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Hydrogen Bomb (Resolution)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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50.

asked the Prime Minister what steps he proposes to take to implement the unanimous request of the House of Commons that the Government should take immediately the initiative in arranging a meeting of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the purpose of removing from the peoples of the world the fear that now oppresses them.

I presume the hon. Member is referring to the Motion which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition moved on 5th April. We accepted that Motion on the express understanding that the word "immediate" did not commit us to action at an unsuitable time.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, while speakers on his side attempted to make that reservation before the vote was taken, the reservation was specifically rejected by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and other right hon. Friends of mine, and that, although the reservation had been rejected, the House unanimously adopted the Motion? Will he also bear in mind that the main proposal of my right hon. Friend, that the heads of these three nations should meet, was his own proposal almost a year ago? Has he abandoned his faith in an idea which is shared very largely in this country and very largely throughout the world?

What I said about "immediate" was this:

"We shall not divide against this Motion provided that it is clearly understood that the word 'immediate' does not commit us to action at an unsuitable time or lead only to courting a polite deadlock or even providing a refusal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th April, 1954; Vol. 526, c. 58.]
I believe I said "procuring a refusal."

Can the Prime Minister give any reasons for thinking that the present is not a suitable time for making that proposal having regard to all the events which have happened since he first made the proposal 12 months ago?

Nothing would be easier than to make the proposal and have it rejected. I have not at all changed my opinion. I remain of exactly the same opinion.