HC Deb 01 June 1960 vol 624 cc1443-4
40. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will invite Members of Parliament to observe the next air mobility exercise of the strategic reserve.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing)

I have been asked to reply.

My right hon. Friend is asking the Secretary of State for War to examine the possibility of doing this when plans for the next major exercise are being made.

Mr. de Freitas

Will the hon. Gentleman consider whether, as dozens of journalists are taken, it is possible to take half-a-dozen Members of Parliament? Surely it is very important that Members of Parliament should be informed and learn about these things when it is considered necessary to inform journalists of them.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

It is difficult to make definite promises because the dates of these large-scale exercises and the exact place where they will take place are not yet firm. My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for Air are very sympathetic to this need.

Mr. Shinwell

When the Government come to a decision on this matter, how will they arrange the selection of Members to observe these exercises? Is it to be done through the usual channels and through the Whips, or will Members who are not on the establishment rota be entitled to apply to pay a visit?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

My experience is that the House of Commons has a very good way of arranging these matters. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman's voice will not be unheard and that his claims will not be totally overlooked.

Mr. Shinwell

It should be clearly understood that, if an attempt is made to adopt the old practice, there will be very strong protests from certain quarters of of the House.

Mr. Ross

Will the hon. Member give us a promise that no special privilege will be given to Privy Councillors in this matter?