HC Deb 24 October 1956 vol 558 cc619-20
12. Mr. Healey

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he has taken to ensure that the decision for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces to use atomic weapons remains under political control.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement made by the Prime Minister on 22nd December, 1954, after the Ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council in which he made it clear that the decision rests with Governments. There has been no change in that position.

Mr. Healey

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that on 11th October The Times reported Field Marshal Lord Montgomery as saying : Personally I would use them first and ask afterwards and does he not agree that, whether this was a serious threat of insubordination or simply a piece of self-advertising buffoonery, it shows the Field Marshal to be quite unfit for the responsible post of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander?

Mr. Lloyd

As I have pointed out before, I have no responsibility for what the Field Marshal says. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easing-on (Mr. Shinwell) also pointed out in his day, so far as the decision is concerned, the position is unaltered.

Mr. Stokes

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman point out to the gallant Field Marshal that if he goes on saying this sort of thing he will be encouraging the five or six nations to which I have already made reference this afternoon who will, in a very short time, be making these horrible weapons, to act independently of any agreed policy anywhere and throw bombs all over the place? Surely it is the height of irresponsibility that he should make such remarks?

Mr. Lloyd

I think I had better stick to the realities of the situation. It is a political decision and it rests with Governments.