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Arms Factories (Inspection)

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 28 June 1961

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the recent consideration by Western European Union of the West German Government's failure to inspect private arms factories without notice so as to ensure there is no production of atomic, bacteriological and chemical weapons, and on the failure of West Germany to ratify the Convention, signed by her in 1957, giving the Arms Control Agency the right to make such surprise visits.

These inspections are not carried out by the Federal Government but by the Arms Control Agency of Western European Union. The convention to which the hon. Gentleman refers is designed to provide a proper legal basis for surprise inspections. The process of ratification by the Federal Republic is now complete and the Instrument of Ratification will be deposited with the Belgian Government in the near future.

Why have not the ratifying instruments been presented? Since the West German Government have not yet ratified the Convention and as no surprise inspections have taken place, how does the right hon. Gentleman know that there has been, and is, no production by West Germany of forbidden weapons?

The Federal German Government was the first Government to ratify the Convention after the United Kingdom. As I have said, the ratification process has been completed and the Instrument is about to be deposited with the Belgian Government. I am told that the Agency has been able to function effectively and that on no occasion has it been refused admission to a factory.

Is it not possible to effect a surprise visit to Eastern Germany. Is it possible to see whether this Question was prompted from King Street?