HC Deb 10 December 1958 vol 597 cc323-4
15. Mr. Wall

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many warships armed with surface or antiaircraft missiles are expected to be in commission in the Royal Navy in 1961, 1962 and 1963; and how these numbers compare with the estimated numbers of similarly armed warships in the United States Navy and the Soviet Navy.

Mr. R. Allan

A considerable number of Her Majesty's ships will be so equipped by the early 1960's. My hon. Friend will, I am sure, realise the reasons why I cannot be more specific. In the circumstances, it is difficult to make the comparison asked for in the second part of the Question, but we are keeping our end up quite well.

Mr. Wall

Will my hon. Friend agree, again without giving away any secrets, that from the point of view of new construction there will be only three Hampshires and, possibly, three Tigers? Will he also undertake to study Sir Arthur Bryant's article in the Sunday Times, and realise that there is great anxiety in the country as to the future size and effectiveness of the Royal Navy?

Mr. Allan

I have read that article, and I quite appreciate the feeling of anxiety there is.

Mr. G. Brown

There has been an announcement by N.A.T.O. that a firm called Bristol Aerojet has been authorised to make Polaris and the solid fuel propellant here. Is that with the authority of Her Majesty's Government?

Mr. Allan

That is not a question for me to answer.

Mr. Paget

Could the hon. Gentleman tell us why it is within the public interest for the American Government to give their people all this information as to their future production programme, when it is not within the safety of our Government? What is the difference here?

Mr. Allan

This is quite a different question.

Mr. Paget

All this information about the American programme is known.

Mr. Allan

But not about their future programme.

Mr. Speaker

In any case, the Parliamentary Secretary is not responsible for what information the American Government give.