§ 3.35 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Winston Churchill)
I beg to move, "That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1952 (Command Paper No. 8475)."
Although I feel that it will be in the general convenience that I should make this statement, I can no longer speak as Minister of Defence. On the day when I accepted the late King's Commission to form a Government, I proposed the appointment of Lord Alexander to this office, and His Majesty was greatly attracted by the proposal. It was necessary, however, to obtain the assent of the Canadian Government and to enable them to make all necessary arrangements in due course.
I had foreseen this delay, even if Lord Alexander were willing to accept so onerous a task. In the meanwhile, I welcomed the opportunity of surveying again this scene, which six years ago I knew quite well, and noting the many changes which had taken place in the interval. I will now, Sir, on handing over these duties, commend this White Paper, which has been circulated for some days, to the attention of the House.
I must, however, put on record certain reserves which are necessary. It takes a long time, and much Departmental work, as right hon. Gentlemen opposite know, to prepare documents of this kind, and, for reasons which the House will under- stand, we had to hasten its presentation to Parliament. Meanwhile, events move constantly forward. Even the present Service Estimates and the White Paper now before us, must be subject to unceasing scrutiny to eliminate all waste and, of course, production may be affected by the non-delivery of machine tools and by the shortage of dollar purchasing power.
I shall not occupy the House at any length with the Amendment which I have heard that the Ministers mainly responsible in the late Parliament for the conduct of our armaments—conduct good or bad—have placed on the Paper. We said something like this about them last year and we shall certainly not be offended by any opinion they may form of us. Our opinion, however, was based upon several years' experience of their methods. Theirs 432 can only be a guess, and I trust will not be a hope.
While we criticised the mistakes they made from time to time, and above all their repeated changes—vacillations, I think, was the word that was used—in the periods of compulsory National Service—now up, now down, now up again—we always gave them support in all necessary measures for national security. They always knew they had us with them if it ever came to a vote against their own tail. I do not suggest that we were with them yesterday morning. But this must have been a great help to any Government carrying on the business of the nation, especially as they were able at the same time to accuse us of seeking war and armament expansion whenever an election came along.
I hope that the Division which, I understand, we are to have tonight will not mean that the Socialist Party intend to revert to their pre-war practice of voting against necessary measures of defence, as they did against conscription before the war, and that they will at any rate consider themselves as bound to give general support to treasures for which they themselves were originally responsible.
I will now endeavour to give some general account of the British defence position as I leave it. When I spoke to the House on defence at the beginning of December. I mentioned that there would certainly be a lag in carrying out the £4,700 million programme to which the late Government had given their support, and which they had increased from their original £3,600 million programmme introduced earlier in the same year. This has manifested itself in a shortfall in 1951–52 of £120 million, as is shown in the White Paper.
After the £3,600 million programme was proposed by the Socialist Government, they accepted an interim offer of 112 million dollars of aid from the United States of America in respect of machine tools. They had, indeed, stipulated for much larger help and relied on securing it in due course through the so-called "burden-sharing exercise" then agreed in principle with the Americans. We are to receive this 112 million dollars progressively as machine tools are delivered, and delivery is only just beginning, but we hope it will be completed in about 15 months' time.
433 Meanwhile the £4,700 million programme on which we are now engaged has not received aid on a scale in keeping with the defence burden undertaken by the late Prime Minister or with our needs. Following the recent studies of the Temporary Council Committee—the "three wise men," as they are sometimes called—the United States Government have allotted to us a sum of 300 million dollars, none of which has yet been received. There is no question of reproaches on either side, but the fact remains, as I have foreshadowed, that the re-armament programme is much more likely to be carried out in four years than in three. Had it been carried out in three years as originally planned, the cost through the rise in prices would have been not less than £5,200 million. Of course, spread over a longer time the impact is less severe, but the total will be larger because of the added cost of the longer maintenance.
I should, however, be misleading the House if I led it to suppose that the delay which has taken place is due only to a shortfall in earnings by contractors for various reasons. We have pursued a definite policy of giving a somewhat higher measure of priority to materials needed for exports. The grave financial crisis under which we are labouring supplies more than sufficient explanation for this decision. We depend upon exports to purchase the imports of food and raw materials without which we can neither re-arm nor live as a solvent economic society.
The expenditure set forth in the White Paper on Defence, and the Estimates of the three Service Departments which will shortly be brought before the House, represent the utmost that we can do during the present year; and it is certainly much more than any other country in the free world, except the United States of America, has attempted.
I am not suggesting that it is sufficient for our safety in the event of war, and I rely on the rapidly growing and already overwhelming power of the United States in the atomic bomb to provide the deterrents against an act of aggression during the period of forming a defensive front in Western Europe. I hope and I believe that this will deter; but, of course, I cannot make promises or prophecies, or give guarantees. I accept 434 responsibility only for doing all that was possible, having regard to the state of our defences and economic position when, after an interval of more than six years, the Conservative Party resumed office 19 weeks ago.
My first impression on looking round the scene at home in November as Minister of Defence was a sense of extreme nakedness such as I had never felt before in peace or war—almost as though I was living in a nudist colony. When the 6th Armoured and the 3rd Infantry Divisions had left the country in pursuance of orders given or policies decided upon in the days of the late Administration, we had not a single Regular combat formation in the country; and although a seaborne invasion does not seem likely in view of our and Allied naval power in surface ships, I thought it right to take what precautions were possible against paratroop descents, and I spoke, as the House may remember, about the importance of our showing the back of a hedgehog rather than the paunch of a rabbit to any unfriendly eye that might contemplate our island from above.
There were at that time a quarter of a million—249,000 was the exact figure—of officers and men in depôts and training centres of many kinds. Most of these men, though uniformed British soldiers, had little combatant organisation or value. They were engaged in preparing and maintaining the considerable Forces which had been spread about the world. in Europe, Asia and Africa. I considered it imperative to impart a combatant value to this potentially powerful body of British soldiers costing at least £400 a year each. Rapid progress has been made with this policy. All these men are now supplied with rifles and machine guns and with ammunition, and they are organised into effective fighting groups which now comprise 502 mobile columns.
These Forces are not, indeed, of the efficiency of the units on the Continent and overseas. Nor do they need to be. They are capable of giving a good account of themselves and of imposing a considerable deterrent upon any airborne adventure by being able to kill or capture the ones who land. The process has been greatly strengthened by the sailors ashore and the Air Force ground 435 men, who also make important contributions. I am told by the weekly reports for which I called that morale is high, and that all ranks understand and have welcomed the reality and importance of their new duties, and that they like to feel that they are guarding their homes and their fellow countrymen as well as learning or teaching.
About two months ago, on the same line of thought, we started registration for the Home Guard. Since then 30,000 men have registered. This result is solid so far as it goes, but we still need many more volunteers. It may well be that many who have joined have felt that the likelihood of war has somewhat receded, and they think they can make up their minds later on. They must be careful not to leave it too late. If war should come, it will be with violent speed and suddenness, and here at home, with almost all our Regular Army overseas, we must rely to an unusual extent on the Home Guard. Enough resolute men must be armed and ready to aid all the other forms of protection against raids, descents and sabotage.
Although I had felt unable at first sight to provide the Home Guard with uniforms, and even with greatcoats or boots, I decided upon consideration to draw upon our mobilisation reserves to the extent necessary to clothe at least the first 50,000. My successor may do better later on. I have directed the War Office to place, as speedily as possible, all orders for which their Estimates provide in the coming year with the clothing trade, in which a certain amount of unemployment and under-employment, especially in Northern Ireland, had begun to appear.
Thirdly, we have been able, by a severe combing of the tail—not the tail I mentioned just now, but nevertheless a very desirable and necessary process—to produce seven more Regular second battalions of famous regiments which had been imprudently disbanded. I would not use the word "imprudently" if I had not long studied all the economic advantages of the Cardwell system, with a battalion abroad and a battalion at home, and an inter-flow of reserves and reinforcements between them. These battalions now raised, in one of which the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South 436 (Mr. Emrys Hughes) took so much interest—the Black, what was it?
§ The Prime Minister
I thought it was the "Black Welsh." These will become effective units, and during the present autumn will give us at least a couple of Regular brigade groups to work with the numerous mobile columns I have already mentioned, and to go to any point of special danger in this island.
The expense involved in these changes is not great, and the gain in defensive and deterrent power resulting from them is out of all proportion to their cost in money. I hope the House will greet these measures with approval in that limited sphere of our dangers to which they are necessarily restricted. There is no doubt—honour where honour is due—that the Socialist policy of compulsory National Service in time of peace will enable Britain to create a much better and stronger Army than was ever possible before. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite need not look too unhappy about it. We supported the late Government in this important decision, including their last step of raising the term of service to two years. Of course, the fruits of such a system only mature gradually. The yearly production of more than 100,000 well-trained reservists, representing the highest physical qualities of British manhood, will not only give us reserves for the Regular Army on mobilisation of fine quality, but will also provide for the creation of a Territorial Army which, when mobilised, will be far superior in efficiency and readiness at the outbreak of war to anything that was previously possible.
The disturbed condition of the world compels us to maintain outside Europe the equivalent of nearly six Regular divisions, as well as the equivalent of five divisions, including three armoured divisions, which we now have on the Continent. As soon as a sufficiency of modernised equipment can be provided we shall have available for service abroad or at home a total of 22 divisions which are of a much more complex character than anything known in the late war, and a considerable proportion of which will be armoured.
In the Centurion tank we have what many good judges believe to be the best 437 tank now in service, and one which is in keen demand in Commonwealth and friendly countries. Not only is it of high military value, but it may also at times become a useful dollar-earning export. The plants which are being developed to make the Centurion tank will readily adapt themselves to the improved patterns which are on the way.
Before Christmas I spoke of the very heavy burden which distant foreign service throws upon our military organisation, and of the 30,000 men always in the pipe-line back and forth. A very real and important economy in the true sense would be introduced into our military system if we could increase the number of men serving for three or four years with the Colours. There is no question of our prolonging the compulsory term of military service, as was industriously suggested at the General Election by those who were enjoying our support in their military policy.
§ The Prime Minister
I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will not say this has not all been made clear to them.
§ Mr. Morrison
Who said it? The right hon. Gentleman, in telling his tale, has made an allegation. I am asking him who said this, and when?
§ The Prime Minister
We are very glad to see the right hon. Gentleman on his feet again. Much of the difficulty—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—much of the difficulty we are suffering from—
§ The Prime Minister
Much of the difficulty—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I have only a little time. Much of the difficulty we are suffering from—
§ The Prime Minister
Much of the difficulty we suffer from on these occasions 438 is that the leading men avoid making the charges, but a whispering campaign is started throughout the lower ranks and even the lowest ranks, which is a greater advantage to the statesmen who sit on the Front Bench opposite.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton) rose—
§ The Prime Minister
I do not wish to be drawn into an altercation with the hon. and learned Gentleman because it may not be generally known that his grandfather was the author of a very famous book to which I have always paid the most careful attention and in which he clears one of my forebears of a lot of disagreeable charges.
Everyone knows the kind of campaign which was run, suggesting that we intended to increase the length of National Service. [Interruption.] I am so glad to be able to excite a sense of shame. [Interruption.] We really must get back to the laborious administrative details to which I had hoped to confine myself. [HON. MEMBERS: "Tell the truth."] Let me remind the House that we are not on any account going to increase the compulsory term. We have, however, started an active voluntary recruitment.
§ The Prime Minister
I am delighted to share any credit which can be found with the right hon. Gentleman, but I must always be careful not to pay him too many compliments because his friends below the Gangway call that fulsome, and he himself might easily ask me some rude questions to put himself on side.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am not going to ask the right hon. Gentleman any rude questions. All that I am seeking to do is to ask him to give us the facts about this new measure for voluntary recruitment. I interjected to say that the right hon. Gentleman's Government did not start this. It was, in fact, started by the late Government. The right hon. Gentleman may make a song and dance about it, but I ask him just to tell the truth.
§ The Prime Minister
I have no desire to state anything but what is the truth. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Nor do I intend to. I say we have, however, started—we, the British nation, have, however, started—an active voluntary recruitment with incentives in pay for short Regular engagements of three or four years, particularly designed to attract National Service men and those about to be called up. This is making good progress. In the Air Force about 43,000 young men have taken these engagements in the past two years. In the three months—the right hon. Gentleman talked about telling the truth and he may have a bit of it—since the Army opened a similar engagement, we have gained about 1,000 from serving National Service men, and over 8,000 from civil life.
§ The Prime Minister
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman was going to claim all the credit for this. Now the hon. Gentleman comes in to take it away from him.
The latter are young men who would otherwise have been called up for National Service in the near future. They were not expecting to be unemployed. They were expecting to be called up by conscription in the near future. Instead of being called up, they take on this long service and have beneficial pay. This is a most helpful development in our Army organisation, and really, one might say, worth its weight in gold when one thinks of the cost of moving men to and fro from here to Hong Kong. That is all I am going to say about the Army this afternoon.
When the Navy Estimates are introduced tomorrow, the First Lord will give a full account of the naval position. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That is not until tomorrow. Vote A at 147,000 is about the same as when I introduced the Navy Estimates of 1914. When I then introduced them it was 146,000. When I returned to the Admiralty at the beginning of the Second World War, Vote A was at 129,000. The growth of the Naval Air Arm more than accounts for the increase. As in the past, Vote A comprises mainly long-service men with valuable, important 440 high-class reserves—that great background and foundation of hereditary seamen, generations going back to generations, gathered round our great seaports and towns, furnishing us with a magnificent supply of youth, sustained by the tradition of their fathers.
The volume of new construction is, of course, less in tonnage than in 1914, and much less than in 1939. But whereas a ton of new construction for, let us say, destroyers—that very vital element—cost in 1914 £150 a ton and in 1939 £325 a ton, the present new construction, with all the improvements and apparatus vital to modern efficiency, and with all the decline in the purchasing power of money, costs £700 a ton—that is to say, nearly five times as much. The whole maintenance and organisation of the Royal Navy has also become vastly more complex and expensive than in former times. I am by no means satisfied with the progress so far made in pruning and purging. Nevertheless, the enormous increase in complexity is a dominating factor—I admit that.
There is, of course, no potentially hostile surface battle fleet afloat. The Russians have three old battleships, about 20 cruisers, and a considerable annual building programme; but all the surface navies which exist on the waters of the world are comprised and are being woven together in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. As large vessels take a long time to build, it is not likely that this situation will be altered in, let us say, the next five years.
None the less, the Royal Navy has three main threats to meet, each of which, if successful, would affect our survival in this island. I will state them in their order of gravity as they affect us—the mine; the U-boat—for that is what I call potentially hostile submarines, distinguishing between a wicked weapon used for wrong purposes and the honourable use of the submarine in the ordinary course of naval business; it is a good thing to separate them—[Interruption.]—I thought that would appeal to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)—and the threat from the air, ever-growing in its shore-based power.
It is upon improving and augmenting our resources to withstand these threats that our new construction and research 441 of all kinds is in fact concentrated. Anti-mine and anti-U-boat measures absorb the overwhelming proportion of our new construction and material development. They also dominate our training, which includes constant anti-U-boat and minesweeping exercises. Here we also welcome the new shore mine-watching forces now being raised from men in civilian rig, who may well be as valuable to the Royal Navy and to the life of the island as are sailors afloat.
The House, I feel, may be assured that when the new frigates and minesweepers come into service they will be a proof of the perennial British ability to produce novel designs of high performance. From all that I have been able to learn and understand as a member of the Institution of Naval Architects—[Laughter.]—honorary, of course; I have made a few suggestions from time to time—I think the constructive Department of the Admiralty are entitled to take pride in their inventiveness and modernity.
The difficulty is not only design or quality in these spheres of anti-U-boat and anti-mine warfare. It is numbers that count, and every improvement, however necessary, in speed or apparatus is the enemy of numbers. I think that progress is being made on right lines in what are necessarily reconciliations of opposing needs. I spoke just now about the threat from the air. This threat, of course, cuts both ways, and the important fleet of aircraft carriers which already exists and is developing, as well as the expanding range of shore-based aircraft, is a vital factor in coping with mining and U-boat attack.
However, do not let anyone suppose that the problems have been solved or that these two dangers—the mines and the U-boat—present themselves in a less fateful form to us, or less important to the United States, than at the beginning of the Second World War. On the contrary, the dangers are greater, and the means of coping with them by rapid improvisations of civilian craft, like yachts and trawlers, are no longer effective against the new fast U-boat types, of which, however, the Soviets have, happily, at present only a few.
Our aircraft carrier fleet is also a powerful defence. The newest aircraft carrier has just now come into service.
§ The Prime Minister
It bears the name of the "Eagle," descended from her original namesake, commissioned in the first Elizabethan era.
§ The Prime Minister
I shall be revealing no technical secrets if I say that the design and construction of the new "Eagle" are of a very different kind from those of her ancestor, for fashions have changed in all sorts of ways in this as in other spheres. The expense is no doubt very much greater.
§ The Prime Minister
Why make these attacks upon the Front Bench opposite? Surely the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South, might leave to the Government the necessary task of defending themselves against the Opposition instead of making this flank attack upon his right hon. Friend who formerly represented the Admiralty in this House. To spend £15 million on an aircraft carrier—good gracious; fancy if the Tories had done a thing like that!
I now come to the third great Service. It is our air power which causes me the most anxiety. Deliveries of modern aircraft are seriously behind the original programme, which, in consequence, has had to be revised. As the result, the Air Force, though maintaining its size, is not being re-equipped with modern machines as rapidly as it should be.
Our greatest need is for modern aircraft in the squadrons. For example, we have no swept-back wing fighters in service, such as the American F.86 and the Russian M.I.G.15. It is true, as the leader of the Opposition said in our debate last December, that it is not unnatural in this competition of types for one nation temporarily to outstep its rivals. It is rather unfortunate, however, if war should come at a moment when the enemy has a great advantage in modernity. It is not a good arrangement to have the highest class of air pilots and all the personal staffs required and for them to have only second-best weapons to fight with.
§ The Prime Minister
No, Sir. I prefer to deal with this in my own way. The problem of when to change from existing production to an improved type is not a new one. It has occurred in all countries during the increasingly rapid improvement of weapons in the last hundred years. It has never occurred with the same significance as in the air forces, which must always be to some extent in a state of flux.
I recognise the difficulty of the position, but the late Government, who are so critical in their anticipations of our ability, certainly did not produce good solutions. Here, as in other spheres, our inheritance leaves much to be desired. It is now that decisions taken soon after the war press upon us. If, indeed, all that was then forecast had come to pass, our problems would be simpler, but the appearance of the M.I.G.15 in Russian squadrons in 1949, which the Russians now have in great numbers, marked a considerable advance in aeronautical design. This has falsified many predictions.
The ordering of new types off the drawing board, with all the risks that attend such decisions, can help in part but cannot itself fill the gap, which is too large for safety. This gap now faces us as a consequence of estimates which events have now disproved.
We are making great efforts to advance the production of the new Hawker fighter and also of the Swift, another first-class aeroplane designed to fill the same day-interceptor role. These types are much newer than the Soviet M.I.G.15, but I must make it clear that we shall not have in the Service in the near future, or, indeed, for some time, anything like adequate numbers of these superior modern fighters. It will require intense exertions to build up production to the necessary level, and also to gain and keep a lead in design.
I have directed that super-priority should be given to the production of the latest and best types of fighter aircraft. This does not mean that everything else is to be knocked about in their exclusive interest. The assertion of priorities, without the necessary refinements of application, might well be most injurious to production as a whole. I have seen undue assertion of priorities do harm in both 444 world wars. The whole subject is far better understood now than it was even during the last war, and in this light I affirm that the first need of our defence is the re-arming of the Royal Air Force with weapons worthy of their daring and skill.
The expansion of the number of aircraft in the front line of the Royal Air Force, or the improvement in their quality, must not mean an equal increase in its overall manpower. A longer period of training is, however, now necessary, not only for pilots and navigators but for some of the technical ground trades. The training organisation of the Royal Air Force to produce in good time the necessary men is advancing. The response to the new trade structure, which was introduced a year ago and designed to offer a career with proper opportunities of advancement, has so far met with a most promising response. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), whose father I knew so well, will be very gratified, as he was responsible for that.
As I said in reply to a Question a few days ago, the other Commonwealth countries are kept informed of the defence plans of the United Kingdom and are consulted whenever any of our commitments are likely to be of particular concern to them.
Canada is, of course, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. But we must make sure that our contacts grow ever closer. The House will welcome the announcement made recently by the Canadian Minister of National Defence that, as part of the North Atlantic system of mutual help, we are to receive in due course from Canada a number of high-class fighter aircraft. F.86 is the label given to them. The frames will be made in Canada, the engines in America and the Royal Air Force will fly them. These aircraft will be a welcome addition to our strength at home and in Europe.—[Interruption.]—I think I said that the negotiations were begun under the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton.
§ The Prime Minister
May I not share with him in this event? It is far from me to wish to grasp any credit from anyone. Not even the late Foreign Secretary will say that I wish to rob him of any claim of his share in foreign affairs.
The Prime Minister of Australia has today announced to the Australian Parliament at Canberra that his Government have decided to send a fighter wing to the Middle East to operate with the Royal Air Force in that area. The wing will consist of two squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force and should be ready to leave Australia for the Middle East next June. The actual station of the wing in the area will be decided later on. One possibility is Cyprus.
I know that I shall be expressing the views of all parties in the House when I say that we warmly welcome this further practical contribution by Australia to the defence of the free world and of the interests of the British Commonwealth. We shall be very glad to have these Australian squadrons working with us in the task of defending the Middle East against external aggression should any occur.
I have not attempted this afternoon to deal either with the general problem of European defence or the still wider issues represented by what I think we have got sufficiently habituated to call N.A.T.O. We shall have a debate at the end of the month when the fruitful outcome of the Lisbon Conference and other questions larger than those comprised in the White Paper can be discussed.
But I should like before I sit down, if the House will permit me, to repeat in substance what I said before upon the reason why I do not believe that war is imminent or inevitable, and why I believe that we have more time, if we use it wisely, and more hope of warding off that frightful catastrophe from our struggling, ill-informed, bewildered and almost helpless human race.
I am glad to find that the words I used two years ago in this House still express my thoughts. This is what I said:There never was a time when the deterrents against war were so strong. If penalties of the most drastic kind can prevent in our civil life crime or folly, then we certainly have them here on a gigantic scale in the affairs of nations … The penalties have grown to an extent undreamed of; and at the same time, many of the old incentives which were 446 the cause of the beginning of so many wars, or features in their beginning, have lost their significance. The desire for glory, booty, territory, dynastic or national aggrandisement; hopes of a speedy and splendid victory with all its excitement—and they are all temptations from which even those which only fight for righteous causes are not always exempt—are now superseded by a preliminary stage of measureless agony from which neither side could at present protect itself.Another world war would begin by both sides suffering as the first step what they dread most. Western Europe would be overrun and Communised…On the other hand, at the same time, Soviet cities, air fields, oil fields and railway junctions would be annihilated; with possible complete disruption of Kremlin control over the enormous populations who are ruled from Moscow. Those fearful cataclysms would be simultaneous, and neither side could at present, or for several years to come, prevent them. Moralists may find it a melancholy thought that peace can find no nobler foundations than mutual terror. But for my part, I shall be content if these foundations are solid, because they will give us the extra time and the new breathing space for the supreme effort which has to be made for a world settlement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th March, 1950; Vol. 473, c. 197–198.]That is what I said two years ago, that is what I am not ashamed to repeat here now.
I thank the House for its courtesy and kindness to me. The interruptions which have occurred will not be deprived of the plea that they were unprovoked, for we have our own system of public business and of discussing our affairs across the Floor of the House while dealing with grave matters.
In conclusion, the House will realise that I cannot claim that the estimates and schemes presented in the White Paper go as far as the proposals of the Socialist Government. This is partly due to physical causes, which invariably delay large re-armament programmes, but it is also due to the present Cabinet's decisions to increase the emphasis on exports at the expense of the speed of the re-armament programme.
The motives which inspired the Leader of the Opposition, the former Minister of Defence, and the Service Ministers of those days, to embark upon this great scheme of re-armament, are creditable to their military zeal, but it was a scheme loosely and hastily framed and declared, and only five months intervened between the £3,600 million plan and its being superseded by that of £4,700 million. Moreover, they did not take sufficient 447 account of the serious financial situation into which they were moving and of which we are today the anxious legatees. It is a curious commentary on British politics that it should fall to a Conservative Government in the face of dire financial stress to have to reduce or slow down the military defence programme and expenditure on which the Socialist Government had embarked and to which they had committed the nation.
We must, however, be governed by realities, and while trying our utmost to carry out the programme we must not mislead the country into expectations beyond what its life energies can fulfil.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
If the Prime Minister had dealt in rather more detail with the structure and purpose of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, apart from the European Defence Community aspects which could be debated another day, instead of indulging in a sustained sneer against the late Government, it might have been more to the national advantage.
I take note, to begin with, of the offer made by the right hon. Gentleman to render assistance in dealing with the tail of the Labour Party. Nobody knows more about the tail end of a political party than does the right hon. Gentleman. I had the fortune, for a considerable number of years, to listen to him when he sat in the corner seat below the Gangway on the Government side—but that was only his geographical position. Nobody more bitterly attacked and castigated the Baldwin and Chamberlain Governments about their inadequate defence measures, preceding the last war, than did the right hon. Gentleman himself, and he was refuted repeatedly by right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench and frequently by hon. Gentlemen sitting behind him. It was the most mischievous and malicious tail that has ever been waggled in this House of Commons.
The right hon. Gentleman appears to me to be on the horns of a dilemma. If he is not careful he might become impaled on either or both of them. Let him have a care. What he has been saying is, in effect, "I ask the House to accept the White Paper on defence. I 448 commend it to hon. Members because, after all, it is only a narrative of the defence activities of the late Government." While asking for approval for the defence White Paper—to which he is unable to take any exception whatever, be it noted—he seeks to make political capital out of the fact that the late Government sought to promote adequate defence in the interests of the nation. I should like to know which leg the right hon. Gentleman stands on.
I have a suspicion that the right hon. Gentleman has reached the stage when his primary concern is to seek to cause a cleavage in the ranks of the Labour Party. He need not concern himself unduly about matters of that sort. We can handle any differences. Let the right hon. Gentleman concern himself with certain elements in his own party. For a long time he has disliked many of his colleagues, and for a long time they have equally disliked him. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name them."]
Hon. Gentlemen ask me to name them. I do not know what the Prime Minister really thinks of the hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), who sits beside him and who has just been appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence—the only justification for which appointment can be that the right hon. Gentleman has conceived hatred for the Labour Party which the hon. Gentleman has expressed over and over again, and that if there is any need for vituperation the hon. Member for Flint, West, has all the experience that is necessary. We want no assistance from the right hon. Gentleman at all.
Moreover, nothing that the right hon. Gentleman has said this afternoon, malicious and offensive as he has been, and mischievous as his remarks were—and they were intended to be such—would prevent this party—because it has already made up its mind—from pursuing the path it set itself when the Government was formed in 1945; that is, among other things in the international sphere, that where there is tension, unsettlement and the possibility of aggression, to promote adequate measures of defence.
I want to make it quite clear where the Labour Party stand in this matter, though I have not prepared a speech. Indeed, after the speech to which we have 449 just listened no preparation was necessary. I am bound to say that I have frequently heard the right hon. Gentleman speak, and it seems to me that he is deteriorating rapidly. When he is left with nothing to say about the substance of the matter, he seeks to attack the late Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "What will you do?"] Hon. Members will see what I shall do before I have finished. Let me add that their jeering and laughter will not affect me in the least. I shall say what I want to say in spite of them all.
I shall state briefly the position of the Labour Party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Which party?"] I have committed it to writing for purposes of accuracy. The Labour Party hate war as much as the Tory Party, and a great deal more.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
I heard the word "lie." It should be withdrawn.
§ Captain Robert Ryder (Merton and Morden)
On a point of order. In view of the very offensive remark which has just been made, surely the hon. Gentleman should be asked to withdraw?
§ Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)
On a point of order. Is it right for the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) to say that every person on these benches is a warmonger?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I did not hear the remark complained of, but hon. Members will perhaps remember that it is disorderly to say anything while seated.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
Further to that point of order. Having sat in this House for many years you will remember, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that such remarks as that were common before the last war and that they came from the other side. Is it unparliamentary to use that expression?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am sorry to find hon. Members opposite so sensitive. When I think of what they used to say about Service Ministers and myself, it is really going a bit too far. After all, this is not a tea party with the dear vicar in the chair, as the ex-Father of the House said on one occasion. We can afford to say things about each other without regarding them as being unduly offensive. However, if hon. Members opposite are very sensitive, we will do our best to cater to their requirements. [Interruption.]
Will the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister stop interrupting in that inaudible fashion? If he has an intelligent remark to make, let him get up and I will yield to him. He sits there muttering to himself and, what is more, smirking and grinning all over his face as if he is enjoying himself hugely. I understood that this was a serious debate to which he believes he has made a serious contribution. We will see before the end of my speech if that is so.
In view of the tension in world affairs and acts of aggression, and pending the settlement of international disputes by diplomatic means, we must take effective measures to protect the United Kingdom against attack. That is the position of this party. We deplore the burden of armaments and we demand that the burden shall be shared equitably by the people of this country and, finally, that the cost of defence must not be used as an excuse to weaken our social services. That is our position. I do not pretend for a moment that it would be possible to build up adequate defence to meet all 451 our defence requirements without imposing some burdens on the community, but we ought to exercise great caution in this regard.
Having made the position of, at any rate, the majority of the Labour Party clear—[Laughter.] What is amusing about that? It is common ground that in the Labour Party and, indeed, outside the Labour Party, there are people who are known as pacifists, who not only hate war, as we all do, but who will have no art or part in it. That we have recognised. These differences of opinion have existed over a long period, but when men and women have genuine convictions about pacifism, is it any reason why we should complain? We accept them as men and women with honest convictions. There is no reason why we should deny either their existence or the fact that they differ fundamentally from the policy of their party, at any rate as regards defence.
Now I want to come to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman because, as I have said, he said hardly anything about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I want to say to him that, apart from building up adequate defence in this country, the crux of the defence problem is the structure, organisation and purpose of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
The right hon. Gentleman did not take serious exception to what had been done by the late Government as regards the building up of divisions. He said that the Government were now attempting to create small mobile Forces which might be used for the purposes of home defence, but all that was considered by the Ministry of Defence and the Service Departments many months ago. The right hon. Gentleman also told us about the need for producing the most modern type of aircraft and that we agree.
We know of the difficulties that are encountered in this matter. There is research over a long period, then there is development, then there are modifications in designs and, last but not least—and this is one of the real problems—there is the difficulty of the aircraft manufacturers in organising the industry in such a fashion as to be able to deal speedily with production on a mass scale. That is a matter to which we must address ourselves.
452 That apart, however, the defence of this country, in peace-time at any rate, is in better state and better heart than ever it has been before. The right hon. Gentleman can challenge that if he likes. Take, for example, the number of divisions. The right hon. Gentleman said that when he came to the Ministry of Defence he felt himself to be in a condition of nudity. Apparently he was not satisfied with what he heard and saw around him. Let me tell him the true facts. We have practically 11 divisions overseas—
§ Mr. Shinwell
I will come to what we have at home in a minute. In addition to having practically 11 divisions overseas, we have practically five in Europe, we have three in the Middle East, we have practically three in the Far East and we have garrisons in various parts of the world, as hon. Members are well aware. What is more, we have met every one of our commitments. In particular, we have met our commitments to General Eisenhower. He has never complained at any time about the fulfilment of the promises that were made many months ago in connection with the build up of Forces in the West.
When we had the recent trouble in Egypt, it was possible for the War Office to organise an infantry division and send them out speedily. It was thought at the time that there was no strategic reserve in this country, and hon. Members opposite—I am not sure that the present Secretary of State for War was not one of them—complained that we had no strategic reserves here. Yet when the trouble blew up and became acute, we were able to send an infantry division out there and, for the most part, to fly them in. At any rate, we experienced no great difficulty in this matter. That was an achievement, and in so far as we require defence I claim that the position was far more satisfactory than ever before in peace-time, and certainly much more satisfactory than hon. Members opposite pretend.
Yet complaint after complaint—and, indeed, abuse—was levelled against the Service Ministers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Quite right, too."] We are told, "Quite right, too." In view of that, I venture upon a few quotations. It is 453 just as well that the House should know where we stand. I have prepared a few quotations—as it happens, out of the mouths of hon. Members opposite and their friends.
What did the right hon. Gentleman say? He started off in March last year:Should there be an immense re-armament? We say 'yes' but, if so, are the Ministers who now have it in hand, having regard to their proved incapacity, the ones to be trusted with it?Then he added, in October:I have little confidence in the capacity of these Ministers. Personally, I am quite sure that better value could be got for the immense manpower and sums of money involved.Let us take the organiser of the Tory Party at the last Election, Lord Woolton. Referring to myself, he said:Mr. Shinwell seems to have thrown himself into the job with some vigour, but I cannot find he has thrown anything else except himself into the job. I have been making inquiries up and down the country. I cannot find there has been any great burst of activity in the ordering of weapons of war.The Minister of Supply provided the answer. He came to our assistance right away—quite unwittingly, of course. Perhaps, if he had known what he was about to say, and did say, he would have hesitated, because this is what he said on the same subject:During the 12 months up to the end of September"—not October, but September, starting in September, 1950, and ending in 1951—the total value of the re-armament contracts placed by the Ministry of Supply"—under our auspices—was approximately £1,000 million."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th November, 1951; Vol. 494, c. 9.]What is the use of pretending that we were not engaged in preparing for adequate defence?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Note what the right hon. Gentleman does. He says that I will break the heart of the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes). I shall not do anything of the sort. My hon. Friend understands the right hon. Gentleman sometimes better than he understands himself, and if the right hon. Gentleman thinks that he can make a 454 better and more vigorous impression on my hon. Friend than he presently is doing, he is deceiving himself.
Then we had one of the subordinate Members of the Government in the other place, who said:The Socialist Party's effort to deal with re-armament can be described as fumbling bewilderment.That was immediately answered by a Senator in the United States who, according to the "Daily Telegraph",praised Britain's effort while expressing disappointment with Europe as a whole. 'The British', he said, 'ought to be commended for their effort with the little they have to work with'.Following upon that, we have the speech—
§ Mr. Shinwell
If the right hon. Gentleman regards it as ambiguous, let me give him reply on the same subject by Mr. Averil Harriman, who said:Britain, the largest industrial country in Europe, had moved the fastest in placing arms orders.What more do hon. Members want—except, of course, the speech by the right hon. Gentleman's Foreign Secretary at Columbia University. This was not long after the party opposite came into power. They did not have to wait long, for immediately the Foreign Secretary said:I would remind you of a few facts.He told our American friends:Apart from the bitter struggle which we are waging in Malaya and our contribution to the United Nations Forces in Korea, apart from the substantial Force which we have to keep in the Middle East in the interests of common defence, we have the largest armoured Force on the Continent of Europe of any of the Atlantic Powers.What more evidence do we want than that, that the previous Government did the right thing? The right hon. Gentleman is only sorry that we did so, because he cannot indulge in another complaint against us.
Now, I come to the question of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which is much more important. Later, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition will move an Amendment to the Motion and he will justify, as, eventually, I shall do very briefly, the reason for that Amendment. The right hon. 455 Gentleman has been running around sometimes chasing his own tail on the question of defence. Take, for example, the question of the Atlantic admiral. He could not make up his mind about that. Now, the Americans have made up his mind for him. Take the British rifle. He could not make up his mind about that, and now he has yielded to American influence.
I remember the right hon. Gentleman speaking from this Box some considerable time ago and saying, "The Americans ought not to have control of the Atlantic. There ought to be a different set-up, but I agree that we ought to yield to them so far as the command of naval forces in the Mediterranean is concerned." The fact is that as a result of the gyrations of the right hon. Gentleman, the Americans have got both: they have the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. What confidence can there be in a Prime Minister and a Government like that?
What is more, we all recall how the right hon. Gentleman said that he approved the defence measures of the Labour Government but for the fact—and this disturbed him unduly—that we had thrown a spanner into the works by promoting iron and steel nationalisation. He said, "How can you go on with defence measures when you have this important legislative Measure coming before the House of Commons, disturbing the iron and steel industry?"
What is the position now? Now, when the right hon. Gentleman commends the defence activities of the Labour Government and asks us to approve the White Paper, which is just a record of the Labour Government's achievements, he is going to throw a spanner into the works by promoting the de-nationalisation of the iron and steel industry. That is the way to muck about with defence. How can there be confidence in a Government of that kind?
Moreover, let me make it quite plain that we do not like this Government, anyhow. What possible confidence can we have in them? Take, for example, the position of the right hon. Gentleman himself. The Government was formed—not that they had the largest number of votes in the country, but do not let us harp too much on that. He decided to be 456 Minister of Defence and when he looked round he said,"Well, I cannot do this job myself, I shall have to look for somebody else." So what did he do? He looked along that Treasury Bench and turned away in sheer disgust. Then he looked at those on the back benches behind him and they frightened him even more. He discovered he could not appoint someone to this important post from among the ranks of the Tory Party, so bankrupt are they in intellect and energy and all the qualities required for a position of this kind.
So the right hon. Gentleman went outside and appointed a military gentleman, against whom, naturally, we offer no criticism. But I venture the opinion that it may probably demonstrate the fact that it is not always appropriate to have at the head of the Ministry of Defence, dealing with the Chiefs-of-Staff, somebody who is more experienced in strategy and who is likely to impose his will on the people with whom he has to co-operate.
Then he appointed the hon. Member for Flint, West, as Parliamentary Secretary. What are his functions to be? Is he to deal with strategy? Heaven help us. I shall not say anything more about that because we shall have to deal with the hon. Member as occasion requires; and we shall deal with him faithfully, make no mistake about that.
Let us look at the situation in Europe. Great Britain is playing its part; no one can complain about that. Recently we had a conference at Lisbon—of all places. I have taken part in almost all the conferences over the past 20 months. We are entitled to ask our colleagues in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to play their part equally with ourselves. We pressed them over and over again, but what is the position? Take Portugal; they do not contribute a single soldier, and, as far as I know, not a single gun. Iceland we can rule out. Norway and Denmark, small blame to them, can make a very small contribution. They might do better if they were provided with equipment. They have not the manpower. The Netherlands—again, it is no discredit to them—are quite unable to build up an adequate force and I doubt at the present time if the Netherlands Government are in a position to contribute more than a brigade to General Eisenhower's headquarters.
457 What about the Belgians? Many months ago we were promised three divisions, but there is nothing like that. Let us look at the facts and know where we stand in this matter. We ought not to mislead the public here or elsewhere about the position of N.A.T.O. in view of extravagant statements made at Lisbon and repeated in this House.
What is the position of France? I can tell the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members that nearly 18 months ago, when M. Pleven was Defence Minister in France, he promised 10 divisions last year and 15 divisions this year. Now they are talking about a possible 12 divisions by the end of this year. We all know that if the war is continued in Indo-China, making severe demands on French manpower and equipment, it is quite impossible for the French to build up anything like 12 divisions by the end of this year. They have only five divisions and I doubt very much if they are battle-worthy.
What is the position? This country is making a larger contribution than any other country. We accept the burden, but we are entitled to say to the other nations concerned, "When are you going to play your part?" Let us not forget that they have the manpower, if they could organise it as they were urged to do, not only by our people associated with General Eisenhower, but by the French generals. They have been advised over and over again about the length of National Service and how to operate it under modern conditions. They have long experience of conscription but they have not adapted themselves to National Service under modern conditions. If they had done that they would be in a much stronger position.
What about equipment? Here I come to what I think is the substance of the whole problem. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the provision of aircraft. For example, he mentioned, and I agree with him—I think everyone of this side of the House agrees with him—that we must provide priority for the air. Of course, we must have regard to the submarine menace, anti-submarine devices and provision of corvettes and the like and we have to have our land formations, but there must be priority in the air. We sought to undertake that task all along while we were in the Government.
458 What is the difficulty there? The right hon. Gentleman mentioned provision by the Canadians of the F.86's. More than 12 months ago we had negotiations with the American Government and Canadians—[HON. MEMBERS: "What happened?"] I will tell hon. Members what the trouble was. I shall be glad to—not glad, because there is nothing to be glad about. The Canadians were very willing to produce the air frames, but the engines were produced in the United States of America and they have not been supplied yet. That is the trouble.
I come to what I think is the real trouble in the matter of production. In the question of production, unless in France and Belgium and it may be in Portugal and in the Scandinavian countries associated with N.A.T.O. and possibly now in Turkey and Greece—who, by the way, will be making demands on the pool of equipment because they have come into N.A.T.O. and every time a new country comes into N.A.T.O. it makes the position more difficult and creates more problems—unless the United States can provide a larger volume of equipment, and provide it quickly, there is no hope of building up anything like 50 divisions this year, or next year, or, may be, the year after.
There is controversy as to whether we should seek military aid from the United States. My view is that we ought to accept military aid from the United States without any strings attached. So far, in my recollection, when we have received some assistance in this respect from the United States they have never attached any conditions, nor ought they to. The United States is a partner, of course a very strong partner—the strongest partner of all—in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but she happens to possess vast resources, resources which we can never equal in this country, nor can any other country associated with N.A.T.O.
Unless the United States speeds up production and is willing to render more military assistance in the form of equipment of all kinds, I can see no hope of N.A.T.O. fulfilling the promises made last year and which have been made this year in relation to the building up of divisions and the like.
Now I come to the position at home. I do not know whether the Minister of Supply will be able to tackle the question 459 of the provision of aircraft in this country. The difficulty, I know, is sometimes materials and sometimes manpower, but the real bottleneck is the difficulty experienced in persuading the aircraft manufacturers to play their full part. It may be said that they are doing their best and that they have difficulties.
I think that better organisation is needed and I am bound to say that it may be that some day the Minister of Supply will have to recommend to his Government that, in order to speed up the provision of aircraft, he may have to take them over. I am not complaining of private enterprise in the aircraft industry, but we cannot afford to wait very much longer for those aircraft, more particularly in view of the lag that exists and the need for providing equipment for some other friendly countries, for example the Commonwealth countries.
It is sometimes assumed that the Commonwealth countries are making a very effective contribution to defence. They are doing nothing of the sort. I deplore it. I presided over the Commonwealth Defence Conference, and I know what the difficulty was there. It was one, of equipment. South Africa, for example, wanted equipment; Australia was prepared to play its part if it got the necessary equipment, and the same applied to New Zealand. They were all shouting for equipment. Unless we can step up production of equipment in this country and at the same time get more from the United States, I see no hope of building up adequate defences. That is the position.
I have said already that we deplore the need for defence. We regard it as a regrettable necessity. We hope that no unnecessary burdens will be imposed on the community as a result of these defence measures. We take note of the fact that the Government have reduced the amount required for defence this year. The right hon. Gentleman seems to regard it as going one better than the Labour Government because a reduced amount is available for defence. I do not know whether the Government will be able to spend the £1,400 million this year; we cannot tell. I doubt if they can, but they ought to.
My view is that it is a mistake to prolong the agony. If the Government 460 are able to carry out our re-arming and promote their defence measures adequately over a shorter period, it is far better to do so than to prolong it over a longer period. It is far better to finish with it as quickly as possible, though, of course, there is continual re-equipment, maintenance and the like, which costs money.
I am not sure that the Government are capable of spending the £1,400 million this year. There must be better organisation of manpower. I am bound to say that when the Minister of Labour was speaking the other day on the subject of manpower, there was no evidence whatever that he understood the rudiments of the problem. There must be a switch-over from civil production to defence production. Provided that the Government can do these things, even to the extent of taking over some of the industries associated with defence production, I think it is possible for us to make an even more effective contribution to the defence of the West than we have already made.
The late Labour Government do not intend to apologise for what they did in the sphere of defence. We did it because we believed in it, though at the same time we had no enthusiasm for it—that was natural. We did it because we believed that in the circumstances it was the proper thing to do. I say sincerely to the right hon. Gentleman that I deplore the fact that he should have taken this occasion to sneer at the Labour Government for what they did, and to make political capital out of it. What he ought to have done was to commend the activities of the Labour Government in that respect fairly and squarely and honestly, instead of making what I regard as a most dishonest speech.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Colonel Alan Gomme-Duncan (Perth and East Perthshire)
The speech of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), entertaining as his speeches always are, contained a particularly amusing feature at the end, when he suggested that my right hon. Friend should have stopped sneering at the previous Government and have paid some tribute to them. I doubt whether any Prime Minister in the history of this country has ever gone out of his way to pay compliments to his predecessors in the way that 461 my right hon. Friend has done. I think that the right hon. Gentleman might be a little more generous in giving credit where credit is due, as the Prime Minister has constantly done. However, I do not wish to detain the House with the peculiarities of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. We are all accustomed to them. They have good entertainment value, if nothing else.
I wish briefly to refer to one aspect of the Statement on Defence which we are considering today. I hope that in this country, through the medium of this House and otherwise, we may think seriously of what is in the world today which will make for efficient defence against the threat to all countries outside the Iron Curtain. We have in the British Empire, which is still, in spite of its faults, the finest example of government in freedom and justice that the world has ever known, a foundation for defence spread over the world which is second to none.
The actual cornerstone of that Empire, however, is this little island—the United Kingdom—but I do not think that it is often realised by the people of this country—I say this with great respect—that this little group of islands by themselves are in the most deadly dangerous position from the point of view of attack. By itself, the United Kingdom is probably one of the weakest entities in the world. That is why I am so fundamentally opposed to dividing Scotland from England. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland together are in an extremely weak position by themselves, but if the cornerstone of the Empire were split by dividing them still further, the weakness would only be increased. The United Kingdom by itself would be in the gravest possible danger; and if, similarly, New Zealand or Australia were by themselves they would be in deadly danger.
But if they are all together, working as one corporate whole, as the Empire, one begins to see the foundation of a truly great world-wide defence system. It is most important that we should emphasise to the utmost of our ability the necessity for all these countries, large and small, which go to make up the Empire and Commonwealth, getting together on every possible occasion to discuss ways and means, however difficult, of meeting our liabilities in the world.
462 If this Empire and the great sphere of influence it covers can be united in treaty form with the area covered by the United States and with such measure of European unity as we can hope to achieve, and if these three together play their full part, standing together and all prepared to fight together, which God grant we shall never have to do, we shall have such a force for peace in this world that not even the great slave State of Russia will think it worth while to attack it. Then peace may come in our time and in our grandchildren's time too, which is the aim and object of every one of us.
In Section VI of the Statement on Defence, headedCo-operation within the Commonwealth and with other countrieswhich the Prime Minister lightly touched on, there is one line which I should like to read and refer to. It is stated in paragraph 60:A continuous exchange of views and information"—that is since June, when there was a conference—has since been maintained at all levels between the various Governments.That is a reference to the Governments of the Commonwealth and Empire. I hope that we shall get a great deal more than merely an exchange of information and views. What is wanted is an exchange of practical plans for re-equipment. The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly right in saying that the real bugbear of the whole defence problem is the shortage of equipment.
We need to get down to brass tacks in a practical way as between Heads of Governments, or Defence Ministers, or at all events the Governments of all parts of the Empire, large and small. Then, I hope, we shall be able to see the picture of defence in the world as the great picture it is and escape from the almost inevitably limited outlook which some of us have in looking at our little problems as if they were separate from those of the rest of the world.
I do not wish to go into any details, but I beg the House and the country to regard this matter from the widest possible viewpoint, and to realise that this little island in which we live is the corner-stone of the whole thing. By itself it is intensely weak, but with the 463 other agencies to which I have referred, particularly the great British Empire, it can be the greatest source for defending peace, the immediate object of everyone in our world today.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Group Captain C. A. B. Wilcock (Derby, North)
I will not follow the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) in the line he has taken, although we on this side of the House, and I am sure everyone else, agree with his view that the co-operation of the Dominions—and I would go further and say of the Colonies—is essential to knit together a defence organisation of strength and stability. I hope that the Ministers on the Front Bench opposite who represent the appropriate Departments are already giving that matter particular attention.
I wish to speak more on the air side than anything else in this matter of defence. It is becoming abundantly clear to us that if we were to be sufficiently strong in arms, men and material throughout the world, in all the areas in which there may be difficulties, problems and aggression, it would very probably lead eventually to economic collapse at home. To my mind the urgent problem is, therefore, to find the most economical method of achieving that state of defence which we all know is absolutely necessary.
The word which the Prime Minister used—and I am sure it was used also by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), although I was not present during the whole of his speech—the word "deterrent," is one which will be used for the rest of the day. I think it is a good word in this matter of defence. The wars in Korea and Malaya, serious as they are, do not in themselves strain our man-power or materials or resources, or our economy. We have had wars on a comparable scale in the last century. I am speaking of things as they are now and not as they may be. The strain from which we shall suffer, and have already commenced to suffer, is from the building up of an Army for Western Europe at the same time as we are endeavouring to build up a strong Air Force and, least but not last, a strong Navy.
464 I confess that I am not so much interested in winning the next war as in preventing it, and it is in the assessment of our Armed Forces as a preventive against war that I am interested. I think that should be our first consideration. Although we do not seem to talk about it very openly, we know, both in this House and in the country, that we are talking of one potential enemy only, that is, the Soviet. We have to decide what is likely to be the greatest deterrent to Soviet aggression.
Is it a strong naval force? I am not trying to over-simplify this matter but I wish to put it in my own way. Naval forces cannot injure Russia or any country behind the Iron Curtain; and none of these countries in the Soviet bloc about which we are speaking depend on their imports for survival. So as an aggressive instrument I suggest that for the moment the Navy can be discounted.
What about the Army? Here I suggest that the position is different. The Army could invade and devastate Russia, and therefore a powerful Army could be considered a serious deterrent. But it must be powerful, both in numbers and in arms. An army numerically inferior to that of Russia cannot therefore be regarded as a satisfactory answer. We know that is the position, and we have been given figures which show that for many years ahead a European Army will be ridiculously inferior numerically to the Soviet bloc armies.
I recognise that at the Lisbon Conference of the N.A.T.O. the figure of 50 divisions was mentioned as being ready in Europe this year, but frankly I do not accept that as a reasonable proposition. There is not yet in France the spirit to make the necessary personal sacrifices without which the raising of such an army is quite impossible. This leads me to believe that an army in Europe is not a deterrent to war today, and will not be for many years ahead.
I must make it clear that I am not suggesting that we do not require a Navy or an Army. What I am suggesting is that neither the Army nor the Navy can fulfil its vital role of being a deterrent at the moment, and I make no apology for continually using that word "deterrent." They cannot retaliate in a manner powerful enough to persuade 465 Russia that it would be unprofitable to wage war.
What, then, can provide this deterrent? I suggest that at present it is only the air arm which can do that. That is the only arm which can inflict immediate punishment on the Soviet, or the Russian peoples should they decide to wage war. Our first consideration must be the Air Force as an aggressive force; it must be the aggressive side of the Air Force and not its defensive role.
I am sorry that the last Government did not appear to take this view. Much of the orthodox thinking of the past must go by the board, and this problem must be approached from an entirely new angle. We must free ourselves from the unduly weighty influence of admirals and generals. I am not fanatically air-minded, although I spent many years in the Air Force. Before I was in the Army, and the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire may be glad to know that in the 1914–18 war I served in the infantry in a Scots battalion.
§ Group Captain Wilcock
Not the Black Watch. I do, therefore, have sympathy with the claims of the Army and indeed I should like to see a powerful Army—and Navy and Air Force—and then we could all sleep in peace. But we cannot have that; we cannot afford it. Therefore, I press the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister to consider this urgent and important problem of how best to use the limited money and resources we have to obtain the protection we want today unbiased by past considerations.
Our present position in the air is alarming—there is no other word for it. It is absolutely alarming. I divulge no secrets when I say that we have lagged behind in the matter of bombers. With few bombers we cannot be an aggressive air Power. In fighters, of course, as the Prime Minister has said, we have been surprised by the Russian M.I.G.15. I should not like to pass any further comment about that. Undoubtedly in time we shall regain our position, as we did in the last two wars, but it is a very painful process.
§ Mr. John Profumo (Stratford)
Having made that profound remark about the Russian fighter, I wonder whether the hon. and gallant Member is aware that the serious situation has been much aggravated by the fact that the previous Government of the party to which he belongs sold Rolls Royce aeroplane engines and jet engines to the Soviet Union, with the aid of which they have managed to develop this aircraft?
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
Does my hon. and gallant Friend also remember that earlier today the Prime Minister mentioned the enormous dollar value of the export of certain of the arms that we are making now?
§ Group Captain Wilcock
If I may thank my hon. Friend for his assistance and answer the hon. Gentleman opposite, I would say that we were wrong to sell these engines. I would point out, however, that, as a result of the hostilities which have been going on for two and a half years, that type of aircraft would certainly have been in the hands of the Russians by now. It is not a fact that we sold them something which they could never obtain.
It is argued in some quarters that the United States can provide the necessary numbers of bombers. That might be so provided that they themselves were not engaged in a very great effort in the Far East. If they were, we should feel the shortage of bombers most acutely. Although we need fighters—and I think that there has been rather too much emphasis on fighters recently—and all the complicated and expensive ground defence organisation, they have no deterrent value to war. The only value of a fighter in a modern war appears to be to break up and destroy bomber formations. Of course, I am speaking in a broad sense.
What we require is a mass-produced bomber. I ask the Under-Secretary of State for Air to discuss this suggestion with his colleagues. We require a cheap mass-produced bomber without all the frills. We want one which is only pressurised in the crew's cockpit and not right throughout the aircraft. That would save weight. There are over 100 instruments in a modern bomber, and half of them could be cut out. The bomber, I suggest, should have a small crew and not very 467 much in the way of arms. This bomber is needed to drop a bomb and not to fight a battle in the air. We should try to find and develop quickly a type of aircraft which is light and which can operate at very high altitudes, and we should produce it in large numbers. Its job should be to drop a bomb. That is its deterrent value. If that suggestion received immediate consideration, we might get somewhere in air defence—and quickly.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is speaking from the Socialist benches. Is he suggesting that the proper policy for the country is to get a large mass of bombers, equipped not even to come back, with the sole purpose of engaging upon mass obliteration of the population of another country? Is that his contribution to the problem of world peace and world security?
§ Group Captain Wilcock
I am not taking part in this debate to make any contribution other than one for the defence of this country.
§ Group Captain Wilcock
I made no suggestion that we should have aircraft which would not return. I do not know where my hon. Friend got that idea from. My object in talking about this bomber is to suggest that it would be a deterrent to war. My hon. Friend should get that into his mind. It is from strength and not from weakness that we shall succeed in achieving peace.
My hon. Friend will remember that at the Lisbon conference there was talk about 4,000 aircraft being in Europe this year. If there are to be 4,000 aircraft, I want 3,000 bombers to prevent a war and not 4,000 defensive aircraft to fight a war over this country. I put that to my hon. Friend to show that my aim is to prevent war.
§ Mr. Silverman
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman really think, as a member of the Socialist movement and speaking in the interests of those who elected him to come here, that peace and security in the world, the defence of this country and the deterrence of other people from making attacks, is really assisted by telling them that we intend 468 to devote the greater part of our armament resources to weapons of pure aggression designed to obliterate masses of their population? Does he really think that that is how one deters people from protecting themselves?
§ Group Captain Wilcock
My hon. Friend's last remark answers his question. That is exactly the way to convince people that war is not worth while. I claim to have done as much as my hon. Friend for peace as well as for the safety of this country.
§ Group Captain Wilcock
There appears to be great confusion in the hon. Member's mind. He is confusing two different subjects. I am dealing with a deterrent to war.
Recently there was comment in the Press that £200 million is to be spent on the construction of airfields in Europe, and £30 million is to be subscribed by this country. That is a fundamental error. The policy is entirely wrong. The strategically sound place in which to base aircraft which have to operate against any aircraft attacking from the east is in this country and not in Europe. It is a sine qua non that the bases of an air squadron should be in a relatively safe area. Aircraft performance in the air relies upon maintenance on the ground and upon the supply of fuel, oil and spare parts. The place for them to be based is here and not in Euorpe.
It can only be a diplomatic gesture to suggest that that amount of money should be spent on air strips in Europe. If the position is as serious as we are led to believe, and as we feel it is, then military considerations should be the deciding factor and not diplomatic gestures. The military consideration is that the aircraft should be based in Britain. Incidentally, there should be many air strips in France and Germany. Both we and the Germans and the Russians built many there. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to remember that just over 10 years ago we lost all our equipment and, but for a miracle, we should have lost all our men in France. I say, without wishing to labour this point, that the place to build the aerodromes is in this country and not in 469 France. By building airfields on the Continent the range of aircraft is increased by only a very small amount—100 miles, or 10 minutes in a modern aircraft.
Another factor in defence is the possibility of war outside Europe. There we face an entirely different problem. We cannot have strength everywhere, but if we could reinforce quickly and if we had the carrier aircraft to do that, then we might quite possibly prevent aggression. To be able to get troops quickly to a threatened spot is to prevent that threat from being carried out, and that, of course, is the object, or should be the object, of an air force, and, indeed, of all armed forces. The possession of an adequate number of transport aircraft might well prevent any adventures commencing in the Near East, or extending in the Far East.
We know the difficult position over the matter of transport aircraft today. I speak quite feelingly on this subject, because I was in Transport Command at the end of the war, when it was the largest command in the Royal Air Force. It is very sad indeed to see the way in which that command has strunk, and I am sure that it has done so purely on account of two considerations. One is that there has only been a certain amount of money to spend, and much of it has been required for types of aircraft other than transport aircraft, but I believe that it is also because the Army have won their point that trooping shall be carried out by the more orthodox methods of sea, and not by air. The generals appear to have won their battle against the air marshals.
We saw in the war, during the invasion of Normandy, that the Germans were unable to reinforce their troops in Normandy because they had not got sufficient transport aircraft in which to bring in reinforcements, and they could not use the roads, which were denied to them. I think this matter should be given very high priority amongst the many problems with which the Ministers concerned have to deal.
Finally, on my last point—and I apologise for speaking so long, but I have been interrupted—[Interruption.] I would ask the hon. Gentleman to keep quiet for a moment. I want to come back to economics. Defence must take its stand for examination. The aid of 470 the United States is, of course, invaluable to us, but we must put our own house in order. I consider that we have more brains in this country than there are in any other country in the world, not excluding the United States, and we must use our brains and try to approach these problems in an unorthodox way. My criticism of my own Government was that it was too orthodox on these matters, and I am hoping that we shall now see an unorthodox approach.
The first question is whether our Army and Air Force should be two separate Services. It was absolutely essential 25 years ago, when our Air Force was an infant and could not reach maturity, or have any individuality without independence. That is no longer true. The Air Force today is recognised as our first line of defence. It is in equal partnership with the Army, and it is therefore worth while, from the point of view of economy, considering whether we cannot now merge both these forces. I am not suggesting that it would bring greater efficiency; but it could bring greater economy.
If that is too much for the Minister of Defence, and he thinks I am going too far, why does he not examine the amalgamation of the supply services, the depots, mechanical transport organisations and all the non-combatant ancillary services, such as the chaplains, doctors, dentists, equipment, stores and secretariat branches? Why not standardise the pay codes, and all these stupid ranks and terms of service, and why not bring some of the Royal Navy into this, too? This would create very great economy, as hon. Members on both sides of the House who have experience of the Services will know.
There is fantastic waste in the Services now. There is no other word for it, and great economies could be made, without any deterrent to the efficiency of the Services. They could start right away at the top in the War Office, the Air Ministry and the Admiralty. In every one of these organisations there are intelligence branches finding out exactly the same things, and, for all I know, the same thing is probably done already by the Foreign Office. Should it go on? Why not have an unorthodox approach to economy in defence?
In conclusion, I submit that the defence of this country and of the Commonwealth 471 is not solely a matter for soldiers, sailors and airmen. The Defence Ministry, I suggest, should be much more realistic, and it should include a Minister of Migration. We have too many mouths in this country, while we are too weak in the Dominions and Colonies. That is a military problem today.
The Minister of Civil Aviation should sit alongside the Air Minister, because civil aviation is the first reserve of the Royal Air Force, and economies can be made in the Air Force in ratio to the strength and efficiency of civil aviation. Development in the air concerns both the Royal Air Force and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Next, there should be a Minister of Propaganda to get behind the Iron Curtain and tell those countries what even my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) cannot seem to understand—that we are re-arming to prevent war, and that we have no territorial ambitions at all in the world. If we can get it across to them, as I hope I am now getting it across to my hon. Friend, we shall win the cold war now being waged by the Soviet Union on this side of the Iron Curtain.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander S. L. C. Maydon (Wells)
I ask the indulgence of the House on this the first occasion on which I rise to speak, and I would also acknowledge in advance the wit that will no doubt ensue from the connection with my name, although I would remind hon. Members that the two words are spelled differently.
In preface to my speech, I should like to say how very glad I am to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Derby, North (Group Captain Wilcock), who spoke from the benches opposite, and with whose remarks almost wholly in principle and very largely in detail I agree.
The feature of defence on which I wish to speak is one which has not always received the attention that it should have. Much money has to be spent and has been spent on arms, and there is a divergence of opinion on how much should be so spent, although I think we all agree that the necessity for spending is there. The feature which worries me is whether, 472 in this vast re-armament programme, we have, in fact, sufficient shipping capacity, by which I mean merchant shipping capacity, to carry those arms and those men to the sphere of operations where they may be required.
We are becoming increasingly short of dry cargo tonnage with a high carrying capacity for specialised modern military equipment of large bulk and of heavy weight. Such ships are required to have a greater height between decks than has been the normal practice in the past, and they also require large capacity holds. In this connection, we should not be confused with the specialised types of vessels which have become almost naval vessels, as opposed to merchant vessels, by which I mean the tank landing craft and tank landing ships. Such vessels are designed for short lifts, and cannot reasonably be used for long ocean voyages.
In times of crisis, particularly during the time of the crisis in Abadan and again more recently during the Egyptian crisis, one was confronted on numerous occasions in the newspapers with photographs of aircraft carriers cluttered up with all sorts of vehicles and gear upon their flight decks. That is a gross misappropriation of a most specialised and expensive vessel to a use for which it was not designed.
When we look at the figures for British tonnage in the shipping registers, there is, at first sight, quite a satisfactory vista to be seen. We have steadily increased the total British Empire tonnage since 1947. We have got rather more than 22 million tons of shipping, counting all types, and that is the highest total tonnage since 1932. But one has to look rather more closely into these figures in order to understand them properly.
If we make a breakdown of the figures to get what can be considered useful tonnage of modern building suitable for military purposes, the picture is very different. We have rather more than 1,200 merchant ships of a total tonnage of 7½ million tons. Those ships would be of between 2,000 and 10,000 tons, less than 10 years old, and excluding oil tankers. Naturally, oil tankers and such ships of specialised design must be excluded for such purposes.
If we look at the ships under construction in the United Kingdom at the present 473 time, the picture is not quite so satisfactory as it might be. In 1950, we built 1,300,000 tons of shipping, of which approximately one-third was for export. Last year the figure was very nearly the same, but about half of it was for export, and during the current year we have two and a quarter million tons under construction, which represents 40 per cent. of the whole world figure. But of this tonnage, one-third is for foreign flag. Again, 60 per cent. of our construction in 1951 was tanker construction, and more than 60 per cent. of that was for foreign flag. Therefore, we are getting to the stage when the British dry cargo fleet of reasonable ocean-going size is diminishing both in numbers of ships and in tonnage. That is a far from satisfactory state of affairs.
In the past there has been a considerable difference of opinion whether it is possible to build a medium speed cargo carrier suitable for military purposes in war-time, and, at the same time, an economical freight carrier in time of peace. I think that the divergence of opinion on that point today is getting closer and closer. In fact, the large majority of those concerned in shipping circles agree that a medium speed ship of reasonable tonnage can not only be a useful war-time cargo carrier, but also a most economical peace-time cargo carrier.
I feel that we want to consider this whole problem from a completely new angle. We have got into rather conventional ruts. But for oil tankers and other specialised vessels, the very large majority of sea-going ships still have their engines amidships. If we can design ships with their propelling machinery right aft, as is done in oil tanker tonnage, we shall then afford the maximum beam of the ship to cargo carrying, and, at the same time, reduce the vulnerability of ships. It is that long shaft tunnel which runs up from the propeller to the engines, sometimes one-third or one-half the length of the ship, which is always the vulnerable spot, and which caused so many losses in both world wars.
This particular feature of defence is the concern of no particular Ministry more than any other. I feel that all Ministries should bend their attention to this point so that in the future we can feel some degree of certainty that our men, our arms, our tanks, or whatever it might be, 474 may be carried to that corner of the world where we and the United Nations are being threatened.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ Mr. G. A. Pargiter (Southall)
May I, on my own behalf and on behalf of the House, offer sincere congratulations to the hon. and gallant Member for Wells. (Lieut.-Commander Maydon), upon the excellence of the speech he has just delivered? He obviously speaks with a very wide knowledge on what is an important subject, and one to which, perhaps, the attention of the House may well be drawn on future occasions. I am sure we shall all enjoy listening to him in the future now that he is no longer a "maiden."
I wish to touch on one point previously mentioned which arose from an interjection by an hon. Member opposite in regard to the Rolls Royce Nene engines. I think it is important to realise—a fact which frequently goes un-noticed—that these engines were on the free list. They were available for sale to any country that had the means to buy them. We can be quite certain that if Russia wanted those engines, even if we denied them to her directly, she would have got them anyway through their being available to the rest of the world, in precisely the same way as other things are finding their way to China and Russia through other countries.
§ Air Commodore A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)
Surely, when the hon. Gentleman says that these engines were free for Russia to buy, I am right in saying that Sir Stafford Cripps, when he held office, was the responsible Minister. At any rate, that is what we were told or heard, and Sir Frank Whittle is on record as having said—at least I heard him say it—that the Russians would save 12 years of research as a result of receiving these engines.
§ Mr. Pargiter
I am afraid that has nothing to do with the matter. These engines were on the free list and were available to anybody wishing to buy them. They could have been bought by any country, and Russia could have got them.
I come back to the general problems of defence. In relation to the position that has been becoming more and more obvious in the last year, not only in this 475 country but also in America, with all the political manoeuvring and so on which is going on there, one wonders when one looks round the world whether we are debating British defence or whether it is American defence with which we are dealing.
I say that because it is becoming obvious from the nature of the speeches one hears from across the Atlantic that there are two schools of thought, much different from the original school of thought, with regard to defence. One is that the American defence perimeter should be set as far away as possible from America, and the other, the isolationist view, that all military commitments abroad should be withdrawn and that the defence of America should rest within America. What happens in the American Presidential election or even what happens before it may cause concern because the whole question of European defence may very well become involved in the result of that political upheaval.
If one looks at defence policy as a whole, one can see why there is considerable misgiving in this and other countries about it. After all, defence policy is not only a matter for this country and for Europe, but a matter for the whole world. When we find that a good part of defence policy is apparently concerned with the re-armament of Japan and the re-emergence of Chiang Kaishek carefully polished up ready for use in the event of an invasion of China's mainland, and when we see that the Americans are courting Franco Spain to provide bases, one is entitled to consider carefully what our problems are, what our defence policy is at the present time, and the types of people on whom that policy is in part based.
The greatest contribution America ever made to the defence of Europe was in the Marshall Aid Plan which, with no strings at all, sought to rebuild the economic life of the free nations of Europe so that they could resist political aggression, either from within or from without. It was a great contribution which built up Europe and afforded the greatest possible advantages to all of us.
Today it is obvious that not only in this country but in Europe generally there is growing alarm at the burden 476 which is being cast upon all of us as a result of the defence programme. It is obvious that in France it is almost impossible to proceed with a defence programme at the present time, in spite of what takes place behind the scenes—because obviously the French have been told that unless they provide a certain number of divisions they cannot look for American economic or military aid. The position in Germany is much the same. I have always been opposed to German re-armament and nothing that has happened recently has caused me to change my mind.
It is no good suggesting that in the case of Germany it is a commitment freely entered into. It is nothing of the kind. The answer is that they have to agree to the financial contribution they have been told they must make to defence or else it will be taken up in occupation costs. The one is a concomitant of the other. In Belgium also considerable fears have been expressed about the effect of the re-armament programme upon that country's economy. All this is no sort of basis for defence against possible aggression.
If we proceed with a large defence programme and if, when we secure it, we are going to negotiate from strength and not from weakness, on what are we going to negotiate? That is a question people ask today and they want an answer before readily acquiescing in a further burden of defence.
Russia is fighting, and will continue to fight, a very bitter aggressive political war; but that does not necessarily mean that she will seek to fight an aggressive military war. The evidence is against it. The evidence is that Russia's main air force is a defensive air force and certainly not one likely to be used aggressively, except possibly in connection with ground troops. The possibility of aggression is always there as long as armed forces exist, but from the evidence the possibility is not as great as we might fear.
Equally, if our economic position is going to deteriorate at the rate it is now deteriorating, not only here but in Europe generally, as a result of the burden of re-armament, then I am afraid our ability to resist political aggression will become less and not greater. In 477 other words, we may be in possession of vast defensive forces and at the same time we may see very rapid progress towards Communism in those parts of Europe which it has not yet reached.
It is because of those considerations that I am concerned about American policy. The policy of aid not allied to commitments was of great assistance in resisting that type of aggression. But military aid alone does not help that resistance; and when it is tied up with the American election it can be a very great danger to the future of Europe and to the economic future of the Western Powers.
There is an even more important factor in these considerations. There is no doubt that America will not be satisfied until she has the German heavy arms industry in full production again. In our opinion, that industry should never have been handed back to the people who were responsible for building two great war machines. But it is now very much back in their hands. It is well-known that America would rather rely for defence purposes upon the German arms industry, with all that that involves, than upon a French contribution to Western defence.
Above all, if a free vote were taken of the people of Germany and of France on the question of German re-armament and the re-equipment of the German arms industry, one would find the overwhelming majority of both countries against it. In a free society that is a very grave danger. If one is to proceed with a policy in a free country, that policy must ultimately receive the sanction of the people. Nothing convinces me that present arrangements on German re-armament will commend themselves to the German or French people. Therefore, those arrangements must remain a danger.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey (Harrow, East)
Is the hon. Member referring to a free vote of Western Germany or of all Germany?
§ Mr. Pargiter
I am referring to the people who will be capable of exercising a free vote—the people of Western Germany alone. It is obvious—and it has been said from the Government Front Bench—that the re-armament programme is slowing down; and it has also been admitted that it is quite certain it will slow down further. The increased cost, the economic 478 difficulties, and the anxiety to maintain our standard of life are bound to have that effect. I think it is time we said that, whether it is based upon the original figure or upon the present estimate of £4,700 million, it will be much more than three, four, or even five or six years before the defence programme is completed, unless there is a rapid change in the economic circumstances of this country.
It is desirable that the Government should recognise that, and they should re-plan the re-armament programme in accordance with that fact, while at the same time seeing to it that the people's standard of living is not depressed as a result of action designed to resist possible military aggression from Russia without regard to the assistance she may give to political aggression to which we shall continue to be subject, arms or no arms, for a long time to come.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Viscount Cranborne (Bournemouth, West)
After listening to the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) who has just sat down, I must say I was a little uncertain whether he approved of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or whether he was not really advocating some mutual defence pact with Soviet Russia. He certainly stressed the point that there were no offensive intentions on the part of soviet Russia.
§ Mr. Pargiter
I should be quite happy to enter into a defence pact with any country that would preserve world peace.
§ Viscount Cranborne
That has made that point clear. I think it would he very difficult for the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) to maintain his point that Russia has never had any intention and has no intention now, of waging a future offensive war, because I think that is precisely what she is doing in such countries as Korea, Malaya and Indo-China. Consequently, we are already seeing the fruits of her war production in operation.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Southall, because I want to refer to some of the points which he raised. It seems to me that the present situation has arisen largely because many Governments—not only the Government of this country, but the Governments of the United States and other Powers—did 479 not appreciate the situation that developed as a result of Russian plans immediately after the last war. Consequently, we allowed our defences to run down to such a point that we were not in a position to have an immediate reply in the event of aggression.
We all hope that there will be no aggression, but if there is we must be prepared to deal with it. That is why we have this defence programme, initiated by the past Government and supported by the present one; but it is quite clear that other countries in the defence organisation that has been built up are not playing their part. I think that is particularly so in the case of France. That country still considers herself to be a great Power, but she has really done nothing over the last 12 years to show that she still is. If that is the case, it is evident that the pillar, as far as the Atlantic defence organisation is concerned, has a completely weak base, and we surely have to face that position and see that our activities are not completely wasted.
If we are to be asked to send six or seven divisions to line a defensive perimeter across Germany, we must be sure that other people on both flanks will fight as we are going to do if we are attacked. We also want to be certain that the position behind the line will be satisfactory; that is, we do not want a Fifth Column constantly sabotaging our lines of communication. We must remember that in France more than one in five men and women voted Communist at the last election. Consequently, there is a potential of one in five who may be prepared to operate behind the lines with a potential enemy.
I think we must ask for further guarantees from France. We should ask her what she is intending to do to implement or guarantee the peace. We must see whether it is a genuine guarantee. We must have something definite. I suggest that before we enter into any further commitments we, together with the Americans, should ask the French if they are prepared to do anything of this sort and, if not, we should scrap the whole Atlantic Treaty Organisation. We must tell them that they have to have bigger forces; they have to have an arms drive.
480 It must be remembered that it was the Socialist Party's refusal to co-operate with the French Government that caused the present deadlock in Paris, and it is evident that the Socialist Party here take a similar line. I think we have to insist on certain things. I should like to propose that we, in conjunction with the Americans, urge the French to adopt a two-year period of national training. It would enable their less trained troops to be sent to Indo-China, so that some of their regular troops could be brought back to serve in the European Army.
Secondly, we must have some supervision to ensure that they are setting about their re-armament programme. I suggest that, in turn for the contributions that the Americans are making towards this re-armament programme, they should ask for a reasonable degree of supervision to see that it is carried out. For those reasons, therefore, I hope that the Government will not enter into any more commitments in Europe until we have a reasonably satisfactory review of the French situation.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
What I have to say is in rather a different tone from most of the speeches which have been made this evening, with the exception perhaps of that of the horn Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) who, I think, made a very interesting and helpful speech. All the other speakers have based their remarks on the assumption that the defence plan contained in the White Paper is not only a sound plan but a plan which this country can physically and economically undertake. I wish to argue the case which, I think, represents the views of some other hon. and right hon. Members on this side of the House, that this is a tragic mistake and that within six months we shall discover by hard facts that the paper plans we are passing today will be impossible to carry out.
I should like to say one word to my right hon. Friends on my own Front Bench. From the Order Paper I gather that they are moving an Amendment to the Government White Paper—an Amendment in which the Tory policy is accepted but the Tory administration of the Tory policy is condemned. I should be the last to disagree with them about the inadequacy of the present Govern 481 ment, but I must say that of all the things on which I would hesitate to challenge the Prime Minister the last would be his competence to carry out a defence programme. I should challenge him on a rather different point: his competence to decide the priority which should be given to the military weapon as against the economic and social defence of democracy.
There are two functions we have to fulfil in regard to defence. The first, which has hardly been mentioned in this debate, is to work out a defence plan within a general framework of economic policy and to determine what priority to accord to defence expenditure as opposed to other forms of expenditure. That has been completely neglected in this debate.
Only then do we come to the second point, which is the administration of that plan. It was one of our main themes in the Election that a Tory Government would concentrate on the military containment of Communism and would concentrate on piling up military strength. Yet when we come to this debate, the official Amendment moved from my own Front Bench accepts the Tory policy and then says that the Tories cannot carry it out.
Frankly, I cannot support such an argument with any conscience at all. I wish to oppose the White Paper and, very briefly, to say why. First, however, I want to make one thing clear. I am not one of those people who does not believe in re-armament. I was one of those who voted and spoke in favour of conscription, and I was given a great deal of trouble by many of my colleagues in the last Parliament because of that. I have always been in favour of recognising the necessity for military strength.
I go further; I admit that there are times in the life of each nation when military defence must he given an overriding priority. Such a time was 1940. We had to scrape all our foreign investments from the bottom of the barrel and sell them at rock bottom prices to the Americans. We had to forfeit years of work building up our export markets. In 1940 we had to give defence an overriding priority. I can imagine a time, not in war, but when war is so imminent that one must once again give defence an overriding economic priority. Such a time, I could conceive, was from 1938 until 1939, when the war broke out. We are discus- 482 sing, therefore, first of all, whether defence should be given an over-riding priority in allocating our resources.
I think it is worth remembering when the defence programme was launched. It was launched when Washington was in a panic about MacArthur's retreat in Korea. I use the word "panic" because it was used to me not long ago in Washington by officials in the Pentagon who said, "Thank heavens the 'panic' mood in which we were planning last year has now subsided, and we can look at this thing objectively." Why should we imagine that the plans which we hurriedly botched together in December and January last year should be sacred? Why we should not realise that they were made at a time when, almost unanimously but half-heartedly, the House felt that we might have to make defence an overriding priority, I do not know.
Times have completely changed; that, I should have thought, was something we all had to recognise. None of us, or very few of us on this side of the House, can deny responsibility for acquiescing in last year's big defence programme. We cannot criticise each other for not discovering, until too late, its disastrous effects. But what I urge upon the House is that we should learn the lessons of the last 12 months, and what it does to a relatively free economy to inject too much defence into it.
What is the first lesson of 1951? The first lesson is that by trying to do too much we did less than if we had not attempted the programme.
§ Mr. Crossman
My hon. Friend says "Nonsense." He often says that, but usually, six months later, he comes to the truth.
The lesson, I repeat, is that by trying to do too much we disrupted our economy and we also dislocated our own defence programme. It is not only a problem for this nation; it is a problem for the whole free world. Today we have an intensification of the unbalance between the United States and Europe. An underlying chronic crisis was made a desperate crisis as a result of Atlantic rearmament. What is the good of the Foreign Secretary going to Lisbon and making his glorious, optimistic speeches about everything being fine when, a week 483 later, France is without a Government, and the talk of the French Government having £1,400 million to spend on defence is just "my eye"?
We have to face the facts. Without international control of raw materials, the biggest and the wealthiest Power will draw the raw materials to it and will pay the prices which no one else can afford. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, internationally and inside each community. So we are faced internationally with a world inflation which forces up our import prices and still further unbalances our own economy.
Let us turn to the internal effect of this 12 months of re-armament. I think none of us appreciated, when we did not oppose the £4,700 million defence programme, or when we acquiesced in it, what the effect of injecting so much defence expenditure into a fully employed economy was going to be. I suggest to the Prime Minister that if he had injected a similar programme into the 1938 economy it could have been absorbed very easily indeed, for in 1938 there were two million unemployed and there were raw materials piled up waiting to be used. There was, then, almost no limit to the recuperative effect of re-armament upon our economy.
Unfortunately—if I may say so—we have had six years of a successful Labour Government maintaining full employment. [Laughter.] I repeat that: unfortunately, we have had six years of full employment; so that when we inject defence into the economy it produces maximum dislocation. My own view is that we could have undertaken the programme we set ourselves only if we had been prepared to transform our economy into a full wartime economy, if we had been prepared to accept direction of labour, if we had been prepared to accept direction of capital, if we had been prepared to accept physical control of every raw material, if we had been prepared to re-introduce rationing to ensure fair shares of short consumer goods, and to re-introduce utility; in other words, if we had re-created a complete war economy, then I have no doubt we could have made a good effort internally to absorb the defence programme, even though the raw material crisis might have proved fatal to the effort.
From the internal point of view, we have either to accept a complete war 484 economy or to accept that as long as we do not have a war economy, then the amount of re-armament we shall be able to complete without wrecking ourselves will be far below the minimum demanded by the Chiefs of Staff and by the Americans, who, of course, do not understand the working of a fully-employed economy such as ours, for they have never had one. That is the first lesson—that we must calculate our defence in terms of full employment; and that means much less armaments than most people imagined a year ago.
The second lesson is the only lesson which the Prime Minister bothered to give us this evening. He made it quite clear in his speech that the imminence of war, which was the major premise of our re-armament programme in January, 1951, has receded today, and, therefore, that the whole basis upon which we gave armaments an over-riding priority has been knocked out. We must now re-think our armaments programme, not in terms of an imminent war as the main danger, but in terms of the imminent bankruptcy of the free world, outside the U.S.A., as the immediate danger which we have to face.
The issue today is not whether we should be for or against cuts in the re-armament programme. Everybody has agreed to cuts. They have done so because it was physically impossible to carry out the programme. Six months from now they will be agreeing to cuts all over again, when we have failed to carry out this programme—with disastrous consequences. The issue today is: How much should we cut? The Prime Minister was not very candid about the proposed cuts. The "Economist" was a great deal more candid this week: it pointed out that 35 per cent. of the increased re-armament planned by the Labour Government has been cut back this year and that the re-armament train is now proceeding at 20 miles-an-hour instead of 30 miles-an-hour.
That is an immense cut which proves that the Prime Minister does not regard war as imminent at all. It confirms the fact which has already been shown by the decision to run down stockpiles. We have a Tory Government who reduce the stockpile of timber and reduce the stockpile of food, who run down the re-armament programme by 35 per cent. of the planned increase. That has disproved the 485 major premise on which the whole programme of the Labour Government was based.
We must, therefore, say to ourselves that the issue is not whether we continue the programme of 1951 into 1952. The question is: What re-armament can we afford in 1952 in an entirely new situation created by an economic crisis so severe that the French economy and the French political system of democracy are on the point of collapse, and when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are spending their time lecturing the country that there will be nothing left in the gold reserve by September and that there will be mass unemployment? Those are not my words; they come from official Government spokesmen.
It was an official Government spokesman who warned us that the flight from the £ has not been halted by the Tories, and that there was still no confidence in the £ and that there are only five months' gold reserve if all this goes on as it is at present. In that situation, in a situation in which an economic crisis hits this country, the House has to decide whether to have over £1,400 million spent on the most inflationary thing we can spend it on—armaments.
I am not saying that we should have no arms. I am asking the House to consider, perfectly objectively, what is the very maximum we can afford without utterly destroying our economy. Again, I should like to quote the "Economist." Goodness knows, it is not what is called a "Bevanite" paper. It had an article this week with a headline with which I say I do not quite agree; it goes too far for me. It runs, "Security Second." Then the "Economist" says:re-armament must be cut for the sake of exports. There is no choice. A bankrupt Britain cannot be safe or contribute to the safety of others when the need is so pressing. National solvency must rank before military security.This is a nine months' too late convert—the "Economist"—but the Bevanites will accept him all the same.
I know that we shall have the objection from the other side, "We have made all the cuts. What are you complaining about? We have made a 35 per cent. cut." What I am complaining about is that the cuts are cuts of targets; the cuts are cuts of paper blueprints. But the 486 proposal before us is actually an increase of expenditure over last year—and that after 12 months during which we are on the way to destroying the whole economy through re-armament. In the second year of the defence plan we increase the armaments burden on this country despite the lessons of the first year.
What I want to discuss is whether that is the right thing to do. It is agreed by the Prime Minister that we are in "dire economic peril." We must, therefore, now consider armaments as only one of the priorities. Yes, we must try to get what defence we can, but we must consider defence measured against three other priorities: national solvency, national independence, and the fabric of the Welfare State. I say that all four must be considered together in this debate, and we must ask ourselves how we can balance these four so as to get through this critical year. Therefore, I suggest that the House must address itself, in this debate, to this balance of priorities instead of listening to an exchange of bouquets between those who are responsible for getting us into this position.
We must apply to the re-armament programme the three tests I have mentioned: (1) Is it compatible with national solvency this year? (2) Does it mean undermining the rebuilding of the last six years? (3) Will it threaten our national independence? I want to say a word briefly about each. First, as to solvency. The Prime Minister admitted, in his vague way, "Oh, yes, we have made a bit of a change. We have shifted the balance of raw material supply from armaments to exports." I am glad he agrees with the maxim that it is practically impossible for us to increase arms production this year and to increase exports. Why is it impossible? Because textiles, which it was expected last year would fill the trade gap, have not had much of a market abroad. The engineering industry must be our main exporting industry while, at the same time, it is our main armaments industry.
Hon. Members on the other side challenge this. Let them look at the appalling confusion created in the motor industry by the results of the attempt to inject too much arms into it too quickly. The results are that we are getting fewer arms and no motorcars—or I should say 487 fewer motorcars and no armaments. If he admits that it is not possible to increase both arms and exports, I ask the Prime Minister: "Which does he choose—motorcars or exports?" That is the question. Because if he chooses arms we shall be insolvent. How are we to earn our way in the engineering industry?
"Oh," somebody will say, "I will tell you what. Let us double the size of the industry. Let us double it so that we have enough engineering plant for arms and for exports." That is what the Americans do. They have the two-track way: one armaments track and the other the civil consumption track. But this defence plan does not enable us to have that. It cuts down capital investment and prevents us from increasing the plant.
Let me give the House some figures. In 1951 the United States of America had a capital investment, in machinery and plant alone, of £3,800 million, and we had £300 million. I want to know, if this goes on—as we are now told it is going on for four years—where will our industry be after four years? Capital investment cut to the bone; our actual exports cut down at the precise time when German and Japanese competition is coming.
I am willing to be generous, but we destroyed our economy entirely in the last war, and had to rebuild it from scratch. Are we to rebuild it in the cold war, and, if so, how are we to do it? What will happen when the re-armament programme is over? The factories will be outdated; our markets lost. Shall we take American charity? Is that what the answer is? Is that solvency? If it is not, what is the answer? We are heading straight for national insolvency. Every economist knows it, and part of the reason is the attempt to pile this year an increased burden of arms production on the engineering industry, a burden which it cannot conceivably take without wrecking its export earning capacity.
§ Mr. Wyatt
My hon. Friend took his stand on the £3,600 million defence programme. If we do not spend more this year than we did last year on arms, we shall not even be able to fulfil the £3,600 million defence programme. Last April my hon. Friend wrote part of the pamphlet called "Socialist Foreign Policy" after the announcement of the 488 £4,700 million defence programme, and he said:We have to get used to the idea that, in this cold war, armed strength is essential, and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in building this armed strength.…Not a word of criticism of the £4.700 million defence programme.
§ Mr. Crossman
I wish my hon. Friend would not interrupt. It merely makes the speech longer because anyway I was going to deal with his points. The answer to his first point is this. I am not saying that we should scrap our armaments, but that we must learn the lessons of the past 12 months. The politician who cannot learn from the facts is no good at politics.
I come to my hon. Friend's second question. Does this defence programme of 1952 undermine the fabric of the Welfare State? I will leave it to my hon. Friends who know more than I about the social services to answer that in more detail, but I say that we have already had cuts in the school building programme and cuts in the National Health Service. What about the old age pensioners? What worries me is that unless we are prepared to increase the scale of old age pensions, unless we are prepared to increase the scale of sickness benefit and of unemployment benefit, we are going to destroy the fabric of the Welfare State.
It is impossible to convince me that we shall secure an increase in old age pensions and in the basic rate of sickness benefit above its present level, which is less than they were getting when they first got it in 1910; that we can do all that and have a £1,400 million armaments programme this year. No one believes that it is possible. No one! We have got to take our choice. That choice is between national solvency and bankruptcy in terms of exports, and arms. In terms of the Welfare State, it is between an increase in arms this year and a cut in the real value of social services.
I now come to my third point, and here I am also dealing with the second question of my hon. Friend the Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt). Can we maintain national independence with this arms programme? It is not denied that we must carry out this programme with American assistance. We are already taking 300 million dollars this year, and I can assure 489 my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that the Battle Act applies to us automatically when we take a single dollar, so there is already a mass of political conditions imposed on us automatically by taking it. This year, I gather from my reading of the Press, the Government are angling for 600 million more dollars of military aid.
I should like to make it quite clear that I am not for a moment against military aid. Indeed, I have often believed that America should be doing far more than she is doing. People are sometimes so stupid and illiterate that they give percentages of the national incomes devoted to defence—15 per cent. in the case of America and 11 per cent. in our case—and say that America is doing more than her share.
But look at the Income Tax, which is graded. America, with a gigantic national income, is making no sacrifice on armaments whatsoever. How do we know? Because the real wage in America rose 2 per cent. last year, whereas the real wage in Britain fell 2 per cent. last year, so that the one is sacrificing while the other is getting an addition of wealth.
I do not want to gird against America, but I say that it is no good American assistance being given in a form which strangles the economies of her allies. If it is demanded of us that we should first ruin our export industry and cut back our capital investment so that our whole economy is ruined, and that then when we have ruined ourselves we should receive a few dollars—that is not assistance. It is a way of killing us. What is the sort of aid which is wanted? There is only one: it is lease-lend of finished equipment. If only America would relieve the export industry of this country so that it could earn us a living, and then say to us, "Do all you can on your own resources. Do everything the British national economy can afford, and any extra divisions we want will have to be equipped with American equipment out of the American defence bill"—that would be a genuine form of aid. But the form of military assistance we can get this year, the American election year, is not that. I propose the lease-lend of finished equipment. If they propose dollars on condition that we switch our industry from exports, on condition that we cut our 490 capital investment, on condition that we ruin ourselves—if, then, they permit us to eke out a satellite living on American dollars, then I say frankly that that sort of assistance destroys our national independence.
§ Air Commodore Harvey
The hon. Gentleman said that we should get finished equipment. Does he not recognise that an agreement was recently brought about that the F.86 fighter should be made in Canada, using engines made in the United States, which will be finished equipment?
§ Mr. Crossman
Of course I do; and I am delighted. I was delighted to find this January that in America there was a great deal of response to this idea. But I do not find enough preparation for that over here. There is too much national pride about this; too much pride in saying, "We must build our own Army and we will get the dollars to do it." My view is that we must decide to build nothing in Britain that we cannot ourselves afford out of our own resources. Then, if there is a gap, we could say to America, "For anything beyond what we can afford ourselves, we will provide the men, but the equipment must come entirely from the other side."
Now I want to try to sum up what I have attempted to say. I put it to the Prime Minister that his arms programme is far too small if there is a genuine danger of imminent war. As he himself admitted, it is fantastically small if there is a genuine danger of imminent war. But the arms programme is fantastically too large to sustain in face of a yawning trade gap. It fails on the military side; it fails on the economic side; it ruins us economically, and it does not give us protection. If war were inevitable the programme would be miserably and totally inadequate. We all know it. We are playing at arming ourselves—I suppose to deceive ourselves.
There is the Prime Minister, with his courageous Home Guard ready for the dropping of Russian paratroopers; and we are to have lovely air-raid sirens, but no air-raid shelters; we are running down the stockpiles. We are making idiots of ourselves militarily, but we are still spending so much on the idiocy as to ruin ourselves economically. 491 If it is a long-term job—and I believe it is—if the situation is to last 30 or 40 years, then I say, "Undertake an arms plan, after the bitter experience we have all had, which this country can afford out of its own resources."
§ Mr. Shinwell
I should like to elucidate a point which is of very great importance. My hon. Friend claims that it is impossible, and indeed unwise, for economic reasons—exports and the like—to spend £1,400 million this year. Would he be good enough to tell us the extent of the reduction he would propose? That is vital. We ought to see exactly what amount he thinks we ought to expend on defence.
§ Mr. Crossman
I am gratified to find that the former Minister of Defence takes my views a great deal more seriously now than he did when he was Minister of Defence.
§ Mr. Crossman
Good. Then I dare say there was a misunderstanding.
I do not like to go on too long, but at the cost of delaying the House, I will answer the question. I will make a tentative suggestion to my right hon. Friend. I have been trying, with some statistical friends, to make a little calculation. We may be wrong, but we calculate that if we could increase our exports by some £300 million this year, it might see us through the worst. In my view, in order to increase exports we must switch a certain amount of engineering plant from armaments to exports and capital investment in machinery.
However, since productivity is much higher in consumer goods than it is in armaments, we reckon that if £250 million is switched from armaments to exports and capital investment we might get through the crisis by a very narrow margin. I would point out that if we did that and said to America "Would you please make £250 million worth of arms extra" they would not feel it at all. It would equal—I have got it written down here—one-tenth of their export surplus, and we are running an export deficit of minus £800 million.
This shows that we are running on a margin of catastrophe while the U.S.A. 492 has vast wealth to spare. Yet the Americans are axing their arms this year; they have axed from 65 million dollars to 52 million dollars. I know that these are things not talked about a great deal in polite society. But I suggest that if they can axe out of their affluence, it is our job to reduce our programme and defence plan to what, if we make a real effort and work really hard, we can sustain and just get through. That is my answer to my right hon. Friend. It is only a suggestion, and I cannot claim to have the figures.
§ Mr. Shinwell
It is better that we should elucidate this point so that there might be no confusion. My hon. Friend now hazards a guess that he would reduce the arms programme by £250 million. Obviously, he does not mean that the whole of that should be on production.
§ Mr. Shinwell
If the whole of that is to be made on production, does not my hon. Friend see that there is no point in providing the formations, the manpower, the airfields and works services, if, for a long time, we do not provide them with the necessary products?
§ Mr. Crossman
My right hon. Friend is now apparently just grasping the realities of the problem we have to face. If I may say so to him, it is really no good having the airfields and the aeroplanes if we are bankrupt. If the choice is to retard the programme or to be bankrupt, I am putting to the House that it is about time we decided to retard the programme, even if it gravely inconveniences the Chiefs of Staff.
That brings me to the very last thing that I want to say. I do not deny that we must contribute our fair share to the defence of the free world. I think that our mistake has been that we have contributed more than our fair share militarily in the last five years and far more than we could afford. What is the real contribution of Britain to the defence of the free world? Is it merely so many tanks or aeroplanes?
493 Have we no other contribution to make to the free world and to its defence except a number of tanks and aeroplanes? Are we to destroy the Welfare State which we have built in order slightly to increase the number of tanks and aeroplanes available to N.A.T.O. Are we really to drive ourselves to national insolvency because we want to get rather more armaments this year than a sensible man knows we can get?
Are we to destroy our national independence—which gives us our power and influence in world policy—merely because we first plan an armaments drive and then find that we cannot get the dollars? We cannot do it without dollars—and if the Prime Minister has his way, we shall have to reckon on the dollars before we know the political conditions and then accept them under any political conditions, however severe, because we cannot do without them? Is that sanity?
I beg my hon. Friends on this side of the House at least to recognise that if they vote for the Amendment this evening, each and every one of them is tying himself to support the Tory arms programme and the Tory policy of military containment. If they do not understand that now, they will understand it in six months time. But then it will be too late. Let us understand it at 10 o'clock. when the vote is taken.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
The speech of the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) was interesting and typical of many speeches which the hon. Gentleman has made in this House. I should like to say one word in regard to the Report which has just been issued by the Estimates Committee on rearmament, and which hardly supports some of the matters to which he has drawn the attention of the House.
I think that it is necessary, when we are taking part in a defence debate in very critical days, to get the facts quite clearly before all of us, so that we may appreciate the difficulties that confront Her Majesty's Government. First, the thing which I think we are all agreed about is that there must be a review of the armament programme as originally laid down. The reason is that circumstances have arisen recently, which the 494 late Government could not possibly have foretold, but which have altered the situation very considerably.
By this I mean that the advance lately in research and development has indicated that if we produce modern equipment and weapons on a mass basis in an economy such as we have, which is limited because of our economic necessity, it inevitably means that we are turning out obsolescent machinery. Therefore, I believe that there ought to be a very careful review by the experts of whether or not the time has come to reconsider the types of armaments we are producing in this country with our limited means.
There is one other matter to which I think we must draw attention. It is mentioned in the second Report of the Estimates Committee which deals with the shortage of essential tools, such as machine tools and other things that we need. I should like to give the House some figures which indicate the enormous extra burden that falls on the taxpayer here, and which, I believe, ought to be removed if we are to get production up to the standard we want.
A machine tool of a certain type can be produced in this country at a cost of £2,700. We are so short of skilled labour in that particular industry that it is exceedingly difficult to get the production of that machine tool in this country, and therefore the Ministry of Supply have been forced to go outside this country and pay vastly larger sums to get exactly the same tool.
But I doubt whether the House realises what has to be paid for a machine tool which can be got here for £2,700. We have to pay the Germans £10,000 for that machine tool, and if we get it from the United States, it costs us £16,000. That is a weight on us and on our re-armament programme which surely ought to be looked at, so that in some way or another we can have some arrangement with the United States by which we get machine tools from them, if we cannot produce them here, at a price far more reasonable than we are having to pay.
One of the reasons the United States are putting the price so high is that they say that they do not want us to have these machine tools, because if they cone to this country they will not be put to such full use as they would be in the United 495 States, where they are working double-shift time in the armament industry. It may be an unpopular thing to say, but we have to say it in this debate, that one of the reasons we are falling back in our production is that we are not working in our factories and industries to the same extent as they are in the United States, where they are double-banking their workers, and the result is that our machinery and labour are not used to the maximum.
I feel that the last thing that one wants to do in the House of Commons is to lecture the workers on more production; we have had quite enough of that; but I feel very strongly that if we are to achieve the programme which we are trying to get, the question of increased work and increased number of hours worked during the week ought to be looked at, because unless we do that—and everyone realises the urgency of the situation—we are going to be in a very difficult position in regard both to exports and armaments.
May I say one word in regard to increased output? I feel that today there are a great many people in certain key industries which are vital to our re-armament programme who avowedly do not want the re-armament programme to succeed, and I think those people who are putting up such a gallant fight—the leaders of the trade union movement—against subversive elements ought to have our sympathy and support in every possible way. I feel that is a matter which ought to be mentioned when we are not able at this time to guarantee, as we did before, that all people working in this country have what we believe to be necessary for their defence.
§ Mr. I. Mikardo (Reading, South)
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will have a clear understanding that at this moment restriction in the output of metal-working industries is not because machines are not being double-shifted, but because in some places there is not the labour and in other places there is not the material. May I say to the hon. Gentleman, with very great respect, that it is a little hollow to ask men to give more production per hour when they run out of work every Thursday morning because of shortage of raw materials?
§ Sir R. Glyn
I quite agree that there are great difficulties about the supply of 496 materials, and we know that there is a shortage of steel, but we understand from the evidence we have that the steel situation will improve in the third quarter of this year, and I hope that a great deal of that steel will be utilised for the export programme.
But there are other matters which I think we ought to mention in regard to these subversive elements. I think that it is necessary to say that there are certain organisations set up in the country which are called the Federation of Trades Councils. These organisations are passing resolutions and frankly saying that they do not believe in the re-armament programme, and they are not encouraging their workers to do what we think is necessary if we are to get the required output.
I do not know whether the hon. Member for Coventry, East, appreciates the fact that the time it takes to produce an aircraft, a tank or any other weapon is continually increasing and that it is not the slightest use thinking that the severe weight of the cost of re-armament will be lighter, for it will get heavier and heavier each year. I believe that the rate of production now indicates that the heaviest burden will have to be borne by the taxpayers of this country in 1956–57.
Nobody knows what the international situation will be by then, but I believe that all of us appreciate that, if we cannot get higher production for both export and armament, this country will be in a bankrupt condition unless the whole matter is considered afresh. The situation is desperately serious.
Attention ought also to be drawn to the dispersal of our main armament work. We know very well that this country will certainly be a target if war should occur. I am one of those who believe, as the Prime Minister said earlier, that the chances of war are mercifully receding. At the same time, it is our business to try to get within the British Commonwealth increased capacity for the production of armaments from every point of view, and we should encourage that in every way.
Standardisation has not yet been carried far enough. It would be very much better to arrange between ourselves, the United States and the countries 497 of the Commonwealth a cycle of production. While one type of aircraft was in production here another type would be coming along to full production in the United States and there could be another one in Canada, and we could be retooling and getting ready for the latest type that science and research can give us. There should be an interchange of these things as between all the N.A.T.O. nations instead of our trying to make little bits of everything, which we certainly cannot afford to do.
When we talk about the £4,000 million, how many of us appreciate that that figure includes the cost of the wars in Korea and Malaya? Those matters are extraneous to normal re-armament but they are not outside the strategic plans of Russia, because it is obviously Russia's business to tie down as many troops as possible as far distant as possible from the homeland, for that increases the burden and decreases the amount of money available for re-armament in the home country.
Irrespective of party, hon. Members ought to agree that the safety of this country is the paramount consideration that we all ought to have. I believe that in initiating that programme the Socialist Government did only what was right, and they had the support of the Conservative Party, but we ought now to review the situation and consider to what extent we appreciate the realities of the situation.
Do not let us be deluded by figures, for we are now finding that it is costing more in order to obtain less in materials. If that is the position, I should have thought that this was a matter far above party politics. I do not think it is any use trying to score party points one way or the other. We shall not get the people to appreciate the realities and dangers of the situation from an economic or war point of view as long as we continue playing party politics. If we do that, people will feel that the situation cannot be as serious as we say it is.
It is a very serious decision which the House has to take. I am very sorry that there is to be a Division on defence. In the old days the House was always united on national needs, and this is a very great national need.
It is time to say something about the dangers inside the country and the need 498 for establishing some security organisation to meet the needs not only of ourselves but also of the countries of the Commonwealth. We cannot be blind to the fact that an organisation of a disruptive character is at work in Canada, Australia, South Africa and here. Some of us know some of the details about it. The trades which are particularly affected are the ones that matter most from a defence point of view, including transport, the docks, engineering and electronics.
We have not now representatives of the Communist Party sitting in this House as Members of Parliament, but do not let us be deluded into thinking that they are idle because they are not sitting here. The work that they are doing in getting inside industries of a vital kind, undermining the position of respected trade union leaders and doing everything they can to disorganise organised labour, indicates the length to which Communism will go to achieve its ends.
I feel that the danger within is far greater than the danger without. The other day the Foreign Secretary said that, when carrying through our policy, we should be sure not to ignore the state of prosperity in this country, for that would be allowing Communism to enter by the back door.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
It is always a pleasure to listen to the speeches of the hon. Baronet the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn). I might almost say that it is an honour to follow him. I had that honour the first time I spoke in a defence debate in this House. As on that occasion, he has tonight given the House some very sound advice. I hope he will forgive me if I spend a little more time in dealing with the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), than in dealing with his.
In the past I have very often found myself in agreement with my hon. Friend, and I hope there will be many future occasions on which we shall be in agreement, but I am not in agreement with him tonight. He has got his priorities wrong, and I want to tell him why.
First of all, he ought to have read with a little more care than he has done the statement made by my right hon. Friend 499 the Leader of the Opposition in this House on 29th January, 1951. My hon. Friend has not made a startling discovery in finding that there are difficulties in carrying through the re-armament programme. My right hon. Friend knew there would be difficulties, and he went out of his way to warn the House and the country that those difficulties would be very great. The statement by my right hon. Friend appears in Command Paper No. 8146, in paragraph 15 of which he said:I should once more call attention to the limitation on production which I mentioned earlier"—that was in paragraph 13—and to the fact that these limitations may make it impossible to spend this sum within that period.In paragraph 13 my right hon. Friend pointed out in some detail that there were likely to be difficulties arising from an inadequate supply of materials, components and machine tools, and it is not untrue to say that his statement left the House with the definite impression that the expenditure of £4,700 million was a target. If my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East, will turn to the White Paper which we were asked to affirm, he will find in paragraph 2 these words which were probably taken over from the previous Government:The rate of progress must also inevitably be affected by the grave worsening of the United Kingdom's balance of payments which has taken place since the defence programme was launched.The hon. Member for Abingdon made a more substantial case than my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East. The Report to which he referred, which was published a few days ago, made a very carefully documented case for caution in believing that the arms programme, which we are asked to approve, can be carried through without substantial cuts during the coming months or during the present financial year.
Nevertheless despite the certainty of grave economic difficulties in the months ahead, it is not good enough for hon. Members to come to this House and say, "There are going to be difficulties, and therefore we must reject the White Paper." The facts are that we have called up thousands of young men who are deployed all over the world. Many of these men are carrying out operational or near-operational roles, and 500 surely they are not to be left without stores or equipment? Surely they are not to be left on the end of the limb, because the House of Commons has got cold feet and will not see through the programme which we launched a year ago?
We cannot suddenly in these matters turn round and say, "We have made a mistake. The programme ought to be much less than it is. Therefore, we are going to reject the policy." As I have already said, it is likely, because of the worsening economic situation, that we shall not be able to fulfil the programme.
§ Mr. Cecil Poole (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
Was my hon. Friend not conscious of the fact, when the target was originally fixed at £4,700 million, that there was likely to be a balance of payments question?
§ Mr. Wigg
I am not gifted with second sight. I certainly knew that the programme of £4,700 million was going to create great difficulties for this country. When the Prime Minister a year ago, as Leader of the Opposition, made his speech on defence, I thought it was a statement of great gravity, and that it would create such economic and political difficulties that it would be almost impossible to carry the programme through. The economic and political difficulties which have arisen since that time justify my view.
I give the point to my hon. Friend that it is practically certain that in a year's time those who want to do so can turn round and say, "I told you so," but the practical way of tackling this problem is not to stop in mid-stream. If we want to cut back the arms programme we may have to shed some of our commitments and scale down the length of National Service, because if young men are called up for a period of years and we undertake commitments those are the factors which will decide how much we should spend on stores, transport, pay and the like.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East overlooked the fact that once a period of two years' service is adopted, it is bound to be an expensive business equipping and feeding the resulting formations. It is an odd fact that a number of my hon. Friends who have criticised compulsory military service and have argued that the men can be got if the Government pay enough, overlook 501 the expense aspect of the matter. They seem to forget that the arms bill includes a large element of pay.
It must be borne in mind that nearly £1,000 million is going to be spent on pay, accommodation, transport and the like. My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East, stresses too much the amount that is spent on equipment, and fails to realise that there are some factors in the bill which cannot be cut down because to do so would create chaos. It may well be that during the course of the coming year the programme will have to be slowed down because of a worsening economic situation. Nevertheless, in all honesty I could not turn round at the present moment and say that I reject the defence policy, having a year ago gone into the Lobby in favour of it.
I now want to say a word or two about the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon. In my view, that speech was almost as deplorable as the one he made a year ago. I should have thought that as Prime Minister and as Minister of Defence he would have come to the House of Commons and the first thing he would have told us was about the organisational—if I may use that word—set-up of the new Ministry of Defence. What are to be the future relations between the very distinguished officer with no political experience who occupies the role of Minister of Defence with the other Service Ministers and the Ministry of Supply? What are to be his relations with the Chiefs of Staff? I have conceded to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East, and to the hon. Member for Abingdon, that the question of supplies is of very great importance indeed. It is not only a question of economy, but of getting value for money quickly and getting the most modern and the best equipment that we can as quickly as possible.
Whatever may be said of Field-Marshal Alexander, he has no knowledge of industry, and I should have thought that a Minister of Defence at the present time ought to be someone much nearer to a Minister of Production than to a strategist. I was extremely glad that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition way back in December made the point that he doubted the wisdom of appointing a distinguished soldier as Minister of Defence. I endorse that view, and I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us tonight a little more about what are 502 the responsibilities of the Minister of Defence in connection with production. Will he be in a position to issue instructions to the Minister of Supply? To what extent will he be made aware of shortages in the three Service Departments? To what extent will he be able to give directions on policy outside the decisions of the Cabinet and the Defence Committee? Will the Minister of Defence be at the head of the bracket of the three Service Ministers with a supervisory role over the Ministry of Supply? It is very important that we should hear something about all this.
I want to turn now to another matter. The Prime Minister this afternoon told us that our defences were naked. I presume he said that in order to permit of scare headlines in the "Daily Mail" and kindred newspapers tomorrow morning. We have been told that we have 11 divisions overseas carrying out vital roles, and hon. Gentlemen opposite would be the first to complain if those roles had not been undertaken. Surely they cannot complain because those troops are not now in this country.
Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to tell us a very peculiar thing. He mentioned the 200,000 men who are left in this country and he said that he had decided that they are being trained for a combat role. I have never heard anything more stupid than this. The Army is short of tradesmen, technicians, storemen and clerks. The Royal Air Force is short of technicians and tradesmen, and the men employed as tradesmen, clerks or storemen are, in fact, doing a job of great importance.
Take the case of Chilwell. This is a very large depot employing large numbers of soldiers and civilians. What happens to production while the troops are being trained? Does the depot close? Are these troops trained in the carrying out of tactical schemes or do they, under the directions of the Secretary of State for War, spend their time on ceremonial drill? I think the Prime Minister's statement on this point is a piece of nonsense. Surely before the House and the country can judge of the wisdom of the action of the Prime Minister, we should be told what production has been lost by this change of policy. How many thousands of tons of stores, which ought to be on 503 their way to Malaya and Korea, are still in the sheds of this country because somebody has been blancoing his belt?
§ Mr. I. Harvey
The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) is rather suggesting that the paragraph to which he is referring in the White Paper deals purely with people on the establishment. It seems to me simply that a large number of people who are actually in training will be called upon to exercise the normal role of self-defence. There is no question of ceremonial duties. I think the hon. Gentleman is unfair.
§ Mr. Wigg
I may be unfair. I hope I am not. It is true that a number of troops will be under training, but those under training will not be worth a terrible lot because they are learning their job. The Prime Minister made the point that 11 divisions have gone and that there were 200,000 men left behind in this country. I say that a very considerable number of these men must be employed in installation, doing jobs in relation to production, and that there is no point at all in directing tradesmen to combat roles, particularly as the Prime Minister has said that the danger of war is not imminent. Why should we train men in operational roles when they are not likely to be used?
§ Major Sydney Markham (Buckingham)
Surely the hon. Gentleman has forgotten that it was the tradesmen and the installation men who helped to turn the Battle of Mons and that it was these same men who helped us to stand firmly at Dunkirk. Every man, whatever his role is, should be trained in combatant duties. The Prime Minister's decision is the wisest that this House has heard.
§ Mr. Wigg
Every soldier is trained in combatant duties and is taught to handle personal weapons, but the Prime Minister has painted a picture, first of war not being imminent and then of turning tradesmen over to combatant roles. Those statements are contradictory, and the action of the Prime Minister is a piece of window-dressing nonsense.
There is one subject which is very near to the heart of the Parliamentary Secretary. I listened with very great interest when the Prime Minister was talking about the M.I.G.15. The Parliamentary 504 Secretary will now understand why I say that he is interested because he will remember a Question in which he suggested that the M.I.G.15 was a good plane because we had sold aero-engines to the Russians. This afternoon, the Prime Minister did not say anything about engines at all but talked about the design of the M.I.G.15. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies, will square the Parliamentary answer to which I have referred with the statement made by the Prime Minister. There seemed to be accent on design this afternoon and on engines on the previous occasion.
When we assess the disarmament burden borne by this country, we are apt only to include in the balance sheet those things for which we expend cash. There is another item which ought to be included but unfortunately is not. Here in Britain we have compulsory military service for two years. We are, I think, the only country in Europe—certainly in the Commonwealth—which has a period of military service anything like it. The consequence is that in Canada the total armed force at the present moment is about 35,000. The total strength of the Army of Australia is 24,000 and of New Zealand about 2,000. I am talking about Regular strength. They have no National Service worthy of the name.
I remember all the defence debates which have taken place in this House since the end of the war. I remember vividly the defence debate of 1946, when the spokesmen for the party opposite was the present Foreign Secretary and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and when one of the essential ingredients of policy put forward on behalf of the Conservative Party was the development of Commonwealth defence and of the Colonial Forces. If we read the Defence White Papers, published in recent years there is to be found a reference to the information of the development of Colonial Forces and Commonwealth defence. The present White Paper is the first since the end of the war in which nothing substantial is said about Commonwealth defence. A year ago, on the initiative of the Tory Party, we had a day's debate on the organisation of the Colonial Army. This year the need for developing Commonwealth defence is forgotten. Will the Parliamentary Secretary tell us why?
505 I should very much like to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary that the Government are fully aware of the excessive period of military service—I think it is excessive—which the young men of this country are called upon to carry out, particularly when compared with what is happening throughout the Commonwealth and in the N.A.T.O. countries. I hope that in future conversations with Commonwealth countries and at N.A.T.O., he will urge the desirability of their undertaking a period of compulsory military service something similar to what we have here. I should like to know why, in 1952, after all the stories we have been given about "vast reservoirs of manpower in the Colonies," there is nothing in the White Paper about it and that we heard nothing on that subject from the Prime Minister this afternoon.
I must apologise for taking up so much time, but I hope I have made my position quite clear. I would not be prepared to vote against the White Paper on this occasion, but I certainly have no confidence at all either in the Prime Minister or in his Service colleagues nor, may I say, in the Minister of Supply, and I hope very much indeed, for the country's sake, that my worst fears will not be realised.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Cole (Bedfordshire, South)
In rising to address this House for the first time, I hope that I may obtain the necessary indulgence from the House for the few remarks that I have to make. I do not imagine that these will be provocative, as I want to address them to Part VII of the White Paper which deals with Civil Defence. I will reserve what ideas I have about provocation to a future occasion, when perhaps the House will not be so kind.
In Part VII, reference is made to one particular point in Civil Defence, which is the question of morale. There is no contention about the standard of morale which comes from having Civil Defence at home. As one who spent six years in the last war out of this country, I can testify to the contribution to morale in the Fighting Services abroad which was given by an adequate Civil Defence at home. I want to leave that thought with the House in the constructive 506 suggestion—I hope it will be considered constructive—which I wish to make.
It will be within the knowledge of the House that Civil Defence volunteers are not coming forward in the numbers desired. We have recently heard a broadcast to that effect. I am happy to see that reference is made in Part VII to the steadily increasing rate of recruitment since July, 1950. I should like to give two reasons, as I see the matter, why Civil Defence recruiting has not gone forward at the rate that we should wish. I would, in parenthesis, leave one thought with the House, and perhaps with some members of the public who may consider this matter of Civil Defence. Let us all remember that the miracle of Dunkirk would have been wasted if the troops had not been able to come back to a country which was in a proper state of order.
The first of the two reasons why I think people are holding back from recruitment to Civil Defence is the old reason that many people think that when war becomes more imminent it is possible to accelerate the speed and efficiency of Civil Defence. In that respect I want to remind hon. Members of one remark made by the Prime Minister this afternoon about the Home Guard, when he said he would warn those who were hesitating to be careful not to leave it too late. The same remark may apply to those who are holding back on Civil Defence.
In just the same way as our re-arming for strength is a deterrent to any aggressor in lands abroad, I am quite certain that the efficiency of the Civil Defence of any country is an adequate deterrent to any aggressor who may contemplate embarking upon war. In these days of both conventional and unconventional weapons, people manning the Civil Defence services are in the front line of attack, and so those contemplating aggression pay due regard to the state of those Civil Defence services. I want to emphasise that the very complexity of the weapons, conventional and otherwise, which would be brought to bear in a future war is an even greater reason why our state of preparedness in Civil Defence should start much earlier and not be left one day longer than is necessary.
The second reason is one which I think people in this land ought not to be too happy about. It is that it has got about 507 that, owing to the dire results of the use of unconventional weapons, a certain measure of civil defence is, to put it baldly, a waste of time. Those remarks have been made by responsible people, not in this House, but in other spheres in my presence, and I deprecate them strongly.
I want to remind hon. Members and the public that there is hardly anything which has been invented by man for which man has not also been able to invent an antidote. That is as true in Civil Defence and as regards unconventional weapons as in any other department of life. If it is true that people are holding back from Civil Defence because they think its usefulness is at a minimum as a result of these weapons, I want to assure them that there are and can be and will be safeguards to provide proper protection from those unconventional weapons, always provided that the manpower is available at the right time to give us the adequate defence.
Now I want to make two constructive suggestions to those responsible for the publicity of Civil Defence services. First, I think more should be done to provide places in our various centres equivalent to tactical schools in the Army. I have had the opportunity and pleasure of visiting the Civil Defence College in Surrey. Both there and in other centres, in addition to the theoretical knowledge given to instructors and local authorities, there should be something equivalent to a tactical school where actual visual demonstrations of the dangers can be given. I want to leave with those responsible at the Home Office the thought that tactical schools should be set up as early as possible, because I regard them as a necessary part of our armament for defence.
I hope that my second suggestion, which is a rather novel one, is also constructive. I am aware that most of what can be done has been done by the advertising for enlistment to Civil Defence. However this country, like the United States of America, is rich in societies and associations of every kind. I suggest that the Home Office should consult with the larger and more responsible societies about the possibility of their officers doing their utmost to bring to the notice of their members the necessity for joining 508 Civil Defence. I am not referring to political societies when I say that many hon. Members are familiar with societies whose membership numbers thousands. If they could be made to co-operate in this worth-while matter, I am sure that some recruits for Civil Defence could be found amongst their members.
Some weeks ago I had the honour of being present at the opening of a new Civil Defence headquarters in my constituency. It is a very fine place indeed and any club, expensive or otherwise, would be pleased to have such headquarters. The keynote of the opening proceedings was the fact that the original Civil Defence people from the last war were there still as a nucleus of the new organisation; in fact, one of those on the platform had been in it continuously since the end of the war. The fullest possible use should be made of the nuclei of those associations which still exist. To some extent the same thing is true of the Home Guard association of the last war which still exists.
I notice that Section VII is at the end of the White Paper and that at the moment there is not much in the way of physical development or resources for the Civil Defence service. That may or may not be right, and I would not presume to criticise it. However, I am sure that, as the Navy, Army and Air Force are the three arms of the defence of our country and the Commonwealth, today we should join with them the fourth, that is, Civil Defence. I see little point in our winning great and glorious battles overseas, on the sea, or in the air if our structure at home is not in a state of equilibrium in order to keep up the morale of all concerned. May I leave this general thought with hon. Members: that in future defence should be regarded as a four-square matter, namely, that the Navy, Army, Air Force and Civil Defence are four integral and concrete parts of the same organisation?
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. W. T. Williams (Hammersmith, South)
It is a great pleasure to have an opportunity of congratulating the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole), upon the excellent speech which he has just delivered to the House.
It always seems to me a great pity that the custom of the House is that nobody takes any notice of maiden speeches. 509 Listening, as I have done, to a number of maiden speeches in the last few days, it occurs to me that men often make their best speeches on that occasion. I hope the hon. Member may continue in the fine style in which he has begun. He spoke with confidence and knowledge and, as long as he maintains that high standard, he will not only have the welcome ear of the House but, what is even more interesting, will often be interrupted.
I shall begin by quoting as a text a sentence used by the hon. Baronet the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), to whom we always listen with great respect and even with affection. He said that the safety of the country was paramount and that the main concern of all hon. Members was to maintain that safety. On that there will be agreement on all sides, but when it comes to a discussion about how the safety of the country is to be maintained there will be much more disagreement as, indeed, there has already been.
Hon. Members opposite have in the main taken the view that the re-armament programme that has been decided upon, and which is the subject of the White Paper, is sacrosanct; that because it has been set down, it must be followed. Some Members on this side of the House have taken roughly the same view. I confess, at the outset, that I do not agree.
I begin by asking myself: What is it that we are now re-arming against? The answer quite clearly is that we are now re-arming against the threat of Soviet aggression, which nobody in the House, and possibly not many people in the country, believes to be an immediate threat. I am not suggesting—I would not go so far as to say—that I think the U.S.S.R. would not attack if it were persuaded that it could do so with some assurance of success.
I think there is no doubt, from past experience of the way in which the Soviet Union has worked among its neighbours, that if Europe were defenceless Russia would expand westwards. That suggests, quite clearly, that it is Europe's duty to have such defences as would make it militarily very expensive for Russia to indulge in European adventures if she were so minded.
I would not, therefore, under any circumstances minimise the importance of the will to defend the British heritage. 510 But with all that background in mind, and anxious only that the true interests, not of any party nor of those who agree with my point of view, but of the country, might be served I suggest that this moment demands from us some rethinking about the relationship between the aims of the White Paper and reality.
I do not wish to be acrimonious, but it can truly be said that events have proved that there was very little real relation between our aims and reality when the £4,700 million re-armament programme was decided upon. It was decided upon 12 months ago, as we have already been told, at a time of panic.
According to the White Paper itself, we did not have then, and we do not have now, the raw materials, the machine tools, the manpower or, indeed, the economic resources that will enable us to fulfil that original programme. It may be that at the time the programme was devised—I was not then in the confidence of the Government any more than I am now—at a time of panic, when the Communists looked as though they might go on to the offensive, it was right to make an obvious splash of a defence programme. I do not believe that it can be right now, in the light of what we have learned since, to persist in a programme which is admittedly beyond our power and which is, in any case, largely irrelevant to the present international situation.
I have no wish to detain the House by going again over ground that was covered by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). It is enough to underline what he said, because I think it is now indisputable that our defence programme is strangling our economic life. The cumulative effect of our dollar and sterling difficulties, aggravated, as they are, and as they will continue to be, by continually restricting exports, and by the fact of world inflation, may make it hardly possible not only for Britain, but for Europe as a whole, to survive unless there is some change, some reconsideration of the whole defence programme of Europe.
It is already clear that among the first casualties of the cold war and of the re-armament programme, is the European economy. I do not want to go at any length into the question of tho effect upon the standard of living of our 511 own people—other Members have spoken about that: but we have reached an absurd position economically when there arises the kind of situation which I should like to illustrate by relating something which came to my knowledge within the last few weeks.
In company with other hon. Members—my hon. Friends the Members for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney), and Paddington, North (Mr. Field)—I went to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to request the supply of 45 tons of steel to build a screening plant to protect the health of the inhabitants of my constituency against the disposal of refuse and sewage. The reply that we got from the Minister was that in view of all our commitments, particularly our commitments for steel, it was utterly impossible to obtain even 45 tons of steel for this service of the public health. That instance can, perhaps, be repeated over and over again in more important respects in the experiences of other hon. Members and people who have come up against a blank wall in our economy which has been created as a result of the re-armament programme.
At home, the effect of the re-armament programme already is, clearly, a serious lowering of the standard of life and, what is perhaps even more important, an increasing restriction of exports, which is our very lifeblood and without which soon we must die. No doubt, if it were right to carry this burden of defence; if we were faced with a situation in which war was imminent, it would have to be borne with, perhaps, heavier burdens. But we are inflicting these burdens upon our people in present circumstances for largely irrelevant purposes.
Do hon. Members opposite believe that Europe alone—that is to say, Europe and not Britain—could now deter the Soviet Union if that country were bent upon aggression? Very few people would deny that it is not Britain's or Europe's intrinsic, nor even their potential, strength that deters any expansionist aims on the part of the U.S.S.R. Surely Europe's real safeguard is the certainty of United States intervention in the event of a Soviet invasion. If that deterrent should fail, I 512 believe that continental Europe could hardly long survive.
§ Mr. Anthony. Fell (Yarmouth)
Is the hon. Member really saying he believes that, on the one hand, for us war is not imminent and that, therefore, we should not arm, but that it is imminent for America and, therefore, they should arm to protect us? This easy, vote-catching argument, this being on the right side of the fence for all the electorate, doing the thing that is popular, is so easy to put over, but he can only do so if he is convinced that he can safely say that there is no chance whatever of aggression from Russia.
§ Mr. Williams
I am not surprised that the hon. Member should have such a close acquaintance with vote-catching, as I fought him on two occasions and on both occasions he revealed his methods. There are two things I would like to say about his interruption. The first is that in any case America is not now straining its economy, but Britain is straining hers. Productivity of non-re-armament goods in America has gone up considerably side by side with re-armament. The standard of living in America has gone up and the real wages of American workers have gone up.
§ Mr. Williams
So this: all these things in Britain have gone down and we are straining our economy. I am not suggesting that in fact war is imminent for America, I am saying that if war were imminent and if Russia wanted to attack the one thing which would restrain Russia is American strength. I think that is self-evident.
I did not say that we ought not to re-arm. I said that we ought not to re-arm at this level, at this cost. I merely say that if Russia is restrained from aggression in Western Europe it is because she is afraid, rightly in my judgment, of the tremendous economic power of the United States and her over-riding potential strength.
That is not to say that I believe all defence to be useless. On the other hand, I said, and repeat, that to discourage direct attacks in these international political circumstances it does not need a re-armament programme of £4,700 513 million, with all the economic consequences that has for this country. It is merely to say that that figure, that huge re-armament programme, is beyond our capacity to bear and is irrelevant because it will not of itself ever serve as a deterrent against a country determined on aggression.
I suggest, therefore, that the mistake that is contained in, and the underlying error of this White Paper on Defence is attempting by our present programme to re-arm to a level which will neither deter aggression nor save us from destruction if war were to come. Britain's arms programme, great as it is, will not ensure a second successful Battle of Britain in an atomic war.
It seems, therefore, that to prepare for a war in whose outcome our own interests would be merely academic, Britain has burdened herself with a defence programme that is literally killing and the longer it goes on the more difficult it will be to re-organise production so that we can stand upon our own feet. Perhaps the final indictment of the programme is that it is increasingly making us dependent on America so that there will be no possibility if we continue at this level of ever escaping and being independent again.
As I see it the real challenge is in the realm of ideas and that conflict we are losing. Already, without Russia sending a single soldier, or firing a single gun, the Western Powers are deeply committed in minor wars all over the world. I am assured, for instance, that even if we were to return to the radical programme of £3,000 million for three years with £600 million aid from the United States, which I hope with my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East, will be in the form of finished armaments, we would be able to make an increase of something like £300 million a year in exports, which would bridge the greater part of our gap at the moment.
The recovered wealth could be used not only to increase the standard of living of the people of this country, but could be used—and this is an important item of defence—to ensure a new deal in world affairs. For the greater part of the world—outside Britain and Russia—the present re-armament of Europe spells despair. Because of it, millions of 514 people in Asia and Africa who are already living in squalor must abandon all hope of a higher standard of living. Their misery is offering, and has offered, a fertile ground for Soviet propaganda, which has already been successful in exploiting their grievances. Re-armament by accentuating their privations is directly increasing the danger in which the world stands.
In this battle I believe that Marshall Aid, on a world scale, the wider use of the Four Point Programme, an extension of the Colombo and Reuther Plans for colonial development and development of backward areas of the world would be far stronger bulwarks of peace than this re-armament programme to which we are committed. These are the very schemes that the cold war is increasingly putting into cold storage and by so doing aggravating the social crises out of which the Soviet Union has already won its most significant victories. World re-armament on this scale will do nothing more surely than prevent the possibility of a world fair deal.
The recognition of the over-riding priority for re-armament in these conditions is actually weakening the chance of creating a new modus vivendi between the nations of the world. I believe that if we could, not abandon re-armament, but reconsider it, and reconsider it in the light of the other commitments laid upon us for economic and world fair shares, we would be doing far more to make possible a lasting peace than we will be doing by supporting this White Paper or the defence measures of this Government.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Captain Robert Ryder (Merton and Morden)
I think the hon. Member for Hammersmith, South (Mr. W. T. Williams), put forward what I considered to be a very dangerous view. However, it represents a point of view put forward by others from below the Gangway opposite, and it differs, I think, from the point of view put forward by right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite.
We are presented on this side of the House with a somewhat confusing picture, and I am not sure whether it is for me to intervene in the dispute and difference of opinion which appears to exist on the benches opposite, but I would 515 say this to the hon. Member for Coventry. East (Mr. Crossman), and the hon. Member for Hammersmith, South—that if one approves a large-scale re-armament programme and then comes along the next year and tries to cut it down, one will neither achieve exports nor security. The only thing one will achieve is absolute chaos and confusion.
If I may turn to the point of view of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who opened the debate from the Opposition benches, it seems to me, when one looks back, that the previous Government, in supporting this large re-armament programme, took what I felt to be a courageous and honest step. I felt that they would have gained stature in the country if they had stood by their decision, stood by their guns, and supported the present Government in this re-armament debate, instead of which they are now trying to put forward an Amendment expressing a lack of confidence in the Prime Minister.
What did the right hon. Gentleman opposite have to say on that subject? He picked on the de-nationalisation of steel, which he said would throw a spanner into the works. Surely this is more a case of extracting a spanner that has already been thrown into the works. Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to the appointment of Lord Alexander as Minister of Defence. I cannot speak for everyone, but it is my firm impression that throughout the Services Lord Alexander is widely respected. He is regarded as a man of great integrity, great vision, and great experience, and he is a person whom I think the country as a whole will be very glad to see in that position. His appointment is certainly no cause for censure on the Prime Minister.
The right hon. Gentleman then referred to what he described as the "American Admiral." I should have thought that he himself had played a prominent part in negotiating that North Atlantic appointment and that he was hardly the person to cast aspersions on the Prime Minister for the position which my right hon. Friend was compelled to take over.
The right hon. Gentleman made, I thought, unnecessary and disparaging remarks, not calculated to do any good, about the smaller countries on the Con- 516 tinent. He referred to Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium. I noted down his remarks and he said in effect, "When are you going to play your part?" That is an unnecessary aspersion on some of those countries. I should like to take the case of Norway, a country which, with a very small population, is bringing forward a merchant fleet which is the third largest in the world. And as merchant fleets play a prominent part in the strategic affairs of the free countries of the world, as I see it, a country like Norway is playing a very important part.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The hon. and gallant Member is representing me. What I said—I remember the words exactly, and they will be recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow—about Norway and Denmark was that they were not playing their part and I gave as the reason the fact that they could not get the requisite amount of equipment. I said "small blame to them." The only country that I criticised was Portugal because, as I said. Portugal, which is a member of N.A.T.O., has not contributed a single man or gun as yet. But, generally speaking, my case was not one of disparaging those European countries but of indicating that adequate defences cannot be built up on the Continent before the requisite equipment is available.
§ Captain Ryder
If my comments have extracted that explanation from the right hon. Gentleman, I feel they have fulfilled a useful purpose. It is important that we should not indulge in bickering against our friends on the Continent, so if what the right hon. Gentleman has just said is his point of view, I am glad he has come forward and said it. But I hardly feel, from what he said, that I am disposed to lose confidence in the Prime Minister.
I wish now to call attention to the general subject before us, the Statement on Defence. Hon. Members will all agree, I think, that we are very much handicapped in these defence debates by the fact that the need for secrecy prevents us from seeing and hearing a great deal that is most important in defence. All that we have, broadly speaking, is a set of financial figures and a few amplifying remarks, from which we have to make our deductions.
The point I wish to make arises out of a comparison of the figures set out for 517 this year with previous figures. I have taken the figures for 1913, 1938 and 1952, three years in which this country was re-arming, and it is fairly clear that this country has now embarked on what I should call a Continental strategy at the expense of our maritime strength. In 1913—these are only approximate calculations—62 per cent. of the Service Estimates went to the Navy; in 1938 the percentage was 38; in 1952 it is down to 26, or 24 if the Ministry of Supply and Civil Defence are taken into account.
This point of view is reinforced when we read in the Army Estimates that we are heavily committed in Europe, and our Forces form a major part of the striking forces in the West. Then, in the Air Estimates we read that our largest expansion is to be in support of the Second Tactical Air Force on the Continent. That is indeed a Continental strategy.
We have to compare this with the remarks which have been made, for example, by the Prime Minister of New Zealand that British naval forces were so stretched round the world that New Zealand had now to look to the United States for help in Dominion defence. It seems to me, therefore, that this Continental strategy is being made at the expense of our maritime strength.
We have to bear in mind the fact that our population on this island is largely dependent on our position as the centre of a great maritime Commonwealth which spreads to all parts of the world, and it is important for us to maintain our position as the centre of this great maritime organisation. In this our maritime power has acted and still acts as a cohesive factor in keeping the Commonwealth together as a unity.
When we bear in mind the important part that has been played in the past by our fleet in this respect we must be careful that we do not continue blindly into the future policies which have been successfull; but we must consider them. We face in the future a difficult position due to the fact that we are now confronted with a much more serious threat from the air than ever before. In this respect we are faced with a very difficult decision.
We must first get clear in our minds whether in the secret and innermost recesses of our minds we approve these Estimates as being in preparation for a 518 war which we feel is bound to come, or whether, on the other hand, we approve them in the belief and hope that they will be a deterrent to such a war. That is not an academic distinction. It is a fundamental consideration which should underlie the whole of our basic strategy.
There are two alternatives before us. We can attempt to build up round these islands a barrier in such depth and thickness that we hope it will keep out any modern missile that may be thrown at this country. That seems to me to be the basic plan behind the Continental strategy. On the other hand, we can hope or attempt to sustain and maintain an organisation throughout the world, of which this country is the centre, which is so powerful and united that it must be clear to all that whoever might contemplate making a venture upon these islands must face the fact that a fearful retribution will follow from our friends all over the world, and that it will be sure and remorseless and will achieve the utter defeat in the long run of whoever may attempt ambitions in that direction. It is the power of the deterrent rather than the pinning of one's faith in a barricade.
When we consider these alternatives, it seems to me that the prospect of building up a barricade of such a kind as I have mentioned is open to grave doubts. In any case it is fair to say that there is no evidence before us which warrants any suggestion that a war is inevitable. There is no evidence before us to warrant this country dismantling headquarters, as it were, and taking up its position on the perimeter defences. If we do that we shall inevitably lose a great deal of our influence throughout the free world. As a desperate temporary expedient it may well be necessary for us to bolster up our friends on the Continent and attempt to prevent any further infiltration into the West of Europe. But what is to happen if we lose our position as the centre of the great maritime Commonwealth we have established? What is to happen to us on this overcrowded island. Should we not take heed of the remarks of the Prime Minister of New Zealand?
Let us consider our history. There was a time when this country embarked extensively on a Continental policy. We bled ourselves white in war after war on the Continent. And it was not until we lost Calais that we embarked on our 519 great expansion in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and this country began to expand and develop its strength in all parts of the world and become a great country. Are we wise to make this fundamental change in our strategy? Let us look at the example of Spain and what happened to her when her sea power was wrested from her and see how her standard of living was lowered in consequence. Or consider the Dutch and what happened to them when they came to rely upon British power to protect their interests overseas.
As I have said, as a desperate and temporary expedient I would support the policy of bolstering up our friends, but I believe that if we pursue that policy too far and accept it as our basic strategy, then there is little future for his country with its overcrowded population. If we dismantle the headquarters and accept a position on the perimeter defences, we shall surely be placed in a weak and unenviable position. Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friends to think long and think deeply where this Continental strategy will lead us.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)
We were given the impression from the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that the military and industrial output of Russia is greater than that of the rest of the whole world. I cannot believe that. I know Russia fairly well and I have seen industrial development of Russia making great strides. But so has the industrial development of the rest of the world at the same time. We are rather over-exaggerating the military strength and industrial output of Soviet Russia.
If Russia really had wanted to take a chance to attack Europe she would have done so at the time of the Berlin airlift, when we were very weak. Today, it is a different matter. If we have not the great strength we hope to have, we are certainly much stronger than we were at the time of the Berlin airlift or ever dreamed then that we could be. People who know something of the history of Russia must know that Russia can never go to war unless she has the backing of her people. If Russia is expending the 520 whole of her industrial potential for military purposes she must be neglecting the social welfare of her people and in the event of war they will be the first to turn against their present Government, in the same way as they turned against the Czarist Government in 1917.
One cannot lead an unwilling people into war, and if one tramples down their means of subsistence to give them a military potential strong enough to thrash the whole world, then when the moment comes they will rebel against their Government, because their very existence will be too hard to bear. I am not saying there are no dangers in the world. There are, and I will come to them later.
We are now talking about building Germany again into a military Power because of what is happening in Russia. But whatever we do with Germany will be wrong—whether we incorporate her partly into the European Army, whether we give her full equality of status with the Western nations or whether we prohibit her from having any army at all It will always be wrong. If we incorporate the Germans into the European Army, once they are in they will so move and wriggle about and threaten to break out of the European set-up if they do not get what they want that in the end they will have to be given what they want to keep them in.
If we prohibit them from having arms, all we shall do is to build up their industrial potential. While our young men are in the Army for two years theirs will be in the factories producing goods for export, competing with our exports and beating us because they have no great military set-up to maintain. That is already happening with the Germans in Egypt. I quote the following from an English newspaper:… with German industry not geared, as the British is, to defence production, it looks as though the Germans are about to score again.That comment was made when the Germans were tendering for the Assuan Dam hydro-electric project, involving an order valued at £15 million.
If they are not allowed to have an army and conscription and compulsory service, they will be put at an advantage over our people, and therefore will reduce the standard of living of this country, because we shall not be able to compete with them in the export market. 521 Whatever we do with the Germans will be wrong.
It is also important to remember that it may very well be that if we re-arm Western Germany and the Russians allow Eastern Germany to re-arm, the offer of unification may come from Eastern Germany to Western Germany. If that offer is made we shall find that a large body of West German Communists will be there to welcome it. Not only the Communists, but most patriotic Germans would rather have unification, even at the expense of their political loyalty.
I know the Germans. I was in Germany for three months last year, going in among different classes, including their politicians. I had an interview with the Chancellor and with Herr Schumacher. I saw Herr Schumacher addressing meetings of 12,000 and 15,000 people, and he had the same hypnotic power over the masses in Germany as Hitler used to have, and it may very well be that the next Chancellor of Germany will be Herr Schumacher. Then we shall have in Germany an army which she will be able to use herself for her own purposes.
Turning to the Middle East, where I spent part of December and the whole of January of this year, there are three questions which are troubling the Middle East. There is the question of Palestine; the question of refugees, and the question of the Canal Zone. Internally, the Arabs are split; but externally they have a united policy, and the one policy that is having a most effective influence on the Arabs is the question of the Canal Zone. They look upon that question as their own. I do not know how much use the Canal would actually be in war, but I do know that in two world wars we have not been able to use it.
If we are going to have the Arabs, on one side, hostile to us and the Egyptians on the other side, hostile to us, then the Canal will not be of very much use. The sooner we get that Canal business settled the easier it will be if we have to face up to war in other parts of the world. The part of the world I have in mind is the Far East. The three things are tied together in the same way as they were in the last war, when we had Germany against us in the Atlantic, Italy in the Mediterranean and Japan in the Far 522 East. In the next world war it may very well be that the greatest danger will come from the Far East and not from Europe.
I first went to Australia shortly after the Russo-Japanese War and the Australians, even at that early date, were very apprehensive about the progress that Japan was making, especially when we formed the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. From an apprehension it went to a threat and then it become a real danger. We know that Japan intervened in the last war and that Japan was defeated. Japan lost her territories on the Asiatic mainland. Japan, like Britain, is a nation that has to export to live. Japan cannot live without exports. Even this week in this House we have had complaints that the Japanese industries were competing unfairly with ours, so that, in the course of time, we shall have to raise barriers against Japanese exports to protect our own.
Japan will then be forced on to the mainland of China. Her future can only be reckoned with that of China. There is no other future. After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, when Russia began to build her first Five Year Plan, she took tens of thousand of specialists and experts from Austria-Hungary, which had become dissolved, and from Germany, where there was vast unemployment, and built up her industry to form her first Five Year Plan.
China may very well take the experts and specialists from Japan and encourage Japan to export to China, to negotiate with China, and in the end to come in with China. In that case there will not be a nation of 50 million inhabitants threatening her existence, as Australia had in the early part of the century, but a block of 500 million, in an overcrowded state, looking on to an empty continent—the continent of Australia. How are we going to help Australia in a case of that sort? That is the real danger. That is what we have to prepare against.
I am not so sure that this Russian business is the real danger at all. I think Russia will continue to pinprick. But how Australia is to get over the tremendous menace that will come from the East not even Mr. Casey, the Australian Foreign Minister, was able to say when I 523 put the question to him. He confessed that. He said that over the next 10 years we were able to see fairly clearly, but beyond that he did not know what would happen between China and Japan. Let us not lose our heads over this Russian business. Let us prepare to meet it if it comes, but let us find out, while we still have time, how we are to face up to that greater danger that may threaten a vital part of our Commonwealth.
That is why that part of the Commonwealth may have to leave us and go to another nation which can provide greater protection. This has been discussed in Australia—that they cannot rely on Britain for protection against the East, that they must have the guarantee of some protection from the United States. That is why the Australians are struggling so hard against the Japanese Peace Treaty.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. John Profumo (Stratford)
The hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick) made a very significant remark towards the end of his speech. He said, "Do not let us lose our heads over this Russian business." As far as I can see, the one sure way of losing our heads over this Russian business is to do what hon. Members opposite have advised this afternoon—namely, that we should not go ahead too speedily with the re-armament programme.
When the business was announced at the beginning of the week and we were told that we were to have a defence debate today, I and my hon. Friends assumed that we should discuss the defence of this country. What has happened, however, is that we have had a debate, not so much on national defence, but on the defence of right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Bench opposite. This has been a struggle between hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite and it has been a most fascinating study.
At the beginning of the debate, I wondered why the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) rose to speak from the Box without any notes at all. I did not know until a long time afterwards that the reason he had said nothing so skilfully and purposely was that he did not wish in any way to fan 524 the flames of party controversy nor to make any definite statement about what right hon. Gentlemen opposite really believed. Then we had the fantastic spectacle—the most fantastic spectacle the House has witnessed, certainly since the end of the war—of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite arguing amongst each other, shaking their fists, trying to interrupt each other, shaking their heads; and we have heard scarcely any agreement at all.
§ Mr. Profumo
I did not realise that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), was alive and I am glad to hear that he is. He has taken no part in the debate. I do not want to incite hon. Members at this stage in the evening, however. The star of the bill in today's debate has unquestionably been not the right hon. Member for Easington but the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman).
As I sat listening—and waiting patiently, as one does, Mr. Speaker, to catch your eye—I noticed how suddenly the Chamber filled the moment the hon. Member for Coventry, East, rose to his feet. Who were the hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies who came into the Chamber at that point? They were all members of the group we now know so well from the headlines in the newspapers, and they were all coming in to hear the understudy of the great chief speaking. It was a magnificent speech.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)
If the hon. Gentleman had observed very carefully he would have seen that it was not only the personal political friends of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), who came into the Chamber but that the benches on the Government side were a great deal more crowded, with hon. Members listening to my hon. Friend, than they are now, with hon. Members listening to the hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. Profumo).
§ Mr. Profumo
I hope that the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart), will not think that it is a question of Coventry being more important than Stratford-on-Avon. It certainly is not. As I am reminded by one of my 525 hon. Friends, many hon. Members are taking dinner at the moment.
Anyway, it is to hon. Members opposite that I want to address myself. I regarded the speech made by the hon. Member for Coventry, East, as one of the best speeches I have ever heard him make, and it was significant for this fact: what he said was, "Leave it all to the United States of America." I do not want to exaggerate, but what he said, in a nutshell, was, "We cannot afford to do this; we have made a tragic error in the past; my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale"—who was sitting behind him—"warned the country and the House, and it is never too late to learn; at this stage let us leave it to the United States."
For this country to say, in an election year in the United States, that we will not continue to pull our weight but will leave it to them, because we do not think we can afford re-armament, would be a monstrous thing to do. But that was the burden of the hon. Member's speech. He went on to speak about the Amendment which is to be moved, I understand, by the right hon. Gentleman who is the titular head of the party at the moment, and the hon. Member for Coventry, East, said, "Anyone who supports that Amendment will be agreeing to this country committing economic suicide."
He said something even more significant than that. He said, "Any hon. Members who support the Amendment will be committing political suicide"—and he meant in so far as their chances were concerned of ever becoming Front Bench politicians under the new leader of the party. Hon. Members opposite know very well that that has been the crux of the debate. [Interruption.] We do not need to defend ourselves on this side of the House. My right hon. Friends know exactly what they are going to do. The one obvious mistake at this stage would be to have a defence programme which was half-hearted. We should be bound to lose if we did that. Therefore, let not hon. Members opposite be influenced by some of their own hon. Friends too much on this occasion.
I wanted to talk about two aspects of defence. I have time to deal with one only, and so I shall hope to catch your eye, Sir, on another occasion to be able 526 to talk about the other. In common with many of my hon. Friends, and many hon. Members opposite, too, I am very concerned about the reduction in our broadcasting to overseas countries. Whatever views one may take about domestic broadcasting, I think all will agree that our foreign broadcasts have a very considerable effect on the minds of peoples in other countries.
If these broadcasting activities have been successful and important in the past—as I think they have been—then they are all more important at this stage in our affairs, because it is on the conditions of men's minds that the maintenance of peace really depends, and the only antidote to the poison which is being injected into the minds of millions of people behind the Iron Curtain is that given by the voice of the free nations going over the ether by means of our radio.
In my view the maintenance of our overseas broadcasts should be regarded not as part of our normal peacetime expenditure but as a significant part of our defence budget. It was all very well for hon. Members opposite to become self-righteous earlier on today about this, but it will be within the recollection of the House that last year the Socialist Government intended to cut the grant in aid for overseas broadcasting, and it has been done two or three times before. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has realised the importance of leaving this service free from cuts because action is required to counter Soviet jamming and because of increased expenses.
However, it does still mean that many people in Soviet-dominated areas are to be denied the advice, the news, the truth which they have been getting from the British Broadcasting Corporation, and, although I quite agree that the B.B.C. must take its share of the economies, it does seem to me that it is just as much against the national interest to reduce our psychological striking power as it would be to lose or diminish our military striking power at this moment.
The justification for these economies is all the more questionable when one realises that there will be a considerable reduction in broadcasting for the want of something like £150,000, or, to put it in the vernacular, the cost of the "front end" of a Comet aeroplane. Once those audiences are lost it will be extremely 527 difficult to get them back again. Surely this is the time of all times when there should be no muting of the voice of freedom or the voice of Britain.
I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence—whom we congratulate upon his new appointment, as, also, we congratulate the illustrious and noble Lord Alexander on his appointment as Minister of Defence—three questions: first, has the decision to peg the grant-in-aid been taken in relation to its effect on the defence programme? It does not seem to me that this is an entirely Foreign Office affair, and it is certainly not entirely a domestic one. It is a problem of defence. Has it been considered in the light of the defence programme?
Second, will my hon. Friend consider that the finance which is required to counter jamming by the Soviet stations being provided by an additional grant? Third, will he try to get an agreement with right hon. Gentlemen opposite on a long-term policy for our overseas broadcasting which would give the B.B.C. the knowledge that it could carry on its policy for many years to come, and which would remain unchanged even if it cost more, and even if there happened to be a change of Government?
The other aspect of defence I wanted to speak about was the problem of the Royal Air Force, but it is too big a problem for me to deal with now. I will venture only one or two words upon it. I would point out the real difficulty of any Government today is to apportion the resources of the nation—the financial resources, the manpower resources, and the raw material resources—adequately between the requirements of defence and the requirements of the export trade. That is the problem.
There is one section of our air arm which can help the nation in both those respects, and that is our air transport. I quite agree with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister when he says that first priority must be afforded, above anything else, to building up modern striking aircraft of the fighter type. There was a considerable exchange, earlier in the debate, which resulted from our being told by the Opposition that we were lagging behind to a very great degree in fighter efficiency compared with the Soviet 528 Union. We are. Can anybody wonder at that when we have had a Government which did two things over the past six years?
First of all, they were very loath to place orders for fighter aircraft. It is all very well for the former Secretary of State for Air to say that the Socialist Government started and completed negotiations with the United States over the Sabre jet engine. Maybe they did. But they had not the foggiest idea when we would get them—not the foggiest idea. Today, the Prime Minister told us that at last they are coming in the foreseeable future.
The Labour Government were loath to place orders, and when they did place orders they sold our jet engines to the Soviet Union. It is no good the right hon. Member for Easington trying to get away with that by saying that they were on the open list. Who placed them on the open list? Who was responsible? The right hon. Gentleman is not in his place at the moment to hear that question, but I do not know whether any other hon. Member opposite can tell us who was responsible for allowing those highly important engines to be sold to the only existing potential aggressor.
Who was responsible? The Labour Party. The Leader of the Opposition sits back and smiles. I know that he will be speaking at any moment now, and I sincerely hope that he will be able to reply to that question during his speech. Were not those engines only allowed to be sold under licence? I am convinced that that was so. Who was responsible for giving licences to the manufacturers to sell to the Soviet Union, who were thus able to develop those machines, which are now responsible for shooting down our own and American pilots over Korea today? That is the record of the Socialist Government.
I presume that the Leader of the Opposition is about to move an Amendment, which, I believe, seeks to say that, while agreeing with the re-armament programme, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have no confidence in Her Majesty's Government to carry it out. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Those "Hear, hears" ought to be reversed, because nobody can have any confidence in hon. Gentlemen opposite, when one 529 sees their condition today, with a split in their own party, and the haphazard way in which they have managed our defences in the past six years. It is absolutely certain that the party opposite would never get back into power while the nation was in danger if the public only knew of and could have seen what we have seen today in the couse of this debate.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. James Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Most of those who have spoken today have been military experts of one kind or another, except for the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick), who took us for a tour round the world. I cannot claim to have any expert military knowledge, and I have never had the good fortune or the opportunity to travel as my hon. Friend has done, but I am glad to have this opportunity of intervening briefly in this debate.
It is already quite clear from the speeches we have heard, and from fairly good authority, that the possibility of war is not now so imminent as it was 12 or 18 months ago. It may be only a matter of opinion, but people say they have no fear of war in the immediate future. We have evidence from the Government themselves, as already pointed out, of the running down of stocks. That is clearly evident; otherwise the Government would be engaged in a very dangerous practice in running down stocks if war were imminent. I think that everyone in the House agrees that the danger is not so serious at the moment as it was 12 or 18 months ago.
I enter into this debate because I am extremely uneasy about the economic position of this country. It is not much use building a powerful military force if in the process we destroy our economy. To that argument we have had some weight added today from both sides of the House. The hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. Profumo), before he went off at a tangent for no reason that I could understand, admitted that in the building up of our economy and our Armed Forces we must take careful stock of our export trade.
At the moment, everyone recognises that our export trade is in a very precarious position, and I go the length of stating now that it is quite impossible to retain the present arms programme and 530 at the same time make any headway in the export markets. If we cannot make headway in the export markets, obviously there will be a very serious difficulty in this country both in industry and in the social services. I am fortified in my argument because even the general who has command of the forces—General Eisenhower—says that we must not really depend on military power for strength; real strength depends on physical stability, financial security and a powerful moral force within the country.
When I look at the facts today, I see the Government attempting to budget for an arms programme which almost every hon. Member who has spoken has admitted, in one way or another, cannot be carried out. Surely that is a foolish way to try to balance the economy of the country—attempting to budget for an arms programme which we cannot carry out. In fact, in every branch of our civilian life today, things are being held up. Government Departments and local authorities cannot move today because of the restrictions placed upon them as a result of the priority of the arms programme. Therefore, I say that in the ultimate we shall fail even to build our arms programme if we do not save our economy.
One of the ironical things about the situation we are in is that we emerged from a war in 1945 with Germany and Japan completely crushed as military Powers, and today we are rapidly losing our place in the markets of the world at the very hour when Japan and Germany are capturing them. Both those countries have increased their industrial strength, and to some extent they are being aided by the U.S.A. in the development of their capital resources. We are not today facing ordinary competition in our export trade. If we allow Germany and Japan and other countries to occupy the export markets while we are trying to build up arms, there will be very great danger of our being unable to gain even a reasonable place in the export markets.
That brings me to the question of the social factors involved. It is clear that if we cannot export we shall die as a nation. There is evidence of that already in the country. There is not an hon. Member who does not by every post receive complaints from organisations of the aged, the infirm or the sick about the 531 rising cost of living. It is apparent that the cost of living will continue high, because our productive power is actually slipping back. We have heavy unemployment in many parts of the country. One of the most important factors in the export drive is our heavy industries, and yet it is there that we are finding unemployment.
There is a close relationship between the unemployed and those who are dependent upon the social services. There is social discontent. From 1945 until 1950 we had full employment and a fairly progressive social service in all its branches. The progress of a people can be kept back if we prevent them from getting advances at certain stages, but, having granted permanent employment and having expanded the social services, to encroach upon those things now is to cause very serious social discontent.
There is already grave disquiet in the industrial field about unemployment. Many prominent trade union leaders have appealed to the rank and file not to exercise industrial power in order to gain political advantages or to prevent the political machinery of the country from working in an ordinary democratic way. I am in complete agreement with that appeal to the workers and I wholeheartedly support the idea that the political structure of the country should be developed in the most democratic way, but all the pleading in the world will not necessarily prevent people in the industrial world from becoming uneasy about industrial and social matters. That ought to be borne in mind by hon. Members.
In the past we were told that the two dangers facing us were the "hot" war—active military operations—and the "cold" war. I believe that we are steadily approaching the period when the "cold" war will be the dominating force in our economic and political life. I plead with my hon. Friends to recognise that the programme laid down by the Government cannot be achieved and that our biggest task is to build up our industrial life by expanding our exports.
I cannot understand the attitude of mind that we should accept the policy of the Government but that we do not believe that the Government are competent to carry it out. One of the most troublesome things in my life in watching the 532 Tory Party has been their great success in carrying out armament programmes and wars. That is one job at which they are past masters.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
The Labour Party helped during the last war, and very well they did it.
§ Mr. Carmichael
I am dealing with the history of war, and I am merely making the point that if a programme is laid down there is nobody more competent to carry out a war campaign than the people on the Government benches.
§ Mr. Carmichael
As a matter of fact. the Prime Minister has a record in this matter that cannot be beaten by anybody in this House. Therefore, I say that my own party is wrong in making the kind of challenge they are tonight. We are entitled to say that by the process of arms production the Government are going to disrupt the internal economy of the country, which will give rise to social discontent and hardship. They have already started with the schools and the social services. The Health Service may very well come later on.
A 5 per cent. cut is proposed in education. As yet the school-leaving age has not been reduced. But everyone knows that in the working-class areas the schools are overcrowded with pupils, and the result will be that before very long the Government will have to take steps to reduce the school-leaving age, because they are holding up the erection of schools. When that happens we shall be moving towards one million unemployed, with thousands of youngsters thrown on to the employment market and adding to the number of people walking the streets.
My time does not permit me to go further and so I must make my final point. The hon. Member for Stratford replied to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). He said that my hon. Friend argued that the Government should do nothing to complete the arms programme, but should leave it entirely to the United States. My hon. Friend at no time made any remark of that kind. The most amazing part of the hon. 533 Gentleman's speech was when he went on to describe my hon. Friend's remarks as one of the finest and best speeches he had ever delivered in this House.
§ Mr. Profumo
I am sure the hon. Member would not wish to misinterpret what I said. What I said was that the bon. Member's speech was one of the best performances he had ever given in this House. I was merely speaking from an oratorical point of view.
§ Mr. Carmichael
I am honest enough to say that I never at any time in my remarks approached the brilliancy of my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Carmichael
I have debated this matter with the hon. and gallant Member already and I have given him a good thrashing. Let him remember that.
I promised to finish at nine o'clock and I do not want to break that promise This is an opportunity when the Government themselves should take stock of the entire financial and economic resources of the country, and allocate the resources to the arms programme on the basis of a well-founded economy. Then I am satisfied that they can gear up industry for our export trade, which will have the result of reducing the dollar gap, and in consequence of that will enable the people of this country to enjoy the social conditions which they have experienced in the last five years. If the Government prevent the people from continuing to enjoy those benefits, and start taking them away, then I am satisfied that they will enable the Communist Party to win a power in this land to which they are not entitled.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. C. R. Attlee (Walthamstow, West)
I am glad, first of all, to correct the history of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael). He seemed to think that the Conservative Party were particularly efficient when they are dealing with military matters. I am old enough to remember all the scandals over the Boer War. That was a complete exhibition of incompetence. The Prime Minister will agree with me that the most efficient War Minister we ever had was a Liberal, Lord Haldane. I can remember the strictures passed by the present Prime Minister on the Conservative Party's handling of defence matters before the Second World War. That is merely a matter of history.
I have listened to and taken part in a great many defence debates. My view is that a defence debate should be a serious consideration of very grave matters. We have had some very serious contributions today. There was a very impressive speech by the hon. Baronet the Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn). There was an interesting maiden speech from the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole) and a very well-informed speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). There have been a number of interesting speeches; but I have never known a defence debate that started off with the kind of knockabout stuff that the Prime Minister gave us. That speech alone, in its complete levity on this subject, is justification for the Amendment.
We had a whole series of cheap jeers of one kind and another. I was not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman did it when he was in Opposition, but I did expect something better when he was making his swan song as Minister of Defence, and as Prime Minister of this country. He seemed to be mainly concerned to cast jeers at this party for their record on arms. He seemed mainly to try to appeal for the laughter of the less intelligent of his followers.
In 1951 he made a number of very cheap points and I would apply to him the words applied to him then by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). He said:… we do beg that we shall not have all these jeers about the re-armament that we are putting under way. We shall carry it out; we shall fulfil our obligations to our friends 535 and Allies, and at the same time we shall try to prevent such an exacerbation of the world atmosphere as makes it impossible for nations to come together in peace and harmony and give mankind another breathing space."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 739–40.]I thought that was extremely well said and I think those words are applicable to the situation today, because we are still in a very serious situation. I have been surprised at the tendency in many parts of the House to suggest that somehow or other there has been a great lightening in the atmosphere. I have not found it so. It is quite true that the most serious menace has been in Asia, but I cannot think that today there is a feeling of security in Europe.
I do not think that the need for building up effective defence forces for the protection of freedom and democracy is any less than it was last year. I am quite sure that if the situation has eased it has been due to a realisation that the nations of the West are not prepared to give way to aggression.
If, however, at this juncture we say, "Well, it is all nice now, and we can slack off," I do not think we shall reach that position of strength in which there is a reasonable hope that we can get on terms with Russia and arrive at a more peaceful situation in the world. Therefore I say, let us look at this position from actual events in the world. Aggression is still going on in the Far East. There is still need to build up our forces and therefore there is need for defence forces. I think that that is admitted on all sides.
We put forward a programme which was accepted by the House. It was expressed in terms of money. It meant that there was a certain plan for building up our armaments. We said at the time quite clearly that the time it would take to realise this would depend on certain external factors, such as the availability of raw materials, the availability of machine tools and the position of our overseas payments. Events have happened which inevitably mean that we cannot carry out that full programme.
When I spoke on this last year as Prime Minister, and when my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) spoke, we both emphasised that point. Therefore, I am not at all 536 surprised that the Defence Estimates of the right hon. Gentleman are less than that programme and I am accepting the need for that. However, I am quite sure that were our positions reversed the right hon. Gentleman would have gone for me baldheaded on the ground that we were running away from our commitments, because that has been his attitude all through.
The right hon. Gentleman says, "Oh, I always supported the Labour Government in its armaments," but what kind of support was it? It was the kind of support that went around crabbing everything we did, always misrepresenting everything that was done. When I look at his speech in 1951 I can see many instances of it and I can see many instances of where the right hon. Gentleman was entirely wrong.
A great part of that debate, for instance, was taken up by a denunciation of our scheme for the calling up of the Z Reserve men. The Prime Minister was very eloquent on that, and so were all the brigadiers, but now they have met themselves coming back. Indeed, the Secretary of State for War spoke very handsomely on that matter. It is not only words, but deeds, which matter, because they are going to carry out that same plan this year.
The right hon. Gentleman always went about saying, "You have done nothing about the atom bomb." He could have informed himself fully on that had he liked, but it is much easier not to know and just to talk. Then, when it turns out that we are to have the testing of an atom bomb, the right hon. Gentleman says, "Why did you not tell us?" [An HON. MEMBER: "Why did you not tell us?"] Because the right hon. Gentleman never asked.
§ Mr. Attlee
Because I followed the course that had been laid down by the right hon. Gentleman when he was Prime Minister. It was the advice of everyone that we do not tell all these details.
§ Mr. Attlee
Oh, no. It was carried on after that. I may say that for a considerable time after we had come into power 537 the Atomic Committee was presided over by Lord Waverley—and I know that the right hon. Gentleman has a very high opinion of him.
We also take our advice in these matters from our technical experts, and there is close consideration with our Allies on all the matters of the revealing at particular times of this information. The right hon. Gentleman could perfectly well have found out, but, as in so many instances, he goes about talking merely because he cannot bear that anything shall be done successfully unless he is the leader.
We had to consider when we were in office, and we have to consider now, a very careful balance between what we can afford for defence and what is necessary for the economic position of the country. The late Government never laid it down as something sacrosanct that a certain sum should be spent in a certain time. But it was quite obvious that one has to have a programme and to work out that programme. We may slow down that programme, but we cannot suddenly say, in the midst of it, that we are now going to cut off £250 million and that we will get it all from America.
I am all for the greatest co-operation between ourselves and the other members of the Atlantic Treaty. I quite agree that as far as we can we should get part of the work done here and part there, and help each other, but it is not very easy. It is much more difficult, particularly in dealing with our friends in the United States, because their Government has to deal with all kinds of Senate committees and various things; we may make an agreement and we may find that it is not so easy to get it carried out. But I am entirely in agreement that we should work together in these matters.
On the one hand, however, I do not believe it is right that this country should be absolutely dependent on the United States of America. That is one very good reason for going ahead with our own work on the atomic bomb. But, also, I do not believe in the kind of suggestion that if we get anything from the United States we are losing our freedom of action. In this matter of the defence of democracy we are partners. It is quite true that they have more resources than we have, but there are many assets also 538 on our side. The others need us as much as we need them.
Therefore, on that general position, I say that we have to continue to re-arm, but we have also to beware all the time, because it would be folly to have a prosperous economy which was defenceless and it would be equal folly to try to defend an economy in ruins. It is quite clear we have to strike a balance on this.
I want to deal with one or two other points. I would like for a moment to deal with the organisation of defence. The right hon. Gentleman has as Minister of Defence a very distinguished soldier, Lord Alexander. I have the greatest admiration for him as a soldier and as a man, and he is a man of a very broad outlook. In anything I may say there is not a criticism in the least of Lord Alexander, but I think it is a mistake to have a high military authority as Minister of Defence.
First of all, it is quite contrary to the tradition in this country in which Service Ministers are civilians. There have been exceptions, there was the exception when Lord Kitchener was made Secretary of State for War—I do not think he was very successful—but as a rule the civilian in our political system is the man with the deciding voice.
If we bring in the military experts to that position I think we put both the military advisers of the Government and the civilian Ministers in a very difficult position. First, we have our military advisers, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the First Sea Lord and the rest and they are sitting under a Minister of great technical knowledge. I do not think that that is fair to them. The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well how careful one has to be in the relationship between the Government and their technical experts.
The right hon. Gentleman was fortunate in having as his representative with the Chiefs-of-Staff during the war a man of extraordinary tact and ability in Lord Ismay. Even that was not too easy. Very few people other than Lord Ismay could have held that position successfully. Therefore, I say that on that side it is wrong.
Secondly, it is a position in which you have a man with no political experience whatever but he is presiding over and co-ordinating the civilian Ministers. It 539 would be difficult, I think, if the civilian Ministers were people of very considerable political standing. Without wishing to say anything hard at all, the present civilian Ministers are not of very exceptional standing. There is one, the Secretary of State for War who was a very able soldier, but again, his experience has been mainly military and he has not been very long in the House. There is the First Lord of the Admiralty, whom we have known for years, and the Secretary of State for Air, who was in this House about six months and, as far as I know, has no particular experience. The whole weight of opinion there is on the military side and nothing on the civilian side.
The sole representation of the civilian is the Prime Minister. I do not think that that is very good. The Prime Minister, as everyone knows, has great gifts, great gifts of imagination. He is capable of making most brilliant decisions and he is capable of dropping very big bricks. He needs to be surrounded by people who are able to stand up to him and I do not like the situation we are now reaching in which the Prime Minister is surrounded by people who are not elected persons. They sit in another place; most of them have not even been in the House of Commons at all. The tendency is that we are getting a kind of one man rule, the Prime Minister in a circle—a family circle all round him. I think that that is undesirable.
I do not think that the development we have seen recently in the Ministry of Defence is going the right way. I do not quite know why We have a Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. I am saying nothing against the hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch). I had the pleasure of serving with his father on the Army Council about 27 years ago, and I have very pleasant memories of him. But there is little that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence can do.
It is said that he can answer Questions in the House, but the answers to most defence questions need the authority of a Member of the Cabinet or at least of a fairly senior Minister. The hon. Member, obviously, cannot preside over meetings of Secretaries of State of other Service Ministers; he is too junior. 540 I do not know what he can do. He is an extra wheel on the cart unless there is to be a very big development of administration in the Ministry of Defence; and when we discussed the creation of a Ministry of Defence it was the general view of the House that it was undesirable to create another big Department. There again the right hon. Gentleman has made a mistake.
§ The Prime Minister
When I left the office of Minister of Defence the Ministry was a handling machine costing about £50,000 a year. When I came back I found this enormous Department, which with its infra-structure, and so on, was costing £17 million a year.
§ Mr. Attlee
The right hon. Gentleman realises that since then there has been the whole of this development of Atlantic defence, and also what everybody had pressed on us, namely, that there should be a considerable handling of services common to the three Services by one organisation. Therefore, there has inevitably been some increase, but it is not a Department with a great deal of administration requiring a Parliamentary Secretary.
The broad matter that faces us today is that we on this side of the House are all agreed that we must build up our defences. I frankly say that there are differences as to the extent of that. We are supporting the provision that the Government propose to make, but we are entirely distrustful of the ability of this Government to carry it out. At the beginning of my speech I mentioned some historical reasons because of which, somehow or other, a Conservative Government always makes a mess of defence.
If I undertook a little research it would show, in speeches in the long career of the Prime Minister, what he said about Mr. Brodrick when the Conservatives were in office. Then, of course, the right 541 hon. Gentleman was in the Liberal Party and he was in power. Then, after 1931 when he was in opposition, there was what he said about the then Sir Thomas Inskip and all the rest of it. That was one of the occasions when he was quite right.
The Conservative Party has always fumbled defence matters. The right hon. Gentleman rather prided himself. He said he could look back on what he considered to be the blunders of six years of Labour Government. We have to have a long memory for that, but when we look at the record of this Government. a few weeks have shown us their blunders. We have seen day after day Ministers coming to the Table and blessing that which they cursed and saying that they are to do that which they always said was wrong. In these defence matters particularly the right hon. Gentleman attacked us on the grounds of our mistakes. Nothing that we did was right. We now come back and find that he has had to adopt the very things we did.
§ Mr. Attlee
Yes, we never heard of those things. We only heard of the things the right hon. Gentleman groused about, and then he was wrong. The fact is the right hon. Gentleman was most factious in Opposition. He made a speech today which was calculated to do as much as possible to cause dis- unity on defence in this country, a speech that will depress our Allies, a speech that fell far below his own standards and was merely an appeal to the groundlings.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence (Mr. Nigel Birch)
Today's debate, though it would have been easy to forget it, is on a Motion of censure upon the Government and I have been waiting to hear some heavy criticisms levelled against us. So far, I have not heard them. The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and the Leader of the Opposition both made remarks about the Prime Minister which I should describe as rather feline, but nothing of much substance has arisen.
Therefore, I set out upon my maiden voyage on rather surprisingly calm waters. In doing so I should like to congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend the Member 542 for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South (Mr. Cole) on two very thoughtful and technical maiden speeches which will certainly be studied by their colleagues in the Government.
The Leader of the Opposition talked about the appointment of my noble Friend the Minister of Defence. He will not expect me to answer that. All I will say is that I think the country recognises that my noble Friend is the right man for the job. The right hon. Member for Easington could not see much use in me and said that he would throw as many things at me as he could. I shall do my best to sustain his darts with equanimity and with all the grace I can summon.
There have been many disputes and factious fights on re-armament. The right hon. Member for Easington said that the Prime Minister was trying to cause a cleavage in the Labour Party. That, surely, would be a work of superrerogation. We are not really trying to do that. When we approach this subject we must be clear about our object. I was very glad that the Leader of the Opposition said a few words in the course of his speech about the reasons we are doing these things and pointed out that the dangers are not yet passed. He put our object extraordinarily well when he made the original statement on 29th January, 1945, on the £4,700 million programme. The Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, said:The Government do not believe that war is inevitable. Their purpose is to prevent war. But they believe that peace cannot be ensured unless the defences of the free world are made sufficiently strong to deter aggression. It is for this purpose, and for this purpose only, that the Government now think it right to take still further measures to increase the state of preparedness of the Armed Forces."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 579.]When he said that I think we all agreed with it, and I think the great majority of the House is similarly agreed today.
Today there is still in Europe and in the world a total lack of balance of power in conventional weapons, and this unbalance of power is only redressed by the terrible threat of the atom bomb. Therefore, at a time when the scales are weighted in favour of the blitzkreig, it is essential that the unbalance must be set right. That is what we are now trying to do.
543 The right hon. Member for Easington criticised the Prime Minister for not talking about N.A.T.O.—for not realising that he had any Allies—and went on to make what I thought were not very charitable remarks about some of our Allies, particularly our oldest Ally, Portugal, who I am informed, are playing extremely well at the moment. [Interruption.] They are doing very well.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The hon. Member has said that Portugal is doing very well. Will he say what is Portugal's actual contribution, in battalions, units, formations or anything else?
§ Mr. Birch
They have made promises. [Laughter.] They have made promises that at the end of the year they would have a very reasonable contribution to make to our defences. I think it is a little inelegant to laugh. When we talk about promises, we are greeted with roars of laughter, but I am not unhopeful. I believe that these promises will be carried out.
The right hon. Gentleman then criticised the communiqué from Lisbon for talking about 50 divisions at appropriate states of combat readiness. What that communiqué did not say was that there would be 50 fully-mobilised divisions in the line. Everybody knows we shall not have that; but what was said was that if the promises were kept we should have 50 divisions available at a reasonable date after mobilisation. I see no reason to suppose that this estimate is going to go wrong.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I hope it is so. All I said was—and this was the purpose of my argument—that it would not be realised unless a great volume of equipment were provided by the United States.
§ Mr. Birch
There are many conditions, as we all know, for getting forces into the field, and that is one of the conditions which we hope will be fulfilled. Equipment is coming from the United States, particularly for the armies in Europe. The truth is that the conference at Lisbon was not a failure, that the strength of N.A.T.O. is being built up but that the strength of N.A.T.O. is not being built up quite as quickly as we had hoped it would be.
544 I think that very many hon. Members who have spoken have been worried about the economic effect of re-armament—and rightly—particularly the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). He made one of his most energetic speeches on this subject. We are engaged as we know, upon this £4,700 million programme and I should like to quote again the words of the Leader of the Opposition when he introduced this programme on 29th January last year. He said:… the measures we must now take will be far-reaching and will affect every citizen and almost every industry. There will have to be financial measures to check civilian demand. On these I will say nothing; the Chancellor of the Exchequer has them under consideration and will inform the House when he opens his Budget. But, in addition, there will have to be a series of more direct economic measures."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 585.]At the time the right hon. Gentleman said that our economy was already overloaded and therefore, if that statement meant anything, it meant that some such measures as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now taking ought then to have been taken. After all, armaments have to be paid for; they do not come out of the air, and if we have an overloaded economy we have to make room for them somewhere.
If the proper measures had been taken then I think that the measures that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now taking would not have needed to be so severe. The idea that those measures would have to be taken was reinforced by the right hon. Gentleman later, when he said:… though the burden will be heavy, it is not more than we can bear. If we carry it in the way I have suggested, we shall not destroy the recovery we have made during the last few years; nor shall we imperil the future strength of our economy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 586.]As the House knows, very few measures of the sort which the Prime Minister had in mind were taken or, if they were taken, they were wholely ineffective. Consequently, a crisis became inevitable.
In the late spring of last year we started to run into a foreign exchange crisis, and the Government decided to postpone the crisis until after the Election. They had some reasons for doing so. That was the decision. Nothing whatever was done about it, and what 545 was the result? The result was inflation, rising prices, lagging production, a balance of payments crisis and an accentuation of the raw material crisis. All these things were an inevitable result of not taking the economic measures which were a necessary corollary of the armaments programme.
The right hon. Member for Easington opened the debate. My right hon. Friend praised him very much last time but did not praise him so much this time. The right hon. Member for Easington feels that he is a mixture between the Duke of Wellington and Carnot. He said, "I am a great man, and I gave a tremendous lot of orders." Anyone can order things; anyone can go to a shop and order things, but the problem is to pay for them and to get them. Giving orders is not so difficult as the next stage. The fact that no room was made for the armaments programme is the main reason for the delay which has taken place, and I think it well justified our Motion against the Labour Party on their re-armament programme when we accused them of vacillation and delay, because that was exactly what occurred.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) has not spoken today; I believe that it is his self-denial week. He claims that he is a prophet and that he foresaw both the setback in the arms programme and the financial crisis. His hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East, is more modest; he says he did not foresee the intensity of the financial crisis. I believe that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is right to this extent—that he rather mistrusted his colleagues' powers of planning.
We know that the right hon. Member does not believe in arithmetic, but he thought that the thing was not adding up and he believed his friends had not thought deeply enough about it. If we look at the way the re-armament programme was introduced, with three separate bites at the cherry, all rather close together, we can see that it was inevitable that many of the implications were not very deeply thought out.
Nevertheless, I do not agree with the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale on the main issue. The right hon. Gentleman is quite clever—very clever indeed; 546 he is clever enough to know, of course, that if this re-armament programme were to be carried out there would have to be a tough economic policy and a tough Budget, and that there would have to be cuts; and he was determined to see that no such tough economic policy was carried out.
His right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench equally knew that a tough policy was necessary if this re-armament programme were to be carried out, but they lacked perhaps the power, perhaps the courage—I do not know; but at any rate, they lacked what it took to carry out that policy and, therefore, in the event, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was proved to be perfectly right. But I suggest that he won his race because he doped his rival's horse. I am told that that is a quite powerful way of backing the winner.
The right hon. Gentleman saw them carry out that policy, and he saw it was a failure, and it is now, of course, going very nicely his way. I must say I have some sympathy with the Leader of the Opposition. He always has a tough time. Not only in Opposition does he have a tough time, but he had a tough time when he was in the Government. He is like a ball thrown backward and forward between the various factions in his party—The Ball no Question makes of Ayes and Noes But Right or Left as strikes the Player goes.Inflation and the things that flow from it, such as the crisis in our balance of payments, have been the main factors in the setback to our arms programme, and it is the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do what he can to put these things right, and he is now engaged upon doing so. The Services also have duties in this matter. The Estimates debates are coming on in the next two or three weeks, and my right hon. and hon. Friends will be talking on these matters. In the Services the greatest possible efforts are being made to economise, to cut down on things which are inessential, to cut down on unnecessary establishments and on unnecessary staffs.
I believe that we shall be able to do a very great deal in that respect, and I think that my right hon. and hon. Friends will have a good deal to say about all this in the Estimates debates. I was glad 547 that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Derby, North (Group Captain Wilcock), who made a very interesting speech, raised the question of establishments and waste in the Services. He made some very sensible suggestions about the matter.
There have not in this debate been many detailed points raised concerning either the Army or the Navy and, therefore, as the Estimates are just coming on, I shall not talk about them tonight, although I should like to mention the speech made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Captain Ryder). Tomorrow, the First Lord and his colleagues will be dealing with the points my hon. and gallant Friend had in mind.
§ Mr. Birch
No, but they have told me so.
I should like to say something about the air. The Prime Minister, the hon. and gallant Member for Derby, North, my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford (Mr. Profumo) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), all said something about the matter. My right hon. Friend talked a little about what the Leader of the Opposition said about the air the last time we had a defence debate. I should like to quote what the Leader of the Opposition said. He said:No one knows better than he does"—that is, my right hon. Friend—how heartbreaking are the delays in the production of aircraft.… We were attacked on the grounds that we did not make greater provision of aircraft, but if we had produced more they would have been obsolete and obsolescent aircraft.… The point there is that in this competition in the air one State is always tending to get ahead of the other. There always comes a point, as indeed there is at the moment with regard to the Soviet M.I.G., when someone has an advantage. In a short time we shall be having the advantage, but it would have been short-sighted if we had tried to step-up all our squadrons to full strength by producing obsolete or obsolescent aircraft."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th December, 1951; Vol. 494, c. 2610–1.]I do not quarrel with the actual words of that statement, but I think the total effect of it is very misleading.
After the war, the policy for the Air Force was that it should be of the size 548 appropriate to a period of stable peace. In fact, it proved impossible to keep the Air Force even at that size because, owing to manpower shortage, we did not get enough skilled men to keep the aircraft flying, and the front line was lower even than that planned as appropriate to a period of stable peace. There was not only the assumption of stable peace, but there was, in addition, the belief that replacements of existing types using to the full the new developments in aerodynamics and jet propulsion were still quite a long way ahead—seven or eight years ahead. That was the general opinion at that time. I am not criticising it, but am merely giving the history of what took place.
Therefore, the decision was made to proceed mainly upon the war-time conceptions. The Meteor, the Vampire and the Lincoln, the main fighters and the main bomber we have got, are essentially last-war conceptions. They are really last-war types. Therefore, we decided to go on with those last-war types until something radically new could come in. The point I want to make here is that the result of that policy, whether right or wrong, was that there was a run-down in the aircraft industry even greater than the run-down in the Air Force. The right hon. Member for Easington criticised the aircraft industry; he thought this industry was another victim ready bound for the altar of nationalisation. The House must recollect that manpower in the aircraft industry did not start increasing until June, 1950, and the main difficulty of getting aircraft production going is simply that the manpower ran right down after the war; it is naturally very difficult indeed to get it back again. It takes time, and this is the trouble that we are suffering from now.
After the Berlin crisis certain things happened. We ordered some immediate fighters. We ordered the Venom and the Meteor light fighter, and also, I think very creditably, we obtained some Washington bombers—the American B.29—and the Canberra was ordered off the drawing-board.
§ Mr. Shinwell
No. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Swift and Super-marine, and quite a number of other types, were ordered before the Korean affair.
§ Mr. Birch
With respect, I think the right hon. Gentleman is wrong.
We then went on to the Swift, as the right hon. Gentleman says, to the Hawker Fighter, or F.3 as it is sometimes called, and to the Valiant. All these again were ordered off the drawing-board. Now production is not at all a quick job. It is agonisingly difficult to know when to go into production. It is an agonisingly difficult task, and we got it right in the last war. In the last war, in 1939 and 1940, we had fighters of the quality and in the numbers which, though by the narrowest of margins, saved the world. If the war had come earlier, that would not have happened. We now have five aircraft—the Canberra, the Valiant, the Hawker Fighter, the Swift, and the all-weather fighter which is now coming on—which are better than any designed for similar purposes belonging to other countries which are flying today. We shall, of course, receive the F.86, but except for the Canberra and the F.86 all these are still only prototypes.
Meanwhile, of course, as is often said, the Russians have got the M.I.G.15 in very considerable quantities. I must make it clear that we cannot in the near future have in the Service aircraft in sufficient quantity to deal with the M.I.G.15. Nor—and the House should note this—could we have had, even if there had been no set-back in production. The set-back in production is painful, but if it had not come it would not have affected the present position in any way. Therefore, it is fair to say that, as far as the air goes, we are enduring at this moment a very considerable risk, and it would be a very great risk indeed were we not blessed with Allies. I think that the state of our air defences alone would be a reason for re-arming. The hon. Member for Coventry, East, seems to think that we can only re-arm if it does not cost us anything.
§ Mr. Birch
At certain times, when one has fallen behind, one has to do something about it. Now we are up 550 against some very formidable difficulties; we do not underestimate them at all, and we are doing our best to solve them. I think it is possible to be too gloomy, and it is possible to take too low a view of the Chiefs of Staff and various other people. The hon. Member for Coventry, East, talked about the Chiefs of Staff, how they must be put in their place, and so on. It is possible, I think, to be a little too pessimistic. As I see the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale there, perhaps I could just remind him of something he said on a famous occasion about our commanders. He said on 2nd July, 1942:We have in this country five or six generals, members of other nations, Czechs, Poles and French, all of them trained in the use of these German weapons and this German technique. I know it is hurtful to our pride, but would it not be possible to put some of those men temporarily in charge in the field, until we can produce trained men of our own.… They know how to fight this war; our people do not.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1942; Vol. 381, c. 537.]Less than four months after that the Battle of El Alamein was won.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
Subsequently the Government of the day took my advice and appointed a foreigner in charge of all the Forces.
§ Mr. Birch
The right hon. Gentleman remembers that commands were divided; in some theatres we had a supreme British commander and in some a supreme American commander. That is what we have now. What the right hon. Gentleman will note was that he was wholly and shamefully wrong. It may encourage the Opposition Front Bench to remember that even Homer nods. I promised to sit down before ten o'clock in order to give the right hon. Gentleman the chance of moving his Motion 551 of censure on the Government, for which we have still not heard the reasons, but he is still going to move it. I understand, and, therefore. I am coming to the end of what I have to say.
The Chinese have a curse which is to wish that your enemy should live in interesting times. We certainly live in interesting times in this country, and all of us can hardly remember a time when there was not some danger or crisis present upon us. We cannot know what the future holds out for us, but we can do our duty by our Allies and we can have faith in our cause.
Doing our duty will not be either a light or an easy task. It will require, and is requiring the utmost strain and effort. It means giving up many desirable things during this temporary period, and it would be wholly wrong to deny that or blink it in any way. It also demands a certain measure of unity in this country if this plan of re-armament is to be carried out.
Therefore, I should like to end on a note of unity by paying one or two compliments to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I should like to congratulate him on the Machiavellian skill with which he has drafted his Amendment because, as the House will notice, everybody who votes in either Lobby is thereby committed to the principle of re-armament, and thereby committed to commending this White Paper; and, therefore, those who vote
§ will not be able afterwards to criticise re-armament in general but only able to criticise my right hon. Friend and his colleagues for the way in which they carry it out. That is a piece of Machiavellian art which happens on this occasion to have been done, on the whole, in the interests of the country.
§ If I may take my good will rather further and wish him something not generally done by a Government, I very much wish that when the Prime Minister leads or follows his party into the Lobby he will be followed by a very great many of them. [Laughter.] Hon. Members should remember that we have had to endure the Leader of the Opposition for six years, and habits stick. What I meant was that I very deeply hope that when he either leads or follows his party into the Lobby, the Leader of the Opposition will be followed by most of them. What we can say is that when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister leads his party into the Lobby, he will be followed by all of them. They will go with a good conscience and with a good heart, and they will go from the best of motives.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:but has no confidence in the capacity of Her Majesty's present advisers to carry it out.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 219; Noes, 314.555
|Division No. 36.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)|
|Albu, A. H.||Callaghan, L. J.||Ewart, R.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Champion, A. J.||Field, Capt. W. J.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Chapman, W. D.||Fienburgh, W.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Finch, H. J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Clunie, J.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Ayles, W. S.||Cocks, F. S.||Follick, M.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Coldrick, W.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Balfour, A.||Collick, P. H.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Cook, T. F.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gibson, C. W.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Crosland, C. A. R.||Glanville, James|
|Benson, G.||Daines, P.||Gooch, E. G.|
|Beswick, F.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Blackburn, F.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Boardman, H.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Grey, C. F.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Deer, G.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Dodds, N. N.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Edelman, M.||Hannan, W.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hargreaves, A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hastings, S.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Moyle, A.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Mulley, F. W.||Steele, T.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Murray, J. D.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Nally, W.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Holman, P.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Houghton, Douglas||O'Brien, T.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E|
|Hoy, J. H.||Oldfield, W. H.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oliver, G. H.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oswald, T.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Pannell, Charles||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Janner, B.||Pargiter, G. A.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Parker, J.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Paton, J.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Peart, T. F.||Tomney, F.|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Poole, C. C.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Popplewell, E.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Porter, G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Keenan, W.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Kenyon, C.||Prime, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford C.)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Proctor, W. T.||Weitzman, D.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Pryde, D. J.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Kinley, J.||Pursey, Cmdr. H||Wells, Williams (Walsall)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Reeves, J.||West, D. G.|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Rhodes, H.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Logan, D. G.||Richards, R.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W|
|MacColl, J. E.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Wigg, G. E. C.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|McLeavy, F.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Ross, William||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Royle, C.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Messer, F.||Short, E. W.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Morley, R.||Slater, J.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, C.)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Mort, D. L.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes|
|Aitken, W. T.||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||De la Bère, R.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Deedes, W. F.|
|Amery, Julian, (Preston, N.)||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Digby, S. Wingfield|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Brooman-White, R. C.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. McA|
|Arbuthnot, John||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Donner, P. W.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Bullard, D. G.||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Bullock, Capt. M.||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm|
|Astor, Hon. J. J. (plymouth, Sutton)||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Drayson, G. B.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe)||Burden, F. F. A.||Drewe, C.|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr J. M.||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Carson, Hon. E.||Duthie, W. S.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Cary, Sir Robert||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.|
|Barber, A. P. L.||Channon, H.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E|
|Barlow, Sir John||Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Erroll, F. J.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Fell, A.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Finlay, Graeme|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Fisher, Nigel|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cole, Norman||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Colegate, W. A.||Fletcher, Walter (Bury)|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Fort, R.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Foster, John|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Birch, Nigel||Cranborne, Viscount||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell|
|Black, C. W.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Gage, C. H.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Crouch, R. F.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Crowder, John E. (Finchley)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Bowen, E. R.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Gammans, L. D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Cuthbert, W. N.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd|
|Braine, B. R.||Davidson, Viscountess||Glyn, Sir Ralph|
|Godber, J. B.||Low, A. R. W.||Ropner, Col Sir Leonard|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Russell, R. S.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Gower, H. R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||McAdden, S. J.||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Grimond, J.||McCallum, Major D||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Scott, R. Donald|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Harden, J. R. E.||McKibbin, A. J.||Shepherd, William|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maclay, Hon. John||Smiles, Lt.-Col- Sir Walter|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maclean, Fitzroy||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||MacLeod, lain (Enfield, W.)||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Harvie-Walt, Sir George||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Soames, Capt. C|
|Hay, John||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Manningham-Bullar, Sir R. E||Speir, R. M.|
|Heald, Sir Lionel||Markham, Major S. F.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Heath, Edward||Marlowe, A A. H.||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Marples, A. E.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythonshawe)||Maude, Angus||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Maudling, R.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Storey, S.|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Mellor, Sir John||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Studholme, H. G.|
|Holt, A. F.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Summers, G. S.|
|Hope, Lord John||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nicholls, Harmar||Teeling, W|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thomas, Rt Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Hurd, A. R||Nutting, Anthony||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Oakshott, H. D.||Tilney, John|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Odey, G. W.||Touche, G. C|
|Hutchison, James (Sootstoun)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Turton, R. H.|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Jennings, R.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Vosper, D. F|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Osborne, C.||Wade, D. W.|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Partridge, E.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Walker-Smith, D. C|
|Kaberry, D.||Peto, Brig C. H. M.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Keeling, Sir Edward||Peyton, J. W. W.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pitman, I. J.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G||Powell, J. Enoch||Wellwood, W.|
|Langtord-Holt, J. A.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||While, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Legge-Bourke, MaJ. E. A. H.||Profumo, J. D.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Rayner, Brig. R.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Redmayne, M.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Remnant, Hon. P.||Wills, G.|
|Linstead, H. N.||Renton, D. L. M.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Robertson, Sir David||York, C.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Robson-Brown, W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Rodgers, John (Savenoaks)||Brigadier Mackeson and|
|Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Roper, Sir Harold||Mr. Butcher.|
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 313; Noes, 55.559
|Division No. 37]||AYES||[10.10 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Barlow, Sir John|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Baxter, A. B.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe)||Beach, Maj Hicks|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Baker, P. A. D.||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M||Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Maj W. J.||Baldwin, A. E.||Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Banks, Col. C.||Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Barber, A. P. L||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Markham, Maj. S. F.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Birch, Nigel||Grimond, J.||Marples, A. E.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Black, C. W.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Harden, J. R. E.||Maude, Angus|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maudling, R.|
|Bowen, E. R.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Medlicott, Brig. F.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mellor, Sir John|
|Braine, B. R.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hay, John||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Heald, Sir Lionel||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Heath, Edward||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Bullard, D. G.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Bullus, Wing Cmdr. E. E.||Hingchingbrooke, Viscount||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nutting, Anthony|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hollis, M. C.||Odey, G. W.|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Holt, A. F.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Channon, H.||Hope, Lord John||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Horobin, I. M.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Osborne, C.|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Partridge, E.|
|Cole, Norman||Howard Greville (St. Ives)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Cooper, Sqn, Ldr. Albert||Hulbert, Wing Comdr. N. J.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hurd, A. R.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. W.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Crowder, John E. (Finchley)||Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Jennings, R.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Redmayne, M.|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)|
|De la Bère, R.||Kaberry, D.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Deedes, W. F.||Keeling, Sir Edward||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. McA.||Lambton Viscount||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Donner, P. W.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Langford-Wolt, J. A.||Russell, R. S.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Leather, E. H. C.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Drewe, C.||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lindsay, Martin||Scott, R. Donald|
|Duthie, W. S.||Linstead, H. N.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Shepherd, William|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. G. (King's Norton)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Fell, A.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Low, A. R. W.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Fletcher, Walter (Bury)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Fort, R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Speir, R. M.|
|Foster, John||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||McAdden, S. J.||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||McCallum, Major D.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Gage, C. H.||Macdonald, Sir Peter (Isle of Wight)||Steward W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||MoKibbin, A. J.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Maclay, Hon. John||Storey, S.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Maclean, Fitzroy||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Glyn, Sir Ralph||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Studholme, H. G.|
|Godber, J. B.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Summers, G. S.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Gower, H. R.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Teeling, W.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||While, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)||Vosper, D. F.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Wade, D. W.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)||Walker-Smith, D. C.||Wills, G.|
|Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Tilney, John||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Touche, G. C.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.||York, C.|
|Turner, H. F. L.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Turton, R. H.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Vane, W. M. F.||Wellwood, W.||Brigadier Mackeson|
|and Mr. Butcher.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Freeman, John (Watford)||Poole, C. C.|
|Baird, J.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Rankin, John|
|Bence, C. R.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Snow, J. W.|
|Carmichael, J.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (Well Ham, S.)||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lewis, Arthur||Timmons, J.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Longden, Fred (Small Heath)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||McGovern, J.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Delargy, H. J.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Yates, V. F|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Manuel, A. C||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mikardo, Ian||Mr. Monslow and|
|Fernyhough, E.||Orbach, M.||Mr. Tudor Watkins.|
|Foot, M. M.||Padley, W. E.|
That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1952 (Command Paper No. 8475).