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Multilateral Disarmament

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 2 June 1943

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47.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that His Majesty's Government will be prepared to propose drastic multilateral disarmament by all the Powers subsequent to the defeat of the Axis Powers, or support the revival of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic's previous proposal for drastic multilateral disarmament; and whether consideration of this necessity is being, or will be given, as one way of implementing the friendship, common interest and responsibility of the United Nations?

The general policy of the United Nations in this regard has already been made clear by Point 8 of the Atlantic Charter. How effect is to be given to this Point can only be decided at the appropriate time by the United Nations concerned. Pending discussion with them, it would be premature for His Majesty's Government to make any uni- lateral declaration regarding the policy which they intend to advocate.

May we take it that at least the assurance, which I suggest is implied in the point of the Atlantic Charter to which my right hon. Friend referred, is accepted by him?

I have given my hon. Friend an answer. I cannot decide what implication he would put upon it, but it is perfectly plain as a statement of fad.

May we have some assurance that our past policy of disarmament which landed us in the present mess, is not going to be repeated?

Is it not clear that the best way to prevent war is the retention of strong forces by those nations that have a vested interest in peace?