HC Deb 29 June 1955 vol 543 cc390-1
36. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Minister of Defence what progress has been made in the Government's study of defence organisation occasioned by the strategical and tactical implications of the use of nuclear weapons in warfare.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

These matters are under continuous study. I do not think that a further statement can usefully be made at present.

Mr. Bellenger

Was not the House promised during the Service Estimates debates that there would be some indication from the Government in May as to their policy, and has the right hon. and learned Gentleman taken notice of the exercise "Carte Blanche" which has just been completed in Germany, which dis- closes that very serious and almost revolutionary changes will be necessary in tactics? When are we likely to hear from the Government about changes in Service strategy and tactics?

Mr. Lloyd

I can only promise the right hon. Gentleman that I am aware of the very weighty matters involved, and as soon as I think a statement can usefully be made, I will make it.

Mr. de Freitas

Will that statement include reference to the Civil Defence side, or must we have another statement from the Government on that aspect through the Home Secretary?

Mr. Lloyd

I am not saying that a statement will be made. I am saying that if a statement can usefully be made, it will be, and if it is one on the whole question of the defence organisation, as affected by the implications set out in the Question, obviously it must include the matter to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman if he is aware that Field Marshal Montgomery made a recent public speech—[An HON. MEMBER: "He is always making speeches."] Why not, if he wants to? He is as much entitled to make a speech as anybody here. That is my opinion, anyhow. Did not Field Marshal Montgomery make a speech in the course of which he indicated that many changes are required in the defence system of the West? May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether any submissions of that kind have been made to N.A.T.O.? If so, could the public be informed? Is it not time that we were enlightened about these matters?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that that supplementary question arises out of this Question. If the right hon. Gentleman will put a Question on the Order Paper, I will try to answer it.

Mr. Strachey

Would the Minister of Defence take into account not only the defence exercises in Europe but also the civil defence exercises which have just taken place in the United States, and the negative conclusions which have been reached as to the possibility of civil defence?

Mr. Lloyd

I certainly think that those matters have to be taken into account.