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United Nations

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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Q5.

To ask the Prime Minister when he next expects to pay an official visit to the United Nations.

I shall chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on 31 January.

Will the Prime Minister confirm that 140 nations have signed the United Nations nuclear non-proliferation treaty, including Tory Canada? Why cannot this Tory Government honour their pledge under the treaty to get rid of nuclear weapons, which will mean the withdrawal of Polaris—which is literally cracking up—and the saving of £10 billion on Trident, to be spent on the national health service to care for lives instead of threatening them with mass murder?

If nuclear non-proliferation—

Quite so, Mr. Speaker.

If nuclear non-proliferation is good enough for the rest of the world, why is not it good enough for us?

We seek to promote non-proliferation and disarmament, and that will be one of the matters to be discussed at the United Nations Security Council meeting that I shall chair next week. But I must say to the hon. Gentleman who suggests that it would be appropriate at present for this country to scrap its nuclear weapons and Trident that to do so would leave the country wholly defenceless. That may be the view of the hon. Gentleman. It may even be the view of right hon. Gentlemen opposite in their secret hearts. It is not the right policy for this country, it is not the policy of the Government and I hope that the Opposition will make clear how many of their members support that policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament rather than a policy of secure defences for this country.

When my right hon. Friend visits the United Nations, will he raise the issue of the RAF aircrew who were shot down over the Gulf, some of whom came from west Norfolk? They were tortured, humiliated and abused in gross contravention of the Geneva convention. Is it time that the perpetrators of the crime were brought to justice?

I strongly share the view expressed by my hon. Friend. I do not think that it is a matter for discussion at the special Security Council meeting next week; it is certainly a matter which remains on our agenda.