HC Deb 08 February 1956 vol 548 cc1670-1
54. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Minister of Defence how many French troops have been withdrawn from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Europe; and to what extent British forces in that area have had to be strengthened as a consequence.

Sir W. Monckton

It would not be appropriate for me to disclose information about the forces of another country which that country itself had not disclosed.

The Answer to the second part of the Question is "No, Sir."

Mr. Bellenger

Is it not common knowledge that considerable French front-line forces have been withdrawn? If the Minister is not at liberty to disclose the figures, can he at least not admit that fact? Does he not realise that it was agreed that four British divisions should be kept in Germany to meet French susceptibilities, and that if France weakens her front-line troops in N.A.T.O. forces in Germany it may not be so necessary for us to keep to that obligation?

Sir W. Monckton

In answer to the first part of the Question, the reduction has undoubtedly been appreciable. As to our part in N.A.T.O., we shall continue to carry it out.

Mr. Shinwell

Are we not imposing an unfair and unjust burden on British forces in Germany, in view of the almost complete withdrawal of French forces in that area? Is not that a matter in which the United Kingdom Government should intervene? Have not the facts been disclosed already by N.A.T.O.?

Sir W. Monckton

It is right that I should say, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, that, in common with other N.A.T.O. countries, we have had full information about the movements of French troops. It was in the light of that fact that I gave my answer.

Mr. Ian Harvey

Would my right hon. and learned Friend not agree that the last three Questions hardly seem compatible one with the other?