Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [26th February]:
That this House approves the Report on Defence (Britain's Contribution to Peace and Security) set out in Command Paper No. 363.—[Mr. Sandys.]
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
declines to approve a defence policy which relies predominantly upon the threat of thermo-nuclear warfare, insists on the installation of strategic rocket bases in Britain before the projected summit talks, and fails to provide effectively for Britain's defence requirements."—[Mr. G. Brown.]
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
Last night, the Minister of Supply wound up the first day of our two days' debate on defence with what I found to be a most depressing speech. If the equipment of our front line is as he told us, and if the fleet of transport aircraft is as far off as he indicated, then the Services are heading for serious trouble. He told us a lot, but he did not make the link between the military and political arguments which we developed because we believe that controlled international disarmament is our surest defence.
Let me remind the House of the position. We are convinced that the Government's decision on American missile bases is wrong: wrong politically and wrong militarily. It is wrong politically because, as has been argued, the coming talks with Russia are so important that nothing should be done which might jeopardise their success. Furthermore, if the Government genuinely want summit talks on disarmament and are pressing that view on Washington, would it not strengthen the British case to say to the American Government that we do not want to begin work on the bases for the American missiles before there are summit talks?
We have to recognise that the relationship of North America to Europe has changed. Now that Russia has an I.C.B.M. of some 555 kind—we do not know what kind—North America needs Europe even more than Europe needs North America. We are within sight, for the first time of a true partnership in N.A.T.O. We should recognise that by acting as if we realised that we were full partners.
Let us consider these missiles and see whether the Americans do not need us more than we need them. The Americans have developed a missile with 1,500-mile range. It is useless to them, unless they can launch it from a country like this, which is within range. They cannot use it from Texas or California.
Besides being wrong politically, we have said that it is wrong militarily and we have deployed many arguments. However, since the Secretary of State for Air is to follow me, I shall confine myself, under this head, to dealing with the missiles themselves. I have talked with Service men, scientists and journalists who specialise in these matters and I have not yet met a single person who has had a good word to say for the Thor. That is a remarkable fact. Hitherto, when there have been differences of opinion about weapons, I have always found someone who had a good word or a bad word to say in minority against the majority view.
Let us look at two aspects of these missiles: their reliability and the time they take to be prepared. Tests have shown that they cannot be trusted to go off when they are meant to go off. Is it not the case that a liquid propellant is used which is, as someone described it, highly temperamental, so that, like the German V-2, if it is not used immediately on being fuelled, a misfire is very likely? Yet, if the missiles are to be of any value as a deterrent, must they not always be ready, alerted?
That brings me to the second aspect. Do they not take several hours to prepare? Is it not the fact that liquid propelled rockets are all right for an aggressor like the Germans, in 1944—because it does not very much matter when they go off—but far too dangerous for a democracy to depend on them for defence? For the strictest military reasons, before the Government turn Bomber Command inside out, they should wait for the development of a solid fuel rocket able to be launched from underground or under the sea.
556 The Government have emphasised—on Monday the Minister of Defence went out of his way to state it—that the missiles were to be manned by the Royal Air Force. How do the Government reconcile that with what is happening in Washington? Yesterday, a colonel in Washington—and I quote from the Daily Telegraph—"Colonel Zink, who commands the First Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile Squadron, which will be stationed in Britain" had this to say—
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
I can save the hon. Member pursuing this matter too far. I am sure that what was stated in the papers may have caused surprise and even shock to some people after the announcement which I made on Monday. I have inquired from Washington what the statement is all about and I am assured that the United States Government are at present on the point of issuing a statement explaining the position. This unit is destined to come to England, but, of course, not to man and operate missiles, but to install the specialised equipment which the United States are providing and to help with the training of our own R.A.F. units.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I am grateful to the Minister of Defence for intervening, but I hope that the Secretary of State for Air, when he speaks, will amplify that intervention and will reconcile it at every stage with what the colonel says—for instance, how quickly these missiles can be in action and whether it is merely a matter of 15 minutes.
The whole tenor of this statement is of an operational commander coming into another country and telling the world what he will do. The Secretary of State for Air is to follow me, and I should like this explaining. I should like to know the nature of the colonel's command, and how far he is to joint in our debates. if we say that it takes x hours to launch one of these weapons, is the colonel going to say that we are wrong, or is the Secretary of State for Air going to answer Questions about it? Are we to engage in public controversy with visiting American officers—
§ Mr. de Freitas
We might, as my right hon. Friend says, get better answers, but 557 this is important, and I hope that the Secretary of State for Air will treat it as such.
We want to know the nature of the colonel's command, how far he will take part in our debates and how far his estimate of 15 minutes is a half-truth which assumes that these missiles are ready fuelled. In other words, I put it to the Secretary of State for Air whether this 15 minutes' estimate is not ridiculous, since it takes several hours to prepare the missiles and they cannot be left ready prepared without running serious risk of misfire.
This is the kind of report which is liable, unless we are very careful, to do grave harm to the relations between this country and the United States. May I illustrate this? It is stated in the Report that the colonel is coming to one of the missile bases on the East Coast which have been allocated under the terms of the recent Agreement. This is the area of the American bomber bases.
American airmen have always been well received in this countryside. From my experience in my own constituency, and the fact that my home is in that part of the country, together with the fact that I happen to like Americans, I can vouch for my statement that the Americans have been well received. But this is the question. Will these good relations continue if the public, who have been upset by the implications of paragraph 12 of he White Paper, believe that there is a chance of instant devastation because of the missile bases being set up to deploy American missiles, which, in the words of the Manchester Guardian,can add little to the deterrent, and may make it more of a target."?I regret to have to pose this Question. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) knows that I differ from him about this. He is, I think, the only Member I have heard actually say that he would like to see our American allies go back across the Atlantic.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West) indicated assent.
§ Mr. de Freitas
There are very few who would say that, but we have to recognise that we are moving into a difficult atmosphere.
558 Last year, I referred to the Government reducing us to the status of a satellite, and I used the word Formosa in relation to the United States. Since then, I have been in Formosa, and I was there when there were anti-American riots and the American Embassy was sacked and looted and the Embassy staff were injured. I am not suggesting that anything like that could happen here. I am saying that these riots were caused by pride, by the fact that the people felt helpless because their defence was in the hands of other persons. We have something of that sort growing up, and it is being played on. I do not want to exaggerate it, but we must study this problem. I beg hon. Members to consider it.
We have reached a stage when, on this important matter, we are told, in effect, that we cannot be trusted with the warheads, which have to be kept under lock and key. We must recognise the fact that we know that many people feel themselves humiliated by that. The feeling of humiliation in one partner is bound to do great harm to an alliance.
I know that while there are discussions in Washington about a change in the McMahon Act, some American Service chiefs have warned Congressmen against the change. They have said—although it will seem paradoxical to most of us—that they do not like us to have our fingers on the trigger and that it is safer otherwise. They base their arguments on what happened in 1956. It is most important that we should point out, first, that no British Government would ever "go it alone" again as at Suez. The lesson was learned. Secondly, and this is something which Americans so often forget, we already have our own fingers on our own triggers in our own V-bombers and our own thermo-nuclear bombs. That argument is entirely out of date.
§ Mr. Hale
My hon. Friend is doing me an unwitting injustice, which I am sure he will not mind me correcting. What I said was that I very much welcome having the Americans come here, but I did not like having the spearhead of a bombing force located near centres of population, which attracted our own defence by fighters to the defence of the deterrent, as stated in the 559 White Paper, and that, in my view, it was a matter for consideration whether the added danger was not greater than the added defence. I know that they cannot go to California, but they can go to other areas where they would be just as near to any possible targets, but not so near to centres of population.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I am sorry if I did my hon. Friend an injustice, but evidently I did misunderstand him. I thought he said what I have charged him with saying.
The main argument against the doctrine of paragraph 12 of the White Paper has already been deployed in full, and I will not repeat it. It has been pointed out that the Government are adopting a policy which has been abandoned by the Americans, and that it is the case that what the Pentagon thought yesterday the Government are thinking today. I wish to deal with two questions related to this policy.
The first is this. Having adopted a policy which must inevitably involve the carrying of nuclear weapons in aircraft, whether for transport or training, the Government have not adopted adequate safeguards against the hazards. During the last four or five weeks, I have put a number of Questions to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the Minister of Defence, and the Secretary of State for Air on the training of Service and civilian teams to deal with crashed aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. Anyone who reads these Questions and Answers carefully—because on a number of Questions the Answers are not closely related to the Questions—must come to the conclusion that the Government underestimated the dangers and have not taken thorough precautions. I was staggered to find out what had not been done.
May I take as an illustration the case of fire brigades in rural areas in East Anglia and Lincolnshire? The Government have refused to train these fire brigades to deal with crashed aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. Any town or village in Lincolnshire or East Anglia might suffer such a crash, and I am told that not long ago an aircraft with nuclear weapons did crash in a field in East Anglia.
I am told that the local fire brigade was called, but, before it could get under 560 way, the police ordered the brigade not to go, because a military team would deal with it. It so happened that this crash was only a couple of miles from the base, and, as far as I know, everything that could be done was done. However, let us imagine the consequences of such an aircraft crashing in a village 50 miles from the base, with the fire brigade kept off by the police, because only Service men were trained to deal with this problem, and they were on their way there, from many miles away. It is a serious problem.
Secondly, I am puzzled by the Government's reluctance to tell the public of the consequences of nuclear explosions in war. In the White Paper we still find the words "Civil Defence". Today, that phrase has associations with the last war—with air raid wardens, evacuation, fire-watching, hot, sweet tea, and the rest—and it is utterly out of place in the conditions envisaged by the rest of the White Paper. It is almost as unrealistic as the air raid precautions of the First World War. I can just remember policemen riding round on bicycles—I believe that they blew bugles—and carrying placards, which, I was told read "Take Cover."
It cannot be an accident that every organisation dealing with Civil Defence has condemned the Government for their lack of decision. For example, the Government have promised us, year after year, that a booklet on industrial fire protection would soon be published. Where is it? Have the Government made up their mind about evacuation? The Government have a duty to keep their home defence policies related to their foreign policies. Even the Americans, with their huge country, are having second thoughts about evacuation. Some of the earlier plans encouraged dispersal; industries were to go from the Eastern seaboard to the Middle West. But they have now discovered that the centre of European Russia is as near to Kansas as it is to New York, and rockets and aircraft tend to travel in straight lines. They have, therefore, dropped those plans.
The essential danger is that if the Government tie themselves up to an obsolete conception of Civil Defence they will allow the impression to grow that nothing can be done, and the next 561 thing that will happen is that local authorities will begin abandoning Civil Defence.
§ Mr. Marcus Kimball (Gainsborough)
As an hon. Member whose constituency is also in Lincolnshire I must say that I feel that the hon. Gentleman is spreading alarm and despondency. If he looks at a map of Lincolnshire and East Anglia he will see that it would be nearly impossible to crash an aircraft anywhere outside a 10-mile radius of an Air Force base whose personnel were trained to deal with these matters.
§ Mr. de Freitas
The question is: how many Air Force teams are trained? It is easy to crash an aircraft on the coast of East Anglia or Lincolnshire, many miles from any base that has a crew specially trained to deal with the nuclear problem.
I was saying that local authorities will begin to abandon Civil Defence. Part of the trouble is the phrase "Civil Defence". It is not "defence". It is "assistance", "help", or "aid". Everyone who has studied the problem, from the Mabane Committee downwards, has said that if the public were told the worst, and were told what could be done, they would be prepared to do it. In the fallout areas or in the fringe areas on the perimeter of an area of devastation—it is knowledge of what to do that matters, rather than a mass of equipment. To put it coldly and statistically, even if millions of people were killed there would be millions left, but those millions could survive only if, among them, were those who had a widespread knowledge of first-aid, the repair of public services and utilities, the distribution of food, and the location of stocks of food.
We want to know what the Government are doing about giving up the traditional idea of "Civil Defence", as considered in the White Paper, and adopting a realistic policy of "civil help" or "civil aid". It is not defence. The word confuses people. That is why local authorities are becoming increasingly reluctant to undertake the work.
Taking the White Paper as a whole, it is plain that the Government are thinking in this out-of-date way. Each of the successive Ministers of Defence has given 562 defence planning a jerk in a different direction, but it has not yet settled down. Reading the White Paper, one becomes aware that the Government are still not keeping pace with modern scientific thinking, modern ideas of mobility, and modern political thinking.
Because of the Government's financial policies and difficulties they are forgetting that the most important requirement for research and invention is not money. We all recognise that our pattern of education encourages research and invention, just as American education and the resources of the country have made its people the developers. We cannot compete with them in developing, but it so happens that we are complementary. This means that we must do even more to foster research and invention.
The White Paper does not give enough emphasis to this probably because the Minister of Defence is too concerned with his problem of planning backwards from a financial limit, with Supplementary Estimates to follow later. The financial approach has led him to forget that money is not the important requirement in research and invention. We remember the well-known remark of Lord Rutherford, at Cambridge:We have no money for equipment, we will have to use our brains instead.That does not apply to development, but it does apply to research and invention. The White Paper and the planners must consider the matter from this point of view.
The Government are also out of date in the matter of mobility. A few weeks ago we had "Exercise Quickstep," which was a joint Air Force and Army airlift to Tripoli. It was a shock to all those who thought that there was some mobility in our Army reserve. I think that it took 36 hours to airlift 500 troops and equipment from England to Tripoli. I agree with the many newspapers which concluded that the exercise proved beyond all doubt—and I quote:Through Government neglect … the concept of a strategic reserve, able to move anywhere, at any time is a complete myth.That was from a syndicated article in the Oxford Mail and other newspapers. If there is to be any mobility it is essential that more modern transport aircraft should be ordered.
563 My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) put a number of questions yesterday, with which the Secretary of State will no doubt deal. I go further and ask whether he can tell us about future orders. What about the new Blackburn 107? What about the Short-Bristol development of the Britannia, or the Armstrong-Whitworth aircraft? What is the use of spending so much money upon the Army's strategic reserve if it cannot be moved where it is needed, when it is needed?
In another respect I feel that the Government are out of date, because Government thinking is based upon a situation which may have existed some years ago, but which does not exist today. The Government link N.A.T.O. with S.E.A.T.O. N.A.T.O. is generally accepted as the basis of our defence—and I shall have something to say about that shortly—but the value of S.E.A.T.O. is openly questioned and more and more condemned. I speak for myself, in saying this. The Minister of Defence has recently been to the Far East, so I am surprised that the White Paper is founded upon an out-of-date conception—the Communist threat to South-East Asia.
Of course, there is a threat of Chinese expansion, but whether it is Communist or not is irrelevant to the people out there. When I asked one or two leaders in South-East Asia what should be done to strengthen S.E.A.T.O. against the Chinese threat, more than one replied, "Let us get Russia to join it." It is essentially anti-Chinese expansion, yet the Government somehow link it with N.A.T.O. as if it were a bulwark of the West against Communism.
Last night, the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) referred to my hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition as paying lip service to N.A.T.O. That is certainly not correct and it is important to get on the record that my right hon. Friend went out of his way to stress our support of N.A.T.O. It is the basis of our defence in Europe. N.A.T.O. was born in different conditions and has not adapted itself as we should like to modern times. Even when the Government have tried to adapt N.A.T.O. they have attempted to develop interdependence in such a half-cock way that Germany, France and Italy have got together 564 in what might be called their own private nuclear club.
If we are to adapt N.A.T.O. to modern requirements, two points must be considered. First, there should be a development of the annual meeting of Members of Parliament and Congressmen from the member countries and that meeting could serve two purposes. It would provide a forum for the Members of Parliament and Congressmen to debate and criticise the policies of their Governments and the military and civilian servants on the international staff, and to suggest alternative policies. Then, it would provide an opportunity for the Members of Parliament and Congressmen to learn at first hand what the alliance was doing, and to hear from the international staff and question them. At present, the conference is too much like a briefing exercise rather than a debate, where Members and Congressmen can criticise the policies of their Governments and offer alternatives.
Secondly, consultation between Governments. There are signs of a great deal more of it, but at what a cost. Look at the delay in the replies to the letters of Marshal Bulganin. I wonder whether we have yet been able to realise the cost in time resulting from our moving into this sphere of consultation among a large number of allies. That is something which must be taken into account. At present, the Western countries are often two letters behind in this propaganda barrage and the success of the Russian letters has been very great.
Even in this country they have had some success. I fear that in this country there is bound to be a wave of pacifism or neutralism. I believe that the Government have encouraged this, not, of course, deliberately, but by confusing and frightening the public. It was started by the Suez incident. Then, last year, there came a Defence White Paper, which had a defeatist ring about it. This year's White Paper, with its crude threat in paragraph 12, has gone a long way to complete the process. The Minister of Defence is responsible for much of this confusion because he has insisted on dramatising his White Paper. Before its publication he refused to answer Questions, saying that we must await he White Paper. I can understand that practice being adopted by Chancellors of the Exchequer over their Budget statements, 565 but I cannot see any reason why the Minister of Defence should withhold information unless it be to dramatise his White Paper.
Attention having been drawn to the White Paper, out comes the threat which is contained in paragraph 12. This is followed by the Prime Minister putting a different emphasis upon it both in television interviews and in this House. No wonder the public is confused. Now, by taking what we on this side of the House regard as useless American missiles, we are apparently to have American officers joining in the game of confusing the public by making statements followed by contradictions. The people of this country will not support any Government in a defence policy which they do not understand. When on one day they are subjected to thundering statements in bold black and white and the next to qualifications, they do not know where they are, and the very word "defence" is becoming discredited. I fear that all of us, and not only the Government, will live to regret this White Paper and this missile Agreement.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)
The two topics which dominated yesterday's debate were the nuclear deterrent policy of the Government and the American ballistic rocket. Thor. I wish to deal with those two topics and answer some of the points made during yesterday's debate and today by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas).
There are three main criticisms of the Government's policy. The Labour Party agrees that there should be a British contribution to the nuclear deterrent, but argues that our policy relies too much upon it. The view of the Liberal Party is that there should be a deterrent, but only an American one. A third school believes that nuclear weapons should be banned altogether in advance of any comprehensive disarmament agreement. I wish briefly to discuss each of those views.
First, the Labour Party. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) yesterday made clear that his party has long accepted that there should be a British deterrent. Indeed, it is true that we inherited this deterrent policy from the Labour Government, who 566 courageously took the decision to manufacture the atom bomb. While accepting this, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that we ought, nevertheless, to spend more money on conventional forces. He thought that the size of these forces was being restricted by the determination of the Government to keep defence expenditure within certain limits.
In reply to that, I would say that the main element in conventional forces is not money, but men. Even were money unlimited we could not significantly increase the size of our conventional forces and retain any hope of getting rid of National Service. The manpower absorbed by the whole of Bomber Command is less than 20,000, so that reducing it would help very little. We might well find that, having done so, we had got the worst of both worlds by seriously weakening our deterrent power while making no worthwhile difference to our conventional strength. In any case, we should still have to keep large numbers of aircraft in Bomber Command for carrying high explosive bombs.
When we talk about nuclear and conventional weapons we must remember that the carriers of these weapons can fulfil more than one purpose. For example, within our total bomber force, both medium and light, we can carry thermo-nuclear, tactical or high explosive bombs, and the aircraft can be quickly moved to any part of the world where there are suitable bases.
Now may I turn for a moment to the Liberal Party's view which, I have no doubt, is just as sincerely held as that of anybody else. It is not easy to understand how one can renounce the H-bomb, no doubt on fine moral grounds, and, at the same time, be quite ready to shelter behind the Americans, relying on that very weapon for the prevention of another global war. To their credit, the Labour Party has rejected this thesis. The right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition, speaking in the foreign affairs debate last week, said:Nor do we believe in neutralism. This must mean, as, indeed, the Prime Minister said, either sheltering behind the United States, or the destruction of N.A.T.O., and neither of these things commends itself to us. However tempting it may be occasionally to think how nice it would be if we could be in the position of Switzerland or Sweden, contracting out of any danger, contracting out, as we would hope, of future wars, and thereby no doubt 567 improving our standard of living, I do not believe that is a possible path for this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 1233.]I can do no better than commend those views to the Liberal Party.
I turn, finally, to the school of thought which would ban nuclear weapons altogether in advance of a comprehensive disarmament agreement. There was an interesting intervention yesterday by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) during the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Belper, when these views came out quite clearly. If this were our policy, the defence of the West would rest only upon conventional forces. Let us look at what the bill might be to enable the Western allies to withhold a full-scale Russian attack by conventional means.
Before mobilisation, the Russians would have about 200 divisions, a figure which would be doubled after mobilisation. They have about 500 modern submarines; the maximum number of U-boats which the German Navy deployed at the height of the last war was fewer than 235.
§ Mr. John Cronin (Loughborough)
Is it not the case that nearly half of those 500 Russian submarines can operate only quite close to the Russian bases?
§ Mr. Ward
Both the 500 modern Russian submarines and the 235 in the German Navy have this in common; they would not all be at sea at the same time. That does not matter. The naval and air forces needed to deal with the threat by conventional means would be enormous. Think of the air alone. At the height of the Battle of the Atlantic, in the last war, there were about 500 long-range maritime aircraft based in the United Kingdom. At least this number would be needed again and probably many more in a new Battle of the Atlantic.
The Russians have about 20,000 military aircraft. If the Western allies had to deal with hostile air forces of this size they would need very large increases in the number of their bomber, fighter and tactical aircraft. To meet a conventional air threat to the United Kingdom alone, fighter Command would have to be equipped with the latest fighters on a scale four or five times as 568 great as that planned at present. If our bombers were to drop only conventional bombs on the multiplicity of targets which would need attention in a long conventional war, the size of our bomber forces would have to be very greatly increased.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, speaking in yesterday's debate, estimated that our contribution might have to be between 1 million and 1½ million men in the Armed Forces and an expenditure of perhaps£1,000 million a year on the defence budget.
§ Mr. Ward
Yes, it would be a further expenditure of£1,000 million a year on the defence budget.
Suppose all this were possible. It would be unwise to believe that even then we should be entirely freed from the fear of nuclear attack. If the Russians found themselves losing a war fought only with conventional weapons, does anyone really believe that they would hesitate to use nuclear weapons to avoid defeat?
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
We are trying to follow the right hon. Gentleman's argument. Is the argument that if the Russians' superiority of conventional weapons were so overwhelming that there was no kind of military engagement that we could have without the danger of the nuclear weapon being used, does that not mean that we cannot resist anything except the tiniest frontier action without immediate recourse to nuclear weapons? That is the only meaning I can get from the argument.
§ Mr. Ward
I am merely trying to bring home what it would mean in terms of men, money and aircraft if the Western allies had to match the weight of Russian conventional forces. I was not making any further point than that.
It might give pause to those who say that we ought to ban the H-bomb without having first a disarmament agreement about conventional weapons. Even in the context of global war fought with conventional weapons, an effective nuclear deterrent would still be necessary. The more successful we were in countering a conventional attack the more 569 certain we could be that the Russians would eventually use nuclear weapons against us unless they feared retaliation in kind.
We, in common with the whole of the free world, sincerely and passionately desire disarmament and, as my right hon. Friend said yesterday, we will work flat out for it, but we simply cannot afford to drop our guard during the period of negotiations.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Is the right hon. Gentleman appreciating the point which some of us have been trying to make, that there can he no question whatever of major war in the future which is not, at some point, conducted with atomic weapons? The whole point is: are we not putting ourselves into a position in which we are compelled immediately to make every small war into a great war?
§ Mr. Ward
That is not the point I was on. I was talking purely about large-scale war fought with conventional weapons.
Let me turn to the ballistic rocket, Thor. Several questions were asked yesterday about its military value. The hon. Member for Lincoln asked more questions today. I will try to answer them. Suggestions have been made that it ought to go underground or under water, and because it can do neither it has been called vulnerable and obsolete.
This weapon is of the first generation of ballistic rockets, or the second if we count the V-2. Of course, others will follow, each one more advanced and less vulnerable than the last. As in the case of aircraft, if we always wait for the next one coming along behind we shall wait for ever and never get it. This weapon will strengthen the Western deterrent and add to its flexibility. By this I mean that the enemy defences will be faced with an increased variety of threat. It will add to their difficulties and so improve the overall effectiveness of the Western defence.
Doubts have been cast upon the rocket's operational performance. I can only say that our scientists have been in close consultation with the American scientists, were kept in close touch with the progress of its development and its trials, and were satisfied that it will be 570 an efficient weapon. Of course, it will be fully tested before it is deployed in this country. The Government would not have accepted it unless they had been satisfied with its progress.
It is entirely understandable that people should have some apprehension about missile sites being put near their homes. I think that they are apprehensive on several grounds: first, that they present targets for Russian attack; secondly, that they are to be used for practice with a possibility of going wrong; and, thirdly, that there might be an accident which would cause a nuclear explosion.
On the first point, it poses a much more difficult problem for the Russians. The question is: does it make it more attractive? I should have thought not. I should have thought that these widely dispersed sites would have provided an unattractive target, because they would be small and contain only a few missiles. In any case, they would present a much more difficult target than strategic bomber bases have been in the past and will remain. Yet there does not seem to be the same fear of living near a bomber base as of having one of these rocket sites near.
There is no question of launching these rockets or even test-firing the motors in peace-time, so, in fact, there will be less danger in living near them than in living near an airfield, and, of course, there will not be any noise of any kind. I can assure the House that there is no risk whatever of a nuclear explosion caused by an accident, even if there were some other kind of explosion, which is extremely unlikely. Each site will be in the centre of a safety area to which site the explosion would be confined.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a very important statement and there is a question of tense. If I understood him aright, he said the Government were satisfied with the progress on these missiles, but they will be tested. Do we take it that the Government have agreed to accept these missiles before they have been tested?
§ Mr. G. Brown
I am very reluctant to intervene after what was said yesterday, but is the right hon. Gentleman now saying that the actual deployment of these missiles here will depend on the result of acceptance trials?
§ Mr. Ward
The deployment of these weapons will take place after the technical representatives on both sides are agreed about performance, after their acceptance trials.
We have never pretended that these rockets are an element of independent British power. That will come later, with our own rockets. Nevertheless, we in the Royal Air Force are glad to have them and grateful to the Americans for making them available.
§ Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley)
Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long it will be before they are developed, if they are still to be tested?
§ Mr. Ward
I have been in the defence game much too long ever to prophesy about the delivery of any weapon.
I will now deal with some further points which were raised yesterday. The right hon. Member for Belper said that the United Kingdom troop withdrawals from Germany had been made without the permission of N.A.T.O. Presumably, he was referring to the reduction in the current year of the size of B.A.O.R. from approximately 77,000 men to 63,500 and the proposed further reduction in 1958–59 from approximately 63,500 to 55,000. I can assure the House that in making these reductions Her Majesty's Government have fully conformed to the terms of their Treaty obligations.
In February last year, when the Government first put forward proposals for force reductions in Germany, they placed them before the Council of W.E.U., which, in accordance with the Treaty, asked for the views of the Supreme Allied Commander. The Supreme Allied Commander recommended that the Army rundown should be spread over two years 572 instead of one. Her Majesty's Government agreed to do that and the W.E.U. Council, on 18th March, 1957, agreed that Her Majesty's Government should carry out their plans for 1957–58. At the same time, the North Atlantic Council was informed of the Supreme Allied Commander's recommendation and of the decision of Western European Union.
§ Mr. Hale
It was not the decisions of Western European Union, which, in fact, carried a motion of censure on this policy, although not by a working majority. The W.E.U. Council may have approved it, but at the meeting of W.E.U. in April, 1957, there was tremendous complaint. It was then said that not even Ministers or Governments had been informed about the decisions of N.A.T.O. relating to the size of forces in Europe.
§ Mr. Ward
Our Treaty obligations, of course, are to W.E.U. and not to N.A.T.O. The W.E.U. Council held similar discussions in January of this year about Her Majesty's Government's proposal that their forces should be further reduced by 8,500 men in the year 1958–59, and on 29th January the Council acquiesced in the United Kingdom proposal to make this further withdrawal. The Supreme Allied Commander and the North Atlantic Council were formally informed of our proposal and of the W.E.U. Council decision.
Our Treaty obligations in this matter are to W.E.U. and not to N.A.T.O. The right hon. Member is wrong if he thinks it necessary for Her Majesty's Government to obtain the permission of N.A.T.O. to the force reductions I have described. We have obligations to consult N.A.T.O. This we have done. The members of W.E.U. are, of course, all members of N.A.T.O.
The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) manipulated a large number of figures relating to the lifting capacity of various Transport Command aircraft. What he succeeded in doing was to show once again that one can make figures prove anything, especially if one's argument contains as many flaws as his did. He said yesterday that on previous occasions he had crossed swords with me on figures. I hope that he will enjoy doing so again this afternoon.
573 To show that the Government, by comparison with the Labour Administrations, have neglected their transport, he claimed that Labour provided 170 Hastings aircraft, 400 Valettas and Varsitys, and 150 Pembrokes. He said all we had provided was 47 Beverleys. He was good enough, however, to throw in 20 Britannias for what he called makeweight.
The facts are that the number of 170 Hastings is greater than the total buy of this aircraft by both Governments, let alone the Labour Government. He gives his own party credit for Pembrokes, none of which was delivered or paid for until the present Government took office.
§ Mr. Ward
They are doing valuable work in Transport Command.
The only proper basis for comparison is to see what the lifting capacity of the aircraft in the front line was in 1951, when the Labour Government left office, compared with the lifting capacity of the aircraft in the front line today. This shows that the total lifting capacity of the Royal Air Force transport force, that is to say, the front line in Transport Command and the transport squadrons in the Middle East and Far East Air Forces, is today about twice as great as it was in the autumn of 1951. If I may also throw in the Shackletons for good measure, the comparative figure is even more striking.
574 This is not an easy exercise to do, but I have done my best to give the hon. Member's Party as much credit as possible. For example, the Valettas, which formed a large part of the available airlift in 1951, had a very short range at the payload figures which I have allotted to them. But the plain truth is that our transport force today is incomparably more effective than it was in October, 1951.
Both the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) and the hon. Member for Lincoln asked me to deal with "Exercise Quickstep" The primary object of the exercise was to test the organisation for mounting an airlift of part of the strategic reserve at short notice. It was, therefore, undertaken with the minimum of pre-planning. The task was deliberately made as difficult as possible. It was deliberately made more difficult by using a mixed force of aircraft of three different types—Comets, Hastings and Beverleys—operating from two different bases. The number of aircraft employed was also deliberately limited so that it was necessary for them to return to the United Kingdom for a second load.
In the event, Nature added realism to the exercise by producing a very rare condition of fog which affected both the destination airfield in Libya and also the diversion airfield in Malta, but, despite these handicaps, the small number of aircraft which we used was able to move about 500 troops with 10 vehicles and trailers and 10 tons of equipment a distance of about 1,400 miles in 34 hours under the most difficult conditions which we could devise.
§ Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
How much warning did people have before being given the order to go?
§ Mr. Ward
I take it that my hon. and gallant Friend is referring to the Army troops. I cannot answer that question without notice.
An exercise of this sort clearly involves a great deal of staff work in arranging the move of Army units. I do not know how long it took. The aircraft have to be prepared and the troops and the freight have to be loaded in. The aircraft have to be turned round quickly at the other end. The exercise has shown 575 that the organisation is fundamentally sound and flexible enough to cope with unexpected difficulties, and that is what it was designed to discover.
May I end by saying a word about the men and women either already in the three Services or thinking of choosing a Service career. Like my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, I feel that Service men and women must be convinced that they are doing a worth while job and that they are respected for it by their fellow countrymen. I should have thought that we could all agree that no responsibility could be more worth while than the preservation of our civilisation.
I underline once more paragraph 2 of my right hon. Friend's White Paper, thatthe peace of the world is being … maintained by a balance of arms, in part conventional and in part nuclear.From the point of view of the young men or young women considering a career in the Services, the nuclear weapon has created a demand for new skills, but it has not supplanted the need for the old. A chance to see the world and an outlet for the spirit of adventure is still available in the Services, together with a new stability.
One of the greatest disincentives to a Service career in recent years has been the uncertainty surrounding the future size and shape of the Services. With the plan outlined in my right hon. Friend's White Paper of 1957, on which the 1958 White Paper is a progress report, we have entered a phase in which young men and women entering the Armed Forces can face the future with confidence. Men and women can do no greater service to the cause of peace than to accept the challenge of the great responsibilities which a Service life offers them.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Since 1951, we have had seven Defence Ministers and have spent about£12,000 million on defence. What have we got for it? True, we have a new Minister of Defence, a new Secretary of State for War, a new First Lord of the Admiralty, a new Minister of Supply, and a new Secretary of State for Air. In addition, we have almost complete reliance in the context of a major war on the 576 United States of America. That is our position, and there is no escape from it.
The right hon. Gentleman dilated on the theory and practice of defence, not altogether with the clarity which one might expect from him, but he endeavoured to make one contribution: he tried to clear up the somewhat complicated, perplexed and confusing problem of the defence policy of the Labour Party. If I may say so with respect, I am much more competent to undertake that task than is the right hon. Gentleman. I must correct myself—I refer only to the official policy of the Labour Party. However competent an orator I may regard myself, I have not yet reached the stage of being able to interpret with clarity what is called the unofficial defence policy of the Labour Party.
This so-called defence debate has been a mixture of foreign affairs and defence, including the conventional sphere and the future of the nuclear sphere, and perhaps the most significant feature of it has been confusion. This is not an economic issue, except in part. It is not related to rents or houses or any of the domestic problems which concern us all and which acutely divide us from hon. Members opposite. In situations such as those, we naturally expect division. In the case of defence, however, it seems to me that the difference between the official defence policy of the Labour Party and the defence policy of the Government is less acute than the differences related to defence in the Labour Party itself.
Of course, that emerges from a concatenation of circumstances over which we have more or less control—rather less than more. Much of it derives from very natural emotion, and some of it derives from the propaganda of influential people outside the House. I think of superannuated philosophers like Bertrand Russell, with whose philosophical writings I am more or less familiar, as I was, when young, with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, Descartes, Hume, Locke, and others. No doubt this is all familiar ground. There is also that famous playwright, J. B. Priestley, who, undoubtedly, has made a contribution to our national culture, but who, in the sphere of politics, is about as woolly as any person I have known since the days of Ramsay MacDonald.
It is a simple fact, if I may draw the attention of hon. Members to it, that we 577 are much more disposed to accept the opinions of those people than to accept the views of, for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) and for Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates). I am just as ready to accept their views as I am to accept the views of those outside. They are just as competent to express opinions on defence or foreign policy.
Let us now direct our attention to what was intended to be the subject of this debate—defence. It is interlocked with foreign affairs, and that is inevitable. One impinges on the other. There is general agreement on both sides of the House with the declaration made by the Prime Minister in that remarkable speech he made in the course of our foreign affairs debate—the desire for summit talks, the desire for disarmament, the desire for peace. If I may say so, there is also general agreement with the declaration made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in what I thought was an excellent and forthright speech.
If I believed that the renunciation of nuclear weapons would promote peace, I would gladly support it, but let us take note of the fact that the quarrel, if, indeed, there is one, is between the most powerful Communist nation in the world, Soviet Russia, and the most powerful capitalist nation in the world, namely, the United States of America. If that quarrel should, unhappily—and God forbid that it should—lead to a major conflict, then, whether we like it or not, whether we have conventional weapons, nuclear weapons, or no weapons at all, or whether we have unilateral disarmament, we shall be involved. There is no escape from it. Our choice, in the event of a global conflict, is either to build up a defence mechanism—for what it may be worth, in view of our very limited financial resources—or to rely entirely and exclusively on the United States of America. That is the choice.
If there is any need for further evidence of the confusion that now exists, I would draw attention to the demands made in certain quarters of the House, arising from doubts about the efficacy and efficiency of the proposed missiles. My interpretation of that is that there are some people who are so dissatisfied and doubtful about the new missiles that they want 578 bigger and better ones. I wish that they would be explicit about it, and let us know where they stand.
What is the position about these missiles? I am a little doubtful about them myself. I think that in his White Paper the Minister of Defence has been indulging in undue optimism about them. At any rate, we shall not get them for some time—if at all. When we get them, they will have to be tested either preceding their arrival in this country, or here—but it does not matter because, after all, one has to take risk of an explosion when building up a defence mechanism—and then find that they are completely obsolescent. Then what do we propose? To spend more money to produce a very much more efficient missile?
What are the facts? Let us not run away from them. In yesterday's debate, several right hon. and hon. Gentlemen referred to the statement made by the Minister of Defence in the White Paper, and in his speech, on the use of nuclear weapons in the event of our failure to resist a conventional attack by Soviet. Russia. One might have thought that this was an original idea, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) said, in what I thought was a superb analysis of the defence position, this was not only said by Field Marshal Montgomery but the declared policy of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation over the last few years.
It was inevitable. Why? Because we have failed, not only in the past six years, but even in the time of the Labour Government, when I was Minister of Defence and Secretary of State for War, to build up an effective conventional military organisation. Here, perhaps, I may be allowed to digress a little. I said a few moments ago that, in one way and another, this Government had spent£12,000 million. Although the Labour Government prepared the rearmament programme costing£4,700 million, for which I was, with others, politically responsible, we never spent more than£800 million a year on defence.
It was a Conservative Government that began to spend the money that we proposed in our time, but we were inhibited and hampered all the time by the need for economy, and also, to a large extent, by the policy of our own party. That was understandable. We had only just 579 emerged from a ghastly and destructive war that had exhausted our resources. There was, naturally, therefore, no desire on anyone's part to spend large sums of money on defence. That is the excuse, if excuse is needed.
What does all this talk by the Secretary of State for Air about conventional forces, nuclear forces and the rest, amount to? The fact is that no matter what they are, it is impossible to build a conventional force and deploy a conventional strategy capable of dealing with the Russians in any way at all. That is the truth. There was some cross-talk between my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) and the Secretary of State for Air about Russian submarines. I believe that when I was in office, I made a statement from the Treasury Bench that the Russians had 400 submarines. Quite frankly, I did not count them myself. I had to rely on what I was told.
That reminds me that, perhaps, I should say this. I am one of the few people now in this House—and I hope that my hon. Friends will forgive me for saying this—who is not in the confidence of military experts. Not a single general, not a single air marshal, not a single admiral, not a single military correspondent of The Times—and I am one of the "top people"—or of any of the reputable organs of the Press ever comes to me and says, "I know that you are interested in defence. Would you like to have some information?" Not a bit of it. I have to rely on my own resources. One must be careful of the information one receives from certain quarters.
As I said, we were told, at the time, about 400 submarines, and now we are told that the Russians have 500. No doubt, some of them are very effective, and some of them would be of no use at all, quite obsolescent. What is the good of all this talk about building up convential forces? We shall never reach that grandiose scale in submarines, aircraft, missiles or ballistic rockets, because of our financial resources.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Whether we like it or not—I do not care very much for it my 580 self, I am bound to say—we must rely, I do not say exclusively, but to a large extent, on the military power of the United States. It is deplorable that it should be so, all the more deplorable having regard to one feature in the debate which I dislike most intensely, the denigration of our own country. There was far too much of it yesterday, from both sides of the House. Hon. Members say, "We cannot do this and we cannot do that, and, therefore, we are no longer of any consequence."
There was a remarkable journalistic adventure the other day by Mr. Joseph Alsop, in the New York Herald Tribune. He directed attention, as he thought, to the serious deterioration of this country; Britain no longer counted as a Power. Even my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley yesterday, much to my regret—I thought it quite superfluous to say it and quite unjustified—said that we tried to become a great Power. The fact is that we are a great Power.
Does it matter that we have not got 500 submarines or all the missiles and ballistic rockets and huge conventional forces? Does that matter? We do count in the world, as, indeed, we counted at the time of Korea, because we were able to make a modest contribution in the Commonwealth Division at a time of considerable emergency. We can make our contribution now. But let us not brag about the Thor missile, a few rocket bases, and the aircraft that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State spoke about with such elation and enthusiasm. I could cast doubts upon his figures, but what is the use?—if it does him any good, let him enjoy himself in the conviction that we have got what we ought to have. The fact is that we have not got as much as we should like to have, and it is quite impossible ever to have as much as we should like, simply because the country cannot afford it.
We must, accordingly, accept the Anglo-American alliance, and we must do everything we possibly can to prevent an emergency, to try to escape from the crisis and to inject some common sense and sanity into this crazy and disordered world. How is it to be done? We must approach the Russians. I was very amused about a statement made from this side—I am 581 amused also by statements made from the benches opposite from time to time—about the attitude of the Russians. One of my hon. Friends said, I think, that the Russians will be very disturbed if we ask for a Summit Conference and they know that we have constructed some missile bases. Indeed, I think that the Soviet Press Agency, the other day, regarded it as an unfriendly act.
That really takes the biscuit, when one remembers that only recently the Russians had another test, a really gigantic one this time, equivalent to 1 million tons of T.N.T. They are bragging about their ballistic missiles; they even threaten this country and say, "If you are not careful we will use our rockets". They have everything, yet it is, apparently, regarded as an unfriendly act that we should have a few missiles—missiles which, by the way, my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said yesterday, and which my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) said, were not very good, anyhow. What nonsense is this! Let us be realistic about the whole position.
I have two suggestions to make. I shall be very serious about it. One of the failures of the Government has been their refusal, their stubborn attitude, their obtuseness and obduracy, in relation to a more effective co-ordination of the Service Departments—I shall not call it "integration". Not long ago, the Prime Minister promised that something would be done. Very little has been done. There are far too many right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench. I know that when we become the Labour Government my words will not be altogether acceptable, because there are a few candidates for those jobs. Incidentally, I am not one of them. But, of course, one never can tell. If my colleagues should find themselves in a situation of considerable difficulty and in an emergency they want to call upon my services, I will give it my sympathetic consideration.
I did something about integration in a very modest fashion when I was Minister of Defence. I believed it to be a matter of major importance. I was not there long enough; that was not my fault. What has been done since? As I said, there have been seven Ministers of Defence, including a famous general. I 582 mean no disrespect to Lord Alexander of Tunis, but his appointment, in my judgment, was one of the worst. One must never put a military man in a job like that. It is all right to appoint a second-lieutenant or a brigadier, but to put somebody in that office who is the equivalent of the chiefs-of-staff is no good at all. He must be able to talk to them. Sometimes one has to speak to them in language they understand—language that I could not use here, for obvious reasons.
The Minister of Defence is regarded as a tough guy. [Laughter.] Why should I not use that expression? We have the Anglo-American alliance. Why does the Minister of Defence not say, "I am going to have no more of this nonsense. I intend to cut out a lot of the dead wood"? Incidentally let him cut out the Ministry of Supply. Give the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Supply another job. Make him Chancellor of the Duchy, Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, or Chairman of the Kitchen Committee—something of that sort. Why trouble ourselves with the burden of the Ministry of Supply, when its research activities could be transferred to the appropriate Departments and concentrated in the Ministry of Defence? I want to see money spent on research, even in the military sphere, because, in the long run, it makes its impact upon our civilian life. That is my first suggestion. I should like to elaborate upon it, but I must stop.
My second suggestion is a more difficult one. I have spoken about the official policy of the Labour Party. If anybody doubts it, for the purposes of accuracy, I have the composite resolution of the Labour Party Conference here. [An HON. MEMBER: "Read it out."] I hate to read these things. It is all there on the record, and nobody knows about it better than my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West and my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood. They were overwhelmingly defeated at the Labour Party Conference. Why do they not accept their defeat in a democratic fashion? They can rise again at some time. I have had to do it myself. I have been defeated over and over again, but I refused to accept the knock-out, even a technical knock-out.
§ Mr. Yates
My right hon. Friend must be aware that an agreement to install missile bases in this country was not before the Labour Party Conference. That is an issue entirely separate, which we have been discussing in this debate. It has not been debated there, and it would be interesting to hear what the Labour Party Conference would have to say.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I will have to see about it. Obviously, if there was not a decision about the construction of missile bases, if the Labour Party Conference did not say, "You must not construct missile bases"—
§ Mr. Shinwell
Note our intimacy—despite our differences. If the Labour Party Conference did not supply a negative answer because the subject was not before it, and, conversely, did not supply an affirmative answer, I should like to know how this decision was reached that we should oppose the construction of missile bases and how certain people manage to inject it into official Labour Party policy. It is nothing of the sort. It was merely an idea. I never heard it discussed. Nobody ever consulted me about it; but, then, they so seldom do. Let us not go into that, because I want to come to what I believe is a constructive point—at least I hope so.
§ Mr. Maurice Edelman (Coventry, North)
May I ask my right hon. Friend a question on Labour Party policy, about which I regret to say there has been a certain amount of obscurity? At the Brighton Conference my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said that the suspension of tests means the suspension of production. In other words, the Labour Party is committed by the statement on behalf of its executive to the suspension of the production of nuclear weapons. A fortiori any weapons produced after a suspension of tests would be produced contrary to the decision of the Labour Party Conference.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am extremely sorry, but that will not wash at all. I have the appropriate reference here. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read it."] The following motion was heavily defeated at the Labour Party 584 Conference. It was defeated by 5,800,000—I think my figures are correct—to 780,000 votes. I have not got that down here, but I think I am right. This is the relevant part of the motion:Pledges the next Labour Government to take the lead by itself refusing to test, manufacture, or use nuclear weapons, and that it will appeal to the peoples of the world to follow their lead.Opposing it, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan)—I am sorry that I should have to make the reference in his absence, but that cannot be helped—said:But if you carry this resolution and follow out all its implications and do not run away from it you will send a British Foreign Secretary, whoever he may be, naked into the conference chamber. Able to preach sermons, of course. He could make good sermons. But action of that sort is not necessarily the way in which you take the menace of this bomb from the world.There can be no doubt about what that means.
If I may be permitted—because I must not occupy more time—I come to what I think is a reasonable suggestion. Despite the differences between the official Labour Party policy and the policy of the Government, surely it is possible in the context of the Government's declaration of its anxiety to reach the summit and to have a conference with the Russians—a decision that we applaud —to have—I am not asking for a Coalition or Council of State—consultations with the Opposition from time to time on defence matters. Why should we not be informed from time to time of the Government's intentions? After all, the majority of my hon. Friends on the Front Bench are Privy Councillors and subject to the Official Secrets Act. If there is a question of security, then they understand it. There are matters which ought to be discussed. Such discussion, I think, would be very useful in the interests of the House of Commons, in the interests of the Government and in the interests of the Opposition.
I repeat that I am not asking for a Council of State or a Coalition, but from time to time the Minister of Defence ought to come to the Opposition or ask them to meet him and to talk these matters over. I would go further, although I know that many of my hon. Friends may not accept it. I should 585 have a standing committee on defence with hon. Members from both sides from time to time analysing the problem of defence in the way that my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) yesterday analysed the problem. How can one do it in the course of a debate? We are not analysing the problem. We are using a number of phrases, we are making assertions, indulging in allegations, committing acts of eloquence and oratory—as if they made very much difference—when we ought to be analysing the problem in the interest of our country. While I do not like the hackneyed phrase "Take it out of politics," in a sense that is what we ought to be trying to do. That is what I should like.
Finally, although the Prime Minister is not present, perhaps my words can be conveyed to him. I say that modestly and without any condescension. I hope that he will try, with all the power at his command and with all the resolution he possesses, together with his undoubted courage, to expedite a meeting with the Russians. What may emerge, I cannot say. I am not too optimistic, but let us try it out. It is more preferable to go on talking than fighting. That is a far better policy. If it is true that the Russians do not want war, we do not want war, and the Americans do not want war, then the sooner we have a Summit Conference the better in order to bring peace to the peoples of all nations who are now consumed with anger, sorrow and anxiety.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) has made a robust, enjoyable and, if I may say so, a very patriotic speech, in which he has told a great many home truths. It was also a somewhat discursive speech, and I hope he will forgive me if I do not follow him in all the details he raised. But one day I hope to make a speech like his on the subject of the Ministry of Supply. I shall certainly do so provided Privy Councillors by that time are not in too bad odour to be called.
May I start by apologising to the House for being absent yesterday? I have been away on sick leave and, due to weather trouble flying back, I arrived only in the early hours of this morning.
586 Anyone like the right hon. Gentleman and myself, in a more modest capacity, who has had something to do with defence matters must be impressed by how greatly the difficulties of judging rightly are increased by the relentless speed of the scientific applications of war. There is no precedent in history for the speed of advance even in war, still less in peace. Therefore, any observations I have to make I make with all diffidence. I could not be more acutely aware how complex are our problems or how painful are the dilemmas we face and how finely balanced the decisions must be.
May I revert to a subject which was debated yesterday, and that is National Service. My right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) made what I thought was a notable speech on this subject in the debate on the Address. Basically, his speech was a plea for caution and for bi-partisanship. Of course, we all want to abolish National Service, but my right hon. Friend said, "Do be careful or you may damage N.A.T.O." I was glad that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence in his speech yesterday was cautious on this matter.
I do not want to go back over all the arguments. I want to make only one comment and to draw the attention of the House to one aspect of the way this matter may develop. The recent increases in pay and allowances were, I think it is fair to say, slanted towards internal recruiting rather than towards external recruiting. All pay increases have a temporary effect, but I doubt whether this effect will be either dramatic or lasting on external recruiting.
What happens next if we do not get the men with these increases? The logical step, following the policy which has been pursued so far, is to put in another and larger pay claim for the Services. My fear, however, is that even with a considerably larger pay claim, it might well be that we would not get all the men we needed for the Army.
The interesting thing about the recruiting figures for the last thirty-five years or so is how constant they have been. They have, of course, varied from time to time, but they have not varied proportionately in accordance with whether pay was good or bad, and they have not varied with unemployment or over-full 587 employment. They have varied very little. When I was a humble Territorial in the war, I enjoyed regimental soldiering in the infantry, but a great many of my comrades in arms did not, and I doubt whether even if the pay were doubled or trebled we should induce the fellow who did not naturally like that sort of life to go in.
If I am right in that, the danger is that we shall be left at the end of the day with two alternatives; either an expensive Army of inadequate size, or a very expensive Army based on selective service. I say "very expensive" advisedly, because once we abandon the principle of universality the point will be put, and put with force, that a man selected to serve must be given the rate for the job and not a lower rate of pay.
That is all I wanted to say on the subject of National Service. I should like now to try, as the right hon. Member for Easington said we should, to analyse dispassionately our position as a nuclear power. I make it clear at the outset that I am not advocating any immediate change in policy. It is curious in some ways in this House how little dispassionate argument there has been about where our true national interest lies. There have been plenty of pacifist arguments, and those I respect. There have been plenty of fellow-travelling arguments, and those I do not respect, but there has been very little argument about where the real national interest lies.
Lord Attlee decided in secret to make the atom bomb, and when he announced that decision it was accepted by the House. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford Sir W. Churchill) decided and announced that he would make the hydrogen bomb. That decision, at least as far as the official Opposition was concerned, was accepted and, as far as I know—although I have found some difficulty in all this—it still is accepted.
We have had the ludricous suggestion that we must not have any tests. It is said that we must have the deterrent but that it must be inefficient. That is one of those compromises that are reached by the process which the Leader of the Opposition describes as "sitting round a table", a compromise devoid of principle, of policy and of sense. As the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) made clear, he is, I understand, a 588 strong bomb man. He said that we could not renounce the manufacture of the bomb and still shelter under an ally who was making it. During the whole time that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was in power, we were sheltering under the atom bombs of the Americans and the right hon. Gentleman managed to sustain that position. I suspect that he rather fancies himself as a bomb rattler one day in the future.
All this time, the scientific development has been going on and we are approaching the situation—I do not suppose we have got there yet—when there will be an intercontinental ballistic missile with an atomic warhead. When that situation arises, in a nuclear war mutual destruction is overwhelmingly probable.
What are the real lessons to be derived from this? In paragraph 1 of the White Paper, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence says that the worldis poised between the hope of total peace and the fear of total war.I concede that the neatness of the antithesis must have been irresistible, but it is not a true antithesis. Both total peace and total war are very unlikely, and of the two I would say that total peace is the more unlikely. After all, total peace would mean the immediate coming of the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and of that I see no certain sign at present.
Total war seems to me to be also extraordinarily unlikely. What aggressor, however mad he might be, would start a nuclear war without some calculation of profit, and what profit can there be in such a war as that? The true answer was, I think, given by my right hon. Friend in paragraph 22 of the White Paper in which he says—I entirely agree with him—that the Russians have in no way given up their desire and intention to dominate the world but, blocked as they are from the frontal advance by the deterrent, they are seeking more circuitous means—internal subversion, economic penetration and, in the words of the White Paper,where the risks to themselves are not too great, indirect military action.That, surely, is exactly what has been happening since the war, is happening now and will go on happening in the future.
589 In such a situation, to play our part and to keep our end up, what we need are good conventional forces, a viable economy and the ability to lend and invest in the Commonwealth and all over the world. This, of course, depends upon the deterrent, and a valid deterrent, being in Western hands. Therefore, I am certain that Lord Attlee was right to give the Americans bomber bases. I am equally certain that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is right to give the Americans missile bases.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Easington in this. What gales of laughter must be blowing through the Kremlin at the thought of the leaders of the Free World being badgered and harried to go to a conference, the only conditions being that they should do things which weaken themselves. It makes no sense at all. As I say, the deterrent must be in being.
That leaves open the question of our own participation, what it should be and whether we should share in the nuclear deterrent.
The pace is a pretty hot one. It is not easy for someone in a private station to be sure about figures, but I hope that those I give are approximately right. At present, the United States is spending something like£2,350 million, not dollars, on missiles alone—over 50 per cent. more than our total expenditure on defence. And the pace is not very likely to slacken. People will invent countermeasures, then there will be a counter-counter-measure, and again a counter-counter-counter-measure and so on, and each new thing that is invented always costs more than the previous invention. It is a costly business.
The Minister of Defence gave some general indication of what it costs in paragraph 35 of the White Paper. I do not know what is included in that paragraph, but as the House will be aware, weapons are paid for by the Services only when they are delivered. Therefore, the initial capital expenditure on the accumulation of fissile materials, for example, would come on the Atomic Energy Authority Vote. Beyond that, there is one other aspect of the cost which I think is of great importance. That is the number of our very best scientists who are locked up in these projects. Let the House think what it might mean to 590 this country if we could release some of them and get the developments flowing from Zeta growing more rapidly.
My fear throughout all this has been that by indulging too much in our ambitions we shall lose the attainable. One of the greatest lessons of Suez was that after four days of tin-pot police action the£was in danger. In our hand we still held the hydrogen atomic ace, unplayed and unplayable. Therefore, I believe that there is on grounds of economics and also on grounds of grand strategy some case for us anyway to look critically at what we are doing in this matter.
There are, on the other hand, very strong arguments indeed on the other side which I do not minimise. The strongest of them in my opinion—the one which was given most prominence by the Prime Minister—was the argument that if we step down from the nuclear club we may lose our prestige or our influence. That is a very strong argument. Then there is the argument that we will lose influence with America. Our influence with America has its ups and downs. I would guess at the moment that it was on one of its ups, but I do not believe that the ups and downs of our influence with America can really be correlated with our advance as a nuclear Power. I do not think that they really have very much to do with it.
There is also the argument, which I see men of honour putting forward with great strength, that if we do not have our own nuclear deterrent we are depending entirely upon the United States. I would say to them that the nuclear deterrent, presumably, is aimed at Russia, and that surely the one thing that we all agree upon is that there is no question of any sort whatever of this country having a private war with Russia. Our strategy and that of the Americans are indissolubly mixed up in so far as we stand together against the Russians. As to our independent action in other parts of the world, I believe that the one thing really needed to give us independence is solvency rather than nuclear weapons.
It is a finely-balanced argument, and I do not pretend that I know the answer. I advocate no change of policy at the present time. Of course, if we could get nuclear disarmament the whole dilemma 591 would go. But it is difficult really to believe that we shall get it. We all hope and pray for it and must go on trying for it, but what stops it is that the Russians will never agree to any scheme of disarmament which does not leave them free to dominate the world; and to that no man who believes in Western civilisation, no honourable man, can agree. Therefore, until we get that disarmament we must live in this world of nuclear weapons and must contemplate the possibility of fourth or fifth or sixth Powers having these weapons.
I believe it is absolutely vital that the leaders of the West should come far more closely together in all this matter, that their thinking should be deeper, and that their strategy should be better co-ordinated; and I believe it is to those ends that the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and his colleagues are devoted.
§ 5.45 p.m.
The Rev. Llywelyn Williams (Abertillery)
The right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) has put forward a very powerful case for the point of view which he holds. I find myself in such fundamental disagreement with that point of view that there would be very little point in my pursuing in a debating way some of the issues which he raised. I should say at the outset of my speech that what I have to say is more in the nature of a personal statement than anything else. I do not commit anyone except myself to the point of view which I intend to adduce.
I do not speak as a member of any group inside or outside this House which concerns itself with the matters that we have been discussing today, and by no stretch of imagination could I be described as a joiner-up of movements. I speak purely in my personal capacity. I wish to start with what I would regard as a self-evident and indeed unchallengeable axiom. It is that there is no defence at all, using that word in its strict literal sense, in nuclear war. Many years ago, the late Earl Baldwin said that the bomber would always get through, and what was true then is equally true, and indeed more true, today.
I presume that that is why all the weapons which are discussed in the White Paper on defence are weapons of attack 592 and aggression, and that I presume would also explain why Civil Defence has to be content with one short paragraph, paragraph 52, made up of nine lines. The word "defence" in its modern context is, therefore, a complete misnomer. My case is that there is an urgent need for a reassessment of what is called the defence situation, and on four grounds. The first is political, the second financial or economic, the third military and the fourth moral.
The whole political basis of the White Paper, with its references to alliances, pacts and agreements, is that there is one potential enemy, one threatening force—Communist Russia. Very few people in Britain have not been indoctrinated with that belief. Openly or tacitly, this seems to be accepted in all speeches made by politicians, in all pacts and alliances, and in all conferences which politicians attend. It is about time we stopped to examine this assumption, this presupposition, by which our thinking has been conditioned for so long.
For myself, I refuse to accept this as a necessarily established fact in a blind and slavish way. The Russian leaders cannot, and I think do not any longer—even presuming they did in the past—cherish the illusion that Communism can be established by military aggression. Stated simply, perhaps over-simply. I concede that Russia's basic fears on the political level are, first, a rearmed Germany and, secondly, a United States of America which cannot readily accept the principle of co-existence. I wish there was more evidence that people in the United States of America could adjust their thinking more to the hard fact of co-existence.
No one should deduce from this that I, of all people in the House, am enamoured of the Communist system. I have no illusions about Russia or Communism. What I refuse to do is to continue mechanically, almost robot-like as once I may have done, to think in terms of Russia as a Power or system which sooner or later will, indeed must, initiate an aggressive war. That is why I believe our thinking should begin to move away—I do not put it stronger than that—from the rigid conception of seeking security in existing military and political alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Bag- 593 dad Pact, and the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation.
The second need is for an economic reassessment. The Defence White Paper refers to the estimated cost of defence expenditure for 1958–59 as being over£1,400 million. This is a tremendous sum of money. Indeed, it has been the average military expenditure of this country for some years. References have been made during the last hour or so to prove this point.
No one in the House would deny that untold millions of these sums have been spent, in the very nature of things, on what today can only be described as junk—outdated, outmoded, useless junk—because in this crazy arms race yesteryear's weapons are useless in this year's context. That is inevitable. When I think of the hospitals we could have built with just a few of those millions, I become really despondent. With all our recurring financial and economic difficulties, with all the great developments which should now be proceeding apace in our social services, does anyone suggest that this continuing, fantastic military expenditure can be justified any longer on economic grounds?
If I may be permitted an analogy, David going out to meet Goliath, overwhelmed and overburdened by Saul's military equipment, was a ludicrous figure and was continually tripping over himself. Britain can more successfully meet the challenge of Russia in other ways than by the crude and crippling militaristic ones. Why can we not realise how foolish a figure we cut in trying to keep up with America and Russia in the possession of nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic missiles? We are not—we can no longer be—a first-class military Power. In that sense, and in that sense only, we have had our day, we have ceased to be.
I do not minimise the difficulty or the agony for some people in facing that realisation, but life, whether we like it or not, is a series of adjustments, and the failures in life are those who either refuse or fail to make the necessary and the right adjustments at the right time. The Minister of Defence himself, acting for the Government, has had to make a number of painful adjustments in the Armed Forces, despite the objections of sentiment and tradition, both of which are powerful factors in our British life. 594 I hope sincerely that both parties in the House will one day, sooner, I hope, than later, officially make the great, far-reaching adjustment and consequential decision for which I am now pleading.
Does this mean, as the Prime Minister said the other day and as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) has said on more than one occasion, that we would be completely dependent on the United States of America and would pathetically gather together under the shelter of the United States' nuclear umbrella? I do not think so, for two reasons. Firstly, if we unilaterally—that is a tripping word for politicians, is it not?—abjure the manufacture, use and testing of all these weapons of mass destruction, for assuredly that is what they are, and if we were to establish beyond any per-adventure that there were no rocket bases in this country, no hydrogen or nuclear bombs here in Britain or in any of our overseas possessions, what earthly purpose could there be in Russia obliterating this island? In the circumstances I have outlined, we would not need the protective umbrella of the United States of America or of any other country.
If the bomber and the missile must get through, and we all agree that this is true, and if America and Russia are at war and there are American nuclear weapons positioned in this island, how can our people be protected against indescribable destruction? Or if, instead, a lesser evil were to follow—I call it a lesser evil for obvious reasons—and we were occupied by Russian troops, what then would be the position? I say with all the sincerity at my command that I am seeking to be realistic and to face the logical consequences of the attitude which I am advocating and which I think we should take. I definitely do not underestimate the awful consequences of such an occupation, but it would be better than an island completely ruined, devastated beyond repair.
The Rev. Ll. Williams
I have some slight acquaintance with life in a Communist-dominated country, East Germany. I do not minimise the suffering, mental, physical and spiritual, of those who care for freedom and democracy and who live in such a country. 595 But life can still go on and people can still hope for better things. There is a finality about the charnel house which does not bear thinking about.
Finally, I come to one other consideration, the moral consideration. I implore the House, even at this stage, to make a fresh reappraisal of the moral implications of the Defence White Paper. I speak in no superior moral sense to anyone in the House. I am all too conscious of my own selfishness and my own unworthiness to speak in that spirit. I take it for granted that in the moral sense we all speak on level terms. No one has a monopoly of sincerity, sympathy, sensitiveness, nor, indeed, of truth in this place. We must all follow what light we discern in this dark world.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), speaking in the House in a defence debate some months ago, quoted very movingly the words of the Saviour on the Cross:Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.That quotation pulled me up with a jolt. I speak in no personal sense about my right hon. Friend, certainly not in an abusive or offensive spirit. He knows me well enough to know that I would not do that, but, on reflection, I feel that those words should not have been used here, because they are not applicable to us, for we do know what we are doing.
No hon. Member does not know what the consequences of these diabolical weapons are in the mass destruction of men, women and children. It is not an exaggeration to say that an H-bomb on a crowded city will kill one million and maim millions more. Is there any situation, defensive or retaliatory, which could justify Great Britain in doing that? I cannot but express my deep conviction that there is no situation which can be envisaged in the conflicts of nations which could justify that.
I cannot honestly claim to be an absolute pacifist in the sense of believing that physical force can never be justified in any circumstances. I believe in the United Nations and support a United Nations token armed force to undertake police action in troubled spots, such as the Egyptian—Israel border, North Africa, or other places. But one cannot police with an H-bomb, and that is the point.
596 In the final analysis, it boils down to this; everyone, with his hand on his heart, must be prepared to say at which point he can say "Yes" and at which point he must say "No". Speaking for myself, police action, yes; military safeguards where military personnel are in clash with insurrectionists, yes, but to nuclear weapons which increasingly from year to year baffle the imagination because of their destructive power and which can wipe out millions of people, no, no. Five years ago, it was the atom bomb. Today, it is the H-bomb. Five years hence it will be the cobalt bomb. Where can this lead but to an inferno?
One final and saddening reflection; why is it that in these matters the scientists seem to be more concerned than the politicians? Do we politicians live in some unreal world? I cannot forget the renunciation of Professor Robert Oppenheimer, who had a major part in the manufacture of the atom bomb, but who said, "I will not touch the hydrogen bomb." Can we dismiss people like J. B. Priestley as woolly, head-in-the-cloud thinkers? We did not think so in the last war. Can we ignore the warnings of Einstein and Bertrand Russell, two thinkers whose equal we could not hope to produce in this Assembly for clear-headedness and profundity?
I humbly beg the House, in a submission which in one sense I should have preferred not to have made, but which I have for long felt constrained to make, not to treat what I have said as the outpourings of a well-meaning but innocent idealist. I assure the House that I have spoken as I have because I believe that the White Paper is not realistic, and does not assess the national or international situation truly, and because its proposals cannot be justified politically, economically, militarily or morally.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Sir James Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
I would be the last to question or doubt the sincerity and beliefs of the hon. Member for Abertillery (The Rev. Ll. Williams). But I would like to tell him that I am a Scotsman, sitting for a Scottish seat, and that I remember a declaration of independence, made by my country in the fourteenth century, which went something like this:Our struggle is not for wealth or privilege but for freedom alone, which no good man gives up except with his life.597 That was the choice which the hon. Member laid before us today—misery, capitulation, concentration camps; or the risk of our lives. I believe that the second is the lesser of the two appalling evils.
I would have liked to have gone even part of the way along the road with the hon. Member, but he stopped me early because he showed me that he was prepared to put a different construction on Russian intentions than I could accept. He said that he thought that the Russians had now reached a point where they recognised that the imposition of their ideology could no longer be carried out by military means.
But it was only a short time ago that a conference of all the Communist States, with only one dissentient, Yugoslavia, reaffirmed their determination to impose upon the world the theories of Marx, Lenin and Stalin, adding, "By force if necessary". With the value which he puts on Russian intentions, and which I cannot accept, how does the hon. Member explain 175 divisions, and, more difficult to explain still—because a frightened nation might say that that number of divisions was necessary for its own protection—how does he explain 500 submarines, which could have no possible meaning but an aggressive one?
§ Sir J. Hutchison
So long as that situation obtains, I cannot accept the possibility that we can disarm ourselves to the point which the hon. Member for Abertillery wants and be able to trust any Russian promises that we would be left without being dominated. We start with equal sincerity on different grounds.
Out of the tangle of complications into which a defence debate of this kind leads us, I want to try to extract two themes and to offer them to the House. The first question with which I should like to deal is the vexed question of control of the strategic bomb, because it is causing great anxiety and great difficulties. I think that we have to have in our minds the possibility of three forms of attack. The first is a local eruption across a frontier by a division or two divisions, or perhaps even more, bolstered up by a charge of ill-treatment or inability to maintain order in a neighbouring State. 598 Then, there would follow the sort of Korean pattern of Russian volunteers and a few divisions would march across this frontier.
This kind of attack, I firmly believe, can be pushed back, and would be pushed back, by conventional forces. Of course, it all depends on the strength of the attack and the number of conventional forces available. May I say, in passing, that a great deal of the debate that has been going on in the last two days has been shadow-boxing, because I believe that there is the same ultimate intention about how to meet an attack both on this side of the House and among the majority on the other side.
I should like to quote a phrase which I heard from a highly-placed American general, who said that their policy was that there should be no over-killing. I could not have conjured up myself a better way of expressing what is, I believe, the intention. In other words, we must resist and repel an attack, but we must only do it with the forces that are necessary. Therefore, I believe that the local attack, if it is an attack of that kind, largely for probing purposes to see what reaction the West would make, can be dealt with by conventional weapons. In this set of circumstances, there is no complication as to command, because with our unified and integrated command, the power to take action immediately is already there.
The second form of attack would be much more serious. It would be in much greater strength, and might even be accompanied by the use of tactical atomic weapons by the enemy. Once again, I believe that there should be no over-killing, but the attack has to be repelled, and it may well be, indeed it is likely to be, necessary for us to use our tactical atomic weapon, especially if it had been used against us. Here again, the question of command—though I shall be very glad to have a reply on this point—does not present a problem. I believe that the Supreme Commander in Europe already has the power to use these weapons in these circumstances; that is to say, tactical atomic weapons used in the area of the battlefield against military targets. I shall be glad if my right hon. Friend who is to reply to the debate will seek an answer on this specific question for me.
599 The third and most difficult problem of all is that of all-out war. I know that many people think that it is inevitable that, after the second type of attack, once an atomic weapon of any kind is used, it will automatically lead to the H-bomb and all-out warfare. I do not believe that that is at all necessarily so, but, in any case, even if it were so, I think we must be prepared for the lesser of these two evils. That immediately implies the use of the megaton bomb, which would mean all-out warfare, and it is the question of when that bomb is to be used that is causing so much anxiety in Europe at present.
Obviously, it would be used with the greatest reluctance. It would be used only in extremis, but for the same reason that we insisted, as I think rightly, in having our own atomic weapons under the Government which preceded this Government. The Government under the present Earl Attlee—Mr. Attlee, as he then was—insisted on having our own weapons, because it is quite conceivable that an assessment by the United States of America of a target, or when to use or withhold the bomb, might very well he different from ours.
That is exactly the attitude of mind of a large number of States on the Continent of Europe. They say, "You will not let us know, or agree to accept our voices and views about when you are to use your bomb, and until you are prepared so to do, we are going to have our own." We have very little reason to object to that, since it is exactly the attitude which we ourselves take.
So we have had three nations within the last few weeks—Western Germany, Italy and France—setting up an agreement to manufacture their own nuclear weapons, and enter into research and development and the production of these weapons. That is a very retrograde step. It is retrograde in the sense that it is wasteful of skill and money. It is the exact negation of interdependence, which was the agreement come to only recently between the President of the United States and our own Prime Minister, and, I gather, adopted by the whole of N.A.T.O.
So we have the process going backwards. It results, eventually, in the bomb getting into another set of hands, with all 600 the testing which will, no doubt, be expected and the consequence further spread of the radioactive danger. It also has a tendency to weaken the whole of Western European Union or N.A.T.O., and to drive the countries into separate foreign policies. These are exactly the things which we have been seeking so ardently to avoid for so long.
What can be done? Is it not possible to have discussions as to what amount of say we can give to these nations in the use of the bomb? I know that in many cases there will be very little time, but is it not possible to conceive beforehand a set of circumstances in which there would be no doubt that the bomb would be used? Suppose, for example, an aggressor dropped a bomb on Paris or on London. Nobody will deny—at least among those who accept the bomb—that this would be a casus belli, presenting reason and cause for retaliation in kind.
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
The hon. Gentleman, a little earlier, stated that we would only use the bomb in extremis. Now he gives a possible illustration of it. Is there, in his opinion, any other case that should make us use it, short of the illustration which he has given, namely, that we are first attacked?
§ Sir J. Hutchison
There are others. I want to be quite fair about this. I take as an example the inexorable advance by, say, 100 Russian divisions across Europe, which we would be unable to contain in that situation—that sweep of troops across Europe which is not to be stopped in any other way. That would, I think, be an "extremis," and I believe that a set of circumstances could now be agreed with our allies in N.A.T.O. which would set their fears at rest and allow them to know that, in a certain set of circumstances, and then only, the bomb would be used.
The possible other set of circumstances which, I think, could be elaborated now is where there is a little time for discussion. The trouble is that, in such a war, everything must move so fast that there is scarcely time for discussion at all, but if an inexorable advance of the kind I have given as an illustration were being held up sufficiently long for a series of representatives of the States concerned, on the highest level and armed with the 601 power to take decisions, had time to meet, I think they should meet, and that that sort of situation should be provided for.
That still, perhaps, leaves one or two gaps about which a risk must be taken, but by having discussions of that type we could do much more to satisfy our allies and consequently avoid the duplication and waste which is going on just now, and also the separation of policies and ideas. I should like my right hon. Friend to state whether there have ever been discussions with our allies in Western European Union or N.A.T.O. in an effort to provide for circumstances in which the hydrogen bomb would he used.
I want to turn to the second of the two themes which I want to extract from the great problem that we are discussing. I turn to the question of disengagement. This will no doubt occupy the thoughts of all those who go to the summit meeting, and it is engaging the attention and thoughts of nearly everybody who does any thinking about defence matters. The question of disengagement must be divided into two main compartments—the political and the military. I do not want to spend too much time upon the political argument, because that is more suitable to a foreign affairs debate. I want to deal with the military advantages or disadvantages.
I understand that one of the political advantages claimed for the policy of disengagement—whether it be the Rapacki Plan or the plan put forward earlier in this House by Sir Anthony Eden—is that with it would go the reunification of Germany, with free elections. That is a sine qua non, and one of the advantages to be drawn from a disengagement plan. I wonder whether there is any evidence that Russia would agree to this. All the evidence so far is against it. But I agree that it would be a very important factor if it could be brought about.
The other main claim is that tension would be reduced. I wonder whether that is so. What a curious fraternity of nations we should have in that zone in the centre of Europe—said to be neutral and disarmed but, as Sir Anthony Eden asked, kept disarmed and neutral by whom?—with countries like East Germany, West Germany, which is probably as conservative as we are at the moment, 602 Czechoslovakia, which appears to be quite happy with Stalinism; and, somewhere in between, Poland. Is it really the case that the possibility of tension and incidents will be reduced if we leave that enormous area open to quarrelling and friction of one kind and another? I very much doubt whether tension would be reduced; I think that it might even be increased. It would be a most suitable breeding ground for new tensions.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
Is the hon. Member arguing that tension would not be reduced if we disarmed people who were likely to quarrel? Surely it is an advantage to disarm them.
§ Sir J. Hutchison
I do not think that tension would necessarily be reduced. People can quarrel without being armed with tanks and aeroplanes. I can see just as much possibility of trouble whether we have weapons or not. In any case, nobody has seriously suggested that there should be absolutely no weapons. These countries would have to have some weapons to keep internal order.
§ Sir J. Hutchison
One can have quite a row with even as few arms as possible. I am not persuaded that tension will be reduced if we create a large zone of heterogenous States with different creeds and outlooks.
I pass rapidly to the military disadvantages, because I can see no military advantage, much as I have examined all the policies of disengagement. First, we should have no German forces. Our diminutive forces in Europe, already ridiculously small in comparison with those of Russia, would become more ridiculously small than ever. The situation would be satisfactory only if the Russian forces were drastically reduced—and I do mean drastically. We should reduce, by the German contribution, the possibilities of resistance. Secondly, we would have the disadvantage that our frontier would become the Rhine. The forward strategy upon which all the military experts rely would have to be abandoned. We should reduce our room for manœuvre to France and the Low Countries. Anyone who has studied military tactics and strategy in recent times will know the tremendous importance of 603 room for manœuvre. The faster a war moves the more important it becomes, especially in defence, and to the weaker side.
§ Mr. Crossman
Is it the hon. Gentleman's view that we should get the enthusiastic support of West Germany if it were clear—as the hon. Gentleman is making it clear—that it is our aim to keep the Germans divided? I should think that that would make it absolutely certain that the West Germans would refuse to fight on our side.
§ Sir J. Hutchison
I am sorry, but I have not entirely followed the hon. Member's point. I have no intention—even if my speech may have been thought to imply it—of keeping Germany disunited, but I say that we are not the least bit likely to get German unification, because Russia will not agree to it. If we did have a disengagement plan and withdrew the Western forces, minus those of Germany, to the Rhine, our forces would be left with room for manœuvre only behind the Rhine. Our room for manœuvre, so important to the weaker side, and in defence, would be gravely cut down.
The third disadvantage would be that the military establishments already created in Germany, having cost millions of pounds to create, would have to be recreated in France. I do not believe that either the United States or ourselves would or could find the money to carry out this operation, but even if we could the fact is that the land is physically not there, unless we are prepared to cause the greatest disruption to the whole of the French economy and agriculture. The training grounds and supply depôts and airfields that we have in Germany would also have to be moved back into France.
The fifth disadvantage would be that the early warning system, operating on the present frontiers, upon which we rely to give us hours or perhaps even precious minutes of warning would, unless some very curious and special arrangement were made, have to be drawn back also, so that the precious minutes in which we would have time to retaliate would be lost.
The sixth disadvantage would be an economic one. What a great advantage it would be for West Germany—who is competing commercially with us very actively just now—and also Czechoslo- 604 vakia and Poland, to have no defence costs to bear. We are moving into a time of great competitive activity, and if those countries had no obligations for defence and none of the expense which it involves they would have a very great economic advantage.
We should be handing over a no-man's-land to Russia, and as Russia alone can be the aggressor, and as the aggressor would get a flying start across no man's-land, the first rush of the Russians would carry them almost entirely across the neutralised area.
It may sound as though I am ending upon a note of despair, but I do not want to do so. I do not think that we need despair. After all, what did we set up N.A.T.O. for? We set up N.A.T.O. after the Czechoslovakia incident to save other countries from falling into the hands of Russia and to prevent war from happening. People do not take much notice of the disasters they miss, but, in fact, we have not had a European war. If we can go on with resolution and patience I believe that we shall have no war now.
In this matter, time is on our side; and I say that with all the evidence we have of what is going on behind the Iron Curtain. We know that there has been a great deal of unrest both in Russia and the satellite countries. Students are asking for more textbooks from the West and for more access to Western magazines and newspapers. Indeed, the Hungarian rebellion started in that way.
Does the House think that it is possible to educate people up to a standard of intellect that can produce a Sputnik, and that such individuals will be content to have their lives, thinking and science dominated for them perpetually? I do not believe so. No tyranny has ever lasted for ever and nor will this one. In the West, we now require patience and resolution. It is only when these weaken that danger becomes redoubled.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Tomney (Hammersmith, North)
I have followed as closely as I could the involved arguments about disengagement in Central Europe advanced by the hon. Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison). As the hon. Member pointed out, it is a fact of the utmost 605 gravity to Western democracies that any disengagement in Europe should not leave the forces of the West relatively weaker than they are now.
If the Soviet Union insists that the United States—upon whom we have to depend for 90 per cent. of our defence, whether we like it or not—must leave Europe, the outlook for Western Europe will indeed be sad. I believe that the Soviet Union will not be content with anything less than that. Its objective and ultimate purpose is to destroy N.A.T.O.
I am a great believer in deeds rather than words. In 1943, when the Russians were advancing to the Vistula and when the Poles, in defence of Warsaw, rose to overthrow the German occupying forces, the army of the Soviet Union stood immobile on the other side of the river rather than lend help to the Poles.
Not only that—and those who are "soft" on the Russian point of view should mark this well—the "bomber boys" in this country, who were flying Lancasters and could have taken arms, food and ammunition to the Polish patriots in Warsaw, were forbidden by the Soviet High Command to land in Soviet territory to refuel. One bears those things in mind when listening to the pacifist speeches which have been made today. Although those making such speeches are entitled to their opinion, and we may respect their views, we must also allocate responsibility for these affairs, and, while hoping for peace, we must also face reality.
Over a number of years I have been present in this Chamber when debates have taken place on White Papers and I have had to sit through them without being called. I thought that this time the same thing would happen, and I am, therefore, glad of the opportunity to take part in the debate because this White Paper has a special significance for hon. Members on this side of the House. It may be that next year the present Opposition will be the Government and responsible for policy. Therefore, the speech of the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) should not be lost upon the "watershed of wisdom" which sits on the Opposition Front Bench.
We are now in a situation where all of us, or, at least, all who have any 606 humanity in their souls, are troubled. The pacifists do not enjoy a monopoly of humanity. We all realise what H-bomb warfare could mean. But there are some things which men value even above life, and one is freedom. Thousands of men would never permit themselves to be placed in the position of having to see their children going down on their knees and not being able to stand up for themselves as free men and women. That is the difference between us. When I was employed in a factory, during the war, I had a pacifist working next to me. His wife was in the same shop and arguments occurred. Occasionally, the woman, with a black eye, would come to me and say that she had lost the argument again. That was the length and breadth of his pacifism.
At Brighton this year the Labour Party Conference, perhaps the most representative body of people in this country, decided by a majority of eight to one, after an interesting and detailed debate riddled with reason and passion, not to renounce Britain's right to manufacture the hydrogen bomb. The man who was more successful than anybody in winning that vote was my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) who, in what was probably the greatest speech of his career—and in very difficult circumstances, in view of his previous associations—persuaded the conference to that opinion in about half an hour. I think it incumbent on a democratic assembly such as ours to believe in the principle of majority rule.
§ Mr. Tomney
Yes, but our majority rule is based on sound debate and the will of the majority. In Russia, it is based on the application of force without representation by political parties. That is the essential difference which my hon. Friend misses. There is no free voice on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
We had a situation in 1925 which was very similar. At a Labour Party Conference in Brighton the late Mr. Ernest Bevin and some responsible trade union leaders, who saw the writing on the wall by Hitler, decided to take certain action. Some people have referred to their action as a brutal assault on the late Mr. George Lansbury. Whether it was or not I do 607 not know, because I was not there. But the job had to be done, because the nation had to be shaken out of a dangerous state of apathy.
The present situation resembles that of 1938 and 1939. It does so because we are dealing with people who, in the military, diplomatic, political and strategic spheres, are far more cunning, ruthless and unprincipled even than were those people who intended to destroy the world from Hitlerite Germany.
We have the same kind of international picture before us now and that is why we, in the House of Commons, should get this picture clearly and firmly into perspective so that, by our wisdom in the councils of the world and our resolution, we may avoid such another final catastrophe. It is absolutely essential, with the world divided as it is into East and West, that we should let the people who may have to be our adversaries know of our resolution and our determination.
I was not a Member of this House during 1938 and 1939, the Chamberlain era, when the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), almost alone on the Government benches in doing so, was pointing out the dangers which were about to overtake us. In those days votes were cast against the Service Estimates, which gave Hitler to think that the resolution of the British people were a great deal less than they were. We do not want to make any mistake like that in the present situation.
If one re-reads the terms of the Yalta and Potsdam Agreements and reads the books that have been written about that period and its complicated negotiations, we see the statesmen of the West leaning over backwards to accommodate themselves to Stalin, never realising the nature of the position with which he would soon confront them. We know now that every single principle established at those conferences has been thrown into the wastepaper basket.
Take Germany, the cardinal issue. There was to be four-Power Government which was supposed to occupy Germany and operate from Berlin as a means of unifying Germany and, in due time, converting her to a true democracy. Germany has never known a true demo- 608 cracy from the time of Bismarck. The idea was four-Power Government, eventual unification and democratic institutions.
We found in no time at all that the Iron Curtain had come down right across the middle of Berlin and that, by one of these miracles of diplomatic machinery, the Russians were occupying a corridor on the Western side of Berlin, about 27 miles wide. Supplies going into Berlin from the West had to go through that corridor. In 1950, this corridor was shut by the Russians. A decision had to be taken by the West quickly or the German people would have been left to their fate in Berlin, with prospects of starvation.
The decision was taken on the Floor of this House of Commons and by all the other Governments concerned: airlift into Berlin. No blood was shed, except the lives of 17 British pilots. I believe that the time-schedule allowed them was two minutes on the ground and up again. That situation lasted for about ten months before the Russians gave way and caved in on this issue. In every situation where determination has been shown the same kind of thing has happened. Let nobody doubt what Russia is doing. From 1939 onwards she has dominated Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and, in 1956, Hungary. What were the Hungarians doing? They were rioting and expressing their desire for self-determination within their own borders.
I have been privileged this week to address a meeting, just across the road, of 250 Europeans, youngsters, every one of them a refugee from his native land. What kind of diabolical system is it that can drive men from their own firesides? What kind of system are we confronted with? That shows the necessity for the institution of N.A.T.O. and of the armaments of the West which are adding such crippling burdens and costs to our economies. Nevertheless, that is the position that we have to face, and that the Labour Party, too, will have to face again when we become the Government of the country.
Lord Attlee, when he was Prime Minister, saw these things quite clearly. I did not always agree with him, but I admired him in many respects. Almost alone, and without even informing the other members of his Cabinet, he embarked upon the development of 609 atomic weapons. It followed as a natural corollary that once we placed our military organisation in possession of nuclear weapons of that character we had to accept the consequential rôle in world politics. Lord Attlee did that almost alone, and hid the accounts in the Treasury. Both sides of the world have now probably digested as much as they can of armaments; another bite may be fatal.
The controversial paragraph 12 of the White Paper has given rise to the Opposition Amendment; it is a paragraph of degree. My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said yesterday that if he had the choice of living in the vicinity of an airfield from which bomber planes were patrolling with atom bombs, or of living in an area where missile bases had been installed, he would prefer the latter. If he accepts these bases he must accept the policy that follows from them.
No nation has a monopoly of scientific, mechanical or engineering minds, and certainly not the Soviet Union. Such men arise in every nation. There is no doubt that the launching of the Russian Sputnik considerably jolted the sang froid of the American public almost to the point of panic. The establishment of the proposed missile bases is a political and not a military decision, because the missiles are obsolete to the point of operational futility. They are cumbersome in use and take a long time to fuel up.
These weapons are here as a political decision. In 1951, when we were the Government, we were faced with exactly the same position. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, being faced with the danger of war which might have spread into a world conflagration, decided on financial policies which allocated Estimates to meet the situation. This gave rise to a state of affairs which many of us in the party did not like.
We were told at that time that the danger period would be 1954 and 1955. Those years have gone and we are now in 1958. We have not had a world conflagration. We are now told that the danger may be 1961 or 1962.
§ Mr. Tomney
I will come to that in a moment.
As long as the danger period is constantly being postponed by virtue of political decisions and policies, there is hope for the salvation of the world and also hope for people who believe in free democratic institutions, because all the time this is happening the Russian nation is growing to responsibility and manhood. I am told that there are 33 million people in Russia whom they call cultured. I suppose that we should call them the fitters, the turners, the millers and the carpenters who, by virtue of their industrial training, have acquired a knowledge of the technique of tools and measurement. Their thinking will not stop at the technique of tools and measurement. Their appetite will expand. Upon these 33 million people in Russia may rest a decision which will eventually save the world.
When I first came to the House it took me eighteen months to adjust myself to the illogicality which I found in this Chamber. I came straight from the factory bench, where we knew exactly what to do, how to do it and where we were going. Here nobody seems to know what he is doing, or where he is going.
§ Mr. A. E. Hunter (Feltham)
The only person who seems to know where he is going is my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney).
§ Mr. Tomney
I am saying just that! In fact, I wish I did. I try to understand all points of view, even the Russian point of view.
I have here a cutting from the Daily Express. Hon. Members should not get any wrong ideas; I do not take that paper, but I picked it up in the Tea Room and read it. It refers to the new encyclopaedia which was introduced in Russia, where they are rewriting Russian history for the Russians. The Russians are masters of the truth, the half-truth and the quarter-truth. This is an extract:While in power in Britain, from 1945 to 1951, the Labour Party attacked the working classes and prepared for a new war.Think of the social services, the educational services, the pensions, workmen's compensation and full employment. Yet that is what the Russians are asked to believe. Possibly they will believe it. I 611 have a Russian doctor working in my constituency in Hammersmith, in one of the largest teaching hospitals in the world, who went to tea last week with some friends and refused to eat the cakes on the table because he thought my friends were starving and that the cakes had been bought only for his benefit. What a task it is in the world when we are faced with that kind of situation.
I will read another extract:The British Labour leaders are the people who split the British and international workers' movement.Let us look at that. I know something about that, too. What do they mean by that? They are referring to the I.C.F.T.U. and the W.F.T.U. The I.C.F.T.U. is the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, supported and sponsored by the French, Benelux, British and American trade unions. It is doing a job for international labour in commerce and in factories throughout the world, even as far as Japan. It was in grave danger of coming under Communist domination. Consequently, it divorced itself from the people who were causing the trouble, and a rival organisation was then started, known as the World Federation of Trade Unions. The statement made by the Russians, therefore, is again a classic example of the art of the half-truth.
There was an even better example in an American magazine about four years ago, when Stalin died. In the magazine it said that 100,000 people in mourning had passed Stalin's coffin in so many hours. A mathematician worked it out and reached the conclusion that every one of them would have had to pass the coffin at the rate of 10.3 seconds for 100 metres, which is equal to the Olympic sprint record.
I say these things to give the House an indication of some of the principles and the policies with which we are confronted. The Thor rocket is primarily here for the defence of the American nation. I am a great believer in paying the piper. I think that they should pay for every single item of installation and operation. These weapons will never be used. We shall have to rely upon the Victor, the Valiant and the Vulcan, which are comparable with anything which anyone else has in the world. We shall have to rely on them until such time as we can find some way out of the present impasse.
612 I come to one of the most controversial points which may engage us in the next few months—the West German Government's contribution towards the N.A.T.O. forces in Germany. In the Paris Treaties we undertook an obligation to maintain four divisions in Western Germany until the year 2,000, forty years ahead. This was an obligation entered into with the French Government who, in the main, have withdrawn all their forces and used them in Algeria.
In the last five years the German economy has been enjoying the benefit of a protective Treasury, especially in the export markets. The Germans have a far greater accumulation of capital reserves than this country can hope to have even after the next twenty or thirty years. Despite the difficulties which may arise, I do not think there is any doubt that this contribution should fall fairly and squarely upon the shoulders of the German Federal Republic.
We can no longer accept the decision that we must exhaust our resources, as we have been exhausting them over the last five years. There is a point from which we cannot return. The crisis which we had last September showed how finely balanced we are. I say to my right hon. and hon. Friends who may be Ministers in the next Government that on this point they must stick out for the full German contribution if Britain is to do her full share in the coming years.
I finish as I began. There is great tension and anxiety in the world, and in Europe in particular, about the use of the H-bomb. I take second place to no one in my desire to see universal disarmament as quickly as possible, but, while such is the state of the nations that, despite their endeavours, they are unable to achieve that millenium, Great Britain must maintain defence arrangements consistent with her financial obligations. That proposition, fairly put to the British people, would be understood.
§ 7.1 p.m.
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
The hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney) said many things with which I would agree, and with which I am sure, most of my hon. Friends would agree. I do not think that he said many things 613 with which I would disagree. I am, therefore, wondering whether or not he intends to vote for the Opposition Amendment. If he does, I do not think that it will be with any great enthusiasm. I hope, however, that he will forgive me if I do not follow him in his speech, because I do not wish to speak for long and I have a number of things to say.
Most of us would agree that when my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence took office last year, followed, as it was, by the publication of the 1957 White Paper, our defence policy reached a turning point. That impression has been strengthened and confirmed by what he described as his progress report this year. I support the general policy entirely, and I do not at all agree with the critics who say that there are inconsistencies in it. On the contrary, the inconsistencies are to be found among its critics.
Yesterday, as we were reminded by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), two leading national newspapers published leading articles opposing the Government's policy. One was the Daily Herald. I was delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman dissociate himself, as I understood him, from the point of view at present being advocated by the Daily Herald. On the other hand, I was rather shocked when I studied that paper with some care today. I would defy anyone to read its front page today and realise that the right hon. Member for Belper had opposed its policy.
As I see it, the Daily Herald is coming out in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament and in favour of the policy that was behind the resolution that was defeated at the Labour Party's Conference at Brighton last year. The case is argued, to some extent, from the pacifist point of view. That is a point of view that we respect so long as it is sincere, but one test of its sincerity is that it should be carried to its logical conclusion. I submit that the logical conclusion to the case made by the Daily Herald, and by certain hon. Members on the Left wing of the Labour Party, would be to declare Great Britain an open country, to disarm completely, and to rely for our safety on the good will of America and on the well-known humanity of Mr. Khrushchev. 614 The Times, on the other hand, took an entirely different line. I thought that my right hon. Friend was being rather kind to The Times, when he said he did not understand their article, because it seemed to me that what it was advocating was that we should abandon nuclear weapons and invest the money saved in conventional weapons. Did one ever hear such "Blimpery" if I may call it that? After all, if the object is simply to get the largest possible number of fighting men, one might as well go to the limit, arm the soldiers with bows and arrows and send the sailors to sea in sailing ships. We should get more of them, and they would not be very much more useless than they would be if they had only conventional weapons, with no nuclear weapons behind them.
It may be that The Times is influenced by a certain amount of what I might call liberal American thinking. That is a very alarming thought. In this country we have realised for a very long time that the deterrent is mutual, but I think that it is a comparatively new idea in America. I think that they are only just waking up to that now, and one has rather unpleasantly to speculate whether they may at some time have second thoughts about their European commitments. We can only pray that that will not be so.
As the White Paper points out very clearly, the ultimate defence of this country and of every other country in the world lies in general disarmament, and in that alone. The way to international agreement will not lie in the direction of unilateral gestures, any more than it lay in gestures in the time of Ramsay MacDonald.
It has always seemed to me that, in reality, the defence policy of this country, and, indeed, of any other country, is not at present quite so dependent upon complicated strategical speculation, as upon three very simple and essentially technical facts.
The first is that the power of the hydrogen bomb is overwhelming compared with anything with which mankind has ever been armed before. The second is that, for that reason, it follows that a prolonged major war is inconceivable, at any rate for Great Britain. The third technical fact is a little different. It is simply that, with the coming of the rocket 615 age, most bombers will be replaced by ballistic missiles and most fighters by guided missiles. What the Government have had to do has been to decide upon the timing, and with the greatest respect to hon. Members who have spoken, with the greatest respect, for instance, to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) who, I am sure, knows a great deal, I would submit that this is not a matter on which a body of laymen like ourselves, who have not access to highly secret information, can really make any useful comment—
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I am not commenting. I only say that the Government have had to decide on the timing, and I challenge criticisms of their timing when made by laymen who have no access to information of a highly secret nature. If I might hazard a guess, I would say that, if anything, the changes are coming in a little late; that, if anything. what is sometimes called by the Americans the "top brass" in the Services have, perhaps, lagged a little behind the opinion in the Services as a whole.
In passing, I should like to ask my right hon. Friend whether he is quite satisfied that everyone working on these things in the Services is fully alive to the importance of seeking some radical defence against these terrible weapons. We have now reached the stage where production of ever more powerful bombs and ever more powerful rockets is, at most, a marginal advantage, but any nation that could find a defence against these weapons could dominate the world. I shall be told—and it may, indeed, be so—that sixty years of research may be involved before one could even begin the development of a radical defence. If that is so, it is a strong case for beginning quickly.
While I am convinced that our main policy is sound, the way it has been executed is, perhaps, more open to criticism, albeit constructive criticism. I am sure that everyone in the House, whatever his views on these things, would like to see the same results achieved at less expense. Having said that, however, it would be most ungenerous not to pay a tribute to what Ministers have already 616 achieved. Nobody who has ever served in Whitehall can for one moment doubt the tremendous obstruction and special pleading which my right hon. Friend and his colleagues must have had to overcome even to hold costs at their present level.
Of course, one of the weaknesses of the policy is that the run-down is spread over five years. I realise that that is inevitable, but, none the less, it has a great disadvantage in allowing the vested interests and forces of opposition to mobilise themselves. How very strange some of that opposition is when it comes from hon. Members opposite who have spent their whole political lives trying to convince the electorate that the one thing they are interested in is economies in defence expenditure. I do not know what they expected to happen when the economies started, but, of course, such economies lead to dockyards being closed, and so on. Speaking in the Navy Estimates debate last year, I suggested that there might be a little trouble with the trade union movement over these economies, and the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) interrupted me to say that I was putting up skittles only in order to knock them down. We have had quite a number to knock down.
§ Mr. Mason
We do not disagree with the closing of these naval dockyards at all, if it is helping to reduce our defence expenditure and not making us more vulnerable to attack, from whatever quarter it may come. Our complaint has always been that the Government have never been prepared to find alternative employment when work dies in the industries closed down.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
To judge from the figures which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour gave us the other day, there has been extraordinary success, and I am sure that we are deeply pleased at what has, hi fact, been achieved. However, I do not want to be destructive. I want to make two very brief, constructive suggestions of changes in organisation which I believe would lead to considerably greater economy without sacrificing anything in results.
We are often told that there is no scope for big savings without changes in 617 policy. That is the voice of the Permanent Secretaries; it has become an article of faith in the entire Civil Service, and I believe it to be a mistaken faith. Surely there is tremendous scope for economy in the actual manner in which the money is spent. I should like to draw attention to two matters, one big and one small. In the corning year we hope to see a fall of, I think, about another 100,000 in Votes A, yet the cost of each Service Ministry is going up—not so very much, it is true, but by about£750,000.
The second matter is a much bigger one. The Vote for the Royal Air Force is£467 million, to which one must add the Royal Air Force share of the Ministry of Supply Vote, which I should put at at least£100 million, though I may be quite wrong in that estimate. That makes£567 million all told.
In paragraph 35 of the White Paper, we read that between 15 and 20 per cent. of the total defence expenditure goes on the deterrent. Let us call it£250 million. If one subtracts that from the Air Vote, one is left with the enormous total of over£300 million. That is what the Air Ministry must be spending on things which are neither bombers nor fighters, neither ballistic nor guided missiles, neither the radar warning system, nor research and development connected with any of those things. It certainly seems to me a great deal to be spending on Training Command, Coastal Command and Transport Command.
In previous years, some of my hon. Friends have made some rather unkind criticisms of Admiralty expenditure. Now that we have seen the Admiralty make a magnificent start, by at any rate promising things to come in the way of economies, I feel that we might, perhaps, train our guns on the Air Ministry.
§ Mr. Sandys
I wonder if I might just speak plainly to my hon. and gallant Friend. This additional money over, to which he refers—I forget what the sum was which he calculated—is not just for Training Command. It covers, of course, all the Air Forces overseas. It covers the Light Bomber Force and the Fighter Force overseas. It covers the Second Tactical Air Force on the Continent, and all sorts of things like that. It does not just go into Training Command.
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that intervention, though, with great respect to him, I feel that things must be run on fairly "Rolls Royce" lines.
My right hon. Friend's intervention brings me, naturally, to my next proposal. Surely, the time has come for the Minister of Defence to be financially accountable to Parliament for defence expenditure on the whole. I quite realise that this means legislation, but my impression was that, when the Prime Minister spoke about this matter a year or so ago in the House, he said that his mind was not closed to it. After all, we are here dealing with the most tremendous field of public expenditure. I should have thought that Parliamentary control would be helped if political responsibility and financial accountability were vested in one and the same Minister.
I am afraid that I have said some things which are rather dull in comparison with the flights into ethics and strategy we have had in this debate, but I should like, before I sit down, to say a word about general policy. Weapons, as we all know, are changing; but there are certain principles governing their use which do not change. Among the greatest of these principles is the need for full co-operation with one's allies. It has been truly said again and again that N.A.T.O. is more than an ordinary alliance. It is a system of collective security, the success and strength of which depends upon perfect mutual trust, a common strategical doctrine and a common tactical doctrine. That, in turn, depends upon a very high degree of integration and, indeed, possibly some degree of specialisation between the forces of all the nations concerned.
A great deal has already been achieved. I feel that the Prime Minister is right, however, to urge that we could go further and, perhaps, even faster along these lines. It is very easy to denounce the sort of steps we are taking as a surrender of sovereignty. It is very easy, but it is very foolish, and, in my belief, very petty. After all, a little merging of one's sovereignty with one's friends is a small price to pay for security.
There is, of course, an alternative to all this. We could withdraw from N.A.T.O. altogether. We could go into a state of armed neutrality. I believe that, now we have the hydrogen bomb, 619 from a purely military, technical point of view, that would be perfectly possible. Nevertheless, I am deeply convinced that neutrality would be a poor alternative to our present policy. But—and this is my point—it is the only alternative. There is no middle course.
The right hon. Member for Belper yesterday talked a lot about my right hon. Friend seeing only black and white. In this matter there is only black and white. Of that I am convinced. It is fatal to enter into politcial and strategical commitments unless one is prepared to take the consequential military steps. That was the mistake Mr. Asquith made in 1911, and it cost us a million dead. That was the mistake that some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen tried so hard to make Stanley Baldwin make in the 'thirties, achieving, I am afraid, some success. That is what the Opposition policy today would do again. Let us be quite clear about it.
In my opinion, the policy of the Opposition today would ruin N.A.T.O., because one cannot be true to an alliance and claim unilateral right at the same time to contract out of certain bases, whether it is because one thinks they would invite counter-attack or because one feels that they may embarrass one in conversations with a prospective enemy.
§ Mr. de Freitas
What N.A.T.O. bases are these to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman is referring?
§ Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett
I am referring to the missile bases, and I shall not be deterred by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) making the purely technical point that they do not actually come under N.A.T.O., because they are in aid of N.A.T.O.
One cannot be true to an alliance and, at the same time, claim the right to say whether or not one would have this kind of base. It is deceitful to pay lip service to an alliance while at the same time ceaselessly inflaming public opinion about the training methods of one's principal ally. It is surely folly for a party which claims to be the alternative Government to support and commit itself to a highly controversial change in the alliance which would have the effect of excluding one of its principal members. The N.A.T.O. alliance must either be a case of one for all and all for one or 620 nothing. We must either be m and in without reservation or out.
I have too great a respect for the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) to believe that he would really attempt, if he were Foreign Secretary, to carry out some of the policies that he advocates in the House. Let us make no mistake about one thing. If he did try to implement his policy, we should be taking a long, long step on the road to a third world war. Hon. Members must realise that in the realms of defence and threatened war compromise spells death. If hon. Members opposite are unable to support the Government in their policy, it would be far better for them to declare openly for neutrality. It would be better for the people of this country, and for our allies, who may otherwise be betrayed.
Surely this is not a time for change or vacillation. We have travelled a long way on the road towards Western unity. In the main, we have travelled in peace. If we are to reach the goal—or, to use the popular expression, the summit—I believe that at the present moment the most valuable contribution that the British people can make is by the exercise of their traditional virtues—calm, patience, and, above all, courage.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
This is the second time I have had the privilege of following the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett). The hon. and gallant Gentleman, with his naval training, always seeks out the enemy, turns his guns on him and uses all his ammunition—or so it seems. I appreciate that the sincerity of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's convictions always shines through what he says. I do not share his convictions, but they are convictions I respect. They have been honestly given to the House, and I believe that if the House is to accept a military system as the system of defence, then what the hon. and gallant Gentleman says cannot be easily ignored.
Everyone will agree that no issue is more important to the House than that which deals with the survival of our people. No one enters this House without realising that the defence of the realm is the major duty of any Government. All of us, whatever view we may 621 hold, are conscious that we are trustees of the well-being of the British people. In that rôle we have a solemn obligation, by voice and by vote, to defend the interests of the next generation. It is inevitable that there should be honest and sincere differences of conviction as to the best way of defending the British people. We have to ask ourselves whether it is, indeed, the physical and spiritual liberty of the British people with which we are concerned, or whether we are now reduced to accepting what I call the Hitlerian philosophy—that if we go down we are prepared to take the world down with us.
The new destructive power at the disposal of modern Governments is so different in character and effect as virtually to require an entirely new way of approaching its use. These are not weapons in the ordinary sense. They are means of destruction. Even the testing of these weapons endangers friend and foe alike.
In the brief time that I propose to take, I want to deal with some of the arguments advanced from both sides of the House. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) congratulated my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) on his speech, he described it as a patriotic speech. I hope no hon. Member will believe that in order to be patriotic one has to support the military system for the defence of these islands, for true love of country and true patriotism is surely on a much wider basis than that. My hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (The Rev. Ll. Williams), in a most moving and eloquent speech, has already advanced certain political, economic and military considerations as to why the House ought to agree to nuclear disarmament. Everyone seems to be willing to pay lip service to the idea of nuclear disarmament by agreement. Both Front Benches are agreed that this is a means of restoring the security of these islands. Everyone also seems to agree that there is no security for Britain in nuclear strength, but only ultimate destruction if we ever have to use it. Therefore, there is no security there.
We are anxious to obtain disarmament because security for these islands is pos- 622 sible in the nuclear age only if we disarm. The question is: are we to disarm by agreement, or are we to act unilaterally? After studying the results of disarmament conferences in recent years, I am not optimistic of agreement between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. on disarmament. I believe that fear blinds the Pentagon as much as it blinds Moscow. Fear distorts judgment, and the tragedy of the world today is that the strongest people are the most frightened people.
Therefore, we cannot with confidence look either to America or the Soviet Union for initiative in disarmament, because both sides are afraid to take the initial step. They believe that they will lose that temporary advantage. That means that this country—and I shall deal with the question of depending upon America for our security—as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington and right hon. and hon. Members opposite conceded, is at present 90 per cent. dependent for its military defence upon the U.S.A. Even if that be accepted, is it not of tremendous advantage that we, by a step towards disarmament, ourselves can help to relieve the pressures of the present fears which divide the major Powers of the world? Fear is not enough for a defence policy, and upon fear is based the White Paper which the House is discussing today.
Reference has been made to the Labour Party discussions at Brighton, in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) made a speech which disappointed his friends and pleased other people. There is no doubt about the temperature at that time. I never had the distinction of being what is called a "Bevanite". I never belonged to that group of my hon. Friends, although for most of the time my views coincided with theirs; but I believed in holding them when others had abandoned them. Consistency is, I know, no virtue in this House—it is a great handicap; I have only to glance at either Front Bench to realise that.
The Labour Party was overwhelmingly in favour of ending all nuclear tests. That is of the first importance, because the whole world knows that if after a General Election, as everyone believes, there is a Labour Government, we shall unilaterally stop testing the hydrogen bomb. We shall give a unilateral lead. 623 If it be of advantage to give a unilateral lead then, why not be logical and give a unilateral lead concerning missile bases?
§ Mr. Thomas
My hon. Friend must not tempt me into the realm of prophecy. I cannot say what the Labour Party policy will be after it has suspended its tests. What I do know is that the trade union, Labour and Co-operative movements of Britain—all of them—are in favour of Britain giving a unilateral lead to stop hydrogen bomb tests at the present time, and with good reason.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington sneered at Earl Russell, to whom he referred as a superannuated philosopher. It is easy to jibe, but the world honours Earl Russell and he can manage without the tribute of my right hon. Friend. Surely, even people outside this House are allowed to speak on the subject on which they are master.
What has Earl Russell said to arouse the wrath of my right hon. Friend? This is what he said at the Central Hall, at the rally when 5,000 people were willing to pay to support the demonstration. I quote:The British atomic scientists who investigated the matter came to the conclusion that the Bikini explosions will have caused 50,000 cancers.It was interesting to reflect, said Earl Russell, that if you gave one man cancer deliberately or caused one child to be born mentally defective, you would be thought a monster; but if you caused 50,000 you were thought a great patriot.I am not surprised that those who want to go on with nuclear warfare are disturbed when so distinguished a philosopher warns the Government and the nation. But he is not alone. What about the scientists? Nine thousand of the leading scientists of the world, including over one hundred of our own, have warned governments and politicians that they are playing with the future of the human race.
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland (Lanark)
Will the hon. Member say how many of these scientists are in Russia and have warned the Russian Government against playing with these tests?
§ Mr. Thomas
Yes, I can do that, too. The hon. Member is very obliging to ask me a question to which I know the answer. It has been given by Mr. Khrushchev in a statement published in this country, and for this purpose, I presume, we will take his word when he says that 146 scientists in the U.S.S.R. have protested to their Government. The scientists of the world are at one in warning humanity of what is happening.
§ Mr. Maitland rose—
§ Mr. Thomas
The hon. Member must make his own speech.
I want to pay a tribute to the Daily Herald for its magnificent lead, both today and yesterday, on the important question of missile bases. I find myself, to my dismay, out of step with some of my right hon. and hon. Friends on this question. Surely, a question of this magnitude is not one on which we should be mealy-mouthed or dishonest with the House or the country. This is an issue upon which the people have a right to know where we stand. I and many of my hon. Friends are irrevocably opposed to these bases being established here, either before or after talks.
It is a little foolish for the Prime Minister to think that he can go to the summit talks and believe that the threat that he will have bases afterwards if the talks fail will have any less effect than the fact that we still have the bases. That is the weakness in the plan. The threat of missile bases altogether poisons the possibilities of peace amongst the Powers of the world.
Therefore, I ask why these bases are to be established, and I turn to the political argument. I believe that the decision to have these bases was taken when the Prime Minister had his Bermuda talks. I believe that he betrayed us then by agreeing to these bases being established in this country. He has conceded the philosophy of Mr Dulles of massive retaliation. There was a shudder of horror in this country when Mr. Dulles' philosophy of massive retaliation was first unleased upon the world.
625 I believe that these missile bases—and this is a political argument rather than a moral one—are to be established not for the defence of these islands so much as for the defence of the United States. I verily believe that the United States, by seeking these bases far from her own shores, is watching her own military interests. I understand the military argument, but I cannot for the life of me understand our people endangering these islands. These bases will immediately make us more vulnerable, a more likely target, and more certain to be involved in a nuclear war, and they will be used only when fear gets out of hand.
Who believes that these bases will be used except to anticipate and not to retaliate a nuclear attack? If ever we suffer under nuclear attack, we shall not be using these bases. We shall have been destroyed. Who will attack these islands and give room for retaliation? Consequently, even on military grounds, hon. and right hon. Members opposite ought to see that unless we be the aggressors these missile bases will never be used but will constantly endanger our own security.
§ Mr. Thomas
My hon. Friend's memory is shorter than I thought it was. Surely, the House remembers that I have always opposed the use of the hydrogen bomb and rockets. I deplore the fear that makes the Government have that hydrogen bomber in the air at the present time.
I want to tell the House and Labour supporters throughout the country that I hope and pray that there will be a rising tide of agitation in these islands that sanity shall yet prevail.
I hope that the Labour movement will insist that there shall be no bases here, not for the limited period until the summit talks take place but ever, in order that we shall realise, as my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery so clearly indicated, that the well-being of our people would be far better served 626 by unilateral nuclear disarmament than by the insane fear that drives us at present.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) knows only too well that I disagree with every single word of his speech. It was more or less on the same line as every speech that he has ever delivered on the question of armaments in general. I shall be answering his speech all the way through mine, but I would say to him at the start that he is flying in the face of all the lessons of history. Before the 1914 war, we had precisely the same arguments. Lord Roberts stumped the country warning us of what was coming. "The Riddle of the Sands" was written, and the play "The Englishman's Home" was put on in London to try to bring home to people the danger which faced them, and people took no notice. The thought and philosophy of the hon. Member held sway.
The same thing happened before the 1939 war. There was the Peace Pledge Union, the by-election in East Fulham, and Sir Stafford Cripps, who went to the workers at Eastleigh and asked them to stop making armaments—and they were building Spitfires. Because of all that, Ribbentrop wrote to Hitler that England would not fight. If Hitler had known that we intended to stand alone in the world he would have thought a second time about over-running the Low Countries.
I know that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West says all the things that he says in complete sincerity. I am quite certain that, unlike some others in the country, he dislikes the Communist creed and system just as much as I do. I am glad to be able to say that.
We are not debating a new policy; we are debating a progress report on the five-year plan issued last year. It is starkly realistic. It does not gloss over unpleasant facts, and it does not pander to those whose counsel contributed to putting the country in jeopardy in the past.
If we make a comparison with the period between the two wars, I would say that we are now at the 1930s, just at the time when all the Peace Pledge Union pressure started to build up. I 627 was a soldier at the time, and I know how that pressure led to mistakes being made by our own Government. Armaments were not made as quickly, or on as large a scale as they could have been produced, for fear of public reaction.
Those of us whose regiments went to fight against the Germans went into battle with inadequate arms, with tiny tanks against the German Mark IV, with holes in the turrets where the telescopic sights should have been and were not. I have sworn that I will do everything in my power, both in the House and outside it, to see that that does not happen again. The false doctrines of the past are now being trotted out once more.
As to the global deterrent, out of the miasma of talk and counter-talk the thing is simple to me and as clear as crystal. The mentality of dictators being what it is, they respect strength, they detest and despise weakness and they take advantage of it whenever it is shown. I am certain that we have already reached the stage of stalemate, a stage where the American hydrogen bomber force could inflict such appallingly heavy casualties on the Soviet Union that there is not the slightest chance of the Soviet Union indulging in an all-out attack on a large scale. Equally, I believe that the Americans realise that if an attack was launched the casualties would be nearly as heavy in America.
We have reached a stage of stalemate, and what we want and must have is disarmament. But it must be disarmament both of nuclear and of conventional weapons. It would be the most appalling folly to disarm the one weapon we have which has prevented war, and which will continue to prevent war on a large scale, and leave ourselves at the mercy of the conventional arms of the Russians, with their 200 divisions, to be brought up to 400 with their reserves, their 20,000 front-line aircraft and their 500 submarines.
Until we can remove the cause of tension in the world it will remain. What is the basis of all this? It has often been stated clearly by the Russians themselves. Only recently, when they had a large conference with the other Communist countries, they restated that their object was conquest of the world by peaceful infiltration, by subversion and, 628 if necessary, by force. There, in that one pronouncement, is the cause of the tension throughout the world, and so long as this is their aim there are only two choices for us, the free world.
One is to capitulate and say what I was shocked to hear one hon. Gentleman say today, that he would rather see our country overrun than that we should fight and defend ourselves. That is the alternative, to be overrun, and it is not a question, as in Eastern Germany, of living under Russian domination. It would mean, as Hitler said, the reduction of the population of this country to under 15 million, the rest being carted off to Siberia.
§ Mr. Crossman
I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not want to misinterpret my hon. Friend. My impression was that my hon. Friend was not prepared to give the order which would condemn this country to being blown to pieces by nuclear bombs, and that he would rather give the order to surrender. It seems to me that a man can conscientiously say that without being condemned as a criminal.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I was not suggesting that the hon. Gentleman was a criminal. I suggested that it shocked and horrified me to hear an hon. Gentleman suggest that he would rather see this country overrun than take the necessary action to avoid it.
This is not to say that there may not be a change of heart one day in the Kremlin, and I will say a word on that in a minute. I must now briefly refer to the article on defence in The Times of yesterday. Normally, whether it is critical of the Government or not, this newspaper is the finest and the most balanced in the world but, whoever wrote that leading article yesterday, I find it extremely difficult to understand. The first part of the article quoted the words in the White Paper, namely:… it must be well understood that, it Russia were to launch a major attack on them, even with conventional forces only'"—The word "major" there must not be forgotten—they would have to hit back with strategic nuclear weapons.'The article says, further:The point to drive home is not that the nuclear deterrent is no use but that it is so 629 absolute that it has severe limitations. It is a valid deterrent only against its like—global nuclear war. It will not necessarily deter conventional aggression …Why not? Does the writer of that article really believe that if the Russians know what casualties there might be in Russia if that happened—and a figure of 1,800,000 in the first two hours has been suggested—they would launch a conventional offensive?
The article continues:This does not mean that we need maintain huge conventional forces … what we require are relatively small but efficient mobile forces..There we are. It is said that the bomb is not a deterrent against a conventional force and, that being so, we need only have small mobile forces. This is the sort of rubbish we heard before 1914. This is the sort of rubbish which led to the retreat from Mons, when four or five British divisions had to try to hold up German Army corps. We do not want to see that happen again.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I do not agree. It has been said many times by General Norstad and General Gruenther, and although it is the policy of the Americans, I believe, to use the words of the White Paper, if we do not want war we must make it perfectly clear to the enemy that it will not pay them to wage it.
We on this side of the House have been criticised for doing nothing about disarmament. I suggest, for the record, that the proposals we put forward at the last disarmament conference should be reiterated. They were: first, that nuclear tests were to be immediately suspended: secondly, that the production of fissile material for weapon purposes should be stopped; thirdly, that existing military stocks of fissile material should be progressively transferred to civil purposes; fourthly, that conventional armaments and military manpower should be progressively reduced, the first stage to be completed within one year; and lastly, that there should be an effective system of inspection—this was the rock on 630 which the conference foundered—instituted to verify that the agreements were being observed, together with aerial and ground inspection. That was put to the vote at the United Nations and passed by a majority of 56 to 9, with only the Soviets voting against it. And we are accused of not having made reasonable, sensible suggestions for disarmament.
I do not believe that disarmament will come like that. I think that it is wishful thinking to believe for one moment that those vast areas east of the Urals are capable of inspection, and that the Russians will ever allow it to be done. I have been there and I know the mentality—the mentality which puts microphones in rooms and all the rest of it. So I do not believe that disarmament will happen that way.
What I do believe is that if we hold on with our deterrents, if we keep the stalemate as it is now and postpone the possibility of a major war, there will be a change of heart in Russia. I believe that the hundreds of thousands of people there who are receiving a higher education will—indeed, as they are already beginning to do—ask for something wider, something greater, something more spiritual. I also believe that the absolute materialism will eventually be diluted and that we shall get disarmament by agreement from inside and not from outside.
In the meantime, I must make the criticism that, although I believe we have done as well as we could have done within our limits over the various weapons, I do not believe that we are fighting the psychological aspect of the cold war with anything like the necessary vigour. I was shocked the other day when. I saw, on television, an ex-Member of this House, Mr. Woodrow Wyatt, with a microphone, interviewing students at the Sudan University. He asked them this straight question, "Which of the two systems would you prefer, the Western or the Russian?" They all answered, "The Russian." When he asked why, they replied, "Because they are the most powerful, they will destroy the West in the end and it is better to be on the winning side." He then asked them, "Did you agree with the way in which they dealt with their satellite, Hungary?" They replied. "Yes".
631 I believe that we have about three or four professors in that university. Is it right that these young people should have been so blinded by what was obviously Communist indoctrination, under the very eyes of their teachers? Are we doing nothing about this in the uncommitted countries? Is there no one who can go to them and put over the Western way of life and teach them how democracy works? There were other questions about the way the Western democracies work and they had not got the foggiest idea. It is extremely serious.
§ Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, South-West)
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman appreciate that most of the countries of the Middle East have a conception of the policy of this country which is based on the Suez enterprise? He must bear in mind that we have many faults to put right in the Middle East before we can expect the people there to turn towards us and away from the Soviet Union.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
These students said that they respected the Russians because they were successful with their force. Perhaps if we had been successful at Suez, they might have respected us.
The word "disengagement" has been thrown about. I ask hon. Members to be a little careful about this word. We have seen it before. In 1939, the British Army was forced to stand back from Belgium and not allowed to go forward as we wished to the Escaut. In a "rugger" scrum, with the two front rows leaning against each other, there is not much momentum from either side and they usually stay put. If one allows a person who may be an aggressor to stand back and to get an initial impetus across no-man's-land, then he takes a great deal of stopping.
There is another aspect. Does anybody believe that the Poles, and especially Mr. Gromulka, for example, would tolerate a withdrawal? He would be out on his neck the next morning if such a thing happened. In asking for that we are crying for the moon.
I make the plea for a world operational command. It is no good having only a N.A.T.O. command. We have other defensive organisations—the Bagdad Pact, S.E.A.T.O., and the ring of bases round the world—but there is no co-ordination for a world plan. The time 632 has now come when we should have a proper, co-ordinating, world plan.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
At this late hour, I want to concentrate on the single topic of the British nuclear deterrent, but I cannot resist saying one thing to the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer). If his analogy with the "rugger" scrum is right, and if he is also correct in saying that we are looking forward to a long period of stalemate, the prospect of ten years of leaning up against each other makes it seem most unlikely that some explosion will not happen! If we are facing a long period of stalemate, the position of a divided Germany is extremely dangerous, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman should not look askance at plans which can politically lessen the tension.
I want to turn to the main subject of the debate which, as the Minister of Defence himself said, is a progress report on his "new look" strategy of last year. I want to consider the progress of the debate this year compared with that of last year. Last year, roughly speaking, there was a division in the House between those who accepted giving first priority to the British nuclear weapon and those who believed that we should not have it. There was a group of pacifists who spoke today, as they did last year, and who object in principle to having the nuclear weapon.
There were only one or two of us who were not pacifists, but who saw military, economic and political reasons for believing that we should concentrate on conventional weapons and give up the attempt to duplicate the American deterrent. What has struck me in listening to the debate today is, firstly, that the Minister's own speech contained several changes and, secondly, that people who were unsympathetic last year thought this year that there was much more to be said for the view that giving first priority to a British deterrent might be bad not only from a moral point of view, but also from a common-sense point of view.
I want to study first the Minister's arguments. Last year the Minister's main argument for his nuclear strategy was economic. We had a good deal of optimistic talk last year about how the new 633 look strategy was to save hundreds of million of pounds. Actually all the savings have gone to keeping the cost the same as it was last year. There has been virtually no saving and there is no prospect of saving. I did not hear a single word from the Minister to suggest that the nuclear weapon would be cheap.
It is difficult to find out what it costs, and the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) said that he did not believe the 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. figures. I will hazard a guess, which may be confirmed by the Government, that in two years' time we shall find that the cost of the British deterrent will be more and not less than it is today.
Perhaps we can also be told whether after the Thor we will have the British inter-continental missile and, if so, whether any calculation of the cost of competing with and duplicating the American missile in this country in the long term has been calculated.
We have learned one thing in the last twelve months. The trouble about the nuclear deterrent is that if we have one big enough to be militarily significant, we ruin the country, and if we have one within the economic resources of the country, then it is so trivial that it impresses no great Power.
The whole House was impressed by the speech yesterday of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). With some accuracy he compared the British nuclear deterrent with the American and Russian. I believe that I can remember his figures, which were that when our V-bomber fleet is complete we shall have 240 V-bombers, against a fleet of about 2,000 American bombers. Then, after that, there would be ten years more of American supersonic bombers with which we would not try to complete and that during that period we would have only third-rate obsolescent American missiles instead of British bombers.
As an example of how to have an independent British deterrent, that is a little discouraging. Indeed, the whole idea that it can be done by a Power of our size is so much nonsense. If we produce a deterrent within our resources, it does not impress either America or Russia, and there is no prospect of our having the resources to make it big enough to be effective.
634 It is hypocrisy to have this constant talk in the House and in the White Paper about the "Western deterrent." As my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said—and this is not the only matter on which I agree with him—there is no Western deterrent; there is only an American deterrent. To say that we must not live under its shelter is not to face the fact that we have been living under its shelter for the last ten years. There is no prospect of building a British deterrent which will take us out of that shelter.
I deplore the theory that we can achieve military independence by building up our own H-bomber force, duplicating the American force and racing with the Americans. I should have thought that all the evidence of the last twelve months was that that could not be done. Part of the evidence is that the Minister did not pretend any more that great economies would result from his nuclear policy.
The second argument concerns strategy. It is the argument that we must have a British deterrent because the Americans might choose the wrong targets in a third world war, and we must therefore make sure that we can choose our own target. I never took that argument seriously. Even to suggest it destroys N.A.T.O., for if each nation is to say, "We must have a weapon to make sure that we hit the right targets at the right time", how can we possibly prevent the Germans, the French and every other nation in the alliance saying, "What the British demand for themselves, we demand for ourselves"? The right to distrust the Americans cannot remain a British monopoly.
If the basis of this policy is saying that we cannot be sure that our American allies will strike at the right time, why should anybody be sure of us? Every time Members of the Government justify that policy in that way, they are doing a grave disservice to N.A.T.O.
There is a striking contrast in the attitude of the Foreign Secretary in the last foreign affairs debate and the attitude of the Minister of Defence. The Foreign Secretary was so careful of N.A.T.O. that he could not have an idea in his head without consulting N.A.T.O. These fellows on defence are different—they 635 decide what to do first and consult afterwards.
One of the effects of the Defence Minister's nuclear strategy has been to disunite N.A.T.O. more than any other single factor. The decision of the British to go in for their own nuclear deterrent has undermined the unity of N.A.T.O. and has produced the deepest doubts, especially when it is combined with the withdrawals from B.A.O.R. We have made everybody on the Continent feel that the British are pulling out and trying to have a special position different from their allies in N.A.T.O.
Therefore, the second strategic argument is invalid, firstly, because we shall never have enough nuclear weapons to drop them on our own, and, secondly, because it demoralises our allies to have the British using that sort of argument.
So we come to the third argument. This argument was not deployed last year; it is this year's argument. It is the Prime Minister's argument, and it is just what we accused the Government of last year. Last year, in a similar debate, I said that the only argument for a British nuclear bomb was prestige. Now, apparently, the Government admit that they want the bomb in order to keep up appearances.
Last year we were told that we were unfair and we were unjust for saying this, and we were told that there were economic and strategic reason. But I would quote the Prime Minister, when speaking on I.T.V. on Sunday night. When asked how he justified the British nuclear weapon, he replied, and these are his actual words:The independent contribution gives us a better position in the world. It gives us a better position with respect to the United States. It puts us where we ought to be, in the position of a Great Power. The fact that we have it makes the United States pay a greater regard to our point of view, and that is of great importance.That is, at least, candid.
We are paying about£300 million a year for being important. This is the entry payment into the nuclear club. It is a very expensive club, but we have decided that it is worth joining it, in order to prove ourselves a great Power. I will say this about it. If we have to start to prove ourselves a great Power, then that is the best proof that we have ceased 636 to be one. Those who pay to be members of a club which they cannot afford are not greatly respected by the millionaire members of it. How do we think we can be regarded as a great Power simply by paying this£300 million into the club? Whom do we think we are deceiving?
I hope that my pacifist friends will not mind me saying this. I would like to tell the Government of one occasion when the United States were influenced by our Government. It was the famous occasion when Mr. Attlee, as he then was, flew the Atlantic to visit President Truman and stopped the use of the atomic bomb in Korea. I should like to ask the Minister a question. What was it that enabled Attlee to have that veto in the White House? Was it because we had atomic bombers on our stations in England? That fact had nothing to do with it. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why we were able to do it. It was because we had a division of troops in Korea, because we had a highly-trained and efficient conventional force in Korea, which we could pull out.
If we now want to influence the Americans, I suggest that we should not compete with them on lines on which we cannot afford sufficient strength to be taken seriously—where they merely laugh at us. We should compete with them in those things which we can do better than they can, in things that we can have which they do not have.
Troops to go and fight overseas never were a very strong point in the American Army. As General MacArthur once said to a member of the British Labour Party who visited him after the war:I could create a great American empire with British troops. American soldiers turned into business men the day the war finished.How right he was!
How anybody can suggest that we can influence Washington by our military strength when we have 240 V-bombers and 35½ H-bombs I do not understand. I suggest that there are other directions in which we could influence the Americans far more and make our influence felt far more in Washington than by this bogus pretence of being a nuclear Power. This is the first argument for abandoning the policy of giving first priority to the bomb.
I turn to the second argument. Here is a Government which says, "We must 637 spend£300 million on the nuclear deterrent. We must afford it because it puts us where we ought to be—in the position of a great Power." But the same Government cannot afford£57 million for the British forces in Germany. Does that put us where we ought to be? It puts us in a position of incurring Germany's contempt. If the Germans think that the British cannot afford£57 million for that purpose, if they see us crawling around Europe trying to get out of our obligations, does that really give us prestige? How can a Government which squander£300 million a year on false pretensions in Washington dare to say to N.A.T.O. that they cannot afford£57 million for our troops in Europe?
If there was a legal case for having support costs paid by the Germans I would not be so disturbed. But I have been looking up what members of this Government said in October and November, 1954. I sometimes forget how wise we on this side were at that time. I remember sitting here with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and asking many questions about that "generous act of British statesmanship." We all know Sir Anthony Eden got the Garter because of that generosity. He gave everything away and got nothing in return. He gave it all away in the Paris Treaties, and never bothered to ask how much it cost to liberate the Germans from occupation.
What did the present Prime Minister say when he was Minister of Defence?When the agreements are ratified the occupation will cease and Western Germany will return to freedom and sovereignty. Naturally, this means that we cannot expect the Germans to continue indefinitely to pay for our Forces. … I do not think anyone could expect that, whatever has been the agreement, the Germans should continue for long after the occupation to pay for our Forces."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th October, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 1929–32.]We signed our rights away. We said that we had no rights and now, after that, we try to maintain ourselves as a great Power by going round Western Europe saying that we cannot afford this£57 million, alhough we promised faithfully three years ago to keep our troops there for forty years.
Some of us then said in this House how wrong it was, and that it would be too expensive. Some of us warned the 638 Government not to undertake obligations far beyond the resources of this country, but we were swept away by the self-same men who now talk about keeping up British prestige and keeping us a great Power. I say to the Minister that we should pay for our troops in Germany and stop giving first priority to the nuclear weapon, if the Government are thinking seriously about British prestige and British military power.
I may be asked: what do I propose? I will tell the House. I say that if we are to have armed forces, we must face the fact that we are a part of the Western world which can never break away and achieve nuclear independence of the United States. In that case, we should concentrate on building up—and this is what I think the right hon. Member for Flint, West was cautiously suggesting—as first priority, efficient, small, mobile conventional forces and not try to compete with America as a nuclear Power. I say quite frankly that the Sandys plan of abolishing conscription is making this country totally dependent upon nuclear weapons and simultaneously impotent, and that I would rather postpone the abolition of conscription than condemn us to that.
I would ask the House, in all seriousness, whether it is not time to think again and to consider whether the price of getting rid of National Service is not too high. I should not be prepared to criticise the Government if they postponed abolition for four or five years in order to see that we do not make ourselves hopelessly dependent on nuclear weapons in the process of doing so. I notice that my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) does not agree. I am merely putting forward my own views, as he always emphasises. Each of us has a right to put his own point of view on these matters.
I come to the second question, which is perhaps the most difficult of all. One hon. Member opposite said, "It is not worth trying to have conventional weapons; the Russians are so overwhelmingly strong." This is a very dangerous argument. If it is true that the Russians are so overwhelmingly strong that it is not worth trying to compete or having any conventional weapons, where does it lead us? It leads us back to the view that every war must start with our 639 using the nuclear weapon. If they are as strong as all that, the thermo-nuclear bomb starts the war.
I was appalled yesterday when my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) seemed to be committing the Labour Party to the belief that we ought to rely upon atomic tactical weapons to fill the gap between police action and a thermo-nuclear war. It only fills the gap to the extent of making it inevitable that we move from the police action into a thermo-nuclear war. The idea that we can have a sort of agreement between East and West to keep wars nice and limited to the use of tactical nuclear weapons—when those weapons are bigger than the Hiroshima bomb—is the sort of dangerous nonsense that we should have nothing to do with. That is an illusion.
Let us face the fact that if it is true that we can resist no Russian movement without the use of nuclear weapons we are getting into the position of those mediaeval knights who dressed themselves in increasingly heavy armour until the moment came when the armour became so heavy that they fell off their horses, and the ordinary peasants in jerkins lifted them up in their load of armour and dragged them away on their drays.
The real trouble is that we shall never give the order to let off these weapons. The order will not be given; instead appeasement will take place. If we rely solely upon nuclear weapons, each time we shall decide not to use them but to surrender. I regard the wholesale dependence upon nuclear weapons as equal to total impotence in a democracy, and above all in a group of democracies. If we have to agree together before a nuclear weapon is used, we should be clear that before we use a single Thor there will have to be weeks of negotiation, and the crisis will be over by then.
Therefore, those who say that we are driven by necessity to rely solely upon these weapons are actually, without knowing it, becoming accomplices in producing a situation where appeasement is the only policy available to the West. It is a policy of absolute defeatism. If we are to have any military strength we should concentrate on weapons which can conceivably be used.
640 What is a nuclear weapon? It is, by definition, an unusable weapon—something that we cannot use, because nobody commits national suicide. It is very nice to make speeches in the House saying that it is better to commit national suicide than to live under Communism, but the evidence is that when the politicians come to the point the surrender takes place. [Interruption.] A man can, legitimately and morally, say, "I am not entitled to blow six million of my countrymen to pieces for the sake of my principles, because they can live again under Communism, but they cannot live again in a charnel house." I do not believe that we should say what we do not mean.
The danger of this policy is that it is based upon threats—threats which, in our hearts, we know that we will not carry out and which I am fairly sure the Russians know we shall not carry out. Therefore, I beg the House not to commit itself to a strategy which renders us finally impotent.
My conclusion is that, first, we should go to the summit talks and try to agree upon disengagement. Disengagement is the great hope of the world—the creation of a belt in the middle of Europe which is free both of occupation forces and of nuclear weapons. But we have to face facts. It is quite possible that the summit talks will have only a limited success, and that we shall be faced—as many hon. Members have said—with the necessity of living for ten or twelve years in a world of co-existence without peace.
We shall all have to make up our minds what we ought to do after the summit talks. It is very easy to make resolutions about what to do before, but how are we to live after the talks? I make the suggestion—as I did last year—that the biggest single contribution to peace that we could make would be to prevent anybody else joining the nuclear club. If we could prevent any further entries to that club the chances of war would be very remote.
How can it be done? Let us suppose that we said to the French and the Germans, "We are prepared to sign a ten-year agreement with you to rely solely upon conventional weapons. We are prepared to renounce our present nuclear weapons if you will renounce your future 641 ones, so that we can all build together a conventional army while the Americans are responsible for the nuclear shield," I am fairly sure that the French and the Germans would take such an offer extremely seriously. This would offer the possibility of ensuring that there would be one area in the world in which the people did not rely upon nuclear weapons.
We know how passionately the West Germans hate nuclear weapons. They have had their taste of bombs. They want a small mobile conventional army. We know, on the other hand, that the French are very near producing their first nuclear weapon, and once they have produced it there will be a German or Franco-German weapon, and then a Swedish one, too. Finally, there will be an Egyptian weapon, and then there will be no hope for us.
I cannot think of a higher contribution either to our own security, or to the peace of the world, or to the solidifying of the N.A.T.O. alliance, than a British diplomatic act which prevented a Franco-German H-bomb being produced and which thus created a unity among us in Western Europe. I hope that the Minister will study the debate very carefully and appreciate that the House has been indulging in non-party thinking. I hope that he will also realise that people have grown more and more sceptical about the value of a British nuclear weapon, and that the millions outside the House who are upset about it are not fools. Democracy is very rarely absolutely wrong. It may come to wrong conclusions as to what should be done practically, but the basic instinct of democracy is nearly always right. I believe that during the last six months the British people have become increasingly uncomfortable about the bluff of the British nuclear weapon. "It does not make sense," they feel; "it is immoral, indecent and useless."
Public opinion is a factor politicians cannot afford to disregard. We cannot afford to prepare for wars that our people are not prepared to fight. In Germany 43 per cent. of the people have just refused to fight any war in which a nuclear weapon is used.
§ Mr. Crossman
No, the answer given in Germany was confined to a war with nuclear weapons. I am only saying that this is a serious factor, and that the instinct of public opinion is usually correct. I feel that the greatest action that Britain could take would be to limit entry to the nuclear club, thereby giving a lead to Western Europe and incidentally ending the delusion that we could ever be the third nuclear Power.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
We all enjoyed listening to the views of the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), and I agree with some of the things he said, particularly regarding conventional weapons. The hon. Gentleman belittled the size of the British bomber force of about 200 compared with America's 2,000. But I think that 200-odd bombers is a sufficiently large force to do a tremendous amount of damage—I would not criticise the force on the score of numbers. The hon. Gentleman talked about the cost of£57 million in Germany being a small amount—
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
Exactly, I have not finished. Compared with£300 million it may be said to be. But I do not think that it is. In the last three or four years, the German economy has improved enormously and Germany's currency has become hard. Britain is entitled to consider this matter, and if the hon. Gentleman thinks that£57 million is a small amount of money there are a great many people who would differ from him.
The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), in a witty speech, made one or two constructive suggestions. In the years since the war we have had a number of White Papers, and I sympathise with the Ministers who have to write them. Obviously the Ministers are under a veil of secrecy and Members of Parliament and the country are told very little. Surely defence should have priority over everything. If we want social services or a Welfare State, or if we want to increase our standard of living, we must do something comparable in the way of defence. It must have the highest priority possible within our 643 economy. To use the hackneyed phrase, I should like to see this question lifted out of politics. The right hon. Member for Easington suggested that Privy Councillors should be taken into the confidence of the Government, but I remember that when my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) attempted to do something on similar lines, he did not get much change out of the Labour Government of the day. However, that is no reason why the idea should not be considered now. If we could have some unity in these grave matters, it would have a tremendous effect on the country.
I find this debate the most difficult in which I have taken part since I have been in this House. We know so little and the situation is so serious. We are left completely in the dark about what to do. One does one's best, but decisions have been taken in this House which will affect future generations. I respect the opinion of all hon. Members, although I disagree violently with some. I have two young sons, and I do not advocate a policy because I think it is the clever thing to have power or whatever it may be.
We all have our views, and we state them sincerely, but I am comforted by one thought. I remember that eight or nine years ago when I was sitting on the Opposition benches I mentioned to the then Minister of Defence, now the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, that I thought the crisis would be somewhere about 1956. Apparently, I hit the nail on the head, because the noble Lord got up in a rage and was furious that I should mention that date. I heard from other Quarters that the appreciation at that time was that trouble might be expected in 1956. That date was two years ago, and we have not had a war. Surely every year that goes by in which we avoid a conflict means that we are taking steps in the right direction.
I do not take the view that we are getting near a war but rather that we are getting farther away. Millions have been spent on nuclear weapons all over the world, but I imagine that it is the aim and hope of everyone that this process will go into reverse. This House could put the process into reverse, but I cannot see it happening in Russia or in the 644 United States. We might make a gesture. It is suggested that we might set an example, but my view is that the Russians would ignore it and think it rather stupid. There might be a case for suspending the tests for a month or two, for a short period, but certainly not for long. The difficulty which would confront chiefs of staff, the Minister of Defence and the Secretary of State would be how to defend our country with limited money and resources.
The hon. Member for Abertillery (The Rev. Ll. Williams) said that rather than defend the country with the nuclear deterrent he would prefer to see Russian occupation forces in Britain. That is what I understood the hon. Gentleman to say. To me, it is a ghastly thought that we should not put up any attempt to defend Britain. That is not Britain as I know it, that we should take a line which would allow Russian forces to occupy Britain. The hon. Member was obviously speaking sincerely, but he was very misguided.
Whether we like it or not, our defences are being increasingly entrusted to the United States of America. We have to face up to that one; it is undoubtedly so. I have been in the aviation business most of my life, although I am practically out of it now, and from what I hear about guided weapons they seem to be making very slow progress. We hear about odd tests now and again. I am very doubtful about them. We shall not reach the point when guided weapons should take over defensively from manned aircraft for perhaps another six or eight years. It is that interval which worries me, say between 1960 and 1967.
The Government say, "We must not spend more than we can afford". The Government have tried to trim their sails accordingly. The hon. Member for Coventry, East said that there had not been any great saving. The bill had remained where it was. The Forces are getting extra pay and so on, and that is something.
Reading last year's White Paper on Defence against this year's shows me that manned aircraft have virtually been abandoned. If we are to have nuclear weapons, I should like to see—although I do not advocate it—the savings made on manned aircraft put into missiles. 645 I do not say that that is the right thing to do, but now we have not either. No money is being put into missiles and a very drastic ceiling has been put to the manned aircraft.
The problem of the defences of the country alarms me. Whether we like it or not, although it may suit our convenience, we are undoubtedly becoming an advanced base for the United States, and we shall be so during the next two or three years. We should have a very extended programme of defence, because Britain will become a priority target. There is no question of it. We are a small packed island with masses of population living in small areas. If an attack takes place on us, it may give the United States a few hours or days—it probably will not—to prepare themselves for their own emergency. My point is that we obviously cannot afford both to have reasonable-sized conventional forces and have nuclear weapons. We have selected the latter.
I would say something about fighter aircraft. I may be old-fashioned, but those aircraft played a tremendous part in both world wars. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) yesterday blamed his party a little bit when he said, "What on earth did the Government do before the war in thinking about the defence of Britain?" I will tell him. They put the Hurricane and the Spitfire on the drawing board about 1932–33. Admittedly, it was a very near thing, but those two aircraft saved Britain in 1940. Whatever the Government did not do before the war, they did the thing that really mattered. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Belper is not here.
The only modern fighter aircraft which is coming along today as a fighter is the English Electric P.1. It will be delivered in quantity. After that there will be no more fighters. That is not so in America, where new fighters are being developed which give a performance of anything from Mach. 4 to Mach. 7, and reach nearly 4,000 miles an hour. The Russians have likewise developed modern fighters.
Air missiles are coming along. This is an instrument of defence that we can well use in this packed kingdom. We have a good radar system. It will not stop them all, but it can do a lot from 646 the ground. The hon. Member for Coventry, East talked about the British public being uneasy—nobody is happy about this—because they see our conventional forces being run down and all these other things coming along that we are all a bit doubtful about.
If the situation continues as at present, and if the aircraft industry is allowed to run down, the position will not be retrieved in a matter of six months as it was at the time of Korea. The industry has had its ups and down since the war, under both the Labour Government and this Government. In order to bring a fighter aircraft to perfection it is necessary to design, develop and build five or six prototypes. I understand that for missiles we require 200 prototypes. While we may know what the bill will be for the next four or five years, I think that in the future it will be very much higher than officials estimate.
In considering our assistance from the United States, I think we ought to consider the bitterness and almost strife between the United States Air Force and the United States Army which has clouded the progress of the American missile programme. I will not go into the details, but it is well known that Nike is defending the inner perimeter of the United States and that the United States Air Force is providing the first-line interception.
When the Korean War blew up very suddenly, hon. Members were shocked by the lack of preparedness in the Royal Air Force. The Labour Government of that time bore a great responsibility for the situation. Meteor aircraft were sent to Korea, British-built and designed, but they certainly could not catch the Russian MiG fighter, and all they did was a certain amount of morale lifting. At that time the aircraft industry was called upon to make a tremendous effort, and the Government of the day over-ordered. In the reversal of policy there was complete panic. I wonder whether we might not see a similar situation in the future; with large orders being placed and draughtsmen being taken from the motorcar industry and the shipyards for the design and construction of aircraft.
Who has had experience of missile warfare? We are very much in the dark about it, and I do not think we should 647 gamble here to the extent to which we have gambled. Can the Minister of Defence tell us whether he has accepted the advice of the experts about it? I should like to know a little more about how we have arrived at the decision to base our defence on the nuclear deterrent on its own.
In six years' time the Ministry of Defence may well be looking around for additional aircraft, and they will not exist. In addition, we shall have the problem of Transport Command, to which I shall refer in a few moments. Nobody can be sure that the bombardment missiles will have become practical weapons of war before the V-bombers have reached the end of their life.
Aircraft, even military bomber aircraft, have more usefulness than have missiles. They are not limited to being a nuclear deterrent. Aircraft can drop anything from leaflets to hydrogen bombs. They can carry men. They have a much greater rôle than have missiles. Coupled with that is their value in research for civil use.
We must agree that Britain is an ideal target, and when we look at that it is a terrifying thought. Russia, on the other hand, is an enormous country. Supposing a war were started and supposing we managed to get some hydrogen bombs to Russia, I do not think it would stop the Russians from fighting. The Russians obviously know what is going on here. Even the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) stated on the Order Paper yesterday where some missile batteries are to be sited. I wonder how much we know about what is going on in Soviet Russia.
§ Mr. de Freitas
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) merely repeated what was in the headlines of one of the national newspapers. He knows no more about it than the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) or myself.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
Many people do not always believe what they read in the newspapers, but they believe what they see on the Order Paper of the House of Commons. There is a great difference—or I hope there is. The fact is that Russia, with its long borders, offers ease of entry for the bomber, something that the Rus- 648 sians would not get if attacking Britain with conventional weapons. In that respect, therefore, the defence of Britain is easier.
I hope that we shall look at this policy in more detail in the immediate future. It seems to be that of the Maginot line. Britain has tremendous commitments throughout the Commonwealth. We cannot move batteries of missiles about, but to some extent we can afford these conventional weapons that can be moved about to play their part. The Soviet will not expose hereself to attack by long-range missiles. If she wants to make trouble, she will make it in Africa, the Middle East or in the East Indies. It will not happen in the normal sort of place where one might expect it, in which case the new weapons will be virtually useless.
I should like the Minister to tell us a little more about Transport Command. It was referred to yesterday. We know that twenty civil aircraft—Britannias—are on order. Can we be told tonight when the Royal Air Force will be in possession of them? It is important that we should know that date. I imagine that the R.A.F. will get them fairly soon, but we have been told very little about it. Personally, I do not think that what is being done is nearly enough. We need a large aircraft that can lift tremendous weights. We may be told that the Beverley can do that, but the Beverley has a range of only three or four hundred miles. Had we had the right equipment, the Suez operation could have been completed in twenty-four hours instead of eight days; but that is another story.
I say tonight that Britain must not lose her head. If, over our grave problems, we can show some degree of unity amongst hon. Members of this House, it will do more good in the country and in the rest of the world than anything. Whether or not she has a deterrent, Britain is a great nation. We have much to offer the world, and I am sure that if we think these things over carefully and give a lead to the world in diplomacy and conference, we shall still hold the respect of other countries.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Sidney Dye (Norfolk, South-West)
I would not have intervened at all in this debate but for Monday's announcement of the Agreement between the United States and this country on 649 missile bases here, and the explanation given by the Minister on television, following that announcement. This is a new departure in our defence policy, and, apparently, starts with a certain number of these bases in East Anglia.
It was earlier said that the missiles would be based all down the East Coast and in Scotland, but we are now told that they are to be concentrated in East Anglia, in Lincolnshire, and in the south-east corner of Yorkshire. Will their numbers grow in the same way as we have seen the R.A.F. stations based in East Anglia becoming thick on the ground and then, while the decline in their numbers is still small, we are to have these missile bases in our midst?
Everybody in the area is concerned about the effect of this move. It is bound to affect the towns and the villages, the seaside resorts and the rest. Will the Government take that into consideration when dealing with the local authorities? There are already very many protests from all kinds of organisations because no prior arrangement had been made with the local authorities.
This part of the country is still a reception area for evacuees. It seems that, in the event of war, we would see children flocking in great train loads from London and other great cities to the Eastern Counties, and there watch these ballistic missiles being launched. Surely we ought to know whether an area like Norfolk is to remain a reception area for evacuees. We ought to know what the position is to be as the years go by. Will the number of bases increase, and, if so, what will be their first effect on the locality?
I suggest to my right hon. and hon. Friends that if their policy of withdrawal from Germany is pursued in the event of there being a Labour Government, we should consider whether the position of neutrality of Sweden could, by agreement, cover Central Europe, and whether that would then remove the necessity for having ballistic missile bases in this country If we can get agreement, as has been suggested, step by step withdrawing from Central Europe, will that not then make a big difference to the situation in Britain?
As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) has said, we are in danger of becoming purely 650 an advance base of the United States. We are likely to be the first target in any future war. The decision that the Government have taken to establish these bases in the Eastern Counties is a matter of very grave concern to the people living there. I, as one Member from the area, make my protest against it here and now. I protest most strongly against such a decision, particularly when I remember the statements made by the American Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, which show that he and the American Government are not anxious to move towards a Summit Conference with a view to ending the cold war and bringing sanity into the world.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I should be glad to know what factors influence the Chair in deciding whether one of the two Front Bench speakers is called before 9 o'clock. This is the second debate in succession in which the Liberal voice on defence has not been heard and on this occasion, particularly, the Liberal Party having been attacked by the opening speaker for the Government—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I really cannot discuss with the hon. Gentleman why he has not been called. Mr. Strachey.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
The debate has been dominated on both days by the terrible issue—one can use no other word—of the possession and use of nuclear weapons. The detailed points, many of them very interesting and important, which hon. Members on both sides have raised have, to some extent, been dwarfed by that consideration, and one has felt that there is nothing much else worth discussing compared with that. I shall, therefore, devote what remarks I make tonight to that single issue, in its many aspects.
The possession and use of nuclear weapons has, of course, been a matter of outstanding importance in a debate on a White Paper containing, in paragraph 12, the remarkable statements of the Minister of Defence on this very issue. I do not know what were the motives which made the right hon. Gentleman make those 651 extraordinary formulations in paragraph 12 on the nuclear weapons policy of the country. I noted that the leading article in The Times, which has been quoted a good many times in this debate, very unkindly said that the Minister put in paragraph 12 to give some "verbal stuffing" to his Paper. I think that it must have been something of that sort.
The right hon. Gentleman was, as it were, harking back to what used to be called by Mr. Dulles the policy of negotiation from strength. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) said last week that in theory, of course, a policy of negotiation from strength is one we should all like; nobody wants to negotiate from weakness. The trouble is that, in Mr. Dulles' hands, the policy of negotiation from strength has boiled down pretty well to no negotiations and not very much strength, either.
Therefore, it seems very odd to us that the Ministry of Defence at this time harks back to that mood and that attitude—negotiation from strength—with which was associated Mr. Dulles' other line of massive retaliation. It is the strategy of massive retaliation which was restated by the Minister in paragraph 12 in a form cruder than was ever used by Mr. Dulles. It is a remarkable feat of the Minister of Defence that he got himself rebuked for the crudity of his formulation by the Pentagon itself. He will have noted that the Pentagon, the day after publication of the White Paper, said this to the correspondent of the Observer:The Pentagon has been moving away from complete reliance on massive retaliation.. a deputy Chief of Staff told me. Why are the British making the same mistake? If you are equipped only for all or nothing, then on any issue short of survival you will tend to do nothing, and the enemy knows it.Those are the objections which the Americans, to do them justice, have now found themselves.
It is true when the Minister of Defence says that there is nothing new in the formulations in paragraph 12. Of course, there is nothing new in them; but the point is that most people thinking on this problem have now seen that they are a disastrous formulation of the position. The Americans, who invented this line, to do them justice, have seen that themselves. Dr. Henry Kissinger's remark- 652 able book has been quoted. It is a book which many of my hon. Friends regard as a very extreme statement of American doctrine. But even Dr. Kissinger has gone a good deal further than the Minister of Defence. I would like to read one or two words of what he says, because they are very relevant. In Chapter 5, he says:Given the power of modern weapons, a nation that relies on all-out war as its chief deterrent imposes a fearful psychological handicap on itself. … The psychological equation, therefore, will almost inevitably operate against the side which can extricate itself from a situation only by the threat of all-out war.We should take notice of the next sentence:Who can be certain that, faced with the catastrophe of all-out war, even Europe, long the keystone of our security, will seem worth the price? Strategy … can increase the willingness of policy-makers to run risks only if it can demonstrate other means of preventing amputations than the threat of suicide.It is strange that when American doctrine itself has gone right off this policy, the Minister of Defence comes back to it with definitely the crudest formulation of it that we have ever had.
Of course, I know that the Minister of Defence has said, and will say—and the Prime Minister said it in his intervention yesterday, another one of those "operations rescue" which the Prime Minister has to undertake in so many of our debates now—"All we mean by paragraph 12 is that if 200 Russian divisions start one fine day rolling westwards, then we shall have to throw hydrogen bombs on them." That is postulating a hypothesis which is so remote from reality that it has very little to do with our debate. That is not how a third world war would start, if one did start. That is not the situation which we have to face. The right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) realised that and said so.
The danger of a third world war is not suddenly 200 Russian divisions rolling westward for no particular reason. The danger of a third world war—I am not minimising it for one moment; it is something which, I think, haunts us all—is something totally different from that. It is a situation arising not from the will of this Government or the American Government or the Russian Government in Eastern Europe, but something 653 like a Hungarian rising in East Germany, or something that none of us can foresee; or it might have been Russian divisions following the Hungarians into Austria eighteen months ago—we do not know. Take the East German situation, something which would put the Russians in a position when they have to challenge our position in West Berlin—something of that sort. That is the real type of situation for which we have got to prepare.
What the Minister of Defence has done in paragraph 12 of the White Paper is to give the impression that the only response we could make to a situation like that is to start throwing H-bombs on to, as he says, the sources of Russian power in Russia—and, of course, committing suicide in the process of doing so. Although it is true that he does not say that in so many words, one has only to look at the newspapers to see that that is the impression he has created. The Minister has to stand responsible for that. If he creates that impression, even if he does not intend it, it is something he has done and it is a most unfortunate thing to have done.
Some of the Minister's hon. Friends have defended him on the assumption that that was what he meant. The hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) defended him on those lines in The Times. He said that this was the right and proper thing to say, because if we say to the Russians that whenever they challenge us in any way we will start dropping H-bombs on Moscow, they know where they are and the war will never start.
§ Sir J. Smyth
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that probably the reason why both world wars started was that we did not make our position absolutely clear? My right hon. Friend has made the position quite clear and, therefore, by doing so he has made war more unlikely.
§ Mr. Strachey
The hon. and gallant Member has exactly repeated the argument he gave in his letter in The Times.
As I was about to say, the objection to that argument is the objection of credibility. No one will believe that we should do that. It will not frighten the Russians by telling them that this country would instantly commit suicide by throwing 654 hydrogen bombs on Moscow if the situation arose in West Berlin. It does not frighten the Russians at all. It has the contrary effect of making people in this country feel that there really is nothing to be done. That is quite wrong. There are many things to be done. What I am putting to the Minister of Defence is that his disastrous formulation has the exactly opposite effect to what, no doubt, he perfectly sincerely meant it to have.
Let me come back to the example of Berlin. It is a fairly obvious one that must be in all our minds. Let us try to spell out what we ought to do, and what we ought to let the Russians know, if they attempted to throw our garrison out of West Berlin. If the Russians, with conventional forces, were threatening the existence of, or actually attacking, the Western garrison in West Berlin, we should not at that first stage dream of starting to throw H-bombs on to the sources of Russian power in Russia. At that first stage, obviously, we must meet a conventional Russian aggression at a limited point with allied Western conventional forces.
§ Mr. Strachey
Of course we can do it. If the Russians attacked the West Berlin garrison with two divisions, that garrison must defend itself. Does my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) disagree with that? Of course he does. He is a total pacifist.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne) rose—
§ Mr. Strachey
I was not replying to an interjection from my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman).
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Would my right hon. Friend kindly explain his strategy by saying how we could take conventional forces right through the Russian zone into West Berlin to reinforce our garrison there?
§ Mr. Strachey
I have already explained that the conventional forces are already there. My hon. Friend did not 655 know that. The Western garrison in Berlin is quite considerable.
Suppose that a Russian attack on that garrison takes place. Of course, if it is resisted with conventional forces—[Interruption.] Would any of my hon. Friends listen for a moment?
§ Mr. Strachey
The conventional forces that we have in West Berlin might be over-run as, of course, the Russians could do by raising their stakes. They could do that in two ways, either by sending in a number of divisions which we could not match, or by beginning to use tactical nuclear weapons. That would be if the Russians were determined to go on. I do not think that if they met resistance it is likely that they would do that, but let us take the worst hypothesis, that they did go on and raised their stakes and attacked with nuclear weapons or with overwhelming conventional forces—it does not matter which. Do we, even at that second stage, do what the Minister of Defence has suggested, start chucking hydrogen bombs at Moscow? Of course we do not.
At that second stage, it would be madness to do that. But if the Russians had raised their stakes up to that point, then, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said, we, too, must raise our stakes and we should be driven at that point to use tactical nuclear weapons. Having been driven to that, hon. Members might ask what the chances would be that the Russians would not go the whole way.
§ Mr. Strachey
No, I do not think that I ought to be asked to give way. I do not think that my hon. Friend knows a very great deal about it, and I do not see why he should again come into it.
I suppose that my hon. Friend was about to say that at that point, having driven us to the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield, it is certain that the Russians would again raise their stakes and use thermo-nuclear weapons in an all-out war. That is possible. If it happened, that would be the end of the world, but I do not think that it is certain. I think that it is quite likely 656 that at that stage the battle might stop. It is useful to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire to notice that if it is suicide for us to use thermo-nuclear weapons it is also suicide for the Russians.
§ Mr. Strachey
It is suicide for everybody. We should be all in it together, and it would be Götterdammerung—the end of the world. My hon. Friend thinks it is nonsense.
§ Mr. Strachey
What we are accusing the Minister of Defence of doing is that he produces the end of the world at the first stage. He tells us, or he has implied and that has been the effect of his words to everyone, that at the very first stage we produce the end of the world. That is the very worst thing that the right hon. Gentleman could possibly have suggested if he wants to have a policy of defence for this country, precisely because it is one which people obviously cannot accept.
What we have to do is to throw on the Russians the terrible onus of raising the stakes at each stage, and to do that we must have effective methods of resistance at each stage, and not resort to the ultimate stage of hydrogen weapons from the start. This is the fundamental criticism we have this year against the Minister of Defence's White Paper.
What, therefore, should the Minister of Defence have said? Of course, in a great State Paper like the Defence White Paper the right hon. Gentleman could not spell it out as I have done, speaking on the Floor of the House from the opposition side, but he could have said simply that any Russian aggression must be met by the appropriate degree of resistance, sufficient to resist it when it takes place. But he should not have gone further than that in the White Paper today, and then he could have explained in his speech what he meant by that. [Laughter.] Certainly, and then the right hon. Gentleman would not have given the impression, which he has given to the world, of making the most unconvincing threat of all, the threat of committing suicide if the man annoys you. That is never really a very convincing threat.
657 After all, the Minister of Defence reiterates in this White Paper that there is no defence in the sense of actual prevention of hydrogen bomb attack on this country, so he reiterates that he lives in a glass house but insists that he will throw stones on the first provocation. That really is not a very wise thing to have done. It is not provocation of the Russians. My hon. Frienls below the Gangway need not be nervous of that. The effect of the White Paper is to produce a mood of national impotence. To go on those lines and that distance is to discourage the will to resist of this country.
Why has the Minister of Defence done that? I do not know what his objects were, but we cannot resist the suspicion, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper said, that he neglects the conventional weapons and the intermediate stage weapons and puts no emphasis on them at all in the White Paper, because they are expensive. There is always the temptation, which seemed to come out in the Defence White Paper a year ago, and in the general approach of his Government, that, somehow or other, by an almost exclusive emphasis on the thermo-nuclear weapon, we shall get economy.
The Minister may retort to me: am I, then, saying that we ought to spend still more on armaments? No, but I do say that, if I am faced with the alternative, I would rather go on devoting the present proportion of the national income—about 80 per cent, is it?—to defence than be faced with the terrible position of either having to do nothing or to start throwing hydrogen bombs, because that is the most ghastly position in which any British Government could put themselves.
Now I come to the opposite argument. The Minister is much too nuclear, in our opinion. He has been met by the criticism and the view that we should not be nuclear at all. There are two versions of this argument. I am not talking about the complete pacifist case because that is a different one, which we all understand and respect and which has been restated again tonight, as it is each year in our defence debate. Short of that, there are two versions of the "Leave it all to the Americans" argument.
658 There is the version that we should leave it all to the Americans for moral reasons, because we do not like having anything to do with these ghastly weapons, as, indeed, they are. There is the economy version of that argument, that we should leave it all to the Americans because, obviously, we would save a good deal if we did so.
Let me take those two versions. I am sorry that the spokesman of the Liberal Party was not fortunate enough to catch your eye, Sir, because I should have been very interested to hear what he had to say. As far as I can see, that party takes the moral view that we should have nothing to do with nuclear weapons and that, luckily enough, it is safe to take that line because the Americans have ample nuclear weapons. That argument does not appeal to us and I do not believe that it appeals to any other section of the House. The House is now well seized of the fact that on moral grounds—and I speak very frankly—that is a nauseating sanctimonious argument.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I want to understand how far this argument goes. If it is a nauseating argument for this country to say that we will do without hydrogen bombs, even though the Americans have them, and perhaps relying on the Americans, does it become a nauseating argument if the French or Germans say that, and is the consequence of that that all Europe must join the club?
§ Mr. Strachey
If the French or anybody else said that on moral grounds they would have nothing to do with nuclear weapons and need not do so because the Americans had them and they would therefore be protected, then of course it would be nauseating. I cannot believe that my hon. Friend is adopting that argument, because he is a complete pacifist.
§ Mr. Strachey
I am wrong again.
I would go so far as to say that I would be willing, if there were no other argument for this country possessing nuclear weapons, until and unless all nuclear weapons could be abolished, to continue to devote 10 per cent. of our defence expenditure to them to avoid the sanctimonious nature of that position. I 659 should be almost willing to pay the 10 per cent., but there are very much more important arguments.
I do not believe in the argument of prestige. I do not agree with what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) had to say on that score in his extremely thoughtful speech. There are more important arguments than that and much the most important was put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). What he said is the essence of why, on balance—and I agree that it is a balance of considerations—it is worth our while to have our own deterrent at this period.
My right hon. Friend said:Just consider for a moment all the little nations"—if this country in default of general disarmament did not have a nuclear deterrent of its own—running one here and one there, one running to Russia the other rushing to the U.S.A., all once more clustering under the castle wall, this castle wall, or the other castle wall, because in that situation before anything else would have happened the world would have been polarised between the Soviet Union on the one side and the U.S.A. on the other. It is against that deadly dangerous negative polarisation that we have been fighting for years. We want to have the opportunity for interposing between those two giants modifying, moderating, and mitigating influences.That is the real reason, in default of general disarmament, for this country possessing its own deterrent.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said that public opinion was entirely against us on this issue, but apparently he does not study the Gallup polls. This very day a Gallup poll has been published which shows that the very large majority of the British people take the view that unless we can get rid of all nuclear weapons, on balance it is folly for us to scrap our own.
That is the real position. It is not a division between people who are for nuclear weapons and people who are against them. It is a division between people on this side of the House who are against all nuclear weapons at all times, and the people who are giving the impression that they are only against British nuclear weapons. It is the divi- 660 sion between unilateral and multilateral disarmament, and we must say that again.
I come now to the third argument, and it is an important one, over economy. I do not think that it mixes with the argument on morality at all, and that has been very persuasively and very strongly put from both sides of the House, by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), by the right hon. Member for Flint, West and by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East. That is a remarkable coalition of all the talents, and it is an argument which, of course, must be very carefully looked at.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East started by saying that if only we scrapped our nuclear deterrent we could save£300 million. Let us be clear about that. It is perfectly obvious from the Defence White Paper, and we must accept the Defence Minister's figures on this, that that simply is not the case. We could save£300 million only if we scrapped all the fighter aircraft, all the bomber aircraft, all the defensive rockets, the ground-to-air rockets, all the defences of this country altogether.
§ Mr. Crossman
Will my right hon. Friend allow me to make clear to him that I put the two together for the very simple reason that the White Paper states that the sole function of Fighter Command should be to defend the nuclear deterrent. It is, therefore, fair to say that the two are part of a single system, and that if we are to rely on it—let us bee perfectly fair with each other; I was not influenced about this by any morality—we would not have to have a Fighter Command to defend bases that did not exist.
§ Mr. Strachey
The difficulty about that argument, as I think the Minister will very easily show, is, of course, that fighter aircraft can be used for more than one purpose, and it would mean denuding ourselves of fighter aircraft and bomber aircraft, also. It seems to me that that is quite incompatible with my hon. Friend's other argument, which is a powerful one, that we really exert our influence on the Americans, as, for example, in the case of Korea, by being able to fight a conventional war. There is a good deal in that, I dare say, but, if so, we must not cripple our power to fight a conventional war by scrapping 661 fighter or bomber aircraft. The two arguments are not really compatible with each other.
I do not know the figures, but I would guess—and the Minister can correct me if I am wrong—that the scrapping of our nuclear deterrent itself and nothing else would save considerably under£100 million, not£300 million; and that is rather an important difference. The truth about these terrible weapons—and this, also, is a terrible truth—is that they are not immensely expensive. It is a very grim fact and one which we ought not to overlook. All that shows up most terribly the mixture of the moral and economic arguments in favour of the scrapping of the British contribution of the British nuclear deterrent in itself.
That argument was used, for example, by the Liberal candidate in Rochdale. He explained to us, in a letter in The Times the other day, how he had stood on scrapping the British nuclear deterrent, and how he would save so much by that that he would reduce Income Tax and invest on the greatest scale in the Commonwealth. He will not find that£1 million goes very far towards doing that. Such arguments are very deceptive.
There was a much more serious argument from the right hon. Member for Flint, West, who said that these costs may grow very much. That is a very real danger, and it must be very carefully watched. If, for example, rockets have to be developed and, in the end, we replace Bomber Command with them, there is a saving. It is not a gross increase in expenditure. That is not a conclusive argument, although it certainly must be taken into account.
I conclude by repeating what I said at the beginning. Our real criticism of the Government's White Paper this year relates to paragraph 12. We think that that is one of the most disastrous things the Government have said, and that it shows a most alarming inability on the part of the Minister of Defence to think out the realities of the nuclear situation. Goodness knows, they are difficult, perplexing and tragic enough, but he does not seem to have begun to think clearly about them. He has not gone nearly as far as those people in the United States who have devoted their time and energies to thinking of these matters.
662 My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper, who is very generous as a speaker, was very careful to congratulate the Government on one thing, at any rate, namely, that for the first time they had had the same Minister of Defence two years' running. We congratulate the Minister on his unparalled record in that respect. In a way, however, he seems to be only the same Minister of Defence as he was last year. I do not think that he is, quite. I do not think that he is quite that confident, authoritative figure whom we saw last year, with his new defence policy, which was to solve all these questions.
He has had to face the terrible difficulties and dilemmas of nuclear policy, which is a very different thing, and I hope that he is beginning to see that these very simple and slapdash formulations that he has made in paragraph 12 will not fit the realities of the situation. This year we feel that for him it will be:Never glad confident morning again!That, at any rate, he can share with the rest of the Government. They, too, are a very different Government from what they were a year ago. The coat is wearing very thin indeed, now. All real pretence that we have a Foreign Secretary has now been given up.
In this situation we cannot expect the Government to do very much or to do anything good, but we do ask them to refrain from doing the active harm which they undoubtedly did by producing paragraph 12 of the White Paper. I tell them once more what that harm was. It was the harm of tending to break the spirit and the powers of resistance of our people by giving them no hope of survival at all.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Christopher Soames)
We are all glad to see the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) back again after his serious illness, and we are particularly glad that he recovered in time to take part in the defence debate. Before I start with the main arguments of the debate, I should like to take up one point made by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), who mentioned that a United States bomber carrying a nuclear bomb had, he thought—
§ Mr. de Freitas
I never said that it was a United States bomber, and I never said that it had crashed. I said I was told—[Laughter.] I hope that is a fair point. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman is dealing with it.
§ Mr. Soames
I was not suggesting it was not a fair point. I was saying that the hon. Gentleman said he was told that a United States bomber carrying a nuclear bomb had recently crashed in East Anglia. I can assure him that is not so.
When we are framing our speeches for a defence debate, we cannot help feeling a great sense of awe at the terms of terrible destruction in which we have to speak when discussing the topics with which the House has been dealing during these last two days. I know that I felt it deeply, and the more one thinks about these problems the more one becomes convinced of the dire necessity for broad and far-reaching disarmament agreements between the Communists and Western worlds.
One conclusion which I am sure is shared by everyone who has listened to this debate is what an enormous relief it would be for the whole world if the means can be found to achieve this. But in the context of a defence debate we must take the world as it is today, and as it would be if our hopes for disarmament were not realised. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said that the problems presented are not just black and white; and how right he was. There is a large area of grey, and of varying tones of grey at that. The difficulty is that if we just talk in terms of black and white we are bound to fall into the trap of over-simplifying it. If we try to talk in terms of all the shades of grey, there are so many commutations and different possible sets of circumstances that it is quite impossible to be precise; and indeed it would be very unwise to try to be.
The main theme running through this debate has centred on paragraph 12 of the White Paper. There has been a good deal of misinterpretation of this statement in the White Paper. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West and the right hon. Member for Belper both said that 664 the Government had produced a White Paper which everyone had taken to indicate that the ultimate deterrent would be used in anything but a minor incident.
The right hon. Member for Dundee, West said in a television interview shortly after the White Paper was issued, that his complaint about it was where it said that if the Russians became aggressive in any way, even without themselves using the bomb, we should start throwing H-bombs at them. That was the interpretation which the right hon. Gentleman put on the White Paper. Surely this is the thought underlying the opening part of the Opposition Amendment. All I can say is that the kindest interpretation to put on these remarks is that hon. Members opposite have completely failed to comprehend the purpose of it. The sentence in the White Paper to which this part of the Amendment refers reads as follows:The democratic Western nations will never start a war against Russia. But it must be well understood that, if Russia were to launch a major attack on them, even with conventional forces only, they would have to hit back with strategic nuclear weapons.This is the only sentence in the White Paper which categorically says that the deterrent would be used. It is very important. To hold to our analogy of colour, this is the black.
This raises the whole question of what we look to the deterrent to deter. Hitherto, the Western world has looked to it to deter the Russians from engaging in a major act of aggression of any character. Time was when the United States possessed the deterrent and the means of delivering it in considerable quantities and when the Russians had none of it. But they had overwhelming superiority on the Continent of Europe in conventional forces. We in the West regarded the deterrent as our safeguard against the use of those conventional forces. There was never any question then but that a major Russian attack against the West—it would have been conventional, for they had nothing else—would have brought to bear the whole weight of Western nuclear retaliation.
This was the situation when the party opposite was in power. Leaving aside politics, it is worth examining the changes which have taken place in the military situation since then. The H-bomb has succeeded the A-bomb as the deterrent, 665 and the Russians are now a nuclear Power. They have the means of bringing great destruction to this country. Before many years are out they will be able to penetrate deep into the United States, too. Meanwhile, the balance of conventional power has not altered. The Russians still have enormous superiority in men and in weapons. If we are not, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said yesterday, to devote an enormously increasing proportion of our manpower and resources to conventional arms, we must still look to the deterrent to deter conventional as well as nuclear aggression.
If the West were to renounce the use of a deterrent in the event of a major, though purely conventional, aggression by Russia against the West, then, in the context of the balance of power as it is today, that would give a supreme and totally unacceptable military advantage to the Communist world. I think that the Opposition Front Bench would agree with me thus far.
Those who believe that we should counter conventional aggression only with conventional resistance should certainly not be supporting the reductions in conventional forces which are now taking place. They should not, in one voice, decline to approve a defence policy which relies upon the deterrent to protect us from major aggression, and at the same time support a policy to run down our forces to 375,000 men. It is only under the shield of a deterrent that we can contemplate reducing our forces to this extent in the world as we have to live in it today.
Allied to this is the question whether or not it is right to make our position clear in public. Surely there is a great deal to be said for plain speaking in this matter of supreme importance. There is no grey involved here, to go hack to our analogy; this is all black. For the strength of N.A.T.O. troops on the ground is such that it would need a major aggression to overcome them. The question is, are we more or less likely to deter such aggression by making our position quite clear?
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence reminded us, when he opened the debate, how different world history might have been if the allies had made their position clear to the Kaiser and to 666 Hitler. This sentiment was echoed by the right hon. Member for Belper and by my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Sir F. Maclean), and I think it commands the broad agreement of the House.
I do not think any of us believe that it is the intention of the Russian Government wilfully to bring about a major clash of arms with the West. The danger of global war lies not in cold calculation by the men in the Kremlin. It lies in miscalculation. So it must be not only in our interests but in the interests of the whole world that we should narrow the area of possible miscalculation. The danger of global war lies not in the black but in the grey. The Russians will not chance their arm in a manner which they consider will result in nuclear retaliation. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) approves of that statement.
Of all the areas throughout the world where there is friction between the Communist and capitalist worlds, or a danger of friction, the one where armed conflict is least likely to develop on a major scale is Europe. But that situation has not come about by chance. It has come about because the Western nations have built up the strength of N.A.T.O., and because they have devoted sufficient resources to producing a massive deterrent. If N.A.T.O. were to dissolve or if the West were unilaterally to renounce the use of the H-bomb, even in the event of major Russian aggression, then Western Europe would become overnight the biggest danger spot of all. It would therefore be a good thing if we cleared up this all-important matter of what our reaction would be in the event of major aggression.
§ Mr. Paget
This is a very serious point. What we want is security, but by threatening something which is wholly incredible we provide the very uncertainty which we wish to avoid. Nobody says that we must not use the atom bomb against a conventional attack. Our argument is that to say that a conventional attack would provoke unlimited atomic retaliation against the centres of Russia is incredible, absurd and will not be believed.
§ Mr. Soames
That is just the point which I am trying to make. We are talking here in terms of a major aggression by conventional weapons, a major attack 667 by conventional weapons. We are talking about retaliation when a major attack has been made. That is all that has been said in the White Paper.
I do not believe that the Leader of the Opposition would disagree with the premise that a major Russian onslaught, albeit only conventional, must be met with thermo-nuclear retaliation. No official Opposition spokesman in the debate has denied that. But in the Amendment there is this rather vague assertion that they think that Government policy as set out in the White Paper relies too much upon the use of the thermonuclear. Yet the only place in the White Paper where the Government say that the West would have to have recourse unequivocably to thermo-nuclear is in the event of major Russian aggression against the West. Is there any difference between them on the major Russian aggression? One can recognise it when one sees it—vast mobilisation and preparations. One sees it. Is there any difference between them? There is a danger that people outside this House, and beyond these shores, might feel that the Opposition would disagree with this fundamental approach, and I think that the Leader of the Opposition really ought to make his position clear.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
The hon. Gentleman keeps telling us that the real danger is not in the black but in the grey. What, then, is the point in going on and on talking about the black? We want to know what the Government would do if something happened in the grey.
§ Mr. Soames
What I said was that the reason why the danger did not lie in the black was the existence of the deterrent; but if the right hon. Gentleman is to tell us that if he gets into power he will not rely on the deterrent to resist Russian aggression, it might well be a very different story in Europe.
Is all this new? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West said how different in this respect this year's White Paper was from last year's. Paragraph 14 of last year's White Paper said:… the only existing safeguard against major aggression is the power to threaten retaliation with nuclear weapons.668 In last year's defence debate, no mention of that was made in the Amendment moved by the Opposition.
Let us now turn to the grey, which is a far harder proposition. The difficulty of talking with precision here was expressed most clearly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) in what, if I may be so bold as to say so, was a remarkably patriotic and witty speech. The paler shades of grey do not present a problem, as the right hon. Member for Belper said. There are the uprisings, the frontier incidents, bandit warfare in the jungle; no one is in doubt that these are dealt with with conventional weapons; and the principle of conservation of force—that one does not deploy greater strength than is needed—is just as applicable in this as in the greater field.
The real danger lies in the fact that an unscrupulous nation, playing upon the natural abhorence and reluctance of the Western world to launch into a mutually devastating nuclear exchange, might indulge in military adventures, or encourage other countries to do so whilst giving them thinly-veiled support. This point was made clearly by my hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison). This is a field in which no Government can say in advance to what weapons they would need to have recourse in any of the possible different sets of circumstances. We cannot, and we would not try to. Neither would the party opposite, if in power, and we would not expect it to—
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
The right hon. Gentleman has said that the 1914–18 and the 1939–45 wars broke out because of lack of clarity about our position. He now says that there is an equal lack of clarity today.
§ Mr. Soames
The lack of clarity then was as to whether or not we would fight. The lack of clarity about which I now talk is as to the weapons we would use.
As I say, we cannot try to be precise as to the weapons we would use, and neither would the Opposition. They would use, as would we, the same doctrine of medium force. We would not deploy more forces, we would not have recourse to bigger explosive power, than was absolutely necessary to protect our interests. What is important here is that 669 the Western world, and we in particular, should devote a sufficiently high proportion of our defence expenditure to conventional weapons, so that we will not be in a posit ion of having to resort to undue force.
We are, in fact, devoting well over 80 per cent. of our defence expenditure to conventional arms. That does not count the V-bomber force, which, of course, is equally capable of conventional action. When one considers the cost of the deterrent, not only of the weapons that we are paying for but of the research and development which has to go on for future weapons, this would seem to be a very fair balance; and I should certainly have thought that that alone would have shown beyond peradventure that we are not relying unduly upon the deterrent. So, as I have said, our forces must be so organised that we can meet resistance without having to resort to undue force.
The right hon. Member for Belper and the right hon. Member for Dundee, West said that there was not sufficient information in the White Paper about tactical nuclear weapons. In this respect, it was made clear in last year's White Paper that it is the Government's policy to equip British forces with them. It would be tedious if the same things had to be repeated every year. The fact that last year's statement has not been spelt out again in this year's Paper does not, I assure the House, indicate any change of Government policy.
The Royal Air Force has had for some time stocks of tactical atomic bombs for the light bomber force. The Army is being equipped with the Corporal ground-to-ground weapon, which has a nuclear war-head, and the first regiment will be deployed in B.A.O.R. this year. The House will recall that we are proceeding with the establishment of a range in the Hebrides, the main purpose of which will be the training of troops in the handling and firing of Corporal. We are continuing also our own research and development for a future generation of tactical weapons.
The second part of the Amendment refers to the installation of the missiles in this country. The Opposition's case is not that we should never have missiles here. The right hon. Member for Belper 670 said that we were wrong to have Thor missiles because, he thought, they were not any good. The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) put very clearly the other aspect of the Opposition's case that we should not install them before the summit talks. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air dealt at some length with the value of Thor early in the debate, and I should like to concentrate on the second part of the argument.
Before the agreement about the missiles was published, there were all sorts of wild speculations. When it was finally published and hon. Members saw what a comprehensive degree of control we had over the use of the weapons, very little was said, and very little has been said in the course of the debate. The Amendment says that we should not go on with the rocket bases until summit talks have taken place. In fact, there will be no rockets in position in this country before the summit talks, unless they are very long delayed. The Opposition's case, however, as I understand it, is that even preparing rocket bases is likely to affect the spirit and outcome of the talks.
I suggest to the House that the Russians are very grown-up. The outcome of summit talks—which we all hope will take place—will depend upon whether or not the Russians want to reduce tension in the world. If that is so, they will certainly not be deflected by the fact that the deterrent power based in this country is being increased, any more than we will be deflected in our search for peace by the knowledge that the Russians are today building rocket bases. I do not believe that this is a serious argument as a part of the Amendment, except in so far as it demonstrates the highest common factor of agreement within the party opposite.
I will turn to some of the other points which have been raised about the life of the Services, points raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) and the hon. Members for Lancaster and Bermondsey. The House, I am sure, will realise the difficulties which the major reorganisation of the forces has presented to each Service. Having served in all three Departments, perhaps I may be excused in saying that 671 of the three Services the Army is confronted with the gravest problems and the greatest heartburns. The House realises full well what a part regimental traditions play in the Army's life, and with what sorrow past and present members of the forces view the departure of these famous regiments.
There is the question of the collective morale of the Services. The way in which all three Services have accepted the reorganisation and all that it means for them has been in accordance with their highest traditions. We are dealing here also with the lives of individuals. We are dealing with the hopes and prospects of young men who are looking forward to serving their country in the Services. I would say to them, that the prospects of a full and satisfying career in the Armed Forces of the future will be every bit as good as in the larger forces of the past.
The problem of regular recruiting is greater for the Army than for the other two Services, and that is because the Army has to recruit more than the other two Services. The recent figures give us cause for hope that the Government will achieve their objective of having a sufficient number in the forces to be able to do away with National Service.
§ Compared with many hon. Members, I have but a short experience of this House, but I never cease to wonder at the difficulty of foretelling what course a debate will take. In view of the controversy that has appeared to be raging since this year's White Paper was published, the public could well have been excused if it believed that irreconcilable differences existed on each side of the House. This debate has shown that the area of disagreement between the Front Bench opposite and this side is far smaller than that between the main body of the Opposition and some of its supporters. The differences between us are matters of degree and emphasis, not of principle.
§ Our hope must be that the world will take more notice of what has been said in this debate, and of the wide measure of agreement between the two parties, rather than of the fact that the Opposition have chosen to divide the House. By dividing it and showing a degree of disunity which is quite unreal, they are rendering a disservice to the cause of peace.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 318, Noes 263.675
|Division No. 49.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Boyle, Sir Edward||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||du Cann, E. D. L.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Brooman-White, R. C.||Duncan, Sir James|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Duthie, W. S.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Bryan, P.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Elliott, R. W. (Ne'castleuponTyne, N.)|
|Ashton, H.||Butler. Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Campbell, Sir David||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Atkins, H. E.||Carr, Robert||Erroll, F. J.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Cary, Sir Robert||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Channon, Sir Henry||Fell, A.|
|Bam[...]iel, Lord||Chichester-Clark, R.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Barber, Anthony||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Fisher, Nigel|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cole, Norman||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Barter, John||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Forrest, G.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Cooke, Robert||Foster, John|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Cooper, A. E.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Freeth, Denzil|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gammans, Lady|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Gibson-Watt, D.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Cunningham, Knox||Glover, D.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Dance, J. C. G.||Glyn, Col. Richard H.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Davidson, Viscountess||Godber, J. B.|
|Black, C. W.||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Gomme-Dunean, Col. Sir Alan|
|Body, R. F.||Deedes, W. F.||Goodhart, Philip|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Gower, H. R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Grant, W. (Woodside)||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Redmayne, M.|
|Grand-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Green, A.||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Llewellyn, D. T.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westhury)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Gurden, Harold||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Robertson, Sir David|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Longden, Gilbert||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Roper, sir Harold|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||McAdden, S. J.||Russell, R. S.|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||McKibbin, Alan||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Sharples, R. C.|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Shepherd, William|
|Hay, John||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Hesketh, R. F.||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Speir, R. M.|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maddan, Martin||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hope, Lord John||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Hornby, R. P.||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Storey, S.|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Marshall, Douglas||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Mathew, R.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Maude, Angus||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Maudlins, Rt. Hon. R.||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Mawby, R. L.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Howard, John (Test)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral, J.||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Teeling, W.|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Temple, John M.|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Moore, Sir Thomas||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh.S.)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Neave, Airey||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Hyde, Montgomery||Nicholls, Harmar||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Osborne, C.||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Page, R. G.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Kaberry, D.||Partridge, E.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Keegan, D.||Peel, W. J.||Wall, Patrick|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Kerr, Sir. Hamilton||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Kimball, M.||Pitman, I. J.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Kirk, P. M.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Lagden, G. W.||Pott, H. P.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Powell, J. Enoch||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Leavey, J. A.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Leburn, W. G.||Ramsden, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Rawlinson, Peter||Mr. Heath and Mr. Oaksh[...]ott.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Balfour, A,||Blenkinsop, A.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Blyton, W. R.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Boardman, H.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G|
|Anderson, Frank||Benson, Sir George||Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Beswick, Frank||Bowles, F. G.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Boyd, T. C.|
|Baird, J.||Blackburn, F.||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Probert, A. R.|
|Bur[...]e, W. A.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Janner, B.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Randall, H. E.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Rankin, John|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs. S.)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Carmichael, J.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Reeves, J.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||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, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Ross, William|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Kenyon, C.||Royle, C.|
|Cove, W. G.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||King, Dr. H. M.||Short, E. W.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Lawson, G. M.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Ledger, R. J.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Lewis, Arthur||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lindgren, G. S.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lipton, Marcus||Snow, J. W.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Logan, D. G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Deer, G.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||McCann, J.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Delargy, H. J.||MacColl, J. E.||Steele, T.|
|Diamond, John||MacDermot, Niall||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Dodds, N. N.||McGhee, H. G.||Stonehouse, John|
|Donnelly, D. L.||McInnes, J.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Dye, S.||McLeavy, Frank||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on- Trent, C)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Edelman, M.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Mahon, Simon||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigs)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mason, Roy||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Finch, H. J.||Mayhew, C. P.||Timmons, J.|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mellish, R. J.||Tomney, F.|
|Foot, D. M.||Messer, Sir F.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mikardo, Ian||Usborne, H. C.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mitchison, G. R.||Viant, S. P.|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)||Monslow, W.||Wade, D. W.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Moody, A. S.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Weitzman, D.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mort, D. L.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Grey, C. F.||Moss, R.||West, D. G.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Moyle, A.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mulley, F. W.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hale, Leslie||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Wigg, George|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Hannan, W.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Oliver, G. H.||Willey, Frederick|
|Hastings, S.||Oram, A. E.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Orbach, M.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Healey, Denis||Owen, W. J.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Padley, W. E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Paget, R. T.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Holman, P.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Holmes, Horace||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Holt, A. F.||Pargiter, G. A.||Woof, R. E.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Parker, J.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Parkin, B. T.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Paton, John||Zilliacus, K.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Peart, T. F.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pentland, N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
|Hunter, A. E.||Popplewell, E.|
§ Main Question put:—678
§ The House divided: Ayes 317, Noes 261.681
That this House approves the Report on Defence (Britain's Contribution to Peace and Security) set out in Command Paper No. 363.