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Nuclear Security

Volume 976: debated on Tuesday 18 December 1979

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Q1.

asked the Prime Minister if she will initiate discussions with the Governments of West Germany and Holland with aview to setting up an inquiry, with the purpose of improving security at Urenco, Almelo, Holland, in the light of the Khan incident.

I have been asked to reply.

We raised the Khan incident with our partners earlier this year. At the Joint Committee in June it was agreed that security procedures should be reviewed and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, appropriate follow-up action has since been taken. The issue is being kept under close review by the Joint Committee.

Has Downing Street authorised the Under-Secretary of State for Energy, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont), who will be replying to one of the Consolidated Fund debates, to explain why for four long years the authorities in Britain and Germany were apparently not told of the major security leak that has had more devastating effects than Nunn May and Fuchs and which has probably resulted in an Islamic bomb?

I know of the hon. Gentleman's extreme interest in the matter and how important it is. I trust that he will receive a satisfactory reply from my hon. Friend.

I said that I trust that the hon. Gentleman will receive a suitable reply from my hon. Friend. Of course Downing Street authorises everything that Ministers say.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in this truly lamentable affair Dr. Khan was never employed by Urenco and that no blame should be attached to what has been a highly successful trinational operation? The blame has to be placed at the door of the Dutch authorities.

These are matters that can properly be raised during the Consolidated Fund debate.