should like to take one of his themes a little further.

It has been said this afternoon that this subject of disarmament produces ill-temper and frustration. It does not produce ill-temper across these two sides, only frustration; but it does produce both as between East and West, and we have seen already this afternoon enough of the frustration in seeking to find the reason why disarmament has been such a failure for so many centuries. Sometimes it is the Committee of Eighteen, sometimes the Summit meeting, sometimes it was over a hundred years ago, but never do we get past the frustration, because it seems to me that if we examine it we have to admit that we are chasing the wrong hare. We ought to be chasing the hare of security, whereas we tend to chase the hare of disarmament.

After all, security lies as the very root reason of armaments. Therefore, security must lie as the root reason for any disarmament which is to take place. We have only to go back to feudal times to realise that security was the very essence of the abandonment of the standing armies of the feudal lords. Until they were given by the central authority a security adequate to keep their castles as residential places undefended, they were not prepared to disband that which was requisite for their security. It is the same thing with the other countries of Europe. Nobody ever gives up that which is his concept of security until and unless he can be assured that alternative arrangements have been made for it. In the same way, we in this House used to hang our swords on the red tape which we still have, and we did not give up carrying our swords until the Commissioner of Police had built up a security institution which would give us security which was at least equal, and which, in point of fact, is a jolly sight more effective than the security which we were deceiving ourselves we were giving ourselves by our own feats of arms.

It seems to me perfectly clear that security institutions are the issue and that they must precede and not follow disarmament. Indeed, if we can supply effective security, disarmament inevitably follows, but if we seek disarmament, security does not necessarily follow and consequently nor does disarmament come about. Relative disarmament, in which one country and another each agree to knock a certain percentage off their armaments, is not achieving security. It is achieving a relative armament on a lower and different scale, but it does not go to the real root of the problem which is to achieve security, absolute, not relative, security. It is not unreasonable to say that the man in the street believes that disarmament discussions are the worst enemies of disarmament, and that it is only when statesmen come to discuss security and how the world can achieve security that we are ever likely to make any progress towards disarmament.

Our plea then this afternoon is that we should begin to discuss the security institutions which should precede disarmament, and that we should give up for some time the discussions about disarmament in which no one is getting, or ever has got, anywhere.

The Minister of State has said that all the proposals on the Russian side are unrealistic, but the Russians may quite rightly say exactly the same thing, and, after all, is it not inevitable because all these disarmament discussions—and the report of the latest one runs to over 800 pages—are all doubletalk by those who insist that they be permitted to continue their own security arrangements? Is it not true that, without such a fresh security institution, no nation can, in signing a disarmament treaty, have anything but a determination to break that treaty if the necessity should require it and security should demand it?

No, what we shall get in the world sooner or later whether we like it or not is just such a central security institution. Sir Walter Elliot was brilliant on this point when he said that it was purely a question whether we would get it by the one or the other of the two major Power groups—East or West— becoming dominant over the other and the whole world, in which case their first action would inevitably be to set up a world security authority which would see that that security was never challenged again. Or else in the terms of the alternative which Walter Elliot put forward we might achieve that solution in peace by intelligent planning rather than reach it after a major holocaust. I think the hon. Member for Montgomery and I are both pleading that the Minister of State should begin to think in terms of intelligent planning to achieve a world security institution which would give to nations that security without which they cannot possibly contemplate disarmament.

The second reason why these disarmament discussions are so nonsensical and frustrating is to be found in the sort of terminology that is used. The very words "detection" and "on-site verification" show how unrealistic disarmament is. In any civilised community we have detectives. Can we imagine such detectives being in a position of "detecting" a murder or a robbery and being able to do nothing whatever about it because they had no authority, no legal system and no means of doing anything about it when they had detected it? Can we imagine an on-site verification with a search warrant, a police officer finding all the evidence of a crime and yet, having found verification of a breach of the law, having to rub his hands of it altogether and say, "This is all too deplorable. We must pass a resolution about this but we cannot do anything about it"?

Let us examine the four points of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker)—whether we should have complete disarmament after four years or nine years, whether the manpower should be 2·1 million or 1·7 million, whether the "vehicles" should be cut to two-thirds or abandoned altogether and the question of inspection and control. All these four points become completely unrealistic in a context in which it remains definite that each nation has got to remain responsible for its own security and must be the judge in its own cause as to when, how and why it makes war. Unless there were to be created a World Security Institution there would be lacking the condition upon which any nation might even contemplate a compromise of its responsibility to secure itself. Every nation in signing any disarmament agreement must therefore make the tacit reservation that it will, if so compelled in its own judgment, abrogate unilaterally any such Treaty.

In the third place it is well to recognise that in these disarmament conferences there is necessarily lacking the requirement of confidence. In The Times of today there is a very good cartoon of President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev carrying out a tremendous experiment in destruction aimed at each other. Every month sees the balance of insecurity hoisted a little higher. When two or more people are sitting round a table how cam there be confidence when each knows with absolute certainty that both of them will leave that disarmament conference only to go and look at the blue print of some even more horrible weapon with which to destroy each other? Is it not a commonplace of peace negotiations that confidence cannot be achieved on such a two-party basis? A third party must be introduced into the proceed ings, a party in whom both sides may have some confidence, because they cannot possibly have confidence in each other?

What then are the stops arising from these three reasons why security and not disarmament should be the hare which all Governments should chase? We urge the Secretary of State to take steps, in complete accordance with what the Prime Ministers' Conference decided a year ago, to ask for a commission of the United Nations, consisting of say five, seven or any number of world-respected citizens one likes to suggest, to examine this problem of settling up a security institution. That security institution would not be the United Nations because that is an international body. It would be appointed and, if you like, sacked by the International body The United Nations, but it would be a world security authority and it would be a world body as distinct from being am international body.

I think our Government ought at the same time to pledge their promise that if anything were to come out of such a commission in a proposal for an effective institution which might ensure security for this nation, they would furnish bases throughout the world for that Institution, for what community is better able to supply world bases than the British Commonwealth? The Commonwealth Premiers have come out 100 per cent. in favour of it. The Government should, moreover, offer to help recruitment, and promise conditionally a number of other actions designed to make a rule of law existent and a means of enforcing it effective.

From information that I have received, both East and West are agreeable in general terms to such a proposal but both have turned it down for the conflicting reason that supposedly the other will not have it. We seem to seek to say "This is the right thing, and our Commonwealth Premiers have said so, but the Russians will not accept it." When I contacted the Russians they seem to say "Yes, this makes sense but you people in the West will never accept it." In that context, may we not ask the Secretary of State at least to try what seems to be both a new and a hopefully positive approach, something which is quite different from all the frustrations and failures of the past, and see what can be done by seeking disarmament through security rather than security through disarmament.

5.36 p.m.

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

I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) except to express my profound disagreement with his approach to this debate. I agree with him entirely that what is necessary is the creation or establishment of a world security authority, but to talk about establishing a world security authority in a world that is armed to the teeth with all the atomic weapons that are lying around today seems to me to show a lack of realism.

The Minister of State gave us a kind of progress report. It seemed to me to be somewhat depressing, but no doubt it was a realistic analysis of the difficulties which he and others have encountered during the months and years that the disarmament discussions have lasted. I wish him well in his continued attempts to make his contribution to the achievement of world disarmament which national leaders, not only of our own country but President Kennedy, Mr. Khrushchev, General de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer have emphasised is the most urgent and most important consideration in the world today.

When one realises that this debate has to be squeezed into about two and a half hours, it seems somewhat ironic that we should take the view that many of us take, that this is of such great importance to humanity. I hope that the Minister of State will succeed in securing the agreement of other delegations to his proposal for an examination of the eleven points that he put forward two or three days ago. They seem to me to be a very good practical approach to this difficult problem, and I hope that some progress will be made along those lines.

I want to confine my remarks mainly the question of a test ban treaty which seems to me to be the most urgent requirement today. I find it difficult to know whether the failure of the three Governments to agree to a treaty is due to genuine scientific doubt as to the efficiency and effectiveness of existing monitoring systems or to political unwillingness to trust one another. The Indian delegate at the Geneva Conference has said that spurious scientific justification for not signing a test ban treaty is being adduced. I find it difficult to form an opinion on this allegation, as the full scientific facts axe being withheld from the public. In my view, the Government should publish the scientific facts and let the people judge for themselves.

The Minister of State a little while ago said that the latest reports of the scientists were being evaluated. I can only hope that when that evaluation is complete, world public opinion, and in this country in particular, will be given some information so that people can form their own views as to whether the trouble that faces us today is due to these scientific doubts or to political unwillingness.

The scientists should also tell us whether there is any connection between weather conditions and nuclear tests. There is a widespread view that the northerly and north-easterly winds that have been so prevalent this year are due to atmospheric disturbances resulting from the 48 Soviet explosions last autumn, followed by a smaller number of American explosions—

Photo of Mr David James Mr David James , Brighton, Kemptown

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the volcanic explosion in Krakatoa in 1883 was still 100 times as great as any atomic explosion, and that no one with any scientific knowledge will give any credence to the result of nuclear atomic explosions suggested by him?

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

I am not talking about 1883. I am only asking for information. If the information is by reference to what took place in 1883, that is all right, but there is this widespread view, and the public want information—

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that Krakatoa had just the same effect on the weather that now causes him concern?

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

With great respect to my hon. and learned Friend, that is all the more reason why we should have some statement from the Government, because there is a great deal of anxiety among people, not only because of the weather changes but because the nuclear tests are taking place at all.

Four years ago, the British, American and Soviet scientists were in broad agreement that all tests could be detected except those underground below a threshold of 4·75 kilotons. What is the position today with regard to on-site inspections? From what he said, I rather gathered that the Minister of State still feels that there is an insuperable barrier to a nuclear test agreement unless the Soviet Union are prepared to accept at least a limited number of on-site inspections.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of scientific support for the view that underground tests can be detected well below the threshold of 4·75 kilotons. That is certainly the view of the well-known United States scientist, Dr. Don Leet, and yesterday we were told by the science correspondent of the Sunday Times that a new British method of detecting underground nuclear tests has been achieved.

When the United States, British and Soviet scientists met in 1958, no detecting station had a range of more than 600 miles, and it was estimated that at least 180 recording stations would be required. We are now told that 20 stations would be enough, none of which need be on Soviet territory. Those stations would, apparently, have a range exceeding 1,400 miles. That constitutes a great advance, and I should like to know whether the hon. Gentleman can confirm that these scientific advances have been made.

Moreover, apart altogether from the possibility of detecting underground tests, there is a considerable body of opinion which thinks that they cannot achieve a break-through and are, to that extent, of little military value. That view is supported by Dr. Kissinger who, as the Minister of State knows, is one of President Kennedy's close scientific advisers.

I found myself very much in agreement with the hon. Gentleman when he told us of the refusal of the Soviet Government of all suggestions that their scientists should again discuss this question with the British and American scientists. The Minister said that the offer had been made on no fewer than 23 occasions. It is very difficult to understand why the Soviet Government should adopt this attitude; if the scientific facts are in accord with the views of their own scientists, I should have thought that to be all the more reason for the Soviet Government to allow their scientists to come into contact with the Western scientists.

As there seems to be broad agreement on the scientific side of detection, I urge Her Majesty's Government to accept the neutrals' proposals put forward on 16th April. When I intervened during the Minister's speech, he agreed that Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government had accepted them only as one of the bases of discussion, but I urge the Government to accept them as the basis of discussion, and to have them adapted and translated into the provisions of a draft treaty for the banning of all nuclear tests.

The main proposals have already been dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) in a very excellent and weighty speech, but I do urge the Government not to insist on making on-site inspections obligatory or mandatory in the case of a disputed event. As my right hon. Friend pointed out—and as I rather thought the right hon. Gentleman agreed—in the event of any of the three Governments, or any other Government, refusing to allow an international body of scientists to investigate an unexplained occurrence, the refusal would constitute an action justifying the abro- gation of the treaty and a return to freedom of action in nuclear tests.

I believe that the neutral plan contains adequate safeguards, and if on-site inspection remains essential, as it was slated to be by the hon. Gentleman in Geneva last Monday, it should be by invitation. It should not be made mandatory, bearing in mind the ultimate sanction of an abrogation of the treaty in the event of a refusal to co-operate. I believe this to be sound sense. It may be that no advance will be made until the completion of the present United States test series, and the series announced yesterday by the Soviet Government, but I hope that the Minister of State will, on behalf of this country, pursue his efforts at Geneva to secure broad acceptance of the neutrals' proposals.

The achievement of a nuclear test ban treaty would be the psychological key to general disarmament. It would do more than anything else to dissipate the miasma of confusion, suspicion, and distrust that at present befogs the road to general world disarmament The signing of a nuclear test ban treaty is becoming the acid test of the sincerity of the three Governments represented at Geneva in seeking to achieve world disarmament. If they have the will to stop their nuclear tests, the neutrals' proposals provide them with the opportunity. Let us hope that they will face up to their responsibilities.

5.49 p.m.

Photo of Sir John Hall Sir John Hall , Wycombe

Because the time at our disposal for the debate is very short, I want to be brief and confine myself to one point. Therefore, I hope that the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his very interesting arguments and suggestions. I first took an interest in the subject of disarmament in the early 1930s, when it was a constant subject before the ill-fated League of Nations. My interest in the subject was materially sharpened by my service in the Forces. It seemed to be very much more important to me after that.

The factor which has been constantly depressing to me personally throughout the whole history of discussion and debate on the subject of disarmament has been that we have had a proliferation of committees but have achieved very little indeed. When I read the debates of the various committees, both before and since the war, I am reminded of the definition of a committee as a body composed of individuals who individually realise they can do nothing but who collectively meet together and decide that nothing can be done. This is rather what happens with the committees which are formed to try to solve this very difficult problem.

I believe that we are all aiming at the wrong target. I go some way to agreeing with the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), who said that we pay too much attention to the technical problems and not enough to the political or, I would say, the human problems. I do not think that it is any use at all concentrating on the techniques of disarmament, concentrating on how we are going to control arms, concentrating on the problem of whether we should have one million or two million conventional forces, or concentrating on the problem whether the means of delivering nuclear weapons should be destroyed, which seems to me to be almost impossible, unless we destroy all aeroplanes, all rocketry, and everything else.

This is quite the wrong approach. We must wake up to the fact that there is in all human beings a basic desire for conflict. It does not matter how we take away the means of making war; if we were to disarm the whole of the world tomorrow, the innate sense of conflict in human beings and, above all, knowledge could not be destroyed.

Let us suppose that we were able to arrive at an agreement which removed tomorrow all nuclear weapons and took away all conventional forces and reduced them purely to the small police forces we wish to have for our own internal security. If a cause for dispute arose between nations, in a very short time we should be back again exactly where we started, because knowledge cannot be destroyed. People would soon again be able to manufacture nuclear weapons. The recruitment of forces would start immediately. Some countries, perhaps having prepared for this occasion, would already have trained men who would be operating in para- military or police forces. We should again be back in a world conflict, with those nations which had tried to abide by the disarmament agreements suffering a disadvantage.

This is the major problem. How are we to overcome it? How are we to change this apparent human desire to commit suicide? There is no doubt today that if any nation goes to war and it becomes a world war it is suicide for civilisation. Yet country after country —at least the major Powers, governments and peoples—are prepared to contemplate suicide in certain circumstances. How do we change this attitude of mind? We have not given enough attention to this problem. It is a psychological problem. I do not think that anywhere in the world, except in a very few research institutions such as there are in America and in some of the Scandinavian countries, have we got down to examining the basic causes of war as it arises out of the behaviour of human beings.

Although this is very long-term and does not really touch on the many technical points which have been debated this afternoon, we should take the initiative in setting up a research institution, utilising the research facilities which exist in the various universities of the world, to examine much more closely the pattern of human behaviour which leads to conflict and forces people against all common sense and logic to take up arms against each other. There are many universities in the world, especially those with seats which deal with subjects like psychology, social medicine, and so on. which would be quite prepared to undertake research of this nature. It is too big a problem to put on to any one organisation; the ramifications of this investigation and research are too wide for that. I am certain that, if we could initiate the idea of conducting research, spread amongst the universities and hospitals— there is already a very small body of medical research in this field—into the causes of human behaviour leading to war, it would go a long way towards the long-term solution of the problem of how we live at peace one with the other.

This is the only constructive contribution I can make to a subject which seems to defy any constructive contribution. I am certain that so long as we go on year by year endeavouring to solve the problem purely by political and technical means we shall never succeed.

5.55 p.m.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Parkin Mr Benjamin Parkin , Paddington North

I am very tempted to follow the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall), but I must clearly do so very briefly. I want to take up his point that knowledge cannot be destroyed. I hope that the hon. Gentleman would not wish the impression to be created that he had been throwing doubts on the possibility of achieving general and complete disarmament. I hope that the hon. Gentleman was not spreading the old-fashioned idea that people can never be taught not to settle their disputes by force. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that not only can knowledge of the techniques of making weapons not be destroyed, but also the knowledge of what war itself can produce in terms of misery and senseless destruction cannot be destroyed.

We have had a cheering example in recent weeks of the fact that the knowledge, of what Facism means cannot be destroyed, because the younger generation was ready to make an emphatic protest at any threat of its resurgence. No one can destroy knowledge of the way in which progress has been made in our social structure at home, as we have learned to observe the rule of law, as we have agreed to settle private disputes through the process of law. There is the knowledge that we could have gone back to weapons, but there is also the knowledge that private assassination, private revenge, rick burning and machine wrecking are no longer the instruments of progress in the domestic affairs of nations.

Can we not hope that, after a few years' experience of the effect of a reduction of tension through disarmament, the working of the rule of law between nations and the economic advantages of disarmament will in turn have removed the tendencies of which the hon. Gentleman spoke?

When I learned how this debate had been restricted, I felt a certain sense of resentment that the Government themselves had not thought it right to offer ample time for a full day's debate and give their own progress report on this most important matter. However, the Minister of State's speech reconciled me to the fact that he himself is in full command of the situation, that he has a proper understanding of what is going on in the negotiations, and that he is prepared to report it to us item by item.

In his speech the Minister of State answered many of the points which are often raised. He spoke with the relaxation of the experienced negotiator— appreciating, for instance, that individual items cannot be settled on their own merits, but that one thing must be balanced against another. However, one thing that shocked me was the statement in his concluding remarks that he did not think that he could offer much hope and that the prospects for general and complete disarmament are not encouraging.

This is astonishing. Perhaps it throws the ball is back to us, the ordinary back bench politicians. We have had a new situation, for the first time since the war, when the Russians and the Americans began to say at the same time that the arms race itself is the greatest cause of war. During the periods of alternation of views, first that tension had to be reduced before arms could be reduced and then that arms had to be reduced first before tension could be reduced, we had almost forgotten that fact which was accepted without question out of human experience, namely, that the arms race, apart from any cause of war, fed on itself. Other causes of conflict can be settled or can die down, but the arms race feeds on itself and increases the dangers almost hour by hour as fresh inventions are made and fresh competition entered into. And then there is a fresh imbalance. As long as research and development are going on, every kind of agreement that is reached with the maximum possible good will can be thrown out of balance by a new development or a new invention. It was an enormous step forward to get agreement that the arms race is itself the greatest cause of war.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) spoke of an essentially British contribution to these discussions. Most of the names who have contributed to an understanding of that aspect of the problem are British names. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not mind my saying that they are names which come from the British Labour Party, but their views are by now generally accepted.

This is something where Britain ought to play a special rôle. The hon. Gentleman has no difficulties. All the great Powers are committed to the notion of general and complete disarmament. All the great Powers are committed to the idea that now it is easier to get agreement on universal and complete disarmament than on any partial scheme of disarmament, because a partial scheme offers the risk of an unbalance, of a change of balance from the stage from which one starts negotiations. Every political party is committed to it. Every faction in every political party in support of its own views on defence says that it is easiest to bring about universal and complete disarmament.

Everyone is agreed, so the Government ought to be treating this as a non-party non-controversial matter. They should be giving the same sort of propaganda to the public on it as on, say, road safety, as something which is beyond dispute except that we want to know the details. That perhaps is too broad a statement. I am not sure that we ought to know too many details. Although I complain that we do not debate this matter enough, we have also to remember that the most bitter reflection one can make about this subject is that over the last few years disarmament negotiations themselves have been used as a weapon in the cold war, and all too frequently used for that purpose rather than for any other.

I found in the hon. Gentleman's speech this afternoon a refreshing change from that attitude. I commend him on it and hope that that attitude and the sort of quotations he and my right hon. Friend made from the speeches of the Foreign Secretary will dominate their negotiations. It is for diplomats to try things out, to bargain in private over the details and techniques of disarmament. They are rather like trade negotiations. One starts by being offered dried herbs and goose feathers and ends by getting bauxite or whatever it is one wants. One does not fill the newspapers with headlines about each stage of the negotiations.

It is for the politicians to be vigilant in seeing that these negotiations are not used as a weapon for hotting up the cold war instead of calming it down. We should reawaken public understanding to the fact that if one side or the other holds up a particular scheme it is likely that its objections are not to that particular scheme but to something else in the plan. My hon. Friends have been pleading this afternoon for a speedy test ban treaty. We all hope that that comes off. It would be a tremendous encouragement to everyone in the world, but as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) pointed out, the acid test is whether all the Powers are convinced that they will go all the way.

In my opinion, we shall not get a test ban agreement unless all the parties are convinced that we shall get a plan for total, complete and universal disarmament within a period of years. Otherwise there is the suspicion that a partial scheme is intended to give someone a breathing space. I am sure that this is connected with the question of on-site inspections and so on. There is the suspicion of espionage and that someone could get a quick look to see if this were the right moment to break an agreement, to call it off and to use escape clauses. We need to have an agreement which has not got escape clauses which would give someone a chance to call it off half way through because they believed they had a temporary advantage. If we accept that, and the Minister seems to be accepting it, it appears that the negotiations should be able to go much more smoothly than he suggested.

If he is to reply to the debate, I wish particularly to ask him a question. I want to know what the attitude of the Government is to the surprising conflict between a Russian proposal of 1·7 million conventional manpower forces and the United States counter-proposal of 2·1 million. For many years the usual argument was that if there were a ban on atomic weapons it would immediately give the Russians a tremendous advantage because of their enormous manpower. They would be stamping in their snowy boots all over Europe in a fortnight. Now when we get a proposal to reduce military manpower, the United States appears to answer with a stepping up of the figure. If there is a genuine reason for that, surely it ought to be stated in public now because it looks like obstructiveness.

I ask the hon. Gentleman if it is connected with a view of the operability of N.A.T.O. In the course of these negotiations by stages, is the West regarding N.A.T.O. as something which works and can be surrendered only in toto? Is it a case of half a watch not being any good whereas half a loaf is usually considered as better than no bread? Is the idea that if once N.A.T.O. were broken it would collapse entirely? In other words, is it the view of the West that N.A.T.O. is a much more valuable counter in the bargaining than it would appear to be to the Russians? There must be some explanation which can enable this gap between the two sets of figures to be reconciled.

Attractive as it is—but certainly not to other hon. Members who want to take part in the debate—to cover item after item in these negotiations, is it not true that the task of the politicians at any rate is to establish confidence that peaceful co-existence is possible and will work? The Conservative Party has a great deal of experience of coming to terms with militant faiths throughout history. Richard Coeur de Lion knew when to come to terms with Islam before settling down at Dubrovnik. We on this side of the House have enough experience and judgment to recognise the right moment.

If there is to be a challenge, surely this is the challenge to the conflict which the hon. Member for Wycombe spoke of. Is it not an extraordinary and terrifying thought that people axe prepared to go to war in defence of something which both sides believe in equally passionately? If we ask someone in the West what it is they particularly detest in the other side they will say that it is tyranny, exploitation and lack of personal freedom. If we ask a Communist what it is he particularly detests about the system of capitalist society, he will give exactly the same answer—it is tyranny, exploitation and the restriction of individual freedom.

If we ask those on either side what it is they are prepared to die for in their system, they will say exactly the same thing. They will say that it is the opportunity for their children to achieve the maximum release of human personality and individual freedom. Would the hon. Gentleman the Minister of State accept that? That is the real challenge of competitive co-existence—the race for human freedom. The osmosis of ideas is going on the whole time, each side trying to find the clues to the mysterious success of the other side and trying to reach the same result.

If that is what humanity is really striving for, we need not fear the challenge of co-existence and competition. We must accept that the arms race in itself is the danger we have to face, not the threat that men want to destroy each other. It is the arms race itself which we must conquer. The contribution which politicians have to make is to see that this treaty when it is signed is not something Which provides a temporary truce, not a bargain made among the haves at the expense of the have-nots, but a step towards a system which does not block the continuous evolution of social change in all parts of the world on the lines which the inhabitants of those areas desire for themselves.

That is the biggest problem of all, but it is the problem on which politicians of all parties and in all parts of the world ought to concentrate—how we can guarantee that a pact to replace individual national armaments by a supreme world rule of law will not choke the legitimate aspirations of the underdeveloped countries towards the evolution of a free and independent system of their own.

6.11 p.m.

Photo of Mr David James Mr David James , Brighton, Kemptown

To my surprise and gratification, I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Paddingtan, North (Mr. Parkin)—particularly when he said that my right hon. Friend the Minister knew so much about the subject that there was not a great deal for back bench Members to add. The only point on which I disagree with him is his suggestion that the debate has been on party lines. I do not think that it has followed any such pattern. The only person with whom I have been in violent disagreement while sitting here throughout the debate is my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman). I do not think that this has been a party political debate.

Like all other hon. Members, I have a tremendous respect for the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). All of us know the work which he has done for peace. To show how uncontroversial the debate has been, I was to some extent moved by his tribute to the work being done by the Foreign Secretary at this time. We are all in the same boat in this matter and subject to the same dangers. This has been widely recognised.

The only point in the right hon. Gentleman's speech which alarmed me was when it appeared to me that he took the view that it would be marvellous to get an agreement at Geneva— with which I agree; indeed, so marvellous that we should pay almost any price to get it. He is obviously aware that the nub of the problem is the importance of verification. I hope that I am not doing him an injustice, but he seemed to be prepared to chance his arm on this.

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

I thank the hon. Member for what he said. If he is referring to my remarks about a test ban, I think it extremely improbable that we Shall get a test ban, because I do not believe that the Treasury Bench will change its point of view. A test ban would not last long unless we had a treaty of general disarmament. But I have said nothing of the kind about general disarmament; there, I said repeatedly this afternoon, that adequate, real inspection, is indispensable to a result.

Photo of Mr David James Mr David James , Brighton, Kemptown

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman put me right. I should have made it plain that I took him up in the context of nuclear tests. I still believe that even in this respect, unless we are able to have a built-in system of verification and control we are risking not only our own lives, which are getting on, but those of our children.

I am sorry that there has been no specific C.N.D. contribution to the debate.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

That will come later.

Photo of Mr David James Mr David James , Brighton, Kemptown

It has always seemed to me that the nuclear disarmers assume a mantle of righteousness.

Photo of Mr David James Mr David James , Brighton, Kemptown

They take their point of departure from us in that they claim that they are so virtuous that they want to live and that I am such a perfect "b.f." that I do not want to live, nor do I want my six children under the age of 11½ to grow up. I am glad that we have not had to deal with that type of recrimination in the debate.

I should like, in passing, to compliment the hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) on his speech. I know that the Leader of the Liberal Party was not in the House when he spoke.

Photo of Mr David James Mr David James , Brighton, Kemptown

I should like to pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman's new recruit.

Photo of Reverend Llywelyn Williams Reverend Llywelyn Williams , Abertillery

The hon. Gentleman has made three mis-statements in the last moment. He should check his references.

Photo of Mr David James Mr David James , Brighton, Kemptown

I have not made three misstatements, but with my new spectacles I misread my notes. One is reluctant ever to disagree with a statement in a maiden speech, particularly one of such ability, but I was alarmed by the hon. Member's suggestion that the danger of nuclear tests continuing was far greater than the imbalance which might be created by unilateralism. We have the whole of history to which to appeal in order to know that if any society or civilisation abandons its defences it is heading for disaster.

The archaeological work going on in the Indus at present goes to show that a highly civilised but unarmed society of which we know very little was completely obliterated by the Aryins streaming down from the south in B.C. 2000. I suggest that if the Grecian cities had been prepared to form a Peloponnesian Common Market and had been prepared to form something equivalent to the North Atlantic Community, the Parthenon might still be standing upright today instead of being a monument to former greatness.

We cannot afford to let the balance get out of step. That is the greatest danger of all to peace. My concern is not about any individual weapon, because I believe that it would be as unpleasant and painful to be killed by a bow and arrow as by a nuclear bomb. My concern is for the preservation of peace.

If there were time I should be tempted to have a detailed meteorological argument with the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). The fact remains that there have been about ten volcanic eruptions over the last 2,000 years far more violent than any atomic bomb which has ever fallen. There have been atomic bomb tests, as we all regret; but all one can say is that the British weather changes.

I hope that my hon. Friend, in winding up the debate, will confirm that the overwhelming balance of scientific and meteorological opinion suggests that whatever else nuclear testing does, it has absolutely no effect on the weather. That point was made in a letter to The Times by Fred Hoyle, three years ago, when we had one of our best summers for many years. In his letter he wondered how many people were blaming the weather on the atomic bomb tests during that summer.

I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bath.

Photo of Mr David James Mr David James , Brighton, Kemptown

I did not realise that my hon. Friend was sitting behind me. I disagreed with him when he suggested that detection was comparable with detectives and that site inspection would be similar to the position of the policeman knowing where a burglary had taken place but having no opportunity to prosecute the known delinquents. This seems to me to be a false analogy, with great respect, and putting the cart before the horse. Surely what we have to do is to create a system of trust between nations, first, and then to get world government—not to try to get world government and to superimpose it on the existing nuclear situation.

I believe that the situation is changing dramatically behind the scenes. For the last fifteen years science, in a sense, has not been on our side, for every year has seen more appalling weapons of destruction created and every year there has seamed less likelihood of agreement on the knotty problem of supranational investigation and control. There now appear to be two possibilities, and I am aware that both are very much around the corner.

The first is that modern seismographic detection may improve to such an extent that within the next eighteen months it is not necessary to have people physically going round to see whether bangs are going off. Secondly, I should like to believe that in the next two years photography and rocketry will have improved to the extent that it will be possible on an international basis to have a complete knowledge, through satellite rockets, of what is going on in every country.

I do not believe that we are getting anywhere at the moment in the disarmament talks, simply because the Russians do not want to do business. I do not want to criticise them or to analyse the reasons; I think that partly they are soared and partly they still think that they can win a trick. But if we achieved a situation within the next two years an which international inspection and control was not necessary because of improved seismographic work and improved photography, then the situation might well resolve itself.

I hope that when he goes back to Geneva tonight or tomorrow, my hon. Friend will go on talking and talking, because as long as he talks there is hope. Before he does that, however, he was asked a question by the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin), which it is certainly not my business to answer, and so, no doubt, we will hear from my hon. Friend at the end of the debate.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If those who have not succeeded in speaking so far in this short debate were to seek to catch your eye at a later stage after other agreed subjects have been disposed of, may I take it Chat that would be in order and, also, that if the Minister of State cannot reply—we know that he has to return to Geneva—one of (his colleagues may be present to do so?

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

As far as possible, I try to meet the convenience of the House. I cannot answer for the Minister; I am sure that he will answer that. I think that the best way is to proceed as the hon. Member has described, to deal with the next debate on the North-East, and then go back to disarmament at some grisly hour of the morning.

6.21 p.m.

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I apologise to the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg). I should like to have been here to hear the hon. Member's speech, but I understood that we were supposed to conclude this debate by 6.30. I have to catch an aircraft this evening. I will, however, make such inquiries as I can and certainly I will read the hon. Member's speech carefully in HANSARD and take note of it.

I should like, first, to pay my tribute to the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) and to say how much we all enjoyed hearing him. I am sorry that the hon. Member is not present to hear this tribute, but I am sure that the Leader of his party will be happy to convey my words to him. We all very much enjoyed not only what the hon. Member had to say, but his manner of delivery.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) made an interesting speech, in which he attached considerable importance to a world security organisation. I know that my hon. Friend has strong views on the subject. As we proceed with our discussions on general and complete disarmament it is essential that we should build up a United Nations peace force. As to how that would be controlled is a matter that we shall have to consider. The United Nations peace force is one of the eleven topics which I enumerated to the House which I have put forward at Geneva and I hope that we shall be able to get into detailed discussion of it.

As we proceed with the disarmament process, in so far as we are not absolutely certain that verification has checked every detail, it becomes increasingly important to get an adequate form of security in some other means, which can only be provided by a United Nations peace force. Therefore, to the extent that one does not have complete confidence in verification measures, the importance of the peace force becomes more and more highlighted. This is an important aspect which must not be forgotten.

The right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) asked one or two questions. I will not go into the question of the weather; I have no facts to give about it. On the question of detection of nuclear tests, however, the right hon. and learned Member brought out the fact that the experts' report in 1958 agreed that it was possible to detect underground seismic events over a magnitude of 4·75. The important thing is to distinguish between detections and identification. The experts did not say that those events could be identified; some of them could be but not all. The latest scientific information, which is still being evaluated, leads us to believe that we should be able still to detect not only down to 4·75, but lower, and possibly with a smaller number of stations.

The difficulty is not so much detection, but identification. I hope very much that it will be shown that we can identify considerably more, but I have no evidence that it will be possible to identify nearly all incidents. In fact, I believe that a considerable number would be left. That illustrates the need to have a quota at least of on-site inspections, which has not been eliminated by the latest findings.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

Concerning detection and recognition of small explosions, if there is an area of disagreement because an explosion is a small one and has taken place underground, what military value would there be below a magnitude of 4·75?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

Below 4·75 there are certain advantages, particularly in relation to trigger devices and the like. I am not emphasising this, however. There are a certain number of explosions in the range of about 4·75 in relation to identification on which we can still not be sure. I prefer to await the precise evaluation of the latest information which we will bring forward and make use of at the earliest possible moment in Geneva.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman advised us to accept and to adapt the eight-Power proposals into a treaty. In some degree, that is what we have been doing. We have been seeking to develop them, to analyse them and to build them up into something which could approximate to treaty language. This, however, is where we have been frustrated by the Soviet Union's refusal to enter into detailed discussions of any of these three basic factors.

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

Would it not be possible for the draftsmen of the Foreign Office to take the neutrals' proposals and turn them into a draft treaty and put it on the table at Geneva?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

That is one possible way of dealing with the situation, but we must be confident that what we seek to do will stimulate a response. We are seeking to develop new treaty proposals. We have tried to develop the eight-Power proposals from the beginning and to build up from there. The eight Powers have said that they are not prepared themselves to interpret their proposals; they look to the three nuclear Powers to do so. We have sought to do this but have been frustrated by the Russians in our attempt. However, we shall continue. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) thought I was too gloomy in my conclusions, but it is no good pretending to the House that present prospects are better than they are. We moist continue to seek to work out an agreement, and that is our intention. When, however, the hon. Member talks about British names being involved and claiming that they came from the Labour Party, I am happy to give credit where it is due, but the hon. Member should not forget the work of Lord Robert Cecil, who, also, did a certain amount as well.

The hon. Member dealt with the Russian proposal for manpower of 1·7 million as opposed to the United States proposal of 2·1 million and asked why the United States figure was higher. The real reason, I believe, is because, geographically, Russia is embodied in one unit and can move her forces much more quickly. I have already said at the Geneva conference, however, that I do not believe that the difference between these two figures need be decisive in any problem. I believe that this matter should be negotiable; that is my strong view. I do not think, therefore, that we need attach unduly high importance to it. It is these other factors which I tried to spell out in opening the debate which, I believe, are the keynote.

I have tried to deal with some of the questions which have been raised and am grateful to hon. Members for their suggestions. I assure the House that the Government will continue in every way possible to move the negotiations forward, both on the major principle of general and complete disarmament and on the more narrow but highly concentrated question of nuclear tests.