Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [28th February],
That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1956, Command Paper No. 9691.—[Sir W. Monckton.]
Which Amendment was to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and add instead thereof:
regrets that despite the expenditure of five thousand seven hundred million pounds in four years, the Statement on Defence, 1956 (Command Paper No. 9691), discloses grave weaknesses in our defences; makes no provision for an immediate cut in the period of National Service nor for any specific plan for its eventual abolition nor for an inquiry into defence manpower; and contains no adequate proposals for a more economical and effective allocation of resources between the services."—[Mr. Stokes.]
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ 3.48 p m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I have to begin with what is becoming a commonplace, and that is, like the right hon. and learned Gentleman yesterday and my right hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), to say that I am starting the debate as a new boy and that the two hon. Members who will wind up the debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and the Secretary of State for Air, will be able to pass judgment on our performances.
I must also say that in my remarks there is bound to be some repetition, although I hope there will be some variant in the way it is said. The fact that the Government chose last night not to reply to yesterday's debate, means that questions asked so pertinently and cogently by my right hon. Friends the Members for Ipswich and Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) may go by default, since the Minister of Supply, who is to follow me, may have been briefed as the Minister of Supply.
I am, therefore, bound to restate some of the things asked yesterday and to express the hope that the Minister of Supply—since he is speaking on this matter not just as the Minister of Supply, but for the Government—will reply to the debate yesterday as well as to the special 1196 points that I shall put to him, in pursuance of those put yesterday, regarding aircraft production.
We all regard the Minister of Defence as one of the most attractive figures in the House. He is a man of great oharm, who introduces anything with a good deal of modesty, as he did yesterday. But I always thought that he slightly overdid this when he was Minister of Labour and National Service. I considered that the claim he used then to make, that a Minister of Labour was somewhat of a non-political Minister in a Cabinet of politicians, was a little hard to justify. While liking him as I do, I am bound to say that he cannot go on appearing in this House as a non-political Minister of Defence. Yesterday, I think he worked that just about as hard as it could be worked.
It may be that the Minister has had only two months in his present office, but that is not the fault of hon. Members on this side of the House; nor is it his fault. The fact that there have been three Ministers of Defence in one year and five Ministers of Defence since the right hon. Gentleman formed his Administration is not our fault. That is a great shame and a mark against the Government. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now the Minister of Defence and has to face the issues which now emerge in the sphere of our defence planning and policy. I know that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will permit me to say this, and I hope that the House will allow me, as a younger man, to put this bluntly to the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
We have been told that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not had time to find out the answers to our questions; but, after all, we have actually had less time to find out the questions. We have seen the White Paper for only two weeks, and by his own statement the right hon. and learned Gentleman has known about the questions for two months. Questions which would have occurred to us to ask during those two weeks may have occurred to him during those two months, and he has had an opportunity to ask his advisers in order that he might be in a position to answer them.
The things that worry us must have worried Ministers in any Government over the last seven years. One thing that worries us is the degree of dissembling 1197 which has gone on over the years in official answers. I will give one example to which I shall return and deal with later in more detail—that of aircraft. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not seem to like it when we pressed him on the question of the Hawker Hunter. The more I think about what he said yesterday the more astonished I am at the complacency with which he trotted out the paragraph about the Hunter as an efficient fighting machine. Yesterday, I asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he had seen the piece in The Times, but when I mentioned The Times I meant the Manchester Guardian. In the issue of the Manchester Guardian of 10th December appears an eye-witness account by their defence correspondent of his visit to Waterbeach and Upwood. He recounts an examination of the radar arrangements at Upwood, and then says:At Waterbeach, a fighter station near Cambridge, one hears of similar troubles. Half the Hunters there are grounded awaiting servicing or modification and those which can fly may not fire their guns at high altitude. If the guns are fired they are liable to upset the airflow to the engine, causing it to stall, and the shock from the guns could weaken the structure of the plane.I am bound to say that if half the planes are grounded and the other half dare not fire their guns for fear that the engine will stall or that the structure of the plane may be weakened, to describe that as an efficient fighting machine is going a wee bit far.
The fact is that all the time—this is the first main criticism against the Government—that right hon. and hon. Friends of mine, notably my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), have been continually attacking particular projects, they have been told, first, that the criticisms are untrue, and then, later on, "Well, yes, it is true about that bomber, but we have another one coming along." There has never been a willingness to face the fact that there are grave weaknesses, that we might just as well admit them and start to argue on from there.
That is not all. I wish to refer to what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said yesterday when dealing with the fact that we shall underspend in the current year on the Air Force Estimates something rather more than £40 million. He said:So, although less money will be provided in Estimates next year than was provided in this, we are intending to spend substantially 1198 more than we shall actually spend this year on the Air Estimates."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 1028.]The right hon. and learned Gentleman later on refers to the figure of over £40 million.
The previous Minister of Defence, who is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had no intention of underspending a year ago. The answer of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to that is, "Do not worry, because next year we intend to spend more than we have spent this year." But there is no evidence that anyone is doing what is required to make sure that next year we do not underspend again. The intention has been present every year. It is not the intention of the Government that is in default, it is the actual practice in carrying it out. We are seeking to get from the Minister some evidence that this is not a repetition of what happened in the 1930s. I admit that we all share in some degree the guilt for what happened in the 1930s. But the problem in those days was that repeatedly the Government declared their intention but always defaulted on it.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has inherited a long period of defaulting, and I must tell him that we need more than a bland assertion, more than a declaration of intention. We need some evidence. The outstanding criticism of this year's White Paper, as of last year's White Paper, is that there is no real plan for defence here at all. There is a declaration that the Government hope or intend to spend a certain amount of money. That amount of money is split between the three Services on the basis of fair shares, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West said yesterday—the Chiefs of Staff getting together to split it up.
The Minister of Defence gave us his declaration of how it could be done. He said:What does the problem become? It becomes, I suggest to the House, a problem of priorities.… The Government have made a resolute attempt in this White Paper to get the priorities right.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 1024.]A little later he said:This is not, of course, a question of just making a division between them on the basis of what is fair and equitable. That is not the point. Their tasks and functions have to be examined, and the yardstick of priorities must be applied to them rather than just to fairness to the Services. There has been, since 1199 the last defence debate, a careful review of the rôles and necessities of the individual Services, and the results are set out in the White Paper."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 1036.]With respect, that is demonstrably what has not happened. In a moment I will come to whether I think it is a fair description of what should happen.
In fact, what has happened is demonstrated by this White Paper: the Navy expenditure goes up, Army expenditure remains a very substantial slice of the whole, and Air Force expenditure goes down. What has happened has not been the result of a careful decision as to what each Service requires but the opposite. Again, we are being treated not to a statement of what is being done, but to a statement by the Minister of what he thinks ought to be done, which is quite a different thing.
Another example was in connection with naval carriers, in connection with which my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East and I engaged ourselves with the Minister. He had repeated what is contained in the White Paper, namely, that we are going to equip ourselves with carriers adapted to take the most modern aircraft. We then asked two very simple questions: which aircraft? Where are they? The answer is that they are not there. It is no use his saying that we shall have carriers equipped to take them, because they are not there. I believe that there is one D.H.110 flying off one carrier somewhere, but that is all. There is no evidence of any other which is immediately available.
It is time we made a great protest against this pretence that if we merely say that our intention is to have carriers equipped with modern aircraft it is as good as having them. It is no more so than it was in the case of the tanks which the Government talked of providing us with and intended to provide us with before the war. It is difficult for me to say this, but in his speech yesterday the Minister of Defence reminded me of Sir Thomas Inskip in the days of the coordinator of defence. It seems to me that unless the Minister makes the first great breach in the atmosphere which has surrounded his Department for the last few years, we shall be back in the days of a co-ordinator of defence, with no powers and no real opportunity to plan.
1200 I do not want to be personal or unkind. I thought, perhaps, that what I am saying might help the Minister to assert himself among his colleagues—the Service Ministers, in particular, and the Government in general. This is not a game. The trouble is that the bureaucrats in all the Service Departments will treat this matter as a private game of their own, the details of which we have no right to know. In the last few weeks, since I was told off to do this job, I have got hold of an extraordinary amount of information. It is not all that secret. But if we do get hold of this information, the Service chiefs think that we should keep it to ourselves; otherwise we shall spoil their private game. They are misleading good Ministers.
§ Mr. Brown
My right hon. Friend had a good innings himself yesterday. He must speak for the Civil Service he knew; I knew a different lot. Much depends upon the Ministers at the head of the civil servants.
The White Papers are just as guilty of dissembling as was the Minister's speech yesterday. For example, I turn to the Memorandum of the Secretary of State for War. I am sorry that he is not here, but he will know that I would have said this even if he had been here. In page 9 of that Memorandum, in paragraph 51, he refers to the independent infantry brigade and says:We have, therefore, selected one independent infantry brigade to be earmarked for such tasks"—that is, going here and there putting out what the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) called "fires"—and the Air Ministry have agreed to provide a flight of light aircraft to support this brigade as soon as it becomes available.There is no fib there. I presume that the Air Ministry has agreed to supply light aircraft as soon as they become available. But The Times told us the day after the Memorandum was published that this flight of light aircraftwill consist of twin-engined versions of the Prestwick Pioneer aircraft.My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley then followed up with a Question to the Minister of Supply on 27th February, 1201 which was answered by the Parliamentary Secretary. although I have no doubt the Minister saw the Question and Answer in the usual way. The Parliamentary Secretary's Answer was:The prototype of the twin-engined Prestwick Pioneer first flew on 25th June, 1955. The aircraft, which is being developed to a large extent as a private venture by the firm, has not yet been ordered for the Services."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 812.]I must ask the Ministers to clear up this matter between themselves. Apparently the Secretary of State for Air tells the Secretary of State for War, "You form your independent brigade to go here and there and be airborne; we will supply you with twin-engined Prestwick Pioneer aircraft." The Minister of Supply then says: "But they have not yet ordered it. It is a purely private venture. I do not know whether they want it." At the end of the supplementary questions in connection with this aircraft, on 27th February, 1956, my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply if he was not on speaking terms with the Secretary of State for War, because the Parliamentary Secretary had asked my hon. Friend to take the matter up with the Secretary of State for War.
I hope that the Minister of Defence does regard all this as dissembling. If the aircraft has not been ordered, what is the use of pretending to the country that we are doing something enormous which will have a great effect? If it is not the twin-engined Prestwick Pioneer, what aeroplane is it that the Air Ministry has agreed to supply? I put that as a specific question to the Minister of Supply. He must know. I happen to know that a single-engined Prestwick Pioneer has also been mentioned, but since that will take only three men, together with their equipment, it will not be much use in supporting a brigade. But if it is not that one, which one is it? Or is this all airy nonsense, thought up by the bureaucrats, who think it will be a good thing if we can do it and are trying to convince themselves and us that they have done it?
While I am on the subject of transport and supply, I have another specific question to put to the Minister of Supply. Is it not time that we faced the problem of trooping and the transport of our 1202 services? At the moment, we are pressing almost anything into service. We have some Valettas and Hastings, and we press Shackletons into service when we need them. I have no doubt that Ministers have seen the biting leading article in Flight a week or two ago, in which a blistering comment was made upon the circumstances in which a person whom it called "T. Atkins, Esq." had to travel to Cyprus.
The White Papers contain various references to transport arrangements; the equipping of troops in the Middle East, and the fact of their being able to travel everywhere by air. It is said that they are being organised and equipped to this end. Can this be anything more than "blah" until Ministers face up to the fact that Air Transport Command must really be reorganised and built up, with a proper fleet of Britannias or similar trooping machines?
§ Mr. Charles Ian Orr-Ewing (Hendon, North)
The right hon. Gentleman's Government did away with them.
§ Mr. Brown
I was waiting for someone to say that. The Conservative Party has now been the Government for five years. At some stage they must stop bleating like children about what we did five years ago and stand on their own feet. How long it takes a Conservative Government to stand upon their own record I do not know, but the excuse of, "Please teacher it wasn't me; it was the boys who were in power two General Elections, two Governments and five Ministers of Defence ago," is getting a little weak. If we are to have Britannias, we want them now. They have been ordered. We should know when they are coming through, and how many are coming, and whether we have a really effective trooping plan. It cannot be effective without the appropriate aircraft.
I will give only one more example.
§ Mr. Brown
I am being encouraged, and that is a very good thing.
I now turn to paragraph 40 of the Statement on Defence, 1956, which discusses the programme of the Royal Air Force and says:For some time to come the manned fighter must continue to provide the backbone of our Air Defence system. The fire power and lethality of fighter aircraft will be markedly 1203 increased by equipping them with air-to-air guided missiles.The proper deduction to draw from that statement is that this is the pattern upon which we are embarking, but if we read on we find that:The first generation of missiles will become available … in the course of 1956–57. They will be brought into service with a special mark of the Swift, and will be used to gain experience …This mark of the Swift will not be used in combat service. We are now talking of something which is a good deal in the future, but are using words which pretend that something quite different is happening. I cannot say that these statements are fibs, but I say that they are so much pretence that they come very near to being just that in their effect upon people who read them.
May I leave that subject, although one could go on, and turn back to the main question, which is the basis of the defence policy application in 1956. The Minister yesterday talked about the division which there ought to be between the Services, and he gave us his view of the way in which this should be done. I do not think I need read the quotations, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that this is not a question of making a division on the basis of what is fair and equitable, but that the tasks and functions have to be examined and then allocations have to be made. I agree with him that that is what ought to be done; it is a fair statement of the way to do it.
But I would ask the Minister of Supply or the Secretary of State for Air—since the Minister of Defence has spoken once, though we would be delighted to accommodate him a second time—if we could get such an approach to the division of resources without some real integration of the Services? Unless there is some integration, at any rate at command level, of some of the Services, can we ever get an allocation between them on the basis of their functions, the jobs they have to do and their importance? I do not believe it is possible, and other people with longer experience of the Forces than I have had will agree with me.
Such integration does not happen. What does happen is that the Chiefs of Staffs have a row between themselves, they fight it out and strike a bargain, and, 1204 because they are a club, they do not parade their arguments between themselves to their political chiefs, who form a different club. One club does not parade its differences before the other. I do not know how much integration we could have; it is the job of the Minister to tell us. It would have to be either of all the Services, as has been suggested, or integration at command level between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, or on the basis of new weapons.
Guided missiles are quite a new thing, and they are going to be weapons to do very much the same job, whether groundto-air, air-to-air, air-to-sea or air-to-ground. Can we do something in that direction without raising all the problems of tradition? Before the Minister assures us that this is, in fact, being done, I hope he will be able to assure us that the basis on which it can be done has already been laid down. I can only ask; I cannot assert, whether this is being done, but I declare my own personal belief that, without some integration of this kind, the other excellent things which should follow cannot follow because the ground work has not been done and the basic decisions have not been taken.
But a lot more follows from that. I wonder whether I am right, as a new boy, in thinking that, on this whole question of policy planning, some very radical and uncomfortable decisions have now to be taken in this country about its defence. The Minister referred to the declaration in paragraph 1 of the 1955 White Paper as the policy, and he said that this year's White Paper was only applying that policy to the situation as it now exists. What was the 1955 declaration of policy? It was this:Nevertheless our problem is still fundamentally a dual one. We have to prepare against the risk of a world war and so prevent it; it is on the nature of these preparations that the existence of thermo-nuclear weapons has its main effect. At the same time we must continue to play our part in the defence of the interests of the free world as a whole, and particularly of the Commonwealth and Empire in the 'cold war'; and we must meet the many other peacetime commitments overseas arising from our position as a great Power with worldwide responsibilities.That defence policy is wide enough to cause us to try to do everything and break our backs in the process. I should have thought that a lot had happened since a year ago. A lot of thought has gone 1205 into the question whether all these new weapons, and whether what we now know about thermo-nuclear weapons, has not put us into the position of thinking with more selectivity and objectivity about the actual tasks we have to do.
The Minister went on from this to discuss what has been referred to as the policy of the graduated deterrence. I have been most interested in the discussions that have gone on about this, and particularly in the very powerful arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) in the Manchester Guardian a little while ago, and, although it arrived at the contrary conclusion, Liddell Hart's article in this week's Picture Post. I thought that yesterday the Minister rather tossed the graduated deterrence policy out of the window, for what seemed to me to be the wrong reasons. It is possible also that his conclusion is wrong, too. I cannot say, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman must decide that, but I certainly thought that his reasons were wrong.
I find it very difficult to conceive a limited war with conventional forces in Western Europe. I just cannot see how we could have such a conflict with such forces in this field. It seems to me that, faced with the overpowering Russian conventional might in terms of manpower and weapons, we would be bound to use tactical atomic weapons in such a situation. The possibility of not having to do so elsewhere also seems to me to get less and less. The areas in which it is likely to happen are almost bound to be areas of such importance to us that we could not risk the result turning on the great preponderance of the other side in conventional forces.
If that is so, it leads us to a psychological point about the ultimate deterrent. The Minister said that we shall never be the first to use it. Many people have said that, but I have never said it. It seems to me to be challenging fate a great deal, but the Minister said it again yesterday. Assuming that we can avoid being the first to use it, and if we do not base our thinking on the fact that in certain areas we would have to use tactical atomic weapons, is it ever likely that we could jump this country up into the choice between either being overwhelmed by conventional weapons in which we are in such a minority or having to use the 1206 ultimate deterrent as the only way to avoid being overwhelmed?
It seems to me, therefore, that if the one is going to hold good the other must follow, and I raise this point not because I know enough about it to declare that the graduated deterrent is right. I have tried to state the case as strongly as I see it. To say, as the Minister did, that we cannot do this because we cannot be sure that the other side will follow suit, or because we cannot be sure that we should be able to keep up these forces in the area, seems to be no answer at all. We may still come to the ultimate deterrent. If we were faced with a choice of this kind, we would still come back to the ultimate deterrent. Of course, we would, even though we had declared that we would meet forces in certain areas with tactical atomic weapons. We do not rule out the second thing being done.
I raise this matter for a slightly different reason. I see no hope of getting economies either in resources, which I place first, or in costs, which I place second and which are still important, unless we make some decision such as this. If we go on thinking in terms that we are to have conventional forces and arms, large tanks and all the rest, and now guided missiles, the I.B.M., fighters and bombers, there are never going to be any economies; and we shall get up here each year and say "We do not know whether we can do this, because it is costing so much," or "We have not done it here, because we have done it there," and so on. It is very uncomfortable to be a Minister and to have to make this decision, though there is £5,000 and a lot of prestige and glory difference between us. It is uncomfortable to have to make such a decision, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman has to make it, and I have not, which makes things rather easier for me. Until he makes some such decision, he cannot present an intelligent defence policy to us.
We are bound to try to shed some conventional weapons and some form of conventional Army organisation. We are bound in the new situation to look for the things that we can do without. It may well be the large tanks is one of them or some of the organisation of our Armed Forces. It may largely be a N.A.T.O. decision and not ours, but, after all, it is our manpower which is concerned and 1207 our economy that is being strained by attempting to maintain N.A.T.O. We are in that respect in a very strong position (a) to think it out for ourselves, because it affects us more than anybody else, and (b), having thought it out for ourselves, to argue the thing with other people.
I turn from the Minister of Defence to the Minister of Supply. Any examination one makes of this matter is sure to throw one back in the end to the importance of the deterrent and the need to have a means to deliver it. The more I think about the subject the more I regard the situation as absolutely frightening in respect to our power and ability to deliver the deterrent. Let us get clearly the level of agreement. There will, of course, be aeroplanes. There will be difficulties. This is a long-term business, but Ministers have now been in their offices for about four and a half years. They have spent a very large sum of money indeed, estimated at about £1,000 million, on the buying of aeroplanes. Very few of the aeroplanes have flown, in the sense that matters in military defence. Most of them have been failures, but the aircraft companies have gone on making profits year after year. The only thing that has gone up has been the profits of the aircraft companies.
I am not attacking the profits or the aircraft companies, but for the moment I am trying to establish what we have achieved. It is really shocking. A year ago the present Foreign Secretary was Minister of Supply, and he answered a debate similar to the one which the present Minister is to answer. I read his speech all through last night. I hope that he will do a lot different today. If the Foreign Secretary re-reads that speech—he is probably as shy of reading his own speeches as we all are—I hope he will be as shocked by it as I was when I read it last night. The whole speech did absolutely nothing but refer back to what we did or did not do, whether it was right or wrong, between 1947 and 1950.
That sort of thing we must put behind us. I shall not go into the details of these aeroplanes; not because I have not the details. I have them here. They can be obtained. It is astonishing how full a statement we can get from the people who ought to know, even from 1208 the manufacturers themselves. They are not at all backward about supplying information, especially if it is about their competitors. They may be more shy about themselves. I am not going into details. I do not want to start the debate off today on that basis. Let us see this position and admit it; in the air the position is frightening. Let us start from there. I gather that nobody has really disputed the statement made by Sir Roy Fedden, that, after all this expenditure of money, we have only about 50 V bombers and a force of some hundreds of fighters. Many of them are out-of-date and useless in terms of fighting. Others are waiting to be modified.
I have referred to the Manchester Guardian article. May I go back and read another piece from it? The writer, summing up the position of our fighter aircraft, says:The Meteors and Venoms, although plentiful, are of an earlier generation. Even the Hunter could count on only one shot at a hostile jet bomber, which would probably be flying almost at its own speed; the Meteors and Venoms could count on none unless positioned with perfect accuracy by radar control.We have some hundreds of fighters, but very few of them would be really significant in that situation.
Let us start with that, as the situation. I do not know how highly Mr. Jules Menken is regarded on these matters. The article which he wrote in the Manchester Guardian on 23rd January is relevant to this point. He sets out Russia's strength, what he regards as the implications of it and what he thinks we need. He talks about a force of 450 V bombers as being essential. If we are going on with fighters he says we need a force of 1,000 P-ls and Javelins as essential. He gives us three years as the utmost time in which to achieve this force.
With the evidence we have of the situation that now exists, have we not to face the fact that we are gravely weak and gravely deficient in this field? I want to put fundamental questions of policy which have occurred to me, and have to be answered, and on which a decision has to be taken. First of all, will Ministers tell us what forms vehicles for the delivery of the deterrent are to take from now on? Will they be V bombers for a time, the Valiants being phased out? The Vulcan is coming into service. 1209 We shall have the Victor some day. We are not very clear about all these things.
Do we think in terms of guided missiles? Do we think in terms of the inter-continental ballistic missile, or I.B.M.? We ought to be told. This is a big decision for us to take and quite uncomfortable other decisions hang on it. At the risk of being wrong on my first appearance here, I think on balance that we ought to have the I.B.M. I do not think it is a good thing in a fundamental matter of this kind that we should be dependent on the United States for it. Nor do I think it makes sense to say, "We must have the ultimate deterrence," and then not have the ultimate weapon with which the deterrent will be delivered. That is my own guess. I think Ministers have to say that that is right. Let them say whether it is our immediate plan to change over in that way.
What about the consequential measures? Are we to go on with fighter defence and try to develop, produce, and put right our fighter planes? I make no apology for coming back to this point. It has to be faced pretty quickly. These are long-term decisions, and we cannot expect to put enough research, development and scientific work into missiles, whether guided missiles or otherwise, and at the same time put that effort into producing fighter planes and get them ready for action. There will be so few of them.
We are at this stage, far behind the Americans. It might be just as well on these things, which are not fundamental in the way that the I.B.M. is, for us to make arrangements with the Americans to buy fighter planes now, or to make them under licence, so as to see us over the intervening period while we do our utmost to catch up with them on missile development and the ultimate I.B.M. I ask it. I can hardly assert it, but I ask it, and I think that the Ministers should really tell us what they are thinking on the matter.
§ Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
The right hon. Gentleman will not forget that in the field fighters are just as necessary for cover for military operations if not as cover for counter-bombing.
§ Mr. Brown
I am not sure about that, but the hon. and gallant Member is entitled to think so. I am not so sure that the same cover will not in a few years' time be given by guided missiles from the 1210 ground as could be given by fighter planes. It is a decision which must be made, because we cannot go on breaking our backs and producing so little, as we are at the present time.
I must now ask the Minister of Supply—or the Minister of Defence—what, having made a decision about policy planning, he actually intends to do immediately to put the industry into a position to do a better job for this country—as compared with what has been done in the period behind us—in the next stage of aerial defence and offence. I must ask the Minister of Supply five questions. First of all, what rôle does he really see for the Government in this field of the development and production of defence machines? Is the Ministry of Supply, in fact—as some manufacturers say it is—an additional nuisance in this field? And let us have no Departmental pride here. Is it, in fact, an additional nuisance, complicating channels that have to be cleared, or is it the only place where the brakes can be put on the users—the people who think up the project in the Air Ministry—and those among the manufacturers who develop it? Where does he say the Ministry of Supply should come in? Has he thought about it? I ask, because there is a good deal of difference of opinion on the subject.
Secondly, assuming that he answers that the matter must be dealt with by the Ministry of Supply, and that to put it in the hands of the Ministry of Defence would be to make that Ministry too swollen and remote to handle, what improvements does he think we can make in the Government's research and development organisation? My feeling at the moment is that we have a great deal of duplication—research work going on in the industry which is also going on in the Government establishments; Government scientists, Government technologists who feel that if left to themselves they could do a perfect job. Too many are doing the same job, feeding in their answers to the same problems, and the effect of this group and that is being lost. Could we not canalise a good deal of the research work into some central establishment—not directly under the Ministry if that is not liked, but some central establishment—in order to split off the research work from the development and production work?
1211 Thirdly, we must clearly stop these everlasting changes and modifications—this everlasting chase for perfectionism. The Minister agrees with that, I know, but how is he going to do it? Is it to be done by the Ministry of Defence or by the Ministry of Supply? I cannot see it being done by the Ministry of Supply, so is the Minister of Defence to have the power at some stage to say, "Look, boys, we have done all the development, improvements and modifications that are going to be done on this. From now on you, in the Air Ministry, have to work it as it is; you, in the factories, must make it as it is." No one has said that yet, and until the Government decide who is to say it I do not see how we shall get on.
The next is the 64-dollar question: what does the Minister of Supply mean to do about concentrating production units? We cannot go on with as many different teams as has America with one-third of the labour force that America has. It is too ridiculous for words. We have 300,000 men and they have a million, and we have actually one or two teams more than they. Several things flow from that fact. We are diversifying the effort. We are duplicating the effort. We are poaching each other's key men, and we are continuing to make profits out of failures, because every firm has to be kept in the field and has, therefore, to be given a development contract to keep it going while some one else gets on with the successful project. I do not think there is any dispute but that this is the position.
How is the Minister going to remedy it? In the Adjournment debate a fortnight ago, and in the debate on the V-1000 a few months ago, he told us that it had to be done, but he said that he would be a very brave man who said how few firms were to be left in. But the only justification for being a Minister is to be a very brave man. We cannot stand cowards in this. Someone has to be brave, and we probably each of us think that if we were in such a position we would have the bravery to do it. Fortunately for us, perhaps, we do not have to put it to the test. But the Minister has to say it.
When he has said that he must then face the problem that when the five or six—or what number it may be—groups 1212 have been concentrated, larger teams will be concentrating on fewer projects and there will be something much nearer to monopolisation in regard to the projects on which they are engaged. The country will then be more—and not less—liable to be held up to ransom by the one team which is given almost monopoly cover of the one or two projects it has to do. The Minister must, therefore, then say how he will protect the country against even more financial squeeze than there is at present.
It is for him to say, really, but for myself I do not see how—and I say this again, so that I cannot subsequently be charged with dodging this—I do not see how we can avoid—seeing that so much public money is involved and knowing that the answers are so vital for the nation—our having, as a nation, a sufficient stake in those groups that will result to give us the opportunity to influence and effect policy when policy is made, to check costs and, in fact, to be partners, let us say, with private enterprise in the running of the industry. I think that there will have to be at least an initial public stake in that reorganised aircraft industry if we are to be really protected from that financial danger.
I have gone on speaking much too long—longer than I had expected. Nevertheless, perhaps I may be permitted to mention two questions which were asked yesterday but which have not yet been answered. They must be answered, and perhaps, either the Minister of Supply or the Secretary of State for Air will try. The first concerns the National Service period. Why do the Government still stick to this monkeying about with the number of call-ups, knowing full well that it can only be a very temporary business which is bound to leave them in 1958 with the absolute necessity to abolish the call-up?
The right hon. Gentleman has twice tried to answer that. The first time he said that he thought that we could, and the second time he did not think that we could. He said that he hoped it would be finished sooner than the next Election, and unless he is a good deal less optimistic than his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1958 should be sooner than the next Election. If National Service is not abolished in 1958, the Government then have to face the fact that they 1213 have to go back to a call-up which they do not want—we go back to the very beginning.
The monkeying about with the number of call-ups aggravates the social evils of conscription. I am not saying that conscription is necessarily all evil, although I have never liked it, and at one period of my life I was violently against it. Nevertheless, even if it is conceded that on balance conscription is essential, it has many social evils. Monkeying about with the call-up keeps a man hanging about before he can get settled in industry, and keeps industry in a state of thinking it not worth while training him. I am not thinking here of the apprentice—I am an official of an unskilled workers' union. As I say, conscription keeps the men hanging about and unsettled and makes the employers think it not worth while to train them and aggravates its social evils. But the Government go on monkeying with the call-up instead of facing the fact that a cut in the period would be a much easier and better way of doing it.
I know the matter is tied to the number of Regulars, but I do not think that tying it to the number of Regulars alone is a fair way of answering the question. The question whether we want National Service depends upon the functions which the Army has to perform. It depends upon the job it has to do, the weapons it has to employ, the size of the units—whether they are to be small mobile units moving hurriedly about, as some people seem to think, or whether they are to be great divisions with great tails and so on. If the Minister could take a decision on the question I posed ealier, I think that the question of the cuts in the period of military service would be much easier to answer.
Then I come to the question of the long-term continuance of National Service. Here again it depends upon how many people we want in the Army, what we want the Army to do, and so on. We on this side of the House will not funk the real requirements on defence in terms of National Service or anything else, but National Service is unquestionably the most costly feature of our defence at the moment, in terms of resources. Of course, if we have too much of the financial and economic policies of the present Chan- 1214 cellor of the Exchequer, that situation may change very shortly, but so long as we have full employment, to keep people sitting around in the Forces is the most uneconomic drain that we can have.
If the Minister cannot go as far as we ask him in this matter of the cuts, why does he not accept our offer of an inquiry? We are all concerned in this—we, the T.U.C. and everybody else. If the Government cannot make up their own minds—I do not mean that offensively; I mean if they think that there are too many problems—why do they not have an inquiry in which we can all participate? It is said that the Opposition's job is to oppose. Of course, where there is much evidence of muddle and failure, as I think there is in the field of defence under this Administration, the Opposition would be failing in their duty if they did not oppose as vigorously as possible. I hope we have all tried to do this job conscientiously and constructively—I know that my right hon. Friends have—but we ask these questions not merely to give point to our criticisms but to try to offer guidance and to seek information even when it only confirms what we already know.
The Government ought to start now responding in this spirit. All of us in a free democracy—and social democrats as much as, and perhaps more than, anybody else—have a tremendous concern in the grim struggle to keep alight the torch of freedom in the world. Until the Communists really respect the rights of free people and abandon the new imperialism, and until they open up their own countries so that a system of world disarmament based on genuine inspection and control can be instituted, the struggle and the burden will have to continue being borne. Realising that fact, our concern in this debate is that we shall have an effective defence policy that makes an effective split of the burden and makes the burden one that we can carry, and that we shall spend on it what is proper to allocate from our resources, and spend it effectively.
There is too much being neglected in the equally important field of economic and social aid to the uncommitted peoples of the world for us to contemplate complacently the wasted millions in our present defence programme. We shall press our Amendment tonight, in the 1215 absence of adequate replies, because we feel that the Government's attitude falls far short of what is required.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. Reginald Maudling)
The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) started his extremely interesting speech by saying that my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Defence had been nonpolitical. I thought at one time that he was going to make up for that himself in some of his remarks about the aircraft programme, which I will answer possibly in the same vein. Generally, I think that the problems he posed were pertinent and extremely important, and I will do my best to answer the various points he raised. I think that I shall answer most of them, in fact, in the course of the remarks which I had intended to offer to the House.
The right hon. Gentleman started with an extremely important point: is the allocation of the resources available for defence between the various claims the right allocation, or has it been done on what the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) described as the fair shares basis? I can assure him that it was not done on that basis. These allocations were reached as a result of a long series of meetings between the Service Ministers, the Service Chiefs and myself under the chairmanship of the Minister of Defence, and his predecessor, my right hon. and learned Friend who is now Foreign Secretary, at which the real strategic requirements of the country as a whole were considered. I do not think that the colour of the uniform that a particular officer was wearing had any effect on those discussions. We were discussing strategic requirements. The real problem for this country is that we cannot afford to arm ourselves completely against every possible form of war. That is the first problem.
Secondly, there is what one might call a vast spectrum of possibilities in atomic and nuclear weapons, ranging from small kiloton weapons to large megaton weapons. My right hon. Friend explained the four requirements which we are trying to meet—global nuclear war, cold war, limited war and the fighting of a global war itself if it should break out. Although we place them in that 1216 order of priority, that does not mean that we can neglect entirely any one of them.
The most important requirement is to deter and prevent a nuclear war. We have here a new conception which somehow all of us find a little difficult completely to understand, that the main problem now is not to win a war but to stop it happening, because once it starts both sides have lost. Therefore, we rightly give priority to having a deterrent to stop anyone else starting a nuclear war. In addition to that, we have the cold war for which we must maintain military and naval as well as air forces; and we have also the limited war. But I do not think we can assume that in a limited war we should make use of tactical atomic weapons. My right hon. and learned Friend made quite clear that this is a matter upon which no one can dogmatise in advance. I think the right hon. Member for Belper went rather far in the direction of suggesting that we must assume that any outbreak of war in future will automatically mean the use of atomic weapons. It would be unwise to assume that that is necessarily so.
Finally, there is the question of what happens if a global war breaks out and continues for some time. How do we maintain ourselves? How do we fight a global nuclear war? It is suggested by some hon. Members that we should make no provision at all for that contingency because once it has started it is all over. But the Russians do not take that view. They are not failing to press ahead with conventional armaments of all kinds, and we should be making a great mistake if we were to abandon our preparations with the more conventional armaments in the belief that, whatever happens, it is nuclear weapons alone which matter.
§ Mr. Stokes
May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman because he has said something very serious? Paragraph 5 of the White Paper says:In such limited wars the possible use of nuclear weapons cannot be excluded.The Minister now says that we are not going to use them. What does he mean?
§ Mr. Maudling
I said that the use of conventional armaments cannot be excluded, and nor should it be assumed that nuclear weapons would be used.
1217 I was going to deal largely with matters concerning the Ministry of Supply. I cannot claim to be a "new boy," as so many participating in this debate claim to be, because I have been here nearly a year, so that I have no such claim to make. I should like to pay a sincere tribute to the work done by the officials of my Department. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss), if he were here, would agree with that. The standard of work and devotion to duty are very high indeed. I recognise that the Minister of Supply is fair game to the Opposition, retired air marshals, air correspondents and everyone else. I should like to stress again that the officials of my Department, be they civil servants or serving officers, of whom there are many from the user Departments in the Ministry of Supply, carry out their tasks with a devotion to duty which I consider exemplary.
It is quite apparent from the White Paper that the expenditure of the Ministry of Supply on research and development has risen steeply, and this causes me very considerable concern, not only by reason of the money—and here I agree with the right hon. Gentleman—but by reason of the scientific and technical resources involved. It is always, to my mind, very disturbing that so much of our scarce raw material and our scientific and technical manpower has at the moment to be devoted to research and development for defence. Yet I am sure it is generally agreed that it is in research and development, above all, that we cannot afford to fall behind.
Perhaps I can explain in outline why it is that the research and development estimates are rising so much at present. It is because of the co-existence of rising expenditure on new weapons and the still rising expenditure on conventional weapons. Expenditure on atomic weapons and on guided missiles has risen considerably, particularly as guided missiles get to the stage when large numbers of trial rounds are required.
At the same time, expenditure on the development of aircraft cannot be allowed to fall away. I will explain why, in my opinion, that is so. It is perfectly true that, in the long run, much of the work at present being done by manned aircraft will be taken over by guided missiles, but no one can yet be certain exactly 1218 when that will happen. Until we can be confident that guided missiles can take over certain functions from the manned fighter, it would be folly to abandon one in favour of the other. It is unfortunate that we cannot make the choice now, but I think that this is a problem that affects all countries and not only ourselves.
I want to try to follow roughly three lines in my speech. First, to examine the present state of supply of weapons; secondly, to ask whether we should have done better, and, if so, why; and, thirdly—and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is by far the most important—to consider how we can do better in the future. I think that in order to understand what we can do to improve matters we must examine in a certain amount of detail the present situation and how we have got there. The main interest is in aircraft and guided missiles, but it would be a pity if this debate passed over without some reference to the good record both of the Royal ordnance factories and private industry in providing munitions generally for the Forces. To take only one example, we have delivered over 100 million dollars' worth of munitions to N.A.T.O. under offshore purchases. The steady work of the Royal ordnance factories does not often get the praise and recognition to which it is rightly entitled.
Turning to aircraft and guided missiles, which are the main burden of the Opposition Amendment, it is most important to distinguish between production and development. Broadly speaking, there is no very serious problem in the production of aircraft once we have established exactly the article which is to be produced. It is in the stage of turning the initial idea of the designer into a finished piece of metal which can be put on the production line that our main difficulties arise. Circumstances, in fact, have been changing. Production has been getting less of a problem and development possibly more. The capacity needed for aircraft production is now, by and large, adequate for our purpose, and the main difficulties which we now have to face on the production side is shortage of certain materials, particularly of alloy steels.
One of the difficulties of the aircraft industry is that it tends to order in small quantities, and its relatively small orders for steel tend to be less attractive to the 1219 manufacturers than the large orders for their other consumers. In these circumstances, the Government have decided to make a substantial change in the system of giving super-priority to aircraft production.
The present system which was started in 1952 by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was designed to assist in building up capacity which was sorely needed, and it made a big contribution to the build-up of productive capacity in the industry. It has now become too general and diffuse in character to be effective in our rather changed circumstances. At present, the system is to have a list of super-priority projects, and manufacturers and subcontractors engaged on any of these projects are entitled to claim super-priority for anything they require. With the end of building controls and steel allocations and the disappearance of a number of material shortages that existed in 1952 this scheme has become rather more general than is required for full effectiveness.
Therefore, in future, we intend to concentrate on special bottlenecks, and to do this in two ways. This will help not only production, but also development which is often held up in order to incorporate modifications as they become necessary in the course of development. Our system in future for giving super-priority will be that manufacturers who are having difficulty in obtaining certain supplies will get in touch with my Department, and, if we are satisfied that the difficulties are real and that special help is required, we are arranging that, on receipt of a request from us for assistance, the suppliers concerned will give special priority to those special requirements. It is the case of alloy steel which I have particularly in mind, because that is the main thing which is giving trouble at the moment.
§ Mr. Henry Usborne (Birmingham, Yardley)
The right hon. Gentleman says that he is going to insist on the suppliers giving special priority. Will he tell the House how he intends to force that insistence upon them?
§ Mr. Maudling
I do not think that there will be any need to force it, because I have no doubt that the suppliers will co-operate with us in doing it.
1220 Secondly, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed to consider on its merits, in special cases, the early ordering of scarce materials where there is a long waiting time for delivery. Such early ordering may involve a small financial risk, but the risk is small when the orders are merely working up the queue, and the risk of not ordering early is much larger because we may be held up later on a very big job for the sake of a small quantity of material.
Finally, we will continue the arrangements for deferring ex-apprentices involved in schemes of particular urgency from the defence point of view. This will be done administratively by consultation between my Department and the Ministry of Labour. The details are still being worked out, but in this way we shall adapt our arrangements for according super-priority to the rather changed circumstances. This will enable us to concentrate more effectively on what are the real difficulties in production and development.
I want to say a word about prices and profits. A good deal is often said about the profits of the aircraft companies but I think that it is often not realised what a very wide range of activities these companies are engaged in. It is assumed that all or the major part of their profits are coming from the Government, but that is very far from being the case. In fact, I think it is generally true to say that the development contracts from the Ministry of Supply are about the least profitable form of contract in which these companies are engaged. We like to work on a system of prices fixed under competitive conditions. One of the advantages of having the V bombers together is that we get that competition in this case.
Where it is not possible to fix a price by competition it is fixed as soon as possible by reference to costs and by reference, which I think is a standard Government practice, to a percentage on capital employed. Generally, we try to get fixed prices as soon as possible, because I think that it is an incentive to efficiency. But in the case of development contracts it is impossible to fix prices until very late on, if at all, and in these circumstances we work on the basis of costs plus a fixed fee.
1221 I have been studying with some care this question of our costings. I believe myself that, in fact, our costings machine is very efficient. But I think it would be a good thing to get further outside advice on this matter, which is one in which there is a great deal of interest, I therefore invited Mr. Nutcombe Hume, Chairman of the Charterhouse Group, and Mr. John Pears, the senior partner in the firm of Cooper Brothers & Co., chartered accountants, to advise me on the Ministry of Supply methods of fixing the prices to be paid for supplies of stores acquired by non-competitive contracts. I am grateful to those two distinguished experienced gentlemen for their readiness to help in a very important matter.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
I entirely accept what the right hon. Gentleman has said, that the aircraft companies operate over a very wide field, but surely he is aware that the trouble is that when aircraft companies undertake projects, such as those in respect of the Comet, the Seamew and the Swift, they make great profits if they are successful. But if the projects are washouts the Government bear the loss, which, in many cases, runs into large sums of money.
§ Mr. Maudling
I was hoping later on to say something about giving incentives for better development work, which is a very technical and complicated matter.
Talking generally about the production of aircraft, the right hon. Member for Ipswich—I was surprised at his actual words—yesterday said:The fact is that there are no aeroplanes and it is no use pretending that there are."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 1053.]That is blatant nonsense.
§ Mr. Maudling
The right hon. Gentleman should know; his Government were in power at the lime. Aircraft production has expanded by a very large amount over the last five years.
§ Mr. Stokes
The right hon. Gentleman says that two and a half times as many aircraft are being produced as in 1950–51. That makes nonsense to the general public unless he says how many were produced in 1950–51.
§ Mr. Maudling
The right hon. Gentleman knows that it was not the practice of his Government and that it is not the practice of this Government to disclose the actual number of aircraft produced in the respective years referred to. All I say is that in 1955 we produced two and a half times as many as were produced in 1950.
§ Mr. Maudling
I stand corrected; apparently the right hon. Gentleman did produce one.
I want to say a word about the various types of aircraft which are being produced, particularly the Hunter. I am anxious to say something in detail about the situation relating to the Hunter because there is a certain amount of misunderstanding. The aircraft itself is an excellent one. That is agreed by the pilots who fly it. After all, they should know, and I am inclined to go on their views. The difficulties which now remain are those with the formidable installation of four 30 mm. cannon which were introduced at the same time as the aircraft. I do not quarrel with that decision, but it was a big decision to take to introduce simultaneously a new aircraft of advanced design and a new armament of very advanced design. Doing two such things simultaneously will mean that in practice a lot of difficulties will arise, and they are often difficulties of a kind which become apparent only after a considerable amount of service use.
The difficulties which were first apparent were the troubles relating to engine surge when the guns were fired, which occurred in certain marks of the Hunter, and also occurred at certain heights. That is one of the things referred to in the article quoted by the right 1223 hon. Gentleman. That problem has been solved; the technical solution has been found. The necessary modifications to the engines are being installed retrospectively. In fact, I should have thought that most of them would by now have been done. I repeat that the technical problem has been solved.
§ Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)
Is it not a fact that when all these modifications have been incorporated this aircraft will be a generation behind the fighters coming from the United States and Soviet Russia and that it bears no comparison with the F-100.
§ Mr. Maudling
I am coming to comparative aircraft in a moment, and I think the hon. Gentleman will be interested in what I have to say.
§ Mr. Wigg
This is a very important question of fact. Surely the right hon. Gentleman ought to make a distinction between the Avon and Sapphire series of the Hunter. Both have had trouble with surging of the engine resulting from the guns. Is it not a fact that while the Hunter Avon—that is, Marks I and IV—originally had an altitude limitation of 20,000 feet, another compressor trouble has started, and there are now altitude limitations at 20,000 feet and 24,000 feet; in other words, they can fire guns without trouble only between the altitudes of 20,000 and 24,000 feet?
§ Mr. Maudling
No. I think the hon. Gentleman is misinformed. He is right in saying that there was a difference between the two types of engines. I said that some marks were affected and others were not. The best technical information that I can obtain is that all the compressor surging problems have been cured and the modifications are being carried out.
Now we come to the present troubles which lead to a limitation on the amount of firing that can be done with the guns. It is not a limitation that stops one firing. It is a limitation on the amount that can be fired. I will explain how that arises. As a result of intensive flying trials which 1224 can only take place after the aircraft has got into service in some numbers, it was found that the enormous kick of the big battery of cannons began to do some damage to the small components in the nose of the aircraft. We have devised modifications which will be fitted to strengthen those parts and deal with that trouble.
Obviously, in the meantime, in peacetime, it is foolish to go on firing guns to an extent which damages aircraft. That is why limitations have been placed on the duration of firing of the guns. However, if it were necessary to take part in operations tomorrow before the modifications were installed, the guns could certainly be fired. The problem would then be that after a certain number of sorties we should have an increased maintenance requirement because of the replacement of the parts damaged by the firing of the guns. That is as clearly as I can put it. These are the latest facts about the development of the guns.
Whatever right hon. and hon. Members opposite may think about the Hunter, it is interesting that people abroad, who have to pay money for the machine, seem to like it quite well. Apart from offshore orders, nearly 200 Hunters have been exported to overseas customers.
I come next to the Javelin. Deliveries of the Javelin have commenced to the Royal Air Force. It will now be worked up in service, and later marks will be introduced. I want to say a word about the working up. It should be clear that, as with a ship, an aircraft is not fully operational the first moment it is commissioned. It needs a certain amount of working up. We have to find out in service what is needed to make it fully operational. It is good policy to get the aircraft into the hands of the squadrons as soon as possible even though there are some limitations, because only by having it in use in the squadrons can we find out what we have to do to the aircraft to make it fully operational. It must always be recognised when an aircraft goes into service that there must be a period of working up.
I come now to the bombers—the Valiant the Vulcan and the Victor. A good deal has been said from time to time about performance. I want to say something about these aircraft. I have 1225 checked and rechecked this with the best information available. Our bombers have a shorter range than those of the United States because our strategic requirement is quite different. However, in answer to some Questions asked yesterday our bombers certainly have all the range that we need for our strategic requirements. As to performance—which is a combination of height and speed—and as to striking power—which is the ability to carry bombs—on all the evidence I have the Valiants are the equivalent of any known bomber at present available to the forces of either the United States or Russia. I think that the Vulcan and the Victor coming along behind will be even better still.
A word about the position in regard to guided missiles. There has been a great deal of interest in this. I am afraid that I am necessarily inhibited by the requirements of security from saying all that I should like to say about what I believe to be a very creditable story for British industry.
The only guided missile of which we have given details so far is the Fireflash, about which hon. Members will recently have seen some details mentioned in the Press. This is an air-to-air missile which has been devised by the Fairey Aviation Company. The company has done a very good job indeed with this missile, because it has met its specification, and it has been or is being delivered to the Royal Air Force within the original delivery estimates made by my Department. That is a good job of work.
Questions have been asked about the use to be made of the weapon by the Royal Air Force. I should like to explain this in some detail. I should particularly like to make it clear that there is no truth in the suggestion in some newspapers that the weapon cannot be carried by the Hunter. It is a mistake to imagine that one can fit a guided missile on an aircraft as if one were hanging a candle on a Christmas tree. It is a complicated problem; one has to tailor the two things to fit one another. It is a large weapon which can affect the aero-dynamics of the aircraft, and it can affect the function of the engines if it is not carefully placed. More important still. there is a very substantial design task in running down through the wings to the missile the electrical and other compli- 1226 cated services which have to be installed if the missile is to work.
It is a very big designing job to fit any kind of guided missile to an aircraft. When the design of Hunters was made before 1950, our knowledge of guided missiles was very rudimentary, and from the start it was designed around the Aden gun installation. The Swift, which was designed later, was always intended to be the first aircraft to carry guided missiles. I want to make it clear that if the Swift was going into service as one of our standard fighters it would soon be fitted with and regularly using the "Fireflash." But, as the House is aware, the Swift can only be used for limited purposes, and that, also, therefore limits the use to which the Royal Air Force will be able to put the "Fireflash."
The firms of Hawkers and Fairey Aviation are producing a "Fireflash" version of the Hunter as a private version. From the Royal Air Force point of view the "Fireflash" version of the Hunter will not be completely designed, developed and available until a time when a later air-to-air guided missile is likely to be available. As I have said, though the "Fireflash" is more effective than any cannon and will be a useful weapon, it is the first of our guided missiles and later missiles will have more advanced features. The Royal Air Force will concentrate on missiles which come out later, but we shall be able to offer for export the "Fireflash-Hunter" combination. I hope we shall be able to offer it to many friendly countries.
Now I come to the medium-range ballistic missile or the inter-continental missile. I do not think the House will expect me to quote figures of actual range, but we are constructing missiles which will have a very long range, and I welcome the remarks of the right hon. Member on that matter. It seems fundamental that eventually it will be very difficult for any manned aircraft to penetrate enemy defences, and the real weapon is likely to be a ballistic missile. If we are to develop a warhead of any kind, there is no sense in doing that unless we have the means to deliver it, and I am glad to have the support of the right hon. Member in that matter.
We are pressing ahead with work on that subject. I am sorry to say that we shall soon need additional land for test grounds for rockets and rocket motors. 1227 We are negotiating for a site in Cumberland, Spadeadam Waste, and the county and local authorities are being consulted. It is necessary to take over an area of about 8,000 acres, but it is expected that 7,000 acres will continue to be available for grazing and forestry. I want to make it clear that rocket motors will be tested, and they will not be fitted with warheads nor let off in the air—it will be ground testing.
Finally on this subject, I wish to say a word about the progress that we are making in electronics generally. This country has much to be proud of in the pioneering work which we did in the war in electronics, and certainly we continue to make considerable advances over this whole field. No doubt the question will be asked, if this is where we are at present, why have we not more of these weapons, and why did we not have them sooner? That is the question I will next try to answer, first, on the question of numbers, people often use large numbers—one reads in newspapers of someone having 1,000 heavy bombers or 500—but I would ask the House to consider what the cost of that would be. A big bomber may cost from £500,000 or well over that amount. How can this country possibly afford to have forces on the scale that it is sometimes suggested we should have? The limit to the amount of weapons we can have is an economic and financial limit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That is bound to be so.
§ Mr. Maudling
I hope that hon. Members who supported me so strongly when I said that will not support those who blame us simultaneously for not having enough bombers.
I want now to talk about the problem of development. It is true that we have had disappointments in development. My right hon. Friend referred to that. The Swift is an example. The question we should ask ourselves is, why has it happened? Is it because we have been too slow in development or because we have tried to do too much? I think that probably the second is the truer answer. It must be remembered that in 1949–50, with the Korean situation and 1228 so on, an enormous push was put behind defence production and development. I think I shall have support here. Probably we took on programmes bigger than the economy of the country could carry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I thought I should have some support for that.
I want to make clear the position about the Royal Air Force Estimates for the current year and for next year. It has been pointed out that the figure for next year is down. The figure for the current year will be substantially underspent, as I explained in an Adjournment debate initiated by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) recently, by reason of the Swift cancellation and the Javelin re-phased programme and certain hold-ups in development.
I think that we are right to be more realistic for the future in assessing how fast development will proceed. It is extremely difficult to be certain if one starts to develop a complicated thing like an aircraft, which may take ten years. One cannot be certain whether it will take 9½ or 10½ years to complete. We should set our sights as high as possible. I think a man's reach should exceed his grasp. If the sights are set lower one is bound to be disappointed. It seems to me that when making financial estimates we must be as realistic as possible in estimating how much is likely in fact to be done.
I now turn to the question of the development of guided missiles. I think it is perfectly true to say, broadly speaking, that in the development of guided missiles this country is three or four years behind the United States. I want to deal both with the reasons for that and, later, with what we can do about it. If we are years behind someone there may be two reasons—either we have taken too long in development, or have started too late. In this case I have taken the first four major guided missiles, all of which were ordered by the Labour Government. Comparing the delay in ordering with the United States, the years of delay were four, four, three and a half, and five. If we started three or four years later than the United States, supported as we are by very much smaller resources, how can we overhaul that gap?
We have had a great deal of help from the United States, I freely admit, 1229 but even with smaller resources we are doing well if we are aiming at and not exceeding development times which are roughly comparable with those of the United States. The industries concerned have done a remarkable job in bridging this gap and building this amalgam of aerodynamics and electronics with very high-grade engineering. The work done by the technicians and engineers in this field calls for considerable commendation.
The "Fireflash" was produced in six years from the start of the design stage to delivery to the Royal Air Force, which is a short time in which to do it. In the last few years such delays as have occurred in production of guided missiles and such setbacks as there have been have amounted to a few months, each over a seven- to nine-year development cycle in a novel field, and that, I feel, is not too bad. References have been made to a ground-to-air guided missile developed in the United States. That took nine years to develop. We hope to develop a similar weapon in this country in about the same time. Hon. Members opposite orders a weapon which takes nine years to develop from 1949, so they cannot blame us if it is not available in 1955, unless our mathematics are very much at fault.
Finally on the question of guided missiles, I wish to pay a tribute to the help we receive from the Australians. The provision of facilities on the Woomera testing range, which they built, has been most admirable. We are grateful to them, and particularly to Mr. Beale, my opposite number in Australia. for the co-operation we have had on these matters. It is excellent and of great value.
On the development of bombers, broadly speaking, so far as I can see there is not a great deal of difference between development times in this country and in the United States. I compare us with the United States because, as everyone knows, they are extremely efficient producers of all sorts of mechanical devices, and in the case of the United States we have information on which to base useful comparisons. When we take into account the comparative differences between the two countries in resources—wind-tunnels, engineering manpower, flying hours, weather, money and all kinds of things—it is not at all discreditable that we should be able to produce a big 1230 bomber, for example, in roughly the same time as the United States can.
I do not want to go into the past—I have quite a lot of notes on the past, but the right hon. Gentleman eschewed that—but generally speaking, if we are considering an aircraft which was developed seven or ten years ago, we must look seven or ten years back to see who began it.
I pass now from the second question to the third point, during which I shall deal with many of the questions asked by the right hon. Gentleman concerning what we can do to improve matters in the future. We differ, no doubt, as to our interpretation of the present situation and its causes. I have tried to put my point of view, but I should like to deal with the very pertinent points raised by the right hon. Gentleman about what we can do in future. Of course, we must try to do better in future, particularly in view of the enormous technical advances that are being made in Russia. That is the challenge we must face, and that is the challenge which we are trying to face.
There are three ways in which we can try to improve on our present performance. The first is what the Government can do to improve their own organisation; the second, what we can do to give to industry more incentive to efficiency; and the third, what we can do about the organisation of industrial effort. I am sorry to speak for so long, but I want to deal with these points and many others which the right hon. Gentleman raised.
First, let me deal with the rôle of the Ministry of Supply in the development and production of weapons and whether I am an unnecessary nuisance. I do not mind very much if someone shoots my horse from under me. The important point is that whether the functions of the Ministry of Supply are carried out by the Ministry of Supply, by part of the Air Ministry or by anyone else, a strong production Department is essential.
I have been convinced very much during the past year that one of the mistakes that we have probably made in the past is not explaining sufficiently clearly the industrial limitations to those who specify the requirements. In other words, it is sometimes said that we have stopped people getting what they have 1231 asked for. I sometimes wonder whether we have stopped them often enough. It is important to hold that balance, and I regard it as my responsibility, with the assistance of my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Defence, who is ultimately responsible for these matters, to endeavour to see that we get the best possible blend of operational requirements and industrial possibility.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of duplication in research. I doubt whether much of that takes place. I should very much like to have any evidence he can give me, because the one thing we must not do is to waste research effort. An enormous research effort is undertaken at Ministry of Supply Establishments such as Farnborough, and on the whole it is very well directed. As a great proportion of the research work that is done in industry is done by contract with the Ministry of Supply—at any rate, it is paid for by the Ministry—I should have thought that we should be able to avoid duplication. I certainly want to do so, and I am grateful for any help that I get in avoiding duplication which can be avoided.
Then, the right hon. Gentleman raised the question of modifications. One of a number of steps instituted about a year ago by my right hon. and learned Friend who is now Foreign Secretary was to try to stop the process of modification earlier in the design stage of an aircraft. It is an old and, no doubt, everlasting battle between the best and the practicable, between the requirements of the user and the possibilities of the supplier. What we said we would try to do was to freeze the design of aircraft as early as possible in the development stage. That we have done, but we have not yet had many aircraft at a stage where it was possible to carry out this freezing process.
Generally speaking, before modifications are installed into an aircraft, they are agreed between the Ministry of Supply and the Service Department concerned, but I certainly accept that it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Supply to do our best to ensure that excessive modifications are not accepted. This view, I think, is now held by all concerned, and I believe that considerable progress has been made in dealing with this modification problem.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
My hon. Friends and I are very interested in the point about modifications, but how does it differ in any degree from what has been the practice of the Ministry of Supply for nearly ten years?
§ Mr. Maudling
It is, obviously, a matter of administration and not of system. There must be agreement between the user and producer whether a modification should be incorporated. We are trying to tighten up the process and to ensure that there are fewer modifications. No doubt the party opposite did the same thing. We are merely following the same road, but as hon. Members know, it is not an easy road.
I also said that we were setting up a system of project officers to look after each important development project, and that has been done. We have also adopted the development batch system. The more I look at these problems of development, the more I see that hold-ups in development, particularly in the later stages, arise from an inadequate number of prototypes. Certainly, nothing has done more to set back the progress of the Javelin than the crash of prototypes when so few of them were available. These are ways in which we can improve our own efficiency.
How can we do something to provide greater incentives to industry and, at the same time as greater incentives, greater penalties? That, too, is an extremely difficult problem, and it has been studied by successive Ministers of Supply over a long period. There is, in fact, a great deal of literature on the subject in the Department headed "Sticks and Carrots," which seems a very reasonable title.
The difficulty in the case of development is not to decide what incentive or penalty to give to someone but to decide when an incentive has been earned or a penalty deserved. It is extremely difficult, in developing something like an aircraft, to specify exactly the performance that is required. Many of the objections against aircraft when they get into the hands of the Services are more of a qualitative than a quantitative character.
The real difficulty—I am trying to get all the advice I can, not only in this country but from other countries—is to determine when a really good job has been done and, equally, when a less satisfactory 1233 job has been performed. If we can decide between good and poor development, it is not really difficult to decide how to give greater incentives for the one and to apply penalties for the other. By and large, the fact is that the profits of the aircraft industry are made, not from development, but from production. The real incentive to organise work on development is the obtaining of a production order.
For the last five years or so, the aircraft industry has had enormous orders for aircraft. Ever since the Korean war, orders have been pouring into the aircraft industry because of the needs of rearmament. Firms have known very well that if they did not get an order for one type of aircraft, plenty of other orders would come along. That situation is changing. The demand for military aircraft is falling. In fact, the production of military aircraft will decline quite substantially in number over the next few years, as I have on more than one occasion told the House.
In those circumstances, it is becoming far more important for a manufacturer to get a production order. In future, firms will be facing the position that if their development fails and they do not get the production order, there will be nothing else coming along for them in the way of military orders. That is the most important of all incentives that can be given to the industry.
§ Mr. Callaghan
On the basis of criterion for rewards and failures, how do the Government assess the performance in the production or development of the Swift and the Victor?
§ Mr. Maudling
I do not see why the hon. Member links those two aircraft together; there is a great difference between them. In the case of the Swift, we are still in negotiation with the aircraft company in question, and while we are negotiating it would obviously be improper for me to make a statement. The Victor is a very promising aircraft. Its development was delayed a few months because one of the only two prototypes available crashed. Why the hon. Member should link the two aircraft, I cannot understand. Perhaps he cart tell me about it afterwards.
§ Mr. Maudling
It is absolute nonsense to talk about the Victor as a failure.
What I was saying about production orders brings me to the other main point made by the right hon. Gentleman about the concentration of the industry and the reduction in the number of projects. This is probably the most important change that we can make in the whole situation. It is very often said that compared with the United States, there are too many units in the industry. I said the other day that he would be a brave man who said exactly how many firms there should be in the industry. This afternoon, I think I should amend "brave" to "very rash."
To talk about the number of firms is putting the cart before the horse. The problem is the number of projects. It is the relation between the technical resources and the number of projects which those resources are asked to undertake that is our difficulty. If one looks at the position in comparison with the United States, it will be seen that the United States puts far more resources, both human and technical, on to any given project.
We can improve our performance either by increasing the number of technicians, which is a very slow process, or by reducing in some way the number of projects. I think that the right way to tackle the problem of concentration is to make sure that the number of projects put upon the industry is not excessive. After that, the organisation of the industry is likely to fall into shape. The right hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) talked yesterday about forcible amalgamations, but in these matters we are dealing with human beings, often with brilliant human beings, and we cannot just shove them around like that. However, although I do not believe in shotgun marriages, I do not see why I should not express general approval of the principles of matrimony. Let me leave it at that.
Let us consider the various projects for bombers, helicopters, fighters, and guided missiles, and let me explain how the process of rationalisation of the number of projects is taking place as we go along. First, to deal with the bombers: the Valiant, a big bomber ordered, quite rightly, by right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in the Government, as a reinsurance. It is proving to be a very 1235 good aircraft, but its production will fade out when the later and better types, the Vulcan and the Victor, come along. Then we shall be working on two parallel large bombers. The production lines for the production of them are now tooled up and there would not be any economy in abandoning one in favour of the other. Our general line will, therefore, be to improve these two bombers by stretching out their performance in the next few years. That could be done by giving them greater engine power or giving them greater power to beat the enemy defences. There are many ways, many of which have been discussed in the Press, and none, I can assure the House, has escaped our attention, of stretching out the performance of these two big bombers.
After that will come the ballistic missile and at least one other bomber. The case, I think, is made in the present phase of having two bombers, and a third as an insurance. One cannot possibly go nap on either the ballistic missile or a large, high-performance bomber. We must continue to have reinsurance. We must not put all our eggs into one basket, and we must not have more baskets than we can afford.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Would the right hon. Gentleman tell us how much longer it will be before the Victor comes into squadron service?
§ Mr. Maudling
I think it is certain that the Vulcan will come this year and the Victor a few months behind. Its delay was caused by the crash of the second prototype.
I come next to helicopters. There are some new decisions which have been taken which may interest the House, and which are designed to rationalise their production. At present, there are too many different helicopter development projects and, therefore, we are rationalising them by cancelling some of the projects. I think hon. Members would support a policy of concentration of effort, and will certainly also agree that it can be achieved only by cancellations, which are often painful, and mean that much work already done will not be brought to fruition. However, we must have some cancellations if we are to restrict the number of projects.
The production of the Whirlwind and of the Bristol are going on, and in view 1236 of the fact that the Secretary of State for War has decided that he can take the Skeeter, which has been developed by the Saunders-Roe Company this will enable us to cancel any further Government support and expenditure on the Fairey Ultra Light helicopter. The Navy will obtain its future requirements from the Westland Company, which is developing the S58. The Royal Air Force will have the Bristol twin-rotor helicopter. At the same time the Fairey Company will go ahead with the Rotodyne. This involves cancelling the Fairey Ultra Light helicopter, the naval application of the Bristol, and cancelling the Hunting Percival helicopter.
So we have three design teams, each working on one aircraft, each for one specific purpose. That seems to be a rational picture.
§ Mr. Maudling
The present fighter position is that the Hunter and Javelin are to be followed by the P1, and when the P1 comes into service we shall have made up by a large amount the gap between our fighter performance and the Americans' fighter performance—the gap that was opened between 1945 and 1950. The P1, in speed, armament and everything else, will stand comparison with contemporary American fighters. In that way we shall have done much to close the gap between us. In guided missiles we have cancelled a certain number of projects and are economising on some others.
Generally speaking, I would agree with the right hon. Gentleman that some degree of concentration is necessary, and that is precisely what is taking place in the production of bombers, helicopters, fighters and guided missiles. Our policy is to concentrate on a smaller number of projects, as my right hon. and learned Friend said yesterday, and make sure that they are carried through to adequate fulfilment.
I would close by saying that the armaments which we have been providing for our Services during the last few years have been produced by the British industries concerned efficiently and well. If we concentrate on doing what we can do well, if we concentrate the use of our resources to give us the maximum which 1237 we can expect, and if we do not overload the resources which we have available, we can look forward to well-equipped and efficient Armed Forces in the future years.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Some disappointment was expressed in the debate yesterday with the contents of the Defence White Paper, but rarely have I heard a speech from the Government side of the House which so exposed defence deficiencies as the one to which we have just listened. If ever there was a case for strengthening the hands of the Minister of Defence, it was contained in the speech which the Minister of Supply has just made. I advise the Minister of Defence to have his hands strengthened at the earliest moment to deal with this Department, and not to allow it to spread itself all over the place.
I wonder what hon. Members opposite would have said if. after five years of vast expenditure on aircraft production, research, development and the rest of it, not started from scratch, the Labour Government had told the story just revealed. They would not have tolerated a statement of that kind. I cannot blame the right hon. Gentleman so much, but the Government ought to be ashamed of themselves to have allowed a Minister to speak at this stage as he has done today.
The long speech we have had from the Minister should have been made in a debate in Committee of Supply on the Ministry of Supply Vote or on the Air Estimates. I do not say it had no bearing on the subject of defence, but it was remote from the substance of defence strategy and defence organisation. It was bad enough yesterday when several hon. Members—on both sides, I admit—departed from the subject of defence and discussed economics and foreign policy and quite a number of irrelevant subjects. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State for Air is waking up. I advise him not to interrupt.
I do not want to deal with the right hon. Gentleman, but with the subject of defence. It is about time it was considered. What is our purpose? First of all, the assumption is that we require both defence strategy and defence organisation. I know that some of my hon. Friends—a minority of them—are genuinely opposed to defence preparations. I understand 1238 that. After some of the speeches we have had from the other side of the House about the increasing costs and what has been said generally on the subject, I have a great deal of sympathy with my hon. Friends. Nevertheless, the majority of this party and the majority of the people in the country regard defence preparations as essential in circumstances of international tension.
It is a great pity. It is a very costly business. It would have been different, of course, if diplomacy had succeeded. A remarkable and most significant fact is that in spite of the foreign offices and diplomats and ambassadors and all the snooty gentlemen in the Foreign Office—and even the most junior of them regards himself as more important than a Cabinet Minister, as I know—in spite of the diplomatic bag of tricks, we have had in this century two great wars and a succession of minor ones. That is a confession of diplomatic failure. It is a great pity that that is so, but let us face the facts and be realistic about them.
It would appear, therefore, that in circumstances of world tension some measure of defence is required. The question emerges—what kind of defence, what can we afford and to what is it directed? These are questions which we are entitled to ask, and we expect a firm answer from the Government. So far, we have not had an answer. For example, the Minister of Supply has told us about his intentions. After five years, the Government still have good intentions! They are going to deal with special bottlenecks—I took the words down—and adopt a new system to provide supplies when real difficulties emerge.
I notice also that the Minister of Supply threw the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) overboard because, pointing to the right hon. Gentleman who is no longer in his place, the Minister said that in 1952 the Government dealt with capacity for aircraft production but now they have disposed of that. Now, what are they going to do? They are going to give consideration to super-priority, whatever that may mean.
If we have to deal with the subject of defence, let us consider first of all what the Government propose. It is a kind of three-legged stool. First of all, there is the provision of a deterrent in the event 1239 of a major outbreak of war. Then there is to be provision for a limited war, or limited wars as the case may be. Presumably the Government envisage that at some time or other. There must also be, of course, provision to enable us to provide forces to deal with disturbances in our Colonial Territories, disturbances which usually occur because of diplomatic blunders on the part of the Government.
These are our tasks. I tell the House, whether it agrees with me or not, that we simply are incapable of facing up to these three important tasks. It cannot be done unless—and this indeed was the implication of what the Minister of Supply said—costs rise to such an extent as to make the economy of the country unendurable. We simply cannot afford it. At the same time, I must say to my hon. and right hon. Friends, not in any spirit of hostility at all, but merely as a corrective, that they must be very careful not to make too many demands on the Government in the sphere of aircraft, of guided missiles, of ballistic rockets or of this, that and the other in defence, because it costs money. They must also be careful not to suggest that projects should be curtailed and aircraft factories should be highly concentrated, because there is a political consequence.
It depends upon whether one represents a constituency in which there are aircraft factories. I do not know whether that has occurred to hon. Members. If an hon. Member represents a constituency in North London where there is an aircraft factory employing 3,000 or 4,000 men, and the Government, perhaps on a suggestion made by hon. Members in various parts of the House, decide to curtail production, or suspend it entirely or transfer it to South London, we are certain to have some objection raised by the hon. Member representing the North London Constituency concerned. We must be very careful about these matters.
We have to face one inescapable fact to which General Gruenther has referred. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) was quoting yesterday an extract from a speech delivered by General Gruenther before the English Speaking Union, which was published in the Manchester Guardian. It was not the first time that General Gruenther had made that speech. I heard 1240 him making it on several occasions. He has been making it for the past few years. General Gruenther is a very able, enlightened man. He has to perform many tasks, and many burdens have been imposed upon him. What he has said has been endorsed by many others, including Field Marshal Montgomery in lectures which he delivered and which have appeared in military periodicals that have been made available in the Library from time to time. It is important to study these comments and to watch what is being said in the American Press and certain sections of the foreign Press.
What emerges from these speeches and writings—and I thought that it was well-known to hon. and right hon. Members—is that the strategy for a future war has undergone a vast transformation, in theory, of course. That is to say, those responsible are now building up their forces and organisations and weapons, whatever they may be, for the purpose of dealing in a nuclear fashion with an aggressor. That is what they have decided, and I thought that that was well-known. This is what has been decided by the people upon whom we depend for advice in these matters, as do the Government.
It is argued—and the Minister of Supply has added to the confusion—that there might be a limited war in which atomic weapons would not be used, because the assumption is that if we use what are called modest or minor atomic weapons they can be dealt with in a conventional fashion by the enemy.
What is the position? The position, recognised by all the military experts associated with N.A.T.O., and about which they have made declarations, is that because of our weakness in conventional forces, because we have not got the ground forces in the West, or air farces adequate in character vis-à-vis a potential aggressor—and the assumption is that Soviet Russia is the potential aggressor—because of our undoubted and admitted weakness in conventional weapons, if an outbreak occurred we should be overwhelmed; and, whenever we apprehend the danger of being overwhelmed we should have recourse to atomic and other nuclear weapons, and this means a major conflict and disaster all round.
1241 After all, we are dependent on those people. It is true that they change their minds frequently. I noticed, for instance, that a high-ranking officer who only a year ago in a lecture damned the Navy, saying that it was of no value, has now declared his view that the Navy might be of some value in order to guard our sea routes. I must say, however, that in a nuclear war, which may last only four or five days because of the devastation it would cause, I cannot imagine that guarding our sea routes would be of much value.
If it is true that the danger to which we are exposed is a major conflict in which, because of fear of being overwhelmed, we have recourse to the use of atomic weapons, of high intensity, formidable power, and so on—if that is true, then clearly we ought to cry a halt. Here, I speak bluntly and forthrightly. We should call a halt to the continued production of conventional weapons and the build up of conventional forces. We cannot have it both ways. We certainly cannot have it three ways.
I know the arguments, I have heard them many times. We were in office when the nuclear conception emerged, and I recall the arguments that were adduced. They were that we must hold on to National Service, that we must build up a Regular complement, that we must have cruisers and aircraft carriers. In the sphere of naval operations it was said that we must have anti-submarine craft, frigates, minesweepers and the rest. It was said that we must have ground forces for the Army and all kinds of aircraft for the Air Force.
I shall deal with the last point first. I venture the opinion—for what it may be worth, but I shall stand by it until I am convinced to the contrary—that it is a mistake to produce too many aircraft. I am sure that hon. Members will acquit me of any desire to weaken our defences. It is unpopular to demand adequate defences, particularly in the party of which I am now a humble member. Nevertheless, I do not want to weaken our defences because they are a kind of fire insurance—the kind of thing which may not produce a profit, but which is a precaution.
All the same, I cannot see why, for example, we want so many aircraft 1242 carriers in the Navy, especially when it is not clear what their rôle would be in a nuclear conflict. Nor do I see why we should return to the cruiser concept. By the way, has it occurred to hon. Members that some of the aircraft carriers and cruisers have a complement of 2,000 or 2,500 men? That is where the men are absorbed. In peace time there is no question of naval operations because they are not used to deal with colonial disturbances, as is the case with our ground forces.
Therefore, I think the time has come when the admirals must be put in their place. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] In a minute or two I am coming to the question of the integration of the Services, on which I have expressed myself many times in writing and in speech. I would get rid of the Board of Admiralty at once. At the Board of Admiralty there is a First Sea Lord, a Second, a Third, a Fourth and a Fifth Sea Lord, all engaged in functional activities, so we are informed—though when I was an observer from the inside I did not regard their functional activities as being of great importance. They are fine people, they are delightful people—even more charming than the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Nevertheless, we cannot afford to pay for the charm. Without going into this matter too fully, because there will be an opportunity to do so on the Navy Estimates, I beg of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to give it his attention.
Take the case of the Army. There has been much talk about the reduction in the period of National Service. I myself had something to do with the agitation four years ago. I did not get a great deal of support, in fact there was an occasion when I had to speak from my own Front Bench in the location where my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) is residing. I had to take the corner seat because I was at variance with my colleagues farther along. They did not like the idea that I should demand a reduction in the period of National Service. Indeed, there was a suggestion that I wanted to be expelled—
§ Mr. Shinwell
Anyway, there was a suggestion that the Whip should be withdrawn, but I charmed them out of that. Now what is the position? Strange as it may seem, although it is implied in the Amendment, I shall not ask the Government for a six months' cut now, and I will give the House the reason. It is because I want to see the contents of the White Paper dealing with Service pay fully implemented and proved successful. I understand its purpose. Its purpose is to increase the Regular complement. Of course, the Government do not expect to get more than 200,000 recruits at the peak. This is not the first time that that device has been adopted.
I adopted it with the consent of my Cabinet colleagues. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) will remember that we increased the pay in 1950 by £55 million and by £17 million to provide increased pensions and terminal gratuities, some amounting to £1,000. What was the difficulty then? We had to deal with the Treasury, and this will be a formidable task for the right hon. and learned Gentleman also. It was a shot in the arm. It increased the number of Regulars, but afterwards they tailed off again and the same may happen again. Nevertheless, I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman succeeds and is able to obtain a complement of 200,000 Regulars. If he can manage that, in 12 months' time he can abolish National Service.
I do not want to bother about the cut, because I think that has been complicated by the decision of the Government to reduce the numbers by 100,000 in a year and a half from now. A complication has emerged. I do not want to go into the technical side of it. Many of my hon. Friends understand it and, indeed, the argument was deployed yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw.
Why do I say 200,000 men would be sufficient? Our colonial commitments, of course, are temporary in character; they come and go. It may well be that in Cyprus we can overcome the obstacles that are now there. We have no large numbers in the Suez Canal Zone and we have taken our men out of Korea. It may well be that we can deal with our colonial commitments without National 1244 Service, particularly if men will re-engage for longer periods. It depends on that, and the Government must put their backs into it.
However, there is another reason why 200,000 men will be enough which is even more important. I remember a discussion at Fontainebleau five years ago when admirals, generals and air marshals from various continental countries, N.A.T.O., the United States and others were present. We were considering the size of divisions. I have an abysmal ignorance of military subjects. Some people think that we should have a military "gent" as Minister of Defence. That is the worst thing that could possibly happen. We had Earl Alexander as Minister of Defence—I have described him like that in order not to mix him up with my right hon. Friend who was formerly known as A. V. Alexander—and look what a success was made of that. Small blame to him. It is not easy for a military gentleman to quarrel with other military gentlemen, but it is easy for someone ignorant of military subjects to express himself.
What is required is a streamlining of our ground forces—I have tried to fortify that with gesticulation, and no doubt somebody will add the appropriate language. We do not require large and unwieldly divisions with so long a tail. There are some people who say that we are committed to four divisions for N.A.T.O., but they have not noticed that we are committed to four divisions, or to the equivalent in striking power. We could provide the sriking power, a mobile, highly-trained force, with fewer than four divisions, by a number of brigade groups. Indeed, the concept now emerging in France. Germany and elsewhere, is one not of large divisions but of small combat groups of the kind I have indicated. The Russian divisions are only about 10,000 or 12,000 strong. I cannot say whether they are changing.
Streamlining of our ground forces is essential, and I am very glad to note that to a certain extent that is implied in the Defence White Paper and in the Army White Paper. More power to their elbow. We do not want to absorb too many men, and certainly we want to get rid of National Service itself, which is wasteful, costly, unnecessary and a burden on industry. Although there may be nothing 1245 inherently unsound in the principle of young people rendering service, nevertheless, it is contrary to our concept of military organisation to have Regulars and National Service men. We are about the only country in N.A.T.O., apart from the United States, where the numbers of National Service men are equivalent to the numbers of Regulars. In France, the number of Regulars is very much smaller than the number of conscripts, and that also applies to other continental countries. I could argue this at great length, but I have indicated my view about it.
What about air forces? I have said that we must be very careful not to make unnecessary, exaggerated and extravagant demands for more aircraft. This is in defence of the Government, and, heaven knows, someone must come to their defence after some of the speeches we have heard. When we talk about the deficiencies in the Hunter, the Swift and other aircraft, it must be remembered that there never was an aircraft, certainly not in the last thirty or forty years, that did not at some time or other reveal deficiencies long after the aircraft were developed and produced. There had to be modifications, changes in design and all the rest, new gadgets, and so on. It is natural, and the same principle applies to any intricate piece of machinery. I do not blame the Government because of that. I blame them for putting up a defence. They should have admitted it, have been done with it, and then tried to put things right.
Something has got to be done about the Ministry of Defence. There was some discussion about this yesterday, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) made an exceptionally constructive speech on this subject at the end of the debate. It was one of the best speeches of the day, although my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley made a very fine contribution about the Army. In the course of my right hon. Friend's speech, something was said about integration of the Services, and it was suggested that it was very difficult to do that, because of the inadequate powers of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I do not agree. I know all about the functions of the Ministry of Defence. I was very fortunate, because I had the co-operation of all my Service colleagues. What I lacked in power, 1246 I gained in co-operation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Charm."] It was their readiness to make a contribution. We got on very well indeed.
I will tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman what the trouble is. There has been a certain amount of boasting—and there was a reference to it yesterday in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman—about the appointment of a chairman of the Chiefs of Staffs Committee. I have described it as the fifth wheel of the coach. I do not think that it is of the slightest use. What would be of use would be to separate the Chiefs of Staffs from their respective Departments. Let us take, for example, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, who represents the Army. Chief of the Imperial General Staff! That is a complete anachronism. There is no such thing. I fully understand that he is the military head of the Army, but when we have, as we now have, a Chief of the Imperial General Staff who represents the War Office, a First Sea Lord who represents the Board of Admiralty, and a Marshal of the Air Force who represents the Royal Air Force, what happens? I know what happens. It happens now as it happened in my time. They represent their Departments. They meet frequently, sometimes with the Minister, and they tell him all about strategy. He tells them what he thinks of them. The mere fact of having a chairman of that Committee does not matter. He is on the same level. That is no use.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman requires three or four high-ranking officers. They could be all admirals, although I would rather they were not, or all marshals of the Air Force, or all full generals, or field marshals. I do not care. Those three or four high-ranking officers with the Minister and, of course, with the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, should be responsible for policy making. I do not want the Minister of Defence to deal with detailed administration in the respective Services. All sorts of things come under that head. His job is to deal with the allocation of resources. When it comes to the question of what requirements there should be for the three Services, they put in their inventories and state their requirements, and it is the right hon. and learned Gentleman who determines what they shall get. I want to 1247 strengthen the right hon. and learned Gentleman's powers in that direction.
There was a debate in another place—I cannot quote what was said—in the course of which Lord Swinton—he is by no means regarded as very advanced, and I was surprised to read his speech—made a demand not for complete integration, but for something along the lines that I have just advocated. I beg the right hon. and learned Gentleman to give his unremitting attention to the matter. I will tell him why.
We first assume the need for defence in the absence of diplomatic success. I wish it were otherwise. However, we postulate the need for defence. Then we have to decide the nature of our defence, what we can afford, the direction it shall take, and simultaneously—these matters cannot be separated in point of time—the nature of the organisation. The right kind of organisation is a Ministry of Defence with four prongs—the Ministry of Supply, properly controlled; the Admiralty; the War Office; and the Air Ministry.
I want to say a word about research. I heard what the Minister of Supply said about it. In view of what he subsequently said about research, I was surprised that he told us he had been in his office for a year. It has taken him a long time to find things out, and he has not yet fully found them out. The fact is that there is overlapping in research. The Ministry of Supply deals with research on a vast scale. It would be interesting to know what it spends. The Admiralty deals with research. It will have nothing to do with the Ministry of Supply. Is that not amazing? Are hon. Members aware that the Admiralty will not allow the Ministry of Supply to impinge on its research preserves? The "Silent Service" knows all about it. Why is it silent? It is because it always gets its way. I do not intend to say anything derogatory about the Navy as such. I am speaking about the organisation, and it is the organisation that I think is deficient. The War Office and Royal Air Force hardly touch on the subject of research; for the most part they leave it to the Ministry of Supply.
This is all wrong. That is not the way to concentrate our resources. It is very important to concentrate our resources. I 1248 will tell the House why. It is because we have not got adequate resources. Our resources in men, in materiel, and in technical and technological assistance are by no means what we should like them to be. We have to make the best of the situation, and I believe that the Ministry of Defence can tackle the job.
I think that is all I need say on the subject, but I hope that in future debates on the Army, Navy, Air Force and Ministry of Supply Estimates, we shall be able to return to some of the detailed questions which have played a very prominent part in this debate.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr (Cambridge)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), as always, has given us a provocative and entertaining speech. I should like to take up in detail some of his points, but as only two and three-quarter hours remain for speeches by back benchers I will confine my speech within a limit of ten minutes and deal with two of his points. The first one is the object of our defence policy, and the second is whether we should devote the major part of our resources to nuclear weapons.
I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) said somewhere—I cannot remember when or where—that one of the advantages of growing older is that one was there. Ever since Sir Thomas Inskip appeared, with his typewriter, as the first Minister of Defence, I have found a certain similarity of themes running through these debates.
I remember, 22 years ago, making a speech in the House, as a warm advocate of the League of Nations, and suggesting that peace might be found by limiting submarines to coastal operations, by limiting artillery to under a calibre of 6 ins., and by abolishing the bomber. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) had made a splendid speech arousing the nation to the dangers which faced it. I turned to him and said that I thought his oratory could be compared with the Cachucha, the national dance of Spain, whose rhythm was so fascinating that even the most venerable and most pious of cardinals abandoned themselves to the lilt of the castanets. My right hon. Friend was right, and I was wrong.
1249 As now with Russia, Hitler, a potential aggressor, could have had from this peace-loving nation a reduction in armaments and a settlement on any honourable terms. So I would answer the right hon. Member for Easington by saying that the object of our defence policy is, in the words of the Minister of Defence, not to wage war but to prevent war.
As now, we were then faced by a potential aggressor, a dictator armed with fearful weapons. It is right to remember that the horror of Guernica and the great dive-bombing campaign threatened by Germany was almost as frightening to us as is the horror of the hydrogen bomb now. However, I learned one lesson. I remember it when I ask myself whether our defence is necessary. I had the privilege of working with Mr. Duff Cooper, later Lord Norwich. He always said that there are things worse than death or destruction, and that a worse thing is to give in to something in which one does not believe. Therefore, I believe that we must today stand up to dictatorship. I hate dictatorship of any form. Whether it comes from the proletariat, the middle classes, or the upper classes, it is bad.
We have been told by the Russians that there is no longer any danger of nuclear war. Why should we be surprised by this? Peace was in their hands all along. They state in their Communist doctrine that bloody wars would be inevitable as the dying capitalist states turned, like wolves at bay, against the Soviet homeland. We know there was never the slightest danger of aggression from the capitalist countries, who reduced their forces to a minimum after the war while Russia maintained hers at 175 divisions.
Talking of the nuclear weapon, my right hon. and learned Friend said that it might be necessary to use it tactically in a minor war. That may be so, but we ought to face the possible consequences. Let us take, as an imaginary example, the possibility that the Chinese Communists might move against Quemoy and Matsu. If the American Navy is involved, it is possible that the Chinese bombers may attack the American ships. The Americans would obviously then retaliate against the Chinese mainland aerodromes. The Chinese Communists would move their aircraft bases further back until, finally, there was bombing 1250 right in the interior of China. It may be that one can limit wars by using atomic missiles tactically, but, if we do that, we should be prepared to realise the consequences, which may lead to a global war.
I wish to deal with a point which was raised by the Minister of Defence. My right hon. and learned Friend mentioned that about 12½ million people would have to be moved from our great cities. I wonder whether this possibility has been considered. The first onslaught of atomic weapons will be delivered against the most vital targets. Every surprise attack in the past from the German attack on Poland to that on the Low Countries has been concentrated on airfields. It seems to me that. if we evacuate our people in large numbers into the countryside, we may run the danger of placing them near the targets which will first be attacked. It may be possible, therefore, that, in the long run, the towns may be safer centres than those vital areas like aerodromes or ports.
The second point, raised by the right hon. Gentleman was, if I may deal briefly with it, should not we devote the major part of our resources to nuclear weapons? I would say that this island cannot afford to do so because 70 per cent. of our population lives in towns. How can we feed ourselves unless we have escort vessels and cruisers to convoy the vital food supplies to this country?
May I add one other point. We have decided that we have reached what is called a nuclear stalemate in the world today; that war is very unlikely, but the war will be carried on by different means. It will be switched, I think, to Asia, to the Middle East and to Africa; and there the Communists will use all the local grievances as devices for increasing their power. They will say to the Asiatics, "We are Asiatics like you. We stand for peace. We will fight with you against the imperialists." In Africa they will tell the people, "We have no colour bar in our country. No problem like that of Miss Lucey will face you if you join our camp." In the Middle East they will say, "We are your friends and we want to help you. There will be no economic ties imposed on you for the benefit you receive in return."
We should not be put on the defensive by that type of campaign. As a corollary to our military defence, we should have 1251 a plan and announce it to the world. Do not let us worry about what the Russians are doing or follow them from place to place, but let us follow calmly our own plan. I have an uneasy feeling that in this cold war the Russians have the initiative. We should tell the world what the free world is doing and what it stands for, what it believes in. We should in fact offer them a way of life supported by free government, where changes can take place without revolution or slaughter, where the position of these nations is not that of a satellite in a Communist empire but a free and sovereign people devoted to our own ideals.
I feel that we have lost a certain amount of faith and resilience. One of the most difficult things is to realise that this type of conflict does not resemble a one hundred yards or two hundred yards race on the track. It is a long marathon, when sometimes we may feel that our lungs are bursting, our mouth is dry and our head is swimming. If we have faith in our power to survive, then we can remember the words written about Chatham. He believed in England till England came to believe in herself. If we do this, the future is ours.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilfred Fienburgh (Islington, North)
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Hamilton Kerr). I agree with many of the points he has made, points fully endorsed by hon. Members on this side of the House. I invite the hon. Gentleman to think further and recognise that there is a strange thing happening in the world struggle today. It may be argued that the hydrogen bomb, and even the ultimate weapon of the death-ray-dealing satellite—if that were possible—is itself out of date, because at the moment the war is being fought with entirely different weapons. It is being fought with psychological weapons; with the weapon of anti-imperialism; with the weapon of the demand for an egalitarian society.
If that is so, it demands a revolution not in military policy, not in defence policy, but in foreign policy, and to a large extent a revolution in domestic policy as well. So I invite the hon. Gentleman to pursue his line of thought a little further. If he does so, he will come to some surprising conclusions about the 1252 steps which will have to be taken in domestic, foreign and colonial affairs in order to meet this new type of war and this new type of weapon.
Today, we are discussing the fairly narrow problem of defence but, important as that is, it is right to draw attention to the fact that this new type of war is being waged, this war of peaceful competition with new weapons. I assume that perhaps the switch to these new weapons has been occasioned by the failure of the old weapons in the hands of Stalinist Russia; that it has been occasioned by the fact that the organised defences of the West have dissuaded the exploitation of Soviet policy along military lines. Perhaps the switch is because of the very strength of the defences we have begun to build up in the West, and, therefore, it remains necessary that we should consider and maintain our counter defensive problems.
I must say how bitterly disappointed I feel with the speeches from the other side of the House. There was a time when, during defence debates. the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was able to give a kind of massive, comprehensive survey of strategy and tactics in a global and comprehensive way. Instead of that, we have today spent our time discussing gaskets, blowers, and hits and pieces of aircraft. Yesterday, we had the technical, lawyer's brief. Today, we have the technological dissertation. Only from this side of the House, from my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and my right hon. Friend and former Defence Minister the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) has come any attempt to look at the whole strategy and scope of our defensive efforts.
I wish to say a word about a point which has been discussed fairly extensively in the Press and has been referred to twice during the debate. That is the feasibility and the possibility of achieving a structure of graduated deterrents in the world. I am very laudatory of the motives of those people who would seek to set up the structure of a system of graduated deterrents. I understand and appreciate their arguments. It has, of course, been said that with the emergence of the hydrogen bomb, the first casualty was the export. Discussions on graduated deterrents seem at the moment like 1253 an attempt by the expert to assure his own survival.
The argument goes on these lines; first, it would be impossible to expect any free and democratic nation of the West to launch an all-out thermonuclear war in response to local aggression based on conventional forces in some other part of the world. This is a very powerful argument. A democratic community always finds it extremely difficult to take such ruthless and grim decision.
If there is an attack, perhaps a small attack, in some area—which we may proceed to define in a moment—by conventional forces; in an area which seems at the moment to have no important impact on our own defence structure, would it be right for a democratic Government to be expected to launch the full horror of thermo-nuclear war in the world; knowing that retaliation would be suffered in this country and that we should be embarking on a measure of racial and national suicide? Therefore, say those who argue for the graduated deterrent, the limited attack, the local attack, must be met by some limited deterrent.
But those who advance this argument must meet the danger, because there is a danger, that the use of a thermo-nuclear weapon in a limited war might cause an overspill, on the lines described by the hon. Member for Cambridge, into a general thermo-nuclear war. In other words, when a technically small weapon is used, the reply might be made by a major atomic weapon and, in time, the whole holocaust would start. Those who favour the argument for graduated deterrents say, therefore, that we must, as it were, advertise in advance the limit of the effort we are proposing to make in any given set of circumstances, in the hope that massive retaliation on ourselves will not be forthcoming.
Frankly, I cannot accept that argument at all. I think everyone is anxious to find some way out of the horrible effect of global thermo-nuclear war. As I said before, I appreciate the motives of people like Vice-Admiral Sir Anthony Buzzard, the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), all of whom have devoted a great deal of time, thought and discussion to this problem, and have written many articles about it. But I really cannot see that that is 1254 viable anywhere in the world except as a paper theory.
The acid test is to try to apply the theory of graduated deterrents to any part of the world which might be the scene of a local war. Let us stop arguing in theory and put the problem on the ground. Is it possible, for example, to use a system of graduated deterrents in the Middle East? Let us suppose that there was an attack upon the Northern Tier organisation of the Bagdad Treaty Powers. Would it be possible to use thermo-nuclear weapons there in the hope of keeping the battle limited to that sphere?
The first thing that we must realise is that the only targets upon which we could use those weapons would presumably be the passes in the mountains, through which the advancing troops from the north would have to come—and those are well into Iranian territory. In that case the first casualty in any attempt to use a tactical atomic weapon would be one of our Allies. Could we imagine using this method in the Far East? If the discussions upon the future of Vietnam break down and the Viet-Minh—who are possibly all teed-up to go at any time now—decide to move, is it possible to suggest using tactical atomic weapons of a thermo-nuclear type in order to stem their attack? That, I say, would be completely impossible, because if we did that we should probably alienate once and for all any hope of winning to our side the uncommitted nations of Asia.
The use of the tactical atomic weapon anywhere in Asia spells complete doom to any hopes we may have to bring these uncommitted nations on to our side. The more we try to visualise the practical use of this graduated deterrent—the tactical use of thermo-nuclear weapons—the less feasible it becomes.
I hope that we should not be involved in any attempt to preserve the régime in Formosa under Chiang Kai-shek, so let us bring the problem nearer home. If a local war were started against Hong Kong, it might be desirable for us to try to localise it. Would it be possible to do so by the graduated use of tactical atomic deterrents? No, because Hong Kong, as an island, would soon be practically air-borne under retaliatory attack. The same argument applies in the case of Central Europe and Germany. We 1255 have argued and pleaded with Germany, and have now managed to persuade her to embark upon a military rearmament programme. We are determinedly anxious to reserve the strength of Germany to the West. But if atomic weapons were used in a local war in Europe, the first casualty will be Germany.
We are, therefore, forced to the grim and unpleasant conclusion that there is no real possibility of the use of graduated deterrents. I am rather distressed at the fact that some of my hon. Friends are taking this theory even further and are now advocating an attempt to civilise the hydrogen bomb war. They are asking for a codification of the rules of hydrogen bomb warfare, and a return to the old "open city" theory of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when wars were restricted and cities were left alone. Frankly, speaking as a man who is passionately against war, I hope that we make no attempt, by any convention or international agreement, to try to civilise atomic warfare.
§ Mr. Fienburgh
This is a matter which has been fairly widely discussed. That is why I am raising it in the House today. I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Yardley (Mr. Usborne) is smiling. He is no doubt interested in the matter.
§ Mr. Usborne
I was the author of one of the letters to which my hon. Friend may be referring. I should admit that I put it out in order to show the absurdity of the whole conception.
§ Mr. Fienburgh
Then my hon. Friend's smile was one of agreement and not of derision.
We are still left with a problem. If a local outbreak occurs, what are we to do about it? I accept the general conception that it is practically impossible for a Western democratic nation to be the first to launch a thermo-nuclear attack upon the centres of population in any other country. To my mind, therefore, some form of localised military action is needed, possibly with ground-to-ground guided missiles as the core of our force—a deterrent and not an aggressive force—which would provide sufficient time for second thoughts. The world having gone 1256 to the brink, and having just toppled over, this deterrent force would catch up the world and hold it for a moment, saying, "You have just about ten minutes, two weeks or a month, to think again." As we are not likely to be the first to deploy a full-strength hydrogen bomb attack upon Soviet cities, we therefore need to be able to deploy a limited deterrent force in the event of local attack which signals a warning that the world had passed just beyond the brink and that the next stage would be full-scale thermo-nuclear warfare in all its most horrible global aspects.
I do not think we can argue our way round that. That is in no way a policy of graduated deterrents, which I rule out as being impracticable. It is what is likely to happen in any case. It is the most likely way in which we should move from one stage to another in advancing up the scale of themo-nuclear activity. if that be so, the construction of our Armed Forces must be based around that general conception.
Within that conception, what on earth are we to do with the Navy? I am sorry, but that is how the question is being asked in the Defence Services at the moment. It is not a question whether there is a rôle for the Navy, but, "What shall we do with the Navy?" In pursuance of that line of thought, there has grown up the conception that it is possible, by building a task force of cruisers with guided missiles centred round carriers operating aircraft carrying thermo-nuclear weapons, to utilise the Navy as a form of deterrent in the beginning of a hot war.
I regard that as a most unlikely possibility. We have only to look at the effect one hydrogen bomb had experimentally upon a concentration of American ships to realise that the movement of naval task forces about the seas is now a practically impossible operation in any stage of a hot war. There is a pleasant theory that the Navy is very mobile and can put itself in one corner of an ocean on one day, send off its charges to do their work and then move across the seas to another corner of an ocean undetected, there to launch another attack before moving off somewhere else.
That is entirely to ignore the vast advances which have been made in the use of tactical sea reconnaisance. It is 1257 practically impossible to hide a large naval force anywhere in the world. That being so, the value of such a force as a launching base in thermonuclear operations is removed from the word "go," and there really is not much use in continuing to devote so much of our resources to strengthen or maintain this naval weapon upon the lines suggested in the White Papers which have just been presented to the House.
That we shall also need a large antisubmarine force of frigates, designed to keep our sea lanes free in the event of thermo-nuclear war, I cannot conceive. To what kind of radio-active port are our merchant ships to go? From what kind of bases are our submarines to move in the event of a thermo-nuclear war? It is, again, this terrible dichotomy in which we are of trying to think in terms of the construction of a deterrent, and, at the same time, trying to build up forces which will fight a war which we have failed to deter. Here, we usually make the mistake of thinking of that war in the terms of the last war. I know that this phrase is often thrown about in defence debates, but if we are thinking of the use of a large number of frigates to prevent the movement of Soviet submarines in a thermo-nuclear war, what kind of ports do they move from, when it is realised that a thermo-nuclear attack, strategically placed, would destroy most of our sea approaches?
Then, we must think of the Army. if the Army is to fulfil the rôle which I have suggested—the rôle of a limited and very short-term stop, while the world has a chance to think whether it wishes to go to the next stage over the brink—it needs a complete change in structure. It is no good talking in terms of conventional weapons. I doubt very much whether we shall ever need tanks again. The military force as I see it would have to be based on atomic artillery of some kind or another, and the remainder of the operating forces would be ground forces sufficient to secure the base or bases from which these atomic cannon were operated. It is, I think, a feasible, possible and indeed the only rôle, and I am not just looking in this speech for a rôle for the Army to play, because I thought of the rôle first. The rôle is to be a time-forsecond-thoughts force, as I may call it, to be operated in local wars, to provide 1258 the immediate stop before the vital and crucial decision is taken that a thermo-nuclear war should start. As far as the Army is concerned, it is fairly simple and clear; it can provide a limited and short-term deterrent.
Before I say a few words about the inter-continental ballistic missile, I ought to rush to the defence of the Minister of Supply, not that the right hon. Gentleman needs it, because he is an aggressive personality who defends himself with great vigour and masses of statistics. It is on the question of the production of aircraft. It has always been a point in these defence debates that the crucial decision is not to develop an aircraft, but when to decide to put it into production. Such is the speed of advance in technology in this field that so often the scientists out-pace the engineers, the politicians and the economists so that we have to revise our plans and start afresh.
It occurred to me, when reading the biography of Lord Beaverbrook, who took so much credit—and much is due to him—for the magnificent performance of the British aircraft industry in providing aircraft at the time of the Battle of Britain, that the man we really ought to thank, and the factor we most need to thank, was Mr. Stanley Baldwin and his dilatoriness and delay in gearing up industry to produce aircraft when he first started the rearmament programme in 1935–36. Had he done that job quickly, started production and put into production quickly enough any aircraft which were then available, we would have been outpaced at the crucial moment by the even more advanced designs of the German Air Force.
The only time when the Minister of Supply concentrated on the purely defensive strategic question, as against the discussion of gaskets and bits of aircraft engines, was the most disastrous part of his speech. The only time when he entered into defence theory, he was completely off his wicket. He completely confused the House when he suggested that there might be possibilities of fighting limited wars with conventional weapons. This leaves us in a completely ludicrous position. The Government is now asking us to produce from the economy of this country a defence programme which on their own showing, will provide us with the I.B.M., which is 1259 enormously expensive to produce, V bombers and the deterrent they are to carry, limited forces able to fight limited wars with thermo-nuclear tactical weapons, and, at the same time, to provide us with military forces still capable of fighting wars with conventional weapons. That is really stretching the resources of this or any other European economy too far, and we have to decide whether it is or is not possible to make a working arrangement out of the arms pool idea underlying the conception of N.A.T.O.
It is not a question of whether it is desirable to possess the ultimate weapon. It is not a question whether it would be pleasant to be able to flex our thermonuclear muscles. The main problem is whether it is at all possible to do these things. I have come to the conclusion that the scope, the expense and the size of the programme in the development and saying to the United States, as the major production of the I.B.M. is clearly beyond the economic strength of this country. There are very good arguments for partner in this project, a nation which is already far ahead in the construction of this weapon, that we must rely upon them for the deterrent it can provide. If global thermo-nuclear war should ever happen the targets upon which the United States might wish to concentrate their attack would be those—or some of those—on which we should also wish to concentrate our attack. In fact we are now talking of the strategic target of all strategic targets.
The old conception of strategic and tactical targets changes rapidly as weapons develop. I see in his place at the moment an hon. Member who yesterday discussed very learnedly the provision of air support to armies in the field. When we were planning strategic and tactical targets for air attack in the last war, when I, as a soldier, was planning these operations, the tactical target was the gun under our noses and the strategic target a railway junction 50 miles away. That is no longer the case. The strategic target of all strategic targets is the hearth and homeland of an enemy continent into which we would fire an inter-continental ballistic missile.
In these terms, the tactical target then becomes those areas of another nation's 1260 territory from which we expect some form of tactical thermo-nuclear attack upon ourselves. The conception is rather hard to explain in terms of a House of Commons speech, but there are those areas in the U.S.S.R. which would present an immediate threat to these particular islands, and, of course, we need to have our own strategic bombing force armed with the H-bomb in order to provide a deterrent to any attack from those areas, or if the worst comes to the worst, to attack them in retaliation.
We could not, in the ultimate, rely upon the United States of America to be prepared to concentrate upon the particular targets, because her own particular strategic bomber strength might well be engaged on targets of more immediate concern to her own defences, but we can rely upon them to deal with the strategic target, the target reachable by the I.B.M., because the United States themselves would be threatened from the same areas which would threaten us.
If N.A.T.O. is to mean anything at all, if we are to avoid busting apart the economic life of this country, the next thing to do is to make a clear decision that we do not proceed with this ultimate weapon, but that we should discuss with the United States the possibility of our receiving support from them on the lines I have suggested.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
In his opening remarks the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh) made a brief comment on the delightful speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Hamilton Kerr). The hon. Member opposite said that the logical conclusion from the remarks of my hon. Friend would be important changes in our domestic, foreign and colonial policy.
This is a defence debate. I think that hon. Members will agree that our defences in the cold war are in some ways every bit as important as our defences in the possible event of a hot war. I therefore make no apology for dealing specifically with that question. I want, therefore, to talk about psychological warfare, with particular reference to the possibilities of improving our defences.
Before I get down to that subject may I make one remark upon the tone of the debate? Everyone will surely agree that 1261 it has been very remarkable for its bipartisan character. An example of that is the speech made by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), which was as good as it was loud, and that is quite high praise.
In the first six paragraphs of the Statement on Defence are outspoken words which I very greatly welcome. I will not read more than a few of them. In paragraph 2 are these words:There is no change in Soviet long-term policy which, fundamentally, aims at world domination.Towards the end of paragraph 3 we read:It therefore remains necessary for the Western Powers to hold their own in the world by their defensive strength until such time as a true understanding of Western policies can make its impact on the Soviet people.In paragraph 6 we read:Apart from preventing globai war we have to be prepared for the continuance of the cold war; that is the constant and world-wide threat of Communist penetration short of direct military aggression.I want to base my speech on those few sentences, and to ask three short questions.
The first question is: what has international Communism achieved since 1945? Secondly, has there been any change in Communist strategy? Thirdly, are we fully equipped to fight the cold war and are we using the available weapons as effectively as possible?
The answer to the first question was clearly given in the Declaration of Washington. Here again I should like to make a short quotation from paragraph 4:Millions of people of different blood, religions and traditions have been forcibly incorporated within the Soviet Union and many millions more have in fact, although not always in form, been absorbed into the Soviet Communist bloc. In Europe alone, some one hundred million people, in what were once ten independent nations, are compelled, against their will, to work for the glorification and aggrandisement of the Soviet Communist State.Every one of us will entirely agree that that is so.
During the last few months there have been typical tactical developments of Soviet strategy, which can switch quickly from one direction to another. Typical has been the Soviet attitude in the Middle East. When the partition of Palestine was being discussed, the Soviet Union gave all possible help and encouragement 1262 to the Zionists. They gave one-way visas to Jews from Eastern Europe to go to Palestine on condition that they did not come home again. In many other ways they encouraged Zionism.
Now we see a complete somersault. Strenuous support is given to Egypt and Syria, and efforts have been made in Jordan, not unsuccessfully, to create a "popular front." The effort was so successful in Jordan that one Government fell and another Government had to modify their foreign policy as a result of the strength of the Communist movement in that country. In Malaya and Burma we see the same "popular front" created. For a number of years civil war has been waged in Burma. Marshal Bulganin was recently there on a visit, and he inspected a battalion of Burmese infantry which, until a few days earlier, had been engaged against the Communist insurgents in the Burmese jungle. What a fantastic situation.
In Greece, seventeen Communists were recently elected to Parliament in spite of the fact that civil war ended only a few years ago. The Greeks have much experience of the anguish which Communism must mean, yet in the "popular front" within E.D.A. seventeen Communists are now back in the Greek Parliament. In their co-operation with the Communists, the other parties in E.D.A. are playing with fire. So much, briefly, for what Communism has achieved. It is all too well known to all of us.
My second question was whether there had been any change in Communist strategy. Only a few days ago the twentieth congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union concluded. During our recent foreign affairs debate the Prime Minister quoted extracts from speeches made at the congress. All of us would benefit from reading the speeches of Soviet leaders during that congress, because they tell us a great deal that we should know about what is likely to happen. Incidentally it is only today that we have read in our newspapers that Mr. Krushchev has been appointed in charge of a new bureau which is to see to the more efficient handling of economic and cultural questions.
The Soviet leaders have recently admitted that, in the past Russia's foreign policy has been based on three false assumptions. The first was that war was 1263 inevitable. It has now been officially admitted that war is not inevitable. The second assumption was that the colonial Powers, and, in particular, this country, would try to retain by every means in their power their hold on their Colonies. We all know that that has not happened, and that the march towards self-government in the British Empire has been extremely rapid. The third false assumption, as I see it, is that capitalism would automatically wither away because of its own original sin. It is quite obvious from the recent congress that the Soviet Union does not feel that we are withering away quickly enough.
The speech by Mr. Molotov was notable for the way in which he drew attention to future Soviet strategy. The three significant things to me were that we can expect the Soviet Union to woo the neutrals, to get Communist parties, wherever they can, into "popular front" organisations, and to do their best by every conceivable means to divide the Allies. We can therefore all agree that the cold war is on, with no holds barred so far as the Kremlin is concerned.
So I come to my third question, which is, "How are we doing in the cold war, and could we be doing any more?" It was on Monday that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, speaking of the cold war, said that… if it is to be a battle of ideas, fairly waged, we fear nothing.…We all know perfectly well, however, that the battle of ideas is not to be fairly waged, so unless we look to our defences we certainly have quite a lot to fear.
Quite recently I saw a definition given by a leading Czechoslovak Communist of what the Communist really means by peaceful co-existence—or what they now call competitive co-existence. Mr. Vaclav Kopecky recently said, "Every action against the Soviet Union is unjust, but every action of the Soviet Union is sanctified with the seal of supreme justice." In that one short sentence I think we have about as good a definition as possible of what competitive co-existence really means.
The Foreign Secretary also said on Monday:We must not be thought to be unfriendly if we defend ourselves …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 874.]1264 I now want to ask whether we cannot defend ourselves better in the future than we have done during the last ten years. First, has the time not come when we should look again at the whole question of economic aid to foreign countries—and in particular to the underdeveloped countries—with special reference to closer co-ordination between what the United States is doing and what this country is doing?
There is the United States' Point Four Plan, and we have the Colombo Plan. There is the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, there are the activities of the United Nations Agencies and, in particular, there is the World Bank. I cannot help feeling—although I know that a lot of attention has been given to this recently—that closer dovetailing would be beneficial to the free countries.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
Surely the United Nations organisation itself exists to bring about this dovetailing. It not the purpose of the United Nations to co-ordinate and concentrate the activities of the nations in the very directions of which the hon. and gallant Member speaks?
§ Major Beamish
Theoretically, of course, it is. Unfortunately, there are some members of the United Nations' "club" which do not comply with the rules of the club and take very little part indeed in the United Nations Agencies. The more that this can be done under the aegis of the United Nations the better pleased we shall all be—but I should like to issue a warning. It is possible to go too far in suggesting that the mere raising of the standard of living of a country is an automatic protection against the inroads of Communism.
§ Major Beamish
The right hon. Gentleman says that it helps a bit. Certainly, it does; but we have the example of Czechoslovakia, which formerly was a country with an extremely high standard of living. Therefore, of itself, unless accompanied by other things, the mere raising of the standard of living is not sufficient, although it is, of course, extremely important.
1265 Next, I want to ask whether we are blowing our own trumpet loudly enough. On Monday, the Prime Minister said:… we have not, in fact, talked loudly enough about what we have done and are doing."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 961.]I very greatly welcome those words. When the Prime Minister used them I think that he had in mind particularly, the Middle East and India, but I think that we can all agree that those words might well be applied to the whole world.
Are we, for example, making sufficient use of broadcasting? Are we spending enough on it? Why are we broadcasting at all? If we do not really know why we are broadcasting, why do we not stop broadcasting? The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) laughs. He is a great expert on broadcasting—during the war he took a leading part in the organisation of psychological warfare—but I think he will agree that if we do not know exactly why we are broadcasting to Poland, for instance, it might be better not to broadcast at all. As a matter of fact, I think that we should broadcast more, but we should have clearly in mind exactly why we are broadcasting.
We also want to make sure that all the free countries are broadcasting with the same objects. This has been discussed in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation but, so far as I know, no really worth while decisions have yet been made. When I was in Munich, about four years ago, I visited Radio Free Europe, and when I asked the director just exactly what was being attempted, he replied, "What we are trying to do is to replace on the air exactly what the people to whom we are broadcasting would be able to read in a responsible opposition newspaper were any opposition newspapers allowed." I thought that a fairly good, simple description of why we ought to be broadcasting, and I was very impressed with the responsible way in which Radio Free Europe was conducting its broadcasts.
Are we making sufficient use of films about the Colonies? Last week I was looking at a list of all the available films showing British achievements in the Colonies. So far as I could ascertain, during the last five years only three films have been made. I do not think that any of them run for more than fifteen minutes and they all deal with extremely 1266 dull subjects. A good deal more should be spent on making good films, and making other visual aids which can explain to people all over the world—and in particular in the Colonies—just how fast we are progressing towards giving self-government, what we stand for, and what Communism is in practice as opposed to theory.
I wonder how much the Moslems in Nigeria know of the treatment of the 17 million Moslems in the Soviet Asiatic Republics? They know a good deal of what the Soviet Union wants them to know, because Nigerian students go to Prague and to places in other Iron Curtain countries for indoctrination. It is true that some come here and it may be possible for more to come. Should not more people from this country go to the British Colonies to lecture on these same themes?
In Singapore there are large numbers of Chinese. How much do they know of what is happening in China? There has been a steady trickle of Chinese students to universities in Communist China. The trickle has become rather smaller recently, but there has been quite a large flow towards China and back to Singapore. How many professors now in Hong Kong as refugees from China have been to Singapore to tell the Chinese there the truth about conditions in Communist China? More attention should be paid to such things as that.
Perhaps I may be permitted to say a word about Communism in this country. I know that one is apt to be accused of having a bee in one's bonnet if one makes outspoken remarks about the menace of Communism here. I do not know, but the membership of the Communist Party in this country is, perhaps, between 30,000 and 40,000; and I believe that the circulation of the Daily Worker is between 70,000 and 80,000, though here I speak from memory. Many people think that because their numbers are small the Communists here are not really dangerous, but how much did the dock strikes cost the country—and who engineered them? Is there not a risk that the A.E.U. may get into Communist hands in the same way as has the E.T.U.? Is the T.U.C. General Council doing enough in this field? Its heart is undoubtedly in the right place, and it knows a great deal more about Communism 1267 than I shall ever learn, but if the A.E.U. is to become Communist dominated and the E.T.U. already is, what risks shall we be running? They cannot be exaggerated.
Some important unions have passed rules which bar Communists from becoming union officials. There has been a great deal of argument in the Labour Party about whether that is right or wrong, but if it is right to do that, is it really wrong for local authorities to say that they will not knowingly appoint Communists as headmasters or headmistresses in their schools? [An HON. MEMBER: "What has this to do with the White Paper?"] This has a lot to do with the White Paper. One of the things that the White Paper talks about is fighting the cold war, and the Communist Party in this country is part of the Soviet Union's organisation for the domination of the world.
A good deal more can be done in the field of public education by the main political parties, by the trade unions, the employers' organisations and the newspapers, by every person and by every organisation in this country who understands the world-wide nature of this menace.
§ Major Beamish
The question of exchanges of visits with the Soviet Union is extremely important in this context. It was in Geneva last October that the Foreign Ministers tried to make some progress, but unfortunately they made little progress. I cannot help asking myself whether we should not get rather tougher in the matter of reciprocity. I am told that the number of Communist daily, weekly and monthly publications in English in this country totals 78, and I believe that that list is incomplete. At least a dozen of them are imported, lavishly printed, from Eastern Europe and produced by the Cominform. Must we allow these publications to circulate in such large numbers, when British Ally has been stopped?
Should we not try to insist that our point of view should be made clear in Moscow in the same way that the Communist point of view is stated in this country? I am aware of the advantages 1268 that the Communists have of hiding under our democratic umbrella, and the difficulty of dealing with subjects like this, but it would be unwise if we did not draw attention to them.
On the question of refugees, undoubtedly one of the soft spots in the international Communist set-up is the fact that so many people like to leave the Communist countries, when they can, and live in the free countries, in spite of the fact that they leave their own families and homes. A classic example not so long ago was that out of 21,000 Chinese volunteers captured in Korea, 14,000 elected never to go home again. The terrific and unending flow of refugees from Eastern Germany to Western Germany is another example.
I wonder whether we could do more to look after the refugees. There are still many in Western Germany who do not come within the categories which are looked after by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and who are not able to take advantage of the other 26-member refugee organisation, I.C.E.M., to which this country, for some reason, does not belong. In many of these matters we have had a lead from the Government, but I cannot help feeling that we have not had a sufficiently robust lead either in combating Communism at home or in fighting the cold war wherever it has to be fought overseas.
The precise nature of the struggle which the free countries must win if they are not to perish was forecast by Lenin with astonishing accuracy a good many years ago. This will appeal to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). In his "Selected Works" he wrote:It is conceivable that the method of imposing the will of one nation upon another may in time be replaced by purely psychological warfare; wherein weapons are not even used on the battlefields … but instead, the corruption of human mind, the dimming of the intellect, and the disintegration of the moral and spiritual fibre of one nation by the influence of the will of another is accomplished.That was an incredibly accurate forecast of the sort of situation in which we find ourselves today.
§ Major Beamish
I thought if there was one hon. Member in the House who 1269 would be able to tell me which volume it was, it would be the hon. Member for South Ayrshire.
In order to win this psychological war we have got to spend more money. Out of the £1,500 million which we are spending this year, I have no idea how much will be spent in these fields which I have discussed. It might be, for all I know, that about £10 million will be spent on the B.B.C. Overseas Services, the British Council and in other directions; but £37 million would only be 2½ per cent. of our defence budget—a small enough percentage to spend on something which is of the greatest importance.
During the war the Political Warfare Executive did a magnificent job under the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Information, working in close touch with the Chiefs of Staff. I wonder whether the time has come when P.W.E. should be revived, perhaps on an international basis, in co-operation with the United States and Commonwealth countries. In short, what I think is urgently required is a robust and flexible allied strategy to counter where it cannot forestall every movement that the Communists make in their efforts to destroy us, while seizing every chance of finding peaceful solutions to all disputed questions.
I cannot possibly expect my right hon. Friend, in replying to the debate, to deal in detail with the sort of questions that I have asked, but if they serve the purpose of stimulating some new thinking on what seems to me to be as important as any other subject that we can discuss during a defence debate, they will have served some purpose.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)
I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) that we are not getting a sufficiently robust lead from the Government in the waging of psychological warfare. I think that where I start to disagree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman is in my choice of the subjects with which I should deal in any psychological warfare which we wage against the Eastern countries. It is on that aspect of the matter and on some of those subjects that I want to touch a little later.
1270 I have listened, I think, to all the speeches except one in this debate yesterday and today. This has been described as a bipartisan debate. That is one way of describing it, but, whether it is bipartisan or not, it cannot be described as stimulating, inspiring or encouraging. I cannot think that any man or woman, having listened to what has been said on the Government Front Bench, would say "Yes, we are all right; we are safe. Everything possible is being done for the defence of our country." We have heard of plans to evacuate millions of people from areas not defined to places not named, and within a time limit not measured. We have heard of fighters which cannot fire their guns, and even when they can they will be obsolescent. We have been told that air-to-air guided missiles are coming into service, just at the time when Soviet Russia is bringing into service the long-range rocket against which the air-to-air missile will be irrelevant.
The one thing which seems to emerge quite clearly from this debate is that in any total war there is no defence for the people of this country. The other thing which emerges is that we shall have to depend for true defence more and more upon factors other than arms and armed forces, and that is why I agree with some of the points which have been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes. The most rational things have been said in this debate by right hon. Gentlemen on these benches, but they have, after all, only been suggestions towards what I would describe as a utility defence force. They have suggested that fighters are possibly not needed, that the Navy should be relegated to the background, and that the Army should be adjusted and organised for the cold war only. But as for defence in total war, no one has claimed that that is possible. Therefore, I come to the point which has been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes that we must turn to other factors.
It is most interesting that recent Defence White Papers are giving more and more space to the economic and political aspects of defence. Indeed, in the last two statements there have been paragraphs on disarmament. My complaint is that we are not recognising sufficiently or accepting the logic of this shift in priorities. We are not putting 1271 ourselves at the head of this trend of political changes which are being forced on the world by physical inventions and developments.
There are many responsible and important people who make quite unequivocal and sincere statements on defence and foreign policy in line with the physical realities of our modern world, but that is only when they are divorced from this fascinating business of discussing whether one aircraft is better than another, whether we should have more of one type of machine than of another, or whether we should place our money on one branch of the Armed Services before another. When they are considering these matters calmly and in a detached fashion away from weapons and the machines of war, this is the kind of thing that they say.
On retirement, Air Chief Marshal Sir John Slessor, former Chief of the Air Staff and an outstanding officer, said:A world war in this day and age would be general suicide.Air Chief Marshal Sir Philip Joubert put the same view in this extremely cogent fashion:With the H-bomb it would appear that the human race has arrived at a point when it must abandon war as a continuation of policy or accept the possibility of total destruction.The considered opinion of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was quoted on Monday. He said:With the first comprehensive review of the hydrogen bomb the entire foundation of human affairs was revolutionised.We all agree with that. When, however, they come to write a White Paper, it is all forgotten. One would scarcely have thought that the whole foundation of human affairs had been revolutionised when one listened to the speeches made by the Minister of Defence and succeeding Ministers from the Dispatch Box.
We are still spending £1,500 million on this old-fashioned and quite hopeless way of trying to ensure peace and protection for our people. Since the war we have spent around £10,000 million—the entire product of one post-war year's work of all the men, women and children in our country, and we are less defendable now than at any time in our history.
The lesson of the recent N.A.T.O. exercises emphasised that. We knocked out the attacker, but what happened to us? 1272 We, too, were knocked out. Now we are told by responsible people in the United States that within twelve months—this was said by Trevor Gardner, I think, on his resignation—the Russians will have available a guided rocket with nuclear warhead and a range of 1,500 miles. That brings us into the effective range. In that kind of physical world, what is the good of all this mumbo-jumbo which we get in paragraph 4 of the White Paper, where it says that we must havethe ability of the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to hold the line by land, sea and air until the nuclear counter-offensive has broken the back of the enemy assault"?Are we really expecting the kind of infantry attack which was put up against Hitler in the last war?
We have heard much about the theory of the deterrent, and Mr. Dulles, I think, has rendered a service to the world in putting that theory in its crudest terms. I was thinking of this over the week-end. I thought that there was someone else who talked about this "brink of war policy," this new art of diplomacy. I remembered that it was not Mr. Foster Dulles, but Adolf Hitler who first spoke about going to the brink of war. He went to the brink when he went into the Rhineland, again when he put his forces into Austria and Czechoslovakia, and yet again in Poland, but that time he toppled over.
Quite inevitably, if we practise that art long enough, we, too, shall topple over, and the consequences will be much more severe than they were in 1939–45, although, heaven knows, they were bad enough for many people. I do not mention these matters in any spirit of defeatism. I do not take the defeatist view of the struggle, which I accept, between Communist ideas and our own way of life. When I think of these difficulties and problems, I remember some words which the late Lord Wavell used in the difficult times of the last war. He said:When things go bad for you, think how hard pressed is the enemy.The U.S.S.R. certainly faces very much the same problem as ourselves. She must have brooded for a long time over the implications of the United States Strategic Air Force in the Aleutians, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Britain. Germany, Spain, North Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. It is because she has brooded over the implications of the 1273 B.47s and the B.52s which are coming along, that, I think, she is really serious when she now talks about concessions on disarmament. I believe the Russians are a simple-minded, even crude-minded people. They reason more directly than do we. They know that the hydrogen bomb is not an effective instrument for the spreading of Communist ideas.
I want, as the hon. and gallant Member said, that we too should be ready to take our fight on to the plane where it now properly belongs. I should like to think that there is as much effort going into the consideration of this aspect of the problem as there is into the development of new missiles. We have had six Ministers on the Government Front Bench yesterday and today, all of whom are concerned every day and all day with the development of the Armed Forces and armaments. We have one Minister part-time, the Minister of State—and I am not endeavouring to belittle him—whose responsibility is to ponder on this possibility of disarmament.
Yet I am quite certain that we have more chance of getting real defence that way than we have by building up stock-piles of nuclear weapons. The Foreign Secretary said on Monday that the Government were going to do what they could to press for world-wide disarmament, and the White Paper says the same thing. One of my right hon. Friends appeared to be reassured by the forcible way in which the Foreign Secretary made that statement, but many of us believe that more could be done.
The Government spokesman put up two reasons why agreement has not yet been reached on disarmament. One reason is that the U.S.S.R. has not first accepted the settlement of certain outstanding political problems. At the meeting at Geneva, the proposal appeared to be more precisely that the U.S.S.R. should first accept the reunification of Germany. We did not at Geneva discuss disarmament, although that was on the agenda, because the Russians did not accept our view of how Germany should be reunited.
We should not deceive ourselves. We talk righteously about free elections in Germany, but we did not talk so strongly about free elections before the war when the properly elected Government of Spain 1274 were being attacked. We did not talk so much about free elections when, more recently, Guatemala was experiencing a counter-revolution. Yet in the case of Germany we elevate this principle to the place of first priority. The reason is not that we hold so strongly to that principle. Let us not deceive ourselves. It is because we want the united German nation on our side. The reason why the Russians do not agree with our proposals for free elections in Germany is that they do not want the German nation to tip the balance of power on our side. I think, therefore, that there will be more chance of a settlement of the German problem when we have some agreement about disarmament.
The second reason for the failure to reach a disarmament agreement is the vexed problem of control. Year after year we are repeatedly told in this House that the Russians would not accept control of nuclear weapons. But I remember that in 1947 the Soviet representative at Geneva said that they accepted the principle of control. Yet last year, at the sixty-fifth meeting of the United Nations Disarmament Commission held in New York, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said it looked as if we should have to wait for any precise Soviet proposals for nuclear control "until shrimps learned to whistle," as he put it.
It is just as well to understand what the Russians have proposed. They have put forward the following proposals, as recorded in Command Paper 9652, page 950:For the fulfilment of the task of control and inspection entrusted to the International Control Commission, the latter shall have the right of:1275 It looks as though the shrimps are whistling a little, because those seem very reasonable proposals for the control of nuclear armaments.
- (a) Access to any facilities for mining, production, and stockpiling of atomic raw materials and atomic materials, as well as to the facilities for the exploitation of atomic energy.
- (b) Acquaintance with the production operations of the atomic energy facilities, to the extent necessary for the control of the use of atomic materials and atomic energy.
- (c) Carrying out weighing measurements and various analyses of atomic raw materials, atomic materials and unfinished products.
- (d) Requesting from the Government of any nation, and checking, various data and reports on the activities of atomic energy facilities.
- (e) Requesting various explanations on the questions relating to the activities of atomic energy facilities."
The Soviet proposals on the question of conventional arms I believe to be inadequate, but they cannot be dismissed as unimportant. They suggest control posts staffed by internationally recruited inspectors at all principal road and rail junctions and at aerodromes. They ask that this control organisation should have access to all information on measures taken for the reduction of arms and armed forces, andunimpeded access to records relating to budgetary appropriations of States for military needs, including all decisions of State legislative and executive organs on the subject.They have accepted the need for a more detailed control when the plans for reduction are under review, including President Eisenhower's very important suggestion for mutual aerial reconnaissance as part of a comprehensive disarmament convention. We should be going along those lines. That seems to me to be more hopeful than all this talk about nuclear guided missiles, and irrelevant fighters which cannot guarantee us any protection.
Nevertheless, there will be areas of the globe where there is conflict, areas in which the power blocs will jockey for influence and position and into which they will insert military forces as part of this balance of power game. We have heard various suggestions in the debate of how our defence forces can properly play their part in those trouble spots of the globe. The Middle East is the classic example today of the sort of area I have in mind. In that area the United Nations has accepted some responsibility, but it has not been given the necessary power to deal with the situation.
The Foreign Secretary has spoken eloquently about the possibility of the United Nations taking a much more definite and positive rôle as the peace keeper on the Arab-Israeli borders. When I asked the Prime Minister if this possibility of strengthening the authority of the U.N. had been discussed with General Eisenhower, he was only irritable. When I asked the Foreign Secretary on Monday if he had discussed these ideas with the Soviet representatives, he said that he had not because they were matters for 1276 the United Nations. However, this country is a member of the United Nations, and if the initiative has to be taken it must be taken by some member State of the U.N. I should have thought that this country was the country which should have been making the running in that direction and so influencing the world. It should be making the running along those lines as part of the psychological campaign of which the hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke.
In 1937, Mr. Attlee, the then Leader of the Labour Party, published a remarkably percipient book on Labour policy for the future. In it he said:I hold that a Labour Government must immediately take the initiative in the League"—the League of Nations, as it then was—for the formation of an international police force. As long as the force behind the League consists of a number of separate national armies, navies and air forces, there will be influences which are really adverse to peace.He went on to say:Much work has already been done on working out the plans for such a development. I can only say that I do not believe that the scheme for an international air force is chimerical. I think that it is supremely practical.One day, and the sooner the better, that is the way along which the world will have to go, and we should be taking the lead.
In the Middle East we should be concentrating more and more on our hopes, our plans, for building up some form of international force which would be complementary to a phased reduction of national armaments. I know that some of the self-styled realists will say that all this is star-struck idealism. I have a considerable interest in the Armed Forces. I have been privileged to serve in them and I have happy recollections of my comrades, with whom I served, but I say that in the modern world it is not star-struck idealism of which I am talking. On the contrary, all the talk about building up stockpiles of nuclear weapons is moon-struck madness.
Therefore, I shall be happy to go into the Lobby against the Government tonight in support of the Amendment, because I believe that we have to acknowledge these physical realities. Although we cannot of ourselves build the new rational world that we all want, it would be the best form of psychological propaganda, and the best 1277 form of defence if we could give a more positive moral lead to the rest of the nations.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)
I hope that the House will allow me to try to put what I call a non-expert point of view on this complicated subject of defence. After all, it is the ordinary man who has to bear the burden of defence, either in service or in taxes, and on his behalf I should like to ask one or two questions. I promise that I shall not take more than ten minutes. These are questions which ordinary people are asking.
First, does my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply not think that in this great defence burden which we are carrying we are trying to keep up too much with Russia and America when we have not the comparable resources to do it? We are a nation of 50 million, whilst in Russia there are 220 million people and in America 160 million. Those countries have vast resources which we do not possess. It seems to me that we are trying to keep up with the Jones or the Smiths when we are no longer able to do so. We could do it before the war when we were the greatest creditor nation in the world, but we are now the greatest debtor nation.
It seems to me that we must give our constituents the answer to the question whether the time has not come when we should recognise as a nation that Britain has come down in the world, that we are no longer the great Power we were, and that we should not try to carry burdens beyond our capacity. That is the first of the questions which my constituents are asking me. [HON. MEMBERS: "A very good one."] I have promised not to be long with my speech. I think that back benchers who complain of privileges used by Privy Councillors and then use up 30 minutes in their own speeches, ought to be sent to church and made to listen to a dull sermon for just as long.
I am told, however, that Britain is the centre of a great Commonwealth and is an important unit in Commonwealth defence. That may be true, but it is only partly true. Is Britain not carrying a greater share of the Commonwealth burden than it really ought to do? Canada, for example, last year had a credit balance of £200 million with this 1278 country, and nearly one-quarter of our total trade gap arose from trade with Canada. Canada has the materials and the wealth. Are we not entitled to ask whether Canada is doing its fair share in the defence of the Commonwealth? The same applies to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Is our country's share of Commonwealth defence a fair one when compared with the burden borne by other members of the Commonwealth?
I should like to see, instead of the Statement on Defence which we are now discussing, an Imperial Defence White Paper, bringing together the resources of the whole Commonwealth and showing what each part of the Commonwealth was putting into the common pool from which we all gain so much. I ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply whether something like that cannot be done. The White Paper now before us shows only a tiny part of the picture from the Imperial point of view.
There is another point which I should like to put to the Minister of Supply. My business friends, especially in the engineering world, ask time after time whether we are getting value for the money which the Ministry of Supply is spending. My engineering friends in the aircraft industry, who ought to know about it, say that money is being far too easily made in that industry. Wages are being paid which are out of all reason when compared with those paid in other sections of the engineering industry, and they say that that has been possible only because my right hon. Friend's Department has not been doing its job as well as it ought to do. Has my right hon. Friend a costing department?
§ Mr. Osborne
Well, I should either see that the man running the Department does the job better or I should sack him. I am convinced, from what I know at second-hand from my friends in the engineering industry that we have not been getting value for money. It is a scandal to read of the enormous profits made by certain sections of the industry which have produced for us what are admitted on both sides of the House to be failures. There is no punishment for failure in the aircraft industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes. I am 1279 stating facts given to me by constituents who are asking me to put these questions.
Furthermore, and I know this to be true, my constituents say that, because of the high wages paid in the aircraft industry, men have been attracted from other sections of the engineering industry, especially those who are engaged in the export trade where prices are keener. All sorts of inducements have been held out to them, and this has been a national waste and a scandal. This is an aspect of the defence problem which worries the businessman more than anything else.
§ Mr. Osborne
I would not say that it is a "fiddle," but it is not the sort of thing that a Tory Government, at least, should allow.
I could go on for a long time, but I see that I have only three more minutes left. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] I ask my right hon. Friend to what extent the contracts he issues are subject to the cost-plus or escalator clause, which comes to the same thing. How is that arrangement investigated to ensure that there is no abuse? The feeling in the engineering industry is that it has been abused. I do not know, but I am certain that men in the engineering industry who ought to know feel that there is something here which ought to be investigated and that investigation would save the taxpayer a great deal of money. I should like to know what my right hon. Friend has to say about it.
Have either my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply or my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Defence, as civilians, sufficient power over the military chiefs? Can they say "No" to them, and do they say "No"? As I understand it, the theory of English civil government is that the civilian should always be master of the military chiefs. When these chiefs demand more and bigger bombers and other things, does the Minister of Supply say "No" to them often enough as a representative of the taxpayer? Ultimately, I am speaking for the taxpayer. In this defence debate I have so far not heard anybody plead for the men and women who have to pay the bill. We all say that we are over-taxed, but it is no good our saying that and then spending £1,500 million 1280 a year and not have a proper check on the spending.
I wish that there was time to develop this point. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] Since we are spending £1,500 million a year on defence—and I think both sides of the House will agree that we are spending it wastefully and that it is not producing the results we want—I should like to support a point which was made on this side of the House and also by the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) a few minutes ago.
I had the privilege of meeting the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) in Moscow. Prior to that I had visited various other cities in Russia. I am convinced that there is no evidence that the ordinary people in Russia will revolt against the Soviet régime, and people who think that there is any chance of it are fooling themselves. On the other hand, if we spent one-tenth of the money that we are now spending on armaments in trying to get in touch with the Russian rulers and the Russian people, and persisted in so doing, I believe it would produce much better results than the objectives set out in the White Paper.
It is true that time after time various Governments have done their best to get into touch with the Russian people and to influence Russian opinion. The fact that we have failed in the past is no reason why we should give up hope now, for our only hope is to get our views over to those people. I saw only a tiny part of Russia, but I believe that this would not be met with any great hostility.
Therefore, I plead with my right hon. Friends that some of the money being wastefully used on armaments should be used on the kind of propaganda that can bring us to an understanding, for if we could have understanding with the Russians the programme in the White Paper would not be necessary. This is directed against Russia, so that if we could achieve results by understanding, that in the end would be quicker, cheaper and more lasting. I say to some of my hon. Friends that we cannot kill Communism by bullets; we shall only do it by putting reasoned arguments before the Russians, and I hope that the Government will persist in doing that.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) will have observed from the enthusiastic applause of the Opposition that the questions he asked could not have been more embarrassing to his hon. Friends—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I should like to follow the hon. Gentleman on two points which he made, and also to follow what my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Berwick) said.
In this debate I have been very much aware that it is easy to criticise the Government, and I think that the Minister of Defence was justified when he said, "What would you do?" It is difficult for an Opposition to put forward a view on what they would do if they were in charge of affairs. However, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge that one of the things we should do would be to divert large amounts of the money now being spent on defence either to psychological warfare, as the hon. Member for Louth suggested, or to economic aid to Colonial Territories. Still, we have to face the fact that we should have to fix a sum for defence. We should have to make decisions on National Service, and the country has the right to say, "All right, you say that the Tories are wrong. What would you do about it?" I want to make two suggestions which, I believe, should be the view of the Labour Party in opposition.
The first, which has been mentioned only by two speakers, is this. Three years ago, when the £1,500 million arms budget was first presented, it was regarded as an abnormality which the country could not afford and could maintain only for a three-year emergency. The views that I put forward three or four years ago on the subject of defence are unchanged in this respect. I do not believe that this country can sustain the present £1,500 million armaments level.
I am heartened in saying this because this year in the Statement on Defence there is an admirable analysis of the three factors which we have to keep in balance. These are the political factor, the strategic factor and the economic factor. No one could have summarised the arguments which some of us used four years ago in attacking the defence budget—and got into trouble for doing so—better than the 1282 Minister of Defence has done in paragraph 9 of the White Paper.
There the right hon. and learned Gentleman states five perilous effects of rearmament on the economy. He refers, first, to excessive taxation. He states, secondly, that it absorbs a large amount of the output of the metal and metal-using industries that provide half our exports. Thirdly, he refers to its effect on the balance of payments. Here, I reckon that the deficit this year will be £150 million which, with the £75 million that we may have to pay in Germany, brings it to over £200 million. Fourthly, he points out the appalling diversion of our scientific and technical workers from civil to military research. Fifthly, he points to the diversion of manpower generally from peaceful industry to military industry.
I agree with all five, but I notice that the most damaging effect of arms on the economy has not been mentioned by the Government, and for obvious reasons. For the most damaging effect of arms on the economy is its inflationary effect, and it is only too evident that the Government did not much want to mention that fact.
I think it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) who said that the fellow in the Forces represented the greatest waste of money. Surely he was wrong. The fellow in the Forces is merely being paid for doing nothing, which is fairly bad, but the worker in an arms industry is being paid for using rare raw materials for completely unproductive purposes. That is even more inflationary than paying somebody for doing nothing. So we have to face the fact that we not only have 700,000 men in the Forces being given inflationary wages, but also 300,000 or 400,000 workers in the arms industries either using rare raw materials or absorbing the dollars necessary to buy them for purely inflationary purposes.
In the debate on the economic situation we heard a great deal about inflation. What astonished me was that nobody mentioned the major cause of inflation, which is that in the last four years there has been an attempt to impose a vast rearmament programme on an already fully employed, uncontrolled economy. I hate referring to my own speeches, but four years ago, in 1952, when we first 1283 attempted, on this side of the House, to vote against the Government's Estimate—an attempt which nearly cost us our political lives—I explained why I felt it essential, and I pointed out that the major reason was because the economy could not sustain the programme. I even predicted that cuts were inevitable year by year.
One of the most interesting facts about our defence debates is that they consist of discussing why each year the Government have cut back their grandiose projects. The defence policy of this country consists in deciding to do something grandiose and then deciding, half way there, that we cannot afford to do it. There is nothing more expensive than starting out on a big scale and then having to scale down. The cuts have not been justified militarily because there has been no substantial change in the military situation in the last three years. Yet, whilst the military situation has remained the same, we have had to slice the arms projects because we could not afford them.
I suggest to the Government that it would be better to keep within our capacity and do a decent job than constantly try to do something beyond our capacity, and then have to scale down. That is why I want to see a lower target for arms production. I believe that the target we should set ourselves is to spend no more than £1,000 million at most. Instead of the £1,500 million target, we should fix £1,000 million as the maximum that this country can sutain over a period. Even that seems incredibly high, and I am making a great concession to put it at that figure.
Of course, we could have produced the arms in the last four years if we had introduced a war-time economy. We could have done it if we had introduced direction of labour. We could have done it if we had made a systematic plan to move men from one industry to another. Instead of that, what happened? We have a Government which decided to decontrol the whole economy, to abolish every form of control, to stimulate every form of consumption, and then, in addition to that, say "We are going to absorb our metal-using industries, which are essential to our exports, in a gigantic production of arms."
It was surely obvious that that was bound to lead to an inflation which would 1284 ruin us economically, and, because we were scaling down our grandiose projects, that we should get virtually nothing, militarily, for the money. As a result of Government policy, we are, in fact, weaker today vis-à-vis the Russians than we were before rearmament began.
And where do we stand with regard to our economic competitors? No one in the debate has mentioned that little country, Western Germany. There are militarists in Western Germany who understand arms production. They know that one can run either an export drive or a rearmament drive but that if one tries to run both simultaneously one has inflation. They have decided to have the export drive while the going is good.
There are hon. Members in the House who believed that they could persuade the Germans to take their hands out of their pockets and fight for us. The Germans have been rather canny. They accepted all the advantages of the Paris Agreements and then they decided to postpone rearmament. They have decided that it is better to use their industry and undercut our export markets while we are groaning under the burden of arms production.
An hon. Member opposite said, "The answer is simple. Let us make the Germans buy their arms in Britain." Nothing could be more disastrous to this country. It would mean that the Germans could leave their metal-using industries free and that ours would be kept burdened. Therefore, the Government must face their own paragraph 9 in the White Paper, which says:The continued economic strength of the free world is an essential element in our ability to resist Soviet aggression and the burden of defence cannot be allowed to rise to a level which would endanger our economic future.I should say that, by every possible objective test, the burden is far above the level which endangers our economic future compared with Germany and Japan, our main competitors. By that one test—the Government say that we must balance the three factors—the economic factor has been altogether neglected.
But would it not be justifiable to jeopardise our economic future if we obtained security thereby? The answer is "Yes, it would." We have not obtained security this way, however, 1285 That is why I ask whether there are not ways in which we could at least reduce the burden to something near what we can afford?
That brings me to the problem of nuclear war. What level of nuclear arms do the Western Powers require? We were told by the Minister of Supply that our aim is not to win the next war but to prevent it. Very well. That means that we need not have sufficient arms to overwhelm the other side. That factor has always been accepted for the land forces in N.A.T.O. No one has said that we should build up 120 divisions to equal or exceed the Russian divisions.
However, it has been tacitly assumed in the sphere of nuclear weapons that we must always have more, bigger and better nuclear weapons than the Russians. I do not believe everything that I read in the Manchester Guardian, but it was right when it said:The United Kingdom now has enough nuclear explosive in its own possession to destroy every large city in the world and probably most of the large towns as well.I would ask the Government whether it is not a fact that all we require is sufficient nuclear strength to deter a Russian attack. If all that we need is sufficient to deter a Russian attack, that is really quite a low level of nuclear weapons. If we are thinking, not of winning the war, but of making it unbearable for the Russians, we do not need these gigantic fleets of strategic bombers or inter-continental ballistic weapons. We need just a modest nuclear strength corresponding to the 18 divisions in N.A.T.O.
That brings me to the subject of the British nuclear weapon. Let us be honest about it. It has no strategic justification of any sort. By just adding a few bombs marked "B for Britain" to the bombs marked "A for America", we do not alter in any way the balance of power. The justification for the British bomb is entirely political. It is that we feel that we wish to retain our independence so that we have some say in selecting the target at which the bomb is thrown and more bargaining power in Washington. If one were working out what would be the rational use of British forces as part of the united Western effort, we should not be building hydrogen bombs and V bombers.
1286 So, since we are doing so for political reasons, we ought to be careful that in the effort to make ourselves independent we do not ruin ourselves economically and thereby fall into dependence after all. We have to pay a huge economic price in order to achieve this bargaining power in Washington. I am increasingly sceptical about whether it is worth it. I wonder whether we can, by having the H-bomb, stand on an equal level with the Americans. Do not let us ruin ourselves by producing great fleets of V bombers in an effort to make ourselves feel more important in Washington.
That brings me to my second subject—economy of manpower. One of my difficulties today that I am able to study the Army, not as a Member of Parliament, but only as a journalist. As a journalist, one can get all sorts of secret information. If one had to rely on Answers to Questions and on White Papers for the total information available about the Services, there would be no information at all. All the important information goes to the military correspondents of The Times or the Manchester Guardian; I suppose they are considered more responsible and more reliable. In my other character as a journalist I can get the information, but if I ask a Question I cannot get it, and that is an insult to the House of Commons.
I do not see why Fleet Street alone should be let into the secrets of the bombers or even of the disposition of British troops all over the world. We have constantly asked in the House where the British troops are and how many there are. In order to be able to brief ourselves for the debate, we had to read in The Times a full and detailed description of exactly where the troops are, and almost exactly how many there are. I have to rely on The Times for what I have to say because the disclosures in that newspaper are relevant to my case.
My case is that in the deployment of our troops, practically no regard has been paid to the requirements of strategy, which have been undermined by political considerations. Again, I refer to the balance which we are asked to make between political, economic and strategic considerations. In the case of the Army, the balance is overwhelmingly on the side of political considerations. Let me start with a minor one, a little joke, which is 1287 the presence in the Caribbean of a battalion. I cannot believe that that is thought to add to the defence of the Caribbean or of our islands. We know how the battalion came to be there. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) went to the Bermuda talks and noticed that there were no troops there for chapel, and so there has had to be a battalion ever since. That is an absurd example of the political predominating over the strategic.
Next, I would refer to Hong Kong. We are told that we have 11,000 troops there. No strategic value at all attaches to them. They could be conquered in the first day. They are a symbol or token. A very wealthy Power could afford 11,000 men as a token to be mopped up in the first week of a war. Is it not time that we realised that it is terribly expensive to keep as many men as that as a purely token force?
Another token force is that in Berlin. In the event of war, Berlin falls on the first day. We must have a token force in Berlin to show that we mean to be in Berlin, but we keep a whole brigade in Berlin, which falls within a few hours of the war starting. We also keep 80,000 men in Western Germany, and they have also become a token. They were very properly described by my right hon. Friend as a trip-wire, but 80,000 men make a very big trip-wire. I call them a tethered goat.
We have 80,000 men whom the Government admit cannot be reinforced in the event of a general war. They were put there in the pre-nuclear age for ninety years, because we wanted to persuade the French to agree to German rearmament, but strategically there is no case for their all being there. There is a case for some being there, but not 80,000 men—and three armoured divisions.
The amount of military effort required to keep those forces, whose strategic purpose has been out-dated, is superhuman. If we were a big wealthy country, we should be able to afford it; but can this country afford the little luxuries of the Churchill battalion in the Caribbean, a token force in Hong Kong, a token brigade in Berlin, as well as this token Army of 80,000 men? Is that not too expensive?
I turn to the Middle East; I will briefly read the list of places where we have 1288 scattered our men in the Middle East—5,000 in Malta and Gibraltar, several thousand in Cyrenaica, 15,000 in Cyprus holding down the inhabitants of our main base, one armoured regiment and one rifle company in Jordan, one infantry regiment and one squadron of the Life Guards in Aden—I think that is the lot. Those are little packets scattered all over the Middle East, each one not large, but adding up to an appalling liability in manpower, a liability which I cannot see is really justified in terms of any military effect which they could achieve.
I add to that the only place where we have equipment is in the Suez Zone. We have £200 million worth of equipment in the Suez Zone which we have left there as hostage to the Egyptians; and it is the main repair base in which we must repair vehicles which are in Cyprus, and it is guarded solely by the Egyptians. I ask myself whether the strategy in the Middle East and the deployment of troops makes any sense whatever, and whether it is worth the effort. If we withdrew them, there would be no serious effect on our strategic strength.
I come to my three conclusions. The first is that I am now convinced that in his lapsus linguae the Minister of Defence said something quite sensible. He said that he hoped that he could end conscription before the next Election. He should have said, "I intend to do so," because if it was intended to do so, it could be done. That is the considered view of a number of us who have been thinking about it for some time. Provided that we could have 200,000 Regular soldiers averaging a five-year engagement, then conscription could be abolished if we gave up these packages all over the world which are called military commitments, but which are political relics of a bygone age. I believe that the Opposition should commit themselves to saying as a party that if we were in power, we would do the job in two years, because it can and could be done, given the will.
If we are to end conscription and build up a Regular Army, then of course we welcome the improvements in pay, and I myself would keep an open mind about whether, if I can see a way to end conscription in three years I would cut the term of service now or let it run on and reduce the numbers without a cut. The 1289 main object is to abolish National Service. It is an anachronism to have a great conscript Army, more particularly since the presence of these soldiers in the Middle East does far more harm than good.
My third point concerns the total weight of defence. I have indicated that in my view enormous savings will have to be made in the production of nuclear weapons. Once it is assumed that all N.A.T.O. needs is a nuclear deterrent sufficient to deter and not to overwhelm, once we recognise that our British nuclear weapons are mere political factors—something with which we try to keep up our kudos—there can be drastic cuts in our production programme.
I should like seriously to press upon the Government that in the next three years we should cut back defence expenditure from £1,500 million to £1,000 million. Then we should be able to do two things which are absolutely vital to our survival as a nation. We could spend £200 million extra on capital investment in this country, which would stop inflation and enable us to stand up and earn our own living. We have read a lot about a so-called capital investment in the last four years. but much of it was on armaments and was not capital investment from the point of view of production. I beg the Government to realise that a switch from arms to capital investment at home is absolutely vital.
Lastly, to take up a point made by previous speakers, it is also vital, if we cut £500 million off the defence budget, not to put it all into home production. but to put some of it into colonial capital investment also, say £100 million. It could be regarded as a defence against Communism, though I do not like to regard it as that. I think it should be done as a good thing in itself, but if we have to sell it to the Tories as a defence against Communism, let us do that. At all events, let us realise the difference it would make to this country's strength and security if we could slice off that terrible arms burden and switch the saving to home capital investment and colonial capital investment. On that basis we could have a sane defence policy.
§ 8.17 p.m.
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
The last four speeches ranged over a wide field, but I intend to confine myself to the issues 1290 raised by the White Paper. In that connection, I was most interested last night to hear the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) conceding that the White Paper was a step forward towards a logical presentation of a defence policy. I entirely agree with that, and it was confirmed by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Defence when he opened the debate.
On the other hand, I agree with the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) in doubting whether we could continue to sustain defence expenditure at the present level. Indeed, I consider that the most important need of the moment is to reduce the cost of defence, although I approach the problem from a direction somewhat different from that of the hon. Member for Coventry, East. If we wish to consider the significance of defence expenditure, there is no better yardstick of that than the proportion which it bears to our national income.
I ask the House to consider these figures. In 1913 it amounted to just under 3.3 per cent.; in 1935 it was just over 3.3 per cent., and I estimate that this year it will be about 9 per cent. These figures show that it is a matter of prime importance to get the bill down. I would not agree with the hon. Member for Coventry, East that the figure of £1,000 million a year is a suitable one at which to aim. I think it is clear from considering pre-war figures that we ought to aim at something substantially lower, if that can be achieved, always provided, however, that this can be done without endangering the position of this country in the world.
No one doubts that the most happy solution would be to disarm by international agreement. At the same time, I think we must admit that there is no early prospect of achieving this, although that should in no way permit us to relax our efforts to achieve the goal. On the other hand, it is only right that we should make full allowance for the fact that we no longer stand alone; that as a member of N.A.T.O. we belong to the most remarkable and, I believe, the most enduring alliance ever formed in time of peace.
The strength of N.A.T.O. does not rest only on military factors, but also on the political homogeneity of its member nations, which share a common respect 1291 for the rule of law, observe similar ethical codes and are democratic in the true sense. Surely, we are fully justified in assuming that such an alliance will endure, and, that being so, it greatly diminishes the size of the forces which we should otherwise have to maintain.
In searching for economies, there are two distinct approaches, and if I say a few words about each and indicate where I think economies can be made, I hope that no hon. Member will imagine that I am attacking the Government. On the contrary, this is exactly what Ministers have repeatedly asked hon. Members to do. As I said, there are two approaches. The first is to ask whether we have taken sufficient advantage of the changes brought about by nuclear weapons in order to economise in our conventional forces. As we are aware, the key to our policy is to be found in the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the Defence White Paper. The closing sentence of the fifth paragraph says:They"—that is, the Western Powers—will never be the aggressors, but they must have, and be known to have, the power of instant and overwhelming retaliation if attacked. It is the retaliatory power which is the vital factor.That, of course, is entirely true so far as it goes. But it is not sufficient to have the power to retaliate. It must also be quite certain that we have the intention, and I think there is some danger of becoming hypnotised by slogans such as "Deterrent to aggression." After all, that was the precise phrase in which we described our bomber force before the war. As things turned out, it did not deter Hitler in the least, because he rightly guessed that, when it came to the point, we should shrink from taking the initiative in bombing civilians.
Then there is the further military question of whether the hydrogen bomb is in reality so deadly as to render a reversion to ancient and barbaric forms of warfare at once certain and decisive. Or, to put the question more precisely, can we safely ignore the conventional forces of the enemy and rely on destroying him both completely and safely by nuclear attack? Could we say that we are in the position of a man armed with a pistol and a stick confronted with a giant 1292 armed with a pistol and a bludgeon? In such circumstances, I think that the little man would be well advised to discard the stick and make it plain to the giant that if there was to be a fight, it would be a fight with pistols so that they could fight on approximately equal terms.
I have no longer any doubt that the answer to these questions is "Yes." This being so, the use of the hydrogen bomb is, sooner or later, inevitable in any war for unlimited aims. On the other hand, I agree that we still need some conventional forces—very largely infantry—to meet limited and local threats and for security duties in primitive areas. I thought that the hon. Member for Coventry, East rather underestimated the importance for the preservation of peace of the garrison we maintain in various parts of the world.
It is, of course, a question of judgment and balance between the scale of our preparations for nuclear war and the scale of our traditional arms. This is a matter which can be decided only by the Government in the light of expert advice. I would merely say that there is, always likely to be some professional bias, perhaps quite unconsciously, in favour of tradition. I beg the Government to be on their guard against this, because there are great dangers anyhow in attempting to be unduly strong in conventional arms.
The first and by far the greatest danger is that it may raise a doubt in the mind of a potential aggressor about whether we really intend to take the initiative;n using nuclear weapons if by chance we are attacked first with conventional weapons only. If any such doubt arises, we forfeit the one good thing about the hydrogen bomb, which is its deterrent effect. It is for this reason that I say frankly that there are certain aspects of the Service Estimates and certain proposals in the accompanying explanatory statements that I find disturbing.
In particular, I wish to call attention to the paragraph in the Defence White Paper dealing with the Navy, which emphasises the submarine threat. It raises misgivings which I think are confirmed if we turn to paragraphs 8 and 9 of the explanatory statement by the Admiralty. Here, again, I should like to quote from one sentence in paragraph 8. It says:… in global war the prime task of the Navy would be, as it has always been in the 1293 past, to keep our sea lanes free so that we can bring in those things on which our very ability to exist and fight depend.On the face of it, I must say that this suggests that the Admiralty has a private strategy of its own, something which is different from meeting a major attack with all-out nuclear retaliation; something which involves and foresees a long drawn-out trade war. But, surely, an attack by 350 Russian submarines would be a major threat and would be met by nuclear retaliation. In other words, we would surely say to the Russians, "We are not going to play it that way."
But on one hypothesis, and on one alone, the Admiralty statement would be wholly logical. That would be if we were to go back to what was called the "broken-back" war theory, which was so fashionable two years ago, and assuming that, even after the terrors of nuclear bombardment, there were sufficient survivors in this country who could go on fighting—and, what is more, were willing to do so. Then, indeed, the rôle to which the Navy has clung would be vital.
In that connection, I was very struck by the emphasis which my right hon. and learned Friend laid upon home defence. It was a much greater emphasis than has been laid upon it at any previous time since the war. It makes me wonder whether his mind is now working in that direction. If so, I earnestly urge him to take us into his confidence by saying so, because it would be disastrous were it to be supposed that the Government visualised the possibility of a global war fought privately between the navies of the world alone. That would be a war in which Russia could, and I think would, bring her own nuclear weapons into play at her selected moment. It would be a war which, though starting with conventional weapons, drifted into nuclear warfare.
Meanwhile, according to the strategies laid down in the Defence White Paper, it would seem that the prime task of the Navy should be to conform to the policy defined in that White Paper, which surely means that it must supplement the nuclear attack of the Air Force and reinforce the defence of our island. Further than that—and here I part company with many hon. Members who have touched upon this matter—I say that recent technical developments are enabling war ships to 1294 take a growing share in these duties. That is one reason why I advocate the fusion of the Royal Navy with the Royal Air Force. I shall not weary the House by repeating the arguments for such a fusion, but I remain more than ever convinced that it would be in the national interest. I was delighted to hear that the right hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), presumably speaking for the Opposition, appears to share that point of view.
But there is a second and very much more immediate danger, of trying to be too strong in conventional weapons. We may end by falling between two stools and, incidentally, bankrupting ourselves at the same time. The question is, where can we turn for economies? First, and perhaps mainly, I would say that we can turn to our reserves. I think we must accept that the violent part of nuclear war would be of short duration, in which case very great economies become possible in our reserves. It is not merely a question of no longer requiring great reserves of trained manpower; the Government have already recognised that. I should think that we can also dispense with most of the immense reserves of stores and munitions, the vast depôts, and the army of industrial labour employed to care for them.
But what do we find when we study the estimates? They certainly show a slow reduction in the amount of money spent upon the purchase of stores and munitions. It seems that about £49 million is being saved in that way, all told. Unfortunately, there is very little indication of the widespread closing of establishments, such as would be indicated by a striking drop in the number of civilians upon the pay-roll.
Again, nuclear weapons have entirely outdated fortified bases with elaborate fixed defences. We are, therefore, entitled to expect large savings under that head. The estimates make no mention of that whatever and, judging from a revealing passage in the report of the Malta Round Table Conference, the Service mind is not yet working in that direction. The first sentence in paragraph 38 of the Report says:The United Kingdom Service Departments consider that there is no near prospect of a decline in Malta's strategic importance or"—this is the point—in the relative level of defence expenditure in Malta.1295 In the same way, we are entitled to look for savings in money spent upon the Royal dockyards, and repair depôts of all sorts. What use could be made of them in a nuclear war? How long would they survive? This is a subject upon which the Air and Army Estimates are discreetly silent. I can find nothing there about repair depôts. That is not so in the case of the Navy Estimates. They actually promise us bigger and more expensive dockyards to maintain our dwindling fleet.
This question is bound up with another and probably greater field for savings, which has not been exploited, to which some reference has already been made today. I refer to the so-called modernisation of existing equipment. As everyone knows, a good deal of the work of dockyards is taken up with alterations and additions, that is to say, the fitting of the latest and most costly gadgets into ageing ships, or immensely expensive modernisation programmes such as that forecast for the aircraft carriers.
Why not leave them alone? What possible use would these old vessels be in a nuclear war, and what possible difference would it make to their value in the cold war whether they have the latest gadgets or not? Why, in fact, fiddle about with them, at about £10 million per fiddle, if the "Victorious" is anything to go by? We must be pardoned if we suspect that much of this sort of work is thought up to justify the continued employment of people who would otherwise become redundant. Although I have referred only to ships, I should make it quite clear that I am sure that exactly the same process, and exactly the same waste, goes on in aircraft and in military equipment as a whole.
These are some of the economies which should result from the advent of nuclear weapons, and they are matters of policy, but there is quite a different approach, which is largely a question of administration. In homely language, it is to see that we get value for money, and one does not have to be a military expert in order to discuss this. It would be quite inappropriate to go into details in a general debate on defence, but perhaps I may be permitted to touch on one or two broad issues.
1296 First, I would refer to Service pay. The recent increases will cost £67 million per year, and for that money we shall, anyhow in the first instance, derive no increased defence at all. It is not as if the previous rates were at all bad. Indeed, there are many people who doubted whether the decline in recruiting and re-engagement had very much to do with pay, but, however that may be, the point which I want to make is that the sole justification for this heavy burden will be if it enables us to end National Service in two or three years' time, and I stress the word "end."
I cannot understand why the Opposition are so keen on shortening the period of National Service. The amount of gain to the individuals concerned is relatively limited, and, as I said once before to the House, I can imagine no single step more calculated to perpetuate the National Service system than cutting down the period at the present moment. On the other hand, I should like to ask my right hon. Friends to make it perfectly clear to their military advisers that the object of this pay increase is to end National Service, and that, on this occasion, no excuse for failure can be accepted.
The new pay code also includes very much higher pensions and very substantial terminal grants to officers, and this at least gives us the opportunity to rectify what I regard as the greatest single evil in the fighting services today. I refer to the tremendously inflated size of the officers' lists. If I quote one case in the Royal Navy, it is because the Navy is much more honest in the way it produces the Navy List. It is easy to add up the numbers, whereas it is very difficult in the case of the other two Services. It is a fact that today we actually have some 80 captains, 370 commanders and 1,400 junior officers over and above the numbers which we had on the permanent active list at the height of the Second World War.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I did not mention admirals, because they rather weaken this particular argument. They are also reduced. They are five less, strangely enough, though I am not certain that the reduction is not more than that, 1297 since I have noticed that quite a number have retired today.
Of course, the other Services are similarly grossly overborne. There is nothing worse either for the morale or the efficiency of a great public service than to have too many managers. It leads to greater extravagance, because they are all very energetic' people who invent jobs for themselves and build empires.
If I may be partisan for a moment, I would say that the Labour Government made a fatal mistake in 1946 in not thinning the lists then. That was the psychological moment. It was expected, and it did not happen. Today, we have a second chance. It would be reasonable to discharge any redundant officer over the age of 35 with the pension and terminal grant for which he would eventually qualify in his present rank. I do not think that anyone would complain about that. We can maintain the present operational levels at which we are aiming in the three Services with between one-half and two-thirds of their present numbers. I appreciate that a few cases would occur in which technical officers would have to be replaced by or be re-employed as technical civil servants.
I am detaining the House too long. I will do no more than mention the economy which would result in the reduction of the army of civilians in the Fighting Services. There are about 500,000 of them. Nothing would help the nation to economise more than their progressive release for productive work, but that will never be done except by pressure from outside. Every establishment can always find ways and means of keeping its men occupied.
Lastly, and perhaps more revealing and significant than anything I have yet mentioned, is what I regard as the shocking level at which the Ministries themselves continue to be staffed. How can we expect the Services to have healthy and virile bodies if they are weighted down by such enormous heads?
One question remains. I was greatly encouraged to notice that the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) ended on a strongly partisan note, because I wish to do the same. I had thought that it might be in rather bad taste. How does it come about that extravagance and waste have continued in the Services ever since the war? The answer lies in the 1298 climate of opinion in Whitehall. There are far too many officers and officials gorging upon the taxpayer whose minds—as it always seemed to me when I was working in Whitehall—are permanently closed to the crying need for economy.
I believe that no body of people is more responsible for that situation than hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is absurd for them, of all people, to criticise the Government for spending too much money, employing too many men, or being extravagant in any way at all.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite must realise that it was their administration and their attitude, coming immediately after the war, which tempted many senior men in the Services, and in Whitehall as a whole, into the habit of placing their sectional Service interests above the national interest. I sometimes think that this inversion of values constitutes the twentieth-century form of corruption. It is the greatest single obstacle to economy at the present day. Instead of attacking Ministers, the House should unite in supporting them in a great battle for retrenchment, secure in the knowledge that in the field of defence, at least, we can save money and can augment our fighting strength at one and the same time.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)
We have listened to a very interesting speech from the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett). He certainly made a number of suggestions which I am quite sure my hon. Friends would be glad to have considered, though I thought it rather unfortunate that he should have ended on the note that he did. I happen to be one hon. Member who consistently opposed the introduction of military conscription, but when there was a Labour Government I could not then find a single supporter on the other side.
As the hon. and gallant Member suggested that it was under a Labour Government that money was spent in a wasteful manner, it is rather surprising that some of us who were then critical of the Government could not get support. He also made the remarkable statement 1299 that he thought that the purpose of the increase in pay for the Armed Forces should be to end compulsory National Service. I trust that the Government will take note that the hon. and gallant Gentleman said that no excuse for failure should be accepted. To hear that from the benches opposite is particularly pleasurable.
A number of suggestions have been made during the debate which would bring about the end of this method of compulsory service that is quite alien to the British tradition. Germany has been mentioned, and the hon. and gallant Member asked whether our men there ought to be paid more money. When I was in Germany in the late summer it was not only obvious to any eye-witness that the Service men were in very considerable financial difficulties but that they were completely bored as a body, and there was much talk about the very considerable amount of time which was wasted.
As one who believes that it was wrong for this nation to commit itself to maintaining an Army on the mainland of Europe for 44 years, I was, naturally, interested to read in the Manchester Guardian yesterday that if the Government were to reduce our forces in Germany to one division—as they may be compelled to do eventually—National Service could be ended. My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), a previous Minister of Defence, has also submitted other grounds for bringing to an end this very unfortunate system which is so much objected to.
Although the Opposition Amendment speaks of an immediate reduction in the period of National Service and of its abolition, we have had nothing from the Governmen about the eventual abolition of conscription, and I think that we are entitled to a further explanation of their intentions in that regard. In the short time that I have at my disposal, I want to put one or two questions to the Minister of Defence. I believe that there is a very considerable danger in the suggestion in paragraph 6 of the White Paper, which states:Equally, we have to be prepared for the outbreak of localised conflicts on a scale short of global war. In such limited wars the possible use of nuclear weapons cannot be excluded.1300 As I understand it, that means that we pass from the defensive to the offensive, and if that is to be generally understood in the world it will create a great deal of fear.
Yesterday, the Minister of Defence said:… I do not think, I may say frankly, that it would be a practicable policy for any Government to define precisely in advance the circumstances in which it would use some weapons and not others."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 1041.]Only yesterday the Manchester Guardian reported a speech by Mr. Quarles, the Secretary of the United States Air Force, in which he said:… the United States was prepared to use modern quality weapons,' defined later by an Air Force spokesman as including nuclear weapons, to win a 'little' war as well as a world war.He also said:No would-be aggressor could ever again expect us to employ our air power and weapons as we did in Korea. It must be clear to any aggressor that he can expect to be opposed by such modern quality weapons as are needed for the job in hand.I thought that the Labour Government had restrained the Americans from the use of these weapons in a situation such as we had in Korea. I now understand the American approach to this matter, and perhaps the Minister of Defence will tell us whether we propose to do the same as the Americans, in which case, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington said, we shall then have the circumstances in which a war can soon develop into a global war of a very serious nature.
There is no economic reasoning in the White Paper and there is no moral or spiritual basis behind it. We on this side of the House have always regarded the Minister of Defence as a man in whom we could have the greatest confidence. One could never imagine the right hon. and learned Gentleman using the psychology of fear in his approach to these problems, yet he now proposes that we should surrender to the psychology of fear. How many times have we heard about the "great deterrent"? The "great deterrent" is no more than a great delusion. It means that we are seeking peace through fear, brotherhood through fright.
The Bishop of Chester said this in a pamphlet which he issued:To hold out the hydrogen bomb as an effective deterrent is to use the weapon of 1301 fear and to stimulate suspicion, mistrust, recrimination, hysteria. To suggest the fear thus aroused throughout the world by hydrogen bombs can turn out to be the most effective guarantee of peace is a delusion.He goes on to say that this will lead to a vicious arms race.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) yesterday referred to a statement in the Manchester Guardian about nuclear weapons. The Manchester Guardian on 27th February said:The United Kingdom now has enough nuclear explosive to destroy every large city in the world and probably most of the large towns as well. Stockpile of nuclear material in the United Kingdom is enough to make 2,300 to 4,000 atom bombs. Material for 1,000 bombs may have been committed.I should like to know whether that is correct. It goes on to say:Stockpile of nuclear materials in the United States is probably much larger than the amount needed for 32,500 bombs. Probably the Russian stockpile is enough for 10,000 bombs.How high are we to build a stockpile of hydrogen bombs which is to be regarded as sufficient to give us peace and security? There is the arms race.
I conclude by bringing to my aid a very great militarist. I never thought that I should stand up in this House, having opposed the defence burden for so many years, and quote in my support an American militarist—General MacArthur. The quotation is from the extraordinary speech he made on his 75th birthday, which had a tumultous welcome. When referring to the world's blackguard leaders, he said:Never do they dare to state the bald truth, that the next great advance in the evolution of civilisation cannot take place until war is abolished.… Every cynic, every pessimist, every adventurer, every swash-buckler in the world has disclaimed its feasibility. But that was before the science of the past decade made mass destruction a reality.… Now the tremendous and present evolution of nuclear and other potentials of destruction have suddenly taken the problem away from its primary consideration as a moral and spiritual question and brought it abreast of scientific realism.In concluding his speech, he made this remarkable admission:But the constant acceleration of preparation may well without specific intent ultimately produce a spontaneous combustion.1302 I know that Ministers do not like this, but it is what they are preparing for, and I think that they should think again and in time. I hope that by the next time the Defence White Paper is issued, we shall have said that there is an end to this horrible system of compulsory National Service, a reduction of our expenditure and an increase of confidence and good will in the world.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
I do not know how the Government feel at this stage of the debate, but, speaking for myself, having listened to nearly all the speeches, I do not think that in the last four or five years I have ever heard such a volume of sustained criticism from both sides of the House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) started by telling us that he was not going to attack the Government, but I think that most of us who heard his speech thought that, apart from that part of it which was more relevant to the debate on the Navy Estimates next week, it contained a most acute attack on the policies of the Government as they are conceived in the White Paper at the present time.
I think that the Minister of Defence, fresh to his task, must feel that if he is to have many allies like the hon. and gallant Gentleman sitting behind him, he would far sooner they were sitting on this side of the House. I notice that when the Prime Minister was here during the opening of the debate yesterday he nodded agreement with so many of the criticisms of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) that I half expected to see him in our Lobby tonight. I suppose that we shall be disappointed, but it certainly would not come amiss from the criticism heard on both sides of the House.
I say to the Minister of Defence that he may win the vote tonight—I expect he will because there are a lot of hon. Members who have not heard the debate—but I do not think he will go away feeling happy that he has got a grip of the situation and the whole-hearted assent of the House in the policies which are being followed. I am glad that the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) brought back this debate to the question of atomic weapons and the hydrogen bomb, because 1303 there is one marked difference between this debate and the debate which we had a year ago, in that it now seems to be commonly accepted that the Russians possess the hydrogen bomb and the means to deliver it.
I wonder whether the Minister of Defence remembers that the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), in the defence debate twelve months ago, giving one of his reviews, said that we might have a period of three or four years—or maybe less, he said, covering himself, as he is always so clever at doing—before the Russians would possess the hydrogen bomb or the means of delivering it, or both combined. Those expectations seem to have been falsified within twelve months. On 10th May last there was an explosion of a hydrogen bomb in Siberia, and while the twentieth congress of the Communist Party was being held in Russia Marshal Sokolovsky, a deputy minister of defence, said last week:We command reliable means of delivering atomic and hydrogen bombs to any part of the globe.It is true to say that what has been variously called the atomic stalemate, or the saturation point, or, as one writer called it, the "plenitude of hydrogen bombs," has arrived—on both sides. It is a very remarkable thing that the arrival of the great deterrent on both sides has coincided with the Government's judgment, after their appreciation of the situation, that the prospect of war is less likely. It has always been the Government's opinion, and was, indeed, the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford a year ago, that it was the great preponderance of atomic and hydrogen deterrents which would give as a breathing space in which we could negotiate a settlement. That appreciation has been falsified.
In my own opinion, the cause of its having been falsified was the conference at Geneva, last July. I am one of the Members of the House who was present at that conference—but in a private capacity only. One thing which, I thought, became clear during the conference was that President Eisenhower by his sincerity convinced the Russians that he would not be a party to starting an 1304 aggressive war against them. Moreover, for the first time, I think, a number of Americans began to see that, perhaps, the Russians were human after all. I myself believe that the conference had one lasting effect. It induced leading statesmen of the world, including our own Prime Minister, to the view that the likelihood of war was less than they had conceived it to be. I do not say that the basic facts changed, but that their appreciation of the facts changed.
Why, according to the White Paper, is the U.S.S.R. less aggressive than twelve months ago? Mr. Dulles, in one of his many incursions into these speculations, said it is because of fear. He is alone in saying that, I think. Most people believe that it is Russian self-confidence, arising from the fact that the Russians believe that they have the atomic bomb and the capacity to deliver it to any part of the globe. Whatever the reason may be whether it is fear or whether it is self-confidence there is fairly general agreement that the Russians are now using or concentrating upon different methods from those they seemed to be using a year or two ago.
The great question in this debate—and it has been touched on by a number of speakers on both sides of the House—is, in the face of this apparent change of Russian tactic what should be the Government's attitude to defence? Dissatisfaction with the Government's policy has been expressed in a number of speeches on that side of the House as well as on this side of the House, and I think it should make the Minister of Defence feel that one of his first tasks in his new post is to review the defence programme to see how it is to be slotted into the country's economy.
In page 4 of the White Paper are set out four major rôles for our Services. They have to make a contribution to the Allied deterrent—that is, the hydrogen bomb. We are going to make the hydrogen bomb. Secondly,They must play their part in the cold war.That is, the conventional force. Thirdly,They must be capable of dealing with outbreaks of limited war should they occur.I presume that that means the Korea type of war. Finally,They must also be capable of playing their part effectively in global war should it break out.1305 Our considered view of this analysis is that whilst it may be possible for the U.S.S.R. or the United States to carry this programme through in full and I am not sure that even they can do it, we do not believe that the present Government can carry out all these rôles effectively and defend the country. It is because the Government are trying to carry out all these things that they are failing to do any one of them properly. This is the reason for the waste in Government expenditure, which we have criticised over the last four or five years.
Does the Minister of Defence really believe that what the Foreign Secretary said in the debate on defence in March of last year, when he was Minister of Supply, can really be held to be true today? The right hon. and learned Gentleman then said:… this country is at present capable of defending itself against what a potential enemy is capable of directing against it. That is my honest opinion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1955 Vol. 537, c. 2098.]Does the Minister of Defence really believe that that statement by his right hon. and learned Friend would stand up to examination today in view of the criticisms which have been heard of our own fighter aircraft?
The Hunter has come in for a rather savage battering in this debate. It is the Spitfire of 1956, and yet the best that the Government can say for it is that it has a slight margin of speed over any enemy bomber that might attack this country. Those who are not Government spokesmen say that it is very unlikely to he able to match either the latest American or the latest Russian fighter coming into service—the F.100 and the MiG 17.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) criticised the lack of information coming to Members of Parliament on these scores, and we must all be careful what we say about these things. But it is quite true that when we want to know the facts we have to ask newspapermen who have got them from the Ministers. I would not care to rely upon facts given to me even by well-informed military commentators who have spent their lives studying these problems, but the complacency shown about our air defence and V bombers, including the Victor which is so late in 1306 its deliveries, is not shared by military commentators who study these problems.
As one of my hon. Friends has said in this debate, whenever we can turn up a corner and look underneath and examine the facts we begin to see that much of these criticisms is justified. Therefore, the Minister of Defence must not expect us to take too much on trust even from him, much as we like him. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to consider his personal attitude in relation to the V bomber programme as displayed in yesterday's debate.
We asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman how many bombers we had, and he replied, "Oh, we are not going to tell you that." We asked when the next bomber would be coming into service, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman replied, "I am not going to prophesy that." When my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) asked how much they cost, the Minister of Defence replied, "I have not the figure for that." Therefore, we have to take all on trust. We do not know how many bombers the Government have, what they are going to cost and when they are coming into service. With the record of this Government, that is really asking us to take a great deal on trust.
When I look at their record in the economic field, where we can find out the facts for ourselves, when I see the record of duplicity, twisting and double-turning there, I wonder why we should be expected to accept so much on trust from these Ministers who flip so quickly from the Ministry of Supply to the Foreign Office and from the Exchequer to somewhere else and back again until it is difficult to keep track of them. Indeed, we might start a quiz soon: "Who were the last five Ministers of Defence?" It would be difficult to name them. Also, "What jobs do they hold at present?" [An HON. MEMBER: "And why?"] Yes, "and why"?
We really cannot accept on trust from the Minister that the Government are doing what they should be doing in this matter. I will give one more illustration on Civil Defence. The Minister told us that he was considering the possibility of evacuating 12 million people. Quite apart from straining our credulity on that, I want to take him back a year to a 1307 speech made by, I think, his predecessor but three. In 1954 Lord Kilmuir, who was then Home Secretary, told us that the problems of evacuation were serious and would have to be worked out because evacuation was fundamental to many other Civil Defence plans. I ask the House to note these words, quoted by the present Home Secretary last July:… evacuation, to be effective, must be worked out in great detail so that the local authorities in both reception and evacuation areas know precisely what they must do."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1955; Vol. 537, c. 1943.]That was a year ago. Yesterday, the Minister of Defence said:… the next step will be to consider the plans in detail with the local authorities and others concerned.What has been done in the last 12 months—the years that the locusts have eaten? I must give the Minister of Defence credit by saying that he read his brief accurately. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said:The evacuation plans have reached this stage, and this stage only: we have considered which areas are those of greatest concentration and which are the areas of least concentration …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 1039.]Really, 12 months' work for that! How many staff were engaged on this job? I guarantee that half a dozen people sitting down together for twenty minutes could decide which are the areas of greatest concentration and which are the areas of least concentration. The truth is that here, as in so many other cases, there is a record of ineptitude and inefficiency and that lack of urgency which so many foreign observers see about our defence programme.
The Minister of Defence will be well aware that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction at the slowness with which planes are coming along for the Navy. Here, the lack of urgency seems to apply also and that we have been given no programme to indicate to us when the fighter aircraft and the strike aircraft for which the Fleet Air Arm are asking are likely to come to fruition. Would the Secretary of State for Air, when he replies, give us some information on that programme?
On research, the Minister of Defence admitted frankly that the Government were trying to do too much, that they 1308 were spreading their resources over too many projects. I ask the Minister of Defence why this programme has not been cut before? Why has it taken so long to reach this conclusion? The Government have been in charge of this defence programme for the last 4½ years. Thank goodness we are hearing less now about the period of nine months when we on this side of the House laid down the original plan.
The Government have had 4½ years in which to modify it, alter it, expand it, contract it, accelerate it—in fact, do anything they wanted to do with it. They had the whole resources of Government at their disposal, and it is high time therefore that we heard the last of the story, "You did it in nine months and what you did in nine months we cannot amend in the next 4½ years."
I would only say to hon. Gentlemen opposite who tell us that the programme of 1951–52 was badly planned, and that too much was crammed in, that we were advised in 1951 of the apprehension of the Chiefs of Staff that war was likely in 1953 or 1954. If war had come then, all these projects, and more, would have been needed. [Interruption.] Are hon. Gentlemen opposite claiming credit for that? Stalin has died. Do they claim credit for his death? They had better be careful, or they will find themselves in the position of the doctors who were accused.
As the military situation has changed and the appreciation has changed, the Government should have changed the concentration of the projects, brought them further together and contracted them much more rapidly than they have done, for otherwise they are failing in their duty. It is still the case apparently, according to the Minister of Defence, that our resources are overstrained. My right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) said that two-thirds of the scientists are in defence work. Is this true? If so, in present circumstances when, on the Government's own appreciation, the risk of war is less, that really seems to my hon. Friends and myself to be a grossly unbalanced expenditure of effort as between the economic and defence sectors.
The speech of the Minister of Defence, like the White Paper, was full of good intentions. There is hardly a platitude which has not been repeated, and hardly 1309 a cliché has gone unuttered. It is the same old story with the same old promises year after year. It has become almost like the yearly pledge of the unregenerate drunkard to be more temperate in future. There was much in what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said with which I do not disagree, but we do not see any result from it.
Our charge against the Government is that during the last 4½ years a great deal of money has been spent but the country has not had value for it. Let us take the simplest example of the aircraft firms, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) referred in very great detail. Their profits go on. The contracts are re-negotiated, if at all, far too slowly, and the firms carry on, irrespective of failures or success, doing the job that ought to be done, but not doing it as well as it should be done or nearly as swiftly as it should be done. The waste of money is known and admitted on both sides of the House.
Our next criticism is the organisation and allocation of projects between the Services. We believe this matter should be looked at again. We believe that we shall not obtain proper allocation between, for example, the Navy and the Royal Air Force until, as my right hon. Friend and the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East said, we have much closer fusion or integration between those two Services. How are we to settle the problems of the future of the aircraft carrier, the future of Coastal Command and the future of the Fleet Air Arm as long as these are prestige questions? That is what they are at present, and that is why more and more voices are now calling for closer integration between the three Services.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) added his voice this afternoon, and so did an old friend of his, Lord Montgomery, last October. I want to read what Lord Montgomery said on the subject, because I think it should impress the Minister of Defence. On 12th October Lord Montgomery gave a lecture in London on the subject, and, criticising the defence organisation, he said:What has gone wrong today is that each Service tries to be self-contained and in a large measure it succeeds. We cannot afford the 1310 luxury of duplication and the waste which comes from adding together the demands of the three Services.The third part of our Amendment expresses precisely that view, that there has been no proper allocation of resources between the three Services. What has taken place has been an adding together of their demands and then a process of haggle and compromise under the chairmanship of Sir William Dickson, who has no power to enforce anything upon the three Services. When that is finished, we get a series of Estimates which bear no relationship to the overall defence needs of the British Isles. In our view, Sir William Dickson's appointment does not go nearly far enough, and we must move much closer to integration of the three Services than we have so far done.
Further on the question of manpower, it is so easy not to cut National Service. It is more difficult to cut it than not to cut it, but I believe that this is a time for boldness and for taking a political risk in the matter. Any decision to cut National Service is bound to be a political risk, but if the appreciation that the prospects of war are less likely is correct, then I believe that the moment has come when the Minister of Defence should assess the situation, as should the other Service Ministers, and should reach the conclusion that there is a need to cut defence expenditure in the overall interests of the nation, looking at both the export industries and the economic sector generally, as well as at the needs of the Services.
Generals have always wanted the men and they always will. What we need in the Services today is a manpower squeeze like the credit squeeze on the economic side, so that the generals can be told to make do with the men they have. In the next twelve months the Minister should decide to cut National Service. I agree with the analysis that the purpose of the Government is eventually to try to abolish National Service.
I understand that the Secretary of State for Air wants to start speaking at 9.25 p.m., so I will curtail what I have to say. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We must give him a chance because, after all, we can criticise the Government in twenty minutes, but they certainly want thirty-five minutes in which to reply, and, even so, I doubt if they will do it. We have been asked what proposals we 1311 would put forward, and I can summarise them in this way. First, one cannot have a defence programme in this country today which covers H-bombs, V bombers, fighters, guided missiles, aircraft carriers, anti-submarine fleets, mine-sweepers, and a large conscript army. That is the beginning.
I will summarise the practical and positive proposals which we would put forward. First, less emphasis on fighters and much more emphasis on guided weapons. Secondly, rationalise the aircraft industry for the reasons that have been given, and not only rationalise it, but get rid of idealogical prejudices and recognise that we will have to nationalise it, or at any rate some part of it, certainly within the next decade. Thirdly, cut manpower by reducing the period of National Service. Fourthly, give more power to the Minister of Defence than he now has to settle allocations between the Services, and increase the power of Sir William Dickson's appointment. Fifthly, review integration of the Forces at the top level with a view to getting some co-ordination between their needs. Finally, review the whole balance between defence and other expenditure.
May I give just two figures to the Minister of Defence and ask him whether he thinks that they are in balance? Bearing in mind the change of emphasis which has taken place in the U.S.S.R. today in its approach to these problems, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman really believe that £1,500 million a year spent on defence is the right proportion, when we are spending only £16 million a year on colonial development? We have committed ourselves to spending £80 million on colonial development in the next five years.
If the emphasis of the Russian attack has changed, for heaven's sake let us recognise it in this field where there is so much room for economy, where there is so much waste, and where, if there were a firm grip on the Ministry, we would do much better than we have done hitherto.
I can sum up the efforts of the last five Ministers of Defence in this way. The Secretary of State bears responsibility because he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence at a time when this programme should have been overhauled and a firmer grip taken—when 1312 Lord Alexander had not forgotten that civilians could answer back. I would sum up the Government's failure in the field of defence over the last five years in three words. Incompetence, because they wasted money and failed to give the nation the value for the money it deserved; indecision, because they have refused to take a decision on National Service or upon the shape of the Forces; inertia, because they have failed to secure integration at top level or to organise the Services to meet the full needs of the hydrogen bomb era with which we are faced. Because we believe that charge is made out, and because we accuse them of incompetence, indecision and inerita, we shall vote against them in the Lobby tonight.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Nigel Birch)
Since the 1951 Election I think that I have spoken in every defence debate except one, and I consider that this has been much the best debate. All the way through there have been extremely good speeches from hon. Members on both sides of the House, and they have been non-party speeches. I think the disagreement among hon. Gentlemen opposite was even more striking than their disagreement with us. So far as the speeches in general went, if their brevity had equalled their wit and wisdom I think everyone would have been even happier.
Before replying to the Amendment—and I hope to deal with practically all the points which were raised by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan)—I should like to go back to the Defence White Paper. Varying opinions have been expressed about it. The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) said, in a very generous speech, that he thought it the best so far. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) did not seem to like it very much, but did not voice any very positive criticisms. Other hon. Members have expressed other views.
The conclusions from the study of strategy after the first detonation of the H-bomb are set out more clearly in this White Paper than in any previous one. They are logically worked out. The first conclusion is that the deterrent is far more powerful than before. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East that the fact that the Russians have 1313 the hydrogen bomb does away with the deterrent. One does not want a hydrogen bomb dropped on one but that cannot be stopped unless one can be certain of neutralising every base in the world, which could not possibly be done. We believe that the deterrent is stronger, provided that we have the means to deliver it.
The more I meditate on this matter the more convinced I become that we shall not have a global war. If that tragedy does happen, the conclusion is that not only will it be terrible, but it will be short. Therefore, in a short war there would be no long period for training or for mobilisation and no great expenditure of reserves or materials during that war. But though we believe the deterrent will be successful, the cold war drags on its weary way, and limited wars are always possible.
The implications for each of the Services are clearly set out in paragraph 15 of the White Paper, and I will not go through them again. I should like to go on to the way in which the consequences are logically worked out into a policy which the right hon. Member for Dundee. West denied is a deterrent. The plan is to build up a V bomber force, with bombs to match. Part of that deterrent is the means to protect the bases from which the bombers go. Of course, an hon. Member was talking about phasing-out fighters as guided weapons were coming in. It is quite understood that that must be done when we have effective guided weapons—for certain purposes, but not all. The point made by the Minister of Supply was that we do not require the vast fleets of bombers that we had in the last war, simply because the weapons which they carry are so much more powerful.
All the Services need up-to-date conventional weapons although, again, the numbers need not be so great. They need mobility, particularly for the cold and limited war. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War is setting up his mobile brigade. It certainly has not all the aircraft that we are going to produce for it, but it is worth noticing that we have recently moved most of two brigades to Cyprus quite successfully with the aircraft that we have. Therefore, it is operational and quite all right now. We have already worked out the implication of the diminished importance of reserves 1314 for global war. That is why the Reserve Fleet is cut; that is why the expeditionary force element of the Territorial Army is cut; that is why reserves of munitiions and material are not so great as they otherwise would have been. and that is why we have given up any idea of building up an Air Force once a global war starts.
§ Mr. Birch
Exactly. But although the importance of reserves is much less, the importance of forces in being is very much greater. We want forces in being to deter the threat of a global war and to deal with cold and limited wars before they get out of hand.
If we look at the White Paper we see the apparently paradoxical fact that slightly more emphasis is placed upon the conventional war operations of the Services than was the case in the previous White Paper. There was a time when many people said that we should not have any conventional forces at all. I thought that that time was over. Certainly, the right hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) did not put that idea forward, nor did the hon. Member for Dudley, but the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) very nearly did so.
While listening to the recent debate on the Middle East, I was very impressed by the speech of the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens). He was advocating a military treaty with Israel, and the words he used were:Surely, there can be nothing wrong in having a treaty which says that if aggression takes place we will lend our aid."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th December, 1955; Vol. 547, c. 953.]Incidentally, the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) said the same thing in an even stronger form on Monday.
I imagine that what they meant was that we should lend conventional forces. If they meant that we should drop an atom bomb, or a number of them, in that part of the world, they did not say so—and I do not think they meant to. But we must realise that unless we have conventional forces which are fairly up to date we shall be faced with the terrible choice, in the event of a localised conflict, 1315 either of being powerless or of having to drop an atom bomb. That is a terrible choice which we should not want to put ourselves in a position to have to make.
It is, therefore, important to have conventional forces equipped with up-to-date weapons. We must remember that, already flying in the Middle East are the MiG15 and the IL28, which require a certain amount of dealing with. Therefore, unless we take the most brutal line and say—as the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) nearly did—that any kind of limited war entails the use of nuclear weapons, we have to accept the necessity for conventional forces, although I entirely agree that we do not need them upon the scale which we might reasonably have asked for them in the past.
Nobody denies that if a major attack occurs in Western Europe nuclear bombs are bound to be dropped, but there are a great many cases where conventional arms are essential and it would be morally wrong, besides being impracticable, to try to intervene with nuclear weapons. Therefore, all I would say to the House is that because we have the new, it is not quite as easy as all that just to throw away the old.
Now I turn to the Amendment, and the criticisms that have been made. I will take the points of the Amendment in the order in which they come.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, may I remind him that we have not yet had any definition of what the phrase "limited war" means? Would the right hon. Gentleman say that if a war did break out in the Middle East, that would be a limited war?
§ Mr. Birch
I should have thought it was. An unlimited war is a war between great Powers in which nuclear weapons are used, and a limited war is not a war directly between great Powers but one in which nuclear weapons are not used. I should have thought that Korea was a classic example.
I turn to the first part of the Amendment, which concerns the charge of waste and weakness. The Minister of Defence and the Minister of Supply dealt with these matters at some length, and in 1316 particular the Minister of Supply dealt at very great length with aircraft, though not at such great length as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper. However, there are certain things that I should like to add. This was a point which was taken up by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East. I think that hon. Members opposite can be comforted by the thought that, at any rate, we have curbed the exuberance of the programme which we inherited. It was calculated, three years ago, that we should be spending £2,000 million a year if we were carrying on the same plans as we inherited.
I am not criticising what right hon. Gentlemen opposite did then, but the people who say that no economies have taken place and that no rethinking has been done must remember that there has in fact been an enormous cutting back. If there had not been, we should be spending—I shudder to think what it would be, but about £2,400 million. Do not let there be any doubt about that. Not only that, but if we had gone on with those plans, we should have been even further behind with the new types of aircraft, for the simple reason that the energies of the aircraft firms would have been entirely taken up by producing aircraft of out-of-date types. If we had curbed their exuberance too much, it would have been equally fatal. After all, what has happened in those years? The grand alliance of N.A.T.O. has been built up, we have got the Germans in and the Americans remain in Europe—one of the important factors in our security.
When my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) said that we ought to do practically nothing but leave it to the Americans, I thought that we ought sometimes to reflect that it is quite possible that the Americans would say, "If they will not defend themselves, why should we defend them? We will go home." We have to remember that we have to play our part, show a reasonable example and give a reasonable lead and do what we can. As a result of doing what we have done, we have built up the alliance, and peace has been preserved. It is sometimes worth remembering that.
Naturally, there have been a great many speeches by hon. Members on Royal Air Force matters, but, as I shall be speaking again on Monday on that 1317 subject, I do not want to go over the same ground as the Minister of Supply. It is perfectly true that there have been great difficulties and great disappointments, but we are relatively far better off than at the time of the Korean war. At the time, we had no jet bombers at all. Now, we have all the Canberras that we need, and we are beginning to build up our V-bomber force. We have fighters that are in the modern world, and I thought the picture that my right hon. Friend painted was not altogether discouraging. We have struggled back from the time of Korea, when, at any rate so far as fighters are concerned, we were non-operational altogether, and we are getting back into the situation in which we again have an operational Air Force.
I do not want to appear complacent about this matter. I certainly do not feel it. The problem that concerns us all is this: once we have got behind, once, as we have in guided missiles, made a start three years late and when our competitors have resources which they can devote to research and development far greater than our own, how do we catch up and regain the lead? A good many things have been done and have been detailed in the debate, and a good many useful suggestions have been made.
Opening the debate, my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Defence said that he was taking the deepest interest in this subject. All I can say for the Minister of Supply and myself is that we shall do everything we can to help him, and that no Departmental jealousy or trouble will be allowed to stand in the way of anything which is in the national interest.
I now come to the second part of the Amendment—
§ Mr. Stokes
The Minister says that we are far behind. Will he explain to me how he proposes to catch up in this matter of aircraft unless he concentrates and rationalises the industry? We have had no indication of any kind whatsoever from any Minister on that subject.
§ Mr. Callaghan
All that the Minister of Supply said was that he believed in the principles of matrimony. What is the use of believing in them when the Government are enjoying the wages of sin?
§ Mr. Birch
I now come to the second part of the Amendment, which deals with National Service. It calls for a cut, for abolition and for an inquiry. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have gone in for the treble this time. It is rather odd that "inquiry" should come in again. Up to 28th April. just before the General Election, all the Motions by right hon. Gentlemen opposite only asked for an inquiry and not for a reduction. The first time they had a Motion calling for reduction was on 2nd November. Why did that come about? The rational reason was that the Tories won the Election and they rightly felt more confidence that peace would be preserved.
That was not the only reason. The right hon. Members for Ipswich and Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) accused us of making our National Service policy suit our electoral interests. At the last Election hon. Gentlemen opposite had in their manifesto only a demand for an inquiry, but during the Election Mr. Woodrow Wyatt said "If Labour wins, conscription will be reduced by from three to six months. The next day the noble Lord, Earl Attlee, who, like that other distinguished nobleman, the Duke of Plaza Toro, likes to lead from behind, chimed in and said, "Oh yes, we will reduce." The next day my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, "I would rather lose every vote in this Election than do such a thing at such a time." He gave the honest answer and won the Election. It therefore ill becomes hon. Gentlemen opposite to talk about our trying to get electoral gains.
Of course, everyone wants to reduce National Service. Speaking as a Service Minister, I can say that there is nothing that Service Ministers would like so much as to do away with National Service. But that depends upon two things. It depends upon how successful our recruiting policy is under the new pay code and upon the state of the world as it develops over the next two years. Meanwhile, we have taken the practical step of running down the Services by 100,000 over the next two years, which will very considerably help to alleviate the manpower problems of industry.
1319 A great many hon. Members have quoted Field Marshal Montgomery, and I should like to quote something which he said about National Service. He said, "I do not know if the Services can possibly manage with fewer men—that would be for them to say—but the men they get need to be kept for two years. That is a military necessity." It is not necessary always to agree with a field marshal. I do not necessarily agree with Field Marshal Montgomery there—he does not speak, as it were, from Mount Sinai—but such military opinion should carry some weight.
That leads me to the third part of the Amendment, which deals with the economical allocation of resources. Like the right hon. Member for Easington, I have served both in the Ministry of Defence and in a Service Ministry—although in a more humble capacity than he did. My own feeling on this is that the present setup is basically right. It is worth remembering that it was worked out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) in the stress of war, and it is basically the same system as that which was set up by right hon. Gentlemen opposite after the war.
Subject, of course, to the Cabinet, the Minister of Defence is responsible for the shape and size of the Forces. He is responsible for all the big decisions—how many divisions there shall be, the size of the strategic bomber force, how many capital ships we shall build, etc. He is responsible for all those big decisions, and the Service Ministers are responsible for the administration of their Departments. Even in that administration there are certain co-ordinating functions which are performed by the Ministry of Defence, and performed with some success.
In effect, the Minister of Defence is a deputy Prime Minister for defence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Well, that is what the effect is. To assist him, he has a small Ministry, the function of which is to be a thinking box and to provide a secretariat for a number of inter-Service matters. All we have had from right hon. and hon. Members opposite on the question of organisation have been a certain number of suggestions for blowing up the size of the Ministry of Defence. Personally, I do not think that to blow up its size would be a very sensible thing to do.
§ Mr. Stokes
I have never asked for that. I said that I was not interested in numbers. I said that I did not believe the Minister of Defence had sufficient expert advisers on his staff to enable him to over-rule the Chiefs of Staff and the Departmental Ministers.
§ Mr. Birch
If he has not got enough experts on his staff and he has got to have more, he is blowing up his staff. That is the simple answer.
We have heard a great deal of talk about co-ordination, integration and cooperation between the various Services. What costs the money are the men and the arms. Having got the men and the arms, the cost of the administration is a relatively marginal figure. But when talking about co-operation and co-ordination it is worth getting down to detail and seeing what happens in an actual case.
The right hon. Member for Ipswich referred to the question of the integration of the common services, including the medical services, in the Forces. It is worth while looking at the history of this matter. It has been considered before. As long ago as 1922 the Cabinet set up a committee under Sir Alfred Mond. That committee was charged with the duty of framing a scheme for integrating the common services, including the medical services. It was decided that it was impracticable to do so. The matter was dropped until the Election of 1945—D-day of the new Britain and all that. Then, very naturally, the matter was revived, and the Labour Party went straight back to the ideas of twenty-four years before.
In the White Paper in 1946, these words occurred:A study is being made of the possible advantages of drawing together certain administrative services which are now provided separately for each of the three services, e.g. the medical services, and forming a combined organisation which would provid these services in common for all branches of the Armed Forces.That is what hon. Members opposite said they were going to do in 1946. Nothing happened in 1946 or 1947, and in 1948 they had their verdict. They said:Further examination has not lead His Majesty's Government to the conclusion that such a complete amalgamation would be in the real interests of economy and efficiency 1321 either in existing circumstances or in those which are likely to obtain for many years to come.All I say is that when talking about integration and the economies to be obtained from lumping the Services together, it is worth while examining the matter in detail.
The reason why it was decided not to integrate these services is that the tasks of the Services are different. For instance, aviation medicine is quite different from submarine physiology. Both are different from the problems of hygiene in the field. As the tasks of the Services are different, so their organisations are different. If one just goes around talking about integrating people in quite different organisations. what one does is to produce administrative chaos rather than economy. Administrative chaos seems to be something which hon. Members opposite are very willing to create in the sacred cause of integration. But it simply does not work.
The other point which was raised by the right hon. Member for Belper and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East was the question whether we could integrate the Navy and the Air Force. What they do not do is to say how they mean to do it or what they really think the end product will be. I think that is quite a dangerous thing to do—to say, "You shake this paraffin
§ and water together and think you get a good drink at the end of it." I think that we should wait a little, study this very carefully and not rush in with a number of entirely half-baked plans.
§ I was about to refer to the Division. On this vote, I understand that all hon. Gentlemen opposite will go into the same Lobby.
§ Mr. Birch
Yes, I think so.
Many compliments have been paid to the new Leader of the Opposition—laurels crowd upon his brow. I should like to add one leaf more and congratulate him on being the first Leader of the Opposition to get the whole of his party into the same Lobby against the defence policy of the British Government. It is the first time that they have managed to do it since Earl Attlee went. We, on the other hand, shall reject the Amendment because the first part of it, in so far as it is valid, is largely the fault of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, the second part is disingenuous and the third part is vapid.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 316, Noes 250.1325
|Division No. 115.]||AYES||[9 59 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Boothby, Sir Robert||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bossom, Sir A. C.||Cunningham, Knox|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Boyle, Sir Edward||Dance, J. C. G.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Deedes, W. F.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Brooman-White, R. C.||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Ashton, H.||Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Bryan, P.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||du Cann, E. D. L.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Burden, F. F. A.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Balniel, Lord||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Duthie, W. S.|
|Barber, Anthony||Campbell, Sir David||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David|
|Barlow, Sir John||Carr, Robert||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Warwick & L'm'tn)|
|Barter, John||Cary, Sir Robert||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Channon, H.||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Chichester-Clark, R.||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Erroll, F. J.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cole, Norman||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Fell, A.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Finlay, Graeme|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Fisher, Nigel|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Foster, John|
|Black, C. W.||Crouch, R. F.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Body, R. F.||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)|
|Freeth, D. K.||Leather, E. H. C.||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Leavey, J. A.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Gammans, Sir David||Leburn, W. G.||Redmayne, M.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Glover, D.||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Godber, J. B.||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Llewellyn, D. T.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Robertson, Sir David|
|Gower, H. R.||Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Grant, W. (Woodside)||Longden, Gilbert||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R, (Nantwich)||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Green, A.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Russell, R. S.|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||McAdden, S. J.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Gurden, Harold||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||McKibbin, A. J.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Sharples, R. C.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Shepherd, William|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Speir, R. M.|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Maddan, Martin||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'g'tn, S.)|
|Hay, John||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W.(Horncastle)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Marples, A. E.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Marshall, Douglas||Storey, S.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Maudling, Rt. Hon, R.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. Jame (Moray)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Mawby, R. L.||Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Hope, Lord John||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Taylor, William, (Bradford, N.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Teeling, W.|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Molson, A. H. E.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr.R.(Croydon, S.)|
|Howard, John (Test)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nairn, D. L. S.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Neave, Airey||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Hughes, Hallett, vice-Admiral J.||Nicholls, Harmar||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hurd, A. R.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hyde, Montgomery||Nutting, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Oakshott, H. D.||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Osborne, C.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Page, R. G.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Partridge, E.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Peyton, J. W. W.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)|
|Kaberry, D.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Keegan, D.||Pitman, I. J.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Kerr, H. W.||Pott, H. P.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Powell, J. Enoch||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Kimball, M.||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Kirk, P. M.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Lagden, G. W.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Profumo, J. D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Mr. Heath and Mr. Studholme.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Anderson, Frank||Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)|
|Albu, A. H.||Awbery, S. S.||Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Baird, J.||Benson, G.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Balfour, A.||Beswick, F.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)|
|Blackburn, F.||Hoy, J. H.||Popplewell, E.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Boardman, H.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Probert, A. R.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hunter, A. E.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Randall, H. E.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Irving, S. (Dartford)||Rankin, John|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Reeves, J.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Janner, B.||Reid, William|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St.Pncs, S.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Ross, William|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Royle, C.|
|Champion, A. J.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Short, E. W.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Clunie, J.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Coldrick, W.||Kenyon, C.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||King, Dr. H. M.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lawson, G. M.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Cove, W. G.||Ledger, R. J.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Snow, J. W.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Steele, T.|
|Daines, P.||Lewis, Arthur||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lindgren, G. S.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Davies,Rt.Hon.Clement(Montgomery)||Logan, D. G.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||MacColl, J. E.||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||McGhee, H. G.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Deer, G.||McGovern, J.||Swingler, S. T.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||McInnes, J.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Delargy, H. J.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Dodds, N. N.||McLeavy, Frank||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Dye, S.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Edelman, M.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thornton, E.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield, E.)||Timmons, J.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mason, Roy||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mayhew, C. P.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mellish, R. J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Messer, Sir F.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mitchison, G. R.||Weitzman, D.|
|Finch, H. J.||Monslow, W.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Moody, A. S.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Forman, J. C.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||West, D. G.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Morrison,Rt.Hn.Herbert(Lewis'm,S.)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mort, D. L.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Moss, R.||Wigg, George|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Moyle, A.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mulley, F. W.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Willey, Frederick|
|Grey, C. F.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Oram, A. E.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Orbach, M.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Grimond, J.||Oswald, T.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Hale, Leslie||Owen, W. J.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Padley, W. E.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Healey, Denis||Palmer, A. M. F.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Woof, R. E.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Pargiter, G. A.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Parker, J.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Holman, P.||Parkin, B. T.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Holmes, Horace||Paton, J.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Peart, T. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)|
Question put and agreed to.
|Main Question put and agreed to.|
|That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1956, Command Paper No. 9691.|