HC Deb 20 December 1954 vol 535 cc2426-7
40. Mr. Warbey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will propose to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Council the adoption of a rule prohibiting military commanders in the service of the Organisation from making speeches on matters which should be the subject of political decision without the express approval of the Council in each case.

Mr. Turton

My right hon. Friend does not think it is very practicable to suggest that speeches by our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Commanders should be made subject to clearance by 14 Governments.

Mr. Warbey

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the very great public concern about the provocative political statements made from time to time by N.A.T.O. commanders—including Field Marshal Montgomery—and will he not make some recommendation to the N.A.T.O. Council which will have the effect of curbing the ambitions of these soldier-politicians?

Mr. Turton

As my right hon. Friend is not so aware, he will not make such representations.

Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison

Are not military commanders in the difficult position of not knowing what subject will be turned into a political subject by hon. Members who seek political kudos?

Mr. Bellenger

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if British military commanders were under British control they would be subject to a rule by which their public pronouncements would be liable to some sort of limitation? Is the hon. Member informing the House that because they happen to work for N.A.T.O. there is no Governmental control of their public pronouncements—which may be damaging to N.A.T.O. itself?

Mr. Turton

What I was doing was answering the Question, which suggested that before a speech was made by a N.A.T.O. commander it should be vetted. I was expressing the point of view that that was impracticable. The right hon. Gentleman should put down a Question in relation to the other matter which he raised.