HC Deb 12 December 1956 vol 562 cc413-4
16. Mr. G. Brown

asked the Minister of Defence by what methods he will undertake the proposed wide review of defence policy.

Mr. Birch

I have been asked to reply.

The methods will be the normal ones of Ministerial consideration and, where appropriate, of international consultation.

Mr. Brown

is it not a fact that we have now had about three announcements during the last twelve months of a wide review of defence policy? On 4th December, the Chancellor said: In addition, recent events have re-emphasised the need for a wide review … of our defence policy. … This will be done." —[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 4th December, 1956; Vol. 561, c. 1058.] Is the Secretary of State really saying that that meant no more than that Ministers will talk to each other—though that might be an improvement—and that there will be no proper reappraisal of defence policy by the Chiefs of Staff or anyone else?

Mr. Birch

Of course, it means nothing of the sort. It means that policy is being arrived at by the usual methods by which policy is arrived at.

Mr. Bellenger

May the House take it that the Secretary of State is in the confidence of the Minister of Defence? If that be so, could he tell us whether any changes in British defence policy are likely to arise out of the conference which his right hon. Friends are now attending?

Mr. Birch

That is rather a different question. There are a great many matters of immense importance being discussed there, and I cannot anticipate the decision.

Mr. Boyd

Have the N.A.T.O. allies been consulted in this?

Mr. Birch

They are being consulted at this moment.

17. Mr. G. Brown

asked the Minister of Defence whether the proposed review of defence policy will include an appraisal of the effects which the use of tactical atomic weapons will have on the manpower requirements of the forces.

Mr. Birch

I have been asked to reply. Yes, Sir.