Plutonium

Oral Answers to Questions — Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st May 1963.

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Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street 12:00 am, 21st May 1963

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what method of inspection has been requested by Her Majesty's Government in order to ensure that the plutonium supplied to France is used for civil purposes and not for military purposes.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

This plutonium is being supplied under the Co-operation Agreement of 1959 between the United Kingdom and the European Atomic Energy Community which contains guarantees that the material will be used solely for peaceful purposes. Inspections under the Agreement will be carried out by the Euratom Commission.

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

Are the hon. Member and the Government satisfied that the 1959 Agreement ensures that plutonium from this country will not be used for military purposes? In view of the declared policy of France to have an independent nuclear strike force of her own, does the hon. Member agree that a method of inspection should be embodied in any agreement we have with Euratom involving the supply of plutonium to France or any other country of the Six?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

I agree that it is absolutely essential that there should be adequate powers of inspection, and adequate use of them. Article 81 of the Euratom Treaty empowers inspectors of the Euratom Security Control to have all necessary access at all times for the purpose of their duties, and under our agreement with Euratom it is open to Her Majesty's Government, by consultation and visit, to assure themselves that these safeguards and the control system are working properly.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

What we are asking is not whether we have power to investigate but whether investigation has in fact taken place. Can the hon. Member tell us whether these powers are being used by us?

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

This is the first contract for a supply of plutonium to anybody other than the United States. As the hon. Member may know, the contract was signed in Paris yesterday, and it is therefore a little early to start inspecting where it is being used. But we have great confidence in the Euratom Security Control. Yesterday I was at the United Kingdom Euratom Continuing Committee when the subject was discussed.