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Disarmament

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1961

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29.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what further proposals Her Majesty's Government will put forward when disarmament negotiations are resumed, in the light of Mr. Khrushchev's statement that if the Western Powers will accept his proposals on complete and general disarmament he will accept any Western proposals on control, without vetoes or restrictions of any kind.

Her Majesty's Government expect that when multilateral disarmament negotiations are resumed the Western powers will submit joint proposals. I am not in a position to make public any such proposals before they are presented at the multilateral negotiations.

In view of the fact that the British Government, by adhering to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' declaration, have now accepted that the principle of disarmament shall be a rapid and continuous process, and that Mr. Khrushchev has said, with greater emphasis than ever before, that he is prepared that the control agencies should have access to any place at any time without restriction or veto, is there not now an opportunity for the British Government to take a constructive initiative in this field?

With respect to what Mr. Khrushchev has said, it seems abundantly clear that he is willing to have adequate inspection once disarmament has been completed, but I would remind the hon. Gentleman, who has referred to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' statement, that one clause of it says that

"In respect of each phase there should be established, by agreement, effective machinery of inspection, which should come into operation simultaneously with the phase of disarmament to which it relates".
That is what the Government are working towards and what they hope will be achieved.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is exactly what was proposed by Mr. Khrushchev in his proposals of 2nd June last year?

Certainly not exactly in that form. He said that what he envisages is that once total disarmament has been completed then there shall be full inspection—

This is certainly not misrepresentation. He said that in fact there could be no inspection while armed forces were still there, for to carry it out might involve some risk of intelligence and danger to the State. It was in his aide memoire which he recently submitted.

Would the hon. Gentleman look again at Mr. Khrushchev's proposal last year and see that he proposed that at every stage there should be inspection adequate to the disarmament measure being carried out, so adequate that there could be no violation undetected?

We shall be very glad to make progress on the lines indicated by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers when we resume disarmament negotiations. But considering what has been said, when we get round the conference table it is strange how we are unable to make progress, which the right hon. Member seems to think would be possible, for the reason that the Russians are not prepared to go forward.