Skip to main content


Volume 650: debated on Thursday 30 November 1961

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement about the planning organisation set up by Her Majesty's Government to prepare detailed proposals for carrying out the principles of general disarmament set out in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Declaration of March, 1961.

No special planning organisation was set up by Her Majesty's Government for the purpose mentioned.

Does the Prime Minister recall that President Kennedy has set up a disarmament agency with 300 full-time members to prepare for the work of the international campaign on disarmament? Does the Prime Minister think that our British contribution will be adequate if our preparation is done by one and a half full-time workers at the Foreign Office?

I do not think the effectiveness of any plan necessarily depends on the number of people engaged in trying to make it.

Would the Prime Minister not agree that one of the paradoxes of the last few months has been that whereas Russian tests have been restarted and other things have started which have made the arms race worse, on the other hand the talks between Mr. Zorin and Mr. McCloy have produced more common ground than ever before? In those circumstances, should not an effort be made to try to find common ground on this subject?

We have made a considerable effort. First, the agreed Commonwealth decision on principles has been a great help and with the joint statement of the United States and the U.S.S.R. and negotiations now going forward, I see hope that we may be able to resume the multilateral negotiations under the United Nations.

Although we welcome these statements of general principle to which the Prime Minister has referred, may we ask him to do something to ensure that our detailed preparatory work shall be adequate for what the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in March called "the most important question in the world"?

I think it will be. Anyone who followed the Geneva Conference on tests, which was highly technical and detailed, would agree that British contribution and representation and knowledge were of a very remarkable character.