HC Deb 23 November 1949 vol 470 cc364-5
48. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Defence on what date the United Kingdom's contribution to Western Union defence was fixed as five to six divisions of troops and forty-five squadrons of jet-fighters; and what alterations to this programme have taken place since this date.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. A. V. Alexander)

It is contrary to the practice of the House to confirm or deny the accuracy of unofficial estimates and statements of this nature.

Mr. Swingler

In view of the fact that this information is not disclosed to the House, has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to statements on the authority of a serving American General, who is a Commander in the Carribbean, in the Year Book of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica"; and does his statement mean that General Sibert is guilty of a breach of official secrecy or is he merely indulging in flights of fancy?

Mr. Alexander

It is not in accordance with the practice of the House, as my hon. Friend will see on page 337 of Erskine May, to confirm or deny a statement of this kind, and I am certainly not prepared to reveal at any time in public, seeing who is watching us, operational proposals.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that before this programme is completed the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in Fighter Command will receive the latest fighters before they are sent overseas?

Mr. Alexander

I think that a statement of that kind has already been made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Air.