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Disarmament

Volume 721: debated on Monday 22 November 1965

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46.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement about the proposals which he has for securing further measures of disarmament.

In my address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 7th October I explained the Government's views on the directions in which we should try to make progress in disarmament; and my noble Friend the Minister of State with special responsibility for disarmament matters gave a detailed review of the present position in another place on 18th November.

The measures which we regard as particularly urgent are an agreement to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons and the extension of the partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to cover underground tests. The Government intend to make a determined effort to reach agreement on these questions.

I welcome the Government's intention but is it not rather regrettable that at the Geneva Conference the British Government neither presented their own draft treaty to the Conference nor were they prepared to sponsor the American draft treaty? In view of the smallness of the difference between the United States and ourselves, surely it was a pity that we could not reach agreement on a mutually agreed text.

The difference, although limited in scope, was nevertheless an important difference. It was in view of that that it was felt that the best way that we could make our views known was in discussion on the basis of the American draft. We did that and I think that it helped to clarify the discussion.