§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I beg to move,That this House, asserting the paramount need for multilateral disarmament, but meanwhile accepting the responsibilities involved in membership of the Western Alliance, regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government to put forward proposals for a balanced North Atlantic Treaty Organisation strategy in Europe and in particular for reducing undue reliance on nuclear weapons; to press for effective political control over the nuclear weapons of the West; and to obtain adequate British participation in the decisions governing the operation of missile-carrying submarines using facilities provided by this country.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, I should like to put a point to you about the first Motion on the Order Paper relating to today's debate. You will no doubt have observed that there is no Government Amendment to the Motion put down by my right hon. Friends, but that there are two Amendments from this side of the House. It seems clear, therefore, so far as the Order Paper can make it clear, that the issues to be debated are those set out in my right hon. Friend's Motion and the Amendments. May I therefore ask you whether it is your intention to call the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) and other of my hon. Friends and myself?
[Line 1, leave out from "House" to end and add "condemns Her Majesty's Government's pursuance of a defence policy based on a nuclear strategy, involving the continued manufacture of hydrogen-bombs by this country and the continued maintenance of nuclear bases on our soil, which offers no defence for the country, encourages the spread of nuclear weapons in the world and impairs any possibility of developing a foreign policy which could lead to general multilateral disarmament and a real peace."]
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it would make for clarity of debate if the Amendment standing in the names of myself and my hon. Friends were called in place of the substantive Motion, since 220 my Amendment appears to express the policy towards which the official Opposition are now groping and which we in the Liberal Party have put forward for some time? The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) could then put his Amendment as an Amendment to mine.
[Line 2, leave out from "disarmament" to end and add "believes that attempts by Great Britain to become an independent nuclear power do not contribute to the maintenance of world peace, do not add to Britain's own security and are economically wasteful; recognises that the defence of Britain must be founded on a policy of collective security and, while deploring Her Majesty's Government's policy of relying increasingly on nuclear weapons at the expense of conventional forces, reaffirms its support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as a necessary shield until multilateral disarmament has been achieved and urges Her Majesty's Government, meanwhile, to negotiate with the United States of America and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation a more effective joint control over the use of nuclear weapons; and also urges Her Majesty's Government to strive as a matter of urgency for political unity in Europe as the best means of securing effective and balanced defences in the West."]
§ Mr. Speaker
No Amendments are selected to the proposition in the names of the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition and other right hon. and hon. Members.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
How am I to move my Amendment to the Liberal Party Amendment if it is not to be called, Mr. Speaker?
[Line 4, leave out from "wasteful" to end and add "realising that there can be no real defence of the civil population of Great Britain in the event of nuclear war and no adequate control of United States aircraft, submarines and missiles operating from bases in this country, calls for the ending of all treaties and agreements with the United States of America, that might involve us in war; and urges Her Majesty's Government to prepare a four years' plan for total disarmament, including proposals for the 221 ending of all foreign bases and the withdrawal of all foreign armies front all countries, thus ending the arms race, relievinq international tensions and enabling all nations, now spending enormous sums on armaments, to devote their resources to improving the health, education, housing and standards of life of their people, and to assisting the underdeveloped areas of the world."]
§ Mr. G. Brown
The Motion in the name of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition starts with an assertion that it is fundamental and vital that world-wide, effectively controlled disarmament, together with provision to maintain authority and to enforce its decisions, is the only hope of achieving lasting peace and security. Yet, although this is fundamental and vital, and will be subscribed to by everybody, it is one of life's tragic ironies that we have all become so used to living with ideological differences in the world, and with the difficulties of achieving measures of disarmament, as well as living with the mounting horror of weapon development, that we sometimes tend to regard such a re-statement almost with boredom, as being too platitudinous to be worth saying. However, I think it is right to repeat, at the beginning of this debate, what we all know, namely, that the only real, long-range objective that is worth while if we are seeking security and defence for our people and peace for the world is an agreement on control arrangements for multi-weapon, multi-nation disarmament.
I say this both for its intrinsic value and because I have a feeling that there may now be, at this moment in time, an opportunity for a new initiative towards this invaluable end. Two events, in particular, encourage me to feel this way. First, we see coming into power in the United States of America a new, young and vigorous American President, accompanied by a new Administration of men who, in so far as we know their names and in so far as they are people we ourselves know, appear to be noted for the vision and freshness of their ideas on things that in the last year or two have seemed to be regarded almost as 222 taboo in United States policy. This coming to power of new men—men of the twentieth century—to whom these ideas have been, if not acceptable, at least worth of study and of progressive liberal thought, is one of the great encouraging things that have happened recently.
Most hon. Members will have read the President-elect's review—which he apparently wrote, astonishingly enough, in the middle of his campaign—of Captain Liddell Hart's book "Deterrent or Defence". To those who have not read it I commend it as a worth-while study of the way in which the new President-elect's mind moves in regard to matters of which it has been difficult until now to get adequate consideration.
The second encouraging event is the Communist Summit, which has recently concluded with an apparent victory for Mr. Khrushchev's ideas on the question of the inevitability or non-inevitability of war and his views about the desirability of war for the achieving of Communist ends. We must be wary of making too facile an interpretation of Communist world events and gyrations, but we must not make the equally silly mistake of ignoring them. The Communist leaders go to great trouble to study and endeavour to interpret us, and we cannot have a successful foreign policy unless we try to do the same.
All who attempt to reorientate policies of great movements which involve considerable and delicate personality questions, as well as theoretical realignments, feel the need of support and victories, and this could be Mr. Khrushchev's position at the moment. It seems to me that the West should be willing and eager to test the new situation, if it exists, by a new initiative. In making this new initiative there are three suggestions that I want to make.
First, we must try to broaden the basis of the disarmament discussions which have dragged on so interminably in the past. I would have thought that we should try to do so, first, by bringing in some neutrals to avoid the continuation of the mere confrontation that has gone on all this time; secondly, by making it become realised at this time—when we hope that it will be easier to 223 do so—that without China being involved in and a party to any disarmament arrangements, no effective or trustworthy arrangements are likely to be made; and, thirdly, by using this moment to raise again—since it is a question upon which the door has been slammed elsewhere in the past, but in relation to which the door may now be open—the question of the possibility of disengagement in Europe as one area in which some advance may be possible, and in which an improvement would be desirable both for East and West.
Let us always remember that the purpose of the N.A.T.O. alliance was to create conditions for a better chance of negotiating lasting settlements and agreements. It was not its purpose to create a new vested interest to frustrate the opportunity of doing that. This must always be the basis of our support for N.A.T.O. As those of us who knew him well know, it was the basis of the late Ernest Bevin's tremendous effort to get it established. In short, let us realise that N.A.T.O. is essentially an emergency measure dictated by the dangerous times in which we live and dictated, it is true, by the weaknesses of the United Nations as an organisation for the preservation of collective security. It is as an under-prop for the United Nations, an interim guarantee against aggression, and a stepping stone to the wider collective security that we seek that we should see it.
It is in that light that I want to invite the House to look with me for a moment or two at the coming N.A.T.O. Council meeting, to which Ministers will be going very shortly. It comes at a tremendously significant time, when changes in thought and outlook are inevitably, I should have thought, arising, quite apart from the considerations I have mentioned, from three new events. The new United States Administration will not be at the N.A.T.O. Council meeting, and, therefore, I imagine that there is a certain barrier to taking vast, solid and firm decisions there, but, in view of the policies which Her Majesty's Ministers have been pursuing in the past under the old Administration in America, I am not sure that I do not prefer that to their taking the firm decisions which otherwise they might.
224 Quite part from the considerations that I have mentioned, there are three great events that have arisen. One is the arrival of new weapons systems, involving much greater mobility than those to which we have become accustomed in the last few years. That greater mobility, whatever else it does, certainly seems to carry with it a reduction in the need there is now for split-second, hair's-breadth decisions. Therefore, because of that, they would seem to offer new possibilities for political control and for political consultation. The old argument was often trotted out that it might well not be valid in the light of the new weapons systems and in the possibilities they offer.
The second, conversely, is that the spread of technical and scientific capacity is increasing tremendously the risk of the spread of these dangerous weapons. This is a risk and a danger which everybody in the world, and certainly all major Powers in the West, have very much on their minds at present and with which they will be anxious to come to grips The third is that the cost of these new developments in the weapons systems is now getting so great that it is making a clear impact, not only on a small nation like ourselves, but on the great American resources and the great American nation, as they are beginning to have to think again about this cost of the resources that are involved, both money and material resources.
All this, I think, can easily lead to new political outlooks and new political demands that maybe would not have been made a short time ago. Yet it seems to me that there are two fresh issues that we have discussed repeatedly in the House, on which I think Her Majesty's Government have been consistently wrong ever since the present Prime Minister and the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations made their impact—as I believe, their disastrous impact—on defence strategy, which we have raised from this side relentlessly and continually.
The first of these is the relationship which should exist in the alliance between the member States of the alliance and specifically the arrangements for making effective that co-ordination of individual foreign and defence policies so that a common political purpose emerges. I will not go into that point now. There is plenty 225 to discuss on the second one, but I want to make plain again that because I do not raise it in any detail now does not mean that I do not regard the present situation, politically, as a shambles. The lack of co-ordination of policy between members of the Western alliance is a great disaster from our point of view, and I think that it will be very difficult to take any political initiative until we sort out some of these contradictions amongst ourselves.
The second issue is the one with which I want to deal today. This is the whole purpose and the strategy of the military organisation of the alliance, together with its related issues of weapons and forces. I believe that this went wrong at the Heads of Government meeting in 1957, when the decision was taken that S.H.A.P.E.—Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe—should be provided with intermediate range ballistic missiles as part of its sphere of operations and authority. Fortunately, little, if anything, has been done—perhaps nothing has been done—since that day to give effect to that, as I believe, wrong decision. Therefore, we are able to discuss that decision in the debate today in the hope of changing the minds of Ministers about it.
Above all this relationship of weapons and forces there is the relationship of the military commanders to the political authorities and the mechanism that we shall have to have to give effect to that relationship. It is on this area that I now want to concentrate and to which our Motion is directed. Inevitably, the pattern for the next decade will be set in the next few months. It is our charge against the Government that they have given no sign of understanding of what is involved here; they give no lead from Britain to our allies on this vital issue; they accept a position vis-à-vis the Americans that is more akin to dependency than it is to allies who are interdependent, which is nearly akin to—
§ Mr. Brown
If you like—and that Britain's own provision of forces and other weapons and equipment is signally ill-conceived for our own defence and for our rôle in the combined forces of the West.
226 I hope that I have made it clear, as does the Motion, that those of us sitting on this Bench, and those for whom we speak, the overwhelming number of our colleagues in this House, and, as we believe, the overwhelming number of members and supporters of our movement in the country, continue to accept the need for the Western alliance, and also that membership of it involves obligations and responsibilities which cannot be avoided or evaded. I am clear that not to do that would lead inescapably to the destruction of the allies, and I believe that were that to happen at this time, as a single act, not accompanied by other great changes, it would, in turn, weaken immeasurably the chances of political agreement between the two great blocs in the world and thereby increase the risks of war.
It is because we believe that that we are so concerned about the defence policy of the alliance, for if the alliance is addressed to the wrong threat, if its forces and weapons are incorrectly balanced, it becomes provocative instead of deterrent, and ends up without the willing support of our peoples. Once the democratic will ceases to exist, the vital nerve has gone.
All these issues were raised in General Norstad's recent speech. Here may I pay my personal tribute to a commander with whom I have not always agreed, and, as I shall show in a moment, do not agree with a large amount of what he said in Paris. I pay my tribute to a commander who, I think, has done a notable and outstanding job in very difficult circumstances as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He raised these issues in a very courageous speech, and they are raised again by the reported American proposal to make I.R.B.M.'s—apparently, Polaris—carrying submarines and land-based missiles—available to N.A.T.O. Although, in this area, we are given so little information in the House, less. I rather think, than anywhere in any democratic country in the world, it is very difficult, however hard one works, burrows and delves, and talks outside the House, to be clear even now about what is proposed, and I hope that the Minister of Defence will take us a little more frankly into his confidence this afternoon.
§ Mr. Brown
Then let him show that. The issues are now there. In a sense, they are on the printed agenda. Only Her Majesty's Government seem unwilling, perhaps unable, to face them, to discuss them and to propose action upon them. I take, first, the weapon situation, especially in the light of General Norstad's recent speech.
I applaud some of the sentiments General Norstad expressed in that speech, about raising the nuclear threshold to higher levels, about putting much higher the level of command at which any decision to employ any nuclear weapon should be taken, and his affirmation that S.H.A.P.E. sees its task as resisting and containing any incident so as to enforce a pause and bring about deliberate consideration and decision before any further decision is taken on either side to bid the stakes up. All that I applaud the more because the first time he and I met I could not make him see the value of it at all, and I can only be rather proud of the degree of Socialist infiltration which seems to have gone on during the years in which he has been in command.
There were, however, some very unclear passages in General Norstad's speech which, in some ways, seem to contradict the very sentiments and assertions that he was expressing at the very point of stating them. For example, the passage in which he talked about the early integration of nuclear weapons into the ground forces looks very odd when read immediately alongside, as it is in the text, his assertion that that decision, too, must be reserved for a very much higher command.
In any case, sentiments are one thing. Actions and decisions are what count. I put the question straight away to the Minister: does he believe—and does the House believe—that S.H.A.P.E. has the necessary conventional forces to act in accordance with the excellent premise of enforcing a pause? General Norstad seemed to imply that his 28 divisions, possibly even 30, were coming into sight and would be sufficient for their job. We must take into account, of course, the effect of the Russian run-down in conventional forces. Let us not remain hide-bound by old intelligence appreciations that were made when the situation was different. The run-down of Russian conventional forces has great impact 228 upon the risk of a surprise attack and, therefore, on the degree of preparation one has to make for it. So perhaps he is right about the 28 divisions now being sufficient.
But are those 28 divisions coming into sight? So long as the French have all their forces away, and Britain continues to fail to put its stated commitment in place in Europe, are we not merely kidding ourselves in talking about 28 divisions coming into sight?
I put to the Minister of Defence now a question which he has never answered, but which ought to be answered clearly. Can Her Majesty's Government meet their solemn obligations, given by a Conservative Prime Minister to Europe? Can they fulfil our commitment to keep a certain number of divisions there, and can we fulfil it with an Army which will fall certainly to 160,000 and which will, perhaps for some time, not be notably above that figure? Do the Government think that they can do it? If they do, I am bound to insist to the Minister that certain essential decisions have to be taken and certain things must be put in train now to enable them to do it.
For example, we could not keep four divisions, even if they be modern, pentomic, small divisions, in Europe and also, it seems to me, maintain our scattered commitments all over the globe with forces in halfpenny numbers. Far-reaching decisions must be taken, also, about the mobility of the men and their equipment, because, if we tie large numbers down on the Continent and at home, we shall face the need for very rapid movement of men and equipment if we ever need them for a temporary commitment elsewhere.
Further, decisions must be taken about their equipment and their arms, both of which at the moment, as hon. Members who have visited B.A.O.R. know, are inadequate. Next, are the Government ready to face the need to integrate British supplies and logistics for our component in the European forces within a N.A.T.O. or a S.H.A.P.E. supply system? One of the humiliating things during one of the sessions at Paris was, I understand, that we were one of the culprits singled out as one of the "bad boys", one of the reasons for failure to achieve anything at all in this matter so far.
229 Above all, do Her Majesty's Government now understand and accept the financial implications of a small Army policy? It is quite clear that the present Prime Minister and the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, when they began this policy, did so thinking that it would also be a money-saver. Are the Government now prepared to recognise that it may be nothing of the kind because vast sums of money have to be spent in other ways to enable a small Army policy to work in this situation? My guess is that, despite General Norstad's sound political words, and his brave military assumptions, the fact is that the conventional forces just are not there for the task he was assuming.
This raises the next question. A short time ago, the S.H.A.P.E. planners thought that they could make up the deficiency by bringing in small-scale, meaning low-yield, small-size, so-called tactical atomic weapons, which would, as they thought, be politically acceptable because of their size and limitations. They now know that this is either not possible, or it will be delayed for quite a time. Is it not that which has led to the ridiculous fantasy of calling the 1,200-to 1,500-mile range missile carrying a half-megaton warhead a middle-range ballistic missile? Is it not that which has led to the attempt to find a better-sounding name so that this essentially strategic weapon can somehow be fitted into the definition of "tactical" weapon in the hope of getting away with that as well?
In my view, this is absolute fantasy. The weapon is quite inflexible. Its range cannot be shortened. Can we ever realistically talk of such a weapon with that range and size of warhead being used far inside Russian metropolitan territory and call it sometimes tactical and sometimes strategic? If we try to do that, will the Russians distinguish when it drops tactically from the occasion when it drops strategically? If they do not make the distinction, where is the pause? Where, then, is the deterrent?
In such circumstances we are right the way back to being provocative instead of being deterrent. We are right the way back to encouraging instead of warning off. It seems to me that the deployment of these weapons, for which General 230 Norstad seems to be asking, and which the Americans seem to be offering—we have no information about where Her Majesty's Government stand in the matter—as part of S.H.A.P.E.'s armoury can only completely distort the strategy of S.H.A.P.E. and, so far as it does that, it will, of course, destroy the real purpose of NA.T.O and the only purpose on which willing support for NA.T.O. will be found, namely, that of a deterrent shield force.
In that light, it seems to me that the American offer of submarines to S.H.A.P.E. is extremely dangerous. One thing that we must be clear about here is the extreme looseness with which terms are used. There is talk of giving them to N.A.T.O., N.A.T.O. being a political body, a political alliance, when, in fact, what seems to be involved is giving them to S.H.A.P.E., to the military command. We really must be clear that it is to S.H.A.P.E. that they appear to be offered and, for the reasons I have mentioned, that seems to be a very dangerous business indeed.
Is it not a very good reason why these weapons of all kinds of this range and size should be outside S.H.A.P.E. as Strategic Air Command has always been outside S.H.A.P.E.—indeed, in a sense, Strategic Air Command has been outside N.A.T.O. because it is not committed there at all—and we should drop all talk of N.A.T.O. becoming a fourth Power? It seems for the reasons I have given that we should discourage this kind of loose talk.
I ask the Minister, why do Her Majesty's Government not speak up and make their views known? I can well understand that if we go into negotiations we do not disclose the hand we are negotiating about, but that is quite a different matter from issues of great principle such as this. Other Governments ought to know the stand which the House and Her Majesty's Government take in principle before the thing begins, because otherwise negotiation on these things seems to be what ought not to be encouraged and it would be so disastrous.
I have a feeling that the Government just hark back to something which I said just now, perhaps for the same financial reasons, belongs to the era of 231 thought which produced the famous paragraph 12 of the first White Paper by the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, the first 1958 White Paper.
§ Mr. Brown
No. We had this once before and I think the hon. Gentleman will find that paragraph 12 is in the first 1958 White Paper. I have tried not to make the same mistake twice. I made a mistake over this once before.
I turn now from the weapon consideration's to the equally important issue of political control over these weapons within the alliance, which arises whoever nominally owns, whoever nominally provides, the weapons. It seems to me that there are four problems here. The first is to ensure that any decision on the first use by the West of any nuclear weapon is a political and not a military decision. The second one is to establish that the ultimate nuclear weapon, the H-bomb or strategic weapon, is never used first by the West. The third one is to establish that these political decisions are alliance decisions and not the decision for any one Power by itself within the alliance. The fourth is to ensure that the mechanism for these political decisions is provided in a way that is practical, effective and can work.
I shall discuss these four problems very briefly. Her Majesty's Government never seem to be sure whether they accept the principle or not and whether they are for political authority, for political decisions, or against them. We ought to have a clear answer today, which we certainly did not get the last time the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence answered questions on this subject. It seems no use, on issues of this magnitude, danger and importance, to do word spinning, as the Prime Minister did in all that playing about with "fifteen fingers on the trigger" and an Icelandic or Luxembourg veto, or to go on asking rhetorical questions, as the Minister of Defence did. The issue is too big to permit that way of getting out of an awkward decision when giving an answer about it.
Nor is it much use to keep putting so much emphasis on the situation which might exist after nuclear war had broken 232 out that we lose sight of the fact that it is a deterrent force we are talking about to deter it ever breaking out and, therefore, what exists now and will exist in the period ahead is the important issue. I think that General Norstad—and maybe other generals, but certainly the Supreme Commander—is being forced to lecture the Governments on politics, as he did in his Paris speech, precisely because the Governments themselves are abdicating their own difficult but essential political functions and taking refuge in talking about military things which are not their affair in the same way. In my view—since I have challenged that I declare it and must go on the record—it is not impossible to make a reality of political control while maintaining the credibility of the deterrent, but to do it we need a substantial and far-reaching structural reform of N.A.T.O.
We need to provide three things. We need, first, to provide a truly ministerial political council. Reliance on ambassadors and officials with no authority, having to hark back all the time, simply meeting every Wednesday morning to look at the agenda and bring forward instructions they have received from home on last week's agenda and then to adjourn to get instructions on this week's agenda, seems to make nonsense of any idea of a political council, let alone of political control.
The second thing we have to provide is a Ministerial defence council since, in the very nature of things, Defence Ministers can meet more often and, in the very nature of things, they are personally concerned and involved. We could get a lot of issues settled if we took them into their sphere. At present, they go unsettled over months and years because they are in someone else's charge.
My next suggestion may be a little more controversial and if there is a better suggestion made we should look at it, but so far I have not heard one. We should set up a political standing group roughly similar to the military standing group arrangements which have worked so well and proved so efficacious in carrying out the executive powers of the Fifteen. I see no reason to assume that what has been so successful over the years on the military side should not be done in a similar way on the political side, and I therefore recommend it.
233 Of course, none of this is easy. It can be said that none of this is wholly logical, but the only wholly logical way of running a 15-nation political and military alliance would be to have a supranational body to run it. As we do not seem to be in any danger of getting that, short of that we have to get as near to a practical solution as we can and the best in this field, as so often in fields of defence, must not become the enemy of the good.
Decisions of this magnitude cannot, I repeat, be handed to the military commanders. If we do that the effect both on them and on the people in whose names it is done will, I believe, be catastrophic for the alliance and for its whole purpose. It will be so different from what folk imagined that support will be easily challenged, which to some extent is happening in this country at the moment and which I regard as bad. Here I make perfectly clear that when I talk about these decisions I am talking equally of the nuclear weapons properly committed to S.H.A.P.E., these genuinely battlefield ones, and those which I believe should be outside S.H.A.P.E., which are still alliance weapons, and the so-called strategic deterrent. All, in my view, must be subject to the political control in the way I showed earlier.
I turn, finally, to the question of the British share in the political control over the operations of missile-carrying submarines using facilities provided by us There were related issues on this which I had hoped very much to discuss, but which I regret that under our rules of order relating to anticipation I cannot discuss. I will, however, deal with the question of political control. Let me make clear, first, that I am not raising the issue of whether this new weapons system is the ultimate.
I guess that it has many advantages over previous ones, particularly in its mobility and particularly because it is comparatively invulnerable and the fact that at all material times it can be far away from our shores and our allies' shores. Its coming is a good case, incidentally, for doing what we should long since have done, removing the dangerous and obsolete Thors which we have in this country.
234 In short, therefore, it seems to give us a genuinely, and obviously—which is equally important—deterrent, as distinct from a first-use, weapon; but it is not all that proved. There are obvious reservations about it. No doubt the fact that the Americans are less enthusiastic about putting land-based Polaris weapons into Europe and are thinking more in terms of Pershings is because of the disadvantages of the Polaris. For that reason, therefore, I do not think that we should regard this as the ultimate weapon.
§ Mr. Brown
It would be better if my hon. Friend let me finish.
I have little doubt that for some time to come Polaris will be the effective weapons system—which only serves to make more nonsense of the Government's obstinate attachment to the nonexistent Skybolt, which is now even less likely than when we discussed the problem before, in order to keep alive the obsolescent idea of a private, British independent nuclear deterrent.
§ Mr. Brown
I must continue.
All these facts seem to me to make it even more important that we in Britain should be fully participating in the decisions and the policy associated with the new weapons system. Again, it is not, as the Prime Minister suggested the other day in his Henry Irvine character, one question when the Polaris is in territorial waters and a different question if it is 2,000 miles away. It is also pointless to talk, as some have, about the propriety or the ability of our having, or wanting to have, a share in an American weapons system.
The fact is that these weapons depend on the Anglo-American partnership. That partnership should be a partnership of equals. Their deployment affects us both. We are each providing indispensable facilities for the other. We are both, therefore, in our view, entitled to know about and to be able to influence their deployment and their operation. I repeat, it is no use trying the reductio ad absurdum argument of talking about what happens after thermo-nuclear war has broken out. We are talking about the period from here immediately ahead.
235 I see, in the present situation, no reason at all why we should not know the itineraries of these vessels. The Deputy-Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, is today a British admiral; he has a British hat and an international hat, like the other officers. He must be in a position to know the itineraries of all sorts of vessels and the operational programmes and plans of all sorts of things. I can see no reason why the Government should not know, too.
I see no political reason why we should not be in a position to query or dispute in advance, if we feel so disposed, the itineraries of these vessels. I certainly believe that Her Majesty's Government should have insisted, when we were asked to provide British facilities for these vessels, that the political control over their operations and their deployment should be one in which we took part.
I have tried to deal only with the three or four major issues which are inescapably with us and with the alliance now. I have deliberately eschewed all others, although many of them are of great importance. This I have done because I wanted, if I could, to concentrate the attention of the House on decisions which cannot be escaped; and the consequences of failing to take them, or of failing to take the right decisions, will be as disastrous as the advantages of taking the right decision will be beneficial.
I have tried to show, I hope constructively, first, that vital changes are needed in the alliance to make its deterrent purpose clear and effective. Secondly, I have tried to offer ideas for reinforcing the political character of the alliance so that it is effectively an alliance and has no appearance at all of being just one super-State with 14 satellites.
Thirdly, I have tried to remind us of the true purpose of the alliance and its interim nature. The ultimate and desirable situation is not the present division of the world and high and developing armaments, but a world authority, plus a security force, as foreseen by those who drafted for us at San Francisco, together with effective and controlled disarmament by the individual Powers.
I have moved the Motion because we feel that the Government lack not only 236 the grand vision but also the clear sight and the ability to make a reality and an acceptable fact to the interim arrangements. They will no doubt today make much of our differences on this side of the House. The nation would perhaps be better served if there were less of a monolithic, thoughtless vacuum over on that side of the House.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)
I do not propose to go into any differences in doctrine among the Opposition. The Government have always taken the view that these are not matters for us. But that in no way justifies the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) in saying, in his closing words, that because we on this side of the House agree on what we think should be done in the world it means that we do not feel just as passionately about this question as do hon. Members opposite. Let us make that quite plain at the beginning of the debate.
The Motion was not moved in very censorious terms by the right hon. Gentleman, and it may be that there will not be such a wide measure of disagreement between us as some hon. Members below the Gangway wish. The first 22 words of the Motion are quite acceptable to the Government. As for the rest of it, I prefer to deal with the right hon. Gentleman's quite proper questions about the future of N.A.T.O. and of our deterrent policy and how we can best keep peace in the world.
First, I must say, as he said—at least we agree on this, although perhaps there are many other things on which we shall not agree—that the long-term solution is disarmament—complete and well-monitored, so that people trust it. That is the long-term solution to which we all try to work. Nobody wants disarmament more than the Government, and nobody has tried harder over the last few years to bring it about. We shall continue to do so. The Prime Minister put forward a plan at a recent meeting of the United Nations. We are only too happy to try to implement it or 237 to examine anybody else's plan at any time. We intend to go on doing all that.
But it does not alter the burden which rests on a Minister of Defence and all his Western colleagues that until we can get disarmament we must play—and this country must play—our full part in maintaining the balance of force on which peace rests. This is the policy of the deterrent, both conventional and nuclear, which was started by a Labour Government under the leadership of Lord Attlee and which has been continued by successive Conservative Governments. It is on that poicy that we on this side of the House believe that peace rests until disarmament can be achieved.
The deterrent is, of course, the total military effort, and it rests, again, on the knowledge of the certainty of the destruction of an aggressor which today is inherent in nuclear warfare. I do not regard that as being a bad thing, or as a thing to be frightened of. I believe that it is, perhaps, a most important factor in the maintenance of peace and the eventual achievement of disarmament, because it is in the face of the nuclear weapon, and only in the face of the nuclear weapon, that an aggressor can realise that he cannot achieve victory in any sense of the word at all.
After all, I do not think that it is wrong, when discussing N.A.T.O. and these very grave, difficult and technical problems, that we should try to judge them by what an aggressor thinks. What we are trying to do is to stop a war starting. If a major nuclear war starts, we have all failed, and that I quite accept as being the proper position of a Minister of Defence. Therefore, we must look a little at Soviet intentions before turning to how N.A.T.O. can best meet them.
I must say again, as I said in the House not very long ago, that the Soviet Union has not disarmed, and is not disarming Mr. Khrushchev himsef emphasised only recenty that reductions in manpower in no way weakened the fire power of the Russian armed forces. Again, ony the other day, he said that the nuclear capacity now in Russian hands was adequate to wipe off the face 238 of the earth any country or countries that attacked the U.S.S.R.
We do not see any reduction in the fleet of 400 and more Russian submarines, nor do we disbelieve Mr. Khrushchev's claim that he already has nuclear submarines, and that they have at least a type of missile-firing submarine. In all these things we can see no signs that the Russian position of strength is being in any way diminished.
If we were to weaken ourselves and our partners by renouncing our nuclear capacity what should we gain—what would be the force of our example? It would only give great encouragement to an aggressor. If some people think that we could in some mysterious way escape the dangers of a nuclear war, I should like to say this:Warfare conducted with nuclear weapons would suck the entire world into its wake. Not a single country involved in such a war would escape the ensuing crushing and devastating blows.Those are not my words. They were written by Major-General Talensky, a prominent Soviet commentator on military affairs. That may be a hopeful sign—I believe that it is—that the Russian nation is coming to believe, as we do, that nuclear war means total destruction, and that belief may help to preserve the balance on which peace rests. I must add that, to me, this does not seem to be the right moment at which to cast away our own nuclear capacity—
§ Mr. Watkinson
No, I will make my speech in the shortest time possible. I was very careful not to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper, and, before I finish, I think that I shall have answered most of the points that were put forward.
I turn now to N.A.T.O., and to the policy that Her Majesty's Government would propose for this great alliance. Of course, the main purpose of N.A.T.O. is to stop a war starting—I quite agree—and that is something that, in our view, must force a gradual change in much N.A.T.O. thinking and strategy. I agree, too—and I think that most people do who wish N.A.T.O. well—that it is a kind of miracle—and perhaps one should not always look miracles too closely in the face.
239 It is certainly not a good thing continually to be taking N.A.T.O.'s temperature in public, and crying out, and wringing our hands about the disarray into which we claim N.A.T.O. has fallen. At least, N.A.T.O. has kept the peace, and that is what it is there to do. It does not seem to me to help a great deal to talk very much in public about its disastrous state, although, as I say, I do not disagree that its strategy must now be re-examined in the light of the immense growth of nuclear power on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
I think that a calm appraisal of the facts shows that there are two issues to be examined—particularly in regard to N.A.T.O. nuclear strategy—not necessarily to change them completely, but because I think that this is really the crux of the problem with which Defence Ministers and Foreign Secretaries have to grapple. First, there is the question of control, both political and military. Secondly, there is the problem, not necessarily of increasing the number of megatons but of the renewal or the keeping up to date of the means of delivery.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government were very vague about their desires for political control. I want to make it quite plain that we believe that political control is essential, though the right hon. Gentleman himself posed the question: can we have such a tight political control as would depreciate the credibility of the deterrent? That is a difficult problem because, as I have said before, if we wrote a rule book on the conditions in which certain orders would or would not be given we might well convince an aggressor that such an order would never be given at all, and, in that case, destroy the whole basis of the deterrent on which peace rests.
In our view, N.A.T.O. does not need so much an increase in megatons as the continued assurance that it can fulfil its military tasks. It does not, I think, want more than this or less than this, so I must begin by setting out quite briefly what its present tasks and authorities are, because I think that it will be helpful to the House. I will then explain what Her Majesty's Government think should be done about the present situation.
It was not only in 1957, as the right hon. Gentleman said, but as long ago as 240 1954 that N.A.T.O. decided that nuclear weapons had to be included in its armoury. This policy was further spelled out in 1956 and 1957. I hope that it is realised that the whole of the N.A.T.O. shield and sword concepts—and there have always been both—is backed by the strategic nuclear deterrent forces that are clearly linked to N.A.T.O. by the terms of the Treaty itself.
We must remember that Article 5 of the N.A.T.O. Alliance Treaty pledges all the members to regard an attack on one of them as an attack on all. Therefore, this artificial distinction that some people try to draw, of N.A.T.O. as a kind of third or fourth independent Power, in some way divorced from America and ourselves, is not true at all. We are all pledged to go to the defence of N.A.T.O. in the case of an attack on any N.A.T.O. nation.
The present powers of SACEUR—General Norstad, who, I think, has performed a very great service to the cause of peace and of Europe in his present job—are very wide, and very much more powerful than I think many hon. Members may realise. He has a wide range of weapons—Jupiter missiles, nuclear-strike forces, including our own Canberras and Valiants, certain cruise-type missiles such as Matador, the nuclear-strike aircraft and the immense power of the American Sixth Fleet, and a large number of what one might call artillery units with nuclear capacity, such as the Corporal, Honest John, and the 8 in. howitzer.
The fact remains that the nuclear warheads are of United States manufacture. They belong to the United States Government, and American sanction is necessary before they can be delivered. Their custody and control rests, not on Presidential authority but on Congressional authority. Congress would have to alter American law if a change in the present control and custody of the American warheads were proposed. Let us be quite clear about that. It would be all very well for Her Majesty's Government to say to N.A.T.O. "You should do this, that and the other," but American law would have to be changed—and this is fundamental—if there were to be any change in the custody and present management of nuclear warheads.
241 What is General Norstad's position? I want to give his own words—and I think that in this he would also speak for the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic—because I think that they spell out more clearly than I can how he views the present difficulties. He has said:All of the N.A.T.O. Forces, conventional as well as atomic, are controlled ultimately by a political authority which is, in fact, the Council, or our Governments. They are the higher political authority; and that applies to the tactical atomic weapons wherever they may be deployed and in whose hands they may be located. In addition to that, in order to ensure control of this very important weapon and, I must say, to keep faith with the Governments of N.A.T.O., I keep in my own hands under a very tight centralised control the units that are equipped to use nuclear weapons.That is what General Norstad said and, in the Government's view, that sets out perfectly clearly what his present responsibilities are. As I said in the House a few weeks ago General Norstad accepts that he clearly requires political authority. The recent speech which the right hon. Gentleman quoted was very interesting, but I do not think that it contained anything that General Norstad had not said before at one time or another. I admit the timing probably made it very important, but it is not a new doctrine.
Against this background, what are the British Government's views? First, we welcome any proposals which strengthen N.A.T.O. and maintain the deterrent to war. I do not in any sense criticise our American friends and colleagues, but they have not provided a definitive piece of paper which we can examine. I understand that the American Secretary of State will be making a full statement at the N.A.T.O. meeting. I am not saying that we have not been generally informed as to what it may contain, but we are not in possession of any definitive form of words.
Therefore, I can only say that if the American Government were to pledge themselves at this week's meeting to retain the United States nuclear capacity in N.A.T.O. so long as this is required, we should certainly welcome it unreservedly. It meets the point the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made in a speech in March, that some N.A.T.O. nations may feel there is a risk that America may pull out of Europe, or pull her nuclear capacity out 242 of Europe and say, "Europe is not worth having a nuclear war in America for, and all our cities destroyed". That is something we should welcome. If it includes the offer of Polaris submarines which would buttress the kind of tasks at present fulfilled by the strike aircraft of the United States fleets committed to N.A.T.O., I think that we should welcome that as well. I will come back to the problem of submarines in a moment.
Our view is that whatever decisions have to be taken on missiles and the nuclear side, they must be subordinate to the carrying through of the main purposes of the alliance, because that is the job we have to do, to try to stop a war starting; to try to keep the peace in the whole of the N.A.T.O. area. I think that it is time that the whole of this strategy is reviewed again.
The right hon. Gentleman implied that both the American and British Governments had been very slow to bring their thoughts to N.A.T.O. It was Mr. Herter's proposal, which was very well received—and I was there at the time—that we should have a new long-term look at N.A.T.O.'s future. That provides, in our view, the right method of re-examining the problems which are now arising, provided that we accept that the primary purpose of N.A.T.O. is to provide the guarantee, as far as it is possible, against a war starting. That means the shield aspect of N.A.T.O. is, above all, important.
I was very glad that General Norstad felt able to say that he was somewhat more satisfied with the strength of his conventional forces and the number of their divisions. That is his view and not mine. That is General Norstad's assessment of the conventional strength of his forces.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Is the Minister saying that General Norstad said that he was satisfied with the existing strength of conventional forces?
§ Mr. Watkinson
No. His speech has been interpreted as meaning that he has seen an increase in the number of conventional forces available under him. 243 That is my understanding of the position. If that is the position, we welcome it.
Coming to the general context of this long-term review of N.A.T.O. strategy—by which I do not mean a review which takes a long time to review, but a review which covers the next five to ten years in Europe—
§ Mr. G. Brown
I have General Norstad's speech here. I read from the fourth paragraph, on page 36:Thus, I believe that our forces must have a substantial conventional capability. They must be able to operate where the military situation permits, without using arms and weapons equipped with nuclear warheads This will require shield forces of the general magnitude being provided under our present programme, a programme which I regret to say is not yet completed. I press for its completion".
§ Mr. Watkinson
I do not disagree with that at all. Of course, the MC.70 goals, which the right hon. Gentleman knows about, are not fulfilled. All I was indicating was that I understood that General Norstad at least felt in the last year or so that we had made some progress. He may not be satisfied.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
This, surely, is an important point. When the right hon. Gentleman says "we", does he means Her Majesty's Government, or "we, N.A.T.O."? To put it specifically, is the increase due to the fact that the Germans are at their eighth or ninth division, whereas we are below seven-brigade group strength?
§ Mr. Watkinson
No, that is not the argument at all. What I say is that it is General Norstad's view that some progress has been made towards increasing the conventional shield forces.
§ Mr. Watkinson
Of course he is not content, because the ultimate goal must be fulfilment of the full MC.70 requirement and that, I quite accept, has not been fulfilled.
I now turn to what should be done within this long-term view of N.A.T.O. strategy as to the whole of N.A.T.O. deterrent policy. On the nuclear side, we propose to make no proposals for changing the control and custody of warheads. Obviously, such a proposal must be made by America, because it means a change in current American legislation. 244 We believe that the Polaris submarine will be a balancing factor in face of the great increase in Soviet missiles employed all round the Russian fringe territories. The Polaris submarines also strengthen N.A.T.O.'s capacity to retaliate after a nuclear aggression has taken place, as the right hon. Gentleman said, and that is a very important factor. It helps to protect the Alliance against a form of nuclear blackmail and it also makes it quite plain one can slowly move to a firmer second strike philosophy. It is certainly not an aggressive philosophy.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not the tradition of the House that Ministers elucidate points in reply to questions, or is the debate to deteriorate into a series of soliloquies and recitations?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker(Sir Gordon Touche)
It is for the Minister, or any other speaker, to decide whether he will give way to an hon. Member.
§ Mr. Watkinson
I think the tradition of the House is that the Minister should try to make himself as plain as he can on an important matter. That is what I am trying to do. I will finish my present theme.
I have said that in N.A.T.O.'s nuclear strategy we think that the Polaris submarine probably has a place, for the reasons which I have given.
The next point is very important. None of the changes at present foreseen, in our view, gives N.A.T.O. any kind of spearate long-rang strategic rôle, nor turns it into some kind of fourth Nuclear Power. This seems to me to be the wrong way to describe the present functions of N.A.T.O. N.A.T.O. is not a nuclear Power in its own right. It is a nuclear Power because it has forces assigned to it which have different kinds of nuclear capabilities. Our view is that in this long-term examination which, we hope, will be begun at the meeting which starts next week, there will be a comprehensive examination of the purposes, control and deployment of this nuclear armoury.
245 In my view, an early stage in the study would be an assessment of the magnitude of the existing nuclear capacity and its efficiency as a deterrent under existing methods of control. If such an examination revealed great deficiencies, we should obviously like to have the various ideas for a N.A.T.O. stockpile of nuclear warheads examined, also ideas for a permanent medium-range missile force within N.A.T.O., which might be the counterpart of the force which General Gale proposed, which is a kind of mobile force which comes directly under SACEUR's control.
This would mean, we think, giving more direct control to the N.A.T.O. nations of Europe over at least some of the nuclear armoury stored and disposed on their territories. That is our view, although I want to make it absolutely plain that it rests on changing American legislation. It may be said that this might most easily be done by creating a nuclear pool formed, first, from existing weapons. That seems to be something which N.A.T.O. could do almost at once if it so wished. However, these are very difficult and technical matters and they should be studied and discussed first in N.A.T.O.
I want to make only one other point on this aspect. There will be arguments about the range and lethality of various weapons, but the range of a medium-range missile depends on where it is sited. If it is sited right up on N.A.T.O.'s frontier, that is one thing If it is either at sea or well back, that provides quite a different capacity for the missile. Today, N.A.T.O. has aircraft which carry an enormous nuclear potential and which have a very long range indeed. I do not think that it is necessarily wrong that some of those at some time should be replaced by some form of missile, if the military arguments are found on that to be sound.
Anyway, the British Government do not oppose the general idea that N.A.T.O. will no doubt need some medium-range missiles as a replacement for some existing aircraft, but I do not wish to go further than this until this further detailed examination has taken place. Our view is that the future of the aircraft needs very careful examination. After all, for a democracy an aircraft is a very much more convenient 246 weapon than a missile. An aircraft has the capacity of recall. It has the capacity of being poised. It can carry either nuclear or conventional explosive. Therefore, we consider that we should examine very carefully the flexibility and capability of present and future aircraft before we decide the balance between aircraft and missiles.
Then there is the question of tighter central control over the so-called artillery weapons. Lastly, there is the most difficult matter of political control. I quite like the idea, which I think that General Norstad and Mr. Spaak have spoken about, and which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, that perhaps a smaller group of N.A.T.O. nations could be charged with the task of controlling, for example, a nuclear stockpile, if one were to be set up.
Political control must certainly be maintained and strengthened to an extent which does not unduly weaken the broad deterrent strength of N.A.T.O. as a whole. If that can best be done by a smaller group than 15 nations, which involves the difficulty of 15 fingers on the safety catch, that, too, needs very careful examination.
§ Mr. Watkinson
I will give way when I have finished this part of my speech.
This, again, needs a change in U.S. legislation.
As to the Defence Ministers meeting more often, Her Majesty's Government proposed that exactly twelve months ago So far, we have not had as many meetings of N.A.T.O. Defence Ministers as I should like, but I hope that we shall have more in the future.
As to integration and interdependence, it is on the initiative of Her Majesty's Government that at our meeting this week we study a definitive list of twenty projects which the N.A.T.O. Armaments Committee has drawn up as being the ones on which good progress is most likely to be made towards joint projects and interdependence.
I hope that we shall find that real progress is being made. If not, I shall certainly feel that we should say very firmly that, if we are to have interdependence, it can be judged only by real progress on limited lists of projects on which one can 247 really see whether the will is there to do it. That is why we proposed a limited number of projects on which we thought that we could examine the position and see whether real progress would be made.
I do not accept for a moment the general thesis of the right hon. Gentleman that we have taken no great steps to try to press a policy within N.A.T.O., to try to make it more efficient, both as to its weapons and as to its policy, or to try to promote new ideas.
In my remarks dealing with N.A.T.O. I have not tried to answer in detail all the questions which have been posed. Those must be discussed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and, to a lesser extent, myself. I hope that we shall have a meeting of the Defence Ministers in the spring at which we can carry these matters further.
When I have summed up on this N.A.T.O. point I will certainly give way to any hon. Member who wishes to query anything I have said about N.A.T.O. We have clear ideas as to how the alliance could be made more efficient and flexible and how greater political control could be achieved. I have set out some of them today. We shall try to press forward in our discussions in N.A.T.O. on the lines I have indicated.
§ Mr. Warbey
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question on this vital point of political control of N.A.T.O. nuclear weapons. He suggested the possibility of a small group, not consisting of all the 15 member nations. Will he say who will be the possible members of such a small controlling group?
§ Mr. Watkinson
No, because that would be a decision for N.A.T.O. itself. I would not wish to propose any founder members of the club. This is a matter which N.A.T.O. must discuss, and we must reach a collective decision, bearing in mind that N.A.T.O. must work on the basis of unanimous decision.
§ Mr. Manuel
I want to deal with the right hon. Gentleman's assertion that, if one member of N.A.T.O. were attacked, the rest would immediately use their collective strength on behalf of the attacked nation. Some of us are very perturbed. If conflict broke out between 248 China and America over Formosa, Russia would be tied to China by treaty and we have bases in Britain which are controlled solely by America. Would we be obliged to go to America's help in a Formosan conflict? Where does the right hon. Gentleman stand?
§ Mr. Watkinson
That only shows how unwise it is to give way, because that is the next matter to which I intended to turn my attention in my speech.
I want, first, to say a few words about British forces. I know that, on the whole, the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) want the recruitment of all-Regular forces to succeed. If they do not, they should frankly come out and say that they wish to have conscription. Then we should know where we stand. It is natural that the Opposition should be more interested in laying the odds and that I should be more interested in trying to get the recruits.
I want to make one or two points here, because this is fundamental to our position in N.A.T.O. First, I hope that the whole House accepts that it is in the national interest that we should now try to create the all-Regular forces which are obviously the right way of meeting this country's defence commitments. If we can receive broad support, I think that we can get the 180,000 men which the Army needs. I will give one or two examples to show that we are already making progress. As regards officers, the all-Regular entry to Sandhurst in 1958 was 269. In 1960, it is over 400. There is an improvement in the recruitment of apprentices which is a good sign that young people are interested in the Army. The Army intake to the Services apprentice schools is up by 250 today, which is one-fifth more than last year. In 1957, when the rundown began, there were only roughly 79,000 long-term engaged men in the Army, excluding boys and apprentices. On 1st October, 1960, there were 120,000.
So I hope that we shall be able to fulfil our necessary tasks in this way. If we do not somebody must perform the very difficult task of calling up about one man in every 50 and that one man will feel that he has been very unfairly treated. Also, we shall have to maintain a corps of about 13,000 officers and men, who will be engaged in training duties 249 when they might be better engaged in more active duties. We shall press on and I hope we can fulfil our obligations in this way. At least, with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War and with other Service Ministers and Chiefs of Staff we intend to do our best.
§ Mr. Watkinson
That is what I meant by saying that the hon. Gentleman was more interested in laying the odds than getting the recruits.
Now to come to the question of Polaris. I understand, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you will rule us out of order if we go into too great detail, but I should like to answer some issues on policy raised by the right hon. Gentleman. To do that I must mention one or two of the practical facts, because they determine the policy. Let me start by saying that an increasing number of Polaris submarines, manned by the United States Navy and targeted by the United States Control Centre, at Omaha, will be at sea over the next year or so, come what may. These submarines operate in an entirely different way from any aircraft or any other weapon, because their endurance is limited only by the endurance of the men serving in them. Otherwise, their endurance is practically limitless.
There is, therefore, no reason at all, when sufficient numbers are available, why these submarines should not operate from their American east coast bases, and, no doubt, range the seas of the world from there. But in the initial phase, when the numbers are limited, as they are today, there is an advantage in being able to change the crews on this side of the Atlantic without the transversing of the Atlantic by the submarine itself. It is partly a temporary advan- 250 tage, as I have said before. As the numbers increase it becomes less of a benefit, but at the moment it increases the operational efficiency of the craft by about 25 per cent.
Had we refused this facility when we were asked for it, no doubt other arrangements would have been made in some other European port. I think, therefore, as I have said before, that we were absolutely right, in the broad interests of maintaining Anglo-American Alliance and the Western deterrent and the strength of N.A.T.O., to provide these facilities.
Having done that, we first looked at the various sites everywhere in these islands and, at the same time, having said that we were willing to examine it, we had various discussions at various levels with the Americans. The Prime Minister discussed it with the President at Camp David, in March, and there followed a thorough investigation of the possible sites in the United Kingdom. It was only by the end of October that it was clear that Holy Loch was the only one that really fulfilled the very exacting requirements. Arrangements were made about technical facilities and these are being expanded and will continue until the depot ship arrives and is settled in and gets into its normal operational routine.
On the political level—this answers the point made by the right hon. Gentleman—there are arrangements covering major matters of principle worked out in a series of messages exchanged between ourselves and the United States Administration at various levels, including messages between the Prime Minister and the President. The result of this was the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the House on 1st November. These political arrangements include joint consultation in an emergency about all facilities within our territory, which includes our territorial waters. In other words, this gives us the right of full consultation concerning all the facilities which the submarines must have to operate from this country and this side of the Atlantic from British bases. Therefore, we have full consultation and full understanding on that position.
The depot ship, and the action of the submarines in the three-mile limit, are subject to full consultation. That means 251 that, if necessary, the depot ship can either be asked to change its anchorage, or to go away or anything of the kind. Having secured that, I do not see how we can have the same say outside territorial waters about what the submarines do. Here, we rely on the general co-operation—I am coming to the point made by the right hon. Gentleman—and understanding which exists between us and the United States in these matters. The original part of this is the original bomber base agreement which, I think, was signed by Lord Attlee and President Truman. This has been reaffirmed by the President of the United States in recent exchanges.
Here is the important point. To answer the general argument about whether the Russians like this or not, or whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, I will use Mr. Khrushchev's own words. He said:We are siting our rocket defences in such a way to ensure duplication and triplication. We are creating a system of such a kind that, if some part of the system earmarked for the retaliatory blow were put out of action, another part in a duplicating rôle could always go into action and hit the targets from reserve positions.There could not be a better means of duplication and triplication at the moment for the Western nuclear deterrent than the Polaris submarine and to this extent it is, in my view, a greater safeguard to peace because it is clearly a second strike and a retaliatory weapon. I think it greatly diminishes the risk of a major nuclear war and does not in any way increase it. As to the treatment of equals, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, in arrangements between equals one does not always ask one's partner to spell out on a piece of paper every single possibility or rule or reason. One is inclined to say that one will accept proper working arrangements which have been in existence for a long time and have worked perfectly well.
§ Mr. Watkinson
That is a matter of question. The party of the right hon. Gentleman conducted the original negotiations on which the bomber bases were founded.
I would sum up by saying, on the question of N.A.T.O., that we have some 252 difficult discussions ahead but we shall try to support, so far as we can, every possible proposition that increases the strength of N.A.T.O. and makes it easier for N.A.T.O. to extend the deterrent balance on which our position rests until disarmament can be achieved. In that, we shall try to give a lead in every way we can.
As to the broader issue of the entrance of this new weapon, the Polaris submarine, in N.A.T.O., we believe it to be, on the whole, an advantage to N.A.T.O., because it is a second strike weapon and it buttresses the United States Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, or wherever it may be used, because it is primarily and, above all, a second strike weapon.
As to the question of Polaris submarines here, I think we were entirely right to give the Americans the facilities for which they asked and which helped them over the growing phase of the entrance of this new weapon. Of course, it is not invulnerable and, of course, in a year or so there may well be a complete answer to it, I do not know. That is some answer to the right hon. Gentleman when he talks about any kind of missile in the future tense. These things change. All we can hope to do is to maintain our contribution to the deterrent, as we are certainly doing today.
I do not accept for a moment the assertion by the Leader of the Liberal Party, in the first part of his Amendment, that we have not got a deterrent today at all. If the hon. Gentleman would like to come to Bomber Command, I shall be happy to offer him the facilities, and if he comes away and says that we are not making a powerful contribution to the deterrent he will not have paid much attention to what he will have seen there.
§ Mr. Grimond
I did not propose to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman on that matter, but since he has raised the question, can he say this? If Britain gave up her independent nuclear deterrent tomorrow, would the likelihood of war be any more likely or would the balance between East and West be disturbed in the slightest? His argument about the second strike weapon would be compelling if the intention of the Government were to remove the fixed rocket 253 bases. Many of us feel that there is a danger that Polaris will be added to these bases. Can he assure us that, if Polaris proves satisfactory, it is the intention of the Government eventually that fixed bases should be removed?
§ Mr. Watkinson
I am not sure what the hon. Gentleman means by "fixed bases". If he means the Thor missile, that becomes obsolescent about the time scale when the Polaris submarine will have attained a fairly reasonable number of operations. It first becomes obsolescent and then it becomes obsolete.
Hon. Members do not get out of their nuclear dilemma by pretending that certain things which are inconvenient to them do not exist. The Thor missile, at this stage, is making a most important contribution to the deterrent. Whether it will do that in 1965 is quite a different matter, but, frankly, I am concerned with what an aggressor thinks of the British deterrent in 1960 as well as what he will think of it in 1965.
To sum up, in N.A.T.O. we will try to give a lead in the way I have indicated. I think that in the Polaris submarine we have the best and most efficient working arrangement which could be achieved. We are quite prepared and content to stand on it. As to the broader issue of deterrent policy, the Government are making a vitally important contribution to the deterrent strength of the West, and I do not think that that is now seriously challenged anywhere. If we cast it away, nobody would be delighted except a few people who might get out of a political dilemma, and particularly an aggressor, who would realise that the West had been materially weakened. We therefore intend to maintain it.
We on this side of the House have our feelings and our consciences, perhaps the more so because, for the time being, we bear the responsibility. We are not in any doubt as to what the result of a major nuclear war would be to our country, to our civilisation and to the Russian civilisation, because this is entirely a mutual thing. We honestly and sincerely believe that the only way to hold this balance of terror, or force, or whatever one may call it, is for this country to continue to shoulder its responsibilities as the Government have outlined 254 them today. We believe that that is an essential contribution to the peace of the world.
That does not mean for a moment that we will not try our best to get on with disarmament and to lead the nations towards a saner and happier world. But do we do that from the right basis if we are seen to cast aside our responsibilities, to be afraid to pay the price for reasonable forces and to play our full part in our alliances? I do not believe that any Minister of Defence or Foreign Secretary could stand at this Box with any honesty and say, "I believe in disarmament and hope for a more peaceful world" is he was not prepared to do the more unpleasant part of the job. That the Government intend to carry out, and we are content to leave it to the judgment of the world and of the country whether we are playing our right part for peace or not.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
Perhaps the House will permit me one personal comment. The death of the previous Member for Ebbw Vale was an immeasurable tragedy for the party to which I belong, for the House of Commons and, I believe, for the whole world. For many people, and particularly for a few in this House, that wound is still open. No one could be more conscious than I am of my unfitness to represent the constituency which he made famous in the manner he did. There are also other wounds, but our task is to bring life to the living and to guard the future of all humanity. That is what the debate is about.
I have listened very carefully to the two speeches which we have had this afternoon, particularly to the sections of them dealing with the question of political control. I think that what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr G. Brown) might be summarised in this way. He said that political control over these terrible weapons is essential but we certainly have not got it Then I think that what the Minister of Defence said might be summarised in these words. He said that political control over these terrible weapons is essential, but we certainly cannot have it. It seems to me that that was his reply. In view of the very powerful strictures of my right hon. 255 Friend on the present system of control, we are entitled to look at the present situation and to consider not what is the control to be exercised in some fanciful future when General Norstad has yielded to further pressure from my right hon. Friend, but what is the position today.
One of the most sinister features of our society induced by the invention of these weapons is that political control, and, even more, anything which can properly be described as Parliamentary or democratic control, is corroded almost to the point of extinction. When this country went to war in 1914, in 1939 or in Korea this House was able to meet and to weigh the great issues involved. That can never happen again in a worldwide conflict according to the conditions which have so far been accepted by this House. I do not think my right hon. Friend would suggest that, although he argues that the Polaris weapon introduces a new factor into the situation. Maybe it does in a matter of minutes, but I do not think that my right hon. Friend would suggest that this weapon gives Parliament the opportunity to be able to debate the matter. It is the essence of the nuclear strategy that the decisions which govern all our lives shall be taken by a very few people, possibly even by one man. That is the very opposite of liberal or democratic debate.
Therefore, on the supreme question of all supreme questions, we have accepted the notion of dictatorship, and even dictatorship by a foreign Power. This astonishing statement of our condition today is little more than a platitude.
§ Mr. Foot
The hon. Gentleman should listen to his own Prime Minister. Even in the short space of time that I have been back in this House, I have heard the Prime Minister state this, even more clearly than the Minister of Defence, in what can almost be described as crude and blunt terms—a remarkable achievement for such a master of sublime and sophisticated obfuscation. He has done it twice. On two occasions I have heard the Prime Minister say in the past fortnight or three weeks that there is one requirement above all others which must be met, something upon which the whole of his strategy and policy hinges, The Minister of Defence 256 said pretty well as much this afternoon, although some of his hon. Friends have not understood what he was saying.
The Prime Minister says that, above all else and at all costs, the credibility of the deterrent must be kept burnished and unmistakable. If that is the case, it means that at the final moment of crisis all the shackles of control and consultation have to be swept aside. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite have not thought about these things although they have been voting for them. What it means is that the Government and the Minister of Defence say that the maintenance of the credibility of the deterrent must be put before all other claims, even the claim of this country to be a democracy or even the claim that we should govern ourselves through Parliament. [Interruption.] That cannot be misrepresentation. It is no wonder that hon. Members opposite are so monolithic. They do not even listen. It is no wonder that the Minister of Defence is able to boast that he has them all behind him, because they do not even listen to what he says. I notice that hon. Members in the backwoods opposite jeer at me, but the Minister of Defence does not deny what I say, because that is exactly what he said.
§ Mr. Foot
Oh, yes, he did. He said that the maintenance of the credibility of the deterrent was paramount. Now it is not to be paramount. This disease which comes from the back benches is contagious and it has spread to the Government Front Bench. That was what the Minister said. [Interruption.] I will make my speech in my own way. It is useless for hon. Members to deny that the maintenance of the absolute credibility of the deterrent robs Parliament of control over these machines.
§ Mr. Foot
Whether I supported some, thing or not, I am simply talking about the facts. These are facts. Anybody who thinks that in the case of these weapons being let off at a critical moment, hon. Members opposite could be summoned together to decide whether the weapon would be used, cannot even have begun to study the problem.
257 Moreover, even if one descends from the question of the use of the weapon at the peak moment of crisis to lesser events—the so-called normal circumstances—we have not had anything like the amount of control that we should have done. We have had incidents repeated exposing the situation three or four times. In the case of the U.2 flight, the case of the RB.47 flight, the case of the world-wide alert before the Summit or in the case even of the Polaris affair more recently, the same procedure has been followed. It is discovered that the process of consultation has not worked. There are quick exchanges between Washington and London. Consultations take place, assurances are given and a report is made to the House of Commons that the Prime Minister is absolutely satisfied with the situation but that it would not be in the public interest to divulge exactly what the agreement about consultation has been. This has been the experience on a number of occasions.
If hon. Members care to turn to consider what is the control over the N.A.T.O. machine, which has been one of the principal subjects of debate in this House, the same fact emerges. We had a recapitulation by the Minister of Defence of General Norstad's description of the position. There was, however, an article in the Guardian a few days ago by that newspaper's defence correspondent. Here my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper will probably agree with me, because this is one of the points of his attack. The defence correspondent of the Guardian said of N.A.T.O. thatAt present the alliance has little idea how it would go to war and who would make the decisions. If serious fighting broke out over Berlin, or in Greece or Turkey or Norway, who would decide what weapons would be used? And, in particular, who would determine when nuclear weapons would be used, how many would be used, of what type and against what targets?The article goes on in answer to those questions:There are no known answers to these questions.The Minister of Defence may say, if he wishes, that this article in the Guardian written by a highly reputable defence correspondent, is rubbish. I notice that the hon. Members opposite who a few moments ago were jeering so loudly are 258 not jeering so much now. I dare say they have a few jeers left. That, however, is the description of the present situation by the defence correspondent of the Guardian.
If the Minister of Defence has facts which can disprove that picture of the helplessness of our position, he should give a much fuller account to the House of Commons; he should give his reply to those questions that were put by the Guardian's defence correspondent. He should give a much fuller account to the House altogether of what is the chain of command, if there is such a well-understood and well-established chain of command, to disprove those assertions. My fear is that what the Guardian's correspondent said is all too true. If it is true, it is further proof of how control over life and death matters has been removed from Parliaments, and even from Governments, into the hands of military commanders.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper said that the proper remedy for this disease was to get much better control and much better forms of consultation. That is certainly a commendable desire. He and others, however, must face the fact that it may be unattainable because of the nature of the beast, because of the essential core of the nuclear strategy. Indeed, the Minister of Defence himself almost said as much. The more one increases the measure of control, the more one may blunt the effectiveness of the deterrent. Therefore, although I do not think there is any harm in going on trying, it may be almost impossible to secure any form of democratic, Parliamentary or even political control over these weapons.
If that is the case, it makes all the greater the responsibility of this House to discuss these defence questions in the greatest detail. There seems to be some resentment on the other side of the House that we are discussing them in such detail. In the speech of the Minister of Defence during the debate on the-Address in reply to the Queen's Speech, he seemed to be saying that it would be much better if these matters were not fully debated in this House. I take a very different view. I certainly do not think that the obligations of Members on the Government side are discharged in such a vital matter as this by saying 259 that they are always prepared to accept on trust what is said by the Prime Minister or by the Minister of Defence on these matters of consultation. I equally do not think that hon. Members on this side would be discharging their obligations in this respect if they said that these difficult and delicate matters should all be settled and slurred over in a private meeting upstairs.
Indeed, one of the main reasons for the strength of the campaign for nuclear disarmament outside this House is that it represents a surge of democratic protest against the system of dictatorship controlling our destinies which appears to have been too tamely accepted in too many quarters.
There is another factor in the situation which adds greatly to our peril. Not only is the authority of Parliaments impaired to increase the authority of the military machines, but the military machines have a momentum of their own. The weapons are very often in command. I dare say that in the days of gunpowder or of the invention of bows and arrows, this affected which tribes or nations became aggressive or stayed on the defensive. More than ever before in history, however, I should have thought that anyone would agree that the weapons are now almost indisputable masters, not only over the field of strategy and tactics, but over the field of policy itself.
We have to remember what happened in the lengthy and tortuous negotiations about stopping H-bomb tests. In the case of each country, the United States, the Soviet Union and, I am sorry to say, of this country also, the question of the military advantage which they would secure by going on with yet another test was made superior to the question of calculating whether they could get a settlement. That was an example of the weapons ruling the policy. It has been the same at pretty well every disarmament negotiation. Who will deny that the choice of moments for negotiation, or the choice of issues for negotiation, has very often been determined by the respective calculations of the Russians, the Americans and ourselves of how a particular settlement at such a time would still leave them free to steal a military march on their opponents?
260 Time and again this has happened. Therefore, I say that these military machines not only have much more power but they have a momentum of their own which constantly interferes with the selection of the right moments for political negotiation. It is the combination of these factors which makes me so impatient with those who talk in terms—as the Minister of Defence almost talked this afternoon—of the balance of terror, the nuclear stalemate, protecting us, as if the horrific nature of these weapons had somehow brought the possibility of universal peace within our grasp. If that were true, and anybody believed it, it would be a case against all forms of disarmament, unilateral or multilateral. I see that the noble Lord the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinching-brooke) appears to agree with that proposition. He has the honesty to say this, but the others have not.
The Minister of Defence today seemed to boast—and I would not like to accuse him of thinking it but his appearance suggested that he believed he was making a clever point—how we axe doing in Europe exactly what Khrushchev is doing in Russia and how we shall soon have the deterrents in triplicate and this will make the position much more secure. If that were true, it would be an argument against all forms of real disarmament. But, of course, it is not true. Even the statesmen themselves do not believe it, partly because of the dangers of accidents. We are not weighing in this balance of terror lumps of sugar in the scales. It would be much truer to say that we are hurtling toward collision in nuclear juggernauts.
There may have been cases in the past when arms races were stopped by a last-minute awakening of wisdom, though I cannot recall such cases. But this is an arms race of such a different kind from any that we have had before, in the sense that nations are spending huge amounts more of their wealth proportionately on these weapons and they are giving proportionately hugely greater powers to the military machine. Therefore, this is a much more dangerous arms race for these reasons, apart from the menacing character of the weapons themselves.
This brings me to the main point under discussion in the debate—the immediate 261 proposals of General Norstad. The Minister said that he would tell the House what was his attitude to all of them, but he did not do it very clearly. But by way of introduction to the proposals by General Norstad, I should like to quote from an article written by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) in March, 1960, for a paper called very appropriately, the New Leader, an American journal. He wrote an article on the whole question of N.A.T.O. strategy in Europe. I do not quote the article to score a point against him, even if I were capable of such an Homeric feat. I quote it because it outlines a much more sensible policy than that which General Norstad is proposing or the policy that the Minister supported today.
The article was headed: "A Non-Atomic Strategy for N.A.T.O.", and my hon. Friend went on to say:Everyone knows that the main danger of war in Central Europe arises not from a deliberate Soviet attack but from a confused local situation produced perhaps by a rising, as in Budapest or Poznan in 1956, or East Berlin in 1953. For such a situation N.A.T.O.'s current posture is suicidal.My hon. Friend went on certainly to advocate a check on the supply of nuclear weapons to Europe, and one might even read the article as proposing a completely non-nuclear strategy for N.A.T.O.
It was a good proposal. It was a move in the right direction. The first thing that I would say about it is that it went a good deal further than even the Opposition's Motion today and was a good deal stronger than what is called an "undue reliance" on nuclear weapons. The second thing I would say about it is that what my hon. Friend was proposing—though I know that he would not like to use the term because it is a dirty word—was a measure of unilateral disarmament, in the sense that he was proposing that Western Europe should voluntarily limit the amount of nuclear weapons it should have even though no prior multilateral agreement with the Russians had been agreed. The proposal therefore was saying that Germany, France and many other countries in Europe should be very restrained in having these weapons. I do not see how we can persuade them to be restrained 262 if we are to build up ours, but let that pass. But I should like to compare the proposals made by my hon. Friend, which have been made by others, with the proposals of General Norstad. Now we have had many confusing accounts of General Norstad's proposals.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I am very grateful for the publicity that my hon. Friend is giving me today, but is he not aware that the proposals that I included, perhaps prematurely in this article, form the main body of the proposals of the Labour Party Executive and the T.U.C. General Council which he himself has been strenuously fighting for the last twelve months?
§ Mr. Foot
As I said earlier, I do not think that the proposals that were included in the official statement—now the unofficial statement—were anything like as progressive and far-sighted as those in my hon. Friend's article. But there is the further answer to this interruption, and I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for interrupting, that in the official statement, or at least in many of the speeches supporting it, it was almost demanded that we should give unqualified support to N.A.T.O. Therefore, we were to give unqualified support to a body or alliance whose current strategical posture, according to my hon. Friend, is suicidal. I am not in favour of giving unqualified support to an instrument or an alliance which is pursuing suicidal policies. It is better to try and change them.
My hon. Friend knows very well that the article was headed, "A Non-Atomic Strategy for N.A.T.O." Is that what the Opposition proposes in their Motion? It talks about "a due balance". That is a rather different wording, and the Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well that the proposal that he is putting in the Motion is one that was defeated at the Scarborough conference of the Labour Party.
However, what does General Norstad propose? We have had many confusing statements about what he is putting forward. I shall not say anything about the sketchy proposals for new forms of political control or even the sketchy proposals for making a fourth atomic Power, which I gather nobody supports. 263 That is not the real core of what General Norstad has been advancing. The Times of yesterday or a day or so ago gives an account of what the United States Government will propose at the N.A.T.O. meeting later this week, and it says:The United States proposal, so far as is known, will follow the advice given to the United States Government by its Chiefs of Staff, that Nato's medium-range nuclear weapons (Jupiter missiles and medium-range bombers or fighter-bombers) be reinforced by mobile intermediate-range missiles. It will, therefore, offer a number of Polaris submarines and later possibly a number of land-based Polaris missiles for European defence, without, however, making any new proposal on their control.In other words, all these misty ideas of a new N.A.T.O., or the grandiose vision of an Atlantic Union—if I am allowed to mention that phrase—all add up to General Norstad's proposals for piling up more and more nuclear weapons in Europe. My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper went very far in condemning this. I was glad to hear it. He said that this was extremely dangerous and that we might make, by this means, the Alliance more provocative than a deterrent. That is strong language. [Interruption.] He says that it is not strong language.
§ Mr. Foot
If it is the case that the Government are accepting these proposals, or are to back them, and, therefore, the N.A.T.O. alliance, according to my right hon. Friend's definition will become more provocative than deterrent, then that surely will be a very serious situation.
The Minister of Defence tried to slur it over. It is a serious and dangerous proposition, partly because of the military reasons already advanced but partly for political reasons. Think of the timing of it. What an ironic disaster it would be if the response of the West to the new developments that have been taking place in the East—the meeting in Moscow—is an intensification of the arms race in Europe on a scale which, as my right hon. Friend says, would make the N.A.T.O. alliance more provocative than deterrent. What an appalling way it would be of dealing with this new international situation.
264 Moreover, this proposal cuts across what I think to be the simplest, the most intelligent and the most workable proposal which has come from the East to the West over the years—the Rapacki Plan. This was a plan for keeping nuclear weapons out of a nuclear-free zone before nuclear weapons were put there. The American Government turned it dawn flat, and the British Government followed suit because, they said, it would not deal with conventional weapons. When the Polish Government said that it would bring into the plan later proposals for controlling conventional weapons, that also was turned down flat.
Yet if we are to go ahead with the proposals for putting these Polaris machines all over Europe, or stuffing Europe with more and more nuclear weapons, then it will be very difficult to retrace our steps back to the point when the Rapacki Plan was put forward. Which does Europe want? The Rapacki Plan or the Norstad Plan? Members opposite may say that they want the Norstad Plan. If that is so, they are voting and working for, and are eager to see, an intensification of the arms race in Europe, because that is what the Norstad proposals really mean. They cannot deny the simple fact that if they pile more and more weapons into Europe they will increase the pace of the arms race.
If we pile more into Western Europe, the Communists will pile more into Eastern Europe, and that will increase the pace of the arms race. The question is whether we are to halt that state of affairs. Time and again, in the difficulties which the world has had in dealing with this problem, there seems to have been no intelligent balance made between the assumed military risks of causing a halt in the arms race and the undoubted political risks of forcing the pace.
Those of us who believe in nuclear disarmament believe that part of the reason for this failure is the fatalistic obsession with the nuclear strategy. If hon. Members cherish the great deterrent, if they say, as the Prime Minister says, that the maintenance of the credibility of the deterrent must take precedence over all other claims, then political judgment becomes clouded.
Many countries do not have nuclear bases on their soil and do not have 265 this obsession with sustained nuclear armaments, and they make saner and wiser contributions in the councils of the world than we do. That is one of the reasons why some of us are in favour of getting rid of these weapons.
But, of course, although we would like to see the repudiation of this strategy altogether, that does not mean that we would not welcome a retreat from it as a start. Therefore, if the Government, instead of going to Paris to support these proposals, as the Minister said today that they intended to do, said instead that they would call a halt now, particularly in view of the factors in the international situation described by my right hon. Friend they would be giving a lead to Europe. But they cannot do that, partly because they have already accepted Polaris.
It is not much use the Minister of Defence going to Paris and saying that the Government do not want the others to have Polaris in Europe while we are to have it in Holy Loch. When the Prime Minister made his agreement about Polaris in the United States, did he know about all these later proposals for putting these machines all over Europe? Had he considered the political implications? Had he considered that it would mean a new screw in the arms race, that it would make negotiations more difficult, that he would be once more slamming the door on the possibility of opening negotiations?
Those of us who think that we can negotiate have put down an Amendment to the Motion, and we have every right to do so. As I said when my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench complained about our putting down this Amendment, it tries to outline our idea of repudiating the nuclear strategy. They have no right to complain because, when they put down their Motion, it was one which no one who supported the new policy decided at Scarborough could possibly vote for.
I think that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition will be able to clear up this matter very well when he comes to reply, because I am sure that he will say that his Motion is absolutely consistent with the defence policy which he subscribed to before, and fits in with the strategy he himself outlined of fight 266 ing against the Scarborough decision of the Labour Party. The matter can be cleared up in that way.
The rest of us are going to go on expressing our ideas. So long as we look at this scene and witness the insanities induced by the nuclear strategy; so long as we see influence over our affairs progressively removed from democratic assemblies; so long as we see the command over our policies removed to another nation—one which has surrendered a great deal of civilian power into military hands—so long as we see the military Frankensteins assuming authority not merely to dictate defence programmes but also foreign policy, the more we will be convinced that there is no military way of checking these dangers, much less a military solution for them.
The only solution to this problem lies in the field of foreign policy, but our possibilities of developing a new foreign policy are stultified by our defence policy and by our increasing reliance for the pre-eminent weapons on another nation. That prevents us from having the foreign policy that might provide the only solution. But, fortunately for the honour of this country there is a great and growing number of people throughout the land who are protesting against the policies pursued by the Government, sometimes supported by the official Opposition, who are protesting against the suffocation of democratic responsibilities which goes on in this matter, and they have every right to do so. We who agree with their views have every right and, indeed, every duty to state our views on the Floor of this House, the most famous Parliamentary assembly in the world.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
I am sure that the House would wish me to extend our sympathy to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) on the loss of his father. I think that he is too good a trouper to resent it if, in spite of that, I make some criticisms of his speech. I intend to make a very short speech, mostly on the subject of the control of weapons in N.A.T.O., but I will make one or two comments on what the hon. Member said.
To argue against the unilateralist case is a work of supererogation, because it has been done with devastating clarity by 267 the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) in his Fabian pamphlet, in which he demolished all their arguments. I do not think that anything said by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale would cause him to alter anything that he wrote.
The trouble about unilateralists is that they never follow anything through to a logical conclusion. All that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale did today was to list a great many of the dangers and inconveniences of matters as they stand today, dangers and inconveniences which we all admit, but without offering any connected thought about what should be done about them.
If the Amendment which he is sponsoring means anything, it means that we should renounce our own nuclear arms and contract out of N.A.T.O. In the speech which the Leader of the Opposition made at Scarborough, and which I had the pleasure of hearing, the right hon. Gentleman said that the most likely consequence of that would be that America would go in with the West Germans and try to build them up as the dominating Power in Europe. I do not believe that they would do that, and the right hon. Gentleman may not believe it himself. I think that he said that probably because on the Left there is constant pressure and attack against Germany and a constant wish to isolate her. The right hon. Gentleman may have thought that he would pick up a vote or two on the margin by making that suggestion.
My own view is that if we leave N.A.T.O. America will leave Europe. What would be the situation then, with America out and with ourselves disarmed—because a unilateralist Government would take our atomic weapons away—and with Germany isolated? The three great objectives of the Soviets since the war would have been accomplished, objectives supported, as in duty bound, by every fellow traveller and Communist in the country. That would be the world which would emerge; no resistance to Russia would be possible.
Unilateralist Members opposite say that that would be all right and that we would be in a splendid position, because, as neutrals, we could mediate between the two great Powers. But mediation involves a balance, and there would be 268 no balance in Europe. The Americans would say that they were not interested in Europe any more and that they were out for good. Russia is very interested in Europe; and we all remember that Mr. Khrushchev is very fond indeed of threatening to drop nuclear rockets upon people. I have never heard any unilateralists objecting to those threats. They must have done so in honour, but I have never had the good luck to hear them. I suggest that the reason they have taken these threats so calmly is that they are basking comfortably under the American umbrella. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale would say that this was a matter for liberal debate. Mr. Khrushchev's answer would be, "Liberal debate? Your Foot!"
§ Mr. Birch
I now turn to the main part of my speech, which concerns General Norstad's speech and next week's meeting of N.A.T.O. I was very glad that General Norstad once again laid stress on the importance of the shield, the importance of having good and well-equipped conventional forces. This is a subject on which I have often addressed the House. I will not hack through the arguments again, but I am very glad to think that the Opposition are coming around to the point of view which I have so often expressed. They are learning all the time and I am very glad of it.
I also agree with General Norstad that it may well be necessary to have missiles of the Polaris type, that is to say, mobile missiles, in Europe, for the very reason that everyone has suggested—that these weapons are second strike weapons and, therefore, give us the means of keeping our deterrent in being even if the enemy attacks first. They therefore diminish the temptation of any aggressor to make the first strike.
However, the presence of these missiles in Europe raises difficult questions of command and control. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) touched on one or two of them, although in a slightly confusing way. It is perfectly true that to look upon a missile with a 269 range of 1,000 miles as a tactical weapon is odd, and that to regard a missile with a range of 1,500 miles as tactical is odder still, and that to look on a missile with a range of 2,000 or 2,500 miles as tactical is plain nonsense. What we ought to try to do—and where we might be able to simplify our problem—is to draw a comprehensible line between tactical and strategic weapons, and then divide the command and control.
One probably has to admit, although I do it with great bitterness, that troops in forward areas must now have small-scale tactical atomic weapons. I mean that they should have weapons like the Corporal, or weapons with a range of not more than 100 miles, or at the most 150 miles, and with not a very high yield. Such weapons must be under the command and control of the Supreme Allied Commander, but the other weapons should not be under his control. The danger of putting what are really strategic weapons under the Supreme Commander's hands is that, if they are let off, the escalation has already taken place, and the main decision has been taken.
I believe it to be militarily sound to take away the strategic weapons while leaving the Supreme Commander the tactical weapons, so that the strategic weapons are under a different command and control, acting in support of the Supreme Commander, but not under his command. That is not a very revolutionary proposal. The Strategic Air Forces of America and Britain are not under his command and, in the last war, the strategic air forces were not under the command of General Eisenhower in Europe, or Field Marshal Alexander in the Mediterranean. There is nothing odd about this proposal, but if that comprehensible decision is made certain advantages flow.
First, it seems to me that the Supreme Commander will have enough to do fighting his own battles. In the confusion and excitement of the battle he is not the best man to give advice to the politicians who will make the ultimate decision. He will have his hands full. It seems to me, therefore, that it would be far better to let him fight his battle. Secondly, it would facilitate political control if the military advice which the politicians received came from 270 a commander whose forces might not at that stage be engaged and who was, therefore, in a position to take a much more cool and objective view of the situation.
The third advantage it would have would be immensely to cut down the risks of escalation. It will probably be impossible to get explicit agreement with the Russians about what is a tactical weapon, but, on the other hand, I do not think that it will be difficult to get an implicit agreement, and that might mean much to the world.
I do not want to discuss how this division could take place, and how control will be worked out, because it is a big question. It would take some time to consider, and I know that other hon. Members wish to speak. I think that there will be great difficulties, but I do not consider that those difficulties are insuperable. I would, therefore, like to ask my right hon. Friends who will be attending the N.A.T.O. meeting, and working on this matter in the next few months, to give some attention to this and to ask their military advisers to consider it and see whether some good might not come out of it.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I join the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) in offering my sympathy to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) on the sad death of his father. May I also say a word of welcome on the hon. Member's return to the House of Commons. I hope that I will not do him irreparable harm by saying that he once was a Liberal, and obviously maintains an admiration for liberal debate.
The Motion of the Official Opposition does not make it clear whether those who signed it are now proposing to give up once and for all the independent British deterrent. In the spring they abandoned it because Blue Streak was a failure.
§ Mr. Grimond
If the right hon. Gentleman says that it has been settled, I am glad to hear it, but is it? For practical reasons the present deterrent is thought to be obsolescent and Blue Streak is not available. It is on these grounds only, 271 apparently, that the Opposition gave up their policy. If this country developed or were offered a suitable deterrent weapon, would hon. Gentlemen revert to their previous belief in an independent British deterrent?
When I put forward their present policy, and when the right hon. Gentleman on the Opposition Front Bench was defending the independent British nuclear deterrent, our policy, which they have adopted, was said to be not only impracticable, but immoral. They accused us of putting it forward from the worst of motives.
I should like to look at the realities of the present situation. I think that there is very little chance indeed of any overall disarmament in the near future. I also think that there is a very little chance of a world authority which will be capable of enforcing peace between the major nations.
That brings me to ask: what is the purpose of our Armed Forces today? Are they intended to fight a nuclear war against Russia? I do not think that such a war is in the least likely so long as there is some overall balance of deterrents, both nuclear and conventional, between East and West as a whole. It is noticeable that the great nuclear powers are becoming very chary about being involved in any situation which might lead to nuclear war. It is noticeable, too, that this is true of areas which are not covered by alliances. In the Middle East and the Congo the remarkable thing is not that Russia has made so much trouble—though she has made some—but that she has made so little. The reason is that she does not want to get into a situation which might start off a trail which will lead to nuclear war. The lesson I draw is that the present American-Russian balance is good enough. It may be an imperfect balance, but I do not think that that matters.
That brings me to the point I want to make about the independent British deterrent. It may add something to the Western deterrent, as the Minister of Defence is constantly saying, but not enough to make any significant difference. I do not think that anyone considers that if we gave up our independent deterrent the balance of power 272 between East and West would be upset, or that the danger of war would grow.
I strongly suspect, as do many hon. Members opposite, that it is maintained for out-of-date reasons of national prestige, and, of course, it makes nonsense of all that the Prime Minister says about interdependence. We are always having interdependence in general rammed down our throats, but it is never practised in any particular matter by this Government. I still have no doubt, as I have said for years, that we should abandon this independent deterrent
What, then, should we do? Should we take up unilateralism? I understand by that that we should not only give up our own nuclear weapons, but that we should get out of any alliances which are dependent on them and rely entirely on conventional arms. Of course, if America continued to throw her shield over Europe in spite of the dissolution of N.A.T.O., I think it very likely that the Russians would not move. As I say, they have not moved in the Middle East, although there is no effective alliance there.
However, this can hardly be what those who support unilateralism on moral grounds have in mind, because they have moral scruples against any form of reliance on nuclear weapons, yet, curiously, they seem to contemplate resistance by our conventional forces alone, not backed by nuclear weapons. This seems to me an indefensible position. It seems to me that the Russians would use nuclear weapons if they were free from any threat of retaliation, and would simply end the war by using sufficient nuclear weapons to bring the enemy to their knees.
§ Mr. Grimond
By reading what the Russians say and considering what the Americans did to Japan. On the other hand, if unilateralists do not contemplate committing conventional forces against the Russians, what is the point of having these conventional forces? It would be fax better to have nothing but a police force.
I believe that the argument for unilateralism leads directly to pacifism. There is a very strong case for pacifism. It is a simple case based on this, that the 273 risk, not the certainty, of the Russians or any other aggressive nation coming here is more acceptable than the risk of nuclear war. It is time that we met this argument, because it is a serious one, and I am glad to have a debate in which it can be raised.
I feel that the arguments against pacifism are strong. First, the deterrent does stop war: it is effective. I have asked before, and I ask hon. Gentlemen again, if they can really say that, supposing that the Japanese had had an effective nuclear weapon with which they could have retaliated on New York, the Americans would have bombed them? Suppose Hitler had nuclear weapons before the war. I sometimes wonder what hon. Gentlemen would have said in those days.
Another powerful argument against pacifism is that if we were now to abandon all nuclear weapons we should throw away any chance of arms control and disarmament. At present, there does seem a chance that both Russia and America realise, in the famous phrase, that "enough is enough". They are not making an all-out effort for superiority, and, if they are not disarming, at least they are toying with the idea of control and inspection.
All that would vanish if we suddenly unilaterally disarmed. One thing is certain about the Communists. They believe, I am afraid, not in sweet reason, but in force. If they are to disarm, they will do so because they see an advantage in doing so, and if the West is already disarmed what possible advantage could they get?
Should Britain, then, support the arming of N.A.T.O. with nuclear weapons? Certainly, there is no conceivable hurry for doing any such thing and I was glad to hear the Minister of Defence say that in his view the negotiations that were to start this week are a long-term business. We must get away from the idea that there is any need for a crash programme—for giving nuclear weapons to N.A.T.O. at once, or pouring more nuclear weapons into Europe at all.
On the other hand, I was slightly astonished by this talk of the American veto—of the impossibility of making any decision, or putting forward any proposal to N.A.T.O., because the American 274 law might make it impossible to carry out. Surely this does not prevent the British Government from making proposals. Surely they should have an attitude about nuclear weapons in Europe, and they should make that attitude clear to the House.
As there is no immediate danger of nuclear war, and no need to increase the number of nuclear weapons in Europe at present, the only valid reason for arming N.A.T.O., as far as I can see, would be to bring about not an increase but a decrease in nuclear weapons. If Britain and France were willing to give up their own nuclear weapons in exchange for a N.A.T.O. force of nuclear weapons there might be something in this proposal. Will the Government suggest this? When they go to these consultations, will they say, "We are willing to give up our nuclear weapons and put them under N.A.T.O.?" I do not believe that they will do so.
As to control, I have always thought that there should be some agreement among the allies about the circumstances in which nuclear weapons might be threatened or used. The Minister of Defence spoke about the rule book, and said that it was impossible to have such a thing. But there must now be standing orders for commanders in regard to these matters. Again, the Government might tell the House a little more about the general agreement, to which the Prime Minister is always referring, concerning the circumstances in which nuclear weapons might be used or threatened.
Any effective control beyond that—that is to say, any control at the point at which the weapon is about to be used—runs slap up against the difficulties touched upon by the right hon. Member for Flint, West and also by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. Political control of these weapons at that point would mean a surrender of sovereignty by this country, which I might be prepared to accept but which neither the Conservative nor the Labour Party would accept for one moment.
Let us consider the proposal that there should be a standing group of N.A.T.O Ministers. Are they to be Foreign Ministers? Where are they to come from? It is surely not suggested that we could leave out the Americans. Therefore, we would have three Foreign 275 Ministers, one of whom might be American. To some extent we would still have the American veto. The purpose of giving nuclear arms to N.A.T.O. is often represented as an attempt to get round that veto. Will the Foreign Ministers take the ultimate decision about nuclear war without referring to their respective Governments? I do not believe that they will, for a moment. I am talking now of a strategic nuclear attack. Yet if they do refer to their Governments it will be too late.
I do not believe that we can have political control in that sort of way. We must be prepared to give up our sovereignty if we have a N.A.T.O. deterrent and hope to keep ultimate political control. As has been said, we must be prepared to give up Parliamentary control and even control by a particular Government, and give it into the hands of one man, or a very small supreme group. If we want to deal with nuclear weapons in that way that is the sort of arrangement we must arrive at. If we did, what about the Commonwealth? We are always hearing about the necessity to consult the Commonwealth. Would any N.A.T.O. group consult the Commonwealth? It certainly would be involved if it used nuclear weapons.
If we are to put a deterrent under N.A.T.O. control and make it credible we either have to give it to one individual or to a supranational body. I cannot believe that either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party would accept this. I do not think that they would regard N.A.T.O. as a suitable body. I would also have grave doubts about the adoption of that course, unless, by giving nuclear weapons to N.A.T.O., we were to make a clear reduction in nuclear arms.
The question of control alone puts the suggestion of a N.A.T.O. deterrent out of court, but I believe—and this is possibly the only argument for Britain's keeping her deterrent—that we can use the deterrent as a bargaining counter to get agreement with the Americans about the standing orders or the rule book in the use of deterrents in general.
But the greatest difficulty does not arise in relation to the major deterrent, because its use, or the threat of its use 276 means that we are so near Armageddon that the situation may be irreparable, and control will settle itself. The difficulty lies in finding some means of controlling the tactical nuclear weapon, for its use may start an escalator up to a world war. Are we to accept that a general could use it? There have been rumours in Germany that the Army was expecting this decision to be made at a low level. The Minister has denied that But if it were true the decision could be taken quickly, and the credibility would be thereby increased.
The other possibility is, again, that a standing group of N.A.T.O. politicians should do it. That would defeat the whole purpose of the deterrent. If we must have small tactical weapons—shortrange weapons—under N.A.T.O. we must face the fact that the only way of making this arrangement credible is by putting them under General Norstad in his dual capacity and telling him that he may use them only if the Russians use nuclear weapons first. Nothing else is credible or possible. I do not recommend this except as a last resort, but the House should face the difficulties involved. It should be stipulated that they should be used only in retaliation, and that they should be left in a small mobile force, directly under the commander's hand, and not allowed under the control of lower commands. But before we can contemplate the development of such a situation we must be sure that this will not add to the nuclear dangers in Europe, but will subtract from them by persuading the French and British to give up their own weapons. Otherwise, N.A.T.O. must rely on conventional arms.
This brings me back to the purpose of our arms policy. It surely is to provide our full contingent of conventional arms for the various defence purposes in which we may be involved. It is there that our prestige is at stake, and not in encouraging the reliance of N.A.T.O. or its individual countries upon nuclear weapons. Where, at the moment, are we threatened with danger? Where may we have to use force? I do not believe that there is a danger of war in Europe. It is much more likely to occur in Africa or Asia, where it will result in a demand for conventional arms and not nuclear forces.
277 Do not let us go further down this road at the end of which lies total reliance on nuclear forces. Let us keep up our conventional strength and realise that our prestige is not enhanced by efforts to keep up with the Russians or the Americans on the nuclear plane. It is like old gentlemen who begin to worry about their success with the girls. They only do so because they are getting past it. Our prestige in the world would be enhanced much more by trying to build up some real interdependence in the free world and by trying to increase the conventional strength of the Western Alliance.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
I agree with certain arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). I agree especially with the remark he made in opening, that so long as there is an overall balance of nuclear power between the Russians and the Western world another global war is likely to be prevented. He went on to say that we should give up our deterrent forces and develop our conventional forces. He must face the fact that that means the reintroduction of conscription. If he accepts that, well and good. I shall have something to say about that later on.
As for control, I am certain that there is no difference in principle between the control of forces in the field now and at the time of the Second World War. We should have our big headquarters in London or Washington, and all that I am quite certain about is that the commander in the field must have complete control of his own weapons. Therefore, if we mean N.A.T.O. to be a shield which is to be at instant readiness, obviously General Norstad must have complete control of all the weapons under that shield, because he will not get very much time, things will happen very quickly, and there will not be any time to refer to any political committee at the back.
The hon. Gentleman also talked about tactical weapons, and asked whether we could not have an agreement as to what was and what was not a tactical weapon. We always used to have an agreement between nations in the Geneva Convention. I remember very well when an Indian Rajah let off a 500 express 278 elephant gun from our side, which was very strictly against the rules of that Geneva Convention, and we had a very unpleasant time in consequence, but generally the rule was kept. I do not see why there should not be discussions with the Russians, since both sides have them, on what are tactical weapons and what are not.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman saying that the rules of the Geneva Convention against such attacks directed against non-combatants were kept in the last war?
§ Sir J. Smyth
I am saying that the Geneva Convention had certain rules as to what was a letigimate weapon of war and what was not, and that these rules were generally kept. They were not always kept. I assure the hon. Member that that was so, because I had experience of an occasion when they were not kept, and, of course, there was a great row.
One great difference by which one can judge whether a weapon is tactical or strategic is, first, by its range, and, secondly, by its target. If one is going to bombard a city with what we call a tactical nuclear weapon, I think that would be a complete misnomer in terms. That is not a tactical weapon at all. It largely depends on the target against which one uses the weapon.
At the beginning of a debate like this, in order to move a Motion of censure, one has to make out that there is something very wrong and very dangerous in the present situation which demands drastic alteration. I think it is interesting to compare the position in regard to global war which exists today, fifteen years after the last war, with the position which existed in 1933, fifteen years after the First World War. I maintain that it is infinitely better today, although we still live in a very dangerous world.
In 1933, we saw the beginnings of Hitler's rise to power. We had the League of Nations, which had just embarked upon a policy of—I will not call it exactly unilateral disarmament, but of disarmament by example. We were to reduce the size of our tanks and to curtail various offensive arms and aircraft, and we hoped that the Germans would do the same, but that appeasement simply encouraged Hitler to further 279 his plans for aggression. Then came the invasion of the Rhineland, and once we allowed that, it was quite obvious that another world war was coming.
Let us look at the difference in the position today. We have collective defence, in which America is included, as it was not in the former case. We have our N.A.T.O. shield, and we have a balance of nuclear power and a nuclear deterrent which both sides recognise as being such a devastating weapon that it would be madness to start another global war. I believe, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that, so long as the balance of power is fairly even, global war is less likely today than at any time in the present century. Certainly, I find the position infinitely better than it was fifteen years after the First World War.
I think that we should be absolutely clear what the rôle of N.A.T.O. is. It has been stated at various times by General Norstad, and several times in this House, but I must say that I am beginning to doubt a little, from some of the latest statements of General Norstad and even that of my right hon. Friend today, whether the N.A.T.O. command is not envisaging for itself another rôle—a wider and bigger rôle that I have never found stated in its objects before. I have always regarded the rôle of N.A.T.O. as that of a shield to operate, in the event of an incident or clash, to call a halt and create a pause. For that rôle, I find the present strength of N.A.T.O. pretty well adequate, both in nuclear and in conventional weapons.
I cannot believe that it will not be apparent, very soon after that clash or incident has been brought to a halt, whether the aggressor means to launch a major war or not. It will very soon become apparent, within a matter of days. I believe that the targets which the Russians would engage in the event of an all-out nuclear war would probably be quite different targets from those they would engage against, say, the frontline troops of the N.A.T.O. command. We have to examine very carefully these further proposals with regard to the introduction of much more powerful long-range weapons into N.A.T.O. be- 280 fore we can accept them and be certain that this is what we want.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggesting that he regards N.A.T.O.s conventional armament which exists today, and the divisions available, as sufficient to deal with a serious crisis over Berlin?
§ Sir J. Smyth
Of course, it absolutely depends on the extent of the attack that we have to meet. That is the whole problem. I cannot imagine that the Russians will throw into an attack on N.A.T.O. all the force which they could use—say, some fifty divisions—and yet not wish to run the danger of a global war. I cannot believe that that would possibly happen, and therefore I maintain that the attack that N.A.T.O. would have to face, and which it is designed and trained to face, is not an attack of that nature, but one with which it is well able to cope.
The debate has raised one or two extremely interesting general points, upon which I should like to touch. I find that running through a lot of the speeches today, and other debates in the House, is the idea that our present conventional forces are not nearly big enough and should be largely increased. That is an opinion which I know a lot of people hold very strongly. The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) holds it very strongly, I know, but, of course, if one holds that opinion, one must face the fact that it means conscription of some sort. We know that we are a little doubtful, and even the Minister himself is a little doubtful, whether we can raise even 180,000 men by voluntary recruiting. It is quite certain that we could not double our present conventional forces without introducing conscription. It really is nonsense to think otherwise.
I believe that the hon. Member for Dudley accepts that, because he has set his name to a Motion on the Order Paper which calls for a halt to the pursuit of nuclear strategy and, in response to an Amendment to that Motion he has put on the Order Paper an Amendment to the proposed Amendment giving his view that we should fulfil our responsibilities in N.A.T.O.even at the cost of domestic political unpopularity".281 By those words he means, I know, conscription.
The hon. Member has other Amendments down on the Order Paper on the same subject in combination with the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). The hon. Member for Coventry, East has been perfectly clear in the statements he has made. In an article he wrote on 5th May, he said that he believed in increasing our voluntary forces and he accepted entirely that conscription might be necessary. All I say about that is that anyone who holds that view must be fair and must accept the consequence.
There are certain people who belittle our own British nuclear deterrent. I wish that the hon. Member for Dudley were here, because he has said that our British deterrent is non-existent. Even in the last debate we had here, he said that it was only 5 per cent. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence took him to task about that and said that it was nonsense. He pointed out thateach V-bomber which stands at instant readiness can carry and must carry several scores of Hiroshimas in its load.A little later my right hon. Friend said that we are contributing to N.A.T.O. a squadron of Valiant bombers andquite a large number of Canberras, which provide an all-weather nuclear strike capacity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th November, 1960; Vol. 629, c. 597–8.]We must be fair about this. The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) was quite outspoken about it, if he was reported aright by the Observer last Sunday:On Saturday night, he said in Bristol that Britain's stockpile of nuclear weapons is very formidable. If the Royal Air Force got an order tonight to launch a sudden unprovoked attack against Russia, they could lay the country waste from end to end.That may be an exaggeration, but clearly the right hon. Gentleman accepts that we have a deterrent of no mean order.
If we do not have the numbers of conventional forces we want, we shall have to adopt some form of conscription. The type of conscription which is generally advocated is what is known as selective service, the system which is in operation in America. The Times has been advocating that form of conscription. In 282 a leading article on the 5th of this month, The Times said thatpeople in Britain have only a hazy notion of how selective service works. … The shadow of compulsion hanging over youth has proved such an effective recruiting sergeant that without it the Services could not meet their manpower requirements. … By supporting the continuance of selective service the American Armed Forces admit that they cannot outbid industry and they need the threat of compulsion.When one hears that, one can understand how very unpopular selective service is in the United States, and I am quite sure that our young men would not respond well to these threats, just as the Americans will not respond.
There is often talk in this House about a limited war, a war which could be fought in Europe after the shield has done its work, a limited conventional war against the whole might of Russia. I do not believe that such a limited war is possible. I am quite sure that if there were a major clash between the forces of Russia and the forces of the Western world, it would in a very short time result in a global war starting. I have said before that the only real answer today to total was is total peace.
I am completely satisfied with the statement which my right hon. Friend has made today. There is just one point to which, I think, we should devote further thought.
§ Mr. Grimond
I am much struck by the hon. and gallant Gentleman's statement that the only alternative to total war is total peace. I must say that, in the circumstances of the modern world, that is a remarkable statement. There is not total peace in Asia or in Africa. There is not total war either, but a situation requiring conventional troops.
§ Sir J. Smyth
Naturally, I accept that we shall always have the small war, the bush war. I am talking about global war. Indeed, the President of the United States himself has said that the only answer to total war is total peace. The whole idea behind the deterrent is that we must not let another war start, and that is the whole basis and object of our policy.
I was saying that I am absolutely satisfied with what my right hon. Friend said today and what he has said in the other extremely sound and sensible speeches he has made. The only thing to which 283 we have not yet, I think, devoted enough thought is the wider sort of N.A.T.O. which General Norstad has been talking about recently. There is no reason whatever to move a Motion of censure, and I hope that it will be decisively defeated.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
I always listen with great respect and attention to the contributions which the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) makes to our defence debates. I confess that I am surprised, having learnt a little of his knowledge and realism in these matters, that he should feel able, to the extent he has, to express satisfaction with the Minister's speech. I thought it very unlikely, for example, that the hon. and gallant Member would feel satisfied about the political control of N.A.T.O., and one would have liked to hear him speak in greater detail about that. I wonder whether his decision to devote less attention to that aspect of the matter is due to the fact that he is relatively less confident about that part of the Government's policy than about the rest.
It is well known, of course, that there is a difference of opinion among my right hon. and hon. Friends about defence. I wish to make it perfectly clear that on this point I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot). I am sorry that he is not here at the moment, because I wished to add an expression of my regret at the news of the death of his father. I have personally been the recipient of many kindnesses from the late Mr. Isaac Foot. His loss is deeply regretted.
In my view, there are certain serious inconsistencies in the position which my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale takes, and, as a preface to my observations generally on the Motion, I propose to point to what seem to me to be some of them. For example, my hon. Friend, if I recall aright, was one of those associated with others like myself in the view that it was undesirable to rearm Western Germany when the decision was made to do so. That was a narrow and difficult issue. I have always been convinced, and I am convinced today, that the arguments for deferring the arming 284 of Western Germany were very strong indeed, for obvious reasons, the main one being that if one armed Western Germany one created a rigid and inflexible situation in Central Europe at the heart of the area of crisis, making it more difficult to establish and pursue a policy of disengagement and of relaxation of tension there.
The inconsistency which I desire to point out in the position adopted by my hon. Friends who then took that view and who are now supporting a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament is this. Am I not right when I say that an almost inevitable consequence of the application of a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament by this country would be an eventual increase in the relative nuclear armaments strength of Germany? This has always seemed to me a very important and valid point. It is not a debating point, but one of substance deserving the consideration of those who want to be realistic about these problems. If the United Kingdom decided to pursue a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament, I do not believe that the immediate reaction of the United States of America would be to contract out of Europe or to abandon its involvement in a policy of collective security, which, incidentally, I regard as the supremely encouraging feature of the development of politics since the Second World War in contrast to the situation as it developed after the First World War.
I am all in favour of American involvement in a system of collective security. I do not think that the effect of a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament pursued by this country would mean that the United States would immediately contract out of or abandon its interest in N.A.T.O. and in Western defence by removing its forces from Europe. But I think that if the United States found its ally, Britain, refusing to have anything to do with nuclear armaments its immediate and inevitable reaction would be to divert a greater relative amount of nuclear arms strength in the direction of Germany. It is in this respect that I regard the position taken up by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale as so inconsistent with earlier positions which he rightly adopted.
I think he is also in great difficulty on the point that the implication of the 285 policy of my hon. Friends who favour nuclear disarmament is that it places British ground forces in Europe at a disadvantage in terms of power and armament as compared with their American colleagues in American divisions who might be fighting side by side with them. I go to the length of saying that that is an unthinkable proposal. It is unthinkable to the vast majority of the people in this country.
I take the view therefore on this point, and the earlier point, although I hold in great respect the arguments put forward by my hon. Friends who take the contrary view, that it involves them in serious inconsistency. I regard their whole disposition about this matter as strictly analogous historically to the peace ballot agitation before the Second World War. I do not dishonour the agitation that accompanied the peace ballot before the Second World War. I only say that on a serious analysis it was found to be unrealistic and not to meet the requirements of the case. These are some of the reasons why I take up the position I do in this controversy inside the party.
With these considerations in mind, it of course follows that what I desire is a British contribution to Western defence which will provide the maximum amount of effective support that can be brought to bear upon the Western defence effort. As to 80 per cent. of that, for my part I am compelled to express the view that I feel I must rely upon the recommendations of those who are specialists in these matters. Upon them, particularly in this highly technical and difficult phase in military affairs, is the responsibility of determining these matters. I do not particularly like having to admit that position. I rather regret the extent to which our present age is an age of specialisation and of technicalities which the ordinary person who does not specialise on the subject has some difficulty in comprehending.
I also acknowledge that in the history of this country there is some evidence which would not lead one to place particular confidence in handing over responsibilities for problems to people who are immersed in military and technical matters. None the less, I think we are obliged to do that in this case. I 286 think, however, that there are certain matters which come especially within the province of the House of Commons and should be treated as outside the scope and embrace of the technical and logistical specialists to whom I have referred. To these we should give particular attention.
I welcome in particular the manner in which the Motion in the name of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition picks out just those aspects of our defence problem to which it is of special importance that this House should give attention. I refer in particular to the question of control of N.A.T.O. forces, control of Polaris and the rest. The people of this country, and certainly we on this side of the House, are wholly and completely discontented with toe present arrangements for control of these affairs. We have not got any kind of evidence that effective control exists. We are told by the Minister of Defence in this connection that it is not possible to work out a rule book which will govern the application of the control. That is a very extraordinary situation and, if it is true, surely it implies a very high tribute to the activities of the Soviet intelligence. Certainly from what we hear and what we know there is no satisfactory control.
The position as I see it is this. Secrecy is not incompatible with public confidence about matters of this kind—not at all. I am not asking on behalf of hon. Members on this side of the House, or anybody else, that these matters, many of which must be kept secret, should be laid bare and made public—not at all. What should the position be in an all-important matter of this kind affecting the interests of Members of Parliament with their special responsibilities for national security? I suggest that it should be this. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet should be satisfied that they get an effective system of political control over nuclear and other armaments and their use. They should be satisfied that they have the necessary element of control.
They should inform the Leader of the Opposition what the scheme is. The Opposition, under our constitution, through their Leader, should have the opportunity of probing and questioning 287 the quality and character of the scheme or arrangement for control on which the Government have decided. If on that hypothesis the Leader of the Opposition was prepared to accept the scheme as reasonably satisfactory in the national interest, at least to the extent that no further probing in debate was called for, that could be the end of the matter. The situation in Parliament could be allowed to rest there. I draw attention to the astonishing situation in which nothing of that kind appears to have occurred. The wording of the Motion makes it abundantly clear that we on this side of the House feel that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy us that there is any satisfactory system of control worked out or available.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
The hon. and learned Gentleman suggested that the Leader of the Opposition should be informed by the Government of certain details. Has he ever asked his right hon. Friend whether he would accept this information if it were offered to him?
§ Mr. Irvine
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's intervention goes to the heart of the matter. This is a serious problem for the House of Commons. I suggest that the elected representatives in this House are entitled to be satisfied that there is a proper system of control. Considerations of security may be such that it is not possible to inform the whole House what the system of control is, and the way to overcome that dilemma, under our constitutional system, is for the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence to decide upon what the methods shall be and then inform the Leader of the Opposition; and in the event that he was satisfied—which at any rate is not an unthinkable hypothesis to consider—that a reasonably satisfactory scheme is in being, the matter would be pursued no further.
§ Mr. Irvine
I do not wish to take up time and give way again.
On this all-important question of control, which is, as I say, particularly appropriate for consideration by Members of the House of Commons, I have 288 observed the Prime Minister's answers about the arrangements for Holy Loch. I have no intention of anticipating, but in the context of the general problem of control, it is complete casuistry to suggest that, because certain classes of vessels carrying weapons can proceed from a base for a long distance and get into a situation which is remote from the base they left, there is therefore no ground for there being any control over the movements of the vessels at all. It is casuistry to make that suggestion as the Prime Minister has made it.
Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to formulate a scheme or method of control which will at any rate prevent vessels of that kind, carrying missiles, from going direct from bases in this country upon provocative expeditions or going into the territorial waters of foreign Powers. But we have not been told of any provision which has been laid down for control of this purpose. No hon. Member can have any confidence that there is no danger of there being an incident in respect of Polaris parallel, for example, with the incident of the U.2.
It is in this, in my submission, basic and fundamental respect that the Government, and the Prime Minister in particular, appear to have failed. They have failed, it seems to me, to take advantage of the peculiar primacy which this country ought to possess in the alliance and in its relationship with the United States. On this issue of control, that seems to me to be a point of basic importance.
Our recent historical record as an ally of the United States compares very favourably, does it not, with the records of other Western European States? We were an ally of the United States in the last world war, and Western Germany was a foe. The same contrast exists in the case of Italy. It may be thought that we made a greater contribution to the defeat of Germany than did France. Our association latterly with the strategic policy of the West has been more accommodating to the United States than has the policy of France.
I take the view that having regard to these historical antecedents of the recent past, we are entitled to expect a wholly distinctive relationship with the United States inside the alliance, and I believe that spokesmen and representatives of 289 the United States would largely agree with this if they were to express themselves upon it. People speak about this country being too dependent upon the United States. I do not accept that way of expressing it. In my opinion there is too much independence of United States strategy from the reasonable requirements and interests of this country. We are in a position of particularly exposed danger in this country in the whole concept of nuclear war.
Having regard to that circumstance and to the very special and distinctive history of this country in its relations with the United States in two world wars and in the development of the Western alliance, I think that we are in a position to claim a distinctive and significant say, jointly with the United States, in the development of Western strategy and the design of Western defence. We should have a bigger influence than we seem to have at present. That should be achieved by diplomatic effort and by diplomatic design at the ambassadorial level and at the Cabinet level.
The Government have failed, because none of us here, on any side of the House, can feel at all confident that the degree of control and the planning of control over the use of these weapons is anything like as clear or satisfactory as it should be. Time and again the Prime Minister's answers are examples not of strength but of casuistry, and that is not good enough. It is in this respect that my right hon. and hon. Friends, no matter what differences in certain respects may divide us, can agree in condemning the Government.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Rochester and Chatham)
So far this afternoon we have heard three expressions of view on defence—that put by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot), the official Opposition view on defence, and what I can describe as the orthodox Conservative view, which supports the Government Front Bench. Hesitantly, I should like to offer a fourth point of view.
Some members of the Bow Group have been meeting since March under my chairmanship to look at defence polioies, and to the best of our ability we have investigated the unilateralists' defence policy, the defence policy of the 290 Opposition and the Government's defence policy. It is only fair to say that a certain lack of satisfaction with all three policies has emerged from our debating over the last six months. We have listened to some thirteen or fourteen experts on defence, including hon. Members drawn from both sides of the House. We have listened very carefully to the evidence put forward, and we start from the point of view that the end of policy—and in this we are all agreed—is the prevention of nuclear war.
If that is the case, and if it is also the case that the United States of America—and, therefore, Britain—has decided on moral grounds against launching a surprise attack on the Soviet Union, a preventive war, it seems that the West is highly unlikely in the event of war to strike the first blow. I would consider that to invite war on any such basis is idiocy. The Americans, with a surer strategic grasp, have seized on this point and are at the moment altering their weapon system; with the Polaris submarine and the Minuteman solid-fuel mobile missile. They are trying to make their own nuclear forces invulnerable, and this is the key.
My concern is about the speed with which Her Majesty's Government are trying to do the same thing. I feel that the weapons system that we mount at the present moment is unsatisfactory. I also feel that the whole Western view on deterrence has been up to now, and will be for the next year or two, a monstrous bluff that might be called. I am very afraid of its being called.
At least the Americans have now begun to see this, and the new Administration will pursue new and very sensible policies with great speed. If by 1963–64 America has achieved the "B" posture, the power to strike back, it will have one fundamental consequence. That consequence will be that by 1963–64 the United States of America will be unable or unwilling either to avenge a nuclear attack on Europe alone or to prevent nuclear threats or blackmail against the whole of N.A.T.O. Europe, or any one country in N.A.T.O. Europe. The vulnerability of American cities means that unless America herself is hit by a nuclear strike she will not move to protect her allies in Europe.
291 I know that this is against the generally accepted view of the N.A.T.O. alliance—we are supposed to go to the aid of one another—but the American Secretary of State, Christian Herter, in what was a "Freudian" statement, and a revealing and realistic statement, said that he could not conceive of the United States of America moving with her own nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union unless there was evidence that America herself—and, if one can, I verbally underline the word "herself"—was about to be attacked.
That is in complete contradiction to the policy of the alliance so far, and it means that by 1963–64 N.A.T.O. Europe will have to look after itself in terms of nuclear weapons, because the defence threat to N.A.T.O. Europe and to the West is either a nuclear one or a threat of conventional attack. Therefore, by 1963–64 Europe should achieve, and should now be thinking about how to achieve its own "B" posture.
It is here that our viewpoint on the British deterrent becomes more relevant. Over the last five or six months, the Government have shifted their ground with some subtlety. They have not admitted doing so yet, though they may in the White Paper, but there are signs and hints of the Government shifting ground. Perhaps one might suggest that the wisest thing to do would be to scrap the Skybolt contract for a start. Skybolt makes much greater sense for the U.S.A. than it does for Bomber Command. If the Polaris submarine is countered in the future by some unforeseen technical advance, then at least America can rely on S.A.C. and the Skybolt, the B.52s and the B.58s, simply because it is 3,000 miles from the Soviet Union and would by that time have warning and, because America can afford to have a standing alert. All these factors would make the choice of Skybolt for America more rational. These arguments do not apply to us.
I think that the manned aircraft and the Thor missile on which we now depend must, if they are to operate efficiently, be used first, and I have grave doubts that in the event of nuclear threat either the British Government or the French Government would refuse to fire our weapons first, because to do so 292 would be an irrational act and would commit our populations to suicide.
I go one stage further. If that is the case, the urgency of the Government's defence thinking, as of American defence thinking, is to alter our whole weapons system, and we could do that only at fabulous expense. That is, perhaps, the underlying reason why we abandoned Blue Streak, because the medium-range liquid-fuel rocket is vulnerable and, perhaps, too expensive. The manned aircraft is almost equally vulnerable and I think that we must replace Bomber Command eventually by the Polaris submarine.
I hope that the third nuclear submarine that we are to lay down—and, I hope, to be laid down in my own constituency, in Chatham—will be a missile firing submarine. It is hindsight to say that the decision to go into the Polaris submarine business should have been made a year or two ago, but I hope that the third submarine will be the first of a fleet of six which could, by 1963–1964–1965–1966, be our contribution to the strategic N.A.T.O. deterrent.
I should like to see N.A.T.O. armed with strategic nuclear weapons, because the vulnerability of American cities implies that America will not act on behalf of Europe if she herself is not attacked. Whether that fear is real or imaginary, it exists in Europe, and it militates against the alliance at present. The result of that fear, which exists throughout Europe, is that individual European States will decide to go into the nuclear business themselves; in the first instance with first-strike weapons, and, in the second instance, perhaps with second-strike weapons.
I believe that that would be a wrong and very dangerous policy. Therefore, the other choice is that the alliance itself should try to control strategic nuclear weapons. As a first step, I would suggest that the Government put the V-bomber force—all 250 of them—under N.A.T.O. control; perhaps offering a squadron or two to de Gaulle to give him some means of delivery. At the moment, he cannot get his bomb from Lyons to Marseilles except by train. To do that would at least be a gesture, always assuming that, in return, the French put their so-called independent forces under N.A.T.O.
293 That immediately raises the agonising question of who controls the weapon if it is to be used first? I will not attempt to disregard this, but I see this initial process of trying to weld the existing unsatisfactory independent weapons system of Europe as only a first stage. It would, at least, have the effect of trying to clarify all our thought on control, and it needs clarifying at present.
The important thing is that the ideal weapon system for Europe in the late 'sixties is second strike. If it is second strike it will be fired only if the Soviet Union tires first. The response must be automatic, so the question of control is not so important, although it is confused by which of two weapon systems we adopt. If we adopt the right one the question of control is overcome, because in the event of nuclear war the response is automatic. At the same time this makes the conventional contribution of the West even more important than it has been up to now because if we can achieve nuclear stability—and this is the most urgent requirement of defence—in the next four to five years then the range of options open to the Soviet Union is widened and for the first time a set-piece conventional war becomes a possibility in Europe.
We must, therefore stimulate the N.A.T.O. Alliance, not only by trying to create the strategic nuclear power for N.A.T.O. itself but so that we can encourage every country in Europe to make a contribution in terms of conventional forces to Europe. If one agrees that the defence in a war, with or without the small type of atomic weapon, is now far more powerful in relation to the aggressor, there is no reason why in 1966 we should not have moved into the line thirty extremely well-equipped conventional divisions which would be in a position to prevent any Soviet adventures.
It seems that defence is twofold. We must achieve stability throughout the world, with special reference to a stable weapons system for this country. That means no Skybolt, hand over the V-bombers to N.A.T.O. as a first step, and certainly go in for a small number of Polaris submarines as our eventual contribution to the N.A.T.O. deterrent.
294 It also means that we should have a very hard look at whether conscription should be reintroduced at the end of 1962 or the beginning of 1963. All the signs at the moment are that we shall have to do so. Our decision to do away with conscription was, in fact, a unilateral decision. We are the only N.A.T.O. country which decided to do so. It was a gamble and we took it. It looks as though it may not come off. Therefore, I think that we must brace ourselves to the realisation that by the end of 1963, for at least two years, when the bulge in population brings us to the 180,000 mark, we must call up some 50,000 National Service men a year for two years in order to preserve our commitments. Anybody who is interested in defence will not say that we must reduce our commitments because we have not enough people. That is not a defence argument. I am concerned that our present commitments should be kept because it is equally a defence argument that if we reduce our commitments then the Soviet Union and/or China will exploit this particular weakness.
We need to change our weapons system and we need to look very closely at the quality of our conventional weapons. If we do that, and there are indications that we are doing so—the Minister is noticeably more lukewarm about the Skybolt project than he was a year ago—then I think the Government's defence policy will be on the right lines.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
Although I broke with my hon. and right hon. Friends on the Front Bench on the twin issues of defence policy and party democracy, I want to begin by saying that I do not question their wish for peace. They want peace as much as I do. I want unilateral disarmament as much as they do. However, there are legitimate differences of opinion between us as to the best way that peace and multilateral disarmament can be obtained.
This evening I do not propose to argue against my right hon. Friend's Motion but to argue on the lines of the substance of the Amendment which my friends and I tabled and which you, Sir, felt unable to call. We tabled that Amendment because it seemed to us to be a reiteration 295 of the decision that the Labour Party took at Scarborough in October. We believe that the significance of those Scarborough decisions was that they were part of a general world-wide change of approach to international affairs. The most graphic example of that change of approach has been Mr. Khrushchev's triumph over the Chinese Communists and his insistence on the policy of peaceful co-existence.
I believe that there is now at least a possibility of breaking the log jam that has held up the development of international relations over the past fifteen years. During that time no problem has been decided on its merits. The criterion of every decision has been the extent to which it would affect the strategic strength of either of the great Power blocs, the East or the West. For a time we negotiated from strength and, therefore, concessions were not made. Now we have the balance of terror to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) referred. I would prefer to call it the terror of the balance. Anything which might upset that balance, however inevitable it may be, however ultimately desirable it may be, has to be avoided, whether it is in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe or South America.
The folly of the position into which we have drifted is that we now see everything in strategic and military terms whereas the real possibility of Communist expansion is more likely to come from the political and economic blunders of the capitalist system. I think that both the East and West must share the responsibility for that situation, and if I concentrate on the mistakes of the West it is not because I acquit the Eastern bloc of its share of the responsibility. I do so because we cannot determine the Eastern bloc's policy but we can, or should be able to, determine the foreign policy of the Western bloc. I must say that I wish I shared the confidence of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) as to the extent to which we can, or will be able to, influence American policy on foreign affairs or on defence.
I believe that over the years the West has made five major mistakes. The first was the one that this House discussed 296 last night, namely our insistence on excluding China from the United Nations The other four mistakes are particularly relevant to today's debate. The second is that we have dragged our feet on disarmament. If anybody questions that let him read the brilliant book "The Arms Race" written by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). The third mistake that the West has made was when the Poles put forward the Rapacki Plan; we waited for America to pronounce upon it and then snubbed the Poles. The fourth mistake is that we still have made no positive reaction to China's proposal for a non-nuclear zone in the Pacific. Our fifth mistake has been that we have made no attempt to make the Middle East an area of disengagement.
We have, in fact, drifted into a position in which we have no distinctive British foreign policy or defence policy. It is merely a faint echo of American foreign or defence policy, in whatever department in Washington that policy is determined—and, one suspects, ultimately, whether or not Her Majesty's Government really approve of it.
For that reason our defence arrangements are of literally vital importance. Until I am happier about the foreign policy that we are pursuing I believe that we cannot run the risk of having nuclear bases in Great Britain. Most of the bases that were affected by the Amendment my hon. Friends and I tabled have nothing to do with N.A.T.O. They are purely Anglo-American bases positioned in this country as a result of, apparently, an unconditional arrangement made between this country and the United States. Nor is Mere anything that I can find in the North Atlantic Treaty that makes it obligatory upon us to have nuclear bases in this country.
I believe that the principal danger to us is the United States bases on our soil. I do not want to rehearse all the dangers of nuclear warfare, but it seems to me that two facts are beyond dispute. The first is that there is no defence against nuclear attack. The second is that, if we are lucky, we may receive four minutes' warning of such an attack. As a number of hon. Gentlemen have agreed today, everything depends upon nuclear warfare not happening. We 297 have, therefore, to make up our minds whether nuclear warfare is more or less likely if we have United States bases on our soil.
I cannot believe that there is much security in having on our territory the nuclear bases of a Power which was so appallingly irresponsible as to send the U.2 plane over Russia, to call a general alert on the eve of the Summit Conference, and, even after that, to send the RB.47. Yet the Minister of Defence says that our arrangements with the United States as to the control of these bases "have worked out pretty well". That is a point of view which will commend itself to no hon. Gentleman on this side of the House.
The position is made worse by the decision to have the Polaris base in Holy Loch. I am a great admirer of Mr. Chapman Pincher, who, I think, is one of the most brilliant journalists of the day and a much more reliable prophet in these matters than the Government and the chiefs of staff. On 9th December, Mr. Chapman Pincher wrote an article in the Daily Express on the Polaris-carrying submarines in which he said:The first drawback to the Polaris-carrying submarines is that they will have to return at frequent intervals to Holy Loch and their other bases for maintenance of their H-bomb warheads. If the Russians keep pace with United States atomic submarine building, we may see the situation in which hunter-killer submarines of each side are shadowing the missile-launching submarines of the other, as East and West now shadow each other's diplomats.This could lead to unpleasant political incidents off Britain.Then Mr. Pincher draws attention to the fact that in order to get their orders these submarines have to come within 90 ft. of the surface. He continues:Thus, during a time of political tension, when the 'Fire' order might come at any moment—and such a period might last several days—the submarine must be taken up near the surface.Later in the article Mr. Pincher says:At a time of great tension, the Russians would obviously try to block United States radio messages to their subs.And, of course, the most effective way to do this would be to knock out the stations from which they were being sent.Are there any 'Fire' message stations in Britain? I suspect there is at least one.As for the Holy Loch base itself, the Russians will certainly have long-range H-bomb missiles zeroed on it.298Every Polaris submarine carries sixteen missiles, each capable of destroying the heart of a major city. The Russians are unlikely to neglect the opportunity of knocking out any which happen to be holed up in Holy Loch or any other base.Mr. Chapman Pincher's conclusion is this:The danger now is that the Russians may sink a Polaris submarine as they destroyed the American RB47 reconnaissance bomber and claim that it was in territorial waters when it was not.If that submarine happened to come from Holy Loch, Britain would be involved in an international incident of great danger.That is a most terrifying analysis of the situation caused by the arrival of the Polaris submarine in our waters. If a U.2 plane or a Polaris submarine causes an incident, or if American nuclear weapons are used from bases on Formosa, what protection have we in this country got? Retaliation will be almost inevitable, and it will not be much good telling St. Peter that we always said that there should be greater political control over the use of these bases and submarines.
My general conclusion is that, far from being a defence, nuclear bases are a real source of danger, and perhaps Polaris is the most dangerous of the lot.
I turn now to N.A.T.O. I have a great deal of sympathy with what the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood said about tactical and strategic weapons, but it is a little terrifying that N.A.T.O. should have developed into something se completely different from what it was held out to be at the time that it was conceived by Mr. Ernest Bevin and the other statesmen of the Western allies at that time. It was then a purely defensive pact. It has now already ceased to be a shield and has become a sword. I was a little surprised to hear my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), for whom I have a great regard, say that little progress had been made in implementing the decisions of 1957. According to the Guardian of 23rd November General Norstad said:In the three years since these decisions were reached we have made very substantial progress. For example, you will find in almost every major allied command some unit which can deliver atomic warheads. In some areas they will be found in substantial numbers.299 Therefore, the progress seems to have been swifter than my right hon. Friend appeared to believe.
§ Mr. G. Brown
The decisions taken in 1957, to which I referred and as to which my hon. Friend is now making exactly the same mistake as the Minister of Defence made, were decisions to put I.R.B.Ms into the armoury of S.H.A.P.E. It was in relation to those decisions that I said that fortunately little or no progress had been made. It is that statement which remains right. I was not discussing the question of putting atomic warheads on tactical weapons. That was a decision taken in 1954, and is a different matter. If my hon. Friend checks, he will find that what I said is in fact true, namely, that fortunately they have made no progress with the regrettable decision of 1957 to put intermediate range ballistic missiles into the armoury of S.H.A.P.E.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. He was then much more specific than he was in his earlier remarks. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He obviously did not convey that impression to all hon. Gentlemen who were listening to him at that time. I am grateful for what he said.
It is now a little terrifying to find that General Norstad went on to say, according to The Times of 9th December:He also mentioned for consideration: (a) The idea of a N.A.T.O. strategic force. Should N.A.T.O. control not only intermediate range missiles, but also strategic nuclear weapons capable of penetrating to any part of enemy territory? Should N.A.T.O. have power, not only to destroy bases from which any attack on Europe might be launched, but also to deliver a knock-out blow?It is true that the general went on to say that that was an "extremely interesting thought", but one which had not been proposed by or within the alliance.
It is difficult to see why General Norstad gave it such publicity on that occasion if it was not one of the plans which was being turned over in the minds of the master planners of N.A.T.O., and I suspect that we may well be on the verge of a repetition of what has happened so frequently over the last fifteen years. Ideas have been mooted at which our blood has run cold, only to find that later they were adopted 300 as Government policy—not necessarily because the Government believe them to be right, but because every Government in this respect have failed to face reality and have taken refuge in fantasy. The result is that today this country is less securely defended than probably ever before in its history.
The problem which we must face is the threat to our security which N.A.T.O., over whose policies we have no control and over the policies of whose members we have no influence, may constitute.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edge Hill dealt with the question of Germany. All these things are questions of judgment. I do not think that any of us would claim to be infallible. My hon. and learned Friend drew attention to one aspect of the German menace. I should like to call attention to another. I am appalled at the suggestion that we should have German troops in Great Britain and German warships in Scottish ports. If I am told that those steps are the logical consequence of the decision to rearm the Germans and admit them to N.A.T.O., I can only reply that that entirely justifies those of who fought against those decisions at that time.
I do not want to play on emotions or arouse prejudices tonight, but I believe that many hon. Gentlemen will agree with me that one of the main threats to world peace is Germany's irredentist claims to her lost territories. I hope that the House of Commons will face the dangers of a situation in which a Germany with military and naval bases on our soil might launch an attack upon the countries of Eastern Europe in order to recapture her lost territories. It is inconceivable that we should avoid retaliation by nuclear weapons in a situation of that kind.
There are other examples that I could give of the dangers that many of us believe that our present position in N.A.T.O. involves. I do not want to go into details. Instead, I should like to say this. We have heard from the Opposition Front Bench and from the Government Front Bench a number of proposals for the reform of N.A.T.O. The Minister of Defence was not very frank about what should be done, but he made sympathetic noises in reply to my right hon. Friend, who was calling for the 301 structural reform of N.A.T.O. and for a reform of relationships within the alliance and of the relationship between military commanders and political authorities.
In the defence statement submitted by the Labour Party and defeated at the Scarborough conference we called for an urgent revision of N.A.T.O. strategy. What will happen if we are unsuccessful in our demands for a reform of N.A.T.O. and a revision of its strategy? I think that the House and the country are entitled to hear from the Government and the Opposition today what will happen if America or the other Powers in N.A.T.O. flatly turn down the proposals we have advanced for reforming N.A.T.O. and revising its strategy. Are we to stay in N.A.T.O without any effective share in control and in spite of what the Labour Party has rightly called its "wrong and dangerous" dependence on nuclear weapons, a dependence condemned by my right hon. Friend the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition this afternoon? For example, are we to stay in even if N.A.T.O. becomes a nuclear power?
It is our apparently unconditional subordination to N.A.T.O. to which many of us take exception. I confess that personally I am not so enamoured of N.A.T.O. as some of my hon. Friends. I thought from what my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper said this afternoon that, perhaps, in this respect we might be coming a little closer together. I have always believed that our obsession with N.A.T.O. has superseded our loyalty to the United Nations. Defensive agreements like N.A.T.O. have bulked far too large and our duties under the Charter of the United Nations have bulked too small.
Nevertheless, I do not suggest that we should simply walk out of N.A.T.O. without regard to what it stands for, or what it becomes. But we say—and I gather that here there is agreement with my right hon. Friend—that N.A.T.O. was created as an emergency instrument and that it should remain a temporary expedient. That means that we should always be prepared to dismantle it in return for the scrapping of the Warsaw Pact. It also means, in my submission, that we should be prepared to withdraw if it pursues policies which are dangerous 302 to peace or contrary to the real interests of Great Britain. That means if it becomes a nuclear power. No trade union leader would happily embark on industrial negotiations unless he knew that in the last resort he could withdraw his members. I do not believe that we shall ever influence N.A.T.O. unless we retain the ultimate sanction of withdrawal from it. Only if we have the ultimate sanction of withdrawal at our disposal will we have the influence in N.A.T.O. which we ought to have.
As I said, I regret that the Amendment which my hon. Friends and I tabled has not been called, because it was a protest against what we believe to be the rigid, sterile policy that the Government are pursuing. It is a protest which I believe may be as significant as those protests which were made on the benches opposite against the pre-war Conservative Government, protests which at that time commanded very little support from hon. Members opposite. We believe, however, that whatever may be our support in the House of Commons, we are speaking for the rank and file of the Labour movement in the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear".] I wish that my right hon. Friends had felt able to table a Motion on the lines of our Amendment. In default of that, I personally have no alternative but to abstain in any Division which takes place so that I may register my protest against a policy which, within months, could lead to disaster for the human race.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir Otho Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
Far be it from me to intervene in the private quarrel which is taking place on the benches opposite. All that I would say to the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) is that I am extremely disappointed. On many occasions I have heard him speak from that Dispatch Box and I have thought that he was one of the most able and most brilliant speakers which the party opposite had to offer. Now, one has only to see the Members who are congratulating him at this moment to realise how far he has slipped since those days. His speech was riddled with non sequiturs and mis-statements of fact which one could easily knock down if one had time. However, I have my own speech to make and I cannot do that.
§ Sir O. Prior-Palmer
If the hon. Gentleman listens to what I have to say, he will hear quite a lot about it.
The speech of the hon. Member for Rossendale reminded me of the sort of woolly nonsense talked after the First World War, the sort of thing which led to the Peace Ballot and to Ribbentrop writing to Hitler saying that this country would not fight. Like many other hon. Members, I was at the receiving end of those policies, and I know.
I am not one of those who believe that there is likely to be a major war in Europe. There are two reasons why I believe that. First, because a major war in Europe would lead to a nuclear global war, and I know that the realists in the Kremlin do not want that whatever the Chinese may want. Secondly, strength of N.A.T.O. has made it certain that because it happened twice before there is no reason at all to attempt such a manoeuvre again. That is why I consider that it is absolutely vital to modernise and strengthen N.A.T.O. so that it shall continue to be, as it has been for the last ten years a deterrent to any potential aggression over the Elbe or in Western Europe.
For that reason, I appeal to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence to press, when he goes to N.A.T.O., for three of the major weaknesses to be rectified. The first is the integration of the air defence of Europe. Anyone who has seen it will know that it is a complete dog's breakfast. We know that the French are the nigger in the woodpile in this matter. By the grace of heaven they have at least taken one or two steps in the right direction, but it is up to the Minister to press this matter with his colleagues in N.A.T.O.
The second thing which is vitally important to make N.A.T.O. a reality and a credible deterrent is the existence of a mobile reserve which can be airborne at a moment's notice. This idea was put forward by General Gale many months, if not years, ago. The plans are there, I believe, but nothing has been done. There is no reason why it should not be done. General Norstad has asked for it. The aeroplanes are available if they are wanted. I hope that my right hon. Friend will press this matter.
304 The third major point of many smaller ones is this. The supply organisation of the troops in the forward areas in the field is under the control of its own country, with totally different systems operating all along the front. Of all the crazy things, that is about the craziest. If troops were moved from one area to another they would have to take over a system completely foreign to their own. It is vital that this arrangement should be standardised.
Having said that, however, I believe that due to the fact that N.A.T.O. has kept the peace for ten years, and that there is no likelihood of war in Europe, the present danger is the Communist infiltration and the playing upon the nationalist feelings in other countries. We are not doing anything like enough to counteract this. I do not mean propaganda—I dislike the word. Very often, propaganda acts as a boomerang and has its repercussions, which do not have the effect which was originally desired. Factual information, however, should be put over to the uncommitted countries and to those who do not heard our broadcasts.
The achievements of the Soviet Union—and they are great, particularly in space research—are put over in a big way. To those to whom they are put over, it is success that counts. They follow, they support and they believe in the successful person. We have had the most fantastic success in various fields of scientific endeavour, but these things are not put over in the way that they should be or in the way that the Soviet Union puts them over. We do not put over our way of life, the reasons why we do things or how we live here.
It is always the Soviet Union who gets the news through of what it has been doing. Its magnificent pamphlets and coloured booklets showing aspects of life in the Soviet Union are in the hands of the uncommitted peoples to see and to read. We have nothing to counteract such methods. That is the war of the flanks of N.A.T.O., which is now being fought. It is a war which N.A.T.O. should be watching, and we, from our Colonial Office, should be doing a great deal more about it.
I have said on previous occasions that in these days of nationalism, independence and the like, continued confidence 305 in bases situated upon the territories of other nations is becoming of less and less value and importance. It is time that we faced the fact that in a few years' time these bases—I will not name them, but everybody knows what I am talking about—will not be ours.
The only answer—I know that it is expensive—is the mobile floating base, the degutted aircraft carrier, which can carry the lot and steam at 35 knots. I am not referring to the ordinary landing craft, which has to travel at eight knots. The mobile base could carry every item of equipment, munitions and weapons that was necessary to fight a small war such as the Korean War. A floating base could be moved to areas where there was danger or threats. Its movements need never be known to the enemy and it could not easily be blotted out by atomic attack. I therefore appeal again to my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence to look into this suggestion and see whether, as a long-term policy, even though, admittedly expensive, it would not pay high dividends in the end.
I heard the speech of General Norstad and have a copy of the text of it. There seems to be an extraordinary amount of confusion about what he said. Admittedly, reading the speech, as I have done, several times, and underlining and marking extracts from it, there seemed to be contradictions in some of the things that he said. There were, however, two things which were quite clear.
Throughout this debate, there has been confusion on both sides of the House about the kite which General Norstad flew—it was only a kite—about N.A.T.O. having and becoming an independent fourth strategic striking force. One newspaper reporter—I think in the Evening Standard—said that this was accepted with enthusiasm by all the Parliamentary delegates at the conference. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) made a speech about it. He said, as I said in my speech which followed, that the suggestion was unsound, unnecessary and impracticable. If that is receiving the matter with enthusiasm, I should like to know what enthusiasm is. The right hon. Gentleman for Dundee, West and I were the only two people who even commented on the idea, for 306 the simple reason that it was not put forward as a serious proposal.
I will read the relevant words. General Norstad said that ideas were being bandied about and he went on to say:The second idea is that of a N.A.T.O. strategic force. … It would, in fact, be one of the heavy strategic retaliatory forces"—exactly like the American striking force.This is an extremely interesting thought, but one which has not, to my knowledge, been proposed by or within the Alliance. It has not been suggested by me or my headquarters.I do not think that we need take the suggestion seriously. I do not know where it came from, but I could hazard a guess. There is one gentleman who is a bit of an empire builder and we all know his name. I am convinced that the Americans would never accept this for one moment.
The other and much more serious idea was also a kite. It was never a proposal, as the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said that it was. General Norstad posed the question of how to meet the increasing demand of countries for a broader share in the control of atomic weapons which are based on their own territories. That demand has to be met. Something has to be done about it. General Norstad did not suggest how to do it. What he said was that it was essential to set at rest the fears of the smaller countries that, in the event, the Americans would not unlock the door and let them have the warheads in defence of one small piece of aggression or an aggression along the front. Great nervousness exists among the smaller countries in Europe.
It was in the Evening Standard, I believe, that an article said that we must clip the wings of the General. General Norstad was putting forward an idea which was exactly the opposite of what the Evening Standard was suggesting. He suggested that it was wrong to continue to have only one key in his or anybody else's pocket—and we all know who makes the decision for using that key. General Norstad's suggestion was that the weapons should be distributed to other countries. That raises the whole question of who is to say when we are to use these weapons. This matter must be considered extremely carefully, because it 307 could be dangerous to have, say, 15 keys or four people deciding.
I am not making any suggestions. I am simply saying what General Norstad said. There was no proposal in what he said. There was, however, something which, to me, was quite clear. He thought, and Mr. Spaak probably also thought, that if there was any way of preventing the French from continuing with the manufacture of their own private atomic weapon, that might be it; that if the French had control of atomic weapons without having to go to the vast expense of manufacturing them themselves it might have that effect. I think that in the case of the French it is probably too late, but, certainly, it might stop the Germans even starting on this dangerous road, in which they would be followed by other countries obviously wanting the weapon, too.
I think that that was the real reason why General Norstad put forward the proposal, and that reason we should not be discarded too lightly. It was timed just before the debate in the French Assembly took place and to give the anti-nuclear factors in the French Assembly a bit of a boost. Why not? One day General de Gaulle may go and those who do not wish to see France have her own independent nuclear weapon may succeed in preventing it. Here, they would have a perfectly good reason for doing so. I hope, therefore, that hon. Members will not say that it is dangerous. It might be exactly the opposite and make things very much safer in the next ten to fifteen years in Western Europe.
There has been a good deal of loose talking about the weapons now in N.A.T.O. After the meeting of Heads of Government, in 1957, it was decided then—and everybody knew it—that these weapons would be made available to the forces in Europe. They are available now in very large numbers. It is no good suggesting that this must not happen. They are there now. What matters is the control of them, and, of course, the modernisation of existing weapons. Some are getting obsolete and some obsolescent, and General Norstad was asking for the modernisation of these weapons, which had been agreed to many years ago.
308 As to recruitment, those hon. Members who go round saying that we shall not get the requisite numbers, 185,000 or 165,000 by the time that they are needed, are making it more difficult to get them. I am absolutely certain that we will have them, for various reasons. There are many ways of getting them. I give one example of what might be done. At this moment about 70 per cent. of the recruits presenting themselves at naval recruiting offices are being turned away, not on health grounds but simply because the Service is oversubscribed. Men say that they would like to join the Marine Commandos because the life is exciting, tough and dangerous. Why not say to them, "We have something just as good. Join the Parachute Brigade?" If necessary, we could double and treble the Brigade. Those are just the type of troops which might well be needed if events went sour in Africa, or in some other part of the world.
There are many ways of recruiting, but hon. Members opposite who screamed week after week and year after year for the abolition of conscription are now beginning to try to see whether we cannot have conscription back again. Is that really what they want? Do they not realise that if we had selected conscription we should need one man in 50 and that to train those men we should have to take 12,000 men out of the front line? Furthermore, we should start the vicious circle again. Immediately we had conscripts in a battalion the n.c.o.s would cease to extend their service and to recommend others to join. The end would be that we should have to have full conscription once more. That would be disastrous, and, therefore, we must succeed in our recruiting campaign.
I shall not say that one Regular soldier is worth five conscripts. That was disproved in the Korean War. The conscripts were splendid and just as good as any Regular. That is not the point. What we want is an all-Regular long-service Army, and the way to get it is to tell people that it is a good life and that the food, pay and conditions are good, and not to go round denigrating the Army. I hope that we can have films showing actual life in the Army, without any frills attached to them, which will convince people that this is a worth-while life.
309 On the question of the deterrent, there has been far too much talk of what will happen if an atomic war breaks out. The whole object is to prevent an atomic war or any other war. I, like many other people, have taken part in two world wars and I am absolutely convinced that provided that the Russians know that from 68 bases round the world, within an hour or two, the whole of that country would be devastated if they used an atomic attack, they will not do it.
§ Sir O. Prior-Palmer
Of all the inane interjections that is the most inane. Perhaps the hon. Member did not hear what I said.
I say again—and the hon. Member knows this—that if the Russians knew that within hours of an attack a counterattack would come from 68 directions at once—and as the hon. Member knows the aeroplanes are in the sky at the moment and there is no question of blotting them out on the ground—they would not risk it. They have said so. The moment that we start talking about unilateral disarmament we go straight back to the situation which obtained just before the last world war and at just such a comparable moment as this after the previous war.
It is vital, of course, that we should continue with disarmament talks. That is not very easy when the Russians do as they did at Geneva the last time. They produced proposals which were taken away, looked at, read, and accepted with very few amendments. They were presented with these and told, "There you are. We will accept these." They immediately rang up the Kremlin and said, "We are in a corner. They are going to accept." They then walked out and they have not been back since.
It is no good saying that we are dragging our feet. We have done everything that human reason can do without giving the whole thing away and saying that we will throw the whole of our manufacturers' arms open to inspection by the Russians, but, of course, we must not inspect theirs. Their serious suggestion was that the inspection team which would look at Russian factories should be composed entirely of Russians and people from behind the Iron Curtain 310 while they came over and inspected our factories. Is that reasonable? Is that the real way to secure disarmament?
As for Polaris, does anybody think that Britain is not and has not been the No. 1 target for attack ever since this situation cropped up? Does it make the slightest difference having Polaris in Holy Loch? Of course not. If the Russians intend to attack with atomic weapons they will flatten the whole of Britain. It will not make the slightest difference whether or not we have bases here. If the Russians make up their minds to use atomic weapons that will be the end of this world as we know it.
It is up to every one of us, therefore, to support the Government and the Official Opposition in the retention of these deterrent weapons until the day comes, as I am perfectly convinced it will, when liberalisation inside Russia has really taken effect and the youth of that country have grown up and demanded something different from what they have now and their Government are forced to do things which they are not doing at the moment. Added to that is the effect of China with her 700 million people, plus the H-bomb.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
As everybody knows by now, there is some disagreement on this side of the House on the subject of defence. We also know that there is substantial disagreement between this side of the House and the Government on the same topic, but no more disagreement in either case than among the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians who represented this country at the recent conference about the interpretation of General Norstad's speech. I have heard several statements made by hon. Members who returned from S.H.A.P.E., and those statements represented substantial disparities. The Minister of Defence's interpretation today differed from that of the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Sir O. Prior-Palmer).
I have a great deal of sympathy for General Norstad. He is a very fine man and has tried to do an excellent job within his capabilities and the limitations imposed upon him by the military conditions created by the respective N.A.T.O. countries. He has been hamstrung from the start—there is no doubt about that—particularly regarding the 311 original purpose of N.A.T.O. and the assurances given first of all to General Eisenhower, as he then was, who was the first Supreme Commander, then to General Ridgway then to General Gruenther and, finally, to General Norstad. These assurances were to the effect that the various countries associated with N.A.T.O. would make a substantial contribution in conventional forces, both equipment and weapons to the Organisation.
The original purpose of N.A.T.O. had nothing whatever to do with the deployment or the manufacture of nuclear weapons. It is precisely because the N.A.T.O. countries, for the most part, failed to implement those assurances, that they and General Norstad have been compelled to turn their eyes in the direction of the manufacture and deployment of nuclear weapons. The facts are well known to those who have been associated with the problem from its inception.
As hon. Members are aware, I was associated with the late Ernest Bevin in the origination of N.A.T.O. How often during speeches in this House, and outside it, and sometimes in articles in the Press, have I referred to the defection of the French and to the inability, if not the unwillingness, of some of the N.A.T.O. countries to make a contribution that was worth while. Indeed, instead of progress being made, as the Minister of Defence said in his speech, there has been, proportionately, having regard to the responsibilities placed upon N.A.T.O. and the nature of the problem that confronts it, a constant deterioration.
I have discussed these matters with General Norstad. How well I know his anxiety to build up conventional forces so that the shield might be—I will not say, and he certainly did not say, efficient and wholly secure—capable of creating a pause in the event of aggression by a potential enemy. On one occasion not so long ago I went over to see him. I paid my own expenses. I did not travel at philanthropic expense. I thought that the trip was worth while. As a result, I had a briefing and recently had a conversation with him about what is called this new project of a fifteen-nation nuclear force.
312 There has been a great deal of confusion in this debate about whether these proposals made by General Norstad are proposals at all. I happened to put a Question to the Lord Privy Seal yesterday. It was not answered orally, and I received a Written Answer. It was to the effect that General Norstad made no specific proposals at all, but that he was, as we sometimes say in certain plebian quarters, just chancing his arm. He was trying it on the nations who were present at that meeting.
Let us take a look at these nations—with great respect to them all and with a thorough understanding of their capabilities and limitations. France has been responsible for defection from its responsibilities to N.A.T.O. from the very beginning. Let me tell hon. Members that when General Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Commander I warned him about the French. How right I was then. I never believed I was going to be as right as I was at the time. Of course, it is partly attributable to the Indo-China affair and subsequently the Algerian war, but the fact is that respective Premiers and Ministers of Defence of France refused over and over again to face up to their responsibilities.
As for some of the other countries, it is by no means offensive to say—I am only stating the fact—that they are quite incapable of providing a substantial contribution. Belgium, for instance, promised two divisions. Those divisions never materialised. The two Scandinavian members, Norway and Denmark, made a contribution that was of no significance whatever. The Dutch said that they were a maritime nation and wanted to provide warships. I remember having a very intense quarrel with them about it, but it made no difference. I had as much influence on the Dutch as I sometimes have on my own Front Bench. [An HON. MEMBER: "Double Dutch."] Perhaps it is my fault. But this situation is something about which I could talk for quite a long time.
The Minister of Defence must know about it, however. It is true that he comes from a long line of Ministers of Defence. He is the eighth Minster of Defence since the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) became Minister of Defence after the war. I do 313 not feel inclined to blame him for his lack of knowledge. It may be that he is concealing what he knows. That sometimes happens with members of the Government for reasons of security, and sometimes for reasons not altogether unaccountable—simply that they just do not know.
The right hon. Gentleman is not entirely to blame for what has happened. We had the right hon. Member for Woodford who did not stay long and then we had Lord Alexander of Tunis, a great military expert who got tired of it and threw up the sponge. Then we had the then Sir Walter Monckton, who threw the towel into the ring after a while, and then we had the present Prime Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "Before that."] He came in the race at some time, but he did not last long. He had other fish to fry, or other fish to catch, and he was very successful in the long run. We had the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and we had Lord Head, who disagreed with the Government and resigned. Then we had the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.
I make a confession to the House. My change of mind on this subject of nuclear strategy is due to the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations more than anybody else, because he was responsible for paragraph 12 of that memorable White Paper of 1958 when we learned, not for the first time but from the lips of a Government spokesman, that it was the declared intention of the allies—and this country was involved—in the event of a limited attack to use tactical atomic weapons and, subsequently, but without much ado, to use full-scale nuclear weapons. That is contained in the White Paper for 1958.
After all those right hon. Gentlemen came the present Minister of Defence. How is it possible to build up a coherent, co-ordinated, efficient defence policy if there are eight Ministers of Defence in the course of nine years, most of them either anxious to get out, just passengers in the Department, and in disagreement with their own Government on matters of defence policy? So we have been plunged willy-nilly into this cataclysm of nuclear strategy.
314 Let us consider what issues are involved in this controversy. To begin with, there is some misunderstanding about the decisions reached at the annual conference of the Labour Party. There is some misunderstanding as to the nature and content of the official defence policy of the Labour Party, which was defeated at the annual conference. I want to deal with two items. This is not irrelevant, for it is important that these issues should be clarified. However, I will deal with the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) without further ado.
I can understand the hon. Gentleman's anxiety to look like the great leader of a great political party. He looks the part, but he does not have it in him. Indulgence in animadversions directed against my Front Bench or my hon. Friends below the Gangway is hardly the sort of thing one would expect from him. For example, he spoke as if the Liberal Party was responsible—and it is contained in the Liberal Amendment which is not to be called—for the declaration that this country could no longer be an independent nuclear Power. But that is contained in the official defence policy of the Labour Party. It is true that that policy was defeated at the annual conference, but not because of that item. That policy is still supported by my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench and by a substantial number—indeed, the majority—of my colleagues. I draw attention to it. A summary of the decision says:The Blue Streak fiasco has shown that Britain cannot maintain herself as an independent nuclear Power. In future the provision of a thermo-nuclear deterrent must be left to the U.S.A.I have in mind the Amendment suggested by some of my hon. Friends and to which I appended my signature, but which Mr. Speaker decided not to call. In point of fact, the Labour Party in the House and in the country is united in agreeing that Britain should no longer regard itself as capable of being an independent nuclear Power.
§ Mr. Shinwell
As my hon. Friend says—it occurred to me also—unilateralism. So far, there is no disagreement. There are certain exceptions and I am not sure 315 whether my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is not one of the exceptions, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hull, East (Cmdr. Pursey) might be another.
§ Mr. Paget
I wonder what my right hon. Friend agrees with. Speaking in July this year about this defence statement, he said:I read the Labour Party's defence statement. On the whole it is a considered and worth-while document … which the Government, instead of sniping at it, as the Minister did, should welcome. It is an advance on the present state of affairs. It says that we cannot regard ourselves as an independent nuclear Power, that we stand by the Western deterrent, and that we stand by N.A.T.O. I do nut know if the Government have noted that we have not abandoned the concept of N.A.T.O. I accept the defence statement …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1960; Vol. 627, c. 552.]Is my right hon. Friend going to vote for it tonight?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am extremely grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for having made part of my speech. There is no controversy about this, because it is perfectly true that at the time I said that, generally speaking—which is the same thing as "on the whole"; at least, I think it is—I accepted the official Labour Party defence statement. I had certain reservations and because of that I refused to vote for it and said so at a private meeting as well as in the House.
I also said and have said all along, and repeat tonight, that I still believe in the concept of N.A.T.O., so long as it is concerned with its original purpose and as long as it can be sustained in its original purpose. I reject completely, emphatically and deliberately the idea that N.A.T.O. can be made a more efficient and effective deterrent by associating it with the United States of America's deterrent, the control of which, whether we like it or not, is vested in the American President and nobody else.
There is something to which I attach considerable importance. I believe that it was the right hon. Member for Flint West (Mr. Birch) who used the argument that in the measure in which we deprived ourselves of the nuclear weapon, or associated ourselves with N.A.T.O., so were we playing into the hands of a potentially militaristic Germany. But 316 that has happened already. The Germans do not require any incentive of that sort.
In the course of the last few weeks and months distorted and garbled reports have appeared in various newspapers, some of which are regarded as reputable organs. They were probably handouts distorted to suit the prejudices of certain people. The only newspaper which has adopted an objective outlook and tried to be fair is The Times. I regret that other newspapers, if I may use a phrase used by my late lamented friend, Nye Bevan, out of prejudice malice, spleen and bias prostituted their responsibilities to the general public by issuing the kind of statements which they did. They will not like me for that, but as I do not like them very much I will leave it at that.
This is what The Times said:Germans in N.A.T.O. Task Force? Battalion likely to be offered.I shall not read it all but it says:The force is meant to be, as its name implies, a highly mobile unit which could be quickly brought into action wherever trouble broke out.That might please those who believe in conventional forces, and I do not object to that, but it goes on to say:It is to have a permanent, internationally integrated staff, with a gradually increasing number of units at its disposal, and with the use of both conventional and nuclear weapons.We do not need to dissociate ourselves from N.A.T.O. to make provision, either deliberately on the part of the United States or perhaps fortuitously—who can tell—for Germany to become the greatest military power in Europe armed with nuclear weapons. It is on the way, and there is no question about that.
I want to try to clear up this question of the decision reached by the Labour Party Conference because it has a bearing on this debate. Perhaps I had better read those parts of the resolutions that matter so that everybody can understand them:Conference demands that the Government should press for international agreement on complete disarmament"—There is nothing wrong with that. This is the resolution of the Amalgamated Engineering Union about which there has been so much controversy and confusion. It goes on:and in the meantime, demands the unilateral renunciation of the testing, manufacture, stockpiling and basing of all nuclear weapons.317 Where? In Great Britain. That was the official defence policy. That is what the official defence statement said.
When we come to the resolution that was submitted by Mr. Frank Cousins of the Transport and General Workers' Union and carried by the Conference, what do we find? Was there a demand for the immediate renunciation of nuclear weapons, just like that? Not at all. It said:This Conference, believing that the great majority of the people of this country are earnestly seeking a lasting peace"—nobody objects to that—and recognising that the present state of world tension accentuates the great danger of an accidental drift into war"—and then comes the pregnant sentence—calls upon the Labour Party to make a clear declaration that a Labour Government will, when returned to office, establish our defence and foreign policies"—and it goes on to indicate the lines of approach. It says that that is to be done when a Labour Government comes into office. That is the position. I am in agreement with this. First, that we abandon the concept of an independent British deterrent, and, secondly, that we reject the nuclear strategy in principle, but that we do not seek to advance it until the Labour Government comes into office. That seems to me to be quite right.
I come now to the Amendment. I want to tell the House something which I think it ought to be told because this was said in private and never revealed to the public. After all is said and done, if some people make disclosures in public of what happens in private, I also am entitled to do that if it affects me personally. Recently at two meetings of the Labour Party upstairs I advocated that we should not have a debate of this character today. That is within the recollection of my hon. Friends. I said, "Let us have a probing debate on General Norstad's proposals, if they are proposals, but do not let us divide on issues which have been settled by conference, and particularly let us not prejudge decisions that may be reached as a result of further consultation." Why did I want that?
I come now to what I think is most important. I wanted it because I believe there is great advantage in a probing 318 debate. There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding and so many suspicions and doubts among hon. Members, even among the experts who think that they know all about defence, because the situation changes so rapidly. Indeed, the Minister of Defence admitted that. So much of that exists that I thought it would be advantageous for us today, or indeed at any time, to ask questions about General Norstad's speech, to ascertain the views of the Government, to express opinions and to have, so to speak, a Council of State on this subject of defence, and at the end of the day to come to no decision, but, having collected the voices, to seek to make up our minds about the possibility of a solution. That is what I wanted; no more than that.
The trouble with the Amendment is this. Of course, there are some parts of it which we accept, "multilateral disarmament" and so on, but it is full of nuclear implications. I say this because I believe it to be true. Perhaps it is not very convincing to those who do not believe it, but I say it nevertheless, that the Amendment runs counter to the decision reached at the annual conference of the Labour Party. Because of that, I am sorry that I cannot support it.
I understand that, as a result, there may be sanctions. I hope that nobody will try foolish tricks of that kind. [Interruption.] I hope that they will not, because, if they try foolish tricks of the kind which have been threatened, they will make the biggest mistake they have ever made in this party. Suggestions of that kind have been made. I warn them not to indulge in threats of that kind because that is not the way to build up unity in this party. If I am wrongly advised—and nothing of the sort has been suggested—all I can say is that that is not what I read in the newspapers. [Laughter.] I have a very much better answer than that. Hon. Members should wait until they hear this answer. We will wait and see, and if nothing of the sort happens my anticipations will not be realised. I will leave it at that.
On the subject of defence, intense differences exist in the Labour Party. They always have. But make no mistake about it; it is far better to have one's 319 differences exposed to the public, in the hope that they may be cleared away in due course so that we can get on the wheels again and discuss matters of economic and social importance, than it is to conceal those differences and pretend that they do not exist.
I propose to do what my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) indicated he would do; I do not propose to vote for the Motion. I think that it is a wrong Motion and an unwise Motion. What is more, it is an unnecessary Motion. It is irrelevant, when we might have discussed the question of General Norstad's proposals in a quiet fashion, without undue heat or excitement. We could have discussed them in a pedestrian fashion, in the hope that we might have extracted more satisfactory assurances from the Government. That is my view.
Nobody on this side doubts that the Government have been responsible for many failures in defence. Of course they have. We ought to be attacking them. [Interruption.] This sort of thing leaves me quite cold. I used to get this sort of thing when I was carrying out propaganda to build up the Labour Party, before some of my hon. Friends were born. This sort of thing does not matter. I was about to say, when this unseemly interruption occurred, that I have not detected many speeches from hon. Members on this side of the House making a vigorous attack on the Government—at least, I have not heard many such speeches from members of the official Opposition.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I shall be delighted to hear it.
I do not care much for the Government opposite any more than any hon. Member on this side does. They have been responsible for many failures. In the course of the speech I made at the weekend I said that it was only the troubles about defence that concealed the failures of the Government. If any of my hon. Friends wants to attack the Government vigorously, hotly and even passionately, no one will enjoy the adventure better than I. Meanwhile, we 320 have this difference among us, and to make it clear that it is one that is honestly held I shall not vote for the Motion, although I do not advise others to follow my example.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
When the right hon. Member for Easing-ton (Mr. Shinwell) was Minister of Defence I admired the job that he did. As a rule, his contributions to defence debates have been of use to the House. However, I was disappointed in his contribution tonight. I have never heard him attack the Press. We all have to take what comes from the Press, whether it is good or bad, and the right hon. Gentleman is good at taking both as a rule.
Speaking as an individual Tory back bencher, I am sorry to see these differences among the party opposite—not because of party politics, but because these matters are reported overseas and are frequently misquoted in countries other than Soviet Russia. This does not do Britain any good. I am sorry to see these differences, and I will leave it at that, merely hoping that the situation will mend itself in the near future. The right hon. Gentleman catalogued the various Ministers of Defence, but I noticed that he carefully omitted to mention one—Mr. A. V. Alexander, now Lord Alexander of Hillsborough—who bears quite a considerable responsibility for our actions in defence matters in the immediate post-war years.
The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) referred to mobility. This is a very important matter, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will tell us a little more about how it will be achieved. If we are to have smaller forces we must be able to move rapidly not only the men, but the equipment. Nearly two years ago we were told by the then Minister of State, that the Britannic contract with Short Brothers and Harlands was about to be signed. I understand that it is still not signed. Whatever the Government's difficulties may be they should make up their minds about this matter and either buy the Britannic or scrap it and support another project, or buy something from the United States, so that we may be sure that we can move our equipment quickly 321 in an emergency. We may suddenly have to move several battalions to Africa, or to some other part of the world, and we may have to move the heavy equipment with them. This is a matter which can be ignored no longer.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot), who I am very glad to see back in the House, because I originally came into the House in 1945, when he did, and am probably more glad to see him back than some of his colleagues, frankly disappointed me with his speech, which made no real contribution to the debate. He quoted the R.B.47 incident off the North Russian coast, which, I thought, was most unfair. We know perfectly well that this aircraft was outside territorial waters, probably checking up on the Russian radar system. [Laughter.] Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite will not laugh when I have finished.
I would remind the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) that not so many months ago Soviet trawlers were steaming just outside the three-mile limit off Malta when an exercise was taking place, and the exercise had to cease. We hear nothing about these things, and I think that it would be more appropriate sometimes if hon. Members would quote the disdemeanours of the Soviet Union. They always quote what the Western nations do and never what the other side does, and I should like to hear a bit more about the latter.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley) made a very thoughtful and helpful speech in many directions, but talked rather glibly about transferring our weapons from V-bombers to Polaris. It is not quite as simple as that. I think he mentioned 1964 or 1965, but if he thinks that we are to hand over our V-bombers to N.A.T.O. and have the Polaris in four or five years' time, he must have another think. He also suggested that Skybolt should be scrapped, but what good will the V-bombers be without Skybolt four years' hence? If he was a pilot who had to fly a V-bomber without the stand-off bomb, he would probably not make that suggestion. We should be very careful in making these recommendations, which are misinterpreted outside. We have got a very effective V-bomber force, to which I will refer in a moment.
322 The war has been over for fifteen and a half years, and, fortunately, we have been free of major conflicts, except for the Korean War. I believe that the appreciation by the then Government in 1947, was that there might be a major conflict about 1955. We were then in opposition, and we had to get our information in the way in which hon. Members opposite have to do now, but that was my information. It has not happened, and I believe that it has not happened because of the deterrent. For that reason, I think that we need a strong shield in Western Europe—the strongest we can have. General Norstad is a very great general, honest to a point, and, as the right hon. Gentleman opposite said, has done his job in extreme difficulties, even from his own Government in the United States. It must have been very difficult for him, but he has at any rate cleared up some misunderstandings.
As I understand, he now wants medium-range ballistic missiles under his corn-man to supplement N.A.T.O. manned aircraft which will become vulnerable to enemy ground-to-air missiles. I can understand him wanting them, but I am rather frightened about it. Secondly, he wants control over N.A.T.O.'s nuclear weapons in the hands of the N.A.T.O. Council, but is that wise or not? Out of the 15 nations in NA.T.O. I wonder how many have fully paid their subscriptions up-to-date.
There are some countries, without going into details, which I should not like to see having the key to the cub-board of the nuclear warheads. Quite frankly, I would rather see the present system continue. Rather than spread the responsibility in the Western world, I would prefer to see the new President of the United States take the full responsibility; and I hope that will happen.
The disappointment to me is the part which the French have played in N.A.T.O. Here is a great Power, and, whatever we say, the French are a great Power economically today, strong, trading well and with a good balance of payments, but what contribution have they made to Western Europe in recent years? Practically none. They have supplied very few troops, because most of their own are in North Africa, and we are now having to house United States tactical aircraft which General de Gaulle refused to allow to remain on French territory. 323 It would not have cost the French anything if he had; indeed, they might even have gained by it, if they had allowed them to remain in France. Until we get the good will of the French, and get them to pull their weight and share the responsibility, N.A.T.O. will have a setback.
My fear is that, if N.A.T.O. acquired these 1,200-mile to 1,500-mile missiles, a missile of that calibre could start off a major war. In my view, it would be all the better if the shield could manage without nuclear weapons, but I am far from happy about its conventional forces. Quite apart from the troops and their mobility, I wish that we had an infinitely better air co-ordination in Western Europe, with the French pulling their weight. In the long term, like my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham, I believe that the real answer is the carrying of the weapon in the submarine, the Polaris weapon. Quite frankly, instead of having American aircraft situated on British airfields, with nuclear weapons housed on British soil, I would rather have American submarines occasionally calling into Holy Loch to take on stores and food and doing their business several hundred miles out in the ocean. That will be far more acceptable and, I think, far more effective in the long run, if they are able to build up this force.
What are the British Government doing? We have ordered two submarines. I know that they can chase enemy submarines, but I would like to see a British submarine which would carry the weapon. We are told that the V-bombers will last another ten years. I question that. They will last several years, but with breakages, metal fatigue and all the things which can happen, I cannot see the V-bombers lasting another ten years. I hope, therefore, that the Government will come to a decision. If it will cost us money, they should take the broad view and order the weapon, half a dozen, perhaps. Let us face that, economising in other directions. Let us order the weapon which we know will be capable of doing its business.
Of course, there is always the risk of small countries making nuclear weapons, although I do not think that this will 324 happen in the immediate future. The French have made two for trials, but I understand that they are not very effective weapons compared with what we have made, certainly not compared with what the United States and Russia have made. I think that the French are finding the business very expensive, particularly when they really ought to be spending money on other things, in helping N.A.T.O., for example. I do not believe that other countries will necessarily follow suit.
I come now to more general matters of defence and certain remarks which I wish to address to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. First, I wish to place on record my appreciation of his speech today. If I may say so, with great respect, I thought that it was a balanced speech. My right hon. Friend kept to the point and delivered a speech which started our debate, at any rate, on a good note. We must remember, however, that technical progress, as the right hon. Member for Easington said, is proceeding very rapidly. I have been in the aircraft industry, in one way or another, for thirty-five years, and I find myself getting out of date and having difficulty in understanding current problems and how we should measure up to them. This is one of the problems which Parliament faces. However much we read on the subject, we are inclined to get out of date on these very difficult matters and we necessarily have to rely on advisers, on Ministers, and on people who are informed by the experts. This problem is always with us.
Since the war, orders have been placed by successive Ministers of Defence for practically all the equipment which has been offered, in the hope that it would come in useful and play a part. This has been very expensive. We know, for instance, about the Swift fighter which was cancelled at a cost of about £36 million. Not a single squadron of those fighters ever came into being. There are many other examples where the taxpayers' money have been spent in that way—I do not say squandered—and not sufficient thought has been given to these very important matters. It is not always money that counts. It is time, and time is a very important factor.
I should like to see a much closer relationship between the Ministry of 325 Aviation and industry and the research establishments. I wish that my right bon. Friend would take the industry much more into his confidence. Let him give people in industry some secrets. We must trust them. After all, they are making the gear. Let us trust them with forward thinking, letting them know what to expect and what ought to be built, tying their effort up with the work of the Government research establishments. In this way, progress could be made. It would be possible to accelerate delivery of equipment and achieve very much better progress while, at the same time, producing something more effective.
The hon. Leader of the Liberal Party was challenged by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence to pay a visit to Bomber Command. If he has not done so, I strongly recommend him to accept that offer because, with respect, as leader of a party, I think that it is his duty to see what the men of that Command are doing. In my view, they are doing a magnificent job, at times at great risk to themselves. If one sees them at work one realises that we have something there which is helping Britain in world affairs today, something which will ensure that we have our say.
I was in America recently and made all the inquiries I could make as an ordinary back bencher about Skybolt and was told that it was proceeding satisfactorily. My hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham said that the Minister was losing confidence. The right hon. Member for Belper is always saying that Skybolt is about to be cancelled. The right hon. Member always knows more about Skybolt than the Government know and that surprises me a little. That, however, is not my information. If Skybolt is good enough for Strategic Air Command, I think it good enough for the Royal Air Force. Of course, there is always the risk that it may be superseded by something else while it is still being developed, but that happens with all equipment. The right hon. Member should not know more about that than any of us. The indications, however, are that it will be successful and we must press on with this equipment.
326 I wish to thank the Prime Minister for the part that he has played in these affairs. If we cast our minds back to what happened in the United Nations, a few weeks ago, we realise that the debates there were in the doldrums. I was told by Americans of both parties that when he went to New York he lifted the whole thing out of the doldrums.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
No, the hon. Member is quite wrong in suggesting that. I already have one which keeps me busy.
Would the Prime Minister have been able to do that without the V-bomber force behind him? I say "no", it could not have been done. I urge my right hon. Friend to go ahead, to watch expenditure very carefully, and to see that Britain plays her part in all these affairs.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)
The one or two points I wish to put are based on the belief that deliberate, premeditated war has now been relegated almost to a position where there is very little possibility of it happening.
I believe that the recent meeting in Moscow, the Summit Communist meeting, showed that international Communism has been forced by the balance of power, or balance of terror, in the world to abandon what hitherto has been a fundamental part of its strategy. International Communism has always previously benefited by war, but today, for the first time in our generation, total nuclear war would destroy both Communism and capitalism. Thus, for the first time there is an identity of interest between the Communist world and the non-Communist world. My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said that this was the moment for a new initiative. Perhaps I could add to the reasons he gave that now there is this identity of interest.
I believe that this rules out the possibility of deliberate, premeditated war, but it is important to remember that it does not rule out the possibility of war. The balance of terror, the Warsaw Pact plus the heavy Russian strategic 327 deterrent on one side, and N.A.T.O. plus Strategic Air Command on the other, has removed the danger of deliberate aggression, but I believe that it has increased considerably the danger of war by accident or incident. If that is so, a first essential in N.A.T.O. strategy is to prevent incidents developing into nuclear war. I should put that as one of the basic elements in the strategy of N.A.T.O.
At the moment, as many hon. Members have said, N.A.T.O. is quite incapable of doing this. It is incapable of guaranteeing that a relatively small incident will not develop quickly into a nuclear war. This is so because the members of N.A.T.O., particularly France and Britain, have played the fool with N.A.T.O. They have imposed on N.A.T.O. this task of ensuring that incidents in Europe do not become major war and, having done so, they have not had the political courage to supply the means to carry it out.
N.A.T.O. can equate itself with Russian power in Europe, first, by an undue reliance on nuclear arms—reliance to such an extent that nuclear arms would have to be used from the word "go", even in a very small incident. Lord Montgomery said in a speech in Paris, when he was Deputy Supreme Commander, that nuclear weapons would be used from the very beginning. Secondly, N.A.T.O. can equate itself with Russian power only by reliance to a much greater extent than most people imagine on the existence of the American Strategic Air Command.
I suggest that this is a fantastically dangerous state of affairs. It is due partly to the unwillingness of N.A.T.O. members, particularly Britain and France, to face the political consequences of the provision of adequate conventional forces which would enable the alliance either to contain an incident or to hold it long enough for a political decision to be made on the first use of atomic weapons. It is also partly due to a changing conception of the purpose of N.A.T.O., mentioned by other hon. Members, which I regard as one of the most dangerous features in the world today. N.A.T.O. was set up twelve years ago as a temporary defensive alliance. It is becoming regarded not as a temporary expedient or a temporary defen- 328 sive alliance but as a permanent deterrent.
In this changing conception of N.A.T.O. there are two features to note. First, it is becoming regarded as permanent—and I believe that Britain ought resolutely to refuse to regard N.A.T.O. as a permanent feature of the international scene. I am sorry that the Minister is not listening to me. If we regard N.A.T.O. as permanent, we say that the division of the world is permanent, too, and I refuse to accept that. Talk about Atlantic Union and that sort of thing helps to solidify the division of the world.
The second feature to note about the changing conception of N.A.T.O. is that it is regarded now not solely as a defensive alliance to prevent incidents from becoming wars but rather as a deterrent to major deliberate war. I agree that this latter task is extremely important, but it is not the job of N.A.T.O.; it is the job of the Strategic Air Command across the other side of the Atlantic. We may deter aggression if we have sufficient force, but we cannot deter incidents. With the best will in the world, incidents may occur in Europe. With Europe armed, as it is, with nuclear weapons, the chances are that even a relatively small incident would become a nuclear war which would lead to the destruction of Europe. This is an appallingly dangerous state of affairs. I do not know how the people of Britain and France can sleep soundly in their beds knowing that the utter incompetence and political cowardice of their Governments have lad us into this position. I wish more people understood it.
I support a straightforward military alliance of the Atlantic countries, pending the establishment of a world organisation with sufficient force to keep the peace, and I am sure that that is the right conception of N.A.T.O. I support the possession of nuclear arms by the West until multilateral disarmament can be achieved. But if N.A.T.O. develops into a second, heavy Western strategic deterrent, I am quite sure that it will lose the support of public opinion in Britain and throughout Europe.
I have only five minutes left, and I will enumerate briefly five things which I think should be done. The first is that 329 the Governments—and the Oppositions—of the N.A.T.O. countries must accept the political consequences of giving N.A.T.O. sufficient conventional weapons to prevent minor incidents from developing into nuclear wars—as General Norstad asked in his Paris speech.
Secondly, I believe that we should support the Norstad proposal to put the nuclear components of N.A.T.O. tactical weapons into N.A.T.O. control. We should go on from there to impose a rigid fifteen-nation control on the first use of atomic weapons. The Prime Minister, in a typical bit of muddled thinking some time ago, called this fifteen fingers on the trigger. It is, of course, no such thing, but if the nations of Europe and the world go on making their own individual atomic weapons, we soon will have fifteen fingers on the trigger. I propose fifteen fingers on the safety catch. We can have this sort of political control only if we are prepared to give N.A.T.O. adequate conventional weapons to force a halt and to contain incidents. The two proposals go together.
Thirdly, I believe that we have to resist the conception of giving N.A.T.O. such weapons as the I.R.B.M. and Polaris. I admit at once the great difficulty there is nowadays of differentiating between the tactical and the strategic use of weapons. It is extremely difficult. None the less, I am quite sure that these long-range weapons are clearly in the nature of a heavy strategic deterrent, and that, as I have tried to explain, is fatal to the task of N.A.T.O. in Europe.
Fourthly, I hope that we will look again at the conception of disengagement in Europe. Since I last spoke on it in the House disengagement has become immeasurably more difficult by the re-arming of Western Germany, which I always opposed. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood), I am very sorry that the Government would not look at the Rapacki Plan. Disengagement is extremely difficult now that Germany has been rearmed, but I hope that that plan can be looked at again. It is important to prevent incidents developing into wars, but it is even more important to prevent incidents occurring at all. If we could pull the two power blocs away from each other and put a few hundred miles 330 between them in Europe, we should be making a great contribution to that end.
Finally, we should constantly recall N.A.T.O. to its original objective of making the West strong enough to talk to the East. That was the original purpose. We must always remember that N.A.T.O. is not a substitute for a settlement in the world. It is not a substitute for agreement. If we do not remember that, then N.A.T.O., with all the N.A.T.O. proliferations—the Atlantic institute, Atlantic Union and the rest—will solidify and make more permanent the tragic division of the world.
As I see it, the basic problem of this generation is not how to destroy the other half of the world which lives under a political system different from our own. The problem is how to live in peace and security and friendship with the other half of the world.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
The debate today was arranged in anticipation of the N.A.T.O. conference that is to take place in a few days' time. The Motion is directed to the problems that we hope will be dealt with at that conference. We also wished to cover the question of the Polaris depot ship but, unhappily, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) explained, the rules of order in connection with anticipation limited us very severely in what we could put down and what we could say on the subject. As I understand it, we are debarred, for example, from discussing at all the problems of location, but I should make it quite plain that had it not been for that we should certainly have had something to say on that subject.
It is natural that in a debate of this kind, despite the relatively narrow terms of our Motion, that there should be many speeches, as indeed there have been, on wider issues. I do not propose this evening to deal with the great issues of unilateral versus multilateral disarmament, or on neutralism versus remaining in the alliance. I have spoken on those issues on other occasions, and I hope that my hon. Friends who disagree with me in these matters will not regard me as discourteous if I do not reply to their speeches. I will confine myself as far as possible to the Motion itself and to 331 the criticisms that we have to make in it of the action or inaction of the Government.
I should like to express my sympathy with my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) on the death of his father. I was glad that in the course of his speech, despite the fact that he may have found it a little difficult, he managed for a large part of it to speak, so it seemed to me, in support of the Motion on the Order Paper.
The Motion begins with a reference to multilateral disarmament. I hope that nobody is going to treat this as a kind of casual reference which one must bring in. It is essential that we should never forget that all-round controlled disarmament covering every weapon is the only ultimate solution of the problem with which we are confronted.
I will begin with a few remarks and a few questions on this particular matter directed to the Lord Privy Seal. There is no denying that in the last few months relations between the Soviet bloc and the West have deteriorated badly and that in the course of that deterioration the outlook for multilateral disarmament appears to have become gloomier. Nevertheless, I am quite optimistic about this difficult but vital problem. I think, on the contrary, that we may now be at the beginning of a new and more hopeful period. I say that because I believe that at least one reason for the difficulty in making progress in these last few months has been the imminence of the American Presidential election. I believe that Mr. Khrushchev did not think it worth while continuing negotiations with the old administration in the United States and from what one hears there may be a prospect that he will be willing to do so with the new administration. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper said, there is also the outcome of the Communist Summit Conference which certainly justifies some hope on our side.
The conference on nuclear tests has been adjourned for some time, but we can at least say this about it. There are only three difficulties standing in the way and they are all political difficulties. No further technical difficulties exist. It is a matter of reaching agreement on the composition of the control commission 332 and on the number of on-site inspections that may be made. It is surely not beyond the wit of a conference which desires agreement to solve these problems on the basis of compromise. In considering our attitude at that conference we must always bear in mind that, beyond a certain minimum degree of control, it is far better to have an agreement than to have a breakdown of the conference with the great danger that tests will be resumed in Russia and the United States.
Secondly, on the broader issue of disarmament, the United Nations is rather bogged down in procedure, but I would like to press strongly the suggestion which we have made from these benches before and which has now been taken up both by Canada and India, that instead of going back to the Ten-Power Conference, with five on each side, we should definitely decide in favour of adding certain neutral countries to this conference. The Russians, as it happens, have now proposed that there should be five neutral members in addition to the ten previous members.
I do not think that we can accept their particular five as exactly corresponding with what we would regard as neutral countries. But this is essentially a negotiable matter; I hope that the Lord Privy Seal will be able to tell us that he is sympathetic to this idea and that the British Government will follow it up in the United Nations as soon as possible.
I again state our view, which has been expressed on many occasions, that it is no use going very far with disarmament talks unless and until China is brought into them. I do not propose to go over the broader issues which we discussed yesterday of the admission of China to her rightful place in the United Nations.
If the Lord Privy Seal has doubts about the speed with which that can be done, would it not at least be putting out something of a bridge in that direction to propose that China be invited to the disarmament talks straight away?
Meanwhile, however, in the present state of the world—I emphasise the ward "meanwhile", which occurs in our Motion—we believe that the Western alliance is necessary and that we must have adequate defences. I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) that, as 333 my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper said, we have never regarded the N.A.T.O. alliance as an end in itself. Of course not. The Western Alliance is necessary only because the United Nations in its present form cannot guarantee security and protection to any nation which is threatened by attack.
We know that that is so. We deplore the fact that it is so, but its very structure, with the veto in the Security Council, without any real attempt to set up an authority with power which would be recognised and acknowledged all over the world, leads us inevitably to the conclusion that it cannot perform this function.
I say without hesitation that the United Nations has not only done a good job in the Congo but has prevented the relapse into chaos which might very likely otherwise have occurred and, quite possibly, averted the danger of the Congo becoming a battlefield in Africa. I certainly subscribe to that view, but we are bound to admit that experience in the Congo shows the extraordinary difficulty in present circumstances of the United Nations having and exercising the kind of power which would be needed if we were to obtain protection from it.
In those circumstances we have to rely on collective security in the more limited sense of the phrase. I think that the first article in the N.A.T.O. alliance agreement is a repetition of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter. The United Nations Charter recognises the possible need for regional pacts and alliances. Therefore, there is no question of any conflict between the Western alliance and the United Nations. It is simply that so long as the United Nations exists in its present form we have to have some other form of protection. We have to have friends. We have to stand together.
I hope that the time will come when that will not be necessary. But when we reach, as I hope we shall, all-round controlled multilateral disarmament, I do not believe that a safe future will lie for the countries of the world in simply a relapse into unbridled national sovereignty for each one of them. On the contrary, if and when we reach that desirable ideal, what we must think of is 334 not unbridled national sovereignty but, on the contrary, moving into a closer association which will alone make possible some form of world government. That is how I see the development, the defensive alliance at the moment, because it is necessary, moving on, we hope, to multilateral disarmament and possibly, at the same time—one cannot forecast everything—moving on towards some form of world government and thereby some merging of sovereignty in the process.
With that introduction, may I pass to the more specific parts of the Motion. I begin with a few words about Polaris and our attitude to what has been done. Our general attitude is that if we are, as we are, members of the Western Alliance and sharing the risks which that necessarily involves, we are also entitled to share the essential decisions. This is a basic principle which I do not think can possibly be denied. It is in the light of that that we take the view that what has been done by the Government in this matter is not adequate to the situation.
The Prime Minister has, in effect, told us that only in one matter, namely, the use of British territorial waters by a Polaris submarine in an emergency, is there really complete and adequate joint control. It may be said that that is something, but it is extraordinarily limited. I should have thought it most unlikely that in an emergency a Polaris submarine would be likely to want to fire any missiles in British territorial waters. It may be some consolation to know that in those circumstances we can say to the depot ship "Go away," but, in our opinion, this is not nearly enough. Nor is it enough to dismiss the rest of the problem by vague phrases such as "We rely on the general understanding and co-operation that we have with the United States."
We ask specifically for proper participation in the decisions about the itineraries taken by these submarines under peacetime conditions. I am speaking of peacetime conditions. We are told that this is absurd because we have no reason to fear that these submarines will take any provocative measures, or will involve themselves in provocative situations, and that they are quite different from the U2 or the RB47. I admit that on the face of it a submarine which 335 costs £45 million is expensive, and obviously the American Government would not wish to lose one. But, frankly, in this situation it is extremely hard to be sure what might or might not develop. We cannot be certain.
In any case, what is the objection to our being made privy to what these submarines are doing? If the Americans are allies and friends of ours, why should they object to telling us? I am not suggesting that the House of Commons should be told or even that all the Government should be told, but why should there not be an arrangement that at least a senior British naval officer should be kept in touch with what they are doing so that if anything about which we might have doubts occurred the British Government could be informed and the matter taken up with our allies?
My second point is this. We are perfectly entitled, when the United States asks us for facilities of this kind, to say to them, "We are not satisfied about consultation over the whole wide front". It is not only a matter of knowing the peacetime voyages of these submarines. I suggest that what we are principally concerned with is this. The first decision, as one of my hon. Friends said, to use nuclear weapons should be taken only in consultation and collectively. Let me hasten to add that it is no use fobbing us off with the answer, "If the Russians train and direct a whole flight of rockets on to the major cities of the United States, the Americans will not consult us". We know that. We are not concerned with that situation. We are concerned with what we believe is a much more probable situation in which, as has been said by many hon. Members, disputes develop into armed conflicts and armed conflicts into conventional struggles, and so on. As on other occasions, we could, and should, have asked for something far more specific than we have had up to now.
We also want to see the end of the Thor missile bases. The Minister of Defence got himself into difficulty about this. He defended the Polaris missile, I think rightly, on the ground that it was a second strike weapon, but he cannot deny that the Thor missile is not a second strike weapon. It is, on the contrary, a first strike weapon. By the same token, therefore, the sooner we get rid 336 of it the better. The right hon. Gentleman said that as soon as the Polaris was available in any quantity the Thor would be obsolescent. He had better check up with his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister who, when asked on this very point, said, on the contrary, that the time was a long way off before we would be able to get rid of the Thor missiles.
I pass now to the other questions raised in our Motion concerning the problem of N.A.T.O. It has been apparent for some time that there are three major weaknesses and dangers, each of them associated with the other, in the N.A.T.O. Alliance. First, there has been an excessive reliance upon the use of nuclear weapons. Secondly, there is the danger of the spread of nuclear weapons within the alliance. Thirdly, there is the complete failure to solve the problem of political collective control. Our charge against the Government concerning the first of these three matters is that they aided and abetted the creation of the situation in which we find ourselves, and that on the second and third of the charges—stopping the spread or establishing effective control—their attitude has been completely negative. They have failed utterly to put forward any constructive proposals. We suspect that one of the reasons for that is their fear that by so doing they would find themselves in difficulty with the idea of this country continuing to have an independent nuclear deterrent of its own.
Even today we have had no real assurances. The Minister of Defence told us that he could not answer the questions that were put to him because the talks were to begin on Friday. I know what will happen. After the talks are over, we shall be told that they were secret and that we cannot be told of anything that happened at them. This, however, is no new matter. If it were a new problem one might have sympathy with the Government's point of view, but it is not. All these are old problems and I will deal with them briefly in turn.
First, as regards the over-emphasis on nuclear weapons, there is no denying that since 1957 British policy at least has been based on the assumption that at a relatively early stage in any conflict nuclear weapons would be used in Europe. This was put succinctly by 337 General Norstad in his recent speech to the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians, when he said:A great English newspaper … stated that SACEUR believes 'that any penetration of the land frontiers ought to be stopped decisively, at once, if necessary, by the use of nuclear weapons'.That goes much too far. The whole implication of it is that at once, as soon as there is any attack at all, nuclear weapons are to be used. We regard that as profoundly dangerous. We regard it not only as dangerous because, obviously, the use of nuclear weapons of any kind which may, alas, lead to wholesale nuclear war is itself bad. We regard it as dangerous because, in practice, it is extremely unlikely that Governments would dare to take this step. It is extremely likely that the Russians would be well aware that Governments would not take that step. Therefore, the whole idea of an effective deterrent to Russian aggression is not maintained if that is the kind of thing that is said.
It is true that in the same speech, General Norstad said rather different things. Part of our difficulty concerning his speech is that at different points it seems to contradict itself. He said—and my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper quoted it earlier this afternoon—thatour forces must have a substantial conventional capability. They must be able to operate where the military situation permits, without using arms and weapons equipped with nuclear warheads. This will require shield forces of the general magnitude being provided under our present programme, a programme which, I regret to say, is not yet completed. I press for its completion.Therefore, do not let us have any talk to the effect that General Norstad is satisfied with the conventional forces which exist at the moment. Quite plainly he is not. I do not propose to go into the technical details, but there is no denying that there is a serious shortfall in conventional forces. I ask the Government, first, whether they accept this and what contribution they will make to improve the strength of our conventional forces, thereby making it not necessary to rely on nuclear weapons at the same point. Can they assure us that there will be more mobility for our forces and that they will be better equipped? Can they tell us what they have in mind for reducing our commitments overseas and 338 ensuring that the minimum forces are available in Europe?
General Norstad in his speech has also demanded that these I.R.B.M.s should be made available. This question has been dealt with by a number of hon. Members and I do not propose to say much about it. I think that the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) put our point of view extremely well. We hold that there ought to be a line drawn as clearly as can be between tactical battlefield weapons, which although we certainly want to see the point at which they might be used postponed as far as is conceivably possible, we admit should be under the S.H.A.P.E. command, and anything larger than that which certainly should not be.
If we are talking about weapons like Polaris which will throw half a megaton or 500 kilotons, a bomb 25 times as great as that dropped on Hiroshima, it is a little silly to talk of it as being a tactical battle-weapon. Nor is it really satisfactory to be told that, of course, these are only to take the place of aircraft and that aircraft will not be able to get through in the short time and we must have missiles instead. The point is that aircraft do not have to drop nuclear weapons at all and therefore there is a very great difference between them.
I pass to the second weakness—the danger of the spread of nuclear weapons. Here we must recognise that it is not only the prestige advantage which attracts France and possibly other countries as well to having their own nuclear weapons. There is, as I think the hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley) rightly said in his interesting speech, a fear on the part of some of the European nations that the United States, when it comes to it, will not be prepared to support Europe if there is a conventional or even a nuclear attack.
I will not pronounce on whether these fears are justified. On the whole, I do not think that they are, but they exist undoubtedly and they, of course, lead individual nations to the desire to insure themselves against that risk. But this itself creates difficulties, because it frightens the United States still more and at the same time, when countries concentrate upon providing nuclear weapons for themselves they endanger still further the possibility and prospect 339 of having adequate conventional forces in the alliance.
I should like to ask the Government what they have done to try to stop the spread of nuclear weapons within the alliance and what they have done in discussion, for instance, with the French Government on this. Have they had any talks on how the French might be dissuaded from their present efforts? What do they propose as a way of solving this problem? For my part this can only be solved in terms of the third problem, that of control.
Here again the position is profoundly unsatisfactory. The Minister of Defence quoted what he regarded as being the present position. He said that General Norstad and S.H.A.P.E. were ultimately under the control of the N.A.T.O. Council, but that is really not good enough. People to this day do not know whether the Americans guarding the nuclear warheads will take their orders from General Norstad in his capacity as commander under N.A.T.O. or in his capacity as an American general. This has never been cleared up.
The fact that this is so comes out very plainly in General Norstad's own proposals, because if indeed the present situation were so satisfactory, why should he have advanced new proposals? I agree with the Minister of Defence that when one analyses them they do not amount to anything very different from what was quoted at us before, but the position is that nobody really believes that. At the moment they do not know how the N.A.T.O. Council is to operate, with no precise machinery or arrangements for consultation.
I agree that the use of the terms "Fourth Atomic Power", and even "N.A.T.O. Pool" is highly misleading. The idea of a pool suggests different countries entitled to draw upon it. This is not proposed. What then should we propose? We want, first of all, a political control—control by Governments and not by generals, still less commanders in the field—over the first use of nuclear weapons. That is the most fundamental objective. Again, I am not speaking here of the sudden attack with H-bombs but of the much greater probability of a gradual conflict developing.
340 Secondly, we say that control must not only be political but collective. It must not be taken by one Government alone. I know that it will be said that this means fifteen Governments conferring together. That is a matter which should be discussed. Frankly, I do not know that I would be so worried about having fifteen Governments keeping their fingers on the safety catch—not, as my hon. Friend said, on the trigger, but on the safety catch. But I do not believe in practice that that would be necessary. I believe that a two-tier system such as suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper would be possible.
I do not know whether this proposal for the establishment of effective collective political control within the alliance will prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, but it will do something towards that end. It will at least give the other members of the alliance a veto. It will give them an opportunity for consultation, a chance of discussion, and the feeling that at least they are participating in this absolutely vital decision.
That alone justifies us in giving our broad support to this idea—so long as it is an effective one. I do not want a collective political control which, under the guise of bringing the Governments in, in fact leaves the ultimate decision to the generals. That must be watched carefully.
Finally, it is not good enough for the Government to say that they cannot put forward proposals about this because the matter is one for the United States Government. The United States is our ally. Even if it was a matter for the United States Congress, what on earth is wrong in our suggesting that it should change its legislation? I do not think that much change would be necessary here, so long as the custody of the weapons, rather than the control, remained with the Americans.
I have not hesitated to underline the dangers and weaknesses of N.A.T.O. at present. We who believe that the alliance is necessary in present circumstances have both the right and the duty to do this. We have seen no sign that the Government have made the slightest attempt to propose the remedies for the weaknesses that exist—yet those remedies are needed not only because the alliance 341 itself may well be undermined without them, but because they are needed in the cause of peace as well.
Who will deny that less reliance on nuclear weapons, the raising of the so-called nuclear threshold to the highest possible level, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons within the alliance, and establishing effective political control, are all likely to contribute to the prevention of war, or at least to the localising of any conflict that might break out?
I believe that there is now a new opportunity. The Democratic administration yin the United States is likely to be broadly sympathetic, more sympathetic, I think, to these aims than its predecessor. And here may I say how much we on this side of the House and, I am sure, everybody—although the Government cannot make an official comment—welcome the appointment of Mr. Dean Rusk and Mr. Chester Bowles and Mr. Adlai Stevenson to their various posts.
The failure of the Government to subscribe to these aims—Whether it is because they disagree with them we do not know, for they never tell us, or whether they are boo complacent to bother—does no service either to the Western Alliance or to the cause of peace.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)
As the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said, this has been an important and wide-ranging debate. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot), who today made his first speech in the House after a temporary absence and to whom I, too, extend our sympathies, questioned whether we believed that N.A.T.O. should be debated at all. Let me immediately reassure him on that point. Of course we recognise that these great issues must be debated, above all, in the House of Commons.
It is right that that should be so, but I think that the hon. Member himself will admit that a debate at this time has both advantages and disadvantages. It is, by its nature, bound to be exploratory. It takes place three days before the Paris meeting, at which we know various new proposals are to be made about various aspects of N.A.T.O. weapons, of which 342 we have had general knowledge but about which we are not able entirely to confide in the House.
It also takes place a month before the new American Administration takes over and the proposals are being made by an outgoing Administration. They are also proposals which raise matters of great technical difficulty and complexity, proposals which can be settled only jointly with our allies. Nevertheless, a debate at this time has the very great advantage that it may be a free and open exchange of views and ideas, which is what has been happening today, and it means that the Government are able to benefit from the suggestions that have been put forward.
As the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said, it is right for us to look again at N.A.T.O. because of the change in the political situation which has taken place in the eleven years in which it has been in existence, as many hon. Members have recalled. We have heard several times today of what was the original purpose of N.A.T.O. Now the position in the West has become stabilised, although we are still faced with the problem of Berlin.
It is also right that we should not concentrate on N.A.T.O. to the exclusion of burning problems in other parts of the world. There is also, and this is the most important factor in all our discussions, the move which has taken place towards nuclear equilibrium between the East and West since the original conception of N.A.T.O.
As the Leader of the Opposition said, there have been the recent developments of the Moscow Conference. In a speech in the country, the right hon. Gentleman hoped that 1961 would now prove to be a year of détente after the dialectical victory of Mr. Khrushchev over the Chinese. We all hope that that will be so, but those who have studied these documents will agree that if there has been a victory of Moscow over Peking, nevertheless the general line is one of fierce competitive co-existence. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is wrong with that?"] We have to face up to that fact.
Then there have been great technical developments in weapons and an increasing defence burden on finance, and especially on our resources and research and development. It is for these reasons 343 that the present review of N.A.T.O. is being carried out and its long-term planning examined. There will be made at the meeting this week a progress report on the development of N.A.T.O., its strategy, and its weapons.
I would like to reassure the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), who asked whether there was any need for crash action to be taken at this meeting, that that is not so. It is not intended that these matters which we have been debating today, should be settled at this forthcoming meeting in Paris.
There have been several strands running through the debate and I would like to isolate and examine them, as indeed the right hon. Gentleman has done. I think that it is essential to form a clear picture, to isolate and examine them and keep them separate. First, there is the purpose of N.A.T.O. and the support for that purpose. Secondly, there is the problem of the weapons for N.A.T.O. and their future development. Thirdly, there is the problem of the control of these weapons, and, in particular, the problem of the sharing of political control to which the right hon. Gentleman referred at the end of his speech. Fourthly, there has been the strand of the use of Holy Loch for Polaris and what is involved in that. Fifthly, there is a need for a constructive policy for disarmament.
Both the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Belper opened their speeches by referring to disarmament. I give it equal importance, but in the way in which I want to develop my speech I would like to say quite a lot about it towards the end.
First, N.A.T.O. and its purpose. The right hon. Gentleman rightly said that the United Nations has not so far been able to guarantee that individual security to countries which they require. The original purpose of N.A.T.O. was to prevent Europe being overrun, and in that it has succeeded in the last ten years. It has also led to a great deal of political consultation between the countries of the Atlantic Alliance.
What now should be the objectives of N.A.T.O.? I suggest that they should 344 be these. To convince the Soviet Union and its allies that they cannot further their aims by force, or threat of force, in Europe, and that means that they cannot further their aims by threatening nuclear blackmail. The second object of N.A.T.O. should be to reduce to a minimum the risks of conflict between the Soviet Union and N.A.T.O. arising from any form of miscalculation. Those two objectives must govern the types of weapon, and the control of those weapons, which N.A.T.O. possesses.
If we are to achieve these N.A.T.O. objectives there must be political and economic stability, and solidarity of countries to prevent, as one hon. Gentleman reminded us, Soviet exploitation of weaknesses and differences. There must also be—and this is where we come to one of the nubs of the matters that we have been discussing today—a belief, in the Soviet countries and in the individual N.A.T.O. countries, in the forces with which they are equipped, being designed and controlled to counter the Soviet use of force at whatever level, whether it be the smallest probe or a full scale attack by using conventional weapons alone, or nuclear weapons as may be required.
§ Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)
To use nuclear weapons against conventional troops?
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. and learned Gentleman has not noted the statement of the Supreme Commander, that he believes that conventional forces should be available for him to use in the first instance. There must also be Soviet confidence that there will be no irresponsible attack by N.A.T.O. or by a N.A.T.O. country.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale made a considerable play in his speech that if one achieved these objectives, and had a balance of weapons in this way, it meant that disarmament was henceforward impossible. With that, I cannot agree. In fact, I believe that if we come to a balance in that respect—and we have had some indication of it already—we may be able to make greater progress with disarmament.
For these objectives of N.A.T.O. there has been support in the Motion today from the official Opposition and from the Liberal Party. In fact, the Government, 345 the official Opposition and the Liberal Party have this in common: they want to make N.A.T.O. as efficient as possible. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale disagreed with the whole of this thesis, on two grounds, so it seemed to me. First, he said that in the world as it is at present, with these modern weapons, it becomes impossible for an assembly such as the House of Commons to debate the final stages of the use of these weapons. In the earlier stages, unless we are faced with a sudden and overwhelming attack—as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said—there is an opportunity to examine the situation, and for consultation to go on in the N.A.T.O. Council.
But we finally get to the point—and this is quite imaginable—in which it would not be possible to have a debate unless we waited until the bombs fell. Every democratic assembly has to face the fact that to preserve its freedom and to defend its own interests it has to give up to an alliance some of its own, individual control over these matters. That is inescapable in the present position. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale dealt with that point by withdrawing entirely and saying that, faced with this difficulty in relation to the powers of the assembly the only thing to do was to leave ourselves without arms of any kind.
Secondly, the hon. Member's thesis was based on the fact that if we were to do this we should be able to use greater influence in the cause of world peace. He cited the examples of other neutral countries. We have great admiration for some of the work that they have done, but the nuclear test conference at Geneva is a good example of the fact that we are able to use our influence by reason of our present position. That has been an outstanding fact throughout the conference, and I shall have more to say about that shortly.
The second thread of the debate has been concerned with N.A.T.O. weapons and their development. I was asked a number of questions about the orthodox troops for use in N.A.T.O., and about General Norstad's views on the subject. I have already mentioned his own quotation about the use of these troops. The M.C.70 targets have been accepted for practical purposes. It is true that in 346 considering those targets of orthodox troops allowance is made for the nuclear tactical weapons with which they will be equipped. As for our own forces, I can answer the right hon. Gentleman's question by saying that our object must be to modernise our equipment and to make our forces more mobile and efficient.
I find that it is very often not understood in the House that N.A.T.O. troops already have tactical nuclear weapons of which the key is in American hands. Therefore, the problem is concerned not with these; it is concerned with whether the N.A.T.O. forces should have an addition of the type which has been discussed broadly today, namely, the Polaris submarine. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence made plain, if a proposal is made that the Polaris submarine should be added to S.A.C.E.U.R.'s force we should welcome it for the purposes for which S.A.C.E.U.R. has asked, and also because it shows a welcome demonstration by the United States of its continued interest in Europe.
That is the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley). The realisation of fears in Europe lie very much at the back of General Norstad's mind in discussing proposals of this sort. They are also very much in the American mind. Sometimes we tend to look at this problem very much from our own point of view, and do not realise the genuine anxieties in Europe about whether the American presence is to continue or not.
We have said quite clearly that we believe that the N.A.T.O. Council should embark on a thorough examination of plans for missiles and all that that involves. The claim of SACEUR is that missiles should take over some of the deterrent functions of manned aircraft. We agree absolutely with the Leader of the Opposition that manned aircraft have this asset, that they can be used also for high explosive, as well as nuclear, weapons. This is in reply to the request of SACEUR for what is really a modernisation programme. It is not, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said, piling nuclear weapon on top of nuclear weapon.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
It is important to get this clear. Is the right hon. Gentleman telling us that 347 Polaris submarines are merely a modernisation of N.A.T.O. tactical nuclear weapons? That seems to me to be absurd.
§ Mr. Heath
It is the statement of SACEUR, made in the early part of the hon. Member's speech. We believe that it is possible—but I am going on in a moment to discuss the question of the tactical and the strategic—for the Polaris submarine to be used instead of part of the manned aircraft element.
On the question whether it is tactical or strategic, that must depend not on the particular nature of the weapon, but on the use and purpose of the weapon, and the Supreme Commander has always made plain that he has no part in the strategic rôle, and that he is thinking only in terms of the tactical.
§ Mr. G. Brown
I did ask, earlier, how it was realistically thought that one could fling a half megaton warhead 1,200 miles into the heart of metropolitan Russia, and sometimes call it tactical and sometimes call it strategic. How does the Minister think that we can say that it is other than strategic bombing all the time?
§ Mr. Gaitskell
If the Polaris is a tactical weapon, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what is a strategic weapon?
§ Mr. Heath
If the right hon. Gentleman cannot disentangle the difference between the use of these weapons, I cannot help him.
We now come to the question of control. The right hon. Gentleman has not accepted the very clear statement of the Supreme Commander that he is responsible to the N.A.T.O. Council, and that there is full political responsibility there. His right hon. Friend made various suggestions about how this political responsibility could be exercised, but I must confess that none of these seems to be an improvement on the present system. They can be examined. 348 As has already been pointed out, how is it an improvement to have a Minister sitting there instead of an ambassador if, all the time, he has to refer back? The Council is accustomed to full consultation. There is also the question of control by the Supreme Commander over the lower military commanders, and this is of equal importance. SACEUR has pointed out that he keeps tightly in his own hands the centralised control of junior commanders. What emerges is the need for credibility to be maintained in the use of the deterrent, as the right hon. Gentleman himself said. As regards future control, the change of weapons which is proposed does not involve any change in control. New technical means may have to be worked out to deal with these particular weapons, but no change in principle is involved.
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to brush aside very lightly the question of a change in American law if there were to be any change in the actual nature of the political control.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Since the right hon. Gentleman has quoted again what General Norstad said not this year, but on an earlier occasion, and he says that that is the position, that he is under the N.A.T.O. Council, will he explain what new change he is talking about?
§ Mr. Heath
I was discussing the new change which, I understood, the right hon. Gentleman put forward. He said that a change might be necessary in American law; he thought it would be a minor one, and it could be lightly brushed aside. I should have thought that anybody with experience of the last fifteen years would realise the difficulties in that.
We believe that the sort of problem which my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) discussed this afternoon, relating to a dividing line for command and control of strategic and tactical weapons between the Soviet and N.A.T.O. armies, is one of the things which ought to be studied in the review.
I cannot add to what has been said already, very clearly, about the use of Polaris in Holy Loch. We have a complete difference between us on this matter.
§ Mr. Heath
I mean the staging of Polaris in Holy Loch. We believe, since we are working together with allies, that we should work in the closest consultation with them. That position is not accepted by right hon. and hon. Members opposite. We believe that ours is an approach which gives us the best method of working together in this enterprise.
I come now to the fifth strand, disarmament. I believe that we are approaching a moment when a new initiative can be taken. So far, we have been bogged down by the fact that the Soviet Government were unwilling to make progress while the new American Administration was waiting to come into power. We have always worked hard in the nuclear tests conference to reach a solution of these problems, and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that everything possible should be done to avoid a breakdown. We hope that we may be able to reach firm conclusions at that conference.
It has been suggested that we should move towards disengagement. The Government have always rejected disengagement in its literal meaning because of the political vacuum which would then ensue. On the other hand, we have always said that we were prepared, of course, to examine with our allies the concept of areas of control of armaments because we believe that progress can be made in that matter, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said this afternoon. The plans in relation to surprise attack were put forward in 1957 and they still stand. We are prepared to support them. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman is out of touch with his right hon. Friend who has explained why an initiative cannot be taken at the moment and why we have a better chance of achieving progress in the new year.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister put forward one very clear suggestion of how progress could be made in his speech to the Assembly of the United Nations, namely, that the experts should work out ways in which control 350 of disarmament and inspection could take place. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman himself would acknowledge that as a very valuable initiative, if it had been followed up by the Soviet Government; but they were not prepared to do so, and one can only hope that in the new year they will advance in that direction.
To sum up, the objectives of N.A.T.O. can be achieved by a continuous process of keeping the N.A.T.O. armoury modernised with a balanced pattern of defensive weapons to counter aggression at any level. This requires improved mobility and quality in conventional forces. It does not mean an excessive concentration of nuclear weapons and the present review which is taking place will help in keeping this balance for which the right hon. Gentleman has been asking.
We believe that N.A.T.O. can achieve its objectives if the United States reassures its allies in the way which has been discussed in the House today. It will show that they are prepared to support their allies against not only physical threats, but threats of nuclear blackmail. There must be adequate control arrangements both politically and militarily, but the real problem with which we have to deal is the very difficult one of striking the right balance between the multinational controls which can reduce the efficiency of the deterrent and the European fears either that they will have no call on nuclear forces for their own defence, or that the United States N.A.T.O. forces might be used without consultation. It is the balance between having the deterrent and these other forces and the dangers which the Europeans see in the situation of the present control, which has to be struck.
As Her Majesty's Government support N.A.T.O. but reject the criticisms which have been made by the right hon. Member and his hon. Friends, and because they believe that they are working towards a proper balance of nuclear strategy in Europe, I urge the House to reject the Opposition's Motion of censure.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 163, Noes 318.353
|Division No. 22.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Ainsley, William||Healey, Denis||Oliver, G. H.|
|Albu, Austen||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Paget, R. T.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hilton, A. V.||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Benson, Sir George||Holman, Percy||Peart, Frederick|
|Blackburn, F.||Houghton, Douglas||Pentland, Norman|
|Blyton, William||Howell, Charles A.||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.)||Hoy, James H.||Prentice, R. E.|
|Boyden, James||Hughes, Ciedwyn (Anglesey)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hunter, A. E.||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Randall, Harry|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Beiper)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Janner, Barnett||Rhodes, H.|
|Callaghan, James||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Chetwynd, George||Jegar, George||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Panoras, N.)|
|Cliffe, Michael||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Ross, William|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Short, Edward|
|Cronin, John||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Darling, George||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Small, William|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Kenyon, Clifford||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Deer, George||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Steele, Thomas|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||King, Dr. Horace||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Dempsey, James||Lawson, George||Stones, William|
|Diamond, John||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Dodds, Norman||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Dugdaie, Rt. Hon. John||Loughlin, Charles||Symonds, J. B.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||McCann, John||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Evans, Albert||MacColl, James||Thornton, Ernest|
|Finch, Harold||McInnes, James||Timmons, John|
|Fitch, Alan||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Fletcher, Eric||McLeavy, Frank||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Forman, J. C.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mapp, Charles||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Marsh, Richard||Whitlock, William|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Mason, Roy||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Ginsburg, David||Mayhew, Christopher||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mellish, R. J.||Willey, Frederick|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Millan, Bruce||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mitohison, G. R.||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Grey, Charles||Moody, A. S.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Morris, John||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mort, D. L.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Gunter, Ray||Moyle, Arthur|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mulley, Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Neal, Harold||Mr. J. Taylor and|
|Hannan, William||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Bishop, F. P.||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Black, Sir Cyril||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Bossom, Clive||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portamth, W.)|
|Allason, James||Bourne-Arton, A.||Cleaver, Leonard|
|Alport, Rt. Hon. C. J. M.||Box, Donald||Cole, Norman|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian (Preston, N.)||Boyle, Sir Edward||Collard, Richard|
|Arbuthnot, John||Braine, Bernard||Cooke, Robert|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Brewls, John||Cooper, A. E.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill|
|Balniel, Lord||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Cordle, John|
|Barber, Anthony||Brooman-White, R.||Corfield, F. V.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Costain, A. P.|
|Barter, John||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Coulson, J. M.|
|Batsford, Brian||Burden, F. A.||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Craddock, Sir Beresford|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Critchley, Julian|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Crowder, F. P.|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Cunningham, Knox|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Curran, Charles|
|Bidgood, John C.||Cary, Sir Robert||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Channon, H. P. G.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Bingham, R. M.||Chataway, Christopher||Dance, James|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Chichester Clark, R.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmld, Sir Henry|
|Deedes, w. F.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|de Ferrantl, Basil||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Joseph, Sir Keith||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Doughty, Charles||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Ramsden, James|
|du Cann, Edward||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kershaw, Anthony||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Duthie, Sir William||Kimball, Marcus||Rees, Hugh|
|Eden, John||Kitson, Timothy||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Lagden, Godfrey||Renton, David|
|Elliott, R. W. (Newcastle-on-Tyne, N.)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Emery, Peter||Langford-Holt, J.||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Leather, E. H. C.||Rlppon, Geoffrey|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Leavey, J. A.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Leburn, Gilmour||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Farr, John||Lilley, F. J. P.||Roots, William|
|Finlay, Graeme||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Fisher, Nigel||Litchfield, Capt. John||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Longden, Gilbert||Russell, Ronald|
|Foster, John||Loveys, Walter H.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Seymour, Leslie|
|Gammans, Lady||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Sharples, Richard|
|Gardner, Edward||McAdden, Stephen||Shaw, M.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||MacArthur, Ian||Simon, Sir Jocelyn|
|Gibson-Watt, David||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Maolay, Rt. Hon. John||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Godber, J. B.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Speir, Rupert|
|Goodhart, Philip||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Goodhew, victor||McMaster, Stanley R.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Gough, Frederick||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Stodart, J. A.|
|Gower, Raymond||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Green, Alan||Maddan, Martin||Summers, Sir Spenoer (Aylesbury)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Maginnls, John E||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||Maitland, Sir John||Talbot, John E.|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Tapsell, Peter|
|Gurden, Harold||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marlowe, Anthony||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Marshall, Douglas||Teeling, William|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marten, Neil||Temple, John M.|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccleaf'd)||Mawby, Ray||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Hastings, Stephen||Mills, Stratton||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hay, John||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Montgomery, Fergus||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Turner, Colin|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Morgan, William||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Morrison, John||van straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hendry, Forbes||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John|
|Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Nabarro, Gerald||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Hiley, Joseph||Neave, Alrey||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Noble, Michael||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nugent, Sir Richard||Wall, Patrick|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Hobson, John||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Holland, Philip||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Watts, James|
|Hollingworth, John||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Webster, David|
|Hopkins, Alan||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Whitelaw, William|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Partridge, E.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Peel, John||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Percival, Ian||Wise, A. R.|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Peyton, John||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Hurd, Sir Anthony||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pitman, I. J.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Pitt, Miss Edith||Woollam, John|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pott, Percivall||Worsley, Marcus|
|Jackson, John||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Prior, J. M. L.||Mr. E. Wakefield and Mr. Bryan.|