HC Deb 11 December 1952 vol 509 cc667-8
47. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the fact that the safeguarding of a supply route through the Mediterranean area is a vital defence interest, whether Her Majesty's Government will again recommend the appointent of a British officer as Naval Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean area on this ground at the forthcoming meeting of North Atlantic Council Ministers.

The Prime Minister

The subject of the command in the Mediterranean will come before the meeting of the N.A.T.O. Council which begins on Monday next. I will, if possible, make an announcement before the House rises for the Christmas Recess.

Mr. Henderson

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen the report in "The Times" to the effect that Her Majesty's Government have agreed to General Ridgway being appointed Supreme Commander, with British and American admirals in the Mediterranean sharing joint responsibility and subordinate to him? May I ask whether there is any truth in that statement?

The Prime Minister

I think I would prefer to make a statement at the proper time after the matter has been discussed and decided at N.A.T.O.

Mr. Shinwell

Surely the right hon. Gentleman would agree that Her Majesty's Government must have made submissions to the N.A.T.O. Council on this very important matter, and can we know what those submissions are? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Are we only to be advised after this matter has been settled by the N.A.T.O. Council? Are we not to have any say in this matter at all previous to the decision being made? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has changed his mind on the subject of appointing a British admiral as naval commander in the Mediterranean?

The Prime Minister

I do not think I have really changed my mind at all. I have been doing the best I can, and the result will be apparent, I hope, before we separate for the Christmas Recess.