HC Deb 19 July 1950 vol 477 cc2262-4
49. Mr. Watkinson

asked the Minister of Defence to what extent the integration of the Air Forces, available for the defence of Europe, has been achieved.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Shinwell)

A unified air defence organisation for North-West Europe has been built up. It comprises the Fighter Forces and the control and reporting organisation of the R.A.F., as well as the French, Belgian and Netherlands Air Forces, all of which are equipped with British type jet aircraft and British radar equipment. The Air Forces of Norway and Denmark, which are also equipped with British jet fighters and British radar, will form an additional part of the air defence of the whole theatre.

I should add that the tactical Air Force in Germany and Bomber Command of the R.A.F. are available for the defence of Europe and each will have a particular defence role to fulfil. Headquarters, Air Forces Western Europe, has already been formed under Air Chief Marshal Robb, who will, in war, control the tactical air forces on the Continent and who will also have responsibilities for air defence.

Mr. Watkinson

Is the Minister of Defence quite satisfied that all is being done that can be done at present to build up a strong air defence in Europe as a whole?

Mr. Shinwell

This question related to the integration of air forces, and not to the Continent.

50. Brigadier Smyth

asked the Minister of Defence whether any large scale exercises with troops are to be carried out in Western Europe this summer by combined Western Union defence Forces.

53. Mr. A. R. W. Low

asked the Minister of Defence what Western Union land Forces manœuvres are to be held this year; and what part the British Army is to play in them.

Mr. Shinwell

It is not proposed to hold any combined Western Union land exercise with troops in Western Europe this year. However, the British Army of the Rhine are holding exercises in Germany in which contingents of Western Union armies will take part. Combined Western Union naval exercises, including convoy exercises, have already taken place, and an exercise to test the efficiency of the Western Europe air defence plan will be held later in the year.

Brigadier Smyth

Is the Minister aware that it would give great confidence and encouragement to the nations of Western Europe at this very critical time if they could have some concrete evidence that the provisions of the Brussels Treaty and the Atlantic Pact are being urgently implemented in terms of formations on the ground?

Mr. Shinwell

That is a rather different question from that relating to the matter of exercises.

Mr. Low

The right hon. Gentleman said that there will be B.A.O.R. manœuvres. Will the Royal Air Force and other air forces from Western Union take part in those manœuvres or not?

Mr. Shinwell

I should say offhand that they are bound to be integrated.

Mr. Low

Why "offhand"?

Mr. Vane

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether these contingents of Western Union Armies to which he has referred will form a substantial proportion of the total Forces taking part in these exercises, or are they merely skeletons or small detachments?

Mr. Shinwell

That is another question.

Captain Ryder

Can the Minister say whether the naval exercises which he mentioned were considered to be satisfac- tory, and whether it is proposed to repeat this promising experiment?

Mr. Shinwell

That is not part of the original Question.

Captain Ryder

But it was part of the answer which has been given.