[Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [25th February:]:
That this House approves the Report on the Progress of the Five-Year Defence Plan contained in Command Paper No. 662.
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "House "to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof':
regrets the continued failure of Her Majesty's Government to produce a coherent and effective defence policy; and deplores the fact that despite a total defence expenditure of more than eleven thousand million pounds since 1951 there continue to be grave inadequacies in the armament and equipment of Her Majesty's forces".
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)
As this is the first time that I have had the honour to open the second day of such an important debate, Mr. Speaker, I naturally sought some advice as to what I ought to do. I was told that my first task would be to emphasise the important arguments that had been advanced from this side, but not answered by a Government spokesman. The House will be immediately seized of my difficulty in this respect because, so far, we have not had any answer at all from any Government spokesman.
The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) will know that I mean no disrespect to him—he knows me too well to think that—when I say that he did not altogether enjoy his task of winding up the debate for the Government last night. A great deal of his speech was highly critical of the Government, and rightly so.
That was the most interesting feature of all the speeches from the Government side yesterday. All except one agreed with the Minister of Defence, and then proceeded to criticise him severely. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) was the exception, in one respect. He said, quite frankly, and at once, that he differed from his right hon. Friend, but I thought that he 1304 was then very naughty indeed. We have been trying to keep this debate to defence and not, as has been happening in the past, to let it be a continuation of our foreign affairs debates. Yesterday, I thought that the right hon. Gentleman intended to turn it into a colonial affairs debate.
To be frank, I found the right hon. Gentleman's speech rather nauseating. His lecture was interesting, but he gave us the impression that he had discovered a great fundamental truth. The expenditure in which he was involved in going away for two years could have been avoided. Had he gone to Transport House and bought one or two 2d. pamphlets, he would have had all that information.
The right hon. Gentleman failed to give us the moral lesson to be drawn from his wanderings. Surely that lesson is that the people of whom he spoke would prefer the opportunity to govern themselves badly rather than be governed by someone else. However, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that if he can find a form of words that expresses his views, he can add them to our Amendment. We will welcome his support. I thought that the Leader of the Liberal Party, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), rather spoiled what was a good point by the deployment of his argument. He never really recovered from the interruption of the Minister of Defence on the subject of tactical nuclear weapons. From then on, I think, he was completely deflated. I hope that the Minister of Defence will leave it at that. He has already demonstrated the absurdity of it, but I rather suspect that he will spend half his time knocking it about again tonight—that is why I mention it now— rather than apply himself to the real issues of the debate.
It is hardly to be expected that we shall have a reply from the Minister of Supply on questions of defence strategy. I have no doubt that he will give us an answer on some of the matters raised by my right hon. and hon. Friends and other hon. Members yesterday, but the questions on defence strategy, which, after all, is the main subject of our criticism, will be left unanswered until the end of the debate. Perhaps we may not even have an answer then.
1305 Before I go further, I have two questions to put, one to the Minister of Supply and the other to the Minister of Defence. The first one, to the Minister of Supply, I raise now because I want to ensure that he will be prepared to answer it. It is about Polaris. Has the idea of mounting the nuclear deterrent on a submarine been altogether abandoned? Yesterday, we listened to the explanation of the Minister of Defence for selecting Blue Streak. It was not altogether convincing. He was very careful, as the White Paper itself is careful, not to commit himself unduly.
The Minister of Supply will surely be able to expand a little on this matter and deal with it more specifically from the technical point of view. After all, there were a number of inspired "leaks "before the defence debate took place, and we were being assured that firm and stern decisions were to be made. But this does not appear to have happened. Moreover, what one can gather about Polaris seems to make nonsense of all the agitation to have the McMahon Act altered. Could we have some information about the talks which have taken place? Are the talks about Polaris still continuing or have they been entirely abandoned?
My question to the Minister of Defence is this. May we have a little more enlightenment on the decision, announced last year, about the anti-submarine rôle of the Navy? The Minister advised us not to exaggerate its importance. What does he mean, and what does the decision really mean? Does it mean more adequate protection of the fleet and, perhaps, better safeguards for other operations in which surface vessels are involved, or does it go beyond that? Is the right hon. Gentleman thinking in terms of fighting a blockade of this country? If it be the latter, the building programme for the Navy could hardly be described as adequate, bearing in mind what resources were required in the last war and what Admiral Doenitz said in his memoirs.
The Government should not be surprised that we on this side show such anxiety about the policy outlined two years ago, emphasised last year, and apparently still in their mind, with regard to the use of nuclear weapons. It seems to me that the Government have made up their mind, or, at least, the Minister of Defence has, that there is no possibility of any conflict in Europe in which 1306 nuclear weapons would not be used. Until now, that has really meant the use of the ultimate deterrent. Although the American forces now have the Corporal, and British units are preparing to receive it, the situation has not really changed. The Corporal is, by no stretch of the imagination, a close support weapon. It seems to be a very heavy and complicated affair, being liquid-fuelled and requiring about 10 large trucks to take it around. It is, indeed, questionable whether the Corporal is suitable for European conditions.
When the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland was interrupted by the Minister of Defence yesterday, he fell into the trap about tactical nuclear weapons. I believe that there is a great deal of confusion in the minds of many people about the expression "tactical nuclear weapons". Many visualise a small weapon. I have tried to ascertain what is the nuclear capacity of the Corporal which, at the moment, is the only weapon in Western Europe, as I understand. I have not been directly told, but I gather that it has half the capacity of the bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima and has the possibility of even heavier capacity than that. This is not what people generally believe to be a tactical weapon. I hope that the Leader of the Liberal Party, after falling into the trap yesterday, will understand and appreciate just exactly what it might mean.
A British regiment is being supplied with the Corporal. The House will remember that the original agreement for this was negotiated before the alteration of the McMahon Act. Have we been making our own warheads, or have we obtained warheads from America under the McMahon Act? If so, are they being held under the "key of the cupboard" arrangements similar to the other agreements?
From what I was able to ascertain when I visited the British Command in Germany last year it is clear that our tactical organisation is such that it envisages the use of nuclear weapons at the first stage. It may be that this conception is being departed from, but there is no evidence of this departure in the White Paper. Perhaps the Minister has to some extent departed from it, but the White Paper contents itself with being a progress report, which it really is not.
1307 While the Minister and the Government have that conception, it is not the view held by the German military authorities. There is no doubt that they appreciate the need for nuclear weapons, but they stressed to those of us who were there the very real danger of local conflicts where nuclear weapons would not be appropriate. This, of course, raises the whole question of control of these weapons, a matter dealt with in an excellent report by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) to the Council of Western European Union, in Paris, last December, in which he distinguished between the first tactical use and subsequent use of these weapons. He dealt with the matter admirably yesterday.
The Minister of Defence mentioned in his speech last year two possibilities which might lead to conflict—first, miscalculation, and, secondly, accident. Any danger arising from miscalculation he is certainly anxious to avoid. I was impressed by the attitude on this of those in charge of Strategic Air Command in the United States. They were anxious to get as much publicity as possible for their great capability to deliver the bomb. They wanted to make sure that there was no doubt whatever in anyone's mind about that, but now that Russia, also, has this massive nuclear potential, opinions differ on the question of the will and determination necessary to use it.
However, the problem of accident remains. I am not dealing with the idea that someone might go mad and loose off one of those weapons, nor the possibility of a British or American crew suddenly dropping a nuclear bomb. Those of us who were fortunate enough to visit Omaha, in Nebraska, the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command, were much comforted, if that is the right word to use in this connection, by the infinite care and precaution taken by those in Charge and how deeply conscious they are of the grave responsibility lying on their shoulders. While armed forces are facing each other across the frontier, the possibility of incidents of a minor character due to errors of judgment or over-enthusiasm, and not intended as a step to full-scale aggression, cannot be totally discounted.
When I was in Germany, last summer, I learned that Russian troops had been alerted, all leave cancelled, and reserves 1308 brought up after a few of their officers in jeeps had been motoring in the vicinity of the frontier. It is not impossible to envisage that some such set of circumstances or civilian disturbance may provoke a local incident. This is something that those who so far have bitterly opposed any form of disengagement might ponder. I trust that hon. Members opposite will be careful of what they say about disengagement in this debate.
The Prime Minister is now in Russia. I am sure that we all wish him well. But if there is to be a successful outcome from his visit, it can only come, in my view, from the adoption of a plan such as that put forward from this side of the House. As the Tories have already adopted so many of our ideas, I would not be at all surprised if they adopted this one and claimed it as their own.
What is our aim in Europe? What are we trying to do? If we are anxious to be in a position of strength, to be capable of ensuring a pause so that consultation may take place before the holocaust of nuclear destruction comes upon us, if we wish to be in a position in Europe with some nuclear capability to act as a deterrent against major attack, we should examine more closely what strength we have in Europe and what steps we should take. Have we got our priorities right?
It will be recalled that at the time of the Lisbon session of the North Atlantic Council, in 1952, the military assessment was that 90 divisions were required for the defence of the N.A.T.O. fronts. When it was later decided to make full use of nuclear weapons, the goal for the central front was reduced to 30 divisions. Let us consider what forces we possess. First, the five American divisions are being reorganised and equipped with nuclear weapons, which I take to be the Corporal. I do not want to say anything about the Honest John, because, as I understand, it is not very likely to land where it is expected to land. I do not know whether or not the American divisions are up to strength, but I doubt whether they are. We have also two combat groups which, in this sense, we might say are the equivalent of a division.
Belgium has one infantry division. The Netherlands have one division in their own country and hope to have one in Germany in the near future. We all know 1309 that France is in a difficult position. The major part of her army is tied up in North Africa. The two divisions which she has in Germany are very much under strength, and no progress has so far been made with the reorganisation. Germany's strength is now approaching seven divisions, but there is a serious shortage of officers and N.C.O.s, while the equipment is that which was given to them by the Americans and is now obsolete. We ourselves, together with Canada, are still said to have four divisions, but it is certainly much less. They are under strength and I will have something to say about their equipment later.
Taking the most optimistic view, then, there are, roughly, 21 divisions, which are very much under strength and not many of them battleworthy, out of the 30 divisions which are regarded as essential. This is not a comforting picture, but it is one which the House and the country ought to know about.
It is against that background that we see the problems which any Minister of Defence has to face. In my view, there is quite insufficient capability here for dealing with anything in the grey area, which was discussed so much last year. The Minister of Defence so far—and I say "so far"advisedly—has deliberately chosen to rely completely on the ultimate deterrent and has shown no initiative to muster the resources of Europe in a joint effort to make N.A.T.O. efficient and effective. He has, in fact, done the very opposite. By his insistence on reducing the British forces in Germany he has undermined the confidence and respect for this country, and, instead of encouraging other European countries to bring their forces up to strength, he has led them on the retreat.
This is, unfortunately, only one of the sorry incidents in the sad story of our relations with Europe since the war. Our European friends have been anxious that this country should take the lead in so many matters, but their disappointment is even greater in view of the speeches made by the Minister himself and many of his colleagues at Strasbourg when they were members of the Opposition.
In the debate last year the Minister of Defence said something with which I am sure we all agree. It was: 1310'The conception of separate national defence has been almost wholly replaced by that of a collective security organised through a system of alliances."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 26th February, 1958; Vol. 583, c. 386.]However, I was much more impressed with the practical application mentioned in paragraphs 25 and 26 of last year's White Paper. They showed some useful signs of how interdependence and cooperation might work, and they mentioned setting up the appropriate machinery for co-ordination.
What has happened? If this was supposed to be a progress report, we might have had some information as to what has been happening. Defence is expensive, and the right hon. Gentleman is now very well aware of that. If economy is sought, surely it might be carried out in the sphere of research, development and production of armaments if we can get proper co-operation with our Allies in Europe.
On reading the reports of the Standing Armaments Committee of the Western European Union, one cannot but come to the conclusion that results so far have been bitterly disappointing. I know about the projects put up to the Standing Armaments Committee by Britain and France, but it is rather late in the day when so much re-equipment is taking place. Different countries work on similar projects and then there are squabbles and arguments as to which weapon should be adopted by N.A.T.O. We all remember what happened about the rifle.
On Monday, the Minister of Supply was asked why Bloodhound and Thunder-bird were not adopted by N.A.T.O. Of course, he knew the answer and he drew attention to it in his reply to a supplementary question. It should, however, be noted that he made it plain that neither of those two weapons was inferior to the Hawk, which was chosen, but went so far as to say that they were superior. In this, we have lost both ways. There is no contract from N.A.T.O. and the whole burden of development cost has had to be borne by us.
We can only ask how long this situation can continue; Is it not time that we showed some real political initiative and entered into better association with our European Allies? France, Germany and Italy have entered into a tripartite agreement for research and development and there are other bilateral agreements as 1311 well. Instead of this leading towards good will, however, what is happening, in effect, is that it is only creating suspicions. It would be much better if, for instance, proper co-ordination could be achieved through the instrument of the Standing Armaments Committee in Western European Union.
The continental States agreed some time ago to finance the development of an anti-tank weapon, which is being done by France. When I visited the German army manoeuvres during the summer, I saw this weapon being demonstrated. The military authorities with whom I discussed it were most impressed with its performance. One very high-ranking British officer said to me that this country must have it.
If the continental States all have a financial interest in its development, as they have, what hope have we of getting our anti-tank weapon adopted by N.A.T.O.? I understand that we are developing, not one, but two of these weapons. What assurance have we that there is no overlapping and waste of effort in all this? In the White Paper which the Minister has presented to us, I have not been able to count exactly, but it seems to me that over 20 projects are being developed, all of them expensive. We ought to be told whether we are bearing the whole of this burden ourselves, or what steps have been taken to try to achieve co-ordination and cooperation with our other Allies in N.A.T.O. to try to share this burden.
The next question is that of the tank itself. If these anti-tank weapons are as successful as predicted by one of the Ministers now sitting on the Government Front Bench, the tank itself will be obsolete. Can we, however, be told something about the position? I understand that arguments have been going on about this for a considerable time and that a decision has been taken concerning the tank that is to be adopted by the continental countries. I am certain that it is not the British type of tank that is being adopted. We ought to be told what is happening. Is this another occasion when we are going out on a limb and developing another kind of tank altogether which, if it is ever used, will be used in co-operation with our Allies?
Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) spoke 1312 about mobility. Mobility, however, is not merely getting troops from point A to point B. There is more to it than that in Europe. There is the question of supplies and spares. The general idea, I understand, is to have supply depots which will keep units supplied for the first 15 days. Initially, this involves food, fuel and ammunition. The first obvious requirement is to have operational standardisation for the interchangeability of ammunition. How far have we proceeded with this?
The F.N. rifle has been mentioned so often that I hesitate to mention it again, but, surely, it is urgent to issue standard .300 calibre small arms to the British forces on the central front, which alone among the Allies is still using the .303. It is in Germany, I understand, that we have the half of the British forces who do not have the F.N. rifle.
We have a great problem in getting information. At Western European Union, we discuss these matters. We seek information from the Council of Ministers; but we never get in contact with the Defence Ministers. Although we have useful meetings with the Council of Ministers, we never get very far. The White Paper tells us that our forces in Germany are being re-equipped. Looking at the Estimates, it is difficult to see the provision for this. There was a heavy drop in the Estimates for Army equipment in 1955, with a smaller drop in 1956. Since then, there has been hardly any alteration and the figure for next year is almost the same. We read, however, that Ferret scout cars, Saladin armoured cars and 1-ton armoured trucks are being supplied.
Can we be told how much of this is standardised equipment for use by N.A.T.O. forces? Commercial-type lorries are also being supplied and in the Army Estimates it is estimated that over 2,800 3-ton trucks have been supplied. I wonder whether they have been built to a standard pattern. Are we standardising our own supplies, or are we instead sending out a few different types of vehicles just to make life more interesting for the troops?
The arguments about having standard trucks have been going on for the last ten years. I doubt whether we have even yet got any agreement on the interchangeability of wheels.
§ Mr. Steele
There are many other items that I could deal with. It seems to me that in the last few years we have missed a golden opportunity to ensure co-ordination in these matters. Perhaps the Minister of Supply can tell us something about the position. It would be interesting to know how his Department fits into the picture. Does the right hon. Gentleman have representatives at some of the meetings, or is it left entirely to the generals?
I turn, in conclusion, to the equipment of our forces in Germany. It may be thought that speeches from this side of the House have dealt more with the Army than with other Services, but in this debate the spotlight should be on the Army. Yesterday, the Minister of Defence tried to make us believe that this lack of modern equipment in Germany was because the troops were using up the equipment which had been over-ordered; that was the impression that the right hon. Gentleman tried to give us. The Grigg Report, however, did not make that point. It stated not only that the equipment was obsolete, but that it was uneconomic. Our charge is that it is not only obsolete and uneconomic, but that it is worn out.
For my information about this, I shall not quote the Grigg Committee but am indebted to Mr. Harold Evans, of the Manchester Evening News, who made an on-the-spot investigation last December. Here is what he said:If Britain's Army in Germany had to fight tomorrow, many of our soldiers would go into battle with last-war weapons. And 13 years after the end of that war many of those weapons are only fit for the scrap heap.Naturally, he draws attention to the fact that it is five years since it was decided to adopt the F.N. rifle. In March, 1955, the Secretary of State for War was speaking about the delivery of F.N. rifles to the troops in Germany. They are still not there.
Mr. Evans then discusses the Sten machine gun, and when I spoke to one of my colleagues in the House about this, he said to me, "They might still have the Sten machine gun, but no intelligent commander would ever allow the troops to load it. "Mr. Evans goes on to deal with signals equipment, and I quote: 1314Perhaps the most shocking deficiency of all, though, is in Signals equipment, the vital equipment that enables an Army to move as an organised unit. Our signals equipment is junk. Indeed, the obsolete, defective, last-war signals equipment in Germany makes our Army almost a 'blind' Army.Then this:Infantry units have sets with a range of only two and a half miles at night. One platooon set is incapable of sending or receiving signals if there are woods or hills in the way, so the commander must make himself a sitting target on high ground. On a recent exercise, the commander was forced to sit on top of a haystack to keep radio contact.That is the situation, and he goes on to deal with other equipment in the same scathing terms. In the end, he states that the public has not been given the facts, and that it is time for the good of our Army and the country that the defence costs muddle should be brought out into the open. That, of course, is what we intend to do.
It was the right hon. Member for Car-shalton who said, in 1955:Our Army, where conventional weapons are concerned, is very well equipped by any standards.I wonder whether he is still prepared to make that claim. Is the present Secretary of State for War as confident as he apparently was last year, when he said:The strength of N.A.T.O. troops on the ground is such that it would need a major aggression to overcome them."?—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1958; Vol. 583, c. 665.]In what sense would he define the term" major"in this connection?
Over the last five years, nearly £8,000 million has been voted for the defence Services, or about £32 million a week. The War Office share has fallen, and the amount for the Army's equipment has gone down by 65 per cent. over the past five years. Can we ask the Minister of Defence whether he has sacrificed the Army and left this country with only the threat to commit suicide as a means of national defence? As The Timesrightly said yesterday:A threat to commit suicide is not a rational defence policy.The Minister might say that we are asking for larger sums of money to be spent. Let me say right away that we are not. What we are asking is whether he has got his priorities right. For instance, was it right to authorise all that money 1315 for the completion of the three cruisers, about which I have already asked questions, and which has never been justified? Then there is the expense associated with the building of the two high-test peroxide submarines, which will never have any operational value, and there are other things as well that I could mention. Has all this been done at the cost of the sacrifice of the Army? Now, we are in a situation in Europe in which, because of the false assessment of the Minister of Defence of the place of nuclear weapons in our defensive strategy, we have to rely on the ultimate deterrent.
That is a situation of great danger, and that is why we shall divide the House tonight.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. Aubrey Jones)
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) closed his speech by repeating what was the main thesis advanced yesterday by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), and, in different tones, by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond).
Despite the different degrees of emphasis, the right hon. Member for Belper, who moved the Amendment to the Motion yesterday, said substantially the same thing—he used the words which have just been spoken by the hon. Gentleman opposite—that preparedness for a limited war has been sacrificed for the sake of the nuclear deterrent, and that there was, therefore, an over-emphasis on the deterrent and an under-emphasis on preparations for a limited war. Indeed, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland used the word "obsession" in connection with the deterrent.
This is the common theme advanced by both parties. There is also this other affinity between the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper and that of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, that both of them, while considering that there had been this over-emphasis on the deterrent, were, none the less, reluctant to say that this country should withdraw totally from the deterrent. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman made this quite specific. He wished to see a British contribution to the deterrent, but the speech of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland was not quite so specific; 1316 but he said on more than one occasion that he would wish to see, or would not be averse to seeing, a contribution by this country in the way of research.
This is a most important thesis; all the more important because it has been given a wider circulation outside this Chamber. It is a serious thesis, and I shall try to deal with it with all the seriousness which I think it deserves. I only hope that in trying to deal with it thus, I shall not fall into complacency. It is all too easy for outside critics to suggest that everything in this field is wrong and defective, and it is a temptation to any defender against such citicis to try to leave the impression that all things are right and perfect. Clearly, this field is so full of unknowns and uncertain perils that nothing can be perfect. I will do my best to avoid that pitfall.
While saying that, I should also like to say that the main thesis advanced seems to me to be too simple. I think that it does violence to the complexity of the problem with which this country is faced. I think, first. that it underrates the preoccupation which the Government have with limited war. I think, secondly, that it assumes much too easily that a switch of emphasis is possible, that some reduction of the emphasis on the deterrent is possible, while, at the same time, keeping the contribution to the deterrent a worthwhile contribution; and I will later suggest why that assumption, which was never examined by anybody yesterday, seems to me to be a highly questionable one.
If I prove that case, and if we are of the view that a limited war deserves still greater preparations, the only answer to the problem, short of increasing the total of the military budget, which nobody suggests, is abandoning the British contribution to the deterrent altogether. Certainly, as far as the Amendment is concerned, there is, at any rate, reluctance, and a greater reluctance on the part of the hon. Gentleman, to face this. I will deal, first, with the preparations for limited war.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
The Minister has constantly referred to our contribution to the deterrent. I could understand the case for an independent deterrent, but what is this about a contribution to a deterrent? The Americans do not want a contribution from us.
§ Mr. Jones
I will deal with that later. I shall not shirk it, but I want to deal with it in its proper place and to deal with the three questions I have mentioned in their proper order.
The right hon. Member for Belper spoke yesterday of the increased danger of limited war, as a result of the nuclear parity between West and East. Of course, one accepts that. The main danger over the last few years has been one of limited war, even in the time of Western nuclear superiority, and in an age of nuclear parity that danger is made more acute and is a danger to which we as a country are particularly sensible. What I cannot accept is that no account has been taken of it and in that context I want to consider the three Services in turn, beginning with the Army, because, of the three Services, it is the Army which most comes into this question.
The right hon. Member for Belper tried to relate the problem of Army equipment to changing Defence Ministers, and so on. The problem is much deeper than that and is one which is quite unrelated to changing Conservative Defence Ministers, and quite unrelated even to changing Governments. There is something here which is deeply embedded in tradition. The weapons of the Army, by tradition, change but slowly. The rifle before the F.N. rifle goes back to-the First World War. The machine gun goes back to that war and the 25-pounder gun goes back to 1938. I do not say that we should passively accept it, but there is latent in things a certain slowness of change in Army equipment.
There may be two reasons for that. The first is that since the weapons are old the scope for current improvement is limited and inducement to change is, therefore, not as great. Secondly, the weapons of the Army, to a much greater degree than those of the Navy and Air Force are either personal weapons of the individual soldier, or are introduced on a considerable scale and are made universal for the entire Army, with the result that the process of re-equipment is expensive and protracted. That is traditional, but a fact which received insufficient consideration yesterday is that we are now entering on a phase of considerable change. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that never will the 1318 Army have seen such a concentrated phase of renovation and re-equipment as it is now about to see over the next two, three or four years.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
The right hon. Gentleman has said that Army equipment has not changed for traditional reasons. In that case, will he explain why the Minister of Defence gave us an entirely different reason yesterday, when he said that it was that we should use up the stocks of existing weapons for reasons of economy? While we could understand that, we did not agree with it. However, the right hon. Gentleman's reasons why he could not introduce the new rifle or other new weapons—because the Army was so traditionally-minded — entirely conflict with that view.
§ Mr. Jones
There is nothing incompatible in that. I am suggesting that there is latent in things a slowness of change and that that latent characteristic was aggravated by the desire to trade on the stocks accumulated as a result of Korean rearmament.
By the early 1960s, the rifle will be completely new. The machine gun will be a new one and it will be a machine gun of continental adoption. The mortar will have been displaced, I hope, by the light pack howitzer which we are trying out and which will be droppable by parachute. We have a new tank gun coming into production this year—it is in production now—the 105mm. tank gun. Without exaggeration, I suggest that this gun—and I do not wish to indulge in hyperbole—is the best of its kind in the whole of the Western world, and we have strong hopes that continental countries will standardise on it.
§ Mr. Jones
I do not claim that for all the weapons we have, but I claim merit for certain of the weapons we have. The best thing I can do is to invite the hon. and learned Gentleman to await the outcome of the discussions now taking place about this gun. Let us put what I am saying to the proof of the event.
With vehicles, we are developing a new medium tank, the 45-ton tank. The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West asked 1319 me what was happening in the way of standardising with continental tanks. A 30-ton tank is being mooted—I put it no higher than that—on the Continent and there are conversations and exchanges of information between ourselves and the continental proponents of the lighter tank, but it is much too early to say whether the continentals will take our 45-ton tank, or whether we shall see fit to adopt their lighter tank.
The Ministry of Supply is developing a much lighter tank which will be air transportable, I hope, the first tank of its kind to be air transportable. We are developing—and the development has gone a very long way—an armoured tracked personnel carrier for accompanying infantry troops to the scene of battle, as well as a cargo carrier for the Royal Armoured Corps. We are developing lighter and improved mobile versions of the infantry anti-tank weapon, and, in addition, we are now conducting trials of the Australian anti-tank weapon, the Malkara.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West referred to the French weapon, the S.S. 10 or S.S. 11. By and large we feel that the Malkara is more powerful than the French weapon. The Malkara is a child, an offspring, of Anglo-Australian parentage in that it is the outcome in the long-term of the Australian rocket range at Woomera. It was the establishment of that range which introduced Australia to guided weapons and inspired the Australians to develop a guided weapon of their own. We have not finally decided to adopt that weapon, but the preliminary trials are being singularly successful and I congratulate the Australians on a most remarkable achievement.
I could continue to add to this list.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
List of what? Not one of these things is anywhere near going into production. In most cases the Government have not yet even decided which weapon to adopt. A list of what?
§ Mr. Jones
Very well, I will make a correction and say items in a list which should be coming into service, and other items of which I have strong hopes that they will come into service. Indeed, I would not be so bold as to mention them if my hopes were not substantial.
The question which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are really seeking to ask is: why has this happened now and not before? The answer is that the prompting factor is the change from National Service to a volunteer force. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Yes, the very size of a conscript force makes the question of equipment very much more expensive and holds it up. With the removal of that impediment, the opportunity of change is being seized. What right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are not recognising is that when National Service is ended the Army will be well advanced towards the complete refurnishing of equipment.
§ Mr. Frank Beswick (Uxbridge)
Would the Minister like to contradict what he has said? Otherwise, it will make an unfortunate impression upon many National Service men. What he implied was that National Service men can make do with inefficient weapons.
§ Mr. Jones
No, I must get on. I have given way generously. I am dealing with preparedness for limited war, which has been contested from the other side of the House. Let us look at the Navy.
The main rôle of the Navy at present, whatever the future may hold, is the limited war role. First, there is the air equipment, for which my Department is, in the main, responsible. The air rôle of the Navy is to provide air strike support and air cover for ground forces from 1321 mobile bases at sea, pending the establishment of bases on land—a limited war role. The new weapon for the strike support rôle is the N.A.39, which is going well, and for the air cover rôle there is the Sea Vixen, coming into service this year.
Then there is the submarine threat. We hear a great deal about the numbers of Russian submarines which might one day haunt the Atlantic. I am not sure that the more immediate threat is not represented by the numbers of submarines which are being passed by the Russians to other countries, including, for instance, the Mediterranean countries. This is a limited war threat and the answer to it is a combination of surface vessel with helicopter. The surface vessel, the antisubmarine frigate, is coming into service and the Wessex will be coming into service next year.
In the longer term the nuclear submarine may well be the answer to the submarine. I was asked yesterday evening by my 'hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Sir W. Anstruther-Gray) when the keel of the Dreadnought "was likely to be laid down. We shall 'be most disappointed if the keel is not laid down within the next few months.
Let us move to the Royal Air Force. The R.A.F. is a deterrent force, but not exclusively; it 'has a conventional role, too. I think that those who have contended that there is insufficient preparation for a 'limited war have ignored the change of balance between these two roles of the R.A.F. The White Paper for 1957 thas been criticised repeatedly in this debate for laying too much emphasis on the deterrent, but look at the deletions which it made. The projects which that White Paper deleted from the research and development programme were all, in fact, deterrent projects. They were the supersonic bomber and the supersonic fighter, intended to defend the deterrent bases in this country. The new aircraft, the T.S.R.2, is not a deterrent weapon. It is not a bomber in the conventional sense of the word, but an aircraft intended to give strike support to ground forces in Europe and overseas.
§ Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley)
We are of the opinion, in spite of what the right 1322 hon. Gentleman has said, that the T.S.R.2 is a supersonic manned bomber. Is he telling us that this new aircraft will not be able to carry an atomic or a megaton bomb, or even a stand-off bomb, which in itself is part of the deterrent in any of those roles?
§ Mr. Jones
I am saying that the T.S.R.2 is not a strategic weapon. It is a tactical weapon. What is more, it is a tactical weapon devised not only for European use but also for overseas use. If we look at the past aircraft of the R.A.F. we shall find that they have all, without exception, been designed to use runways in this country, and that subsequently use has been made of them overseas. But in the T.S.R.2, for the first time in the history of the R.A.F., we have an aircraft designed from the beginning to make use of rudimentary airfields overseas, in other words, to cope with limited war. My right hon. Friend was charged yesterday with delay in deciding on the T.S.R.2. The reason for the delay was the redesigning of the aircraft to make it suitable for limited war contingencies overseas.
Exactly the same is true of the Swallow aircraft, which was cancelled in 1957 because it was related to the supersonic bomber. It was a post-supersonic bomber. The case for having it in the research programme now is that we shall have to study its applicability to the strike role, whether that rôle be performed by the R.A.F. or the Navy. It is not true that no thought is being given to limited war.
The real question which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper posed yesterday was: can we increase our preparation for limited war without adding to the cost of the total budget? Clearly, the only way of increasing preparation for limited war consistently with the present total budget is by taking it away from the deterrent.
I suggest that this reduced emphasis on the deterrent is not practicably compatible with a worthwhile deterrent, and the right hon. Member for Belper was falling into the confusion of not recognising the different time scales involved. We have the V-bombers, both in the strategic and limited war rôles. The question at issue is: do we have a strategic weapon to come after the 1323 V-bombers? This is the intermediate range ballistic missile. We cannot make a contribution to the nuclear deterrent which is less than one weapon.
That is the answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland. The only way of reducing the contribution to the deterrent, short of abolishing the weapon, is to do what the hon. Gentleman suggested, content ourselves with research. I invite him to talk to any scientist. In these matters, academic science which is not, at the end of the day, related to a concrete project always runs into the sands and is never worth while.
I do not know whether, for instance, the hon. Gentleman has seen the Canadian military research effort, which is devoted entirely to fundamental research. There is no great development of weapons. That effort enables the Canadians to assess the value of new weapons coming across the border from the United States, but it does not enable them to build any weapon of their own.
§ Mr. Jones indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Brown
But that is the answer to my question. The answer is, as I understand him to say, that if we do not go ahead now with Blue Streak, we must at some stage be without a vehicle for delivering the ultimate deterrent. May I ask the Minister what time scale he is taking in this matter? How long does he expect V-bombers, plus the stand-off bomb, to be relevant, because my case was that we might by that time have an alternative available to the Blue Streak, with a much more invulnerable solid fuel rocket?
§ Mr. Jones
I cannot breach security by mentioning the dates. The right hon. Gentleman suggested yesterday that we could have a cheaper deterrent by undertaking development of a solid fuel missile. There is no ground at all for assuming that a solid fuel missile would be in any way cheaper than a liquid fuel missile.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I bow to the right hon. Gentleman's superior knowledge of the possibility of research, but I have been advised by people with quite a reputable knowledge of this matter that perhaps a contribution might have been possible. But if it is not possible, or not wanted, we are willing to bale out of the deterrent, as the right hon. Gentleman puts it.
§ Mr. Jones
I am sorry, but I really have been very generous in giving way.
I should like to make one technical point on this subject, because it is relevant to the most moving speech made yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). All this business of rocketry is new and is developing fast. If we in this country are not in this field now, the chances are that we shall never be in it. I do not think that we ought lightly to contemplate complete and lasting exclusion from a new and most important field. My right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton, in a speech with which I practically entirely agree, said that Blue Streaks were irrelevant to the cold war.
§ Mr. G. Brown
The right hon. Gentleman should not make the Minister of Supply now disagree with him.
§ Mr. Head
What I said, in what I admit was a rather stupid analogy, was that looking at defence as a whole I would swop a £5 million education scheme in Kenya for a couple of Blue Streaks. That was my only mention of the Blue Streak. I did not say that the Blue Streak was irrelevant. I said that 1325 we had to be careful not to overlook other aspects.
§ Mr. Jones
I am sorry if I was unfair to my right hon. Friend. It was not my intention.
If we look at the whole Russian armoury for the cold war I suggest that the most potent and important weapon in that armoury is the Sputnik. Let right hon. and hon. Members just imagine the effect on the minds of people in underdeveloped countries of advertisements appearing in the newspapers that on this and that fixed hour the satellite will appear in the sky. This has immense influence in the cold war.
I go so far as to suggest that Russian lunar probes, and so forth, are done half the time not with a scientific intent at all. They are done for—I can think of no better word—propaganda effect. I do not suggest for a moment that we should ape the Russians in this. It would be quite absurd. But this is a technological age. Technological achievements contribute a great deal to the standing and regard in which a country is held in the world and we ought not lightly to turn our backs on these new technological developments.
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland assumes much too lightly and too glibly an antagonism between the British contribution to the deterrent and the American deterrent. I suggest to him that he ignores the significance of what is possibly the most important event in the whole field of defence in the past year. I refer to the exchange of information between the Americans and ourselves on nuclear warheads. What happened on the morrow of the war? We each went our separate ways. Then, in the light of tremendous Russian technological advance we see the need for cooperation and interdependence and we begin to talk. In the course of talks it is recognised that we have accomplished in this country, on slender resources, something of note. We have something to contribute and, as a result, the barriers to exchange of information are let down. The consequence is that joint accomplishment will be better than that of either of us taken singly. This is no longer a duplication of American effort. It is a reinforcement of a joint technology.
I suggest that exactly the same is true of the intermediate range ballistic missile.
1326 They have in the United States Thor and Jupiter, single-stage missiles of very limited range. Beyond that, there are the multi-stage missiles of much greater range. What the Americans have not got is a single-stage missile, intermediate between those two ranges, and that is what Blue Streak is. It is not a duplication. It is, once again, a reinforcement.
It is pertinent to remind hon. Members or the history of American intermediate range ballistic missiles. Thor and Jupiter were developed by the Americans specifically for use on the European continent. They have a limited life. They must one day have a successor, and the Americans have indicated that they do not propose themselves to develop a successor. They look to us or to the European continent.
The most practical way of developing a successor for the European continent is, therefore, our effort, Blue Streak, on which we have invited and invite European co-operation. I do not see how we can lightly turn round to the United States and say, "No, we have not the talents, nor the skills, nor the resources to do this. We must look to you to develop something in addition to what you are doing."
I do not think that it is irrelevant to remind the House of an account in the first volume of General de Gaulle's memoirs of a conversation which he had in the air raids of 1940 with my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). Both were speculating on the possibility of America entering the war and General de Gaulle said that when France had collapsed the United States, at the hour of her collapse, had held out no helping hand, and he feared that the same might happen in this country. My right hon. Friend replied to him, "No that is not so. She will extend a helping hand because we shall stand firm".
I do not think that that is irrelevant in the present context. The relevance is surely that we can count, and we are entitled to count, on the staunchness of the American alliance only in so far as we contribute to it. To say to the Americans, "You make all the efforts" is calculated more than anything else to weaken the alliance between this country and the United States.
§ Sir James Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
My right hon. Friend has just 1327 made a most interesting point on the question of the development of Blue Streak and co-operation from the Continent. Could he elaborate, or could his right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence tell us more? Will the continental countries agree to it, what form will it take, and will it take place in Britain?
§ Mr. Jones
The continental countries —the Western European countries—are still in the throes of considering what form their intermediate range missile shall take. I am not, therefore, in a position to announce any outcome to the invitation which I have described.
Before I leave the deterrent, I should like to say a few words about defence against the missile. Throughout military history the offensive has, at intervals, gained the advantage over the defensive, and at the end of the day ultimately the defensive has always caught up. The great question is whether history is to repeat itself in the case of the ballistic missile, or whether, for once, it is to be completely overthrown.
Is all previous history now to be disregarded? A few years ago most people would have been inclined to say" Yes. We are in a new epoch. History will never repeat itself." I do not think that we can say that now. I do not think that we can say that it is impossible to devise a defence against the ballistic missile. It will mean an immense amount of research and development and, so far from doing this independently of the United States, we are in the middle of working out a co-operative programme with them.
§ Mr. Grimond
With reference to the point raised by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison), do I understand that there is to be some collaboration between ourselves and the continentals? If so, what form will it take? The Minister said that we could not have such collaboration with America in the development of missiles, but apparently we can with the continentals.
§ Mr. Jones
I was trying to say that we have invited co-operation on this matter from the European countries. They are still examining what would be the best form of missile for them. At the moment, I cannot go beyond that. I can say that there is a co-operative 1328 effort both in regard to the missile and the anti-missile.
§ Mr. Jones
I do not wish to repeat what I have been saying. I say that in the field of anti-missile defence we are in the middle of drawing up a co-operative programme of research and development with the United States.
I do not wish to intrude into the political and strategic problems which will be the subject of a later speech by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. I would say one thing, however. Granted the possibility of a defence against the missile, it is not too early to take counter measures. Counter measures mean the insertion in a missile of jamming equipment able to embarrass any possible defence. For this reason we must have range, and the one case for a missile fired by liquid fuel as against the one fired by solid fuel is its superiority in range, in the present state of knowledge.
I have talked purely of weapons and have kept off the subject of manpower because it is not relevant to my Department. I want to say a word about the men behind the weapons, however—the scientists in the Ministry of Supply establishments. My right hon. Friend has given most encouraging accounts of recruitment to the Armed Forces. I cannot be quite so encouraging about the recruitment of scientists to the Government's defence establishments. I have had no Grigg Report on this matter; I can offer no improvements in pay or amenities. What I can offer are opportunities of research which are unrivalled in this country—and I hope that people will take advantage of them.
My case is that the principal danger is that of limited war. This must be the main preoccupation in our minds. In addition, however, in respect of the deterrent we ought to make the contribution which our talents entitle us to make, and which the precarious position of the entire Western world obliges us to make. The thought behind the speech of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland yesterday was that any British contribution to the deterrent was a policy of vainglory—of pride and arrogance, and he said that we risked overtaxing our resources.
I am not unsympathetic with that point of view. Naturally, we must not overtax 1329 our resources, but I am not sure that that is the main danger confronting us. I sometimes ask myself whether a greater danger is not precisely the opposite one, of falling into the habit of saying that we cannot afford this or that new piece of technology. Clearly, the more we say that we cannot afford this or that piece of greatness the more certain it is that we shall lose any greatness that we now have. The real answer, which lies somewhere between the two alternatives, is a balanced policy, and it is that balanced policy which has been the consistent policy of Her Majesty's Government, and which I commend to the House today.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
The organisation of defence is a complex affair. It can prove very costly; it can involve considerable waste and it can undoubtedly create a great deal of confusion. That confusion has been in evidence during the course of this debate. Unfortunately, the Minister of Supply has made no contribution towards clearing it up. To my mind an appropriate comment upon his speech would be, "Don't shoot the man at the piano; he is doing his best."
If there was any justification for the Labour Party Amendment it was embodied in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. Before I come to what I regard as the main theme of the debate, however, I want to say a word about the Amendment. I have a tiny reservation to make, in respect of the word "coherent". I heard a great deal about this word yesterday. No doubt there are various interpretations of it. This morning, in order to illuminate my mind, I turned to a well-known dictionary to ascertain its precise meaning, and I gathered that it meant "sticking together". I do not think that hon. Members on this side of the House have any complaint to make about the Government in that respect. If there is one factor which is evident in their policy, demeanour and general behaviour it is their determination to stick together at all costs—and none more so than the Defence Ministers, arrayed in solid phalanx on the the Government Front Bench.
Some time ago I ventured the opinion that the Ministry of Supply should be abolished, and I am more than ever 1330 convinced of the need for that after listening to the right hon. Gentleman. I do not say a word in derogation of his competence. No doubt he is a very competent person. I say that quite sincerely. Hon. Members on this side of the House recognise ability on the opposite benches whenever it is in evidence. It is infrequently seen there, but when it imposes itself upon us we recognise it, and even go so far as to appreciate it. But if there is one villain of the piece on the Front Bench opposite it is the Minister of Supply. Who has been spending all the money in the last seven or eight years? The Amendment says that £11,000 million has been spent on defence. The right hon. Gentleman can correct me if I am wrong, but I hazard a guess that of that £11,000 million spent by the Government for the purposes of defence since 1951 more than £6,000 million has gone on research and production.
What have we got for it? We have a progress report. It may be that the Government can furnish evidence of defence assets about which we have little or no information. Let us have the information not in a general form, not a dose of generalisations and, in particular, not about our prospects, but about how the money has been spent in the last seven or eight years.
Here I want to make a digression. During the debate yesterday there were several interesting speeches, most of which I heard myself and all of which I have read. Among them was a speech by the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett). He is a most amiable person, but he delivered a fiery broadside at the Labour Party and, by implication, at the Labour Government. Perhaps I had better quote what the hon. and gallant Gentleman said. It would be most interesting if only it were accurate. He cannot get away from it; it is on the record. There may be an extenuation for his conduct, but here is what he said in a reference to the Opposition Amendment:That is a piece of effrontery if ever there was one"—
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am very grateful for that contribution. Perhaps it might have 1331 been deferred until the end of the sentence.—coming from a party which at no time produced any form of policy for defence.He went on to say:I do not entirely blame them, because it was not easy to do it, but the fact remains that they did not do it. Coming from a party which allowed money and manpower to run to waste like water during their administration and which left us with a defence policy which, if it had been allowed to continue, would have committed us to expenditure far more than anything which is contemplated today, that is a piece of effrontery."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February. 1959; Vol. 600, c. 1200–1.]Hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to be ashamed of themselves. What are the facts? The Labour Government from 1945 until its disappearance in 1951 never spent more than £800 million annually, about one-half of what has been spent annually since 1951. We met, at the same time, every one of our commitments in the Berlin airlift, in Korea, where we made a most effective contribution, and in other theatres where we were committed up to the hilt. I defy contradiction on this issue. I challenge hon. Members opposite to point to a single case where, in the military sphere as regards defence organisation and the application of that organisation, we failed to meet our commitments.
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
The right hon. Gentleman may recollect that during the actual years when the Labour Administration were in power they brought down the annual cost to £800 million. I am sure it will also be within his recollection that the moment the trouble in Korea arose—which, after all, so far as we were concerned, was mot a very major war—it became necessary to undertake a rearmament programme which was priced at the time, speaking from memory, at £4,700 million in three years. The reason for this tremendous bill—which did not come in until after the Conservatives came to power and it was our party which had to meet the Bill —was that first things had not been placed first in the years before and £800 million had chiefly gone on welfare and things of that sort and all the essentials of fighting efficiency had been neglected.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is even more innocent than I imagined. He is not aware of the fact— 1332 he was not in the House—that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and other right hon. Gentlemen, some of whom are now sitting opposite, demanded of the Labour Government that they should spend more on defence. Nor is he aware that we introduced National Service, took all the risks involved and made ourselves highly unpopular. Over and above that, we embarked on the three-year programme not only because of the Korean affair but because of high tension in Europe, which was admitted by everyone in the House at that time and by the public outside. That is why it was done.
If we had not undertaken that task, would it have been possible to proceed with the rearmament programme? Of course not. We in fact laid the foundation of the rearmament programme largely at the behest of the Tory Party and its leaders, and for the hon. and gallant Gentleman and his accomplices to condemn us for any defect in our defence organisation is an effrontery if ever there was one.
Let me tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I am not particularly proud of what happened. It was forced upon us by events. We would have preferred to spend the money on welfare rather than on defence. We would prefer to do that now.
I come to the even more interesting speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). It was a very moving speech. It has been made many times on this side of the House. When it is made on this side of the House it is not news, but when it is made by the right hon. Gentleman, who only two years ago was Minister of Defence and has now seen the light, it is news. Hon. Members opposite almost dissolved into tears when the right hon. Gentleman was making those moving utterances.
What did they amount to? Spend more money on propaganda? Who is to blame for not spending more on propaganda? The right hon. Gentleman ought to have launched his attack on the ex-radio doctor, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister of Information. Why talk to us about spending more money on propaganda?
1333 We would welcome the opportunity of trying to change men's minds to a pattern more in accordance with modern ideas and to win them away from Communist ideology. Of course we would. At the same time, I do not believe for one moment that if we spent more money on propaganda we could in the present high state of international tension afford to neglect our defence organisation or refuse to meet the expenditure involved.
Now I come to my main theme and I ask the forgiveness of the House for having made those digressions. That theme is how to strike a balance between the provision of nuclear weapons and conventional forces and weapons. I admit frankly that it is very difficult to undertake a task of that kind. It is easy enough to criticise the Minister of Defence and undoubtedly he is deserving of criticim under several heads. But it is a different matter when one is inside the Department and faced with an array of designers and others who seek to modify schemes and blueprints and concepts which are at first acceptable to everybody. Otherwise what is the use of having designers—particularly in the Ministry of Supply—or scientists, Who are as changeable even as members of the Government? That is the problem. What are we to do about it? In which basket are we to lay our defence eggs?
Are we to abandon the deterrent entirely? That is not the position of the Labour Party. The official policy of the Labour Party is to stand by the provision of a deterrent. Our Amendment is not a pacifist Amendment, despite the fact that there are many pacifists in our ranks with quite genuine convictions which we respect. We stand by the deterrent, but not because we like it—it is a ghastly affair as well as a costly affair. We should like to abandon it immediately if we could. But in view of this tension, in view of the threat and the possibility of aggression and the insecurity which imperils us all, how is it possible to abandon even a modest contribution to a deterrent against aggression? We do not believe that it can be done. But we are entitled to know what is being done. That is the criticism we level against the right hon. Gentleman.
What are we spending? Take, for example, the Ministry of Supply Estimates for last year. We have not got the Estimates for this year. Those Estimates 1334 reveal some surprising figures. I find that purchases effected by the Ministry of Supply on behalf of the Service Departments—I am not sure that that includes the Admiralty—amount to more than £400 million annually. In addition, there is more than £200 million spent on research and development, and I have no doubt that there are other concealed items. All that vast amount of money has been spent, much of it upon the deterrent. Tell us more about it. I believe that these debates are becoming futile because we cannot get the information to which we are entitled.
It would be different had the Minister of Defence said, "Do not let us have this kind of debate, this routine, traditional debate. Let hon. Members from both sides of the House who are interested in defence gather round in my Department. Let them interrogate me about what is going on. I will give them all the information I can about Blue Streak and the progress we are making and I will not try to conceal anything. "Then our minds would be enlightened and illuminated. We should be well-informed and, if I may say so—this may apply to me as well as to others—we should not make fools of ourselves by making speeches containing statements regarding the facts which are far from accurate.
What is happening now? Many of us are in the hands of newspaper defence correspondents. We have to rely on ex-generals, ex-air marshals and ex-admirals, not necessarily in this House but outside, who are so anxious to convey information; and there are those who write books on the subject which create more confusion. The people who know, or who are expected to know, are on the Government Front Bench and, by the same reckoning, we are entitled to know. Otherwise the Government are not justified in asking us to find the necessary finance.
I am not pleading, as I did during the defence debate last year, for a bipartisan defence policy—far from it. But I do say that we should be provided with more, and adequate information, on matters of defence. I do not believe that any argument can be adduced to the contrary. Therefore, my submission is— it is based on the Labour Party Amendment—that we should spend what we can afford in the provision of the deterrent, 1335 but let us be quite sure that we are getting value for money.
Let us not assume that we can do more than make a very modest contribution to the Western deterrent. Let us not plead with the United States, "We are ready to shelter under your umbrella. "We are on very good terms with the people of the United States and, generally speaking, we are on very good terms with the State Department. But who can tell? Some day there may be some mischief at work, some misunderstanding may arise, some point of disagreement may occur, and we might find ourselves isolated.
In those circumstances, we cannot afford to rely upon an umbrella provided by the United States. We must stand on our own feet. After all, we are a great nation and a great people, and we still have great potentialities. We can afford to be independent, although not completely independent. Nowadays no nation can afford to be completely independent. We have to rely on the contributions and co-operation provided by other nations, and we must make our contribution, though we do not pretend that it is more than a modest one. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) wish to intervene?
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
Yes, please. I wish to ask my right hon. Friend whether he can suggest in what circumstances this country would use the nuclear deterrent in disagreement with the United States? I cannot imagine any such circumstance.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Neither can I, and neither can anybody else. In point of fact, all this is mere speculation by people on both sides of the fence. When my pacifist friends—they are still my friends; at least, I hope so—say that there is no use having a deterrent of that kind because we should never be able to use it and that it would mean suicide, how do they know? They cannot compete with Providence in matters of this sort. On the other hand, how can I tell whether it will be effective at some time? I do not know. I have never tried it. How do I know that the Blue Streak will be effective? I do not know; it is a gamble. All defence is a gamble.
What is more, there never was a war in the past that was prepared for ade- 1336 quately in advance. We seem never to prepare for war until we are in one. It could be the same about the next war if, unhappily and unfortunately, it ever happens. Therefore, my opinions regarding the deterrent are speculation, guesswork and a gamble. It is a kind of insurance policy, to put it no higher, and we have to bear with it.
A demand was made that we should build up our conventional forces. Yesterday I listened to the speech of the Leader of the Liberal Party. Although I was apprehensive about the revival of the Liberal Party before the speech, after it I felt quite comforted. What nonsense it was. What was the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond)?"Do not go ahead with an independent deterrent, rely on the United States. But, at the same time, make your contribution in finance and research. "In other words, be an accessory both before and after the fact— that is far worse than petty larceny.
Really, it is too bad for the hon. Gentleman to make that sort of speech. That is not the substance and strength which one expects from a party seeking to revive itself in this country. I am sure that hon. Members opposite must feel gratified after that statement. We, however, should wish well of the Liberal Party. The more candidates the Liberal Party can produce at the next General Election the better our chances will be. I should not mind if they produced a candidate to fight in my constituency. It would add to the gaiety of the election.
Let us rely so far as we can on a modest contribution to the deterrent and build up conventional forces, but let us face the consequences. We are to have 185,000 men in the Army and probably 300,000 men altogether in the Armed Forces during the next couple of years or so. Their pay and pensions and gratuities are going up and, bless their hearts, they deserve it. What is more, the men are coming in.
Unemployment has helped recruiting, particularly in some areas. I do not know whether hon. Members representing constituencies in Ulster have noticed the figures, but the largest number of recruits has come from around Belfast where the unemployment figure is about 9 per cent. or something of that kind. That figure 1337 is not at all irrelevant. We want the recruits, and whether we get them as a result of unemployment or by the provision of high pensions matters not. We have to build up our conventional forces as best we can.
What more can we do but make a reasonable contribution to the Western forces? I have said to the right hon. Gentleman many times in this House— and it has been my one complaint all along, when I was Minister of Defence, and Secretary of State for War, and ever since—that we are making a much more effective contribution in men, weapons and finance than any other country in the West, with the exception of the United States. Nobody has any right to complain about us.
I end on this note. In last year's debate the right hon. Gentleman said what I thought was a fine thing for a Minister of Defence to say. It was a sentiment with which we all agreed. He said "Let us rely less on defence than on the possibility of disarmament and co-operation with other nations. "We may not like what is going on in Russia and their ideology. They may not like what is going on here and dislike our ideology. I know how commonplace it is to say it, but we have to get together and to live together whether we like it or not. The right hon. Gentleman was very wise in that utterance.
What can we do? Rely entirely upon foreign policy? It is just as well, when we are negotiating with someone, to have something behind us of substance, even if it is only a, cosh, in case we are violently assaulted. The right hon. Gentleman ought to have said in this debate, "I plead guilty. We have not got all that we need, and we have spent far too much money in the last seven years". Whether that is due to having too many Ministers of Defence or to some other cause I do not know. He should have added, "I plead guilty and I accept the Labour Party's Amendment".
I hope he will take heed of what I am saying. To have this kind of debate is futile when we lack the information. The Minister should get us together, tell us what is going on, and furnish the information. If there is a security risk about it, he can rely on the honour and integrity of hon. Members. I am satisfied about that. Let the right hon. Gentle- 1338 man do that. Next year, even under a Labour Government, instead of having the Government's present supporters clamouring for information, let us ensure that all Members of this House are better informed.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)
The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) made, as he always does, an extremely spirited contribution to the debate, speaking with the double authority of a former Minister of Defence and Secretary of State for War. But in spite of what he himself said about coherence, I did not think that this speech was one of his more coherent efforts. I agreed with a lot of what he said, but several times he seemed to me to contradict himself.
One thing I do agree with was that the right hon. Gentleman said about the futility of defence debates. So far as I can remember, defence debates were just as futile when he was Minister of Defence as they are now, and it was just as difficult to get information out of the Government as it was before his time and has been since. Probably that is a very good thing. Specific information on these subjects is probably better not bandied about here or anywhere else.
I will try to get my teeth into the one fairly solid bit of information which emerges from the present White Paper. In opening the debate, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said that the White Paper did not contain any new announcement of policy. My right hon. Friend was too modest and was doing himself less than justice. The announcement that the overall recruiting ceiling of the Army was being raised by 15,000 to 180,000 represents a not inconsiderable change of policy. It is true that it is announced in a rather sheepish, hole and corner way. It is described as a method of ensuring that the strength of the Armyshall not fall below the planned figure of 165,000.Incidentally, one wonders, if this safeguard is necessary now, why it was not necessary when the figure 165,000 was first fixed, in 1957.
I am glad to say, however, that my right hon. Friend then goes on to announce that the additional men recruited 1339 over and above the 165,000" will be used to increase the strength of units overseas and in the Strategic Reserve". I do not want to be a spoil-sport but I only hope that when he gets these extra 15,000 men, whom he said before he did not need, he will not find that the Treasury turns mean about all those extra civilians he is employing and tries to steal these away from him.
But for those of us who have been urging on my right hon. Friend the need for a larger Army, it would be ungracious to look at this gift horse too closely in the mouth. We should rather welcome it for what it is worth and hope that it will be followed by other gift horses from the same stable.
It would be dangerous for anyone who has not an expert and up-to-date knowledge of these matters to try to go into too much detail, but I myself feel that the time has come for a reappraisal of our defence policy, which, like most reappraisals, is, I am afraid, bound to be agonising.
It is no secret that one of the underlying purposes of my right hon. Friend's appointment was a drastic reduction in defence expenditure. Whatever else he has done, he has certainly not achieved that. Defence costs continue to soar. The idea was that the expensive and cumbrous conventional forces should be substantially reduced and replaced by cheap, effective, streamlined nuclear forces. These forces may be streamlined but they are certainly not cheap. There are moments when one wonders exactly how effective they are and whether we are not in danger of being badly left and outclassed in a race for rockets and counter rockets that we cannot really afford.
A lot has been said about Blue Streak. I wonder whether Blue Streak will ever really come into service. It raises two big questions. First of all, the question of a static system of missiles against a mobile system. I cannot believe that in this island a system based on static missiles can possibly be the right one. In that sort of war we must surely have more room for deployment. Secondly, there is the whole question of the independent British deterrent. There is, I think, a tremendous amount of confusion in everybody's mind about that. There seemed to 1340 be considerable confusion in the mind of the right hon. Member for Easington, for all his experience and wisdom. He said that we should make "a modest contribution to the deterrent. "Is that, I wonder, the policy of the party opposite? My right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply also talked about a contribution. But a contribution to the deterrent is not at all the same thing as an independent deterrent. Is this yet another change of policy?
For my part, I was very glad to hear what the Minister of Supply had to say on the subject of co-operation between this country and America. Certainly the modification of the McMahon Act was a big step in the right direction, and what the Minister of Supply said follows very aptly on what the Minister of Defence said last year on the subject of collective defence. I am sure that is what we should aim at. People say that we are becoming too dependent on America. I think the more real dependence there is between us and America, the more inter-dependence —the more we depend on them and they depend on us—the better it will be for the defence of the West. We should aim at a regular division of labour between ourselves and our American and European Allies. They should make themselves principally responsible for the deterrent and we should make ourselves principally responsible for the cold war, which, after all, when we take into consideration our commitments and our geographical position, is obviously the rôle for which we are best suited.
The question we should ask ourselves is, "What is it that makes us great; what is it that gives us influence in the councils of the nations?" I cannot believe that anyone in his senses will reach the conclusion that it is mainly a matter of missiles. There are a lot of other things which are much more important. As has been said—and I am glad it has been said again and again in this debate and it was never said better than by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head)—this cold war is principally a war of ideas. It is on ideas that we should concentrate. It is also important that we should be in a position to put across our ideas and, to do that, we must be able to play our proper part in the world, to fulfil our Imperial commitments and our obligations towards our Allies.
1341 That is why I hope that the process which has begun with the raising of the strength of the Army from 165,000 to 180,000 will continue. This is only a first step and we should go on until we get an Army of round about 200,000. I am sure, and other people who know much more about it than I do are equally sure, that that is the minimum number with which we can play our proper part in the world.
What has been worrying me all along, and is still worrying me, is the impression that the size of the Army, which after all bears the brunt of the cold war, is fixed not in regard to strategic considerations, as it should be, but to political considerations. One cannot help feeling that the Government have simply said to themselves, "We have to do away with National Service for political reasons. How many soldiers can we get by voluntary recruitment? "The first guess was 165,000, and so they fixed it at 165,000. After a couple of years the recruiting results—and a very good thing too— turned out a little better than they thought they would. So up went the figure to 180,000. And a very good thing, too. But it still makes one wonder if what we are doing is not to cut our commitments to fit our forces instead of the other way round.
I hope this gradual process of education which we observe on the Government Front Bench will continue and that in due course the strength of the Army will be fixed where it belongs, another 20,000 or so up. My conviction is that that will do far more than Blue Streak or any other missile to enable us to play our proper part in the world.,
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley)
It pains me more and more every time I listen to these defence debates and to hon. and gallant Members making independent contributions, speaking mainly from their past Service and experience and—with respect—it seems to me, from a selfish point of view, "flogging" their Service lines.
The hon. Member for Lancaster (Sir F. Maclean) did attempt to stand back a little and to look at the whole situation, but the speeches throughout yesterday, that of the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. G. R. Howard) particularly, developed the theme that we want more 1342 for the Navy, a greater Navy still, irrespective of the plan which may be in mind globally from a defence point of view. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) deployed the argument that we must have more money pouring in for the production of more aircraft, and so on. Every time he speaks a military man deploys his arguments from a rather selfish point of view.
I agreed with a lot of what the hon. Member for Lancaster said, particularly about interdependence. The House has not yet had time to debate the agreement we made with America last year for the exchange of atomic energy information for mutual defence purposes, which has joined the two nations, America and Great Britain, in atomic wedlock. The only person to mention it so far, indirectly, has been the Minister of Supply, in today's debate. No doubt the Minister of Defence might elaborate a little tonight on the progress which has been made since we made that agreement seven or eight months ago.
I, too, feel very strongly about the defence White Paper. I was about to say that no coherent defence policy is embodied in it, but I quickly changed that in view of the intervention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Easing-ton (Mr. Shinwell). There is still no continuing defence policy embodied in the White Paper. If we are to have a defence debate mainly centred on the substance of a defence White Paper we should not get this ragged assembly of progress in specific developments. That is all that this While Paper seems to be.
The main criticism is that there has been no attempt at all at a global appraisal of our defence strategy, or even the limit of our preparedness either for localised conflict or global, all-out war. As new weapons come into being and techniques change there is continued necessity for some reference to be made to that. In view of the fact that the White Paper is made up only of progress reports of these various developments, we cannot deal with the matter in isolation, but have to look back to previous White Papers to see how they fit in with this one, particularly in relation to developments in other fields.
I wonder what effect has been made on defence thinking, particularly in the minds of the three atomic Powers following the breakdown of the disarmament 1343 talks last year. There were scores of meetings. Hours and hours were spent by the Foreign Offices of the three Governments concerned, like an international game of chess, playing with the lives of many people and the finances of many nations, yet we reached stalemate. I can only assume that because stalemate was the result many of those nations have now decided to speed up their military development. Mainly because the disarmament talks broke down completely, the tempo has increased tremendously and now we are willing to put more money into rearmament than before. That was a factor which encouraged the United States to make the agreement with us on the exchange of atomic energy information during last year. I should like to deal with that a little later, in view of the fact that at no time have we had an opportunity of discussing it.
There were four cardinal points in the 1958 Defence White Paper, Command 363, which should have been elaborated this year. First, I will refer to our desire to bolster up faith in our alliances, particularly N.A.T.O. Secondly, there was the need to encourage a trend towards greater interdependence, as the hon. Member for Lancaster has just said. Thirdly, there was the need to modernise our action stations at key points on the sea lanes of the world. Fourthly, it is absolutely essential that we should form as quickly as possible a highly trained atomically equipped Strategic Reserve with mobility to travel quickly to any theatre of conflict.
Those seem to me to be the four key points of the 1958 Defence White Paper, which has been the basis of the five-year development plan by the Government.
Therefore, I would have thought it essential in the present Defence White Paper to have given us some idea what progress had been made on those four cardinal points in the original Defence White Paper. Those are the aims and desires, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington said, of all people who are interested in the defence of the nation and all its interests overseas.
However, there is one unpalatable fact which must be faced. Next month we are sending out to Europe for the first time an atomically armed unit. I thought 1344 that my right hon. Friend intended to develop this theme. He got to the brink and then paused. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) and one of the hon. and gallant Gentlemen on the other side mentioned it tonight. One of the points which should be aired—and the Minister should have made some reference to it when opening the debate—is the decision that has to be made for using tactical nuclear weapons. The three atomic Powers of the world have spent a large amount of money. They have made rapid progress in research on and development of nuclear weapons. They have been exploiting them by the dozen in the Nevada desert. Within a short distance there have been experiments held with troops at the perimeter of the explosions.
We have now reached such an advanced stage that we are able to produce atomic artillery of such a size that it can be deployed in the battlefield. A great deal of money has been spent on trying to produce a small nuclear weapon and make it relatively radioactively clean. Having achieved that, it is possible for this type of weapon to be used in local conflict, limited war, and not necessarily to be followed by global thermo-nuclear war.
We are involved in this. We are ready to send out our first atomic unit to Europe. We shall not have an opportunity of a full defence debate for another eleven months after it has gone. Therefore, we should be told by the Government who will be responsible for pressing the trigger. Will it be a political decision, or are we to delegate now the responsibility to the commander in the field? Will the officer in charge of the unit, recognising the situation and being overwhelmingly attacked numerically by conventional weapons, say, "We have equal power. Because of our strength as an atomic Power, we have a nuclear weapon which can be used and so save the situation."
When the Americans recently moved into the Lebanon they were armed with an atomic unit. When a situation developed in Quemoy and the Matsu Islands the Americans were armed with an atomic unit. They have already reached that stage. It is our turn next, in a month's time. Therefore, with this force now 1345 moving out into the field, the Government should be prepared to make an announcement that the responsibility is primarily that of the Government, or are we now to delegate that responsibility to the commander in the field?
I believe that it is possible, at some future time, because of the rapid progress that has been made with nuclear weapons, to use them and completely cut out global all-out war. The aim is to try to develop what might be termed in years to come a nuclear grenade. Once that stage is reached, we might as well face the fact that nuclear weapons will speedily oust conventional weapons from the field. In a few years' time they will become just as recognised as the machine gun was recognised in comparison with the bow and arrow.
That is the trend. I know that I may have a tendency to be pessimistic, but that is the direction in which we are travelling. If we cannot get universal agreement on the renunciation of nuclear weapons, that is how it will go. We have got to the brow on research, and we can see over the plains. We can see now how they will come into war strategy. Naturally, the Americans and Russians now, as with ourselves, are concentrating on field strategy. All our attempts at battlefield plans are concentrated round the use of tactical nuclear weapons. In view of the fact that this unit is shortly to go into the field, I hope that the Minister will spend some time tonight in telling us what he thinks the responsibility of the Government will be as opposed to the officer in charge of the unit.
There has obviously been a change in defence policy. I say that because of the introduction, contrary to our expectations, of the T.S.R. 2. The Minister of Defence —and I give equal credit to the Minister of Supply—had the foresight and imagination to visualise the trend. The days of manned bombers were numbered. Ballistic missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and so on, were to take their place. Surface-to-air guided missiles would gradually make the bomber obsolete. The Minister of Defence and the Minister of Supply made that quite obvious in 1957, because the guiding theme was given at the same time as the White Paper on defence.
1346 The Minister of Supply severely curtailed expenditure on aircraft and engine development. Then the Defence White Paper indicated that the manned fighter was to end with all the models already adopted, and the supersonic bomber project was to be discontinued. There was encouragement to introduce ballistic missiles, nuclear armed, and so on. Then the Minister of Supply let it be known that the aircraft industry must close its ranks and be prepared for a redundancy of 100,000 men. I thought that that was very clear and quite emphatic, and I did not disagree with the whole appraisal of the situation.
Missiles are coming fairly quickly into the field. We had the V-bombers, armed with megaton weapons. We had the N.A.39. The Lightning was projected and was on the point of being ordered. I thought that all these—the V-bomber force, the N.A.39 with its special rôle and the Lightning fighters—would have been sufficient during the transition period. Obviously, this is a change which has taken place since the Defence White Paper of last year, because the Minister of Defence has recognised, first, that the ballistic missile that we thought a great deal of, the Blue Streak, was not coming along fast enough and, secondly, that we had got Thors in highly vulnerable positions in our island which were in the main untested and that up to date we had no tactical weapons in our Armed Forces.
Because of those three factors, and because there seemed to be too long a gap between the time when the manned bomber would come to an end and the ballistic missiles were to come into production, the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Supply have changed their minds. This is a change in defence policy. I am very much against the introduction of the T.S.R.2. I thought Chat the N.A.39 could have done the job. We cannot get the T.S.R.2 until 1966 at the earliest.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
The hon. Gentleman will realise that there is a difference of date between the N.A.39 and the T.S.R.2 of five to six years. There is also a very considerable difference in performance. They are complementary aircraft. They are not competitive with each other.
§ Mr. Mason
Yes, I appreciate that, but, having spent some time studying 1347 these two aircraft, I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman. The N.A.39 has already been produced, and ordered. It is purely for the naval rôle, but it could have been converted to do a good and useful job for the Royal Air Force at a cost of, at most, £10 million, and it would have been produced for the R.A.F. by 1961. The T.S.R.2 will cost between £50 million and £60 million—and that is a conservative estimate—and we shall not get it before 1966. To me, it is a sheer waste of money. The N.A.39 has been specially developed to evade the radar screen and, as it operates at zero level, it can also evade missiles, and so would have helped in the transitional era—
§ Mr. Mason
I am sorry, but I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman on this. The N.A.39 has been produced, and he knows quite well that only slight modifications would be required to make it acceptable by the Royal Air Force. However, the Air Ministry was absolutely adamant that it would not accept the N.A.39, but wanted a new aircraft.
All this has stemmed from "Operation Prospect," last year, and it has proved that the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Supply are not the strong men we thought they were—particularly the Minister of Defence. Ever since then, the Minister of Defence, in spite of a staunch, rock-like attitude at the Box, has quivered like a leaf in the wind when he has been in counsel with the Air Ministry chiefs. Otherwise, he would not have given way on the T.S.R.2. He has been stampeded into this change of defence policy by the strength of his right hon. colleagues in the Air Ministry, and of the air chiefs.
There is no chance at all of streamlining our forces or having unified commands if we have a Minister of Defence who is not strong enough to resist the pressure of his right hon. Friends in debate, and the pressure exerted by the Service chiefs themselves. There is bickering, snarling and wrangling among them 1348 all the time. [HON. MEMBERS:"Oh."] That is precisely what has happened.
Last year, we had a debate on the White Paper on the Central Organisation of Defence. The White Paper itself was inept, insipid, and no progress was made. After that White Paper had been published, the Minister of Defence was left as weak as before. Every Service chief still had the right to the back staircase to the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister still had the right to consult all the Service chiefs. The Minister of Defence lost that battle. He also lost a battle when he was cast aside in a most slurring fashion at the "Operation Prospect" conference.
The T.S.R. 2 has driven the last nail in the coffin. The right hon. Gentleman has been extremely weak. He has shown a strong attitude in the House—serving the Government, defending his Service Ministers, and so on—but, obviously, one of the reasons why this White Paper gives no continuing defence policy is a change in defence strategy and defence thinking, allowing the T.S.R. 2 to come forward, and not giving the N.A. 39 a chance to perform the Royal Air Force rôle.
I turn now to Command Paper 470. I give credit to the Minister of Supply as being the only person to mention that White Paper. It details the atomic Agreement between America and Great Britain. I cannot understand why we have not had a debate on it. It is the most promising White Paper on defence that we have had from this Government, but we have had no time to discuss it.
What do we gain from that Agreement? Article V B says that there is to be no transfer of atomic weapons. I deplore that. The two countries could have learned a great deal from each other in that way. Article III says that we may purchase one submarine nuclear propulsion unit. Article IX says that Britain has to give away to the Americans all the data about the working and efficiency of Calder Hall.
On that reckoning, not much has been gained, and a great deal appears to have been lost. As to the transfer of weapons, we are obviously still behind the United States. Transfers could have helped us considerably, especially in the tactical nuclear sphere. And I thought that we were developing our own nuclear submarine propulsion unit. I thought that 1349 one of our atomic research establishments was now conducting research leading to the production of one of these units. There is an extension at Dounreay solely for that purpose. Therefore, is it necessary, is time so important—'because that is all that we seem to be getting—to buy this unit from the United States of America? When he winds up the debate, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether we are making the expected progress, and how long we are to wait for the unit either to be developed by the Atomic Energy Authority or produced at Dounreay?
The most valuable part of this agreement is in the article that allows the exchange of information on the development of defence plans. That is very wide, and I should have thought that some reference would have been made to it in the White Paper. It deals with the training of troops with nuclear weapons and their military application within the alliance. It deals, also, with the development of delivery systems of nuclear warheads, and it allows information to be exchanged on the research into, and the development and design of military reactors—which, of course, could include those to be developed for aircraft, ships, submarines and the like.
It seems strange that though this Agreement has been in existence for eight months, neither the Minister of Defence nor the Minister of Supply has made any reference, either in this debate or in the White Paper, to the progress we are making in this Agreement between the two countries. The Agreement means that there need to be no overlapping at all between the two nations. If it is being worked effectively and to the full, we can cut out wastage of resources. We should have been told, therefore, what is happening. If the Agreement proceeds on the lines desired by the two Governments it will help us considerably to cut back our defence expenditure.
What is really intended? I ask the right hon. Gentleman the following few questions. First, is this new form of agreement to act as a nucleus within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation? In atomic matters, such as training, field strategy, and use of atomic weapons, are we to be independent of the rest because they are not members of the nuclear club? What about delivery systems of 1350 nuclear warheads and the training of troops in the use of the tactical nuclear weapon?
To what extent is there to be a merging of American and British troops, and to what extent does the Agreement allow for training fields in Britain or America to be used for this purpose? There are already complaints that we cannot deploy our forces in Germany as much as we should like to. There appears to be scope for that in this Agreement. When agreement is reached on the best means of delivery of the rockets—having Blue Streak particularly in mind—to what extent is there to be agreement on production either here or in America?
Finally, what about space satellites? If American experiments prove that it is possible to set up a radar screen with earth-space satellites in orbit, are we in agreement on this as well? Do we visualise, for defence purposes, a joint effort in earth-space satellite projects, particularly in developing a radar screen?
This Agreement could be of great benefit to both countries. It has great possibilities for cementing a better Anglo-American friendship in peacetime than we have had before. As it develops, it can prove to be the basis of an even better Western Alliance of nations.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Sir James Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
It is not surprising that a large proportion of this debate has been devoted to something which is causing great anxiety, namely, the question of the deterrent, but it is perhaps a little surprising and, to my mind, extremely gratifying that in our proceedings both yesterday and today there have been references to international bodies, European bodies and assemblies when these grave problems have been discussed. It is this aspect which I wish to discuss for a few moments.
The more our defence problems become complicated, the more the weapons on which we rely become complicated, the more difficult does it become for us in Parliament and for ordinary people to follow the intricacies of the programmes and the weapons we are considering. It is of the very greatest importance that the public generally should understand these problems, should be able to form an opinion on them, and be able to give 1351 the support which any democratic Government requires in any defence policy and, ultimately, in a conflict should one ever come. We are in danger of losing sight of this.
The international bodies such as Western European Union play what is, perhaps, their most important rôle in this very way. I have learned an immense amount about the attitude of mind and thoughts of those who would be our allies in any conflict on the occasions when I have gone to Paris or Strasbourg to discuss these problems. If one adds to myself the 15 or 16 delegates who go there from each party and then multiplies that by the 15 nations who make their contributions there, and if one assumes that each one of us attends for about three years, one is able to appreciate how important it is in forming public opinion that these bodies should continue and be supported.
There is at the moment a plan put forward by the Belgian Government that the Assembly of Western Europen Union should be run into the Assembly of N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians which has been meeting unofficially for a number of years. I do not object to this happening. It might be a logical step to take, provided that the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Assembly is vested with the same powers of discussion and debate as the Western European Union Assembly has had.
It is sometimes thought fashionable to deride these bodies and assemblies because they have no power of decision; they can only debate and recommend. I think it was the late King George V who said that the power of the Monarchy now resided in its right to be informed and its right to criticise. When those rights can be exercised in a public assembly, that assembly has very great power and influence in guiding and forming public opinion on the problems which it discusses, on which public opinion in its turn should be informed and should itself form a view.
I welcome the remarks which have been made by hon. Gentlemen opposite, particularly by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele), who opened this afternoon for the Opposition. I welcome also the references made by my right hon. Friend to the complicated 1352 story of Blue Streak and other guided missiles. I hope that he will be able to attract our colleagues, our Allies, in Europe into really full co-operation. It is this co-operation which has been lagging deplorably behind.
I have one or two questions to put about the family of guided missiles which have been produced in this country during the last few years. How many of the weapons which we have produced in Britain have been adopted by our Allies on the Continent? As I remember it, we offered Thunderbird and Firestreak for sale to our continental Allies. Have any of these been sold? We hear of weapons produced by other countries being offered to us, and we hear of our taking and adopting them as part of a policy of standardisation, but we hear very little about any of our weapons being adopted by the United States of America or our other Allies.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
My hon. Friend has mentioned surface-to-air missiles. I think it was said earlier that Bloodhound and Thunderbird were offered to the Continent. The only continental country to have taken either of them is Sweden, which has taken Bloodhound.
§ Sir J. Hutchison
I am obliged to my right hon. Friend for that reply. Apparently, a little is happening in our favour.
To illustrate what I mean when I say that it is very dangerous if public opinion is not properly informed, I wish to give as an example something which happened in my own constituency in Scotland. At that time, we were discussing the siting of guided missile bases, and there was a certain movement afoot advocating that guided missile bases should not be sited in my country of Scotland at all. I took the opportunity in the House then of saying that I thought that that was a pusillanimous and unfortunate attitude. I said that my country would be ready and, indeed, proud to play its part if— this is the important matter—the Supreme Commander decided that they would be best sited there. Quite a lot of indignation sprang up at this, ending in a petition signed by about 2,000 of my constituents and sent to the Minister of Defence protesting against my words.
I am perfectly prepared to appreciate that other people have other opinions on these things, but we must remember what 1353 it was that these people were protesting against. I can understand that some people may misguidedly believe that there should be no guided missiles and no atomic preparation at all anywhere. But what these people were saying was: "If we are to be defended, others shall defend us. The risk shall be run not by us but by other people". That is an attitude which I simply could not support or tolerate. I am sure that it sprang from a misapprehension, from a lack of knowledge of what the situation was, and from a belief that if we did not have guided missiles in our own country we should be immune from attack, leaving out of account all the other targets against which a guided missile might well be directed by an enemy.
I give that illustration to show that, if public opinion is not properly informed on these questions both here and abroad, we can find ourselves in a very dangerous situation as a result of lack of democratic support. Ultimately, it is the support of the people in a democracy which is the strength of our resistance and the source of our staying power.
I have only one other reflection which I would like to offer to the House. It is a rather complicated matter, but I think that it has considerable importance. It concerns the system of what is known as infrastructure payments in Europe. I have always thought that the solution for a European Army was the European Defence Community system and that that would contribute considerably to the strength of the West. Unfortunately, that was voted down and failed in the French Parliament, and Sir Anthony Eden, who was then either Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary—I have forgotten which—set up the Western European Union in its place. The result is that instead of having an Army with a great measure of standardisation, as would be possible in a European Army, we have an Army under a Supreme Commander, General Norstad, in which there is an international command, but each supplying its own equipment, and there is a very complicated and rather expensive situation as a result of that.
There is one small exception to that system which should be built up and used in a wider variety of circumstances, and that is the infrastructure system of 1354 payments. It has been recognised from the beginning that it would be quite unfair to call upon a country, say, France, in whose territory it was clearly strategically important for airfields, missile sites or petrol bases to be sited, to pay alone for the cost of the air bases, airfields and missile bases. Consequently, a system was set up by a formula elaborated by N.A.T.O. under which each of the N.A.T.O. countries would contribute a sum to a common fund so that these items would be contracted for and built or supplied out of this infrastructure fund.
That gets over many of the difficulties, such as the lack of standardisation, about which I have been speaking. The infrastructure authorities place a contract for the building of airfields or for the supply of equipment anywhere in the world, most likely in Europe, wherever it is cheapest and most efficient.
We would consequently start by saving money. There would be a form of standardisation and unification of ideas and economy. However, the infrastructure fund is a minute fraction of the present total expenditure on defence. That arises because so far it has been limited to items of defence which cannot be moved. I do not understand, and have never been able to understand, the sanctity of immobility. Why should not we be able to buy other items out of an increased infrastructure fund, even if they are mobile and can be moved? Where is the logic in buying a pipeline for the supply of petrol and oil and refusing to buy the tank wagons which deliver the petrol from the pipeline to the unit where it is to be used? I have spoken to the Supreme Commander on this point. I know that he would be glad to see it expanded. I know that there is a chance, which I hope will be carried through, that when the missile bases are sited they will be paid for out of the infrastructure fund.
I hope that the Government and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply, who is concerned in this matter, will press for the infrastructure system to be examined with the object of expansion. When the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians met in Paris last year they passed a resolution requesting N.A.T.O. to set up a working party or sub-committee to examine this point and to produce a report. I do not know whether it will do so, but the Members of Parliament of 1355 these countries, including the United States and Canada, solemnly asked that this should be done. I appeal to my right hon. Friend to take such steps which are open to him to impress upon N.A.T.O. the importance which we attach to at least an examination of this system to see whether it can go further.
In conclusion, I welcome the return to a Regular Army. I believe that this will be more efficient and more economical, because I knew the old Army. I should also like to say that, because I have seen them at close quarters, the lads who did their National Service at a time when we needed them did an extremely good job, and I think that the country is indebted to them. In turn, they are indebted to the country, because practically none of them did not benefit in health, outlook and moral character.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison), in the earlier part of his speech, reflected upon the relationship that should exist between the military and the rest of the community and considered the problem of defence as an aspect of the activity of a democratic society. That is a broad and interesting subject, and I desire to touch upon it myself in my observations.
One of the main interests that the people of this country have in defence is whether they are getting value for money. The level of expenditure reaches a point where public opinion wants a quite clear assurance that it is getting value for the vast sums being expended. In this connection I heard with dismay the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Supply. He displayed certain qualities which we are accustomed to expect from him—cogency, coherence and that kind of thing. However, he enunciated a most melancholy catalogue of future proposals.
The Minister had hardly any account to offer about advantages obtained from vast expenditure already incurred. Like myself, I am sure that many hon. Members on both sides of the House heard his speech with real dismay. He was interrupted at one point and asked to give an explanation why it will be possible to start putting into production and get- 1356 ting into service various types of equipment, vehicles, and things of that kind, when apparently it has not been possible to start such production before. The right hon. Gentleman said that it must be appreciated that that was explained by the change from an Army with a large number of National Service men to a small Regular Army. That is the kind of vague, woolly explanation that it is quite wrong to expect the House to accept.
One of the items of production which the right hon. Gentleman said would shortly come forward if the programme went according to plan was a track troop carrier. Why need the production of a track troop carrier be either retarded or accelerated by the shift from an Army of National Service men to a smaller Regular Army? I do not see cause and effect in that explanation. I am sure that the House will want a far more careful and searching investigation of these matters and a more thorough explanation than it has so far received.
I have not often intervened in defence debates. What I wish to do on this occasion, in particular, is to try to consider what may be the particular usefulness of these debates, they being the focal point at which Parliament and the House of Commons bring their attention to bear upon matters relating to the Services and to the defence of the country, matters which are of crucial importance to us all. One of the desirable features of these debates is that they provide an opportunity for improving, as it is very desirable that they should improve, the relations existing between the civilian and the military elements in the community. I do not suggest that that relationship is unsatisfactory—I do not think it is. There is a very healthy relationship. All I am saying is that it is important that that should be so and that it should become increasingly so.
One of the useful things that may emerge from a debate of this kind, and which may appear to the public mind as a consequence, is that there is really close liaison and understanding between the lay and civilian and the military elements in our society. That is a matter which can be advantaged by organisation. Recent changes in the organisation of the Ministry of Defence appear to me to advantage the prospect of good association and relations between these elements. The more concentration there is in the 1357 administrative side the less danger there is of misunderstanding.
We all know how the relations between the civil and military elements were greatly improved in the last war as compared with the war before. That is an improvement which it is very desirable should be maintained and continued and, if possible, carried further. I speak as one of the great number of hon. Members whose experience of military matters was confined to Army service some years ago, and I say this without hesitation as a matter of personal experience, and, I am sure, many hon. Members can say the same: my experience of leaders in Army life during my years in the Army impressed me enormously. I was struck by their ability, their skill and, perhaps pre-eminently, their tact. The treatment by the Regular Army officers of the non-military civilian element coming into a wartime Army was one of the most striking experiences of its kind that many of us have had.
Not only is that tribute to be paid to them, but there is additionally to be kept in mind the factor that particularly those who were in command of large units of, say, the scale and complexity of an Army, a Corps or a division, had upon their hands a prodigiously difficult and complex task, which exceeds in terms of complexity and responsibility some of the largest industrial and commercial responsibilities undertaken in the greatest enterprises in civilian life.
All I am saying in this connection is that it is a desirable objective, and one which can be well advanced on these occasions by debates upon defence, that there should be mutual understanding between the civilian and the military elements. It should be made abundantly clear that there is a recognition in the House of Commons and among the civilian element of the responsibilities which are undertaken in the Services and of our respect for the manner in which they are carried out.
There is another important thing that can be done on these occasions, and I describe it in this way. It is important to recognise that these debates on defence all too readily become too diffuse and too blurred in outline. We ought to regard defence as a particularly and especially precise and concrete subject. Defence is only something to which we 1358 have resort when almost everything else has failed. That is why the speech of the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) yesterday, although I agreed with by far the greater part of it, had very little to do with defence.
Perhaps some hon. Members disagree with me, but to my mind what he raised was not a defence issue. It is, of course, of vital importance that we should carry on our propaganda and the putting forward of our point of view on the great matters to which he referred in peacetime. We must, indeed, fight by all means for the ideology in which we believe, but it is not defence. It is blurring the boundaries of thought and reflection upon this subject to regard it as such. When we are debating and discussing defence, we are having regard to something to which we resort only when other methods have failed. The right hon. Member for Carshalton, in his moving and impressive speech, appealed for support for the proposition that somebody at least should be thinking about these matters of propaganda and the ideological war. He asked who was thinking about it and he mentioned the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Colonial Office and all the rest. He made the general appeal that somebody ought to be thinking about that aspect of our policy. I agree, But I say that the Minister of Defence is one of the last people who should be thinking about it. Certainly, let there be thinking about it in the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office, where there is a high relevancy to it, but not in the Ministry of Defence. It is thinking of this kind that blurs the theme and spoils the argument.
Another proposition which I would put to hon. Members in considering these issues of defence is that it would seem to me that we have a particular responsibility in this House to recognise that in the contemporary problems of modern defence the skilful and careful selection of personnel is becoming progressively more and more important. Within our function and responsibilities as a legislative assembly, we can usefully and properly keep a check at least upon the headings of the policies that are adopted by the Government governing the selection of personnel.
The whole matter of defence is becoming steadily more technical and more 1359 complex. An effective defensive system is every day becoming more dependent upon there being available trained men in highly specialised fields of study and enterprise. It is quite impossible for an assembly like the British House of Commons to endeavour to apply a kind of piecemeal and detailed supervision in a matter of that kind. To achieve the maximum efficiency we have to rely upon capable and able supervision of the methods of selection of personnel.
It is very important that we should take the opportunity of exercising that supervision and that, at the same time as we recognise the increasing importance of these technological considerations and aspects of defence, we should seize every opportunity to insist that the terms of remuneration of men in the Services, pensions payments and matters of that kind are so adjusted that they will be calculated to attract able, competent and far-sighted men towards them.
I have, for example, seen with great satisfaction reference to an extension of scholarships for Sandhurst, and I think in principle that that is entirely admirable. Let there be every kind of incentive and encouragement given to able young people to come into the Services, and let it be agreed on all sides that it would be a most disastrous thing if a lack of means were to stand in the way of able and competent technicians or engineers, or people with particular aptitudes, going into the Services. That is the kind of advance and improvement that I very much welcome.
There is only one more head to which I want to refer in this consideration which I am endeavouring to carry out of the problem of the relation between ourselves in this House and the matter of defence. It seems to me that we can only take cognisance of the outline of the issues of strategy and tactics, about which we hear so much discussion. There is a tremendous lot of discussion upon what are really fundamentally obscure and difficult strategic and tactical problems. The view I take is that these matters are just as much matters for experts as are highly difficult technical problems of engineering, hydraulics and suchlike. In taking this view, I do not resign from a responsibility for the matter in outline, but it must be an outline. All 1360 that I am venturing to insist upon is that any intelligent and reasonable being will realise that he cannot be a specialist in everything and must, to some degree, delegate to people whom he profoundly hopes have been carefully chosen responsibility in the fields in which they are acknowledged experts.
In this context, I think we have a responsibility to make sure that defence policy does not become too rigidly attached to particular fixed strategic concepts. We hear talk, I think it is very vague talk, about the conflict which exists between the concept of a limited conventional war and the use of the ultimate deterrent—a concept of that kind, rather vague and woolly in its character, as it seems to me to be. All I would say is that public opinion will insist that we should not exclude the possibility, in any event, of the use of the ultimate deterrent, and, therefore, should not exclude the necessity of making our contribution towards it. It will insist that it is equally true that it would be wrong to eliminate the possible potential importance of the conventional shield.
Although I agree with my right hon. Friend in what he said yesterday about the need of having a defence policy developed and associated in the context of strategic designs, none the less I think that these designs should be flexible in character and that we should not make the mistake of committing ourselves to any too precise view as to the proportionate importance in future campaigns and events of conventional forces, on the one hand, and the great deterrent, upon the other.
Before I sit down, I wish to conclude upon the note on which I began. In all these matters, in which the public of this country takes such great interest, none is more important than the question whether we are getting value for our money when the scale of our expenditure is as high as it is. The account which the Minister of Supply had to give as to whether we were getting value for our money was one of the most unsatisfactory utterances we have had to listen to in this Chamber for a long time.
§ 6.46 p.m.
Sir Peter Macdonatd (Isle of Wight)
I have no intention of following the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) in his very 1361 interesting speech, apart from the fact that I agree with most of what he said; certainly, on the question of the personnel of the Services, on which I fully agree with his remarks.
There has been a good deal of criticism of this White Paper from various sources on the grounds that it contains nothing new, that it is the same as the White Papers of last year and the year before. It does, however, contain one or two items on which I wish to congratulate the Minister of Defence and the Government, and one of those relates to their success in recruitment for the forces. I never took the view that it was not possible to recruit a Regular Army, Navy or Air Force, provided that the necessary incentives were offered and certain conditions were carried out.
First, I place very great importance on pay and pensions, but also on housing conditions and conditions afloat in the ships, as well as on matters such as schooling for children. One thing which I stressed very much the last time I spoke on recruitment was the importance of giving opportunities in the Services for men to learn trades while they are in the Services. This is particularly apt where the Royal Air Force is concerned, because it is a great incentive to recruiting into a Service in which men can learn engineering, electronics and radar and have other opportunities which will help them when they come out, however long they have been in the Services.
That is a very important thing, and the question of training of men in the Services is specially important when it is the intention, and certainly the policy, of the Government to cut down on aircraft production and the production of manned aircraft. Every aircraft production firm has a school of apprenticeship, which, in many cases, is as good as any technical college, and they have up to now, and, I hope, will be able to do in the future, been able to train young engineers after leaving school up to a very high standard.
I hope that that policy will be pursued, and that when a man leaves the Services he will be able to get a trade certificate acceptable to any employer or trade union in the country, because even if he has spent twenty-one years in the Services, he will still probably be a comparatively young man when he comes 1362 out. He will have to find employment and if he has taken advantage of the opportunities for learning a trade, he will find that his time in the Services has not been wasted.
I also congratulate my right hon. Friend on the Government's attitude towards pay and pensions, great incentives to recruiting. In particular, I congratulate him on the fact that the White Paper deals with the pensions of the widows of ex-officers and other ranks. That has been a sore subject for a long time and those Service widows have had a very rough time since the war. I hope that the Government will lose no time in implementing their plans. I understand that a statement is to be made soon, and I hope that it will not be long delayed, because people are very anxious to know what the exact proposals are. I hope that they will be as generous as we expect.
I criticised the Government's policy when we discussed the last Defence White Paper. I said that they placed too much emphasis on the nuclear aspect of defence as against that of aircraft and mobile weapons. There has obviously been some rethinking since that time, because in this White Paper there is not the same emphasis on the static nuclear deterrent, although we are still keeping the Blue Streak, which is essential.
We have to consider what our defences are supposed to do not only at home, but throughout the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. From our point of view, a static deterrent such as the Blue Streak is essential, and I am glad that the Government are pursuing it, but it is also essential that our defences should be mobile, both in the nuclear and other aspects.
Although, in their last White Paper, the Government gave no encouragement to the construction of new types of aircraft, in this White Paper it is stated that they are to order the T.S.R.2 and one or two other types—the Canberra and a new freighter. I am glad that they have ordered a freighter, because I was very alarmed at the rumours that they were to buy an American freighter instead of ordering a type from home. That would have been a retrograde step which would have caused consternation in the aircraft industry and in the country at large. I am glad that the Government are to order a freighter aircraft, although only a few 1363 and of limited capacity and with a speed of only 350 m.p.h.
There may be a requirement for that type of aircraft at present, but such an order does not look very far into the future. What steps are being taken to meet the requirements of five or seven years' hence? It takes a long time to build a new type of aircraft to provide a requirement to succeed the freighter, which should be only a holding aircraft, until something in the supersonic range comes along with jet propulsion and with at least twice the speed of the present freighter.
I hope that these orders will be given to the industry as quickly as possible. The industry has been exhorted by the Government to integrate and amalgamate and to do everything possible to cut down the number of production units. That is being done to a very large extent. Much integration is taking place, although it is not easy to integrate the brains which are required in the design departments of this industry.
Nevertheless, the companies have begun the process very well, although they complain often and strenuously of lack of orders from the Government. They put forward requirements of their own, or requirements come from the Government, and if policy is eventually settled and the squabbles of various committees are settled, a very long time elapses before the orders go to the factories. That will be especially the case if, in future, the companies get no Government financial help. It is, therefore, very important that any work should go to the factories as quickly as possible, because some firms are carrying a very heavy financial burden without knowing what their future is.
I had an example given to me the other day. It concerned one of our leading engine manufacturers, the greatest engine manufacturers in the world. They have about four types of engine production and development at the same time. Those four types involve the firm in an expenditure of about £20 million, most of which the firm carries by itself. Many engines have to be sold to make £20 million, and that is a heavy financial burden for any company to carry.
Smaller firms in a similar position will have to finance themselves in future. It 1364 is difficult for such a firm to borrow money from the bank unless it has a firm order. If the firm can only say that it has a requirement which has yet to be put to the Ministry of Supply, which may or may not accept it, the bank manager is likely to say that the firm had better make sure of the requirement before he will advance a loan. That situation will confront any firm which has to finance a project which it wishes to put to the Government or the nationalised airlines.
I was surprised to hear the Minister of Supply say that manpower was not his responsibility. He may not be directly responsible, but he bears a serious responsibility for at least 250,000 men in the aircraft industry who look to the Ministry of Supply for orders. It is important that he should know the industry's position, for there is every prospect of great unemployment in the near future.
There has already been some of it and I had a case in my constituency fifteen months ago when a Government order, which had been pressed very hard, was suddenly cancelled on Christmas Eve and 2,000 men were threatened with unemployment. Luckily, it did not turn out as badly as that, because the firm found some other work. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, who helped to find employment for many men thrown out of work and who followed that with help in transport for those setting up homes in other parts of the country. The firm itself showed great ingenuity in finding other work and beginning new projects. In the result, the unemployment situation in my constituency is not nearly as bad as it might have been, although it is bad enough.
Yesterday, we had an example in Canada, where a British-Canadian firm laid off 14,000 men in one day. That is not our responsibility, apart from the fact that it is alarming news that any firm should have to do that, especially a firm with a British connection and employing many British people who have emigrated to Canada and found work in that firm.
That is what happens if orders for aircraft are suddenly cut off without any alternative employment for the people engaged in the industry. We must try our utmost to avoid that, otherwise we shall have more unemployment in the near future than we have today. That is what I am told by responsible people 1365 engaged in the aircraft industry, so I urge the Government and the Service Departments to get orders out to the factories as soon as possible, to allow those who are responsible today for their own research, production and development to get on with the job.
That is my contribution to this debate. I am sure that progress has been made, though we have had very little information so far. However, I never expect to get much information from a defence debate. It is always shrouded in a smokescreen of what is about to happen, or what is going on in the nuclear or some other realm, but when we press for information we do not get it. No doubt it is necessary to have a certain amount of secrecy in defence matters, especially about the development of defence weapons, but when we consider the amount of money we vote for defence every year in this country it is important that the public should know as far as possible how that money is being spent and should be convinced that it is spent to the best advantage.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald) said that he welcomed the fact that this White Paper did not put the same emphasis on the nuclear deterrent as did the White Paper of last year. In saying that, I think that the hon. Gentleman gave unintentional support to one of the main criticisms from this side of the House during the debate. It is that this White Paper does not put any emphasis on anything. It does not have any positive theme, but is a hotch-potch of Service items. The kindest description given of it has been that it is a progress report, although in some senses it does not even amount to that.
Before referring to the main theme of the debate I will make a few remarks about an aspect which has not yet been mentioned. I want to ask the Ministers present to what extent orders for equipment for the Services have been reviewed in the light of the unemployment situation. It is clear that orders for Service equipment have been spread over many years. One would think that in a time of mounting unemployment, some of which has been caused by changes in defence policy, Ministers would come here and say that orders have been given to speed 1366 the re-equipment of the forces, particularly in respect of items which could be produced in those parts of the country with heavy unemployment. There ought to be, even from this Government, liaison between the Service Departments, the Ministry of Labour and the Board of Trade on these matters, and I would like to know whether that has taken place.
There is another aspect of the Defence White Paper which bears on the unemployment situation. That is the increasing civilianisation of headquarters and bases in this country. When we replace Service people by civilians we not only streamline the Army, but we have to find civilian jobs for those displaced. That also calls for liaison and I want to know whether any has taken place.
I now turn to a theme which has been mentioned in the debate, and particularly several times today. That is the question of interdependence between Britain and her Allies. On this point the White Paper is not even a progress report, whereas last year the White Paper said some things that were encouraging up to a point. For instance, this appeared in paragraph 25:…it should be possible gradually to get away from the idea that each member nation must continue to maintain self-contained national forces …Most of us who looked at that critically, as I did, thought that since N.A.T.O. had been in existence for about ten years, this was saying too little and saying it too late. The concept should have been in existence far earlier. Nevertheless, as far as it went, it was a good intention. In the following paragraph the White Paper referred to considerable economies in time and resources which could be secured by greater co-ordination. It referred to discussions that were going on in Western European Union, to technical studies that were proceeding, to close cooperation with the United States and Canada. One would have thought that one of the major themes of the White Paper this year would have been the way in which all that had developed.
It is true that we have had some kind of report from the Minister of Supply this afternoon. I thought that it was a disappointing one, because all the right hon. Gentleman told us was that on various items discussions were still going on, and he was not able to give us a report of very much progress. Now it seems 1367 that this is one of the really vital aspects of all our defence planning, because running through this debate has been the theme that we are trying to do a great many things that are very expensive and that there is difficulty in reconciling them. That difficulty faces not only ourselves, but also our Allies, and on that basis interdependence ought to be one of our main objectives.
I will examine the White Paper and suggest that because of our lack of interdependence, and because of other failures of the Government, we are not succeeding in the objectives set out in the White Paper of 1957. Many of those objectives, as the Minister of Defence said quite rightly, were objectives that were shared by most of us. Certainly, I accept the fact that we must have the deterrent and that the Western Alliance must match the Soviet Union in a balance of what I might call terror.
It is not because any of us want to do that—we all hate the hydrogen bomb —but because, as I tried to explain to some constituents at lunch time today— when they came to see me to try to persuade me to speak in this debate for unilateral disarmament—I think there is a greater chance of peace in such a balance than there is in a world where all the terror is in the hands of one blocof nations.
I also accept the fact that there is a strong case for saying that the Western deterrent should not be wholly in American hands and under American control. I also agree that we need forces within the kind of limits laid down in this White Paper, that is, up to a level of about 400,000, who ought to be well-equipped, mobile and efficient. The other premise we would generally accept is that the cost of all this ought to be within the present total, and if possible, less. To speak of the need for saving money on defence is not to be anti-defence, but to stress the fact that if we are to play our part in other aspects of the struggle between the free world and the Communist world, some savings are beginning to be essential.
All these objectives, which are generally accepted on the Government side of the House, are objectives which the Government have failed to reconcile, and that is one of the main points of the Oppo- 1368 sition Amendment, on which there will be a vote later this evening. The Government have not succeeded in making savings on defence though they hoped to do so in 1957. When the White Paper was published there were what appeared to be inspired leaks in the Press suggesting that very large sums would be saved. Neither have the Government succeeded in equipping our forces with tactical nuclear weapons, or even with modern rifles or modern wireless sets, and other fairly straightforward requirements. In addition, I do not think that they have succeeded in making a very effective contribution to the Western deterrent.
Reading the White Paper without having all the secret information at our disposal, we get a picture of a sort of nightmare scientific race between the countries that claim to be nuclear Powers, in which it is becoming increasingly difficult for any country except the two super-Powers—the United States and the Soviet Union—to play an effective part.
I welcome the fact that the better forms of the V-bomber—the Vulcan and the Victor—are now with the operative units. We are glad to read that these aeroplanes are unsurpassed by any bombers in the other air forces of the world, and to read that they did well in the bombing tests in the United States.
But we are told that to be able to meet the threat of ground-to-air missile defences of a potential enemy a stand-off bomb is having to be developed. In other words, in their present form, without a stand-off bomb, these aircraft can be answered by modern forms of defence. We thus have a further example of a race between one set of people developing more efficient missile defences and another set developing stand-off bombs.
A similar consideration applies to the Blue Streak missile, which is only in the development stage. The Minister of Supply made some interesting comments about research and what the Americans and ourselves were doing about a possible defence against a ballistic missile. We must assume that similar work is also being done in the Soviet Union. Again, therefore, we have a race between the development of a future means of attack and of a future means of defence.
In terms of the defence of our bases we are told in the White Paper that next year the Royal Air Force will have a 1369 supersonic fighter with the Firestreak missileand later … a more advanced weapon capable of intercepting the faster aircraft of the future.Exactly the same thing is said of the ground-to-air missiles. The Bloodhound is beginning to be deployed, andA more advanced weapon with higher performance is being developed.In other words, both in attack and in defence we have the picture of weapon A being with the forces now; weapon B arriving next year or the year after, and weapon C being on the drawing boards— and all the time these weapons becoming obsolescent or completely obsolete before they are in the hands of the forces and people are trained to use them.
This process has cost us a lot of money. It would be useful if we could be told what proportion of our defence costs is going towards the deterrent, and the defence of the deterrent bases. Whatever it is, it seems that this cost will increase proportionately as the years succeed each other. This process involves a further cost, in the sense that the more we devote to it the less we are able to devote to the equipment of conventional forces. There is also a serious cost in another sense which has not yet been mentioned, namely, the tremendous cost to our economy arising through the great number of scientists and technologists tied up in this process.
I want to refer briefly to the 1957 report issued by the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, which examines what this country is doing in the field of scientific research and development. It said that we are spending about £300 million a year on scientific research and development, which is an inadequate figure, and compares poorly with what is being done by other industrial nations. The point I want to highlight is that out of that figure 59 per cent. was being spent on defence. I wonder to what extent there has been a discussion within the Cabinet about the extent to which we can afford to tie up such a large proportion of our scientific expenditure, and so many of our best scientists, in defence when they might be able to make a better contribution in other fields.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
I recognise that the hon. Member has scientific qualifications, but one of the objectives of the 1957 1370 Defence White Paper was to ease the pressure on the country's resources in scientists. Having said that, I realise that we must face the very interesting question whether it is better for scientific progress to have our scientists evenly dispersed, or to have a concentration of scientists in certain fields, to act as leaders in other fields.
§ Mr. Prentice
I am obliged to the Minister, but I have no scientific qualifications. I wonder to what extent the 1957 Report of the Advisory Council is out of date. The Minister has said that the 1957 White Paper on Defence was designed to alter this emphasis, and I am wondering to what extent it succeeded. It is something about which the House ought to hear a little more at some time.
I would not argue against Britain's having her own independent deterrent, but we should discuss frankly what it will cost, and we must ask ourselves whether these developments, which so quickly become obsolescent, are the best way of using our scarce resources. The Minister earlier talked about the great prestige which the Soviet Union enjoyed through the Sputniks, and said that we could not be left out of the race. But if we are always limping behind in the race it is not good for our prestige. It might be better to use our resources and scientists to do something which we can do properly.
I am not arguing that we should unilaterally disarm, from a nuclear or any other point of view, but I suggest that we must examine very carefully the extent to which it is necessary for us to stay in this race on our own. I again emphasise the point I made about interdependence. If we stay in the race on our own it will involve us in mounting costs, and it may prevent us from having efficient defence forces in other ways. This consideration applies particularly in the case of the Blue Streak. It is very difficult for a layman to be dogmatic about the rights and wrongs of a decision of this kind when he does not have all the information at his disposal, but there would seem to be a strong case for saying that the ultimate weapon of this type will be something like the Polaris, and that the technical difficulties which are being faced at the moment will be overcome by the time weapons of the Blue Streak type 1371 would have been deployed, with crews trained to use them.
The Minister of Defence yesterday talked of the difficulty in deciding whether we needed something like the Blue Streak or another generation of V-bombers. There was one argument which he did not examine, which was mentioned in the leading article of The Times yesterday, namely, that if we go on developing further generations of bombers we are producing weapons which are capable of being used in many different ways, whereas the trouble with the Blue Streak, or any fixed-base missile, is that it is relevant only to the deterrent, and not to other purposes which might be necessary. Aircraft can be used in different roles. They can be used in limited war or, as we are proudly informed in the Air Force Memorandum, for showing the flag in different parts of the world. I imagine that that procedure is sometimes of value.
I return to my earlier point, that the main impression I receive from the White Paper is that we have been trying to do so many things at once that we have not done any of them properly, and that we need to make a rational choice between the things which it is right to do. It is not possible for any back bencher to be dogmatic about what needs to be done; not even the Opposition Front Bench speakers can be dogmatic, because proper decisions can be made only with all the available information at one's disposal. But whatever else may be in doubt, there can be no doubt about the importance of interdependence, and of sharing the burden between our Allies so that, between us, we can get the maximum result without ruining ourselves.
This is tremendously important, especially in relation to what was being said yesterday by the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). The first part of his speech was admirable, although he did not match up to his aspirations in the proposals be made in the second part of his speech. If the West is to take a real initiative in economic aid to the underdeveloped territories, in propaganda, and in trying to win the hearts and minds of the peoples throughout the world, it must not ruin itself by its defence programme. It must have a rational defence programme, and I believe that that means an interdependent one.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
It is a very great pleasure for me to follow the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) in this debate. He and I had a good look at the German Army for a whole fortnight, and I was very interested in what he had to say. I have nothing really to quibble with him about.
I would ask those who consider that it is not necessary for us to continue with rocket research to realise that, although at the moment this is an offensive-defensive weapon, there will, I believe, come a day when it will have civilian uses which we cannot even consider at the moment. For instance, there might be a postal service across the Atlantic by rocket, and it would be disastrous for us if we were left behind in that research. One prominent scientist said that if we did not have this research and relied on other nations for the information we should get to a stage in which we would not know the questions to ask or understand the answers to them. Therefore, apart from defence, I think it is important that this research and development of the research, for without development, as the Minister of Supply said, it is no good, should go on.
I want to reply also, from my point of view, to the criticism on equipment. I think that this point has not yet been made by any hon. Member. It is that the equipment of an army is rather different from that of any other Service. It goes in cycles, and it is quite impossible to introduce into the Army entirely new types of vehicles and weapons while others are in existence in the Army. We can bring in new editions of the same vehicle; we cannot change over by dribbles to an entirely new type of vehicle or weapon. If we did we should have units equipped with different types "of vehicles and the whole question of supply and of spare parts would become quite impossible. Therefore, every Government—and this has been a problem all through history—has to make up its mind upon what date in what year it is that it wants the Army to be on the very top line, because it cannot stay there always.
The Germans had a tremendous advantage at the beginning of the last war because they knew the exact date when they wanted to have their army equipped to the very top level. They started the 1373 war with the Mark IV tank, which was far better than anything we had, and very nearly ended the war with the Mark IV tank, although the much larger Tiger came in at the last minute. While we were improving the whole time, the Germans were saddled with that vehicle and equipment for nearly the whole of the war. Therefore, it is a terribly difficult problem, and I would not blame the Labour Party or the Conservative Party if they would allow large stocks of equipment to be used up and worn out before changing over completely to something new. The date has arrived to do that, and it should be done, in my view, reasonably quickly.
I think the criticism that this is merely a progress report is very weak. Surely the criticism itself is a compliment to the original White Paper. If the original White Paper had been fundamentally wrong, then a change would have been necessary. The greatest compliment that can be paid to the original White Paper is to say that no change is necessary at all and that it is, in fact, a progress report.
Furthermore, I would say that there is nothing in the world so detrimental to planning efforts and research and development planning staffs than to have continual switches and changes in policy from year to year. After all, it is only a year since the previous White Paper and nothing very much has changed since then to make any fundamental policy change necessary in the present White Paper.
I was warned by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele), who opened the debate today, that it would be a dangerous thing to talk about disengagement. It might be dangerous for a Front Bench speaker to refer to it, but speaking as a back bencher I do not believe that it will make very much difference. I, therefore, feel that it is my duty to give, for what they are worth, very shortly, my own personal views. I do not know whether or not they are my party's views in detail but I know that they are, broadly speaking.
Let us at least try to learn one lesson from the war. Because of the fact that we were not allowed to approach Germany through Belgium we had to stand back. Therefore, we give an advantage to the aggressor every time if there is a wide gap between the two front lines. The aggressor can get up 1374 such a momentum that by the time his forces reach us they can hit us so hard that they take a lot of stopping. That is one of the great weaknesses of the disengagement plan. It gives the advantage to the aggressor. Let us take the analogy of a Rugby scrum. If the two sides are leaning on each other neither can get very far, but if one side is allowed to come in with a charge it can break through very quickly.
On the question of defence in depth, we must have great depth in modern defence, and if we retire back beyond the Rhine or any line like that we lose our depth. The Russians have all the depth in the world behind them. That will be another great disadvantage to us in the event of aggression, even a minor aggression by the other side. I do not think that I have said anything very dangerous so far. Suppose that all the Russian troops were removed from this area, and then some crisis blows up in Poland, for example, and in walk three Russian divisions. Is that an act of aggression?
Are we to say that they have broken the treaty? Are we to attack? I think that the danger of war in that case would be very great indeed. These are my three points on disengagement and I feel very strongly about it. I oppose it only because I think that it will be so dangerous. The present situation is much safer.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Before the hon. and gallant Gentleman leaves the second point, may I ask whether he attaches no importance at all to the argument in favour of disengagement that there is no serious danger of intentional aggression on either side? The real danger is some untoward incident that unintentionally might spark off a very dangerous powder magazine. One of the arguments for disengagement is that the further the forces are apart the less danger there is of some such incident.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I know that that has been one of the arguments. I think the other danger is greater still— the one that I posed in my third point —the re-entry of Russian armed forces into a demilitarised zone on some pretext or other. The Russians did not find it 1375 very difficult to find a pretext for actions of this sort in the past.
§ Mr. Strachey
On the hypothesis of the Russians re-entering Poland, why should not we re-enter West Germany? It seems to me that is a casus belli on either side.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
Then we are back to where we started. Why risk that happening at all? Why not leave it where it is? We can go on arguing in circles as long as hon. Members like.
To turn to a different point, owing to the fact of the strength of N.A.T.O. and the immense strategic striking force over the 4,000 miles from north of Norway to the east of Turkey, not one single inch of ground has been lost to the Iron Curtain. Therefore, it is vitally important—I shall have a word to say about this—to keep up that strength.
The result of this has been the obvious result, an attempt to turn the flanks. We know the history of the Middle East and Algeria, and I would say that the attempt to turn the flank is beginning to fail as regards the southern flank of N.A.T.O. I believe that stability has come there; I wish it were the responsibility of NA.T.O. and not only of ours or the Americans. I am extremely disturbed about the northern flank. This matter was touched on yesterday by no fewer than five hon. Members of this House who are sailors. The figure of the number of Russian submarines which I have obtained from authoritative sources is a great deal bigger than the 500 which was quoted yesterday. When we remember that never more than 60 German submarines were at sea at one time during the height of the submarine blockade in the last war, one begins to wonder what it is all about.
I believe that the bottleneck between the Faroes and Greenland will need a big force to deal with, and I see all sorts of dangers. Perhaps it is not too great an exaggeration to say that owing to the fact that there are Communist Ministers in the Icelandic Government one day the Russians may obtain a submarine base in Iceland. Perhaps not—let us hope not. Even so, with that number of submarines, and if we get what is not beyond the range of present thought—a submarine which can fire a nuclear missile from under water—and even if we take 1376 a small proportion of the 600, 700 or 800 Russian submarines—whatever the number may be—if we consider 200 or even 100 submarines strung out along the East coast of America, it might be possible that one day the ultimatum would come —"We will drench America with hydrogen bombs tomorrow morning unless all troops are immediately withdrawn from Europe."
I do not believe that we shall have a thermo-nuclear war on a large scale so long as we keep up the strength of the deterrent. But I am frightened that, because of our strength, something else may happen and that the whole of the N.A.T.O. castle may be surrounded and outflanked; that suddenly there will be a fait accompli—not in the near future, but perhaps in the distant future—without a single shot being fired. Think of the effect of that upon the American opinion —just one small bomb in the middle of Manhattan, for example.
I think the Minister of Defence should look again at the requirements laid down by N.A.T.O. for defence of the North Atlantic flank. There was a resolution passed at the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians Conference which I had some part in getting accepted and which has gone out to all the Ministers of Defence. I ask our Minister of Defence to look at it again to see what he can do to urge other Ministers of Defence to get together to discuss it. I know that the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic is extremely disturbed about it. The Resolution reads:That the North Atlantic Council take immediate steps to fulfil the minimum requirements laid down by the Council itself for the production of vessels and equipment for the defence of the North Atlantic flank of N.A.T.O.That, of course, means submarines, because the modern defence against a submarine is the submarine with its allied aircraft.
There was another resolution on the Order Paper of that Conference in similar terms, and I wish to ask the Minister of Defence seriously to consider the political implications, if not the strategic implications—and they are serious enough—of the withdrawal of any more troops from Europe. The right hon. Gentleman will be able to strengthen his strategic reserve very considerably in the near future because of what has 1377 happened in Cyprus. For every reason I can think of that strategic reserve should go to Germany. It would have an immense moral effect and be a great boost for the other little countries-Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and the rest of them.
Furthermore—I am sure that the Secretary of State for War will agree—there is only one place where we can train soldiers today, and that is on the Continent. An army cannot be trained adequately in England. I have tried to do it, and I know how difficult it is, to put it mildly. But, having said that, I would also say that we must make Germany a home station. Let us have all the amenities of a home station. Let us give the troops plenty of leave. It would not be difficult to bring them back to this country. It is not far in terms of distance and it would not cost much. Then we should have contented soldiers, good barracks, a good training ground and a contented N.A.T.O. as well.
At the moment, the minimum commitment is 30 divisions, and as has already been said, we have 21. I wish to read another Resolution passed at the N.A.T.O. Conference:That the ground forces of N.A.T.O. should, as a matter of absolute priority, be brought up to the minimum requirements as laid down by the North Atlantic Council.That is 30 divisions. As a matter of fact, I tried to clamp down a little on that figure, but it was no good. I had the representatives of all the 16 nations against me. They all wanted that Resolution put forward. From the political point of view—not necessarily from the strategic point of view, although there is argument for both sides—it is vitally important—
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us what would be his calculation of the increase in the Estimates assuming that a policy of posting these additional troops to Germany were carried out?
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I should not think that it would mean any great addition. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War will give the answer in the Army Estimates. I may be wrong. In any case, we should have to feed the troops and clothe them and house them, and, after all, the baracks are free—or rather there is a certain contribution 1378 coming in which will end eventually. But I must get on with the main part of my speech.
The other thing which impressed me very much was the state of the German Navy. Through the Brussels Treaty they have been permitted 12 divisions for their Army and 1,350 front-line aircraft for their Air Force. But they have only two or three small ships which are worth anything at all and they are at Kiel. Article 2 of the Treaty forbids them to build any light small coastal craft. There was another resolution passed at the N.A.T.O. Conference: that that Article in the Brussels Treaty should be amended to allow the Germans to build adequate coastal forces in order to be able to bottle up any submarines which might be in the Baltic. Apart from anything else, there is a bit of self-interest connected with this policy. Why should Germany get away with building nothing except articles for export while we are committed to so much building for defence? This policy would help our steel industry enormously.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has three times referred to resolutions passed by what he called the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Conference. Will he make clear to the House that this body does not represent anyone but the people who attend it? It has no power except to issue reports and pass resolutions. It has no authority and is not really a Parliamentary assembly in the true sense of the term.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I did not think it was necessary to explain that because I thought everyone knew it. There are six or seven and sometimes twelve members who attend the Conference from various Parliaments, and they come together to discuss these things. They put resolutions to the N.A.T.O. Council. I thought that was common knowledge. Of course, the Conference has no authority, and I never suggested that it had. But I must say that the representatives talk good sense when they meet.
Regarding the transport of troops, we are all right for jeep-borne personnel for dealing with police actions, but I am still not satisfied about what we are going to do and how we are to transport heavy equipment, tanks, guns and ammunition for a Korea-size war.
1379 There are two solutions. One is the degutted aircraft carrier in which we can put the lot and steam at 28 knots. But I understand that the cost of keeping a carrier in moth balls is about £4 million. Would my right hon. Friend tell me whether £4 million represents the cost of the aircraft carrier which is in reserve? It sounds quite expensive.
The other answer is to have a duplication or triplication of equipment such as tanks in dumps at suitable points in various parts of the world. I hope that my hon. Friend is fully aware of how necessary this is so that troops could be flown out to the equipment and so that we would not have a repetition of troops sailing along at about 8 knots.
I was impressed by the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Car-shalton (Mr. Head). I said in the defence debate last year, although nothing like as well as my right hon. Friend said it, that in the field of battle for men's minds we were weak. There is no shadow of doubt about it. It has been the responsibility of the Colonial Office, the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office. We now have a Minister who is supposed to be in charge, an efficient and able man, but to be quite frank I do not think that he is the man for this job. A Minister must have far more knowledge of countries. He must be somebody who has been out to these countries, and perhaps been round the world a great deal. I urge the Government to realise that that is part of defence, although somebody said that it was not, and that it is one of the most important parts of defence policy.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
This debate has demonstrated clearly so far that there is still no cohesion in our defence policy. I have listened to all the speeches so far and if there is any cohesion it has not sunk in upon me. We have not yet got our priorities right in defence. I shall try to show later on what my priorities are.
Speeches from Government supporters have suffered from two main defects. One is that they think that the defence policy that we are criticising only began in 1957. On the other hand, it is something for which they have been responsible since 1951. Government supporters 1380 cannot shuffle off the years between 1951 and 1957 as something for which the Labour Government were responsible. Government supporters came in with determined views as to what had to be done, but for four or five years they sat back and literally did absolutely nothing.
The Minister of Defence made it clear that we were dealing with the same set of proposals which he introduced in 1957. There had been a progress report, but no fundamental change. I do not think that is true. I think there have been considerable changes in the Government's attitude and in their defence programme between 1957 and today.
The White Paper is important, not for what it says—it says pretty well nothing —but for what it leaves out. There has been a change of emphasis, but it has glossed over many of the difficulties. For instance, there are none of those polemics about Russia and Russian intentions. All that is left out, understandably, in view of the present negotiations in Moscow. There is no mention of the massive nuclear retaliation which we would bring into operation against any kind of aggression from Russia. That is a wise step, but we are left not with a defence White Paper at all but with a very emasculated White Paper, full of good intentions and very little else.
The 1957 Defence White Paper was based on the nuclear deterrent. A lot of ill-informed opinion at that time led the public to believe that there would be great savings in expense as the result of the Minister of Defence's slashing economies in the defence Estimates and the introduction of dependence upon nuclear weapons. If we examine the Estimates since then we shall see clearly that these economies have not materialised. The cost of defence this year is up by nearly £50 million over last year and by about £100 million over 1957–58. The question I would ask was raised in 1957, when it was said that one-tenth of our gross national product was being spent on defence and was so straining our resources to the utmost that we could not bear it indefinitely.
What is the actual proportion of the gross national production devoted to defence expenditure at the present time? Is it as much as it was in 1957? How 1381 much of the working population are either in the Services or engaged in supporting them? We should like to know how much of the metal-using industries, upon which we shall depend more and more for our exports, is devoted to defence? In 1957, I believe that a proportion as high as one-eighth of our resources was devoted to defence.
It is clear that one of our cardinal principles is that our defence is as strong as our economy is to support it. If we are diverting part of our economic resources into what may be wasteful and abortive expenditure we are not strengthening our resolve to resist aggression in any way. If we could have that kind of information it would give us some sense of proportion of what our real defence resources are.
I come to the state of readiness of our Armed Forces. All along, the Government have been speaking in terms of where we shall be in mid-1960. By 1964, apparently, we shall have a perfect system of defence, but in 1964–5 that system will, by its very nature, be obsolete to meet the problems of 1965. We have to bear in mind that all along from 1951 to 1959 there have been a number of occasions when we might have had to go to war. One can think of the Middle East, of Jordan—if there had been resistance there, what might have happened?—and in the Far East at Quemoy and Matsu. At any time between 1951 and 1959 we could have been involved in a major war, and it is clear from the sort of picture we have that at no time during those years were we in a state of real readiness to deal with it. On the military side we were not in a state to mount even an operation of limited size.
We now have a White Paper with a list of good intentions not yet fulfilled. Let me go through the White Paper at random. I will take paragraph 2, which says:Preliminary work has begun on four guided missile ships of the County Class, and two will be laid down in the near future. They will be propelled by combined steam and gas turbine machinery,etc. Paragraph 3 says:The Wessex all-weather helicopter has been ordered as a replacement for the Whirlwind and will become the Navy's main anti-submarine aircraft.I come to paragraph 4, which says:It has also been decided to proceed with the production of the N.A.39, a strike-recon- 1382 naissance aircraft with high-speed performance at low level and well suited to limited war operations.That is in the future, and it has been delayed by inter-Service rivalries. We do not know when it will appear. In 1964, it may be. I turn to the "Dreadnought". Paragraph 5 says about that:Preparations for the construction of the nuclear submarine, 'Dreadnought', are proceeding.What on earth does all that mean in terms of having actual military potential here and now? We were told years ago that the preparation for "Dreadnought "was proceeding. We understand that since then there have been some kinds of argy-bargy with the Americans about what units we are putting in, how much it will cost, and what will go into it and now, in 1959, we are still told that the laying of the keel of "Dreadnought" is some months ahead. When shall we have "Dreadnought"? In 1965? Possibly, but I do not know. The White Paper says in paragraph 6:The first of the three 'Tiger' Class cruisers will be commissioned next month.Then we come to the Army, and here we have real reason for complaint. It seems that the other Services have been stealing much which many of us would like to have gone into development of the Army. Its share has gone down in recent years and, as a result, our Army is not in a fit state to conduct a modern operation. Yet the Government say:…present plans provide for the extensive re-equipment of the Army, so that the smaller, but more highly trained, all-regular force of the future may operate with maximum efficiency.We had the astounding statement yesterday by the Minister of Defence that we are content to use old stock, surplus stores, to keep the armoury in being, and a further astounding statement by the Minister of Supply today that because of the cost of all this we have not done it yet.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Christopher Soames)
The hon. Member, if I understood him, said that the Army was not able to meet its commitments. Could he say what commitment was placed on the Army which it has not been able to meet? What is the type of commitment he envisages might be placed upon it in the immediate future which it could not meet?
§ Mr. Chetwynd
I did not say it had not met commitments, but that it was not in a position to wage a war under modern conditions, which is quite a different thing. Had we had troubles which might have developed in those years, the Army would not have been in a position to meet them.
The Army was to get the F.N. rifle some time back in 1955. We had spent two years before that developing our own rifle, which was rejected in order to get standardisation with the Belgian one. Today—five years since that decision was taken—we find that Germans in their armed forces have the F.N. rifle, the Belgian contingent in N.A.T.O. has obviously got it and yet only something like 50 per cent. of our troops in Germany are armed with it. Strangely enough, we find they are still using .303 ammunition in Germany, whereas the standardised ammunition is.300. The bulk of our troops in Germany are armed with the .303 Lee-Enfield rifle which has done such good service, but which, as a personal weapon, places our troops at a serious disadvantage compared with others.
Is it a fact that when our troops leave Cyprus to go back to Germany to join the Reserve there they have to leave their F.N. rifles, or are they allowed to take them to Germany? A statement in the Manchester Evening News of 18th December makes the point that they had to leave their F.N. rifles behind them and go back to Germany to pick up the old .303 rifles. Another statement in this article concerns signals equipment. My hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) read what he had to say about that—
§ Mr. Soames
The hon. Member asked me a question. Let me immediately assure him that as we run down our forces in Cyprus and withdraw units they bring their rifles with them.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
That was not the question I asked. I asked if they had left them behind when they returned to Germany hitherto.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
Of course they will, because they leave Cyprus; but there are not enough to go round. That is the 1384 basis of my complaint, that we have spent all this time and not produced 100 per cent. the personal weapons of the soldier. I think that is a serious indictment. We ought to be doing much better if we are to have a modern well-equipped Army, about which so much has been said.
In signals equipment we are still in the process of getting what we want. In transport equipment and tanks we are still in that process. We are still using, more or less, the same artillery, the 25-pounder, as in the last war. Reference is made in the article to which I have referred to "an antique Army". Compared with the Germans our men with their ground sheets are an antique Army. It is time this was put right when we consider the millions of pounds which have been spent on our Armed Forces. We should bear in mind that in the last five years we have spent £10,000 million on the Armed Forces, a rate of nearly £38 million a week. We are entitled to ask whether we have got value for money. What has gone wrong with the organisation when today we can look forward only to a time two or three years ahead when we shall have the kind of Army we ought to have now?
The conclusion I come to is that we have been concentrating so much on missiles that it has been to the serious disadvantages of almost everything else, and we have not been able to maintain conventional forces on an adequate level. We have been reduced to the peculiar position that we are unable to fight any war except a nuclear war and that, by its very nature, is ruled out. That is the one kind of war which everyone seems to agree we shall not fight. I must agree with The Times leading article of yesterday, which said that a threat to commit suicide is not a rational defence policy.
The Government would be far better advised to come clean on the present state of preparedness than to go on deluding us that we have got everything we ought to have and saying that for the next three or four year we may be in difficulties until all these weapons come in. The important thing is to ask what kind of a mess we would have been in had we been called upon to wage some large-scale war or an intervention on a larger scale than we have had to make. Even with the magnificent troops we have, it is exceedingly doubtful how successful we could have been.
1385 I turn from the Army to consider the decision on Blue Streak. I have no expert knowledge about it, but I think it a bad decision. I think the Government are preferring a static system to a mobile system of defence. They have the Maginot Line mentality of fixed bases, heavily protected and underground it may be, but in this country with our limited room for manoeuvre and large population any fixed defence of that kind is bound to be a target for attack and a liability. Our tactics should have been to go in for a mobile system based on the submarine and based as far ahead as we can see on manned aircraft. We ought to ask what priority is being given to Blue Streak. Are we carrying on with it only because we have sunk a lot of money into its development, or because we are seeking to have our own independent missile of this kind? Why have we rejected the Polaris concept when I believe we could have developed that in co-operation with the Americans?
One of the misconceptions is that Blue Streak is designed to go back to the old policy of replacing the V-bomber. That is one of the declared objectives, but, by the time the V-bomber is obsolete, I am absolutely certain Blue Streak will be obsolete as well. We should have been far better advised to put the major part of our resources on to the stand-off bomb and to make that our key demand, with the manned bomber as the means of delivering. After all, that could go on for years ahead and we could improve on it. This policy of Blue Streak makes nonsense of much of the development of T.S.R.2. I know it is meant only to be a tactical aircraft, but it is bound to become a strategic aircraft as well. It depends on the target, but there is no earthly reason why it should not be used as a strategic weapon as well as a tactical one. We surely could have devoted much more of our money to refuelling processes in flight, if necessary, rather than on Blue Streak, which is bound to be highly vulnerable.
I return to the fundamental weakness of the Government's defence plan. They are trying to have something of everything, instead of having one perfect something. I wish we could examine the Ministry of Supply in more detail in order to see how, all along the line, it is seeking for absolute perfection. As soon as it gets something, it wants something a little better. As is 1386 pointed out quite clearly in the Defence White Paper, there is a good deal of abortive expenditure, a good deal of wasted development and so on. There is a good deal of overlapping and a tremendous amount of waste.
One of these days we must aim for something which we will have with us for some time, stick to it, go into production and make sure that we have it, rather than having all these beautiful plans on paper coming along some time in the future. I believe that we have been led astray on all this, because we have been trying to demonstrate our independence in something in which we are completely interdependent.
One other change in this year's White Paper is that it brings more into focus the position of nuclear tactical weapons. On all this we know very little. We ought to know the position of our forces on the Continent with regard to the possession of nuclear tactical weapons. I understand that the Americans have them there. I understand that we perhaps have them in a small way in the Corporal. That raises a very important question as to the circumstances under which they will be used and who will make the decision to use them. We have to be very careful indeed to maintain political control over them, at least in the very initial stages. Obviously in the case of a conflict breaking out which could not be diverted or put off, the commanders in the field would have to have some say, but the prime decision must be a political one.
I have never been absolutely convinced that the tactical weapon is a usable one. Thinking in terms of a fire brigade operation, the tactical weapon is more likely to add to the flames than put them out. It is part of our armoury. It is something which we accept as a regrettable necessity in case it should be needed. All the evidence that I can find in the White Paper goes to show that at the moment—and I am speaking about now, not 1964—we are not in a position to fight either a nuclear war—because we do not want to and we could not—or a conventional one, because we are not in a state of preparedness for it.
There is no evidence that our forces are as yet organised and armed on the most up-to-date lines. Perhaps in three, four or five years' time they will be. There is a serious gap in our defences 1387 now which is likely to persist until the mid-1960s. There has been a great waste of money. We have been trying to have everything, and as a result we have very little and what we have we have too late. This is very much a White Paper defence force, not a force in actual being. I hope that it will never be needed to be called into action.
I know that the sands of my time are running out, and perhaps as a result of the White Paper the time of Sandys is running out also.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
The last time the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) and I spoke he was following me and he told the House that he was very glad to do so because he was one of my constituents. I can return the compliment tonight now that I am following him: I am very glad to be his Member of Parliament.
I congratulate the hon. Member on the fluency of his speech. He raised many extremely important and interesting points. I do not agree with many of the conclusions that he drew from them, which I know he will accept.
Firstly, he said that, between 1951 and 1957, we were not in a position to have any forces ready to participate in any war which might have arisen in any part of the world. I remember very well, in regard to the Defence White Paper of 1950, my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) saying that he did not believe that if there were an emergency the Labour Government of the day would even be able to find two brigades to send at short notice. My right hon. Friend was being optimistic, because when the Korean War started we had absolutely to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find one brigade that could go at short notice. It is quite true that after a time we formed an excellent Commonwealth Division out there, but had it not been for the immediate action taken by the Americans we would have been much too late at the time of Korea to intervene at all.
Secondly, the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees, like so many other speakers from the opposite side of the House, stressed the importance of the principle of economy in our defence budget. When 1388 they come to speak, however, they want Polaris. They want new equipment. They want new weapons, and they want them all at once. That has happened in the case of almost every speaker from the other side of the House, particularly in the case of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown). I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman is in his place, because he is the big noise on defence on the other side. He is the shadow Defence Minister.
I want to refer briefly to one or two points in the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper. He started by making some very kind personal references to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. I should like to return to the right hon. Gentleman the compliment in the same terms and say that we like him, we think that he is a good chap and we hope that his shadow will never grow less and that we shall hear many more contributions from him over on that side of the House.
The right hon. Gentleman is consistent in at least one thing. His speeches in these defence debates are almost always exactly one hour in length. I have looked them up. They do not vary by more than a minute either side of the hour. Without being personal about it, I think he would make some clearer points which we could follow more easily if his speeches were a little shorter and more to the point. As it is, I have to dig in amongst all the verbiage to find the little bits of gold that lie hidden in his speeches.
Despite the length of his speech, however, I do not think he proved in any way that my right hon. Friend's White Paper was incoherent, inconsistent or ineffective. People may say that they disagree with it, but I do not think it could be referred to in those terms.
§ Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)
Surely the whole gravamen of the charge was that the White Paper did hot mention defence at all.
§ Sir J Smyth
That is very unfair criticism. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can have read the heading to the White Paper. My right hon. Friend made it absolutely clear that it was the third of a sequence of White Papers. Most of us who are interested read them as such. If the hon. Member for 1389 Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) had done the same, he would have come to the same conclusion.
§ Sir J. Smyth
The right hon. Gentleman twitted my right hon. Friend in an agreeable way for mixing his metaphors and for digging a horse from a bunker with a niblick that he carried in his quiver. I can only say that if anybody could dig a horse out of a bunker with a niblick it would be my right hon. Friend. Talking of bunkers, I heard a story the other day of a little girl who was going round the golf links with her mother. They watched a rather irate gentleman trying to get the ball out of a bunker for some time and then the little girl said, "He's stopped beating it, Mummy, I think it must be dead."
The right hon. Gentleman also mixed his metaphors a little when he said that he was tickled pink in the middle of the grey area—or that he was in the grey area when he was tickled pink. It reminded me very much of prickly heat out East.
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman was guilty of paying lip-service to the cost of defence, and not sufficiently stressing its importance. In the debate on last year's Defence White Paper he took my right hon. Friend very much to task, when he said:At the beginning of the Minister's speech, … and at the end …the right hon. Gentleman"—the Minister of Defence:kept on referring to economy He said, 'We cannot afford this' and 'It would cost us so much to do that.'"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1958; Vol. 583, c. 398.]How right my right hon. Friend was. The Western Powers could, perhaps, more easily lose the cold war on the economic or the ideological front than on the military one.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) was very angry with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) for referring to the defence expenditure initiated by the Labour Government in the Korea emergency in 1950. It will be remembered that that expenditure amounted to £4,700 million over a period of three years. It is quite true that we on this side supported the launching of that 1390 scheme, but, of course, it proved to be a quite insupportable burden, and for years since then we have been pruning that expenditure. We must have the best possible defence force, within our means.
The best thing in the right hon. Gentleman's speech was his remark about defence being a continuation of foreign affairs. In a way, I find these separate debates on foreign affairs and on defence very unreal. I should like from time to time to see a two-day combined debate on foreign affairs and defence with the Foreign Secretary leading off by laying down the policy of the Government and the Minister of Defence winding up to show how the means available fitted in with the foreign policy laid down by the Foreign Secretary. We are apt to let the two diverge, but, of course, defence must always be an instrument of foreign policy.
I support what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) about disengagement in Europe. Belgium was an example of that in the last war. I was perched on the Belgian frontier with my brigade before the days of Dunkirk began and saw the great weakness of this disengaged zone. As hon. Members will know, the Maginot Line was not continued along the Belgian frontier because the Belgians were very keen on keeping this neutral zone between ourselves and the Germans. They made a tremendous point of it. It proved a very great weakness to us, not only from the purely defence point of view, but from that of information. It was, of course, in that very area that the German attack came.
Since our last debate on a Defence White Paper, General Norstad has made a very important speech in Paris. He made it on 3rd November last, when he reiterated what N.A.T.O. stood for and what our defensive strategy added up to. He said again that we relied, first of all, on the essential retaliatory force—in other words, the nuclear deterrent, which is, of course, not under his control—and, secondly, on the shield forces holding the forward line of N.A.T.O., which, from the point of view of defence, he stressed, should be as far forward as possible in order to give extra depth and room for movement.
1391 He said, once again, that the objectives of the shield forces were to impose a break in continuity after an incident, and to give pause for thought so that the aggressor would have time to make up his mind whether he would call off his aggression or face all the dangers of a total war. I cannot help thinking how much better is that policy than our old policy of mobilisation. In the old days of big armies, there was no stopping the machinery of mobilisation once it had been put into operation. It went rolling along, and the nations were then more or less committed to war.
General Norstad conceives of two types of warfare. The first is the one we hope will never happen—the nuclear deterrent war; the other, the war of shield forces strong enough to give pause to the aggressor. I do not believe that we ought to countenance the idea that there can be anything in between those two, such as a limited war, with conventional weapons, between the great Powers. We should lay it down as a principle that that must at all cost be avoided. Apart from its being the worst possible thing for us, because of our weakness in conventional forces, I am absolutely certain that, in these days, with the improvements there have been in conventional weapons, a conventional war, if allowed to start, must inevitably lead to the bigger, global war.
It is in its beginning that we must stop war, and all the nations of the world must combine wholeheartedly towards that one end. People sometimes advocate something in between the other two types of war; some situation in which we would say, "All right, we won't have the deterrent, but this has got beyond a small war, "and would then countenance a limited war between the great nations with conventional weapons. It would be wrong, and out of the question for us to allow that—
§ Mr. G. Brown
I am not quite clear what the hon. and gallant Member is seeking to prove. Is he arguing that it must be thermo-nuclear war, in any case?
§ Sir J. Smyth
No. What I am arguing against is the acceptance in our own minds of the idea that it would be possible to have a big conventional war between the great nations. Some people 1392 hold that view. I am strongly against it. We know that we shall have to have the small "brush fire "war in defence of our own Colonies and that sort of thing; that will always happen. But I believe that we ought to set our faces sternly against the acceptance of a large-scale conventional war. We must not agree that that would be all right. It would, I am sure, lead to something worse. Let us stop it at its beginning. We should stop it in our own minds to begin with.
§ Sir J. Smyth
My right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) made a very interesting speech yesterday about the battle for men's minds, and I think there is a great deal in that.
General Norstad made one other important statement about the training of personnel. He said that it had been ascertained that it took a year fully to train a private soldier for the sort of duties he would have to undertake in N.A.T.O., and it took eighteen months to train a junior leader. From this, one can deduce that we shall be making a very much bigger comparative contribution than any of our Allies when we have an all-Regular Army, because all our people will be long-service men.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister not only on his White Paper and its two predecessors but on giving confidence and enthusiasm to the youth of this country, in encouraging them to join up in the numbers they have to make his new, all-Regular defence force a success. He has not been given sufficient credit for that. It is all very well for people to say they would have done it had they been in power. The point is that my right hon. Friend is in power. He did it. All credit to him for it.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
I find myself in considerable agreement with large parts of what the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) has said. In particular, I was very glad to hear him stress that the problem of our relations with the one-third of the world which has gone through a social revolution and founded a new society is essentially and fundamentally 1393 an economic and ideological problem rather than a military one. Foreign policy in this business cannot be separated from defence. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) said, we are in danger of concentrating far too much on military matters and misconceiving the real nature of the problem.
If I may use a somewhat picturesque metaphor, I have often thought—I have fairly strong views about our so-called nuclear policy—that we are a little like the mad Captain Ahab in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick", who pitched upon the great white whale as the symbol of all evil in the world and set out to destroy it. In my view, however, Captain Ahab was less crazy than our defence people, because what he took on board the "Pequod "was whale-killing gear— harpoons, lances, ropes and so forth. He did not take mountain climbing equipment or big game rifles because he had confused Moby Dick with the Abominable Snowman. Yet this seems to be more or less our position today, in trying to meet the problems, challenges and dangers presented by that one-third of the world in military terms instead of economic, social and ideological terms.
I belong to the, I believe, already substantial and growing minority in the Labour Party and the country who believe that we should renounce nuclear weapons unilaterally, totally and immediately. I do so because I agree, for instance, with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said in the House on 23rd July, 1957, that one cannot use weapons of national suicide either as instruments of negotiation or as weapons of national defence. I agree with what The Timessaid yesterday, that one cannot use the threat to commit national suicide as a deterrent.
If these nuclear weapons are no use for negotiation, defence or deterrence, I find it a little difficult to grasp what the point of them is. Indeed, all the way through, the debate has seemed to me to be very much of an "Annie, Get your Gun "debate, with my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and supporting cast singing in chorus with the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence and his troupe, to the theme ofAnything you can do I can do better.I can do anything better than you.1394 That is not a very fruitful operation, because what they are arguing about is akin to an argument about who can best square the circle.
It is really a massive understatement to say that one blames the Government for having failed to produce a coherent and effective defence policy. The plain truth is that we have no defence whatever. The Defence Minister himself admitted that on the 11th February, when he said that there is no such thing as defending this country against nuclear attack. The Observer defence correspondent, on 7th December, pointed out that we had never been in such danger as we are today, that the population of this country could be wiped out in a few hours by a shower of nuclear bomb carrying rockets. As for the Civil Defence fraud practised on the public, I thought that the replies of the Home Secretary and his Joint Under-Secretary at Question Time today were really something to shudder at as an example of sheer dishonesty, evasiveness and frivolity in regard to a terribly serious subject.
§ The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing)
The hon. Gentleman seems to be putting forward some point of view, and he seems a little surprised that a defence debate should concern itself with armaments. I wonder whether he could, perhaps, develop that theme, because he certainly seems to be advancing an idea which is foreign to both the Opposition front bench and the Government Front Bench.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I certainly will, and I think that the hon. Gentleman will be quite satisfied that I have developed it by the time I have finished.
I have already established that there is no such thing as the defence of this country. The Government rely on what they call deterrence, and deterrence means reliance on the protection of the American deterrent. This, of course, means reliance on the hope that the United States would posthumously avenge our radioactive ashes, whatever consolation there may be in that conception of the deterrent. The military foundations of that doctrine have already collapsed, because the idea of the great American deterrent was founded upon the assumption that the United States was virtually 1395 invulnerable, thanks to the North American Defence Command with its fence of radar, fighter patrols and so forth, while able, through the Strategic Air Command with its advanced bases, to deliver a crushing blow.
We now have the verdict, for instance, of General James M. Gavin, former Chief of Research and Development of the United States Army, in his recent book, "War and Peace in the Space Age", in which he writes:Our technical programmes"—that is the American programme—have lagged behind those of the Soviets. They have achieved missiles of greater range, greater variety and greater payload than anything we possess… The Soviets will have in the van a missile and space programme well ahead of anything the West is capable of for many years.Lieutenant-General Sir Brian Horrocks, reviewing this book in the Sunday Times of 14th December, said:The stark fact which emerges is that the Russians are forging ahead.The balance of power was tilting the wrong way. He confessed that he had been unduly complacent about relying on the imagined strength of the deterrent and on the conception of "the Western world sheltering behind the strong right arm of the United States".
The United States Administration, early in January, yielding to the pressure of the Pentagon and intelligence chiefs, embarked on an accelerated programme for producing inter-continental ballistic missiles. They hope to produce 200 by 1962. However, the United States military intelligence estimates that the Soviet Union is already producing 15 I.C.B.M.s a month, will have 300 in eighteen months, 500 by 1961, and 1,000 by 1962. The Soviet Union already has twelve launching pads in Europe and the Far East to one American launching pad. In addition, the Americans console themselves with the fact that they have a few Thor rockets in this country, which is not much consolation for us because it is further estimated that they would be knocked out almost before they could be brought into action, and also the Soviet rockets are capable of delivering a devastating blow to the Strategic Air Command of the United States.
This is partly exaggerated Pentagon propaganda to scare Congress and public 1396 opinion into voting more credits. This game has gone on for a long time in the United States. Nevertheless, there is enough reality behind it to show the utter fatuity and folly of the Minister of Defence's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) and myself on 11th February, when we asked himto what extent Her Majesty's Government's defence policy is still based on the assumption, declared in the 1958 Defence White Paper, that Soviet progress in rocket development has not changed the military balance of power and that alleged all-round Western superiority in nuclear weapons is likely to increase rather than diminish.In answer, the Minister said:I see no reason to modify the assessment of the military position, as set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Defence White Paper of 1958."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th February, 1959; Vol. 599, c. 1161.]Paragraph 3 of the White Paper "Britain's Contribution to Peace and Security" reads:Russia's successful launching of artificial satellites is evidence of her remarkable progress in rocket development. But it should not be thought that this has upset the balance of military power.Of course it should not be thought, but suppose that it is true. The White Paper continues:… the overall superiority of the West is likely to increase rather than diminish, as a consequence of the advent of medium-range ballistic rockets. These weapons, against which there is at present no answer, could, from sites in Europe and elsewhere, dominate practically every target of importance in the Soviet Union.The only thing wrong with that is that the Soviet Union possesses more of these medium-range ballistic rockets, against which there is no answer, than we do.
This policy, coupled with the Minister's insistence in his reply of 11th February that the Government remain wedded to the policy of using nuclear weapons first against a major attack by conventional arms, not only on this country, but on any Ally under N.A.T.O., S.E.AT.O. or the Bagdad Pact, practically pronounces the death sentence on the British people because we have no defence against nuclear attack. What the Minister is proposing is that we should provoke nuclear attack.
§ Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that we should do away altogether with nuclear weapons?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Yes, that is what I am suggesting. That is the argument which I am developing. I started by saying that, if nuclear weapons are no use as a deterrent for defence or as an instrument of negotiation, I fail to see what we want them for.
The point which I want to emphasise is that the whole bottom has fallen out of the nuclear deterrent strategy. A person whom I do not often quote with agreement, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, pointed this out on 24th October. He said:In the event of Russian aggression with conventional forces, do you believe that the West would use its nuclear deterrent as a weapon against the cities of Russia, and receive in return Russian retaliation which would put the United Kingdom and the United States out of business? For us to act in this way would be to commit national suicide. I do not believe that it will happen.The Minister of Defence says that it will happen, and that is what I protest against. He is practically comdemning the British people to death with no appeal. The right hon. Member for Carshalton yesterday called him a "tough egg", the "toughest egg in the business". I would say, in addition, that he is a very bad egg and that his defence policy stinks.
These are not just my personal views. They are, it seems to me, the views of most people who have a claim to be listened to in this matter. For instance, on 15th October The Times Defence Correspondent pointed out that the Soviet rocket developments made the nuclear deterrent strategy of the United States, on whose protection we rely, both ineffective and incredible, ineffective because of what Soviet rockets would do to the Strategic Air Command and the United States bases in Europe and Britain, and incredible because of the fearful consequences to the American people. He concluded:We are driven to conclude that the only aggression a strategic nuclear armoury can credibly deter is a direct attack upon the nation that possesses it … For Britain this means that we shall have to stop relying on the American nuclear deterrent to deter aggressions that do not directly involve American territory.Then, we had The Times leader yesterday saying that'A threat to commit suicide is not a national defence policy.1398 Neither, I would add, is it an effective way to deter an attack by conventional arms on another country.
We are now told that the conclusion to be drawn is that we must have a nuclear deterrent of our own. The implication behind that is that our cause would be so bad that even the United States would not support us, and our intransigence would be so great that rather than agree to policies of compromise that the United States, the United Nations and everybody else proposed, we would go ahead and immolate the people of this country and try to destroy most of the human race. As hard cases make bad law, so almost insanely improbable suppositions make an extremely bad defence or foreign policy. This kind of thing is too far-fetched and too intellectually silly and morally abominable to be seriously entertained. This is a civilised country. It is not a country of madmen.
The next step having disposed of the great nuclear deterrent fraud and fallacy, is the question of the tactical use of atomic weapons. According to The Times defence correspondent on 15th December, in the course of a detailed article on the techniques and strategy of S.H.A.P.E. and N.A.T.O. headquarters,The S.H.A.P.E. view is that if both sides were to use tactical atomic weapons the war could not remain limited.That is only common sense, because whereas, when the United States still had a decisive superiority in nuclear weapons and was supposed to be relatively invulnerable, it would be possible to go on being one up on the Soviet Union, now that the rôles have at least been equalised, if not reversed, there is no reason that I can see for assuming that the Soviet Union would in a gentlemanly spirit accept defeat rather than increase the calibre of the weapons that she was using on her side to outbalance the other side.
The really astonishing point was that made by the Minister of Defence, again on 11th February. He produced an amazing doctrine. He said:The question whether a weapon is being used in a strategic or a tactical rôle depends not upon its explosive power, but on the nature and location of the target …there is no way of drawing a line between what is a tactical and what is a strategic weapon except in relation to the target against which it is used. If, for example, an H.E. bomb were to be dropped on Moscow I would consider 1399 that to be a strategic weapon."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th February, 1959; Vol. 599, c. 1155–6.]Is the converse true? Would a 10-megaton bomb dropped on a railway junction or a staff headquarters or a munitions factory be considered to be a tactical weapon, even if it killed a few million people and had a radioactive fallout of several thousand square miles? What does this doctrine mean? Does it mean that field commanders will be allowed at their discretion to handle every type of nuclear weapon, from the smallest atomic bomb to the greatest hydrogen bomb, provided that they let them loose only on tactical targets? Or, alternatively, are all nuclear weapons of whatever calibre, from the smallest to the greatest, to be used only with the prior assent of the United States President and the British Prime Minister? What does this doctrine mean? When I asked the Minister of Defence what it meant he took refuge in military security considerations, which at least showed that he had the sense to know that his policy would be a little difficult to defend to the people of this country.
Now we come to our own position as a nuclear power. Here, too, public opinion is being abundantly misled by the conception of our being somewhere nearly on the same footing as the United States and the Soviet Union, the truth being that the best informed estimates vary between a minimum of five and a maximum of fifty for our H-bombs, whereas the United States is turning out enough fissile material annually to produce—
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of order. I have three times protested quietly that I have no objection to my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench talking in conversation together rather than listening to the speech that is being made, but I think they ought to do it quietly enough to enable the rest of us to hear what is going on.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
The United States is now producing enough fissile material to produce between 30,000 and 40,000 Hiroshima bombs annually, and the Soviet Union is not far behind. As to the 1400 means of delivery, we have a bomber force very much smaller than either the Americans or the Russians, and it is certainly obsolescent, if not obsolete, as compared with rockets as a means of delivery.
Civil defence is hardly worth talking about, except to quote what the correspondent of The Times said on this subject:The civil population have been left virtually unprotected. There is no active or air defence of towns and cities, and it is candidly recognised that at present there is no means of providing such defence. Civil defence, though still an integral part of the defence plan, according to the last Defence White Paper"—and according to this one—is, in fact, only a skeleton organisation. There is no shelter or evacuation policy, and the £6,500,000 voted for civil defence this year is a token figure.That is the position with our wonderful defence policy. The obvious conclusion and again I do not press my own opinion, because I am quoting The Times defence correspondent is:The Government's policy of threatening to resort to nuclear weapons against an attack with conventional arms [again any member of N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O. or the Bagdad Pact]"—and this was confirmed by the Minister of Defence on February 11th—is credible so long as the West had an overwhelming superiority in nuclear weapons and America remained virtually invulnerable. These conditions no longer exist. For Britain to make such threats on her own, except against the bombing of Britain, is quite unrealistic, for her vulnerability is patent to everyone.The Observer comes to the conclusion:It appears doubtful that we either have, or ever will have, an independent deterrent based on V-bombers and H-bombs. Whatever the British believe, or affect to believe, about this, both the Americans and the Russians must have a good idea of the truth.In other words, our defence policy is a tissue of mendacity and make-believe. It is an audacious fraud practised on the people, and it is fooling no one, except possibly those who invented the policy and tried to pass it off on the country.
As to the cost, it is rapidly getting far beyond our means. It is one of the Government's major miscalculations to believe that we could stay in the nuclear arms race more or less on the cheap. Of course, we cannot. The cost of the Blue Streak missile alone is estimated at 1401 about £500 million before the thing is completed. The cost of staying in the arms race, it is reckoned, will rapidly rise to about £200 million a year above the present level. The Government have already entered into very expensive— enormously expensive—contracts in this field, but naturally nothing of this will be heard this side of the election, at any rate. Here again I do not rely on my own personal opinion, and I quote the Conservative newspaper, the Observer, whose defence correspondent said on 7th December:The political decision to retain the trappings of a first-class power carried with it consequences which, unless rigidly controlled, could gravely distort the whole United Kingdom's defence effort… The competing giants of Russia and America soon made our own attempts to remain in the game look pitiful… For us Pelion was piled on Ossa. We were outclassed in scientific effort, money, materials of all kinds including fissile, and our economic system was showing signs of distress.What is the point of all this? Is it supposed to impress the Russians? If so, I can quote that old phrase of the Duke of Wellington, "I do not know what they will do to the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me!"
The Times yesterday rather sarcastically put it that all we seemed to have achieved was to get blue prints for American weapons rather than influence in Washington… In so far as we have any influence, it added, it is due to such non-military factors as our tradition, stability and experience in world affairs.
I believe that that is the way out. What we should contribute to this situation is not a vain attempt to keep up in this crazy nuclear arms race, but a certain amount of political wisdom. If only what the Prime Minister said in Moscow the other day was seriously meant, it showed a beginning of wisdom in this respect. He said:I wish with all my heart that this competition with ever more terrible weapons of destruction could cease. It is not that we fear acts of calculated aggression and I hope that you do not. In modern conditions such aggression between great powers at least would be suicidal folly. At the same time it is impossible to hide from ourselves the dangers of a war by miscalculation or by muddle. In such circumstances it is the duty of statesmen to see if it is possible to establish some basis of confidence, or treaty, or in some other way way to reduce this danger.He went on to speak of the fact that during the war we and the Soviet Union 1402 had a common interest in defeating a common enemy and he said:When I reflect on the present situation in the world I ask myself, have we not today at least an equal common interest. This common interest is peace. In one way or another, despite all difficulties and obstacles let us unite in the name of peace.If we once admit that the real danger is not deliberate aggression but miscalculation and muddle and that we have a common interest in peace, obviously the way out of this business is to seek joint political arrangements and joint disarmament arrangements and a joint settlement in Europe, very much on the lines of the constructive and reasonable proposals which have been made again and again by my right hon. Friends, proposals which we know would in fact serve as a basis for negotiation and deliver the world from this nightmare.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
My hon. Friend the Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) will not expect me to follow him in any great detail. It is interesting that his was the only speech clearly opposed to the West in general having a deterrent. On the other hand, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), the Leader of the Liberal Party, was opposed to Great Britain having a deterrent, or, at any rate, appeared on the whole to be opposed to that, although it was a little difficult to see just where he stood on the subject. I want to refer to that subject.
§ Mr. Frank Beswick (Uxbridge)
Perhaps my right hon. Friend will allow me to say, for the record, that the only reason that only one speech has been made against this country's possession of the H-bomb is that only one Member of that view has been called.
§ Mr. Strachey
My hon. Friend is getting a little near to criticising the Chair. How did the Chair know what hon. Members intended to say?
§ Mr. Silverman
The right hon. Gentleman—I will call him that in case he finds the other word offensive in view of his behaviour—might bear in mind 1403 that, whatever the occupant of the Chair may know, he himself has excellent reason to know that there are large numbers of members of his party in the House and a very large number of supporters of the party in the country who, however mistakenly in his opinion, share my hon. Friend's view, and therefore he ought not to sneer.
§ Mr. Strachey
Curiously enough, my next sentence was going to be that I was glad there had been one speech made from that point of view, because clearly it was one which should be heard. I was going on to discuss something which was even more curious. The Leader of the Liberal Party seemed to say, though he was not quite clear, that Britain ought not have an individual deterrent of her own. He dissociated himself from the other view strongly, saying—I am not a pacifist and I do not deny the need for the deterrent… we are perfectly willing that this country should make a contribution to her nuclear programme if it is wanted."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February, 1959; Vol. 600, c. 1190.]He was referring to America at that point. That seems to me to be a curious point of view. We are apparently to go to America and ask whether she wants us to make a contribution to a deterrent. He went on to say later that we might make that not in the form of a deterrent of our own but as a contribution in money. That also seems to me to be a curious proposal. I cannot help feeling that the idea that we should depend on the American deterrent is really only a proposal for military integration with America carried to an extreme point.
I am not totally opposed to a certain reasonable degree of military integration between the N.A.T.O. Allies, but this would be carrying it too far, because the further we push military integration in whatever respect, the more totally dependent we become on our Allies. That is inevitable. We might propose that we should produce all the field guns and that America should produce all the howitzers. Integration can be pushed to any point one wishes but it seems to me that this is pushing it too far.
The argument is such a curious one because—and here I must be frank with the Leader of the Liberal Party—those are not the reasons why he is pushing this 1404 view. He is pushing it because there is behind it the idea that it would be a popular thing to say that Britain should not have her own deterrent and should not make these beastly things—and they are beastly things, incredibly horrible things—and that it will be all right because the Americans have them.
§ Mr. Grimond
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman should impute those motives to me without any evidence. After all, he himself wrote a pamphlet urging us all to give up nuclear bombs, which was an implication that this could be done easily. I might as well say to him that there are many people in this country, people of his own party, who share this view, possibly wrongly, but it should not necessarily be attributed to the worst motives.
§ Mr. Strachey
I stick to the view expressed in the pamphlet which the hon. Gentleman mentions, that the only possible form of disarmament is multilateral, in which all three nations give up these weapons.
§ Mr. Strachey
The hon. Gentleman seems to be completely defeatist about disarmament. I cannot free my mind from the suspicion that the extraordinary enthusiasm he suddenly brings out for military integration with the United States in the most extreme form has behind it the idea that it would be very nice if we could say that we were not making any nuclear weapons. That is an unworthy motive. I have said it before, and I say it again.
The Amendment deplores the incoherence of our defence policy, and the inadequacies of the conventional armaments which the Government have provided. Although many speeches were made from hon. Members opposite, nearly every one of which contained compliments to the Minister of Defence, most of them went on to make exceedingly damaging criticisms, in specific cases, of the arms which have been provided for our forces. They have therefore given a great deal of support to the Amendment.
The main fact which came out of the speech of the Minister of Defence was that this very short and scrappy White Paper was simply a progress report, which 1405 did not need to have any new policy or doctrine in it because the policy and doctrine which had been provided in the two previous years still stood. The right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) actually called the White Paper a paper of reaffirmation. It is worth while for the House to notice what that doctrine was, since we are told that it still stands. I want to quote from paragraphs 12 and 13 of last year's White Paper, which contained the essential doctrine, or the defence concept, which the Minister reaffirms as the basis for our defence effort. Paragraph 12 says:In fact, the strategy of N.A.T.O. is based on the frank recognition that a full-scale Soviet attack could not be repelled without resort to a massive nuclear bombardment of the sources of power in Russia.Paragraph 13 says:It is best that these stark facts should be stated plainly; since the one thing which might conceivably tempt the Soviet Union into military adventure would be the erroneous belief that the West, if attacked, would flinch from using its nuclear power.I can only tell the Minister of Defence that if he stands by that doctrine very few other people in the world do, for the simple reason that it is no longer credible that Soviet aggression can be deterred by the threat of the West to resort to the use of the ultimate thermo-nuclear deterrent against the Russian cities and centres of population as its first and only response. I can only refer again to the leading article in The Times of yesterday. This was a very unkind but quite justified characterisation, which stated that a threat to commit suicide is not a rational defence policy.
Since an approximate nuclear parity has been reached between the West and the East the doctrine of last year's White Paper, which we are told still stands, can be interpreted as nothing but a threat to commit suicide. If the Minister of Defence replies that we are flinching from it, I would ask him to come off these mock heroics. If the West did not flinch from the threat of using the ultimate thermo-nuclear deterrent on Russia as the first and only response to any act of Russian aggression, the West would be criminal lunatics. This doctrine is really untenable and yet this preposterous view is reaffirmed to us this year. It might be said by hon. Members opposite—
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for 1406 giving way. Is he not now advocating unilateral nuclear disarmament?
§ Mr. Strachey
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is a little impatient. It may be said, of course, that although this doctrine is being reaffirmed in words, in practice the Minister of Defence has retreated very much from it and is paying a great deal more attention to conventional arms and armaments, and I think that is partly true. It may be asked: does it matter if in words he is reaffirming the preposterous doctrine of last year?
§ Mr. Sandys
I think that the right hon. Gentleman should be accurate in what he says before he starts arguing whether we have changed our minds. He talked about massive nuclear retaliation as the first and only response to any Soviet attack. If he reads paragraph 12 of last year's White Paper he will see that it refers to major attacks in one case and a full-scale Soviet attack in another.
§ Mr. Strachey
I read the words out from the White Paper—"a major Soviet attack". I am perfectly willing to accept the word "major". It does matter that the Minister sticks to that doctrine because it means that if he retreats from it in practice he does not retreat to any other coherent doctrine to put in its stead; he simply retreats to no doctrine at all, and that leads to the incoherencies and inadequacies we complain of in our Amendment in the whole practical defence programme of the Government.
These considerations were brought home to me on a recent visit to the United States of America where I had the opportunity of talking to a good many of their defence experts. I can tell the Minister of Defence, for his comfort, that he has still a few adherents to his doctrine in the United States. They are mainly Air Force colonels, but they are a rapidly dwindling band, and the majority of the defence experts whom I met in the United State were far in advance of the Minister of Defence and had a very much more enlightened point of view on this matter than he has.
§ Mr. Strachey
The Minister of Defence got stuck before they did. The majority of their defence experts whom I 1407 met were coming, or had come, to the alternative view which I can set out this evening. It is a view which, I think, can be called quite simply" graduated resistance. "It is that in a major case of Russian aggression—I use the word "major "each time and if I omit to use it the right hon. Gentleman can understand it—we must have the capability at any rate of meeting such acts at three levels and at three stages. We must have the capability of meeting them and so have the capability of meeting even major acts of Russian aggression by conventional means.
That does not mean that we have to match every Russian division, the whole 200 of them, with 200 divisions. That is quite an artificial idea. The fallacy of that is that the Russians do not, no more than N.A.T.O., keep anything like 200 divisions anywhere near the line across Germany. They keep 25, as a matter of fact, and defence experts in other countries whom I have spoken to consider that only about 100 could really be deployed. The N.A.T.O. authorities tell us—
§ Sir J. Smyth
This is an important point and one which we discussed in the last defence debate. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would agree that we could not undertake a conventional war without reintroducing conscription.
§ Mr. Strachey
I do not agree at all.
Most defence experts agree that the Russians could probably bring to bear anything up to 100 divisions. Our N.A.T.O. officers tell us that N.A.T.O. is aiming at and is fairly well in sight of about 28½ divisions which gives us a proportion of nearly one-to-three. Most defence experts on land warfare are inclined to think that that proportion is very strong for defence purposes; so I believe it completely wrong to think that a Russian major aggression cannot be resisted in the first instance. It may not be possible to hold it for ever, but that is a different matter.
I am far from saying that the existing N.A.T.O. forces are adequate It is one of our main criticisms that they are not. That is because of the grudging attitude which the Government in general and the Minister of Defence in particular have adopted towards the British ground contribution to N.A.T.O. The Times put it 1408 very well, if again very cruelly, when it said that the Government seemed to regard the British contribution to N.A.T.O. and the British pledge to make a contribution to N.A.T.O. as a millstone left round their necks by Sir Anthony Eden. No one would deny that Sir Anthony Eden left some millstones round the necks of the members of the present Government, but I do not think that was one of them. The pledge to make an adequate British contribution to the ground forces of N.A.T.O was a perfectly proper one.
Most of the trouble arises because the doctrine of the Minister of Defence, as put out in the two previous White Papers, has indicated that he did not care very much for anything except the grand thermo-nuclear deterrent. He did not think anything else mattered much and he was prepared to save money, if he could, on those other things.
Therefore, it is only too true that the British contribution to N.A.T.O. today both in quantity and, I am afraid, in the quality of its equipment is, I should say, only barely, if at all, adequate for what I put to the House is the absolutely indispensable rôle of being able to make a resistance to a major act of aggression by Russia without plunging us into a nuclear holocaust.
The question of Army equipment and its adequacy brings me to the most unfortunate speech made earlier today by the Minister of Supply in reply to the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele). The right hon. Gentleman gave us a long list of all the things which the Army was going to get, one day. No doubt the Army will get this excellent new equipment of which the Minister spoke, but not one of these items has arrived yet; and this after, not the third, but the eighth year of Conservative rule.
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to forget that we were given by him, and by the Minister of Defence, three reasons for the admitted inadequacy and obsolescence of present-day Army equipment. The reason given by the Minister of Defence was that we had to use up our big stocks of equipment and of course there is something in that. It is a very tempting thing to do. But it also expresses the view of the right hon. Gentleman that this was not a thing that mattered; the only thing that matters being the thermo-nuclear deterrent.
1409 But the Minister of Supply gave two further strange reasons. One was that the Army was so traditionally minded that its equipment could not be changed quickly. That is one of the quaintest reasons I have ever heard. Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that if we went to the troops, from the generals to the privates, and offered them good, modern, new and up-to-date equipment, they would be so conservative-minded that they would not take it? He must tell that to the Marines and not to the Army.
Then he gave another reason. He said that it could not be done when it had to be linked with the abolition of National Service and the introduction of a smaller all-professional Regular Army. He went on to say, and implied quite clearly, that it would have been too expensive to arm adequately the National Service man today. That is a disastrous thing to say. Did he not think of the morale of the National Service man when he said that? This should be repudiated by the Minister of Defence quite specifically, without regard to the feelings and even without regard to the position of the Minister of Supply. I hope that the Minister of Defence will make it clear that there was no element of this in the mind of the Government which they postponed, as they admit they have, the re-equipment of the Army.
This shows clearly and at once why a sound military concept or doctrine matters so much. We get all the priorities and considerations wrong unless we have it. I found that the doctrine which I am preaching was not only accepted but was preached to me in the United States of America. It is vital to have ground forces capable of offering resistance, and very substantial resistance, without resort to nuclear arms. Let me hasten to add that the American defence experts and myself, and my right hon. Friends, are not denying because of that that the ground forces have also to be armed with tactical nuclear weapons, and that for three simple reasons.
The simplest reason of all is that the Russians have them and that we cannot ask men to stand in line against the Russians without them. The second reason is that the Russians might use them and we cannot assume that if they committed an act of aggression it would necessarily be with conventional weapons only. The third reason is that even if 1410 the Russians did move initially only with conventional weapons we might be overrun by sheer force of numbers and at that point we must have the capability and capacity to use nuclear weapons if we consider that at that stage it will benefit us to do so.
Those are the simple reasons why tactical nuclear weapons are an absolute necessity to the Army today But at that second stage, we still do not resort to the Minister of Defence's paragraph 12 doctrine and go straight to the thermonuclear deterrent. We shall still try to limit the war and stop it at the second stage of tactical nuclear weapons. If any of my hon. Friends asked me, "What hope is there, once tactical nuclear weapons have been used, of arresting the war and not going on to thermo-nuclear war?" I should say, "I do not know, but as the use of thermo-nuclear weapons from either side means the destruction of us all, we must take any opportunity of not going on to them. "To fail to arrest the conflict at the tactical nuclear weapon stage is rather like a condemned man refusing to appeal because he thinks there is very little chance of his appeal being successful. If there is any chance at all, he should appeal.
Again, it is one of the worst features of the doctrine of the Minister of Defence that it makes no provision for attempting to arrest the war and so prevent the final fall into total destruction, at the level of tactical nuclear weapons. This is something which appears to be increasingly understood everywhere except on the Government Front Bench.
Then there is the third stage where we must have in the hands of the West— and, for the reasons I have given, I believe in the hands of this country also —the ultimate nuclear deterrent because, if we have not got that, the Russians at any moment can trump our card by resort to it. When I say that in my view a major act of Russian aggression must be met first at the conventional level and, if that fails, at the tactical nuclear level, and only if that fails at the thermo-nuclear level, I am referring to a major act of Russian aggression wherever it may take place.
Of course, there are plenty of objections which can be urged against this doctrine of graduated resistance, of resistance by stages in this way. Many of 1411 them are familiar, but I ask the House to think what are the alternatives. There are only two alternatives. There is the alternative of no resistance at all, or there is the alternative of paragraph 12, the immediate resort, in the first instance, to thermo-nuclear war. I put it to the House that neither of those alternatives is acceptable at all and that, therefore, some view of graduated resistance of this sort is one to which sooner or later we shall all quite inevitably be driven.
Paradoxically enough, the doctrine of paragraph 12 of last year's White Paper, immediate resort to thermo-nuclear war, is the perfect recipe for capitulation because, if we tell people there is no way of resisting any major act of aggression except by the total response of thermonuclear war—which means blowing up the Russians and being blown up by them and blowing up the world generally—if we tell them there is nothing but that from the word" go", then more and more people will come to the view that there is no point in and no possibility of resistance at all. Therefore, it is really indispensable to give the people the hope and the possibility—which genuinely exists if we make the right preparations for it—of resistance, but short of going to the thermo-nuclear holocaust.
For that, if we are honest, we must provide an adequate means to do it or we are deceiving people. Because there has been no doctrine, or the wrong doctrine—I do not really know which—as has emerged from both sides of the House in this debate, we are not providing adequate forces, adequately armed, for this purpose. What we have before us is not really a White Paper at all. It is only a shopping list and a shopping list which has no priority in it because no one has thought out what is the purpose of the armaments which are ordered in this form.
I went through the shopping list and looked at one or two of the main items. Very few, if any, are purchased or paid for. We are asked to provide modernised armaments for the Army which are very badly needed and intensely urgent. We are also asked for a modernised Navy, including four guided missile ships and later the atomic submarine and two kinds of naval guided missiles.
1412 We are asked for a new fleet of transport aircraft, the Britannias, Britannics and Argosies. We are asked for a new tactical all-purpose bomber, the T.S.R.2, more V-bombers with stand-off bombs for them which are really intermediate ballistic missiles mounted on bombers, an increase of kiloton bombs and an increased supply of megaton bombs. We are asked to provide for the development of Blue Streak, in itself an enormous project on which yesterday The Times poured a jug of icy water and which has been strongly criticised by hon. Members opposite. I do not pretend that I have the knowledge to take a strong view on it, but it seems to arouse a great many doubts in the minds of a great many people.
Then comes the development of air defence, with the new Lightning fighter. with the Firestreak air-to-air guided missile and four separate ground-to-air guided missiles—Bloodhound, Thunder-bird, Seaslug and Seacat. Is it right that we should have four of these? No doubt each has its special characteristic, but can we free our minds from the view that each of the other Services had to have one of these and the Navy had to have two of them? It is very possible that some consideration of that sort entered into it. None of these is bought or paid for yet. None of these is in the £11,000 million expenditure of which we complain This is all to come.
Shall I tell the Minister of Defence what will happen if he tries to develop all these weapon systems? I counted 24 of them in his White Paper. If he tries to develop all of them, he will in practice develop none. They will all reach the prototype stage and they will never go into production, because they will be obsolete, or the cost of defence will rise to quite astronomical levels and we shall not be able to do anything else.
I had sympathy for that part of the speeech of the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). I had not sympathy with his conclusions, because it is not a question of information or propaganda. If we want to hold the uncommitted and undeveloped world, it is not better propaganda or more security measures that we want. It is the provision of capital for capital development, and that is far more expensive. Defence cannot make a contribution to that, unless 1413 we succeed in securing general and all-round disarmament. That is the only real way. No moving about of the defence programme can do much towards providing the massive sums that are needed for that.
This shopping list has no priorities in it. It does not indicate, and nothing that the Minister of Defence has said has indicated, which of these 24 major projects is more important than the others. Is the provision of an air transportable Army more important than the four guided missile ships? Is it more important to develop stand-off bombs than Blue Streak and the like? This is because there has been no doctrine from which priorities can emerge. I very much believe that there is no doctrine because, if one has a doctrine and makes priorities from it, one is bound to offend one Service or another. One is bound to give priority for the projects of one Service over the others.
Our main criticism is that, in retreating from what we are the first to agree was the insanely wrong defence doctrine of paragraphs 12 and 13 of the Defence White Paper of last year, the Minister of Defence has given us no coherent doctrine in its place and has simply retired on to a shopping list. I realise the undoubted difficulties of fixing these priorities and the responsibilities which would fall on the Minister if he did. But that is his job.
In the midst of some rather elaborate and mixed metaphors, he referred to horse racing. I realise that it is very difficult to back winners in a horse race. My sporting friends tell me that there is just one way of being absolutely sure of losing in a horse race, and that is to back every horse in the race for an equal amount of money. One is bound to lose then. That is really what the Minister of Defence is doing in this White Paper. [Interruption.] It would seem that hon. Members do not think that that is right, but I am told that the bookies arrange their books in such a way that if one does that one must lose. However, I yield to their superior knowledge in these matters.
To sum up our argument, last year's doctrine seemed wrong to us. It has been replaced by nothing this year. The conduct of the Minister of Defence reminds me of something that my old Latin master 1414 used to say at school—[An HON. MEMBER:"Eton."] Yes, it was Eton, and as the name of the school has been mentioned perhaps I should mention the name of the master. It was "Bummy" Wells.
I dare say that several hon. Members opposite, and some hon. Members on this side, will recollect that when we made a particularly wild guess at the meaning of a Latin word, when we had not the slightest idea of its meaning, "Bummy "Wells used to say, "Bold, but wrong. "Over the last two years, the Minister of Defence has been bold, but wrong—but this year he is not even bold.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
This year, not bold—but not wrong. At any rate, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) and I seem to have two things in common: a common defence policy and the same school tie.
We have had a very good debate. Naturally, as we get towards the end of a two-day debate, those who take part feel that they have to warm things up a little, but, by and large, we have had a very objective, serious discussion on important issues of national defence and international security.
A great number of points have been made, some—which the right hon. Gentleman would, perhaps, describe as part of the shopping list—might more properly be discussed further in the debates on the Service Estimates. I propose to ask my right hon. Friends to reply, as far as possible, during the course of those debates to those points with which I am not able to deal this evening. But I will try to deal with some of the larger issues that have been raised.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) made one of his spirited interventions. If I may say so, he speaks with much greater fluency now than he used to when he spoke as Minister of Defence. He reminded us—and I do so much agree with him—that the background to the whole of defence is the desire, which we all share, to see real world disarmament brought about; and that any form of defence is only a second best. It is only an interim measure. pending the achievement of what we all wish to see come about—that must be all round disarmament, by which I mean disarmament on 1415 the conventional as well as on the nuclear side.
The hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus), who always takes especial pleasure in recording any progress in Communist military power, and who, I understand, was a little unhappy to find such close proximity of view between the Opposition Front Bench and the Government Front Bench, recommended the abolition of the nuclear deterrent altogether. I am quite sure that the elimination of nuclear weapons by itself would not make peace any more sure.
Several hon. Members expressed the view that a major war today is unlikely. I think that they are absolutely right. But what is the reason? Throughout history, men and nations have been prepared to go to war if they thought they could achieve their ends without too much cost to themselves. Human character has not changed. The change is this. Everyone now knows that aggression, if it involves nuclear war, cannot conceivably pay. No one likes the situation in which peace rests upon fear of the hydrogen bomb. But I would say to the hon. Member for Gorton and to the many others who would like to have supported his views from the benches opposite during our debate, that before we do away with the bomb we must be quite sure that we have some other method of preserving peace to put in its place. Otherwise, we shall find that we have merely increased the chances of large scale conventional war. And I ask those who are mesmerised by the destructive power of the hydrogen bomb not to forget the horrors and miseries of so-called conventional warfare.
It is well to realise also that no large scale war between great Powers would for long remain conventional. The moment hostilities broke out there would be a mad race on both sides to produce nuclear weapons. From such calculations as I have been able to make, I believe that a country possessing the knowledge and plant and using fissile materials from civil reactors could make nuclear bombs within six months of the outbreak of war. It is, therefore, entirely wrong to imagine that, by eliminating nuclear weapons, we should eliminate nuclear war. All one would do would be to increase the 1416 chances of conventional war which might quickly turn into nuclear war.
The debate has largely centred upon the balance which should be maintained between conventional and nuclear weapons. At the N.A.T.O. meeting in Paris last December, the Council reaffirmed that N.A.T.O. defensive strategy continues to be based not only on the maintenance of effective shield forces on the spot but also—these axe the words of the declaration of the Council, and I draw the attention of the right hon. Member for Dundee, West to them, since he said that I was isolated in believing that the nuclear deterrent still played an important part—
§ Mr. Sandys
Well, the right hon. Gentleman is on the record. As I was saying, N.A.T.O. relies not only on the shield forces but also—and these are the words of the N.A.T.O. resolution—on the manifest will to use nuclear retaliatory forces to repel aggression.It is no good imagining that the shield by itself could be made sufficient to deal with all forms of attack which may be made upon us. [Interruption.] He has not said it, but he has tried to distort what I have said. What I said, which is in full accord with the N.A.T.O. strategy, is that in the event of a large-scale major attack—those were the words used—it would no doubt be necessary to use nuclear retaliatory forces.
§ Mr. Strachey
This is important, and, of course, there is a difference of opinion between us. I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that an ever-increasing number of defence experts in America, even more than here, take the view that the shield forces must be made adequate to meet, in the first instance, even a major Russian conventional attack. That is the issue. I know that the Minister of Defence utterly disagrees with me on it, but it is a very important issue, one which we ought to argue out.
§ Mr. Sandys
I shall try to say something about that later.
There is also the matter which was raised in the Amendments in the debates on previous White Papers last year and the year before, during which the Opposition said that the Government were 1417 placing too much emphasis upon the nuclear deterrent. I am glad to see that that did not feature in the Amendment this year, although it has crept into one or two speeches from the benches opposite.
I think it is now becoming generally recognised that if Britain is to make her contribution to the nuclear deterrent the proportion of our total defence expenditure which we are now devoting to it is not excessive. Expenditure on the V-bomber force, ballistic rockets and nuclear weapons, including research and development, continues to run at about 10 per cent. of our total Defence Estimates. Expenditure on the protection of the deterrent bases represents about a further 10 per cent. Of this expenditure, about two-thirds is in respect of elements of Fighter Command, which would still be needed even if Britain ceased to make a contribution to the deterrent.
Those who advocate that we should devote less effort to the deterrent and more to conventional forces will thus see how very limited is the scope for any switch of resources. Even supposing that we should abandon the nuclear deterrent altogether—which is not recommended by the party opposite—and spent the money thus saved on conventional forces, the resultant increase in conventional strength would be altogether negligible in comparison with the loss of military power and influence which we would suffer by giving up the nuclear deterrent.
Having based the whole of the Labour Party's defence policy on the nuclear deterrent, the right hon. Member for Dundee, West proceeded to try to discredit the whole idea. Also, several hon. Members have questioned the continued validity of the nuclear deterrent. As I understand it, the effectiveness of the nuclear deterrent depends on two things. First, upon the power to inflict upon the aggressor a degree of injury greater than he is prepared to face. Secondly, the ability to convince him that there exists the will to use this power should the need arise.
The United States—and, after all, we are talking here about the nuclear power of the West, which primarily rests in the hands of the United States—unquestionably possesses the ability to hit back on 1418 a truly annihilating scale. It is most improbable that her retaliatory bases could be knocked out by a surprise attack owing to their wide dispersal. However, the question being asked is whether in a few years' time, when the United States will be equally vulnerable, a future American Government will still have the will to use its nuclear power. I think that no one has any doubt that, if a direct attack were made upon the United States, the Americans, regardless of the consequences, would retaliate with a massive nuclear counter-offensive. The point in question is whether, if the attack were made not on the United States but on one of her N.A.T.O. Allies in Europe, the Americans then would react in the same uncompromising manner. We have absolutely no doubts on this score, but since the issue has been widely discussed it is best to speak frankly about it.
It seems to us inconceivable that the United States could afford to stand by while Europe was overrun, for if once Europe were absorbed into the Soviet system the whole of Asia and Africa would follow very quickly afterwards. In a world dominated by Communist power. the United States, notwithstanding her great resources, could not hope to survive for very long as an island of freedom. Thus we see no reason to fear any change in American policy, which is based on a recognition of the inescapable fact that the fate and freedom of the American people and those of her Western Allies are inseparable.
The United States has given categorical assurances that she will regard an attack upon any N.A.T.O. country as an attack upon herself and will come to its aid with all necessary force. Her Majesty's Government place complete reliance upon these solemn undertakings.
While accepting that the Western strategic deterrent should be maintained, the Leader of the Liberal Party, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), advocated that Britain should cease to make her own contribution to it. The hon. Member said that the British nuclear deterrent was so small and insignificant as to be of no practical value. He thought that it would be much better to leave all that to the Americans. The hon. Member is, of course, entitled to his opinion. All I can say is that it is not shared by the Americans themselves, who 1419 attach considerable importance to the part which Britain is playing.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) referred to his visit to the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command at Omaha. I cannot do better than quote a recent statement by the Commander of the United States Strategic Air Command, General Power, who said:The British V-bomber force, with its high-performance jet aircraft and thermo-nuclear weapons, is an essential element of the Western deterrent and it has an important place in our joint operational plans, which are now fully co-ordinated.He went on to say:Should the free world ever be attacked by the Soviet Union, rapid reaction would be vital. Having regard to Britain's closer proximity, we rely on her V-bombers to provide an important part of the first wave of the allied retaliatory force. I am therefore particularly glad to observe the steadily growing combat capability and state of readiness of R.A.F. Bomber Command.That is how the value of the British contribution to the Western deterrent is assessed in the United States by those who know the position.
I should have liked to go on to explain why, in my opinion, the possession by Britain of a separate element of nuclear power is not only a valuable contribution—
§ Mr. Sandys
I am sorry, I have a lot to say. I would like to have gone on to explain why I think that in addition to our contribution to the combined deterrent the possession by Britain of an element of nuclear power might also, in certain circumstances, be a decisive factor in preventing war by miscalculation. However, I do not propose to pursue this last point, since it might lead me on to delicate ground. At a time when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is having talks in Russia, I am naturally anxious not to make a controversial speech. The House will, I am sure, understand.
I come now to say a word about the defence policy of the Liberal Party as a whole. [HON. MEMBERS:"Why waste time?"] I think it is worth while. It was explained by the hon. Gentleman, and I will just read out what I understood 1420 to be the policy, but I will not comment on it. First, the Western nuclear deterrent should be maintained. Second, Britain should stop making hydrogen bombs, but should contribute to the deterrent by research and cash payments. Third, Britain should nevertheless continue for a while to make tactical atomic bombs. Fourth, America should provide all the nuclear deterrent forces, but these should be placed under the control of all the Western countries jointly. Fifth, we and our Allies should build up our conventional forces sufficiently to resist a conventional attack in Europe or elsewhere in the world. Sixth, in fulfilment of this policy, Britain should, as a start, double the strength of her Rhine Army. Seventh, the additional forces needed should be obtained without resort to National Service. The policy is clear, and speaks for itself.
I should like to thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) for the generous references he made to the progress of recruiting. In an interesting speech he stressed the importance of the psychological struggle, and if I had more time I should like to go into that matter.
I should like now to turn to one of the main points made by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West. He referred to what he declared to be the Government's policy to resort to massive nuclear retaliation as the first and only response to any Soviet attack. Those were the words he used, and he went on to advocate a policy of graduated deterrents. The Government's position in this matter was made perfectly clear in the debate on the Defence White Paper a year ago, but since the right hon. Gentleman—I do not believe by mistake—deliberately—wishes to misrepresent us, I will restate the matter.
Several hon. Members have urged that we should publicly define the circumstances which would justify the use of strategic nuclear weapons and those which would justify our using only tactical nuclear weapons. I do not believe that to be wise or practicable. In the first place, we cannot distinguish a strategic weapon from a tactical weapon by reference to its explosive power, as has been suggested. We can say that certain weapons are tactical weapons by reason of the short range of their delivery system, as, for 1421 example, the Corporal rocket, with a 70-miles range, and the nuclear shell, with a range still shorter; but when we come to aircraft bombs, it is impossible to say that one bomb is tactical and the other one is strategic.
The question whether a weapon is tactical or strategic—as I have told the House several times—depends not so much on its explosive yield as on the target against which it is used. If the weapon is used against troop concentrations, communications immediately behind the front, airfields from which are operating aircraft flying over the battle area, it may be said that the weapon being used has a tactical rôle. If, on the other hand, the same weapon is being used to attack centres of industry or population in the heart of the opposing country, whatever the weapon is, it is being used in a strategic role. Between these two examples, which are fairly clear cut, there is a large area where it would be very difficult indeed to determine whether the operation was strategic or tactical.
Even if it were possible to classify these weapons and to define the circumstances in which they would be used, I do not think that would in any way diminish the risk of war. If the West were attacked— and I stress that there is nothing new in this and that it has been said before—our aim would be to use as much force as was necessary to repel the aggression, no more and no less. That has been said before, and right hon. Gentlemen can look it up in HANSARD. If it were a small frontier incident, it might be dealt with by something not much more than a police action. If it were larger but still a localised aggression, it might be repelled by conventional forces, if necessary supported by tactical nuclear weapons. On the other hand, if it were an all-out offensive, it would no doubt be necessary to have an all-out counter-attack with strategic nuclear weapons.
But it would be quite impossible in advance to determine the dividing line between those various circumstances and to publish a definition. Nor would it contribute to security and peace to tell any potential aggressor that he could safely attack us on a certain scale or up to a certain distance without fear of strategic weapons being used against him. I cannot think of a better way of encouraging small-scale probing operations 1422 which could so easily lead step by step to full scale nuclear war.
My advice is that we should not put too much faith in the effectiveness of rules or definitions, but rather continue to concentrate our attention upon deterring aggression of any kind altogether.
I want to refer to one weapon which has been much discussed, the Blue Streak. I was asked by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) and others why we went ahead with Blue Streak in preference to a submarine-launched missile of the Polaris type. The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) and other hon. Members also referred to the matter. Undoubtedly, an underwater firing platform has very great attractions. It is mobile and can be sited far away from any centres of population. The fact that it can be taken round the world to other theatres is also a potential advantage, but it should not be assumed that the removal of the deterrent from this island would in practice protect our population from attack. If ever we launched our rockets from anywhere, we should have to expect an indiscriminate counter-attack which would not make any nice distinction between military and other targets—by counter-attack I do not imply that we had started the operation; I mean a further reply.
§ Mr. Sandys
I was not suggesting that we would start it.
In making our choice, the performance and capabilities of the rocket were the deciding factors. The Polaris rocket is propelled by solid fuel and, owing to restrictions of space in a submarine, its size must be kept down as much as possible. That, of course, limits its range and the weight and capacity of its warhead. Since a smaller warhead has a smaller explosive yield, more rockets are needed to pose an equivalent threat.
The weight-carrying capacity is also of great importance. We and the Americans are working hard on the problem of antimissile missiles, and I have no doubt that other countries are doing the same. To counter this development the missile will have to be provided with the means of evading or foxing the anti-missile missile 1423 which is coming up to destroy it. These devices and decoys in the rocket may require quite a lot of space and may be fairly heavy. If, therefore, we wish our rocket to remain an effective deterrent for a reasonable time, it should possess a margin of additional power and payload to accommodate these future developments. The Blue Streak, with its powerful thrust and large capacity, will, we believe, provide this margin, and sited underground it will be very difficult to knock out.
I want to say a word about arms cooperation, about which I have been asked by several hon. Members. I have been asked why there is no mention of this interdependence in the White Paper. There are, of course, several references to it in regard to our co-operation with the United States and with Australia, in regard to nuclear developments, rocket developments, nuclear submarines and the anti-tank weapon.
I will be quite frank with the House. The reason why no progress is reported on our co-operation with Europe in joint arms development is that the progress has been very disappointing indeed and there is little to report. The disappointment is mine. I have made a very great personal effort, and all my colleagues have helped me in it, to try to promote greater and closer co-operation in arms development with the Continent of Europe. I am still hopeful that we shall achieve some results, but. to be quite frank with the House, the results up to date have been exceedingly disappointing.
I come finally to the Amendment of the Official Opposition, to which I referred earlier, which says that our defence
§ policy is not coherent. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington was good enough to help the House by looking up in the dictionary the exact meaning of the word coherent. He said it means "sticking together". The hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) got up a moment ago, interrupted his right hon. Friend, and said there were large numbers of Labour Members of Parliament who disagreed with the Labour Party's policy and who would have liked to express their disagreement in the course of the debate. All I can say is that if coherent means sticking together, then, on defence, the Labour Party certainly cannot claim to be very coherent.
§ Uncertainty about the country's defence policy and the rôle of the Services, or the feeling that the Forces are not being properly equipped has, as everybody knows, a profound effect upon Service morale, which is rapidly reflected in the rates of recruitment and re-engagement. Whatever hon. Gentlemen opposite may say for party political reasons, all I can say is that the recruits are rolling in and that men already serving are extending their engagements. I believe that this is the best possible evidence that they, at any rate, take a different view. The public and the Services know very well that the new Regular forces we are creating will be better organised, better equipped, better trained, better paid, and better housed than they have ever been before.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 297.Noes 230.1427
|Division No. 52.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Bryan, P.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Burden, F. F. A.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Butcher, Sir Herbert|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron walden)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bingham, R. M.||Campbell, Sir David|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Carr, Robert|
|Ashton, H.||Bishop, F. P.||Cary, Sir Robert|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Black, Sir Cyril||Channon, H. P. G.|
|Baldock, Lt-Cmdr. J. M.||Body, R. F.||Chichester-Clark, R.|
|Baldwin, Sir Archer||Bossom, Sir Alfred||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger|
|Barlow, Sir John||Boyle, Sir Edward||Cooke, Robert|
|Barter, John||Braine, B. R.||Cooper, A. E.|
|Batsford, Brian||Bromley-Davenport, Lt-Col. W. H.||Cooper-Key, E. M.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Brooman-White, R. C.||Corfield, F. V.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Crosthwaite Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crowder, Petre (Rulslip—Northwood)||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Cunningham, Knox||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Pott, H. P.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Iremonger, T. L.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Ramsden, J. E.|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Redmayne, M.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Joseph, Sir Keith||Rees-Davies, W. Ft.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Kaberry, D.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Kershaw, J. A.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kimball, M.||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Kirk, P. M.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lagden, G. W.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Duncan, Sir James||Lambton, Viscount||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Leather, E. H, C.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Elliott, R. W.(Ne'castle uponTyne.N.)||Leavey, J. A.||Russell, R. S.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leburn, W. G.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Sharples, R. C.|
|Fell, A.||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Shepherd, William|
|Finlay, Graeme||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Forrest, G.||Loveys, Walter H.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Fort, R.||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Speir, R. M.|
|Freeth, Denzil||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Gammans, Lady||McAdden, S. J.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Glover, D.||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Storey, S.|
|Godber, J. B.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Goodhart, Philip||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Gower, H. R.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Maddan, Martin||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F.W. (Horncastle)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Teeling, W.|
|Green, A.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Temple, John M.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Gurden, Harold||Marshall, Douglas||Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mathew, R.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Maudling. Rt. Hon. R.|
|Mawby, R. L.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vera (Macclesf'd)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hay, John||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Head, Rt- Hon. A. H.||Nabarro, G. D. N,||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Nairn, D. L. S,||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Neave, Airey||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Hesketh, R. F.||Nicholls, Harmar||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Wall, Patrick|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Noble, Michael (Argyll)||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Nugent, G. R. H.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Hobson, John(Warwick & Leam'gt'n)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim(Co. Antrim, N.)||Webster, David|
|Hope, Lord John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Hornby, R. P.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Hornsby-Smith. Miss M. P.||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian (Hendon, N.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Osborne, C.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Page, R. G.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Partridge, E.|
|Howard, John (Test)||Peel, W. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Mr. Heath and Mr. Legh.|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Abse, Leo||Hayman, F, H.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Healey, Denis||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Albu, A. H.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Herbison, Miss M.||Parker, J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Parkin, B. T.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Paton, John|
|Baird, J.||Holman, P.||Peart, T. F.|
|Balfour, A.||Holmes, Horace||Pentland, N.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Holt, A. F.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Houghton, Douglas||Prentice, R. E.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol. S.E.)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Benson, Sir George||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Beswick, Frank||Hoy, J. H.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Rankin, John|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hunter, A. E.||Reid, William|
|Boardman, H.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Bonham Carter, Mark||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Rhodes, H.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Janner, B.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Ross, William|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(Holbn & St.pncs.S)||Royle, C.|
|Brown. Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Kenyon, C.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Chapman, W. D.||King, Dr. H. M.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Chetwynd, C. R.||Lawson, G. M.||Snow, J. W.|
|Cliffe, Michael||Ledger, R, J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Coldrick, W.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lindgren, G. S.||Steele, T.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Logan, D. G.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||MaAlister, Mrs. Mary||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Deer, G.||MacColl, J. E.||Stross, Dr. Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Delargy, H.J.||MacDermot, Niall||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Diamond, John||McInnes, J.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Dodds, N. N.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Sylvester, G. 0.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||McLeavy, Frank||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Ede. Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacMillan, M. K.(Western Isles)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Edelman, M.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Mahon, Simon||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Thornton, E.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Timmons, J.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Tomney, F.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mason, Roy||Usborne, H. C.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mayhew, C. P.||Viant, S. P.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mellish, R. J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Finch, H. J. (Bedwellty)||Messer, Sir F.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Fitch. A. E. (Wigan)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mikardo, Ian||Weitzman, D-|
|Foot, D. M.||Mitchison, G. R.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Monslow, W.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Galtskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Moody, A. S.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd(Car'then)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mort, D. L.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Moss, R.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Moyle, A.||Willey, Frederick|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mulley, F. W.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Grey, C. F.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Grimond, J.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Hale, Leslie||Oliver, G. H.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Oram, A. E.||Woof, R. E.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Oswald, T.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Hannan, W.||Owen, W. J.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Paget, R. T.|
|Hastings, S.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.|
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
That this House approves the report on the Progress of the Five-Year Defence Plan contained in Command Paper No. 662.