HC Deb 28 July 1958 vol 592 cc952-1075
Mr. Speaker

I do not propose to call the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), because it would unduly restrict the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution.

3.31 p.m.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

I am very glad that there is this opportunity of discussing, before the Summer Recess, the White Paper on the Central Organisation for Defence, which was published recently.

The process of building up a central organisation for defence began with the creation of the Committee of Imperial Defence in 1904. Since then, a succession of steps has been taken, each designed further to strengthen and unify the central control of defence policy. In 1924, the Chiefs of Staff of the three Services were formed into a Committee and were given the responsibility for tendering collective professional advice on military matters to the Government. Next came the appointment, in 1936, of a Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence—Sir Thomas Inskip. His functions were purely advisory; he had almost no staff. I remember him emphasising that at this time he had no more than two typists, and I do not think that if he were alive he would consider it unfair for me to say that he made virtually no impact on military policy or action. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is no reflection on Sir Thomas Inskip, but merely on the very restricted scope of the job which was given to him.

When my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) became Prime Minister, in the critical days of 1940, he assumed the additional title of Minister of Defence, but, since he had all the immense authority of a wartime Prime Minister, there was never any need for him to define his functions and powers as Minister of Defence. There was no Ministry of Defence at all; there was simply a small handling staff under General Ismay within the Cabinet Secretariat. My right hon. Friend was in constant session with the Chiefs of Staff, and by that means he exercised complete control over strategy and military operations. He also had the deciding voice in all major problems of equipment and organisation, and all appointments to the higher Commands. The Service Departments executed the policies decided on by the Prime Minister and the Chiefs of Staff. They were also, of course, responsible for the immense administrative task of running their respective Services in time of war.

When the war came to an end, it was obviously no longer feasible for the Prime Minister to devote so much of his time to military matters. It was consequently decided formally to create a post of Minister of Defence, and to establish a small Ministry to assist him. Under the Ministry of Defence Act, 1946, the Minister was charged with the responsibility for formulating and applying a unified policy for the Armed Forces and their requirements—quite a broad scope.

This new responsibility, given to the Minister of Defence by Parliament, clearly overlapped to a considerable extent the already existing responsibilities of the Service Ministers; but the Act did not attempt to demarcate their respective spheres of action. At that time, it was, perhaps quite rightly, thought best to leave this difficult issue somewhat in the air and to wait and see how things worked out in practice. In fact, this new set-up did not work very well. I do not think it is any secret that successive Ministers of Defence of both parties felt that their ability to discharge their responsibility for formulating defence policy was greatly hampered by lack of authority to give decisions, and by the difficulty of obtaining comprehensive and objective inter-Service advice.

To help to deal with this second problem it was decided, in 1956, to appoint an independent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, who could take an overall view of the scene. But he was given virtually no staff to assist him, and he was not entitled to advise the Minister of Defence, except as the mouthpiece of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. The Chairman was thus more or less isolated, with no actual authority and very little influence.

As a result, the Minister of Defence, despite the responsibilities laid upon him by Parliament, was still not able to do much more than try to co-ordinate the views of the Service Departments. In practice, the Minister's functions were largely confined to presenting Service requirements to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and negotiating with the Service Departments about the division between them of the available money. But all that was radically changed when the present Administration was formed in January, 1957.

Knowing, as he did from personal experience, the unsatisfactory position of the Minister of Defence, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister decided, when appointing me to this post, to define with much more precision the respective responsibilities of the Minister of Defence and the Service Ministers. This was set out in a directive and was announced to Parliament. Under this directive the Minister of Defence, subject to the general authority of the Cabinet, was given definite powers of decision on all important questions of policy over the whole field of defence.

The immediate purpose of this directive was to give the Minister the necessary authority to reshape our defence policy in accordance with current strategic needs and in the light of the economic capacity of the country. That specific task having been largely completed, and announced to Parliament in the Defence White Papers of 1957 and 1958, the question naturally arose whether the greatly increased powers given to the Minister of Defence in the directive of January, 1957, should be permanently retained.

The broad effect of the recent White Paper on the Central Organisation for Defence is to confirm the position created in January, 1957, with certain new features and modifications. There have been many newspaper rumours to the effect that I have been "battling with my Service colleagues" for an increase in power.

Mr. George Brown (Belper)

Rumours or truth?

Mr. Sandys

All I would say is that those who wrote those stories cannot have read the directive given to me, and announced to Parliament in January, 1957. I should like to remind the House of what that directive states. I am quoting from HANSARD of 24th January, 1957—which date, incidentally, is my own birthday; I had not realised that. These were the words: Subject as necessary to consultations with the Cabinet and Defence Committee and with the Treasury, on matters of finance, the Minister"— that is, the Minister of Defence— will have authority to give decisions on all matters of policy affecting the size, shape, organisation and disposition of the Armed Forces, their equipment and supply (including defence research and development) and their pay and conditions of service. He will similarly have power of decision on any matters of Service administration or appointments which, in his opinion, are of special importance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th January, 1957; Vol. 563, c. 396.]

Mr. Brown

Then what are we arguing about?

Mr. Sandys

I cannot conceive of any further powers that can reasonably be given to the Minister of Defence, short—

Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)


Mr. Sandys

I am sure that the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) will be fortunate in catching Mr. Speaker's eye later.

Mr. Shinwell

I think that we should clarify the issue right away. If the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation of these new powers is that he is to determine the size, shape, and all the rest of it, for the three Services, why is he retaining these three right hon. Gentlemen? What does he want them for?

Mr. Sandys

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop my argument. I am going to try to cover all the issues which arise on the White Paper. The right hon. Gentleman is looking particularly mischievous today.

I was saying, when the right hon. Gentleman interrupted me, that I cannot conceive of any further powers which could reasonably be given to the Minister of Defence, short of amalgamating the Service Departments and making him responsible for their day-to-day administration.

No one can say what will happen in the future. If I may express my opinion, and that of the Government, it is that the time has certainly not come for merging the Defence Departments and the Ministry of Supply in the Ministry of Defence. I, at any rate, would not recommend such a change. I have held a number of Government offices of various kinds, but I should like to say to the House that this is the first occasion when I have been able to think, undisturbed, about large issues of policy without being constantly interrupted by less important but more immediately urgent questions of current administration.

The Minister of Defence is responsible for formulating the policy which determines the spending of about one-third of the whole of the national Budget. I would say to the House that he needs all his time and energy to discharge that task. It is, therefore, quite essential that he should remain free from the time-absorbing preoccupations of Departmental administration.

As compared with the directive of January, 1957, the White Paper—[Interruption.] Perhaps I might have the attention of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown)—makes two changes in the powers of the Minister of Defence. One is a reduction and the other is an increase. Under the directive the Minister was given authority to decide any matters of Service administration—I have just read out the text—which, in his opinion, were of special importance, including pay and allowances and conditions of service.

I have not at any time exercised that power, apart from co-ordination regarding pay and conditions of service, which have been prominent during this past year. I prefer not to have that power, for this reason: that were I to have it, it would tend to blur the demarcation—I think it is very important that there should, so far as possible, be a clear demarcation—between the policy-making responsibilities of the Minister of Defence and the executive and administrative responsibilities of the Service Ministers.

The other change in the White Paper is the decision to make the Minister of Defence responsible at Ministerial level for the execution of military operations decided on by the Cabinet. Hitherto, it has not been altogether clear whether, for operations, the Chiefs of Staff were responsible to the Minister of Defence or direct to the Cabinet as a whole. In the course of operations, particularly in peace-time, questions of policy—some of them of a military and some of a political character—are constantly arising, and it is essential that there should be a Minister from whom the Chiefs of Staff can rapidly obtain the necessary decisions.

I turn now to the position of the Service Ministers. I promised the right hon. Member for Easington that I would deal with that point. For the purpose of what I have to say I should like to use the term "Service Ministers" to include, also, the Minister of Supply.

The Prime Minister's directive of January, 1957, inevitably necessitated some adjustment in the relationship of the Service Ministers to the Minister of Defence and to the Cabinet Defence Committee. The revised arrangements in the White Paper give formal expression to the practice which has developed during the past eighteen months. Before reaching decisions on defence policy the Minister of Defence, naturally, has the very fullest consultations with the Service Ministers and the Chiefs of Staff. Much of this is done through ad hoc meetings which, of course, will continue.

But, in addition, it has been decided to create a formal Defence Board through which the Minister of Defence can collectively consult the Service Ministers and the Minister of Supply on more important issues of policy. As the White Paper states, the Board will also include the Chiefs of Staff and the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Defence. I think that it is a good new feature to bring science into the highest counsels of any defence—

Mr. Shinwell

Have not we got that now?

Mr. G. Brown

It has been there for years.

Mr. Sandys

The right hon. Gentleman says that it has been there for years. This is the first time that we have created a formal body of this kind for the discussion of defence problems on which a high-powered scientific representative is a full member.

Mr. Brown

As the Minister challenges me, may I say that I was only querying whether he means that he has not been consulting his own chief scientist over all these years.

Mr. Sandys

Of course, the right hon. Gentleman does not imagine that. I was saying that this is the first time that a formal—[Interruption.] Of course he has been there all the time. If the right hon. Gentleman will think—[Interruption.] I would like to make it clear—[Interruption.] If the two right hon. Members for Belper and Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) would like to settle their differences later, I can continue. I am glad that there is now agreement between the right hon. Member for Belper and the rest of the Opposition Front Bench on the subject of defence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that we are all in such an amiable mood this afternoon.

The Defence Board, as the White Paper makes clear, is a consultative body to assist the Minister of Defence in the formulation of policy. The Board could not, of course, be given powers of decision without encroaching upon the powers of decision given to the Minister of Defence and to the Service Ministers in their respective spheres. Nevertheless, the Board will, I am sure, have a most important and valuable part to play as a forum for the discussion of military policy and inter-Service problems. [Laughter.]

Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)

Nothing besides that?

Mr. Sandys

It is no good hon. Members opposite laughing at the idea of discussion and consultation. Those are an essential preliminary to the taking of these important decisions.

I come now to the relationship of the Service Ministers to the Cabinet Defence Committee.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

The right hon. Gentleman will remember that the Prime Minister's statement of 24th January was an answer given to a Question of mine. What worried me then, and has worried me ever since the Ministry of Defence was set up, is that the control of the Army, to a less extent of the Air Force, and certainly of the Navy, is exercised through the Royal prerogative. If the relationship of the Secretary of State for War is altered in any way, it has to be done by the wish of Her Majesty and not by Act of Parliament.

The Minister of Defence does not seem to have faced up to this position. He is talking all the time as if he were an entirely free agent in relation to the Service Departments. Quite clearly he cannot be that, under the last Order in Council which followed the Labour Party's last White Paper. Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to table a new Order in Council?

Mr. Sandys

I had forgotten that the statement of 24th January was in reply to a Question by the hon. Member.

On the legal aspect, I think that the trouble is that the Act of 1946, which I do not criticise because that was a very difficult time to settle these matters, clearly gave to the Minister of Defence powers that overlapped the powers which had already been given to the Service Ministers, not only by the Royal prerogative but by Parliament.

I am not talking about the Board of Admiralty, which is always something different, but certainly of the Army Council. I have not got it all in my mind. I think that the Army Council was set up by Act of Parliament. There was an overlap. The Prime Minister, who has certain prerogatives to settle division of responsibility as between Ministers of the Crown, did try, and I think the arrangement worked smoothly, to resolve this difficulty of the overlap between the powers given by Parliament both to the Minister of Defence and to the Service Ministers. I was just coming to say something about the relationship of the Service Ministers to the Cabinet Defence Committee. I think that there have been misunderstandings about the functions of the Cabinet Defence Committee.

Apart from issues of exceptional importance, the Cabinet Defence Committee does not normally concern itself with purely military matters which are wholly within the sphere of responsibility of the Minister of Defence and the Service Ministers. The primary function of the Cabinet Defence Committee is to resolve questions of defence policy which have repercussions on foreign and colonial affairs and on national finance. Owing to the widely varying nature of its agenda it has been found, in practice, that a fixed membership is not appropriate. It has, therefore, been decided to adopt the procedure of the old Committee of Imperial Defence, under which the Prime Minister decides which members of the Committee are to be invited to particular meetings, having regard to the subjects to be discussed. Under this procedure, the Service Ministers will be invited to attend the Committee when matters affecting their responsibilities are under discussion.

I come now to the Chiefs of Staff organisation. The changes which have been made have one purpose only, that is, to emphasise the importance of the closest inter-Service co-operation and to ensure that the fullest information and advice are made available to the Minister of Defence. The first change is the formal recognition of the fact that the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff must also be the principal military adviser of the Minister of Defence. He has, accordingly, been given the title "Chief of the Defence Staff". The Chiefs of Staff will continue to be collectively responsible for giving professional military advice to the Minister of Defence and the Cabinet. In cases where the Chiefs of Staff are not agreed, the Chief of the Defence Staff is now required to report their respective views, and tender his own advice. This is designed, and I think very rightly, to ensure that any important differences are brought to light.

To discharge his heavy responsibilities for the formulation of defence policy the Minister of Defence requires extensive military advice over a wide range of subjects. He can obtain this only in one of two ways, either by creating a large staff organisation of his own in the Ministry of Defence, or, alternatively, by using the existing staffs of the Service Departments. I wish to emphasise to the House that we do not intend to build up any large, separate staff in the Ministry of Defence.

Instead, the Minister of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Staff will call on the services of the Naval, General, and Air Staffs for the assistance they require. For the purposes of policy planning, these three Service staffs will be regarded as together forming a Joint Defence Staff, responsible, through the Chiefs of Staff, to the Minister of Defence. In addition, the Joint Inter-Service Planning Staff has been made directly responsible to the Chief of the Defence Staff, as Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff. In this way we shall, I think, be able to use to the full the knowledge and experience of the Services and we shall avoid reproducing the mistakes of the German O.K.W. organisation which divorced responsibility for planning from responsibility for execution.

Nobody will claim that the changes in the White Paper are revolutionary. Nor should they be. They are not the product of anybody's brainwave. They are the applied results of actual experience. The importance of the changes made should not be underestimated. Compared with the arrangements set up in the last White Paper of 1946, this new organisation represents a very big step forward. In fact, short of merging the Service Departments and the Ministry of Supply, which we do not recommend, we have gone just about as far as it is practicable to go.

From our experience over the last eighteen months we are confident that the new organisation will effectively secure a unified direction of defence at the centre, while leaving to the Service Departments the necessary freedom to run and administer their Services, within the framework of the Government's overall policy. I accordingly commend the new arrangements sat out in the White Paper to the approval of the House.

Although the central topic of the debate is defence organisation, I believe that the House would wish me also to say something about current developments. The last few months have been a period of much activity for our Armed Forces. Owing to the disturbed conditions in the Near East and in the Arabian Peninsula, we thought it right to put ourselves in a position to deal with a variety of possible troubles. In April, we decided to strengthen our forces in Aden. Later, we sent additional troops to Kenya, to be available as a reserve. More recently we have increased our forces in the Persian Gulf and in Libya.

Various changes were also made in the disposition of the Fleet in the Mediterranean and in the East of Suez. Owing to the growing disorder in Cyprus and the desirability of maintaining a theatre reserve for other eventualities, we sent considerable reinforcements to Cyprus during June. Side by side with these troop movements, a proportion of the aircraft of R.A.F. Transport Command were held back from other duties and kept in a state of readiness.

At the same time, extra stocks of fuel and other supplies were despatched to our principal air stations in the Mediterranean, in Africa and in the Arabian Peninsula. These various precautionary measures have, I think, already proved their value. As events showed when the call came from Jordan late in the night of 16th July, we were able to move very swiftly.

Since the situation still remains critical and uncertain, we have moved additional troops to Cyprus to replace those that have gone into Jordan. We have also made arrangements to enable a further reinforcement to be sent to Aden at very short notice, if this should be necessary.

In view of the many and widespread responsibilities which our Armed Forces at present have to discharge, the question, naturally, arises in people's minds as to whether, with the ending of conscription at the end of 1962, we shall still be able to meet our essential commitments. As the House knows, we are going over to all-Regular forces as from 1st January, 1963. That is the plan announced in the White Paper of 1957, to which we continue to work.

It has always seemed probable that we would get the men needed for the Navy and Air Force, but doubts have repeatedly been expressed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who intervened a moment ago, and others in this House and outside, about the prospects of recruiting an all-Regular Army of the size needed. Voluntary recruitment is, as I have said before, not a matter upon which one can ever speak with certainty, because it can change from one moment to another. But I have from the start been confident that the numbers needed would be obtained, and all that I can say to the House today is that each month that goes by strengthens my conviction that that will be so.

Ever since the beginning of the year, the recruiting returns for the Armed Forces as a whole have been steadily improving. We are continuing to have some difficulty in getting all the men we need for certain of the administrative duties, such as storekeepers, cooks and hospital orderlies. But, even here, the rate of recruiting has been going up.

When we published the excellent figures for recruiting in April, I gave a warning that a seasonal decline during the summer months must be expected, as in all previous years. But, in fact, it has not taken place. The figures for May were actually higher than those for April, and the figures for June, which are being issued today, are better still. In fact, the returns for June are the best for this year. During that month, the Army recruited 1,850 long-service men, as compared with only about 200 in June of last year. If recruiting continues at anything like the present rate, we should be able—and I have weighed these words carefully—quite comfortably to reach our planned targets for all three Services by the end of 1962, and thereafter possibly to exceed them.

In general, therefore, we can, I think, feel greatly heartened by the recruiting results up to date. As I have already said, we can never be sure what will happen about voluntary recruitment. But, as far as one can see, there is now every reason for confidence that we shall get the recruits needed to end the call-up in 1960, as planned.

It may, of course, be said that even if recruiting continues at the present high rate our Armed Forces will still not be big enough to meet our commitments. In particular, people may ask how, with the smaller Regular forces of the future, we shall be able to do the kind of things that we are doing now. That is a perfectly fair question and one to which I should like to Rive some answer this afternoon.

In the first place, I wish to emphasise that a simple comparison of numerical strengths is wholly misleading. All-Regular, long-service forces will, in every way, be more efficient and more flexible than our present forces, which contain a large proportion of National Service men. As we all know, conscription involves heavy and wasteful overheads for administration, training and movement, but I do not believe that the House appreciates how great that waste is.

What is more, when units today are sent overseas they have to leave behind all National Service men who have not completed their minimum period of training and also all those who are nearing the end of their two-year period of service. In some cases, this may reduce the strength of a unit by as much as 25 per cent., which is particularly embarrassing when, as at present, we have to send rapid reinforcements overseas. With long-service, all-Regular forces, that kind of difficulty will be enormously reduced.

In reckoning up the forces needed in 1963, we are planning on the basis that our military responsibilities overseas will be, by and large, no less than they are today, with two possible exceptions. The first relates to the British Army of the Rhine. It is our firm intention to keep a considerable force permanently, so far as one can foresee ahead, on the Continent of Europe. Nevertheless, we can, I think, reasonably hope that some further reduction in our present commitments will, in due course, be found acceptable to our Allies. The House knows of the discussions and negotiations which have taken place and will not expect me to go further into that this afternoon.

Secondly, we must, I think, assume that in the course of the next few years—we are talking about 1963—the situation in Cyprus will, by one means or another have eased sufficiently to enable us to make some appreciable reduction in the enormous number of troops now locked up there on internal security duties. As was announced in the Defence White Paper of 1957, we are also planning some moderate reductions in certain other overseas garrisons. This will be made possible by the steps we are taking to increase the air mobility of the strategic reserve and to establish stocks of equipment at focal points overseas.

Anxieties expressed about the reductions in our Armed Forces have centred mainly upon the future fighting strength of the Army and I should like to give the House a few facts and figures about that. Although public attention has, not unnaturally, been concentrated on the amalgamations and disbandments of fighting units, the fact is that the greater part of the cuts will fall on the static base organisation and other non-operational sectors here at home.

One of the most striking savings which will flow from the ending of National Service is in the training organisation. The total numbers of permanent staff and trainees will drop from about 65,000 at present to about 18,000 in 1963. The number of basic trainees, which is now over 30,000 at any one time, will be only about 6,000 in the new all-Regular Army. The other main cuts will be made in the static administrative units in the United Kingdom and there are three factors which make this possible.

The first is that, as the total strength of the Army diminishes, of course its administrative requirements diminish also, though not always fully in proportion. Secondly, the Army is making savings by extending mechanised accounting, work studies and other business methods. Thirdly—and this perhaps is by far the most important—as was announced in the Defence White Paper of 1957, it is our intention to replace uniformed men by civilians to the fullest extent practicable.

The general effect of these measures will be greatly to reduce the military manpower needed for the administrative corps. It will cut out a great deal of drudgery and will, as far as possible, keep soldiers for doing soldiers' jobs.

Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)

The right hon. Gentleman is very anxious to substitute civilians for soldiers. Earlier, he spoke about ward orderlies. Has the Army ever tried to get ward orderlies for military hospitals from civilian life?

Mr. Sandys

I do not want to pursue detailed points. Perhaps the hon. Member will raise that in debate, or in a Question, when I will try to give him all the information I can. I am emphasising that we were going in for a policy of large-scale civilianisation.

To illustrate that, I think that the best thing I can do is to give the House two practical examples, which are fairly typical of the effect of this policy. It is much more far-reaching than most people have so far appreciated. For instance, the R.E.M.E. workshop at Mill Hill, which now has about 150 soldiers and 570 civilians, will, in 1963, be staffed by only 10 soldiers and about 600 civilians.

Similarly, the R.A.S.C. supply depot at Taunton, which at present has about 100 soldiers and 200 civilians, will, in 1963, also have only 10 soldiers, instead of 100, and 250 civilians. In addition, we are reducing the holdings of stores to the absolute minimum. That is a policy which has been recommended to us from many quarters. This process is already well under way and will make it possible to close many depots completely.

The ending of National Service, coupled with the policy of civilianisation and other administrative economies, will enable us to make an altogether dramatic reduction in the Army's military manpower here at home. In fact, we are likely to save well over 100,000 uniformed men. I think that hon. Members will agree that that is a most remarkable figure. As I have explained, these cuts will fall mainly on static administrative services, the training organisation, and various miscellaneous overheads. We are not, of course, contemplating any cut whatsoever in the size of the strategic reserve. On the contrary, we are planning to increase its strength as well as its state of efficiency and mobility.

As has already been announced, the equipment of the Army is at present receiving special attention. For reasons of economy, war-time and early post-war types of equipment have been retained in service a great deal longer than was desirable, but, meanwhile, the Ministry of Supply has developed a new generation of modern weapons and equipment over a wide range and we are taking all practical steps to speed up their introduction into service.

Mr. Crossman

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question on equipment? When he first mentioned this proposal he laid great stress on the fact that if we introduce nuclear weapons that would itself enable us to make great economies in service manpower. Has he anything more to add on that particular subject, which he has not mentioned again today?

Mr. Sandys

I thought that in this debate, which is primarily concerned with defence organisation, I would deal only with, first, the improvement of recruiting, and then with the thoughts which arise in people's minds as a result of large movements of troops which have taken place in recent weeks. I should be glad on another occasion to pursue that rather different topic with the hon. Member.

All I can say now is that I hope I have said enough to give the House confidence about the progress of recruiting and to show that the new all-Regular Army will be mobile and well equipped, with plenty of punch and that our Armed Forces as a whole, whenever they go on to an all-Regular footing, will be well fitted to discharge our future responsibilities in peace and in war.

Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley)

Is it not the intention of the Government to make any comment today on the recent agreement for co-operation on atomic energy for defence policies?

Mr. Sandys

I must apologise to the House for dealing with matters outside the scope of the White Paper on the Central Organisation for Defence, which was the main topic set down for discussion today. I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if I do not try to deal with every conceivable aspect of defence today.

4.17 p.m.

Mr. George Brown (Belper)

I am sure that we shall forgive the Minister of Defence for what he did not deal with, but I find it a little difficult to forgive him for some of the things that he did deal with, which seemed a little less than adequate. I thought that in dealing with the White Paper the right hon. Gentleman, for a man who, we have been told, is very tough and strong, was extraordinarily on the defensive. His attitude today fits in with my reading of what has happened and what the White Paper really shows, as I shall deploy to the House.

The Minister told us today—I marked his words—that the White Paper was a big step forward. I should have thought that if anybody else but he could read that into this White Paper he would really be capable of extraordinary self-deception. This is anything but a big step forward, in my view. I shall produce reasons to support that in a moment.

For me, this is the whole keynote of our debate. I have no doubt that the Minister tried to get a big step forward. I have equally no doubt that he has failed to get a big step forward and equally very little doubt that, having failed to get a big step forward and not then having stepped back from where he has tried to step forward, he succeeded in getting a very complicated, muddled up and mixed arrangement at the end of it all.

What is the background to this debate? There is, first, the Ministerial war, about which the Minister said nothing. I know that he believes very sincerely that he and his colleagues are on the best of relationships.

Mr. Sandys

Hear, hear.

Mr. Brown

I know he believes it, but only he says "Hear, hear"—that is the whole point. When, the other day, I saw him once more walking down the corridor with the Secretary of State for War I felt a certain amount of relief, because it seemed to me that that was certainly an improvement on what had been going on for months past.

We do not have to pretend to each other. We all live in this world, and we all know what is happening in it. During the last six months, there has been going on the most incredible Ministerial war, in which the Minister of Defence, the Service Ministers and the Minister of Supply have—well, if they have been on speaking terms, and if they have been civil to each other it has only been because they were in the same Administration and had better be on such terms when anybody else was looking. That is the first background note to this White Paper—and they all know it.

The second is this—and I say this very deliberately. To my mind, there has been one of the most remarkable combined assaults by the Tory Party on a serving officer who could not answer back. There has been a weight of attack upon one of the Chiefs of Staff. I do not know anything about the rights and wrongs of it, I do not know the man or of his contribution, but one Chief of Staff has been singled out during the last months, in the newspapers, among Tory speakers, among Ministers—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] Yes.

In my view, it has been the second keynote, and it really is no use hon. Members opposite pretending that they do not know that this has been going on. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If anyone pretends that there has not been an attack upon the Chief of the Naval Staff, upon the First Sea Lord, then he is pretending to be blind, dumb and deaf. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] That is the second keynote to this White Paper, and much that is in it has been conditioned both by the first point I have mentioned and by the second—

Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)


Mr. Brown

No, I shall not give way—

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman has said that certain Conservative speakers have attacked the First Lord. He really must give evidence of this attack.

Mr. Speaker

That is not for me. I cannot adjudicate in a matter of that sort.

Mr. Braine

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As one who had the advantage and the privilege of serving under Admiral Mountbatten—

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Braine

—may I ask whether it is in order for the right hon. Gentleman to make a charge that cannot be substantiated, and which he has no intention of substantiating? Would it not be fairer for him either to name the hon. Member or to withdraw his remark?

Mr. Speaker

What is fair is a matter of opinion as between hon. Members. I did not hear the right hon. Gentleman say anything that was out of order, and that is all that I am concerned with.

Mr. Brown

I leave hon. Members opposite and their friends with their consciences.

If I may continue, the third background point to this White Paper—and I say this to the Minister of Defence deliberately—is the extraordinary series of "leaks" and inspired stories that have gone on all the way. The right hon. Gentleman today referred rather airily to the Press rumours. He knows as well as I, and his colleagues know as well as I, that we have not only had Press rumours, but have had almost every member of the Services team, or someone associated with him, making quite sure that their particular angle on what was happening was well known, and well publicised.

I have been in this House only thirteen years, but in that time I do not think that I have ever known a period when as much was let out, quite deliberately, from each of the Departments concerned, as has been happening in the last six months. That, again, has had its effect on what comes out in the White Paper.

But, Sir, my main charge is that what has really conditioned the White Paper is not the Conservative Party—not the Government party opposite. We shall, no doubt, hear about that from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) later. If the Minister could have seen the restlessness going on behind him, the goings and the comings, that hon. Member from there to there and the other from there and back again whilst he was speaking, he would have more appreciation of what I now say.

The real issue is that the Conservative Party, the right hon. Gentleman's Service colleagues on the benches beside him, and the Service Chiefs, have never accepted his basic defence philosophy as set out in his last two White Papers. The real point about this White Paper is that the right hon. Gentleman has been trying to back up a defence philosophy that none of his colleagues really accepts, and which they have all been trying to get back on and get back under.

That is true of the Navy. The Navy has never accepted the rôle given to it in the last two White Papers. We know from "Operation Prospect" that the R.A.F. has not accepted its position. The Army has never been quite content, and hon. Members opposite have been much less than content. As a result of all this, we have had six months of confusion, of conflict and of public argument, and I can only wonder what the effect of all this has had on the morale of the people in the Services.

I went the other day to talk to the—

Mr. Sandys

I think that the best answer to the right hon. Gentleman is the constantly rising, greater recruitment.

Mr. Brown

I will come to that in a moment, but the right hon. Gentleman must not think that that is all. Morale is not only a question of whether men will choose the Army as against every other form of employment—or no employment at all. That is not the only test of morale.

I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he discusses this, as I did the other night, with the Joint Services Staff College, openly, off the record—and let him take off his robe of Minister of Defence. He will see that all this has had a very worrying effect on many young men in the Armed Forces, who are very surprised and very disturbed at the amount of public argument that has gone on.

The Daily Telegraph is by no means one of my major supporters. The last time I spoke in this House it said that I had been a monumental failure, so if I now quote that newspaper in my support it must be evidence of a meeting of minds—it cannot be of anything else. The Daily Telegraph said: Defence Anti-Climax. After twelve months of difficult and ill-managed labour the Minister of Defence has brought forth a mouse. In the White Paper … what is new is unimportant and what is important is old … This, in fact, is where we have got to. After this long period of public disputation and conflict, we have got—I am with the Daily Telegraph—a compromise in which the final result bears very little relationship to what the Minister originally set out to do. Indeed, I will say—and I will show a lot of sympathy with what the right hon. Gentleman, I think, wanted to do—that, in some ways, it would have been better had he admitted defeat and dropped this when he found that that is where he was getting to, rather than to have gone on and produced a compromise that, in my view, not only does not remove the very frustrations under which he and the Prime Minister—when he was Minister of Defence—suffered, but adds to them.

The old checks and balances are still there at the end of the White Paper, and this is the real test. The old causes of frustration are still there, and to them are now added new causes of frustrations. To the old checks and balances are now added new checks which, I think, will produce additional problems.

I was not very clear today what exactly the Minister was trying to say. At one stage, he was building up a case—as we always understood was his aim—to have rather more authority, rather more power, and rather more opportunity for bringing issues to a head and solving them but, on another occasion today, he said that in the 1946 White Paper—in what he was pleased to say was a difficult time in which to settle these things—he had been given too much power. I was not sure whether his real objective was to reduce his power or to increase it, but I think I am right in believing that his main aim was to bring about a situation in which there would not be as much frustration, as much difficulty, in settling the overall problems.

Let us just look at the White Paper—and I invite the right hon. Gentleman to look at his own White Paper—and see what it does. Does it, in fact, give him greater opportunities, greater chances, greater power for solving the problems? Let us, first, look at the new-shape Defence Committee. The very first thing to note about that is that, since 1946—over twelve years ago—the Minister of Defence has been its Vice-Chairman, to relieve the Prime Minister, as the White Paper itself mentioned, of the need of attending all the meetings.

Today, under this White Paper, the right hon. Gentleman ceases to be Vice-Chairman. He is no longer Vice-Chairman. He is now not even guaranteed attendance at the Defence Committee of the Cabinet—and he is a member of the Cabinet. It is no use his smiling; this is what the White Paper says. It may be that it should say something different, or that the right hon. Gentleman himself understood it to mean something different, but this White Paper lists the Minister of Defence as one of a number of Ministers—six, I think, in actual order—who may be called if the Prime Minister so determines.

But, since 1946, and up to this day, and as restated by the Prime Minister just over a year ago, he has been Vice-Chairman of that Committee. I must ask: does this put the right hon. Gentleman in a position to relieve the frustrations, to resolve the decisions? Does it make it easier for him to bring the weight of authority to bear on problems that have to be settled? I rather doubt it.

Among the specific issues that were reserved to the authority of right hon. Gentleman a little over a year ago were pay and conditions of service. These were specifically set out as being reserved to him by the Prime Minister's declaration of January, 1957. In this White Paper that disappears. That is no longer his specific responsibility. Presumably, as many commentators have assumed, that responsibility goes back to the Service Ministers.

The right hon. Gentleman, as he told us at great length, has been running a campaign, in which he has got himself involved, to turn us from a National Service Army, in the main, to a whole-time, small, Regular, professional Army. Involved in that, obviously, are pay and conditions of service. Up to now he has had authority to decide that matter. I gather that this responsibility is now taken from him. Does this look as though his authority is growing, or does it look as if his authority is dropping away?

In the Prime Minister's statement of January, 1957, it was said specifically that the Minister of Defence was responsible for all decisions of policy—and the word "all" was used. In the new White Paper, we are told that he is responsible for major decisions only. We can have long arguments about what is major and what is minor, but one thing is certain, and that is that "major"does not mean "all". "Major", by definition, means something less than all. Whatever else has happened, what has not happened under this White Paper is that the Minister's authority has grown. On the contrary, it has lessened.

One can make a case for either happening. One can make a case for greater centralised control, and one can make a case for not having so much centralised control, but one cannot claim the opposite to what has happened, has happened; and what has happened is that the Minister's authority has declined, and if his view was, as I understood it to be, that he should have greater power, that there should be greater centralised authority by the Ministry of Defence over the Service Departments, I can only say that I look in vain for anything to that effect. I find, instead, a great deal of evidence that the opposite has happened; that what the Prime Minister claimed in January of last year has been reversed, as I have said, over a number of very major points.

It is not for me to say whether it is right or wrong—it is not my business—but I should like to ask him on what ground it has been done. Why should he have been stripped of his powers in this way? Why should he no longer be the Vice-Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet? What has been happening during the past year that has made it incompatible for him so to be? Why should he have lost his powers over pay and conditions of service? What has he been doing that has upset everybody that they should have to take it away from him? Why should he have lost his authority over all the decisions affecting defence policy? I merely ask. Not a word could he tell us about this today.

I now turn to the new Defence Board. How important is this? I interrupted—I did not intend to do so, but the Minister overheard something that I said—about the bringing of the Chief Scientist on to the Defence Board, and the Minister made a great point about how important it is to have science involved in defence. I must say that I am puzzled. The man whom I am talking about is called the Chief Scientist to the Ministry of Defence. Is the Minister saying that he has not been consulting with him all along?

Mr. Sandys

I never said that.

Mr. Brown

The Minister said that he never said it, but what in fact does this Defence Board mean? Is it merely another piece of machinery involving another secretariat, more official minutes and papers? Are we just formalising what until now has been informal? Are we, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said to me earlier, arranging that the Chief Scientist shall now spend rather more time in formal committees and rather less time on science? What is the point of this? The 1946 White Paper, with which my right hon. Friend is more familiar than I am, gave all this to the Department. It arranged that there should be a Standing Committee—

Mr. Shinwell

There is a great deal of confusion here. Whether it was formalised or not is another matter, but every Tuesday morning, apart from periods during the Recess, we held a meeting in the Ministry of Defence over which I presided. The Chiefs of Staff were there. The planning chiefs of the three Service Departments were there. Frequently we had the Second, Third and Fourth Sea Lord there. Admiral Mountbatten sat at the bottom of the table and never opened his mouth unless he was asked to speak. We had the Chief Scientist there. They were all in consultation—a defence council.

Mr. Brown

That shows that I was under no confusion, whatever else may be happening on the other side of the House. What I said was that the 1946 White Paper provided for this to happen, and I now have the wonderful first-hand confirmation of what I had only assumed, that what was provided under the White Paper has been happening all this while. Is it not ridiculous for the Minister to claim that, because this is now so spelled out in the White Paper, it makes something different from what we have been having all these years?

I have a very strong feeling that if what the Minister had originally set out to achieve had been achieved, all this might have made sense. I have a very strong feeling that he set out to get much more power and centralised control, and that the Standing Committee, now the Defence Board, would have taken on a completely new connotation. But he lost his fight. He got left with the Defence Board which, as my right hon. Friend confirms, is no more than formalising what already existed, and he has simply got an official fifth wheel in place of what had been a rather useful less formalised free wheel. He got himself an official fifth wheel on the coach because he lost the setting in which his new formalised board would have been of any use.

May I now turn to the subject of the Chiefs of Staff? The Minister pinned a lot of faith on the change in the position of the Chief of Defence Staff. For myself, looking at this, taking all the information I can, talking to all the people who are willing to talk to me—and many of them are—this looks to me like the same man, the same office, but another title. I ask whoever is to reply to the debate tonight, what effective change does this make?

The Minister said that now, when there is a difference between the Chiefs of Staff, the Chief of the Defence Staff—his "principal military adviser," were the words that he used—will be responsible for keping the matter up and giving the "real McCoy" to the Government. I ask the Minister of Defence: how will he form his views? He cannot do it on intuition. Who is to advise him? Who is to brief him? A Chief of Staff needs advisers and briefers. He does not think this up by himself. As I understand from the White Paper, he is to rely on staffs and planners who work in and are responsible to their own individual Services.

Has not this been the problem right up till now? What has stopped Sir William Dickson, as Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, from doing what the Minister wants Sir William as Chief of the Defence Staff to do? It is the same Sir William Dickson. Surely the thing that has stopped him is that he has no independent brief of his own. He has no independent access to advice of his own. He has to rely on people who owe an allegiance to, and who depend for their promotion upon, the very people who are conflicting. Unless all my advice is wrong, there is a much greater conflict going on among the Chiefs of Staff at this moment about the future conflicts and contingencies with which we might be faced than there has been for a very long time.

I would have said that this is really "all my eye and Betty Martin". This is window dressing. Unless this man is to be provided with some access to independent advice himself—I am not arguing whether he should or should not be; I am dealing with what the Minister says that he has done—I do not see how he can be any better or of greater use or any different described as the Chief of the Defence Staff than he was when he was called Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff.

In paragraph 10 of the White Paper, reinforced by paragraph 16, we are told that the Minister of Defence, via the Chief of Defence Staff, to the Chiefs of Staff, through them to the Services, is to exercise operational control. The Minister is to to be responsible for executing the operations. I am bound to ask the Minister, when he has no staff—and he made a great point of it; he is not going to have one—when he has no independent advice, how, in these circumstances, can the Minister of Defence, through the Chief of Defence Staff, exercise operational control? How can he execute control over the operations of the Services?

He made a great point about the O.K.W.—the Ober-Kommando der Wehrmacht. But this is surely doing just exactly that, and is not giving him any staff with which to enable him to do it. This is making him the whole of the O.K.W. all in his little self. Does this mean what it says, or is this a piece of sheer meaningless window dressing? I believe that the O.K.W. bogey has affected these discussions far more than it ought. I believe that this thing that exists among all our military experts about the weakness and the failure of the O.K.W. gets in the way, and has got in the way of any intelligent objective study of the proposals that the Minister put up.

Every time that I try to discuss this I am met with the O.K.W. bogey, and I am sure that the Minister was. I can see how it happened and how things got torn away. I suspect that the Minister's original proposal contained a great deal of integration in the Ministry of Defence, and that when that had been done, these remaining proposals might well have made sense, but in fact he lost them, as I said earlier, and we are left with a lot of conclusions which make little sense.

I have three main conclusions from the White Paper with which I wish to deal before I say what I think might have been done. There was little of real value in it indeed. I think it has some retrograde steps—and I detailed them—which raise additional problems in the control of defence of this country in the future, and I believe that all the real issues have been left untouched. I think that that is the real summing up of what the Minister has achieved. I have had many discussions in the recent past, all of which confirm that view. I repeat, this is the price which we pay for the fact that Ministerial colleagues and Service colleagues do not like the right hon. Gentleman being there, do not trust him being there and dislike a particular Service Chief of Staff. This is the price we pay.

What should have been done? Let me set out what I think should have been done and then I can be shot at as well. First, there should have been a rethinking of the contingencies against which we are providing forces, the purposes for which forces might have to be used, and if we did this it would involve losing the hypnotic effect that massive deterrence has had on the right hon. Gentleman for a couple of years. It would get rid of this absolute sense of hypnotism by the existence of the thermo-nuclear weapon. We ought to do that to begin with.

Secondly, if we rethought the contingency for which we provide forces, we would recognise that this is bound in the future to involve a combined—and possibly I can use a hated word—integrated rôle of the three Services. The Minister must be aware of the views of President Eisenhower, which are very similar to those which Field Marshal Montgomery has urged for a long time.

President Eisenhower, in his recent message to Congress, stated: First"— setting out the principles— separate ground, sea and air warfare is gone for ever. If ever again we should be involved in war we will fight it in all elements with all Services as one single concentrated effort. Peacetime preparatory and organisational activity must conform to this fact. Strategic and tactical planning must be completely unified, combat forces organised into unified commands, each equipped with the most efficient weapons systems that science can develop, singly led and prepared to fight as one, regardless of service. Nobody says that President Eisenhower will be absolutely right in any one thing, but this is almost certainly the kind of conclusion that one would reach and, I guess, that the Minister of Defence actually reached, if one starts by looking at contingencies for which forces are provided.

In the light of that, we should have worked out the chain of command, both civil and military, from the Prime Minister, Cabinet, Defence Minister and the Service Ministers; we would have got an appropriate civil chain of command, we would have got an appropriate Service chain of command, we would have got the Service advice and the Service control reaching into and from the Minister of Defence and the Prime Minister. We should then have made provision for a joint planning staff and the other joint staffs that that chain of command would need.

Thirdly, the White Paper should have taken account of the kind of forces, the direction, their equipment and their movement. I am bound to say that subsequent to this White Paper, that long overdue review still remains to be done. In this apology for it—for that is what it is, an apology for a job that wanted doing—personalities have defeated principles.

May I state what I personally believe—and I seek to carry nobody with me here. I believe that there is a case for a more centralised higher direction in the defence Services. I believe that there is a case for an integrated Service, at any rate, at the level of lieutenant-colonel or the equivalents and above. I see no reason why people should not come into individual Services but, at a point in their careers, they must become, in the light particularly of what Eisenhower said, officers available to a unified Service. There may even be a case for beginning the integration of all the Services, but I am certain that there is a case for an integrated Service at a particular level.

There is a case for a joint staff responsible to and dependent for promotion upon the Minister of Defence. There is a case for the Chief of Defence Staff and the Ministry of Defence having their channels of advice and briefing unrestricted by individual Service loyalties and preferences. Further, there is a case for reviewing the responsibilities and relationships between Ministers and the Chiefs of Staffs. This has been dodged in the White Paper.

The Minister of Defence tried to tell us today that he and the Government had taken decisions which enshrined the relationships between the Ministers and the Chiefs of Staff. We have heard a lot about traditional relationships. They are not as traditional as all that. The Chiefs of Staff Committee does not go back all that long. There is a case for reviewing these relationships at this time, and it has not been done. There is a strong case for reviewing the civil accounting procedures. There are five permanent Under-Secretaries, each an accounting officer. Ought we to have one accounting officer and arrange the other things differently? There is a case for all that.

No doubt there is a case against what I have suggested, and no doubt people will deploy it. But that case against it cannot be based on the dislike of individuals. It cannot be put on the basis of sticking a fifth wheel under the coach, nor, in my view, has it nearly so much to do with the alleged O.K.W. failure in Germany as has been claimed. The outstanding need today is that the case shall be considered objectively, and this has not been done.

Why has the Minister rejected the idea of a new Esher Committee to study these things? Why has he refused to go outside the area where all the personalities were so keenly engaged and call upon an outside body which could have made exactly this objective study, telling him what is the case for and against, what is the case for radical change and the case for strengthening from within, giving him, the House and the country the advantage of that kind of informed, independent opinion which we have always had in our history whenever we have considered making great changes? The right hon. Gentleman may have had good reasons for not doing it, but I am hanged if I can see what they were.

I regard the White Paper as an unhappy and ineffective epilogue to a somewhat sordid story. It neither improves the machinery of our present defence arrangements nor does it deal with the inadequacy of our present Armed Forces. Like the right hon. Gentleman, I have three specific issues to put in regard to the inadequacies of our Forces. After all, it all comes back to that. All the talk about the mechanics of control and direction matters little unless one thinks in terms of forces, of men, and nuts and bolts. These three specific questions touch on what I regard as the urgent, vital, and rather terrifying inadequacies in our present Forces. Like the Minister himself, I will start with National Service.

The Minister sounded very sure again today about reaching his aim and getting rid of National Service by the end of 1962. There is one question he has never answered and which, I believe, the House is entitled to have answered unequivocally. What size of Army is he talking about? What size of Army does he want by the end of 1962 in order to feel that he has reached his target? We are approaching the end of the year, and I am becoming very worried about this. I will declare my own view in a minute or two, so that there will be no misunderstanding, but for the Minister of Defence to come along and say, "I stand by my plan. I stand by the aim of getting rid of National Service by the end of 1962. All the recruiting figures show me that I can do it", and then not to tell us—he never has—how many soldiers he thinks we need in the Army to meet our obligations at that date is, to my mind, a terrifying thing.

I ask the Minister, or his colleague who is to reply for him, whether he has committed himself to 165,000. By implication, that is the figure he had in mind on the last occasion he talked to us. Does he really mean 165,000? Is that the figure he is tying himself to? Will the successor to the right hon. Gentleman be faced with a position where he, the present Minister, has tied himself to getting rid of National Service, having at the back of his mind 165,000, whereas his successor will find himself with 150,000? I should like the right hon. Gentleman, who is at least as courageous as I am, to take his responsibility in his own hands and say here and now, so that we may know what he is talking about, what figure he wants to achieve and by what date.

At the end of this year, the Order in Council possibilities under the Act run out. Does the Minister intend to allow them to lapse so that, if we want to do anything about it, he or his successor will be faced with a shortfall, and a new Act will be needed? I put it bluntly to him: does he intend to allow the Act just to carry over so that the Order in Council provisions will have gone and it will mean a new Act, with all the complications that that would involve? Is he as sure of himself as that? He may be, and he may have his reasons, but he should say so. He has better access to information than I have, but I do not think that he ought to mislead the country. He ought to come here and say now. "I think I shall want 165,000; I think I shall get 165,000 on the basis of the figures, and I am so sure of myself that I will let the Act run out." We should be told that. We are approaching the end of the Session It runs out in October, and we do not return until November. It is not at all unfair to ask for an answer to these questions now.

Mr. Crossman

Hear, hear.

Mr. Brown

Having said those things, for which I heard some of my hon. Friends cheering me, I will say that I am convinced of the absolute need for a whole-time, professional, rather small, highly mobile, very powerful Army. I see little argument for a large, muscle-bound, National Service Army, such as we had under the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carshalton at the time of Suez, which we could not get anywhere in time to do anything. I am wholly on the side of the Minister if that is his argument. But then the organisation of that Army, its equipment and its mobility become enormously important. We are now approaching the end of 1958. All these things will become crashingly urgent by 1962; the urgency will gradually increase from now until then. I ask the Minister to say what is being done.

How are we getting on with the new rifle? How far have we advanced with new equipment? How far have we got with mobility? What about the long-range, heavy freighter? We have been playing around with it. We took 2,000 or 3,000 men into Jordan. That is not so difficult to do now. The question is: what did they take with them? Suppose that, instead of going to sit on the airport, they had to do some fighting? What with? What had we to take heavy equipment in?

Mr. Crossman

Hear, hear.

Mr. Brown

We have not got it. We keep playing around with the Beverley replacement. I raise it every time I am allowed to speak on the subject, which, in view of the way business goes, is only every few months. I raise it, and that is all I can do. Nothing seems to be done about it. We have not decided about the Beverley replacement. We have no heavy lift aeroplane and we have not an aeroplane which can do the sort of long-range work which is required, having regard to the air barrier which now exists down the Middle East. We have not had an answer to these problems. It is no good saying that mobility is important. It is important that the Minister should do something, not just say that the argument is important.

If one is organising one's forces for the kind of contingencies one envisages, assuming one's foreign policy to be right, then those forces must be able to act. If the foreign policy is wrong, it is wrong to do it, but that is another matter. I am not in a very good position to talk about recent events, and I am thinking more of the future. I am thinking about what we might want to do. If we are to have defence forces, a Defence Minister, and Defence Services, and if we are to ask men to move to various places, they must be able to get there in time to be effective, to get down on their feet with the equipment necessary to do it. I hope none of us will ever be party to saying that we will have forces and deny them the equipment and effective weapons which they need. We have heard nothing about that, and I hope that we shall get an answer.

I now turn to the Navy. In company with one or two other hon. Members, including the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) I was recently in Norfolk, Virginia, where we saw the N.A.T.O. navy commanders. I am bound to tell the right hon. Gentleman that we heard very considerable complaint about what he is up to and about British Government policy. There was a general feeling at N.A.T.O. headquarters there that our national naval policy was very much unrelated to what the N.A.T.O. policy is supposed to be.

The N.A.T.O. commanders complained that they had no forces except the Americans, no forces that are part of the N.A.T.O. naval force. They said that it was their job to close the Icelandic gap, but that they would not get forces until after D-day. Does anyone believe that the submarines which are expected to come through that gap will wait until we have our forces organised after D-day? They will be inside before we get there.

The commanders told me that N.A.T.O. had long ago decided on an infrastructure development on the Clyde for stockpiling and storage and for the other things which we get but for which we only pay one-tenth under the infrastructure programme, and that we were holding the matter up. I ask the Minister to tell us something about this. Are we, in fact, acting as a partner in N.A.T.O. so far as the Navy is concerned or is the right hon. Gentleman following his own sweet path, and, in particular, holding up this Clyde programme? If that is so, why? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why, and what his view is about supplying forces to supplement the N.A.T.O. naval force as we have done in respect of the Army forces?

I have one other point to make before I sit down. It is this quite ridiculous story of the aeroplane known as the N.A.39 and of the Air Force general operational requirement known as 339. In recent times, we have been getting the most curiously conflicting information from Ministers. The Minister of Defence has told us that the time has not yet come to place the production order. The Minister of Supply leads us to believe that the Navy is to have this aeroplane, but that the time has not yet arrived to decide whether the Royal Air Force shall have it as well. Quite clearly, the Royal Air Force does not want it.

Can we be told what the position is? I understand that this strike aeroplane is of quite unique capability and that it was developed to a Navy specification submitted by the Admiralty. I understand, too, that it is now agreed that it fulfils, and rather more than fufils, the Navy's specification. That, I take it, is not disputed. It has cost a great deal of money to develop, partly American and partly British money. It is now flying, I understand, successfully.

The Navy wants this aeroplane in service as soon as it can get it. It does not want to rush matters, but it does not want to waste any time. The firm concerned want to be able to place an order for the various parts and all the things which it has to get together so that when production starts it will proceed smoothly. But the firm is not allowed to do that. I ask the Minister: who is stopping the firm? The right hon. Gentleman claims to be in charge. He says that the White Paper puts him rather more in control than he has been in the past.

Why cannot the firm do the things necessary for production? Who is holding it up? The order appears to have been stuck in the Treasury for a long time. I ask the Minister to tell us why. Here we have a rather unique aeroplane, at least for naval purposes. It might well be a great N.A.T.O. weapon. It might have a great future. Under inter-dependence, our allies might use it. We might get a lot of bonus out of it. Why are we holding it up? I am sure that I am interpreting the view of the Navy in saying that it wants to get on with production, but that someone is preventing that.

I turn from that to the Royal Air Force. The question arises whether the Royal Air Force wants the aeroplane. As I understand, it does not particularly want it. The Royal Air Force prefers to state its own requirements in terms of what is known as general operational requirement 339. This is a very advanced aeroplane embodying everything now thought of regarding developments in the future, and the Royal Air Force has sent out a requirement to industry. As I understand, the N.A. 39 embodies most of what the Royal Air Force originally said it wanted, but that now the R.A.F. has stepped up its requirements very considerably.

I wish to put two things to the Minister. Is it wise to go on with a requirement for an aeroplane that will not be in service for at least ten years and which is certainly going to cost £100 million to develop? But, more to the point, even if we do that, should we connive at the Royal Air Force refusing in the meantime to use a strike aeroplane which would be a very useful replacement for what is running out at the moment? Shall we not need a strike aeroplane replacement within the next ten years which the N.A. 39, as modified for the Royal Air Force, might well provide?

This is a curious story. It is an incredible mix-up of the egg. We have had so many cases of aeroplanes being developed at great expense and then being axed just when they became available. I begin to wonder whether this is the fate in store for this aeroplane. I may be misinformed, but I think that we ought to be told about it. The Ministers are avoiding telling us.

There are many other things which we ought to be told. There are many other delays. For instance, what about our Blue Streak ballistic missile? The present Administration reduces the grant by £1 million one year and then pushes it up by £1½ million the next. We are now stuck with Thors, which do not go off in America. We are nearly in August now. I saw the Thor which was supposed to go off in August. It was going to be the very first one. It was shown to me. It was No. 139. I know which one it was. As I say, this was to be the very first one which was to go off in August. We are committed by the present Minister to having Thors deployed in this country in December. We are now at the end of July and none as yet has been launched. We have been holding up our own Blue Streak.

There has been all this shilly-shallying by the Government. There have been all these mistakes about equipment and about the creation of the forces. The mistakes about which I have been speaking have the same underlying cause as that which makes this White Paper such an abortion. The basic defence philosophy of the last two White Papers is unsound. We know it. We have repeatedly said so. With great respect, right hon. and hon. Members opposite know it, too, but only some of them have said so. This is the basic problem which the Minister has to face.

Unfortunately, the time cycle is such that there will be grave weaknesses in our forces from about 1962 onwards. Nothing that anyone can do can put that right. But if we had an objective review now of the kind of forces which we need, of the purposes for which we are to use them, of the kind of equipment that they require, of the weapons that they require, and of the mobility that they require, and followed it with action, we might minimise the dangers, and the position after the mid-'sixties might be much better than in the mid-'sixties. My conclusion from the White Paper, even more so than from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, is that he and the Government cannot be relied upon to do either.

5.1 p.m.

Mr. Antony Head (Carshalton)

I am sorry to intrude on the time of back bench Members, because I know how much it is resented, but I shall try to be brief. I do not intend to follow closely the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown). Without being discourteous, I would say that his speech reminded me of a staid county cricketer who stays in for about an hour and makes four runs. I think that the White Paper hardly merits the volume of words that it is likely to attract this afternoon. It is an innocuous document, and I have always believed that if a Minister of Defence knows what he wants to do and has the guts to do it he always has had plenty of power.

I have purposely abstained from speaking in defence policy debates during the last eighteen months because I think it neither helpful nor decorous for a Minister who has left a Department to indulge in backseat driving whilst his successor is introducing his policy. I intervene, however in this debate because of two things. First, I have a proposition to put, not only to the Minister but to the House as a whole, that I hope will be helpful and constructive; and, secondly, that proposition is affected by time. This is not an entirely easy speech for me to make, because there is always reluctance for an ex-Minister to attack his late colleagues with whom I hope I was and am on good terms. Secondly, I have never found the loud applause of the Opposition very sweet music to my ears.

I appreciate perhaps as much as anybody the problems, difficulties and complexities which confronted the right hon. Gentleman when he took over this job. I do not want to speak as the diehard, status quo, let-it-all-stay-as-it-was Brigadier Blimp. As my right hon. Friend knows, if I had remained in office I, too, would have introduced extremely drastic reductions almost equivalent to his own. But the balance would have been rather different.

Before I put my constructive proposals to the House, I must briefly outline the background against which they should be viewed if they are to make sense. Two problems which I think must have confronted my right hon. Friend when he took office were these: first, the relative balance between atomic forces and conventional forces; secondly, the way in which the manpower situation could be fitted into those two conflicting considerations so as to make a balanced whole.

First, I should like to say a word or two about the atomic side. I know that this is a very complex matter and I do not want to lead the House into the misty jungle of atomic dialectics in which we in this House sometimes engage. Broadly speaking, atomic weapons can be divided into two categories. First, there is the very powerful megaton weapon of which the Americans have a great many. Its force is probably inconceivable to the individual, but the explosion from one of these weapons exceeds all the high explosive let off by both sides during the whole of the last war. The Americans probably have enough of these weapons to more than blow up the world, and they also have the means of delivery.

On the other hand, there is the tactical atomic weapon. We are apt to think of this weapon as being small, but the Corporal is of the same power as the bomb which exploded at Hiroshima. This weapon might be used in the military battle during a nuclear war and might be used, although I have great apprehension about it, in a lesser war than a global war—say, in an intervention in a dispute such as Korea.

There is a further division in our own atomic weapons within the British Forces which is relevant to this discussion. This division exists between the weapons of which we make the warheads ourselves and of which, therefore, we have free use, and those which are given to us by the United States but of which they retain the key to the cupboard. That is an important consideration, because it means that without being given the key to the cupboard we cannot use the weapon. I personally think there is a case for Britain having atomic weapons.

I know that many hon. Members do not agree that there is a case for the British having their own bomb. I will not argue it, but merely state that I think that we should have it. If that case is established and the money and manpower available is limited, as, of course, it is, as to which of these atomic fields in which I have made subdivisions should we have atomic weapons? It is important that we should have some weapons of which we have free use, because that gives us independence of policy. I certainly do not believe that we want enough megaton weapons to enable us to indulge in a global war unilaterally without America. That does not make sense. Therefore, so far as priority is concerned, we are limited to minor wars and interventions from the point of view of independent policy. As far as megaton global weapons are concerned, what we should aim at is adequate protection for our country and possession of enough megaton weapons for that purpose. But to have megaton weapons in order to make an addition to the superabundance of these weapons which America possesses is not a priority requirement when our resources are limited.

If what I have said on the atomic side is accepted, may I turn briefly to the conventional side? Here we have the problem of how large our conventional forces should be. It is my belief that they must be big enough to enable us to carry out and carry through our foreign and colonial policy and avoid running the risk through inadequate conventional forces of being tempted or even forced into the use of some form of tactical atomic weapon. In this respect, we must not cut too low.

If we apply those considerations to the three Services, what deductions can we draw? At the risk of over simplification, I think that hon. Members will agree that the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are primarily more hot war Services than cold war Services, although they have an important cold war role. They are to a large extent the means of delivery of atomic weapons, whether tactical or megaton. That is the reason for the heavy bombers and a great deal of naval armament. They have also a very large atomic capacity. Although the function of the Army is important in a hot war, it has even more a cold war function. That may be contentious, but that is my view and, I believe, the view of the majority of those who have a great deal of experience in this matter.

If one accepts that and considers what should be the future size and shape of our Armed Forces, the size of the Navy and Air Force should be the smallest possible, and should not include having a superabundance of megaton weapons which would merely duplicate American strength. In my view, the forces that we have today in the Navy and Air Force could be slightly smaller in manpower and could cost markedly less by economies in holding the global nuclear deterrent.

I believe that the size of the Army today is inadequate, and I must explain why I take this view. About three or four years ago, with the price of equipment going up, I was convinced that we could not go on indefinitely having an Army of 400,000 men; and that with the increase in mobility and the chances of civilianisation, we would not need it. In the War Office, we set up a Committee on the assumption that the Army would be all-Regular, would have a full civilianisation of the tail and a generous supply of transport aircraft. Its terms of reference were to determine what was the absolute minimum force we needed, bearing in mind our commitments, of which a fairly optimistic view was taken. The news of that Committee which was set up in the War Office soon leaked to every war correspondent and to most Members of Parliament. That study, known as the Hull Committee, went into the question of what should be the absolute minimum with which we could get by as a staff study of an all-Regular Army. The conclusion was reached—I do not say that it is necessarily right or wrong—that the absolute minimum was somewhere about 220,000 all ranks, all-Regular. If, of course, a National Service component is included, the number comes to quite a bit more, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence pointed out.

When I went to the Ministry of Defence, I went into that matter extremely carefully, because I wanted to get the number lower. My reason for wanting to get it lower was that I saw, as my right hon. Friend has seen, that we were within narrow reach of the abolition of National Service. I have always been in favour of the abolition of National Service. It is uneconomic and inefficient and its abolition is desirable. There was, however, the gap between 220,000 and the actuarial estimate of the numbers we would get for the Army.

It was my view that, with the foreign situation as it was, the gap that we had and the continuation of a commitment in Germany, although we could make it our aim to abolish National Service and if the foreign situation and voluntary recruiting improved we might be able to abolish National Service, even so we could not categorically abolish it there and then. I do not claim to be infallible, but that was my view. My right hon. Friend then took over and I awaited with interest his solution to what I knew to be an extremely difficult problem.

I would say here and now that I was worried chiefly by two things: first, that the theme song of the 1957 White Paper was atomic streamlined forces, the priority of which I do not believe to be a correct solution. It would be very nice to have both methods, but with our present limitations it would not be right to concentrate unduly on atomic streamlining. The second thing, which worried me much more, was that the size of the Army was to be 165,000. I was additionally worried because that size did not seem to be a balanced force fitting our commitment, but it coincided exactly and precisely with the actuarial estimate of the number of recruits that we were likely to get.

Mr. Sandys

indicated dissent.

Mr. Head

I see my right hon. Friend shaking his head, but that is an absolute fact. I know his difficulties and I am equally aware of the immense advantage of getting rid of National Service. One must, however, be sure that if that is done the Army that we get will be adequate to meet conventional commitments in the cold war. I must confess—and here, I know, I am in conflict with my right hon. Friend—that I thought he was over-reassuring about what an Army of 165,000 could do in meeting likely commitments and what it would look like cut up and deployed on the map.

I should like briefly to take that Army to bits. I have a little knowledge of this; and mine is not entirely guesswork, because I have been through this time and time again when the 220,000 Army was being examined. We shall have, I understand, 45,000 men in Germany; that is on the basis of the present negotiations for what we must maintain there. We then have the home base, consisting of units in Northern Ireland, guard duties in London, static duties, schools and so on, in which, however, there will be an immense reduction when we do away with National Service. At the moment, I would guess that the figure for this would be about 130,000 or 140,000. The Secretary of State for War would do extremely well—I would almost have a bet with him that he would not do much better—if he gets the figure down to 70,000.

For argument's sake, let us take the figure as 70,000. That leaves about 50,000 men over from the 165,000. The home base does not include the strategic reserve, but before that we have 50,000 men over. We then take away what is in the pipeline, for non-effectives, men on leave, etc.: plus the administrative tail overseas. Taking that away, we would be extremely lucky to have 25,000 left. We then take away the strategic reserve, which my right hon. Friend said that he would build up. Even allowing for it as a division plus the parachute brigade, we would be left with 12,000 or 13,000 men for our world-wide commitments excluding the strategic reserve. If we take that figure, and it will include sappers, cavalry and gunners as well as an infantry battalion, which is nearly 1,000 men, when that force is deployed over the world with our present commitments, it makes no sense at all.

I do not say this lightly or ill-advisedly. It is no good my right hon Friend smiling, because it is a deadly serious matter. All the professional advice which I value has said that this Army will not fit our commitments. It is no good laughing it off or sliding through it. I feel deeply that the House must realise this now. Today, we have an Army of 320,000 and my right hon. Friend is moving troops around, but if he had a magic wand and changed it into the Army which he is making for us, his hand would be stayed and he would not do it because we would be in very great difficulty indeed with an Army of that size.

The House must face this problem now, for reasons which I shall try to deploy. If it does not, one of two things will happen. One is that we shall run down to an Army of 165,000 men and we shall find it too small. Of course, it may not be too small, and nobody would be more pleased than I, but we cannot gamble that the overseas situation and our commitments would fit an army of 165,000. If we do, and our commitments are like they are now, then the Foreign Secretary and the Colonial Secretary must trim their policies to fit our conventional forces. If they are prepared to do that, it makes no sense whatever to hang on to places and have troops deployed all over the world when within two or three years we must give up those commitments because of shortage of forces. The second thing that would happen is that because this size of force is inadequate, we will overstrain the Army; there would be too many troops overseas and no balance between United Kingdom service and overseas service. People would be jerked and shunted from one place to another. The result would be that the whole object, to stimulate Regular recruitment, would be completely destroyed by the lack of stability and of home and overseas tours within the Army. That is one possible course of events.

What is much more likely is that on our way down to an Army of 165,000, a Government—of which party, I do not pretend to know—will find that they cannot go down any further and that the demands of the foreign situation mean that an Army of 220,000, 230,000 or 240,000. They will be faced with this advice on the military side; but what about the political side? It may be either my own party just before an Election or right hon. Gentlemen opposite, possibly having just got into power, with a lot of people behind them who feel bitterly strongly—I appreciate why—against National Service. Under those circumstances, it would not be very easy for a Government, of either party to come to the House de novo and say, "Let us reintroduce National Service." That would be extremely difficult politically. My fear is that because of the great political difficulties, the question might be shirked. If it is shirked, we will go down below the conventional Army safety limit and we may find ourselves pushed much nearer using atomic weapons or introducing foreign and colonial policies which are against everything that we should be doing in the cold war.

This is where I come to something which, I hope and believe, is a positive, helpful and constructive suggestion. It applies to both sides of the House, because nobody knows who will be Minister of Defence in three years' time. It is quite likely that it will not be my right hon. Friend, not that I am saying anything against him. One of the features of defence is that a long-term policy is introduced by one Minister and very often it has to be administered by somebody quite different.

As my right hon. Friend said, at the end of this year the National Service Act will expire. Why cannot the Government, with, I would hope, the agreement of the Opposition Front Bench, come to the House and say, "Our aim is still to do away with National Service"—in which everybody would agree with them—"but the future has two imponderables. One is the foreign situation. It may be better or worse than we think. The second imponderable is the question of Regular recruitment. It may be better or worse than we think. If both these imponderables are favourable, we shall achieve our aim. If, however, both are against us, it will be necessary to retain some form of limited or selective National Service to make good the inescapable gap between what is the minimum we must have and what we can get by with in the way of voluntary recruitment."

"Therefore, so that we can meet such a contingency quickly and efficiently, and without getting into a political jam, before the end of this year we will prolong the National Service Act so that whatever Government is faced with this situation will be enabled to do the right thing by defence without great political reluctance or embarrassment." I see no objection to this politically and, I would have thought, every advantage to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if only it could be treated in a non-party manner and if only there were some kind of safety valve which would avoid people saying, "They have renewed the National Service Act. Do not vote for them." For the sake of the country's defence and safety, the commonsense thing is to do that now.

My fear is that we shall not do it because of politics. My right hon. Friend has great qualities of strength of character and of determination. He is known for it inside and outside the House. They are fine qualities in a Minister provided he is right. If, however, he introduces a policy which may lead the country into danger, such qualities can be calamitous.

I have not enjoyed making this speech and I know that my critics will say that Brigadier Blimp has asked for the reintroduction of National Service. I have done nothing of the kind. I have asked the House to put a safety catch upon itself in view of the great failures in the preparation of defence provisions before two previous wars. Let us not do it again. I hope that any hon. Member who has listened to my speech will believe me when I say that with anything like our present foreign commitments, however much our forces are transported in aeroplanes or however much they are trundled around the world, we cannot get by with those commitments on an Army of 165,000 men. As the House of Commons, let us think hard on this. If we do not do it and if we let the chance go by, it will be four times as difficult to do it later. We shall, perhaps, have done a great disservice to the efficiency of the Services and we may have done something to endanger the peace and safety of the country too.

5.35 p.m.

Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)

Nobody has the right to complain if we depart from the subject embodied in the White Paper on the proposed reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence, and devote some attention to the subject of defence itself. I was therefore much interested in the speech of the right hon Gentleman the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). I note that he has made a proposition not only to the Minister himself, but to this side of the House, meaning, in effect, that we should take immediate steps to continue National Service, at any rate, for some time.

Mr. Head

I do not want to go on record as having said that. I suggested that we should prolong the power to call up in case, when it was finished, we needed it, not that we should go on calling up automatically.

Mr. Shinwell

I can detect very little difference in the statement the right hon. Gentleman has just made and his original statement. Indeed, I go so far as to say that not to come to a firm decision on whether to retain National Service beyond 1962 and rely on the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, namely, that the Minister should take power to prolong National Service if he is unable to obtain his Regulars, will not allay anxiety in the country. Indeed, it will create a great deal of worry for many thousands of families where parents are anxious about the careers of their sons being interrupted by the possibility of National Service. On this subject of National Service, it is far better to come down on one side or the other.

I must say that nobody on this side of the House is at present competent to give a direct answer to the right hon. Gentleman's proposition. There is a great deal of speculation, and there was substantial applause in certain quarters of this side of the House when the right hon. Gentleman made his proposition. However, the Labour Party is pledged to the abolition of National Service. Let there be no mistake about that—although, naturally, there is undoubtedly an element of scepticism in some quarters, on the basis of the facts and figures and estimates, about whether National Service could be abolished and we could retain adequate forces in the Army.

I had something to do with the agitation for the abolition of National Service in 1952, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). At that time, our proposition was rejected not only by the Conservative Government, but by this side of the House, who thought it impossible to abolish National Service. Since then, the matter has been carefully considered and there has been considerable analysis of the problem.

I am bound to say that this is a difficult problem to resolve. Although it is the policy of the Labour Party to abolish National Service, I am not prepared to say that on the basis of 165,000 Regulars in the Army it would be possible to meet our commitments. I am unable to say whether we should have to retrace our steps or take the consequence of a reduced Army with smaller commitments and all the risks involved—nor is there anybody in any quarter of the House competent to judge a situation which may never occur.

The Minister has reaffirmed his statement of some time ago, which has been repeated several times, that he could obtain 165,000 Regular recruits for the Army. It is very difficult to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman is misleading the House. No Minister of Defence with his responsibilities could come to the House and produce an estimate which was not based on the most careful exami—nation by his military advisers. This cannot be the right hon. Gentleman's own estimate. It must be an estimate produced after considerable analysis and care by his military advisers. It is very difficult to reject it. We have to wait and see and accept the consequences, whatever they may be.

That is all I want to say about the matter at this stage, although I have not the least doubt that very strong arguments will be adduced from this side of the House to show that the Minister will not be able to get his recruits and that we will therefore have to prolong National Service. We must be exceedingly careful not to pledge ourselves to retain National Service, in any particular or in any degree, without having regard to the economic and social consequences. I am not prepared to take the risks involved in a matter of this sort.

I want to comment on what the right hon. Member for Carshalton said about the atomic problem. I am bound to say that I detected fallacies in his argument. As I understand him, he is in favour of expansion of the megaton bomb theory. I understand that he believes, the United States having superabundance of the megaton bombs, that we do not require to extend our production any further than has already been done, and that we should rely on conventional forces, plus the capacity to use atomic tactical weapons.

Mr. Head

I know that it was rather involved. It was not half as simple as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested. It would weary the House if I said it all over again, but if the right hon. Gentleman will read it in HANSARD, he will see that it was not as simple as that. It will be within the memory of hon. Gentlemen that it was much more complex than the right hon. Gentleman has suggested.

Mr. Shinwell

If it is any more complex than I understand it to be, we had better reject it out of hand. As I understood it, and this argument has been produced before and we have heard this theory advanced many times, it amounted to this: "Do not put all your eggs into the nuclear basket". With that I agree. We must rely on conventional forces to a considerable degree. We cannot avoid that, since we have our commitments and one cannot see what are likely to be additional commitments in the next few years.

The argument amounts to saying that we should have conventional forces and equip them with atomic tactical weapons which they would use if they were attacked. It is held that that would produce a satisfactory answer to those who say that conventional forces are no longer of any value. However, the fact of the matter is that if conventional forces used atomic tactical weapons, the enemy or even ourselves would be forced ultimately to use the megaton bomb, to go the whole road. We cannot stop at the use of atomic tactical weapons. That was the fallacy in the right hon. Gentleman's argument.

I agree that we are entitled to discuss defence itself in a debate of this kind, although that was not the original intention. The intention was to debate the White Paper on the subject of the reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence, and I want to address myself to that subject. I am not quite sure to whom I should reply, whether to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister, or to my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown). One is placed in great difficulty. I have heard long statements about what has happened at the Ministry of Defence and about the Minister's powers and intentions.

Much play has been made with the quarrels or alleged quarrels of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I do not intend to waste any time on that subject. I have been in many Governments since 1924, and I have never known a Government where right hon. Gentlemen did not quarrel at some time or other, indeed, to the point of actual resignation. It is a waste of time to labour the point that right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been arguing among themselves and not even speaking to each other in the Corridors, or wherever it may be. They will continue to quarrel, and that is a good thing. It shows some excitement and some dynamic. It is better that they should show a disposition to quarrel than that they should be placid and complacent.

I have not the least doubt that when the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence engages in a quarrel with his right hon. Friends, he is likely to come out on top. I should not be surprised, for he is Minister of Defence and already has great power. I will tell the House what power he has—and this is the crux of the problem. The power is laid down in the Ministry of Defence Act, 1946, which was produced by the Labour Government. The governing words are these: … a Minister … who shall be in charge of the formulation and general application of a unified policy relating to 'the armed forces of the Crown as a whole and their requirements. There is all the power the right hon. Gentleman requires. It is a power which was vested in me as Minister of Defence and which was vested in the right hon. Member for Carshalton. If he did not use it, all the worse for him. If the Minister has now discovered that he needs additional powers for applying the powers he already has, then I am very much surprised. I thought him to be a much more intelligent person than that.

Let me give one or two examples of how this power was not only vested in me as Minister of Defence, but how it was used. It is true that as Minister of Defence I did not interfere in day-to-day administration, but there was complete co-operation. My right hon. Friend who was then Secretary of State for War was in consultation with me almost every day, and certainly every week, as a member of the Defence Committee—not the Defence, Committee of the Cabinet, to which I shall refer later, but a Committee which was established by my predecessor, Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough.

Mr. Head

It was called the Service Ministers Committee.

Mr. Shinwell

I do not care what it was called—Defence Council, Service Ministers Committee, Standing Committee, or anything else.

Every Tuesday morning we had an agenda of matters raised by the political chiefs of the three Service Departments themselves, or by the Minister of Defence, or by the Chiefs of Staff. That agenda occupied our attention for several hours. All those round the table, or nearly everybody, took part in the discussions. In order to illuminate the minds of junior Ministers, I frequently invited them to attend, and, sometimes, when their chiefs were busy with other engagements, junior Ministers attended on their behalf, which was a very good thing for the Committee and for themselves.

Will anyone tell me what is the substantial difference between that Committee, an informal committee not based on Statute, or Act of Parliament, or Statutory Instrument, or Order in Council, or anything of that sort, but merely arranged because that was a practical thing to do, and the Defence Board which the right hon. Gentleman now proposes to create? There seems to me to be practically no difference at all, except that the Board is to be formal and to have a scientific adviser as a member. Even so, when we were discussing scientific matters, Sir Henry Tizard and Sir Frederick Brundrett, who succeeded him, sometimes attended the Committee. There was no difficulty about that. The more things change, the more they remain the same. For the right hon. Gentleman to say that the new set-up will provide him with more power over policy, is asking us to accept too much.

I come to the general set-up of the Ministry of Defence in respect of policy. What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "policy"? Let me give a few illustrations of what I mean by policy—the right hon. Gentleman himself mentioned them in passing. Let us take the allocation of finances placed at our disposal as a result of consultations with the Treasury. We always had consultations with the Treasury.

Take, for example, the three-year programme which I initiated, which was eventually toned down to one of £4,750 million. How did that arise? Hon. Members may be interested to know. We asked the Chiefs of Staff, in consultation with their political chiefs in their Departments, to produce for us an estimate of their requirements, based upon what they regarded as the calculated risks. They produced a programme which involved the expenditure of £6,000 million, and we toned it down to one of £4,750 million. Who did it? I did it. How was it done? Let us take the War Office as an example. The War Office put in a programme amounting to many hundreds of millions of pounds, including a very large sum for new vehicles. We cut it, just like that, and the War Office had to accept the cut. Sometimes there were consultations; occasionally action was taken without consultation, because the Minister regarded himself as having the power to decide the allocation of the expenditure placed at his disposal as a result of consultations with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, and the Cabinet itself.

Let us take the question of pay. There was some argument between my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper and the Minister as to whether he had any responsibility for deciding the pay for the Services. The fact of the matter is that the Minister of Defence has that power. I never found any difficulty. When the Labour Government decided to increase pay the increase amounted to £70 million, including the granting of some additional pension rights. How was it done? There was consultation with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, then Chancellor of the Exchequer; we had some discussion about it, I had to take the problem to the Cabinet, and the Cabinet decided in my favour. As a result, I was able to do what I required. The Minister of Defence has all the power he wants in regard to policy.

I now come to the question of what the Minister was after. I think that he was after integration. I do not mean that he wanted to interfere with the day-to-day administration of the Service Departments, but I think that he wanted to bring them under his direct control, subject to the decision of the Defence Committee and the Prime Minister. If we consider how the Army, Navy and Air Force have been run down, on the propositions made by the right hon. Gentleman for 1963, we can see that there seems to be a very strong case for integration.

But I enter this caveat—which some people may not like. Before I am ready to vest full and monopolistic power in a Minister of Defence in peace time—and I will deal with the question of war time in a moment—I want to know who the Minister of Defence will be. I know that that statement is regarded as blunt. I mean what I say. There are many people in whom I would vest monopolistic powers, but there are some whom I would not trust as far as I could throw them. The idea of placing in certain individuals absolute power over the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, involving the lives of hundreds of thousands of men and the fate of the country, does not appeal to me, unless I know whom those individuals will be. When I am satisfied that they are competent—men of the highest integrity and quality—and have a purpose and an objective that is worth supporting, then I am prepared to consider the matter; but not before.

Therefore, although the right hon. Gentleman's scheme does not go so far as some hon. Members would like, I regard it as very satisfactory. Let us leave the matter where it is. The Minister has sufficient power; let him use it, not necessarily with arrogance, toughness or stubbornness, but in an objective manner, using his plain common sense. Let him use it with the effective co-operation of the Service Departments, as I did. I never found any difficulty. From the start, as I think will be agreed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, who was then my Parliamentary Private Secretary—I hope one day to be his—he and I never experienced any difficulty—

Mr. Wigg

My right hon. Friend will have to improve a little if he wants to be my Parliamentary Private Secretary. One difficulty which arose under the Labour Government greatly influenced me, as he knows. It was quite clear that the recruitment policies of the Air Force and the Army conflicted. Without regard to the needs of the Army, the Air Force introduced a short-service engagement of three years, thus drawing recruits away from the Army. That folly persisted through the administrations of my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) and the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head), and it has resulted in a great many of our present difficulties.

Mr. Shinwell

I know that my hon. Friend has a quarrel with my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee. West (Mr. Strachey) who was Secretary of State for War when I was at the Ministry of Defence. I know all about the three-year engagement. I also know that my hon. Friend has a quarrel with the right hon. Member for Carshalton. He also has a quarrel with a lot of other people—and they have a quarrel with him. But it is quite possible for a Minister of Defence to make mistakes. At a time of transition, when it is not easy to make up one's mind, it is easy for a Minister of Defence to agree to policies presented by Service Departments which may subsequently prove to be of no value whatever.

I want to give further examples. Let us take the case of Korea. That never presented any difficulty at the Ministry of Defence. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West, who was then Secretary of State for War, will agree that there was complete co-operation. We had to send a brigade to Korea. That was done, in conjunction with our Commonwealth allies, and it was most effective. The same consideration applied in the case of the forces sent to Malaya, and to other parts of the world where we had commitments. There was never any difficulty. Even in the case of Abadan we were able to alert a couple of battalions overnight and provide the aircraft to enable them to proceed. It is possible for a Minister of Defence, while retaining a great deal of the power vested in him under the 1946 Act—entirely apart from the proposals of the present White Paper—in co-operation with his Service colleagues to conduct the affairs of the Ministry with considerable effect.

We can afford a certain resilience in peace time; but let us remember what happened in the two great wars. In the First World War, Mr. Asquith, who was not regarded as a very strong man, although he was a great orator and a brilliant advocate, was superseded by Lloyd George, who took charge, as Prime Minister, of all our defence arrangements. The same thing happened in the Second World War, when Mr. Neville Chamberlain was deposed and the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) assumed charge of defence. Many mistakes must have occurred during both periods. Nevertheless, we emerged with victory on both occasions.

In peace time, all that the Minister of Defence, with his Service colleagues, is expected to do is to provide forces to enable the country to meet its temporary commitments, as we regard them, and, at the same time, to create an organisation which can be dovetailed into a war defence organisation if, unhappily, we should ever require it.

A great deal of fuss and nonsense has been talked about the remarkable change that is to be effected in the Ministry of Defence. I do not detect any great change. The Ministry of Defence will proceed as heretofore, and the political chiefs of the Service Departments will carry on as they have always done. If they have any courage at all they will occasionally stand up to the Minister of Defence, as, when I was Secretary of State for War, I sometimes had to stand up to my very good friend, Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough. When I thought that he was wrong I told him so, and when he thought that I was wrong, he told me so. After all, that is the kind of thing we expect among colleagues—to be frank with each other. As long as we have that co-operation between the Minister of Defence and his Services colleagues, I do not believe that very much can go wrong.

The important thing is that we shall have a defence concept that is worth while. We can have the most perfect organisation in the Ministry of Defence and in the Service Departments, and the most inadequate defence; on the other hand, we can have an imperfect, resilient organisation in the Defence Departments, and have excellent defence, as and when we may require it. It depends on the policy that is advocated by the military advisers, and, after all, one must depend on the military advisers.

Something has been said today about the attempt to reject Lord Mountbatten, and the complaint has been made that members of the Tory Party are out for Lord Mountbatten's blood. All I have to say about that is that, if we are to have a Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, let us get the right man, irrespective of his political views or of any kind of views which he holds—the man who understands the nature of the problem and who can advise the Minister of Defence best. Let us get that type of man. I am not sure that Lord Mountbatten is that type of man, but it is not for me to decide; it is for the Minister of Defence, and the Defence Cabinet to reach some conclusion about it.

What I do say is that if anybody ever contends that a Minister of Defence should reject the advice of his military advisers, whoever they are, he is making a very great error. I do not care how capable the Minister of Defence may think he is, or whether he regards himself as having great military experience. He is bound to depend on the advice of his military advisers. That was what I had to do, having no knowledge of military affairs, though occasionally I had to tell Field Marshal Montgomery that I did not agree with him, and also General Templer, but not half so many times as they told me that they did not agree with me, but we got on very well together. We had very little quarrelling in the Ministry of Defence or in the Service Departments while I had anything to do with them, and that is the greatest success which one can achieve.

6.3 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said in his opening speech that he had made radical changes in the administration of our defences. The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), and, to a certain extent, my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head), disagreed with him, and said that, after all, there was nothing very much in the White Paper. On this occasion, I personally agree with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. I think that, at any rate, what this White Paper does is to enshrine a very considerable change in usage.

It is important to think of the context in which Ministers of Defence have to carry out their business. The right hon. Member for Easington said that he never had any difficulty when he was at the Ministry of Defence, but there have been difficulties which we have had to face in this country. We have had wars, disturbances and threatened disturbances, all the way from the Caribbean to Korea. We have our great commitments to N.A.T.O., the loss of the Indian Army, we have had the atomic revolution, the hydrogen bomb—different not only in degree, but in kind—and there is the pace of research and development, unknown before in peace or war. Every time a new device or weapon is invented, it is two or three times more expensive than the device or weapon which it succeeds. At the same time, there is the relentless increase in cost of the Welfare State going on all the time.

Perhaps not least of the difficulties of the Minister of Defence has been the fact that the majority of Members on both sides of the House and of the people have been determined that, though we can afford to spend less than one-tenth of what the Americans spend on defence, yet we ourselves should have all the weapons and the devices which that country has—a strangely unaristocratic determination to stake everything on "keeping up with the Joneses", as I have always thought.

Faced with all these difficulties, Ministers of Defence, seeing no easy solution—and it is the cheapest of all political misjudgments to say that there is always a good way out of a bad case—have felt that there must be a new organisation which would make the problem easier, and, in particular, that the position would be easier for them if they had more power. But is more power the answer? I can say from my own experience that I have never known a Minister of Defence who was backed by the Cabinet in his decisions having the slightest difficulty in putting those decisions into effect. It is not the lack of power that has been the trouble; it has been the brute facts.

What are the essentials for our organisation of defence? The first one, with which all hon. Members, with the possible exception of, I think, the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), agree, is that there must be no division between responsibility for planning and responsibility for executing those plans. I think myself that the right hon. Member for Belper rather yearned for the O.K.W. set-up. He spoke of the alleged failure of the O.K.W. set-up. I think that we could say failure in that particular case. I believe myself that it was a mistake in 1955 or 1956 to appoint a Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, and I think that that mistake is made worse by turning him into the Chief of the Defence Staff, because, by doing that, we shall weaken the position of the Chiefs of Staff. We shall now have a single officer who alone is to sign operation orders, and that is something that might develop into the O.K.W. plan and practice.

The second essential is that members of the Cabinet, who, ultimately, have to make the big decisions, should be fully seized of the arguments on both sides in any dispute. People talk—and the right hon. Member for Belper talked that way—as if there was something wrong about differences of opinion between Chiefs of Staff, that if they are given a properly co-ordinated streamlined, and gleichgeschaltet, none of these difficulties would arise. Clearly, the Chiefs of Staff must see their problems through different coloured spectacles. The Army has its cold war", the Air Force has the deterrent and a defence against the enemy's deterrent, and the Navy must think of our sea lanes and communications. With all these different backgrounds, they are bound, on occasions, not to agree with each other. They are bound to have different points of view, and when they do disagree their disagreements are likely to have grave political implications. It is the politician who must and ought to decide it, but the politicians cannot decide it unless they know what the arguments really are.

Hon. Members will remember in the early 'twenties the effort to abolish the Royal Air Force, to strangle it soon after its birth. What would have happened under the present organisation in that controversy? We have a Minister who is keen on integration. We have a Chief of Defence Staff selected by the Minister because he is keen on integration, but the job of the Chief of the Defence Staff is to report the views of the Chiefs of Staff and their disagreements. He may report that the First Lord of the Admiralty and the C.I.G.S. are in favour of abolishing the Royal Air Force, and that only the Chief of the Air Staff is against it, and, though the Chief of the Air Staff has a right of appeal, he has to appeal against his own superior officer.

As far as the Secretary of State goes, he is not a member of the Cabinet any longer, and is not a full member of the Committee on Defence, since he does not attend unless he is summoned, and in a case like that he certainly would be summoned to hear the decision that had been made, but might well not be summoned when the decision was being taken. These differences do not, on the face of it, look so very great, but they might very well have tipped the balance because the full case would not have been deployed to members of the Cabinet. The Secretary of State could have appealed to the Cabinet, but he would have been appealing against his own overlord and the battle would have been lost. If the Royal Air Force had been strangled, I make bold to say that we should have lost the war.

Turning to what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton about National Service, with every word of which I agree, I do not believe that the decision to abolish National Service would have been taken so easily under the old system or even under the system which he and I worked only a year and a half ago. There has been a considerable change.

The last essential for the higher direction of defence is that there should be absolute confidence between politicians and the heads of the fighting Services. That, clearly, is mostly a matter of personalities, but I think that confidence is more likely to exist if the liaison between the politicians and the heads of the Services is effected by someone in a position analogous to that occupied during the war by Lord Ismay than if it is effected by the Chief of the Defence Staff. Lord Ismay was a genius and a man of absolute integrity, but there are many men of absolute integrity and of great intelligence who would command the confidence of both sides. So I would end this part of my speech by saying that I have some doubts about whether we have not gone too far and whether the reforms put into this White Paper are desirable.

Where, I think, we have not gone far enough is about the Ministry of Supply. I have no doubt about what ought to happen to that Ministry—it ought to be abolished. I do not say that because have any disrespect for the present Minister. He is the best Minister of Supply that we have had since the war and he has got hold of the real point, that it is not desirable, so far as aircraft production goes, to have more design teams in this country than in the United States. But I still think that the Ministry ought to be abolished. The decision to keep it as a peace-time Department was reached in a hurry—I do not complain of that—but it was reached in a hurry by Lord Attlee when he formed his Government in 1945; and the root objection to it, the first objection, is really the O.K.W. argument all over again. It is a division of responsibility. That is the first objection, and the second is the delay.

The Air Ministry draws up an operational requirement which is then submitted to another Department, the Ministry of Supply, with military ideas and ambitions of its own. It is mulled over by that Ministry and, finally, the research work necessary is done and an order is placed by the Ministry of Supply. It is very much as if you wanted to order a new suit, but instead of being allowed to go to your tailor and discuss the interesting problem of a new suit he has to act through an agent, who says, "I must have an operational requirement. "You then ask for a certain weight of cloth, a certain number of pockets and buttons, and so on, and the tailor says, "You have not enough pockets." After a month's discussion or so, he says. "All right, we will agree with that", and then he says, "You want a higher collar."

That process goes on between the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Supply for some considerable time. Then, to return to the analogy, your agent places an order with a tailor. He, of course, is not in a very great hurry—you are the fellow who wants the clothes and not he. He says, "You will get your clothes in three weeks." Three weeks goes by but there is no suit, and you ring up and say, "What has happened to the suit?" He says that the suit will be all right, and the tailor is doing very well, but there has been a bit of a miscalculation and it will be another six months. Another six months pass and still there is no suit and then you are told, "Anyway, you will get it in another three months". Another three months goes by and still there is no suit and then you are told, "Shut up, you will have it by Christmas." That is not a very sensible way of working.

If I may give an illustration, when I became Secretary of State for Air hon. Members will remember that there was great trouble about the guns of the Hunter fighter not working properly. That trouble had been dragging on interminably One kept getting contradictory reports. The whole of the experimental work for devising the necessary modifications was in the hands of the Ministry of Supply. It was only by getting the permission of the Minister of Supply to go to one of the experimental places and interview the people there that I found out the truth and just possibly succeeded in hurrying up things a little bit.

The paint in my mind was: who was responsible? If a war had started, and we had not been able to fire the guns, I know who would have been held responsible—it would have been me. But was I responsible? I do not believe that we can ever get efficiency where there is any doubt about who is responsible, and under this system of the Ministry of Supply no one is ever wholly responsible for anything.

The next objection to it is that the Ministry is wasteful in manpower and causes duplication. The headquarters staff of the Ministry of Supply is about 9,000 people. In establishments outside they employ about 83,000. I was rather startled, when I became Secretary of State for Air, to find that the Ministry of Supply was then employing 666 Air Force officers—a very sinister number. Where it causes duplication is that one Ministry is constantly trying to supervise and keep in touch with the work of another Ministry. We are told, "You must have a good man at the Ministry of Supply on electronics", and you are told that as there is such a good man there you shall have an addition at the Air Ministry. And so it goes on, a duplication of bodies each trying to find out what the other is doing.

The last reason why I think the Ministry of Supply should be abolished is that it would be a good thing if the Service heads could deal directly with industry. That would make them understand the production problem and, more important still, it would stop them from putting in inflated operational requirements. If you are responsible yourself for getting something made, you are much more likely to suggest something which can be made, whereas if someone else is trying to make it for you it is very easy to ask for too much, and that has often been done. So I would say that the right thing to do is to abolish that Ministry.

I believe that the saving would be considerable and the gain in efficiency would be great. I do not think that there would be any problem about overlapping and confusion between the Ministries. It would be a simple administrative problem of co-ordination by the three Services. There are other problems with which I do not wish to weary the House, but after some years of meditation I am now expressing the strong opinion to the House that the Ministry of Supply ought to be abolished.

That is all I have to say, except this. I think that the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper was a very bad one indeed. He has a voice like a circular saw and a brain of feathers. One suggestion with which I did agree is that when we are contemplating radical changes involving the whole of our defence set-up we ought to do it only after the deepest thought and only after somebody above the battle has considered the matter and made a report to this House. It seems to me that in all this controversy this is only a settlement ad interim. The troops have bivouacked on the battlefield where they happen to be at the end of a hard day's fighting. Therefore, this controversy will certainly come up again.

I should like to suggest that it would be worth having an outside body to consider this matter in calmness and make a report to the House; that the real considerations should be presented to the public and that it should not simply be decided hugger-mugger.

6.20 p.m.

Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)

As I reminded the Minister of Defence this afternoon, I put a Question on the Order Paper in January, 1957, which led the Prime Minister to make the statement he did in redefining the duties of the Minister of Defence. On that occasion, I pleaded with the Prime Minister to lay a White Paper. A fortnight ago, on 7th July, I made a similar appeal when I again asked the Prime Minister to publish a White Paper. I did so having in mind the procedure adopted when the Labour Government published their White Paper in 1946. The then Prime Minister, now Lord Attlee, told the House that before publishing that White Paper he had taken into consultation the right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench and he had drawn on the experience of the Service officers who had been his colleagues during the war.

I think that was a most fruitful approach, and I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) that in considering this matter we want to remember one simple thing. We are not, as it were, deciding a battle between the Minister of Defence and his Service colleagues. We are deciding the principles upon which Service policy will be based for at least a decade. Twelve years have gone by since the 1946 White Paper, and of course it is true that there are differences, fundamental differences. For example, I disagreed with the appointment of the Chief of Staff to the Ministry of Defence in 1957 for exactly the reason which the right hon. Member has mentioned. It seems to me to return to the O.K.W. concept and that here was a start of a separation between the planning and its execution.

Whether I am feather brained or not, I do not know, but I have been diligent in applying my mind to this problem for a considerable period. I have thought about it and lived with it, and I served my apprenticeship to it when I served in Iraq for a period of nearly four years. One of the things which I did, because there was nothing else to do, was to read through the whole of the General Staff library. I learnt a lot, but what my mind was like at the end of it, I do not know.

When I came back to this country I had the good fortune to go to adult education classes, and I began to sort things out. I got into the habit of thinking about these things. One of the things which always came to my mind—and it is the central theme of my speech today—is why it was that in 1914, despite the fact that there was a superb mobilisation plan and the political and military preliminary planning was effective, we put our Army into France in August, 1914, right down to the last point in the plan and did the same thing again in 1939—why is it that although on the political and higher military level we did so well in starting off, why later did we make such an awful mess of it?

I believe the answer to be found in an answer which I have given to the House on many occasions. I spent the weekend in digging out and again reading—if I am boring hon. Members opposite, I do it for a good reason—Lord Haldane's biography. He became Secretary of State for War, and in 1906, at the Sovereign's suggestion, he went to Germany. Like myself, I conclude that Lord Haldane had read everything there was to read on the subject. He went off to Germany, and after he had seen all that the Kaiser could show him and dined with corps commanders, he came home. On his return, he said: In the course of the journey home Ellison and I talked much of what we had observed. We agreed that the great lesson lay in the way in which under the German system the Army in the field was free from the embarrassment of having to look after its transport and supplies. This last duty was a separately organised one, attended to by the administrative side to the exclusion of the General Staff. The latter dealt with command and with strategy and tactics, while all the administrative work was handled only by the 'Intendantur', which was the province of the War Office. This was so in the field as well as in peace time. Command was separated from administration at home as well as in the theatre of war. It was deemed as important to prevent the General Staff from meddling in administration as to prevent the administrative organisation from interfering in affairs which belonged to the General Staff. The two sides of the Army were not, as with us, housed in the same building. To put them close together would have been, in the German view, dangerous. The General Staff building was consequently a mile away from the War Office, in the Thiergarten, while the latter was in the city, in the Leipsiger Strasse. But the Great Moltke had not been content even with this and had said that the distance between the two ought to have been two miles at least. We were struck with the orderliness of the arrangements to which the separation of functions gave rise, and I did my utmost all the time I was at the War Office in London to carry out an analogous division as closely as could he. I have found that when confusion arises in military organisation it is usually because the one department has strayed into the field of the other. Had I continued long enough at the War Office to be able to accomplish it, I meant to have combined the three administrative departments, those of the Adjutant-General, the Quartermaster-General, and the Master-General of the Ordnance, under a single head as in Germany. That would have enabled them the better to hold their own against the tendency of the General Staff to encroach. Let us have a look at what happened. This was in 1906. Eight years later we had the perfect mobilisation plan. It was the best Army which Britain ever had. They fought their way back from Mons, and anyone must feel thrilled who reads the history of the First World War and realises how these men fought and marched and shot their way, to the respect of their enemies.

What happened? They were thrown back. They were short of ammunition, short of barbed wire, short of entrenching tools. At home, Lord Kitchener and the General Staff scrapped the Haldane plan of expansion which had been worked out to the List detail administratively. We raised new armies but they had no quarters and the men had no uniforms. They were drilling with pieces of stick as substitutes for rifles. There were no instructors, and they went to France half-trained. That was 1914.

I do not want to weary the House, but let us turn to 1939: I should like to read from the White Paper on Central Organisation for Defence, 1946. Paragraph 12, states: In many respects, however, we were in 1939 dangerously unprepared for war. Qualitatively our Navy and Air Force were not badly equipped, but there were serious gaps. We were dangerously short of destroyers and other escort vessels. We were inadequately supplied with aircraft and anti-aircraft artillery. Our Army was small and badly equipped, and had so little munitions production behind it that if the fighting on the Continent in 1940 had been prolonged we should soon have been short of every kind of ammunition. In other words, the failure to recognise this important question of administration and supply in peace time once again led us to disaster; this time to the beaches of Dunkirk. Have we learned? Twelve years have gone by and are things better? Let us turn to the present situation. I should like to read from a leading article in the Daily Telegraph of 17th March, 1958, headed "Army of the Rhine." It stated: It is a matter of old tanks, overdue rifles, obsolescent transport and a general atmosphere of scrimping. Cutting down numbers to save money is one thing; cutting down money at the cost of fighting efficiency is another. Hon. Members opposite cheered when two battalions went into Jordan. Why did only two go into Jordan; why not three? I will tell them. I have tried in season and out inside this party and in this House to draw attention to the dispatch of General Keightley a year ago on the Suez Operation. He said: We had an air lift for two battalions but very limited air supply resources. In other words, the situation in 1958 is substantially the situation as it was in 1956 at Suez. There was air-lift for two battalions only.

I have attended every defence debate since I became a Member of this House in 1945. I have attended every debate on the Services, and I have spent as many midnight hours as any other hon. Member on these matters. What happened in debate after debate? We have talked about the hydrogen bomb and atomic bombs, and we have talked as if there were some easy way out.

In the debate we had in 1946, I said to my hon. Friends on this side of the House, "Whenever we get into difficulty we want to pass it to U.N.O. We want U.N.O. to guarantee frontiers without any regard to where the forces are to come from to carry it out." My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) talked about a guarantee last week. He said, with my support, that we should guarantee the frontier of Israel and guarantee the Arab States. Guarantee them with what? The mother rocking her child to sleep in Israel or the Arab mother singing a lullaby to her child do not want British troops to fire a volley over their graves. They want respect for law and order so that their children can grow up in peace and security.

This is what is fundamentally wrong with the Minister of Defence. I have had my quarrels with him, for he has never balanced commitments with resources. When the Minister introduced the 1957 White Paper, he hoped he was introducing the kingdom of heaven on earth. I believed in 1957 and still believe in 1958, and shall go on believing throughout my life, that Ministers and White Papers do not change human nature. We shall go on squabbling. What matters is whether we keep the peace or not. If we send two battalions to a troubled area and they are insufficient, there will be a breakdown of law and order.

I hope my words do not lead any hon. Member in any part of the House to think that I advocated our going into Jordan or staying there. I thought it a piece of nonsense which does not make military sense. Hon. Members will realise the truth of that when I tell them that we need to fly in at least 100 tons of supplies a day and that we cannot do that with the lift we have got. I do not want to speak for too long, because there are many hon. Members in all parts of the House who want to take part in the debate.

I am sure that what happened with the White Paper in 1957 was that the Prime Minister, when he was Minister of Defence, had seen the problems quite starkly and realised what little authority he had. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) he had no personal trouble. They both had the authority of their grey hairs and political standing, and the Prime Minister wanted to give the authority more substance than personal standing. I am afraid the weakness of the Prime Minister is that he took his fences a bit too quickly. Instead of getting all the advice he could he went on with his White Paper regardless of the complexity, of the problems. I am very worried, not so much about the immediate problems as about the fundamental problem of supply and administration, which have not been tackled. What was the directive to the Minister of Defence? It was to keep the ceiling figure at roughly what it was before. He decided that he would try to get rid of National Service by giving pay increases. They amounted to £117 million a year. Where is that money to come from if the ceiling is kept rigid and prices continue to go up? That is why we have obsolete tanks and old weapons. We have not got the money, and the country is not prepared to vote it in order to modernise the Army. That is why we are sending men into Middle East armed with rifles to meet men who may be armed with automatic weapons.

It is perfectly clear that this is where we have to make up our minds. We are no longer as rich as we were, and if we are not rich we have to insure. We have to pay the premium, and premiums have to be paid promptly or the insurance companies will not pay out. I should have thought the first principle of defence policy for this country was to meet its international obligations. Although I was opposed to committing us to four divisions and a tactical Air Force in Germany, that commitment must be met. It is an international obligation which we made, and by meeting it we get a great deal in return, because we get the backing of the Americans as members of the same alliance.

It is interesting to note, in passing, one of the arguments used with great force by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, the argument that we needed the hydrogen bomb in order to count with the Americans. It is a very odd fact that our influence with the Americans seems to be stressed when we put a brigade group of conventional forces into Korea and, once again, conventional forces into the Middle East. In other words, the Americans are perhaps a little more conscious of the premium paid in a conventional form than of undertakings to use thermonuclear weapons, of which they have a surfeit.

I come now to the point made by the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head), the future Army and manpower policies, with particular reference to National Service. I read the speech made by the Minister of Defence at the Royal Tournament when he offered to lay ten to one that he would be able to get rid of National Service in 1958. I sent him a £ straight away and said, "I will have a bit of that ten to one." I very much hope that I shall lose; I shall be very pleased to pay him the £.

With my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington, we were the first to talk about the conditions which were necessary to enable us to get rid of National Service. I said that the first thing we had to do was to get rid of the nonsense of the three-year engagement. That has gone, and the Minister takes credit for it. I do not mind, but I would warn him that his present success will not last. If he or any other right hon. Gentleman would like to lay another ten to one, I am open to take it. The recruiting figures have shown an improvement. It would be astonishing if they had not. If the Minister gives a pay increase to recruits in April, what does he think will happen in April, May and June? He should think of the future.

The young men are making up their minds, as they did in 1952. That was when my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) and the right hon. Member for Carshalton were led astray. There was a great surge of recruits throughout 1952 following the differential in pay which was made between the National Serviceman and the Regular, and that produced results. If one is to introduce a manpower policy for the Services, it has to be one which will last for 20 years. We cannot go on doling out at the expense of equipment. I am perfectly certain that in the long run, the Army cannot recruit an Army of 220,000 men. The right hon. Member for Carshalton was very brave this afternoon and dealt with figures with all the authority of an ex-Minister of Defence, figures which were well known to many of us, but which previously lacked the authority of Ministerial backing.

The Minister of Defence ought to resign because he has cooked the books. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, no."] Oh, yes, he knows perfectly well with all the advice given to him that the Army requires a minimum strength not below 200,000, but it is implicit in the White Paper that the Army can manage on 165,000. One can cook the books of a slate club and get away with it, but a Minister of Defence must not play around with figures which involve not only the political stability of the Administration but gambling with figures at the expense of the future of this country. No graver charge could be made than that.

I want to speak now about the future organisation of defence. It was as difficult to get a debate in July, 1957, as it was to get a debate today, and we got it only because of the approval of the Appropriation Bill. We had a debate in July last year, when I ventured to comment on the Future Organisation of the Army (Cmd. 230) and its proposals to reduce our infantry to 60 battalions. Before the war we had 128 infantry battalions. This is how they were distributed: we had 57 battalions at home, one battalion in the West Indies, two in Gibraltar, three in Malta, four in Egypt, two in the Sudan, six in Palestine, three in Malaya, five in China, 43 in India and two in Burma. That made a total of 128. We also had available the Indian Army as a strategic reserve of 21 cavalry regiments, 18½ light batteries, four sappers and miners battalions of field troops, 24½ field companies, 118 infantry battalions and seven pioneer battalions.

At the present time the total number of battalions is 73. I will give the House the detailed distribution of those battalions. At the present moment we have in this country 14 infantry battalions and five battalions of Guards on public duties. There are in the British Army on the Rhine two battalions of Guards and 18 battalions of infantry. There is one parachute battalion, 3 battalions of Guards and 13 battalions of infantry in Cyprus, one battalion of infantry in the Persian Gulf. In Libya, there are two battalions of infantry. We have four in Aden, five in Singapore, two in Hong Kong and one in the West Indies. There are two parachute battalions in Jordan. That makes a total of three parachute regiments, ten battalions of Guards, and 60 battalions of infantry.

The net result is that we have today 60 battalions to do what was done before the war by 128 infantry battalions, plus the right to call on 118 battalions of infantry of the Indian Army. In my submission, that cannot be done. It is as plain as a pikestaff. What is the immediate effect? A fortnight ago, it was announced that an infantry brigade had been alerted for Jordan. That infantry battalion consisted of—what? The East Surreys, the Manchester Regiment, and the K.S.L.I. The Manchester Regiment and the were taken out. The K.S.L.I. had come from abroad and the Manchesters are about to merge with another regiment, so neither of them was fit to go overseas. The Government put two artillery regiments in their place to carry out an infantry rôle.

I put a Question down today to ask the Secretary of State for War what training these battalions had had in infantry duties before they went out to the Middle East. The answer of the Secretary of State was "None." He added that all soldiers had a basic training. I knew that.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Christopher Soames)

I did not reply that they had no training. I said that, to begin with, all soldiers got a basic training when they were going out on internal security duties. Secondly, I said that those two regiments had been warned for this duty—one earlier in the year, February, I think, and the other in June—and they had done duty since they joined the brigade in the infantry rôle. I further added, and there is nothing new in this, that artillery had frequently in the past been used in this way.

Mr. Wigg

The point is this: the Government had run out of infantry some considerable time ago. They had one artillery regiment in Ireland already, and they had two in Cyprus doing infantry duties. This is the first time, however, the Government have sent out an infantry brigade as part of their strategic reserve for which the men had had no infantry training other than the basic training. I do not want to make too much of this point. Even before the right hon. Gentleman's reforms—if that is the right word for them—got under way we had already run out of infantry. If that is the situation, what would the position have been in the crisis in the Middle East if the Minister of Defence had got his reforms under way two years ago, as he would liked to have done? I am only underlining what was said by the right hon. Member for Carshalton the other night. This country would have been faced with all the consequences of military and political impotence, if the Minister of Defence had had his way.

This is the eleventh hour. It may well be that it is too late, that the die has been cast and there is no way back. It may well be that the country is now pacific, that it is the beginning of the end. Nobody cares or worries. If that is so, nobody in this House has the right to leave two battalions sitting on the perimeter of the airfield in Amman. I read with some emotion the account of the meeting of the Cabinet at which they made the decision to go into Jordan. We are told that Ministers came out and said that it was a matter of honour. They were asking themselves what might happen to this very brave young King? I want to ask whether they spared a thought for the British troops who were asked to carry out this mission. The next day, when the House cheered the two battalions, did any hon. Member stop to think of how those battalions were to be supplied or armed, and why they had gone there to sweat it out at 110 or 120 degrees in the shade?

The Secretary of State for War gave me a reply today on one aspect of the matter. He told me in answer to a question that so far there were no N.A.A.F.I. supplies in Jordan. This means no cigarettes—not even a cold drink. What I have said many times before is that Service Ministers and the Minister of Defence have a responsibility to this House, but they also have a responsibility to the troops. I hope that the House of Commons will do its duty and will adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Carshalton and leave a way out for whatever Administration may be in power to do its duty, not only to those who serve, but to the country as a whole.

6.49 p.m.

Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray (Berwick and East Lothian)

We have all listened with great attention to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who is well versed in the facts.

The hon. Member mentioned the late Lord Haldane. If one thing is certain as a result of this White Paper policy, it is that there will never again be a Secretary of State for War of the calibre of Lord Haldane. Nevertheless, we should recognise that there will be even greater scope for a Minister of Defence to make a bigger contribution over the whole range of the three Services instead of being restricted as Lord Haldane was to a single Service, the Army.

I would congratulate the Government on the White Paper because it goes far without going too far. I do not think that integration would be in the public interest, and at one time I was anxious in case my right hon. Friend might go too far with his proposals. But he has not done so. Both the Ministerial heads and the Service heads, the Chiefs of Staff, will still keep what is vital to their function. That is quite clear from paragraph 11 of the White Paper, which says that the Service Ministers will retain their constitutional right to make submissions to the Cabinet. It is quite clear that the Chiefs of Staff will all have the right of access, singly, if need be, to the Prime Minister.

This will ensure—and my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) made this point so well—that a Service case will be properly argued before the Cabinet. It is no good a Service case being argued by the Minister of Defence, who may possibly have turned down that case at a lower level. The Service case should be argued by the protagonist of that Service who really believes in it.

These, Service controversies are savage things. My right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West mentioned the controversy of long ago, after the First World War, over the survival of the Royal Air Force. I would come a little nearer in time to that to the controversy that we all remember over the Fleet Air Arm. That controversy went to such lengths as to bring about estrangement between two very great men, old Sir Roger Keyes, who became Lord Keyes, after being a Member of this House, and that great Air Marshal, Lord Trenchard. So serious was the anger that developed between them that I believe it is true to say that, although they had married sisters, both charming ladies, such was the tension that they could not meet each other socially across a dinner table, so seriously were they in opposition.

Do not let us laugh at that, because defence controversies must be judged, not only by the measure of lives, but by the measure of national survival. I do not know how many hon. Members in this House at the moment have read a book by a man whom many of us knew as Secretary of State for War, P. J. Grigg—Sir James Grigg. He wrote a book called "Prejudice and Judgment", and, on page 132, he wrote this, which is relevant to the measure of defence controversies: I have always considered that the real tragedy of Singapore was much more that Lord Beatty's view had prevailed over that of Lord Trenchard's in regard to the measures to be adopted for defending the base. The naval view meant fixed defences, big guns and torts, and these turned out to be useless. It might have been a very different story if Lord Trenchard's plan of entrusting the protection of the fortress predominantly to the air had carried the day. Mr. Speaker, you will not want me to go back to the old tragedy of the Singapore base, but I think that we should bear in mind the vital importance of a correct outcome of Service controversy. Therefore, I think that I welcome more than anything in this White Paper the fact that it lays down, unequivocally, that a Service will have the opportunity itself, through its own spokesman, of bringing to the Cabinet its own Service case.

I do not want, however, to concentrate only on welcoming the safeguards in the White Paper. I also very much welcome what is proposed, and particularly paragraph 13, where it says: The Minister of Defence has the duty to take"— It is not that he may but that it is his job: after consultation with the Service Ministers concerned, all practicable steps to secure the most efficient and economical performance of functions common to two or more of the Services—e.g., by arranging for one Service to act on behalf of the others on the principle of most efficient user,' or by transferring responsibility to the Minister of Defence. Listening to my right hon. and hon. Friends, and also to the hon. Member for Dudley, discussing whether the manpower for the Army would suffice, and without knowing whether or not the Minister's figure was right, I was extremely interested in the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) that 165,000 men is insufficient for the Army and that 220,000 is nearer the proper figure. Be that as it may, there is an obvious contribution to be made to the proper use of manpower by having an improved transport command. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. Brown) mentioned, in particular, freighter aircraft for a heavy airlift which, although all countries are crying out for it, they have not yet succeeded in attaining to the extent they wish—

Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)

My hon. and gallant Friend will be aware that the one thing that keeps coming out of this debate is reference to civilianisation. Would he not agree that in regard to transport, and particularly in regard to air transport, there is a case for greater participation in the operation by the civilian side?

Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

Yes, I think that I am quite happy about that, and I also think that the co-ordination for it would probably come better from the Minister of Defence than from any independent Service arrangements. That, I think, strengthens paragraph 13, which makes it the duty of the Minister of Defence to co-ordinate between the three Defence Services.

Let us face it—the provision of freighter aircraft is not an exciting task for the Royal Air Force. It means that it has to be the servant of the Army, and no Service Department enjoys being at the beck and call of another Department. I think that if we leave it to the Air Council it will never give sufficient priority to the provision of air transport services and that that is a duty the Minister of Defence himself must undertake.

Then we come to a point that was dealt with by the right hon. Member for Belper, and I could not but wish that he had been in the Chamber when a right hon. Friend of mine saw fit to liken the right hon. Gentleman's performance to "a voice like a circular saw and a brain of feathers," but the right hon. Gentleman was not here and it was not—

Mr. G. Brown

If the hon. and gallant Member's right hon. Friend had repeated it, and I had heard it outside, may I say that I do not regard his right hon. Friend who said it as a particularly bright recommendation.

Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

That is the riposte. It is for the House to decide which is the more amusing.

I should like now to follow up the point made by the right hon. Gentleman, when he said that the question could well arise of the provision of a certain type of aircraft. He said that there was a type of aircraft that was entirely satisfactory, if I understood him aright, for the Navy, and was very nearly 100 per cent. satisfactory for the Royal Air Force, but that orders for the aircraft were hanging fire because the cost of producing them only for the Navy would be very much higher; and that if the Air Council would agree to accept this aircraft for the Royal Air Force as well, great economy would result, and there would be great simplification of the supply position.

Without knowledge of the facts of that statement, I put it to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for War who, I see, is taking notes that that is the type of case in which the Minister of Defence should undoubtedly use his power and demand that the two Services should work together in a common policy which will be of general advantage, and not one advantageous only to a single Service.

The machinery laid down in the White Paper may be perfectly good, but a lot depends on personality. I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) put forward an impossible proposition when he said that he would support the integration of the Services only if he knew who the Minister of Defence would be. One can never know, three, five, or ten years ahead who he will be or to which party he will belong, but the matter of personality will be of vital importance not only with Parliamentarians but even more so in regard to the Chief of the Defence Staff. That will apply whatever Service he comes from. The first may come from the Royal Air Force, and the next from the Navy. Look at the immense power he will have. He will have recommended his successor.

The next First Sea Lord will be a man in whom the Chief of the Defence Staff has great Service confidence. When they sit at a table together he will be able to work with him hand and glove, and count upon the unfailing support of his first Sea Lord on any point. That will be the case if the Chief of the Defence Staff is a sailor. Let us suppose that there is controversy involving the Royal Air Force. At once, we will have two sailors against one airman. If it is a controversy involving the Army, again it will be two to one in favour of the Navy. We will always have these two working together. Supposing that the Army and the Royal Air Force are together against the two sailors, the odds will be, on the face of it, two against two, but that is not the case. We have to go further.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, in reporting to the Minister of Defence, has the right not only to give the collective view—which will not be a unanimous one—of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, but also to give his own personal view—a second view. There is, therefore, the opportunity of any Chief of a Defence Staff to weigh the advice of that staff in favour of his own particular Service.

Thinking back again, do not let us forget that in the past the very greatest of our Service men have been completely married to that one Service and would fight tooth and nail for it against all others—

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

That is the trouble.

Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

The hon. Member says, "That is the trouble," and it may well be so in other countries besides our own. What we have to do is to find a Service adviser who is great enough to forget the background of his own Service and to look at matters from the wider view of the defence of the country as a whole. I am sure that this is fully appreciated by the Government and by the Prime Minister, and that, in choosing their man, they will have that in mind. For the welfare and safety of this country in the next five years, I pray that their choice may be sound.

7.4 p.m.

Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)

I really do not know what all this fuss about inter-Service rivalries is about. As a simple-minded sort of fellow, not ranking high in the Army, and not having held office in a Defence Department, I am rather frightened by the Kilkenny-cat fighting and feuding that seems to go on behind closed doors in the Services. Surely those concerned with decisions are reasonable people, who can give and take, and see the national point of view over-riding their different Service loyalties.

The Minister of Defence seemed to say to us, "Really, there is no difficulty. There has never been any quarrelling. We have not been having a battle. Everything has been arranged very decently, and this White Paper is the outcome of it." On the other hand, those on either side who have seemed able to speak with any authority have said that this frightful row had been going on as to who is to be supreme, whose word shall count, and the like.

It seems to me that this White Paper is worth very little. It only confirms a situation that has grown up in practice over past years. Where there have been changes it seems to me that those changes have not been entirely for the best. I believe that we need very careful central planning and control of the defence Services. I am all for a simplified structure where we know what the chain of command is and where responsibility rests.

Here, it seems, we have been trying to have the best of both worlds in this White Paper. On the one hand, we are saying that we are giving the Minister of Defence certain powers which some of us believe he already had. Then someone says, "If you give him all these powers you are infringing the position and the prestige of the different Service Departments, and by creating a Chief of Defence Staff you are doing something wrong to the existing Chiefs of Staff." Then they say, "Let us try to put in all the safeguards we can to bolster up the position of the Chiefs of Staff and to prevent the Minister of Defence from doing the job which he is intended by the Prime Minister to do."

In every paragraph of the White Paper there is some qualification. On the Cabinet level we find: The Chiefs of Staff will be in attendance … The Chiefs of Staff, in addition to their attendance at meetings of the Defence Committee, may be invited to attend meetings of the full Cabinet. The Chiefs of Staff are thus in a position to fulfil their traditional duty to tender to the Government professional military advice. Why must they do that directly through the Cabinet? Why cannot the man at the head of this group be trusted?

We come to the Defence Board. We find that all the Chiefs of Staff have places on this Board, and they can go behind the Board and take their submissions direct to the Cabinet and to its committees. Then we come to the Chiefs of Staff organisation itself. We find that, there again, it is said: The Chiefs of Staff of the three Services have at all times a right of access to the Minister of Defence, and when necessary to the Prime Minister, whether on operational or other military matters. I find that hard to take, because it means that when they are not getting what they want by the front door in proper debate they are able to go round to the back door to make their complaints felt. If ever anything was designed to foster inter-Service rivalries and jealousies, it seems to me that this White Paper is the way in which it is to be done.

What is the concept of the Minister of Defence? Is he just to be an overlord dealing with powerful vassals who sometimes get too powerful, or is he to be a kind of supreme ruler himself? If I had to make the choice I would rather see the Minister of Defence a powerful, supreme ruler, regardless of whom the Minister of Defence is to be. We need to have a clearer definition than we have at the moment of his powers and responsibilities. Under this system he certainly has responsibility, but I am not sure that he has full power.

We have heard much about this fear of a division between executive action and policy making. This does not solve it. Under this arrangement, we still have a division between policy making which will be made by the Cabinet, and the executive implementation of it which, at the moment, will be done by the three separate Services. What we would like to know is, if there has been this battle who has won it? It seems a rather nebulous kind of affair at present.

It is not only confined to this country. This same argument is going on very fiercely in the United States. There, the President wants to have more powers. He has a Bill before the Senate now, asking for more unified control, asking that the chain of command should be streamlined, asking for the Service secretaries and military chiefs to be stripped of operational command and authority—very much the sort of things which some of us would like to see here. He has met the same kind of obstruction and difficulties from the separate Departments as seem to have been encountered in this country.

Some of us, realising that defence cannot be divorced from foreign affairs or colonial policy, want to know at what level the issues of foreign relationships, diplomacy, colonial policy, social effects, and so on, are brought into consideration. Is it only at the Cabinet Committee, as it appears to be? Would it not be wiser, on some of these other bodies, to bring in representatives of the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office and, indeed, any other Departments who are affected? I believe that it would.

When we look at this White Paper, what comes out of it fairly clearly is that its importance is not the structure that is laid down; that does not matter very much. It is: who is the Minister of Defence and who is his Chief of Defence Staff? If they are powerful, vigorous persons they can get their way over the others. If they are not, we shall have the same kind of vacillation and delays which have gone on for so long. I cannot see much hope arising from the present set-up that we shall move towards any great integration as far ahead as we can see.

But, having dealt with the structure of all this, what we have to consider is the nature of the defence policy which ought to be evolved at present. Although this cannot be divided into neat packets, nevertheless it seems to me that there are three kinds of policy which we must be considering. First, there is the all-out nuclear war; secondly, the limited war involving tactical weapons; and, thirdly, what is usually called the bush fire operation, or the police force operation.

I would add that in considering these three types of activity we should follow certain overriding principles at the present stage, which have been brought upon us by the experience of the past few years. The first one is—and I believe it to be true—that in any of these operations we cannot act alone even if we are physically capable of doing it. Secondly, we have got to take into account the fact that we have allies and we have to consult and act with them in concert where possible. Thirdly, and most important, all the time we have to remember our obligations to the United Nations and do nothing which conflicts with its policies.

Having borne this in mind, behind the whole of our thinking we have to ask ourselves whether we can carry out these rôles with the present organisation, whether we can have a fully effective defence in this country bearing in mind our vulnerability, our limited resources, our limited manpower and so on. I do not believe that we can. I do not believe that we can be effectively defended in the event of a nuclear war. Neither does the Minister of Defence. I do not believe that we are capable, even if we wished, of waging a nuclear war ourselves. I do not believe that a limited war, using tactical weapons, is a possibility, because I am certain that once we used atomic weapons to deal with military force, the scale of warfare being so great, it would involve the destruction of civilian property and life over such a wide area and would instantly invite full nuclear retaliation.

I would, therefore, rule out of our concept limited war, which brings me to the third point, and that is the kind of bush fire war which arises from our being a world Power with the necessity to protect our interests in the Middle East, and so on. Recent events have shown that that is not easy to carry out unless the organisation is very much superior to what we have at present. One cannot always reckon on having a week's notice, or even 48 hours' notice, of certain events. We cannot tell what notice we shall get, and unless we could move our troops about quickly with their proper fire power we should be caught in a very damaging situation.

All might not have been peaceful in Jordan when our troops went there. They might have had to fight there. Then what would have been the position? When there had to be a general post throughout the Army, moving men from place to place, sending 2,000 troops to Jordan, it showed the kind of difficulty in which this limited bush fire operation is apt to involve one. The question we have to ask is: what is to happen in the future if we have a series of these kinds of outbreaks simultaneously? What would be the position if we had to send 2,000 men to Kuwait, 2,000 men to Bahrein, 2,000 to the Yemen, to Aden, more to Kenya, more to Cyprus, all at the same time? It is quite clear that the organisation that we have at present could not undertake anything on that kind of scale. Yet, in my view, that is about the only thing that we can really contemplate in our right minds.

Let us ask these questions again. The weakness is our lack of mobility. What are the Minister of Defence and his Service colleagues doing to meet that difficulty? What are we doing about Troop and freight carrying? What are we doing about numbers, about getting the right people into the right jobs in the Army? Recruiting may be going all right. We heard this afternoon that it is, and I am glad of it, but we are not getting the men to do the technical jobs where they are wanted, because competition in industry is so great, and the rewards offered so much better, that the best kind of technicians will not go into the Army. Yet in a modern Army we need the best kind of technicians. So that numbers by themselves are not the real answer. We also want quality.

We have heard a lot about how many people we are likely to have in the Armed Forces by 1962. A figure of 150,000 has been mentioned; 165,000 has been mentioned. The right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head), in a very impressive speech, mentioned that to carry out our minimum commitments we should need about 220,000. He was inclined to the view that if we could not get these numbers we should have to carry on some kind of National Service to help us out.

I urge the Government to think seriously about this point before involving us in an undertaking of that kind. We should have the worst of both worlds if we were to embark upon this kind of selective call-up. I personally would rather take a chance on having too few people than on strangling the men we already have by carrying out a selective call-up. I ask the Government to think very seriously about that and to give us much more information than they have given us hitherto of the kind of numbers they anticipate they want and how they are likely to achieve their aim.

The Minister of Defence mentioned that in arriving at this figure and in considering the abolition of National Service he was thinking that perhaps in one particular the international situation might be better, and he cited Cyprus. I find it very hard to believe that in a few years' time the situation in Cyprus will be such that we shall be able to have fewer troops there than we have now. It seems to me that they will be bogged down there as well as in the Middle East, probably, for a considerable time.

Again, we have to ask about the equipment. When are they to be equipped with the latest mark of the E.N. rifle? When will the transport aircraft be ready? Such questions make it clear to me that we want a firmer hand rather than a weaker hand at the Ministry of Defence. We want someone who can impress his personality upon the Service Departments and "get them cracking".

I want to mention the rôle of the Ministry of Supply. I am surprised that the Minister of Supply himself has not been present during this debate. After all, he is one of the Ministers mostly concerned, and so is his Parliamentary Secretary. Someone from that Department should have been here; I feel that all the more in view of the scathing indictment of the Ministry by the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch). We have spent millions of pounds in the past few years mainly on the development of aircraft and missiles. Yet we have got very little to show for it. I should have thought that there was a case for a full-scale inquiry into the operation of the Ministry of Supply, to see how it fits in with the overall picture.

The position in Jordan makes our dilemma absolutely clear. In a situation of that kind, we could not resort to nuclear war. Such a thing is out of the question, yet we seem to have very little other means to deal with trouble in that part of the world. The troops have gone into Jordan. Rightly or wrongly, they are there. If we are to accept a report which was in The Times the other day, it seems that our troops are not welcome and that they are living in appalling conditions. Now comes the question. We put them in. How do we get them out? What happens if Israel prevents our using the air corridor to bring them back? Can we fly them the hundreds of extra miles involved, can we ship them through the Gulf of Aqaba, or what shall we do? That is one of the things which the Ministry ought to be thinking about now.

As for asking the United Nations to go in and relieve us of the job, since when has it been the duty of United Nations forces to maintain in power a Government which their own people do not wish to have? For all these reasons, it seems to me that our troops will be there for a considerable time. We must make sure that, while they are there, they have the best conditions they can possibly have. They should have recreational facilities. They ought to have the N.A.A.F.I. and all the other things which can help them perform their very difficult tasks in reasonable comfort.

I believe that, sooner rather than later, we shall have to tackle the problem of Service integration far more drastically than we have until now. I see nothing wrong in having a Minister of Defence and three Parliamentary Secretaries instead of three present Secretaries of State and the Minister of Supply. After all, that is what they are, although they have other people down the line to help them. I should like to see the Minister of Defence far more important and I should like to see the Secretaries of State—I mean no personal disrespect, for I have found them extremely helpful to me, and I hope they will still be so after what I have to say—demoted in the hierarchy, as it were. I do not believe that all this jealousy need go on. We are all part of the same force, all standing for the same principles and purposes.

Where the issues are grave enough, and the policies are clear enough, there ought not to be any reason for any Service not sinking its identity for the good of the whole. I hope to see far greater integration of the Services. Any operation we have to conduct in the future will be a combined operation. It is bound to involve the use of all our forces, and I hope that the time has come when we shall begin to get rid of the single Service concept and work together towards a more integrated force.

7.23 p.m.

Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)

The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) has made a very interesting speech, with a great deal of which I agree. For one who claims to be so detached from the wrangles of the defence experts, he has a great grasp of his subject. I would not agree with one thing he said, however. In my view, he greatly understated the risks of finding ourselves without enough men. That is a very great risk indeed, as I hope to show in the course of my speech.

This has been an exceptionally good defence debate. I do not remember hearing a better during the fairly large number of years that I have been in the House, and I do not want to spoil it by doing something which spoils a great many of our debates and tends to make them tedious, and that is, reminiscing about one's experiences abroad. I wish to record, however, one very strong impression which I brought back from a month in the Soviet Union. I have come back with the very definite impression that the Soviet Government, let alone the Soviet people, do not want a hot war at the present time. There are two principle reasons that I say that. First of all, nobody in his senses wants a hot war?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Hear, hear.

Sir F. Maclean

The second reason—I hope I shall receive the same support from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes)—is that the Soviet Government are doing so very well in the cold war.

Mr. Hughes

Whose fault is that?

Sir F. Maclean

I will come to that. They are exploiting world-wide unrest and the upsurge of nationalism in the Middle East and elsewhere today and they are able, with very little effort on their part, to make a great deal of trouble for us.

My considered view is that this situation is likely to continue for some time to come. It seems to me, therefore, that one of the Government's most important tasks is to see that we as a nation are properly equipped to cope with it. I shall not talk about propaganda. Although "propaganda" is becoming an ugly word, it is very important, and it is something we have neglected very badly. The fact that we have neglected it is one of the reasons for the mess we find ourselves in, through our failure to put across our national point of view in a convincing way.

Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)

And in practice.

Sir F. Maclean

But, as I say, propaganda is not really a suitable subject for this debate. I wish to talk about the state of preparedness of our Armed Forces, particularly the Army.

A great deal is said about streamlined nuclear forces, until one is sick of the expression. The fact remains that streamlined nuclear forces are no earthly good for fighting the cold war. Indeed, there is a very grave danger that, if one fights the cold war with streamlined nuclear forces, one may turn it into a hot war, which is the last thing that anybody wants. What one needs to fight the cold war is men on the ground, properly equipped. We need them to keep order. We need them to enable us to fulfil our N.A.T.O. obligations and we need them for operations of the kind we are undertaking in the Middle East and Jordan today.

The Minister of Defence sticks to the figure of 165,000 for the strength of the Army, a figure which was first formulated 18 months ago. I consider that my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head), on this occasion ably supported by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg)—not a combination which always works together—has shown conclusively and in detail that 165,000 men are not enough. I find it very difficult to be convinced also by the method my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence says he will use to achieve this result. He spoke of a dramatic reduction of 100,000. Perhaps I have it wrong, but it seems to me that 375,000 troops, which is roughly what we start with, less 100,000, makes 275,000. That is not 165,000.

My right hon. Friend said—this is quite often said and it is perfectly true—that an all-Regular Army is much more flexible than a conscript Army. That is quite true, and that is why successive Ministers of Defence and Secretaries of State for War have tried to bring about a situation in which they could do away with conscription. My right hon. Friend said also that a certain reduction could be achieved by civilianisation and such things as mechanical accounting in the Royal Army Pay Corps. That also has been thought of before. Obviously, it was thought of in particular by those who were responsible for drawing up the Hull Report. It is quite certain that it was taken into account in arriving at the minimum figure of 220,000, which has already been quoted in this debate.

In addition to those two methods of achieving a reduction, my right hon. Friend cited one or two other things that he proposed to do. He spoke of increased air mobility. I should like to join the hon. Member for Dudley in asking whether we have, in fact, achieved air mobility, how much more mobile we are than we used to be and whether, if we are no more mobile, we are likely to become more mobile. Do we have the necessary transport aircraft? That is a question which some of us have been asking for a long time.

But even if we have achieved greater air mobility, is that really the answer? Another suggestion which I have heard is to have marines on aircraft carriers. Could that be the answer? I submit that it could not, and for this reason. By neither of these methods can we get the necessary heavy equipment to the right place in time.

Secondly, in police operations and in the task of maintaining law and order, we need troops on the spot in advance.

I apologise for mentioning again my travels abroad, but when I was in Singapore two years ago there was a grave threat of civil disturbances. When the commander-in-chief received that information, he put into operation a plan to take the necessary precautions to be ready in case the civil disturbances broke out. The city was cordoned off and troops were in a state of readiness. The result was that there were no civil disturbances and many lives were saved.

If those troops had not been present on the spot, there would have been bloodshed. Troops and members of the local population would have been killed and by the time that the air transportable troops or the marines on the aircraft carrier had arrived the situation would have been completely out of hand and a great deal of bloodshed might easily have ensued. That is why to reduce our garrisons in strategic points of that nature is extreme folly.

As another method of reducing our commitments, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence expressed the view that the situation in Cyprus would ease one way or the other. When I look at the situation in Cyprus at the moment, it does not appear to me as if it is likely to ease. The only way in which I imagine we could reduce our commitments there would be to allow ourselves to be eased out altogether. At a time when operations in the Middle East have shown how necessary is the Cyprus base, that is surely something we do not want to allow to happen. Even if the situation in Cyprus may have been solved one way or the other, what is there to show that we will not be confronted with similar situations in any number of other parts of the world? Everything seems to point to this.

I was horrified when my right hon. Friend spoke of a further reduction in our forces in the Army of the Rhine. All the diplomats and politicians of the N.A.T.O. Powers with whom I have spoken have expressed the gravest concern at the way we were reducing our contribution to N.A.T.O. My guess is that if it is reduced still further, if we give that sort of example to some of our Allies who are not all that keen anyhow, there is grave danger that the whole structure of N.A.T.O., on which so much depends, will simply be unravelled like an old sock.

In conclusion, I should like to ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence to do two things. The first is to get a revised estimate of the strength of the Army that we need, an estimate based on what we need and not, like the present estimate, based on a rather optimistic estimate of what, with luck, we might be able to get by voluntary recruitment. My other request is that my right hon. Friend should endorse the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton for a bipartisan policy on conscription.

7.37 p.m.

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

The House will be indebted to the hon. Member for Lancaster (Sir F. Maclean), whose speech touched on fundamental issues which have been raised during the debate. I hope to deal with some of them and to put a personal point of view. I agree at once with the hon. Member that this has been a very good defence debate. It is, in fact, one of the best I have heard during my comparatively short experience of the House of Commons. It has raised a number of fundamental problems which, I hope, will be dealt with by the Government Front Bench tonight.

We are indebted to the Minister of Defence at least for introducing the White Paper, because it was the vehicle for this debate. That, however is about all I can say of the White Paper as such. The more one reads it and thinks about it, the more one regards it as mainly an endorsement, with slight modification, of what has already been going on. If that has to be put in writing and given as a White Paper after eighteen months, the White Paper might be said to be justified, but I do not understand those hon. Members opposite who have become excited about it and who regard it as introducing revolutionary changes.

There is a lot to be said for the argument that if there is to be a reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence, it would be worth while for a committee, rather like the Esher Committee, to examine the pros and cons and to put the matter before those of us in the House of Commons who are interested, so that one day we may have an argument on it. At the end of the day, however, we must all make certain that we have a first-class organisation looking after first-class Armed Forces. That leads to my next point.

The right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) raised the issue, which has been discussed in the House for a long time, of whether there should be a continuation of the Order in Council this year to enable the next Government of the day, of whichever party it is comprised, to continue conscription. There are those who believe that our present position is of such a character that this must be done. If we are to continue the foreign policy which the present Government are pursuing, conscription will have to be continued.

The noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) wrote an article about this subject in an evening paper last week. Whether we approve of his point of view or not, we must give him credit for being fearless and being prepared openly and frankly to put his view. He stated how he thought the Government should have handled the present crisis in the Middle East. He also said how the Government should have handled the Suez crisis. He speaks for many hon. Members on the Government side of the House. He and his hon. Friends think that the Government should have handled the Suez crisis by going through into Cairo to deal with Nasser, and they believe that they should deal with Iraq in the same way, by going through and dealing with the revolutionary Government now. That is the policy of some hon. Members opposite. We do not know how many, but we do know that it is a large number.

There are some people, ordinary people, who support the Labour Party and who will agree with that view. There is no doubt about that—"knock the block off Nasser", "beat the Wog", all the arguments which follow from that and which are supported by many people who support the Labour Party. However, the logic of that policy is that we must retain conscription and have even larger and even more efficient Armed Forces than we now have.

That would mean more men and it would be more fair and honest of those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who support that point of view for them to say that frankly. However, they have never said that and although they have said how they think we should have dealt with Nasser and Suez and how they think we should deal with the revolutionary Government in Iraq, they have never said that conscription should be retained.

Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

I have made my position clear. It is that we should have increased conventional forces, but not greater expenditure on atomic weapons.

Mr. Mellish

With great respect to the noble Lord, he does not argue it like that and he cannot be allowed to get away with that. To argue that we should have dealt with Nasser in Cairo and that we should now deal with the Iraqi Government means that we should have more men than we now have. In view of our commitments in Cyprus, the rest of the Middle East and in Germany, we could never maintain the sort of foreign policy which the noble Lord wants with a Regular Army of 165,000 men.

Viscount Lambton

I was trying to point that out by saying that we should have a greater conventional Army and a smaller number of atomic weapons.

Mr. Mellish

That means conscription. That policy has been advocated today and has emanated from the Government benches and from a very prominent source, the right hon. Member for Carshalton, who has argued that conscription must be retained. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That was what he was saying in effect. He said that the Order in Council should be retained this year to enable the next Government to retain conscription, which he thought was inevitable since he believed that even the target of 165,000 would not be enough. Hon. Members will find all this in HANSARD. The people will be able to read it in the Press tomorrow and will certainly see that that is the only interpretation which can be placed on the right hon. Gentleman's remarks.

The logic of what the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord have said about their views of foreign policy is that conscription should be retained. That is why I want to make my position perfectly clear. Speaking purely for myself and as a member of the Labour Party, I believe that if we had a different foreign policy in the Middle East and if we were determined to end the Cyprus trouble, conscription would be unnecessary. Indeed, if a different policy had been pursued during Suez and during this crisis we should not now be thinking and talking of continuing conscription.

I want to turn to another criticism of the Government. Is it believed by those same right hon. and hon. Gentlemen, who fairly and honestly believe that we should pursue certain policies in the Middle East and elsewhere and who would have liked to have seen us go to Cairo during Suez and who would now like to see us deal with the revolutionary Government in Iraq, that our forces are equipped for such a task?

Viscount Lambton

That is the trouble.

Mr. Mellish

If not, then the Government stand indicted for not having properly equipped troops even for that sort of job.

Let us consider how our troops are equipped and armed. The Government have spent about £8,000 million in five years. No doubt they will tell us that much of it has been spent on wages and salaries and so on. I am as British as anyone and I have a tremendous admiration for British troops, believing that there is no soldier in the world who is anywhere as good as the British soldier, but the fact is that our troops today are as badly armed as it is possible for them to be.

It is deplorable that we should have sent our troops in to Jordan armed with rifles which were used in the last war and even in the 1914–18 war. The hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) and I recently went to Germany where we saw German troops equipped with the F.N. rifle—and many other armies use that rifle. The British Army is still not equipped with F.N. rifles. Our troops were sent to Jordan armed with antiquated rifles.

What about heavy machine guns? Is it a fact that our troops were sent to Jordan with the old Vickers water-cooled machine guns which were used in the 1914–18 war? Have the Government yet made up their mind about what sort of heavy machine guns are to be provided for our troops? Our troops have been sent to Jordan with rifles and machine guns of 1914–18 vintage.

What armoured vehicles are there for the protection of the 2,000 British troops who are on the perimeter of the Jordan airfield? Has the Minister of Defence yet made up his mind about what types of armoured car and troop carrier are needed? This matter has been discussed for months and months, but no decision has yet been reached. When it is decided, will it be possible to transport such armoured cars and troop carriers by air? We are entitled to answers to all these questions.

Much has been said about mobility. The Government have no right to pursue a policy which results in any men having to be sent anywhere unless those men are fully equipped. We were able to dump 2,000 lads on the perimeter of the airfield in Jordan. However, does anyone realise what the strength of Transport Command is today? The hon. Baronet the Member for Lancaster touched on this matter, about which he no doubt has a guilty conscience. It is no great secret that in Transport Command we have 12 Comets, 12 Britannias, 70 Valettas, 40 Beverleys and 40 Hastings.

The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Charles Ian Orr-Ewing)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Mellish

The hon. Member must be careful in denying this. These are figures obtained from his own Ministry as a result of Questions and Answers.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

The hon. Member has been misled. There are not 12 Britannias in Transport Command. I wish there were. There is none.

Mr. Mellish

That makes the position even worse and makes my story even more grim.

What reserve troops do we have? We have not even one brigade in reserve, in spite of the £8,000 million which the Government have spent. Even for that small force we do not have adequate transport. It is known that for an effective and speedy airlift 300 to 350 Beverleys are required. We have only 40 Beverleys, so that we are not capable of effectively dropping one brigade with the aircraft at our disposal. This Government have been pursuing policies and committing our troops in a way which has been disastrous for the nation. For that alone they should be indicted.

Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)

I am sure that the hon. Member is trying to be accurate. As I was at one time responsible for making the Hastings transport aircraft, I can assure him that the figure is nearer 100 than 40.

Mr. Mellish

That only goes to show the inadequacy of the Air Ministry, because the figures I quoted were obtained by me personally from the Air Ministry. There may be some confusion here. I am referring to the aircraft which are immediately available for an airlift. I wanted to know how many we have to lift a brigade, and the answer was that we have not enough to do it, except in a great number of flights. I know that the Beverley is a short-range aircraft, and there is grave doubt about the number of airlifts that that would take. The Labour Party have been out of power for over six years now, and they cannot be blamed for this.

Sir A. V. Harvey

It takes six years for a policy to take effect.

Mr. Mellish

The Government are pursuing a policy without having an army to implement it. To a large extent they are supported by many hon. Members opposite who sincerely believe that our foreign policy should be more progressive, and that we should go forward in a much stronger way and deal with the "Wogs" and all the other people who in one way or another conflict with British interests.

That argument would be more logical if those who put it forward could show that we have the resources to carry out that policy, but when the Government try to carry it out without sufficient resources they deserve the contempt of the people. The people who would support me while, at the same time, supporting the Government's intervention in the Middle East, are not aware that the Government have not sufficient Armed Forces to carry out their policy. Against that background the Defence Minister talks glibly about a reorganisation of defence as though it is a miraculous thing and, at the end of the day, we shall somehow got a brilliant arrangement which will save the nation. The truth is that the history of the Government is a disgraceful one. They should not have attempted to carry out their present foreign policy.

7.56 p.m.

Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)

The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) speaks with increasing knowledge and applies himself with great assiduousness to these military problems. Although I do not agree with all he says. I very much admire the way in which he strongly supports the British soldier on the ground, and the way he insists that wherever we send troops they shall be adequately armed, supplied and supported. I agree with him entirely on that.

We have had an extremely good debate, in which some very interesting points have been brought out. I was very interested in two important points raised by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and I should like to refer to them. First, he mentioned the British Expeditionary Force of 1914, which was organised by Lord Haldane, the greatest Secretary of State for War that we have ever had. I am glad that the hon. Member referred to him, and to that Force, in which I had the honour to serve in a very humble rôle.

The one lesson of the B.E.F. of 1914 which we might bear in mind today is that although it was a splendid little force—it was referred to by the Kaiser as "a contemptible little Army," but it was far from that when it came to action—it was no deterrent, in 1914, to the beginning of the First World War. We have come on a long way today in the view we take of defence matters, and in the way we arm to prevent a war rather than to take part in an armed fight.

Mr. Wigg

The hon. and gallant Member would be very unwise to pursue that argument. He must remember that although our small Army was not a deterrent the vast military might of the Prussians was not a deterrent to Belgium, either.

Sir J. Smyth

The fact is that we did not prevent a war. What we are trying to do today, however, is to prevent the next war.

I am glad that the hon. Member mentioned the Indian Army. I have mentioned it in previous defence debates, but I do not think that anyone has brought up the matter in the way that the hon. Member did today. There is no doubt that we feel the loss of our Indian Army in the Middle East, and in the East, more than anyone can realise. All these troubles that have started up in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf would have been coped with in the old days by our magnificent Indian Army. In addition to the number of battalions mentioned by the hon. Member, the Indian Army had an expeditionary force of four divisions which could go anywhere, and which played a very important part in both world wars.

The tragic thing today is that we not only do not have the advantage of the Indian Army, but that in some ways it is a dead loss. The armies of Pakistan and India are glaring at each other, and they are contributing nothing to the peace of the world. If only we could settle the Kashmir problem we might improve the situation.

I want to turn to the question of National Service, which has already been referred to by many speakers, including two ex-Ministers of Defence and an ex-Under-Secretary of State for War. The opinions of all these hon. Members carry great weight. The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was quite unequivocal on this matter. He said that the Labour Party would not stand for the continuation of conscription. I understood my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) and also my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) to disagree strongly with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence on that question. My right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton did not say that he wanted conscription to continue, but he said that he wanted the machinery for it to remain in force, which I take to be the nearest thing.

During the past two years many hon. Members on both sides of the House have said that we must do away with conscription in peace-time. I have been tremendously firm on this point. Many people have said this, but no one started to do it until my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence put into operation the machinery for bringing it to an end. I am not saying that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would not have done the same thing if they had been in power; they did not have the opportunity. Nevertheless, despite all the talk my right hon. Friend has started to do it. It was an extremely courageous step.

Strong arguments have been put up by hon. Members on bath sides of the House as to the danger of that policy. All I would say is that from my knowledge of many people in the Forces I am sure that we would not get recruits today to serve in a hybrid form of Army. The young man today will not join a force in which he has to spend half his time training National Service men. This proposition does not attract him. I am certain that if my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton had to make a report today on the operation of his scheme the recruiting figures would be a great deal worse than those mentioned in the report which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence was able to present to the House.

I am not saying that 165,000 Regulars—who are of far more value than 200,000 mixed Regulars and conscripts—will be enough to cope with all the situations with which we may be faced. I would urge my right hon. Friend to explore the possibility of a greater contribution being made by the Commonwealth and the Colonial Forces. The right hon. Member for Easington has brought this matter forward several times, and it is a point on which he and I agree most wholeheartedly. I am also in favour of exploring the possibility of raising a permanent United Nations security force, in place of this continual attempt to raise scratch observer forces which can never be produced in time. I have in mind the kind of force which, I have always imagined would have been possible some years ago, a settled force that could deal with the sort of conflagration such as we have seen lately in the Middle East.

I now want to deal with the White Paper, which has not been mentioned very much, but which I thought was supposed to be the main subject of the debate. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) drew such a lot of "blue water herrings" over the White Paper at the start that I think many of us became rather confused as to what it was all about. I shall not try to make out that, when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced the issue of the White Paper the other day, he was announcing any very revolutionary change in our higher organisation for war. I do not think he did, whether he intended to or not. Nevertheless, I think he confirmed certain extremely valuable trends and changes in our higher defence organisation which I should like to go into in a little more detail.

As the House will remember, my right hon. Friend announced the issue of the White Paper in the middle of a critical situation in the Middle East, and it at once posed a test of the changes in organisation that had been announced on 1st January, 1957, whereby the Minister of Defence was given greatly increased powers both organisational and operational. What we can say about the dispatch of our troops to Jordan is that it was, in a small way, a model example of the Government making up their mind quickly and action being taken with equal speed. In all these kinds of operation, it has been my experience that if two battalions can arrive within 12 hours in a situation like that they are of more value than waiting a week and then perhaps sending 12 battalions, which are too late to do the job. We should remember that example, purely from the military aspects, from the Suez operation. There, we had a lot of men, a great many more than my right hon. Friend will be able to produce when he has reduced the Army to 165,000 men, but what a very impotent and unsuitable force we produced in the Mediterranean at the time of Suez.

Whatever any right hon. or hon. Gentleman may think about the rights or wrong of Suez, I maintain that if Sir Anthony Eden had come to the House and announced that we were to interpose a force on the Canal to stop a war between the Israelis and the Egyptians, and, the next morning—as the Prime Minister of today did over Jordan—announced that three brigades, one French and two British, all airborne brigades, had arrived on the Canal with anti-tank guns, the situation would have been regarded very differently by the world as a whole from what it was. The force we did produce was a sort of Spanish Armada, or the sort of force that might have been organised for D-day against enormous German opposition, which was slowly steaming to Port Said. It was in those six days that world opinion went bad on the British Government over Suez.

The point I want to make is that, whatever policies we may have and whatever defence organisation we may have, the two must be synchronised. We must not make political decisions and then find that we do not possess the forces to carry them out. In the White Paper, the Government, first, have confirmed the extra powers which had been given to the Minister of Defence in January, 1957. The Prime Minister said that the Minister of Defence had been given more powers over the composition, organisation and operation of our forces, and the Minister had been given, as hon. Members on the other side of the House had pointed out, increased operational powers. My right hon. Friend mentioned three new features.

First, the composition and operation of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet. He has given it greater flexibility, though there is no great change. I agree with the right hon. Member for Easington that no fundamental change is being made, but my right hon. Friend has appointed 12 permanent members to the Committee, with himself as Chairman. Eight of these are Cabinet Ministers, and there are the three Service Ministers and the Minister of Supply. The Prime Minister will decide how many of these Ministers are required on any particular occasion. The Chiefs of Staff are to be in attendance and can be invited to attend the Cabinet, or may even demand to attend, which, I think, provides a safeguard against any Defence Minister adopting such dictatorial powers as would not be agreed to by any of the Service chiefs. I do not think that any Minister of Defence would go to that extreme. On the other hand, I am quite certain that a great deal more co-ordination is required at the centre.

Then there is the Defence Board, set up to assist the Minister of Defence, and the appointment of the Chief of the Defence Staff. Here again, there is no very great change from the organisation that exists at present, but it emphasises the fact that the Minister of Defence has one Chief of Staff as his adviser, and that the Minister is empowered to be the chief adviser of the Prime Minister. It is interesting to note, in this respect, that this is just the kind of change that Field Marshall Lord Montgomery made in every formation which he commanded during the war.

As hon. Members will know, in all the formations of the British Army there were three branches of the staff—those of the quartermaster-general, the adjutant-general and the General Staff—and it was the practice that the general officer commanding should get these three heads of staff together, and, having heard their views on the proposed plan, then make up his mind what he was going to do. Lord Montgomery at once changed that system in every formation with which he was connected, and he appointed a Chief of Staff, just as the Prime Minister has done for the Minister of Defence, and that change proved of enormous value to Lord Montgomery.

The change meant that he could go round and look at the troops because it did not tie him to his office all the time. He always insisted in getting to bed at 10 o'clock and on not being called until 7 o'clock in the morning, which is something that Cabinet Ministers cannot do, but which successful generals always tried to do. It means that he was given time to think. I feel that that is what our Cabinet Ministers want today to an ever-increasing degree, and time to think is something which they do not get. They need more time to think over all these big problems which will occupy their attention to an even greater degree in the future than at present.

Today, things happen very quickly and the Minister of Defence needs a man to tell him in a few words what can be done about a given situation. The Prime Minister requires the Minister of Defence to be able to tell him without delay what is the form; what is the general appreciation of the Chiefs of Staff and what can be done. We ought to ask ourselves whether the measures in the White Paper fulfil their purpose. Are they necessary and desirable? Should we have gone further? I agree with the right hon. Member for Easington that in the near future we shall probably be compelled to go further in the integration of our forces and in the closer co-ordination of our plans. But, for the moment, I consider that the proposals in the White Paper meet the problem which faces us. I feel, therefore, that we should give them our complete support, realising that we may have to change or increase these powers in the near future.

It is interesting to consider for a moment the tasks laid down for a defence force by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence in his first White Paper. First, there was the nuclear deterrent; secondly, N.A.T.O.; thirdly, the small mobile operation such as we contemplate having to carry out in the Middle East today. We have seen all these tasks in operation over the past ten days. Certainly, we have seen the nuclear deterrent. A few years ago, if this sort of thing had happened, there would have been mobilisation. People would have flung down the gauntlet. Today, they ask for summit conferences. They want to confer and that is because of the nuclear deterrent. People will think very carefully today before risking a world war which might lead to the use of nuclear bombs.

I do not want to stress the matter in more detail, but to sum up by saying that I do not think the proposals in the White Paper are in any way revolutionary. They confirm the extra powers given to the Minister of Defence at the beginning of last year. I believe that they will fulfil their purpose, and that they are a wise and effective step in the right direction.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)

In a few minutes at the end of this debate I wish to deal only with one speech, but it is the one speech in this debate which will be remembered—that of the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). I do not believe that when they were spoken we all fully appreciated the volcanic effect of those words from an ex-Minister of Defence. I hope that there will never come a time when a Labour ex-Minister of Defence has to deliver such an indictment against the man who succeeded him. No one who knows the right hon. Gentleman could conceive that he was actuated by anything but the highest possible motive which, of course, makes the attack even more serious.

What did the right hon. Gentleman say? Put shortly, he said that the target set himself by the present Minister of Defence was fudged. The target had been fixed at 220,000, which the Chiefs of Staff thought the minimum. That had been brought down, for political reasons, to the number which the right hon. Gentleman calculated that he could obtain—165,000. He accepted as the target not what was required for the defence of this country but what it was hoped to have out of Regular recruiting.

If that charge is correct, it throws doubt on the integrity of the right hon. Member the Minister of Defence and all his colleagues. This is not a question of one right hon. Gentleman, but of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister. The Minister of Defence's policy has always been the policy of his master. We have had from the back benches behind him not one but several accusations that the figures were fixed in this way.

The right hon. Member for Carshalton then proceeded to try to break the figures down to show how difficult it was to make do with an Army of 165,000 men in terms of Tory policy. We must distinguish here between our policy and Tory policy, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) pointed out. For defence policy has to be integrated with foreign policy; but all the speeches that we have heard from the Government benches have made nonsense of the idea that we can integrate the present defence policy with the present foreign policy of the Government.

The Minister of Defence solemnly told us that we could gamble on abolishing conscription in 1960, because Cyprus would probably ease off. The Government are determined to stay in Cyprus. What makes the right hon. Gentleman believe that if we stay in Cyprus the situation will ease off? We were told that another way of saving troops was to reduce by even more men our forces in Germany. This is interesting from a Government who persuaded the French to agree to German re-armament by a solemn pledge that we would leave four divisions and our Tactical Air Force in Europe. The Minister must be aware that the German Army in two years will consist of 12 divisions. Yet, at a moment when German military power is increasing, it is announced that we shall make further cuts in our military manpower in Europe. I am beginning to wonder how much more the Tory back benchers will swallow from this Minister of Defence in regard to the requirements of the country.

Look at the Middle East. No answer has been given to the allegations of the right hon. Member for Carshalton that with 165,000 men we could not conceivably undertake what the Government are undertaking. The right hon. Gentleman agrees with the Government's foreign policy but he believes that they should have the requisite number of men to carry it out. If this country is to go in for operations of this kind in the future who can say that we can conceivably do with 165,000 men? That is the question which has been put to the Government, and we shall listen with the greatest interest when the Secretary of State for Air replies this evening. We shall need a somewhat detailed reply to this question that has been raised, not only by the right hon. Member for Carshalton but by other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen.

Another very useful thing was done by the ex-Minister of Defence in his speech; he destroyed the nuclear illusion. It was first spread by the present Minister of Defence in his first Defence White Paper, as the major justification two years ago for the policy of getting rid of conscription in 1960. He said that we could do this because we should be able to rely upon nuclear weapons as a substitute for conventional manpower weapons. Today we know that that is not true. The Government know that reliance upon nuclear weapons does not reduce the requirements of conventional manpower. I hark back to the question, "How long will Tory Back Benchers sustain a Government who, quite deliberately, for political reasons, have reduced the manpower of our forces below the level required as a minimum for carrying out Government foreign policy?"

I turn to another question, "What should Labour do as the result of the speech of the right hon. Member for Carshalton?" We all on this side agree on two things. First, we want to get rid of conscription as soon as we can, but we do not all want this for the same reason. Quite a lot of hon. Members here object to conscription in principle and want to get rid of it for that reason, but a number of others took a different attitude in 1946. We believed in it, but we have been driven by practical reasons, which were admirably put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), into seeing that conscription is not the right way to get the Army which is required in the modern world. If we want a modern, efficient Army we must get rid of conscription as soon as we can and substitute highly-trained, mobile troops.

The whole question is, when can we safely do it? One hon. Member has said that what was proposed by the right hon. Member for Carshalton was that we should keep conscription but, heaven knows, the right hon. Gentleman has always been an opponent of conscription. He was merely asking whether it was not wise this year to let the Act lapse and so end conscription in 1960. That was the issue. My hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey said that we could do it perfectly safely because our foreign policy would differ from that of the present Government. I agree with him to some extent. I hope that when a Labour Government have been in power for four or five years the effect on our foreign policy will be such as to make a change in the whole climate of the world, so that there will be no need for these large forces. However, it would be extremely dangerous to believe that the moment we get power all the problems which are being presented to us as the result of what the present Government are doing will disappear automatically.

Mr. Mellish

We had better get this on the record. I said that the foreign policy of the present Government was bad and I argued that the Labour Government would try desperately hard to do away with that policy so that there would be no need for conscription. I believe that we should not need conscription in those conditions.

Mr. Crossman

We are getting very near each other. We all agree about the Government's foreign policy and we all agree that Labour foreign policy would liquidate commitments in Cyprus and in the Far East until we could safely move away from any need for National Service. All I am pointing out is that it is extremely unwise to believe that the moment we got into power we would be free of these commitments. We must be very careful, therefore, before we reject absolutely what the right hon. Member for Carshalton said, which was that neither side could afford to be accused of playing with this problem for political reasons.

We are asked to consider the possibility of not permitting the National Service Act to lapse on 31st December this year. If it lapses and if the Labour Government should be faced with an unexpected international crisis, it might be compelled to reintroduce conscription with a new Act. That would be a time-bomb under any Labour Government, judging by the views of some of my hon. Friends. It would be extremely difficult to do. It is surely unwise for us to set ourselves grave political problems of this sort by opposing a proposal to let this Act run and get rid of it later on. I cannot see that there is any breach of the principle of abolishing conscription in doing that.

I should like, therefore, to see the Act go on, not only for reasons of morality but for reasons of sheer expediency.

Mr. Shinwell

My hon. Friend is saying all this on the assumption that a Labour Government come in. That is a political reason. Suppose the Tory Government remain. What would my hon. Friend's attitude be?

Mr. Crossman

I am astonished at that question. It must be fairly clear that, if the Tories stay, they will be faced with the same problems, only worse. They will be in greater need of troops and of postponing the abolition of National Service.

Mr. Sandys

What does the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) mean by "allowing the Act to run"?

Mr. Crossman

I understand that we cannot extend a National Service Act simply by Order in Council. I am assured that something more will be required. We should therefore be grateful to the Secretary of State for Air if he told us precisely what would be required in order to keep this Act running. Is it true that no Order in Council could be put down, and that what we would need is a one-Clause amending Bill? What exactly do we need? We cannot say whether the Act could be prolonged until we have details of that sort.

I do not suggest that our party should make up its mind on this issue tonight. What we have learned from the right hon. Member the Minister of Defence is a very surprising disclosure which needs careful consideration. We should therefore not make a snap decision or say that whatever happens the right hon. Member for Carshalton was wrong. That would be a very great mistake, and I hope we shall be very wary of making it.

8.28 p.m.

Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)

We have had a most important and interesting debate. The task of winding it up on this side of the House is quite onerous. I would very much like to follow right away the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), but I cannot go into that part of the subject now because it comes in the latter part of my notes.

We have not had any very exhaustive or searching examination of the White Paper. That was altogether surprising, because most hon. Members have united in thinking that if the White Paper contained nothing more than what we could see in it we were bound to ask the Defence Minister whether his White Paper was really necessary. The best that can be said for it is that it has provoked a very interesting debate.

I will go through the three items which the right hon. Gentleman put in his White Paper as the main things which it does and the main changes which it makes. I will take the last of them first, the adjustments it makes in the Cabinet and Cabinet Committee arrangements and the Defence Committee. I will do that by saying a word or two about the past, and about the Service Ministers. As an ex-Service Minister, I am interested in that subject. It is one perhaps of limited importance, but I think that it illustrates something of what is happening in this particular sphere.

Service Ministers really lost their status during the war, when the War Cabinet was formed. Let me say at once that I think that it was perfectly right that they should have done so and I am not suggesting for a moment that they should not. I will quote for a moment from the reminiscences of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). It will be remembered that in his great history he writes of the Service Ministers in the war: that they remained entirely responsible for their Departments, but rapidly and almost imperceptibly ceased to be responsible for the formulation of strategic plans and the day-to-day conduct of operations. That was a direction of the war to which they loyally submitted.

That was when, of course, the real change was made. There was a moment during the first year of the Labour Government when they were partly restored because there was no longer a War Cabinet, and they were members of the Cabinet and their position to some extent was restored. But that passed quite soon when Lord Attlee excluded them from the Cabinet. Let me say again that, in my judgment, he was perfectly right to do so. I think that the old arrangement was completely out of date.

Now, in this White Paper, and here I think it makes a small but rather important change, they go down one step further, because they do not remain members of the Defence Committee in anything except name. We know that they are to be down in the list of members of the Defence Committee, but we are told that they simply may be summoned when it is thought that their presence may be useful. So may any other Minister of the Government, from the Minister of Supply to the Minister of Education—any one of them—so really they lose the membership of that in any real sense. Again, that may be right. I am not necessarily challenging it. But what I do rather question is that, at the same time, the White Paper makes it perfectly clear that the Chiefs of Staff retain an absolute right to be at every meeting of the Defence Committee, and a right to be very frequently summoned, as has always been the case, to the Cabinet itself.

I am inclined to think, and I should like the Minister of Defence to think this over: is it not really better, in whatever arrangement he makes, to keep the civilian hierarchy and the military hierarchy on a level? If the Chiefs of Staff, all three of them, are to attend the Defence Committee always and as a matter of routine, then I think that the Service Ministers ought to, also. If the Chiefs of Staff are summoned to the Cabinet, then I think that the Service Ministers ought to be summoned. Nothing need be laid down, but as a matter of usage they should always be summoned.

It seems to me—and I have some experience of this—that it puts the Service Ministers, who are a humble form of life but have their rights, perhaps in a real difficulty if, to a Cabinet Defence Committee, their own Chief of Staff is summoned and they are not. It may be—I am inclined to think it is—that the right course is not to go back to the old system but to summon only the new Chief of the Defence Staff to the Cabinet and not his three colleagues: but I suggest that one thing or the other should be done. The hierarchies should be kept on a level.

It is a small but definite criticism of the White Paper that in this respect it defines the Service Ministers in a still more inferior position vis-à-vis their own Chiefs of Staff. I think that that is an unfortunate thing to have done. I realise, as I shall emphasise later in my speech, that the Service Ministers must exist. I think that in the sort of scheme which will come in due course they may go down very much further but, if so, then their Service chiefs should go with them. I would say this word about the Service Ministers. I fully recognise that their destiny is insecure, but I think that they are in a position in which they ought not to be put.

Now I come to the second and much more important change which the White Paper makes—potentially important, that is—the creation of the Defence Board and elevation of the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staffs Committee into a Chief of the Defence Staff. Of course, those two changes may mean anything or nothing. They may mean nothing whatever. The Defence Board may be simply the old Service Ministers Committee—with which we were very familiar and of which my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) reminded the House—under another name. The Chief of the Defence Staff may mean merely the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staffs Committee, such as has been going on for the last eighteen months.

They may mean nothing, but if they are to mean anything, and are not merely verbal changes, the creation of a Defence Board and Chief of the Defence Staff, if it really meant the creation of a defence staff to be chief of, would mean very big changes indeed. If that magnitude of change was meant, the White Paper would be making changes which are really incompatible with the whole present organisation of defence. They would be incompatible with the Chief of Staffs Committee in its present form, with the Defence Committee of the Cabinet in its present form, with the Army Council, the Air Council, the Board of Admiralty and the Ministry of Supply in their present forms. If they were to be more than verbal changes they would simply be very undesirable ones of a new committee, a new body, a new staff framework, put on top of an already rather top heavy organisation.

If we made a Defence Board and a defence staff we would have to make way for them by the elimination of some of these boards and councils, or we would have very much worse duplication than we have today. My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) spoke of a fifth wheel to the coach. We would have a coach with nothing but fifth wheels if we simply put on these new organisations, staffs and boards without cutting anything out. That is why it seems to me that we need a great deal of clarification of the way in which this is going to work.

That brings me to the main criticism I have of the White Paper. It has been implied in many of the speeches made in the debate. I cannot help thinking that either the Defence Minister and the Government generally would have been wise to leave the present system—which I shall call a Chiefs of Staff system—alone, or to change it far more drastically than they have. There is a great deal to be said for leaving the Chiefs of Staffs system alone. It has served the country very well indeed; there is no doubt about that. If we are to change it, I believe that we have to go a long way towards integration at the top. As soon as one says that, the O.K.W. bogey, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper called it, is trotted out. It was trotted out by the Minister of Defence and by the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch).

I do not for a moment challenge the principle, which has stood the test for us, of the integration and unification of policy-making and of execution. I venture to read the operative words from paragraph 17 of the 1946 White Paper: It has always been a cardinal principle of the British organisation that, alike in the Chiefs of Staff Committee and in the Joint Staffs, it should be the men responsible in the Service Departments for carrying out the approved policy who are brought together in the central machine to formulate it. Are we sure that the present system and, still more, the one that is being developed through this White Paper, really does allow for that unification of policy making and execution? I was disturbed by one phrase used by the Minister of Defence, when he said that he was against any blurring of the distinction between policy making, which he took as the province of the Ministry of Defence, and the execution of policy, which he gave to the Service Departments. There we have a very great breach of this principle, and I am not at all sure that we are not now getting to the halfway house, and to a half-baked scheme which violates this principle very seriously.

On the other hand, I believe that if one takes one's courage in both hands, and goes a lot further, it is obvious that we can preserve this principle, but one gets something which one would certainly be accused of advocating—something of the nature of the German O.K.W. system. I want at this stage to say something to the right hon. Member for Flint, West in that connection. He used the argument, and used it very forcibly and wittily, that the Chief-of-Staff system had proved much better than the O.K.W. system because the Germans lost the war.

Whenever I hear that argument used I always want to ask a counter question. If the Americans and the Russians—by far the two strongest Powers in the world—had been on the side of the O.K.W. system instead of the chiefs-of-staff system, our system, would it have made that much difference to the result of the war? I am inclined to think that it would not. To say that those two systems were tried out in fair combat, the one with the other, and that the chief-of-staffs system triumphantly defeated the other is, if I may put it quite frankly, one of the most ridiculous arguments I ever heard in my life.

There were a hundred factors, of which I gave the most gigantic—the presence of the two greatest Powers in the world on on our side—that affected the result of the war. Therefore, in looking at this, cannot we get the result of the last war out of our minds, one way or the other? Of course, it does not prove that the O.K.W. system was defeated, but the issue of the war is irrelevant to one side as to the other.

It is better to look at the question of the possible further unification of staffs, Ministries, and the like at the top; unification of the Services at the top, quite irrespective of the fact that Hitler lost the war, for a great many reasons—

Mr. Birch

Obviously, the fact that Hitler last the war does not prove it one way or the other, but there is a good deal of evidence as to how the O.K.W. system did work in practice which, I should have thought, was conclusive.

Mr. Strachey

Yes, but there is evidence on both sides. After all, militarily, the Germans did not do so very badly in the war, did they? Far be it from me to stand at this Box and make a long defence of the Germans' military effort in the last war, but I think that every right hon. and hon. Member with military experience will feel that the Germans did not do too badly—

Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)

But the point, as any German officer, whether or not he served in the Wehrmacht, will agree immediately, is that one of their great weaknesses—though I would not dream of suggesting that the Germans lost the war because of that, which, of course, would be quite ridiculous—was the O.K.W. system.

Mr. Strachey

They had a fairly effective handling of their armed forces. They somehow seemed to produce air, army and naval forces at the right time and place fairly effectively and disconcertingly to their opponents in the last war, and that, surely, is the only evidence of which a layman like myself could take account. However, though no one is suggesting that we should imitate the O.K.W. system, I cannot regard the O.K.W. bogey as a conclusive answer against further and much more drastic unification of the forces at the top.

Further, if we are to carry out the Minister of Defence's policy and reduce our Armed Forces to 375,000, with an Army of less than 200,000, the present system of administering them will become quite monstrously top-heavy. Just think what it will administer. Today, we have five great Departments of State, and they will be administering fewer men than we had in the Army alone two years ago. At this rate, there will soon be more people administering the Services than are being administered. Surely this cannot go on. Therefore, I think that some much more effective and complete unification at the top of these great Departments of State, on both the military and the civil side, will force itself on us because, otherwise, the thing will become utterly top heavy.

I suggest that the Minister of Defence studies the Canadian system. That system, with its single Ministry at the top, is worthy of study by a Government which has decided to reduce the numbers in our Armed Forces to something that can quite obviously be well administered by a single Department—because larger numbers than those, by far, have been administered by the War Office, for example.

What form, exactly, that unification at the top should take let no one for one moment suppose that I pretend to know, but it has to be fairly drastic if it is to mean anything. It has to mean the abolition of the present system, and the substitution for it of, in effect, one Minister—and one Ministry, which is a much more important thing—and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper put it, one staff which, at the top, consists of staff officers of the defence forces rather than staff officers on loan from the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. That makes a very great difference.

Whether all this is practicable and desirable today is not something about which any one of us can lay down the law, but I should have thought—and here I reinforce the plea of my right hon. Friend—that it is well worth looking at, and it is a matter into which there should be a major public inquiry of the Esher type of Committee. There are these rackingly difficult questions of how much of our effort we ought to be giving to the nuclear field and to the conventional field—questions which cut right across the inter-Service controversies. I cannot see how they are to be resolved until and unless some way is found for a very much more drastic overhaul of the top machinery than anything which has been proposed so far.

Mr. Soames

When the right hon. Gentleman says that he thinks there should be staff officers on the defence force and not on loan from any one Service, does he mean that he would envisage a corps of staff officers on the defence staff who cannot be returned to command but who would remain staff officers for the rest of their careers?

Mr. Strachey

No, I should have thought that the best arrangements would be to have officers above a certain rank—say, major-general or the equivalent rank for the sake of argument—who would cease to be soldiers, sailors and airmen and who, when they were not serving on the defence staff, could go back to Commands and theatres on loan to their particular Service. Nor is it a particularly revolutionary theory. They remain for their careers and prospects soldiers, sailors and airmen responsible to the War Office, the Admiralty and the Air Ministry. This would make a good deal of difference. [Interruption.] I have a little experience in this matter and I assure hon. Members that it would make a good deal of difference.

I do not for one moment say that I have a blueprint in my mind that I can put before the House, but I think that the result of something on these lines might be worth while. It might be said. "This is to big a change; it cannot be done", but I think that this is the only thing which is really worth doing.

I now want to deal with the question of recruiting, the size of the Armed Forces, National Service and all that hangs on it. We congratulate the Minister of Defence on recent recruiting results. He is very confident about them. But, of course, he has had one uncovenanted benefit in recruiting results. The greatest recruiting sergeant is a mitigation of the competition of civilian employment, and when the demand for civilian labour slackens off—

Brigadier Prior-Palmer


Mr. Strachey

The hon. and gallant Gentleman says "Nonsense", but I should think that when the demand for labour slackens off it makes it easier to recruit people.

Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)

Surely the right hon. Gentleman cannot maintain that. I remember that the worst year for recruiting before the war was in 1936—at a time when we had a few million unemployed.

Mr. Strachey

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman looks at the figures for 1936 I think he will find that that was by no means the year of lowest recruitment. The figure was going up fairly sharply. Anyway, the number of people taken into the Army in the inter-war years was governed largely by the numbers who were wanted; it was regulated by the numbers accepted and not by the numbers offered. I think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will find that this is a very important factor.

I have always believed, as the Minister of Defence knows, that it was inherently possible to get the men, and I still think that it is. Therefore, I congratulate him on his recruiting results. But I think he is getting a little over-optimistic if he thinks that the job is already done and that the thing is "in the bag". He has not said that, but he has come a little near to implying it sometimes.

I want to come on to the very important questions put to the Government—and they cannot be shrugged off—by the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). His accusation is clear-cut. He has not said that we shall not get 165,000 men. Very few people say that now. Although we do not know, it certainly looks as if we shall. What the right hon. Gentleman is saying is that 165,000 men are not enough. He says that the Hull Committee—and it is interesting to have it authoritatively said by the right hon. Gentleman who was the responsible Minister at the time—stated that 220,000 was the necesary minimum. In the roundest terms he accuses the Minister of. Defence of just thinking of a number when he mentioned the figure of 165,000—of just taking what he thought he could get and not what he thought he would need. That is a very serious charge and I would like to know what the Secretary of State for War has to say about it.

Of course, the right hon. Member for Carshalton may be exaggerating when he says that 165,000 would leave us only 12,000 men for any particular expedition or the like, but what I think is unquestionably fair to say—and I do not see how this can be denied—is that the Government's foreign policy and defence policy are now hopelessly incompatible one with another. They really cannot carry on a foreign policy, including Suezes, Cypruses, Ammans and the like and then tell us that they are to reduce our Army to 165,000.

This is really the most frightful nonsense. Perhaps they will tell us which is wrong. Is it their defence policy or their foreign policy? I have no doubt about it. To my mind, it is their foreign policy which is wrong. It is a foreign policy which is not in any way serving the real interests of this country, but, presumably, they think that it is. It is really a disastrous thing to attempt an adventurous foreign policy or imperial policy of this sort and, at the same time, run our Armed Forces, the Army, in particular, down to this level. It is undeniable that, even with over 300,000 in the Army, they are very short for their present foreign and imperial policy, and they will soon be shorter still.

My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East has pointed this out, and other hon. Members have pointed out that the adventure on which 3,000 members of the Army have been launched in Amman is a distinctly hazardous one. We want to know what is their equipment, and what are the plans and possibilities. When the time comes, even in the opinion of the Government, when these men must be brought out, how will they be brought out and has their safety been adequately provided for? These are relevant questions.

I come now to the pertinent question asked by the right hon. Member for Carshalton. He tells the Government that, by the end of this year, they will have to take a decision on National Service. Will they let it lapse or not? If the Government are still pursuing their present foreign and imperial policy, it would be the height of irresponsibility to allow the National Service Act powers to lapse. However, that is their responsibility. It is their decision, not ours. It is their foreign policy, not ours.

Mr. Shinwell

My right hon. Friend must be careful. It is also Labour Party policy to abolish National Service.

Mr. Strachey

My right hon. Friend will agree that it is also Labour Party policy to reverse the foreign policy of the present Government. That is just the point. [An HON. MEMBER: "Run away."] If hon. Members like to call it running away, they may. The very worst thing we can do is to stay in Cyprus, in Amman and these other places. We are not serving our interests by so doing. Certainly, that is a foreign policy and an imperial policy issue, but what is quite obviously wrong is to undertake these expeditions, to hazard the lives of the troops in them and not take the hard decisions, such as continuing the National Service powers which make it militarily possible even to attempt them.

Mr. P. Williams

The right hon. Gentleman has said something very important. I was wondering whether he was speaking on behalf of his party when he said that it was the policy of his party to get out of Cyprus?

Mr. Strachey

The hon. Gentleman can read what is the policy of the Labour Party in a series of documents. Certainly, I regard Cyprus as a base; a N.A.T.O. base must be retained in Cyprus.

Mr. Williams

How is that to be done?

Mr. Strachey

We have said this again and again—we said it in the last debate—that the principle of self-determination—[Interruption.] It is important to have this clear if there are any doubts in the matter on the benches opposite. The principle of self-determination must be applied to Cyprus. The principle of self-government, in the first instance, and, ultimately, if it be possible, the principle of self-determination. That is what I heard said in the last speech on the subject made from this Front Bench by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), and I repeat it again.

The Government cannot continue the policies they are carrying out in the Middle East and the world generally with an Army of 165,000. It simply is not possible. Therefore, they must choose between their foreign policy and their defence policy.

It may be that the Government have now come to a great decision and changed their foreign policy. It did sound last week as if they had had a great conversion and become keen supporters of the United Nations and a policy of that kind. It sounded as if the Foreign Secretary had become the foremost supporter of the United Nations. The Government sounded last week as if they had had a Pauline conversion, if not on the road to Damascus, at any rate on the road to Amman. I very much hope that that is the case. But will it stick?

If there has been that great conversion, then the policy of the Minister of Defence is correct. For that, forces of that kind and size—I do not commit myself exactly to 165,000—are adequate. I consider that a foreign policy based on the United Nations can be executed by an all-professional, volunteer, long-service Army of that order of magnitude. But it is only if—I say this to the Government supporters below the Gangway—that conversion is genuine, if the extraordinary change of front which we all witnessed last week really means something, that the Government can even look at the abolition of conscrption.

For my part, therefore, I say that I am in favour of the abolition of conscription but only because I profoundly believe that the Cypruses, Suezes and the Ammans and the other adventures on which the Government have embarked are not only doing no good to the interests of this country but are very much contrary to the interests of this country and the world.

9.3 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)

I should like warmly to endorse the remark with which the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) opened his speech, that this has been a most important and interesting debate. I shall try in the course of my remarks to deal with some of the important points which have been made. Since the primary object of the debate was to discuss the arrangements for the organisation of defence set out in the White Paper, perhaps I may be allowed to say something about that first.

Many hon. Members have spoken about it, and we have heard some interesting and even differing views about what we should do from those who have had great experience in defence and who have given these matters very careful thought. That is not surprising. It goes to demonstrate, if any demonstration is needed, how difficult are the problems in Government organisation which are set by defence, with its size, its cost and its great responsibility In any consideration of higher defence organisation, we must begin with the Services themselves. The Prime Minister announced just over a year ago that the Government intended to preserve the three Services with their separate identities and their separate traditions, and I am sure that that was a wise and right decision. Therefore, it follows that the higher organisation which is required is one which provides for unity of direction, while at the same time ensuring the effective management of the three fighting Services.

This is basically not a new problem, although undoubtedly it is one which has become more complicated not only because of the growing need for joint operations, but also because of the tighter connection between political and military matters. It is a problem which has been reviewed many times in the last forty years by a wealth of talent. The improvements between the organisation which existed during the First World War and that which existed during the Second World War were immense, and they have continued since the last war. The Prime Minister's directive of 1957 was a further step forward.

We therefore had a great deal of experience from which to draw in our recent examination. I am sure that the Government are right to examine the problem in a practical way. We have experimented and we have looked at what has met our needs best, and then we have moved forward. I do not deny that there are, in theory at any rate, alternatives to what we have proposed, and some of them have been mentioned during the debate.

For example, one possibility would be to merge the Air Ministry, the Admiralty, the War Office, the Ministry of Supply and the Ministry of Defence into a single Ministry to run everything. That is a form of integration. There are several forms of integration. In fact, I am never quite sure whether those who talk about integration are quite sure what they mean, because integration is possible at almost any level, from the top to the bottom of the Services.

This is one form of it. It would have to be very big, indeed, much too big. It would be contrary to all experience of modern business organisation, which is increasingly recognising that there is a size of headquarters beyond which efficiency rapidly falls off, and that, within overall policy control, decentralisation improves efficiency and does not impair it.

Then there is a variant of that, which would be to have the defence structure organised functionally. By that I mean that all the staffs dealing with plans and operations would be housed in one place and made responsible to one Minister, and all staffs dealing with logistics and, say, personnel matters would be brought together and put under a second Minister, and so on. Although that would certainly facilitate the problem of co-ordination between the Services in each of those subjects, at the same time it would enormously add to the difficulty of managing the Services themselves. It would be basically an organisation with no regard to the practical problems of running a Service. Another difficulty about it would be that the positions of the Chiefs of Staff as heads of their individual Services would become blurred. For all those reasons, reorganisation on those lines also must be rejected.

So we come to the organisation of the White Paper, which offers strong central control while at the same time preserving the principles of management, leadership and specialisation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West raised the question of the Service Ministers and the Defence Committee. The White Paper makes it clear that the Service Ministers would attend when their responsibilities were being discussed. I ask the right hon. Gentlemen to remember that the Chiefs of Staff attend in their corporate capacity as Chiefs of Staff and not in their individual capacity. That is the difference.

I stress the importance of the management aspect of defence organisation. This has been ignored by every speaker in the debate. As a Service Minister myself, I think that I might interest the House if I say a word about it and if I look at the problem with a Service Department as the centre of the picture.

A Service Department has three broad responsibilities. It is responsible to the higher authority for defence; it is responsible for running its own Service; and it is responsible to its sister Services.

Let me first take the question of a higher authority for defence. There are two essentials for efficiency here. First, the higher authority must have the power to take decisions, to settle the overall size and shape of the Armed Forces, to balance the demands of foreign policy on the one hand and economic policy on the other, and to prevent waste and duplication. Secondly, there must be machinery to ensure that these important decisions are taken only after full consultation with the Services and the other Departments concerned. This is necessary for the morale of the Service. It is necessary so that those who run the Service can do so with knowledge and authority and, not the least, it is necessary for efficiency that those who are taking major decisions are fully apprised of their practical consequences. I am convinced that the organisation set out in the White Paper meets both those essentials.

Mr. Mason

Having just said that, and having said previously that the White Paper has achieved a stronger central control, how does the Secretary of State reconcile this view with the fact that the Service Ministers and the Minister of Supply, besides the Service chiefs, have the same rights, privileges and traditions, and the same rights to the back staircase as they had before? Where does the central control in all this take place?

Mr. Ward

I am trying to point out to the House the importance of management in running a Service Department. I am asking the House, when considering these matters, not to ignore this management aspect, which is of vital importance to the morale of the Services.

Do not let us forget what an enormous task this is. Even after the contraction of the Royal Air Force we shall still have 150,000 people in uniform; we shall still employ nearly 100,000 civilians; we shall be spending £500 million a year, and using more than 1 million pieces of equipment. There are few businesses in this country which employ so many people, or have such an annual turnover. If the Services are to be run efficiently they must be run like any big business; indeed, we also have greater direct responsibilities for the men and women in the Service.

To carry out this task each Service, like its business counterpart, must have its board of management which meets regularly and deals with important business, on which decisions can be taken and work set in hand without the need for reference upwards every time. But boards of management are much more than this. Their job is to see that the policy of the Government which they have helped to form is applied to the Service for which they are responsible. It is a task with immense ramifications, not only technical but human. I must emphasise that one of the most important functions of these boards of management is to supply leadership.

The House will realise that every Service faces difficult and sometimes delicate problems of inter-Service co-operation. Contrary to what is sometimes supposed, these problems are overcome with a vast measure of good will. I do not want to underrate the difficulty of these problems but, important as they are, they do not represent anything like such a big problem as, for example, that of keeping all the various facets of the Royal Air Force programme in phase together. That is what I call the management problem. It applies to all Service Departments and occupies about 90 per cent. of their time. Only about 10 per cent. is taken up in inter-Service problems. When discussing these matters hon. Members are apt to put too much emphasis on the inter-Service side and not enough on the management side.

I have tried to give the House an account of the way in which a Service Department looks at the higher organisation of defence. I believe that the system which the Government have now introduced, as formalised in the terms of the White Paper, is a good one, based upon a careful practical consideration of the work of this organisation over a period of years. In the course of the debate it has been suggested that an independent committee should be set up to look into the question of organisation. All I would say on that is that when the Labour Party introduced the Defence White Paper of 1946 it did not base it upon an independent inquiry, and this Government do not think it necessary to do so now.

There are a number of interesting points to which I should like to reply. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) asked whether we were going to extend the National Service Act, and that point was also raised by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). My right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) made what he described as a constructive proposal, to the effect that, in order to avoid controversial legislation, the Government should exend the life of the National Service Act by Order in Council before it lapses. This suggestion is, in fact, based on a misunderstanding. The National Service Act has already been extended once, as the hon. Member for Coventry, East knows, by Order in Council, and cannot be extended again without new legislation.

Mr. Head

I think there is a misapprehension flowing through the remarks of my right hon. Friend. I should like to make it clear that what I suggested was that it should be extended by legislation between now and the time when it lapses.

Mr. Ward

In any case, if it were extended by legislation, in our view, it would be quite unsuited to the needs of the situation. If there should be a need for the extension of National Service owing to the breakdown in voluntary recruiting, the numbers needed would be quite small, and some system of selective service would be necessary. As my right hon. Friend says, this would have to be settled by legislation. It would clearly not be acceptable to the House or the country to use the universal liability for National Service as a means of picking and choosing a tiny proportion at the discretion of the Government. In any case, the good recruiting figures give us every confidence that this situation will not develop. It is the policy of both parties in the House to abolish National Service, consistent with the needs of defence, and there are as yet no grounds for believing that a failure of voluntary recruitment will oblige us to abandon that aim.

Mr. G. Brown

Will the right hon. Gentleman at the same time answer a question I put to him? Will he say to what figure, as far as the Army is concerned, the Government are attaching themselves?

Mr. Ward

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that the Government are working on a plan for 165,000. I am sorry, but I thought it was well known.

The right hon. Member for Belper also asked in his speech about the development of the Thor, and said that, although this weapon, is a failure, we are going ahead and taking it anyway. I want to make clear that it has been agreed with the United States Government—

Mr. Wigg

Before the right hon. Gentleman goes on to the question of the Thor, may I ask him if he intends to say something, on behalf of the Government, in reply to the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head)?

Mr. Ward

Yes, but this is an important point. We have agreed with the United States Government that the weapon will be operationally deployed only when it has been shown to the satisfaction of both Governments that it is effective. I thought that point should go on the record. In the meantime, the Royal Air Force must go through the process of working up and training. That has to be followed with any new weapon that is introduced. It is for this purpose that we are proceeding with our plans for installations.

Now, I turn to the remarkable and very sincere speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton. In his speech of 7th November, 1957, the right hon. Gentleman said: I am somewhat suspicious of the figure"— of 375,000— because it is also the best estimate of the most we are likely to recruit … He went on to say: … Everything that I know and the experts know points to the fact that the figure of 375,000 is the absolute optimum …[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th November, 1957; Vol. 577, c. 397–8.] Today my right hon. Friend made a similar point regarding the Army. He suggested that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence had tailored the Armed Forces to the optimum estimate for recruiting. The hon. Member for Coventry, East went further. He said the figure had been "fudged" and doubt had been thrown on the integrity of the Minister. It is therefore most important that this point should be cleared up.

When he was Minister of Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton set up a Committee of statisticians and Service experts to advise on the possibilities of voluntary recruitment. I have checked its Report in the time available. The experts were asked to estimate the size of the Armed Forces which could be maintained on voluntary recruitment only. There are so many uncertainties, that naturally, they could not be precise, but the estimate given was that the figure for other ranks would be somewhere between 311,000 and 387,000. If we add the normal proportion of officers to that figure, it gives a bracket of about 360,000 to 440,000. It will be seen, therefore, that the figure of 375,000, far from being the optimum figure, is well below the half-way line, and more than 60,000 below the optimum.

Mr. Head

I feel I should interrupt at this stage, because we are getting into a slight jam on this subject. It is perfectly true that when I was Minister of Defence I set up such a Committee, but it did not report to me. When I was Secretary of State for War, we had previously a somewhat unco-ordinated committee from which the figures which I have given are perfectly correct, that is to say, 165,000 for the Army and 375,000 as a total. It is equally true to say that the central Committee from the Ministry of Defence was set up when I was Minister of Defence but its final conclusions were not reported to me.

Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)

So what?

Mr. Ward

I think perhaps we should not pursue this matter too far because time is getting on.

Mr. Strachey

The Hull Report has been quoted, or its main conclusions, by the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). Surely this ought to be published? We have had its conclusions and it is of the utmost importance. Surely the Government will now publish the Report?

Mr. Ward

I am afraid I cannot undertake to do that. This is a War Office Report, and I am merely quoting a Report which my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton referred to. He said he had not seen it. He asked for it from a Committee when he was Minister of Defence. I must go on.

Mr. G. Brown

I am sorry to do this, Mr. Speaker. We are in a curious situation. The right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head), on the basis of his position when he was Minister of Defence, has told us of a Committee which lie set up. He named it as the "Hull Committee" and told us of its main conclusions. He told us what the figures were in its Report. Those figures have been quoted. Are we not, in this situation, entitled to ask the Government to publish the document?

Mr. Speaker

I do not think the Secretary of State for Air has quoted from a State paper to that extent. He paraphrased it or made a précis of it, but no more.

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

I think I am within the recollection of the House when I say that the Secretary of State used the word "quoted".

Mr. Head

If I had known that this matter would be raised I would have verified the position from HANSARD, but I am sure that the figure 220,000 has been frequently used in the House of Commons in regard to this particular subject.

Mr. Speaker

I can only say that nothing has transpired which would compel the production under the Standing Order of a document.

Mr. Ward

I have not mentioned the Hull Report at all. Perhaps I may now be allowed to finish my speech. I was hoping to deal with further points but I must be excused now, because I simply have not the time. I should like to be allowed to take up one of the points made by the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish). When the hon. Gentleman was talking of Transport Command he made some rather wild statements. It is nonsense to say that our transport capacity has not increased. Since 1955, when our plan started, we have just about doubled our world-wide capacity. When the Britannias are in service we shall nearly have tripled it.

Mr. Mellish

Does the Secretary of State deny the figures which I quoted?

Mr. Ward

Now I would say a few words on defence as a whole. I am sure that all hon. Members will agree that defence policy faces a large number of complicated problems. Taken singly, some of them may not be too difficult to solve. Taking them altogether, they are of immense complexity. They mean striking a balance between competing claims for our limited resources. When we are discussing the organisation for defence we can be sure that the British Service man will enable Her Majesty's Government to make a continuing contribution to peace and security. It is up to us to provide the higher organisation which will make it as easy as possible for him to do this task.

Our defence machine is a well tried one. Our experience of the last eighteen months shows that we have found the right balance. We have been able to make major policy changes and yet retain the confidence of the Services to such an extent that our recruiting is steadily improving. In this White Paper we provide the Services with a higher organisation which will permit us to combine economy, efficiency and leadership. It is certainly an organisation which has the confidence of Ministers. Given this organisation, we now need a period of consolidation and organisational stability which will permit the Services to tackle the great tasks which lie before them.

Mr. Mellish

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. What chance have I for rectification of statements made in this House, when figures which I used were obtained from the Department?

Mr. Speaker

I cannot answer that question. The hon. Member may ask a Question about it or make a personal explanation if he thinks that that is the appropriate thing to do.

Question, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resoluion, put and agreed to.

Mr. SPEAKER then proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House this day, to put forthwith the Questions, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of Classes I to X of the Civil Estimates and of the Revenue Departments' Estimates, the Navy Estimates, the Army Estimates and the Air Estimates.

    1. CLASS I
      1. c1073
    1. c1073
    1. c1074
    1. c1074
  5. CLASS V
    1. c1074
    1. c1074
    2. TRADE, LABOUR AND SUPPLY 27 words
    1. c1074
    1. c1074
    2. AGRICULTURE AND FOOD 27 words
    1. c1075
  10. CLASS X
    1. c1075
  12. c1075
  13. NAVY ESTIMATES, 1958–59 24 words
  14. c1075
  16. c1075
  17. AIR ESTIMATES, 1958–59 24 words