HC Deb 31 July 1956 vol 557 cc1244-92

7.47 p.m.

Sir James Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)

It is rare to find this Chamber so full, even before the appearance of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to make his statement, which shows, of course, the great interest and importance of the subject which we have been discussing.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) applauded the speech of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shin-well) and said that he found himself almost in entire agreement with it. It is to one particular point made by the right hon. Member for Easington that I should like to refer. We have to think much more deeply than we have hitherto in connection with the whole of the manpower of the Army and about the use of ground forces. The right hon. Gentleman thought that there was a considerable possibility of economy in a re-appraisal of strategy in connection with the ground forces which we have at present. Before I pass on to the rest of my remarks, I want to refer to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), because, in an otherwise plausible and persuasive speech, he introduced what I thought was an appalling fallacy, in that he stated, and I took down his words, "We must start at the outset to do away with National Service and then do the sums afterwards."

That is an attractive and fascinating way sometimes of conducting one's life, but it may be very illusory when one applies it to one's bank account. I would remind him of Mr. Micawber's dictum that sums are in fact unfortunately always desperately important. It would be, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) said, putting the cart before the horse to go over to N.A.T.O. with a decision made, though I agree that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper was, I think, prepared to amend that decision in the light of discussion with N.A.T.O.

Mr. G. Brown

Do not let us misrepresent this. The Motion does not talk about going over with a decision. The Motion says: formulate a plan, take the plan for consultation, and then make a final plan in the light of that consultation. That is clear in the Motion, and it was clear in my speech. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept it that there is a difference between formulating a plan and making a final decision.

Sir J. Hutchison

I did not mean to say that it was a final decision, but surely in making a plan one must start off by seeing what the plan will cost one in men and money. It may be that we mean the same thing, in which case I agree that the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion is more feasible than in the way in which he presented it to the House, as I understood it.

The picture that we have had painted today is a picture of a nation living beyond its means, groping to find some economies and looking over its political shoulder while doing so, because, of course, National Service is unpopular. Any party that can either reduce or abolish it will certainly not be unpopular, but the defence of the country must be decided on graver considerations than that by itself. One thing that is certain out of our discussions, and I think is admitted on both sides of the House, is that statistically it would be impossible to face our present commitments, carried out in the present way, if the Opposition Motion were carried through. Whether it be 130,000 or 150,000 men in 1961 is really not material. I think that it is generally admitted that they could not carry out the heavy commitments which we are shouldering at present.

Where, then, are we going to make some change in these commitments? What will happen after we have politically fought and defeated Nasser's latest move is another matter. Perhaps the climate will change but, as we are today, the removal of any of the troops we have anywhere in the world is an invitation to another incident. We are living in a period of developing nationalism among all sorts of small people who have never thought of it before. That nationalism is fomented by Russia because she believes that the more trouble and disturbance that she can create anywhere the more likely will Communism be brought about in those areas.

There is a general belief in the world that this country is physically weak, and weak in determination at the present time. Communists believe that a country bled white in two world wars is easily turned red. The less our flag is seen the less attention will be paid internationally to our views. Does anybody believe that if our troops had been on the Canal we should have had the Suez incident now?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

We should not have had Cyprus.

Sir J. Hutchison

The removal of troops from the Canal is the kind of gesture which, if repeated, will invite other incidents. Nothing is clearer than that. Perhaps this debate will have done one good thing, and the action of the Egyptian dictator will have done a good thing if we are forced to think straight on this point and we realise that moving garrisons out at present risks inviting somebody else to plunder.

Mr. Hughes

The hon. Member has talked about a dictator and defeating Nasser. Does he contemplate war with Egypt?

Sir J. Hutchison

I thought that after thinking it over for a while the hon. Member might believe that he could make something of that, but I spoke of waging a political campaign against Nasser and winning the political war. The hon. Member should not put in my mouth the intention or belief that war need necessarily come about.

Unless some completely new system can be devised of providing garrisons, perhaps by improved airlifts, which in any case would be very expensive, we shall be piling up trouble for ourselves if we start removing troops from places like Hong Kong in the present world climate. Therefore, if we are to change our commitments we must look elsewhere, and that leads me to what a good many speakers have revealed as having in their minds, namely, that something can be shorn off our commitments under the Paris Agreements.

These involve us in keeping four divisions and a tactical air force on the Continent. It is true that the size of the divisions is not laid down, but I do not believe that any hon. Member would use that avenue of escape to offer a division that could not do its job. I do not believe that that is the intention of any hon. Member. I think that some hon. Members believe that a small and more mobile division could face that task, but I ask them to remember the immense strength, in what are called the conventional forces, of those who are opposite us.

We must remember that four divisions in Germany, whatever their ultimate size, can be used in extremis as mobile reserves if trouble breaks out elsewhere, in the way that the French have used their troops in Algeria. Therefore, they are not valueless in the sense that they are stuck in Germany and not able to act anywhere else. Large numbers of people genuinely hold differing views about whether we should rely on a "tripwire" conception of things and nuclear bombing and virtually do away with ground troops, or at any rate reduce them very materially.

Bombing needs a target, which might be one of three things. It might be a city, it might be lines of communication or it might be concentrated troops. We must bear in mind the old maxim, which has held good throughout generations of warfare, that the primary task is to destroy the enemy. If we bomb lines of communication and supplies, we do that only in order that we may ultimately destroy the enemy. A concentrated accumulation of enemy must be the only worth-while target for nuclear bombing, because the nuclear bomb is so devastating in its extent and so expensive to manufacture that we cannot afford to use an atom or hydrogen bomb where there is not a concentration of troops.

Now the only thing that can force a concentration of troops is other ground troops. As General Gruenther said in a speech last year, We must still have ground troops to stop enemy onslaughts on the ground. He meant, and he elaborated it later, that if we do not have ground troops to force the enemy to concentrate he can advance across a continent in widely dispersed formations. What is our answer then? Western Europe would be overrun, with all tactical points held, not necessarily strongly but held because there would be no ground troops to force a strong holding. What would we do then? Bomb Moscow and Leningrad, or bomb Bonn and Paris which would have few Russian troops in them but would be seething with our Allies? It is an agonising choice.

For example, what would hon. Members do if suddenly tomorrow an East German division walked across to West Germany and sat there? What a desperate choice would confront us. The only choice left to us, without a measure of ground troops, would be to drop a nuclear bomb in that comparatively trivial incident, or else leave the East German troops there. We are therefore forced back on the conclusion that we should be asking for trouble. As General Is may said in his five-year review of N.A.T.O., Any strategic plan must include the territory of Western Germany. And Dr. Adenauer said the other day that by removing our ground troops completely or in large measure we should be increasing the risk of a third world war.

That is why Dr. Adenauer is so anxious himself to supply the twelve divisions which Western Germany has promised. His Defence Minister has recommended a period of conscription of eighteen months. His generals have, in fact, in view of the complexity of modern weapons and of their training, asked for a period of two years. We have to decide this before we make up our minds that we are going to reduce the number of ground troops which, as I have contended, are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the ground troops of our potential enemy: Are we prepared to use a bomb for any incident, and are we prepared, in return, to be bombed over here? After all, we are a very vulnerable island.

I agree it is essential that there should be, along with N.A.T.O., a reappraisal of the outlook, but I hope that those who go to a meeting with the other N.A.T.O. countries will not go with their minds made up on any particular form of strategy in the way that I have thought was indicated this afternoon. I was glad to hear that it is the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite, as well as our official policy, not to make a move in the reduction of forces without consultation with our N.A.T.O. friends. We must remember that some of the countries in N.A.T.O. are very close to the enemy. They take a different attitude and have a different outlook about the possibility of the enemy being stopped at the frontier of Western Germany to what we might take back here.

That is why General Gruenther has said that we must have a forward strategy. We must have our radar system, our early warning system, pushed as far forward as possible. Incidentally, if we have our airfields pushed far forward, how can we defend those without having ground troops? So let us have a re-appraisal of the whole situation, but let us carry our N.A.T.O. Allies with us, otherwise we might risk splitting N.A.T.O., which is the cornerstone of the defence of the West. It is true that the risk of a global war has been reduced, but it has been reduced largely because we, along with the United States of America, and considering all the weapons at our disposal, have been somewhere near parity. If we now proceed to reduce that nearness to parity, if we show ourselves by withdrawal to be much weaker than we have been hitherto, then once again I consider that we are increasing the risks of an incident which could easily lead to a Third World War.

So let us examine our efficiency. Let us continue to press for disarmament. In time, if we keep up our pressure, that will come. In the meantime we must not lower our guard, for we are going through a test just now between democracy and dictatorship, and dictatorships and tyrannies never last. If Nasser has had his eyes fixed on the Hitler technique, as seems to be the case, he might also remember the end of Hitler, Mussolini and Peron. Because, as I have said, tyrannies never last. There is evidence of that in the breakdown and the weakening of the Russian grip over her people, in the incident at Posnan, and in the recent liberation that has been going on inside Russia. For the human spirit demands something more out of life than tyranny will allow it to have.

8.4 p.m.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

I wish this debate could have been held yesterday, for it would have been more appropriate to say what I now want to say. One hundred years ago yesterday was born Richard Burdon Haldane, afterwards Viscount Haldane of Cloan, who was, I think, the greatest Secretary of State for War this country has ever had.

Sir J. Hutchison

So did Haig.

Mr. Wigg

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman had paid me the honour of reading the Motion I put on the Order Paper, drawing attention to the centenary of Viscount Haldane's birth, maybe the Government would have done something about it instead of ignoring it.

[That this House will, at an early date, resolve itself into a Committee to consider an humble address to Her Majesty praying that Her Majesty will give direction that a Monument be erected at the public charge to the memory of the late Right honourable the Viscount Haldane of Cloan, K.T., O.M., the centenary of whose birth occurs on 30th July, 1956, bearing as an inscription certain words, used by the late Field Marshal Earl Haig, which indicated that Viscount Haldane of Cloan was the greatest Secretary of State for War that England had ever had, and expressed grateful remembrance of his successful efforts in organising the Military Forces for a war on the Continent, notwithstanding much opposition from the Army Council and the half-hearted support of his Parliamentary friends.]

I want to do two things in mentioning the centenary of Lord Haldane's birth. One is to pay tribute to his memory. I regret very much that the Government have not marked the centenary in some appropriate way. But there is a great significance that I attach to Haldane. I wish that every hon. Member of this House would try to understand, or even begin to understand, what Lord Haldane tried to do fifty years ago, and succeeded in doing. First, be it noted, he himself said: I knew but little of military affairs and of Army Organisation I was wholly ignorant. He went on to say that this was a virgin field in which he could operate by applying first principles, and he did it very well, although he had no backing from the Liberal Party of the time because that party, like many of my hon. Friends, said "Do not attempt any great improvements, the attempt will fail. Concentrate yourself on reducing Estimates." Lord Haldane said: My reply was that economy and efficiency were not incompatible, that I believed we could obtain a finely organised Army for less money than at present, but a finer Army we must have, even though it cost more. Given the political situation and time in which he found himself—and be it remembered that in 1906 there was not a single brigade in this country which could be committed to underwrite our political obligations on the Continent—in the course of eight years he organised an Expeditionary Force of six great divisions, fully equipped, including one cavalry division. He did it in such a way that mobilisation took place and fifteen days afterwards, those divisions were committed in the field. He did it, he said, because he recognised after he had examined the problem that it was not a problem for the General Staff but for the Adjutant-General. It shows that Haldane understood the importance of organisation and administration.

If one studies Lord Haldane's work, one finds that, encouraged by the Sovereign and despite some opposition from the popular Press, he went to Germany and there studied the work of the great German General Staff. What he found was that the great von Moltke insisted that the two arms of the Service, the General Staff and the administrative side, should not be housed in the same building but separated by at least a mile. Indeed, said von Moltke, one mile was not enough; they must be kept absolutely apart.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you may wonder why I emphasise this point, but today we are discussing a problem of the organisation of manpower. What do hon. Gentlemen do when they find themselves in difficulties? They enter into sweeping generalities, and before they know where they are, they are discussing missiles, atom bombs, divisions and heaven knows what. This is just the thing that Lord Haldane warned against.

Of course, the generality of these things must be decided in a democracy by an elected assembly. Policy must be debated, but when the House of Commons has had its debates upon foreign affairs, when by a decision of the House problems have been settled, they have to be taken away and translated into organisation terms. But what the House of Commons is doing, and almost every hon. Member is doing today—if I may say so without impertinence, for at the moment, like little Jimmy, I feel that I am the only person in step; is the equivalent of cheating at patience. In the long run, who has one cheated? Surely the only person cheated is oneself. We can play around with strength and recruiting figures until the cows come home, but what will decide the position in the long run? Will the arithmetical gymnastics of my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) decide the question? Not at all. Or the verbal obscurities of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey)? Surely not.

What will be decided will be decided by the number of young men who signify to their commanding officers their willingness to stay in the Army or the number of young men who will sign on the dotted line and enlist into the Forces for a number of years. One can twiddle round with the facts as much as one likes, but ultimately one comes face to face with that simple fact.

I very much regret that the debate has taken place in the shadow of what is happening in Suez. Over the last ten years we have had a variety of alibis. It was said, "We cannot do anything about National Service while the Korean war is going on". The Korean was ended, and there were impassioned speeches by my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West, and he said the answer was "There is nothing we can do about National Service until we have solved the problem of the Middle East." When we have evacuated the Middle East, it is said "We must go forward with a plan."

That is what was being said four years ago. Four years ago we realised—at least some of us did—that National Service was a problem which would break the back of the national economy and it would not give us the defence we needed. The Opposition then did not say that we could abolish National Service but we did say that every policy decision connected with defence should bear in mind the necessity of getting rid of National Service at the earliest possible opportunity.

Nobody did anything until very recently. Now the Labour Party decides that it can all be done by 1958. I do not believe it, and I shall not vote for the Motion tonight. There are not enough horses in the world to drive me into the Division Lobby for the Motion, for the very simple reason that I know that it cannot be done. I know very well that if a Labour Government is elected at the next General Election it cannot do it either.

There is one thing that I take rather hard. My right hon. Friend this afternoon came a little near to charging me with wanting to keep National Service. That aroused me a bit, for I come from a family of Regular soldiers and today I have a couple of nephews who I have persuaded to join the Regular Army—perhaps I am the only hon. Member who has members of his family who are n.c.o.s in the Regular Army.

I have been a Regular soldier, and therefore, I know, perhaps better than many other hon. Members, what a difference National Service makes to the Army and what it is like to be a Regular soldier. I am not saying any more about it than that, but I want to get rid of National Service because I want a good Regular Army. I have done my best to achieve this ever since I became a Member of Parliament. I make no claim to being a great strategist or anything of that kind. I have "cooked" more pay and mess books, I have "fiddled" more Army returns, and I have peeled more potatoes than any other hon. Member. That is the only claim that I make.

I want to get rid of National Service, and have always wanted to do so, for the one reason that I have given. I have given as one reason my personal connection with the Regular Army. It may be regarded as an emotional reason. However, I hope I shall not be charged, even by implication, with wanting to keep National Service, for if that is done I shall react sharply. I want to get rid of National Service, and I am quarrelling with those who now advocate policies which in the long run will prevent the abolition of National Service. What is the real trouble?

We have not yet had an effective diagnosis of what has gone wrong. It is something very simple. It can be expressed in the simplest terms. My mathematics do not go beyond the twelve times table and simple addition. Let us say that before the war one got 25,000 young men to undertake Regular engagements. Let it be noted that it was always an engagement of twelve years, partly with the colours and partly with the Reserves. Flexibility was secured by varying the periods of colour and reserve service according to the branch of the Army. For example, in the infantry it was seven years with the colours and five in the reserve; in the Guards, in which large numbers of reserves were required, three and nine; in the Artillery six and six; in the Royal Armoured Corps six and six; and so on.

Obviously, the size of the Army that can be obtained will be the number of men that can be enlisted multiplied by the number of years for which they enlist. That is the simple proposition. I am not going to enter into old controversies. I have said what I have had to say about the Secretary of State for War. What I have had to say about him was true. The man who introduced the three-year engagement introduced a new multiplier, so that if we recruited as many recruits as we did before the war and multiplied the number by three, the length of the new three-year engagement, we should have an Army half the pre-war size. This will continue unless, by hook or by crook, we can at least change the multiplier back from three to six. There is nothing complicated about that unless for reasons of one's own one wants to make it complicated. The great problem is to get back from the three-year engagement to at least the six-year engagement.

There was a time in this House—I read the speeches and the interjections with a certain amount of acid interest—in 1953 when it looked to the innocent as if the three-year engagement would be successful. One of my right hon. Friends claimed the credit for introducing the engagement. However, it has not worked out like that. If any hon. Members wish to refresh their memory let them read HANSARD—I do so whenever I am depressed—for the evenings of 26th and 27th January, 1953.

It was then thought that the three-year engagement would be a success. As for me, it was "exaggeration", "hyperbole". All I said was "Do not count your chickens before they are hatched." I said that the test was not the number of young men who took the three-year engagement but the number of young men who stayed on at the end of three years. I happened to have an idea of what the number would be, because I used to fiddle with Army returns and statistics when I was a young sergeant. I happened to remember what the rates of extention were. When I heard the Secretary of State say, with the approval of some of the military experts in the House, that it would be possible to get 33 per cent. of the young men on three-year engagements to stay on, I knew they were barmy, and that was being charitable, because if they were not being barmy, they knew the truth and were not speaking it.

I suggested that the rate would be 10 per cent. It has turned out to be 5.1 per cent. There is the measure of the problem. In every Army Estimates debate I have kept on on my own, boring lots of people, but it has generally been in the early hours of the morning when there has been nobody except myself and the occupant of the Chair. I have been called "misinformed", "misanthropic", and all the names that those who have been to the great public schools can dish out for any whom they regard as their social inferiors. They said that it would all come right in the end and that I was completely and utterly wrong. I did not mind what they called me for I have no political ambitions. I passed all that when I became Parliamentary Private Secretary to my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington. I have no more ambitions now. Like my right hon. Friend, I have mellowed with age. I can afford to say that I do not mind what names I am called. Year after year in debates on National Service in the Army Estimates I said much the same thing.

"One year from now the Army will be weaker than it is today. Day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, the Army will become weaker." And so it has proved. It is not much fun reminding people of what one said, but I think that it is necessary to educate people outside the House in order to get some common-sense action. In June, 1955—that is a year ago—I ventured to say that one year from then we should be weaker than we then were. I said it again on the last Army Estimates and whenever I get the chance to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I come back to the same theme. I said that the figures would show what, indeed, they have shown. I also said—and because I do not want to be misunderstood, I shall quote: I do not know the way back. … Once one has reached this position, it may be 20 years before one can get back. That is why I say that we have two years' National Service now and will have it for a very long time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 13th June, 1955; Vol. 542, c. 306.] I am one of the minor prophets. I venture to repeat that unless both sides of the House are very wise, we shall have National Service for twenty years or more.

I want to draw attention not only to the consequences of the three-year engagement and the position we have now reached, but to another and much more serious point. After all, if the weakness finds expression only in speeches in the House of Commons, then that is that, but for a long time we have used National Service in this country rather like the French used the Maginot Line. It gave them an illusion of security. The French would not spend enough money to continue the Line either to north or south. Speeches about defence were made and France spent vast sums of money and then one day there came a Panzer division, which was not in their speeches, and that was the end of the Maginot Line. [Laughter.]

Hon. Members laugh. We are to have a debate on Suez. I do not expect that I shall be called—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—but let me say one or two things about Suez, one or two things on which hon. Members might like to ponder, particularly when they cheer the Prime Minister about taking strong action. When the Prime Minister stood at the Dispatch Box yesterday and enunciated the principle, which has my wholehearted support, that this international waterway must never remain in the hands of one Power, he carried me with him, but I felt an overwhelming desire to go out and be sick when I heard the cheers on both sides of the House when he hinted at strong action.

Strong action, forsooth! Do hon. Members know, have they taken the trouble to find out, what air power has been available to Britain in the Middle East since the early part of the year? In the last National Service debate I said without contradiction that the test of our power in the world was the number of swept-wing fighters which we had, and at that time we were behind Sweden. There is not a single squadron of swept-wing fighters in the Middle East. I shall not convenience Colonel Nasser or anybody else by giving the locations of other squadrons and I am not saying that what we have there could not take on Colonel Nasser's MiGs.

But the reason they could be taken on successfully does not spring from the wisdom of the House of Commons, nor the courage of the Government. Hon. Members should not pat themselves on the back. They will be taken on as the Old Contemptibles at Mons took on the Germans, the way we have so often fought wars in the past—by the courage, valour and efficiency of the young fighter pilots in the Royal Air Force. That is not good enough, and I will never be a party to it. Before hon. Members cheer the Prime Minister, they should be ashamed at the paucity of the power which this great country exercises as a result of the gross mismanagement of not only the Government, but the House of Commons itself. There has hardly been a realistic defence debate in the House in the last ten years. Hon Members come here and patter sweet generalities. We become airborne and talk space fiction and do everything except face the facts, because we have not the guts to face the consequences that spring from them.

Those are hard words, but I believe that the country is in a very tough position. Let me go a little further. Let us take the position of the Army. Colonel Nasser has an intelligence service. I have in my hand an admirable document. It is "The Household Brigade Magazine", which, in its latest issue, gives an account of the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, which is a proud regiment, with a great tradition. The magazine said: With the arrival of new drafts in December and January, the strength of the Battalion has been raised from very low figures of the summer to over 550. If a crack battalion, stationed at Port Said, in a key position, has its strength raised to 550 from low figures, what was the strength last summer? Referring to the drafts, the magazine goes on: Some of these, however, have not been through the Training Battalion, and so a local Pirbright course has been arranged at E1 Ballah under the direction of the Senior Major. Those are the realities of defence. Those are not the nice easy phrases which hon. Members polish up in the morning and come here to retail. Those are the facts which will be tested and paid for by men's lives. That is the test and the House of Commons is answerable for that situation.

Let us turn to the situation as it now faces us and why I reluctantly find myself in opposition to my party. A very admirable document, the second of its kind, has been made available to us in the Vote Office, giving us the prolongations of service and the structure of the Army by length of engagement. It enables any hon. Member who can spare the time to do some sums and to arrive at certain conclusions. If the Under-Secretary of State is taking notes, I wish he would tell the Minister of Defence that he can improve it in two ways. First, he should give the percentage increase for those serving on the short three-year engagement and those serving on the long 22-year engagement. Secondly, he should split up the numbers on the three-year engagement to show those who have opted in and those who have opted out.

Here, I must again be critical of the Government—but I must also indicate the responsibility which rests upon my right hon. Friends in putting the Motion on the Order Paper. What was the Government's policy in the spring? At long last they accepted the simple fact—I will say no more how right I was; it bores even me to keep on saying it—that the three-year engagement was not a Regular engagement. The Minister said it this afternoon. Of course, I have always thought that that was fairly clear, and that it was, in fact, an extended National Service engagement, which depended upon National Service itself to get men to undertake the three-year engagement.

Hon. Members on this side of the House can help by judging the facts in the light of their own personal experience. The Government are saying to these young men, "You have to do two years' National Service. You can come in and do 18 months at 4s. 6d. a day, and the last six months at 7s. 6d. a day, or you can enter on a three-year engagement at 9s. a day, with no Reserve service to follow." Many young men, given that choice, accept the 9s. a day. But, as I said in an Adjournment debate last week—and as seems so obvious—once the Prime Minister goes north to make his speeches, and the Conservative newspapers begin reporting and believing in what he says, a new factor emerges.

Once doubts are cast upon the continuance of a period of two years' National Service, or even any continuance at all, the problem confronting the young men at once changes. They then have to say to themselves, "Shall I take 9s. a day and do three years which I do not want to do, or stay in civilian life and get £10 or £12 a week?" Can hon. Members wonder why recruiting figures have not improved?

Let us go further. Once the Opposition put a Motion of this sort on the Order Paper, and the Press report that the matter will be taken to a Division tonight, and that the Labour Party holds the view that an abolition scheme can be drawn up in four years, these young men will tell their parents, "Vote Labour next time and I will not have to do any National Service. Two years from now there will be a Labour Government and there will be no more National Service". What effect do hon. Members think that will have? That is why I intervened this afternoon. I am not voting at the end of this debate. My conscience will be clear. Whatever side hon. Members vote upon tonight, to the extent that they have put doubts in the minds of these young men they are responsible for the continuation of National Service—because we cannot get rid of it until we can get sufficient Regulars and also keep them for a sufficiently long time.

Therefore, the poor old non-militarist Opposition have run their head into a noose, and I have a fairly shrewd idea why they have done so. I know, because I have fought this battle with my colleagues over a period of months. It is all tied up with politics. Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have convinced themselves that just before the next General Election the Conservative Government will get rid of National Service. There never has been greater tommy rot. As I wrote in the New Statesman and Nation, months ago, and as I have said in this House, the charge against the Government is not that they do not get rid of National Service but that they cannot get rid of it. Of course they would like to get rid of it. We all would, but we must be careful that by saying that we can we prematurely do not make it more difficult to do so.

I am astonished at my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who ought to know better after all this time. His was a first-class parliamentary performance, although not much of what he said was to do with the subject under discussion—but that is what one means when one refers to a good parliamentary performance. It will read all right. My right hon. Friend mentioned not a single word about Reserves. We have a Reserve force of 620,000 young men—many of them volunteers who give up their spare time to keep the T.A. going. Two divisions, the 43rd and the 53rd (Welsh) Divisions are kept at full establishment and are earmarked for N.A.T.O. In what way are the reserve forces organised at present? When these young men have done their National Service and come out, in the first year they do fifteen days' training, but if my right hon. Friends abolish National Service in 1958, they will turn it all off like a tap, and it must affect the organisation of our reserve forces. But that is not all. As a result of—[Interruption]. If my hon. and learned Friend wants to interrupt, let him get up and say so, but not mumble.

Mr. Paget

In what sort of war does my hon. Friend contemplate that we could conceivably use these reserves?

Mr. Wigg

If my hon. and learned Friend had been here at the time, he would know that I was very careful to say that one should separate the General Staff problem from the administrative problem, and my hon. and learned Friend is essentially a General Staff soldier. I am dis- cussing the administrative problem; I am not discussing the form of war, because it is not relevant.

I am saying that the Government announced that they would earmark two divisions for N.A.T.O., and that no right hon. Gentleman on this side of the House took exception to that. If they did not mean it, and they were looking round for some money to save, why not start on the Reserve forces? Why put this Motion on the Order Paper? Why not put down the truth? In fact, the Opposition are leaving 620,000 men up in the air, and my hon. Friends never even thought about the effect of National Service on the Reserve force until I mentioned the matter a few moments ago.

Again, without objection from this side of the House—indeed the urge came from this side—it was decided that civil defence should be organised on the basis of mobile columns, fed from the reserves. Various centres for training would be set up, again at considerable cost, and with the support of right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. Again, there was no dissent from the Labour Party. What happens to Civil Defence in this country? Perhaps my hon. Friends will say it is unnecessary, but if they held that view, why did they not say so? After all, here is some money to save in this field.

But do not let us leave the problem up in the air. As I said when I began, the test of all this is not a test of opinion. It is the test of the quarterly recruiting returns. I put my head out, and I have received some pretty hard knocks in consequence. I attacked the three-year engagement from the time it was introduced. But I have stuck to my figure and given my reason. Now I notice a new factor is introduced—whether facts and figures are pessimistic or not. When the Secretary of State for War was answering questions after the Adjournment debate which I initiated, he was charged with being pessimistic, and I want the House to note the form which his pessimism took. He doubled the rate of prolongation, and gave it as 10 per cent., but the right hon. Gentleman on this side who had charged him with being pessimistic had apparently failed to note that in order to get the figure as favourable as the Government wanted it, he had multiplied it by two.

Again, I asked the right hon. Gentleman—and I am extremely obliged to him—to bring up to date paragraphs 53 and 54 of the Defence White Paper, because, of course, at some point reality will catch up with the estimates of regular recruits and regular strength for 1956–57. Here again, is a simple test. I will give my estimate now of what I think will happen, not about the Army, but about the Air Force. In my Adjournment debate, I did not mention the Air Force, because I had not the time. But in paragraph 53 of the Defence White Paper hon. Members will find that the estimate is 30,000 recruits for the current year. On the basis of the present returns for the first quarter I should like to bet the right hon. Gentleman sixpence, or a little more if he is inclined, that the figure will not exceed 23,000. If we take the total strength of the Royal Air Force at 1st April next on that figure, well, the estimate was 167,800 and if anyone else would like to make another sixpenny bet, I do not think that it will be more than 158,000.

These are only my figures and this is what all the argument in the world will not solve. Here the problem is having the men and machines to do the job at the right time. There is really no argument about this, because in a war, or at the threat of war, it is reality that counts, and debates in this House of Commons are no substitute for fire-power. It is possible to win votes here, but the reckoning may be a little difficult. A year ago I said—I repeat, it now—that I can describe the situation in which the country finds itself, but I do not find it very easy to say what ought to be done. I agree that we could reorganise the Ministry of Defence. I have reached a conclusion which is not new, I arrived at it after studying the works of Haldane to whom I referred in my opening remarks. Having arrived at where we are now, I do not believe that the defences of this country can be put on a firm basis by tackling the job from a party angle. There must be an all-party approach.

I am staggered that my right hon. Friends do not jump at this, particularly after the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), for he has committed the party to an undertaking to produce a scheme to get rid of National Service within four years of starting the job.

I think that the Labour Party will win the next Election a couple of years from now. Then the recruiting situation will not be any better. I am sure of that. The new pay code has not done the trick. Two years from now the Labour Party will have that undertaking as one of their pledges. I warn my hon. Friends that they will be no nearer getting rid of National Service four years after they come into office than they will be when they start. They will be faced with the same problems as confront the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. A problem does not suddenly solve itself because of the advent of a Labour Government.

This is a problem which affects the whole economic welfare and the future of every man, woman and child in these islands. For Pete's sake, do we have to look at it as party politicians? Cannot we, just for once, get away from all this nonsense and realise that the combined wit of the members of both Front Benches must be exercised during the Recess to find a method of saving the political face of those on both sides of the House, and at the same time save the country? After all, that is a job worth doing.

8.44 p.m.

Mr. Douglas L. S. Nairn (Central Ayrshire)

I am delighted to be able to follow the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) because he is the only other back bench Member who has been fortunate enough to be called in this debate. I am glad to follow him, not only because he is one of the minor prophets but also because, in the few months during which I have been a Member of this House, I have found that he is a genuine realist. I admit that I started with some prejudice against him, but my admiration for him has gradually grown.

I fear that, even after all we have been through, we are still the most gullible people in the world. The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) gave us an absolutely classic example of playing hide-and-seek with reality, and of disguising facts and figures and dressing them up in what the right hon. Gentleman called "oversized suits", so that we could not recognise them.

The most extraordinary thing about this matter is that the greater the reason we have for being suspicious the more often we appear to be completely confiding and trusting, in spite of the fact that twice within the lifetime of nearly everybody in this House we have suddenly found ourselves at war and unprepared. At least one of those wars might have been prevented and they might both have been curtailed if we had take the elementary precaution of being prepared and had been ready to take action in time.

In 1956, we are slowly drifting back to that disastrously trusting mood of 1936. I do not accuse hon. Members opposite of that, because I do not think it is true of most of them; but there is a tendency in the country, as there was before the war, the slip back into a trusting mood which has no justification in fact. That is probably a combination of our desire for peace and our horror of war, which turns us into a nation of wishful thinkers every now and again. We are always ready to grasp any hand of friendship that is offered, but we are only too ready to close our ears to noises off which, if we paid attention to them, would give us very little reason for assurance.

In 1936, those noises were the growing rumblings from Hitler and Mussolini. There were insistent buzzes from the Communist propaganda machine. Both Hitler and Mussolini are dead, we all know at what cost in blood and sacrifice, but the buzz of the Communist machine still goes on, though the pitch may be slightly different. Added to it there is now the crackle and hiss of the Egyptian fire into which Nasser is pouring his inflammable invective. I agree with the hon. Member for Dudley and the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that it is a pity that this particular thing has come at the time of this debate. It makes it a little difficult to face reality and to plan on normal lines.

Mr. Paget

I never quite follow the point of that argument. Does the hon. Gentleman want more troops, in order to give the Egyptians a hiding?

Mr. Nairn

I do not want more troops, but I should like to see troops that were more prepared.

The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) referred to the Prime Minister's statement that the destructive power of nuclear missiles was now so devastating that no country would willingly start a war which might destroy the aggressor as certainly as the intended victim. The right hon. and learned Gentleman accepted that the nuclear deterrent ruled out the possibility of war, but is that the case? I believe it is, except—and there are two big exceptions—by accident or by miscalculation.

If we and our Allies are weak, the enemy may well underestimate the risk that he is taking. The most likely way for such an accident to happen would be if we allowed our forces to be so weakened that we were unable to take effective action to prevent creeping aggression. Creeping aggression would inevitably grow into galloping aggression, and galloping aggression would never be stopped except by nuclear retaliation. That is where the greatest danger lies.

I think we all agree that, we have to accept certain calculated risks because of the great difficulties, financial and otherwise, that plague this country. Our dilemma today—it is always a dilemma when we cannot do everything—is to decide what risks we can safely take and what risks can on no account be taken. To be in a position to make decisions of that kind we have to appreciate the various situations which might face us, and, having done that, we have to come to some fundamental conclusions.

I believe that if we make the appreciations fairly, and without prejudice, we are bound to come to three main conclusions. The first is this. If an enemy of the West drops a nuclear bomb anywhere at any time in the foreseeable future, retaliation by the United States will be instantaneous and devastating. After the nuclear war is finished, if we need anything at all we shall need conventional forces.

The second conclusion which we shall come to is that a nuclear war is unlikely except by accident. By accident, I mean by miscalculation on the part of a potential enemy of our ability to deal with creeping aggression.

Thirdly, while we can rely on the United States' instant reaction to the dropping of a nuclear bomb, we cannot rely on their immediate assistance to deal with minor outbreaks perhaps in the Middle East or other places of particular British interest.

If these conclusions are correct, even in the broadest outline, I think that the major decisions that we must take become clear. The first decision—and this is not an easy one, because it involves both manpower and National Service, and so is both economically and politically difficult—is that our primary rôle must be to maintain sufficient naval, military and air forces to deal with scattered outbreaks anywhere.

The second decision is that we must be firmly resolved to keep sufficient troops in Germany, both to maintain the morale of our Allies in N.A.T.O. and to ensure that neither the Russians nor any of her satellites dare to take a calculated risk in Europe.

The third decision which I think we are forced to accept by circumstances is that any calculated risk we can take must be in the sphere of nuclear missiles and the means to deliver them. The nuclear deterrent to war already exists. The nuclear reply to galloping aggression exists and very soon we ourselves will have it to some extent. It is only here that I think we can afford to take a calculated risk. To take a risk with other forces, with nothing else to take their place, would be absolute and utter madness.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

It would be a risk.

Mr. Nairn

A risk, but not a calculated risk. The acceptance of this calculated risk does mean that the planning of our forces must be more closely integrated with the planning of the forces of the United States than it has even been before and, just as important, it must be completely integrated with the planning of our sister nation, Canada.

I would not venture to suggest what the strength of the forces should be or how they should be deployed. To do so I would need a great deal of information which is not at my disposal. All I would insist on is that our forces must be very much more mobile than they have been recently, more readily available and more adaptable. Lastly, they must be adequate. We in this House cannot really decide what "adequate" is. They must be adequate to carry the grave responsibilities they have to bear today and the very much graver responsibilities we might at some time have to put upon them.

8.56 p.m.

Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)

I think it says something for the sobriety and reason of this House that in discussing this Motion on this particular day, when, quite obviously, the very grave situation in Suez must be in all our minds, the House has not allowed that situation to overshadow this debate or deflect it from its ordinary course. It has recognised that this is a debate about what is essentially a long-term plan or proposal for the reorganisation, on the basis of voluntary enlistment, of the Armed Forces of the Crown in general and of the Army in particular.

That proposal may be a right one or a wrong one. We have differed on that, and shall differ on it, but it has only a fairly remote and tenuous connection with the emergency which faces us at the moment in the Middle East, although, of course, it has a strong emotive connection with that and I think that hon. Members on both sides, if I may say so, have shown sobriety on that.

The first thing I want to deal with in the debate is the direct question which was put to me by the Minister of Labour about what we meant in the Motion in regard to our N.A.T.O. obligations. I am, frankly, delighted to answer the question of the right hon. Gentleman since he asked it of me, but I should have thought that the Motion itself was clear on that. I should have thought, also, that the opening speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) was crystal clear on it. What we mean, if I may repeat it—and I am delighted to repeat it—is that the Government should make up their mind now, should make a plan, or proposal, for dealing with National Service and, in due course, abolishing it, and should take that plan to N.A.T.O. for discussion.

We do not mean the rather extraordinary doctrine which it seemed to me the right hon. Gentleman put forward. There is a real difference here, for I understood him to say he thought it wrong for us to make our proposals and our plan before going to N.A.T.O. at all. I definitely think that that is going too far. I think that we have to make up our minds and then take that decision to N.A.T.O. for discussion. I say "for discussion" advisedly, not simply for information—I agree with the right hon. Gentleman there—but for genuine discussion by N.A.T.O. in the precise sense that we might well find that we had, in some particular or another, to modify our proposals in the light of that discussion. It would be by no means mere information.

I would go further than that. We should then come back here and, of course, the final decision on what we do must be taken by Her Majesty's Government. I know that the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me there. That is an absolute condition of sovereignty, but that decision should be taken in the light of the discussions we would have had in N.A.T.O. I think that we have said that in our Motion, it has been said in the opening speech, and I have repeated it in this House now and it ought to be perfectly clear. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman was able to quote some extremely confusing and confused statements by various newspapers, but we cannot be held responsible for what various newspapers of various political persuasions thought that someone had said at a party meeting upstairs. We have made our position perfectly clear in that respect.

What do we think should be the character of the plan which the Government should make? We have put forward the suggestion that it should be a four-year plan for ending the call-up. If the plan were made here and now it would mean that the last call-up would be at the end of 1958. My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) made great play with that date. He said that if, as he and I both hope and believe, at some time between now and 1958, or in 1958, a Labour Government came into power, we should certainly not be able to do it.

Of course, if we came into office in 1958 we certainly should not be able to end the call-up in 1958. No one has suggested that for one moment. Unless very active steps are taken now, not only in respect of consultation with N.A.T.O., which is quite a long process, but also in recruitment, with which my right hon. Friend dealt and about which I shall say more, then it is perfectly true that we could not end the call-up in 1958. What we are suggesting is that in something like a four-year period from the word "go", when we first start, it might be done.

Let me say that I, for one—and I think I speak for all here—do not lay particular stress on the period of four years. We lay stress on the fact that a decision should be taken and a plan of not an indefinite length—not ten years or twenty years, but a definite plan of a given number of years—should be drawn up. I will argue in a moment that unless we make a definite plan with a definite period we have not the least chance of ending National Service, and we thereby reconcile ourselves to the indefinite continuance of National Service.

I am bound to say that nearly all the speeches of hon. Members opposite and the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley have led to the conclusion, not that the hon. Members concerned wish to continue National Service—no one has said that—but that they believe that it must be continued indefinitely. That, I am bound to say, is the only conclusion which any impartial hearer can draw from their speeches.

I want to argue, in a little detail, some of these figures, because I think that the figures are important. If it could be shown that it is arithmetically impossible to carry out this proposal, we should have to think again. I want to argue them essentially in terms of the Army. That, I think, is justified because, in the Secretary of State's words, the main justification of National Service is the Army. If, in other words, it can be shown that the Army can get on without National Service, then, a fortiori, the other two Services can get on without National Service. In taking the Army I am taking the worst case from my point of view—the case which has to be shown, but if it can be shown, everything else follows from it.

It has been striking that throughout the debate that there has been very general agreement as to the approximate size which an all-professional, all-volunteer Regular Army would have to be. Some people have pushed it in one direction and some in the other, but, on the whole, almost everybody is agreed that if we could have an all-professional Regular Army, we could manage with one about 180,000 strong at the bottom figure, to 220,000 at the top. That is all ranks, and I will speak about that question in a moment.

There is little doubt, I believe, that a figure of that traditional size, which is a traditional size of a British Regular Army, would meet our needs and our essential commitments. Of course, it all depends on what those commitments are made to be by policy. One cannot entirely separate this question from policy. If we wish to indulge in an indefinite number of further Cypruses, if we wish to hold down a few hundred terrorists by 18,000 men in many more places in the world, we should want not an Army of 200,000, but of 2 million men.

There are policies which an Army of that size cannot possibly sustain. In the type of policy which we advocate, and which was strongly advocated by my right hon. Friends in the foreign affairs debate, we took the view, broadly speaking, that what are called the overseas fortresses, which I put it to the House are much more like staging posts for air transport of troops—I think that they have their importance for that, and that that is really their importance today—must be held by treaty and by agreement with the populations which surround them and not by an incredibly extravagant force such as is being used in Cyprus today.

Again, on what I can only call a sane policy in this respect, I do not think that there is much doubt that that is the scale of land armed forces which is necessary and that would enable us to meet those obligations in Germany which the House is united in regarding as absolutely indespensible today. The House, on each side, has said, "Of course, we cannot be tied down to the exact figure which we have there now. Technical considerations change, fire power changes ". But again, with that caveat, it is possible that we should have to increase the amount of weapons and armaments and their power which we hold in Germany. We should have to increase very likely the number of highly-trained and highly technical men we have in Germany while, at the same time, reducing the actual number of bodies, the total there, because that is the obvious tendency of military development today.

But granted, with those caveats, that the same adequate force—which undoubtedly fulfils our obligations under the treaty—of four divisions or their equivalent in fire power, has to be maintained—there, again, I do not think that this has been disputed—I suggest that an Army of the order of the magnitude which I have just defined, if, and only if, it was an all professional and all Regular Army, could fulfil those obligations.

In passing, I would point out the enormous advantage and economy of manpower of fulfilling all those obligations in that way, as compared with the way in which we are fulfilling them today under a mixed system of National Service and Regulars, under what the Secretary of State himself very vividly called in the Army Estimates debate a half-and-half Army. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will disagree with me, because he has to face the worries and headaches of this, that the half-and-half system which we have today is proving a very inappropriate and extravagent way of meeting our needs. There may be all sorts of difficulties about meeting them in the alternative way, but the present is a most clumsy way of attempting to do it.

We have only to look at the figures. Again, they are not in dispute. We have nearly 400,000 men in the Army and they really sustain a force abroad, meeting our commitments, of only about 150,000, and 250,000 of them are at home, training and being trained for all the hundred and one miscellaneous tasks of the Army, doing all the very necessary things. I am not necessarily saying that there is avoidable waste—there may be—but I am not arguing that at the moment. But they are doing these things which are necessary and fundamental because of the existence of half the Army under National Service conditions, serving for only two years. It is that waste of national manpower resources which seems to me one of the overwhelming reasons for ending, if we possibly can, the National Service system. That is the commitment side of the balance sheet, and I now come to the recruiting side.

It is a curious thing that when we discuss this matter some of us concentrate all our attention on the commitment side while others of us concentrate all our attention on the recruiting side. We get quite heated if anybody suggests that the other side, in which we are not interested, has its importance. Of course, both sides are of equal importance. The commitment side is, as it were, the expenditure side of the Army account and the recruiting side is its income side. To concentrate on either one or the other is like a man who is trying to run his private finances thinking only of his expenditure and not his income or of his income and not of his expenditure. If he did that, he would not remain solvent very long. We must look equally at both sides of the account.

When we come to the income side, the recruiting side, the simple question is, of course: can we get a sufficient number of recruits for a sufficient number of years' service to meet the bill of a minimum of about 180,000 men? I will come to the immediate prospect ahead of us, but I think that we ought, first, to look at the matter in terms of what has always happened. We cannot look at it purely in terms of the quite abnormal situation when National Service has been in existence.

The fact is that in inter-war periods, even in the pre-1914 periods, we always recruited an Army of that size, and we got a minimum of about 25,000 recruits in a very bad year and up to 34,000 recruits in a good year. I have the exact figures, but I will not weary the House with them; they vary quite a bit.

The post-war years are not really so instructive because they are, as it were, complicated by the fact that National Service was in existence. The later ones are also complicated by the three-year engagement which is, of course, a totally new form of engagement. But there, again, they do not vary so enormously. In 1951, for example, we had 26,000 recruits, and in 1953, 53,000, but the great bulk of them were on this very short period of service.

In fact, for what it is worth, we are at present recruiting at rather more than that rate. I conclude from those figures that it is really impossible to say that in principle and on the long-term—I am not now talking of timing—it is an unreasonable, scandalous proposition to say that we can recruit voluntarily an Army of the size we want.

Pre-war and inter-war conditions were very different from present-day conditions. We stress that very much from this side of the House. There is full employment now. On the other hand, pay and conditions in the Army are very different from what they were in that period. Everything is very different. If we got rid of National Service and probably got rid of the three-year engagement at the same time, we should be in a new situation. We should be recruiting in new conditions, but with new inducements also, a Regular Army of about the traditional size. It seems to me somewhat fantastic to stigmatise the suggestion and to say that this is an impossible thing to do. Anyhow, if we say that it is impossible we are simply saying that for the rest of time this country must have conscription.

Why is it, then, that a number of hon. Members, the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour and National Service, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, in an Adjournment debate a few days ago—and I dare say that he will repeat the argument this evening—and my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, all dogmatised extremely on this subject and said that the whole thing was utterly impossible? The reason is that they are very much concerned, and I understand their concern, about the run-out of the three-year engagement men coming on top of the run-out of the National Service men. They feel that in the third year, if we abolish conscription, there will be a danger point where the Regular Army will go down to a low figure. It is on that basis that the Secretary of State for War gave his figures in the Adjournment debate.

The right hon. Gentleman estimated that the figure would go down to 130,000 and said that that was too low for meeting our needs. I am not controverting his arithmetic, but I am making two comments. One is a relatively minor one, but worth making. It has been made already by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper. The Secretary of State chose for his estimate to use only male other ranks, and that simply reduces his figures by 20,000. It excludes 13,000 officers and, on his own showing, about 7,000 women and about 2,500 boys. In the long term the boys count. They become very valuable soldiers indeed. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is excluding at least 20,000 and I cannot see why he is doing that, except that it suits his argument. This is not a point of vast size, but it is one worth making.

The right hon. Gentleman's other point, where the figures are of crucial importance, is that he calculates the 130,000 on the hypothesis, as he put it in the Adjournment debate, that over the next five years he will get 50,000 Regular recruits. At first sight, that seemed as if he is only expecting 10,000 Regular recruits a year.

Mr. Head

Three years.

Mr. Strachey

The right hon. Gentleman said five years.

Mr. Head

I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for intervening. I have been into these 1958–61 figures. The figure for the strength of the Regular Army estimated in 1961, that is some 130,000, was calculated from the present target of 310,000 in 1958, and therefore includes only three years' recruiting in 1958–61.

Mr. Strachey

In the Adjournment debate the right hon. Gentleman talked about figures from now to 1961, that is, five years, and he said that he is getting 50,000 recruits between now and then. Superficially, that means 10,000 a year. I realise that the figure is not as simple as that, because the right hon. Gentleman has to allow for wastage in his Regulars as well and he has to allow for prolongations for longer service within his Regulars. It is true that it is not an exact figure.

However, the Secretary of State for War is allowing only for Regular long-term recruits, who are certainly between 10,000 and 20,000, and on his figures it looks as though they are nearer to 10,000, anyhow well below 20,000 a year. The Minister can show that on this hypothesis the strength of the Army quite temporarily—it goes up again, of course, after 1961—shows a dip in 1961, not down to 130,000 but down to 150,000.

What is the value of the hypothesis that the right hon. Gentleman will get long-term Regular recruits of only that order of magnitude? We need not quarrel about the exact figure. A figure of that order is far less, is markedly much less, than was ever obtained in the inter-war or pre-1914 period, and it is far less than the number being recruited at the moment. Here and now they are far more numerous than that. They are being recruited on a very short engagement and National Service is in existence.

I think that the right hon. Gentleman and his experts are taking that figure because it represents a prolongation of present trends. I put it to him, under his own arguments, that this is really a worthless argument, because the Minister put it to us so strongly in the debate on the Army Estimates that the thing which is holding down his Regular recruiting today is precisely the existence of National Service.

Therefore, as our hypothesis is a situation in which we have abolished National Service, and in which, presumably, the three-year engagement has gone with it—because I should have thought it most unwise to maintain it after National Service was in existence and I think the right hon. Gentleman indicated that—the present figures really give him very little guide to the numbers he will be able to recruit during these years.

What is left of this extremely dogmatic argument which is put to us that we are simply flying in the face of hard facts and figures. I honestly think that the argument cannot stand in that form. Yet I would readily admit, as did my right hon. Friend, that something remains of his argument. This remains, that if we abolish National Service it is true that the Armed Forces in general, and the Army in particular, go through a very difficult period of reorganisation. I think it may be specially true in 1961 but, whenever we do it, there is a difficult period to go through, and that has to be faced. But, to say that the thing is forever impossible—and that is, in effect, what we have been told this evening—because of that difficulty, ought not to be allowed to influence the decision of the House.

I put it to the Minister this way. All his experts now are showing him the difficulties, the troubles, the dangers he would have to face. They would not be fulfilling their duty if they did not do so. They are putting before the right hon. Gentleman the risks he would run if National Service were abolished. The only way the Minister will get those experts to say different things is to take a decision to adopt a phased programme, with a date in it for the abolition of National Service, and then his experts will all be working just as hard to find him the expedients, the ways in which it can be done.

There are a great number of expedients. We are not saying that this can be done if, from the word "go", we do not start very actively indeed and, as my right hon. Friend said, spend money on inducing recruitment in all sorts of ways. For example, there is the expedient of giving large inducements for prolongation. There are the expedients of civilianisation, which the Minister of Labour mentioned. There are dozens of expedients, many of which have been put from this side of the House. I do not know which of them would be successful or which of them would be particularly valuable. However, they will not be seriously brought forward and thought about until the decision has been taken to do it.

If the right hon. Gentleman said this evening that he accepted our general point of view, but thought we were running it rather fine when we said it could be done in four years whereas he felt that he needed five years, I should be willing to accept an argument about the exact number of years coming from him in the light of the fact that he and the Government have all the facts at their disposal. However, the point is not the number of years; it is taking the decision to do it, subject to the N.A.T.O. qualifications—we have made it abundantly clear that it is subject to that—and deciding to do it in a given time.

What is the alternative? All sides of the House have been explicit about the alternative. The alternative is continuance of National Service in its present form for an indefinite period. It is not only that. The Minister of Labour rightly spent a long time showing that the continuance of National Service in its present universal form was impossible especially when we reach the 1960s and the bulge in the birth rate comes along. Having exhausted the expedient now being used by the Government of postponing the age of call-up, we cannot continue our present system of, at any rate on the whole, universal National Service.

Consequently, the alternative to what we are proposing, or some proposal along these lines, is not only the indefinite continuance of National Service but the adoption and the indefinite continuance of some form of selective draft. That is what the House ought to face. We say that that is a most repugnant expedient. It would have most unfortunate consequences upon national morale and cohesion. Those who oppose the Motion ought to show why they think the expedient of the selective draft, which is the only alternative, and which the Minister of Labour began to discuss in some detail and to show that it was very much in the Government's mind, is a tolerable alternative to what we suggest.

Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that more than a quarter of our young men—80,000—are exempted on the ground of medical grade from doing National Service? Also, a further 10 per cent., more than 30,000, are exempted because they are engaged in agriculture, mining or the Merchant Navy. Therefore, why does he object to a slight extension of this principle?

Mr. Strachey

Surely medical exemption is a totally different thing from a selective draft.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

National Service is not universal.

Mr. Strachey

Are we not playing with words when we say that National Service is not universal, because those who are unfit are exempted? There is very little in that. Miners are exempted, and were exempted during the war, and merchant seamen are exempted. What we are saying is that if we go further in the process—I believe the Minister of Labour frankly faced this—we are getting into an arbitrarily selective draft. That seems to us the worst course to which we can be driven.

We put forward this proposal not in a dogmatic spirit, but as a proposal which holds the field for meeting a situation which the Government know perfectly well is coming upon them and about which they have to do something, a situation which it is not easy to face. It is a responsible suggestion, covered by our stipulations about N.A.T.O. and the period in which it can be done. It is a serious proposal for one of the things that must be done in the general reorganisation of the defence forces of this country.

We say that in this highly technical, nuclear age in which quality becomes far more important than quantity, National Service, which we devised after the war in different conditions and which has its advantages from a social point of view—I would not deny that—becomes a less and less appropriate method of raising the kind of forces which we need. Therefore, sooner or later—and we propose that the process should be begun now—we shall have to come to the alternative process of raising a wholly professional and volunteer force. For that is the force which we think is the only type of force which can do the two things which are necessary, namely, to provide the greatest measure of defence for this country which is practicable and yet not, by laying too great a burden on the back of the economy, break it, and so defeat its own object.

9.32 p.m

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Antony Head)

I should like at the start to apologise to any hon. Members who were speaking when I was absent for rather more time than I should have wished. That was not entirely my fault. The debate has been characterised, possibly due to the late start, by the unusually low proportion of back bench speakers. I hope that I shall not be considered a Quisling if I say that I regret that there were not more. I do not think the fault lies with anybody. It was due to the late start and to the great interest of many hon. Members who have been concerned with the Service Departments.

As has been the case for many hundreds of years, the debate has been concerned with the fundamental problem of free democracies—the conflicting demands of the economy and defence. It has always been a problem for Governments that when the sun comes out on the international scene defence is always subject to reductions and that when stormy weather suddenly appears it is so often found that the reductions made during the sunshine are regretted. Whether it is of manpower, money or material, that is the fundamental problem which the House has been discussing today.

One point with which not a single speaker has disagreed has been that it is important that whatever we may do or decide, before it becomes a firm matter of Government authority we should discuss it with N.A.T.O. Unanimity in the House on that matter is of very great importance indeed, because nothing could be more disastrous than that the feeling should be given by the House that we would out of self-interest take unilateral action which might have most disastrous and far-reaching consequences.

Apart from the conflict between defence and economy, there has appeared in many speeches the view that it is increasingly important that there should be an adequate balance and share as between those weapons and forms of armament which one might put under the heading of the deterrent and those which one might describe as the conventional weapon. That, within the allocation of resources, is a further problem confronting the Government.

There is a tendency to over-simplify the problem in regard to the deterrent. Many hon. Members who have spoken in debates in this House have said that this is an atomic age and that we should have atomic, streamlined forces armed and geared for the atomic age, and that it is nonsense to think that we should continue to have a considerable expenditure of manpower in an age where weapons are so powerful and will become increasingly so. I think I am right in saying that the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) stressed his opinion that the power of weapons would result in economy in the use of manpower. It would be so much easier for the Chiefs of Staff, the Service Ministers, the Minister of Defence and the Government if one could be absolutely sure about that.

One can say that, broadly, there are four kinds of war today—the thermonuclear war; the war which is confined to limited atomic weapons; the conventional war of the Korean type, and the cold war of Malaya, Kenya and so forth. In the last few years we have changed to a situation in which a possible thermonuclear war is more and more reaching saturation, so to speak. The power of thermo-nuclear weapons is becoming greater, the Powers possessing it are more evenly matched, and the means of delivery in future will give longer range, greater accuracy and be harder to stop. The effect surely will be to make the thermo-nuclear war more and more one to which we shall have recourse only by mistake or in the most dire circumstances.

In those conditions, what of the limited atomic tactical war? One can imagine a situation in which the United States is within the range of thermo-nuclear ballistic rockets. People would then be very careful in the use of atomic tactical weapons under circumstances which might lead to a thermo-nuclear war, and one cannot help feeling that it would be rash to exclude a quite large war of the conventional type.

I ask the right hon. Member for Belper whether it would be wise to build our Army entirely round atomic weapons, so that if we were faced with a conventional war that Army would be of little or no use. That is a very real dilemma, and I mention it now because there has been a tendency in the debate, when accusing the Government of a lack of progressiveness, to forget that it is not just a case of being modern and going in for atomic weapons, but that there is a conflict between the need for producing conventional weapons and the need for nuclear weapons.

Mr. Paget

Has not the decision been taken at N.A.T.O., and announced here, that an attack in Europe will be met immediately by an atomic counter-attack? Are not the N.A.T.O. forces in fact equipped and ready to do that very thing?

Mr. Head

I am not talking solely about Europe, or about the present time; I am talking about the possibility of other limited wars, and also about a possible situation in five or ten years' time, and putting the question whether or not such a decision would be so easy if New York could be blown to bits by a thermonuclear rocket. It is entirely speculative, but it would be a rash man who said that the day of the necessity for conventional forces was over. That is the only point that I was attempting to make.

Apart from that, we are in the peculiar position that, in addition to N.A.T.O. commitments, we have world-wide economic strategic and Commonwealth interests, which we are forced to defend with conventional forces. The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) has often said that our share of defence is disproportionate to that of other N.A.T.O. Powers. These considerations make it extremely difficult to ensure economy of manpower by means of an absolutely up to date force making use solely of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Stokes

May I get this straight? Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say about the varying degrees of war, does he agree, as a start, that if there is a major war in Europe it will be a thermo-nuclear war? That at least would give us some idea of his thoughts.

Mr. Head

People who prognosticate in the House of Commons on exactly what form war will take in Europe are, in my opinion, extremely unwise. I would say that I personally could not envisage a total war in Europe in which Europe was overrun in which thermo-nuclear or nuclear weapons were not used. I do not think it is relevant to the point that I have just made.

I agree entirely with hon. Members who have said that economies must be made. The Government accept that, and I believe that there are fields for economy falling within both the deterrent field and the conventional field. I think that, as the future progresses, it will be more and more necessary, as scientists think up new ideas and as atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons become more and more expensive, to increase the pooling and sharing of research, production and development of these weapons among the West. If we are to do this alone and independently, then I believe that by the strain of the effort our technical and financial resources will be overtaxed.

In turn, I believe that in conventional forces we are within sight of reductions. In the field of mobility, there are prospects, with a good Transport Command and an increase in ability to transport those parts which we call the tail. In cutting that tail so that it can be airborne throughout the Commonwealth, I believe there is great scope.

I should like to say something about financial cuts. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), not in his speech today but in the past, was very specific on the subject of financial cuts in defence. I think he advocated a sum of round about £400 or £500 million. Indeed, many hon. Members have asked why there cannot be larger financial cuts in defence. I mention this because I believe that there is a genuine misunderstanding in the House on the question of defence cuts, and my answer would be that there have been very large defence cuts which have to a large extent been concealed. The reason for that is that defence expenditure, as the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) knows very well, has inherent within its programme the seeds of growth. If we initiate a programme of defence, it is like planting a lot of bulbs. First, the leaves come and the flowers start to come and the more they bloom the more they cost.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite had a programme of £4,700 million, and when they talk about cuts, they ought to remember that that original programme of £4,700 million expenditure would have been up to the sum of £1,800 million in 1953–54. In the event it was £1,600 million. People have said that defence expenditure goes up and up, when in fact there was a concealed cut of £200 million on the planned programme.

What I am trying to explain to the right hon. Gentleman is that, although nothing very spectacular may appear to happen in this House about reductions in defence expenditure, in fact the result from the point of view of defence itself has been a large cutting back of a programme which, if unchecked, might well have risen today to something like £1,900 million and possibly much more. That is the problem with which we are confronted, and that is why I think that these reductions, certainly financially, are not more spectacular. In addition, there is always within defence expenditure the inflationary tendency of wages, prices, pay increases, things like the German costs, and all the additional very great expenses due to changes which are caused by the scientists and in the projects which come in from the Ministry of Supply.

Mr. Stokes

That is the main thing.

Mr. Head

The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right, because these projects for research and development, which are vital if we are to keep up to date, come into the Ministry of Supply as very small eggs, but as they start to hatch and grow, they are rather like the cuckoos in the hedge sparrow's nest, and have to elbow out all the other projects in their particular field to make it possible to fit them in financially with the very great developments in production. And that particular aspect of new weapons and their commitments is among our major problems so far as a farsighted reduction of the defence programme is concerned.

I wish now to turn to what was perhaps the most prominent subject of the debate, that of manpower. The right hon. Member for Belper spoke with great dash to the Opposition Motion regarding the abolition of National Service in 1958. My reading of his speech, if I am not maligning him, and I do not wish to misquote him, is that having had a look at the abolition of National Service in 1958, he was like a man on a high diving board—he shut both his eyes, held his nose and jumped in. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West was somewhat similar. He said that we could listen to the experts who would tell us the reasons why we could not do this. But we should say that we would go ahead and do it and then the experts would say, "Now we will show you how you can do it."

I see the force of that argument, but I have made a considerable study of the subject, especially as it concerns the Army, and I found myself much more in agreement with the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). I was sorry that the right hon. Member for Belper spoilt my alliance by saying that I had betrayed him in my remarks. The real crux of this business of National Service surely lies in the fact that in deciding whether or not to adopt a policy in 1958, all we can do is to make the best guess we can. The Government have made the best guess they can of an annual recruitment of 18,000 a year. Before the war we were somewhere around 20,000, and we had a Royal Air Force—which has been neglected in this debate—of only 35,000. They are now in business in a big way against us, and it is quite an optimistic assumption that we shall get 18,000.

It is on that assumption that we come down to the trough of 130,000. I would ask any right hon. Gentleman opposite who is thinking about it, and especially to the right hon. Member for Dundee, West, that if he was faced with a situation within two years from now and was given 130,000 or 140,000 as the total for the whole Army, including the tail, if he thinks that he could make an Army which could look at our commitments in advance of any settlement with N.A.T.O. about reduction? I say that is unrealistic. My quarrel with the Motion is that it is illogical; it is like ordering the bricks for a house before having a consultation with an architect. To take this action is to predetermine manpower figures before it is possible to do it.

I wish to clarify this matter of a 200,000 Army. That idea has gained currency by often being spoken about. It has almost come to be regarded as a Government statement that we should have an Army of 200,000.

Mr. Stokes

Well, is it not?

Mr. Head

The right hon. Gentleman is always running ahead of me.

This figure of 200,000 originated from hon. Gentlemen opposite so far as concerns the debate in this House. Its true origin—I will be frank—is that we in the War Office and the Chiefs of Staff would like to be rid of National Service. I have never said otherwise. We thought it worth while to examine hypothetically the size of an Army which we might get by voluntary recruitment, and it does not need a genius to hit on the figure of 200,000. We got that number and we examined it purely on our own. It had nothing to do with policy at that stage, which was some time ago. That examination continues.

The object of the examination is to see whether, if we only had 200,000, assuming greater mobility by Transport Command and a greater degree of civilianisation and other economies in the tail, such a number could provide a force which would be adequate for our commitments. That is the stage of this inquiry.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite have taken this 200,000 to their bosom and have cut bits off it. The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) turned it into 150,000 and asked whether I would not prefer that figure for the Regular Army. From a purely personal point of view, with no commitments, the answer is "Yes". I could go on leave. With commitments, I cannot, because we cannot decide where we might want it. We must have a chance of meeting our commitments to N.A.T.O., throughout the Commonwealth and to the vital economic and strategic interests of this country. If we were to plunge into the abolition of National Service without regard to our commitments and to the consequences, I maintain that that would be an irresponsible action.

Mr. Stokes

Will the Secretary of State deal with the question, "Where are the 400,000?" That was the undertaking given by the Minister of Labour, comprising 136,000 to fulfil our commitments in the Army and 264,000 here. What are they doing?

Mr. Head

The right hon. Gentleman has backed three winners running, because that was the next point on my notes. He knows in advance what I am going to talk about. The right hon. Member for Belper said to me, "You have in this country 263,000 men, in addition to 136,000 overseas." Those figures are utterly and absolutely incorrect by very large proportions indeed. They are vastly incorrect.

Mr. Stokes

What are they?

Mr. Head

The right hon. Gentleman must let me make my speech. We have never, not for reasons of any shame but for reasons of security—all right hon. Gentlemen will back me up—disclosed the exact figures. I am going further than that. The figures of troops in this country include the training organisation and a far larger number of troops in the home and strategic reserve than we have ever achieved before. That is right and proper, from the points of view of safety and of balance for the Regular Army. These numbers together are not far from balancing the total overseas. That I believe to be a satisfactory state of affairs. The figures quoted by the right hon. Member for Belper are entirely and absolutely wrong, and if I were he I would entirely do away with the source that gave them to me.

Mr. G. Brown

Those figures were the best that we could extract from the information which the right hon. Gentleman makes available. They are figures which appeared, I think, first of all publicly in The Times some time ago. The right hon. Gentleman has since spoken in this House, as have other Ministers, and the figures have so far never been corrected. If the right hon. Gentleman now says that we are all wrong, everybody who tried to add up the information that we got, does he not think it is about time that he told us where the troops are deployed? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because everybody else knows except this House.

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)

How does the right hon. Member know that everyone else knows?

Mr. Brown

Because any foreign agent can discover it. Quite honestly, it is not good enough for Ministers to assert that figures are outrageously wrong when we have only their unsupported assertion about it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly. [HON. MEMBERS: "Sit down."] Hon. Members will never get me down in that way. I ask the Secretary of State to consider the point that I put to him earlier today. How much more information than we now have can he safely give us that we may check the assertion he has now made?

Mr. Head

I cannot help feeling that if what the right hon. Gentleman has said about this widespread knowledge is right, he himself must be a little out of touch. I am not denying that the information might be known, but it is invaluable for an intelligence service to get an accurate check on whether reports that it gets from agents are correct or not. That is the reason. I am constantly being asked to say whether or not The Times correspondent is right. Very often he is extremely good, but he is hung round my neck practically as though he were a member of my staff.

I have been asked a number of questions, and if I do not answer some of them the right hon. Member for Belper must take a little of the blame because he made quite an oration. In particular I should like to say a word to the hon. Member for Dudley concerning swept wing fighters. I see that he has just landed in the Chamber in time to hear this. He asserted that we were short of swept wing fighters in the Middle East. I do not wish in any way to get on bad terms with the hon. Gentleman, and, although this is a problem which is not my particular concern, I am authorised by the Secretary of State for Air to state, as he stated in his Air Estimates speech, that this is a matter which can be put right very rapidly owing to the range and mobility of modern fighters. The permanent stationing of fighters of this range and mobility in the Middle East would not really be sensible because of their rapid mobility if and when they should be wanted.

I am afraid that I shall have to resume my seat very shortly. I have tried in this debate to show that it is the Government's job to decide on the allocation of our resources between the economy and defence. That has always been a difficult job, and there is nobody more aware than the Service Ministers and the chiefs of staff of the futility of having big defences and a busted economy. That fact is never credited to us but we are well aware of it.

On the other hand, there are dreadful warnings in the past of undue cuts in defence because the sun has come out and the economy wants a lot more. Our problem is to strike a balance between those two. I would remind hon. Members who are too optimistic about what should be done that when one comes, as the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence do, to the ultimate decision it is

a very lonely pinnacle on which one stands to decide between the rival claims of these two matters.

There is one thing that the Government should determine to do, and that is to reduce and relieve the burden on our economy to the maximum extent but not to that extent which may lead us to fail in our own responsibilities and by our example to cause defection in the collective defence of the West.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 240. Noes 308.

Division No. 276.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Donnelly, D. L. Jones, Elwyn, (W. Ham, S.)
Albu, A. H. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Dye, S. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Edelman, M. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Anderson, Frank Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Kenyon, C.
Awbery, S. S. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Bacon, Miss Alice Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) King, Dr. H. M.
Baird, J. Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Lawson, G. M.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire,E.) Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.) Fernyhough, E. Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Benson, G. Finch, H. J. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Beswick, F. Fletcher, Eric Lewis, Arthur
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Lindgren, G. S.
Blackburn, F. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Blenkinsop, A. Gibson, C. W. Logan, D. G.
Blyton, W. R. Gooch, E. G. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Boardman, H. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. G. MacColl, J. E.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Greenwood, Anthony McInnes, J.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.) Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. McKay, John (Wallsend)
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Grey, C. F. McLeavy, Frank
Bowles, F. G. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Boyd, T. C. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mahon, Simon
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Griffiths, William (Exchange) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Brockway, A. F. Grimond, J. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hale, Leslie Mann, Mrs. Jean
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hamilton, W. W. Mason, Roy
Burke, W. A. Hannan, W. Mayhew, C. P.
Burton, Miss F. E. Hayman, F. H. Messer, Sir F.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Healey, Denis Mikardo, Ian
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Mitchison, G. R.
Callaghan, L. J. Herbison, Miss M. Monslow, W.
Carmichael, J. Hewitson, Capt. M. Mort, D. L.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hobson, C. R. Moss, R.
Champion, A. J. Holman, P. Moyle, A.
Chapman, W. D. Holmes, Horace Mulley, F. W.
Chetwynd, G. R Holt, A. F. Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Clunie, J. Howell, Denis (All Saints) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Coldrick, W. Hubbard, T. F. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)
Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) O'Brien, Sir Thomas
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Oliver, G. H.
Cove, W. G. Hunter, A. E. Oram, A. E.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Orbach, M.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Oswald, T.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Owen, W. J.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Irving, S. (Dartford) Paget, R. T.
Davies,Rt.Hon.Clement(Montgomery) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Janner, B. Palmer, A. M. F.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Jeger, George (Goole) Pargiter, G. A.
Deer, G. Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs,S.) Parker, J.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Johnson, James (Rugby) Parkin, B. T.
Delargy, H. J. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Peart, T. F.
Dodds, N. N. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Sorensen, R. W. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Probert, A. R. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Proctor, W. T. Sparks, J. A. West, D. G.
Pryde, D. J. Steele, T. Wheeldon, W. E.
Pursey, Cmdr. H. Stewart, Michael (Fulham) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Randall, H. E. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Rankin, John Stones, W. (Consett) Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Redhead, E. C. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Wilkins, W. A.
Reeves, J. Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.) Willey, Frederick
Reid, William Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. Williams, David (Neath)
Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Swingler, S. T. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Sylvester, G. O. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Taylor, John (West Lothian) Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.) Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Wilson. Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Timmons, J. Winterbottom, Richard
Short, E. W. Tomney, F. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Shurmer, P. L. E. Turner-Samuels, M. Woof, R. E.
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Usborne, H. G. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Viant, S. P. Zilliacus, K.
Skeffington, A. M. Wade, D. W.
Slater, J. (Sedgefield) Warbey, W. N. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Watkins, T. E. Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.
Snow. J. W. Weitzman, D.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.
Aitken, W. T. Corfield, Capt. F. V. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Harris, Reader (Heston)
Alport, C. J. M. Crouch, R. F. Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat(Tiverton) Cunningham, Knox Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Currie, G. B. H. Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)
Arbuthnot, John Dance, J. C. G. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Armstrong, C. W. Davidson, Viscountess Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Ashton, H. D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hay, John
Astor, Hon. J. J. Deedes, W. F. Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.
Atkins, H. E. Digby, Simon Wingfield Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Dodds-Parker, A. D. Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Baldwin, A. E. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.
Balniel, Lord Drayson, G. B. Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Banks, Col. C. du Cann, E. D. L. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Barber, Anthony Dugdale, Rt.Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Hill, John (S. Norfok)
Barlow, Sir John Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Barter, John Duthie, W. S. Holland-Martin, C. J.
Baxter, Sir Beverley Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Hope, Lord John
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Eden,Rt.Hn.Sir A (Warwick&L'm'tn) Hornby, R. P.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Horobin, Sir Ian
Bennett, Dr. Reginald Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Errington, Sir Eric Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Bidgood, J. C. Erroll, F. J. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Farey-Jones, F. W. Howard, John (Test)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Fell, A. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Bishop, F. P. Finlay, Graeme Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Black, C. W. Fisher, Nigel Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.
Body, R. F. Fletcher-Cooke, C. Hughes-Young, M. H. C.
Boothby, Sir Robert Fort, R. Hulbert, Sir Norman
Bossom, Sir Alfred Foster, John Hurd, A. R.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh,W.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)
Braine, B. R. Freeth, D. K. Hyde, Montgomery
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Gammans, Sir David Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Garner-Evans, E. H. Iremonger, T. L.
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry George, J. C. (Pollok) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Brooman-White, R. C. Gibson-Watt, D. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Glover, D. Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Bryan, P. Godber, J. B. Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Gough, C. F. H. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Butcher, Sir Herbert Gower, H. R. Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden) Graham, Sir Fergus Joseph, Sir Keith
Carr, Robert Grant, W. (Woodside) Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot
Cary, Sir Robert Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Kaberry, D.
Channon, H. Green, A. Keegan, D.
Chichester-Clark, R. Gresham Cooke, R. Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Kerr, H. W.
Cole, Norman Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Kershaw, J. A.
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Kimball, M.
Cooper, A. E. Gurden, Harold Kirk, P. M.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hall, John (Wycombe) Lagden, G. W.
Lambert, Hon. G. Nicholls, Harmar Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)
Lambton, Viscount Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Langford-Holt, J. A. Nugent, G. R. H. Stevens, Geoffrey
Leather, E. H. C. Nutting, Rt. Hon. Anthony Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Leavey, J. A. O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Studholme, Sir Henry
Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare) Summers, Sir Spencer
Linstead, Sir H. N. Osborne, C. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Llewellyn, D. T. Page, R. G. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Teeling, W.
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Partridge, E. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Longden, Gilbert Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Low, R. Hon. A. R. W. Pitman, I. J. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R.(Croydon, S.)
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Pitt, Miss E. M. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Pott, H. P. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Macdonald, Sir Peter Powell, J. Enoch Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
McKibbin, A. J. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Maskie, J. H. (Galloway) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Touche, Sir Gordon
McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Profumo, J. D. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Raikes, Sir Victor Tweedsmuir, Lady
Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster) Ramsden, J. E. Vane, W. M. F.
McLean, Neil (Inverness) Redmayne, M. Vaughan-Morgan, [...] K.
Macleod, R. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Rees-Davies, W. R. Vickers, Miss J. H.
MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Remnant, Hon. P. Vosper, D. F.
Macmillan, Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley) Renton, D. L. M. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Ridsdale, J. E. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Maddan, Martin Rippon, A. G. F. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Wall, Major Patrick
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Markham, Major Sir Frank
Marlowe, A. A. H. Robson-Brown, W. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Marshall, Douglas Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Mathew, R. Roper, Sir Harold Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Maude, Angus Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Webbe, Sir H.
Maudling, Rt. Hon. R. Russell, R. S. Whitelaw, W. S. I.(Penrith & Border)
Mawby, R. L. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Medlicott, Sir Frank Sharples, R. C. Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Shepherd, William Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Wood, Hon. R.
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Woollam, John Victor
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Nabarro, G. D. N. Soames, Capt. C.
Nairn, D. L. S. Spearman, Sir Alexander TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Neave, Airey Speir, R. M. Mr. Heath and
Mr. T. D. G. Galbraith.

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.

Proposed words there added.

Resolved, That this House affirms its support for Her Majesty's Government in their declared aim of seeking in concert with their Allies a reduction in the demands made by the defence services on the manpower and material resources of the country so far as is consistent with both the safety of these islands, the Commonwealth and the Colonial and dependent territories, and the effective discharge of their international commitments.