§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I beg to move,That this House regrets that, despite the expenditure since 1951 of more than £7,500 million, recent events have emphasised the wasteful and ineffective character of the present defence arrangements, and accordingly calls upon Her Majesty's Government to prepare forthwith a revised defence plan which will ensure greater efficiency and lead to both a substantial cut in expenditure and the abolition of National Service.We are to have today what, in many ways, is one of the most important debates that we have had in this House for a long time. If what we are told is to he believed, we are at one of the turning points which occur only very seldom in the defence arrangements of this nation. We are at the point when vast decisions are to be made about the direction to be taken.
It will be our purpose, from these benches, to try to set before Ministers some things that we have already set before them, unsuccessfully, in the recent 1284 past. We do this not because we believe that these are issues on which necessarily great partisan rivalries can or should be built up, but because they seem to us to be the underlying, fundamental issues that must be faced before big decisions can be taken.
Before I reach the introduction of these points, I must invite the House to look at the past. It is relevant to all that we now have to decide and to the price that we are having and will have to pay in making readjustments now. We are past a period in which there have been grievous lapses in the handling of our defence affairs, in the taking of essential decisions, in the deployment and arming of our forces and in the facing up to the problems of this critical period of history.
When the new Minister of Defence took over very recently, he uttered the epitaph on the handling of affairs by himself and by his predecessors in that office, his colleagues, over the last five years. I am quoting from the Sunday Times. The Minister said:There is no doubt that defence is now costing a good deal more than we can afford. It is equally true that we are not getting full value for money in terms of military power.That is not passing judgment on some affairs with which he and Ministers on the Government benches have nothing to do. If we are spending more money than we should, and are getting less value from it in terms of military power than we should, the responsibility is theirs. For more than five years they have conducted our affairs. They are sitting there now. The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs are two of the prominent Ministers who have been in the long procession of Defence Ministers who, among them, according to the right hon. Gentleman, have built up the situation in which we spend more than we should and are getting less value back than we should.
It is a damning indictment. Uttered from this side of the House I have no doubt that it would call from the Foreign Secretary, if not from the Prime Minister, a fairly spirited defence. It will be interesting to see whether they are to be allowed spiritedly to defend themselves from the right hon. Gentleman who has now taken over the Ministry of Defence.
What the right hon. Gentleman was saying was that we have wasted five and 1285 a half years, six Ministers of Defence, and £7,500 million of public money, to get less return than we should have, or would have had if other right hon. Gentlemen had been conducting defence affairs. That is the point from which the whole debate must begin.
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has gone in any way too far in what he has said. If we bear in mind what Suez told us, it was a masterpiece of understatement. One of the problems has been the constant shuffling and changing through the Service Ministries, and the Ministry of Defence in particular. Seven Ministers of Defence in five and a half years is a lot. We have had three Defence Ministers in the past year and we had three Defence Ministers in the year before that. Not one of them has been in for long enough even to know his way in and out of the office unassisted, let alone to know what is going on there.
When Sir Walter Monckton introduced the Defence White Paper last year he asked us not to press him unduly hard because he had only been at the Ministry for two months and had not had time to get to grips with its problems. The right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) is virtually saying the same thing to us now. When I asked him, last week, when we could have his White Paper he answered, "I cannot tell you yet what the position is, because I must take a little time to make my mind up and to discover things." On past form, the right hon. Gentleman will not be there next year. Even if the Government manage to avoid going to the country it may be that somebody who is now on the Government side will have moved into office and will be telling us the same story. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman must take time to learn the facts and to find his way around.
This is part of the dereliction of duty that has gone on in the defences of this country through these years. Let me make it clear that there is nothing unique about this, and about the Tory Party not being very good at handling our defence affairs. There is nothing unique or very recent about it. We can go back as far as we like, but for our purposes let us go back to the beginning of the century when the Army had to be reorganised and, fortunately, was put in to the position to deal with the 1914 war.
1286 Not only was it not a Tory who did that reorganisation; it was done by a radical Government with Lord Haldane at the head of the War Office, and he had to face, as some of us from time to time have had to face, such vicious abuse that they finally forced him out of office and out of public life. In the 1930s it was a Tory Government which, however big they talked, put our defences and our Services into the condition so graphically described by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). It was not until a Government headed by their own discard—whom they had treated as atrociously and abusively as they had Lord Haldane, earlier—with a considerable injection of the radical section of our community, came to power, in 1940, that we began to put that right.
The Tories always talk big about national defence, but their repeated record on these things is as poor as the right hon. Member for Streatham declares it to be today; and he ought to know better than anybody else. [Interruption.] The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) had better listen to me. He will not speed matters by bubbling. If he listens with his ears open and his mouth shut he will hear something, but how much he will understand I cannot tell.
All this is nothing new. We deployed all this to the House a year ago. I beg hon. Members, and certainly Ministers, to do us the honour and the credit of reading the debate that took place last February. The criticisms which they themselves are now making are not criticisms which they have discovered out of the blue; they were the criticisms which we made then. The dissembling in the White Paper, the statement of things that were only hopes but which were declared to be facts, were pointed out there and then. The whole business about the R.A.F., about its ability to transport, about the flexibility of the Army, about its mobility and about its new weapons —all that, as hon. Members opposite will find, was discussed at length from this side of the House last year.
All that we got in reply was stonewalling from the Paymaster-General, who was then Minister of Supply, and absolute collapse from the then Secretary of State for Air, who has now been promoted to the Treasury; but to the criticisms that 1287 we made then we were given the sort of reply which the then Defence Minister gave us when he said:As the right hon. Gentleman will have seen, it"—that is, the White Paper—is based on the proposition that the broad, political and strategic foundation for defence policy, which was set out in last year's"—that is, 1955—White Paper has stood the test of more detailed study during the past year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 1018.]But it has not. We said then that it had not. We have, in fact, wasted another year, another £1,500 million, and we have had the most unpleasant advertisement of Suez. That was before right hon. Gentlemen opposite would grant that possibly what we were saying was right on that. Someone ought to look as though he was going to deal with it.
I will not weary the House by going through the White Paper paragraph by paragraph. Paragraph 7 spoke of the "well equipped, versatile forces" which would be "ready for immediate action". Where were they? We said that they were not there. Paragraph 14 talked about the need to reduce our research and development programme, which the right hon. Gentleman now tells us he is giving his attention to trying to do.
In paragraph 22 we were told thatIn limited war we plan to make immediately available in any part of the world a force of aircraft carriers equipped with modern aircraft and supplemented by cruisers and escorts.We said then that the Government had not got the carriers from which planes could fly and that they had not got the planes that could fly from the carriers, but they persisted in the declaration that this was the situation, and now the right hon. Gentleman is having to take time to see what he needs to do to try to bring about what they said in 1955, again in 1956, and, indeed, what the Government have been saying since 1953, was the position.
On top of that we have had the Report of the Select Committee on the Supply of Military Aircraft. There will be several other opportunities to debate the details of that and I do not propose to do so today. But we raised this whole business of the situation of the aircraft 1288 industry three times last year, on Supply, on the Defence White Paper, and again later. We were told by the Minister of Supply then that he was in favour of marriages but against taking a shotgun to produce it, and he talked about rationalisation, and about the reduction of projects that he was going to do. Nothing has happened. The Select Committee's Report makes it quite clear that nothing has happened.
While I cast no doubt on the integrity of the new Minister—I am sure that he is at least as full of integrity as those who have spoken before—it is asking us to do a lot not only on this side of the House but on the other side, too, because defence concerns us all, to assume that if he asserts that he is about to do it we can believe him when Sir Walter Monckton, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Woodford and Field Marshal Lord Alexander have all said the same thing and all failed to do it.
What we want now from the Prime Minister is something other than vague assertions, something other than a declaration of intention. It may be hard to ask him to make his mind up quickly. It may be hard to say that he cannot be allowed all the time that he wants, but that is not our fault. We have not changed all the previous Ministers. We have not prevented them from saying what they said they would do. It is essential for this country and our allies —and do not let us forget that the effect of this on our allies and on their feelings is very important indeed—that something be done now to restore the confidence that the Government really have the ability needed. The fact that I doubt whether they have the capacity or the ability to get on top of the job is a personal matter for me. But for the Government and, I suggest, for their backbenchers and the party opposite it is essential that they should make use of whatever time is left to them to show that they get on top.
One of the curious results of all this is the extraordinary kind of neutralist emotion which is growing, not least in the party opposite. There is in every speech that is made, in every newspaper that one reads, even the more responsible ones, an emotion that Suez has shown that all this money has been 1289 wasted, that it has not preduced effective results, a feeling of, "Let us cut it; let us do away with it. Nothing is of any use, anyway." It is an emotion and it has been shown by the extraordinarily fantastic idea of the building up of cuts from £100 million to £1,300 million and to £1,500 million. I remember the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) being taken to task by an hon. Member in the last debate because he wanted it to be £500 million, and that was thought to be a remarkable lapsus linguae.
The Prime Minister began all this recently. This was not done by irresponsible newspapers. It was not done by uninformed back benchers. It was not done by ill-intentioned Front Benchers on this side of the House. I have quoted this to the Prime Minister before. When did the figure of £700 million cuts start? It started with the right hon. Gentleman himself, on 16th May, 1956, when he spoke to the Foreign Press Association. I have here his hand-out. It is certainly a typed copy, but I am sure that he will accept it. It is word for word and I have had it checked. He not only took the trouble to deliver his speech, but his office took the trouble to circulate tens and perhaps even hundreds of copies of that speech. In paragraph 4 he said:Suppose our figure, too, was 5 per cent., not 9 per cent. I think this particular piece of speculative arithmetic is illuminating—indeed, tantalising. Our defence programme would be not over £1,500 million a year, but about £800 million, giving £700 million worth of spare resources.and in the very last paragraph of all he said:Of course, these calculations about a spare £700 million are a pipe dream; we know that we cannot have it. We are not going to behave in an irresponsible way. It is true that we are looking for a cut of £100 million in Government expenditure, and defence may well have to find part of that; but it won't find it all. By and large, we shall go on carrying our second rifle.In between his first reference to £700 million and his last reference he mentioned £700 million no fewer than five times in six lines. What is the point of mentioning £700 million in line 4, £700 million in line 5, £700 million in line 8, £700 million in line 9, and £700 million in line 14? What is the point of this constant repetition unless the right hon. Gentleman wants the public to get the idea that £700 million is a possible cut?
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
The right hon. Gentleman has created a remarkable, not pipe dream, but phantasy out of my speech. What I was trying to say to the foreign correspondents was that this country was carrying so great a burden that it was an unfair attack upon our economy. I was trying to show that this second rifle we carried—this high percentage greater than that of many other countries—showed the fundamental strength of our economy and that we were able to carry that burden. The right hon. Gentleman has misrepresented me and has done it on purpose.
§ Mr. Brown
The hand-out is described not as a 'phantasy but as a pipe dream. The phantasy applies to what the right hon. Gentleman is now saying. If he thinks that that is a reasonable interpretation to put on this document, I suggest that he gets a copy before the debate is over and reads through it. I will be here while he reads the parts which support his contention and do not support mine. I will even give him my copy now to look at.
§ Mr. Brown
This is now following the pattern of the last occasion. The right hon. Gentleman says that I am purposely misrepresenting him. Even my motives are impugned. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] If that is how hon. Members opposite want defence to be dealt with, it is no use the right hon. Gentleman saying that he wants defence to be dealt with in a non-partisan way. If he wants it that way he can have it. He has been caught out; he started something which has run away with him. He knows that as well as I do. I suggest that he had better talk to his advisers on public relations. Talk to the Chancellor of the Duchy, have a word with him about what one ought to do when one is caught out.
The fact remains that if he did not want the foreign Press to take the view that we were spending £700 million more than it was good for us to spend I cannot think why he should take the trouble to issue a hand-out which deals with nothing else and which ends with the last time he mentions £700 million as the figure.
§ Mr. Speaker
The right hon. Member should remember that he is addressing the Chair. I do not want to borrow his copy.
§ Mr. Brown
I am not surprised at that, Sir, nor, I expect, do hon. Members opposite want to do so.
From the first £700 million pipe dream the thing has been changed to £350 million and £500 million in the Observer and in The Times on the day when the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence came back from America. He has now said at the airport and, with a little assistance from us here the other night, that these figures belong to the geophysical year. He has been very hard on the right hon. Gentleman who has fed him. That really is biting the hand that feeds you, biting it twice in one week.
The Prime Minister is still taking a different line about this from that taken by the Minister of Defence. I heard the Prime Minister at the English-Speaking Union the other night. He was on television. The whole impression that the Prime Minister has given is a determination to convince the country that large cuts are about to be made and are round the corner.
I am attacking this not so much just to score points—although I like doing that—as because it is part of the neutralist build-up which has followed the sense of let-down over Suez. It is part of the business of, "Things have gone wrong, let us chuck them away." We ought to have from the Prime Minister today—and I hope that we shall have it—an entirely different approach. Given our foreign policy at any time, our defence policy at that time must be the means, largely, by which we have that foreign policy.
The job of the Minister of Defence and of his right hon. Friend is to present to the House and the country now the kind of defence policy which, first, they are prepared to pay for and, secondly, which their foreign policy requires. If they are not prepared to pay for the relevant defence policy it is their job to change their foreign policy. We cannot 1292 talk about whittling down defence costs unless we go back to the policy which makes those defence cuts realistic and necessary.
§ Mr. Osborne rose—
§ Mr. Brown
I am quite good at giving way, but I do not want to take more time than is necessary. I shall listen to the speech of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) later.
I ask the Minister—or the Government as a whole if he has not had time to get briefed on this, and as the Government as a whole are responsible—do they stand by the statement of objectives in paragraph 8 of last year's White Paper? That commits us, virtually, to three grounds of possible war and three quite different kinds of arms and forces. The three possibilities are: the ultimate deterrent and our ability to play our part in a global war; a limited war short of that, but quite probably nuclear, although thermonuclear weapons would not be used; and a police action or limited war —colonial operations, and so on—involving forces conventionally armed, but probably not nuclear at all.
If we are still facing those three things then three quite different forces are being planned for, and in that case all the recent talk is a little off the beam. The Minister of Defence must start from that. If we are to do all those three I see the argument and I will be quite frank about that. Let us face it, they have all to be done 100 per cent. There is no virtue in doing any of them less than 100 per cent., unless we are going to run the risk of stationing our troops somewhere—it may be in Germany—like sacrificial tethered goats because they have not the necessary arms. There is no point in planning for the forces unless we have the arms and mobility to go with them. If we do not want to pay 100 per cent. for all these three things the Minister has to say so. I hope that this afternoon he will say which of them he is going to give up. Are we concentrating on one, or two, of these things?
The right hon. Gentleman must grasp the nettle of the H-bomb. This is something which involves enormous emotion. Those of us whose melancholy job it is to talk about these frightful machines of war must not be assumed, because of that, to have any more love for them than anyone else, or to have less desire 1293 for multilateral decision to get rid of them. But, so long as that is not so, I think that the Minister has to say whether we are going on with our deterrent ourselves or are we not?
If we have the H-bomb are we to rely on that alone? Are we to plan for that to deter wars and to plan rather less to fight them? Although to many people that is an attractive argument, which I saw well argued in The Times the other day, it frightens me. The logic is that every single major move becomes a decision to surrender, or suicide for the Cabinet of the day. It means that the Cabinet has to sit down before dawn to decide whether to surrender because it has nothing on the ground with which to meet the attack, or to order the mass destruction of London and other cities by ordering the use of the ultimate weapon to be dropped on the cities of the aggressor. It is a terrible decision.
I find it extremely terrifying to picture myself as a member of a Cabinet which might have to make the decision and very uncertain what the decision should be. Although this emotion about having the deterrent. Armageddon or nothing, must be attractive, I think that the more we look at it the less attractive it becomes. One would be inviting the aggressor always to make a move in sufficient strength simply to face us with that alternative, relying upon our unwillingness as a democracy ever to face the alternative. He would nibble more and more until we finally stood naked against the last bastion and had to put the suicide weapon into use.
The next question is whether we can do without it and concentrate only on conventionally armed forces and a tactical atomic Army. Like a distinguished general whom we heard recently, I am not sure about the distinction; I am not clear where the one can be said to be distinct from the other. But if we still have visions of retaining influence in the world, if we still have visions of ourselves as the centre, if no longer the mother, of a great Commonwealth of nations, and if we see ourselves influencing the circumstances in which the deterrent might be used, I do not see how we can do without it.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset South)
Do the hon. Members behind the right hon. Member agree with him?
§ Mr. Brown
Does that matter for the moment? Does not the noble Lord see the point here? We each take in our own hands responsibility for our views. This has been discussed by my right hon. Friends many times, and I am confident of the measure of support which I should get.
I do not pretend that I should expect, nor would it be reasonable to expect, every man to hold that view on an issue as emotionally charged as this. This is something on which decisions have to be taken and on which right hon. and hon. Members opposite must answer for themselves. I ask the Minister to tell us what his answer is. I do not think that that is an unreasonable request.
If the answer is that we must have both the deterrent and the shield, as General Norstad has put it since he has been here, then the pipe dream is out and these extravagant ideas of economies must be thrown overboard in fairly specific language by the Minister this afternoon so that Conservative canvassers in the by-election know it as clearly as we know it here.
§ Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)
On a point of order. Is the right hon. Gentleman in order in referring to a speech which was made by the general in question when that general made it very clear to him that he did not wish any of the substance of what he said to be made public?
§ Mr. Brown
Had the hon. Member not butted in, nobody would have known that the general had been here. I referred to the speech he made at the English-Speaking Union the other night, which was televised. I did not refer to a private meeting. I know nothing about a private meeting.
If I am right about all this, then it seems to me that economies come under four heads. I want to refer to them specifically, I hope not at great length, and to ask the Minister to give us some specific answers about them.
First, we can get economies by streamlining the Forces and obtaining greater efficiency, if we take certain decisions. We can get economies by abandoning irrelevant forces, irrelevant arms and 1295 irrelevant commitments. We can get economies to some extent by making mobility and machines replace the use of men. We can get economies by achieving effective pooling of production, development and research among our N.A.T.O. colleagues.
I want to look at what I think are the questions which, if they were answered, could give us those economies. The first concerns supply. I deliberately take this first rather than the usual order, which is to put the Armed Forces first, because I honestly believe that this is where the problem begins. It begins with the kind of things which we are trying to develop and provide and our production methods for getting them.
Is the Minister now in a position to give us firm answers about the aircraft industry in this country? There are too many firms, there is too much diversification of effort and too much competition by teams of draughtsmen and technicians, who are very thin on the ground. There is too much competition for tenders and designs. We are wasting an enormous amount of money, and, what is perhaps more important, we are wasting our scarce technical manpower. Until we get a decision one way or another to bring about the concentration and the association of firms one with another, some working behind others in a production line rather than in competition on the first line, we cannot expect to get from this sector the economies which are there to be obtained.
Secondly, is the Minister now ready to tell us something about the cutting out of projects? We have been trying to do too many things. Everybody says it, but nobody deals with it. May I offer one example—fighter aircraft? We have cancelled a large part, if not the whole balance, of the orders for Hunter aircraft. Is not the logic that we ought to decide that we shall not produce fighter aeroplanes of a good enough performance to be available at the time which is relevant to fighter aircraft? Could we now decide to go into the missile field and to stop any further attempt to produce fighter aircraft in this country?
The third possibility is the pooling with others. This, I gather, is what the right hon. Gentleman has been doing in America. I hope that he will take us 1296 more into his confidence this afternoon about what he has done there. There are two matters I particularly want to know about. Is he out buying interceptor missiles only, or has he been engaged in the purchase of long-distance or medium-distance deliverers of the deterrent? If the latter, does that mean that we are buying the first range of American missiles, which will be well out of date by the time their second or third mark comes into production, leaving ourselves outranged by them in the development know-how and the development research and understanding? Or has the right hon. Gentleman taken steps to tie our research and development engineers into a joint effort to produce these missiles in place of manned planes?
Has he made arrangements that we shall share, too, in the production orders which flow from them? In whatever we do about aircraft which is justified militarily, for instance, if we decide not to go for a manned supersonic bomber but go instead for a missile deliverer, we must remember that we still have a civil aviation industry which has to continue to expand and develop and that we still have an electronics industry. Both of those would be cut off from a good deal of developing knowledge and we should have to spend money in that direction to try to make up for it in order to keep ourselves in the forefront on those two industries. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us in some detail exactly what he envisages taking place.
We may save money by buying American missiles and we may save some effort, but if, five or ten years from now, we are a long way behind them and have to try as hard as we can to leapfrog, we must remember that we tried that before and found it a most unrewarding effort. If that is what happens, the decision to buy the missiles may not be a very good decision.
May I turn quickly to the defence Services and put three or four points to the Minister? The first concerns the defence organisation. The Prime Minister, I hope, will permit me to say that I thought he completely fluffed the explanation of the defence organisation changes. I thought that his answers the other day did not make at all clear the difference in the relationships of the Ministers to each other, to the Minister 1297 of Defence and to the House; except that he thinks that he has a stronger personality as Minister of Defence than he has individually among the Service Ministers, and that, therefore, the Minister of Defence would be able much easier to impose his views on them.
That may or may not be true; I do not know. They know better than I do. But is that all it is, and is that enough? Because if the strong Minister of Defence is moved on and one of the weaker Service Ministers is moved up, we shall be no better off than we have been up to now. Would it not be better to make some organisational changes and to give organisational effect to what the Prime Minister seeks to achieve? I ask the Minister to tell us something about that.
I turn, next, to the Navy. Had we not better decide now what the rôle of the Navy is. I have seen references to high-placed officers in the Navy imagining that they can go on conducting a war even after Britain has been catastrophically knocked out by H-bomb warfare. Really, that seems to me to be too silly for words.
What is the rôle of the Navy? Had we not better decide to get the big ships in the Reserve Fleet out of the way altogether? Had we not better decide to write them off and save these vast sums of money spent, for example, to keep H.M.S. "Vanguard" even behind the scenes? Had we not better make up our minds that light carriers—with their 'planes—transport ships, the escort ships and the various ships that go with all that is much more the sort of Navy for which we have the time, the need and the money? If not, let us be told. It seems to me that this is a tenable argument. What I am quite sure is not tenable is to go on trying to have a new-fashioned war machine with an old-time Navy. My suggestion may be the right idea, or it may not. It is a suggestion; I hold no particular brief for it.
What about the R.A.F.? Most of what I have said about supply applies to the R.A.F., but another thing comes clearly from Suez. We have not the capacity to transport either the men or a large part of their supplies and materials, and without that much of what the last White Paper said we were to do becomes a mockery. Where the Beverleys have got to, I do not know. They have been on 1298 the stocks for a long time—indeed, before we went out of office—and we still have not a supply of them available.
Is it right to think that part of the trouble is that transport remains with the R.A.F.? Would it not, in fact, be better, the R.A.F. being a fighter-minded Service—I do not mean fighter machines, but the whole act of fighting as against transporting—to take transport from it and let someone else take it over? All these questions were asked last year, but they were not answered. We were then told that the machines were coming, but they have not come.
The Army remains our main source of difficulty and, in many ways, the main source of waste. Here, urgent decisions have now to be made, on which I am prepared to be more specific even than I have been so far. First, there are all these overseas bases and commitments, scattering blocks of the Army all round the world. Had we not better face the fact that, not only the Suez operation itself but our experience of Cyprus as a base, of Libya as a base, makes it quite clear that these bases serve no purpose at all in this connection? We are locking up tens of thousands of men right across the earth's surface in one place and another.
We have 18,000 in Cyprus; 10,000 in Libya; 11,000 in Hong Kong—groups here and there which would, as we have seen from Suez, have no part to play in any operation for which we would be trying to form our Armed Services. Had we not better face the politics of the times and give up those bases, and, in giving them up, really get back to the idea of a highly-mobile strategic reserve here and in Germany which would be available, and much more readily available, to do that job than are these locked-up bodies of men? We had to do something like that in the case of Suez.
Secondly, what about cuts in the Services? There has been the Hull Committee's Report. There have been extensive reports in The Times about that, but we are not allowed to see it here. It is not published, but The Times correspondent must have seen it, or must have had an extensive hand-out, because he does not talk in guesses but of what is in the Report. He says that it recommends a 10 per cent. cut and, in particular, cuts in War Office and command 1299 staffs. What is the truth about that? Is that, in fact, being done? We should follow that up.
Thirdly, there is civilianisation. The T.U.C. gave some advice to the Government on this the other day and I hope that that advice is being listened to. There is here an enormous field, as General Gale said in that article of his. Here, let me make it quite plain that I think that all this argument about whether or not an officer who is retiring, and is in the middle of his 56 days' retirement leave, is entitled to behave like a retired officer seems petty and small.
It really does not matter whether his observations are made inside or outside of those 56 days. The point is that he is in the best position of all for his arguments to be significant and relevant, and we should pay attention to what he has said. He said that we could do a lot by bringing home bases, facilities, bringing home dumps; and by bringing home facilities for repairs now being done in Germany; some by German civilian labour—thereby adding to our exchange problems—and some by Service labour. We could bring many of them back here, have the work done by civilians at lower cost, and in large part keep the men supplied by transport from this country. Is the Minister getting down to that job?
I come next to National Service. Obviously, the main question here is that of the maintenance of National Service. It is National Service that makes the Army so costly, so inflexible and so immobile. We, on this side, believe that until a decision is taken on policy grounds to get rid of National Service, many of the other decisions that will raise the efficiency and purpose of our Services will never be taken.
National Service cannot continue. It is already being discontinued. What is gradually coming in its place is that some men are to do all the service on a compulsory basis for two years while nobody else does any service at all. We are reaching that position now. It is not, therefore, an argument about it being national or not, but about whether or not to raise an Army of this size by compelling some people to go in.
I see the argument that it helps to close the gap, but I also see that as long as the 1300 gap is closed in that way, just so long will the whole idea of having compulsory recruits in the Services continue, and so long as we have a compulsory service intake just so long will we have the transit problems, the training problems, all the administrative problems that give rise to the size of the Army itself and other problems. Once we get away from that, many other things become easier.
Selective service I reject—and we, as a Labour Party reject—because it is unfair. This country has never accepted National Service permanently for all of us, and I am quite sure that it would not accept it for a few. Apart from the unfairness, the fact remains that no matter how the service is made selective it will be very difficulty to administer. If it is done by a draft by ballot, how will we make sure that we get the cross-section of the people with the sort of backgrounds, and trainings and skills that we want?
If it is not done by draft ballot, is it proposed to take out of industry the very people of whom, in many cases, we are short in industry? Of course, the gap will exist. What do we propose? Let us get it quite clear so that we can know what we are arguing about. The last Minister of Defence said that in his view National Service was the largest single contributor to the failure to recruit more Regular soldiers, and that so long as it continued so would that difficulty continue. I saw a leader in The Times today —it may be quoted against us—which said that if we ended National Service tomorrow we would, at the end of three years, have only 100,000 men to deal with all our commitments.
That is not what we propose. We suggest that this should be ended, as we said last July, in a phased four-year operation under which we would decide, after proper consultation with N.A.T.O. and the Western European Union, to ensure all our other commitments being honoured in that respect—and assuming one was then in a position to go ahead—to end National Service. Two years from now we would call up no more. Four years from now the last National Service man would go out. Five years from now the last three-year recruit would go out. The operation would therefore, take not three years but five years from beginning to end. On the figures given in The Times, which I do not dispute, we would, 1301 at the end of five years, have an Army of about 130,000.
That figure assumes no improvement in recruiting in the meantime. But if we have got rid of the major obstacle to recruiting one assumes that that, by itself, will give a regular Army with higher status, higher prestige, and some additional recruits. There would be additional recruits if we started now doing something seriously about better accommodation, better training and better employment of the fellows in the forces. We would be able to do that, because there would not be the mass of men to look after. If we started now to negotiate about their future status and so on when they come out of the forces so that they were a little clearer about it, it is certain that we could expect a further increase in the rate of recruiting. We might have to pay more for it in additional pay, and we should have to pay what is required.
It seems to us that, on the figures that have been deployed, an Army of something like 170,000, or a little less, could meet the commitments we now have, pared down in the way I have been talking about, such as cutting the N.A.T.O. army to 60,000, which everybody who knows anything about it seems quite sure could be done, provided that we do the supplying by air from home, that we bring the tail back here and civilianise the bases and workshops.
I want to ask the Minister, who has spoken to General Norstad, if he has put to him the proposition that if we maintain an Army of 60,000 men with our commitments there, without reducing our fire power or our front line power, and allowing for reductions behind in transport, supply by air and in civilianisation, whether the General would be as worried about it as he has expressed himself before. If we did all these things, we could have an Army of something like 170,000 with which to meet all these commitments. On these figures, we could get 130,000, plus the additional recruits which our policy enabled us to recruit. There would be a gap, but nothing like the gap that we have been talking about. It would be small, according as we are prepared to pay to get the additional recruits, but the benefit that ought to be set against whatever gap then existed would be that all the other policy decisions—which cannot be taken with an Army of over 1302 200,000 men in this country due to National Service—all these decisions then could be taken.
As I usually do, I have taken longer than I had intended, and I hope the House will forgive me, but these are not arguments that can be deployed off-hand. If one is not careful to deploy them, there is the risk of misrepresentation afterwards, so I apologise for the time I have taken. I have tried to present to the Minister, not our programme by any means, but some of the things which it seems to me his colleagues in the past have dodged, some things which ought to have been tackled but which have not been tackled, and some of the things with which the Minister himself must deal if his "new look" defence policy is to be more than mere words. I think we must regard the Government's record after being in power in the past five and a half years as a failure on defence as absolute as that of the Chamberlain and Baldwin Governments before them. The Minister has proclaimed his intention to put it right in what little time may be left to him. I do not wish him anything but luck. I hope the suggestions I have made of the concrete things to which he must now turn his mind may assist him in the process.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:welcomes the intention of Her Majesty's Government to meet the essential needs of defence, and our Commonwealth and international responsibilities, while reducing expenditure and demands upon manpower".I welcome this debate at an early stage after my appointment to this office, and I thank the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) for the good wishes which he expressed to me. I agree with him that we have reached a turning point in defence when large decisions must be taken.
In addressing myself to the task of reviewing our defence policy. I should like straight away to make it clear that I am not by any means starting from scratch. Before I took over, my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) had done a great deal of work on this problem and had formulated a number of definite proposals. All this is going to be an 1303 enormous help to me; and I wish fully to acknowledge my indebtedness to him.
The Motion moved by the Opposition raises two main issues. The first is the allegation of wastefulness and inefficiency in the past. The second is the much wider question of the pattern of defence policy in the future. I shall do my best to reply to the main criticisms that have been made of past Administrations, and the points that I do not cover will be answered, as far as possible, at the end of the debate by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air.
I propose, however, and I believe it would be the wish of the House, to devote the major part of my remarks to the problems of the future. Hon. Members will, I am sure, not expect me yet to be in a position—and I think the right hon. Member for Belper indicated it himself —to announce firm conclusions. Nevertheless, I think the House might like me to indicate in general terms our broad approach to the problem.
The basic responsibility of any Government is to protect the lives and independence of its people. Decisions on defence policy are at all times grave and difficult. This has been especially true in the years since the war. It has been a period in which there have been phenomenal advances in the development of weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, the international scene has been continuously shifting.
I believe that successive Governments, Labour and Conservative alike, have sincerely striven to shape and adjust their policies to meet the changing situation. Looking back, I do not suppose that either party would claim that it made no mistakes. Let us by all means discuss those mistakes and seek to benefit from our experience. But I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that we should not be serving the best interests of the country by seeking to make defence a party political issue.
The Motion points out that a very large sum of money has been spent on defence in recent years. Nobody will dispute that, but I do not think it is at all true to say that this money has been wasted. Despite the rapid growth of Soviet military power, the free world has come through these critical years in safety. In 1951, no one felt sure that the fighting 1304 then raging in Korea was not going to trigger off a Third World War.
Today, though peace rests uneasily upon a balance of fear, the imminent prospect of war has undoubtedly receded. This improvement, I believe, is due in large measure to the growing strength and solidarity of the Atlantic Alliance, to which, with the exception of the United States, Britain has made a bigger contribution than any other nation.
It is of course possible, even easy, to point to failures in particular items of equipment. In aircraft production, for example, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, we have met with several very serious disappointments. But I do not believe that that is a subject which it is profitable to debate on party lines, for the simple reason that the period of gestation of an aircraft may be anything from seven to ten years, and that is longer than the average lifetime of a Government. This accounts for the fact that all the aircraft which came into service during the period of the Labour Government were initiated under the war-time Coalition Government. Similarly, all the aircraft which have come into service under the Conservative Government are types initiated by the Labour Government. As Minister of Supply, I introduced a number of improvements in development and production procedure, with the object of saving time and money; but, although three or four years have gone by, it is even now still too soon to see results.
In this complex technical field I do not claim, in the light of subsequent experience, that we might not have taken some decisions differently. Of course we might. But I am sure that the party opposite cannot reasonably claim that they made no mistakes. I have no wish to rake over the past, but, in view of the quite severe criticisms of a rather general and sweeping kind which the right hon. Gentleman made, I feel obliged to draw attention to certain points which he seems to have overlooked when criticising our backwardness in aircraft production.
The first is the decision of the Labour Government, when they came into office after the war, not to make supersonic research aircraft. That decision, I believe, is perhaps the primary reason why the United States, which is behind Britain in some of the more advanced types of subsonic civil aircraft, has established such 1305 a big lead over us in supersonic military planes. Another mistake to which I feel I must allude, and from which we are still suffering, was the failure of the Labour Government during their six years of office to initiate any research into guided missiles of the long-range ballistic type. It is not, therefore, surprising that we are now a long way behind both the Americans and the Russians in that vital work.
As regards the amount of money spent, I think it is fair also to remind the House, and particularly hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the foundations of our defence programme were laid down by the Labour Government. In September, 1950, they announced a programme of £3,600 million, spread over three years. In January, 1951, they increased this to £4,700 million, spread over the same period, that is, an average of nearly £1,600 million a year. At present prices, that would be the equivalent of about £2,000 million a year. Seeing that this programme was more than our economy and our manpower could carry, the Conservative Government, on taking office, cut it down and spread it over a longer period.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne) rose—
§ Mr. Sandys
I have a good deal which I want to say, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me.
Looking back now, it is probably true that we ought to have cut back the Labour Government's defence programme more drastically and more quickly. While it may be fair criticism that we did not cut down the Labour Government's programme more quickly and more drastically, I think it is hardly for hon. Members opposite to make it.
§ Mr. Sandys
The criticism is that we have not brought our defence expenditure down to within the compass of our economy. That was the whole purport of the right hon. Gentleman's speech.
§ Mr. Sandys
If the right hon. Gentleman does not think that we are spending more than the economy can reasonably bear, then I should be glad if he would say so.
§ Mr. Brown
What I ask the right hon. Gentleman to do is to see that the figure he spends—I did not say what the figure should be—should be relevant to our needs. My criticism was to show that the figure he is now spending is not, and unless he answers certain specific questions, any figure will still be irrelevant.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not understand.
In an endeavour to keep the cost of defence within bounds, we have each year pruned back the programme still further. Yet despite those efforts, military expenditure, as we all know, has gone on creeping up all the time. Before deducting American aid and the German contribution to support costs, the total expenditure for which we originally budgeted in the present financial year was about £1,600 million. If the programme as planned a year ago were allowed to roll on unchanged, the defence bill during the coming year would be over £1,700 million. I mention that merely to show that we should need savings of the order of £100 million just to keep level.
That is one of the reasons why I have given—the right hon. Gentleman referred to this—several warnings against expecting vast and immediate cuts. [An HON. MEMBER: "So did the Prime Minister."] Let us not go back over that; the right hon. Gentleman took my right hon. Friend's speech completely out of its context.
I have seen it suggested that defence expenditure is now going to be halved overnight. Others have raised the hope that defence cuts are going to knock several shillings off the Income Tax in a few weeks' time when my right hon. Friend opens his Budget. All that, of course, is wishful thinking.
If big reductions are to be made in military expenditure, this will, of course, as the right hon. Gentleman quite rightly said, involve big changes in policy. If these changes are to be introduced smoothly, without creating chaos and demoralisation in the Services, the process is bound to take a certain amount of time.
The level of defence expenditure is, to a large extent, determined by the number 1307 of men in the Forces. Without savings in manpower, we shall never get substantial savings in money. The Motion calls on the Government to abolish National Service. In so far as it is consistent with the needs of defence, it is the Government's firm aim to end the call-up as soon as practicable. How soon that will be depends on how much we can reduce the total numbers now in the three Services, and on how far we can step up the rate of voluntary recruitment.
We have at present 645,000 men in the Armed Forces. They include 390,000 Regulars, but over 100,000 of these are what are known as three-year men, many of whom would, very likely, not have enlisted if there had not been National Service. Since the introduction of improved conditions of pay a year ago, there has been some increase in the rate of recruiting and in the numbers who have prolonged their engagements. That is most welcome, but we shall need much more than this.
While economy is both vital and urgent—and I believe nobody on either side of the House will under-rate that—my first responsibility is for defence. I should like to make it clear in this first debate in which I take part as Minister of Defence, that I do not intend to slash about indiscriminately, lopping off bits and pieces here and there wherever it is easiest. My task is to reshape the forces, not to mutilate them. Any reductions we make must be part of a coherent plan and one which makes sense militarily as well as financially.
Above all, we must take account of the realities of today. The first of these realities is that the power of defence is, for the time being, at a very low ebb, in relation to the power of attack. The whole balance has been upset by the development of the hydrogen or megaton bomb. The American Strategic Air Force is now in a position to carry bombs, the destructive power of which is hundreds of times greater than the one dropped at Hiroshima, and I think it is wise to assume that the Russians could do much the same. Atomic weapons of the power of the Hiroshima bomb are now regarded as primarily suitable for tactical use by troops in the field.
The increased power of the bomb has entirely altered the situation. However 1308 efficient our defences, it is inconceivable that they could provide 100 per cent. immunity against air attack, and if only half a dozen nuclear bombers got through, they might, in a single raid, cause incalculable death and devastation over enormous areas.
I am referring to attacks by manned bombers. Flying at altitudes of over 50,000 feet, at speeds close to that of sound, they are, in all conscience, difficult enough to bring down. But we are now entering a new phase in which we may quite soon be open to attack by ballistic rockets.
After the war, the Russians took over the German rocket establishments and compelled German scientists to work for them. There is every reason to believe that the Russians have been developing a much enlarged version of the German V.2 rocket, but with the enormous difference that it would now carry a nuclear warhead. The range of these rockets is probably sufficient to reach Britain from launching points within Soviet-controlled territory. These projectiles would rise to a height of over 100 miles into the stratosphere and travel at speeds of over 5,000 miles an hour.
So far no weapon has ever been invented to which there was no answer, and I am confident that the ballistic rocket will prove no exception. But it would be absurd to pretend that we shall be quick to evolve an effective defence against this form of attack.
The present superiority of the means of attack over the means of defence, coupled with the catastrophic consequences of thermo-nuclear war, virtually determine the course we must follow. We have got to see that it never happens. The central theme of our policy must be to concentrate our military effort upon prevention rather than defence.
There is no doubt that now, and probably for a long time ahead, the peace and safety of the world will depend upon the atomic deterrent, that is to say the power to meet attack by instant and devastating retaliation. I have seen it suggested that we should leave this field exclusively to the United States and that Britain should not waste its limited resources on making atomic and hydrogen weapons.
1309 As a result of brilliant scientific research, initiated under the Labour Government, a British atomic bomb was successfully developed. These are now in steady production and the Royal Air Force already holds a substantial stock of them.
Furthermore, we have now almost completed the development of the first British megaton bomb. In the present state of the world I cannot believe that any British Government would feel it right to throw away at this stage all that has been accomplished in this respect. All this is, of course, bound up with the question of disarmament. But, in the absence of international agreements on disarmament we must deal with the situation as it is today.
But, as a means of preventing war, the possession of nuclear air power is not necessarily by itself a fully effective deterrent. In addition, the frontiers of free Europe, in particular, must not be left undefended. Otherwise, the Soviet Union, either directly or through the agency of a satellite, might be tempted to grab or absorb some neighbouring territory, believing that, if it could quickly produce a fait accompli, the Western Powers would hesitate to start a nuclear war.
We and our Allies in N.A.T.O. have, therefore, got to maintain well-equipped forces along the Iron Curtain. They are needed to perform two essential functions. The first is to make it plain that aggression will meet with the instant resistance of the combined forces of the Western Alliance, backed, if need be, by the full power of nuclear retaliation. Their second function is to prevent Europe from being over-run during the time needed for the retaliatory power to be brought into operation and for its effects to be felt.
That is a gigantic combined operation, in which all the allied nations must play their part. We have no thought of shirking our fair share of the burden. On the other hand, we cannot any longer bear more than our fair share.
With the exception of the United States, Britain has devoted to defence a higher proportion of her resources than any other country in N.A.T.O. What is more, we are at a disadvantage in that unlike our European Allies we have to maintain most of our N.A.T.O. forces outside our 1310 own country. This faces us with a particularly awkward balance of payments problem. We are at present considering what should be the size of the force that we can reasonably maintain on the Continent. This is a matter which is to some extent governed by treaty. I can give an assurance that before we make any changes there will naturally be the fullest consultation with our partners in N.A.T.O. and in the Western European Union. Our proposals and the reasons for them will be explained to both bodies very shortly. In the meantime, the House will not expect me to go into details.
The North Atlantic Alliance was created to deal with the most threatening danger, on our doorstep in Europe; and it has become woven into the fabric of all our thinking about defence. But Britain is also a member of other regional systems whose purpose is to resist encroachment and infiltration by Communists from other sectors of the Communist perimeter.
The Bagdad Pact constitutes a most valuable element of cohesion in a highly unstable part of the world. It is very significant how well the Pact has stood the strain of recent months. The South East Asia Treaty Organisation provides another powerful regional alliance in an area where Britain has special interests. For these reasons, we must continue to make a substantial contribution to both these defensive systems.
In considering what forces we can afford to station in those areas, it is also right to take into account that they will normally be available, not only to support our Allies in the Bagdad Pact and in S.E.A.T.O., but also to discharge tasks of keeping order and preserving peace in overseas territories for which Her Majesty's Government have responsibility.
Our prime responsibility is, of course, for the protection of these islands. I have spoken of the importance of building up the allied deterrent which, if it is made sufficiently strong, offers an extremely good prospect of preventing war altogether.
When we have settled what contribution Britain should make to the deterrent, we have to ask ourselves whether we should, in addition, provide other forces which do not directly contribute to the deterrent but which would be desirable for waging major war should the deterrent fail.
1311 We must, as far as possible, resist the temptation to dissipate our limited resources on forces which in themselves have no deterrent value; for to that extent we should be reducing the contribution we can make to the prevention of war.
One of the most difficult questions is to decide how much of our effort should be devoted to the air defence of Britain. I shall not attempt to give an answer this afternoon, but I would like to indicate some of the courses which are open to us.
One course is to try, as in the past, to provide fighter protection over the whole of the British Isles. However, I think it is difficult to reconcile this policy with the knowledge that it is virtually impossible to stop some bombers getting through and that with nuclear weapons these would be able to blot out large areas of our country.
As an alternative, we might confine the task of our fighters to a more limited role, to that of protecting our power of retaliation, upon which the prospects of peace so largely depend. If the nuclear deterrent is to be effective, the potential aggressor must be convinced that he could not reasonably hope by surprise attack to knock out the allied bomber forces before they could take off. In so far as there exist effective means of protecting our bomber bases, this task must rank as part of our deterrent, and as such must be given high priority.
§ Mr. Frank Beswick (Uxbridge)
The Secretary of State for Air admitted at Question Time today that the responsibility of Fighter Command could only be discharged on five days a week, and that, since the Royal Auxiliary Air Force is being disbanded, there are now no operational fighter stations in this country on Saturdays and Sundays.
§ Mr. Sandys
I am not going into that. This system of defence does not depend upon the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
The question is how far our means of air defence would, in fact, be effective against the means of attack available to Russia. It is true that our fighters would not be able to give the country as a whole immunity from fearful devastation. On the other hand, they should be able to interfere considerably with enemy attacks upon our airfields and thereby 1312 enable a good proportion of our bombers to take off and deliver the counteroffensive.
§ Mr. Sandys
I am coming to that. I know that the hon. Member takes a great interest in rockets.
When the Russians are in a position to bombard this country accurately and on a massive scale with nuclear rockets, we shall have to consider whether it is worth while retaining fighter aircraft at all. But until we are sure that the Russians are, in fact, so far advanced, it would be irresponsible to neglect such means as are available to protect our deterrent power, this power which may play such a big part in the prevention of war.
However that may be, it is quite clear —and I agree about this—that ultimately the threat to this Island will come not from manned bombers, but from nuclear ballistic projectiles. It is similarly clear that in the future the effectiveness of our deterrent power will also depend upon the possession by us of these weapons.
Our assessment of the likely rate of progress of these new developments must greatly influence our future programme of research and production. The right hon. Gentleman referred to that. In particular, it is bound to affect our decisions on such questions as whether we should develop more advanced types of fighters and bombers, or whether we should assume that, by the time these more advanced types can be introduced into service, they will have been superseded by rocket weapons, both for the defensive and offensive roles. It is largely a question of one's estimate and assessment of the timetable on both sides.
In any case, it is evident that we must give the highest priority to the development of these new weapons and their introduction at the earliest moment. It is here that co-operation with the United States is of such importance. By the steps we have taken to integrate more closely our scientific effort, we are saving not only money, but, what is more vital still, time.
The United States are in many fields of military research well ahead of us, and that is not surprising, since they are 1313 able to put into it many times more money and scientific effort than we can afford. But there is no doubt that the British scientists and technicians are putting into the common pool of ideas and invention an extremely valuable contribution, which is very much recognised and appreciated on the other side of the Atlantic.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we were attempting too many research projects. That is a criticism which has been frequently made and there is a great deal of justification in it. Perhaps the most important advantage of the closer co-operation with America is that it will make it possible for us to concentrate our more limited resources upon a smaller number of projects, instead of spreading our effort too thinly over too wide a field.
I understand that there have been rumours in the Australian Press that, without consulting the Australian Government, I have offered the United States facilities for the use of the Woomera range. I can say to the House that there is no vestige of truth whatever in that story.
§ Mr. Sandys
That is a very good reason for my not making a suggestion of that kind. Throughout my talks in Washington, not a single word was said about the use of the Woomera range by the United States. In this connection, I should like to make it clear that the possibility of the adoption by Britain of certain American types of guided rockets does not in any way reduce our great interest in the unique facilities offered by the Woomera range, to which we continue to attach the very highest importance.
I turn now to the Navy. In considering how big a Navy we need and what should be its rôle, we have to ask ourselves a number of extremely difficult questions, to which I am not going to volunteer the answers today.
Should we look to the Navy to provide an element in the deterrent? In other words, do we contemplate the use of carrier-borne aircraft as part of our nuclear bombing effort? To what extent should we provide naval forces for rôles which do not contribute directly to the 1314 deterrent? In particular, how much effort should we devote to providing naval forces to protect Atlantic communications against the threat of Soviet submarines?
The importance to be attached to these tasks depends upon our view of the likely course of a full-scale nuclear war. Views about that are bound to differ. How soon after the outbreak of such a war do we think we might expect that shipping across the Atlantic could be resumed? After the initial nuclear attack, would the harbours of Britain and Western Europe still be usable? Have we to assume that when the first all-out atomic phase was over, there would follow a second phase—sometimes described as broken-back war—in which operations at sea would play a prominent part? Alternatively, if we had won the nuclear battle in the opening round, would we have to provide for the possibility as has been suggested that Soviet submarines would try to carry on the war on their own? Finally, if it is doubtful whether convoys could get through, would it be feasible to go in for a policy of stockpiling?
These problems are all concerned with operations at sea in global war in the Atlantic, but, in addition, we have to consider what naval forces we need for more limited operations and other duties in distant theatres. There, by virtue of its strategic flexibility and its mobile air-power, the Navy undoubtedly has an important rôle to play. The more we reduce our overseas garrisons for economic or political reasons, the more must we look to the Navy to protect our interests in those areas with their ships and floating airfields. I am talking now of duties unconnected with the global war in the Atlantic to which I have been referring.
§ Mr. Sandys
I cannot deal with everything in the course of a speech. I have been trying to draw attention to the sort of extremely difficult questions we have to ask ourselves and to which, whether we like it or not, we have to provide answers before we can come to any conclusion as to what the coherent military plan is going to be. It is not a bad thing sometimes, before announcing some very 1315 difficult and awkward decisions, as we shall have to do before very long, to ask the House of Commons to address its mind to the problem. That is what I am doing today.
The right hon. Member for Belper referred to the powers of the Minister of Defence. I can assure him, and others who have raised this point in the last week or two, that, as a result of the instructions given by the Prime Minister, about which he made an announcement. I have all the authority that I need. What is far more important, I have got, and I am convinced that I have got, the full and active co-operation of my colleagues in the Service Departments and of the Chiefs of Staff.
Furthermore, in tackling this vital national task, it will be my aim and hope to earn the confidence and understanding of hon. Members in all parts of the House. We have to reshape Britain's defence policy, in the light of the economic realities of our domestic position and of the military realities of this atomic age.
I believe that there is a wide measure of agreement on the basic principle which should inspire us. It can be summed up in a single sentence. We must concentrate our defence effort, not on preparations for war, but on measures to prevent it—not on planning for victory, but on the protection of peace.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Beswick (Uxbridge)
I cannot think that any man or woman, in reading the speech which the Minister of Defence has just made, will get any comfort at all about the defence of the country. The right hon. Gentleman said that the responsibility of defence was the protection of the people of these islands, but it is quite clear from what he has said that we are not now in a position to discharge that responsibility. I listened carefully for some positive or constructive contribution from his speech, but it seemed to me that it was a mixture of platitude, contradiction and defeatism.
On the one hand, the right hon. Gentleman tells us of the necessity for keeping up the conventional protection which Fighter Command can give us, and yet he could not reply to my interjection that in fact the recent cuts made by the Government mean that Fighter Command is operational for only five days a week.
1316 The right hon. Gentleman referred to the necessity for keeping up our defences in various parts of the world, and yet went on to say that if we are to have the necessary ground forces as well as the development of the weapons of the future, we shall need a gigantic combined operation. Certainly we shall need that, and a very expensive operation it will be.
The Minister opened by making one or two party attacks. One of them was an allegation that the reason we have not within sight in this country any medium-range or long-range guided missile was a decision taken by the Labour Government, but if the Labour Government, in the earlier years after the war, had embarked on a large-scale plan of development of these missiles, what then would have been the size of the defence programme and the figure of expenditure, which the Minister himself said was too big when the Conservative Government came into office?
The right hon. Gentleman is careful to try to put the blame for our inadequacies on certain types of aircraft, yet on other occasions he is very ready to accept the credit for the development of the V-class bombers. The fact is that our effort would have become even more bogged down had we embarked on the development and research in connection with these guided missiles which he charged us with having neglected.
It is not difficult to prove that this Government have wasted money—hundreds of millions of pounds—on defence. As my right hon. Friend said, it is one of the most extraordinary facts of our time that a British Tory Government, with all their reputed expertise in military matters, should have spent more money on defence than any other peacetime Government and left us less well protected than at any other time of peace in our history.
One could prove this charge by reference to Fighter Command alone. At the moment we have hundreds of expensive Hunter aircraft, all of them a whole generation behind the MiG 17, which the Russians have, or the F.100 or F.I04 which are at the disposal of our United States allies. It is an aircraft which is beautiful to look at but, we must face it, hopeless in any operation against the modern aircraft which it would have to combat in a major war.
1317 One could prove all this, but it would not get us very far. As the right hon. Gentleman himself said, it does not solve any of the fundamental defence problems that are pressing upon us. Moreover, I do not believe that it is a problem simply of getting down our defence bill, necessary as that is. If, moreover, we find out and eliminate the reasons why it takes us so much longer to produce an operational aircraft; if we cut out bases such as Libya and reduce our Forces in Hong Kong; if we succeed in combing the tail and sharpening the teeth of our ground forces, I still do not think we will have found the answer for which the majority of people in this country are groping. I still do not think we shall have given any assurance of security to our people. I still do not think that we shall have satisfied that vague but deep-seated uncertainty about Britain's future, which is felt today by so many honest people, and which is one of the most important background reasons why the queues of potential emigrants are today so long.
The first thing we have to accept is that in the modern world defence is not simply a matter of military preparation. It is not possible today to divorce defence policy from foreign policy. It may be easier to try to segregate them and deal with them separately, but it will not give us any satisfactory results. It may sound straightforward and tidy to say that the difficult social and political problems should be left to foreign policy experts, but in my judgment the hard physical facts of modern military weapons give those responsible for defence as much right to have a say in foreign policy as the other way round.
If we accuse this Government of failing to provide us with a concrete defence of these islands, the real charge is not that they have provided us with obsolete aircraft, but that they have neglected the possibilities of international action in social, political and economic organisation. It is the grave fact that this Government have wasted money, valuable metals and skilled technical manpower, all of which should have been put to better and more constructive civilian purposes.
But the most serious charge against this Government, however, is that they have squandered so much international good will which we have built up over the 1318 years, and that they have dissipated the influence and prestige which our wartime and post-war record had earned for us.
I hope to indicate in more detail what economic and political defence strategy I have in mind, but let us first consider the physical weapons which have caused this shift of emphasis in defence. As the Minister said, primarily it is a matter of the nuclear bomb. I shall not deal with the horrors or the finality of this weapon of nuclear destruction. I shall not refer to the quickening rate of development which has led us from the 20,000-ton fission bomb of twelve years ago to the 20-million-ton fission-fusion-fission bomb of a couple of years ago. I want to underline the obvious paradox which is at the root of so much of the confusion in the minds of those who are dealing with defence today, and which makes the problem so difficult for both sides of the House, namely, that the more efficient this weapon becomes, the less easily or readily can we plan to use it.
This contradiction has been put in many ways. Three or four years ago I remember quoting in this House what Lewis Mumford said about it. He said:Retaliation is not protection. Total extermination of both sides is not security. A constant state of neurotic fear, of suspicion and hatred, is not freedom. In short what seems unlimited power has become absolute impotence.It seems to me that this same sentiment has expressed itself in the proposals put forward in recent years by many honest and informed men, engaged professionally in military matters. It seems to me significant that since General Ridgway has gone into retirement, he has been writing most powerfully in support of a policy which relies upon conventional weapons. He has now asked that the emphasis of effort should be put not upon nuclear weapons but upon the more conventional weapons. In effect, he is now supporting the plea which so many American scientists just after the war were making, that we should try to bring the battle back to the battlefield.
It is this same general theme which is behind the arguments of Admiral Buzzard and his theory of graduated deterrence. He wants us to concentrate on limited war with restricted weapons. It is this same idea which is to be found in the proposal of Dr. Cockburn, who has put forward the theory of the tacit bomb line. He 1319 wants us to draw white lines around certain sensitive areas of the globe, and to come to a common understanding that the big bombs shall not be dropped behind those lines.
One must understand and appreciate all these laudable and honest attempts to try to make sense of what is inherently the nonsensical situation in which mankind now finds itself. I do not believe that these theories of defence, these proposals for some kind of Queensberry Rules in warfare, will work. I do not think we can guarantee that both sides will keep them. Once national troops are engaged, and once national passions are aroused, once one side is losing a limited war with its first or second grade weapons, it seems to me impossible to say that the losing country would not suddenly turn back to its third grade or ultimate weapons, and launch those.
I could not disagree more strongly with those who, on the other hand, put forward the comforting proposal that because the weapons are so frightful, because we have the means of delivering them to which the Minister referred, the very frightfulness of these nuclear weapons ensures that neither side will use them. This is all very well in the calm and rational atmosphere of a committee, but the atmosphere in a war, or near-war, would be very different indeed. It is argued by some that because nuclear weapons were not used in Korea, and neither were they used in Viet Nam, they will not be used at all, but we came very near to using them in Korea, and we came even nearer to using them when Dien Bien Phu was so bitterly besieged. Who can say that next time we shall not go even nearer the brink, and probably go right over? If humanity suffers an affront such as it suffered over Hungary; if the recent story of Hungary is repeated in Eastern Germany, and if our troops in Western Germany become involved, who can say that the atmosphere will not get so charged that we shall not have to rely upon atomic or nuclear weapons?
When we have these reassurances that the power, the frightfulness and destruction of these bombs are such that no nation will resort to them, it is worth recalling that it was in fact the two most advanced nations in the world—as we like to think—the United States and our- 1320 selves, who took the decision to use nuclear bombs against an enemy who was already putting forward proposals for surrender. When we consider the possibility that someone somewhere might use these weapons if they are available, we are liable to say that it might be some foreign dictator who would take the decision, but it is worth remembering that it was a British Prime Minister who, in some inconceivable temper, made the decision that we should go into action against a country which had not attacked us, even though many of our allies and friends and people in our own country were against the operation.
When it comes to the question of the development of these weapons of destruction, I accept the argument of Mr. Adlai Stevenson, who said that if there is a heap of gunpowder with smokers walking around it one does not say that all is well, that there will be no trouble, because the smokers know full well the consequences of throwing their cigarette ends in the wrong direction. What we should say is that the heap of gunpowder should be taken away immediately. I take the view that we shall be safe from these weapons of ultimate destruction only when they have been taken away and when there is no stockpile under the control of any national State.
Therefore, the first objective of our defence policy ought to be to remove all nuclear weapons from the international landscape. Disarmament today is as much the function of defence policy as it is of foreign policy. Anyone who has followed these matters in recent years cannot but be disappointed and even disgusted with the attitude and policy adopted by the British Government in the recent meetings of the U.N. sub-committee on disarmament. We could have made a start last year in getting controlled, inspected disarmament, if Her Majesty's Government had taken a stand in the meetings of that sub-committee, which were held under the auspices of the United Nations.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Would not the hon. Member agree that disarmament in nuclear weapons would merely put this country—in fact, all countries—back into the era and epoch of conventional warfare, where we would be at considerable disadvantage compared with continental countries?
§ Mr. Beswick
There is something in what the noble Lord says, but the fact of the matter is that all military planning taking place in different parts of the world is designed to see, by less effective means than I am proposing, that we should revert to conventional weapons. They are all saying that they will not use nuclear weapons except as a last resort. It may be the ultimate deterrent. They are all planning to use conventional weapons. That is the argument of Ridgway and others. I believe we should go further than limitation or restriction on the production of nuclear weapons, and I shall take that argument further as I proceed. My charge against the Government defence policy in the first place is that the Government have failed to give a lead to a controlled disarmament plan.
There is another charge I make. I understand the premise that lies behind the attempt to divide wars into local outbreaks and major conflicts. I recognise that there must be some means of keeping peace in the trouble spots, but it is this attempt to have weapons for the different categories of war which has bedevilled arms production, which has helped to increase the cost, and which has led us to try to do too much and do nothing very successfully. My right hon. Friend made that point very strongly, and the Minister of Defence failed to answer it. So long as we endeavour to have all the armaments to fit those different possibilities, so long will Britain be unable to wield its proper influence in the world.
I would draw a different line of demarcation. I should like to have a line of demarcation, but not based on different types of national armaments and not based on any elaborate set of Queensberry Rules. The right hon. Gentleman is Minister of Defence and he should be taking a very wide responsibility in these matters. His responsibility, as he himself defined it, is for the protection of the people in these islands. That being the case, he should insist that there is a demarcation line.
Certainly there are some types of local wars, some trouble spots and areas of friction, which should be dealt with by a special type of army. It is now an absolute necessity for this country to see that for that type of conflict, for that type of peace-keeping operation, there is an international force. I rank high in the 1322 list of priorities the absolute necessity for this country taking the lead in the United Nations for the building up of an international force of that kind.
We talk about bush fires and the necessity for having a national fire brigade to deal with areas like the Arab-Israeli border, or the parallel between North and South Korea. If some international force could have been despatched to those areas, if such a force had been at the disposal of the United Nations, we could have begun to think in terms of some sensible reduction of our national financial liability.
I agree with my right hon. Friend that we cannot allow any one nation to nibble away at our friends and, as Vice-President Nixon put it, eventually nibble us to death. I accept that altogether, but the kind of peace-keeping task for the sort of areas I have suggested, in the Middle East, Korea, or Indo-China, ought now to be the responsibility of an international police force. My charge against the Government is that they have failed to put efforts into achieving that which they put into the military negotiations with the American Government, or with others, or which they put into their recent "go it alone" in the Middle East.
This is a feasible proposition. The Foreign Secretary from time to time has said that we have always been in favour of an international force, but there is nothing to which he can point to suggest that the Government have ever made a real attempt to have one established. I had a letter from the Joint Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, typical of the sort of replies we have from the Foreign Secretary, in which he said that the Government had always thought that an international force would be suitable for the Middle East and that they had discussed the matter with the Americans, but that they feared it would arouse hostility on both sides, and especially of the Israelis. The Israelis are now being asked to accept something far more undignified than the stationing of an international force upon their territory.
Looking back, I think that the Economist was right when it said that we had failed to get the international force which Mr. Trygve Lie asked for so many years ago, because, as the Economist put it, of fecklessness, financial meanness and funk. That seems to 1323 be a good definition of the attitude of Her Majesty's Government in the sphere of international relations. The Foreign Secretary is now going round denigrating the United Nations and making unfortunate personal remarks about the Secretary-General.
If we are serious about defence matters we must remember that we are in more need of the United Nations than any other country. A defence debate which does not give proper emphasis and weight to the possibilities of our national defence through the United Nations is an unrealistic one. The true defence of this country must include a determination to get a disarmament agreement and an effort to create an international force. We have to scale down our military effort so that we can free the technicians and scientists for the work of building up our economic wealth and providing the sort of assistance required in some of the under-developed areas.
I have not spent the time which I might have done in discussing the weaknesses of our military effort. I have not spent the time that I might have done, and which we might well spend in some future Estimates debate, in discussing the mistakes made in the procurement of weapons. I have not done so because I believe profoundly that it does not solve any of the fundamental problems which face both sides of the House. I hold to a profound belief that it is possible for this country to play an important part in building up security in the world, but I do not believe that Great Britain can play that part if we place our first reliance upon military weapons. We must now turn to other policies. It is because I do not believe that Her Majesty's Government have put proper emphasis upon the economic, social and political aspects of defence that I regard the Motion as being justified.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray (Berwick and East Lothian)
The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) began his speech by saying that he derived no comfort from what was said by the Minister of Defence. My feeling is exactly the contrary. I derived considerable comfort from his speech and from his whole approach to this very difficult problem. I liked his theme that defence 1324 came first and economy second. I liked also what he said in regard to economy, namely, that he would not slash about indiscriminately and would seek to reshape the Services and not mutilate them. I also very much liked the emphasis he put upon the production of the rocket.
As a House, we must face the fact that, however much we may hope the deterrent may succeed in saving us from a major war, the fact is that the operations in which we have been engaged in the last ten years have all been operations in which the deterrent did not meet our requirements. If we consider the events in Malaya, the Kenya policing operations, the situation in Cyprus and, finally, the Suez operation, we may say that the existence of the deterrent prevented those wars from growing larger, but the deterrent alone is inadequate for our present purposes.
Equally, we must face the fact that the obsolete or orthodox weapons which we have required in this ten-year period are themselves no contribution to the deterrent effect. What we should like to find is a weapon which is both a deterrent and also useful for a minor policing operation. Such weapons are not easy to find. The only thing that I can think of which is certainly common to both is manpower, and this country alone has not sufficient manpower for it to be a deterrent. We need more.
If we are to keep our expenditure within the bounds that our economy can carry, we must seek to reduce all weapons which can make no contribution either as a deterrent or in the small operations which we have experienced in the last decade. The best example of this is the A.A. artillery defence, which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was very quick to notice during the period when he was Minister of Defence. He quickly saw that it had no use as a deterrent in these days and that it was irrelevant in small overseas operations. He accordingly took suitable action.
I want to examine what other forms of defence come within this category. Obviously fighter defence ranks very high. The Minister of Defence devoted a good deal of his speech to that point. It is clear that when the time comes—and I suppose that come it will—when our potential enemies have developed a rocket which they can project upon us, fighters 1325 will be quite irrelevant as a form of defence. But in the interim period, even in a major war, when one envisages the use of enemy bombers, it will still be necessary to keep a proportion of fighter defence. Even if they cannot protect the whole of these islands, they can at least seek to protect the most vital parts, and especially those places from which we ourselves are preparing to send out rocket missiles.
I turn next to the Royal Navy. Is it, at its present strength in warships, serving a great purpose in the deterrent effect of our armament? Equally, is it necessary for the type of policing operation which we have experienced. Before we come too quickly to the conclusion that there is great room for economy in the Admiralty Vote, we should bear in mind the fact that almost the whole of the Navy was employed in the Suez operation. There was very little to come and go.
We must have our eye constantly upon any obvious threat, and I cannot see far past the obvious threat of 500 Russian submarines. I remember so well when, shortly before the war, a force of German submarines passed through the Channel. I believe that there were fifteen of them, and there was much concern that these might be all too favourably placed against British shipping should war break out. I discussed the matter with a sailor who subsequently became rather a good admiral. He said he was satisfied that the Navy would be able to take care of them, but that fifteen submarines was a great many! It is not fifteen submarines that we are talking, about now but 500 submarines, and the Russians are continuing to build them.
Whatever we may think about the Soviet politically, I have never thought that in military affairs they were foolish. So I do not think we should hasten to dispense with any naval forces which can contribute towards protecting us from the danger of these Russian submarines.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman mean that he thinks that 500 Russian submarines could operate against this island without there being a nuclear war? Unless we can conceive that, I cannot see why we should have elaborate anti-submarine defences. Are we to prepare for a full-scale conventional war without nuclear weapons, as well as for 1326 a nuclear war? I am not trying to make a party point, I am baffled by the argument of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He says that we should do so because the Russians do so. I suggest that if they can make damn fools of themselves, as they did with the Egyptians, they can do it again in preparing for submarine warfare.
§ Sir W. Anstruther-Gray
I appreciate that the hon. Member is not seeking to make a party point. But I am not so self-confident that I am prepared to look upon this supreme Russian effort as being other than a danger when it is concentrated on forces which can only be forces for attack and not defence at all.
Let it be clear that the danger of the 500 Russian submarines is not only a danger to the United Kingdom in terms of food supplies, but it could conceivably be that those submarines might be used as a launching base for a rocket attack on the United States. That being so, I urge my right hon. Friend—I am sure he does not need any undue urging—not to economise too fast in Services that can help to protect the free world against an obvious enemy danger.
Now may I turn to my third point, the Army, and in particular our forces in Germany. I wonder whether it is necessary to maintain those forces at their present level. Indeed, sometimes one is inclined to wonder whether it is necessary to maintain them in Germany at all. Probably the answer to that is that we are bound under treaty. I do not think that we could get other European countries to contribute towards European defence were we to pack up and quit; and were that to happen it would be asking too much of the United States to expect that she would not revert to an island economy and go back across the Atlantic. In that case, in the event of any major operation we should find ourselves in the position in which France found herself in 1940.
Having said that, I must also say that I believe there is room for substantial economies in those forces, and also for substantial reductions. I cannot say whether General Norstad would agree with that remark, but I am encouraged—whether he was right or wrong to say it—by what Sir Richard Gale was reported in the newspapers as having said; that 1327 he estimated an economy of 25,000 to 30,000 men could be made and many bases in Germany could rightly and safely be brought back to this country.
I see that the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) is now in the Chamber. The point in his speech which interested me most was when he emphasised the need for concentrating upon an airlift for the Army and in that way economising greatly in overseas bases. I am sure my right hon. Friend will take full note of that.
I do not wish to go further in stressing particular Army economies, because that is more a matter for a Service debate than for the Minister of Defence alone. But I think he will allow me to refer to one or two points, because it is the fact that Secretaries of State for War have allowed certain extravagances to go on which have been pointed out in the last few weeks. We had the Wolfenden Report on the use of National Service men, in which there was a recommendation that at home depots the work of five National Service men could better be done by three civilians. Then we had the question of the Army Pay Corps. Surely, here is a case where the Minister of Defence might co-ordinate the Pay Corps of the three Services and press ahead with the substitution of machines worked by girls, rather than have men in the Pay Corps doing work which is not really work for fighting men.
Finally, we come to the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates—or was it the Public Accounts Committee?—about the enormous quantities of stores being kept unnecessarily. For that reason, I mention in the hearing of the Minister of Defence these points with which I hope he will urge his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War to deal without delay.
My last point regarding the Army is a much bigger one. It is to try to make a more fundamental and far-reaching change in the idea—I am glad to see that the Secretary of State for War is now in the Chamber—of what is the optimum formation on which to base the fighting Army of today. At present, it is the division, four of which are in Germany. I wonder whether a division is the most economical way of using fighting men. A division carries a long tail, with a lot 1328 of Royal Engineers who are quick to bridge rivers and do that sort of thing. But do we envisage a war which will require that type of operation? Would it not be better to have something smaller and more easily handled, like a brigade group entirely airborne? I have little doubt that in the non-nuclear operations which we must contemplate as being possible in the next few years, such a group would be adequate.
If that idea be accepted, certainly my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence has scope for considerable economies in manpower and in the Army's tail, even if that may mean reducing a good many staffs and getting rid of many elderly officers. I am most reluctant to do a mischief to those who have spent many years doing good service, but we must not allow personal considerations to stand in the way. If we see an opportunity for economy which does not interfere with the vital defence of our country, whatever our personal feelings, we must effect it. Sheltering again behind the assurance of my right hon. Friend that he will not mutilate but will reshape, I guarantee that I will do my best to support him.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)
I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) will forgive me if I do not take up what he said, but I wish to deal with another matter.
The paradox of our time is that the more our country, or any other country, spends on defence the less secure it becomes, both industrially and militarily. It is quite obvious that it is because of the £7,500 million that our country has spent on war preparations since 1951 that we have inflation; because of that we have had a rise in the cost of living; because of that we have fallen behind in the re-equipment of our industry; and because of that we have lost to other countries, less heavily burdened with armaments, markets which should have been ours. Militarily, we have been wasting money. Most of it might as well have been thrown through the windows of the House of Commons into the River Thames.
The atom bombs and hydrogen bombs are effective, but, as the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) once 1329 said, they have made our country more vulnerable than it was. One does not need to be a military genius to understand that if Britain becomes the base from which nuclear weapons are delivered, whether by bombers or by long-range rockets, on other countries she will receive them in return. Before the Government agree to Britain's becoming a rocket launching platform, I hope that they will consult the people and tell them the truth, that if we undertake that rôle we invite mass suicide.
It seems to me that the facts have begun to register with a large number of our people. The fourfold increase in would-be emigrants from our country to Canada since the Suez affair, and notably since 6th November, when it appeared that there was a danger of the "balloon going up", shows that one of the main reasons fir this desire to emigrate is fear among the parents of young families for the future of their children in this island, which would become extremely unhealthy in the event of a third world war.
The cuts in defence which most of us would like to see have been recommended recently in a remarkable series of three articles by Liddell Hart. He deals with various spheres of our defence. Of submarines, he says that except in the event of a long-drawn-out world war without the use of nuclear weapons submarines are practically worthless, and we may as well save the money we spend on them. He makes it quite clear, as the Minister of Defence has himself tended to do today, that fighter aeroplanes are of no use against guided missiles.
As to National Service, Liddell Hart holds, as most of us here do, that it could and should be completely abolished. He examines the question of our forces in the Middle East and says that they could not stand up for long against a Russian move, and that, similarly, our land forces in Europe are of a weak character.
So far, I have been speaking of conventional weapons. The new weapons certainly are all that could be desired from a military point of view, but I would remind the House of the tremendous speech, the greatest that many of us have heard, which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) at the conclusion of our Suez debates, when he said that in the modern society no nation can impose its will 1330 successfully by force on another, and that our society is too delicate for the use of the jackboot.
I maintain that there will be no victors in the next world war except the worms, and, therefore, our object should be not to win the next world war, which it is impossible for any country to do, but to avoid it. The way to avoid it is surely by the lessening of tensions between the nations of the world. One way in which we can secure this lessening of tensions is by the reduction of the arms which exist.
If we take the other course, the alternative, which is to go on as we are doing and compete in the arms race, there can be only one result, because no arms race in history has resulted in anything but a world war; and a world war now would be suicidal for the human race. I would remind hon. Members that as we debate this matter here today there are men and women in Japan dying of leukaemia as a result of a relatively puny atom bomb being dropped twelve years ago.
Ideally, we ought to obtain disarmament by agreement. That is what I am sure every hon. Member wants, but, meanwhile, need we wait? My belief is that if one country had the courage to say, "We will cut our arms by one-third, and, moreover, if you will respond with a cut on your side we will go further," it would break the vicious circle, lead to a lessening of tension and thus make it easier to produce a disarmament agreement between all countries. In other words, I am urging that our country should not enter the arms race, which has gone on for too long, but should start the disarmament race.
There has been a good deal of discussion in the newspapers lately about Britain's greatness. I, for one, believe that Britain can be no longer a great Power militarily. I have no regrets about that. I want to see our country great in the sense of setting an example to the world and helping to produce peace, which is the only defence in the twentieth century. I hope that the Government will follow the lead recently given by the Leader of the Opposition, that there should be mutual withdrawal from the centre of Europe, starting from the centre of Germany. I also believe that this would be strengthened if there were open skies for a thousand miles over the centre of Europe.
1331 I have not come here to defend the Russian Government, because I do not like the Russian Government any more than I like the American Government, which is very little. Our rôle should be to be independent of both. However, I think that last year, by mobilising 1,800,000 men, the Russians did the right thing, and I should like to see Britain and America responding by similar action. If we fail to do that, I fear that there is a danger of our missing the boat and of the Russians reverting to their previous attitude, the tough attitude which existed before the death of Stalin.
§ Mr. James Harrison (Nottingham, North)
My right hon. Friend said that the Russians mobilised. Does he not mean demobilised?
§ Mr. Allaun
If I said "mobilised" I am sorry. I meant "demobilised," because the Russians made two cuts, one of 1,200,000 men and another of 600,000 men, and, in addition, consecutive cuts in their arms total.
Yesterday, there was a visit to this House by General Norstad. I am not allowed to refer to what he said. He made an excellent impression. He is a very intelligent, charming and diplomatic man, and is clearly an expert at his job. His main line was—I think I can refer to this, because it has been made clear through other sources—that we can secure peace—
§ Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
On a point of order. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman should mention what was said at a private meeting in the House yesterday.
§ Mr. Allaun
As I was about to say, that was made apparent by the appearance of General Norstad on television.
The attitude of General Norstad was that we could secure peace through superiority of strength. The Russians also believe that. We cannot both be superior. This position has existed for a number of years and, as we say in Lancashire, "It's just plain daft." When General Norstad comes to ask us to devote more of our manpower and money to war expenditure than we can afford, I hope that our Government will send him back with a flea in his ear.
1332 These military gentlemen, however charming—and we have them in this country—are a menace to society, because they are thinking in this ingrained way that defence can be secured only by military means when, as was stated a few minutes ago, there are superior ways today.
Suppose the policy I advocate were adopted and we reduced our arms expenditure from £1,500 million a year to £1,000 million. What are the two main objections? One, I understand, is that the Russians would occupy our country. The Russians have quite a job occupying Hungary. I do not think that they would like to take on the additional job of repressing 50 million Britons. The second objection is that if we cut our arms expenditure we could not carry out our commitments. If that is the case, we must cut our commitments. These are in Cyprus, Libya, Hong Kong, Germany and other parts of the world.
The first commitment of a Government is to their own citizens. I know the sufferings of the old-age pensioners and the homeless, as other hon. Members must know of them in their own constituencies, and I know that their condition is worsened by the fact that we waste money in this way. Everybody would be better off if we cut our commitments. For instance, in Egypt, if that is a commitment, we might have spent the £20 million on the Aswan Dam. It would have saved many hundreds of millions of pounds in the Egyptian war and its aftermath.
I believe that the ideas I am putting forward are more acceptable today than they were some time ago because, first, of the emergence of the H-bomb, and, secondly, because of the terrible events of last year. I would remind the House that shortly before Christmas 100 hon. Members on this side put their names to a Motion saying that the peace of the world could not be secured by violence and could never solve the problems of this age. When the very existence of mankind is threatened by these weapons the species will, in sheer self-defence, throw up a resistance to being involved in this kind of warfare and will support whatever leadership shows a way of avoiding the disaster.
1333 What could we do with £500 million saving, which is, after all, less than the Prime Minister talked about in his pipe dreams? With £500 million a year saving, which is only one-third of our total arms expenditure, we could raise the old-age pension from £2 to £3 per week, could end the pitiful waiting of people on the housing lists—waiting forever, as things are—could raise the school-leaving age to 16, could re-equip our industries and could spend not 2s. out of every £1, as at present, but more on research. We are spending 18s. out of every £1 on war research. We could afford to spend much more than 2s. in the £1 on peaceful research. We could start to help the underdogs of the world who are living in disgraceful conditions.
We could do these things if we had the moral courage to cut our arms programme by one-third. All we need is the will to do it.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
We have listened to an extremely thoughtful speech from the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun). Whenever I hear him speak I always admire his sincerity and his persistence. I am reminded of a story of the clergyman who was talking to his flock about the devil, and he said, "It would be as well if some of you had his persistence." Not that I am likening the hon. Gentleman to the devil—but I do admire his persistence and his sincerity.
The Motion accuses the Government of wasteful and ineffective expenditure on defence and calls for revised defence plans to ensure greater efficiency, substantial economy and the abolition of National Service. Although this is a censure Motion, these three requisites show to what extent both sides of the House are in agreement on the main facets of this problem. I am sure that we agree just as much as do right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite on the essentiality of greater efficiency combined with substantial economy and the abolition of National Service as soon as this is a practical proposition.
As regards expenditure on defence, it is often difficult to reorient a defence force such as ours when it has been under way in one direction for a good many years. I hoped very much, after the Second World War, that we would be able to 1334 build up our defence forces for the future in the way the Germans did very effectively before the Second World War. A very great difference that I noticed at the time of Dunkirk between the German Army and the French Army was that the French Army had tacked on bits to its old pre-war Army, whereas the German Army—as my right hon. Friend has said that he is going to do in the case of our Army—had been reshaped entirely. That is what I hoped that we would do at the end of the Second World War; but there were circumstances which, I think, would have made it extremely difficult for any Government to have started afresh in that way.
Of course, we know what the difficulties were. There was the advent of atomic power, which had completely altered our whole outlook on defence and things military. There was the very disappointing and hostile attitude of the Russians, who had been our allies throughout the war, which led to our N.A.T.O. commitment, which was such an enormous drain, and is such an enormous drain, on this country. Also, there was this fact, which I always mention when I speak on defence, because it is likely to be overlooked—the loss of our magnificent Indian Army; a great blow to our whole defence set-up of British Commonwealth defence.
I do not think that we always realise that, in addition to all the places which the Indian Army garrisoned in the Middle East and Far East, it could and did provide an expeditionary force of four divisions. That has completely disappeared from our Commonwealth defence set-up and it has added, ever since 1947, a very big burden to our British defence economic and manpower problems.
I feel that peacetime defence planning is much more difficult than defence planning in wartime.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. and gallant Member. As a matter of interest, would he tell us how many divisions India provided in the Second World War?
§ Sir J. Smyth
It provided, I should say, four divisions and probably more, but four to start with. The Indian Army became, as the hon. Gentleman will realise, the greatest voluntary army in the 1335 world during the Second World War. We feel today the loss of that magnificent fighting force both from a manpower and an economic point of view.
§ Mr. Rankin
I was just about to remind the hon. and gallant Member that a few days ago, during the Commonwealth affairs debate, we were arguing that emigration was not really a loss to us because our Commonwealth friends would get it. Does not that apply to the Indian Army?
§ Sir J. Smyth
I do not think that many of our people are emigrating to India. India has such a vast population, as the hon. Gentleman knows—about 400 million people—that even a large number of British emigrants would be merely a drop in the ocean. That would be my answer to that question.
As I was saying before the hon. Gentleman interrupted me. I feel that peacetime planning today is an extraordinarily difficult job for any Government and much more difficult than it is in wartime. In war, we know our enemy and we hope that we know our allies, we see what is being done to us and we can counter it. I believe that the so-called fog of war, to which we used to refer in military parlance, is more impenetrable today in peacetime than ever it was in wartime. I think that the task of any Minister of Defence today is a gigantic and most unenviable one.
As we know, the Labour Government were faced with a big problem after the war and the defence force between 1945 and 1950 was built up on a system of unplanned extravagance. It was built up like the French Army—I have outlined the extenuating circumstances—and bits were tacked on to the Army that we were left with after demobilisation in 1945 as certain eventualities and emergencies arose. Hon. Members will remember the situation which was reached when the Korean War started. Then we had to scrape the barrel to find one brigade even to send out to Korea. That, I think, marked the end of the first postwar phase in the build-up of our defence force.
The Labour Government were, very rightly, completely shocked by our military weakness at that time. As we all 1336 know, they took the most courageous action to combat that situation and embarked upon the most ambitious, and far and away the most expensive, rearmament programme that this country had ever contemplated undertaking in peacetime. We in the Conservative Party supported them in that. As the Minister of Defence mentioned in his speech, the cost of that programme today would have run into about £1,900 million a year had we not taken drastic steps to curtail it.
We have today a defence budget of £1,500 million a year. I would say, quite frankly, that that is about £500 million more than the economy of the country can really stand. I do not say that we can do anything immediately about it, but I hope that within the next two Budgets we shall have been able to reduce that £1,500 million a year to about £1,000 million a year, which is, I believe, a figure that we could bear in Britain.
The British defence force has been and must always be a compromise between what we think is absolutely necessary for our security and what we can afford. We could very well spend £3,000 million a year on defence. Yet, after spending it, we might not even then get security or even an efficient defence force. It is quite impossible for us to have everything or to be strong everywhere. A bankrupt Britain could not continue to be militarily strong for very long; it might for a very short time, but not for very long. It has been said that inside every fat man there is a thin man trying to get out. I think that this applies particularly today to armed forces.
I talked to the Israelis, for instance, about the Egyptian Army. You can give a third-class army like the Egyptians modern weapons and think that you will turn them into a second-class army. But you do not; you turn them into a fourth-class army. They are too "fat". They are encumbered by a whole lot of weapons which they do not know how to use. The Israelis said to me that they found that all the modern weapons the Egyptians had were encumbrances to them and they were a far worse fighting force than when they had met them several years ago, when the Egyptians were a slimmer, more mobile sort of enemy. I think that the same applies to our own defence force today. Inside this £1,500 million a year budget there is a £1,000 million a year budget trying to 1337 get out. I believe we shall achieve that economic object combined with greater efficiency in due course.
The remarks of Sir Richard Gale have been referred to by several hon. Members. I know Sir Richard Gale very well. I have a very high opinion of anything he would say on the subject. Whether the number he gave was 30,000 or 25,000, there is no doubt that he considered we could slim our army in Germany very considerably, and I am quite certain we could. I agree very much with the Minister of Defence, who said that he is not going to just cut off bits and pieces, but to reshape our British defence force, and that we want a "new look" in the whole of our defence policy.
It is quite impossible for anyone to plan a defence force unless he knows these things. He must know the objects for which that defence force is intended. He must be given the priorities and he must know the financial limits within which that defence force can be built up. My right hon. Friend said that, first, we must have security and then economy. I do not believe that we can work it quite like that. I believe that it can only be done as it is done in the United States or the Soviet Union, We must give our planners, from the start, a very clear idea of what we shall be able to afford to spend because that may entirely alter the whole aspect of the defence force that we are to create.
What we have to do is to create a defence force that will be the greatest possible deterrent to another world war. That is the first object. Secondly, the defence force we create must be able to keep the peace of the world, to give protection to the weak nations from the aggression of the strong, and from dictatorship of any sort. Those should be the two objectives.
What should be our priorities? It is most important that we should get those absolutely clear. The first and overriding priority must be the thermo-nuclear deterrent, the prevention of a global war. I believe that a global war is less likely today than at any time within living memory. We and the United States must possess what I would call the biggest bang of all. We must have it and we must have the means to deliver it. It must be obvious to the rest of the world that we have got it and have the means 1338 to deliver it. Otherwise, the whole policy of the deterrent loses its force.
I often look back to the beginning of the First World War and the Second World War. If only we could have made plain to Germany, in both those world wars, the things for which we and the Americans were prepared to stand, probably neither of those world wars could have started. If we are to base our policy on the deterrent, then the deterrent we have must be absolutely first-class and we must have the means to use it in an emergency. Of course, we have to have the closest co-operation with the United States in research, planning and our general readiness for war. Then, I believe, a global war will be most unlikely.
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
The hon. and gallant Member will agree—I think that he has said it—that it must be apparent to every potential enemy that it exists and can be delivered? We should be as kind as possible to our enemies and give them all the information possible on that point.
§ Sir J. Smyth
The people who should be in the front seats at the experiments we have in Australia and elsewhere are the Russians. I hope that, in their turn, they will invite us to be in the front row of the stalls when they let off their big bang. We do not want to know the inside secrets, the know-how and what sets off the bang—
§ Sir J. Smyth
We might want to know that, but we would not expect to be told that. We should all be quite clear about what these things mean.
In talking about thermo-nuclear war, I wish to say a word or two about Civil Defence. I think that it is a great waste of time to plan for the transfer of an enormous part of our population in the case of a thermo-nuclear war. To be effective, not only would it be very expensive, but it would get the whole population in a state of jitters about something which we hope will never happen. We know what a job it was transferring a much smaller proportion of the population in the last war.
1339 I have seen at first-hand the awful effects of a sudden transfer of population such as occurred in Belgium and France at the beginning of that war, and the transfer of refugees in India and Pakistan after the transfer of power. Those were terrible things and we do not want anything like that to happen in this country. I feel that such plans would be a waste of time and would not raise the morale of the people but would lower it. So much for the thermo-nuclear deterrent.
The second priority is dictator deterrent, and in that I would include the Suez operation, against a third-class enemy like the Egyptians. Of all the fighting men I have fought alongside or against, I would say that the Egyptian is the worst as a soldier. He would need to have a great many modern weapons to make him anything different. We know the lessons of the Suez operation, but I think that we should assimilate them.
Although we never reached a situation like that we were in when the Korean War started, the recall of reservists to start with, the collection of shipping, and those six days which elapsed between Sir Anthony Eden's ultimatum and the first landing of the troops in Port Said were all things which I am sure we all want to avoid happening again. I am sure that in his reshaping of our forces, those are things which the Minister of Defence would not like to see happen again.
What is the good of Cyprus as a military base if we cannot operate from it? On the occasion of the Suez operation we could not use it as a military base because it had no deep-water port. We could not use it as an air base because we had not the transport aircraft to carry weapons heavy enough to cope with tanks.
These are difficulties which we have to overcome in the future. I am certain that our second priority is to create a mobile, airborne and air transported force of at least two divisions which can move at short notice anywhere in the world, because I feel that under the umbrella of the hydrogen bomb the type of action in which the petty dictator grabs other people's land and property will probably increase—and we must have the means to deal with that.
In the First World War, when Egypt was threatened from the west by the 1340 powerful Senussi tribe, backed by the Germans, I recall that to protect Alexandria and Port Said we had to take action very quickly. We had none of the landing craft and modern equipment which are available today. We ran our transports up on the beach of Mersa Matruh and slid the troops on to the beaches along planks. I recall that there were many splintered bottoms—and I am not referring only to the ships—as a result of that operation, but the troops were in action in a matter of hours. I compared that, admittedly under different conditions, with the very slow and laborious operation which, in this year of grace 1956, we and the French undertook at Suez. That is my second priority.
My third priority for our defence force of the future is to maintain our N.A.T.O. forces. That is an essential commitment. We must continue to play our part to the fullest possible extent in N.A.T.O. I believe that we should not have so many men there, nor should we spend so much money on it as we are spending today. I agree very much with a point made by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who, in a defence debate recently, said that we should bring the Commonwealth more into our defence scheme. I could not agree more. We talk a lot about Commonwealth defence, but the Commonwealth is today playing a very small part in the whole of our set-up and we are having to bear the whole cost, both in money and in manpower.
The objects of our forces in N.A.T.O., I believe, are, first, to prevent a Russian peaceful penetration, on the system which we know so well, into the countries of Western Europe; secondly, to give confidence to Western Europe; and, thirdly, to take the first shock of what might develop into what I have called the big bang, or the thermo-nuclear war. I believe that the 20 divisions which we have in N.A.T.O. today can at best put up only a temporary defence. I do not think that we can expect N.A.T.O. to put up a protracted resistance in Western Europe, nor do I believe that that will be necessary.
Nevertheless, we should all be absolutely clear on this point. Our forces in Germany are armed with tactical weapons which carry atomic warheads. My right hon. Friend the Minister of 1341 Defence told us in his speech today that they are equipped to fire what amounts to the sort of atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. How many days could that sort of operation possibly continue? Some people have the idea that you could say, "Will you take this one brother? It will not have a big fall-out. Each one of these projectiles is likely to kill only 10,000 people at a time. Will you take this and still be gentlemanly enough to go on with the conventional war?"
War is a very grim affair, and I do not believe for a moment that such an operation is possible. Once the operations have started in N.A.T.O and have been going on for two or three days, with these thermo-nuclear tactical weapons, one side or the other will press the button and we shall be in for the big bang, the whole-time thermo-nuclear war. Both the Russians and ourselves must be quite clear that the result of a conflict today between Russia and the N.A.T.O. Powers, even starting on quite a small scale, will inevitably lead to a big thermonuclear war.
I want to quote from an article in The Times which was published on 8th February and with which I profoundly disagree. It points to these matters which I have underlined. The article says:That limited wars may be fought in the nuclear age without necessarily provoking total war is a reasonable concept. …It continues:How these restraints would operate would depend on whether a limited war was fought with atomic or conventional weapons. In an atomic war the restraining influence would be the threat of total war if either side went too far in its methods or extended the area of conflict too much. The first restraint that would have to be observed, as in all limited wars, would be geographical.… Nuclear weapons with a big fall-out would widen the area of conflict and almost certainly affect other nations. Therefore, provided both sides wished to keep the war limited, neither would use weapons which produce large-scale fall-out.Finally, it says:Whatever form a limited war may take, conventional or nuclear, the essence of it is that both sides restrain their aims as well as their methods of fighting to avoid extending it.I believe that that article is utterly without any sort of imagination as to what modern war means. It was called, "War Without Suicide."
1342 I have posed some of the problems which I know my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence has very much in mind. I was enormously impressed by his very statesmanlike speech, by the wide scope of it and by its imagination. It encouraged me more than any speech on this subject which I have heard in the House for a very long time. We can tackle these matters only by having a completely fresh outlook on the whole business. We cannot just cut off little snippets. I hope and believe that we can make reductions here and there, but it is in the whole concept of our defence, and what we mean to achieve by our defence force, that, in the Minister's words, we can reshape our modern defence force.
I conclude with a few words on National Service. On both sides of the House we are agreed that we want to abolish National Service. The trouble arises in the question: how are we to bridge the gap between the 100,000 men to whom the Army will be reduced if National Service is abolished within two years and the 200,000 we want in the Army?
I have been told that we want in our modern Regular Army men who do not care about the money; people who want to see the world—adventurous men, who do not care about a long-term career. I believe that to be absolute bunkum. The soldier of today is just a civilian in uniform. He has the same ideas about his pay packet, his married quarters, his children's education, his pension—if a pension is attached to the job—and about the general conditions attaching to his employment.
The real difficulty is that modern soldiering demands young men, and ever younger men. As weapons become more dangerous, more complicated and speedier we want younger and younger men to operate them. It is, therefore, likely that those men will be thrown out on the world without a job in their 'thirties and 'forties. We will not get men to join up in that sort of set-up.
I believe that the Government must formulate a scheme which offers a longterm career to everybody who joins Her Majesty's Forces, a scheme by which, when they have done their job in one sphere, openings are made for them in others. Only by that means will we be able to bridge that gap between the 1343 100,000 and the 200,000 that we must have if we are to do away with National Service.
An effective defence force in this country depends chiefly on the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Defence. I feel completely confident in the three present incumbents of those offices, and I am absolutely sure that they will tackle this greatest of all jobs on which our security depends.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
I wish I shared the optimism and confidence of the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) in what the heads of the present Government are going to do with our defence problems. Judged by their records, that is a triumph of faith over experience. I do, however, agree very strongly with him on two points. The first is that we cannot wage a war on a limited liability basis. The two sides will be intent on not losing the war, and if they are in danger of losing it with minor weapons they will use major ones and step it up until they are over the brink. It is, therefore, a matter of not starting a war with modern nuclear weapons—or we are for it: and the more we pile them up the more certainly we shall be for it.
The second point is his emphasis on the necessity for placing an economic ceiling on defence expenditure. The Minister of Defence made the same point on his return from Washington in his report here on 6th February, when he said that… for economic … reasons … a substantial reduction in the demands of defence upon manpower, materials and money must be effected.He went on to say that,… financial and economic stability is an essential foundation of military strength …" —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th February, 1957; Vol. 864, c. 448.]I agree with the hon. and gallant Gentleman on the necessity for a saving of about £500 million, or the even larger figure mentioned by the Prime Minister to the Foreign Press Association. I read the whole of that speech, and I do want to say—because fair is fair—that, to me, the Prime Minister seemed to make it perfectly clear that he quoted his figures by way of an illustration and said that it was a pipe dream. But what he did 1344 say, and this is important, was that if we could effect such a saving as would bring down our expenditure on armaments to the same proportion of our national income as the average for Western Europe, we should be out of our economic troubles.
I believe that it is a reduction of something of this order which will have to be attempted if we are to be out of our economic troubles, and if we are to have that economic and financial stability which is the foundation of military strength; that otherwise the armaments are illusory. It is like piling armour on to a starving man who is too weak to bear the burden. I do not believe that we shall get such cuts without major changes in our political commitments.
In that connection, I would remind the House that a very high military authority recently said:Let it not be forgotten that the political commitments … set the framework for Defence expenditure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 12th December, 1956; Vol. 200, c. 1084.]That was Lord Tedder speaking in another place on 12th December. Let us look at these commitments. Unless we relate the discussion on defence to the necessary economic ceiling and to the framework of political commitments, we are really discussing the problem in the void. It is quite unrealistic to do that.
The first point about our political commitments is that they are largely determined by the United States, as being by far the most powerful partner in N.A.T.O. It is, of course, difficult for the Government to assert themselves in that situation. It is true that the Government did show a flicker, did give a cry of independence at a time when they happened to be wrong and, for once, America happened to be right—over Suez—but that cry was a rather mixed one. It could be interpreted as "Bale us out while we bawl you out."
After Suez, this disparity in terms of military power between the two countries has been so much brought home to the United States that we can hardly aspire to be treated as an equal ally any more than can any other member of N.A.T.O. Here, I would like to say a word about the public utterances of that very pleasant young General, General Norstad. Generals will be generals. They all want 1345 more men and more implements of death and devastation to play with. That is part of being a general.
It is, of course, quite correct that if asked to give a private opinion he should give that opinion in private to the Government asking for it. But I think that there is something objectionable in his making public propaganda for his views on these matters, at the very time when we are trying to adjust our defence commitments to our economic possibilities. It should be impressed on the General that he should make a close study of the labels on "His Master's Voice" records and realise that his place in the picture is on the canine rather than on the loudspeaker side.
As to the actual nature of our political commitments, there is, first, Formosa. The Government have said on various occasions—the last time was 27th January of last year, through the then Minister of State—that if the United States became involved in a war with the Government of China as a result of trying to preserve Formosa as a sort of political Whipsnade for Chiang Kai-shek, the Government would consider that they would have to support America, as a member of the United Nations.
Of course, under the Charter, there would be no obligation whatever to do any such thing, failing a decision of the Security Council, which would be impossible without the Soviet vote, which would hardly be given. Therefore, that seems to be a rather humbugging formula for saying that we would back the United States. The Labour Party would not back the United States in any such war. Earl Attlee, when he was leader on this side, said that we would oppose being involved in such a war.
There is the same policy in S.E.A.T.O. Mr. Dulles has spoken of intervening with armed force in Southern Vietnam if, by any chance, the people there voted into power a Communist Government. Labour's position is that we believe, whether or not we approve of the choice, that the people have the right to choose the Government they want, and we would not support any kind of armed action aimed at overthrowing such a Government.
But S.E.A.T.O., as interpreted by the Americans, is one of the political commit- 1346 ments that determine our defence expenditure. Again, in connection with the Bagdad Pact, the Minister of Defence used a phrase suggesting that our forces would have to be employed in resisting Communist encroachment and infiltration. The phrase that is actually used in paragraph 5 of the final communiqué of the Bagdad Pact Council in November, 1955, was "infiltration and subversion." In the Defence White Paper of last year, it was said quite clearly that our forces should be used against—Communist infiltration and subversion, even when masquerading as nationalism.That, of course, leaves us open to the charge that what we are preparing to do is to use our forces to put down popular risings on behalf of reactionary régimes in the Middle East, very much as the Russians are doing in Hungary today. I do not believe for a moment that any Government in this country would in fact do any such thing. In any case, even if they wanted to, they could not, because they would know that public opinion would 'be violently split on that issue, and Labour would wholeheartedly oppose any such military action or the use of our forces for something more dangerous than even Charter-breaking aggression in Suez. The Eisenhower doctrine goes very much along the same lines, but on a wider scale, and the Americans are only too apt to expect us to be irregular auxiliaries in such a policy.
In Europe, we have political commitments in N.A.T.O., and, again, the Labour Party has had a policy since the Blackpool Conference of working for the reunification of Germany outside the rival alliances, but within the United Nations, and an all-European treaty based on the Charter. If hon. Gentlemen wish to look at the Labour Party Conference report they will find the resolution there. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition gave a very full and lucid exposé of that policy in his Godkin lecture at Harvard University, and hon. Members will find the critical one in the Manchester Guardian of 31st January. That means taking our forces out of Germany, and, in fact, a complete reorientation of our political commitments in Europe.
I want to say that the Government should not enter into or maintain commitments which are unreal and which, 1347 in fact, it would be impossible to carry out, if it came to the point, because there would be so much opposition in this country. Certainly, that part of the nation, and it is a very large and growing part, which is represented by the Labour Party would have the most vehement objection to wasting taxpayers' money and throwing away British lives on any of the commitments I have enumerated, and would be anxious to change the whole framework of our defence commitments in every one of these fields. To explain how we are wanting to change them would go outside the scope of this debate, and, therefore, I will not enter into that matter.
Apart from the political framework and the economic ceiling of defence expenditure, there is also what I would call the moral and intellectual foundation of our whole defence policy. And here I want to protest again, as I did in the defence debate last year, most passionately against the whole theory that by piling up more and more terrible engines of destruction like hydrogen bombs and hydrogen rockets and getting ready to use them at the drop of a hat, we are thereby deterring war. We are much more likely to provoke a war. I think that it is the reductio ad Satanic absurdum of the theory that if we want peace we must prepare for war. The whole theory is wrong. That is a slogan invented by a Roman general which has failed throughout history, because the one thing which history proves is that what one prepares for is what, in the end, one will get.
In this case, the idea is that each side should have more terrible nuclear weapons and be more ready than the other, and be quicker off the mark in using them. It is the idea that the fellow who gets the blow in first is the fellow who will win the war, because he will have a tremendous advantage, even in a few hours, in such a war. The whole idea of piling up nuclear weapons as a deterrent really means setting peace on a hair-trigger and putting the survival of humanity at the mercy of an incident, as well as making sure that the incident will occur sooner or later by accident. This really is a policy out of Bedlam; it is sheer madness and wickedness. I feel most passionately angry about the 1348 sheer folly of this kind of argument and the immorality of it as well.
I believe that the Government's defence policy ignores the need for an economic ceiling. The Government pay lip service to it, but have not mentioned any figure and do not look like doing so. They disregard the question of what political commitments are possible and acceptable. Their policy is morally vicious and economically ruinous in the peace which they are losing, and suicidal in the war which ultimately they are making inevitable. Otherwise, it is a magnificent policy.
The first step in a realistic and sensible defence policy is to name a figure for our economic ceiling and fix it definitely. The next thing is to review our political commitments and review them in the light of what, if it came to the point, this country would really be prepared and able to do. It is no use kidding ourselves that we are going to war to keep Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa, Syngman Rhee in South Korea, or Ngo Dinh Diem in Southern Viet Nam. These American puppets are no concern of ours, and we will not fight for them whatever the United States does. The same thing goes for the beautiful black eyes of Ibn Saud and other sheiks and sultans and semi-feudal dictators in that part of the world. We are not going to protect them against their peoples, or fight to keep them in their positions, so do not let us pretend that we will. Let us get rid of such commitments.
Having done that much, we should also lay down the principle with regard to the United States that, since foreign policy determines what we mean by defence, we can only be bound to the United States in defence commitments in so far as we can agree with the United States on foreign policy. We cannot allow the United States to drag us into a war for political purposes which we do not consider worth fighting for.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Certainly, it would cut both ways.
We should then put forward our own proposals for a settlement. I have been in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union recently, and I am completely convinced—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Well, I saw a great deal of very interesting 1349 things there. I am completely convinced that the crisis in Communism is not a passing phase, but is something that will grow and grow. It is a new phase in the whole development of the social revolution. It always was rather crazy to treat what is essentially a social and economic challenge as if it were a threat of military aggression. That whole conception is utterly absurd now. If we want these régimes to loosen up, if we want more independence in the satellites and more reasonableness in Moscow, then we are going exactly the wrong way about it, because it is the cold warriors and the nuclear weapon merchants in the West who are the best support of the surviving Stalinists in the East and vice versa.
If we were to show a conciliatory and constructive attitude to the Soviet disarmament proposals of 17th November and the current Shepilov proposals for the Middle East, as well as coming forward with constructive proposals of our own for settlements in the Middle East and Europe, we should enormously strengthen our own position, strengthen the prospect of peace and avert the war which we cannot possibly avert by piling up arms. We must find some way or other of coming to terms. We have to have a policy on all that. That is the best way of defending this country. I should almost like to reduce the whole thing to a rather horrible mangling of Shakespeare to bring out the point that we are trying to meet by military means what is essentially a social challenge. If we persist in "taking arms against our social troubles," we shall infallibly—The multitudinous peoples encarnadine, making the green ones red.It is a self-defeating and foolish policy, whereas if we were to put our trust in our own traditions, in our own ways of doing things and in our own capacity for statesmanship, and put forward proposals for settlement on the outstanding issues, we could diminish almost overnight, and certainly within a few weeks, even the apparent necessity for maintaining these tremendous armaments and we would be in sight of an agreement on disarmament.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
This is the first time that I have had the opportunity or, indeed, the honour to speak immediately after the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus). I 1350 cannot follow him in all that he has said.
There is, of course, a fundamental cleavage under the theory that if one takes off all one's clothes and walks about in the snow, everybody else will do likewise. That is one theory, the force of which I have never been able to understand, in the light of history, if for no other reason. On the two occasions that this country attempted to do it, we were very nearly eliminated from the face of the earth. Therefore, I am happy to know that on both sides of the House, as far as the Front Benches are concerned, that sort of theory does not prevail.
It is, however, interesting to hear the hon. Member for Gorton putting over his theories. We in this House all know what he believes in. Perhaps people outside do not know quite so well as we do. Therefore, the danger of what the hon. Member says is not so much what he says as the plausibility and the reasonableness with which he says it.
We have seen great changes since February last year and the Twentieth Party Congress of the U.S.S.R., which was followed by the announcement of the policy of de-Stalinisation. That policy has had a marked effect indirectly on the defence of the West. Undoubtedly, it gave—I do not think that there is any argument about this—a stimulus to the movement which partially succeeded in Poland and which led to the tragic events in Hungary.
Combined with that, with the build-up of N.A.T.O. and the thermo-nuclear weapon, there is, I believe, no shadow of doubt that the likelihood of an all-out attack on Western Europe across the Elbe and the Rhine has been reduced, if for no other reason than, as I have said before in the House, that the lines of communication of any army of the size necessary for that kind of undertaking would run through those very satellite countries and Czechoslovakia. Therefore, the likelihood has been reduced, but I say no more than that.
That leads us to suppose that there is room for a reduction of our forces in Western Europe. But I implore any Government which are in power not Ito lower their guard too far, for to do so might be to give rise to an overwhelming 1351 temptation to repeat the sort of thing that we saw happen in Greece and at the time of the Berlin airlift.
Having, so to speak, put a cork in the bottle and having realised that our northern flank is reasonably safe over the Pole, it was quite obvious to any student of strategy that there was only one place left for any aggressor to go as far as the West was concerned—and I am not talking about the Far East; that was, through the Middle East. There was only one obstacle between the Caucasus and the Atlantic by way of Africa, and that was the Nile. The Russians, however, were over it. With fighter aircraft on the airfields, with bombers and with tanks, they were there. We will not today discuss that question, which has been discussed at great length in this House, except for me just to say that if we did nothing else by what we did, we exposed that situation and we brought United Nations forces into the area.
One hon. Member said today that he looked forward to the time when United Nations forces would police the world. This may be the very beginning of that. There is no reason in the world why we should not build up from that beginning. It is a rather scraggy outfit at the moment, but there is no reason why it should continue to be a scraggy outfit. We may have started that one thing to which so many of us have been looking forward. We know, however, that a force of that nature is quite useless without the rule of law behind it. Therefore, we have to have international law first and then the force afterwards, not the other way round. That would be putting the chicken before the egg.
The chief lesson that we have learned from these recent operations is that we cannot rely on a base which is a thousand miles away from the operations. I would have thought that that was almost elementary, but it was, in fact, what we had to do. Therefore, we must think very hard about what ought to be done in the future in that respect.
I am not happy about bases which are not on completely friendly territory tied to us by treaty. I therefore wonder, having regard to the Bagdad Pact and to the obvious friendliness of Turkey, whether there would not be a possibility of a deep-water base or a port in Turkey 1352 —or possibly not in Turkey, but even in Israel—which might be used. I know the difficulties, but as far as Cyprus is concerned either we have to face the fact that it is quite useless as a base, because it does not have a deep-water port, or we must spend an enormous amount of money, and very quickly, into making it into a deep-water port so that it may be used as a base.
The other lesson, of course, was the question of propaganda and anti-subversion. I believe that our propaganda—it is the fault of the Foreign Office, I am afraid; I shall have a word to say about that presently—was woefully inadequate. The Foreign Office talked in terms of broadcasts only and, heaven knows, the broadcasts were fairly ineffective. But it is not only a question of broadcasting—that is only one small part of it; it is a question of the personal influence of individuals in the areas concerned.
If we watch the way that the Russians do it, we can learn from them. That is how they have got seven countries behind the Iron Curtain since the war. That is what they have been trying to do in Jordan and in the oil regions. It is not simply a question of broadcasting, but of infiltrating people who have a personality and can wield influence. Men on the spot, in every sphere, can be asked to be advisers in government, men who might be in business and have personal influence in their areas in education and in public relations. The whole of that aspect of the cold war wants thoroughly overhauling.
I know that in my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster we have a Minister whose responsibility it is to do that. He has a great reputation as a broadcaster. We all know that he is a very effective broadcaster. I am frightened that he has not yet understood or realised the implications of what I have said in the other field. I do not know whether he has ever been to the Middle East. If he has not, I wish that he would go there and see the sort of people that we have to deal with out there.
One of the great weaknesses is that this is a matter for the Foreign Office and not a matter for the Ministry of Defence. In this era of cold war and political warfare, it is a weakness that the Minister of Defence does not have the direction 1353 of psychological and political warfare under his control rather than that it should be controlled by the Foreign Office, whose attitude to this matter in peacetime is, we all know, only lukewarm, if it is even as hot as that.
As far as our commitment in Europe is concerned, it is not the size of the commitment so much as its immobility that worries me. The fact that we have tied up in Western Europe four divisions which are not permitted to go and operate anywhere else is, in my view, far more of a handicap than having too many men there. I am delighted to hear that there is a possibility of reducing the commitment. I hope that it will not be a question of a division or two divisions coming home to this country.
If we wish to stimulate recruitment, so that we can have our Regular Army and do away with National Service, I assure my right hon. Friend that it will not stimulate it if men have to live in the sort of barrack accommodation we have in this country and have to indulge in the sort of training they have to carry out in restricted areas. One of the cheering aspects in Germany is to see the keenness of those in training there, because they know that it is realistic and worth doing. It is not very exciting to train on Salisbury Plain or on a grouse moor, full of bogs.
I was out on manoeuvres last year and I am glad that the Secretary of State for War is here to hear me speak about it. I was horrified at the speed with which the troops moved. There are others who saw their movements who will agree with me. It was even more appalling to me because it was my own brigade that I was watching. I would not say that the men were like scalded cats in my day, but they certainly did move. On this occasion they were given an exercise in which they were told that there was little or no opposition and were to move from point A to point B as quickly as possible. They moved as though there were ten anti-tank guns behind every bush. I have not seen anything so terrible in my life.
That is the mentality that the Army gets into in peacetime. I have seen it happen time and time again. Somebody should put a squib under the director of training in these areas. We must have speed in modern warfare. We must move our forces about the world at an immense 1354 pace compared with that to which we were accustomed in the past. The old-fashioned ideas in the Army and in the teaching at the Staff College ought to be scrapped.
We have been talking about the reduction in the forces. It will be just as well to remind right hon. and hon. Members opposite of what we have done. Four years ago, the total of our forces was 870,000 men. By April last year that had been reduced to 770,000, and on the existing plan the number will be reduced by a further 70,000 this year, which is a total cut of 20 per cent. I suggest to the House that that is fairly formidable.
As to inducements to recruiting, I hope that my right hon. Friend will publicise more widely the value of the pay packet in kind, as well as cash; but there is the question of the disturbance of families twice or three times a year. They are given f100 for one disturbance and that is all, but it costs them a great deal more. The Minister should first reduce the disturbance and see that these families are not out of pocket every time they have to move, whether they like it or not.
The question of the education of families in the forces has been discussed many times. It was one of the greatest deterrents to recruiting, as we all know. That was partially put right, but only partially, because the provisions did not apply to the troops in Britain. We all know the reason for that. It was because the Civil Service stuck out against it. The Civil Service has always been jealous of giving anything to the Fighting Services that it did not get itself.
The Minister has in front of him a really big battle with the Treasury over this matter of breaking down the prejudice against the Fighting Services among permanent officials. There is no comparison whatever between the sort of life a fighting soldier leads, and the disturbance to his family, and the life led by civil servants. The sooner that is realised the better.
We have seen that a step in the right direction has been taken in the organisation of the Ministry of Defence. The Minister has been given more power. We have seen a chairman appointed for the Chiefs-of-Staff Committee, and the Ministry of Supply relieved of some of 1355 its non-military production tasks and brought nearer to the Ministry of Defence. That is all to the good, but I am sure that it is not enough. These are only steps in the right direction. If the Minister has been given such executive power as he needs, that is fine; but if he needs any more and requires the support of back-benchers on this side of the House, he can be perfectly certain that he will get it, because we have been saying these things for a long time.
As to aspects of the Ministry of Defence organisation for a cold war, intelligence, planning and operations should be more closely knit to administration and psychological warfare. The first three come under the province of the Chiefs-of-Staff whereas, of the other two, administration comes under the Service Minister, and psychological warfare comes under the Foreign Office. All these should be more closely knit for the purpose of fighting a cold war and should come more clearly under the Ministry of Defence.
Admittedly, some of them eventually are married up in the Defence Committee, but psychological warfare does not get married up until it gets to the Cabinet. That is one of the factors which makes for slowness in decision and in operation. I do not think that these matters are sufficiently streamlined for modern conditions. I do not believe that the structure of parallel committees, with their sub-committees, makes for speed either, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will have a look at that point.
I hope that the time will come very soon when the Minister of Supply will be the fourth Minister occupied with defence. He need not necessarily be a Minister, but I am certain that the Ministry of Supply should have taken away from it everything other than arms production and military stores, and that this Ministry should come under the Minister of Defence.
Finally, I heartily congratulate my right hon. Friend on his appointment and wish all power to his elbow.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
We have had a very grim speech today from the Minister of Defence, though I and, I think, a great many of my hon. Friends would not think it too grim. On this occasion, we must face the realities 1356 of a very grim situation. I want to repeat some of the questions which my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) put to the Minister, which were not answered but which, I hope, will be answered by the Government spokesman in winding up the debate.
All of us who have taken part in the debate realise, as the Minister said, that we are entering a phase of transition in our defence planning, and that we are confronted with decisions which are vital to all of us for the next few years. I share his view that the whole of this subject is far too serious for partisan disputation. It is a matter in which constructive thinking on both sides of the House will contribute most to the value of the debate.
We can all agree with some of the things that the Minister said. I think we all agree that one of our vital objectives should be to introduce some economies in our defence expenditure. The Prime Minister said the other day that perhaps the best service that we can contribute to our allies is to maintain the strength and resilience of our economy. Questions arise when we come to consider how these economies are to be made.
We can also agree with the final analysis reached both by my right hon. Friend and the Minister. The Minister said we must ensure that a thermo-nuclear war never happens. My right hon. Friend spoke as if we might one day be faced with the alternatives of surrender or suicide. There is, indeed, a lot to be said for the view, now that we are all engaged on thermo-nuclear defence planning, that we may be faced with Armageddon or nothing.
Because of that, we must ask ourselves what are the precise policies conceived by those in charge of our N.A.T.O. forces. As I understand it, they are designed primarily for deterrent purposes, but a deterrent is of no use unless the enemy believes that it will be used if the occasion requires; otherwise it does not deter the enemy.
It is admitted—Lord Montgomery has stated it over two years ago; it has been re-stated recently, and the Minister of Defence stated it again today—that the use of nuclear weapons is recognised as part of the normal conventional armoury of our N.A.T.O. forces and would be used in the event of a situation arising 1357 in Europe which made military intervention necessary. The Minister also, I think, took the view with which, according to a Press report, General Norstad also agrees, that there is no real distinction between tactical atomic weapons and strategic atomic weapons.
It seems to me, therefore, that the vital question to which the British public must know the answer is this: are those in command at N.A.T.O., in the event of an outbreak of hostilities in Europe, intending to put any limitations at all, and if so what, on the atomic weapons which they use? In other words, is it, or is it not, contemplated that there is anything in the theory of graduated deterrence? The most we have have heard from the Minister, and from military leaders, is that no more force will be used than is necessary. That is no more than a truism; it is a platitude.
The real question is this: is it proposed to use tactical atomic bombs against the enemy without any limitation either as to size, or in respect of the targets against which they will be used, and to take the risk that this will immediately lead to immense retaliation on the cities and citizens of this country? If that is the position, then in all fairness it is right that the British people should know that this is the risk they may one day be asked to take. And I gather that is the position, because the Prime Minister, addressing the English Speaking Union earlier in the week, said that to resist aggression there must be the moral determination that would not shrink from the supreme test if it came. The supreme test for the inhabitants of this country will be pretty grim. I have no doubt they will stand up to any test in a cause felt to be just, freely undertaken, but there is no point in concealing from them at this time what are the prospects, and it is because the prospects are so serious that I want to pursue this point.
I do not think it would be possible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation which would arise in these islands if the enemy retaliated by dropping even one or two hydrogen bombs. The American atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed 70,000 people, and that was a 20 kilo-ton bomb, whereas the hydrogen bomb is a 60 megaton bomb, 3,000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. Therefore, the area of devastation would 1358 be such that it might well destroy all coherent, if not all actual, life in these islands.
As is recognised, there is no defence against the hydrogen bomb. Civil defence in this country is virtually non-existent. No one pretends there is any real answer at the moment. Therefore, I would not lightly abandon, as have some hon. Members on both sides of the House who have spoken in this debate, the theory of graduated deterrence of which Admiral Sir Anthony Buzzard is a leading exponent.
Surely it is necessary that rather than face this dreadful dilemma of surrender—either by a gradual nibbling away of the periphery of the free world—or mutual suicide, the theory of graduated deterrence should be considered. At any rate, that is a decision for Her Majesty's Ministers, and we are entitled to know what is the present view of the Minister of Defence and of the Service Ministers about it. Compared with those two dire alternatives, anything might be better. If it is seriously thought that an occasion might arise in which we should be involved in using tactical atomic weapons, and could do so, provided we had in advance announced limitations on their use both as regards size and targets, then I should have thought it was something worth exploring, bearing in mind that it might well be acceptable to the enemy as well as to ourselves. Therefore, at some stage I hope we shall hear from the Minister his views about that.
Now I want to pass to something which the Minister of Defence said about our fighter forces. In making any defence plans at this stage we cannot effectively plan for an earlier period than about 1960 or 1961. I gather that the Minister of Defence is contemplating that in the interim there may still be a use for fighter forces, that is, until such time as guided missiles have replaced them as a satisfactory substitute. The Minister said it was necessary to retain fighters as giving us power of protection over our powers of retaliation. Are we to infer from this that in so far as our fighter strength may be limited, it will be used primarily, if not exclusively, to protect our bomber stations, leaving ordinary citizens at the mercy of enemy bombers? Is it not thought that there would be any fighter protection for our great towns and centres of industrial population as well?
1359 I am inclined to agree that, taking a long view, looking four or five years ahead and assuming that peace is maintained in the interim, we may well find ourselves in a military situation in which fighters are completely out of date because they have been superseded by defensive missiles, and bombers are completely out of date because they have been superseded by ballistic projected missiles.
If that is so—and I think the Minister agrees that this is a reasonable assessment of the future—a decision on those lines must have serious repercussions on our aircraft industry. I would have thought it would be right to envisage that in five or six years' time fighters would be obsolete and bombers would be obsolete. Today about 75 per cent. of the total amount spent in this country on our entire aeronautical output, including research, development and production, is for military purposes. When this ceases it will, of course, be fraught with very serious consequences for the aircraft industry.
I hope, therefore, that in any economies which are made in reducing research on or production of military aircraft there will be no economies at the expense of research in aircraft production for civilian purposes. There is a rumour that it is contemplated trying to make a saving of about £90 million on aeronautical research on the ground that in a few years' time military aircraft will be obsolete. That will obviously produce very considerable disturbance in the aircraft industry. That will involve some mobility of labour, but it seems to me very important to ensure that sufficient research in aeronautics is subsidised by the Government in order that we can keep up our competitive strength in civil aviation. On that issue, I urge the Government not to neglect the increasing importance which helicopter service will come to have in the next few years.
I pass from that to ask the Minister another question about which he left me in some doubt. I am not clear what arrangements he made when he was in the United States about either missiles or rockets. This is a matter which affects every man, woman and child in these islands to such an extent that the public is entitled to the greatest possible informa- 1360 tion about it. I know that security reasons are always given, but there is precious little not known to the enemy about these defence plans, and very little that is not openly published in the American Press.
The Minister said, and I agree, that in the years to come we must give the highest priority to defensive and offensive missiles and, hence, in this sphere co-operation with the United States is essential. I hope that we can assume from what he said that there will be the fullest integration of our research with American research in order that we can have the fullest benefit of their advanced technique.
In this connection, will the Minister of Defence kindly clear up some of the uncertainties about the status of the United States Strategic Air Command aircraft based in this country?
It is no use disguising this, and it is not prompted by anti-American feeling. One of the facts which disturbs the British public is that we have here on British soil, in East Anglia, American aircraft which are outside N.A.T.O. command, which are an independent force, which possess the power to drop atomic bombs on the enemy, and which, in due course, will possess the power to send off rockets with atomic warheads. It is vitally important that we should know whether those bases can be used for any of those offensive purposes without the consent of Her Majesty's Government.
If at any time they were so used, either with our consent or without our consent, that would almost inevitably invite a devastating measure of retaliation. Two recent pronouncements from Russia are significant. One was Mr. Bulganin's letter to Sir Anthony Eden in December, in which he almost threatened us with a rocket unless we came out of Suez. More recently, Soviet Russia has served notice, not only on this country, but on all other countries where American aircraft are based, that such countries will be visited with rockets. It is most important that we should have an assurance that these bases which are designed primarily for the protection of the United States—because they are outside N.A.T.O.—will be used for no purpose involving the use of atomic bombs without our consent.
1361 On that subject, I say to the Minister and to the Prime Minister, in all friendliness to America, that by providing these bases we are providing the United States with such an immeasurable degree of military assistance that there is no need for us to be at all half-hearted in the extent of economic and financial assistance which we require from America for the concessions and privileges which we are giving. Looking back—and I know that the Labour Party was in office at the time—I do not think that we made nearly a tough enough deal with the United States when we made the original agreement about these sites. At that time the atomic bomb which America possessed and which Russia did not, as the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) repeatedly said, was our great shield. In those days it was something behind which we could shield and protect ourselves, and it could legitimately be said to be something chiefly for our benefit.
Since then, conditions have radically changed. The American atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb are no longer a shield for us. They are no longer a preservative and deterrent. On the contrary, they are a liability, because now that the Russians possess the same engines of destruction the fact that we have American bases here is a liability involving us in great risks. I therefore urge the Government, in any financial arrangements which they are making with America about the supply and delivery of quantities of missiles, information or development, not to be half-hearted about taking them on the most generous possible terms.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I do not understand the hon. Member's reasoning, because he is now saying that the Americans to some extent are a menace and should go home but that they ought to pay more if they are anxious to stay.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I do not argue that they should go home. I argue that if they stay they should not use their bases operationally without our consent, and if they stay they should pay adequately for the bases and for military assistance to us. There is no inconsistency between the two arguments. I attach great importance to both.
§ Mr. Beswick
One of the other things which has changed in recent years is that 1362 with the operational range of these aircraft or missiles it is no longer necessary to have bases in these islands. There are desolate areas or unpopulated areas from which such aircraft could operate. The argument in favour of the bases is less strong than it was some years ago.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. That is a point upon which I hope we shall get more information.
The Minister said that he had reason to believe that the Russians now have bases in Russian-occupied territory from which they could send to this country ballistic missiles with atomic warheads. Of course, the distance from East Prussia to London is much less than from any point in Britain to any point in Russia. Unless we have offensive missiles with at least twice the range of the Russian missiles, we shall not be able to answer back. That is why, as the Minister realised, it is so important to give priority to our having a stock of these weapons.
As I understood him, the Minister of Defence suggested that in about three or four years' time it was likely that there would be a ballistic rocket capable of travelling at a speed of 5,000 m.p.h. 100 miles up in the stratosphere against which there would be no defence at all. What is the latest information about the potential range of such rockets? Are they limited to a range of 500, 600 miles or 1,000 miles at present? What is the state of research and development that is going on in the effort to increase their range? Is it right or not, as Mr. Stewart Alsop reports in the New York Times of 3rd February, that the Americans this very year will be testing what he calls "the ultimate weapon"—an intercontinental ballistic missile? I refer to the "Atlas". According to Mr. Alsop…the general characteristics of 'Atlas' are well known. It is a staged missile, weighing on the launching site about 15 tons. At maximum acceleration it will reach a speed on the order of 20 times the speed of sound. It will reach a maximum altitude on the order of 600 miles. Its range will be 5,000 miles or more. Thus, when it is developed as an operational weapon, it will be capable of speeding from launching site to targets half a world away within a matter of minutes. These characteristics suggest why no means of intercepting the missile are now known. The problem of interception is comparable, in very simple terms, to intercepting a bullet in midair before it reaches a soldier at whom it is aimed. The difference is that the target is not 1363 a single soldier, but a whole city which can be blasted off the face of the earth by the missile's hydrogen warhead.That is the missile which, according to Mr. Alsop, the Americans will test out this year. If that can be produced within a measurable interval of time, and if it has that sort of range and a reasonable degree of accuracy, we hope that it will be less necessary for the Americans to use bases and sites in this country. In that sense it is a welcome prospect.
As I see it, the whole of the technique of this kind of thermo-nuclear and intercontinental warfare is changing so rapidly that the public is entitled to as much information as we can get about it, so that we can face the facts. I think we can all agree with the Minister that, broadly speaking, it does not appear as if there is any imminent threat of a disturbance of the peace.
In this defence planning we are planning for a situation three or four years' hence. We are anxious not to spend more of our resources than we can afford in order to produce a lot of weapons which are rapidly becoming obsolete. We hope that the more the terrific nature of these weapons is realised in both camps the easier it will be to bring about that measure of disarmament which, as everyone agrees, is really the only guarantee of peace.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I am speaking to, although not moving, the Amendment which stands on the Order Paper in the names of myself and some of my hon. Friends in line 1, to leave out from "House" to the end and to add:welcomes Her Majesty's Government's proposals to reorganise the country's defences and to economise in expenditure where this can be done without danger to our present and prospective commitments; and urges Her Majetsy's Government, at their forthcoming talks with Defence Ministers in London, to press for an expanded rule for Western European Union within the Atlantic alliance".I want to express my thanks to my right hon. Friend the Minister for his very lucid and skilful speech, and for its logic and generosity. For the first time, he has been prepared to bring provocative issues to the House, and allow it to chew over them and to give him contrary proposals before he has actually tied up 1364 the full policies in the Department. I also thank him for his more habitual generosity in attending the Chamber regularly throughout the debate. That only carries on the tradition which he started when he was in charge of our Housing policy.
To turn, first, to the reorganisation of our defences, I certainly welcome what my right hon. Friend said today about the necessity of reshaping the whole defence programme and gearing it for the modern age. I and those of my hon. Friends who put down our Amendment hold the view that it would be idle to economise very drastically in the defence programme simply for the sake of improving the other branches of our economic system. We feel that our commitments all over the world are still such, and may be such in the future, that we shall need very large expenditures upon defence in years to come. We do not think that the economy at home is so gravely deficient in many ways that we must save staggering sums of about £700 million or £800 million, such as have been mentioned today.
In 1950, when the £4,700 million programme was announced, I was one of those who immediately felt that if this was attained within a realisable time our economy would gravely suffer. Such was the ideological thinking in the country at that time that I felt, as did many hon. Members opposite—let us now call them the Bevanites—that we should be letting the Communists in through the back door, into industry at home, rather than having it come in from across the seas. For various reasons, however, some of which have been given by my right hon. Friend, that programme was whittled down, and it is now running at the rate of £1,500 million or £1,600 million a year, and that is at 1957 and not 1950 prices. I feel that we can well afford to continue a programme of about £1,500 million or £1,600 million at 1957 prices.
When we look about us and see two kinds of television in the home, and sometimes a telephone in, and very often a motor car outside, a council house, and when we realise that we have the highest standard of living of any country in the world—taking it all in all—and are deficient only in not having, for example, a great road system and, to some extent, 1365 in having under-electrification of the railways, it does not seem that we need get into a state of anxiety about the total sum which is now being spent upon defence.
Of course, there must be changes. I agree with all that my right hon. Friend has said today about that. I hope that it will be possible to take two divisions out of Germany, leaving a force which is necessary for the shield, of which I shall say more shortly. I hope that the manned supersonic fighter will be dispensed with, because I feel that it has no rôle to play in the atomic world in which we, in Britain, live, or in the simpler methods of warfare which we may have to pursue for many years to come in the colonial and Middle Eastern world.
I think that the air defence of Great Britain could be almost completely dismantled in relation to radar, watching and warding circuits of fighters, and things of that kind. Likewise the Civil Defence programme; projects for underground shelters or large-scale equipment for removing the effects of blast and damage, and things of that kind. Nothing much was said about that today, but a recasting of the Civil Defence services of the country obviously follows logically from the remarks of my right hon. Friend today.
I will not say much about the Navy. I question whether cruisers and escort vessels are any longer necessary, and whether a large submarine programme for the United Kingdom is required. My right hon. Friend has not told us much about the results of his talks in Washington. A little more information might have been valuable to the country. He cannot go into very close questions of security, but I should like to feel that the country knew, broadly speaking, whether we have integrated ourselves more closely with the United States as the result of his visit, or whether, on the contrary, we have achieved some measure of manoeuvre for ourselves and for our friends in Western Europe.
It is one thing to purchase a brand-new weapon for the use of our troops overseas, on the Continent and in the Empire; it is another thing to find out that the supply lines for that new weapon, the techniques of maintaining it, the spare parts for it, and the permission to continue to run it are still dependent on the 1366 good will of the Americans. Were the Minister to tell us that he had bought certain weapons outright; that we had the right to manufacture them under licence and to manufacture the spare parts, and that, in return, we had given some scientific know-how on a high level to the United States, I do not think we should quarrel. We should feel that the net result, although friendly and cooperative, was, on the whole, one of increasing independence for this country and for our Commonwealth. It is on that increasing independence that I wish to say a further word or two.
Anglo-American relations are in a fairly low state today. I feel that for my hon. Friends and myself, who adopted a certain attitude at the time of the Suez crisis, it will take a very considerable time indeed before the grievous blow struck at our purpose and at our interests by the United States is completely assuaged. We gave the United States all the support she wanted at the time of Korea. We volunteered a division and put it under the United Nations' command which the Americans directed in that theatre of operations.
Looking back to 1950, at all the haremscarem alarms put around the country about the likelihood of Communists landing here by parachute, the calling up of the Home Guard, the frightful state of anxiety we got into, and the political upset—looking at that, and at our willingness to fight in a war, 12,000 miles away, which had not the slightest significance for Britain, not subserving in the least degree British interests, I think we can say that there was all honour paid to the United States and all friendliness exhibited to her in her sphere of interest.
But when we come to our own sphere of interest in the Suez Canal, which is as vital a waterway to us as any port or river is to the United States, including the Panama Canal itself, we get the opposite treatment. I am told that President Eisenhower rang up Sir Anthony Eden on the telephone and used cavalier language to him—perhaps I should say cavalry barracks language. Although it is now denied, I have heard from more than one source that in that telephone conversation economic sanctions were threatened against this country.
I understand, with, perhaps, more authority, from naval circles in my constituency that our invasion fleet was used 1367 as a dummy target by ships of the American Sixth Fleet who dogged our invasion fleet on its way to Part Said, and whose fighters, off the decks of their aircraft carriers, actually "buzzed" our ships as they went through to Port Said. Those are insufferable tactics for a friendly nation to adopt and they are not to be tolerated. They are to be spoken about aloud so that we know where we are in our relations with that country.
Now we come to the Eisenhower doctrine. We understood that it was invented to fill up the vacuum, so-called, which was created by the Anglo-French withdrawal from Suez. It seemed a very quick operation, thought up extremely rapidly by Mr. Dulles; so rapidly that it seemed to us, with that large paraphernalia in the State Department in the Pentagon and the White House, that it was practically impossible for the United States, in so short a time as the difference between October and late November, when it was announced, to work up the whole apparatus of that doctrine. Now we have been told, in President Eisenhower's own words, that the Eisenhower doctrine was thought up weeks and weeks before the events of that time.
What does that mean? We had, perhaps, thought that there was some excuse for the United States taking the hostile line that she took to us in Egypt; that she was operating for the United Nations; that she was acting in a humanitarian sense towards under-privileged countries in the Middle East. But I began to have my suspicions when the Eisenhower doctrine was proclaimed. Now we are told that it was thought up weeks and weeks before the events of Suez.
It seems to have been devised to overcome not the Anglo-French withdrawal from Suez the other day, but the British withdrawal from Suez in 1954, because that was the time when the vacuum had been created in the Middle East. If that is the case, if it really is in the mind of President Eisenhower to fill up the vacuum that we caused in those days, and to think up a policy for it, it just about explains the anger and resentment of the United States when the French and British attempted to recreate their position in the Middle East for themselves in the autumn of last year.
What is to happen about this Eisenhower doctrine?. The King of Saudi 1368 Arabia, with the help of the oil interests in America, has been to Washington and has been feted and feasted there in a manner reminiscent of the Arabian Nights. Now, Saudi Arabia will be used as a stalking horse, or as a channel, for the propagation of the Eisenhower doctrine. What that means when it comes to Syria and Jordan we shall just have to see. However, this is not a debate on foreign affairs, so I do not think that I should be justified in going deeply into that situation.
I have reason for saying—I cannot reveal the name of the person who has apprised me of this—that if the Eisenhower doctrine gets on the march, up through Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia and towards Iraq, it is practically certain—to judge from Mr. Shepilov's speech we shall get it very soon—that attempts will be made to communise Persia and possibly Iraq as well. I do not believe that the Russians are willing to tolerate the menace of the atomic power of the United States being put closely in proximity with them in that part of the world.
For generations, the British and French have held moderate and stabilised positions in the Middle East. We have never been a menace to Russia except for that short period at the time of the Crimean War. I am certain that even Communist Russia today would agree that the presence of Britain and France in the Middle East—the French in Syria, ourselves in Egypt—was not fundamentally a menace to their position. We and the French must do our very utmost to assert our authority in the Middle East in order to keep the United States and Russia apart.
We must also reassert our interest in the West. Has the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation really brought peace? I know that it is considered to be a great shield and that it has been suggested that the Communist divisions have been halted in their tracks by.the creation of N.A.T.O. If my hon. Friends have any recollection of the speeches that I have made in this House ever since 1950, they will know that I have scant regard, for N.A.T.O. as a deterrent force. N.A.T.O. is really quite an embarrassment to our long-term objective of securing the adhesion of some of the satellites to the cause of the West.
Nothing is more remarkable than that when the Russians invented their own 1369 hydrogen bomb the violent polemics from the Kremlin over the ether ceased overnight. Russia became a responsible Power which had no need to pour forth this mass of verbiage over the ether. If we meet a Russian today, he knows that the Russians have the hydrogen bomb. Ask him why Russia shouted those phrases at us over so many years from 1945 onwards and he will tell you in all honesty that it was because they were practically defenceless and had no other weapons to use.
It is not N.A.T.O. that has brought that change about, or that has resulted in students in Moscow today besieging their professors with questions about the whole matter of Communism, or that brought about the revolution in Hungary and the changes in Poland. All that has had nothing to do with this military device in Western Europe. If the Russian troops had wanted to march they could have marched into Yugoslavia, crossed into Albania and got to the Mediterranean, and no N.A.T.O. force could have prevented them. They could have marched at the time of the Berlin airlift, which was only a little civilian exercise on our part. They could have marched at other times.
I cannot believe that this press-button headquarters at S.H.A.P.E. is really the answer to all our problems. I do not know how many hon. Members have been there and seen their maps. I have not been there myself, but I would not be a bit surprised if those maps were not dotted with little airfields, all carefully planned and prepared for instant attack on D-day; and I would not be a bit surprised if the Russians have not similar headquarters on their side, with little maps and all the airfields clearly marked and selected for bomb dropping on D-day.
I remember, in the early part of the war in France, from Christmas, 1939, until the summer of 1940, how, day by day, in our little offices we carefully embellished a 'beautiful plan D, the plan for the advance of the British Army to the River Dyle. Every day we put in a little bit extra of excitement and of purpose; we arranged another train, ordered up a few more tanks, fitted another unit into the line, and this went on week after week. We worshipped the plan as if it was a god. The mass 1370 of paper rose higher and higher. Then 10th May came, the German divisions advanced, the document was scrapped, a few trains went forward, the troops got there, as they always do, they found everything out of place when they got there; they were driven back, surrounded, forced to the sea and temporarily defeated. Is this great N.A.T.O. organisation, which is so carefully prepared on a Maginot line basis, really going to last? and what if it does not?
We must have some organisation in Western Europe which does two things. It must place Europe and ourselves at one remove from the United States. I am not saying that we should dissociate ourselves from that great country. I want to place Western Europe now at one remove from the United States. The other thing that it should do is to make itself increasingly attractive to the lands which we have yet to win in Eastern Europe. Fortunately, that organisation exists in a miraculous way, and it is the handiwork of our great Sir Anthony Eden —it is the Western European Union. Only last Friday, some of my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite, in an interesting debate, were searching for an organisation which would become a kind of Parliament for Europe. Not much was said about the Western European Union Assembly; but there it is. There would be other advantages for a Western European Union which had its head-quarters and secretariat in London. It is about time that Britain had the management of and offered hospitality to a regional organisation.
We missed a very great chance when we allowed the United Nations to establish itself in New York. Look how much of an instrument of United States policy it has become simply by propinquity. If we could have the headquarters and the secretariat of W.E.U. in London and get the friendly Western European countries' representatives to come here, we should advance the whole cause. There is British prestige in Western European Union. We have the atomic lead and the hydrogen bomb and we have our divisions in Germany.
The other great advantage is that it might become the military counterpart of the free trade area that we are now forming in Europe. N.A.T.O., no doubt, 1371 would have to be adapted. The Supreme Allied Command, Europe, and the armed forces in Europe, which now are under N.A.T.O., and partly under Western European Union, would have to be detached from N.A.T.O., leaving N.A.T.O. with its other commands, the Supreme Allied Command, Atlantic, the Canada-United States Regional Planning Group, the Channel Committee and the Allied Forces in Turkey and in Greece.
I offer the suggestion that Western European Union—consisting, as it does today, of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Benelux and Italy—should have added to it Denmark and Norway, which are members of the O.E.E.C., N.A.T.O. and the Council of Europe, and Portugal, which is a member of O.E.E.C. and N.A.T.O. With those eight Powers, which line up very neatly from many points of view in economics, in military aspects, and so on, I think that we could begin to exert a real influence.
§ Mr. Beswick
The noble Lord has dealt with almost every aspect of N.A.T.O. in his redeployment, but he has not mentioned the United States Strategic Air Force, based in this country but not under N.A.T.O.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The United States Strategic Air Force, as the hon. Member said, is not under N.A.T.O. I should think that in due time, when our hydrogen bomb is perfected and we have the aircraft ready, we could take over from the United States the rôle of those bomber forces in East Anglia.
I want to say a word about the balance of power, a most unfashionable doctrine which hon. Members opposite have always detested, believing, as they have hitherto, in the virtues and wonders of the United Nations. Even so in the United Nations the doctrine of the balance of power is prevailing today.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I believe that fundamentally Britain and her immediately close Allies must now create room for manoeuvre in the councils of the world. Throughout history Britain has never been involved in the balance of power. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No, it has never been a member of a group of Powers.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
It has held the balance by remaining outside the balance.
When we have got involved in one great aggregation of Powers or another it has always landed us in disastrous wars. The great Powers today are Russia and the United States. We and Western Europe, together, must try to keep them apart, particularly in the Middle East. Otherwise, I believe that with these fantastic devices of push button warfare an apocalyptic clash may take place in those lands where Armageddon was foreshadowed.
I am convinced—to end on a more optimistic note—that the trials and horrors we have seen in the past few years are the reverberations of the last war, not the prelude to the next. An immense rôle awaits Western Europe, with ourselves in the lead if we are wise. We British made a great mistake—which was quite inevitable after the policy of unconditional surrender had been agreed to at Casablanca —in fighting the last war for too long. We had a virtually Pyrrhic victory owl the Germans and that enabled the two giants, the United States and Russia, to overshadow us. Both Russia and the United States gained immense power in the war. We and the Germans exhausted ourselves in the war; France and Western Europe did, also.
None of us in Western Europe has at the moment entirely recovered from the terrible sociological effects of the last war. But we shall recover. We are recovering now. And with all our skills and our scientific knowledge and our civilised traditions, provided we can politically and militarily organise ourselves, I think that the future holds very great things for Western civilisation. I believe that we can serve the cause of peace with honour and rise with our Empire—an expanded Empire—to new heights and new opportunities.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) has made what I must briefly describe as a bullfrog speech. He wants to challenge to a showdown the Soviet Union and the United States of America; and in order to enable him to challenge both at the 1373 same time he has conjured up Western European Union where, I must say, he is likely to achieve the same amount of success as he achieved with his files at Christmas, 1939.
He said that he was not worried by the total sum spent on defence, and in that respect he has set himself apart from all his colleagues. The most significant part of his speech—its anti-American bias—indicates that the Conservative Party is still deeply divided on the important problem of the future of Anglo-American relations. I was amazed to hear him repeat the discredited canard that the United States Government threatened economic sanctions on the United Kingdom. I do not know what is his authority for repeating that statement. All I know is that yesterday in another place the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made it clear that this is a complete fabrication.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
It was not a general denial. It denied that certain things had been said by certain persons on certain days.
§ Mr. Lipton
The noble Lord is now trying to wriggle out of it. He has no authority for what he said, and if I had to choose whom to believe I should prefer to believe the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who spoke in another place. If the noble Lord has any quarrel with that, he must take the matter up with his colleagues on his own Front Bench. That kind of obstinate repetition of what has been stigmatised as a complete falsehood is not calculated to be of assistance to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary in the course of their impending negotiations with the President of the United States in Bermuda.
He also seemed to think that it is the rôle of this country to keep the United States and the Soviet Union apart in the Middle East and that all our efforts should be devoted to that. I seem to remember recent occasions on which it was argued that the object of the Suez campaign was to separate the Israeli and the Arab forces. This business of separating combatants is a rôle which may appeal to the noble Lord and a minority of the Conservative Party, but it certainly does not appeal to the majority of the people of this country.
1374 The only point I want to make in the very brief time which remains to me is that the long-term planning of our defence is complicated by one major and unknown factor—the uncertainty whether West Germany will stay in N.A.T.O. at all or whether she will accept some status of neutrality as the price of German reunification and in return for a Russian withdrawal from the German Democratic Republic.
German rearmament is still a negotiable instrument. It is something upon which the future of N.A.T.O. cannot be made solely to depend. Only the other day I was reading, in the most recent bulletin issued by the Social Democratic Party of Germany—which is likely to form the next Government in West Germany—an article by Mr. Ollenhauer, the leader of that party, in which he said:…a country divided in half, like Germany, has little value as a treaty partner for the fear of fratricide looms large over its willingness to make a military contribution.The promise was that we were to have 12 German divisions placed at the disposal of N.A.T.O., but the fact is that by the end of 1957 there are not likely to be more than five, and it will be at least two or three years before we see the beginnings of that German contribution to N.A.T.O. that we were asked to accept, though only after a considerable division of opinion in this country. I believed then, and I still believe, that German rearmament was a mistake. We are not reaping any dividends from it, more particularly as the next election in Western Germany may lead to the return of a Government which will seek once again to find some new formula outside of N.A.T.O. which will assist German unification.
We have heard a lot about the H-bomb. I cannot envisage any circumstances in which this country would use that bomb without the Americans using it too. Is it necessary, therefore, for us to incur the terribly burdensome expenditure of having such bombs for ourselves? We know that in any case it is suicide to start an H-bomb war, but it is doubly suicide for us to start it off our own bat without American support.
I am sorry that the noble Lord spoke for so long because there are many other matters to be referred to. I am sorry, also, that he has not taken the opportunity to withdraw that scandalous 1375 charge, repeated in this House, which reflects upon the honour of his own colleague and of his own Government.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton), I should dearly like to follow the absolutely fascinating speech made by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). The noble Lord dislikes America and American policy very much indeed. Of course, he dislikes Labour and Labour policy very much indeed too. Had that not been the case, I saw a very powerful coalition developing between him and my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). Their arguments were very similar in many respects. Such a coalition régime of the two hon. Members would be very fascinating.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Does the right hon. Gentleman notice the other extraordinary thing that has happened; that since the B. and K. dinner the whole of the Labour Party has veered right over to the United States?
§ Mr. Strachey
However that may be, we think that as long as we have our present relationship with the United States—and I notice that when he came to the point the noble Lord was not in favour of breaking it—it seems a little more dignified to be civil to them. To speak as he did was, I should have thought, a little unwise.
I must not follow him further than that, except to say that, as he made clear at some length, he desperately wants to keep United States influence out of the Middle East and to restore British influence and presence there. Mainly, he does that because he feels that the presence of Americans in the Middle East would be so violent a provocation to the Russians, and I think there is danger there. I see the point, and I quite agree that when the two giants get into direct proximity there is danger; but I think that on the whole the best and the safest people in the Middle East are the Arabs. It seems to me that they are the people whom it is really better should occupy it, because they are becoming genuinely 1376 independent States in the Middle East. That is really where I would differ from the noble Lord.
I come at once to the speech from the Minister of Defence, which was a good speech, and we all congratulate him upon his first major appearance at that Box. When I say it was a good speech, I am bound to say also that it was a familiar speech. It was a speech which we have heard several years running in defence debates. I thought the right hon. Gentleman read it very well indeed, but I was very familiar with it. He read it more clearly than almost anyone else, but I knew its lines as he went along.
Of course, once again it had to begin, just as the speech of the Minister of Defence began last year, with the statement, which was quite justified in both cases, that he could not make any decisions and could not tell us any new defence concepts because he had not been long enough in the job to do so. That is quite unanswerable; they had not, of course. We have no complaint against them in that sense, but we have a complaint which seems to us to be a very serious one. Year after year this House is placed in the position in which the Government spokesman on defence has come very new and very fresh to his job and has said that we must have a general Parliamentary discussion, such as the Minister of Defence said was so valuable today. That does seem to us to be one of the very worst features of the Government's record on defence, and I will return to it in the course of my speech.
After all, are we never to make these decisions? Are we never to have a defence spokesman who has been long enough in his job and knows enough about his job to put some real defence concept before us? Before I come back to that, however, I should like to say something about one major topic which the Minister of Defence spoke about and which has also been referred to by a whole series of my hon. Friends behind me—the topic of the H-bomb. Of course, the H-bomb necessarily overshadows and clouds our imagination and thinking on defence because it is such an overwhelming element in the whole picture. One of my hon. Friends referred to the Labour Party's decision that we could not challenge the Government's decision to make the H-bomb.
1377 We came to that decision, as the noble Lord who has just left the Chamber was quick to point out—and I give it to hon. Members opposite—with great difficulty, with great heart-searching, and with some division of opinion in our ranks. There is no doubt about it at all, and hon. Gentlemen opposite can make what they like of it. I would only say that I should have thought that any party in this House which was, faced by that decision, whichever way it went, which came to it without great heart-searching, without agonising difficulty and without long discussion would indeed he unfitted to play a major part in the political life of this country.
We did come to that decision and, since then, in these two years the H-bomb has been made. Today, it seems to me and to us as a party that unquestionably that decision was the right one. It was certainly an inevitable one, and quite certainly it is an irrevocable one today. There can be no doubt about that.
I do not want to repeat arguments which I used two years ago in these debates as to what the possession of the H-bomb does and does not confer on this country or on any other country which possesses it. I would refer to the powerful simile coined by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) that the possession of the H-bomb confers upon the country possessing it the power of the bee as represented by its sting. Now if the bee uses that sting it dies. Nevertheless the powers thereby conferred on the bee are not small ones. We all handle and treat bees very differently and with very much more respect than we should if they did not have their stings. Nevertheless, once they use those stings they die. It seems to me that no more and no less than that is all that can be claimed for the possession of this incomparably terrible weapon today.
It has been emphasised by many of my hon. Friends, and very much so by the Minister of Defence himself, that there is no defence today against the H-bomb. I certainly could not read his speech in any other sense than that. 1 think that is absolutely true, but I have heard hon. Members use that fact as an argument against having the H-bomb. That seems to be a non sequitur because, when we say that there is no defence against the H-bomb, we are really saying 1378 that there is no defence against it except the knowledge that if we possess it ourselves it has a deterrent effect—the knowledge that if another country uses the H-bomb to kill us the people of that country itself will kill themselves.
Those who believe that this country's relative wisdom, maturity and good sense are of some importance in the world certainly believe that we cannot afford to contract out of that situation. If we think that this country has a major contribution to make to the counsels of the world which must not be brushed aside and discouraged, we certainly cannot afford to contract out of that situation.
That brings me, of course, to the issue of disarmament which has been touched upon, though only lightly, by one or two of my hon. Friends. As I see it, the position of the Labour Party on the H-bomb is exactly the same as it is on other weapons of war in regard to disarmament, and exactly the same as the Labour Party's position has been for twenty or thirty years. We of the Labour Party are passionately in favour of every form and every degree of disarmament as long as it is general, all-round disarmament, multilateral disarmament, and that goes for the H-bomb.
I could not agree with the noble Lord who said that to abolish the H-bomb would reduce the relative advantage of the West. That may have been true at one time, but it is very much less true now. Anyhow, it is not worth taking into account compared with the enormous gain that would accrue to the world if the H-bomb could be abolished by all-round, multilateral disarmament.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is there not some inconsistency in saying in one breath that this is the one thing that saves the world from war and then saying in the next breath that the world would be better off without it?
§ Mr. Strachey
There might well be such an inconsistency, but it is not my inconsistency. I said very carefully, in the analogy of the bee, precisely what the H-bomb does and what powers it confers on a country. I think that they are very limited.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that if it came to disarmament as far as the H-bomb was concerned—and for the first time in my life I think I am in agreement with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), in his interjection—it would be essential to have at the same time pari passu a reduction in conventional armaments also, otherwise the argument that the H-bomb is a deterrent falls completely to the ground?
§ Mr. Strachey
I am not so sure of that. I think I would go further than my hon. Friend. Of course, if we could get disarmament in conventional weapons as well it would be an immense gain, but 1 do not think it is a prerequisite. If we could really get the H-bomb abolished without that it might be well worth doing.
I recognise, however, that the prospect of any early and immediate all-round abolition of the Fl-bomb faces very great difficulties. There are the enormous difficulties of inspection and control. It involves an enormous amount of mutual confidence between the nations of the world which is, alas, probably distant.
That does not, however, apply at all, or in anything like the same degree, to the immediate question of the abolition of H-bomb tests. There again, it seems to me, the approach must be the same. What is wanted and what is indispensable is multilateral abolition of H-bomb tests, the all-round abolition of the tests by all the countries which are capable of making them. That is something which is immensely more practical, for the simple reason that any country breaking such an agreement as that can be detected immediately. There is not the difficulty of inspection and control and all these great difficulties which stand in the way of the abolition of the weapon itself.
I thought that the policy of the Government in these matters. as it was given, for example, the day before yesterday by the Foreign Secretary, was profoundly unsatisfactory. The day before yesterday, the most that the Foreign Secretary would say was that he wasworried about the growth of the number of tests.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th February, 1957; Vol. 564, c. 916.]The Foreign Secretary was "worried"! When we think of the scientific evidence which is piling up that, very slowly, perhaps, very gradually but yet inexorably, 1380 the actual level of radiation in the world, not from a war, but from these tests, is slowly moving towards the point where it does utterly irrevocable damage to the human race as a whole—and all that the Foreign Secretary says is that he is rather worried about it! That seems to me to be a fantastic masterpiece of understatement on a greater scale than we have almost ever had.
It seems to me that in this matter of the tests a lead from Her Majesty's Government is overwhelmingly important. Cannot we say to the world that scientific opinion is becoming more and more unanimous that, though scientists do not know at what exact point it happens, this is a road to race suicide; that if it is continued and the nations of the world continue upon it, race suicide will sooner or later be reached? Surely, that is the right approach.
Again, in this sphere above all of the tests, the mere renunciation of tests by Britain alone would do very little good. It is impracticable in itself. I do not think it is something that we could welcome. Also, it would of course leave the world still on the road to race suicide with the Russian tests and the American tests going on—
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
In his argument about the H-bomb, my right hon. Friend said that he represented the Labour Party. Is he not aware that at the last Election the Labour Party definitely declared against H-bomb tests?
§ Mr. Strachey
Yes, and I am definitely declaring at this moment against H-bomb tests. I will repeat the words from the manifesto of the Labour Party if my hon. Friend would like to have them repeated—We believe that Britain should propose the immediate cessation of H-bomb tests.Is not this precisely what I have been saying for the last five minutes? My hon. Friend cannot have given much attention to what I have been saying. But, of course, it is no use Britain alone abstaining from the tests. That is a very small part of the general process. In this case also we must get a universal agreement.
I suppose that my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire would say that we ought to do it by example, but really let us be realistic about this. If 1381 we go to the Russian and American Governments and simply say, "We are stopping our H-bomb tests," I think the response will simply be, "Thank you very much, good afternoon." But if we go to them and say, "All of us three Powers are conducting these perhaps fatal tests. Cannot we all call a halt to them?" surely there is at any rate a chance of real achievement. It seems to me that if it is not a question of striking moral attitudes but of arresting this march in the direction—and I do not know how far away it is—of ultimate race suicide, that is what we must do.
§ Mr. Strachey
Any nation which broke the agreement would automatically be detected and, I suppose, the other nations would then go on with the tests. That is the least that can happen, but there is no danger in anyone being able to break an agreement of that kind and steal a march on the other nations of the world. That is the great advantage of it.
To come back to another part of the Minister's speech, none of us doubts that he has the most baffling and complex task ahead of him. Will he be able to solve what none of his six predecessors have been able to solve, that is, the riddle of how we arc to have defences, for our most essential purposes at any rate, and yet defences that can be carried without the economic strain on the country being excessive? That is a very difficult task, and, of course, all of us wish him well in it, because the welfare and perhaps the existence of the country depend in the long run upon its being solved.
I am bound to say, however, that the right hon. Gentleman approaches his task under some disadvantage. If I may put it in a rather Irish way, he enjoys the disadvantage of a tumultuous build-up in the Conservative Press which has built up the prospect of enormous cuts in the defence programme in the most extraordinary way and has compelled the Minister, soon after coming into office, to back-pedal very heavily and today to seem to throw off those prospects altogether.
The Prime Minister became a little heated when my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) 1382 pointed out that the real origin of this fantastic figure of £700 million in cuts came from the right hon. Gentleman's speech. We of course accept the fact that the Prime Minister's intentions—and he told us so this afternoon—were simply to show the strength of Britain and how well we have done in making our contribution to the common pool. We accept that, but the Prime Minister's speeches, or rather the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as he then was, cannot be judged by the intention behind them. They have to be judged by their effect upon the world. One has only to look at the Conservative Press ever since to realise that the effect of this speech was to start this enormous outcry that it is possible this year to make tremendous cuts in defence expenditure. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman cannot do it. It is bad luck on him that he has been faced with this situation, because it makes his task all the more difficult.
What do we think of what I can only call the sudden flood of Conservative pacifism—it has been nothing less —which we have had in the Conservative Press during the last few weeks? I think it is true that the present level of defence expenditure must be brought down. It is too heavy. I think that 8.2 per cent. of the gross national product is too heavy a figure to carry year after year and that it must be brought down.
How is it to be brought down? I could not find the slightest hint in the speech of the Minister of Defence of how that would be done. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will approach it in what might be called the think-of-a-number approach. Some people say £300 million, some £400 million, some £500 million, some £700 million.
§ Mr. Strachey
That would give a negative contribution, and I doubt whether even my hon. Friend could advocate that. If, however, such an approach is made, I can tell the Minister of Defence and the House what the result will be. The result will be that if the Chiefs of Staff and Defence Services generally are simply told to cut by a flat amount without any new defence concept, our last case will be worse than our first, 1383 because we shall have the present situation—in which we have a little of everything and not enough of anything to be any good—accentuated.
§ Mr. Sandys indicated assent.
§ Mr. Strachey
I am glad to have that nod from the Minister of Defence. I am glad he sees that that will be the result, because that is the last result he or anyone else wishes to produce.
I admit at once that the Minister cannot get a real reduction in this year's Estimates No one but the Conservative Press seems to think that possible. However, all those who demand a real and substantial reduction in the defence burden, as all of us on this side of the House do, have an obligation to come down to a bill of particulars and try to give some indication of the way it can be done. Of course, this can only be done very broadly in debate in this House, but we should indicate the kind of approach in which the thing can conceivably be done, an approach which has never been made in all the successive speeches from Ministers of Defence, and which was not made in the version of that speech which we heard today.
It must be what I call the functional approach. The Minister must ask three questions: What today do we need an Army for? What today do we need a Navy for? What today do we need an Air Force for? If the Minister can give answers to those questions, he is on the way to a rational defence concept which can give us—not perfect security, I do not pretend that for a moment, but security at the most sensitive points, combined with a burden which we can tolerate.
Naturally, I take the Army because it has been my special sphere of interest and responsibility. What do we need an Army for? Basically we need an Army today for two things. We need an Army for our N.A.T.O. contribution. I will not go into the question of the exact level, of whether it ought to be 80,000 or 60,000, or whatever is required as our N.A.T.O. contribution. Then we need an Army to be able to mount an expeditionary force to send to some part of the world, perhaps in fulfilment of a U.N.O. obligation, or for some other purpose which we think necessary. I do 1384 not say that a U.N.O. commitment is the only purpose. Those are our two Army requirements.
Broadly speaking, there is not much else. Fulfilling those two requirements would probably cover the others. The kind of Army we can have, the kind of Army we can afford, cannot possibly attempt to fulfil those other requirements of large garrisons scattered about the world engaged in holding unwilling populations. Those must go. The Cypruses must go and the Libyas must go. Those bases have proved useless, and they are immensely expensive, expensive above all in terms of manpower which, as the Minister rightly said, is the real key to economy.
That is why if we have that concept for the Army—that answer to what the Army is for—it is possible to end National Service. I will not go into the figures again, because my right hon. Friend went into them very clearly and gave a very clear answer indeed to The Times leading article today which once more repeats that it is impossible. Of course it is impossible tomorrow morning. We know that. We have proposed a time-table on which we think it can be possible. It may be said that the time-table is a year too short, or a year too long, but it must be a time-table of that kind.
We shall be told, as we were told by The Times, by Ministers of Defence and by hon. Members opposite, that it cannot be done, that the difficulties are too great, that the Army will fall to too small a figure. There are, of course, great difficulties and great obstacles, and there may be some transitional difficulty. It would be a revolutionary re-organisation for the Army after 20 years of conscription. But I put it to the Minister of Defence that he has no hope of solving his defence problem unless he will face major surgical operations of that sort. He would be back to keeping up the present burden, or of imposing a flat rate cut spread all over, which would only make things worse. Without underestimating the difficulties, he has to do that.
I do not pretend to have as much knowledge of the other two Services, but I suggest that similar surgical re-organisations, based on a clear answer to the functional questions—for what do we need the 1385 Navy today and for what do we need the Royal Air Force?—can provide the major rephasing and reshaping of those Services which are absolutely indispensable if the problem is to be solved.
I was especially interested in the Royal Air Force part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, because he seemed to come very close indeed to saying what has been in all our minds for some time, that we very much doubt whether the defensive rôle of the Royal Air Force at the moment is really effective, whether it is really possible any longer to provide an effective defence of this country with fighter aircraft. It is a major question, but it will have to be faced. Enormous resources go into attempting to do it. I will read what the right hon. Gentleman said very carefully, but he seemed to show great doubt about whether it remains a possibility to get any defence for the country in that way.
He did not tell us anything about those famous transactions about the rockets which, we were told in the Press, occupied him in America. I want to ask one question with which the Secretary of State for Air may deal. In considering this question of integration with the American forces, has he in mind, at any rate in the short run, defensive interceptor guided missiles or offensive missiles, either inter-continental or intermediate, in the deterrent rôle? Very different considerations and degrees of integration are involved in the two things. If the missiles are to be used only in an interceptor defensive rôle, few of us can really take exception, but if they are to be used in the other rôle I would like to see the whole prospect laid out before us in very much greater detail than we have had from the Minister of Defence before we are asked to judge it.
In conclusion, I come back to the record of this Administration upon the question of defence, and upon the question of Ministers of Defence, because that is a very important part of the record. It is worth while running quickly through the list of Ministers of Defence we have had since the Conservatives returned to power in 1951. It is not a short list. It begins most augustly with the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) himself. As we know, when he became Minister of Defence the one great difficulty under which he laboured was that 1386 he did not know that a separate Ministry of Defence had been established or, at any rate, had not grasped the entirely different rôle which a Minister of Defence had now taken up, for good or ill, in peace-time. In just over a year he went back to his own office of Prime Minister, which I am sure was right. In peace-time the rôles of Minister of Defence and Prime Minister cannot and ought not to be combined.
In March, 1952, Lord Alexander of Tunis was appointed. He was a very great soldier—a most eminent one—and yet I would say, advisedly, that in spite of that, or really because of that, the appointment proved not to be a fortunate one. As I think that experience proved, it is not wise to appoint a great soldier to this post. Looked at from the outside, the real effect is to add an extra member to the Chiefs of Staff Committee rather than to provide a Minister of Defence. The Minister of Defence must come from the civil side, because it is his business to lay down defence requirements, and it is the business of the Chiefs of Staff to see how they can be satisfied.
I cannot make the same complaint about the next two Ministers of Defence. They were certainly politicians. First, we had the present Prime Minister. He came in in October, 1954, for a short period. He left again in April, 1955. He really only called in on his way up, if I may say so. I will leave the matter at that. Number four in the batting order was the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd). He came in in April, 1955, and left again in December, 1955. I do not know whether I would argue very persuasively that it would have made much difference if he had stayed very much longer. In any case, he did not. He disappeared into the Foreign Office and we have not heard of him since.
We now come to the fifth incumbent in this list—Sir Walter Monckton. As my right hon. Friend said—and I repeat it because it is worth repeating—the House should remember that less than twelve months ago Sir Walter Monckton was standing at that Dispatch Box and telling us that this was a fascinating and interesting task that he had but that he was too inexperienced to tell us much about it. He had just taken up his job. I ventured to point out in reply to him that that 1387 was an excuse which we must all accept, but as Ministers went flashing by, as I expressed it, were we to have a fresh Minister every few months or was he going to settle down to the job? Now, as we all know, so far from that being the case, Sir Walter Monckton passed on; and the extraordinary, the almost incredible thing, is that today we are faced at that Box not with Sir Walter Monckton's successor but with his successor's successor. Sir Walter Monckton is already "the one before the last", and if I may adapt the famous line of Rupert Brooke, I would say to the present Minister: "The one before the last, my dear, spoke just as fair as you." That is really true. That bygone Minister of Defence came out with just as high hopes and just as great promises that he was really going to tackle this baffling job. That does not prove that the present Minister will not do it, but experience is against him in the matter.
Then we come to number six, which I can only call the strange case of the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head)—rather in the manner of detective stories. I ask in this case, was it suicide or was it murder? I do not know, but apparently at least one sacrificial lamb had to be laid on the altar by the present Prime Minister to atone for the Suez fiasco. At any rate, that tenure of office was the shortest of all; it only went on for three months.
Far be it from me to say that I think it was wrong to sack the right hon. Member for Carshalton. Naturally, we think that all these right hon. Gentlemen should be sacked. But, we ask, why especially the right hon. Member for Carshalton? For my part, I was never able to see that he was an especially bad Tory Secretary of State for War. He always seemed to me a very conventionally minded, an exceedingly ordinary, run-of-the-mill, Tory Secretary of State for War. And as Defence Minister he was there for much too short a time for us to judge and to know whether he had any effect at all. However, out he went. Let me not pick and choose between this litter of discarded Ministers of Defence. Our case is not that one Tory Minister of Defence is better than another. Our case is that one Tory Minister of Defence might be better than seven.
1388 The question is, does it matter? Does this extraordinary record of Ministers of Defence going through this office really matter? Of course, if we think that defence does not really matter; if we are just to buy any old ironmongery we are recommended to buy for the Service Departments, it does not much matter. But if, as I know the present Minister of Defence thinks, the solution of this riddle of a satisfactory defence policy is a matter of life and death for this country; if this great key officer of State—he is a key officer today because, after all, the Minister of Defence is responsible for spending well over one-third of the entire revenue of the country—if that matters, then I put it to the House that the changing of this officer so frequently that he can never do anything, at the personal and political convenience of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, is frivolous and irresponsible in the extreme. That alone—if it stood alone in their record on defence—would be ample ground for the House passing this Motion.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)
In winding up this debate I want to enlarge a little upon some of the very important matters mentioned by the Minister of Defence in his opening speech and, at the same time, to deal with the points raised by hon. Members during the course of the debate.
The first part of the Opposition Motion deals with the expenditure of money. No one can expect the three fighting Services to be equipped with the latest, highly complicated types of equipment and to have all the facilities for using them, for example, Class I airfields, without spending a fairly large sum of money. The cost of developing and producing these weapons is enormous but it is, I quite agree, perfectly fair to ask whether we have been getting value for the money we spend. I think that, on the whole, we have. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, on the whole, we have.
In examining these matters I shall, naturally, confine myself mainly to aircraft. Many of the new types have taken longer to produce than we hoped, and we have never concealed our disappointment about that. My right hon. Friend has already referred to at least one of the reasons for it, that we did not always 1389 start our research work early enough. When we did start early enough, or as early as we could, we have been by no means unsuccessful.
Let me take, as an example, the Valiant bomber. I give the Labour Government full credit for ordering that aircraft. It is a fine aircraft and we have a considerable number of them in service. It is better, in the vital characteristics of speed and height over target, than the aircraft which still form the bulk of the United States Strategic Air Command today.
The Labour Government also conceived the Vulcan and the Victor. They are, I admit, disappointingly late in coming into service. But had it not been for industrial troubles we could have begun to build up the Vulcans.
§ Mr. Ward
At the Avro Aircraft Works, in Manchester.
The Victor ran into technical troubles early in its development, and they have delayed production. No one could help that. Both those aircraft compare very well with the new bombers which are joining the American Strategic Air Command. I agree that the Americans have a better range, but that is an operational requirement resulting from an accident in geography and it does not apply to us.
Our bombers are well equipped to carry out their tasks and the American bombers are well equipped to carry out different tasks. Conversely, therefore, to carry out their tasks, the Russians are faced with the need to combine range, speed and height, a combination which faces them with big technical problems.
I think we can say with confidence that the most important part of our defence policy, that is to say, the deterrent, is, in so far as the equipment itself is concerned, not only successful but at least as good as any similar aircraft in the hands of our allies. I believe, therefore, that there we are getting value for money.
On the defensive side, the picture is not quite so happy, although, overall, it is not nearly so gloomy as it is often made out to be. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) had a few things to say not only about the Hunter, which I shall deal with in a 1390 moment, but also about our five-day fighter defences. That is a matter which ought to be taken up right away, because it is important.
The hon. Gentleman's argument appeared to be that because Fighter Command could not, without extra effort and manpower, provide weekend flying for the auxiliary squadrons, it followed that Fighter Command must be out of action during weekends. Of course, that is quite untrue. There is all the difference in the world between providing the backing and resources for auxiliary squadrons for training flights and providing the facilities for the Regular fighter squadrons to be ready to operate in an emergency. In fact, the Regular squadrons provide fighter defence and radar cover not five days a week but seven days a week. Operational aircraft are alert at all times.
§ Mr. Beswick
That was not my argument at all. It was the right hon. Gentleman's' own argument. He said that they would require to recruit extra men if they were to keep Fighter Command stations open on Saturdays and Sundays.
§ Mr. Ward
I said that that would be so if we were going to keep all of them open.
The question that we have to ask ourselves is whether our existing fighters, the Hunter VI and the Javelin, are capable of intercepting any type of existing Russian bomber likely to be sent against this country at the present time. That is the test. The answer is, "Yes". What, of course, is becoming increasingly important in a time of atomic and thermonuclear warfare is the percentage of interceptions and kills which can be achieved. This figure is certainly not as high as we should like it to be to protect this country from considerable damage. That point was made earlier by my right hon. Friend.
We must remember that in any global war it is most unlikely that more than a comparatively small part of the whole Russian bomber force would, in fact, be directed against this country. The Russian bombers will have to take on, and take on simultaneously if they are to prevent retaliation on a tremendous scale, targets and bases spread all over the world. We certainly believe, therefore, that the re: sources which they can afford to devote against this country are not so great as to make fighter defence impossible at present.
1391 In particular, we believe that fighters are essential to make the Russians understand that if they were to launch an attack on this country they could not expect to be able to evade retaliation, because they could not destroy at their pleasure the bases from which our bomber forces will operate.
In due course guided weapons will replace fighters as the predominant element in our air defence. There is no dispute about that. This would not happen in a day or on the next day. Air defence must be evolutionary, not revolutionary. We shall only have an effective guided weapons system based on an effective system of control and reporting radars if we develop it progressively out of our existing system of control, reporting and the operating of fighters which must, in any case, be operated in conjunction with our guided weapons for some time to come.
The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) spoke of the importance of transport aircraft and the importance of giving greater mobility to the Army. They asked about the number of Beverleys in service. The answer is, 19. I do not think that the development of that aircraft has been any more difficult than is to be expected, bearing in mind that we were assembling a new and untried mark of engine in a new airframe. Serviceability has not been so good as we should have liked, but that seldom is the case when a new aircraft comes into service, but the Beverley was employed on a wide variety of tasks, including operations in the Middle East, delivery of medical supplies to Vienna, and some other important tasks last year.
In addition, the Comet II is being operated with great success and the merits of the Britannia, also ordered for Transport Command, need no advertisement from me. Behind Transport Command, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) knows, we have a reserve of airlift in theresources of the civil corporations and the independent operators.
May I illustrate this mobility, which, I agree, is important, by giving a few examples about the use to which it has 1392 been put in Malaya? All three Services there have combined. They have achieved great success and have been provided with the right weapons for the job. I need only mention the extremely close cooperation betwen ground and air forces in matters of air supply and tactical mobility through the use of supply dropping, transport aircraft, helicopters and Pioneer aircraft.
I do not think that anyone could say that the three Services have not provided value for money in Malaya. I will give some facts. R.A.F. Valettas and Royal New Zealand Air Force Bristol Freighters delivered more than 2,600 tons of air supplies in 1956. In the same year, helicopters and light aircraft carried nearly 30,000 troops and other passengers and evacuated 650 casualties and more than 10 million lb. of freight. Those facts illustrate clearly the mobility the Air Force is giving to the Army at present.
While I am on the subject of the Army—
§ Mr. Ward
I am on the Army now. If he would listen, the hon. Member would find out something about the Army.
Although science has produced these vast advances in the techniques that we have been discussing this afternoon, it still remains true that over a large proportion of our total defence commitments these technical advances have really been a minor factor. In both Malaya and in Kenya, although, obviously, new weapons and equipment have played their part, what really counted in the end was the man on the ground. The same, of course, applies to our internal security commitments in Hongkong, Cyprus and elsewhere.
Because the Army has had to bear the brunt of these colonial commitments, it has been extremely difficult to reduce its size. That is why it has remained at a strength of more than 400,000 for so long. To maintain this Army at a time when prices and wages have been rising and Army Estimates falling has meant that an increasing percentage of the money available for the Army has been spent on pure maintenance—that is to say, paying, feeding and clothing the men. Of the total of this year's Army Estimates, nearly 90 per cent. is being spent on the 1393 maintenance of the Army and only a little over 10 per cent. on new equipment and improving accommodation. The latter figure is obviously far too little, and we must somehow redress the balance between expenditure on maintenance and expenditure on new equipment and accommodation.
The right hon. Member for Belper spoke about our overseas bases and implied that they were useless. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth), in a very thoughtful speech, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member of Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) both expressed doubts about the value of our overseas bases. I cannot accept this. We must maintain a balance between mobility and overseas bases. For some time we must have bases which will allow us to move local forces about swiftly within the Middle East, the Near East and the Far East, because there are many occasions on which quick action can prevent the need to move strategic forces long distances. If action on a large scale is required and we need more than the swift movement of troops by air, we shall have the heavy equipment to move them from this country.
§ Mr. Ward
I was speaking generally. I said that it would be a mistake to rely entirely on moving troops from this country to any part of the world, and that some bases—I do not want to commit myself to any particular base—will clearly be useful because they will avoid the need to move troops long distances.
I want to deal for a moment with the reduction in the size of the forces. My right hon. Friend said earlier this afternoon that if big reductions were to be made in defence expenditure it would involve big changes of policy; and that if those changes were to be introduced smoothly and without creating chaos in 1394 the Services, it was bound to take a certain time. He also said that his task was to reshape the forces and not to mutilate them. These sentiments have found wholehearted approval on both sides of the House.
The Services are quite used to change. They adapt themselves readily to it. They have been expanded and run down several times in the last fifty years. They are constantly adapting themselves to new weapons and new techniques. But, like all living organisms, if the change is too sudden and too great, harm is done. There is a limit to which any Service can run down its strength without serious damage to morale. After all, we are dealing with human beings and not with trees that can be lopped down to thin a wood.
We are also dealing with highly perishable things, which the right hon. Member for Belper can understand as well as anybody else—things like loyalty, pride of service, experience and professional skill. Anything in the nature of what my right hon. Friend called slashing about indiscriminately would, I am sure it will be agreed, do irreparable damage. Not only that, but we should defeat our own ends, because the moment we gave the impression that there was no future in the Services, no assured career to look forward to, we should never get another Regular recruit.
The object of the Government's plans is to create smaller and more efficient forces, but continuity must and will be preserved, and long careers will continue to be open to good men, with the interest of new and constantly-developing equipment and techniques. In the R.A.F., we shall certainly have guided missiles, but it is a complete illusion to suppose that there will not always be a lot of flying to do.
My right hon. Friend started his speech by saying that we should not be serving the best interests of the country by seeking to make defence a party political issue. I should like to end mine on the same note. From this debate it is clear that, on whatever side we sit, our aims in this matter are broadly the same. My right hon. Friend has pointed out tonight the broad principles by which Her Majesty's Government will be guided in shaping their new defence policy.
1395 I am sure that these principles are right and I therefore ask the House decisively to reject the rather meaningless and quite unnecessary Opposition Motion.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 243, Noes 302.1399
|Division No. 59.]||AYES||[9.57 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Moss, R.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hale, Leslie||Moyle, A.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hamilton, W. W.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Hannan, W.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)|
|Baird, J.||Hayman, F. H.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Balfour, A.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Oram, A. E.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Orbach, M.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hobson, C. R.||Oswald, T.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol. S.E.)||Holman, P.||Owen, W. J.|
|Benson. G.||Holmes, Horace||Padley, W. E.|
|Beswick, Frank||Holt, A. F.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Houghton, Douglas||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Blackburn, F.||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hoy, J. H.||Parker, J.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hubbard, T. F.||Parkin, B. T.|
|Boardman, H.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Paton, John|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Peart, T. F.|
|Bowde[...] W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pentland, N.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hunter, A. E.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Probert, A. R.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Janner, B.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Randall, H. E.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Rankin, John|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jeger, Mrs.Lena(Holbn &St.Pncs.S.)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Reeves, J.|
|Carmichael, J.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Reid, William|
|Champion, A. J.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Rhodes, H.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A.Creech(Wakefield)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Clunie, J.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Coldrick, W.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Collick P. H. (Birkenhead)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Collins,V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Kenyon, C.||Ross, William|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Royle, C.|
|Cove, W. G.||King, Dr. H. M.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lawson, G. M.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Ledger, R. J.||Short, E. W.|
|Daines, P.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwiok)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lewis, Arthur||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Lindgren, G. S.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lipton, Marcus||Snow, J. W.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Logan, D. G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Donnelly, D. L.||MacColl, J. E.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||McGhee, H. G.||Steele, T.|
|Dye, S.||McGovern, J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Mclnnes, J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Strauss, Rt.Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McLeavy, Frank||Stross, Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mahon, Simon||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Finch, H. J.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mason, Roy||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Forman, J. C.||Mayhew, C. P.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mellish, R. J.||Thornton, E.|
|Gaittkell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Messer, Sir F.||Timmons, J.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mikardo, Ian||Tomney, F.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mitchlson, G. R.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Monslow, W.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Moody, A. S.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Grey, C. F.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mort, D. L.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Weitzman, D.||Wilkins, W. A.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Willey, Frederick||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Williams, David (Neath)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|West, D. G.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Wheeldon, W. E.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)||Zilliacus, K.|
|White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Wilcock, Group Capt, C. A. B.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Popple well and Mr. Pearson.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Duthie, W. S.||Kaberry, D.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Keegan, D.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Kerby, Capt. H. B.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Errington, Sir Eric||Kerr, H. W.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Erroll, F. J.||Kimball, M.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathooat (Tiverton)||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Lagden, G. W.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Fell, A.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Finlay, Graeme||Lambton, Viscount|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Fisher, Nigel||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Ashton, H.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Fort, R.||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Foster, John||Leavey, J. A.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Leburn, W. G.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Balniel, Lord||Freeth, Denzil||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)|
|Barber, Anthony||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)|
|Barter, John||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Gibson-Watt, D.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Glover, D.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Godber, J. B.||Longden, Gilbert|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Gough, C. F. H.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)|
|Bennett, Or. Reginald||Gower, H. R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Graham, Sir Fergus||McAdden, S. J.|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Grant, W. (Woodside)||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.(Nantwich)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry|
|Bishop, F. P.||Green, A.||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Black, C. W.||Gresham Cooke, R.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Body, R. F.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||McLaughlln, Mrs. P.|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J, A,||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, W.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harris, Reader (Heston)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Braine, B. R.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Macmillan.Rt.Hn. Harold (Bromley)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Maddan, Martin|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maitland, Cdr.J.F.W.(Horncastle)|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Bryan, P.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Henderson, John (Cathoart)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hesketh, R. F.||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hicks Beach, Maj. W. W.||Marshall, Douglas|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (SaffronWalden)||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Maude, Angus|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Carr, Robert||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hinohingbrooke, Viscount||Mawby, R. L.|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Medlicott, Sir Frank|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hope,Lord John||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, w.)||Hornby, R. P.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Cole, Norman||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Horobin, Sir Ian||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nabarro, C. D. N.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Howard, John (Test)||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Neave, Airey|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col.O. E.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Nicholson, Codfrey (Farnham)|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Nicolson, N. (B'n'mth, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood)||Hurd, A. R.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Cunningham, Knox||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hyde, Montgomery||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Iremonger, T. L.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Osborne, C.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D,||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Page, R. G.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Partridge, E.|
|Drayson, G. B||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|du Cann, E. D L.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Joseph, Sir Keith||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Pitman, I. J.||Shepherd, William||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Pitt, Miss E. M.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Pott, H. P.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Turner, H. F. L,|
|Powell, J. Enoch||Soames, Capt. C.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Speir, R. M.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Profumo, J. D.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Ramsden, J, E.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P.(Kens'gt'n, S.)||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Rawlinson, Peter||Stevens, Geoffrey||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Redmayne, M.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. D. C.|
|Renton, D. L. M.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Ridsdale, J. E.||Storey, S.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Rippon, A. G. F.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Studholme, Sir Henry||Watkinton, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Robertson, sir David||Summers, Sir Spencer||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)||Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)|
|Robson-Brown, W.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Roper, Sir Harold||Teeling, W.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Temple, J. M.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Russell, R. S.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr.R.(Croydon, S.)|
|Sharples, R. C.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Heath and Mr. Oakshott.|
§ Proposed words there added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That this House welcomes the intention of Her Majesty's Government to meet the essential needs of defence, and our Commonwealth and international responsibilities, while reducing expenditure and demands upon manpower.