ATOMIC ENERGY (ANGLO-AMERICAN ARRANGEMENTS) (Hansard, 30 January 1951)
HC Deb 30 January 1951 vol 483 cc714-6
47. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that the relationship of equal partnership between America, Britain and Canada over the development and use of atomic energy still subsists.

The Prime Minister

As I stated in the course of the debate in the House on 14th December, there was a war-time partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada for the development of the atomic weapon. By agreement between the three Governments, the nature of these war-time arrangements has not been revealed on grounds of public policy. The position of the United States Administration in many of these matters is now regulated by legislation enacted in the United States since the end of the war, and the war-time arrangements have been modified accordingly. But partnership between the three countries for certain purposes in the atomic energy field continues.

Mr. Blackburn

Is the Prime Minister aware that in 1945 President Truman himself recognised that this relation of equal partnership then existed, and may we not be assured that that relationship of equal partnership, which subsisted in 1945, still exists today, in 1951?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Member had listened to my reply—

The Prime Minister

—I said that the partnership between the three countries for certain purposes in the atomic energy field continued.

Mr. Churchill

There was an agreement about this in the war, and now that that agreement has been, as I understand, revoked by the Prime Minister and the Government, is there any reason why its terms should not be stated in public?

The Prime Minister

That would be a matter which would have to be agreed with the United States Govt.

The Prime Minister

I could inquire into that, but at the present time I am precluded by that agreement from announcing what those arrangements were on the grounds of public policy as agreed with our co-signatories.

Mr. Churchill

I understand that the right hon. Gentleman will inquire from the United States Government whether there are any reasons why the war-time agreement should not now be made public?

The Prime Minister

I am prepared to inquire. I would like perhaps to have a word with the right hon. Gentleman on this matter. It is, as he knows, rather complicated and rather delicate.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Prime Minister aware of the recent statement by the Leader of the Opposition that this country has not the secret of the atomic bomb? If this is so is this equal partnership?

The Prime Minister

I am not aware of that statement.

Sir Herbert Williams

May I ask whether I am to understand that for the first time in history we are bound by treaties which have not been published?

The Prime Minister

This was not a treaty.

Sir H. Williams

Surely, the definition of a treaty being an agreement between this country and another country, it must be published in peace-time, otherwise it is not valid?

Mr. Churchill

The point I was venturing to make is that the treaty—or not a treaty the agreement—had been revoked, not that it had been maintained and kept in secrecy. It has been revoked, and having been revoked I do not see why the secret should not be revealed.

Mr. Blackburn

I understood the Prime Minister to nod his head. Do we understand that the treaty has in fact now been revoked?

The Prime Minister

I have tried to explain twice that there was no treaty—it was a question of agreement. That agreement—[Interruption.]—there is a great deal of difference between an agreement and a treaty. There was an agreement, but the agreement has been changed and altered and new agreements have been made.

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