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Atomic Energy (Quebec Agreement)

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 14 April 1954

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45.

asked the Prime Minister upon what date, and under what circumstances, he provided the late Senator MacMahon with a copy of the document known as the Quebec Agreement.

I showed the document in question to the late Senator MacMahon at the British Embassy in Washington on 8th January, 1952.

Will the Prime Minister say whether he informed the then President of the United States, and his own Cabinet colleagues, of his intention to show the then highly secret document, known as the Quebec Agreement, to Senator MacMahon? Will he further state, in precise terms, what consequences he expected to flow from such disclosure and what consequences did flow? Will he further state whether he regards his summary and his deductions from that conversation as being an accurate and useful account of what took place?

The hon. Member had a Question on the Order Paper referring to this, or to a portion of what he has now put forward, but he removed it from the Order Paper and, consequently, I thought he did not wish to ask it. The Question he has removed from the Order Paper can hardly be a supplementary to the Question he has left upon the Paper.

On a point of order. It is perfectly true that last week I had originally two Questions on the Order Paper. One of those Questions I removed from the Order Paper. I would be glad to ask your guidance, Sir, as to whether the Prime Minister is entitled to use knowledge, which in any case he ought not to have—namely, when I had removed it—and whether I am still entitled to put as a supplementary question what was contained in the second Question?

I do not remember the Question the hon. Member put on the Paper and withdrew, so I cannot comment on that.

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now make avail able to the House, in a White Paper or other suitable form, all documents relating to agreements concerning atomic energy between members of any British Government and the President of the United States of America, or between the Governments of these two nations since 1st January, 1943.

47.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will take steps to secure the consent of all interested parties, and arrange publication of details of any arrangements made in 1948 for variation, relaxation or otherwise of the Quebec agreement of 1943 in regard to atomic energy development.

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in the House on 5th April, and to the reply I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas).

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that in matters which are admitted to be matters of the greatest possible importance, the time has now come when the people of this country are entitled to know what has been said and done in their name?

I really have nothing to add to what I said. If a request is made from responsible quarters, it will certainly be attended to.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that there are a great many people interested in this matter because their life and fate is bound up with it—people who may have no influence on the "responsible quarters" to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, but who, nevertheless, are entitled to know what is being done and said in their name on this matter?

As I have said if it is desired by the party opposite, or those who speak for it, that there should be a publication of the later agreement, we will endeavour to obtain the permission of the other Powers concerned, and, if that request for publication were extended to other documents besides this one, what I have said would apply to that also.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the more we hear of these matters the more amazed we are at the great care and attention which was taken to proteot British interests during the stress and turmoil of the last war?

Does the Prime Minister appreciate that the whole House knows that it was he who blew the gaff for party advantage in the first case?